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27701  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Wali Songo Silat with Pendekar Steve Benitez on: March 05, 2007, 12:30:29 AM
Any reports on the seminar today?
27702  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: March 05, 2007, 12:28:53 AM
Just saw the first four rounds.  That opening combo that dropped TS sure looked like Jun Fan Gung Fu to me cool  Looks like it scored in the second round too.

Is there a rules reason why RC did not heel kick TS in the belly once he had back control in the first round?
27703  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: March 05, 2007, 12:09:49 AM
involved in Iranian general's disappearance?

Former Iranian deputy defense minister vanished about a month ago on his way from Damascus to Turkey. Iranian officials say Mossad, CIA may have been involved in his disappearance Dudi Cohen Published: 03.04.07, 22:24 / Israel News

A senior Iranian general, Ali-Raza Asgari, went missing nearly a month ago in Istanbul and Iranian officials claim that Israel and the United States may have had a hand in his disappearance.

Several days ago, Iranian website Baztab, which is affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards, reported that during the 1980s Asgari held a senior position in the Revolutionary Guards in Lebanon , and that following his return to Iran he was appointed deputy defense minister.

No official source in Iran has commented on the report about the disappearance, but a top official told Baztab that "some of the claims in the report are unequivocally incorrect."

The general's disappearance was first reported at the end of February in the Saudi newspaper al-Watan. The paper said that at the beginning of February Asgari visited Damascus and later flew o Istanbul in Turkey, where he checked into a hotel.
"Several Turkish citizens reserved a room for Asgari at the Gilan Hotel in Istanbul and paid for it, but haven't heard from him since," the paper stated.

"In a meeting held by the Turkish security officials with an Iranian delegation, the possibility was raised that the Mossad and the CIA were involved in his disappearance," it added.

Security sources in Turkey told a local newspaper that so far, the searches for Asgari have yielded no results.  According to a Turkish official, "The records do not show that a person under this name left Turkey, but given his sensitive job and the important information he possesses regarding the Iranian nuclear program, the possibility that he left Turkey using a fake passport and an alias is being examined." Former Iranian deputy defense minister vanished about a month ago on his way from Damascus to Turkey. Iranian officials say Mossad, CIA may have been involved in his disappearance Dudi Cohen Published: 03.04.07, 22:24 / Israel News

A senior Iranian general, Ali-Raza Asgari, went missing nearly a month ago in Istanbul and Iranian officials claim that Israel and the United States may have had a hand in his disappearance.

Several days ago, Iranian website Baztab, which is affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards, reported that during the 1980s Asgari held a senior position in the Revolutionary Guards in Lebanon , and that following his return to Iran he was appointed deputy defense minister.

No official source in Iran has commented on the report about the disappearance, but a top official told Baztab that "some of the claims in the report are unequivocally incorrect."

The general's disappearance was first reported at the end of February in the Saudi newspaper al-Watan. The paper said that at the beginning of February Asgari visited Damascus and later flew o Istanbul in Turkey, where he checked into a hotel.
"Several Turkish citizens reserved a room for Asgari at the Gilan Hotel in Istanbul and paid for it, but haven't heard from him since," the paper stated.

"In a meeting held by the Turkish security officials with an Iranian delegation, the possibility was raised that the Mossad and the CIA were involved in his disappearance," it added.

Security sources in Turkey told a local newspaper that so far, the searches for Asgari have yielded no results. According to a Turkish official, "The records do not show that a person under this name left Turkey, but given his sensitive job and the important information he possesses regarding the Iranian nuclear program, the possibility that he left Turkey using a fake passport and an alias is being examined."

This is the second Iranian high official to either have come up missing or dead in about the last months time. We can all only hope more will follow.
27704  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Nuestro Sitio en Espanol on: March 04, 2007, 11:38:18 PM
Guau a todos:

!Acabo de informarme de la existencia de nuestro sitio aqui traducido al espanol!

http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=es&sl=en&u=http://www.dogbrothers.com/&sa=X&oi=translate&resnum=1&ct=result&prev=/search%3Fq%3Ddog%2Bbrothers%26hl%3Des%26sa%3DG

Diganme lo que piensan.

La Adventura continua,
CD
27705  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: March 04, 2007, 11:00:58 PM
One day a fourth-grade teacher asked the children what their fathers did for a living. All the typical answers came up -- fireman, mechanic, businessman, salesman, doctor, lawyer, and so forth.
 
However, little Justin was being uncharacteristically quiet, so when the teacher prodded him about his father, he replied, "My father's an exotic dancer in a gay cabaret and takes off all his clothes in front of other men and they put money in his underwear.
 
Sometimes, if the offer is really good, he will go home with some guy and stay with him all night for money."
 
The teacher, obviously shaken by this statement, hurriedly set the other children to work on some exercises and then took little Justin aside to ask him, "Is that really true about your father?"
 
"No," the boy said, "He works for the Democratic National Committee and is helping to get Hillary Clinton to be our next President, but I was too embarrassed to say that in front of the other kids."
27706  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Tippy-tappy drills-- threat or menace? on: March 04, 2007, 10:12:03 PM
In case no one noticed, the promo clip for GF2: Maestro Sonny Umpad is up on the front page.

I moved briefly with Maestro Sonny in Dusseldorf, Germany a couple of years before he came down sick and he really was something quite special.  Footwork and range control were of another level altogether-- and if I understand ArmyDoc correctly he has been trying to raise the same question as what a goodly part of Maestro Sonny's curriculum was about-- cultivating the ability to control whether the range was in medio/corto or in largo.  I'm a big believer in the importance of primal forward pressure and that many FMA players (gun players too!) simply don't get it-- indeed this is one of the main points of our DLO material-- but I would be hard pressed to think of someone who could close on Maestro Sonny without dying first.
27707  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politically (In)correct on: March 04, 2007, 09:57:52 PM
There is an "objective, accurate" word: "homosexual".  "Faggot" is a word for starting fights or being mean for the hell of it.

I used to like AC-- she has written some brilliant, withering and witty rants in the past, but for quite some time now for me she has become a caricature of what she was and has lost my respect. 

27708  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Professor Pino - enough is enough - I've had it. on: March 04, 2007, 09:47:02 PM
CCP:

Before giving a fuller response, I think I will await your response to SB Migs questions for you.   For the moment I will add:

1) I consider America to have been profoundly blessed by having the Founding Fathers that we did.  I did run for the US Congress 3x for the L. Party but find the Party to have a goodly number of quirky people lacking in basic social skills.  I let my membership in the party lapse when the candidate for Gov. of CA had a major campaign issue around the prohibition to own ferrets. 

 I certainly don't agree with all libertarian positions e.g. open borders.  My views on foreign affairs can be fit under a libertarian roof by how I define national security in the modern context, but my understanding is that my views are very much a minority position for self-described libertarians. 

2)  May I suggest you do a bit of research as to current Constitutional First Amendment Doctrine-- including the concept of "clear and present danger"?  Communism advocated the overthrow of the US government, yet we didn't not outlaw the advocacy of Communisim-- unless such advocacy was about to inspire someone to actually try it.  If you sense some conceptual problems with this you are not alone, but of course the problem is what other standard would you put in its place?

3)  In addition to the questions raised/points by SB Mig,  I would add that when you prevent free speech, you deny yourself and our society from knowing what forces are amongst us-- kind of like price controls distort the flow of information about supply and demand.

Your question about the advocacy of Jihad is a good one and is worthy of serious and measured conversation.  I agree that there is a point at which speech becomes seditious action-- but how do we define that point without losing for what we fight?

TAC,
Marc
27709  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Professor Pino - enough is enough - I've had it. on: March 04, 2007, 12:28:40 PM
Woof CCP:

Thank you for the much more reasoned tone.

We're about to go out for lunch so I will get to this later.

TAC,
CD
27710  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mil-blogs: Michael Yon and others (support our troops) on: March 04, 2007, 12:23:57 PM
On 2/23/07, robert.schoenenberger@us.army.mil <robert.schoenenberger@us.army.mil >
wrote:
Gentlemen, it is w/ great sorrow I report the passing of two of my good friends, SSG
Joshua Hagar, and PFC Rowan Walters.
SSG Hagar and I attended the April 06 CF Cert at Santa Cruz.  At the time, he was
the platoon sergeant for our CF testbed platoon.  He later was assigned as the
platoon sergeant for our battalion scouts.  Josh had a large personality, and a
great leader.  I don't know what the process or criteria there is for having a CF
workout named after a fallen comrade, but I would like to nominate SSG Hagar for
that honor.  Stories of Josh's exploits are numerous.  Most outstanding was his
daily push for excellence in himself and has Soldiers.  He was always quick w/ a
word of encouragement, and tirelessly made time to teach his subordinates.
PFC Walters was one of my medics that was killed enroute to help the group of
Soldiers injured when SSG Hagar was killed.  PFC Walters was the Soldier selected by
his commander to attend the train-the-trainer CrossFit course we implented while in
Kuwait.   PFC Walters fell in love w/ CF and began passing the kool-aid to the
Soldiers in his platoon.  PFC Walters was the complete package:  intelligent,
strong, motivated, and a great attitude.  One quick story about Walters:  an M1 tank
had been disabled by and IED, and Walters was the first medic on the scene.  He
single handedly pulled all four Soldiers from the tank, and had them bandaged up and
ready to go when the evacuation vehicle arrived.  Tanks are very large on the
outside, but cramped and confined on the inside.  What Walters accomplished was no
small task!  Imagine lifting a fully equipped soldier from beneath your feet,
through a hole, and then high enough to clear the hole, 4 rounds, for time, then
applying bandag
es, tourniquets, and starting IV's, 4 rounds, for time.
I attempted to attach pictures of Josh and Rowan, but I am having some IT issues w/
my email.  I will continue trying to send the pictures
This letter is not meant to incite sorry, but rather to firm our resolve.  I quote
my battalion commander:  "We will not let these losses cause us to hesitate.  We
will go back again, again, and again, and kick some motherfucking ass!"  Fairwinds,
Josh and Rowan.

Robert Schoenenberger
1LT, SP  PA-C
1/9 INF Physician Assistant
Some day you will thank me.  Today is not that day.
RLTW
27711  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: March 04, 2007, 09:43:23 AM
I did not see this one coming and am delighted to have been wrong.  Outstanding achievement by Couture!
27712  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Tippy-tappy drills-- threat or menace? on: March 04, 2007, 09:28:06 AM
Folks:

This tangent on knife range theory has been interesting, but lets see if we can bring things back to the original question about TTD and the criticisms leveled in some circles as to their benefit.  Lets remember that TTD can be knife, stick, empty hand, staff, EH vs. knife, etc.    Does this training method yield results worth the time invested?

Starting with conclusions first  cheesy IMHO well-thought out TTD properly understood and properly trained have considerable merit.

Are some/many TTD poorly thought out?  Yes.

Do many practitioners train their TTD without true understanding?  Yes.

Do many practitioners spend too much time in TTD/accumulating more TTD?  Yes.

These three truths lead many people to throw out TTD altogether.  If someone has never seen or never realized he has seen TTD yield good results, then this thinking makes perfect sense.

Back during the Live/Dead soap opera of a few years ago, one of the points I offered for consideration was that all of the best fighters in the Dog Brothers had this sort of training in their background.  As I have pointed out previously several times, one might watch a fight in which one fighter's superior media skills kick *ss and not realize that the reason he had superior media skills was in part because of substantial sombrada type training.

 In our "Kali Tudo" DVD one of my intentions was to show the next step in the training progression for Kali-Silat EH material that had been learned in DPs and TTDs for application in MMA. 

In our "Die Less Often" DVD the portion of the material I present draws upon skills and knowledge acquired via TTD.  BTW in the context of the knife range theory tangent in this thread, please note one of the most important skills being developed with this material is to open the range again, which IMHO is a skill not widely trained.  DLO-2, in editing now as you read this, the working title is "Bringing a gun to a knife fight"-- the key point is the ability to open the range at an angle so as to depart or access one's own weapon.  Hmmm, , , maybe I need to rethink the title a bit , , ,   

Anyway, in DLO-3 I will show the matrix of positions and techniques of DBMA's Kali Fence & Dog Catcher material.  This is the point at which you will see some TTDs because in DBMA we like to communicate what we perceive of as the primal realities/intensities very early on so that when we get to the TTDs, DPs etc, they are done with the understanding necessary to receive the benefits of which these training methods can be capable.

By the way, one of the positions in the matrix is my expression of something I learned in my training in Sayoc.  It comes from a particular position in the "receiver grip flow" ("flow" here being used as Inosanto Blend uses it in "lock flow").   Indeed this example could serve as a perfect example of how TTD training benefit manifests.  I learned the receiver grip flow and THIS IS WHAT ENABLED MY BODY TO RECOGNIZE THIS PARTICULAR OPPORTUNITY WHEN PRESENTED IN ACTION.   

The Adventure continues,
Crafty Dog
27713  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: March 04, 2007, 08:18:57 AM
Intelligence Specialist's Shooting Stirs Speculation
No Motive Known As Comments on Putin Are Debated


By Candace Rondeaux and Lori Aratani
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, March 4, 2007; C01

In some ways, the shooting of Paul Joyal last week in a quiet, middle-class enclave of Prince George's County would seem like nothing more than a random act of violence.
But for those who know the 53-year-old expert on Russian intelligence and former staff member of the U.S. Senate's intelligence committee, the shooting has raised suspicions that his background might be behind the incident.
Law enforcement sources have said it is unclear whether the gunmen were trying to rob Joyal. He was shot in the driveway of his home shortly after returning from a trip to the International Spy Museum in the District with a friend.
Two men shot Joyal about 7:35 p.m. Thursday, sources said. The shooting occurred four days after Joyal alleged in a television broadcast that the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin was involved in the fatal poisoning of a former KGB agent in London.
Prince George's police officers have released few details about the incident, and several calls requesting comment were not returned yesterday. Joyal remained hospitalized yesterday.
But an FBI official confirmed yesterday that the agency is looking into the shooting. Joseph Persichini Jr., the FBI's assistant director in charge of the Washington field office, said his office is assisting Prince George's and the Baltimore office of the FBI in the investigation.
"We're pursuing this as hard as possible. We're not at all sure of the motive," Persichini said.
Joyal, who has long been an outspoken critic of the Putin regime, appeared in a segment on "Dateline NBC" Feb. 25 about the Alexander Litvinenko case. Litvinenko's death in November from radiation poisoning has caused widespread speculation that Putin and the Russian government were involved, because Litvinenko, a former KGB agent, was looking into the killing of a Russian journalist. Putin and Kremlin officials have repeatedly denied involvement.
In the "Dateline" interview, Joyal pointedly accused the Putin regime of silencing its critics and poisoning Litvinenko with polonium-210, a rare radioactive substance.
"It's clear-cut. It has to be a state-run or a state-managed operation," Joyal said in the interview.
The circumstances of Joyal's shooting seem worthy of a spy novel.
"I would not rule out anything, but it's hard to believe that a few days [after the broadcast] that some guys would shoot him. It could be just a regular criminal assault," said longtime family friend and former business associate Oleg Kalugin.
Kalugin, a former KGB general and Putin's former boss in the agency, met with Joyal for drinks at a restaurant at the Spy Museum a few hours before the shooting. Kalugin, a member of the museum's board, said in a phone interview yesterday that Joyal seemed in good spirits before leaving for home.
Kalugin said he was shocked when he received a panicked phone call from Joyal's wife about an hour after the men had parted, saying that Joyal had been shot in front of his Adelphi area home.
"I could not believe my ears when she said he was shot. She said Paul drove up to the house, and as he opened the door and left [the car], there were two guys, and they shot him," Kalugin said.
A source close to Joyal, who requested anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, said the unidentified assailants shot Joyal in the groin and escaped.
Joyal's wife, who is a nurse, was at home at the time and ran to assist her husband as he lay bleeding in the driveway, the sources said.
Joyal was taken to a hospital, where he was initially in critical condition. A source said yesterday that Joyal had improved and that doctors were "cautiously optimistic" that he will recover.
Yesterday, four cars were parked in the driveway at Joyal's brick ranch on Lackawanna Road. A boy who answered the door declined to speak to a reporter.
Neighbors and friends said Joyal, who is a member of the Prince George's law enforcement task force, is the father of three and coaches youth basketball.
Prince George's State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey, who befriended Joyal through his work in local law enforcement, said he did not know details about the investigation.
"He's a wonderful man with a strong commitment to the community," Ivey said.
Staff writers Sari Horwitz, Eric Rich and Meg Smith contributed to this report.
27714  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Sleep on: March 04, 2007, 12:56:26 AM
Top 10 Foods for a Good Night's Sleep
Posted Tue, Jan 23, 2007, 6:32 pm PST
POST A COMMENT »
What is the secret to getting a solid 7 to 8 hours of sleep? Head for the kitchen and enjoy one or two of these 10 foods. They relax tense muscles, quiet buzzing minds, and/or get calming, sleep-inducing hormones - serotonin and melatonin - flowing. Yawning yet?

Bananas. They're practically a sleeping pill in a peel. In addition to a bit of soothing melatonin and serotonin, bananas contain magnesium, a muscle relaxant.

Chamomile tea. The reason chamomile is such a staple of bedtime tea blends is its mild sedating effect - it's the perfect natural antidote for restless minds/bodies.

Warm milk. It's not a myth. Milk has some tryptophan - an amino acid that has a sedative - like effect - and calcium, which helps the brain use tryptophan. Plus there's the psychological throw-back to infancy, when a warm bottle meant "relax, everything's fine."

Honey. Drizzle a little in your warm milk or herb tea. Lots of sugar is stimulating, but a little glucose tells your brain to turn off orexin, a recently discovered neurotransmitter that's linked to alertness.

Potatoes. A small baked spud won't overwhelm your GI tract, and it clears away acids that can interfere with yawn-inducing tryptophan. To up the soothing effects, mash it with warm milk.

Oatmeal. Oats are a rich source of sleep - inviting melatonin, and a small bowl of warm cereal with a splash of maple syrup is cozy - plus if you've got the munchies, it's filling too.

Almonds. A handful of these heart-healthy nuts can be snooze-inducing, as they contain both tryptophan and a nice dose of muscle-relaxing magnesium.

Flaxseeds. When life goes awry and feeling down is keeping you up, try sprinkling 2 tablespoons of these healthy little seeds on your bedtime oatmeal. They're rich in omega-3 fatty acids, a natural mood lifter.

Whole-wheat bread. A slice of toast with your tea and honey will release insulin, which helps tryptophan get to your brain, where it's converted to serotonin and quietly murmurs "time to sleep."

