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27651  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Nature on: May 24, 2007, 11:13:58 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LU8DDYz68kM

Absolutely amazing!
27652  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Evolutionary Biology and Psychology on: May 24, 2007, 11:04:18 AM
http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2007/04/iraq-the-americas-3-gen-gangs/

Iraq & the Americas: 3 GEN Gangs Lessons and Prospects

Iraq & the Americas: 3 GEN Gangs Lessons and Prospects

Robert J. Bunker & John P. Sullivan
Gangs and Iraqi insurgents, militias, and other non-state groups share common origins based on tribalism, and therefore, it is expected that they will exhibit similar structures and behaviors. It is our belief that further insight into Iraq’s present situation and future prospects may be derived from a perspective utilizing 3rd generation gang (3 GEN Gangs) studies which present lessons learned from the emergence and spread of gangs within the United States, and other parts of the world, over roughly the last four decades. (1) Basically, from a 3 GEN Gangs perspective, three generations of gangs have been found to exist: turf based, drug based, and mercenary based. The first generation gangs, comprising the vast majority, focus on protecting their turf. These gangs, the least developed of the three generational forms, provide both protection and identity to their members and little more. While some drug dealing is evident, it tends with these gangs to be a sideline activity.

The more evolved second and third generation gangs provide more tangible economic- and, later, political- based rewards to their members. Far fewer second generation gangs exist in relation to first generation gangs and, in turn, an even smaller number of third generation gangs exist in relation to second generation gangs—at least with regard to gangs found in the Americas. Second generation gangs focus on drug market development and exploitation and are far more sophisticated than turf based gangs. Third generation gangs are the most politicized, international in reach, and sophisticated of the gang generational forms. They will readily engage in mercenary endeavors and actively seek political power and financial gain from their activities. Certain terrorist groups (such as the Red Brigades in Italy), drug cartels, and local warlords all have attributes and organizational structures akin to third generation gangs. (2)

From a 3 GEN Gangs perspective, Iraq has been essentially overrun by 3rd generation gangs and their criminal-soldier equivalents. This is reminiscent of the nightmare scenario for the US already starting to develop in Central and South America (and, to a lesser extent, within the US) with the emergence, growth, and expansion of Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and other Maras. In many ways, the ‘Gangs of Iraq’ are a prelude to the ‘Gangs of the Americas’ that we will be increasingly facing in the Western Hemisphere.

Gangs emerge, prosper, and solidify their position as a viable social organizational form in housing projects, neighborhoods, prisons, slums, cities, urban regions, and even entire countries that have undergone (or are undergoing) varying forms of societal failure. The rise of newer forms of tribalism leading to gang emergence may be derived from combinations that include lack of jobs, high levels of poverty and drug abuse, low educational levels, an absence of functional families, along with high levels of crime and lawlessness, including that generated by domestic internal strife, which result in a daily threat of bodily injury. Further, newer forms of tribalism may readily mingle with older pre-existing forms of tribalism based on kinship, clan, and other extended family groupings.

Iraq’s current situation, at least for the middle and southern sections, is far from hopeful. Currently some where between 1,000 and 5,000 people are now being killed throughout Iraq each month because of sectarian violence, gang wars, and rampant criminal activity. Total post-invasion deaths in Iraq taking place during the American and allied stability and support operations (SASO) period ranges anywhere from 50,000 to +100,000. (3) Societal strife generated by ethnic and religious intolerance— derived from older forms of Middle Eastern tribalism— has resulted in neighborhood ethnic cleansing and the emergence of fortified enclaves. Extra-judicial killings and torture (i.e. street justice) have become the norm as have home invasion robberies, carjackings, petty theft, assaults, and kidnappings for ransom. Shifting coalitions of former regime loyalists, foreign Jihadi fighters linked to al Qaeda, Shia and Sunni militiamen tied to local clerics, criminal gangs of numerous types, competing Iraqi ministries and even active military and police units, along with foreign operatives promoting the interests of Iran, Hizballah, and Syria make for a chaotic and ever-changing threat landscape.

Americans, once universally hailed as liberators except by the most hardened former regime loyalists, are now viewed by many Iraqis at best as unwanted foreigners that will hopefully leave soon and at worst as hated crusaders that should be actively singled out, tortured, and killed. The northern Kurd-dominated region of the country is far more stable and supportive of American forces than the two other sections of Iraq but still is not free of sectarian violence in the urban centers and sabotage, improvised explosive device (IED) attacks, suicide bombings, and assassinations occur throughout the region.

Insight can be gained by juxtaposing strife ridden Iraq with the US and other regions of the world, specifically Central and South America, with their high levels of gang emergence and activity. Gangs are very much a social cancer within American society and are a by-product of the new form of tribalism that has emerged nationally—possibly as a partial result of the demise of the older melting pot culture and an overemphasis on cultural relativism and heterogeneity.

As a consequence, gangs have spread at an alarming rate throughout American society. In the US, about 58 cities had gangs in 1960. By 1992, the number of cities with gangs had jumped to 769. (4) Luckily, the vast majority of gangs in the US are composed of the relatively less-evolved Turf gangs—though second generation drug gangs have been common for decades now and third generation mercenary gangs, in the current form of the Maras, have just recently started to appear within our borders.

Still, even though most gangs in the US are Turf-based gangs, gang-related homicides in our country have probably totaled about 100,000 over the last 20 years. This is an educated guess based on an extrapolation of Los Angeles county gang homicide data as no national gang homicide statistics exist. (5) The daily attrition rate on America’s streets due to gang violence has either gone unrecognized or is not yet viewed as a national security threat by our federal government. To its credit, however, FBI led national task forces to contend with the criminal activities and atrocities (e.g. torture and machete attacks) committed by MS-13 and other violent gang members have now been put in place. (6)

In Central and South America, gangs are now nothing less than out of control. Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala are all being directly threatened by the Maras. (7) In addition, Brazilian society was recently brought to its knees by a powerful prison gang that instigated a limited duration state wide insurgency that resulted in numerous civilian and law enforcement deaths and temporarily paralyzed the national economy. (Cool Mexico, furthermore, is seeing a fusion of its powerful drug cartels and gangs with an ensuing drug war that is resulting in numerous killings and decapitations—much like the ritual Jihadi beheadings witnessed in Iraq. (9) No statistics or even estimates for the number of gang-related homicides that have taken place in Central and South America exist but they must surely be on par, if not far greater, than those that are estimated to have taken place in America over the last twenty years. If this is the case, gang killings for all of the Americas would now number, at the very least, in the low hundreds of thousands for that time span.

Of direct interest is the continuum of environmental modification represented by gang activities in the US at one extreme and in parts of the Americas and Iraq at the other. Even the most basic level US gangs will attempt to culturally influence and modify their surroundings with drive-by shootings, the use of gang graffiti to mark their territory, and the take over of selected public spaces. Iraqi gangs and groups, on the other hand, are engaging in full out ethnic cleansing, neighborhood takeovers, and direct political control of those individuals living within their sphere of influence. Early intervention can prevent gangs from taking over a neighborhood, city, urban region and other environments. However, if allowed to evolve and engage in unchecked activities for too long they promise to replace legitimate political authority. As such, 3 GEN Gangs readily fill the vacuum left by the absence of legitimate authority.

Iraq’s future prospects, given this scenario are bleak. The domination of Iraq by 3 GEN Gangs and other non-state entities (e.g. insurgent and terrorist groups, the militias of the clerics, and renegade police, military, and private security forces) has destroyed any chance of a free and democratically unified country emerging anytime soon, or possibly even for decades to come. The Iraqi operational environment has now seen the total blurring of crime and war. Perhaps, it is now even too far gone to salvage from a traditional policing or military perspective—only time will tell in this regard. (10)

This brings us some measure of concern with regard to the future prospects vis-à-vis the gang situation in the Americas. As more and more 3 GEN Gangs begin to emerge, thrive, and expands their networks in the Western Hemisphere the long term prospects for large regions of the Americas may very well, at some point, also come into question. Currently, 3 GEN Gangs have already take control in slums and other urban no-go zones, prisons, and some provinces and territories of various states including Brazil, Colombia, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico. That such gangs are now starting to emerge within the United States should also give pause for concern. These developments in global context may ultimately cause us to re-examine our policies in the Americas and elevate our concerns over the “Gangs of the Americas” to the same level as that currently afforded the “Gangs of Iraq.”

Notes

1. For an overview and literature survey of this topic see John P. Sullivan and Robert J. Bunker, “Third Generation Gang Studies: An Introduction”, Journal of Gang Research. Forthcoming.
2. A perspective on the Red Brigades as a 3 GEN Gang can be found in Max G. Manwaring, “Gangs and Coups D’ Streets in the New World Disorder: Protean Insurgents in Post-Modern War”, Robert J. Bunker, ed., Criminal-States and Criminal-Soldiers, special double issue of Global Crime, Vol. 7. No. 3-4. August/November 2006; for drug cartel and warlord similarities to 3 GEN Gangs see John P. Sullivan and Robert J. Bunker, “Drug Cartels, Street Gangs, and Warlords”, Robert J. Bunker, ed., Non-State Threats and Future Wars, special issue of Small Wars & Insurgencies, Vol. 13. No. 2. Summer 2002, pp. 40-53.
3. Actual numbers of Iraqis killed each month and total figures are unknown. Sources are unreliable and typically inflated or deflated in order to benefit the policies or agenda of the group providing the statistics. We can safely say that 1,000 to 2,000 people are being killed each month but the upper limit of 5,000 people is no longer out of the range of possibility given the high levels of violence now generated by the simultaneous insurgency and civil war taking place. Iraqi casualty reports and tracking websites offer total numbers killed upwards from 50,000.
4. Malcolm W. Klein, The American Street Gang, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995, pp. 92-95.
5. Los Angeles County gang homicide information provided by Sgt. Wes McBride, Los Angeles Sheriffs Department, Retired, Safe Streets Bureau.
6. Statement of Chris Swecker, Assistant Director, Criminal Investigative Division Federal Bureau of Investigation Before the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere House International Relations Committee April 20, 2005.
7. See Ana Arana, “How the Street Gangs Took Central America,” Foreign Affairs, Vol. 84, No. 3. May/June 2005, pp. 98-110.
8. See Andrew Downie, “Police Are Targeted in Deadly Attacks, Prison Riots in Brazil”, Los Angeles Times, Sunday, May 14, 2006, p. A25; Marcelo Soares and Patrick J. McDonnell, “Inmates Unleash a Torrent of Violence on Brazilian City”, Los Angeles Times, Tuesday, May 16, 2006, pp. A1, A16; and Marcelo Soares and Patrick J. McDonnell, “Death Toll in Sao Paulo Rise to 133; City is Calm”, Los Angeles Times, Wednesday, May 17, 2006, p. A16.
9. See Lisa J. Campbell, “The Use of Beheadings by Fundamentalist Islam”, Robert J. Bunker, ed., Criminal-States and Criminal-Soldiers, special double issue of Global Crime, Vol. 7. No. 3-4. August/November 2006.
10. The US military seems to think that temporarily raising troop levels in order to neutralize Muqtada al-Sadr’s ‘Mahdi Army’ (Shia militia) and possibly launching an offensive into the Sunni stronghold of Al Anbar province in support of the Iraqi government offer the best hopes for victory. This plan is being debated within the government and already criticized in some quarters. See Julian E. Barnes, “Larger U.S. effort in Iraq is proposed”, Los Angeles Times, Wednesday, December 13, 2006, pp. A1, A16; and Maura Reynolds, “Majority support pullout timeline”, Los Angeles Times, Wednesday, December 13, 2006, pp. A17.

----------

Dr. Robert J. Bunker is CEO of the Counter-OPFOR Corporation. John P. Sullivan is senior research fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies on Terrorism and a lieutenant with the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department.

27653  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: sparring with bladed weapons on: May 24, 2007, 11:01:55 AM
Woof All:

I have great interest in this subject and we already have some highly qualified folks here discussing it.  cool I look forward to the discussion.

TAC,
CD
27654  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Music on: May 24, 2007, 09:03:56 AM
Interesting idea.  Please feel free to start such a thread in the MA forum.
27655  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Music on: May 24, 2007, 12:17:13 AM
Robert:

I know-- he started training with me recently.  Cool guy, he's a jazz drummer too, showed me a couple of beginner's basics.

Tom:

This was the last track of a movie on Jimi which I saw when it came out.  When it was over, sat there a very long time.

27656  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A Disconcerting Survey on: May 22, 2007, 06:32:11 PM
If one does some calculations about how many people these various %s work out to, some disconcerting numbers result.
===================================



http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/nat...sns-ap-topnews

Most U.S. Muslims Reject Suicide Bombings


By ALAN FRAM
Associated Press Writer
Originally published May 22, 2007, 10:45 AM EDT
WASHINGTON // One in four younger U.S. Muslims say suicide bombings to defend their religion are acceptable at least in some circumstances, though most Muslim Americans overwhelmingly reject the tactic and are critical of Islamic extremism and al-Qaida, a poll says.

The survey by the Pew Research Center, one of the most exhaustive ever of the country's Muslims, revealed a community that in many ways blends comfortably into society. Its largely mainstream members express nearly as much happiness with their lives and communities as the general public does, show a broad willingness to adopt American customs, and have income and education levels similar to others in the U.S.


Even so, the survey revealed noteworthy pockets of discontent.

While nearly 80 percent of U.S. Muslims say suicide bombings of civilians to defend Islam can not be justified, 13 percent say they can be, at least rarely.

That sentiment is strongest among those younger than 30. Two percent of them say it can often be justified, 13 percent say sometimes and 11 percent say rarely.

"It is a hair-raising number," said Radwan Masmoudi, president of the Washington-based Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, which promotes the compatibility of Islam with democracy.

He said most supporters of the attacks likely assumed the context was a fight against occupation -- a term Muslims often use to describe the conflict with Israel.

U.S. Muslims have growing Internet and television access to extreme ideologies, he said, adding: "People, especially younger people, are susceptible to these ideas."

Federal officials have warned that the U.S. must be on guard against homegrown terrorism, as the British suffered with the London transit bombings of 2005.

Even so, U.S. Muslims are far less accepting of suicide attacks than Muslims in many other nations. In surveys Pew conducted last year, support in some Muslim countries exceeded 50 percent, while it was considered justifiable by about one in four Muslims in Britain and Spain, and one in three in France.

"We have crazies just like other faiths have them," said Eide Alawan, who directs interfaith outreach at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Mich., one of the nation's largest mosques. He said killing innocent people contradicts Islam.

Andrew Kohut, Pew director, called support for the attacks "one of the few trouble spots" in the survey.

The question did not specify where a suicide attack might occur, who might carry it out or what was meant by using a bombing to "defend Islam."

In other findings:

_Only 5 percent of U.S. Muslims expressed favorable views of the terrorist group al-Qaida, though about a fourth did not express an opinion.

_Six in 10 said they are concerned about a rise in Islamic extremism in the U.S., while three in four expressed similar worries about extremism around the world.

_Yet only one in four consider the U.S. war on terrorism a sincere attempt to curtail international terror. Only 40 percent said they believe Arab men carried out the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

_By six to one, they say the U.S. was wrong to invade Iraq, while a third say the same about Afghanistan -- far deeper than the opposition expressed by the general U.S. public.

_Just over half said it has been harder being a U.S. Muslim since the 9/11 attacks, especially the better educated, higher income, more religious and young. Nearly a third of those who flew in the past year say they underwent extra screening because they are Muslim.

The survey estimates there are roughly 2.35 million Muslim Americans. It found that among adults, two-thirds are from abroad while a fifth are U.S.-born blacks.

By law, the Census Bureau does not ask about peoples' religions.

Telephone interviews were conducted with 1,050 Muslim adults from January through April, including some in Arabic, Urdu and Farsi. Subjects were chosen at random, from a separate list of households including some with Muslim-sounding names, and from Muslim households that had participated in previous surveys.

The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 5 percentage points.
27657  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: June 2007 Gathering on: May 22, 2007, 06:26:18 PM
Maija:

Go for it!

CD

27658  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Race, religion, ethnic origin on: May 22, 2007, 06:24:33 PM
Ugh.  angry angry angry

No doubt they would have some choice things to say about Michele Malkin too , , ,
27659  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: May 22, 2007, 09:24:23 AM
A Reporter's Fate
The BBC held hostage in Gaza.

BY BRET STEPHENS
Tuesday, May 22, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Dozens of hostages were released in Gaza over the weekend, in the wake of a truce called between the warring factions of Hamas and Fatah. The BBC's Alan Johnston, now in his 11th week of captivity, was not among them.

I last saw Mr. Johnston in January 2005, the day before Mahmoud Abbas was elected to succeed Yasser Arafat as president of the Palestinian Authority. Mr. Johnston was by then the only Western correspondent living and working full time in Gaza, although the Strip was still considered a safe destination for day-tripping foreign journalists. He kindly lent me his office to interview Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, and asked whether I was still editing the Jerusalem Post. He seemed genuinely oblivious to the notion that my by-then former association with an Israeli newspaper was not the sort of information I wanted broadcast to a roomful of Palestinian stringers.

January 2005 was also the last time one could feel remotely optimistic about an independent Palestinian future. Mr. Abbas had campaigned for office promising "clean legal institutions so we can be considered a civilized society." He won by an overwhelming margin in an election Hamas refused to contest. There had been a sharp decline in Israeli-Palestinian violence, thanks mainly to Israeli counterterrorism measures and the security fence. A Benetton outlet had opened in Ramallah, signaling better times ahead.

In Gaza things were different, however, and Mr. Johnston was prescient in reporting on the potential for internecine strife: "This internal conflict between police and the militants cannot happen," one of his stories quotes a Palestinian police chief as saying. "It is forbidden. We are a single nation." Yet in 2005 more Palestinians were killed by other Palestinians than by Israelis. It got worse in 2006, following Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and Hamas's victory in parliamentary elections. "The occupation was not as bad as the lawlessness and corruption that we are facing now," Palestinian editor Hafiz Barghouti admitted to Mr. Johnston in a widely cited remark.





When Mr. Johnston was kidnapped by persons unknown on March 12--apparently dragged at gunpoint from his car while on his way home--he became at least the 23rd Western journalist to have been held hostage in Gaza. In most cases the kidnappings rarely lasted more than a day. Yet in August FOXNews's Steve Centanni and cameraman Olaf Wiig were held for two weeks, physically abused and forced to convert to Islam. Plainly matters were getting progressively worse for foreigners. So why did the BBC keep Mr. Johnston in place?
 Yet the BBC also seemed to operate in the Palestinian Authority with a sense of political impunity. Palestinian Information Minister Mustafa Barghouti described Mr. Johnston as someone who "has done a lot for our cause"--not the sort of endorsement one imagines the BBC welcoming from an equivalent figure on the Israeli side. Other BBC correspondents were notorious for making their politics known to their viewers: Barbara Plett confessed to breaking into tears when Arafat was airlifted to a Parisian hospital in October 2004; Orla Guerin treated Israel's capture of a living, wired teenage suicide bomber that March as nothing more than a PR stunt--"a picture that Israel wants the world to see."

Though doubtlessly sincere, these views also conferred institutional advantages for the BBC in terms of access and protection, one reason why the broadcaster might have felt relatively comfortable posting Mr. Johnston in a place no other news agency dared to go.

By contrast, reporters who displeased Palestinian authorities could be made to pay a price. In one notorious case in October 2000, Italian reporter Riccardo Cristiano of RAI published a letter in a Palestinian newspaper insisting he had not been the one who had broadcast images of two Israeli soldiers being lynched in Ramallah. "We respect the journalistic regulations of the Palestinian Authority," he wrote, blaming rival Mediaset for the transgression. I had a similar experience when I quoted a Palestinian journalist describing as "riff-raff" those of his neighbors celebrating the attacks of Sept. 11. Within a day, the journalist was chided and threatened by Palestinian officials for having spoken to me. They were keeping close tabs.

Still, whatever the benefits of staying on the right side of the Palestinian powers-that-be, they have begun to wane. For years, the BBC had invariably covered Palestinian affairs within the context of Israel's occupation--the core truth from which all manifestations of conflict supposedly derived. Developments within Gaza following Israel's withdrawal showed the hollowness of that analysis. Domestic Palestinian politics, it turned out, were shot through with their own discontents, contradictions and divisions, not just between Hamas and Fatah but between scores of clans, gangs, factions and personalities. Opposition to Israel helped in some ways to mute this reality, but it could not suppress it.





This is the situation--not a new one, but one the foreign media had for years mostly ignored--in which the drama of Mr. Johnston's captivity is playing out. Initial reports suggested he had been kidnapped by the so-called Popular Resistance Committee; later an al Qaeda affiliate called the Army of Islam claimed to have killed him. More recently, evidence has come to light suggesting he's alive and being held by a criminal gang based in the southern town of Rafah. The British government is reportedly in talks with a radical Islamist cleric in their custody, Abu Qatada, whose release the Army of Islam has demanded for Mr. Johnston's freedom. What the British will do, and what effect that might have, remains to be seen.
For now, one can only pray for Mr. Johnston's safe release. Later, the BBC might ask itself whether its own failures of prudence and judgment put its reporter's life in jeopardy. The BBC's Paul Adams has said of his colleague that it was "his job to bring us day after day reports of the Palestinian predicament." For that act of solidarity one hopes a terrible price will not be paid.

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

27660  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: May 22, 2007, 09:16:56 AM
WSJ
The Left's Iraq Muddle
Yes, it is central to the fight against Islamic radicalism.

BY BOB KERREY
Tuesday, May 22, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

At this year's graduation celebration at The New School in New York, Iranian lawyer, human-rights activist and Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi delivered our commencement address. This brave woman, who has been imprisoned for her criticism of the Iranian government, had many good and wise things to say to our graduates, which earned their applause.

But one applause line troubled me. Ms. Ebadi said: "Democracy cannot be imposed with military force."

What troubled me about this statement--a commonly heard criticism of U.S. involvement in Iraq--is that those who say such things seem to forget the good U.S. arms have done in imposing democracy on countries like Japan and Germany, or Bosnia more recently.





Let me restate the case for this Iraq war from the U.S. point of view. The U.S. led an invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein because Iraq was rightly seen as a threat following Sept. 11, 2001. For two decades we had suffered attacks by radical Islamic groups but were lulled into a false sense of complacency because all previous attacks were "over there." It was our nation and our people who had been identified by Osama bin Laden as the "head of the snake." But suddenly Middle Eastern radicals had demonstrated extraordinary capacity to reach our shores.
As for Saddam, he had refused to comply with numerous U.N. Security Council resolutions outlining specific requirements related to disclosure of his weapons programs. He could have complied with the Security Council resolutions with the greatest of ease. He chose not to because he was stealing and extorting billions of dollars from the U.N. Oil for Food program.

No matter how incompetent the Bush administration and no matter how poorly they chose their words to describe themselves and their political opponents, Iraq was a larger national security risk after Sept. 11 than it was before. And no matter how much we might want to turn the clock back and either avoid the invasion itself or the blunders that followed, we cannot. The war to overthrow Saddam Hussein is over. What remains is a war to overthrow the government of Iraq.

Some who have been critical of this effort from the beginning have consistently based their opposition on their preference for a dictator we can control or contain at a much lower cost. From the start they said the price tag for creating an environment where democracy could take root in Iraq would be high. Those critics can go to sleep at night knowing they were right.

The critics who bother me the most are those who ordinarily would not be on the side of supporting dictatorships, who are arguing today that only military intervention can prevent the genocide of Darfur, or who argued yesterday for military intervention in Bosnia, Somalia and Rwanda to ease the sectarian violence that was tearing those places apart.

Suppose we had not invaded Iraq and Hussein had been overthrown by Shiite and Kurdish insurgents. Suppose al Qaeda then undermined their new democracy and inflamed sectarian tensions to the same level of violence we are seeing today. Wouldn't you expect the same people who are urging a unilateral and immediate withdrawal to be urging military intervention to end this carnage? I would.

American liberals need to face these truths: The demand for self-government was and remains strong in Iraq despite all our mistakes and the violent efforts of al Qaeda, Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias to disrupt it. Al Qaeda in particular has targeted for abduction and murder those who are essential to a functioning democracy: school teachers, aid workers, private contractors working to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure, police officers and anyone who cooperates with the Iraqi government. Much of Iraq's middle class has fled the country in fear.

With these facts on the scales, what does your conscience tell you to do? If the answer is nothing, that it is not our responsibility or that this is all about oil, then no wonder today we Democrats are not trusted with the reins of power. American lawmakers who are watching public opinion tell them to move away from Iraq as quickly as possible should remember this: Concessions will not work with either al Qaeda or other foreign fighters who will not rest until they have killed or driven into exile the last remaining Iraqi who favors democracy.

The key question for Congress is whether or not Iraq has become the primary battleground against the same radical Islamists who declared war on the U.S. in the 1990s and who have carried out a series of terrorist operations including 9/11. The answer is emphatically "yes."

This does not mean that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11; he was not. Nor does it mean that the war to overthrow him was justified--though I believe it was. It only means that a unilateral withdrawal from Iraq would hand Osama bin Laden a substantial psychological victory.





Those who argue that radical Islamic terrorism has arrived in Iraq because of the U.S.-led invasion are right. But they are right because radical Islam opposes democracy in Iraq. If our purpose had been to substitute a dictator who was more cooperative and supportive of the West, these groups wouldn't have lasted a week.
Finally, Jim Webb said something during his campaign for the Senate that should be emblazoned on the desks of all 535 members of Congress: You do not have to occupy a country in order to fight the terrorists who are inside it. Upon that truth I believe it is possible to build what doesn't exist today in Washington: a bipartisan strategy to deal with the long-term threat of terrorism.

