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27701  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: October 13, 2006, 07:21:09 PM
Woof All:

The rules of the road around here are pretty simple:

1) Good manners: we speak to each other as if we were face to face.

2) Genuine content:  Please limit your posts that really have something to say.  If you are pasting something from elsewhere, please be sure to specifty the source (name, URL, that sort of thing).  If you do not have the source, please explain why.

3)  WE SEEK TRUTH.  Not to profit or be a prophet, but to seek the truth.  If the facts prove us wrong, we change our minds.

4)  Given the nature of WW3 and the generally low level of understanding of Islam in our culture, it is natural that there will be many pieces about Islam.  Some of them will be negative.  Some of them will be positive.  ALL of them are to be in search of truth.  If you disagree with something that someone else prints, the answer is to persuade with Reason and Reality. 

5)  Before starting a new thread, please look to see if your post logically fits in an existing thread.  The more we maintain thread coherence, the more these threads become valuable as repositories of info and intel.

No doubt I well be editing and amending these rules as time goes by, but for the moment these will do.

The Adventure continues,
Marc (Crafty Dog)
27702  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Islam in Arabic/Islamic Countries: on: October 13, 2006, 06:34:48 PM

No Dates, No Dancing
Why Pakistan's university students are embracing the fundamentalist life
By ARYN BAKER / LAHORE

Like many other universities around the world, Punjab University in Lahore is a tranquil oasis far removed from the rest of society. But to Westerners, there's little else about Punjab U. that seems familiar. Walk around the leafy-green 1,800-acre campus, and you will encounter nothing that resembles frivolous undergraduate behavior. Musical concerts are banned, and men and women are segregated in the dining halls. Many female students attend class wearing headscarves that cover everything but their eyes. This fall, when the university's administrators tried to introduce a program in musicology and performing arts, the campus erupted in protest. "Pakistan is an Islamic country, and our institutions must reflect that," says Umair Idrees, a master's degree student and secretary-general of Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba ( I.J.T.), the biggest student group on campus. "The formation of these departments is an attack on Islam and a betrayal of Pakistan. They should not be part of the university curriculum."

What's most striking about that climate of conservatism is that it is being driven not by faculty or administrators or government officials but by students. At Punjab U., I.J.T. is the most powerful force on campus, shaping not just the mores of student life but also larger debates over curriculum, course syllabuses, faculty selection and even degree programs. Nationwide, the group has more than 20,000 members and 40,000 affiliates active at nearly all of Pakistan's 50 public universities. Students who defy I.J.T.'s strict moral code risk private reprimands, public denouncements and, in some cases, even physical violence.

In a country where most politicians cut their teeth as student activists, the rise of groups like I.J.T. provides clues to Pakistan's political future. Although the country is officially aligned with the U.S. in fighting terrorism, it is beset by an internal struggle between moderate citizens and the fundamentalists who aim to turn the country into an Islamic state. As the hard-line demands intensify, President Pervez Musharraf has backed away from some policies sought by the Bush Administration, such as cracking down on radical religious schools, known as madrasahs, and curbing Pakistani support for the fundamentalist Taliban across the border in Afghanistan. Observers say that Musharraf's retreats on contentious issues have only strengthened the radicals. "The universities reflect what you are seeing in the larger political landscape," says Samina Ahmed, South Asia director for the International Crisis Group, a think tank. "The moderate parties have been deprived of their experienced cadre of potential recruits, but the religious parties haven't."

College campuses in Pakistan are becoming prime battlegrounds in the war for the country's soul. Political organizations have been banned from schools since 1992, when violent clashes between the student wings of rival political parties led to the deaths of dozens of students. But by outlawing political activity, the government opened the door to religious organizations such as I.J.T., which acts as an advocacy group that serves as a liaison between students and administration. Founded in 1947, I.J.T. has hundreds of thousands of alumni who provide the group with organizational and financial support, with the goal of "training the young generation according to Islam so they can play a role in Pakistan's social and political life," Idrees says.

A visit to Punjab University reveals what that means in practice. About 2,400 of the university's 24,000 students belong to I.J.T. Members are expected to live morally and to abide by the Koran's injunction to spread good and suppress evil. For many, that involves adopting an austere lifestyle. Members meet for regular study sessions and must attend all-night prayer meetings at least once a month. Outside the classroom, complete segregation of the genders is strictly observed. When asked, many members are critical of the U.S. and its policies toward the Muslim world; although the group has no ties to terrorism, it's likely that some members sympathize with al-Qaeda.