Turkey. It's the most famous source of tryptophan, credited with all those Thanksgiving naps. But that's actually modern folklore. Tryptophan works when your stomach's basically empty, not overstuffed, and when there are some carbs around, not tons of protein. But put a lean slice or two on some whole-wheat bread mid-evening, and you've got one of the best sleep inducers in your kitchen.

What if none of these foods help you get your zzz's? Check out your sleep habits with this quick RealAge test to find out what?s keeping you up at night.   http://www.realage.com/health_guides/RLS/intro.aspx
27715  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / CAIR confesses , , , on: March 04, 2007, 12:16:30 AM
In Defense of the Constitution

News & Analysis
007/07  March 3, 2007



CAIR:  Admits Officials Have Ties to Islamist Terrorism


In a stunning revelation, Corey Saylor, the Council on American-Islamic Relations
(CAIR) government affairs director, on 2 March admitted that convicted Islamic
terrorists were CAIR officials when they committed terrorist acts against the United
States:

http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=18027017&BRD=1675&PAG=461&dept_id=18171&rfi=6

In an article carried by Delcotimes.com, Saylor is responding to questions about
Ghassan Elashi and Ismail Royer and their ties to the leader of Hamas and activities
in support of overseas terrorist organizations.  While Saylor first said that Elashi
and Royer were not working on behalf the group, he was later quoted:

"Some people try to hold us responsible for the actions of people that are
associated with our organization. That’s absolutely ludicrous…you don’t hold all of
Enron responsible for what Ken Lay did."

For those North Americans that ever had any questions about CAIR’s ties to Elashi
and Royer, and, by association, tied directly to Islamist terrorists, those
questions have been answered by CAIR’s own spokesman.

Saylor seems to have forgotten that Enron folded like a cheap tent when the criminal
activities of its leadership were exposed…


Andrew Whitehead
Director
Anti-CAIR (ACAIR)
ajwhitehead@anti-cair-net.org
www.anti-cair-net.org

ADVISORY:
Subscribers are warned that the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) may
contact your employer if CAIR believes you are using a work address to receive any
material that CAIR believes may be offensive.  CAIR has been known to shame
employers into firing employees CAIR finds disagreeable.  For that reason, we
strongly suggest that corporate e-mail users NOT use a corporate e-mail
account/address when communicating with ACAIR or CAIR.  We make every reasonable
effort to protect our mailing list, but we cannot guarantee confidentiality. ACAIR
does not share, loan, sell, rent or otherwise publicize our mailing list.  We
respect your privacy!

TIPS:
All persons are invited to submit tips and leads.  ACAIR will acknowledge receipt of
all tips/leads, but we will NOT acknowledge the source of ANY tip or lead in our
Press Releases or on our web site. Exceptions are made for leading media
personalities at the discretion of ACAIR and only on request of the person(s)
submitting the tip or lead.

27716  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Professor Pino - enough is enough - I've had it. on: March 03, 2007, 11:07:23 PM
1) "Lawyers" don't bring someone up on charges, district attorneys do.

2) Do you know what the legal definition of "assault" is?

3)  "Inciting a riot" requires the imminent possibility of a riot.  Is that present here?

4) Please explain what you mean by this:  "Our brave men and women troops are fighting for the right of free speech including the right to kill all the people they are risking their lives for!"

5) "Let me here (sic) how this freedom is exactly what makes our country great.  IMO it is exactly this that is going to make our country eventually fall apart."

OK, here goes, but you may find it difficult to hear tongue  Freedom IS what makes our country great.  This guy is wrong.  This guy is morally repulsive.  Thanks to free speech, we now know he is amongst us.  Thanks to free speech we see whether other people agree and if so we know what our job is-- to freely speak Truth and cure ignorance and hatred with knowledge and higher consciousness.  The day we are not up to that is the day we fall apart.


27717  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mil-blogs: Michael Yon and others (support our troops) on: March 03, 2007, 10:52:28 PM

http://billroggio.com/archives/2007/...with_the_s.php

http://billroggio.com/archives/2007/..._and_the_3.php
Habbaniyah and the 3/3-1 Snake Eaters

27718  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: March 03, 2007, 02:24:04 AM
Second post of the day.  This does not sound good for the Kurds , , ,

stratfor.com

Iran: A Strong Stance Against Separatists Spells Trouble for Kurds
Summary

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is prepared to pursue its enemies across Iran's borders, IRGC commander-in-chief Maj. Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi said Feb. 28. The general's statement that his forces will chase separatist groups into neighboring countries comes at a time of increased internal instability in Iran, in line with the U.S. campaign to destabilize the clerical regime. Kurdish ambitions in Iraq are likely to be affected as Iran and Turkey work together to quell the common threat they face from Kurdish rebel groups.

Analysis

Commander-in-chief of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Maj. Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi, said Feb. 28 that the United States and Israel are directly funding armed anti-Iranian groups in the Islamic republic, and that the IRGC "is prepared to chase and disband the enemies even beyond Iran's borders in a bid to defend the country."

Safavi's warnings come after several weeks of growing security threats from Iran's ethnic minority groups, which make up nearly half of its population of 80 million. The IRGC is in the midst of a crackdown to contain these groups; in the latest offensive, announced Feb. 28, the IRGC said it killed 17 rebels in the heavily Kurdish-populated West Azerbaijan province. This offensive was prompted by a Feb. 24 Iranian military helicopter crash near the Turkish border, which killed 14 Iranian soldiers. The Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), a group linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Turkey, claimed it shot down the helicopter with an SA-7, a portable surface-to-air missile that has found its way into the hands of several Iraqi insurgent groups.

While the Kurdish groups are keeping the IRGC busy in the northwest, Baloch rebel groups in the southwest province of Sistan-Balochistan, along the Iranian, Pakistani and Afghan border, have staged a number of attacks in recent weeks against Iranian security forces. Iran also faces a threat in the oil-rich southwestern province of Khuzestan, on the Iranian-Iraqi border, where Arab rebel groups have carried out several bombings over the past two years.

Iran says these uprisings are all part of a U.S.-British-Israeli campaign to undermine its clerical regime. Safavi said that Washington is projecting its problems into Iran "now that their policies have ended in failure in Afghanistan and Iraq." To further its claim that a foreign hand is involved in the recent attacks, Tehran recently released a number of photographs of ammunition boxes with large "USA" labels circled. The photographs quite obviously were doctored as part of an Iranian propaganda campaign constructed as a lever to use against the United States and the West in negotiations over Iraq. That said, it is not hard to believe Western intelligence agencies might be supporting these armed rebellions in Iran.

The United States has much to gain by sparking internal frictions in Iran. While Washington is not interested in a direct military confrontation with Tehran, it would very much like to show the Iranian government that it can dish out what it is receiving in Iraq. The larger aim of this covert campaign would be to use Iran's oppressed minorities to destabilize the Islamic republic along its restive borders in order to make it too costly for Iran to remain the primary obstruction to a U.S. exit strategy for Iraq.

In reference to the attacks in Sistan-Balochistan province, in a sermon March 2, Iranian cleric Hojatoleslam Ahmad Khatami accused Pakistan of "losing its neighborly manners" by working with the United States to instigate the Baloch uprisings. Pakistan, which faces its own Baloch rebel threat, is unlikely to be providing direct support to the Baloch minority in Iran. But, given its complex relationship with the United States in combating al Qaeda and Taliban forces in the region, Islamabad likely has worked out a deal in which it receives some slack in exchange for turning a blind eye to U.S. operations against Iran along the border.

Iran has expressed its alarm over the recent rebel activity and has reportedly spent the past month building a 10-foot-high fence along the Iranian-Pakistani border to prevent illegal border crossings. The IRGC has even issued a direct threat to pursue members of PJAK into neighboring Iraq, using the "practical measures that had been taken during Saddam's reign" to contain the Kurdish uprisings.

The U.S. interest in destabilizing Iran gives the PJAK a useful tool to further its resistance campaign against Iran: a relatively unobstructed base of operations in Iraqi Kurdistan. Iraq's Kurdish president, Jalal Talabani, made it clear in a September 2006 interview with National Public Radio that Iraq can "make trouble" for both Iran and Turkey should either country attempt to interfere in the affairs of the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). (His comments followed a Kurdish rebel attack in Maku, Iran, that destroyed nearly 75 yards of an Iranian-Turkish gas pipeline.)

Though the Iraqi Kurds can see the usefulness of highlighting their links to Kurdish separatists in Turkey and Iran to help achieve their goal of annexing the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, a significant uptick in Kurdish rebel attacks in Iraq's neighboring countries could complicate things. Iran and Turkey have cooperated before to counter Kurdish operations through cross-border military operations. The last thing the KRG wants is a direct military confrontation with either Iran or Turkey while the Kirkuk referendum issue is heating up.

During a March 1 phone conversation, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahamdinejad vowed to work together to maintain Iraq's territorial integrity. It does not take much of an imagination to guess what else Ankara and Tehran might be planning in light of these recent attacks.
27719  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Know Thy Enemy on: March 03, 2007, 02:20:07 AM
http://atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/IC02Ak01.html



Mar 2, 2007 
 
 
  Page 1 of 2
AL-QAEDA'S RESURGENCE, Part 1
Ready to take on the world
By Syed Saleem Shahzad

KARACHI - Al-Qaeda will this year significantly step up its global operations after centralizing its leadership and reviving its financial lifelines. Crucially, al-Qaeda has developed missile and rocket technology with the capability of carrying chemical, biological and nuclear warheads, according to an al-Qaeda insider who spoke to Asia Times Online.

While al-Qaeda will continue to operate in Afghanistan and Iraq, it will broaden its global perspective to include Europe and hostile



Muslim states, Asia Times Online has learned. For the first time since its attacks on the US on September 11, 2001, this could be al-Qaeda's year on the offensive.

According to the contact, "The time has come for a message to  be communicated to Europe." Asked what kind of message this would be, the contact simply smiled.

Nevertheless, he stated that with Western forces trapped in Afghanistan and Iraq, it was time to open up new fronts in Somalia, Algeria, Egypt, Palestine and other places.

"In each place, al-Qaeda has its own command and control apparatus, including Palestine, and all those fronts will be opened up very soon," the contact said.

At the same time al-Qaeda is planning this offensive, it has received something of a setback in Afghanistan, where its alliance with the Taliban is under strain. The Taliban have struck a deal with Pakistan over mutual cooperation, which is anathema to al-Qaeda (see Pakistan makes a deal with the Taliban, Asia Times Online, March 1).

Osama in the shadows
Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has not appeared in a video since October 2004 or on an audio tape since January 2006. He is by no means out of the al-Qaeda picture, although his deputy, Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri, claims the media spotlight.

Reportedly recovered from ill health, bin Laden - possibly even sporting a trimmed beard - is active in al-Qaeda's planning, according to the contact Asia Times Online spoke to. "He could be in Chechnya, Somalia or Iraq," the man said coyly, obviously  not about to divulge bin Laden's whereabouts. Or even in Iran, some insiders hint.

Over the course of many hours of conversation and information exchanges in several locations, the contact - who has a sound track record of being informed of developments within al-Qaeda - explained how bin Laden and Zawahiri had rebuilt al-Qaeda over the past year or so.

Since 2005, the al-Qaeda leadership had been talking to many groups, including Egyptians, Libyans and the takfiri camp (which calls all non-practicing Muslims infidels). Al-Qaeda paid for differences in tactics and ideology among these groups as its structure unraveled and the organization developed into an "ideology" rather than a cohesive group.

As a result, al-Qaeda's global agenda was largely shelved and the international community's financial squeeze definitely hurt. This problem has been overcome, according to the contact, although he would not give any details. Even US intelligence agencies concede that the group's finances have improved, but they have  no idea how. All the same, they have pressured Pakistan to clamp down on some charitable organizations in that country.

The Jamiatul Muqatila (Libyan) led by Sheikh Abu Lais al-Libby, the Jabhatul Birra of Ibn-i-Malik, also Libyan, the Jaishul Mehdi, founded by slain Abdul Rahman Canady, an Egyptian, and now led by Abu Eza, the Jamaatul Jihad, an unnamed Libyan group once led by Sheikh Abu Nasir Qahtani from Kuwaiti, who has now been arrested, and the takfiris under Sheikh Essa, an Egyptian, have once again joined forces with "Jamaat al-Qaeda" under the leadership of bin Laden.

The contact insisted that since two major tasks - regrouping and finances - had been completed, major operations could now be planned. But in addition to this, to ensure that 2007 would be "the year of al-Qaeda", a "great compromise" had to be made.

Deal with the devil
Before the "Mother of all Battles", the Gulf War of 1991, bin Laden offered to help the Saudi monarchy fight Saddam Hussein's forces in Kuwait. The Saudi royalty ignored the offer and opted instead for US military assistance. The presence of these troops in the land of the sacred cities of Mecca and Medina inflamed bin Laden, and he split with the Saudi royalty.

Nevertheless, the growing influence of Shi'ite Iran in the Middle East, especially in Iraq after the US invasion of 2003 and Lebanon, concerned al-Qaeda and the anti-Shi'ite Salafi Saudi 
 
 






 2 of 2
AL-QAEDA'S RESURGENCE, Part 1
Ready to take on the world
By Syed Saleem Shahzad

oligarchs, which included the royal family, scholars, tribes and the state apparatus.

In this environment, a speech by bin Laden was aired on Al-Jazeera television in which he called the Saudi monarchy extremely corrupt, the most contemptuous aspect of which was its alliance with US interests. Having said that, he asked the Saudi monarchy to step aside, saying that the mujahideen did not 

at that stage want to confront it. Rather, the Saudis should leave al-Qaeda alone to fight against Americans in Iraq.

The speech was, in fact, the beginning of dialogue between al-Qaeda and the Saudi royal family through various Muslim  scholars at numerous places in the Middle East. Eventually, the Saudis agreed to turn a blind eye to Maaskar al-Battar (al-Qaeda's training camp) in Saudi Arabia on condition that the fighters would not carry out any operations in Saudi Arabia and go straight to Iraq.

The contact Asia Times Online spoke to said that al-Qaeda is so powerful in Saudi Arabia that the monarchy had no choice but to strike a deal. Similarly, it was al-Qaeda's choice, he said, that it concentrate this year on Iraq.

The way that al-Qaeda sees it, it will consolidate in Iraq to the extent that it and the "coalition of the willing" have their respective and identified occupied areas from which to fight each other.

The Saudi front is thus only deferred until al-Qaeda gains sufficient ground in Iraq.

The "arrangement" between al-Qaeda and the Saudis reveals a diplomatic double-step by Saudi Arabia, which Washington considers an important ally in the "war on terror" and in helping establish a Sunni front against rising Shi'ite power in the region, led by Iran.

Preparing for war
Al-Qaeda uses Maaskar al-Battar in Saudi Arabia to train youths  in guerrilla warfare, including the use of SA-7 surface-to-air missiles. Research is also conducted at the camp, as well as in Afghanistan.

This includes work on "Abeer" rockets to carry nuclear or chemical weapons. Last October, the insurgent group Islamic Army in Iraq claimed to have successfully built and tested a rocket with a range of 120 kilometers. It was named Abeer after the 14-year-old Iraqi girl raped and killed by a US soldier who last month received a jail sentence of 100 years.

In video footage released online, the group said the Abeer rocket could carry a payload of 20 kilograms. Iraqi engineers linked to  resistance groups are now developing Abeer rockets with upgraded accuracy and payload capabilities.

According to the Asia Times Online contact, basic work on nuclear, chemical and biological weapons has now been completed and the main task now is to mount them on suitable missiles - which it is hoped the upgraded Abeer now is.

In the meantime, the Maaskar al-Battar camp is preparing to send an additional 10,000 trained youths into Iraq by the middle of the year.

This coincides with al-Qaeda organizing all segments of the Iraqi resistance under its umbrella. It has already declared an "Emir of  the Islamic Emirates of Iraq" comprising Baghdad, Anbar, Diyala, Kirkuk, Salah al-Din and Ninawa, and in other parts of the governorate of Babel. Abu Omar al-Baghdadi has been declared the emir of the state.

This development signifies that in the coming months, al-Qaeda's epicenter will shift from the Pakistani tribal areas of South Waziristan and North Waziristan to Iraq and its neighborhood, including parts of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria.

It also means that the almost-independent "al-Qaeda in Iraq", once headed by Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, killed by the US, will not function as an entity.

Although many Arab fighters left Afghanistan and Pakistan after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 to join hands with the Iraqi resistance, others are now following. These include al-Qaeda's Abdul Hadi al-Iraqi, who moved from Waziristan.

This will further weaken the link between al-Qaeda and the Taliban after the latter's decision to strike a deal with Pakistan. According to al-Qaeda sources, it is only a matter of time before the entire al-Qaeda leadership abandons its bases in the Pakistani tribal areas and moves to the Middle East.

Something holding them back at present is a logistical matter. Previously, Iran allowed al-Qaeda members to pass through its territory on the way to Iraq or other places. But in the wake of the sectarian troubles in Iraq, Tehran is somewhat hostile toward al-Qaeda.

So it remains unclear whether Iran will facilitate al-Qaeda entering Iraq and destabilizing a Shi'ite government that is pro-American, but certainly also friendly with Iran.

TOMORROW: A new home in Iraq

Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online's Pakistan Bureau Chief. He can be reached at saleem_shahzad2002@yahoo.com.

(Copyright 2007 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)


27720  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: March 03, 2007, 01:28:18 AM
Iraq: A Delicate and Inevitable Move into Sadr City
Summary

The inevitable push by the U.S. military and Iraqi security forces into Sadr City -- the product of negotiations between Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki -- is about to begin. The operation certainly will not bring peace and order to Baghdad, but it can help stabilize the capital in preparation for a more solid resolution mediated by Washington and Tehran.

Analysis

U.S. and Iraqi security forces will push into Baghdad's Sadr City area in the next few days. Troops will set up checkpoints, conduct large-scale door-to-door searches and establish a permanent presence -- the first in this Shiite and Mehdi Army stronghold since the U.S. invasion in 2003. A delicate political move, the operation is the product of extensive negotiations between Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

The operation has been in the planning stages for some time; there just never have been enough coalition boots on the ground to make it a feasible option. Now, with the U.S. surge strategy and a new Baghdad security plan in place, the operation has become an inevitable step toward stemming sectarian violence in the Iraqi capital. With U.S. military and Iraqi army and police numbers in Baghdad approaching 100,000, a defiant al-Sadr faces devastating losses to his militia, if not defeat.




Al-Maliki's government needs to secure Sadr City now. If the Baghdad security plan cannot restore a semblance of order to the Iraqi capital, his government will continue to crumble. Al-Maliki is under pressure to show that his government has writ in all parts of the capital -- especially areas controlled by fellow Shia in the al-Sadrite Bloc. But he cannot overtly and directly challenge the Mehdi Army; he depends on the al-Sadrites, who hold a majority of the ruling Shiite coalition's seats in parliament, for the continuing existence of his government, and al-Sadr cannot be wiped out militarily without an unacceptable number of casualties.