The American people will need that consensus regardless of when, and under what circumstances, we withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq. We must not allow terrorist sanctuaries to develop any place on earth. Whether these fighters are finding refuge in Syria, Iran, Pakistan or elsewhere, we cannot afford diplomatic or political excuses to prevent us from using military force to eliminate them.

Mr. Kerrey, a former Democratic senator from Nebraska and member of the 9/11 Commission, is president of The New School.

27661  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Particular Stocks on: May 22, 2007, 08:51:30 AM
In the last couple of weeks I have finally jettisoned KVHI-- a big loser for me than totally offset my gains in MVIS.

I retain the big position in MVIS and have entered into bigger positions in ISIS and LNOP.

ISIS is per David Gordon's recommendation.  His http://eutrapelia.blogspot.com/ offers some of the finest market commentary and stock commentary/advice to be found anywhere. (I recently doubled by solid position in GOOG at 462 on his call)

LNOP is a hot choice of George Gilder, whose advice led me to seriously disasatrously consequences a few years ago, but Rick Neaton who continues following the Gilder universe has persuaded me about this one.

TAC!
27662  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / NY Times: NFL Player to fight on: May 22, 2007, 08:45:06 AM

LAKE FOREST, Calif., May 16 — When Johnnie Morton finished playing wide receiver in the National Football League, he carefully reviewed his retirement options: be host of a talk show, expand his real estate profile, maybe work on his golf game.

Morton played 12 professional seasons, including 8 with the Detroit Lions. He caught 43 touchdown passes in his career.
After much consideration, Morton decided that it would be best to spend his free time being body slammed into a chain-link fence by two men named Joker and Gun.

“Crazy, huh?” Joker said.

Joker’s real name is Mike Guymon. Gun’s real name is Tony Bonello. Together, they are teaching Morton how to compete in mixed martial arts, one of the few sports that may be more violent and more dangerous than professional football.

“I’ve gotten hit a lot in my life,” said Morton, who spent 12 seasons going over the middle against N.F.L. safeties. “But I’ve never gotten hit like this.”

Morton will walk into a ring for the first time June 2 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, beginning his second career. He expects to ask himself the same question that friends, family members and former teammates have been asking him for months: What in the world are you thinking?

Mixed martial arts combines wrestling, boxing and kick boxing with jujitsu, tae kwon do and Muay Thai. Punches to the head and knees to the gut are encouraged. Even the most accomplished fighters get their faces rearranged into cubist paintings.

Two months ago, Morton’s only experience with mixed martial arts was watching the Ultimate Fighting Championship on television. He admired the fighters, mainly because they were the only athletes who seemed more fearless than football players. Morton memorized their names as if they were N.F.L. superstars.

“Some people want to bungee jump,” Morton said. “Others want to jump out of planes. I would never do that. But I want to do this.”

Morton, 35, does not have to fight for a living. He went to the University of Southern California, had a cameo playing himself in the movie “Jerry Maguire,” and was named one of People magazine’s most eligible bachelors. He is rich, handsome, and almost as marketable as Tiki Barber, the former Giants running back who is now a news correspondent for NBC’s “Today” show.

Morton, meanwhile, goes to work at a gym in an Orange County office park. The gym — Joker’s Wild Fighting Academy — includes a ring with a chain-link fence. Japanese and American flags hang from the ceiling, reminding Morton of his mixed heritage.

In Detroit, where Morton spent eight seasons, he was the kind of player who did not get tired even during two-a-days. He can bench press 400 pounds. His body fat is less than 5 percent. But during a sparring session Wednesday, he could not summon the energy to get off his hands and knees. Joker and Gun had to drag him to his feet.

“Let me die in peace,” Morton moaned.

Then he remembered that he was a former professional football player, that his girlfriend was watching, and that Joker and Gun do not believe in peace.

Morton charged at his sparring partner, battering him with a combination of punches and dropping him to the mat with a sweep of his leg. Morton used one hand to grab the man’s neck and the other to pound the side of his face.

If Morton were in the N.F.L., he would have drawn a 15-yard penalty, an automatic ejection, a fine and a possible suspension. But here, he prompted Joker and Gun to do their version of a touchdown dance.

“Look at this guy,” Gun said. “He’s beautiful. He has tons of money. He has an incredibly happy lifestyle. And he’s putting his brain on the line. He’s putting his manhood on the line. It’s hard to say what would make him do it.”

Morton is not the first N.F.L. player to enter the ring, only the most celebrated. Michael Westbrook, a former receiver for the Washington Redskins, won a fight two years ago over Jarrod Bunch, a former running back for the Giants. Bob Sapp, a washout as a N.F.L. lineman, became a formidable competitor in mixed martial arts.

One afternoon last winter, Morton was eating lunch at the Health Emporium when a man named Joey Sakoda approached him. Sakoda first asked Morton if he wanted to go to a mixed martial arts fight. Then Sakoda asked Morton if he wanted to participate.

Sakoda works for Superagent Athletes, a Japanese agency that represents Joker and Gun, both title holders. Sakoda acted quickly, placing Morton on the Dynamite!! U.S.A. fight card, which includes a mixed martial arts star (Royce Gracie) as well as a novelty act (Hong Man Choi, a 7-foot-2 South Korean.)
=====

Morton was afraid to tell his parents. His mother, Katsuko, is Japanese-American. His father, Johnnie Sr., is African-American. Johnnie Sr. was once shot eight times while in his car. Katsuko and Johnnie Sr. did not want their son taking any more risks with his body.

Morton is getting no tuneups. He is fighting in less than two weeks, on Showtime pay-per-view, in the same stadium where he played college football. He will be paid about as much money as he used to earn for a single N.F.L. game.

One of the broadcasters will be Jay Glazer, who has a unique perspective on the bout. Glazer is best known as an N.F.L. analyst, but he also competes in mixed martial arts. When he visits N.F.L. training camps in the summer, players ask him more about fighting than about football.

“Football players are looked at as the biggest and baddest guys on the planet,” Glazer said. “People see them as superheroes. But football players also need someone to look up to. They view mixed martial arts as something even they are unwilling or unable to do. All the guys love Johnnie. But they think he’s nuts.”

N.F.L. players may not want to get into the ring, but they are willing to get in a gym. For years, many players have used boxing as part of their off-season workout regimen. Recently, they have started to turn to mixed martial arts.

According to Glazer, Philadelphia’s Brian Dawkins and Jacksonville’s Donovin Darius have trained at a mixed martial arts gym. So has Barber. This winter, Kansas City’s Jared Allen worked out at Arizona Combat Sports in Tempe.

“Football used to be our only real gladiator sport,” said Trevor Lally, the owner of Arizona Combat Sports gym. “Now, players have M.M.A. to give them a taste of that one-on-one combat. The combat is what they love.”

Morton was never a fighter. Like many receivers, he would try to hit linebackers when they were looking the other way. But Morton said there was only one person in the N.F.L. he would really like to see in the ring — Matt Millen, the Lions’ president. Millen directed a homosexual epithet at Morton after a game between Detroit and Kansas City in 2003, when Morton was playing for the Chiefs.

Morton is not ready to give up football just yet. He was released by the San Francisco 49ers two years ago but said that his agent was talking to a couple of teams. Ideally, he would fight in June and go to a training camp in July.

Morton is trying to shift back and forth, from the mainstream of sports to the fringes, from Tom Brady and Peyton Manning to Joker and Gun. When Morton finished his workout Wednesday, Joker shouted out one more piece of advice, for the road home and the road to retirement.

“Drive fast,” he said. “Take chances.”
27663  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: June 2007 Gathering on: May 22, 2007, 02:45:45 AM
The deal should be signed tomorrow or Wednesday to make everything firm and final, but at the moment we have a verbal agreement.

Assuming all goes as planned, the location is this:

Location:  2435 N. Naomi St. Burbank, CA 91504  (park on lot off  Burton Ave)
27664  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: May 22, 2007, 01:34:46 AM
stratfor.com

Mexico: A Deteriorating Security Situation
May 21, 2007 22 26  GMT



Summary

About 150 state police officers in Mexico's northern Nuevo Leon state went on strike May 21, demanding higher salaries and more resources to fight organized crime, which has claimed the lives of six state police officers in the past four days. Given that drug cartels have increasingly targeted police, army and government personnel in response to a federal campaign to combat organized crime -- and are showing no signs of stopping -- the security situation in Mexico likely will continue deteriorating.

Analysis

About 150 state police officers in Mexico's northern Nuevo Leon state went on strike May 21, demanding higher salaries and more resources to fight organized crime, which has claimed the lives of six state police officers in the past four days. Reports indicate the strike temporarily left a large portion of downtown Monterrey with little to no police presence. City police officers filled in for the state police, who have reached a deal with the government and are scheduled to return to work May 22.

Mexico's drug cartels have increasingly targeted police, army and government personnel in response to a federal campaign to combat organized crime. As this campaign continues, Mexico probably will not be able to reduce violent drug-related crimes in the near future.






Although Mexico has become increasingly violent since the government began its crackdown on organized crime in December 2006, recent violence in the northern states of Nuevo Leon and Sonora has contributed significantly to the country's deteriorating security situation. In addition to the deaths of the six Nuevo Leon police officers in the last four days, threats against journalists have further strained state police forces. A group of about 30 newspaper and television reporters protested May 19 in front of a state government building, demanding greater protection after a TV cameraman and reporter reportedly were kidnapped by drug traffickers earlier in the month. Perhaps the most notorious incident occurred May 16 in the town of Cananea, in Sonora state, where 40-50 armed men abducted seven police officers and six civilians, later killing seven. The ensuing gunbattle with police brought the death toll to 23.

The federal response to such violence highlights the challenges Mexico's security forces face in combating organized crime. Despite a government move to send more than 300 federal and state police officers and army soldiers to the Cananea area, most of the attackers escaped. This increased police presence also did not prevent the May 17 targeted killing of Sonora Police Chief Pedro Cordova Herrera. In addition, the state government announced May 20 it would begin investigating all municipal police officers in Cananea for possible cartel links. This investigation highlights the fundamental corruption problem Mexico's security forces are battling as they continue to fight the cartels.

The recent wave of violence in Sonora and Nuevo Leon can be explained by geography; the states share borders with the United States, making them valuable to drug cartels and trafficking organizations that move narcotics and people across the border. But drug-related violence is on the rise throughout Mexico; according to the attorney general's office, Mexico saw an average of 225 crimes per day related to narcotics trafficking between Dec. 1, 2006, and March 31, 2007. This represents a 40 percent increase over the 2006 average of 159 deaths per day.

For now, the federal government still appears both able and willing to commit more troops and resources to President Felipe Calderon's campaign against organized crime. On May 21, Morelos was added to the list of states to which army soldiers have been deployed. But the effectiveness of federal troops is questionable in such operations, given that the Mexican army is primarily trained and deployed for disaster response. Hence, it seems the security situation in Mexico will continue to deteriorate.
27665  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Race, religion, ethnic origin on: May 22, 2007, 01:32:10 AM


You post eludes me entirely SB Mig-- what are you talking about?  huh
27666  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Team Ruthless on Fox 5 in DC this morning on: May 22, 2007, 01:30:08 AM
I had a fine time there and am scheduled to return in October.

A hearty woof to Dino & Ashley for this well-deserved feather in their cap!
27667  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: June 2007 Gathering on: May 22, 2007, 01:28:49 AM
This has been a perennial struggle in our knife fighting.  Indeed this issue drove the push to aluminum blades and drives the push to the Shocknife.

I'm not really sure how to resolve it-- but I will note that Linda of the Bay Area clan (Baltic Dog's crew) had an outstanding knife fight against a man a few years back which is like to appear in our upcoming DBMA DVD "Die Less Often Volume 2" -- so it certainly can be done.

27668  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Movies of interest on: May 22, 2007, 01:24:41 AM
It has recently come to my attention that Stallone is a major anti-gun rights guy.  What a hypocrite.
27669  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: May 21, 2007, 10:25:54 PM
My understanding is that The Guardian is quite the leftist publication.  Nonetheless, a depressing piece-- especially the comment on our political will here at home.
=====================

Iran's secret plan for summer offensive to force US out of Iraq


Simon Tisdall
Tuesday May 22, 2007
The Guardian


US soldiers visit an Iraqi army base in Amiriya, a Sunni neighbourhood in west Baghdad. Photograph: Sean Smith
 


Iran is secretly forging ties with al-Qaida elements and Sunni Arab militias in Iraq in preparation for a summer showdown with coalition forces intended to tip a wavering US Congress into voting for full military withdrawal, US officials say.
"Iran is fighting a proxy war in Iraq and it's a very dangerous course for them to be following. They are already committing daily acts of war against US and British forces," a senior US official in Baghdad warned. "They [Iran] are behind a lot of high-profile attacks meant to undermine US will and British will, such as the rocket attacks on Basra palace and the Green Zone [in Baghdad]. The attacks are directed by the Revolutionary Guard who are connected right to the top [of the Iranian government]."


Article continues

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The official said US commanders were bracing for a nationwide, Iranian-orchestrated summer offensive, linking al-Qaida and Sunni insurgents to Tehran's Shia militia allies, that Iran hoped would trigger a political mutiny in Washington and a US retreat. "We expect that al-Qaida and Iran will both attempt to increase the propaganda and increase the violence prior to Petraeus's report in September [when the US commander General David Petraeus will report to Congress on President George Bush's controversial, six-month security "surge" of 30,000 troop reinforcements]," the official said.
"Certainly it [the violence] is going to pick up from their side. There is significant latent capability in Iraq, especially Iranian-sponsored capability. They can turn it up whenever they want. You can see that from the pre-positioning that's been going on and the huge stockpiles of Iranian weapons that we've turned up in the last couple of months. The relationships between Iran and groups like al-Qaida are very fluid," the official said.

"It often comes down to individuals, and people constantly move around. For instance, the Sunni Arab so-called resistance groups use Salafi jihadist ideology for their own purposes. But the whole Iran- al-Qaida linkup is very sinister."

Iran has maintained close links to Iraq's Shia political parties and militias but has previously eschewed collaboration with al-Qaida and Sunni insurgents.

US officials now say they have firm evidence that Tehran has switched tack as it senses a chance of victory in Iraq. In a parallel development, they say they also have proof that Iran has reversed its previous policy in Afghanistan and is now supporting and supplying the Taliban's campaign against US, British and other Nato forces.

Tehran's strategy to discredit the US surge and foment a decisive congressional revolt against Mr Bush is national in scope and not confined to the Shia south, its traditional sphere of influence, the senior official in Baghdad said. It included stepped-up coordination with Shia militias such as Moqtada al-Sadr's Jaish al-Mahdi as well as Syrian-backed Sunni Arab groups and al-Qaida in Mesopotamia, he added. Iran was also expanding contacts across the board with paramilitary forces and political groups, including Kurdish parties such as the PUK, a US ally.

"Their strategy takes into account all these various parties. Iran is playing all these different factions to maximise its future control and maximise US and British difficulties. Their co-conspirator is Syria which is allowing the takfirists [fundamentalist Salafi jihadis] to come across the border," the official said.

Any US decision to retaliate against Iran on its own territory could be taken only at the highest political level in Washington, the official said. But he indicated that American patience was wearing thin.

Warning that the US was "absolutely determined" to hit back hard wherever it was challenged by Iranian proxies or agents inside Iraq, he cited the case of five alleged members of the Revolutionary Guard's al-Quds force detained in Irbil in January. Despite strenuous protests from Tehran, which claims the men are diplomats, they have still not been released.

"Tehran is behaving like a racecourse gambler. They're betting on all the horses in the race, even on people they fundamentally don't trust," a senior administration official in Washington said. "They don't know what the outcome will be in Iraq. So they're hedging their bets."

The administration official also claimed that notwithstanding recent US and British overtures, Syria was still collaborating closely with Iran's strategy in Iraq.

"80% to 90%" of the foreign jihadis entering Iraq were doing so from Syrian territory, he said.

Despite recent diplomatic contacts, and an agreement to hold bilateral talks at ambassadorial level in Baghdad next week, US officials say there has been no let-up in hostile Iranian activities, including continuing support for violence, weapons smuggling and training.

"Iran is perpetuating the cycle of sectarian violence through support for extra-judicial killing and murder cells. They bring Iraqi militia members and insurgent groups into Iran for training and then help infiltrate them back into the country. We have plenty of evidence from a variety of sources. There's no argument about that. That's just a fact," the senior official in Baghdad said.

In trying to force an American retreat, Iran's hardline leadership also hoped to bring about a humiliating political and diplomatic defeat for the US that would reduce Washington's regional influence while increasing Tehran's own.

But if Iran succeeded in "prematurely" driving US and British forces out of Iraq, the likely result would be a "colossal humanitarian disaster" and possible regional war drawing in the Sunni Arab Gulf states, Syria and Turkey, he said.

Despite such concerns, or because of them, the US welcomed the chance to talk to Iran, the senior administration official said. "Our agenda starts with force protection in Iraq," he said. But there were many other Iraq-related issues to be discussed. Recent pressure had shown that Iran's behaviour could be modified, the official claimed: "Last winter they were literally getting away with murder."

But tougher action by security forces in Iraq against Iranian agents and networks, the dispatch of an additional aircraft carrier group to the Gulf and UN security council resolutions imposing sanctions had given Tehran pause, he said.

Washington analysts and commentators predict that Gen Petraeus's report to the White House and Congress in early September will be a pivotal moment in the history of the four-and-a-half-year war - and a decision to begin a troop drawdown or continue with the surge policy will hinge on the outcome. Most Democrats and many Republicans in Congress believe Iraq is in the grip of a civil war and that there is little that a continuing military presence can achieve. "Political will has already failed. It's over," a former Bush administration official said.

A senior adviser to Gen Petraeus reported this month that the surge had reduced violence, especially sectarian killings, in the Baghdad area and Sunni-dominated Anbar province. But the adviser admitted that much of the trouble had merely moved elsewhere, "resulting in spikes of activity in Diyala [to the north] and some areas to the south of the capital". "Overall violence is at about the same level [as when the surge began in February]."

Iranian officials flatly deny US and British allegations of involvement in internal violence in Iraq or in attacks on coalition forces. Interviewed in Tehran recently, Mohammad Reza Bagheri, deputy foreign minister for Arab affairs with primary responsibility for Iran's policy in Iraq, said: "We believe it would be to the benefit of both the occupiers and the Iraqi people that they [the coalition forces] withdraw immediately."
27670  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: May 21, 2007, 06:13:02 PM
Newt is on O'Reilly tonight:
===================
An email missive from Newt:

An Immigration Shipwreck
in Sight

The announcement last week that the White House and a group of senators have reached an agreement on "comprehensive immigration reform" should have the same effect that the word "iceberg" had on the passengers and crew of the Titanic.

This proposed agreement is a disaster of the first order, and it would severely cripple America for the foreseeable future.

You can tell how bad this bill is by the Senate Democratic leadership's announced goal of trying to pass it before the Memorial Day weekend.

Remember, this bill has not yet been finished. Senators and their staffs were still negotiating over the weekend and many key items were still in confusion. So here's what we have to do:

TODAY'S ACTION ITEM:

CALL YOUR SENATORS AND LET THEM KNOW HOW ANGRY YOU WILL BE IF THEY PASS A BILL BEFORE IT HAS BEEN PRINTED AND PUT ON THE INTERNET AND EXPOSED FOR THE COUNTRY TO READ AND UNDERSTAND.




 

75 Reasons to Oppose the New Immigration Bill

When the FBI arrested six terrorists in New Jersey two weeks ago it turned out that three of them had been in the U.S. illegally for at least TWENTY years.

These three had crossed our unprotected border and had been living in New Jersey.

But here's the even more outrageous part: The police had filed 75 (SEVENTY-FIVE!) charges against them, including drug possession and possession of drug paraphernalia.

In 75 interactions, the police never once learned that these three people were here illegally.

The government failed twice: First, by failing to secure the border, and second, by failing to determine that these people were here illegally. The result was that more than five years after 9/11 we were saved from a mass killing at Fort Dix only because of the patriotism and courage of a clerk at an electronics store.

Compare the 75 charges made against the would-be Fort Dix terrorists with how we rounded up German spies in World War II. In June 1942, it took a total of 15 days to track down and arrest eight German spies who landed in Florida and New York from submarines. We executed six of them and gave one life in prison and the other thirty years. We were serious about winning that war. Go here for a more detailed comparison and a list of the 75 charges against the Fort Dix terrorists.

Faced with this level of failure of bureaucracy, how could anyone believe for a minute that this new immigration bill will work? The fact is it can't and it won't. It will rely on the same failed bureaucracy and produce more years of failure.

We Have Been Here Before

In 1986, I voted for the Simpson-Mazzoli immigration bill. We were promised that in return for amnesty for far fewer than three million illegal immigrants we would get:

Control of the border;
Enforcement of laws requiring employers to know someone is here legally before hiring them; and
No more amnesty and no more tolerance of illegality
The government broke its word on every one of those provisions.

We eventually amnestied three million people who had broken the law, and we sent a signal to the world that it is okay to break the law and come to America.

Now, 20 years later, we are told to trust Washington while we amnesty 12 to 20 million more people who have broken the law.

A Tax Amnesty Too?

When its supporters refer to the new immigration bill as "comprehensive," they must mean comprehensively outrageous.

The Boston Globe reported this weekend that the new bill will not require illegal workers to pay back taxes.

If this is true, the bill is an assault on every law-abiding, patriotic American who has been obeying the law, working legally and paying his taxes.

Every taxpaying American should insist that any bill involving any condition for illegal workers having any future in America should require them to do three things when it comes to taxes: 1) Admit how long they've been here (under threat of immediate deportation if they lie); 2) admit whom they worked for (who, after all, had also been breaking the law and avoiding paying taxes); and 3) pay any back taxes and penalties they owe.

There Is a Way to Deal With Illegal Immigration -- This is Not It

I have written extensively about good solutions for our current immigration mess in Winning the Future and elsewhere. Click here for more information.


Undermining America's Young Men and Women in Uniform

No one should doubt how much damage the Democrats are doing to America and to our young men and women in uniform with their political maneuvering in Congress.

In Atlanta Friday night, a doctor in the National Guard who had just come home from serving in Mosul briefed me on the damage he had seen to American morale and the confusion among young soldiers as the Democrats continue to play games with the supplemental appropriations and talk about legislating defeat in the war our troops are trying every day to win.

How would you like to be risking your life on the point in Iraq knowing some politician back home was undermining everything you are trying to do?

Call your House and Senate members and tell them to quit undermining our troops in the middle of a war and get the money to the troops without any more games or delays.

(I discussed Iraq with Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd on NBC's "Meet the Press" yesterday. You can watch it here.)

 

 
 
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27671  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Condiciones de Alerta on: May 21, 2007, 06:05:15 PM
Un analysis que me gusta mucho ofrece 5 opciones

1) Luchar/fight
2) Huir/flight
3) Congelarse/freeze
4) Ladrar/bluff
5) Rendir/surrender
27672  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Venezuela Pol?tica on: May 21, 2007, 06:01:56 PM
A Circus But No Bread
By MARY ANASTASIA O'GRADY
May 21, 2007; Page A16

"The characteristic feature of the market price is that it tends to equalize supply and demand."

--Ludwig von Mises, "Human Action," 1949

The Venezuelan government will seize control of Radio Caracas Television on Sunday, finally making good on a threat to silence one of the country's most important independent news sources. It is no coincidence that this is happening at a time when Venezuelans are suffering a shortage of key foodstuffs.

Free-speech protections in Venezuela have been steadily eroding for the past eight years, and most other television stations already practice self-censorship. With the expropriation of RCTV, there is only one other independent voice -- Globovision -- left standing. This assault on free speech has even provoked criticism by the Organization of American States, which has been silent about President Hugo Chávez's many other offenses against democracy.

Having built his claim to legitimacy on the spurious assertion that he presides over a democracy, you can bet that Mr. Chávez would not have gone after RCTV unless he deemed control of TV news vital to his survival. It may indeed be. The reason is because the economy has been so mismanaged that a crisis now appears unavoidable. How it will end, in rationing and hunger or hyperinflationary madness, is hard to say. But when the whole thing comes a cropper, the last thing the president will want is TV images of popular protests that could be contagious.

 
 
From the earliest days of his presidency, Mr. Chávez made it clear that he intended to vastly expand the state's economic power. In 2000 he started politicizing the state-owned oil company PdVSA and hollowing out its professional engineering and marketing staffs. Shortly thereafter he took to expropriating farms, factories and apartments. When Venezuelan money began to flee, he slapped on capital controls. More recently, he has forced international oil companies to hand over Venezuelan operations and surrender majority control. He has nationalized the largest telephone company and the most important electricity utility. He is now threatening to take over the banks.

As government takings always do, these assaults on property rights have badly damaged output and investment. Yet the harm has been greatly compounded by three other pernicious policies: price controls, profligate government spending and inflation of the national currency, the bolivar.

Here's how Chávez economics "works." As petro-dollars pour into state coffers, the government takes them to the central bank to get new bolivars printed, which are then pumped into the economy through government spending. Mr. Chávez has also been regularly increasing wages. The result is a consumption boom. Under free prices, too many bolivars chasing too few goods would produce inflation that would show up at the supermarket checkout counter. But price controls make that impossible. Instead, serious shortages are emerging.