And yet for some, the appeal of I.J.T. has less to do with ideology than a desire for a platform to voice their grievances. Rana Naveed, 22, a soft-spoken communications student who sports just the beginnings of a beard and wears tight, acid-washed jeans, is troubled by some of I.J.T.'s more extreme pronouncements, especially its stand on the proposed new music program. But he is excited about the prospect of becoming a full-fledged member in a few weeks, when he will take an oath of loyalty and then work to spread his faith and dedicate himself to the welfare of other students. "There are certain things I don't agree with," says Naveed. "But as a member, I will have to submit to their way. I.J.T is the only platform to put forward my proposals to the administration, because they turn a deaf ear to regular students."

An atmosphere of moral rigidity governs much of campus life. I.J.T. members have been known to physically assault students for drinking, flirting or kissing on campus. "We are compelled by our religion to use force if we witness immoral public behavior," says Naveed. "If I see someone doing something wrong, I can stop him and the I.J.T. will support me." Threats of a public reprimand or allegations of immoral behavior are enough to keep most students toeing the I.J.T. line. There is no university regulation segregating men from women in the dining halls, but students know that mingling is taboo. "If I talk to a girl in line at the canteen, I.J.T. members will tell me to get my food and get out," says Rehan Iqbal, 25, an M.B.A. student, who is sitting on the floor of a hallway with female classmate Malka Ikran, 22. It's a nice autumn day, and a shady green lawn beckons through an open window, but they dare not sit outside. It's too public. "There are certain places where I know I can't talk to my male friends," says Ikran. When asked what would happen if she talked to a boy at the library, for example, she just shrugs. "I don't know. I would never try it. I'm too afraid."

It's not just students who feel stifled by the I.J.T.'s strict moral code. Faculty members at Punjab University say that if I.J.T. objects to a professor's leanings, or even his syllabus, it can cause problems. It doesn't take much to raise questions about a teacher's moral qualifications. "Those who could afford to leave, did so," says Hasan Askari Rizvi, a former professor of political science who is now a political analyst. "Those who stayed learned not to touch controversial subjects. The role of the university is to advance knowledge, but at P.U. the quality of education is undermined because one group with a narrow, straitjacketed worldview controls it."

Groups like I.J.T. are likely to grow more influential, not less, as its graduates move into the political arena. For those students aiming to become social activists on campus, and later politicians on the national stage, involvement in I.J.T. is the only forum available to learn the necessary skills. I.J.T. groups across the nation have embraced the opportunity to mold Pakistan's future politicians. In addition to taking classes on the Koran, members learn how to debate, how to present and defend their views and how to write persuasive proposals. " I.J.T. trains and promotes leadership qualities," says Mumtaz Ahmad Salik, president of the P.U. staff association and a professor of Islamic studies. "When a national political party catches anyone who has been trained by I.J.T., they benefit." Most I.J.T. members who choose to enter politics after graduation go on to join Jamaat-e-Islami or other fundamentalist political groups. Some sign up with more centrist parties, although they bring with them fundamentalist thinking that has contributed to the general turn toward conservatism in national politics.

For now a future in politics is far from the minds of most P.U. students, who just want to enjoy their last few years on campus. "We would love to have a student union," says Iqbal. "Then we could plan events and activities and take care of the students' problems ourselves. Right now, only I.J.T. has that kind of power. If the I.J.T. had competition, that would change. Then you would see what students really think." But until free elections and campaigning are permitted, the religious groups will continue to walk large on campus. The same could be said of Pakistan.
27703  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: October 13, 2006, 04:16:58 PM
  Posted October 13, 2006 06:32 AM 
http://www.wired.com/news/technology/medtech/1,71925-0.html

Honey Remedy Could Save Limbs



By Brandon Keim
01:00 AM Oct, 11, 2006

When Jennifer Eddy first saw an ulcer on the left foot of her patient, an elderly diabetic man, it was pink and quarter-sized. Fourteen months later, drug-resistant bacteria had made it an unrecognizable black mess.

Doctors tried everything they knew -- and failed. After five hospitalizations, four surgeries and regimens of antibiotics, the man had lost two toes. Doctors wanted to remove his entire foot.