The al-Sadrites worry that the new security plan is actually an invasion of their turf by rival Shiite factions. The Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq and its Badr Organization have infiltrated the Iraqi security apparatus much more effectively than al-Sadr's Mehdi Army, which has been branded a rogue militia group. So far, the al-Sadrite bloc of the Iraqi parliament has been able to wield its substantial influence over al-Maliki's fragile government and prevent U.S. and Iraqi forces from operating in Sadr City in any meaningful way. While there have certainly been targeted raids, no permanent coalition presence has been established in the area.

Now the al-Sadrites face a choice: a destructive clash with a determined and reinforced U.S. military, or accommodation.

Despite al-Sadr's continued absence from the country, Sheikh Raheem al-Darruji, the mayor of Sadr City's 2 million impoverished Shia, has said he will give the security operation a chance to succeed, although he warned that if effective protection is not provided, his people will defend themselves. The delay in the U.S. push into Sadr City -- it has been weeks since the Baghdad security plan was initiated -- has given al-Sadr more than enough time to secure his assets, in terms both of manpower and materiel. This delay is an important demonstration of cooperation between al-Sadr and the al-Maliki government.

Al-Sadr also has been assured that his organization's interests will be secure so long as it allows Iraqi forces to demonstrate that they have control over Sadr City. That al-Sadr and his commanders are out of sight underscores this understanding. Because al-Sadr's only alternative is destruction, al-Maliki also is operating from a position of power. Al-Sadr and al-Maliki have agreed to allow each other to exist because they need one another.

There will, of course, be clashes; practice is much messier than theory, and in no place is this more true than in Baghdad. Eventually, though, the Sadr City operation will end and the al-Sadrites will have to work out an arrangement with Iraqi security forces. But indications are that al-Sadr has -- for now -- chosen accommodation over destruction. There certainly will be clashes, but by challenging the U.S. military and Iraqi security forces, members of al-Sadr's militia will identify themselves as rogue elements. And if they do not heed his commands and are engaged and destroyed by coalition forces, all the better for al-Sadr as he strives to control his organization.

But the Sadr City operation will not bring true security to Baghdad. Only successful negotiations between the United States and Iran can do that. Iranian assistance is absolutely essential for a lasting solution. What al-Maliki can accomplish with the success of the Baghdad security plan is a consolidated Iraqi capital. The rest hinges on Washington and Tehran.

stratfor.com
27721  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Care Economics on: March 03, 2007, 01:26:27 AM

http://www.drudgereport.com/flash3.htm

*U.S. COMPTROLLER: PRESCRIPTION DRUG BILL 'MAY BE THE MOST FINANCIALLY
IRRESPONSIBLE LAW IN 40 YEARS'; Bill Will Add $8 Trillion to Long-Term
Medicare Obligations
Thu Mar 1 2007 13:41:11 ET

That Could Already Bankrupt the U.S.

The U.S. government's top accountant says the law that added a prescription
drug benefit to Medicare may be the most financially irresponsible
legislation passed since the 1960s. U.S. Comptroller General David Walker
says Medicare -- barring vast reform to the program and the nation's
healthcare system -- is already on course to possibly bankrupt the treasury
and adding the prescription bill just makes the situation worse. Walker
appears in a Steve Kroft report to be broadcast on 60 MINUTES Sunday, March
4 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.

"The prescription drug bill is probably the most fiscally irresponsible
piece of legislation since the 1960s," says Walker, "because we promise way
more than we can afford to keep." He argues that the federal government
would need to have $8 trillion today, invested at treasury rates, to cover
the gap between what the program is expected to take in and what it is
expected to cost over the next 75 years Ð and that is in addition to more
than $20 trillion that will be needed to pay for other parts of Medicare.
"We can't afford to keep the promises we've already made, much less to be
piling on top of them," he tells Kroft.

The problem is the baby boomers. The 78 million people born between 1946 and
1964 start becoming eligible for Social Security benefits next year.
"They'll be eligible for Medicare just three years later and when those
boomers start retiring en masse, then that will be a tsunami of spending
that could swamp our ship of state if we don't get serious," says Walker.

As life expectancies increase and the cost of health care continues to rise
at twice the rate of inflation, radical reform in health care will be
necessary, Walker says. He says the federal government is also going to have
to find ways to increase revenue and reduce benefits. The alternative is
ugly. Walker shows Kroft General Accounting Office long-term projections
that assume the status quo continues, with the same levels of taxation,
spending, and economic growth. By the year 2040, Walker says, "If nothing
changes, the federal government is not going to be able to do much more than
pay interest on the mounting debt and some entitlement benefits. It won't
have money left for anything else...."

Sen, Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, tells
Kroft that this problem is well known among members of Congress: "Yes, they
know in large measure, Republicans and Democrats, that we are on a course
that doesn't add up." And he acknowledges nobody is addressing the matter.
Why? "Because it's always easier not to," Conrad says, "because it's always
easier to defer, to kick the can down the road to avoid making choicesÉYou
get in trouble in politics when you make choices."

Walker believes the biggest problem may be that everything seems okay now,
so people don't have the sense of urgency that's needed to make tough
choices. But the longer we wait, he argues, the harder it's going to be to
solve the problem. "The fact is that we don't face an immediate crisis and
so people say, ÔWhat's the problem?' The answer is, we suffer from a fiscal
cancer...and if we do not treat it, it could have catastrophic consequences
for our country," he tells Kroft. *
27722  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WW3 on: March 03, 2007, 01:21:49 AM
Though technically this belongs in the Iraq thread, it continues the conversation here.

_________________________

            BATTLING FOR BAGHDAD
            By RALPH PETERS


             March 1, 2007 -- WITH all of the mud-sling ing on Capitol Hill,
you could almost forget the gun-slinging in Baghdad.
            As Democrats, Iraqi insurgents and terrorists all struggle to
prevent an American win, it's hard to get an accurate sense of Iraq
nowadays.

            When in doubt, ask a soldier.

            My best source in Baghdad offered a soberly optimistic
assessment at odds with the "Gotcha!" negativity in Washington. He doesn't
claim that success is guaranteed. But he believes in his head, heart and
soul that we've got a fighting chance.

            And I believe him.

            I took the temperature of other officers, as well. They agree
unanimously that the administration made terrible mistakes from which we and
the Iraqis are still recovering. But not one of these soldiers is ready to
quit.

            Here are the key points I've heard from those I trust:

            * Of the five additional U.S. brigades headed for Baghdad, only
one is in place, with the second starting to arrive. Yet the city is already
quieter and safer. The terrorists continue to detonate their bombs - with
suicidal fanatics targeting the innocent - but sectarian killings
(death-squad hits) have dropped from over 50 each night down to single
digits.

            * The tactic of stationing U.S. units and their Iraqi
counterparts down in the Baghdad 'hoods is already paying off. (It should
have been used from the outset - instead of hunkering down on massive bases.
But better late than never.) The effort has triggered a flood of
intelligence tips: When citizens feel safe, they cooperate. And when they
help us, our success compounds.

            * U.S. commanders now have a lot of experience in Iraq. They're
not wide-eyed kids at the circus anymore. They understand there are no
uniform, easy answers to Iraq's violence and complex allegiances. As a
senior officer put it, "Every neighborhood and city is unique, with their
own challenges."

            I'll leave it to The New York Times to betray our military
secrets, and just say I'm very impressed by the insight shown by our brigade
and battalion commanders these days.

            * We hear the bad news from the rest of Iraq, such as this
week's monstrous car bombing of children at play on a soccer field in
Ramadi, but we don't hear that such attacks by al Qaeda operatives have
infuriated mainstream Sunni sheiks and their tribes - who increasingly make
common cause with us and their government. And winning over the Sunni
"middle" is crucial to Iraq's future.

            * We'll never stop all suicide bombers and car bombers, but our
security crackdown has already taken out two major Vehicle-Borne Improvised
Explosive Device (VBIED) factories. And we took down a huge arms cache late
last week.

            * No one's getting any "Mission Accomplished" banners ready to
go, but front-line leaders in Iraq are convinced the situation just isn't as
hopeless as politicians back home insist. I don't know a single officer
in-country who believes the reporting from Iraq gives an honest, balanced
picture.

            Of course, there are serious worries:

            * Above all, senior leaders worry that, thanks to political
shenanigans back home, they won't be given the time it would take to win.
Even with improved tactics, this just isn't easy work.

            Personally, I continue to believe that 2007 is the year of
decision - when the Iraqi government and its security forces have to show
their mettle. But 2007 has barely begun. Let's not declare defeat for April
Fool's Day. The stakes are so high that Iraq merits this last chance.

            * The sectarian violence between Sunni Arabs and the Shia that
gathered strength after last year's Golden Mosque bombing has "damaged trust
between the two sects enormously," as a U.S. official put it. It's possible
that the damage is too deep to be repaired - we just don't know. At best,
reconstructing a shared national identity is going to be hard. But many
gruesome conflicts have ended in national reconciliation.

            * There's one thing we know won't work: The nutty Pelosi-crat
proposal to restrict the mission of U.S. troops to "training Iraqis and
defeating al Qaeda." Would our troops have to wait to return fire until they
checked the ID cards of their attackers? If they saw a massacre of women and
children in progress, would we want them to stand by until they received a
legal opinion as to whether the killers were bona fide foreign terrorists?

            This ain't the NFL, where everybody wears a uniform and plays by
the rules. Proposals to limit the freedom of action of our troops reflect
domestic politics at their shabbiest - and you and I know it. Our troops
need fewer restrictions, not more.

            THERE are no guarantees of success. The president's troop surge
may not be enough to make a decisive difference; in the end, Iraq may
collapse all around us. A sectarian bloodbath could be inevitable.

            But our brave men and women in uniform have new coaches and a
new playbook for Iraq. They believe they've got a reasonable chance to cross
the goal line - and they've got more at risk than a sports celebrity's
salary.

            Yes, the Iraqis have to pick up the ball - but it would be an
immoral act of strategic madness to fumble the ball on purpose.

            In the end, we may not win. But you can't win if you walk off
the field while the game's still under way. The clock may run out on hope
for Iraq. But it hasn't yet.

            Ralph Peters' latest book is "Never Quit The Fight."

27723  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Cyber Jihad on: March 03, 2007, 12:05:35 AM
 U.S. INTELLIGENCE OFFICER FOR IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN SAYS INTERNET IS TERRORISTS' BIGGEST RECRUITING TOOL
Fri Mar 2 2007 14:11:05 ET

America's top intelligence officer overseeing Iraq and Afghanistan says terrorists have made the Internet their most important recruiting tool. Brig. Gen. John Custer tells Scott Pelley that terrorist groups like Al Qaeda are influencing Islamic youth to join their cause through Websites devoted to jihad, or religious war. Pelley's report will be broadcast on 60 MINUTES Sunday, March 4 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.

"I see 16, 17-yr.-olds who have been indoctrinated on the Internet turn up on the battlefield. We capture them, we kill them every day in Iraq, in Afghanistan,"says Custer. "Without a doubt, the Internet is the single-most important venue for the radicalization of Islamic youth," he tells Pelley.

Potential recruits can be lured to sites that offer news or information that contain links to other sites featuring violence against people the terrorists say are enemies of Islam. Those sites often show American soldiers being killed and military vehicles blown up, as well as journalists and contractors being murdered or shown in captivity. Custer says the sites can convince potential recruits that American soldiers are on the run. "It's a war of perceptionsÉ.They don't have to win on the tactical battlefield. They never will. No platoon has ever been defeated in Afghanistan or Iraq, but it doesn't matter."

The sites also provide religious justification for waging a holy war and celebrate suicide bombers by showing their farewell videos and depicting them enshrined in heaven. Chat rooms and message boards also play a role, manipulating visitors with religious guilt. Ultimately, the terrorists are trying to hijack Islam says Stephen Ulph, an expert on militant Islam and a consultant to West Point from the Jamestown Foundation. "[The terrorists] say 'You're not a proper Muslim, nor are your parents.' Very important implication here. If your parents aren't proper Muslims and if the sheik of a mosque isn't a proper Muslim, What are you doing obeying them?" says Ulph.

The Internet allows terrorists to use increasingly sophisticated methods, such as music videos distributed by media organizations, to reach more potential recruits with more effective messages. "Now they are able to distribute... anything they want anywhere they want. This is unheard of in history," says Ulph. "We're witnessing this ideological war on our own desktops."

To Custer, it's the end of conventional war. "Can you imagine thousands of tanks on a battlefield now? I can't,"he tells Pelley. "It's a different type of warfare. It's a battle of perceptions and Al Qaeda understands it and America needs to understand it."
27724  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Cyber Jihad: Part Two on: March 03, 2007, 12:03:14 AM
Attack Strategies

A General Call to Participate in a Virus Attack

Postings on Islamist Web sites reveal that the cyberspace mujahideen favor two main strategies. The first is to paralyze sites by "swarming," i.e., flooding them with hits and thus creating a traffic overload. When traffic to the site exceeds the Web site's or server's capacity, the site is blocked to additional users, and in some cases it even crashes. The second strategy is called "ping attack": special programs are used to flood a Web site with thousands of emails, sometimes containing viruses, thus clogging the Web site and infecting it. The programs utilized by mujahideen in these attacks are either programs available to the hacker community at large or programs created especially for Islamist hackers.

Reports posted by the mujahideen after attacks on Web sites indicate that these cyberassaults affect the Web sites only temporarily, if at all. In many cases the mujahideen themselves admit that their attack was ineffective and that the Web site returned to normal functioning only minutes or hours after the attack. In light of this, the mujhahideen often resort to another method in an attempt to completely eliminate the targeted site.

An Islamist hacker explained the method as follows: "We contact... the server [which hosts the target website] before and after the assault, and threaten [the server admin] until they shut down the target website. [In such cases], the 'host' [i.e., server] is usually forced to shut down the website. The battle continues until the enemy declares: 'I surrender.'"

Islamist Web sites present very little evidence of more sophisticated attacks utilizing actual hacking techniques (i.e., obtaining the admin password and using admin privileges to corrupt data or damage the server itself).

However, two examples do indicate that the cyberspace mujahideen may possess the capability to carry out such attacks. On October 17, 2006, an Islamist Web site posted a message containing a link to what appeared to be live pictures of Anchorage International Airport taken by the airport's security cameras. There was also a link to an admin control program allowing surfers to control the airport's security cameras. If this was an authentic break-in, it indicates that Muslim hackers are capable of hacking even into highly secure servers.

Another example which illustrates the extent of the mujahideen's hacking skills is the story of 22-year-old Younis Tsouli from West London, better know as Irhabi 007, who was arrested in 2005 by Scotland Yard. In his short but rich hacking career, Irahbi 007 wrote a hacking manual for mujahideen, instructed Islamist hackers online, and broke into servers of American universities, using them to upload shared files containing jihad-related materials.

Coordination of Attacks

Islamist Web sites provide extensive evidence that Islamist cyber-attacks are not random initiatives by individual mujahideen, but are steadily becoming more coordinated. Firstly, announcements of imminent attacks, which appear almost daily, are posted on numerous sites simultaneously. Participants are instructed to look out for postings specifying the time of attack, the URL of the target (usually posted some 30 minutes before the attack itself) and the program to be used for carrying out the attack. Secondly, before the attacks, Web sites have lately begun to post messages addressed to specific individuals referred to as "attack coordinators," each of whom is associated with a specific Islamist site. Finally, there is a significant increase in response to the calls for participation in electronic attacks.

Recently, for example, a message announcing an attack on a Shi'ite Web site received 15,000 hits, and approximately 3,000 forum members responded to the message. The attacks, then, seem to be well-organized and supervised by a network of specially appointed individuals on various sites, and they appear to generate high participation levels among forum members.

The following three examples demonstrate the coordinated nature of the attacks.

Instructions for Attack Coordinators

On December 21, 2006, the Al-Muhajirun Web site posted the following message regarding a planned attack: "Our attack will take place this coming Friday... I remind you that the name of the program to be used will not be posted until half an hour to an hour before the attack... Attack coordinators, you worked hard last week... and I ask you to display the same zeal in this [upcoming] attack. I ask [each] individual who intends to serve as attack coordinator on [his] website to reply [to this posting with the message]: "I will be the attack coordinator for this network..." [The coordinator] will be responsible for the following: ...urging forum participants [to take part in the attack], while [taking care] not to mention names of 'Hilf Al-Muhajirin' members and the names of those who take part in the attack... [The coordinators] must be online at least one full hour before the attack... in order to post links to the programs that will be used and to the [intended target] websites. [They are also] responsible for posting the code-name of the attack, along with the text shown below [which presents some general information about the attack]... "

Announcement of a Ping Attack Against a Web site That Harms Islam

The following message was posted November 23, 2006 on the website Majmu'at Al-Jihad Al-Electroni: "...An attack is about to be carried out by all the Internet mujahideen, may Allah accept it as jihad for His sake... [The targets are] websites that do harm to Islam... The attacks will take place on Saturday, Monday, and Thursday, between 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m., Mecca time, or between 5:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. Jerusalem time... The primary [computer] program to be used is Al-Jihad Al-Electroni 1.5... We have been able to create a better version of the [program]... and eliminate most of the problems that were encountered by members [in the past]. [The new version] is much lighter and is capable of producing a much more powerful attack..." "This action is a rapid [response] to [a website] that has annoyed us. This is war... Who is with me and who is against me? Allah is with me... and the Crusader Jew and his followers... are against me. I have... uploaded three viruses and a file which can disable firewalls. I will inform you of the time of the attacks... Whoever wishes to participate in the raid should download the virus he wishes to use and [then] send it [to the target]... I ask that before you do anything on the Internet... my mujahid brother, [please] place your trust in Allah."

Electronic Jihad: A Nuisance or a Real Threat?

The evidence presented here shows that electronic jihad is a form of cyber-warfare with ideological underpinnings and defined goals, which manifests in well-coordinated cyber-attacks. Examination of the Web sites reveals that the Islamist hackers maintain constant communication among themselves, share software and expertise and conduct debates on strategy and legitimate targets. There is also evidence of increasingly efficient coordination of attacks. The mujahideen's own statements show that they mean to position themselves as a formidable electronic attack force which is capable of inflicting severe damage - greater even than the damage caused by conventional terror-ist attacks.