Free prices are to an economy what microchips are to a computer. They carry information. As Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises explained in his legendary treatise 60 years ago, it is free prices that ensure that supply will meet demand. When Mr. Chávez imposed price controls, he destroyed the price mechanism.

And so it is that the Venezuelan egg is now a delicacy, the chicken an endangered species, toilet paper a luxury and meat an extravagance. White cheese, milk, tuna, sardines, sugar, corn oil, sunflower oil, carbonated drinks, beans, flour and rice are also in short supply.

The reason is simple: Producers have no incentive to bring goods to market if they are forced to sell them at unprofitable prices. Ranchers hold back their animals from slaughter, fisherman don't cast their nets, food processors don't invest in equipment and farmers don't plant. Those who do produce find it makes more sense to take their goods across the border to Colombia or to seek out unregulated (black) markets.

Importers also have little incentive to work these days even though the country needs food from abroad. Some things like wheat are not grown in Venezuela. Other products like milk, sugar and potatoes are imported to supplement local supplies. But the Chávez government has made it difficult to buy a dollar at the official exchange rate of 2,150 bolivars and if an importer has to buy dollars at the market rate of 4,000 bolivars it is impossible to make a profit under price controls. Even imports not subject to price controls can be difficult to find since import permits and licenses, as well as dollars, are hard to come by.

This is putting a crimp in more than just the food supply. According to local press reports, some 40% of the country's air fleet has been affected by delays in getting spare parts and the automotive industry's supply chain is hampered by a lack of access to dollars. Earlier this year hospitals began complaining that the servicing of medical equipment has been delayed because spare parts are not available. Hospitals are also reporting shortages of medicines for diabetics, antibiotics and hypertension drugs. Price controls on construction materials have damaged the reliability of supply.

To stock the state-owned grocery stores called Mercal, the Chávez government goes shopping abroad with dollar reserves. Of course, Mercal shelves are often bare as well. Moreover, some enterprising government employees seemed to have learned something about market economics: The Venezuelan media is reporting that Mercal supplies are turning up for sale just across the Colombian border, where market prices prevail.

Venezuelan policy makers can't be this dumb. The intention is not to feed the country but to destroy the private sector and any political power it might still have. In this environment survival independent of good relations with Mr. Chávez is nearly impossible. In the revolutionary handbook, capitalist producers and importers who buy things from the imperialists will be replaced by socialists living on cooperatives that will feed the country. The only trouble is that that effort is not going well, as José de Cordoba reported on the Journal's front page on Thursday. Lack of knowledge, equipment, incentives and organization have left the co-ops "mostly a bust so far."

To end the shortages all Mr. Chávez would have to do is lift the price controls. But with inflation already running above 20%, he no doubt fears the price jump that would follow. Much safer to seize RCTV and accelerate the consolidation of the military dictatorship. When the crisis comes, the chavistas will be ready.

Write to O'Grady@wsj.com
27673  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: May 21, 2007, 05:35:30 PM
Battling al Qaeda in Iraq
The Iraqi Army is stepping up the fight against terror. On Saturday, I saw the terrorists strike back.

BY MELIK KAYLAN
Monday, May 21, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Diyala Province, Iraq--Saturday I witnessed a violent and dramatic illustration of how the Iraqi Army has, in places, begun to work effectively with tribesmen against determined al Qaeda insurgents.

The incident occurred some 50 miles north of Baghdad at a remote dusty village in Diyala province, which is now a kind of frontline between the two sides. We were there in the punishing noonday heat, with a rustic crowd on hand, to witness an emotional meeting between tribal chiefs in long robes and a lone, clean-shaven figure in a suit and tie--Ahmed Chalabi. Mr. Chalabi, the elite Shiite politician and former exile, a controversial figure in the U.S., came to thank the elders for their courage and sacrifice.

Until recently, Sunnis and Shiites had tilled the land together for miles around, intermarried and mutually inhabited a checkerboard of villages. A year ago, al Qaeda had forced its strategy of sectarian hatred on the area, purging the Shiites while executing Sunnis who resisted their authority. It remains one of Iraq's most volatile zones. Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, the sanguinary leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, had his headquarters in the area and was ultimately killed less than 20 miles away.





Suddenly hefty explosions shook the ground while automatic gunfire rent the air. We were under attack, and al Qaeda had chosen a perfect moment to ignite disaster. All their local opponents were there, plus Mr. Chalabi, a top Iraqi government figure known around the world.
Mr. Chalabi lives outside the security of the Baghdad's Green Zone, albeit in a well-defended series of cul-de-sacs. One of his official functions requires him to raise public support for Baghdad's security plan, so he likes to be mobile and takes risks to stay in touch with things. Abroad, he has been accused of everything from luring the U.S. and other allies into toppling Saddam to passing sensitive information to Iran. Among Iraqis he is highly respected.

At about 10 a.m. on Saturday, we had taken off across Baghdad in a convoy of a dozen white pickups and SUVs, some with mounted machine guns, on our way to Diyala. We passed through notorious neighborhoods: one infamous for kidnapping, another where street battles have been fought between Shiites and Palestinian gangs. Often there were miles of static cars queuing for gasoline. We passed by the old U.N. High Commission building, truck-bombed in 2003, now empty. We passed Saddam's giant, turquoise, egg-shaped "Monument to the Martyrs" of the Iran-Iraq war, a bright contrast to the faded saffron brick of Baghdad's peeling facades. Suddenly a sharp explosive sound went off nearby and Ali, the security chief shouted "go, go, go" into the intercom. Our convoy raced off.

Out in the country, cracked dry earth and chalky bare scrubland stretched away. An hour out, the convoy slowed almost to standstill and stayed that way. Never a good thing. Al Qaeda had blown up all the bridges linking Baghdad to Iran, and a mile or more of trucks waited to cross a makeshift mud-and-stone bridge across the Diyala river. A bulldozer helped us jump the queue by carving an improvised path. We passed some miles of mud-brick dwellings and arrived at a village square encircled by earthen ramparts with a T-55 tank, a cannon and a bunker embedded along it. We had arrived at the front line in the village of Dafaa. Nearby stood a long, low reception hall, and, just in front, a large tent with long tables for the tribal buffet lunch.

Mr. Chalabi entered the building followed by Al-Iraqiyya TV crews. An aging sheik, in black-checkered headdress and sheer ochre robe--said to be the richest landowner--came in and sat beside him. Much of his property lay fallow out in no man's land. He'd lost seven sons and grandsons to the conflict there. "We've had no support from the government since the fighting started," he said, "no one has visited us or asked what we need. We've been on our own fighting al Qaeda which gets money and arms from around the world. Only recently, the Iraqi Army has given us some soldiers and weapons, and that has helped very much, but we need more, much more help, money, arms, provisions. We ask that you pass this on to the government." Above his head hung a moonlit poster of the Shiite martyr Imam Ali on a white horse crossing a river. One sheik after another came in and repeated the same concerns.

Dafaa has perforce become an exclusively Shiite village, an international force of militant Sunnis having occupied the villages roundabout. They are led, according to locals, by Afghans who have forced farmers to give them their daughters in marriage and "made everyone look Afghani like them, with long beards." They decapitate doubters and float them down the river to Dafaa village. "No fish anymore," say the locals.

In wider Diyala province, wedged strategically between Iran and Baghdad, many of the Sunnis were in Saddam's security forces, and for a while the al Qaeda leader was a former Saddam army colonel, according to Mr. Chalabi. They consider themselves a last line of resistance to the Shiite continuum between Iran and Iraqi Shiites to the south, so they accommodate foreign Sunni fighters more readily than, say, the Sunni tribes in Anbar province who feel more secure.

In the last year, al Qaeda rolled up the front until Dafaa village lay exposed like an arrowhead surrounded on three sides. It served as the final redoubt protecting the last bridge open to vital goods from the north directly supplying Baghdad. Finally, some months ago, a small contingent of 15 Iraqi Army troops moved in with high-caliber armor and stabilized the front. "That's all it took," said the young lieutenant in charge as he showed us and the 20-foot earthen ramparts, "because we fight alongside the people." Listening to anecdotes and viewing bullet marks from snipers, we stood outlined on the ridge squinting across empty cracked fields. The nearest village shaded by date trees sat a mere 900 meters away. Our self-exposure proved foolhardy in short order.

As the buffet lunch got going, a soldier ran over and reported two pickups racing across no man's land towards us. He was told to report developments. He raced back saying that they seemed to be unloading mortars. This time, he was told to repel them. The opposition had no doubt seen all the ridge-top activity, the civilians, camera crews, berobed sheiks--and responded briskly. The first high-explosive shell, later identified as launched from an 82mm heavy mortar, must have landed to the left of the village. It shook everything and blurred my sight. Our side opened fire with Kalashnikovs, perhaps some 30 fighters in all slithering up the slope, one standing on the skyline with a full machine gun while being fed the magazine-belt by his friend. The tank too thundered away. Then the APC cannon.

I lost my head somewhat and ran at the rampart to look over the top but was thankfully tackled and stopped. The visiting sheiks crowded into the community hall. Mr. Chalabi never ceased talking to the TV camera, demanding help for the village. The second shell landed closer and behind us and fine yellow earth-dust floated over us. The sheiks were herded outside as a direct hit would have killed them all. It seemed the enemy had hit the structure before, maybe even had its GPS coordinates. The chaos intensified, the fighters now ducking from incoming fire. It was frustrating not to see the full picture. Two U.S. choppers flew overhead toward the opposition. The third mortar detonated, quite close this time, perhaps some 30 yards to the left, behind shuddering mud-brick structures, making my clothing flicker in the blast and my breath drop out. The tank fired again. The sheiks ran around ascending their SUVs with help from villagers. I counted three shells in all but some say six landed. It was hard to tell in the confusion. Suddenly a shout rose up and the fighters danced up and down below the ridge and came running down to us laughing. They'd destroyed one of the targets, it seemed.





What about the other? "It's OK, it's OK," someone shouted to me, and everyone began firing into the air to the great anger of a visiting army officer. They could scarcely afford the ammunition. We later found out, though, that the combined sound of gunfire, added to by bodyguards, had impressed the attackers--they apparently feared the presence of a much bigger force. They stopped, at least for now, which gave us the chance to leap into our vehicles, with Mr. Chalabi in his blue Parisian suit and poplin shirt pleading to the last in front of the cameras, before being bundled off to safety.
As we drove away from the village along the raised earth road, I looked back to see perhaps a hundred SUVs, a mile long, belting along behind carrying the elders. An Iraqi Army Humvee with mounted machine gun charged past us to the front. They'd been helping to guard the last bridge to Baghdad. But now, one felt, the villagers could guard it handily. They no longer felt isolated and forgotten by the world, as the television sets showed this night all over the Mideast.

Mr. Kaylan is an Istanbul-born writer based in New York.
WSJ
27674  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libertarian themes on: May 21, 2007, 05:16:11 PM
EMMA GUNBY
Press Association Newsfile
http://www.officer.com/article/article.jsp?siteSection=1&id=36197

The UK's first police "spy drone" took to the skies today.  The remote control helicopter, fitted with CCTV cameras, will be used by officers in Merseyside to track criminals and record anti-social behaviour.  The drone is only a metre wide, weighs less than a bag of sugar, and can record images from a height of 500m.  It was originally used for military reconnaissance but is now being trialled by a mainstream police force.

The spy plane was launched as a senior police officer warned the surveillance society in the UK is eroding civil liberties.

Ian Readhead, deputy chief constable of Hampshire Police, said Britain could face an Orwellian situation with cameras on every street corner.  However, senior officers in Merseyside, who are trialling the drone, said they did not believe it was the next phase in creating a Big Brother society.

Assistant chief constable Simon Byrne said: "People clamour for the feeling of safety which cameras give.

"Obviously there is a point of view that has been expressed but our feedback from the public is anything we can do to fight crime is a good thing.

"There are safeguards in place legally covering the use of CCTV and the higher the level of intrusion, the higher the level of authority needed within the police force to use it. So there is that balance there."

Police said the drone is expected to be operational by June and will be given a three-month trial.

27675  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / AQ courting Black American Muslims on: May 21, 2007, 03:39:11 PM
Monday, May 21, 2007


Pitch to African-Americans invokes 'martyr' Malcolm X



© 2007 WorldNetDaily.com

Al-Qaida is aggressively recruiting black Americans for suicide operations against the homeland, say FBI analysts who have reviewed recent videotaped messages from the terror group's leaders.

A speech released May 5 by Osama bin Laden's deputy confirms earlier fears that African-Americans are the No. 1 recruiting target for the next generation of attacks. Al-Qaida has been trying to lower its Arab profile to reduce the odds that its terror cells will be subjected to security scrutiny.

"Federal and local law enforcement authorities should be aware that al-Qaida terrorists may not appear Arab," warns a recent Homeland Security intelligence report obtained by WND. "Non-Arab al-Qaida operatives could find it easier to avoid unwanted scrutiny since they may not fit typical profiles."

In the latest message, al-Qaida No. 2 Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri clearly seeks to sow political and racial discontent among African-Americans. He makes frequent references to what he calls the "martyr" Malcolm X, and says "I want blacks in America to know that we are waging jihad to lift oppression from all mankind."

Zawahiri encourages African-Americans to follow the example of Malcolm X, a.k.a. al-Hajj Malik al-Shabaaz, who he says was not afraid to sacrifice his life to fight American "oppression."

According to a transcript of the hour-long screed, Zawahiri said this is "the culture which the struggler and martyr Malcom X (may Allah have mercy upon him) fought against when he told his repressed black brothers in America, 'If you're not ready to die for it, take the word "freedom" out of your vocabulary.'"

"Freedom is something that you have to do for yourself," he quotes Malcolm X as as saying. "The price of freedom is death."

Zawahiri, again citing the teachings of Malcolm X, suggests that black Muslims who do not rise up against America are no better than "house slaves."

It's the first time al-Qaida has identified Malcolm X as a fellow Islamic "struggler and martyr," analysts say.

"Zawahiri's focus on race relations may be benefiting from the input of a U.S. citizen named Adam Yahiye Gadahn – a.k.a Azaam al-Amriki – who is a senior member of al-Qaida's media committee," said former CIA analyst Michael Scheuer, now an analyst for the Jamestown Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank specializing in national security.

"Indeed," he added, "the deftness and political timeliness of Zawahiri's statements suggest that al-Qaida may have more than a single American advising it."

Last year, in another nearly hour-long videotaped speech, al-Qaida propaganda chief Gadahn invited blacks to convert to Islam and take revenge against a nation that enslaved their ancestors.

Gadahn, a white convert from California thought to be operating out of al-Qaida's new base in Pakistan, slammed his native America, which he said "shamelessly brought us lynch laws, Jim Crow, and a death row where only convicts of certain races are sent."

In courting African-Americans, he also encouraged them to forsake Christianity, which he claims whites have used as an excuse to abuse blacks.

"Islam rejects the Judeo-Christian doctrines concerning Eve and Ham, which the West has used to justify all manner of abuse and ill treatment of women and blacks," Gadahn said. "Islam is for everyone."

Gadahn, who is wanted by the FBI for treason, also claims that America "enslaved Africa."

Islamic terrorism analysts point out that al-Qaida's racial history lessons conveniently leave out the fact that Arab Muslim slave traders sold Africans into bondage.

"The Arab is the true master of the African," said Bill Warner, director of the Center for Study of Political Islam. "Blacks like to imagine Islam is their counterweight to white power, not that Islam has ruled them for 1,400 years."

Blacks account for the largest share of Muslims in America. A great many of them are converts to Islam. And remarkably, the religion is flourishing among African-Americans since 9/11. Analysts fear the trend plays right into bin Laden's hands.

Black converts say Islam has more in common with their African heritage than Christianity. In fact, black Muslim leaders often refer to such conversions as "reversions," claiming black "reverts" are merely returning to the Islamic faith prominent among their African forebears who were forced into slavery.

"You have African-American men seeking liberation," explained black Muslim leader Eric Erfan Vickers, "and many see Christianity as a white man's religion that continues to oppress."

Vickers, a convert to Islam, does not consider al-Qaida a terrorism group. "They are involved in a resistance movement," he contended.

Prisons have already proven to be a fertile recruiting ground for al-Qaida, spawning the likes of shoebomber Richard Reid and alleged dirty bomber Jose Padilla.

Christian prison chaplains say Islam is so popular with inmates they are having a hard time competing with Muslim chaplains for their souls. Blacks are being converted by the cell block. The FBI worries blacks could be the next face of terror in America.

Since 9/11, the agency has already disrupted several homegrown terror plots involving black Muslim converts, including:


A group of black Muslim converts in Miami who allegedly conspired to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago (some had rap sheets).

A Chicago black Muslim, Derrick Shareef, who allegedly plotted to blow up a local shopping mall.

A black U.S. soldier, Hassan Abujihaad, who allegedly fed terrorists classified information about U.S. battleship movements in the Strait of Hormuz.

Black ex-con Muslims in Torrance, Calif., who allegedly planned to attack military recruiting stations and synagogues in the state. The plot was initially hatched in prison.
Still, some analysts doubt al-Qaida's pitch will resonate in today's black community beyond a handful of malcontents. They point out that African-Americans are no longer held back by institutional racism, and are growing wealthier as evidenced by the expanding black middle class.

Indeed, Zawahiri does not paint a very enticing picture in describing the sacrifices required along the path of jihad, especially for those used to the material comforts of America.

"If we continue to aspire to nothing more than diplomas, positions, salaries, pensions and the raising of our children, there will be nothing but humiliation in store for us, our children and our grandchildren," he argued. "If, on the other hand, we are happy with killing, captivity, emigration, losing one's spouse, orphanage, and losing one's wealth, homeland and beloved in the path of Allah, then with Allah's help, no power on the face of the earth can defeat us."

Zawahiri in his latest speech also made fresh threats about coming attacks on America.

He warns that a new "squadron of martyrdom-seekers" is lined up behind "hundreds" of new leaders who are following in the footsteps of captured 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

"They shall achieve more than he achieved," Zawahiri vowed. "The Americans shall pay dearly."

He says American voters had a chance to fire Bush in the last presidential election for invading Iraq, but they chose instead to reelect him. He suggests they forfeited their chance for protection from terrorism, and deserve punishment.

"The Americans deserve what they're getting," he said. "They chose this liar two times, so let them pay the price for their choice."

Gadahn has said "the streets of America shall run red with blood," later singling out Los Angeles as a target of attack.
27676  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Race, religion, ethnic origin on: May 21, 2007, 03:15:22 PM
Michele Malkin lets fly on a black on white crime and asks why it hasn't made the news:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HbQ_iybMpZo
27677  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: June 2007 Gathering on: May 20, 2007, 08:30:22 AM
I just clicked on the registered fighters list and count 40.

At the moment Lynn is the only woman.  If you think she's up for it and up to it, we'll let her do knife with the men.

With any luck, the deal with OP/Nat Geo signs tomorrow.
27678  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Coming Anarchy by Robert Kaplan part five on: May 20, 2007, 07:55:56 AM


Future wars will be those of communal survival, aggravated or, in many cases, caused by environmental scarcity. These wars will be subnational, meaning that it will be hard for states and local governments to protect their own citizens physically. This is how many states will ultimately die. As state power fades--and with it the state's ability to help weaker groups within society, not to mention other states--peoples and cultures around the world will be thrown back upon their own strengths and weaknesses, with fewer equalizing mechanisms to protect them. Whereas the distant future will probably see the emergence of a racially hybrid, globalized man, the coming decades will see us more aware of our differences than of our similarities. To the average person, political values will mean less, personal security more. The belief that we are all equal is liable to be replaced by the overriding obsession of the ancient Greek travelers: Why the differences between peoples?

The Last Map
In Geography and the Human Spirit, Anne Buttimer, a professor at University College, Dublin, recalls the work of an early-nineteenth-century German geographer, Carl Ritter, whose work implied "a divine plan for humanity" based on regionalism and a constant, living flow of forms. The map of the future, to the extent that a map is even possible, will represent a perverse twisting of Ritter's vision. Imagine cartography in three dimensions, as if in a hologram. In this hologram would be the overlapping sediments of group and other identities atop the merely two-dimensional color markings of city-states and the remaining nations, themselves confused in places by shadowy tentacles, hovering overhead, indicating the power of drug cartels, mafias, and private security agencies. Instead of borders, there would be moving "centers" of power, as in the Middle Ages. Many of these layers would be in motion. Replacing fixed and abrupt lines on a flat space would be a shifting pattern of buffer entities, like the Kurdish and Azeri buffer entities between Turkey and Iran, the Turkic Uighur buffer entity between Central Asia and Inner China (itself distinct from coastal China), and the Latino buffer entity replacing a precise U.S.-Mexican border. To this protean cartographic hologram one must add other factors, such as migrations of populations, explosions of birth rates, vectors of disease. Henceforward the map of the world will never be static. This future map--in a sense, the "Last Map"--will be an ever-mutating representation of chaos.

The Indian subcontinent offers examples of what is happening. For different reasons, both India and Pakistan are increasingly dysfunctional. The argument over democracy in these places is less and less relevant to the larger issue of governability. In India's case the question arises, Is one unwieldy bureaucracy in New Delhi the best available mechanism for promoting the lives of 866 million people of diverse languages, religions, and ethnic groups? In 1950, when the Indian population was much less than half as large and nation-building idealism was still strong, the argument for democracy was more impressive than it is now. Given that in 2025 India's population could be close to 1.5 billion, that much of its economy rests on a shrinking natural-resource base, including dramatically declining water levels, and that communal violence and urbanization are spiraling upward, it is difficult to imagine that the Indian state will survive the next century. India's oft-trumpeted Green Revolution has been achieved by overworking its croplands and depleting its watershed. Norman Myers, a British development consultant, worries that Indians have "been feeding themselves today by borrowing against their children's food sources."

Pakistan's problem is more basic still: like much of Africa, the country makes no geographic or demographic sense. It was founded as a homeland for the Muslims of the subcontinent, yet there are more subcontinental Muslims outside Pakistan than within it. Like Yugoslavia, Pakistan is a patchwork of ethnic groups, increasingly in violent conflict with one another. While the Western media gushes over the fact that the country has a woman Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, Karachi is becoming a subcontinental version of Lagos. In eight visits to Pakistan, I have never gotten a sense of a cohesive national identity. With as much as 65 percent of its land dependent on intensive irrigation, with wide-scale deforestation, and with a yearly population growth of 2.7 percent (which ensures that the amount of cultivated land per rural inhabitant will plummet), Pakistan is becoming a more and more desperate place. As irrigation in the Indus River basin intensifies to serve two growing populations, Muslim-Hindu strife over falling water tables may be unavoidable.

"India and Pakistan will probably fall apart," Homer-Dixon predicts. "Their secular governments have less and less legitimacy as well as less management ability over people and resources." Rather than one bold line dividing the subcontinent into two parts, the future will likely see a lot of thinner lines and smaller parts, with the ethnic entities of Pakhtunistan and Punjab gradually replacing Pakistan in the space between the Central Asian plateau and the heart of the subcontinent.

None of this even takes into account climatic change, which, if it occurs in the next century, will further erode the capacity of existing states to cope. India, for instance, receives 70 percent of its precipitation from the monsoon cycle, which planetary warming could disrupt.

Not only will the three-dimensional aspects of the Last Map be in constant motion, but its two-dimensional base may change too. The National Academy of Sciences reports that "as many as one billion people, or 20 per cent of the world's population, live on lands likely to be inundated or dramatically changed by rising waters. . . . Low-lying countries in the developing world such as Egypt and Bangladesh, where rivers are large and the deltas extensive and densely populated, will be hardest hit. . . . Where the rivers are dammed, as in the case of the Nile, the effects . . . will be especially severe."

Egypt could be where climatic upheaval--to say nothing of the more immediate threat of increasing population--will incite religious upheaval in truly biblical fashion. Natural catastrophes, such as the October, 1992, Cairo earthquake, in which the government failed to deliver relief aid and slum residents were in many instances helped by their local mosques, can only strengthen the position of Islamic factions. In a statement about greenhouse warming which could refer to any of a variety of natural catastrophes, the environmental expert Jessica Tuchman Matthews warns that many of us underestimate the extent to which political systems, in affluent societies as well as in places like Egypt, "depend on the underpinning of natural systems." She adds, "The fact that one can move with ease from Vermont to Miami has nothing to say about the consequences of Vermont acquiring Miami's climate."

Indeed, it is not clear that the United States will survive the next century in exactly its present form. Because America is a multi-ethnic society, the nation-state has always been more fragile here than it is in more homogeneous societies like Germany and Japan. James Kurth, in an article published in The National Interest in 1992, explains that whereas nation-state societies tend to be built around a mass-conscription army and a standardized public school system, "multicultural regimes" feature a high-tech, all-volunteer army (and, I would add, private schools that teach competing values), operating in a culture in which the international media and entertainment industry has more influence than the "national political class." In other words, a nation-state is a place where everyone has been educated along similar lines, where people take their cue from national leaders, and where everyone (every male, at least) has gone through the crucible of military service, making patriotism a simpler issue. Writing about his immigrant family in turn-of-the-century Chicago, Saul Bellow states, "The country took us over. It was a country then, not a collection of 'cultures.'"

During the Second World War and the decade following it, the United States reached its apogee as a classic nation-state. During the 1960s, as is now clear, America began a slow but unmistakable process of transformation. The signs hardly need belaboring: racial polarity, educational dysfunction, social fragmentation of many and various kinds. William Irwin Thompson, in Passages About Earth: An Exploration of the New Planetary Culture, writes, "The educational system that had worked on the Jews or the Irish could no longer work on the blacks; and when Jewish teachers in New York tried to take black children away from their parents exactly in the way they had been taken from theirs, they were shocked to encounter a violent affirmation of negritude."

Issues like West Africa could yet emerge as a new kind of foreign-policy issue, further eroding America's domestic peace. The spectacle of several West African nations collapsing at once could reinforce the worst racial stereotypes here at home. That is another reason why Africa matters. We must not kid ourselves: the sensitivity factor is higher than ever. The Washington, D.C., public school system is already experimenting with an Afrocentric curriculum. Summits between African leaders and prominent African-Americans are becoming frequent, as are Pollyanna-ish prognostications about multiparty elections in Africa that do not factor in crime, surging birth rates, and resource depletion. The Congressional Black Caucus was among those urging U.S. involvement in Somalia and in Haiti. At the Los Angeles Times minority staffers have protested against, among other things, what they allege to be the racist tone of the newspaper's Africa coverage, allegations that the editor of the "World Report" section, Dan Fisher, denies, saying essentially that Africa should be viewed through the same rigorous analytical lens as other parts of the world.

Africa may be marginal in terms of conventional late-twentieth-century conceptions of strategy, but in an age of cultural and racial clash, when national defense is increasingly local, Africa's distress will exert a destabilizing influence on the United States.

This and many other factors will make the United States less of a nation than it is today, even as it gains territory following the peaceful dissolution of Canada. Quebec, based on the bedrock of Roman Catholicism and Francophone ethnicity, could yet turn out to be North America's most cohesive and crime-free nation-state. (It may be a smaller Quebec, though, since aboriginal peoples may lop off northern parts of the province.) "Patriotism" will become increasingly regional as people in Alberta and Montana discover that they have far more in common with each other than they do with Ottawa or Washington, and Spanish-speakers in the Southwest discover a greater commonality with Mexico City. (The Nine Nations of North America, by Joel Garreau, a book about the continent's regionalization, is more relevant now than when it was published, in 1981.) As Washington's influence wanes, and with it the traditional symbols of American patriotism, North Americans will take psychological refuge in their insulated communities and cultures.

Returning from West Africa last fall was an illuminating ordeal. After leaving Abidjan, my Air Afrique flight landed in Dakar, Senegal, where all passengers had to disembark in order to go through another security check, this one demanded by U.S. authorities before they would permit the flight to set out for New York. Once we were in New York, despite the midnight hour, immigration officials at Kennedy Airport held up disembarkation by conducting quick interrogations of the aircraft's passengers--this was in addition to all the normal immigration and customs procedures. It was apparent that drug smuggling, disease, and other factors had contributed to the toughest security procedures I have ever encountered when returning from overseas.

Then, for the first time in over a month, I spotted businesspeople with attache cases and laptop computers. When I had left New York for Abidjan, all the businesspeople were boarding planes for Seoul and Tokyo, which departed from gates near Air Afrique's. The only non-Africans off to West Africa had been relief workers in T-shirts and khakis. Although the borders within West Africa are increasingly unreal, those separating West Africa from the outside world are in various ways becoming more impenetrable.

But Afrocentrists are right in one respect: we ignore this dying region at our own risk. When the Berlin Wall was falling, in November of 1989, I happened to be in Kosovo, covering a riot between Serbs and Albanians. The future was in Kosovo, I told myself that night, not in Berlin. The same day that Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat clasped hands on the White House lawn, my Air Afrique plane was approaching Bamako, Mali, revealing corrugated-zinc shacks at the edge of an expanding desert. The real news wasn't at the White House, I realized. It was right below.

Copyright © 1994 by Robert Kaplan. All rights reserved. The Atlantic Monthly; February 1994; The Coming Anarchy; Volume 273, No. 2; pages 44-76

Also see: Thomas Homer-Dixon, Jeffrey Boutwell, and George Rathjens, "Environmental Scarcity and Violent Conflict," Scientific American, February 1993; and from Homer-Dixon, "Environmental Scarcity and Global Security" Headline Series (New York: Foreign Policy Association, 1993).  The Project on Environment, Population and Security: Conflict, Sustainable Development  Center for Security Studies and Conflict Research  The American Association for the Advancement of Science's gopher.
27679  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Coming Anarchy by Robert Kaplan part four on: May 20, 2007, 07:54:38 AM
The Lies of Mapmakers
Whereas West Africa represents the least stable part of political reality outside Homer-Dixon's stretch limo, Turkey, an organic outgrowth of two Turkish empires that ruled Anatolia for 850 years, has been among the most stable. Turkey's borders were established not by colonial powers but in a war of independence, in the early 1920s. Kemal Ataturk provided Turkey with a secular nation-building myth that most Arab and African states, burdened by artificially drawn borders, lack. That lack will leave many Arab states defenseless against a wave of Islam that will eat away at their legitimacy and frontiers in coming years. Yet even as regards Turkey, maps deceive.

It is not only African shantytowns that don't appear on urban maps. Many shantytowns in Turkey and elsewhere are also missing--as are the considerable territories controlled by guerrilla armies and urban mafias. Traveling with Eritrean guerrillas in what, according to the map, was northern Ethiopia, traveling in "northern Iraq" with Kurdish guerrillas, and staying in a hotel in the Caucasus controlled by a local mafia--to say nothing of my experiences in West Africa--led me to develop a healthy skepticism toward maps, which, I began to realize, create a conceptual barrier that prevents us from comprehending the political crack-up just beginning to occur worldwide.

Consider the map of the world, with its 190 or so countries, each signified by a bold and uniform color: this map, with which all of us have grown up, is generally an invention of modernism, specifically of European colonialism. Modernism, in the sense of which I speak, began with the rise of nation-states in Europe and was confirmed by the death of feudalism at the end of the Thirty Years' War--an event that was interposed between the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, which together gave birth to modern science. People were suddenly flush with an enthusiasm to categorize, to define. The map, based on scientific techniques of measurement, offered a way to classify new national organisms, making a jigsaw puzzle of neat pieces without transition zones between them. "Frontier" is itself a modern concept that didn't exist in the feudal mind. And as European nations carved out far-flung domains at the same time that print technology was making the reproduction of maps cheaper, cartography came into its own as a way of creating facts by ordering the way we look at the world.

In his book Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, Benedict Anderson, of Cornell University, demonstrates that the map enabled colonialists to think about their holdings in terms of a "totalizing classificatory grid. . . . It was bounded, determinate, and therefore--in principle--countable." To the colonialist, country maps were the equivalent of an accountant's ledger books. Maps, Anderson explains, "shaped the grammar" that would make possible such questionable concepts as Iraq, Indonesia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria. The state, recall, is a purely Western notion, one that until the twentieth century applied to countries covering only three percent of the earth's land area. Nor is the evidence compelling that the state, as a governing ideal, can be successfully transported to areas outside the industrialized world. Even the United States of America, in the words of one of our best living poets, Gary Snyder, consists of "arbitrary and inaccurate impositions on what is really here."

Yet this inflexible, artificial reality staggers on, not only in the United Nations but in various geographic and travel publications (themselves by-products of an age of elite touring which colonialism made possible) that still report on and photograph the world according to "country." Newspapers, this magazine, and this writer are not innocent of the tendency.

According to the map, the great hydropower complex emblemized by the Ataturk Dam is situated in Turkey. Forget the map. This southeastern region of Turkey is populated almost completely by Kurds. About half of the world's 20 million Kurds live in "Turkey." The Kurds are predominant in an ellipse of territory that overlaps not only with Turkey but also with Iraq, Iran, Syria, and the former Soviet Union. The Western-enforced Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq, a consequence of the 1991 Gulf War, has already exposed the fictitious nature of that supposed nation-state.

On a recent visit to the Turkish-Iranian border, it occurred to me what a risky idea the nation-state is. Here I was on the legal fault line between two clashing civilizations, Turkic and Iranian. Yet the reality was more subtle: as in West Africa, the border was porous and smuggling abounded, but here the people doing the smuggling, on both sides of the border, were Kurds. In such a moonscape, over which peoples have migrated and settled in patterns that obliterate borders, the end of the Cold War will bring on a cruel process of natural selection among existing states. No longer will these states be so firmly propped up by the West or the Soviet Union. Because the Kurds overlap with nearly everybody in the Middle East, on account of their being cheated out of a state in the post-First World War peace treaties, they are emerging, in effect, as the natural selector--the ultimate reality check. They have destabilized Iraq and may continue to disrupt states that do not offer them adequate breathing space, while strengthening states that do.

Because the Turks, owing to their water resources, their growing economy, and the social cohesion evinced by the most crime-free slums I have encountered, are on the verge of big-power status, and because the 10 million Kurds within Turkey threaten that status, the outcome of the Turkish-Kurdish dispute will be more critical to the future of the Middle East than the eventual outcome of the recent Israeli-Palestinian agreement.

America's fascination with the Israeli-Palestinian issue, coupled with its lack of interest in the Turkish-Kurdish one, is a function of its own domestic and ethnic obsessions, not of the cartographic reality that is about to transform the Middle East. The diplomatic process involving Israelis and Palestinians will, I believe, have little effect on the early- and mid-twenty-first-century map of the region. Israel, with a 6.6 percent economic growth rate based increasingly on high-tech exports, is about to enter Homer-Dixon's stretch limo, fortified by a well-defined political community that is an organic outgrowth of history and ethnicity. Like prosperous and peaceful Japan on the one hand, and war-torn and poverty-wracked Armenia on the other, Israel is a classic national-ethnic organism. Much of the Arab world, however, will undergo alteration, as Islam spreads across artificial frontiers, fueled by mass migrations into the cities and a soaring birth rate of more than 3.2 percent. Seventy percent of the Arab population has been born since 1970--youths with little historical memory of anticolonial independence struggles, postcolonial attempts at nation-building, or any of the Arab-Israeli wars. The most distant recollection of these youths will be the West's humiliation of colonially invented Iraq in 1991. Today seventeen out of twenty-two Arab states have a declining gross national product; in the next twenty years, at current growth rates, the population of many Arab countries will double. These states, like most African ones, will be ungovernable through conventional secular ideologies. The Middle East analyst Christine M. Helms explains, "Declaring Arab nationalism "bankrupt," the political "disinherited" are not rationalizing the failure of Arabism . . . or reformulating it. Alternative solutions are not contemplated. They have simply opted for the political paradigm at the other end of the political spectrum with which they are familiar--Islam."

Like the borders of West Africa, the colonial borders of Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Algeria, and other Arab states are often contrary to cultural and political reality. As state control mechanisms wither in the face of environmental and demographic stress, "hard" Islamic city-states or shantytown-states are likely to emerge. The fiction that the impoverished city of Algiers, on the Mediterranean, controls Tamanrasset, deep in the Algerian Sahara, cannot obtain forever. Whatever the outcome of the peace process, Israel is destined to be a Jewish ethnic fortress amid a vast and volatile realm of Islam. In that realm, the violent youth culture of the Gaza shantytowns may be indicative of the coming era.

The destiny of Turks and Kurds is far less certain, but far more relevant to the kind of map that will explain our future world. The Kurds suggest a geographic reality that cannot be shown in two-dimensional space. The issue in Turkey is not simply a matter of giving autonomy or even independence to Kurds in the southeast. This isn't the Balkans or the Caucasus, where regions are merely subdividing into smaller units, Abkhazia breaking off from Georgia, and so on. Federalism is not the answer. Kurds are found everywhere in Turkey, including the shanty districts of Istanbul and Ankara. Turkey's problem is that its Anatolian land mass is the home of two cultures and languages, Turkish and Kurdish. Identity in Turkey, as in India, Africa, and elsewhere, is more complex and subtle than conventional cartography can display.

A New Kind of War
To appreciate fully the political and cartographic implications of postmodernism--an epoch of themeless juxtapositions, in which the classificatory grid of nation-states is going to be replaced by a jagged-glass pattern of city-states, shanty-states, nebulous and anarchic regionalisms--it is necessary to consider, finally, the whole question of war.

"Oh, what a relief to fight, to fight enemies who defend themselves, enemies who are awake!" Andre Malraux wrote in Man's Fate. I cannot think of a more suitable battle cry for many combatants in the early decades of the twenty-first century. The intense savagery of the fighting in such diverse cultural settings as Liberia, Bosnia, the Caucasus, and Sri Lanka--to say nothing of what obtains in American inner cities--indicates something very troubling that those of us inside the stretch limo, concerned with issues like middle-class entitlements and the future of interactive cable television, lack the stomach to contemplate. It is this: a large number of people on this planet, to whom the comfort and stability of a middle-class life is utterly unknown, find war and a barracks existence a step up rather than a step down.

"Just as it makes no sense to ask 'why people eat' or 'what they sleep for,'" writes Martin van Creveld, a military historian at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, in The Transformation of War, "so fighting in many ways is not a means but an end. Throughout history, for every person who has expressed his horror of war there is another who found in it the most marvelous of all the experiences that are vouchsafed to man, even to the point that he later spent a lifetime boring his descendants by recounting his exploits." When I asked Pentagon officials about the nature of war in the twenty-first century, the answer I frequently got was "Read Van Creveld." The top brass are enamored of this historian not because his writings justify their existence but, rather, the opposite: Van Creveld warns them that huge state military machines like the Pentagon's are dinosaurs about to go extinct, and that something far more terrible awaits us.

The degree to which Van Creveld's Transformation of War complements Homer-Dixon's work on the environment, Huntington's thoughts on cultural clash, my own realizations in traveling by foot, bus, and bush taxi in more than sixty countries, and America's sobering comeuppances in intractable-culture zones like Haiti and Somalia is startling. The book begins by demolishing the notion that men don't like to fight. "By compelling the senses to focus themselves on the here and now," Van Creveld writes, war "can cause a man to take his leave of them." As anybody who has had experience with Chetniks in Serbia, "technicals" in Somalia, Tontons Macoutes in Haiti, or soldiers in Sierra Leone can tell you, in places where the Western Enlightenment has not penetrated and where there has always been mass poverty, people find liberation in violence. In Afghanistan and elsewhere, I vicariously experienced this phenomenon: worrying about mines and ambushes frees you from worrying about mundane details of daily existence. If my own experience is too subjective, there is a wealth of data showing the sheer frequency of war, especially in the developing world since the Second World War. Physical aggression is a part of being human. Only when people attain a certain economic, educational, and cultural standard is this trait tranquilized. In light of the fact that 95 percent of the earth's population growth will be in the poorest areas of the globe, the question is not whether there will be war (there will be a lot of it) but what kind of war. And who will fight whom?

Debunking the great military strategist Carl von Clausewitz, Van Creveld, who may be the most original thinker on war since that early-nineteenth-century Prussian, writes, "Clausewitz's ideas . . . were wholly rooted in the fact that, ever since 1648, war had been waged overwhelmingly by states." But, as Van Creveld explains, the period of nation-states and, therefore, of state conflict is now ending, and with it the clear "threefold division into government, army, and people" which state-directed wars enforce. Thus, to see the future, the first step is to look back to the past immediately prior to the birth of modernism--the wars in medieval Europe which began during the Reformation and reached their culmination in the Thirty Years' War.

Van Creveld writes, "In all these struggles political, social, economic, and religious motives were hopelessly entangled. Since this was an age when armies consisted of mercenaries, all were also attended by swarms of military entrepreneurs. . . . Many of them paid little but lip service to the organizations for whom they had contracted to fight. Instead, they robbed the countryside on their own behalf. . . ."

"Given such conditions, any fine distinctions . . . between armies on the one hand and peoples on the other were bound to break down. Engulfed by war, civilians suffered terrible atrocities."

Back then, in other words, there was no "politics" as we have come to understand the term, just as there is less and less "politics" today in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sri Lanka, the Balkans, and the Caucasus, among other places.

Because, as Van Creveld notes, the radius of trust within tribal societies is narrowed to one's immediate family and guerrilla comrades, truces arranged with one Bosnian commander, say, may be broken immediately by another Bosnian commander. The plethora of short-lived ceasefires in the Balkans and the Caucasus constitute proof that we are no longer in a world where the old rules of state warfare apply. More evidence is provided by the destruction of medieval monuments in the Croatian port of Dubrovnik: when cultures, rather than states, fight, then cultural and religious monuments are weapons of war, making them fair game.

Also, war-making entities will no longer be restricted to a specific territory. Loose and shadowy organisms such as Islamic terrorist organizations suggest why borders will mean increasingly little and sedimentary layers of tribalistic identity and control will mean more. "From the vantage point of the present, there appears every prospect that religious . . . fanaticisms will play a larger role in the motivation of armed conflict" in the West than at any time "for the last 300 years," Van Creveld writes. This is why analysts like Michael Vlahos are closely monitoring religious cults. Vlahos says, "An ideology that challenges us may not take familiar form, like the old Nazis or Commies. It may not even engage us initially in ways that fit old threat markings." Van Creveld concludes, "Armed conflict will be waged by men on earth, not robots in space. It will have more in common with the struggles of primitive tribes than with large-scale conventional war." While another military historian, John Keegan, in his new book A History of Warfare, draws a more benign portrait of primitive man, it is important to point out that what Van Creveld really means is re-primitivized man: warrior societies operating at a time of unprecedented resource scarcity and planetary overcrowding.

Van Creveld's pre-Westphalian vision of worldwide low-intensity conflict is not a superficial "back to the future" scenario. First of all, technology will be used toward primitive ends. In Liberia the guerrilla leader Prince Johnson didn't just cut off the ears of President Samuel Doe before Doe was tortured to death in 1990--Johnson made a video of it, which has circulated throughout West Africa. In December of 1992, when plotters of a failed coup against the Strasser regime in Sierra Leone had their ears cut off at Freetown's Hamilton Beach prior to being killed, it was seen by many to be a copycat execution. Considering, as I've explained earlier, that the Strasser regime is not really a government and that Sierra Leone is not really a nation-state, listen closely to Van Creveld: "Once the legal monopoly of armed force, long claimed by the state, is wrested out of its hands, existing distinctions between war and crime will break down much as is already the case today in . . . Lebanon, Sri Lanka, El Salvador, Peru, or Colombia."

If crime and war become indistinguishable, then "national defense" may in the future be viewed as a local concept. As crime continues to grow in our cities and the ability of state governments and criminal-justice systems to protect their citizens diminishes, urban crime may, according to Van Creveld, "develop into low-intensity conflict by coalescing along racial, religious, social, and political lines." As small-scale violence multiplies at home and abroad, state armies will continue to shrink, being gradually replaced by a booming private security business, as in West Africa, and by urban mafias, especially in the former communist world, who may be better equipped than municipal police forces to grant physical protection to local inhabitants.
27680  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Coming Anarchy by Robert Kaplan part three on: May 20, 2007, 07:53:07 AM
Environmental scarcity will inflame existing hatreds and affect power relationships, at which we now look.

Skinhead Cossacks, Juju Warriors
In the summer, 1993, issue of Foreign Affairs, Samuel P. Huntington, of Harvard's Olin Institute for Strategic Studies, published a thought-provoking article called "The Clash of Civilizations?" The world, he argues, has been moving during the course of this century from nation-state conflict to ideological conflict to, finally, cultural conflict. I would add that as refugee flows increase and as peasants continue migrating to cities around the world--turning them into sprawling villages--national borders will mean less, even as more power will fall into the hands of less educated, less sophisticated groups. In the eyes of these uneducated but newly empowered millions, the real borders are the most tangible and intractable ones: those of culture and tribe. Huntington writes, "First, differences among civilizations are not only real; they are basic," involving, among other things, history, language, and religion. "Second . . . interactions between peoples of different civilizations are increasing; these increasing interactions intensify civilization consciousness." Economic modernization is not necessarily a panacea, since it fuels individual and group ambitions while weakening traditional loyalties to the state. It is worth noting, for example, that it is precisely the wealthiest and fastest-developing city in India, Bombay, that has seen the worst intercommunal violence between Hindus and Muslims. Consider that Indian cities, like African and Chinese ones, are ecological time bombs--Delhi and Calcutta, and also Beijing, suffer the worst air quality of any cities in the world--and it is apparent how surging populations, environmental degradation, and ethnic conflict are deeply related.

Huntington points to interlocking conflicts among Hindu, Muslim, Slavic Orthodox, Western, Japanese, Confucian, Latin American, and possibly African civilizations: for instance, Hindus clashing with Muslims in India, Turkic Muslims clashing with Slavic Orthodox Russians in Central Asian cities, the West clashing with Asia. (Even in the United States, African-Americans find themselves besieged by an influx of competing Latinos.) Whatever the laws, refugees find a way to crash official borders, bringing their passions with them, meaning that Europe and the United States will be weakened by cultural disputes.

Because Huntington's brush is broad, his specifics are vulnerable to attack. In a rebuttal of Huntington's argument the Johns Hopkins professor Fouad Ajami, a Lebanese-born Shi'ite who certainly knows the world beyond suburbia, writes in the September-October, 1993, issue of Foreign Affairs, "The world of Islam divides and subdivides. The battle lines in the Caucasus . . . are not coextensive with civilizational fault lines. The lines follow the interests of states. Where Huntington sees a civilizational duel between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the Iranian state has cast religious zeal . . . to the wind . . . in that battle the Iranians have tilted toward Christian Armenia."

True, Huntington's hypothesized war between Islam and Orthodox Christianity is not borne out by the alliance network in the Caucasus. But that is only because he has misidentified which cultural war is occurring there. A recent visit to Azerbaijan made clear to me that Azeri Turks, the world's most secular Shi'ite Muslims, see their cultural identity in terms not of religion but of their Turkic race. The Armenians, likewise, fight the Azeris not because the latter are Muslims but because they are Turks, related to the same Turks who massacred Armenians in 1915. Turkic culture (secular and based on languages employing a Latin script) is battling Iranian culture (religiously militant as defined by Tehran, and wedded to an Arabic script) across the whole swath of Central Asia and the Caucasus. The Armenians are, therefore, natural allies of their fellow Indo-Europeans the Iranians.

Huntington is correct that the Caucasus is a flashpoint of cultural and racial war. But, as Ajami observes, Huntington's plate tectonics are too simple. Two months of recent travel throughout Turkey revealed to me that although the Turks are developing a deep distrust, bordering on hatred, of fellow-Muslim Iran, they are also, especially in the shantytowns that are coming to dominate Turkish public opinion, revising their group identity, increasingly seeing themselves as Muslims being deserted by a West that does little to help besieged Muslims in Bosnia and that attacks Turkish Muslims in the streets of Germany.

In other words, the Balkans, a powder keg for nation-state war at the beginning of the twentieth century, could be a powder keg for cultural war at the turn of the twenty-first: between Orthodox Christianity (represented by the Serbs and a classic Byzantine configuration of Greeks, Russians, and Romanians) and the House of Islam. Yet in the Caucasus that House of Islam is falling into a clash between Turkic and Iranian civilizations. Ajami asserts that this very subdivision, not to mention all the divisions within the Arab world, indicates that the West, including the United States, is not threatened by Huntington's scenario. As the Gulf War demonstrated, the West has proved capable of playing one part of the House of Islam against another.

True. However, whether he is aware of it or not, Ajami is describing a world even more dangerous than the one Huntington envisions, especially when one takes into account Homer-Dixon's research on environmental scarcity. Outside the stretch limo would be a rundown, crowded planet of skinhead Cossacks and juju warriors, influenced by the worst refuse of Western pop culture and ancient tribal hatreds, and battling over scraps of overused earth in guerrilla conflicts that ripple across continents and intersect in no discernible pattern--meaning there's no easy-to-define threat. Kennan's world of one adversary seems as distant as the world of Herodotus.

Most people believe that the political earth since 1989 has undergone immense change. But it is minor compared with what is yet to come. The breaking apart and remaking of the atlas is only now beginning. The crack-up of the Soviet empire and the coming end of Arab-Israeli military confrontation are merely prologues to the really big changes that lie ahead. Michael Vlahos, a long-range thinker for the U.S. Navy, warns, "We are not in charge of the environment and the world is not following us. It is going in many directions. Do not assume that democratic capitalism is the last word in human social evolution."

Before addressing the questions of maps and of warfare, I want to take a closer look at the interaction of religion, culture, demographic shifts, and the distribution of natural resources in a specific area of the world: the Middle East.

Built on steep, muddy hills, the shantytowns of Ankara, the Turkish capital, exude visual drama. Altindag, or "Golden Mountain," is a pyramid of dreams, fashioned from cinder blocks and corrugated iron, rising as though each shack were built on top of another, all reaching awkwardly and painfully toward heaven--the heaven of wealthier Turks who live elsewhere in the city. Nowhere else on the planet have I found such a poignant architectural symbol of man's striving, with gaps in house walls plugged with rusted cans, and leeks and onions growing on verandas assembled from planks of rotting wood. For reasons that I will explain, the Turkish shacktown is a psychological universe away from the African one.

To see the twenty-first century truly, one's eyes must learn a different set of aesthetics. One must reject the overly stylized images of travel magazines, with their inviting photographs of exotic villages and glamorous downtowns. There are far too many millions whose dreams are more vulgar, more real--whose raw energies and desires will overwhelm the visions of the elites, remaking the future into something frighteningly new. But in Turkey I learned that shantytowns are not all bad.