At the same time, however, the information presented here reveals a significant gap between the mujahideen's aspirations and their actual capabilities. Despite their selfproclaimed intention to target key economic and government systems and Web sites in order to bring about a total economic collapse of the West, Islamist Web sites provide no evidence that such targets have indeed been attacked. In actuality, most of the attacks documented on Islamist Web sites were aimed at sites that are seen by the mujahideen as morally corrupt or offensive to Islam. In addition, most of the attacks were carried out using unsophisticated methods which are not very likely to pose a significant threat to Western economic interests or sensitive infrastructure. In this respect, electronic jihad can still be seen, at least present, as a nuisance rather than a serious threat.

Nevertheless, it is important not to underestimate the potential danger posed by this phenomenon. First, as shown above, at least two examples indicate that the mujahideen are already capable of compromising servers, even highly secure ones. Given the increasing communication and the constant sharing of expertise among Islamist hackers, the gap between their goals and their actual capabilities is bound to narrow down. In other words, the mujahideen's persistent pursuit of expertise in the area of hacking, as reflected in numerous Web site postings, may eventually enable them to compromise Western Web sites of a highly sensitive nature.

Second, past experience has shown that even primitive attacks, which do not damage servers, can cause substantial financial damage. For example, after a midair collision between a Chinese fighter jet and an American spy plane on April 1, 2001, Chinese hackers spread a malicious "worm," known as the "Code Red Worm," which infected about a million US servers in July 2001 and caused some $2.6 billion worth of damage to computer hardware, software, and networks. On another occasion, a ping attack against the retail giants Yahoo, eBay, and Amazon in February 2000 was estimated to have caused Yahoo alone a loss of $500,000 due a decrease in hits during the attack.

In conclusion, electronic jihad, in its current state of development, is capable of causing some moderate damage to Western economy, but there is no indication that it constitutes an immediate threat to more sensitive interests such as defense systems and other crucial infrastructure. Nevertheless, in light of rapid evolving of this phenomenon, especially during the recent months, the Western countries should monitor it closely in order to track the changes in its modes of operation and the steady increase in its sophistication.

The author is director of MEMRI's Jihad and Terrorism Studies Project


This article can also be read at http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=117189453751...JPArticle%2FShowFull

"We're all going to die, but three of us are going to do something"--Tom Burnett, citizen-warrior KIA 9/11/01 engaging the enemy on Flight 93
27725  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cyber Jihad on: March 03, 2007, 12:01:52 AM
Cyberspace as a combat zone: The phenomenon of Electronic Jihad

E. ALSHECH , THE JERUSALEM POST Feb. 28, 2007
Alongside military jihad, which has been gaining momentum and extracting an ever growing price from many countries around the globe, Islamists have been developing a new form of warfare, termed "electronic jihad," which is waged on the Internet. This new form of jihad was launched in recent years and is still in its early stages of development. However, as this paper will show, Islamists are fully aware of its destructive potential, and persistently strive to realize this potential.

Electronic jihad is a phenomenon whereby mujahideen use the Internet to wage economic and ideological warfare against their enemies. Unlike other hackers, those engaged in electronic jihad are united by a common strategy and ideology which are still in a process of formation.

This paper aims to present the phenomenon of electronic jihad and to characterize some of its more recent developments. It lays out the basic ideology and motivations of its perpetrators, describes, as far as possible, its various operational strategies, and assesses the short and long-term dangers posed by this relatively new phenomenon. The paper focuses on electronic jihad waged by organized Islamist groups that mobilize large numbers of hackers around the world to attack servers and Web sites owned by those whom they regard as their enemies.

Organized Electronic Jihad

In the past few years Islamist Web sites have provided ample evidence that Islamist hackers do not operate as isolated individuals, but carry out coordinated attacks against Web sites belonging to those whom they regard as their enemies. As evident from numerous postings on the Islamist Web sites, many of these coordinated attacks are organized by groups devoted to electronic jihad. Six prominent groups of this sort have emerged on the Internet over the past few years: Hackboy, Ansar Al-Jihad LilJihad Al-Electroni, Munazamat Fursan Al-Jihad Al-Electroni, Majmu'at Al-Jihad Al-Electroni, Majma' Al-Haker Al-Muslim, and Inhiyar AlDolar. All these groups, with the exception of Munazamat Fursan Al-Jihad and Inhiyar alDolar, have Web sites of their own through which they recruit volunteers to take part in electronic attacks, maintain contacts with others who engage in electronic jihad, coordinate their attacks, and enable their members to chat with one another anonymously.

The Majmu'at Al-Jihad Al-Electroni Web site, for example, includes the following sections: a document explaining the nature of electronic jihad, a section devoted to electronic jihad strategy, a technical section on software used for electronic attacks, a section describing previous attacks and their results, and various appeals to Muslims, mujahideen, and hackers worldwide.

A more recent indication of the increasingly organized nature of electronic jihad is an initiative launched January 3, 2007 on Islamist Web sites: mujahideen operating on the Internet (and in the media in general) were invited to sign a special pact called "Hilf Al-Muhajirin" (Pact of the Immigrants). In it, they agree "to stand united under the banner of the Muhajirun Brigades in order to promote [cyber-warfare]," and "to pledge allegiance to the leader [of the Muhajirun Brigades]." They vow to "obey [the leader] in [all tasks], pleasant or unpleasant, not to contest [his] leadership, to exert every conceivable effort in [waging] media jihad...[and to persist] in attacking those websites which do harm to Islam and to the Muslims..."

This initiative clearly indicates that the Islamist hackers no longer regard themselves as loosely connected individual activists, but as dedicated soldiers who are bound by a pact and committed to a joint ideological mission.

The Ideology and Ethical Boundaries of Electronic Jihad

Mission statements posted on the Web sites of electronic jihad groups reveal that just like the mujahideen on the military front, the mujahideen operating on the Internet are motivated by profound ideological conviction.

They despise hackers who "engage in purposeless and meaningless sabotage" or are motivated by desire for publicity or by any other worldly objective. They perceive themselves as jihad-fighters who assist Islam and promote (monotheism) via the Internet.

More importantly, they view cyberspace as a virtual battlefield in which the mujahideen can effectively defeat the West.

That the mujahideen operating in cyberspace are motivated by ideology, in contrast to many hackers, is illustrated by the following example. Recently, a participant on an Islamist forum posted instructions for breaking into a UK-based commercial Web site and stealing the customers' credit card information in order to inflict financial damage on the "unbelievers" (i.e. on the non-Muslims customers and retailers). His initiative sparked a fierce debate among the forum participants, the dominant opinion being that this initiative falls outside the boundaries of legitimate cyberjihad. One forum participant wrote: "Oh brother, we do not steal... We attack racist, American and Shi'ite [websites] and all corrupt websites." Another participant reminded the forum members that stealing from unbelievers is forbidden.

One objective of electronic jihad which is frequently evoked by the mujahideen is assisting Islam by attacking Web sites that slander Islam or launch attacks against Islamic Web sites, or by attacking websites that interfere with the goal of rendering Islam supreme (e.g. Christian Web sites). More recently, however, the mujahideen have begun to cite additional objectives: avenging the death of Muslim martyrs and the suffering of Muslims worldwide (including imprisoned jihad fighters); inflicting damage on Western economy; affecting the morale of the West; and even bringing about the total collapse of the West.

The following excerpts from Arabic messages posted by Islamist hackers exemplify each of these objectives.

Eliminating Websites That Harm Islam

"The administration wishes to inform you of the following so that you understand our operational methods and our jihad strategy. My brothers, our operational methods are not only to assault... and target any website that stands in the way of our victory... We are indeed victorious when we disable such [harmful] websites, but the matter is not so simple. We target...websites that wage intensive war [against us]... We target them because they are the foremost enemies of jihad in cyberspace; their existence threatens Islamic and religious websites throughout the Internet..."

Avenging the Death of Martyrs and the Suffering of Muslims and Imprisoned Mujahideen Worldwide

"We shall say to the Crusaders and their followers: We take an oath to avenge the martyrs' blood and the weeping of Muslim mothers and children. The Worshipers of the Cross and their followers have already been warned that their websites may be broken into and destroyed. We must not forget our leaders, our mujahideen, our people and our children who were martyred in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya and in other places. We shall take revenge upon you, O' Zionists and Worshipers of the Cross. We shall never rest or forget what you did to us. [There are only two options] in electronic jihad for the sake of Allah: Victory or death.

We dedicate these [operations of] hacking [into enemy websites] to the martyr and jihadfighter sheikh Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi, to the jihad-fighter Sheikh Osama bin Laden, to the imprisoned fighter of electronic jihad Irhabi 007, to the fighter of electronic jihad Muhibb Al-Shaykhan and to all the mujahideen for the sake of Allah..."

Inflicting Economic Damage on the West and Damaging its Morale

"Allah has commanded us in various Koranic verses to wage war against the unbelievers... Electronic jihad utilizes methods and means which inflict great material damage on the enemy and [which also] lower his morale and his spirits via the Internet. The methods of [hacking] have been revealed [to us] by expert [hackers] on the Internet and networks... many of whom engage in purposeless and meaningless sabotage. These lethal methods will be harnessed [for use] against our enemies, so as to inflict the greatest [possible] financial damage [upon them] - which can amount to millions - and [in order] to damage [their] morale, so that [they] will be afraid of the Muslims wherever they go and even when they are surfing the Web."

Bringing About the Total Collapse of the West

"I have examined most of the material [available] in hacking manuals but have not found articles which discuss... how to disable all the [electronic] networks around the world. I found various articles which discuss how to attack websites, e-mails, servers, etc., but I have not read anything about harming or blocking the networks around the world, even though this is one of the most important topics for a hacker and for anyone who engages in electronic jihad. Such [an attack] will cripple the West completely. I am not talking about attacking websites or [even] the Internet [as a whole], but [about attacking] all the [computer] networks around the world including military networks, and [networks] which control radars, missiles and communications around the world... If all these networks stop [functioning even] for a single day... it will bring about the total collapse of the West... while affecting our interests only slightly. The collapse of the West will bring about the breakdown of world economy and of the stock markets, which depend on [electronic] communication [for] their activities, [e.g.] transfers of assets and shares. [Such an attack] will cause the capitalist West to collapse."

Actual Attacks and Their Effects

Reports on Islamist Web sites indicate that most of the hacking operations carried out by mujahideen have been aimed at three types of Web sites: a) Ideological Web sites which promote beliefs, doctrines and ideologies which the mujahideen perceive as incompatible with Sunni Islam, such as Christianity, Shi'ism and Zionism. b) Web sites which the mujahideen perceive as defamatory or harmful to Islam. Many of these are private blogs, news blogs and non-Islamic forums (e.g., http://answering-islam.org.uk ). c) Web sites which promote behavior that is contrary to the mujahideen's religious worldview (e.g., http://www.nscrush.org/news/journal, a Web site associated with a girls' sports team).

As for Web sites associated with governments, defense systems, and Western economic interests - Islamist Web sites present little or no evidence that mujahideen have actually attacked them. There is, however, sufficient evidence to suggest that such sensitive targets continue to be of intense interest to the mujahideen. For example, an Islamist forum recently conducted a survey among its participants regarding the targets they would like to attack. Among the targets suggested were Western financial Web sites and Web sites associated with the FBI and CIA. Moreover, in September 2006, an Islamic Web site posted a long list of IP addresses allegedly associated with key governmental defense institutions in the West, including "the Army Ballistics Research Laboratory," "the Army Armament Research Development and Engineering Center," "the Navy Computers and Telecommunications Station," "the National Space Development Agency of Japan," and others. The title of the message indicates that the list is meant for use in electronic attacks.

Another message, posted on an Islamist Web site on December 5, 2006, stated that Islamist hackers had cancelled a planned attack, nicknamed "The Electronic Guantanamo Raid," against American banks. The posting explained that the attack had been cancelled because the banks had been warned about the attack by American media and government agencies. It stated further that the panic in the media shows how important it is "to focus on attacking sensitive economic American websites [instead of] other [websites, like those that offend Islam]..." The writer added: "If [we] attack websites associated with the stock[market] and with banks, disabling them for a few days or even for a few hours, it will cause millions of dollars' worth of damage... I [therefore] call upon all members [of this forum] to focus on these websites and to urge all Muslims who are able to participate in this [type of] Islamic Intifada to attack websites associated with the American stock[market] and banks..."
27726  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Peru on: March 02, 2007, 11:48:57 PM

Saludos desde Peru.  Rainer esta organizando un seminario en Lima para Martes.
27727  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WW3 on: March 02, 2007, 11:34:08 PM
*If you're not willing to tell me where I'm wrong, then I have to assume you agree.*

Rog, this is profoundly silly.  I have been interacting with you for several years on this now so you know quite well that this is not so.  As I said, there are points where our respective concepts of reality do not interface enough to make further conversation worth my time.

*Again, no disagreement with me as to the general cowardice and spinelessness of most Democrats.  My objection is to the deliberate focus on these types in order to avoid addressing the legitimate anti-war arguments.*

I think it a most fair point that these types have the effect of persuading our enemies, our would be friends and those who seek to back the strong horse that we are going to cut and run.   I really do not see any way around this.

As for avoiding the issues, again our respective realities do not interface.  The great bulk of this forum is precisely about discussing what to do!  If you want to make legitimate anti war arguments in the tone of friends breaking bread together by all means go for it.  That said, talking as if our troops are war criminals and other inflammatotry nonsense does not get respect from me.

Lastly, by leaving out this portion of what I said

*Similarly, if they were to tell me that we have blown it and that it is too late too pull off our original intention, that carries more weight with me than former Sec'y Rumbo.*

you leave out the answer to your final question.

27728  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: March 02, 2007, 11:12:19 PM
I wish this piece had addressed what the differences are, if any, when the Prince needs to get elected and needs to get authorized by Congress.  Anyway, here is this surprising tidbit from Stratfor.  We shall see if the French and the Russians et al live up to it.

''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''
IRAN: Russia, France, the United Kingdom, China, Germany and the United States are "completely in agreement" on a new U.N. Security Council resolution regarding Iran's nuclear program, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said. The resolution is an extension of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1737, which imposed nuclear technology sanctions against Iran for not suspending its uranium enrichment program. Under the current framework, measures for the resolution's enforcement exclude military action.
27729  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Tippy-tappy drills-- threat or menace? on: March 02, 2007, 09:47:42 PM
Yiip!

A quick yip from southern Peru where I am checking in with my mom to make sure she is OK.

The internet connection here is lousy and I just had a post I wrote vaporized.   Arrrghh.

The Adventure continues,
CD
27730  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Calling all female fighters on: March 02, 2007, 09:21:42 PM
Linda attended the DLO 2 seminar by Gabe Suarez and me this past January and was in fine form cool
27731  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Giuliani-- Part Two on: February 28, 2007, 04:14:25 AM

Mr. Giuliani persisted, and when Congress finally passed welfare reform in 1996, giving states and cities broad powers to refocus the giant, federally funded welfare program for mothers and children, Mr. Giuliani applied many of the same kinds of reforms. He hired as welfare commissioner Jason Turner, the architect of welfare reform in Wisconsin, which had led the nation in putting welfare recipients back to work. Mr. Turner promptly converted the city's grim welfare intake offices into cheerful and optimistic job centers, where counselors advised welfare recipients on how to write a résumé and provided them with skills assessment and a space they could use to look for work.

By 1999, the number of welfare recipients finding work had risen to more than 100,000 annually, and the welfare rolls had dropped by more than 600,000. It took steadfast courage to win those gains. "The pressure on Rudy during these years was enormous," says Richard Schwartz, a Giuliani policy advisor. "The advocates and the press trained their sights on us, just waiting for something to go wrong in these workfare programs."

As part of Mr. Giuliani's quintessentially conservative belief that dysfunctional behavior, not our economic system, lay at the heart of intergenerational poverty, he also spoke out against illegitimacy and the rise of fatherless families. A child born out of wedlock, he observed in one speech, was three times as likely to wind up on welfare as a child from a two-parent family. "Seventy percent of long-term prisoners and 75% of adolescents charged with murder grew up without fathers," Mr. Giuliani told the city. He insisted that the city and the nation had to re-establish the "responsibility that accompanies bringing a child into the world," and to that end he required deadbeat fathers either to find a private-sector job or to work in the city's workfare program as a way of contributing to their child's upbringing. But he added that changing society's attitude toward marriage was more important than anything government could do: "If you wanted a social program that would really save these kids, . . . I guess the social program would be called fatherhood."





As a consequence of his rejection of the time-honored New York liberal belief in congenital black victimhood, Mr. Giuliani set out to change the city's conversation about race. He objected to affirmative action, ending the city's set-aside program for minority contractors, and he rejected the idea of lowering standards for minorities. Accordingly, he ended open enrollment at the City University of New York, a 1970s policy aimed at increasing the minority population at the nation's third-largest public college system but one that also led to a steep decline in standards and in graduation rates.
The reform of CUNY began when its chancellor complained that it was unfair to require students on welfare to work because it jeopardized their studies. Mr. Giuliani responded that it was unfair to expect middle-class kids to work their way through college by holding down jobs and going to classes while exempting students on welfare from working. While the controversy raged, several critics of CUNY pointed out that only 10% to 15% of CUNY students on welfare ever graduated, and that the system's overall graduation rate was abysmally low. Mr. Giuliani and Gov. George Pataki appointed a blue-chip panel led by former Yale president Benno Schmidt and former New York City congressman and longtime CUNY critic Herman Badillo to examine the system. The panel recommended widespread changes, including tightening admissions standards and eliminating remedial courses for students at the system's 11 senior colleges.

The moves sparked a startling turnaround. Within a few years, CUNY was attracting 20% more students from New York's elite high schools (who had previously shunned it), SAT scores of incoming freshmen had risen 168 points, and the student population reached its highest number since the mid-1970s.

Mr. Giuliani wanted to work the same dramatic reform on the city's K-12 school system, but the entrenched educational bureaucracy and his lack of direct control over the school system stymied him. The best he could do was to use the bully pulpit as well as his influence over the two Board of Education members (out of a total of seven) whom he appointed. He did this so relentlessly that he ultimately pushed out two schools chancellors who wouldn't install the reforms that he believed would spur dramatic, systemic change--reforms that included using city money for vouchers to provide low-income students in failing public schools with scholarships to private schools. He never could get his vouchers, however, and when he managed to prod the board into trying to privatize five of the city's worst public schools, the board's pointed lack of enthusiasm scared off necessary parental approval, and the idea died.

Although Mr. Giuliani didn't start out as a proponent of school choice, his frustration in trying to turn around a huge school system where the teachers union and the bureaucrats worked to stymie reform made him into a powerful proponent of vouchers, which he believed would force the public schools to compete for students with their private counterparts. "The whole notion of choice is really about more freedom for people, rather than being subjugated by a government system that says you have no choice about the education of your child," he said.