Slum quarters in Abidjan terrify and repel the outsider. In Turkey it is the opposite. The closer I got to Golden Mountain the better it looked, and the safer I felt. I had $1,500 worth of Turkish lira in one pocket and $1,000 in traveler's checks in the other, yet I felt no fear. Golden Mountain was a real neighborhood. The inside of one house told the story: The architectural bedlam of cinder block and sheet metal and cardboard walls was deceiving. Inside was a home--order, that is, bespeaking dignity. I saw a working refrigerator, a television, a wall cabinet with a few books and lots of family pictures, a few plants by a window, and a stove. Though the streets become rivers of mud when it rains, the floors inside this house were spotless.

Other houses were like this too. Schoolchildren ran along with briefcases strapped to their backs, trucks delivered cooking gas, a few men sat inside a cafe sipping tea. One man sipped beer. Alcohol is easy to obtain in Turkey, a secular state where 99 percent of the population is Muslim. Yet there is little problem of alcoholism. Crime against persons is infinitesimal. Poverty and illiteracy are watered-down versions of what obtains in Algeria and Egypt (to say nothing of West Africa), making it that much harder for religious extremists to gain a foothold.

My point in bringing up a rather wholesome, crime-free slum is this: its existence demonstrates how formidable is the fabric of which Turkish Muslim culture is made. A culture this strong has the potential to dominate the Middle East once again. Slums are litmus tests for innate cultural strengths and weaknesses. Those peoples whose cultures can harbor extensive slum life without decomposing will be, relatively speaking, the future's winners. Those whose cultures cannot will be the future's victims. Slums--in the sociological sense--do not exist in Turkish cities. The mortar between people and family groups is stronger here than in Africa. Resurgent Islam and Turkic cultural identity have produced a civilization with natural muscle tone. Turks, history's perennial nomads, take disruption in stride.

The future of the Middle East is quietly being written inside the heads of Golden Mountain's inhabitants. Think of an Ottoman military encampment on the eve of the destruction of Greek Constantinople in 1453. That is Golden Mountain. "We brought the village here. But in the village we worked harder--in the field, all day. So we couldn't fast during [the holy month of] Ramadan. Here we fast. Here we are more religious." Aishe Tanrikulu, along with half a dozen other women, was stuffing rice into vine leaves from a crude plastic bowl. She asked me to join her under the shade of a piece of sheet metal. Each of these women had her hair covered by a kerchief. In the city they were encountering television for the first time. "We are traditional, religious people. The programs offend us," Aishe said. Another woman complained about the schools. Though her children had educational options unavailable in the village, they had to compete with wealthier, secular Turks. "The kids from rich families with connections--they get all the places." More opportunities, more tensions, in other words.

My guidebook to Golden Mountain was an untypical one: Tales From the Garbage Hills, a brutally realistic novel by a Turkish writer, Latife Tekin, about life in the shantytowns, which in Turkey are called gecekondus ("built in a night"). "He listened to the earth and wept unceasingly for water, for work and for the cure of the illnesses spread by the garbage and the factory waste," Tekin writes. In the most revealing passage of Tales From the Garbage Hills the squatters are told "about a certain 'Ottoman Empire' . . . that where they now lived there had once been an empire of this name." This history "confounded" the squatters. It was the first they had heard of it. Though one of them knew "that his grandfather and his dog died fighting the Greeks," nationalism and an encompassing sense of Turkish history are the province of the Turkish middle and upper classes, and of foreigners like me who feel required to have a notion of "Turkey."

But what did the Golden Mountain squatters know about the armies of Turkish migrants that had come before their own--namely, Seljuks and Ottomans? For these recently urbanized peasants, and their counterparts in Africa, the Arab world, India, and so many other places, the world is new, to adapt V. S. Naipaul's phrase. As Naipaul wrote of urban refugees in India: A Wounded Civilization, "They saw themselves at the beginning of things: unaccommodated men making a claim on their land for the first time, and out of chaos evolving their own philosophy of community and self-help. For them the past was dead; they had left it behind in the villages."

Everywhere in the developing world at the turn of the twenty-first century these new men and women, rushing into the cities, are remaking civilizations and redefining their identities in terms of religion and tribal ethnicity which do not coincide with the borders of existing states.

In Turkey several things are happening at once. In 1980, 44 percent of Turks lived in cities; in 1990 it was 61 percent. By the year 2000 the figure is expected to be 67 percent. Villages are emptying out as concentric rings of gecekondu developments grow around Turkish cities. This is the real political and demographic revolution in Turkey and elsewhere, and foreign correspondents usually don't write about it.

Whereas rural poverty is age-old and almost a "normal" part of the social fabric, urban poverty is socially destabilizing. As Iran has shown, Islamic extremism is the psychological defense mechanism of many urbanized peasants threatened with the loss of traditions in pseudo-modern cities where their values are under attack, where basic services like water and electricity are unavailable, and where they are assaulted by a physically unhealthy environment. The American ethnologist and orientalist Carleton Stevens Coon wrote in 1951 that Islam "has made possible the optimum survival and happiness of millions of human beings in an increasingly impoverished environment over a fourteen-hundred-year period." Beyond its stark, clearly articulated message, Islam's very militancy makes it attractive to the downtrodden. It is the one religion that is prepared to fight. A political era driven by environmental stress, increased cultural sensitivity, unregulated urbanization, and refugee migrations is an era divinely created for the spread and intensification of Islam, already the world's fastest-growing religion. (Though Islam is spreading in West Africa, it is being hobbled by syncretization with animism: this makes new converts less apt to become anti-Western extremists, but it also makes for a weakened version of the faith, which is less effective as an antidote to crime.)

In Turkey, however, Islam is painfully and awkwardly forging a consensus with modernization, a trend that is less apparent in the Arab and Persian worlds (and virtually invisible in Africa). In Iran the oil boom--because it put development and urbanization on a fast track, making the culture shock more intense--fueled the 1978 Islamic Revolution. But Turkey, unlike Iran and the Arab world, has little oil. Therefore its development and urbanization have been more gradual. Islamists have been integrated into the parliamentary system for decades. The tensions I noticed in Golden Mountain are natural, creative ones: the kind immigrants face the world over. While the world has focused on religious perversity in Algeria, a nation rich in natural gas, and in Egypt, parts of whose capital city, Cairo, evince worse crowding than I have seen even in Calcutta, Turkey has been living through the Muslim equivalent of the Protestant Reformation.

Resource distribution is strengthening Turks in another way vis-a-vis Arabs and Persians. Turks may have little oil, but their Anatolian heartland has lots of water--the most important fluid of the twenty-first century. Turkey's Southeast Anatolia Project, involving twenty-two major dams and irrigation systems, is impounding the waters of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Much of the water that Arabs and perhaps Israelis will need to drink in the future is controlled by Turks. The project's centerpiece is the mile-wide, sixteen-story Ataturk Dam, upon which are emblazoned the words of modern Turkey's founder: "Ne Mutlu Turkum Diyene" ("Lucky is the one who is a Turk").

Unlike Egypt's Aswan High Dam, on the Nile, and Syria's Revolution Dam, on the Euphrates, both of which were built largely by Russians, the Ataturk Dam is a predominantly Turkish affair, with Turkish engineers and companies in charge. On a recent visit my eyes took in the immaculate offices and their gardens, the high-voltage electric grids and phone switching stations, the dizzying sweep of giant humming transformers, the poured-concrete spillways, and the prim unfolding suburbia, complete with schools, for dam employees. The emerging power of the Turks was palpable.

Erduhan Bayindir, the site manager at the dam, told me that "while oil can be shipped abroad to enrich only elites, water has to be spread more evenly within the society. . . . It is true, we can stop the flow of water into Syria and Iraq for up to eight months without the same water overflowing our dams, in order to regulate their political behavior."

Power is certainly moving north in the Middle East, from the oil fields of Dhahran, on the Persian Gulf, to the water plain of Harran, in southern Anatolia--near the site of the Ataturk Dam. But will the nation-state of Turkey, as presently constituted, be the inheritor of this wealth?

I very much doubt it.
27681  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Coming Anarchy by Robert Kaplan part two on: May 20, 2007, 07:51:45 AM
The future could be more tumultuous, and bloodier, than Mazrui dares to say. France will withdraw from former colonies like Benin, Togo, Niger, and the Ivory Coast, where it has been propping up local currencies. It will do so not only because its attention will be diverted to new challenges in Europe and Russia but also because younger French officials lack the older generation's emotional ties to the ex-colonies. However, even as Nigeria attempts to expand, it, too, is likely to split into several pieces. The State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research recently made the following points in an analysis of Nigeria: "Prospects for a transition to civilian rule and democratization are slim. . . . The repressive apparatus of the state security service . . . will be difficult for any future civilian government to control. . . . The country is becoming increasingly ungovernable. . . . Ethnic and regional splits are deepening, a situation made worse by an increase in the number of states from 19 to 30 and a doubling in the number of local governing authorities; religious cleavages are more serious; Muslim fundamentalism and evangelical Christian militancy are on the rise; and northern Muslim anxiety over southern [Christian] control of the economy is intense . . . the will to keep Nigeria together is now very weak."

Given that oil-rich Nigeria is a bellwether for the region--its population of roughly 90 million equals the populations of all the other West African states combined--it is apparent that Africa faces cataclysms that could make the Ethiopian and Somalian famines pale in comparison. This is especially so because Nigeria's population, including that of its largest city, Lagos, whose crime, pollution, and overcrowding make it the cliche par excellence of Third World urban dysfunction, is set to double during the next twenty-five years, while the country continues to deplete its natural resources.

Part of West Africa's quandary is that although its population belts are horizontal, with habitation densities increasing as one travels south away from the Sahara and toward the tropical abundance of the Atlantic littoral, the borders erected by European colonialists are vertical, and therefore at cross-purposes with demography and topography. Satellite photos depict the same reality I experienced in the bush taxi: the Lome-Abidjan coastal corridor--indeed, the entire stretch of coast from Abidjan eastward to Lagos--is one burgeoning megalopolis that by any rational economic and geographical standard should constitute a single sovereignty, rather than the five (the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Nigeria) into which it is currently divided.

As many internal African borders begin to crumble, a more impenetrable boundary is being erected that threatens to isolate the continent as a whole: the wall of disease. Merely to visit West Africa in some degree of safety, I spent about $500 for a hepatitis B vaccination series and other disease prophylaxis. Africa may today be more dangerous in this regard than it was in 1862, before antibiotics, when the explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton described the health situation on the continent as "deadly, a Golgotha, a Jehannum." Of the approximately 12 million people worldwide whose blood is HIV-positive, 8 million are in Africa. In the capital of the Ivory Coast, whose modern road system only helps to spread the disease, 10 percent of the population is HIV-positive. And war and refugee movements help the virus break through to more-remote areas of Africa. Alan Greenberg, M.D., a representative of the Centers for Disease Control in Abidjan, explains that in Africa the HIV virus and tuberculosis are now "fast-forwarding each other." Of the approximately 4,000 newly diagnosed tuberculosis patients in Abidjan, 45 percent were also found to be HIV-positive. As African birth rates soar and slums proliferate, some experts worry that viral mutations and hybridizations might, just conceivably, result in a form of the AIDS virus that is easier to catch than the present strain.

It is malaria that is most responsible for the disease wall that threatens to separate Africa and other parts of the Third World from more-developed regions of the planet in the twenty-first century. Carried by mosquitoes, malaria, unlike AIDS, is easy to catch. Most people in sub-Saharan Africa have recurring bouts of the disease throughout their entire lives, and it is mutating into increasingly deadly forms. "The great gift of Malaria is utter apathy," wrote Sir Richard Burton, accurately portraying the situation in much of the Third World today. Visitors to malaria-afflicted parts of the planet are protected by a new drug, mefloquine, a side effect of which is vivid, even violent, dreams. But a strain of cerebral malaria resistant to mefloquine is now on the offensive. Consequently, defending oneself against malaria in Africa is becoming more and more like defending oneself against violent crime. You engage in "behavior modification": not going out at dusk, wearing mosquito repellent all the time.

And the cities keep growing. I got a general sense of the future while driving from the airport to downtown Conakry, the capital of Guinea. The forty-five-minute journey in heavy traffic was through one never-ending shantytown: a nightmarish Dickensian spectacle to which Dickens himself would never have given credence. The corrugated metal shacks and scabrous walls were coated with black slime. Stores were built out of rusted shipping containers, junked cars, and jumbles of wire mesh. The streets were one long puddle of floating garbage. Mosquitoes and flies were everywhere. Children, many of whom had protruding bellies, seemed as numerous as ants. When the tide went out, dead rats and the skeletons of cars were exposed on the mucky beach. In twenty-eight years Guinea's population will double if growth goes on at current rates. Hardwood logging continues at a madcap speed, and people flee the Guinean countryside for Conakry. It seemed to me that here, as elsewhere in Africa and the Third World, man is challenging nature far beyond its limits, and nature is now beginning to take its revenge.

Africa may be as relevant to the future character of world politics as the Balkans were a hundred years ago, prior to the two Balkan wars and the First World War. Then the threat was the collapse of empires and the birth of nations based solely on tribe. Now the threat is more elemental: nature unchecked. Africa's immediate future could be very bad. The coming upheaval, in which foreign embassies are shut down, states collapse, and contact with the outside world takes place through dangerous, disease-ridden coastal trading posts, will loom large in the century we are entering. (Nine of twenty-one U.S. foreign-aid missions to be closed over the next three years are in Africa--a prologue to a consolidation of U.S. embassies themselves.) Precisely because much of Africa is set to go over the edge at a time when the Cold War has ended, when environmental and demographic stress in other parts of the globe is becoming critical, and when the post-First World War system of nation-states--not just in the Balkans but perhaps also in the Middle East--is about to be toppled, Africa suggests what war, borders, and ethnic politics will be like a few decades hence.

To understand the events of the next fifty years, then, one must understand environmental scarcity, cultural and racial clash, geographic destiny, and the transformation of war. The order in which I have named these is not accidental. Each concept except the first relies partly on the one or ones before it, meaning that the last two--new approaches to mapmaking and to warfare--are the most important. They are also the least understood. I will now look at each idea, drawing upon the work of specialists and also my own travel experiences in various parts of the globe besides Africa, in order to fill in the blanks of a new political atlas.

The Environment as a Hostile Power
For a while the media will continue to ascribe riots and other violent upheavals abroad mainly to ethnic and religious conflict. But as these conflicts multiply, it will become apparent that something else is afoot, making more and more places like Nigeria, India, and Brazil ungovernable.

Mention "the environment" or "diminishing natural resources" in foreign-policy circles and you meet a brick wall of skepticism or boredom. To conservatives especially, the very terms seem flaky. Public-policy foundations have contributed to the lack of interest, by funding narrowly focused environmental studies replete with technical jargon which foreign-affairs experts just let pile up on their desks.

It is time to understand "the environment" for what it is: the national-security issue of the early twenty-first century. The political and strategic impact of surging populations, spreading disease, deforestation and soil erosion, water depletion, air pollution, and, possibly, rising sea levels in critical, overcrowded regions like the Nile Delta and Bangladesh--developments that will prompt mass migrations and, in turn, incite group conflicts--will be the core foreign-policy challenge from which most others will ultimately emanate, arousing the public and uniting assorted interests left over from the Cold War. In the twenty-first century water will be in dangerously short supply in such diverse locales as Saudi Arabia, Central Asia, and the southwestern United States. A war could erupt between Egypt and Ethiopia over Nile River water. Even in Europe tensions have arisen between Hungary and Slovakia over the damming of the Danube, a classic case of how environmental disputes fuse with ethnic and historical ones. The political scientist and erstwhile Clinton adviser Michael Mandelbaum has said, "We have a foreign policy today in the shape of a doughnut--lots of peripheral interests but nothing at the center." The environment, I will argue, is part of a terrifying array of problems that will define a new threat to our security, filling the hole in Mandelbaum's doughnut and allowing a post- Cold War foreign policy to emerge inexorably by need rather than by design.

Our Cold War foreign policy truly began with George F. Kennan's famous article, signed "X," published in Foreign Affairs in July of 1947, in which Kennan argued for a "firm and vigilant containment" of a Soviet Union that was imperially, rather than ideologically, motivated. It may be that our post-Cold War foreign policy will one day be seen to have had its beginnings in an even bolder and more detailed piece of written analysis: one that appeared in the journal International Security. The article, published in the fall of 1991 by Thomas Fraser Homer-Dixon, who is the head of the Peace and Conflict Studies Program at the University of Toronto, was titled "On the Threshold: Environmental Changes as Causes of Acute Conflict." Homer-Dixon has, more successfully than other analysts, integrated two hitherto separate fields--military-conflict studies and the study of the physical environment.

In Homer-Dixon's view, future wars and civil violence will often arise from scarcities of resources such as water, cropland, forests, and fish. Just as there will be environmentally driven wars and refugee flows, there will be environmentally induced praetorian regimes--or, as he puts it, "hard regimes." Countries with the highest probability of acquiring hard regimes, according to Homer-Dixon, are those that are threatened by a declining resource base yet also have "a history of state [read 'military'] strength." Candidates include Indonesia, Brazil, and, of course, Nigeria. Though each of these nations has exhibited democratizing tendencies of late, Homer-Dixon argues that such tendencies are likely to be superficial "epiphenomena" having nothing to do with long-term processes that include soaring populations and shrinking raw materials. Democracy is problematic; scarcity is more certain.

Indeed, the Saddam Husseins of the future will have more, not fewer, opportunities. In addition to engendering tribal strife, scarcer resources will place a great strain on many peoples who never had much of a democratic or institutional tradition to begin with. Over the next fifty years the earth's population will soar from 5.5 billion to more than nine billion. Though optimists have hopes for new resource technologies and free-market development in the global village, they fail to note that, as the National Academy of Sciences has pointed out, 95 percent of the population increase will be in the poorest regions of the world, where governments now--just look at Africa--show little ability to function, let alone to implement even marginal improvements. Homer-Dixon writes, ominously, "Neo-Malthusians may underestimate human adaptability in today's environmental-social system, but as time passes their analysis may become ever more compelling."

While a minority of the human population will be, as Francis Fukuyama would put it, sufficiently sheltered so as to enter a "post-historical" realm, living in cities and suburbs in which the environment has been mastered and ethnic animosities have been quelled by bourgeois prosperity, an increasingly large number of people will be stuck in history, living in shantytowns where attempts to rise above poverty, cultural dysfunction, and ethnic strife will be doomed by a lack of water to drink, soil to till, and space to survive in. In the developing world environmental stress will present people with a choice that is increasingly among totalitarianism (as in Iraq), fascist-tending mini-states (as in Serb-held Bosnia), and road-warrior cultures (as in Somalia). Homer-Dixon concludes that "as environmental degradation proceeds, the size of the potential social disruption will increase."

Tad Homer-Dixon is an unlikely Jeremiah. Today a boyish thirty-seven, he grew up amid the sylvan majesty of Vancouver Island, attending private day schools. His speech is calm, perfectly even, and crisply enunciated. There is nothing in his background or manner that would indicate a bent toward pessimism. A Canadian Anglican who spends his summers canoeing on the lakes of northern Ontario, and who talks about the benign mountains, black bears, and Douglas firs of his youth, he is the opposite of the intellectually severe neoconservative, the kind at home with conflict scenarios. Nor is he an environmentalist who opposes development. "My father was a logger who thought about ecologically safe forestry before others," he says. "He logged, planted, logged, and planted. He got out of the business just as the issue was being polarized by environmentalists. They hate changed ecosystems. But human beings, just by carrying seeds around, change the natural world." As an only child whose playground was a virtually untouched wilderness and seacoast, Homer-Dixon has a familiarity with the natural world that permits him to see a reality that most policy analysts--children of suburbia and city streets--are blind to.

"We need to bring nature back in," he argues. "We have to stop separating politics from the physical world--the climate, public health, and the environment." Quoting Daniel Deudney, another pioneering expert on the security aspects of the environment, Homer-Dixon says that "for too long we've been prisoners of 'social-social' theory, which assumes there are only social causes for social and political changes, rather than natural causes, too. This social-social mentality emerged with the Industrial Revolution, which separated us from nature. But nature is coming back with a vengeance, tied to population growth. It will have incredible security implications.

"Think of a stretch limo in the potholed streets of New York City, where homeless beggars live. Inside the limo are the air-conditioned post-industrial regions of North America, Europe, the emerging Pacific Rim, and a few other isolated places, with their trade summitry and computer-information highways. Outside is the rest of mankind, going in a completely different direction."

We are entering a bifurcated world. Part of the globe is inhabited by Hegel's and Fukuyama's Last Man, healthy, well fed, and pampered by technology. The other, larger, part is inhabited by Hobbes's First Man, condemned to a life that is "poor, nasty, brutish, and short." Although both parts will be threatened by environmental stress, the Last Man will be able to master it; the First Man will not.

The Last Man will adjust to the loss of underground water tables in the western United States. He will build dikes to save Cape Hatteras and the Chesapeake beaches from rising sea levels, even as the Maldive Islands, off the coast of India, sink into oblivion, and the shorelines of Egypt, Bangladesh, and Southeast Asia recede, driving tens of millions of people inland where there is no room for them, and thus sharpening ethnic divisions.

Homer-Dixon points to a world map of soil degradation in his Toronto office. "The darker the map color, the worse the degradation," he explains. The West African coast, the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, China, and Central America have the darkest shades, signifying all manner of degradation, related to winds, chemicals, and water problems. "The worst degradation is generally where the population is highest. The population is generally highest where the soil is the best. So we're degrading earth's best soil."

China, in Homer-Dixon's view, is the quintessential example of environmental degradation. Its current economic "success" masks deeper problems. "China's fourteen percent growth rate does not mean it's going to be a world power. It means that coastal China, where the economic growth is taking place, is joining the rest of the Pacific Rim. The disparity with inland China is intensifying." Referring to the environmental research of his colleague, the Czech-born ecologist Vaclav Smil, Homer-Dixon explains how the per capita availability of arable land in interior China has rapidly declined at the same time that the quality of that land has been destroyed by deforestation, loss of topsoil, and salinization. He mentions the loss and contamination of water supplies, the exhaustion of wells, the plugging of irrigation systems and reservoirs with eroded silt, and a population of 1.54 billion by the year 2025: it is a misconception that China has gotten its population under control. Large-scale population movements are under way, from inland China to coastal China and from villages to cities, leading to a crime surge like the one in Africa and to growing regional disparities and conflicts in a land with a strong tradition of warlordism and a weak tradition of central government--again as in Africa. "We will probably see the center challenged and fractured, and China will not remain the same on the map," Homer-Dixon says.
27682  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Coming Anarchy by Robert Kaplan on: May 20, 2007, 07:48:49 AM
THE COMING ANARCHY
by Robert D. Kaplan
How scarcity, crime, overpopulation, tribalism, and disease are rapidly destroying the social fabric of our planet
The Atlantic Monthly, February 1994
http://www.TheAtlantic.com/atlantic/election/connection/foreign/anarcf.htm
table of contents

The Minister's eyes were like egg yolks, an aftereffect of some of the many illnesses, malaria especially, endemic in his country. There was also an irrefutable sadness in his eyes. He spoke in a slow and creaking voice, the voice of hope about to expire. Flame trees, coconut palms, and a ballpoint-blue Atlantic composed the background. None of it seemed beautiful, though. "In forty-five years I have never seen things so bad. We did not manage ourselves well after the British departed. But what we have now is something worse--the revenge of the poor, of the social failures, of the people least able to bring up children in a modern society." Then he referred to the recent coup in the West African country Sierra Leone. "The boys who took power in Sierra Leone come from houses like this." The Minister jabbed his finger at a corrugated metal shack teeming with children. "In three months these boys confiscated all the official Mercedes, Volvos, and BMWs and willfully wrecked them on the road." The Minister mentioned one of the coup's leaders, Solomon Anthony Joseph Musa, who shot the people who had paid for his schooling, "in order to erase the humiliation and mitigate the power his middle-class sponsors held over him."

Tyranny is nothing new in Sierra Leone or in the rest of West Africa. But it is now part and parcel of an increasing lawlessness that is far more significant than any coup, rebel incursion, or episodic experiment in democracy. Crime was what my friend--a top-ranking African official whose life would be threatened were I to identify him more precisely--really wanted to talk about. Crime is what makes West Africa a natural point of departure for my report on what the political character of our planet is likely to be in the twenty-first century.

The cities of West Africa at night are some of the unsafest places in the world. Streets are unlit; the police often lack gasoline for their vehicles; armed burglars, carjackers, and muggers proliferate. "The government in Sierra Leone has no writ after dark," says a foreign resident, shrugging. When I was in the capital, Freetown, last September, eight men armed with AK-47s broke into the house of an American man. They tied him up and stole everything of value. Forget Miami: direct flights between the United States and the Murtala Muhammed Airport, in neighboring Nigeria's largest city, Lagos, have been suspended by order of the U.S. Secretary of Transportation because of ineffective security at the terminal and its environs. A State Department report cited the airport for "extortion by law-enforcement and immigration officials." This is one of the few times that the U.S. government has embargoed a foreign airport for reasons that are linked purely to crime. In Abidjan, effectively the capital of the Cote d'Ivoire, or Ivory Coast, restaurants have stick- and gun-wielding guards who walk you the fifteen feet or so between your car and the entrance, giving you an eerie taste of what American cities might be like in the future. An Italian ambassador was killed by gunfire when robbers invaded an Abidjan restaurant. The family of the Nigerian ambassador was tied up and robbed at gunpoint in the ambassador's residence. After university students in the Ivory Coast caught bandits who had been plaguing their dorms, they executed them by hanging tires around their necks and setting the tires on fire. In one instance Ivorian policemen stood by and watched the "necklacings," afraid to intervene. Each time I went to the Abidjan bus terminal, groups of young men with restless, scanning eyes surrounded my taxi, putting their hands all over the windows, demanding "tips" for carrying my luggage even though I had only a rucksack. In cities in six West African countries I saw similar young men everywhere--hordes of them. They were like loose molecules in a very unstable social fluid, a fluid that was clearly on the verge of igniting.

"You see," my friend the Minister told me, "in the villages of Africa it is perfectly natural to feed at any table and lodge in any hut. But in the cities this communal existence no longer holds. You must pay for lodging and be invited for food. When young men find out that their relations cannot put them up, they become lost. They join other migrants and slip gradually into the criminal process."

"In the poor quarters of Arab North Africa," he continued, "there is much less crime, because Islam provides a social anchor: of education and indoctrination. Here in West Africa we have a lot of superficial Islam and superficial Christianity. Western religion is undermined by animist beliefs not suitable to a moral society, because they are based on irrational spirit power. Here spirits are used to wreak vengeance by one person against another, or one group against another." Many of the atrocities in the Liberian civil war have been tied to belief in juju spirits, and the BBC has reported, in its magazine Focus on Africa, that in the civil fighting in adjacent Sierra Leone, rebels were said to have "a young woman with them who would go to the front naked, always walking backwards and looking in a mirror to see where she was going. This made her invisible, so that she could cross to the army's positions and there bury charms . . . to improve the rebels' chances of success."

Finally my friend the Minister mentioned polygamy. Designed for a pastoral way of life, polygamy continues to thrive in sub-Saharan Africa even though it is increasingly uncommon in Arab North Africa. Most youths I met on the road in West Africa told me that they were from "extended" families, with a mother in one place and a father in another. Translated to an urban environment, loose family structures are largely responsible for the world's highest birth rates and the explosion of the HIV virus on the continent. Like the communalism and animism, they provide a weak shield against the corrosive social effects of life in cities. In those cities African culture is being redefined while desertification and deforestation--also tied to overpopulation--drive more and more African peasants out of the countryside.

A Premonition of the Future
West Africa is becoming the symbol of worldwide demographic, environmental, and societal stress, in which criminal anarchy emerges as the real "strategic" danger. Disease, overpopulation, unprovoked crime, scarcity of resources, refugee migrations, the increasing erosion of nation-states and international borders, and the empowerment of private armies, security firms, and international drug cartels are now most tellingly demonstrated through a West African prism. West Africa provides an appropriate introduction to the issues, often extremely unpleasant to discuss, that will soon confront our civilization. To remap the political earth the way it will be a few decades hence--as I intend to do in this article--I find I must begin with West Africa.

There is no other place on the planet where political maps are so deceptive--where, in fact, they tell such lies--as in West Africa. Start with Sierra Leone. According to the map, it is a nation-state of defined borders, with a government in control of its territory. In truth the Sierra Leonian government, run by a twenty-seven-year-old army captain, Valentine Strasser, controls Freetown by day and by day also controls part of the rural interior. In the government's territory the national army is an unruly rabble threatening drivers and passengers at most checkpoints. In the other part of the country units of two separate armies from the war in Liberia have taken up residence, as has an army of Sierra Leonian rebels. The government force fighting the rebels is full of renegade commanders who have aligned themselves with disaffected village chiefs. A pre-modern formlessness governs the battlefield, evoking the wars in medieval Europe prior to the 1648 Peace of Westphalia, which ushered in the era of organized nation-states.

As a consequence, roughly 400,000 Sierra Leonians are internally displaced, 280,000 more have fled to neighboring Guinea, and another 100,000 have fled to Liberia, even as 400,000 Liberians have fled to Sierra Leone. The third largest city in Sierra Leone, Gondama, is a displaced-persons camp. With an additional 600,000 Liberians in Guinea and 250,000 in the Ivory Coast, the borders dividing these four countries have become largely meaningless. Even in quiet zones none of the governments except the Ivory Coast's maintains the schools, bridges, roads, and police forces in a manner necessary for functional sovereignty. The Koranko ethnic group in northeastern Sierra Leone does all its trading in Guinea. Sierra Leonian diamonds are more likely to be sold in Liberia than in Freetown. In the eastern provinces of Sierra Leone you can buy Liberian beer but not the local brand.

In Sierra Leone, as in Guinea, as in the Ivory Coast, as in Ghana, most of the primary rain forest and the secondary bush is being destroyed at an alarming rate. I saw convoys of trucks bearing majestic hardwood trunks to coastal ports. When Sierra Leone achieved its independence, in 1961, as much as 60 percent of the country was primary rain forest. Now six percent is. In the Ivory Coast the proportion has fallen from 38 percent to eight percent. The deforestation has led to soil erosion, which has led to more flooding and more mosquitoes. Virtually everyone in the West African interior has some form of malaria.

Sierra Leone is a microcosm of what is occurring, albeit in a more tempered and gradual manner, throughout West Africa and much of the underdeveloped world: the withering away of central governments, the rise of tribal and regional domains, the unchecked spread of disease, and the growing pervasiveness of war. West Africa is reverting to the Africa of the Victorian atlas. It consists now of a series of coastal trading posts, such as Freetown and Conakry, and an interior that, owing to violence, volatility, and disease, is again becoming, as Graham Greene once observed, "blank" and "unexplored." However, whereas Greene's vision implies a certain romance, as in the somnolent and charmingly seedy Freetown of his celebrated novel The Heart of the Matter, it is Thomas Malthus, the philosopher of demographic doomsday, who is now the prophet of West Africa's future. And West Africa's future, eventually, will also be that of most of the rest of the world.

Consider "Chicago." I refer not to Chicago, Illinois, but to a slum district of Abidjan, which the young toughs in the area have named after the American city. ("Washington" is another poor section of Abidjan.) Although Sierra Leone is widely regarded as beyond salvage, the Ivory Coast has been considered an African success story, and Abidjan has been called "the Paris of West Africa." Success, however, was built on two artificial factors: the high price of cocoa, of which the Ivory Coast is the world's leading producer, and the talents of a French expatriate community, whose members have helped run the government and the private sector. The expanding cocoa economy made the Ivory Coast a magnet for migrant workers from all over West Africa: between a third and a half of the country's population is now non-Ivorian, and the figure could be as high as 75 percent in Abidjan. During the 1980s cocoa prices fell and the French began to leave. The skyscrapers of the Paris of West Africa are a facade. Perhaps 15 percent of Abidjan's population of three million people live in shantytowns like Chicago and Washington, and the vast majority live in places that are not much better. Not all of these places appear on any of the readily available maps. This is another indication of how political maps are the products of tired conventional wisdom and, in the Ivory Coast's case, of an elite that will ultimately be forced to relinquish power.

Chicago, like more and more of Abidjan, is a slum in the bush: a checkerwork of corrugated zinc roofs and walls made of cardboard and black plastic wrap. It is located in a gully teeming with coconut palms and oil palms, and is ravaged by flooding. Few residents have easy access to electricity, a sewage system, or a clean water supply. The crumbly red laterite earth crawls with foot-long lizards both inside and outside the shacks. Children defecate in a stream filled with garbage and pigs, droning with malarial mosquitoes. In this stream women do the washing. Young unemployed men spend their time drinking beer, palm wine, and gin while gambling on pinball games constructed out of rotting wood and rusty nails. These are the same youths who rob houses in more prosperous Ivorian neighborhoods at night. One man I met, Damba Tesele, came to Chicago from Burkina Faso in 1963. A cook by profession, he has four wives and thirty-two children, not one of whom has made it to high school. He has seen his shanty community destroyed by municipal authorities seven times since coming to the area. Each time he and his neighbors rebuild. Chicago is the latest incarnation.

Fifty-five percent of the Ivory Coast's population is urban, and the proportion is expected to reach 62 percent by 2000. The yearly net population growth is 3.6 percent. This means that the Ivory Coast's 13.5 million people will become 39 million by 2025, when much of the population will consist of urbanized peasants like those of Chicago. But don't count on the Ivory Coast's still existing then. Chicago, which is more indicative of Africa's and the Third World's demographic present--and even more of the future--than any idyllic junglescape of women balancing earthen jugs on their heads, illustrates why the Ivory Coast, once a model of Third World success, is becoming a case study in Third World catastrophe.

President Felix Houphouet-Boigny, who died last December at the age of about ninety, left behind a weak cluster of political parties and a leaden bureaucracy that discourages foreign investment. Because the military is small and the non-Ivorian population large, there is neither an obvious force to maintain order nor a sense of nationhood that would lessen the need for such enforcement. The economy has been shrinking since the mid-1980s. Though the French are working assiduously to preserve stability, the Ivory Coast faces a possibility worse than a coup: an anarchic implosion of criminal violence--an urbanized version of what has already happened in Somalia. Or it may become an African Yugoslavia, but one without mini-states to replace the whole.

Because the demographic reality of West Africa is a countryside draining into dense slums by the coast, ultimately the region's rulers will come to reflect the values of these shanty-towns. There are signs of this already in Sierra Leone--and in Togo, where the dictator Etienne Eyadema, in power since 1967, was nearly toppled in 1991, not by democrats but by thousands of youths whom the London-based magazine West Africa described as "Soweto-like stone-throwing adolescents." Their behavior may herald a regime more brutal than Eyadema's repressive one.

The fragility of these West African "countries" impressed itself on me when I took a series of bush taxis along the Gulf of Guinea, from the Togolese capital of Lome, across Ghana, to Abidjan. The 400-mile journey required two full days of driving, because of stops at two border crossings and an additional eleven customs stations, at each of which my fellow passengers had their bags searched. I had to change money twice and repeatedly fill in currency-declaration forms. I had to bribe a Togolese immigration official with the equivalent of eighteen dollars before he would agree to put an exit stamp on my passport. Nevertheless, smuggling across these borders is rampant. The London Observer has reported that in 1992 the equivalent of $856 million left West Africa for Europe in the form of "hot cash" assumed to be laundered drug money. International cartels have discovered the utility of weak, financially strapped West African regimes.

The more fictitious the actual sovereignty, the more severe border authorities seem to be in trying to prove otherwise. Getting visas for these states can be as hard as crossing their borders. The Washington embassies of Sierra Leone and Guinea--the two poorest nations on earth, according to a 1993 United Nations report on "human development"--asked for letters from my bank (in lieu of prepaid round-trip tickets) and also personal references, in order to prove that I had sufficient means to sustain myself during my visits. I was reminded of my visa and currency hassles while traveling to the communist states of Eastern Europe, particularly East Germany and Czechoslovakia, before those states collapsed.

Ali A. Mazrui, the director of the Institute of Global Cultural Studies at the State University of New York at Binghamton, predicts that West Africa--indeed, the whole continent--is on the verge of large-scale border upheaval. Mazrui writes, "In the 21st century France will be withdrawing from West Africa as she gets increasingly involved in the affairs [of Europe]. France's West African sphere of influence will be filled by Nigeria--a more natural hegemonic power. . . . It will be under those circumstances that Nigeria's own boundaries are likely to expand to incorporate the Republic of Niger (the Hausa link), the Republic of Benin (the Yoruba link) and conceivably Cameroon."

27683  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Six Day War on: May 20, 2007, 06:41:56 AM
Houston Chronicle
May 17, 2007
 
Viewpoints, Outlook
 
 




May 17, 2007, 8:44PM
History tells why Israel's mistrust of Arabs is deep

By CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER

TOOLS

There has hardly been an Arab peace plan in the past 40 years — including the current Saudi version — that does not demand a return to the status quo of June 4, 1967. Why is that date so sacred? Because it was the day before the outbreak of the Six Day War in which Israel scored one of the most stunning victories of the 20th century. The Arabs have spent four decades trying to undo its consequences.

The real anniversary of the war should be three weeks earlier. On May 16, 1967, Egyptian President Gamal Nasser demanded the evacuation from the Sinai Peninsula of the U.N. buffer force that had kept Israel and Egypt at peace for 10 years. The U.N. complied, at which point Nasser imposed a naval blockade of Israel's only outlet to the south, the port of Eilat — an open act of war.

How Egypt came to this reckless provocation is a complicated tale (chronicled in Michael Oren's magisterial history Six Days of War) of aggressive intent compounded with fateful disinformation. An urgent and false Soviet warning that Israel was preparing to attack Syria led to a cascade of intra-Arab maneuvers that in turn led Nasser, the champion of pan-Arabism, to mortally confront Israel with a remilitarized Sinai and a southern blockade.

Why is this still important? Because that three-week period between May 16 and June 5 helps explain Israel's 40-year reluctance to give up the fruits of the Six-Day War — the Sinai, the Golan Heights, the West Bank and Gaza — in return for paper guarantees of peace. Israel had similar guarantees from the 1956 Suez War, after which it evacuated the Sinai in return for that U.N. buffer force and for assurances from the Western powers of free passage through the Straits of Tiran.

All this disappeared with a wave of Nasser's hand. During those three interminable weeks, President Lyndon Johnson tried to rustle up an armada of countries to run the blockade and open Israel's south. The effort failed dismally.

It is hard to exaggerate what it was like for Israel in those three weeks. Egypt, already in an alliance with Syria, formed an emergency military pact with Jordan. Iraq, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, Libya and Morocco began sending forces to join the coming fight.

With troops and armor massing on Israel's every frontier, jubilant broadcasts in every Arab capital hailed the imminent final war for the extermination of Israel.

"We shall destroy Israel and its inhabitants," declared PLO head Ahmed Shuqayri, "and as for the survivors — if there are any — the boats are ready to deport them."

For Israel, the waiting was excruciating and debilitating. Israel's citizen army had to be mobilized. As its soldiers waited on the various fronts for the world to rescue the nation from peril, Israeli society ground to a halt and its economy began bleeding to death. Army Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin, later to be hailed as a war hero and even later as a martyred man of peace, had a nervous breakdown. He was incapacitated to the point of incoherence by the unbearable tension of waiting with the life of his country in the balance.

We know the rest of the story. Rabin recovered in time to lead Israel to victory. But we forget how perilous was Israel's condition. The victory hinged on a successful attack on Egypt's air force on the morning of June 5. It was a gamble of astonishing proportions. Israel sent the bulk of its 200-plane air force on the mission, fully exposed to antiaircraft fire and missiles. Had they been detected and the force destroyed, the number of planes remaining behind to defend the Israeli homeland — its cities and civilians — from the Arab air forces' combined 900 planes was ... 12.

We also forget that Israel's occupation of the West Bank was entirely unsought. Israel begged Jordan's King Hussein to stay out of the conflict. Engaged in fierce combat with a numerically superior Egypt, Israel had no desire to open a new front just yards from Jewish Jerusalem and just miles from Tel Aviv. But Nasser personally told Hussein that Egypt had destroyed Israel's air force and airfields and that total victory was at hand. Hussein could not resist the temptation to join the fight. He joined. He lost.

The world will soon be awash with 40th anniversary retrospectives on the war — and on the peace of the ages that awaits if Israel would only return to June 4, 1967. But Israelis are cautious. They remember the terror of that unbearable May when, with Israel possessing no occupied territories whatsoever, the entire Arab world was furiously preparing Israel's imminent extinction. And the world did nothing.

Krauthammer is a Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist based in Washington, D.C. (letters@charleskrauthammer.com)
 
27684  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Solar Flashlight on: May 20, 2007, 05:46:53 AM
Woof All:

An article in today's NY Times about a solar flashlight caught my attention and I posted it on the SC&E forum.  While checking out this related website http://bogolight.com/ I saw it mentioned that the company who sells these flashlights has a "buy on give one" program for designated worthy people e.g. poor people in Africa and our troops in Iraq/Afghanistan. 

Apparently the light will run for 5 hours on a single day's charge and is supposed to last over 20 years.

TAC,
CD
27685  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Solar Flashlight on: May 20, 2007, 05:36:44 AM
I saw this in today's NY Times and thought it cool.
======

Solar Flashlight Lets Africa’s Sun Deliver the Luxury of Light to the Poorest Villages
           
 
By WILL CONNORS and RALPH BLUMENTHAL
Published: May 20, 2007
FUGNIDO, Ethiopia — At 10 p.m. in a sweltering refugee camp here in western Ethiopia, a group of foreigners was making its way past thatch-roofed huts when a tall, rail-thin man approached a silver-haired American and took hold of his hands.

The man, a Sudanese refugee, announced that his wife had just given birth, and the boy would be honored with the visitor’s name. After several awkward translation attempts of “Mark Bent,” it was settled. “Mar,” he said, will grow up hearing stories of his namesake, the man who handed out flashlights powered by the sun.

Since August 2005, when visits to an Eritrean village prompted him to research global access to artificial light, Mr. Bent, 49, a former foreign service officer and Houston oilman, has spent $250,000 to develop and manufacture a solar-powered flashlight.

His invention gives up to seven hours of light on a daily solar recharge and can last nearly three years between replacements of three AA batteries costing 80 cents.

Over the last year, he said, he and corporate benefactors like Exxon Mobil have donated 10,500 flashlights to United Nations refugee camps and African aid charities.

Another 10,000 have been provided through a sales program, and 10,000 more have just arrived in Houston awaiting distribution by his company, SunNight Solar.

“I find it hard sometimes to explain the scope of the problems in these camps with no light,” Mr. Bent said. “If you’re an environmentalist you think about it in terms of discarded batteries and coal and wood burning and kerosene smoke; if you’re a feminist you think of it in terms of security for women and preventing sexual abuse and violence; if you’re an educator you think about it in terms of helping children and adults study at night.”

Here at Fugnido, at one of six camps housing more than 21,000 refugees 550 miles west of Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, Peter Gatkuoth, a Sudanese refugee, wrote on “the importance of Solor.”

“In case of thief, we open our solor and the thief ran away,” he wrote. “If there is a sick person at night we will took him with the solor to health center.”

A shurta, or guard, who called himself just John, said, “I used the light to scare away wild animals.” Others said lights were hung above school desks for children and adults to study after the day’s work.

Mr. Bent’s efforts have drawn praise from the United Nations, Africare, Rice University and others.

Kevin G. Lowther, Southern Africa director for Africare, the largest American aid group for Africa, said his staff was sending 5,000 of his lights, purchased by Exxon Mobil at $10 each, to rural Angola.

Dave Gardner, a spokesman for Exxon Mobil, said the company’s $50,000 donation in November grew out of an earlier grant it made to Save the Children to build six public schools in Kibala, Angola, a remote area of Kwanza Sul Province.

“At a dedication ceremony for the first four schools in June 2006,” Mr. Gardner said in an e-mail message, “we noticed that a lot of the children had upper respiratory problems, part of which is likely due to the use of wood, charcoal, candles and kero for lighting in the small homes they have in Kibala.”

The Awty International School, a large prep school in Houston, has sent hundreds of the flashlights to schools it sponsors in Haiti, Cameroon and Ethiopia, said Chantal Duke, executive assistant to the head of school.

“In places where there is absolutely no electricity or running water, having light at night is a luxury many families don’t have and never did and which we take for granted in developed countries,” Ms. Duke said by e-mail. Mr. Bent, a former Marine and Navy pilot, served under diplomatic titles in volatile countries like Angola, Bosnia, Nigeria and Somalia in the early 1990s.

In 2001 he went to work as the general manager of an oil exploration team off the coast of the Red Sea in Eritrea, for a company later acquired by the French oil giant Perenco. But the oil business, he said, “didn’t satisfy my soul.”

The inspiration for the flashlight hit him, he said, while working for Perenco in Asmara, Eritrea. One Sunday he visited a local dump to watch scavenging by baboons and birds of prey, and came upon a group of homeless boys who had adopted the dump as their home.

They took him home to a rural village where he noticed that many people had nothing to light their homes, schools and clinics at night.

With a little research, he discovered that close to two billion people around the world go without affordable access to light.

He worked with researchers, engineers and manufacturers, he said, at the Department of Energy, several American universities, and even NASA before finding a factory in China to produce a durable, cost-effective solar-powered flashlight whose shape was inspired by his wife’s shampoo bottle.

The light, or sun torch, has a narrow solar panel on one side that charges the batteries, which can last between 750 and 1,000 nights, and uses the more efficient light-emitting diodes, or L.E.D.s, to cast its light. “L.E.D.s used to be very expensive,” Mr. Bent said. “But in the last 18 months they’ve become cheaper, so distributing them on a widespread scale is possible.”

The flashlights usually sell for about $19.95 in American stores, but he has established a BoGo — for Buy One, Give One — program on his Web site, BoGoLight.com, where if you buy one flashlight for $25, he will buy and ship another one to Africa, and donate $1 to one of the aid groups he works with.

Mr. Bent, who is now an oil consultant, lives in Houston with his wife and four young children. When he is not in the air flying his own plane, he is often on the road.

Traveling early this month in Ethiopia’s border area with Sudan, Mr. Bent stopped in each town’s market to methodically check the prices and quality of flashlights and batteries imported from China.

He unscrewed the flashlights one by one, inspecting the batteries, pronouncing them “terrible — they won’t last two nights.”

On his last day along the border, Mr. Bent visited Rapan Sadeeq, 21, a Sudanese refugee who is something of a celebrity in his camp, Bonga, for his rudimentary self-made radios, walkie-talkies and periscopes.

The two men huddled in the hut, discussing what parts would be needed to power the radio with solar panels instead of clunky C batteries. “Oh, I can definitely send you some parts,” Mr. Bent said. “You can be my field engineer in Ethiopia.”

Related clip can be found at http://bogolight.com/
27686  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: May 20, 2007, 12:13:43 AM
 
As to Prison Planet, Jones is a complete wacko. Just read his topics, everything is a conspiracy. 9-11 was caused by the government and explosives planted. The planes were remote controlled. FDR provoked Pearl Harbor. If this is your source for news.............
 
Now, to address some other things, I allow Bill Whittle of http://www.ejectejecteject.com/ to take over by excerpts:
 
I think the entire nation owes a deep and profound debt of gratitude to the editors of Popular Mechanics magazine. Their debunking of the 9/11 conspiracy was not only first-rate journalism. It was an act of vital national importance. It was heroic.

But Popular Mechanics?! That sort of article should have been front page, above the fold in The New York Times, The LA Times, Washington Post, and all of the other 'media watchdogs' that are -- or so I am assured -- determined to safeguard the republic by presenting the truth.

There are only two small mites I might add to that monumental work.

This whole ball of earwax got started when a French author (by way of gratitude, I presume, for the hundreds of thousands of Americans killed defending his country from a tyranny they themselves were unwilling to fight) claimed that the hole in the Pentagon was far too small to have been caused by a jet. It must have been a missile!

All of these 9/11 conspiracy sites have museum-grade idiots stating what 'obviously' happens at velocities and temperatures that they are flat-out incapable of understanding. Not only are these people too stupid to understand the physics involved with what they are bloviating about -- they are too stupid to realize that they are too stupid.

An airplane is a hollow, extremely light-weight tube of aluminum, cunningly designed to lift not one ounce more than is necessary for safe flight in rough weather. An airplane is as fragile as a hollow-boned bird, and for the same reasons. The Pentagon, on the other hand, is a fortress, and as a matter of one of the very few pieces of good luck on that awful day, the side hit by American Flight 77 happened to be the only one of the five sides that had been recently reinforced to withstand a truck bomb attack.

Now if you have ever seen a bird fly into a window pane, you may realize that it does not leave a nice bird-shaped hole in the window. That is because in each historical conflict between the ground and an airplane, the ground has won every time.

Here's something to prove the point far better than any words could ever do. It is a video of an F-4 Phantom being launched into a reinforced wall at over 500 mph. The Phantom is a big airplane -- not as big as a jetliner, certainly, but far sturdier in construction. When you watch this video, you will see that massive-looking fighter jet simply vaporize into a plume of aluminum dust. Nothing comes through the other side. It. Just. Disappears.

My other small contribution -- which may be widely stated, although I have not seen it -- is to grant this revolting premise for a moment and envision the consequences.

The 9/11 Truthers claim that the twin towers were brought down by controlled demolition. Okay.

Have you ever seen a controlled demolition? Shows like this are all over The Discovery Channel. Do these people realize how all of the insulation and paneling must be stripped away from the support beams? Do they not understand how these beams must be cut open and the explosives placed with great care? Have they not any idea of the amount of time this takes -- months -- and the forest of wires that runs through the structure to the detonating mechanism? Have they given no thought -- none? -- to what an enormous job this is, and how much work goes into getting these explosives exactly where they need to be?

Apparently not. They just figure someone leaves a suitcase somewhere, I guess.

Anyone who has ever -- ever -- seen what is required to bring down a building of that size knows that the site is a disaster area of det cord, pulled paneling, and huge bundles of explosives taped to the structural columns across many floors. Has no one considered that this all had to be started after everyone went home on Monday night and before people reported for work the next day? On multiple floors of two of the busiest public spaces in the world?

No one noticed this on Tuesday morning? Hey Jim, what do you suppose that huge bundle of plastic explosives is doing there where the water cooler used to be? And where do those wires go? Well, must be some logical explanation. Let's get some coffee and bagels.

Now you're talking!