Mr. Giuliani's relentless attacks on the city's educational system finally convinced most New Yorkers that it could never be salvaged unless it was under the control of a mayor responsible to voters. In 2002, the state Legislature placed the city's school system under the mayor--too late for Mr. Giuliani.





Mr. Giuliani's efforts to revive entrepreneurial New York naturally focused on unleashing the city's private sector through tax cuts achieved by slowing the growth of government. Mr. Giuliani preached against New York's lingering New Deal belief that government creates jobs, arguing that government should instead get out of the way and let the private sector work. "City government should not and cannot create jobs through government planning," he said. "The best it can do, and what it has a responsibility to do, is to deal with its own finances first, to create a solid budgetary foundation that allows businesses to move the economy forward on the strength of their energy and ideas. After all, businesses are and have always been the backbone of New York City."
When Mr. Giuliani took office, the city's private sector was experiencing the worst of times. After four years under Mr. Dinkins, it had shrunk to its lowest level since 1978, losing 275,000 jobs--192,000 in 1991 alone, the largest one-year job decline that any American city had ever suffered. Not coincidentally, Gotham also had the highest overall rate of taxation of any major city and a budget that spent far more per capita than any other major city. Despite that, and despite billions of dollars in tax increases during the Dinkins years, New York could barely pay its bills, and Mr. Giuliani, immediately after taking office, faced a nearly $2.5 billion budget deficit.

Mr. Giuliani's first budget, submitted just weeks after he took office, stunned the city's political establishment by its fiscal conservatism. To demonstrate his disdain for the reigning orthodoxy, when the New York Times editorial board urged him to solve the budget crisis with tax and fee increases that a Dinkins-era special commission had recommended, Mr. Giuliani unceremoniously dumped a copy of the commission's report into the garbage and derided it as "old thinking." It was a pointed declaration that a very different set of ideas would guide his administration.

After years of tax hikes under Mr. Dinkins, Mr. Giuliani proposed making up the city's still-huge budget deficit entirely through spending cuts and savings. Even more audaciously, he proposed a modest tax cut to signal the business community that New York was open for business, promising more tax cuts later. "I felt it was really important the first year I was mayor to cut a tax," Mr. Giuliani later explained. "Nobody ever cut a tax before in New York City, and that was one of the reasons I wanted to set a new precedent."

To balance the city's budget early in his tenure, when tax revenues stagnated amid a struggling economy, the mayor played hardball, winning concessions from city workers that other mayors had failed to get. The city's police unions had used their power in Albany to resist efforts by Mr. Dinkins and his predecessor, Ed Koch, to merge the city's housing police and transit police into the NYPD. Mr. Giuliani strong-armed Albany leaders into agreeing to the merger, saving the city hundreds of millions in administrative costs and making the department a better crime-fighting unit, by threatening to fire every housing and transit officer and rehire each as a city cop if legislative leaders did not go along.

Similarly, though the city's garbage men, many of whom worked only half days because their department was so overstaffed, had rebuffed the Dinkins administration's push for productivity savings, Mr. Giuliani won $300 million in savings from them by threatening to contract out trash collection to private companies. Ultimately, with such deals, Mr. Giuliani reduced city-funded spending by 1.6% his first year in office, the largest overall reduction in city spending since the Depression.

Although Mr. Giuliani was no tax or economic expert when he took office, he became a tax-cut true believer when he saw how the city's economy and targeted industries perked up at his first reductions. One of his initial budgetary moves was to cut the city's hotel tax, which during the Dinkins administration had been the highest of any major city in the world. When tourism rebounded, Mr. Giuliani pointed out that the city was collecting more in taxes from a lower rate. "No one ever considered tax reductions a reasonable option," Mr. Giuliani explained. But, he added in a speech at the Reagan Library, "targeted tax reductions spur growth. That's why we have made obtaining targeted tax reductions a priority of every budget." In his eight years in office, Mr. Giuliani reduced or eliminated 23 taxes, including the sales tax on some clothing purchases, the tax on commercial rents everywhere outside of Manhattan's major business districts, and various taxes on small businesses and self-employed New Yorkers.

The national, and even world, press marveled at the spectacular success of Mr. Giuliani's policies. The combination of a safer city and a better budget environment ignited an economic boom unlike any other on record. Construction permits increased by more than 50%, to 70,000 a year, under Mr. Giuliani, compared with just 46,000 in Mr. Dinkins's last year. Meanwhile, as crime plunged, New Yorkers took to the newly safe streets to go out at night to shows and restaurants, and the number of tourists soared from 24 million in the early 1990s to 38 million in 2000. Under Mr. Giuliani, the city gained some 430,000 new jobs to reach its all-time employment peak of 3.72 million jobs in 2000, while the unemployment rate plummeted from 10.3% to 5.1%. Personal income earned by New Yorkers, meanwhile, soared by $100 million, or 50%, while the percentage of their income that they paid in taxes declined from 8.8% to 7.3%. During Mr. Giuliani's second term, for virtually the only time since World War II, the city's economy consistently grew faster than the nation's.





Today, Americans see Mr. Giuliani as presidential material because of his leadership in the wake of the terrorist attacks, but to those of us who watched him first manage America's biggest city when it was crime-ridden, financially shaky and plagued by doubts about its future as employers and educated and prosperous residents fled in droves, Mr. Giuliani's leadership on 9/11 came as no surprise. What Americans saw after the attacks is a combination of attributes that Mr. Giuliani governed with all along: the tough-mindedness that had gotten him through earlier civic crises, a no-nonsense and efficient management style, and a clarity and directness of speech that made plain what he thought needed to be done and how he would do it.
Like great wartime leaders, Mr. Giuliani displayed unflinching courage on 9/11. A minute after the first plane struck, he rushed downtown, arriving at the World Trade Center just after the second plane hit the South Tower, when it became obvious to everyone that New York was under attack. Fearing that more strikes were on the way--and without access to City Hall, the police department or the city's command center because of damage from the attacks--Mr. Giuliani hurried to reestablish city government, narrowly escaping death himself as the towers came down next to a temporary command post he had set up in lower Manhattan. "There is no playbook for a mayor on how to organize city government when you are standing on a street covered by dust from the city's worst calamity," one of his deputy mayors, Anthony Coles, later observed.

Mr. Giuliani understood that he needed not only to keep city government operating but to inspire and console as well. Within a few hours, he had reestablished New York's government in temporary headquarters, where he led the first post-9/11 meeting with his commissioners and with a host of other New York elected officials on hand to observe, prompting even one of his harshest critics, liberal Manhattan congressman Jerrold Nadler, to marvel at the "efficiency of the meeting." Within hours, the city launched a massive search-and-recovery operation. Some half a dozen times that day Mr. Giuliani went on TV, reassuring the city and then the nation with his calm, frank demeanor and his plainspoken talk. As the nation struggled to understand what had happened and President Bush made his way back to Washington, Mr. Giuliani emerged as the one public official in America who seemed to be in command on 9/11. He became, as Newsweek later called him, "our Winston Churchill."

In the weeks following the attacks, Mr. Giuliani became both the cheerleader of New York's efforts to pick itself up and the voice of moral outrage about the attacks. Mr. Giuliani exhorted private institutions within the city--the stock exchanges, the Broadway theaters--to resume operations and urged the rest of America and the world to come visit the city. Not waiting for federal aid, the city rapidly began a cleanup of the World Trade Center site, which proceeded ahead of schedule, and of the devastated neighborhood around the site, which reopened block by block in the weeks after the attacks. Meanwhile, the mayor led visiting heads of state on tours of the devastation, because, he said, "You can't come here and be neutral." He addressed the United Nations on the new war against terrorism, warning the delegates: "You're either with civilization or with terrorists." When a Saudi prince donated millions to relief efforts but later suggested that U.S. policy in the Middle East may have been partially responsible for the attacks, Mr. Giuliani returned the money, observing that there was "no moral equivalent" for the unprecedented terrorist attack. He attended dozens of funerals of emergency workers killed in the towers' collapse, leading the city not just in remembrance but in catharsis.





As "America's mayor," a sobriquet he earned after 9/11, Mr. Giuliani has a unique profile as a presidential candidate. To engineer the city's turnaround, he had to take on a government whose budget and workforce were larger than all but five or six states. (Indeed, his budget his first year as mayor was about 10 times the size of the one that Bill Clinton managed in his last year as governor of Arkansas.) For more than a decade, the city has been among the biggest U.S. tourist destinations, and tens of millions of Americans have seen firsthand the dramatic changes he wrought in Gotham.
Moreover, as an expert on policing and America's key leader on 9/11, Mr. Giuliani is an authority on today's crucial foreign-policy issue, the war on terror. In fact, as a federal prosecutor in New York, he investigated and prosecuted major terrorist cases. As mayor, he took the high moral ground in the terrorism debate in 1995, when he had an uninvited Yasser Arafat expelled from city-sponsored celebrations during the United Nations' 50th anniversary because, in Mr. Giuliani's eyes, Arafat was a terrorist, not a world leader. "When we're having a party and a celebration, I would rather not have someone who has been implicated in the murders of Americans there, if I have the discretion not to have him there," Mr. Giuliani said at the time.

These are impressive conservative credentials. And if social and religious conservatives fret about Mr. Giuliani's more liberal social views, nevertheless, in the general election such views might make this experience-tested conservative even more electable.

Mr. Malanga is a contributing editor of City Journal, in whose Winter issue this article appears.
Ed Koch is the former Mayor of New York City.


 
27732  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: February 28, 2007, 04:11:55 AM
Giuliani the Conservative
And he's electable too.

BY STEVEN MALANGA
Wednesday, February 28, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

Not since Teddy Roosevelt took on Tammany Hall a century ago has a New York politician closely linked to urban reform looked like presidential timber. But today Rudy Giuliani sits at or near the top of virtually every poll of potential 2008 presidential candidates. Already, Mr. Giuliani's popularity has set off a "stop Rudy" movement among cultural conservatives, who object to his three marriages and his support for abortion rights, gay unions and curbs on gun ownership. Some social conservatives even dismiss his achievement in reviving New York before 9/11. An August story on the Web site Right Wing News, for instance, claims that Mr. Giuliani governed Gotham from "left of center." Similarly, conservatives have been feeding the press a misleading collection of quotations by and about Mr. Giuliani, on tax policy and school choice issues, assembled to make him look like a liberal.

But in a GOP presidential field in which cultural and religious conservatives may find something to object to in every candidate who could really get nominated (and, more important, elected), Mr. Giuliani may be the most conservative candidate on a wide range of issues. Far from being a liberal, he ran New York with a conservative's priorities. Government exists above all to keep people safe in their homes and in the streets, he said, not to redistribute income, run a welfare state, or perform social engineering. The private economy, not government, creates opportunity, he argued; government should just deliver basic services well and then get out of the private sector's way. He denied that cities and their citizens were victims of vast forces outside their control, and he urged New Yorkers to take personal responsibility for their lives.

"Over the last century, millions of people from all over the world have come to New York City," Mr. Giuliani once observed. "They didn't come here to be taken care of and to be dependent on city government. They came here for the freedom to take care of themselves." It was that spirit of opportunity and can-do-ism that Mr. Giuliani tried to reinstill in New York and that he himself exemplified not only in the hours and weeks after 9/11 but in his heroic and successful effort to bring a dying city back to life.





The entrenched political culture that Mr. Giuliani faced when he became mayor was the pure embodiment of American liberalism, stretching back to the New Deal, whose public works projects had turned Gotham into a massive government-jobs program. Even during the post-World War II economic boom, New York politicians kept the New Deal's big-government philosophy alive, with huge municipal tax increases that financed a growing public sector but drove away private-sector jobs.
Later, in the mid-1960s, flamboyant mayor John Lindsay set out to make New York a poster child for the Johnson administration's War on Poverty, vastly expanding welfare rolls, giving power over the school system to black-power activists, and directing hundreds of millions of government dollars into useless and often fraudulent community-based antipoverty programs. To pay for all this, Lindsay taxed with abandon. The result: sharply increasing crime, a rising underclass inclined to languish on welfare rather than strive to uplift itself, a failing school system that emphasized racial grievance and separateness, and near-bankruptcy.

When Mr. Giuliani's predecessor, David Dinkins, came into office--thanks to voters' hopes that as the city's first black mayor, he'd defuse New York's intense racial tensions--he wholly embraced the War on Poverty's core belief that the problems of the urban poor sprang from vast external forces over which neither they nor the politicians had much control. Under Mr. Dinkins, the city's welfare rolls grew by one-third, or some 273,000 people. By 1992, with some 1.1 million New Yorkers on welfare, the city's political leadership seemed stuck on dependency, too. Mr. Dinkins became the chief proponent of a tin-cup urbanism, constantly hounding Washington and Albany with demands and grim warnings about what would happen if they were not met.

Mr. Dinkins's political philosophy substituted can't-do fatalism for the can-do optimism that had made New York great. As crime spiked--there were 2,262 murders in Mr. Dinkins's first year, compared with fewer than 600 in 1963, two years before Lindsay became mayor--Mr. Dinkins declared: "If we had a police officer on every other corner, we couldn't stop some of the random violence that goes on," since it resulted from poverty and racism, not poor policing.

Accordingly, Mr. Dinkins wanted to turn the police into social workers. His police commissioner, Lee Brown, believed that cops should stop reacting to crime and become neighborhood "problem solvers." In an article on that "community policing" approach, the New York Times informed readers that such experiments, in Houston and in Newark, N.J., were "enormously popular"--but "neither city experienced a statistical drop in crime." Under that policing regime, New York's already high crime rate soared, prompting the New York Post to plead, in a famous headline, "Dave Do Something."

As crime and welfare rocketed up, Mr. Dinkins decided that government should promote diversity and multiculturalism--"a gorgeous mosaic," in his phrase. Though the performance of the city's schools was crumbling, so that by 1992 fewer than half the pupils were reading at grade level, the Board of Education turned its energies to two controversies unrelated to education: it tried to adopt a "Rainbow Curriculum" geared to instilling in first-graders respect for homosexuality, and it proposed to distribute free condoms in high schools to promote safe sex among students. Although many parents objected that the board was promoting values that they did not share, Mr. Dinkins supported the board on both fiercely controversial issues.





By the time Mr. Giuliani ran against Mr. Dinkins for a second time, in 1993 (his first try had failed), the former prosecutor had fashioned a philosophy of local government based on two core conservative principles vastly at odds with New York's political culture: that government should be accountable for delivering basic services well, and that ordinary citizens should be personally responsible for their actions and their destiny and not expect government to take care of them. Mr. Giuliani spoke of the need to reestablish a "civil society," where citizens adhered to a "social contract." "If you have a right," he observed, "there is a duty that goes along with that right." Later, when he became mayor, Mr. Giuliani would preach about the duties of citizenship, quoting the ancient Athenian Oath of Fealty: "We will revere and obey the city's laws. . . . We will strive unceasingly to quicken the public sense of civic duty. Thus in all these ways we will transmit this city not only not less, but far greater and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us."
In New York, where generations of liberal policy had produced a city in which 1 in 7 citizens lived off government benefits, in which lawbreakers whose actions diminished everyone else's quality of life were routinely ignored or excused, in which the rights of those who broke the law were often defended vigorously over the rights of those who adhered to it, Mr. Giuliani's prescriptions for an urban revival based on shared civic values seemed unrealistic to some and dangerous to others. The head of the local American Civil Liberties Union chapter described Mr. Giuliani's ideas on respect for authority and the law as "frightening" and "scary." But New Yorkers who had watched their city deteriorate were more frightened of life under an outdated and ineffective liberal agenda. Mr. Giuliani rode to victory in 1993 with heavy support from the same white ethnic Democratic voters who, a decade earlier, had crossed party lines even in liberal New York to vote for Ronald Reagan.

To those of us who observed Mr. Giuliani from the beginning, it was astonishing how fully he followed through on his conservative principles once elected, no matter how much he upset elite opinion, no matter how often radical advocates took to the streets in protest, no matter how many veiled (and not-so-veiled) threats that incendiary figures like Al Sharpton made against him, and no matter how often the New York Times fulminated against his policies.

In particular, offended by the notion that people should be treated differently and demand privileges based on the color of their skin, Mr. Giuliani was fearless in confronting racial extortionists like Mr. Sharpton. Early in his tenure, he startled the city when he refused to meet with Mr. Sharpton and other black activists after a confrontation between police and black Muslims at a Harlem mosque. And though activists claimed that Mr. Giuliani inflamed racial tensions with such actions, there were no incidents during his tenure comparable with the disgraceful Crown Heights riot under Mr. Dinkins, in which the police let blacks terrorize Orthodox Jews for several days in a Brooklyn neighborhood.





For Mr. Giuliani, the revival of New York started with securing public safety, because all other agendas were useless if citizens didn't feel protected. "The most fundamental of civil rights is the guarantee that government can give you a reasonable degree of safety," Mr. Giuliani said. He aimed to do so by reinstituting respect for the law. As a federal prosecutor in New York in the 1980s, he had vigorously hunted low-level drug dealers--whom other law enforcement agencies ignored--because he thought that the brazen selling of drugs on street corners cultivated disrespect for the law and encouraged criminality. "You have to . . . dispel cynicism about law enforcement by showing we treat everyone alike, whether you are a major criminal or a low-level drug pusher," Mr. Giuliani explained.
As mayor, he instituted a "zero tolerance" approach that cracked down on quality-of-life offenses like panhandling and public urination (in a city where some streets reeked of urine), in order to restore a sense of civic order that he believed would discourage larger crimes. "Murder and graffiti are two vastly different crimes," he explained. "But they are part of the same continuum, and a climate that tolerates one is more likely to tolerate the other." He linked the Dinkins era's permissive climate, which tolerated the squeegee men (street-corner windshield cleaners who coerced drivers into giving them money at the entrances to Manhattan), to the rise of more serious crime. "The police started ignoring all kinds of offenses," Mr. Giuliani later recounted of the Dinkins years. They "became," he deadpanned, "highly skilled observers of crime."

Civil rights advocates warned that Mr. Giuliani's promise to deprive the squeegee men of their $40 to $100 weekly shakedown might drive them to more violent crime; in effect, they endorsed a lesser form of criminality, hoping that it would forestall more serious crime. The city's newspapers were happy to print threats from squeegee men, like this one: "I feel like if I can't hustle honestly, I've got to go back to doing what I used to do . . . robbing and stealing." But the squeegee-men campaign provided Mr. Giuliani with his first significant victory, showing a beleaguered citizenry that government actually could bring about change for the better. Within months, the squeegee men disappeared. "A city, and especially a city like New York, should be a place of optimism," Mr. Giuliani later explained about his policing strategies. "Quality of life is about focusing on the things that make a difference in the everyday life of all New Yorkers in order to restore this spirit of optimism."