Of all the people in those buildings that morning, no one -- no one -- saw any wires anywhere? No one asked why the drywall was torn down and replaced with grey stuff duct-taped into place? None of the firemen rushing into those burning towers, checking all those floors for survivors -- none of them noticed the building was rigged to explode? That it might possibly be worth a small call on the radio?

My father was interred at Arlington National Cemetery in 2002. I will never forget that day. It changed my life, and it was the event that started me writing here at Eject! Eject! Eject!

The man who coordinated that service was on a hill about a half-mile from that side of the Pentagon on the morning of September 11th, 2001. He told me that they had been informed that something was going on in New York that morning. Then he heard something that he said he thought was a missile attack -- a roar so loud and so far beyond a normal jet sound that he looked up at that exact moment expecting to die.

What he saw emerge from the trees overhead, perhaps a hundred feet above him, was American Airlines Flight 77 as it went by in a silver blur, engines screaming in a power dive as it hit the near side of the Pentagon. He told me -- to my face -- that body parts had rained down all over that sacred field. Just like red hail on a summer day. Those body parts are buried in a special place at the base of that hill.

Now. If Rosie O'Donnell and the rest of that Lunatic Brigade is right and I am wrong, then that man -- that insignificant Army chaplain and his Honor Guard of forty men -- are all liars. He is lying to me for Halliburton and Big Oil. That Chaplain -- and all of those decent, patriotic young men in the Honor Guard, and all the commuters on the roads who saw an American Airlines jet instead of a missile -- all of those people are liars and accessories to murder. And all of the firefighters who went into buildings rigged to explode were pre-recruited suicide martyrs dying for George W. Bush's plans for world conquest. Remember: NOTHING that happened on September 11th needed any more explanation than what was obvious from the second impact... namely, that Islamic terrorists hijacked four American aircraft and flew three of them into their targets. To try to convince people of missile attacks and rigged explosives and mystery jets is nothing more than an intentional assault on reason and common sense, one that damns the innocent and protects those mass murderers with our blood on their hands.

It's an obscenity. It's a filthy, God-damned, criminal obscenity. Nothing less.

Coexist!

You’ve probably seen this word spelled out with various religious symbols.

Who can argue with this? Not me, certainly.

What I CAN argue with is the idea that if only enough stupid, warlike Americans would just get on the Coexist train, then the world would be a happy and peaceful garden. Who else are the people with these bumper stickers preaching to, if not their ill-informed, knuckle-dragging neocon fellow commuters?

Unfortunately, here’s where reality inserts its ugly head. There is no more multi-cultural society on earth than the United States. The United States owns the patent on Coexisting religions and ethnicities. Drive half a mile though any major US urban area and you will see more ancient ethnic enemies living cheek by jowl in harmony than any other spot on the planet. Thursday morning water cooler conversations about Dancing with the Stars wallpaper over more ancient ethnic and religious murders than history has been able to record, and this despite Hollywood and the news media’s deepest efforts to remind you on a daily basis that the black or Hispanic or Asian or white friend in the next cube is secretly seething with racial hatred just beneath that placid veneer.

Americans are able to coexist because they have subjugated, if not abandoned, those ancient religious and ethnic hatreds to join a larger family, that larger family being America. And this is why, if you truly value the idea of coexistence, you should be dead set against multi-cultural grievance and identity politics, which do nothing but pit one ethnic group against the others and reinforce, rather than dilute, ancient resentments and grievances.

Now as it turns out, there is one member of the human family that seems to be having a little difficulty with the whole coexist thing. Muslims are at war with Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan, they are fighting Animists in Africa, Hindus in Kashmir, Buddhists in Southeast Asia…they are blowing up nightclubs and schools and police stations and trains and buses and skyscrapers and are under daily orders to kill Jews on sight anywhere in the world.

I don’t mind preaching so much as preaching to the choir. When I see Coexist bumper stickers in Islamabad and Cairo and especially Riyadh to the degree I see them in Venice, California, I will be a happy man. They will make a very welcome sight covering over the Death to the Infidel! stickers that seem to be somewhat outselling Coexist messages in that part of the world. Until then I think we should coexist and carry a big stick.

End U.S. Imperialism Now!

Can I just take another quick second of your precious time to put this one to bed once and for all?

It is a staple of the left to accuse the US of “Imperialism.” That so many people can level such a charge with a straight face is a testament to the efficacy of forty years of standards-free education reform here and around the world.

An “Empire” is defined as a nation state that has political control over other nation states, and uses that political control to extract the wealth and resources from the subjugated country.

The United States of America does not have any political control over any other sovereign nation on the face of the Earth. We have influence, but influence is to control as a rich uncle is to a prison warden. That’s all you need to know. The entire idea of American Empire and U.S. Imperialism is dead on its face after that. No control means no empire. Period.

But we do have a large footprint in the rest of the world, and have military bases all across the globe. Is that a form of empire?

Look, the whole point of having an empire is to take the wealth out of the colonies and return them to enrich the home country. The US not only does not pull in the resources of other nations…it does exactly the reverse. We pump billions and billions of dollars annually into those nations that host our facilities, and the minute any one of those nations decides we are no longer welcome, we pack our bags, leave and turn those billion-dollar institutions over to the host country. (Look up Subic Bay and Clark Air Base in the Philippines for some recent examples)

This is not “imperial behavior.” It is, in fact, the precise opposite of imperial behavior. I guess somehow STOP U.S. ANTI-IMPERIALISM just doesn’t have the same snap somehow for the North Korean-backed International A.N.S.W.E.R. crowd. Color me shocked.

There are millions of people – actually, probably billions now – who genuinely believe that the wealth of the US was stolen from third world countries. This is one of the great perks of living a life free of the ability to think critically and do a little research. I have heard this slander repeated so many times I decided to look into some actual numbers to see if there is anything to this charge. This is a perfect example of how critical thinking allows you to see the unseen. That attitude, Google and ten minutes is all you need to shoot lies like this down in flames.

Okay. The US Per capita income is $41,300. That of a poor, third world country –Djibouti, say -- is $2,070.

Now it gets interesting. The US gross domestic product – the value of everything we produce in a year -- was last measured as $12 trillion, 277 billion dollars (hundreds of millions of dollars being too insignificant to count in this economy).

The GDP of Djibouti is 1 billion, 641 million US dollars.

A little basic arithmetic shows me that the US has a GDP 7,481 times greater than Djibouti. A 365 day year, composed of 24 hours in a day, yields 8,760 hours per year. Hang on to that for a sec.

Now, let’s suppose the U.S. went into Djibouti with the Marines, and stole every single thing that’s produced there in a year…just grant the premise and say we stole every goddam thing they make. If we hauled away all of Djibouti’s annual wealth, how long would it run the U.S. Economy, which is 7,481 times greater?

Well, 8,760 hours divided by 7,481 gives you an answer of 1.17 hours. In other words, it takes the U.S. 1.17 hours to produce what Djibouti produces in a year.

If the US really did go in and steal everything that the bottom thirty countries in the world produce, it might power the US economy for two or three days.

Conversely, the billions and billions of dollars the US spends annually in aid, rent, etc. – plus uncounted billions more from private American charities – would supply the entire GDP of Djibouti for hundreds of years.

Where’s your Imperialism argument now?

War is not the Answer

Okay. I’m listening. What is the answer?

No, you don’t get to say I don’t know but I know it's not war! If you admit you don’t know what the answer is, then it logically follows that you are in no position to say what it is not.

With regards to Iraq, Saddam started a suicidal war with Iran, and then with the United States. He then proceeded to break every single element of his cease-fire agreement…shooting at allied airplanes trying to belatedly enforce no-fly zones to prevent him from massacring even more of his own people, continuing with a well-documented and undeniable effort to obtain nuclear weapons, and all the rest.

So what is the answer, Mr. Moral Superiority? Sanctions? We sanctioned him for 13 years. He bribed the UN and stole billions of dollars for new palaces and industrial shredders for the opposition. Should we just leave him alone? The New York Times reported a few days ago that Saddam was a year or two away from a nuclear weapon. Do you trust the man’s judgment after Iran and Kuwait? I don’t.

War is an ugly, messy, filthy business, and the greatest slander I have seen in these last three years is the idea that somehow the pro-war crowd thinks war is a great thing. War is an awful thing. And yet I am pro war in this case. How can that be?

This is probably the most useful thing I’ll write in this essay:

Doves think the choice is between fighting or not fighting. Hawks think the choice is between fighting now or fighting later.

If you understand this, you understand everything that follows. You don’t need to think the other side is insane, or evil. Both hawks and doves are convinced they are doing the right thing. But it seems to me there is a choice between peace at any price and a peace worth having.

We cannot undo the invasion and compare that timeline to the one we have. The only data we can use to compare these philosophies is embedded in the pages of history. What does history show?

I cannot think of a single example where appeasement – giving in to an aggressive adversary in the hope that it will convince them to become peaceful themselves – has provided any lasting peace or security. I can say in complete honesty that I look forward to hearing of any historical example that shows it does.

What I do see are barbarian forces closing in and sacking Rome because the Romans no longer had the will to defend themselves. Payments of tribute to the barbarian hordes only funded the creation of larger and better-armed hordes. The depredations of Viking Raiders throughout Northern Europe produced much in the way of ransom payments. The more ransom that was paid, the more aggressive and warlike the Vikings became. Why? Because it was working, that’s why. And why not? Bluster costs nothing. If you can scare a person into giving you his hard-earned wealth, and suffer no loss in return, well then you my friend have hit the Vandal Jackpot. On the other hand, if you are, say, the Barbary Pirates, raiding and looting and having a grand time of it all, and across the world sits a Jefferson – you know, Mr. Liberty and Restraint – who has decided he has had enough and sends out an actual Navy to track these bastards down and sink them all… well, suddenly raiding and piracy is not such a lucrative occupation. So, contrary to doomsayers throughout history, the destruction of the Barbary Pirates did not result in the recruitment of more Pirates. The destruction of the Barbary Pirates resulted in the destruction of the Barbary Pirates.

And it is just so with terrorism. When the results of terrorism do the terrorist more harm than good, terrorism will go away. We need to harm these terrorists, not reward them, if we ever expect to see the end of them.
27687  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Stratfor: Russia's Great Power Strategy on: May 20, 2007, 12:03:22 AM
From The Sunday Times

May 20, 2007

Putin spy war on the West
Mark Franchetti, Moscow, and Sarah Baxter, Washington

IT IS time to send for George Smiley. Russia’s covert foreign intelligence operations against America have reached cold war levels under President Vladimir Putin, according to Washington officials.

White House intelligence advisers believe no other country is as aggressive as Russia in trying to obtain US secrets, with the possible exception of China.

In particular the SVR, as the former KGB’s foreign intelligence arm is now known, is using a network of undercover agents in America to gather classified information about sensitive technologies, including military projects under development and high-tech research.

Yuri Shvets, a former KGB agent, said: “In the days of the Soviet Union, the number of spies was limited because they had to be based at the foreign ministry, the trade mission or the news agencies like Tass. Right now, virtually every successful private company in Russia is being used as a cover for Russian intelligence operations.” Related Links

Intelligence experts believe that since Putin became president in 2000, the Russians have rebuilt a network of agents in the United States that had been depleted during the country’s transition from communism.

Putin served 16 years in the KGB, including a spell in foreign intelligence in East Germany. He became head of the FSB, the domestic security service. According to Shvets, the FSB has been operating widely in America because of its favoured status with Putin. Agents, some acting under diplomatic cover, are said to be trying to recruit specialists in American facilities with access to sensitive information.

A rare insight into the SVR’s methods was gained six months ago when the authorities in Canada deported a Russian man who had been masquerading as a Canadian citizen.

The alleged SVR agent had been living under a false identity as Paul William Hampel and was detained carrying a fake birth certificate, £3,000 in five currencies and several encrypted pre-paid mobile phone cards.

He claimed to be a lifeguard and travel consultant but counter-intelligence officers believe he based himself in Montreal because the city is the centre of the Canadian aerospace industry. Carrying a Canadian passport, he would have been able to travel freely to the United States.

In another incident last year, the Americans arrested Ariel Weinmann, a former US navy submariner, on charges of spying for the Russians. Weinmann was accused of making electronic copies of classified information which he sought to pass on to his handlers. He was sentenced to 12 years in jail.

John Pike, a military and security analyst who runs GlobalSecurity.org, said a surge in recruitment of US intelligence operatives since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 had presented great opportunities for the Russians to penetrate the CIA and other agencies. Shvets believes Russian agents are also entering America legally as immigrants, a rarity in the strictly controlled Soviet era.

The increase in Russian intelligence activity abroad is in step with Moscow’s more aggressive stance since Putin came to power and turned the country’s lagging economy around on the back of record high oil prices.

Putin’s abrasive style has frustrated Washington. Relations between Russia and the United States are worse than at any time since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Comparisons with the tension of the cold war years have become commonplace.

“President Putin thinks the United States has been weakened by Iraq,” said Richard Holbrooke, a former US ambassador to the United Nations. “He thinks he has been strengthened by recent events and high-priced oil and he is trying to put Russia back on the international map.”

Estonia, the Baltic state, appeared last week to have become the target of a cyber attack after a row with Moscow over its decision to relocate a Soviet-era military monument. The Estonians claim professional hackers from Russia targeted the internet sites of ministries, parliament, banks, the media and large companies, causing their systems to crash.

The attack followed Russian calls to impose sanctions on Estonia, cuts in Moscow’s oil and gas deliveries and a campaign of intimidation by a Kremlin-backed youth group against the Estonian ambassador. Nato has sent a cyber-crime expert to help the Estonians, fearing that it could be next.

These concerns were raised last week at a European summit attended by Putin and Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, at Samara in southern Russia. Merkel traded barbs with Putin over Russia’s human rights record and complained that critics of the Kremlin, including Garry Kasparov, the former chess champion, were prevented from attending a protest march.

Moscow and Brussels are due to start talks on an agreement to cover trade, energy and foreign policy but Poland has been blocking the negotiations as a result of a Russian ban on its meat exports. The Kremlin’s relations with Lithuania are also tense following Moscow’s decision to cut oil supplies to the Baltic state.

In February Putin accused America of imposing its will on the rest of the world. He said that Washington’s plans to install 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar station in the Czech Republic — part of an anti-missile shield bitterly opposed by the Russians — “could provoke nothing less than the beginning of a nuclear era”.

 
27688  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Yoga on: May 20, 2007, 12:02:14 AM
Very nice movement!
27689  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Yoga on: May 19, 2007, 12:06:59 PM
When I was in Taiwain (1984?) for a couple of weeks I practiced in the park in the morning.  While there I saw some hsing-i guys practicing and was intrigued.  Also, for some reason I am curious about bagua.  Occasionally over the years people familiar with it have mentioned that some of the things I do overlap with bagua.
27690  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Free Speech vs. Islamic Fascism (formerly Buy DANISH!!!) on: May 19, 2007, 08:58:41 AM
Factual Statements=Unprotected Harassment!? A Terrifying Precedent at Tufts

by Greg Lukianoff

May 11, 2007
Today, FIRE announced the decision by a disciplinary panel at Tufts to find the conservative student newspaper, The Primary Source, guilty of “harassment” for, among other things, publishing a satirical ad that listed less-than-flattering facts about Islam during Tufts’ Islamic Awareness Week. You can see the ad here, and Eugene Volokh has also published it with excellent commentary over at his blog, but, just to make sure people see the ad for themselves, I have reprinted the full text:



Islam
Arabic Translation: Submission
In the Spirit of Islamic Awareness Week, the SOURCE presents an itinerary to supplement the educational experience.

MONDAY: “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them.” – The Koran, Sura 8:12

Author Salman Rushdie needed to go into hiding after Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeni declared a fatwa calling for his death for writing The Satanic Verses, which was declared “blasphemous against Islam.”

TUESDAY: Slavery was an integral part of Islamic culture. Since the 7th century, 14 million African slaves were sold to Muslims compared to 10 or 11 million sold to the entire Western Hemisphere. As recently as 1878, 25,000 slaves were sold annually in Mecca and Medina. (National Review 2002)

The seven nations in the world that punish homosexuality with death all have fundamentalist Muslim governments.

WEDNESDAY: In Saudi Arabia, women make up 5% of the workforce, the smallest percentage of any nation worldwide. They are not allowed to operate a motor vehicle or go outside without proper covering of their body. (Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2001)

Most historians agree that Muhammed’s second wife Aisha was 9 years old when their marriage was consummated.

THURSDAY: “Not equal are those believers who sit and receive no hurt, and those who strive and fight in the cause of Allah with their goods and their persons. Allah hath granted a grade higher to those who strive and fight with their goods and persons than to those who sit. Unto all Hath Allah promised good: But those who strive and fight Hath He distinguished above those who sit by a special reward.” – The Koran, Sura 4:95

The Islamist guerrillas in Iraq are not only killing American soldiers fighting for freedom. They are also responsible for the vast majority of civilian casualties.

FRIDAY: Ibn Al-Ghazzali, the famous Islamic theologian, said, “The most satisfying and final word on the matter is that marriage is form of slavery. The woman is man’s slave and her duty therefore is absolute obedience to the husband in all that he asks of her person.”

Mohamed Hadfi, 31, tore out his 23-year-old wife Samira Bari’s eyes in their apartment in the southern French city of Nimes in July 2003 following a heated argument about her refusal to have sex with him. (Herald Sun)


If you are a peaceful Muslim who can explain or justify this astonishingly intolerant and inhuman behavior, we’d really like to hear from you! Please send all letters to tuftsprimarysource@gmail.com.


So does this paint Islam in a nice light? No. Is it one-sided? Yes, but that was kind of the point. The students were responding to what they thought was a one-sided and overly rosy depiction of Islam during Islamic Awareness week. But is it unprotected harassment!? One certainly hopes not, or else “harassment” just became a truly lethal threat to free speech—an “exception” that completely swallows the rule.

This is perhaps the most troubling and far-reaching aspect of this case. The Primary Source published a satirical ad filled with factual assertions and because this angered people it was ruled to be unprotected harassment. If what the complaining students wanted to say was that the TPS facts were wrong, then—while this still would not be harassment—that could have been an interesting debate. But instead, in sadly predictable fashion, the students plowed ahead with a harassment claim that, based on the hearing panel’s decision, appeared not even to raise the issue of whether or not the statements in the ad were true, but turned only on how they made people feel. A panel consisting of both faculty and students found the publication guilty in flagrant abuse of what harassment case law and regulations actually say, and demonstrating total ignorance of the principles of a free society. Even in libel law (one of the oldest exceptions to the rule of free speech is that you can be punished for defaming people) truth is rightfully an absolute defense. Here, the fact that TPS printed verifiable information—with citations—was apparently no defense, nor was the fact that the ad concerned contentious issues of dire global importance. Such an anemic conception of free speech should chill anyone who cares about basic rights and democracy itself.

I doubt that the Tufts disciplinary board thought through the full ramifications of their actions. If a Muslim student had published these same statements in an article calling for reform in Islam, would that be harassment? If Tufts wished to be at all consistent (a dubious bet here), it would be.

Since those students and faculty obviously did not think about the ramifications of this decision, we put it to you, President Bacow: do you think the publication of factual assertions should be a punishable offense if they hurt the wrong people’s feelings, regardless of whether or not they are true? I hope he will think hard on what the U.S. would look like if that was the law of the land. It’s not a country that most of us would recognize or even want to live in. We ask again for President Bacow to live up to the best principles of a liberal university in a free society and overturn this dangerous decision.
27691  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: May 19, 2007, 08:42:03 AM
Rhode Island man accused of trying to extort gas station owner over fake terror ties
 
 
 

Associated Press - May 19, 2007 7:53 AM ET

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - A Rhode Island man is in custody on charges of attempted extortion and impersonating a federal officer over fake terror claims.

Police in Warwick (WAR'-ik), Rhode Island, say George Tabora threatened to claim that the Middle Eastern owner of a gas station was linked to al-Qaida unless the man paid him $$25,000.

The 44-year-old suspect has been in custody since Wednesday after police say they caught his teen-age son trying to retrieve the fake payoff money. Prosecutors say Tabora also his wife in the plot. She worked at the gas station and allegedly backed up the story, telling her boss she'd been contacted by a Homeland Security agent.

The gas station owner told police he had received a phone call from a man claiming to be a federal agent. The man says the caller threatened to jail him and "go after" his wife and daughters if he didn't pay.

Police say they recorded a call from Tabora's home that allegedly set up the money drop.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
http://www.woodtv.com/Global/story.asp?S=6539451
27692  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: May 19, 2007, 08:40:56 AM
KALAMAZOO (AP) - Two would-be bandits got more than they expected when they tried to rob a Kalamazoo County man early Friday morning.

Deputies say two men approached 32-year Brian Smith as he tried to enter his Oshtemo Township home. One man asked for directions to Kalamazoo Valley Community College, while the other pulled out a revolver.

Smith pulled out his own gun to defend himself. Deputies say Smith fired twice, hitting one man in the hand. Both suspects took off.

The wounded man was arrested a short time later when he sought medical attention. He's in jail. The other suspect remains at large.
http://www.wwmt.com/news/kalamazoo_36023___article.html/smith_say.html
============
27693  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: May 19, 2007, 08:32:59 AM
Iraq Facing `Many' Civil Wars, Country `Fractured,' Report Says

By Robin Stringer
May 17 (Bloomberg) -- Iraq is facing several civil wars between a number of rival communities struggling for power and has ``fractured'' into regional power bases, a report by an adviser to the U.K. government said.
There are ``many civil wars and insurgencies,'' and the Middle Eastern country has fractured into ``regions dominated by sectarian, ethnic or tribal political groupings,'' said a report released today by Chatham House, a London-based international affairs organization which advises European governments, including Britain.
Iraq's ethnic and sectarian communities include minority Sunni Muslims, majority Shiites, Kurds and Turkmen. Some 1,500 civilians were killed in April, the report said, citing official Iraqi statistics. The U.S. military is deploying about 30,000 additional forces to Baghdad and surrounding areas in an attempt to quell rampant violence in the country.
This year will be ``a particularly crucial period,'' as many of the ``most destabilizing issues,'' including an oil revenue sharing law, federalism and the territorial borders of the autonomous Kurdish region in the north of the country, are due to be resolved, said the report, titled ``Accepting Realities in Iraq.''
The U.S. and U.K., the main military partners in a coalition that invaded Iraq in March 2003, ``continue to struggle'' in their analysis of the country's political and social structures, said Gareth Stansfield, author of the report.
``This analytical failing has led to the pursuit of strategies that suit ideal depictions of how Iraq should look, but are often unrepresentative of the current situation,'' Stansfield said in the report.
Control of the State
In Baghdad, Sunni and Shiite groups are fighting for control of the state. There is a ``rapidly emerging conflict'' between Kurds and non-Kurds in the northern oil hub of Kirkuk, where the majority of the population is Kurdish, Stansfield said.
Tribal Sunni groups are clashing with fighters loyal to al- Qaeda in the western province of al-Anbar. In the south, Shiite groups are fighting for control over Basra, the oil-rich city near the Iranian border, Stansfield said. Anti-U.S. Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia, which is Iraqi nationalist and opposed to federalism, is coming into conflict with other Shiite groups, such as the Badr militia, that have close ties with Iran.
In addition, Sunni insurgents are fighting U.S. forces in the country's north and center, and Shiite militiamen are attacking U.K. forces in the south of the country around Basra, the report said.
Civilian Deaths
At least 63,000 civilians have been killed in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion, according to the Iraqi Body Count Web site, which tracks media reports of civilian deaths. This may be a conservative total; the United Nations said in January that at least 34,000 civilians were killed around the country last year alone.
U.S. military deaths have risen every month since the intensified security efforts began in February. At least 49 U.S. soldiers have been killed this month, according to Department of Defense statistics. Some 148 U.K. service members have been killed since the invasion.
Stansfield recommends the better inclusion of Sunni representatives and al-Sadr, who has widespread support in the south and Baghdad, in the political process, and backing for Kurdish hopes of a formally autonomous state in the north of the country.
``Iraq must become federal if it is to survive, quite simply because there is no other way to ensure that the Kurds will peacefully remain within the state,'' Stansfield said.
A centralized Iraqi government has resulted in a ``zero-sum competition for power'' and the country instead needs regional arrangements, the report said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Robin Stringer in London at rstringer@bloomberg.net .
Last Updated: May 16, 2007 19:34 EDT
27694  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North Korea on: May 18, 2007, 12:21:31 PM
WSJ

Pyongyang's Perfidy
By JOHN R. BOLTON
May 18, 2007; Page A17

Over a month has passed since sweetness and light were due to break out on the Korean Peninsula. On Feb. 13, the Six-Party Talks in Beijing ratified a bilateral agreement between the U.S. and North Korea, providing for Pyongyang to give up its nuclear programs. The first step, 60 days after ratification, was to be that North Korea "will shut down and seal for the purpose of eventual abandonment" the Yongbyon nuclear facility, and readmit inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Other steps were to follow, but the first move was unequivocally to be made by Pyongyang. The 60 days came and went, and indeed, another 35 days have come and gone. No IAEA inspectors have been readmitted, and not even Pyongyang claims that it has "shut down" Yongbyon.