Mr. Giuliani changed the primary mission of the police department to preventing crime from happening rather than merely responding to it once it had occurred. His police chief, William Bratton, reorganized the NYPD, emphasizing a street-crimes unit that moved around the city, flooding high-crime areas and getting guns off the street. Mr. Bratton also changed the department's scheduling. Crime was open for business 24 hours a day, but most detectives, including narcotics cops, had previously gone off duty at 5 p.m., just as criminals were coming on "duty." No more.

The department brought modern management techniques to its new mission. It began compiling a computerized database to track the city's crime patterns and the effectiveness of the NYPD's responses to them. That database, known as Compstat, helped police target their manpower where it was needed, and in due course it became a national model. The department drove authority down to its precinct captains and emphasized that it expected results from these top managers. Mr. Bratton replaced a third of the city's 76 precinct commanders within a few months. "If you were to manage a bank with 76 branches every day, you would get a profit-and-loss statement from the bank," explained Mr. Giuliani. "After a week or so, you would see branches that were going in the wrong direction, and then you would take management action to try to reverse the trend. That is precisely what is happening in the police department."

The policing innovations led to a historic drop in crime far beyond what anyone could have imagined, with total crime down by some 64% during the Giuliani years, and murder (the most reliable crime statistic) down 67%, from 1,960 in Mr. Dinkins's last year to 640 in Mr. Giuliani's last year. The number of cars stolen in New York City every year plummeted by an astounding 78,000.

Criminologists tried to dismiss this achievement by arguing that the police have little influence on crime. The crime drop, they contended, was merely the fruit of an improving national economy, though the decline preceded the city's economic rebound by several years. Others argued that New York was just riding a demographic trend, as the population of teenagers prone to break the law declined. One criminologist even suggested that Mr. Giuliani's New York would soon see another upsurge, as a new cohort of children reached the teen years. "I don't need a crystal ball," the criminologist confidently predicted. Instead, crime declined relentlessly over Mr. Giuliani's eight years, even when it rose nationally.

Critics, especially those on the left, have tried to minimize Mr. Giuliani's accomplishment by claiming that he lowered crime by letting cops oppress black and Latino New Yorkers with brute force. As evidence, they point to unfortunate incidents such as the shootings of unarmed black immigrants Amadou Diallo and Patrick Dorismond. But the data tell a far different story: Mr. Giuliani's NYPD managed to drive down crime while showing admirable restraint. From 1995 to 2000, civilian complaints of excessive force by the NYPD declined from one complaint per ten officers to one per 19 officers. Meanwhile, shootings by cops declined by 50% and were far lower under Mr. Giuliani than under Mr. Dinkins--lower in fact than in cities like San Diego and Houston, hailed for practicing community policing.

Moreover, Mr. Giuliani's policing success was a boon to minority neighborhoods. For instance, in the city's 34th Precinct, covering the largely Hispanic Washington Heights section of Manhattan, murders dropped from 76 in 1993, Mr. Dinkins's last year, to only seven by Mr. Giuliani's last year, a decline of more than 90%. Far from being the racist that activists claimed, Mr. Giuliani had delivered to the city's minority neighborhoods a true form of equal protection under the law.





Mayor Giuliani's success against crime wasn't merely the singular achievement of a former prosecutor. He applied the same principles to social and economic policy, with equally impressive results. Long before President Bush's "ownership" society, Mr. Giuliani described his intention to restore New York as the "entrepreneurial city," not only providing the climate for new job creation but also reshaping government social policy away from encouraging dependency and toward reinforcing independence.
New York had gone in the opposite direction starting in the mid-1960s, when Lindsay had drastically increased welfare rolls, believing many of the poor too disadvantaged ever to succeed and thus needing to be permanently on the dole. The Gotham welfare bureaucracy saw signing people up as its goal, while an entire industry of nonprofit organizations and advocacy groups arose to cater to and contract with the city's vast welfare system. Budget documents from the Dinkins years projected an eventual 1.6 million people on welfare. "The City of New York was actually quite successful in achieving what it wanted to achieve, which was to encourage the maximum number of people to be on welfare," Mr. Giuliani later explained. "If you ran a welfare office, . . . you had a bigger budget, and you had more authority, if you had more people on welfare."

Mr. Giuliani decided to launch a welfare revolution, moving recipients from the dole to a job. Mindful that for years the city's welfare bureaucracy had focused on signing up new recipients (Lindsay's welfare chief had been nicknamed Mitchell "Come and Get It" Ginsberg), the Giuliani administration first set out to recertify everyone in the city's own home-relief program to eliminate fraud. In less than a year, the rolls of the program (for able-bodied adults not eligible for federal welfare programs) declined by 20%, as the city discovered tens of thousands of recipients who were actually employed, living outside the city, or providing false Social Security numbers.

Mr. Giuliani then instituted a work requirement for the remaining home-relief recipients, mostly men, obliging them to earn their checks by cleaning city parks and streets or doing clerical work in municipal offices for 20 hours a week. Welfare advocates vigorously objected, and one advocate pronounced the workfare program "slavery." The New York Times editorialized that most people on home relief were incapable of work.
27733  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libertarian themes on: February 28, 2007, 03:59:06 AM
Nice read Buz  smiley

Coincidentally enough I ran across a different kind of libertarian thought piece today:

Marc
=====================

Enforcing Virtue

Is social stigma a threat to liberty, or is it liberty in action?
Cathy Young | March 2007 Print Edition

It's the debate that won't die: the endless face-off between conservatives and libertarians over the tension between liberty and morality.

In his foreword to the 1998 anthology Freedom and Virtue: The Conservative/Libertarian Debate-much of it composed of essays from the 1950s and '60s-editor George W. Carey described it as the main fault line dividing the two philosophies.

In Carey's words, conservatives "believe that shared values, morals, and standards, along with accepted traditions, are necessary for the order and stability of society" and that some restrictions on individual freedom, including censorship, may be needed to preserve this social cohesion. Most libertarians, he continued, share the conservatives' alarm about the "erosion of both public and private virtues" but regard individual liberty as the highest value and free choice as the prerequisite for true virtue.
So far, so good. But beyond rejecting moral enforcement by government, what is the libertarian view of moral and cultural standards upheld by a voluntary social consensus?
Some conservatives accuse libertarians of treating all shared values or conventions with contempt.

Take W. James Antle III, a reporter for The American Spectator (and occasional contributor to Reason) who describes himself as a "conservative-libertarian hybrid." In a May 2003 article in Enter State Right, he pointed to the response to the then-recent flap over virtue czar William Bennett's gambling problem.

Antle acknowledged that Bennett "was an unrepentant drug warrior and leading force for using the federal government to promote traditionalist conservative objectives." But he charged that "libertarian criticism was not limited to Bennett's designs for the state: many were clearly put off by his propensity to judge lifestyles, criticize individual choices and espouse limits on personal appetites."

In a Wall Street Journal article published around the same time, Journal columnist Susan Lee, while basically sympathetic to the libertarian viewpoint, wrote that libertarian tolerance "comes from indifference to moral questions, not from a greater inborn talent to live and let live."

Is that a fair description? Libertarians certainly have been known to criticize and ridicule moralists even when they aren't calling for government coercion-for instance, when they wring their hands over the loss of cultural constraints on sexuality. Of course, such hand wringing is often an inviting target.
Consider a November 2006 rant on the American Spectator website by the blogger Carol Platt Liebau. Liebau lamented our culture's alleged failure to stigmatize the crotch-flashing antics of Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan, and the alleged message to young girls that such tawdry displays are a path to empowerment.
In fact, Spears' indecent exposure was cruelly mocked by the same gossip outlets that publicized it, and Rosie O'Donnell, hardly a right-wing moralist, pleaded for a cover-up on ABC's The View.

But the merits of specific conservative pleadings aside, is there anything illiberal about an argument for the cultural stigmatization of, say, casual sex?
Does supporting the free speech right to chronicle your sex life or explore your sexual fantasies online mean that you cannot regard such porno-blogging as tacky and narcissistic?
Must you oppose not just state censorship but the social conventions that generally compel such bloggers to conceal their activities from relatives and employers?
Few libertarians, I think, would argue that stigmatization as such is abhorrent. While no libertarian worth the name would support legal prohibitions on hate speech, the overwhelming majority would agree that racist, anti-Semitic, or homophobic slurs should be socially unacceptable, penalized through severe disapproval if not outright ostracism.

To take a less extreme example, many (myself included) would also agree with the mainstream culture's dislike of such voluntary traditionalist initiatives as the Southern Baptists' call for wifely submission.
The question, then, is not whether undesirable conduct should be curbed through social censure. It's which conduct should be seen as undesirable-and on that, self-professed libertarians should be able hold a wide range of opinions.

Within the libertarian milieu, there is a tension between political libertarians, whose chief concern is limiting and reversing the expansion of the state and its powers, and social or cultural libertarians, whose central interest is maximizing individual opportunities and freedom of choice.

For some political libertarians, the centralized government is so unquestionably the greatest enemy that they not only oppose civil rights laws banning private race and gender discrimination but reject the post-Civil War constitutional doctrine that state governments must abide by the Bill of Rights.
(That was the position espoused by the late Libertarian Party presidential candidate Harry Browne, who opposed Jim Crow laws but felt they should have been fought on the local level.

State infringements on individual rights, he argued, posed a far smaller danger to liberty than expanded federal power.

Meanwhile, some cultural libertarians are concerned about constraints on individual freedom from government as well as from traditionalist familial, religious, and community institutions-the same civil institutions that conservatives see as necessary for ordered liberty to thrive.

In his 1960 book The Constitution of Liberty, F.A. Hayek wrote that his real quarrel with conservatives was not their opposition to drastic change in institutions but their readiness to use government force to curb such change.
To Hayek, moral and cultural standards were the product of spontaneous order emerging from the interplay of economic and social forces, from evolution and experimentation unguided by any central authority.

Yet noncoercive criticism of what some of us deem to be negative social and cultural trends is itself a vital part of that evolution. It's one thing to demand a federal virtue police; it's another to write and market a book about virtue and hope that its lessons will catch on.

As long as the Bill Bennetts of the world are intent on using not just persuasion but force (and public funds) on behalf of their favorite virtues-promoting premarital abstinence through federal programs, banning legal protections for same-sex unions, censoring sexually explicit materials, waging the war on drugs-libertarians can be forgiven for fearing even noncoercive moralizing on their part.

But it's important to remember that cultural progressives have not hesitated to use the government on their side: to promote liberal attitudes toward sexuality and sex roles through public education, say, or to compel landlords to rent to unmarried cohabiting couples even if they have religious objections to such a lifestyle.

The backlash from the social right is directed at such social engineering as well as spontaneous cultural change.

It is also true, of course, that even noncoercive moralizing can be egregiously misguided. If criticism of modern cultural trends is a part of the spontaneous order, so is anti-traditionalist countercriticism.

But this is where libertarian discourse can benefit from a greater variety of viewpoints and a more calibrated approach to social issues.

Just because conservatives are quite wrong (in my opinion) to argue that young women are victimized by sexual freedom doesn't mean that only right-wing killjoys can have misgivings about prepubescent girls parading in T-shirts with vulgar messages and gyrating to music with sexually explicit lyrics.

Just because I think the right is wrong to cling to a family model based on rigid gender roles doesn't mean I'm happy about the growth of single parenthood.

The Hayekian principle that "neither moral nor religious ideals are proper objects of coercion" is one most Americans will readily embrace.

But if libertarians are seen as championing not simply freedom of choice but a rigidly nonjudgmental attitude toward all choices-if we are seen not simply as tolerant but as indifferent to moral questions-then many people who might be sympathetic to liberty will be pushed into the arms of the authoritarians.

Contributing Editor Cathy Young (CathyYoung63@aol.com) is the author of Ceasefire! (Free Press).
__________________
27734  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: February 28, 2007, 02:08:07 AM
Another interpretation:

WSJ

Credit Correction
Will the Fed and the Democratic Congress tempt a larger stock market selloff?

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

Any equity selloff as large as yesterday's will produce a multitude of explanations. Among other culprits, we heard about "overbought" Chinese stocks that were due for a correction, a weak durable goods report, the Kabul explosion aimed at Vice President Dick Cheney (see below), and former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan for declaring Monday that a "recession" was possible later this year.

Our own "whodunit" contribution would point to the mortgage-related markets, which sold off nearly as much as stocks. This reflects the cracks appearing in the housing credit markets, especially in subprime loans but with some damage up the income chain as well. Along with emerging markets such as China, this is where the excesses have been most notable. And when Adam Smith does a house cleaning like yesterday's, he sweeps the dirtiest corners first.

The question is whether this is a forecast or merely a correction. As evidence of the latter, we'd point to Mr. Greenspan, whose Monday remarks seem to have been over-interpreted as a recession prediction. In the same discussion, we're told, he called the world economy "benign and stable." Nonetheless, we'd also note that Mr. Greenspan's predecessor as Fed Chairman, Paul Volcker, didn't muse about recession dangers after he left office in the 1980s. He didn't want to complicate Mr. Greenspan's monetary task at the time.

We also wouldn't make too much of one month's decline in durable goods. These are notoriously volatile, especially in transportation, which was way down in January. Today's report on fourth quarter GDP is also widely expected to be revised downward from the original 3.5%. But much of that revision may be due to an inventory work off, which bodes better for growth going forward. The labor market remains strong, if slowing from the rapid pace of job growth in 2006.





The bigger risks continue to be political and monetary. The era of tax cutting has ended with the arrival of the Democratic Congress, and other policy errors are possible. As for the Fed, we'd feel better if current Chairman Ben Bernanke had been running a tighter monetary policy for the last year; it might have left him with more policy room if the economy does turn sour. As it is, any easing now runs the risk of a dollar rout, which could lead to an even larger loss of confidence and selloff.
The current problems in the housing credit markets owe a great deal already to the Fed's mistake in keeping monetary policy too easy for too long during the late Greenspan era. We now have to ride them out, and Mr. Bernanke shouldn't make them worse with a panicky, premature easing.

 
27735  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Chinese meltdown on purpose on: February 27, 2007, 11:43:49 PM
stratfor.com

Global Market Brief: China's Engineered Drop
February 28, 2007  0156 GMT


China's Shanghai Composite Index tumbled 8.84 percent Feb. 27, its largest fall in a decade. Its sister index, the Shenzhen Composite Index, fell 8.54 percent. The size of the drop in China is not significant in and of itself. On a number of occasions during the past year, the Shanghai Stock Exchange has experienced 5 percent plus daily reductions, and it has already boomed and busted once this decade.

But that hardly means the development is insignificant. The fall is important both for how it happened and what it triggered.

How it Happened

This was an engineered drop.

The Chinese government has become increasingly concerned about levels of investment in its economy or, more accurately, the sheer amount of money that is chasing projects. State firms with limitless access to subsidized capital from state banks have used that access to launch thousands of nonprofitable firms. This glut in "investment" money drives up the cost of commodities and adds industrial capacity without actually producing anything of much use, making life more difficult for the average Chinese and unduly harming relations with foreign powers that face a glut of otherwise noncompetitive Chinese goods.

This penchant for overinvestment has now spread to the stock market in two ways. First, the same politically connected government officials who started dud companies are taking out loans to buy shares, or are using shares they already hold as collateral for new loans. Second, ordinary Chinese citizens have started borrowing -- sometimes against their homes -- in order to play the market. In January, the number of total traders on the Chinese exchanges grew by 1.38 million, an increase of 134 percent from a month earlier, while stock turnover was up 700 percent from a year earlier.

The net result is an absurd stock surge with no basis in fundamentals. At present, some Chinese banks now have price-to-earnings ratios higher than financial behemoths such as Deutsche Bank and Chase, despite deplorable management and a history of highly questionable lending policies.

For the past few months, the government has been working to drive down this speculative investing. On Feb. 26, China's State Council launched a new "special task force" that accurately could be referred to as the "get-those-idiots-to-stop-borrowing-to-gamble-on-the-stock-exchanges" team. Its express goal is to get the Chinese domestic security brokers to lay off such speculative decision-making, while also putting a crimp in the source of the subsidized capital.

Day one started by the script, and Beijing is likely quite pleased with the way things are going (or at least it was until its actions unintentionally triggered a global meltdown). Also, since the Shanghai exchange is actually still up 3 percent for the past week despite suffering its largest drop in a decade, the State Council probably hopes for more drops in the days ahead.

What it Triggered

But the rest of the world took a different lesson. Why the Chinese stock crash occurred was unimportant to the outside world, only that it did -- and that it affected everyone else.

For the first time, China has become the trendsetter in the global stock community. Normally, the U.S. exchanges -- especially the S&P 500 index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average -- set the tone for global trading patterns. Not on Feb. 27. This time, China led Asia to a wretched day. The wider the contagion spread, the more margin calls were forced to be called in. (If an account's value falls below a minimum required level, the broker will issue a margin call for the account holder to either deposit more cash or sell securities to fix the problem.)

As the drops snowballed, Europe filed in dutifully behind, mixing the China malaise with its own nervousness about overextended markets in Central Europe and the former Soviet Union. By the time markets opened in the United States -- where investors already were fretting about the subprime mortgage markets -- the only question remaining was how far U.S. markets would descend. In the end, the Dow dropped by the most since the fall triggered by the 9/11 attacks.

So why has this not happened before now? As China's market capitalization has increased, its links to the global system have increased apace. These links have developed very quickly, and with few controls. The Shanghai exchange, for example, more than tripled in total value in 2006 to more than $900 billion -- and much of the rapid-fire initial public offerings (IPOs) of Chinese banks on the Hong Kong and other international exchanges are not included in that little factoid. Indeed, China's mainland exchanges are only the tip of the iceberg -- and they certainly do not include foreign firms that are heavily invested in the mainland.

Two years ago, China's market capitalization was too small for its problems to impact the global system. Now, between ridiculous foreign subscriptions to IPOs, irresponsible corporate policies and irrational valuations all around, that capitalization is to a level -- around $1.3 trillion -- where its integration with the global system via funds and margins makes China a sizable chunk of the international financial landscape. The insulation that once protected international exchanges from Chinese policies is gone, which makes the international system more vulnerable to Chinese crashes.

Feb. 28 and Beyond

Follow-on crashes can come from one of three places.

First, the Chinese believe their exchanges are massively overvalued (hence the engineered crash). They will do this again, and are not (yet) particularly concerned with the international consequences. China planned to dampen its own stock market, not the world's markets. Along with the rest of the world, Beijing did not expect the contagion effect to be so extreme. Yet, for now at least, China's own exchanges are its primary concern, and it will act according to that belief.

Second, everyone else now is going to chew on the fact that Beijing did this intentionally. They will either agree with the Chinese that the exchanges are overvalued and that additional measures are needed, or they will be terrified that Beijing did this intentionally and not care about the reasons. Whether what is sold is a domestic Chinese firm or a foreign firm invested in China does not matter much. Neither does it matter if the stock is on an exchange in China or abroad. Either way, the reaction will be the same: Sell.

Third, trading in 800 of the 1,400 stocks on the Shanghai exchange was suspended during the sudden drops Feb. 27; they have a lot farther to fall, even without any engineered drops caused by panicky selling.

Considering the flaws on which the Chinese system is based, this certainly will not be the last engineered drop. In theory, the move will make foreign investors far more cautious before diving into the Chinese system, but as longtime Stratfor readers know, we have been wrong on the timing of that particular development before.
27736  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WW3 on: February 27, 2007, 09:39:52 PM
First, a gentle leash yank:  Rog, GM, lets make that extra special effort that distinguishes this forum to speak to each other as if we were breaking bread together.

Returning now to the subject at hand.

"As far as I can see, the "different approach" is to terrorize the Iraqi population into not supporting the insurgents, grant US forces virtual immunity from prosecution for any war crimes, and as best as possible keep any negative reporting on our actions in Iraq from making it into the news.  Does that more or less sum it up?  Let's the quit the pussy-footing around about this."

Our planes of reality do not sufficiently overlap to make conversation here productive.

""I'm not sure how any meaningful discussion of withdrawing troops or ending the war is supposed to take place without the enemy somehow hearing about it.  It sounds like you're saying the discussion shouldn't take place, or that if it must take place then we have a patriotic duty to dismiss and ridicule anti-war views so the enemy doesn't get the idea that any of us take them seriously.  Please clarify if I'm misrepresenting your position.""

I agree the point is a difficult one.  What irks me greatly is that a goodly portion of the Democratic Party seems not to consider in the slightest amount the costs in human lives of our troops of the things it says in the search for political advantage and the complete lack of sincerity of so many of them.  For example, all summer long during the campaign many Dems ragged Bush for not having sufficient troops to do the job-- then when he proposes increasing the troops, without batting an Orwellian eyelash they reverse direction and vote against more troops even while funding them.  WTF?  They are telling the enemy to wait us out even as President Bush and Gen. Petraeus (seemingly quite well qualified for the job) are trying a new and different approach.  This is vile and is but one example of the sort of thing which really gets me seething.

I distinguish this from someone who consistently says "I think this is a mistake and that we should come home."

As for the relevance of the troops views, those of them who interact with the people and with the enemy have more and better real time intel than the Barbie Doll enemedia safely esconsed in the Emerald City.  If they tell me that we can do it, that carries a lot more weight with me than the NY Slimes telling me that we cannot-- especially after the NY Slimes reveals how we spy on enemy financial transactions.  Scum!  Similarly, if they were to tell me that we have blown it and that it is too late too pull off our original intention, that carries more weight with me than former Sec'y Rumbo.



27737  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Environmental issues on: February 27, 2007, 09:24:25 PM
C'mon Rog, the accusation here is one of hypocrisy so no, it is not a point on the merits.

As for the merits of his documentary, that has been discussed already.  Glad you agree his credentials are overblown.
27738  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: February 27, 2007, 08:51:08 AM
NY Times

VISALIA, Calif., Feb. 23 — David Bradshaw has endured countless stings during his life as a beekeeper, but he got the shock of his career when he opened his boxes last month and found half of his 100 million bees missing.

 
In 24 states throughout the country, beekeepers have gone through similar shocks as their bees have been disappearing inexplicably at an alarming rate, threatening not only their livelihoods but also the production of numerous crops, including California almonds, one of the nation’s most profitable.

“I have never seen anything like it,” Mr. Bradshaw, 50, said from an almond orchard here beginning to bloom. “Box after box after box are just empty. There’s nobody home.”

The sudden mysterious losses are highlighting the critical link that honeybees play in the long chain that gets fruit and vegetables to supermarkets and dinner tables across the country.

Beekeepers have fought regional bee crises before, but this is the first national affliction.

Now, in a mystery worthy of Agatha Christie, bees are flying off in search of pollen and nectar and simply never returning to their colonies. And nobody knows why. Researchers say the bees are presumably dying in the fields, perhaps becoming exhausted or simply disoriented and eventually falling victim to the cold.

As researchers scramble to find answers to the syndrome they have decided to call “colony collapse disorder,” growers are becoming openly nervous about the capability of the commercial bee industry to meet the growing demand for bees to pollinate dozens of crops, from almonds to avocados to kiwis.

Along with recent stresses on the bees themselves, as well as on an industry increasingly under consolidation, some fear this disorder may force a breaking point for even large beekeepers.

A Cornell University study has estimated that honeybees annually pollinate more than $14 billion worth of seeds and crops in the United States, mostly fruits, vegetables and nuts. “Every third bite we consume in our diet is dependent on a honeybee to pollinate that food,” said Zac Browning, vice president of the American Beekeeping Federation.

The bee losses are ranging from 30 to 60 percent on the West Coast, with some beekeepers on the East Coast and in Texas reporting losses of more than 70 percent; beekeepers consider a loss of up to 20 percent in the offseason to be normal.

Beekeepers are the nomads of the agriculture world, working in obscurity in their white protective suits and frequently trekking around the country with their insects packed into 18-wheelers, looking for pollination work.

Once the domain of hobbyists with a handful of backyard hives, beekeeping has become increasingly commercial and consolidated. Over the last two decades, the number of beehives, now estimated by the Agriculture Department to be 2.4 million, has dropped by a quarter and the number of beekeepers by half.

Pressure has been building on the bee industry. The costs to maintain hives, also known as colonies, are rising along with the strain on bees of being bred to pollinate rather than just make honey. And beekeepers are losing out to suburban sprawl in their quest for spots where bees can forage for nectar to stay healthy and strong during the pollination season.

“There are less beekeepers, less bees, yet more crops to pollinate,” Mr. Browning said. “While this sounds sweet for the bee business, with so much added loss and expense due to disease, pests and higher equipment costs, profitability is actually falling.”

Some 15 worried beekeepers convened in Florida this month to brainstorm with researchers how to cope with the extensive bee losses. Investigators are exploring a range of theories, including viruses, a fungus and poor bee nutrition.

They are also studying a group of pesticides that were banned in some European countries to see if they are somehow affecting bees’ innate ability to find their way back home.

It could just be that the bees are stressed out. Bees are being raised to survive a shorter offseason, to be ready to pollinate once the almond bloom begins in February. That has most likely lowered their immunity to viruses.

=========

Mites have also damaged bee colonies, and the insecticides used to try to kill mites are harming the ability of queen bees to spawn as many worker bees. The queens are living half as long as they did just a few years ago.


Relying on Bees Researchers are also concerned that the willingness of beekeepers to truck their colonies from coast to coast could be adding to bees’ stress, helping to spread viruses and mites and otherwise accelerating whatever is afflicting them.

Dennis van Engelsdorp, a bee specialist with the state of Pennsylvania who is part of the team studying the bee colony collapses, said the “strong immune suppression” investigators have observed “could be the AIDS of the bee industry,” making bees more susceptible to other diseases that eventually kill them off.

Growers have tried before to do without bees. In past decades, they have used everything from giant blowers to helicopters to mortar shells to try to spread pollen across the plants. More recently researchers have been trying to develop “self-compatible” almond trees that will require fewer bees. One company is even trying to commercialize the blue orchard bee, which is virtually stingless and works at colder temperatures than the honeybee.

Beekeepers have endured two major mite infestations since the 1980s, which felled many hobbyist beekeepers, and three cases of unexplained disappearing disorders as far back as 1894. But those episodes were confined to small areas, Mr. van Engelsdorp said.

Today the industry is in a weaker position to deal with new stresses. A flood of imported honey from China and Argentina has depressed honey prices and put more pressure on beekeepers to take to the road in search of pollination contracts. Beekeepers are trucking tens of billions of bees around the country every year.

California’s almond crop, by far the biggest in the world, now draws more than half of the country’s bee colonies in February. The crop has been both a boon to commercial beekeeping and a burden, as pressure mounts for the industry to fill growing demand. Now spread over 580,000 acres stretched across 300 miles of California’s Central Valley, the crop is expected to grow to 680,000 acres by 2010.

Beekeepers now earn many times more renting their bees out to pollinate crops than in producing honey. Two years ago a lack of bees for the California almond crop caused bee rental prices to jump, drawing beekeepers from the East Coast.

This year the price for a bee colony is about $135, up from $55 in 2004, said Joe Traynor, a bee broker in Bakersfield, Calif.

A typical bee colony ranges from 15,000 to 30,000 bees. But beekeepers’ costs are also on the rise. In the past decade, fuel, equipment and even bee boxes have doubled and tripled in price.

The cost to control mites has also risen, along with the price of queen bees, which cost about $15 each, up from $10 three years ago.

To give bees energy while they are pollinating, beekeepers now feed them protein supplements and a liquid mix of sucrose and corn syrup carried in tanker-sized trucks costing $12,000 per load. Over all, Mr. Bradshaw figures, in recent years he has spent $145 a hive annually to keep his bees alive, for a profit of about $11 a hive, not including labor expenses. The last three years his net income has averaged $30,000 a year from his 4,200 bee colonies, he said.

“A couple of farmers have asked me, ‘Why are you doing this?’ ” Mr. Bradshaw said. “I ask myself the same thing. But it is a job I like. It is a lifestyle. I work with my dad every day. And now my son is starting to work with us.”


Almonds fetch the highest prices for bees, but if there aren’t enough bees to go around, some growers may be forced to seek alternatives to bees or change their variety of trees.

“It would be nice to know that we have a dependable source of honey bees,” said Martin Hein, an almond grower based in Visalia. “But at this point I don’t know that we have that for the amount of acres we have got.”

To cope with the losses, beekeepers have been scouring elsewhere for bees to fulfill their contracts with growers. Lance Sundberg, a beekeeper from Columbus, Mont., said he spent $150,000 in the last two weeks buying 1,000 packages of bees — amounting to 14 million bees — from Australia.

He is hoping the Aussie bees will help offset the loss of one-third of the 7,600 hives he manages in six states. “The fear is that when we mix the bees the die-offs will continue to occur,” Mr. Sundberg said.

Migratory beekeeping is a lonely life that many compare to truck driving. Mr. Sundberg spends more than half the year driving 20 truckloads of bees around the country. In Terra Bella, an hour south of Visalia, Jack Brumley grimaced from inside his equipment shed as he watched Rosa Patiño use a flat tool to scrape dried honey from dozens of beehive frames that once held bees. Some 2,000 empty boxes — which once held one-third of his total hives — were stacked to the roof.

Beekeepers must often plead with landowners to allow bees to be placed on their land to forage for nectar. One large citrus grower has pushed for California to institute a “no-fly zone” for bees of at least two miles to prevent them from pollinating a seedless form of Mandarin orange.

But the quality of forage might make a difference. Last week Mr. Bradshaw used a forklift to remove some of his bee colonies from a spot across a riverbed from orange groves. Only three of the 64 colonies there have died or disappeared.

“It will probably take me two to three more years to get back up,” he said. “Unless I spend gobs of money I don’t have.”

27739  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iraqi Oil Law Legislation Approved on: February 27, 2007, 08:39:02 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Iraqi Oil Law Legislation Approved
stratfor.com

The Iraqi Cabinet approved draft legislation on Monday for a new oil law, giving the United States a new claim to success in its nation-building efforts for Iraq. The division of oil revenues between Iraq's Kurdish and Shiite factions is critical to the formation of a comprehensive political resolution in the country. Though the legislation is certainly a step in the right direction, a closer look at the details reveals it is more of a time bomb than a functional agreement.

The legislation was approved nearly two months after a self-imposed deadline by the Iraqi government to enact an oil law. With Iraq's oil wealth concentrated in the Kurdish-dominated north and Shiite-dominated south, the Sunni population in western and central Iraq is left with little more than improvised explosive devices to negotiate for its share. Meanwhile, the Kurds, who already have a well-established regional government to manage oil contracts in Iraq's relatively stable north, have resisted efforts to give the central government in Baghdad more control over the oil revenues that fall under their domain. It comes as little surprise that the United States played a large part in rushing the negotiations over the oil legislation in an attempt to force a compromise among Iraq's rival factions; it is hoping the legislation will help improve security in the country.

The negotiations evidently got pretty tense over the weekend, when U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad met with Kurdish leaders Jalal Talabani, Iraq's president, and Massoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq. The day after the meeting, Talabani was rushed to a hospital in Amman, Jordan, where his doctors said he was recovering from dehydration and extreme fatigue because of a heavy workload. The negotiations apparently took their toll on the aging Kurdish president, but it looks like the Kurds might have ended up with a favorable compromise for the time being.

In a nutshell, the new oil law would empower the central government to allocate oil revenues to Iraq's 18 provinces on the basis of population (a concession for the Sunnis) while leaving the responsibility for negotiating existing and future oil deals with the regional governments (a concession for the Kurds). This is an incremental step in the effort to adopt an oil law, but it is hardly the end of the story.

Under the existing draft the regional governments are pledged to pay their oil revenues into a central depository, and an independent panel of experts will review any contracts negotiated by the KRG. However, the central government has not yet pledged to pay them out in any organized way.

So far there is no mechanism to decide on which oil fields will be managed by the national, regional or private oil firms. This allocation of specific territories and oil fields is referred to as the annexes -- a rather thorny issue that was left out of the existing oil draft in the rush of the negotiations.

The draft leaves open the issue of the disputed oil-rich territory of Kirkuk until a referendum is held on whether Kirkuk should join the Kurdistan Regional Confederacy (the united administration of Arbil, Dohuk and Sulaymaniyah provinces).

The draft is contingent upon all three factions supporting it when the Iraqi parliament meets (likely in March or April). Before that happens, the factions will have to agree on the remaining annexes and revenue-sharing law.

In other words, there is an oil law, but the issues of who controls the oil and the money remain unclear. Put another way, the agreement is a done deal -- so long as the stickiest issues that have held up Iraqi development for the past four years get resolved in the following two months. The survival of this oil deal will heavily revolve around what the Kurds get in return for allowing the legislation to move forward.

It is likely no coincidence that the same day the Cabinet approved the oil legislation, both Talabani and Barzani decided to make nice with Turkey. During a broadcast interview, Barzani said he is ready to discuss operations against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), the most active Kurdish militant group in Turkey, with his Turkish counterparts. Talabani also said Monday during a press conference that Iraq's leading Kurdish parties have never supported the PKK, and stressed that Iraqi Kurds want good relations with Turkey.

Iraq's Kurdish leadership does not see eye to eye on a number of issues with the PKK, but realizes the leverage it gains against Turkey by providing limited support to PKK fighters in the mountainous regions of northern Iraq. Though the PKK is of major concern to Ankara's security interests, the bigger issue for Turkey involves Kirkuk. The oil-rich city is home to roughly 600,000 people -- approximately half of them Kurdish, a third Turkmen and the rest Arab. Under Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution, a referendum is to be held by December this year to decide whether Kirkuk should become part of the Kurdistan Regional Confederacy. With a flood of Kurds moving back to the city to reverse Saddam Hussein's Arabization demographic project, the Kurds have every reason to demand the referendum take place on schedule.

Turkey, on the other hand, does not want to see Iraq's Kurdistan region annex Kirkuk, and has signaled to Washington and Baghdad the military consequences of holding the referendum by threatening cross-border military incursions to ostensibly root-out PKK strongholds in Iraq. The Kurdish annexation of Kirkuk would greatly empower Iraq's Kurdish faction and enhance Ankara's fears of a future independent Kurdistan, which Turkey sees as a threat to its own territorial integrity. This is why Turkey has very vocally resisted any U.S. redeployment plans to station a large number of U.S. troops in northern Iraq that would block any Turkish military operations in the region. Iraq's Sunni and Shiite factions also will resist any decision for Kirkuk to fall under Kurdish control in order to deprive the Kurds of an incentive to further distance themselves from the central government.

Barzani and Talabani's cooperative statements toward Turkey came just two days after Barzani said he would not allow any country to attack PKK fighters stationed in northern Iraq. The about-face by Iraq's Kurdish leadership could very well have stemmed from a guarantee the two leaders received from Washington to have the Kirkuk referendum take place as planned. But there is no telling how long this guarantee would hold.

The Kurds have more or less stayed out of the fray as Iraq's Shiite and Sunni factions have engaged in all-out war. But as the oil negotiations proceed, the Kirkuk referendum issue heats up and more of Iraq's Kurdish forces are sent to Baghdad as part of the new security plan, Iraqi Kurds will soon find themselves playing a bigger part in Iraq's bloody power struggle. The new oil draft legislation looks good on paper, but it is only delaying the inevitable battle.
27740  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: February 27, 2007, 08:31:15 AM
Jason:

Here too we have restrictions on advertising for cigarettes and alchohol.

I would offer that there is a range of options here; decriminalization is not the same thing as legalization and within legalization there are various regulatory regimes possible.

IMHO going in this direction would pretty much put an end to the vast and extremely violent criminal enterprises devoted to drugs-- enterprises which have corrupted entire nations.  IMHO going in this direction would put an end to many rationalizations for the vast expansion of the police power of the state and enable a restoration of the sanctity of people's homes and the sanctity of our privacy.

Marc
27741  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Tippy-tappy drills-- threat or menace? on: February 27, 2007, 08:17:52 AM
Woof All:

A story I sometimes tell is comes from the late 1980s when I was in Pendekar Paul DeThouars' Bukti Negara Silat class at the Inosanto Academy.  He asked for a volunteer, then called on me wink  He stood in front of me with his nose about 1" from mine.  His presence was quite formidable.  Then he said "Do something." 

For me this was a moment of satori. BN material which I had wondered about now made more sense.

I had doubted BN because I had in my mind typical young male ritual hierarchical combat which typically starts with both fighters at a distance at agreed upon time and place already in movement, but this was something different.  We were already at close quarters in stillness.  DIFFERENT PARADIGM.   Gabe Suarez can speak for himself, but I think he would agree that many civilians envision a gun fight through the filter of the paradigm of a Hollywood western movie:  Bad Guy and Good Guy face off.  GG allows BG to start his draw first because a GG should never start a fight.  Again the same question, what percentage of gun fights look like this?

In knife fighting I think it important to remember what we in DBMA sometimes playfully call "sport knife dueling" is but one paradigm amongst many when it comes to knives and may not be one that the media and corto training has in mind.   When the stakesare for real, what percentage of actual cases where a knife is used fall into this category?  I'm guessing quite low.   