Instead, observers -- especially Iran and other nuclear weapons aspirants -- have witnessed embarrassing U.S. weakness on a supposedly unrelated issue, unmentioned in the Feb. 13 agreement. That issue involves North Korea's widely publicized demand that approximately $25 million frozen in Macau-based Banco Delta Asia (BDA) accounts be released and transferred to Pyongyang. The funds came from North Korean counterfeiting of U.S. currency, money laundering and other fraudulent activities uncovered by a U.S. Treasury investigation begun in 2003. The accounts were frozen in 2005 and the BDA was promptly put on Treasury's blacklist for illicit activity.

 
While the Bush administration denies a direct link, the North Koreans have said publicly that they will not comply with the bilateral agreement until the BDA funds are safely under their control. This obvious quid pro quo is not only embarrassing, it sets a dangerous precedent for other regimes that would blackmail the U.S. What are the consequences of the BDA meltdown?

First, the timetable of the Feb. 13 agreement is already shredded. President Bush said at the time of the deal: "Those who say that the North Koreans have got to prove themselves by actually following through on the deal are right, and I'm one." Assistant Secretary of State Chris Hill, the deal's U.S. architect and chief negotiator, said: "We need to avoid above all missing deadlines. It's like a broken-window theory: one window is unrepaired, and before you know it you'll have a lot of broken windows and nobody cares."

Those statements were correct when made, and they are correct today. Sadly, however, they no longer seem to be "operative."

Second, by making secret side deals with North Korea, the State Department has left itself vulnerable to future renegotiation efforts. This is the North's classic style: Negotiate hard to reach an agreement, sign it, and then start renegotiating, not to mention violating the deal at will. America's serial concessions on BDA simply confirm to Pyongyang that State is well into the "save the deal" mode, which bodes well for future North Korean efforts to recast it. Consider the sequence of administration positions on BDA: Initially, the criminal investigation and the nuclear issue were not supposed to be connected, but the North insisted and the U.S. gave in.

Then, North Korea moved the renegotiation into high gear, demanding the return of the funds as a precondition to complying with its own commitments. Unwilling to "just say no," the Bush administration tried to distinguish between "licit" and "illicit" funds, returning only those that were legitimate. (This, of course begs the question whether anything that the criminal conspiracy running North Korea does is "licit.") Even the "licit" funds returned, however, were to be used only for "humanitarian" projects in North Korea rather than returned to Kim Jong Il's grasp -- although how in an age of the U.N.'s "Cash for Kim" program the State Department thought this was to be verified remains a mystery.

Nevertheless, North Korea was not satisfied, insisting that all the funds had to be returned to the actual account holders, with no restrictions on their use, even though all agree that at least some were acting illicitly. This, too, State accepted.

Third, we now face the nagging question whether there are other secret side deals beyond BDA. Of course, the BDA agreement was not so secret that Kim Jong Il was barred from knowing about it, by definition. Most troubling, however, is that State apparently thought it too sensitive to share with the American people until the February deal broke down in an unavoidably public way. But even this was not enough for North Korea, which, sensing U.S. weakness, continues to press for more. Although conflicting stories abound, North Korea may be seeking not just the return of the BDA funds, but something much more significant: guaranteed access to international financial markets, even through an American bank. Indeed, this week Wachovia Corp. confirmed that it had been approached by the State Department to assist in the transfer of funds.

Here, the issue is inescapably related to North Korea's nuclear program. The North's access to international financial markets to launder its ill-gotten revenues is critical both to continued financing of its nuclear regime and to keeping Kim Jong Il in power. If this is even close to what the State Department is prepared to do, who will ever again take us seriously when we threaten financial strangulation of rogue states and terrorist groups? Granting this North Korean demand would make U.S. concessions on BDA look paltry by comparison.

Fourth, the BDA affair calls the remainder of the Feb. 13 agreement into question. Just to remind, 2007 is the 13th anniversary of the Agreed Framework, a predecessor U.S.-North Korean agreement, and the 15th anniversary of the Joint North-South Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. In all likelihood, it is also the 13th and 15th anniversaries, respectively, of North Korea's first violations of those agreements. No serious observer contends there is any sign of a strategic decision by North Korea to give up its nuclear program, which means, therefore, there is no more reason to believe the North will comply with the Feb. 13 deal than it has complied with its predecessors.

It is not even clear if North Korea actually gave up anything significant in the Feb. 13 deal. It is entirely possible, for example, that Yongbyon is now a hulk, well past its useful life span, and that the North agreed, in effect, to shut down a wreck. Even if Yongbyon is not in such parlous condition, it may be that the North has extracted all the plutonium possible from the fuel rods it has, and that Yongbyon therefore offers it nothing more. Here, the omissions in the Feb. 13 agreement become significant. The deal says nothing about the plutonium, perhaps weaponized perhaps not, that North Korea has already reprocessed.

How these issues play out will have ramifications far beyond North Korea, particularly for Iran. Some say the Bush administration entered the Feb. 13 deal because it desperately needed a success. One thing is for certain: It does not need a failure. The president can easily extricate himself from the deal, just based on North Korea's actions to date. He should take the first opportunity to do so.

Mr. Bolton is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and the author of "Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the U.N. and Abroad," forthcoming this fall from Simon & Schuster.
27695  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: May 18, 2007, 11:53:43 AM
 
   
 May 18, 2007
12:48pm EDT
WSJ
PEGGY NOONAN

The Man Who Wasn't There
Fred Thompson isn't yet running, but he's running a great campaign.

Friday, May 18, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Having watched the second Republican debate the other night, it's clear to me the subject today is Fred Thompson, the man who wasn't there. While the other candidates bang away earnestly in a frozen format, Thompson continues to sneak up from the creek and steal their underwear--boxers, briefs and temple garments.

He is running a great campaign. It's just not a declared campaign. It's a guerrilla campaign whose informality is meant to obscure his intent. It has been going on for months and is aimed at the major pleasure zones of the Republican brain. In a series of pointed columns, commentaries and podcasts, Mr. Thompson has been talking about things conservatives actually talk about. Shouldn't homeowners have the right to own a gun? Isn't it bad that colleges don't teach military history? How about that Sarkozy--good news, isn't it? Did you see Tenet on Russert? His book sounds shallow, tell-all-y.

These comments and opinions are being read and forwarded in Internet Nation. They are revealing and interesting, but they're not heavy, not homework. They have an air of "This is the sound of a candidate thinking." That's an unusual sound.

Most illustrative was what started this week as a small trading of barbs with provocateur Michael Moore, whose general and iconic dishabille is meant to show identification with the workingman, though in America workingmen bathe. Mr. Moore was back from Cuba, where he made a documentary on the superiority of Castro's health care system. Mr. Thompson suggested Mr. Moore is just another lefty who loves dictators. Mr. Moore challenged Mr. Thompson to a health-care debate and accused him of smoking embargoed cigars. Within hours Mr. Thompson and his supposedly nonexistent staff had produced a spirited video response that flew through YouTube and the conservative blogosphere. Sitting at a desk and puffing on a fat cigar, Mr. Thompson announces to Mr. Moore he can't fit him into his schedule. Then: "The next time you're down in Cuba . . . you might ask them about another documentary maker. His name was Nicolás Guillén. He did something Castro didn't like, and they put him in a mental institution for several years, giving him devastating electroshock treatments. A mental institution, Michael. Might be something you ought to think about."

You couldn't quite tell if Mr. Thompson was telling Mr. Moore he ought to think more about Cuba, or might himself benefit from psychiatric treatment. It seemed almost . . . deliberately unclear.





Right now Mr. Thompson has the best of both worlds, an air of fearlessness and nothing on the line. He hasn't committed. He's not in. He can take a chance and be himself because he's not afraid, and he's not afraid because he has nothing to lose.
He says he'll get in if enough people ask him to. If they don't, he'll go someplace else and do something else. It's not as if his speech fees would go down.

Why would he run now? Because he thinks there's no one of greater stature on the field. Because he thinks he's got a better, shrewder read of the base than the rest of them. Because he's at an age where you throw the dice or know you never will. Because he thinks the one essential to modern presidential leadership, the one thing you must have now, in the age of terror, is the ability to communicate, and he reads himself as the best communicator. And because he's at a point in his private life where it's possible for him. He's got a wife who's got his back and two kids who've given him a second chance. Even in great careers it's the private life that's hardest to get right. He feels he has.

People speak of Mr. Thompson's movie-star looks. But he's not beautiful, he's heavy and gray. What he has is bearing. He has the manner of someone who thinks a great deal of himself, and thinks it after long personal pondering of his good points, bad points, high points and low. He may or may not be correct in his conclusions, but I suspect they are part of his draw. I suspect people pick them up.

Is he anything beyond a standard Republican conservative? Will he have anything beyond a Mideast policy that consists of win in Iraq, support the surge, and oppose any timetable? Does he stand for any strategic thinking apart from what John McCain unconsciously but aptly characterized as "Bomb-bomb-bomb, bomb-bomb Iran"? On domestic issues, can Mr. Thompson go beyond standard conservative thought? I happen to be standard conservative myself, but sometimes old things need to be made new, the obvious needs to be made fresh.

Here are some things Mr. Thompson has going for him. He had eight years in the U.S. Senate, and then left in 2002 instead of sticking around and getting all the muck on him. He has a conservative record but a moderate persona. He seems nonradical, non-let's-follow-the-banner-over-the-cliff. He's a Southerner but modern. He has a great voice. (Voices matter. Ask Obama, who has one. Ask Hillary, who doesn't.) He comes to a field that may soon start to feel tired. That to some extent already does. His relatively late entry suggests--suggests--his motives are serious, not just ego-related.

But Mr. Thompson's challenges are real, too. He'll have to show he's serious--that he's in it for big reasons and in it to the end. He'll have to knock down the "low energy, gadfly, hops from thing to thing" charge, which has persisted so long that one assumes there's something in it. He'll have to show he's not just a rote, pro forma conservative--a dumb conservative--but someone who knows times change, horizons shift. He has to show he has run something, or can run something. Romney ran a state, Giuliani a city. Mr. Thompson has run what--a career? Big whoop.





Most importantly for him, and for all the Republican candidates for that matter, Mr. Thompson will have to answer this question: What is he running to do? Why should the Republicans get another eight years, or four years, after all the missteps they've made? Isn't conservatism, or Republicanism, or whatever you call it, just tired? Isn't it over? Isn't America just waiting for whatever will take its place?
Why shouldn't liberalism get a shot? Could they mess up more? Why should we trust Republicans with foreign affairs?

If Fred Thompson can answer these questions, he'll be showing he's something new, and not just the newest candidate, or the latest face.

Reports this week said an announcement could come in June.
 
27696  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Anatomy of a hit job: The Wolfowitz Affair (formerly Paul's Girl) on: May 18, 2007, 11:48:17 AM
World Bank Justice
Wolfowitz's resignation offers a window into a corrupt institution.

Friday, May 18, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

So after weeks of nasty leaks and media smears, the World Bank's board of executive directors yesterday cleared President Paul Wolfowitz of ethical misconduct for following the board's own advice on how to handle a conflict of interest involving his girlfriend. And Mr. Wolfowitz in turn will resign from the bank at the end of June. Run that by us again?

We've said from the beginning that the charges against Mr. Wolfowitz were bogus, and that the effort to unseat him amounted to a political grudge by those who opposed his role in the Bush Administration and a bureaucratic vendetta by those who opposed his anti-corruption agenda at the bank. That view was vindicated by yesterday's statement, which showed how little the merits of the case against Mr. Wolfowitz had to do with the final result.

Mr. Wolfowitz "assured us that he acted ethically and in good faith in what he believed were the best interests of the institution, and we accept that," the directors said, thus rejecting the findings of a rigged investigating committee that had ignored key evidence. The most damning judgment the directors could muster is that "a number of mistakes were made," including by the bank's own ethics committee that had refused to let Mr. Wolfowitz recuse himself from matters involving his girlfriend, Shaha Riza.

In other words, this was all about politics. And all that mattered to Mr. Wolfowitz's accusers was to be rid of him, whatever the pretext or methods. The least they can do now is restore Ms. Riza to her job, assuming she wants to be part of an organization that treated her so shabbily.





This all may pass as World Bank justice. For the rest of us, it has served as a window into an institution that seems to observe no rule other than the interests of the unaccountable mandarins who consider themselves its rightful owners. There have been plenty of outrages in the bank's treatment of Mr. Wolfowitz, but for sheer chutzpah nothing exceeds the argument of last week's report by the investigating committee of the board that he had put the institution "in a bad and unfair light" by daring to defend himself publicly against selective and false media leaks designed to smear him. Had Mr. Wolfowitz taken that advice, he would have been out on his ear without so much as the benefit of the formal acquittal he has now received.
As for the Bush Administration, it might be in a better position now had it defended its man as vigorously as he defended himself. Instead, its officials were slow to understand what was happening and--with the exception of President Bush himself--largely mute as the coup unfolded. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson took the line that the U.S. would allow the bank process to work itself out, when it ought to have been clear that the process itself was rigged.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice remained on the sidelines until the very end, and her reported "quiet diplomacy" on Mr. Wolfowitz's behalf was precisely the wrong way to fight a battle being waged on front pages. Her behavior in this case is reminiscent of her pre-emptive capitulation on the famous "16 words" in President Bush's 2003 State of the Union, words that Britain's Butler Report later concluded were "well-founded" but which now are a defining myth of the left's "Bush lied" theology.

Mr. Paulson and Ms. Rice may think that by staying on the sidelines of the Wolfowitz fight they have safeguarded their own political capital. Perhaps, but the precedent being set by Mr. Wolfowitz's departure will damage not just the Bush Administration in the time it has left but U.S. interests for years to come.

An American appointee has been ousted from a multilateral institution by a staff and media cabal on trumped-up charges solely because they disliked Mr. Wolfowitz's priorities. The inmates are now in charge. Yet the U.S. will still be expected to provide the bulk of funding to these institutions--more than 16% at the World Bank--while it cedes de facto control of its operations to a multilateral elite. That's a recipe for declining American influence.

If there is a silver lining here, it is that the public has been able to get a glimpse of how the World Bank works and what it actually accomplishes. Among other lowlights, we've recently been reminded that the bank annually pushes billions in loans to countries like China and Mexico that can easily get credit in private capital markets. We've seen that many of those loans go to projects in places like India or Kenya that are riddled by corruption; the bank may have lost as much as $8 billion to corruption in 25 years of lending to the Suharto regime in Indonesia. We've also learned that the bank funds literally hundreds of projects from Albania to Niger that were ill-conceived and proved to be failures.

We've seen that senior bank personnel, such as former Indonesia country director Dennis de Tray, openly argue that corruption is no big deal and should not get in the way of the bank's "helping people." We've seen how the bank trashed the careers of longstanding and well-regarded employees such as Bahram Mahmoudi, who blew the whistle on a misamanaged project. We've seen how Shengman Zhang, the bank's No. 2 under former President Jim Wolfensohn, seems to think there's nothing amiss with calling for Mr. Wolfowitz's resignation despite the fact that Mr. Zhang's wife was swiftly promoted while working under him.

We've seen how the board of directors apparently covered for one of their own--British Executive Director Tom Scholar--when he was accused of having a conflict of interest because of a personal relationship with an employee at the bank. And we've seen how the bank has served as a well-paid sinecure for out-of-office politicians such as Dutchman Ad Melkert, who has moved comfortably within multilateral institutions making an enviable tax-free salary while performing incompetently and behaving dishonorably.





In a better world, the bank would shrink to perform only its core mission of helping the world's poorest nations. That's not going to happen, however, so the best that President Bush can do now to minimize the damage of the Wolfowitz putsch is by replacing him with someone who shares his agenda and will clean the place up. No European should have a chance to do that given what has transpired, not even Tony Blair. Nor should he name another well known member of the Council on Foreign Relations seminar circuit whom the Europeans and staff can quickly capture.
We've suggested former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, who saw first-hand how these institutions function while investigating the U.N.'s Oil for Food scandal. But whoever it is, the core task of Mr. Wolfowitz's successor should be to clean the World Bank stables, or shut it down.
27697  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: June 2007 Gathering on: May 17, 2007, 09:07:43 PM
Woof Robert:

When OP shot the Nov 2005 Gathering we did not have any problems with glare on the masks reported.

Your question about a wall/getting backed into the crowd is a good one.  It is what I was trying to get at when I said
" Any suggestions for how to define the perimeter?"

I liked the the way R1 had walls on two sides.  Its good to have walls into which to crash!  Maybe we should set the mats at OP's warehouse against one wall?

Location:

http://www.mapquest.com/maps/map.adp?searchtype=address&country=US&addtohistory=&searchtab=home&formtype=address&popflag=0&latitude=&longitude=&name=&phone=&level=&cat=&address=2435+N.+Naomi+St.&city=Burbank&state=CA&zipcode=91504

I have no idea where your "cajones" may be cheesy cheesy cheesy  You might want to check the spelling on those two locations  wink

TAC,
Crafty Dog
27698  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science on: May 17, 2007, 08:52:06 PM
North Korea: A New Missile and Regional Politics
Summary

North Korea has tested in Iran a new intermediate-range missile dubbed the Musudan-1, according to Japanese and South Korean media reports. The news follows word that North Korea displayed the new missile in an April 25 parade, though reportedly only satellite photos of the missile exist. The attention being paid to the Musudan is not really about the changes in North Korean capability, though the missile could represent a substantive improvement over the Scud-based Nodong and Taepodong systems. The focus on the missile is more about the politics surrounding the six-party nuclear talks, South Korean presidential elections, and Japan's constitutional and defense evolution.

Analysis

North Korea and Iran are celebrating a so-called week of friendship with social and cultural exchanges in each country following a visit by North Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Hyong Jun to Tehran. During Kim's visit, the two countries called for closer ties, though Iranian officials suggested obstacles to closer cooperation remain, including outstanding North Korean debt to Iran. But as the two remaining "Axis of Evil" member states discuss closer ties, South Korean and Japanese media have reported that North Korea recently tested its newest intermediate-range ballistic missile in Iran.

The missile, dubbed "Musudan-1" by overseas observers, is based on the Soviet-era SS-N-6, a submarine-launched ballistic missile. It reportedly was displayed during North Korea's April 25 military parade. Photos and video of at least three mobile missile systems shown off during the parade were later published, including the AG-1 anti-ship missile (a knockoff of the Silkworm and Seersucker missiles), the Hwasong (a Scud missile derivative) and the KN-02 (North Korea's latest short-range ballistic missile, a prime candidate for the export market, based on the SS-21 Scarab). While most reports suggested four missiles were shown, no images of the fourth were released.

Three days after the parade, South Korea's Chosun Ilbo reported that U.S. satellite imagery revealed the fourth missile was a new intermediate-range ballistic missile with a range of 2,500 to 4,000 kilometers (1,500 to 2,500 miles) that in subsequent reports would be identified as the "Musudan-1." The missile is shorter and wider than the Scud-based designs, as it traces its lineage to early Russian submarine-launched missiles. As such, it is a more stable missile. Coupled with a dual-chamber control engine, rather than steering vanes, this makes the missile substantially more maneuverable -- and accurate -- than current North Korean missiles like the Hwasong, Nodong and Taepodong, all of which are based on Scud technology. Pyongyang has stretched the Scud-based systems to their extreme limits. To their credit, North Korean engineers very nearly put a satellite into orbit based on Scud technology in 1998 -- no small achievement. But the failure of the Taepodong-2 in 2006 (whatever the actual cause) is symptomatic of a generation of engineering pushed too far.



(click to enlarge)


The SS-21 Scarab and SS-N-6 Serb essentially represent a badly needed influx of fresh blood into the North Korean missile program. With the display of North Korean versions of both the KN-02 and Musudan-1 at the April parade, new life has been injected into Pyongyang's missile program. The KN-02 marks a production-level solid-fuel missile system, which can serve as a basis for North Korean understanding of solid propellant. It is worth remembering that the SS-21 remains the mainstay of Russian short-range ballistic missile regiments to this day (though they are slowly being upgraded to the SS-26), and the Russian guidance package is reportedly capable of 95 meters Circle of Equal Probability (a measure of accuracy) -- a huge step up for Pyongyang.

The SS-N-6 is even more significant. Aside from a much more compact design, the dual-chamber control engine is a big advance from the steering vanes of Scud missiles. What will be especially interesting is watching North Korean engineers stretch what was necessarily a compact Soviet submarine-launched ballistic missile as they did the Scud. Without the space constraints placed on Soviet designers (e.g., the missile tubes on Soviet submarines), the Musudan-1 can be expanded; it reportedly has already gotten 10 feet longer. Combined with parallel improvements in gyroscopic guidance, the Musudan-1 promises a generational leap for Pyongyang.

North Korea's work on the SS-N-6 variant has been known for quite a while, and there is little surprise that Pyongyang finally decided to roll out the missile for display. As early as 2000 there were reports Pyongyang had completed improvements on the SS-N-6. By 2003 there were expectations North Korea would display the missile during military parades that year, though this did not come to pass. The missile, called the Nodong-B or the Mirim (after an airbase near which it was spotted in 2003), is now apparently called the Musudan-1, though North Korea's own designation is unknown. There were initial suspicions that Pyongyang even tested one of the Musudan (or Mirim) missiles in July 2006.

Despite its substantially enhanced capability versus the existing Scud-based systems, the missile does not represent a major shift in the balance of regional power. Pyongyang has had the Musudan since at least 2000, and deployed it in 2003.

Somewhat more interesting is the potential that North Korea tested the new system in Iran, though even this is not entirely unusual. North Korea has long worked with Iran, Pakistan and others (including Yemen and Saudi Arabia), either exporting missiles to these countries or jointly developing missile systems. North Korean technicians work with the local technicians on the ballistic missiles, and learn from the more frequent test launches in Pakistan and Iran. (Pyongyang is very sparing with its test launches at home, both to mask its real capabilities and because any such launches inevitably pass over or near one of its neighbors, causing additional complications for the government.)

If the Musudan was tested in Iran, perhaps during a series of missile tests earlier this year, it could indicate either a sales demonstration by Pyongyang or the testing of a system already sold to Tehran. The first is more likely, as there are no other signs that Pyongyang has successfully tested the Musudan to date. Either way, it would appear the new missile is intended not only to enhance the domestic security of North Korea, but also to create additional sources of cash -- which fits with previous North Korean missile sales and the renting out of its technicians, with all the implications of proliferation that brings.

Beyond the technical considerations, reports of the new missile and its potential test in Iran reveal political battles in South Korea and Japan as much as they do any military improvements in North Korea or Iran. South Korea's Chosun Ilbo, a conservative paper, has been the first to reveal new North Korean missile developments; South Korean defense officials leak this information to the paper to shape perception and debate over North Korean issues.

In South Korea, there are widely differing views on the best way to deal with North Korea, and the current government's policy of "peace and prosperity" is not universally accepted. By revealing "new" threats from the North, even as Pyongyang and Seoul engage in dialogue, various South Korean factions can show that the government's programs are ineffective or need to at least be tempered and paired with a stronger focus on South Korean security. With presidential elections fast approaching, and outgoing President Roh Moo Hyun accelerating inter-Korean cooperation to solidify his policies and legacy, there is an equal push by the more conservative or cautious elements in the government and military to restrain Roh's initiatives and tread more carefully when dealing with Pyongyang.

Outside of South Korea, the Japanese press and government officials are playing up the Musudan missile issue the most. Tokyo is seeking support for changes to the Japanese Constitution and in Japan's defense posture and relations with other countries (particularly the United States). Tokyo is strongly backing the joint development of new anti-missile technology with the United States, but remains legally constrained in this matter due to regulations regarding the transfer of military technology.

By highlighting the "new" North Korean missile threat, Japanese Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma has suggested that Tokyo's current missile-defense plans -- using a combination of the sea-based Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) interceptor and the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile system -- are insufficient to deal with a longer-range North Korean system like the Musudan. The argument is that Japan needs to modify its defense rules to allow the development of a more robust and longer-range system to supplement the SM-3 and PAC-3 duo. (Ideal supplements could include the U.S. Theater High Altitude Air Defense system and the Airborne Laser).

Raising the specter of a significantly improved North Korean offensive capability also assists Tokyo in its broader moves to rewrite the Japanese Constitution to remove restrictions on collective self-defense, a standing military and missile defense. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has gained points in the polls for talking a stronger stance on North Korea, and will continue to build up the political capital for general elections later this year and for the constitutional change battle. And Washington is helping the process along by supplying the satellite images necessary to highlight North Korea's continued military developments.
27699  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: June 2007 Gathering on: May 17, 2007, 07:51:17 PM
Woof All:

It looks like we will be signing the deal with OP/Nat Geo tomorrow or Friday.  Assuming this to be the case, the "DB Gathering of the Pack" will be held in OP's warehouse in Glendale.

I was there earlier today with director Dan Jackson.  The plan is for the fight area to be 30x40 of wrestling mat.   Any suggestions for how to define the perimeter?

The seating should be much better than the de minimis seating at R1.  There were church pews there, there is talk of some bleachers, and some talk of scaffolding with planks-- a touch of "Thunderdome"  grin  We're guesstimating that we should be able to hold 300+.

To be worked out is the fighters dinner afterwords.  Options are:  Somewhere up there in the Glendale area, down in the South Bay area (Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach) or perhaps Torrance (the all you can eat sushi place where we traditionally have gone.  Fighters, your thoughts please?

The Adventure continues!
Crafty Dog
27700  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Boxing Thread on: May 17, 2007, 05:24:33 PM
Hmm, , , , lets see , , , $20 mil for Mayweather + $55mil for Oscar + the fact that is boxing we are talking bout here=_____
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