If this is so, then the reason for the drill may be for something different than the behaviors of the sport knife paradigm.  For example, what about a homicidal rage?  I am reminded of a conversation I had with an ex-con wherein he told me about his kills in prison.  "Technique?  There's no technique!  You pump him until he is dead and then you bind your wounds."  So perhaps in the wild swirling frenzy of such an attack one might one want to have the extensive vocabulary of possible responses that can be developed in tippy tap training?  I'm thinking "Yes."  To paraphrase what Maija says above, you want to have the eyes to recognize what is happening and have solutions.

Which brings us to a key point:  Most TT/flow training is only done at a very low intensity.  This is good and a necessary part of the installation process, but IMHO many people commit a major error by never upping the intensity from there, even those who spend years at it.

This thinking was the starting point for my development of the Kali Fence and the Dog Catcher.   

I would like to say that what I show in the  "Die Less Often" DVD I did with Gabe Suarez is only what I could show those people in attendance in the day and a half of training before we began the scenario training-- and that is with Gabe and I covering a lot of other material as well!  There is a whole bunch of DBMA Dog Catcher curriculum that I simply did not have the time to go into that I think is pretty durn sharp (Yes it will ge part of a future DBMA DVD  cheesy ) -- as the line went in a TV western of my youth, "no brag, just fact"  grin  -- and I was able to develop this curriculum due to my years of training with Guro Inosanto and others.

The last point I would like to offer for consideration is that looking at fights and asking what percentage of the time looks like the range/training of the drills is not how I look at it.  IMHO the idea is that the idea is to have things which define the pivotal instants in which a fight is decided.

In closing, yes I know I have not addressed one of the key questions presented here-- that of how much time/what proportion of one's time should be spent on TT drills-- beyond saying that many people don't spend anywhere enough time on pressure testing.  I will add that many people also do plenty of pressure testing, but may lack a broad vocabulary with which to answer the questions presented.

The Adventure continues,
Crafty Dog
27742  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science on: February 26, 2007, 10:13:41 PM
Iran: Sounding Off on its Latest Rocket Test
Summary

Iran launched a sounding rocket for educational and research purposes Feb. 25, Mohsen Bahrami and Ali Akbar Golrou of Iran's Space Research Center said. Though unconfirmed, the launch offers insight into both Iranian politics and the pace of the country's missile program.

Analysis

An Iranian sounding rocket capable of flinging its payload to an altitude above 90 miles was reportedly launched Feb. 25 for educational and research purposes, Ali Akbar Golrou, deputy head of Iran's Space Research Center, said. Earlier that day, Mohsen Bahrami, head of the research center, described the missile as a "space rocket." Though official Russian statements and an anonymous U.S. military source cited by Agence France-Presse on Feb. 26 questioned the launch, the events of Feb. 25 illustrate two dynamics within Iran's government -- portions of which are quick to tout any new weapon or scientific advance even if they do not understand it.

In January, the chairman of the Iranian parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission leaked to Aviation Week & Space Technology that an Iranian satellite launch vehicle had been assembled and was being prepared for launch. Though this is very possible, it now appears that he could have been touting the sounding rocket.

Sounding rockets can serve many purposes and are commonly used for atmospheric tests or experiments that require several minutes of weightlessness. Sounding rockets do not insert their payload into orbit. Sounding rockets undergo less acceleration and release their payloads earlier than satellite launch vehicles (SLVs). The payload -- be it an experiment or a test object -- travels in a parabolic arc as gravity drags it back to Earth. Most experimental payloads deploy a parachute on the downward flight so they can be recovered.

A sounding rocket does not necessarily represent a new degree of technical prowess for Iran. Even some of the country's older surface-to-air missiles and much of its ballistic missile arsenal could have been rewired to perform this very mission. However, the possibility that this was a more substantive test should not be ruled out. Whatever the truth, Iran's primary concern of late is not the molecular makeup of the rarified upper atmosphere. This sounding rocket could have carried a new re-entry vehicle for a ballistic missile (although Golrou said a parachute brought the rocket's payload back to Earth) or a second stage for a new two-stage missile or SLV.

South Korea's quick progression of three Korean Sounding Rockets (KSR-I, KSR-II and KSR-III) in the last 15 years has provided the foundation for its SLV program, still in development. The KSR-III was particularly useful in the areas of propulsion, guidance, control and mission design. Similarly, whatever Iran might have learned Feb. 25 is certainly a step forward for Tehran's ballistic missile and SLV programs.

Though information about the events of Feb. 25 is limited, two other aspects of Iran became apparent with the announcement of the launch. First, certain elements in the Iranian government have a penchant for touting Iran's latest scientific achievements without knowing exactly what they might be. Second, the launch revealed the deliberate nature of Iran's missile program.

Iran's program -- despite the common Scud design heritage and shared development efforts -- is not like North Korea's. North Korean missile tests are so rare that, after a single-stage Nodong test and years of quiet, the world was stunned by the 1998 launch of the three-stage Taepodong-1 SLV, which very nearly succeeded. In contrast, Iran regularly tests even its already proven Scud and Zelzal rockets. The latest Shahab-3 was test-launched several times in 2006.

In other words, barring the launch of a North Korean-designed and manufactured SLV with an Iranian flag painted on it, Feb. 25's sounding rocket seems to suggest that any indigenous Iranian SLV launch will proceed via a more conventional development program that could include more sounding rocket launches. But given certain Iranian leaders' apparent inability to hold their tongues, it will be more difficult for Iran to proceed with the same discretion North Korea did leading up to its 1998 Taepodong-1 launch. Iran also intends to be more certain that its SLV will work the first time.

stratfor.com
27743  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Environmental issues on: February 26, 2007, 09:59:27 PM
A VERY INCONVINIENT TRUTH: POWER: GORE MANSION USES 20X AVERAGE HOUSEHOLD; CONSUMPTION INCREASE AFTER 'TRUTH': 
 
The Tennessee Center for Policy Research, an independent, nonprofit and nonpartisan research organization committed to achieving a freer, more prosperous Tennessee through free market policy solutions, issued a press release late Monday: 
 
Last night, Al Gore's global-warming documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, collected an Oscar for best documentary feature, but the Tennessee Center for Policy Research has found that Gore deserves a gold statue for hypocrisy.   
 
Gore's mansion, [20-room, eight-bathroom] located in the posh Belle Meade area of Nashville, consumes more electricity every month than the average American household uses in an entire year, according to the Nashville Electric Service (NES).   
 
In his documentary, the former Vice President calls on Americans to conserve energy by reducing electricity consumption at home. 
 
The average household in America consumes 10,656 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, according to the Department of Energy. In 2006, Gore devoured nearly 221,000 kWh--more than 20 times the national average.   
 
Last August alone, Gore burned through 22,619 kWh--guzzling more than twice the electricity in one month than an average American family uses in an entire year. As a result of his energy consumption, Gore's average monthly electric bill topped $1,359.   
 
Since the release of An Inconvenient Truth, Gore's energy consumption has increased from an average of 16,200 kWh per month in 2005, to 18,400 kWh per month in 2006.   
 
Gore's extravagant energy use does not stop at his electric bill. Natural gas bills for Gore's mansion and guest house averaged $1,080 per month last year.   
 
"As the spokesman of choice for the global warming movement, Al Gore has to be willing to walk to walk, not just talk the talk, when it comes to home energy use," said Tennessee Center for Policy Research President Drew Johnson. 
 
In total, Gore paid nearly $30,000 in combined electricity and natural gas bills for his Nashville estate in 2006.
 
 
27744  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WW3 on: February 26, 2007, 09:24:03 PM
Rog:

C'mon Rog!  You may have a way of looking at things that I think is quite off-kilter is many regards, but you are not a stupid guy-- so please don't pretend you don't know what the different approach is.

As for the meaning of the Democrats taking majority position in the Congress, apart from the role of various corruption scandals I would submit that in most cases the Dems offered absolutely nothing as to what they would do.  They simply criticized President Bush and Sec'y Rumbo.  In that there is plenty there to criticize, the people voted to express discontent with the way things were going.

Would someone refresh my memory as to when the President began discussing the "surge"?  (What an inept name for it, but I digress , , ,)  IIRC Bush proposed it AFTER the election.  IOW it was not part on the table for the election-- yet another inept Bush step.

We have troops on the field of a very difficult battle and I do find it despicable that the Congressional Democrats let our enemies know that all they have to do is sit it out for a few months-- all the more so when so many of them during the summer were criticizing the President for not having enough troops to do the job! 

I suspect I am in touch with more men with their boots on the ground in Iraq than you.  I agree that there is some discontent-- but I find that most of it is with having their hands tied, not shutting the borders with Syria, Saudi Arabia, etc not going after Mookie Sadr, the firing of the Iraqi Army, and things of that sort-- all of which cut against the point you seek to make.

Of course in America the President, a civilian, is the Commander in Chief-- but given that there are something like only a handful of  reporters outside of the Emerald City it seems to me that we would want to get the troops sense of things --without drawing them into domestic politics.  By the way, anyone who wants to read from someone who IS on the ground in the sh*t, I highly recommend Michael Yon's blog-- see the thread nearby http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=1168.0

Marc

27745  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politically (In)correct on: February 26, 2007, 07:55:23 PM
1) My point about homosexuality is that as a legal matter people should be free to hold whatever opinion they want to.   

2) I invite you to respond to my other points.
27746  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Help our troops/our cause: on: February 26, 2007, 01:44:00 PM
Woof Rog:

Answering these questions does not fit with the subject of this thread.  If you would like, please take them over to the "WW3" or "Iraq" threads.

Marc
27747  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Help our troops/our cause: on: February 26, 2007, 12:52:15 PM
I'll agree that the use of the legal term "treason" is over the top, but IMHO as our troops, who have strong re-enlistment rates, are finally being unleashed to apply a different approach, that the actions of the Democratic majority are for the most part despicable.  They are telling the enemy AND those who would be our friends, to just wait it out a few months and we will be gone.  This dramatically reduces the chance of success of the mission for which our troops fight.
27748  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: February 26, 2007, 11:36:28 AM
February 26, 2007 -- LAST week, American troops checking traffic from Iran detained Amar al-Hakim, a cleric and the son of the head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) - the key Shia political organization we're counting on.


The bust was a mistake - although the soldiers followed their orders to the letter. Young Hakim's bodyguards got to kiss the dirt while the vehicles in the cleric's convoy were searched. The troops didn't know the mullah from a moonshine runner.

SCIRI certainly has some dark connections with Iran. The party's a dubious ally, at best. But jerking the boss' kid around was, in diplo-speak, "unhelpful." Even if Hakim Jr. was smuggling money, or worse.

I'd be shocked if he wasn't. It's the Middle East, folks. We're just betting we can handle the least poisonous local snakes.

As a former Military Intelligence officer, my first reaction to teaching Little Hakim the perp walk was: "Who's responsible for tracking this guy?"

A sound intel effort would monitor all of the male family members of Iraq's key leaders 24/7. How did Hakim Jr. slip off the reservation?

My second reaction was more indulgent. Even with a first-rate intel program, mistakes happen under combat conditions. No amount of training, information flow and technical support will ever achieve perfection.

The good news is that the Army's Military Intelligence branch has been learning fast in Iraq. Official and un-official reforms are underway, driven from below by the divisional, brigade and battalion-level "deuces" who've paid their combat-zone dues.

The Military Intelligence ancien regime badly needed a trip to the guillotine. The ethical corruption of MI branch over the last quarter-century was appalling. In peacetime, we wasted billions; in wartime, we wasted lives.

While a minority of us had argued since the mid-1980s that the human factor would be paramount in our future conflicts and that technology couldn't replace the human mind, the MI establishment just went on buying platinum-plated junk that never delivered a tenth of what the contractors and apostles of hi-tech promised.

Appropriate technologies can help us - but no database or collection system is a substitute for seasoned human judgment. The key task in intelligence is understanding the enemy. Machines do many things, but they still don't register flesh-and-blood relationships, self-sacrifice or fanaticism.

Forgetting that tech is supposed to support people, we wasted talented people supporting worthless technologies.

The cardinal example of this corrosive mentality was the purchase of a multibillion-dollar, Rube Goldberg contraption called the All Source Analysis System (ASAS). Under development for more than two decades, ASAS never worked. But a generation of senior MI leaders made rank pitching the system as the answer to every intelligence need.

ASAS was going to fuse the data from every classified intel source and give the commander instant, perfect answers. Early on - in 1984 - a self-assured technocrat in uniform told me that, within 10 years, human analysts would be irrelevant.

ASAS was disastrously flawed from the start, but impossible to kill once the funding got going. Not only were MI careers at stake, Congress preferred to buy gear built by home-district contractors, rather than "waste" money on soldiers. And those contractors ensured that key MI apparatchiks wouldn't flip burgers after they retired.

When ASAS consistently failed to work, the inevitable response from above was "Make it work!"

It never did, no matter how much money we squandered.

By the time ASAS deployed to Iraq, it was an obese behemoth requiring so much technical support to achieve minimal output that it became a liability, robbing our forces of human capital needed to deal with the real problems of insurgency, such as ethnic rivalries and religious hatred. To quote one disgusted officer, ASAS was, at best, "the world's most-expensive communications van."

ASAS was the monster that ate MI.

Now ASAS has been slain at last, the one good kill our enemies made. And a new generation of officers has earned its spurs. MI's combat veterans understand what intelligence must do, and they realize that satellites can't pierce the human soul. There's a powerful reform effort underway, from Iraq and Afghanistan back to the Army Intelligence Center and School.

Today's Military Intelligence personnel are a damned sight better than my inept, physically slovenly and intellectually lazy generation was.

On a recent visit to the Intel School at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., I found that the last ASAS nonsense had been swept away. Captains returning from Iraq and Afghanistan for the Advanced Course - a training staple - had no patience with yesteryear's bureaucratic approach to intel. They know that commanders need results, not just data dumps. The lives of our soldiers depend upon the quality of our intel.

There still isn't nearly enough money for language training (Congress would rather pay contractors, as usual), and there isn't sufficient classroom time to make up fully for the lost years. But it was reassuring to see commanders, students and faculty discarding the old faith in technology's divine powers and coming to grips with the rigors of real intel work.

Under wartime pressures, Military Intelligence is finally coming of age. We'll still get some things wrong. Now and then the wrong guy will be told to assume the position. Our struggle with Islamist terror is more than Andy and Barney keeping the peace in Mayberry. MI's maturation process will take years - and more wars. The profiteers and careerists will fight back. But the reformers have the upper hand at last.

That isn't just good news for our troops, but for our country.

Ralph Peters' latest book is "Never Quit The Fight."

http://www.nypost.com/php/pfriendly/...lph_peters.htm
27749  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: February 26, 2007, 11:09:26 AM
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LEBANON: Hezbollah is increasing its forces north of Lebanon's Litani River, reinforcing its positions in anticipation of another conflict with Israel, following the one in August 2006, the Times of London reported. Shiite businessman Ali Tajiddine reportedly is aiding Hezbollah by buying land for the group to use as a base of operations.
27750  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: February 26, 2007, 08:56:02 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Emerging Strains in U.S. Partnerships

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani took ill on Sunday and was flown aboard a U.S. military C-130 aircraft from Suleimaniyah, in northern Iraq, to Amman, Jordan, for treatment. According to Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih, Talabani -- who is also chief of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) -- suffered from a drop in blood pressure, but his son, Qubad Talabani, maintains that he was hospitalized for exhaustion.

Talabani's health is worth keeping an eye on. This is not only because of his position in the Iraq government, but because he is among the most prominent of the Kurds -- the one ethnic faction in Iraq that so far has given the United States the least amount of trouble.

It is quite likely that the 74-year-old Talabani, whose health problems are not limited to poor blood pressure, will be gone from the political scene before Iraq sees any move toward a negotiated settlement. Should this happen, the presidency would be up for grabs -- and it does not simplify matters that the senior-most Kurdish leader in line behind Talabani is Masoud Barzani, head of the rival Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). With political ambitions in play, it is unlikely that the current power-sharing agreement between the PUK and KDP will hold. In short, Talabani's departure or physical incapacitation probably would ignite an intra-Kurdish struggle -- further exacerbating the myriad sectarian and communal tensions in Iraq.

Just as the story about Talabani's illness was making headlines, Oil Ministry spokesman Assem Jihad was downplaying reports that the Kurds had agreed to support a draft oil law. The draft law concerns whether there would be one authority in Baghdad to oversee all Iraqi oil contracts -- a position supported by the Sunnis and Shia -- or whether the Kurds should have an autonomous oil authority of their own. Barzani had claimed during a press conference with Talabani on Saturday that "a final agreement" had been reached and the Kurds had accepted the draft, but the spokesman for the Shiite-controlled Oil Ministry said on Sunday the negotiations were still under way. Confusion over how to share oil revenues -- the issue at the heart of the ethno-sectarian conflict in Iraq -- will only deepen if Talabani no longer is able to serve as chief of his party and president of the country.

Problems involving the Shia also cropped up on Sunday, as Muqtada al-Sadr denounced the U.S.-Iraq security plan for Baghdad. One of al-Sadr's aides read out a statement to a gathering of supporters in Baghdad's Sadr City district, in which the Shiite leader called for Iraqi security forces to come up with their own plan and to refrain from working with U.S. forces on security issues. Al-Sadr can see the rift that is emerging between the United States and his main Shiite rival, Abdel-Aziz al-Hakim -- leader of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq -- which became apparent when U.S. forces detained al-Hakim's son on Feb. 23. Clearly, al-Sadr is moving to take advantage of the situation and revive his own political fortunes.

Whether he can do so successfully and avert a crackdown against his militia, the Mehdi Army, remains to be seen. The Iranians -- who support al-Sadr to some extent, and support his rival al-Hakim even more -- are likely very pleased with the emerging tensions between Washington and mainstream Iraqi Shiite forces, as the rift will only push the Iraqi Shia further into Iran's orbit.

The tensions were made even more apparent on Sunday in a statement from Iraq's national security adviser, Muwaffaq al-Rubaie, who said, in perhaps deliberately ambiguous phrasing, "Recently the Iranians have changed their positions, and we have some evidence that they have stopped supplying arms or creating any of these shaped mines in the streets of Baghdad." It was not clear whether al-Rubaie -- a leading independent within the ruling Shiite coalition in Baghdad -- was referring to the government in Tehran. He went on to say he had no doubt that over the past few weeks the Iranians had "changed their position and stopped a lot of their tactics and interference in Iraq's internal affairs."

It is important to note that the Iraqi Shia, whom Washington identified as its chief partner in Iraq even prior to the March 2003 invasion, actually are closer to Tehran than they are to the Bush administration. Therefore, the tensions with the Shia -- combined with the potential for internal problems among the Kurds -- should be watched closely, as these are the United States' two principal means for dealing with Sunni unrest in Iraq.

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