"He preferred death to amputation, and everybody agreed he was going to die if he didn't get an amputation," said Eddy, a professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

With standard techniques exhausted, Eddy turned to a treatment used by ancient Sumerian physicians, touted in the Talmud and praised by Hippocrates: honey. Eddy dressed the wounds in honey-soaked gauze. In just two weeks, her patient's ulcers started to heal. Pink flesh replaced black. A year later, he could walk again.

"I've used honey in a dozen cases since then," said Eddy. "I've yet to have one that didn't improve."

Eddy is one of many doctors to recently rediscover honey as medicine. Abandoned with the advent of antibiotics in the 1940s and subsequently disregarded as folk quackery, a growing set of clinical literature and dozens of glowing anecdotes now recommend it.

Most tantalizingly, honey seems capable of combating the growing scourge of drug-resistant wound infections, especially methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, the infamous flesh-eating strain. These have become alarmingly more common in recent years, with MRSA alone responsible for half of all skin infections treated in U.S. emergency rooms. So-called superbugs cause thousands of deaths and disfigurements every year, and public health officials are alarmed.

Though the practice is uncommon in the United States, honey is successfully used elsewhere on wounds and burns that are unresponsive to other treatments. Some of the most promising results come from Germany's Bonn University Children's Hospital, where doctors have used honey to treat wounds in 50 children whose normal healing processes were weakened by chemotherapy.

The children, said pediatric oncologist Arne Simon, fared consistently better than those with the usual applications of iodine, antibiotics and silver-coated dressings. The only adverse effects were pain in 2 percent of the children and one incidence of eczema. These risks, he said, compare favorably to iodine's possible thyroid effects and the unknowns of silver -- and honey is also cheaper.

"We're dealing with chronic wounds, and every intervention which heals a chronic wound is cost effective, because most of those patients have medical histories of months or years," he said.

While Eddy bought honey at a supermarket, Simon used Medihoney, one of several varieties made from species of Leptospermum flowers found in New Zealand and Australia.

Honey, formed when bees swallow, digest and regurgitate nectar, contains approximately 600 compounds, depending on the type of flower and bee. Leptospermum honeys are renowned for their efficacy and dominate the commercial market, though scientists aren't totally sure why they work.

"All honey is antibacterial, because the bees add an enzyme that makes hydrogen peroxide," said Peter Molan, director of the Honey Research Unit at the University of Waikato in New Zealand. "But we still haven't managed to identify the active components. All we know is (the honey) works on an extremely broad spectrum."

Attempts in the lab to induce a bacterial resistance to honey have failed, Molan and Simon said. Honey's complex attack, they said, might make adaptation impossible.

Two dozen German hospitals are experimenting with medical honeys, which are also used in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. In the United States, however, honey as an antibiotic is nearly unknown. American doctors remain skeptical because studies on honey come from abroad and some are imperfectly designed, Molan said.

In a review published this year, Molan collected positive results from more than 20 studies involving 2,000 people. Supported by extensive animal research, he said, the evidence should sway the medical community -- especially when faced by drug-resistant bacteria.

"In some, antibiotics won't work at all," he said. "People are dying from these infections."

Commercial medical honeys are available online in the United States, and one company has applied for Food and Drug Administration approval. In the meantime, more complete clinical research is imminent. The German hospitals are documenting their cases in a database built by Simon's team in Bonn, while Eddy is conducting the first double-blind study.

"The more we keep giving antibiotics, the more we breed these superbugs. Wounds end up being repositories for them," Eddy said. "By eradicating them, honey could do a great job for society and to improve public health."

 
27704  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: October 13, 2006, 04:01:22 PM
http://www.technologyreview.com/printer_friendly_article.aspx?id=17597


Nanosolution Halts Bleeding
A biodegradable liquid developed at MIT and the University of Hong Kong offers a new way to quickly treat wounds and promote healing.
By Jenn Director Knudsen
A team of researchers at MIT and the University of Hong Kong have developed a biodegradable liquid that can quickly stop bleeding.


Composed of peptides, the liquid self-assembles into a protective nanofiber gel when applied to a wound. Rutledge Ellis-Behnke, research scientist in the department of brain and cognitive sciences at MIT and Kwok-Fai So, chair of the department of anatomy at the University of Hong Kong, discovered the liquid's ability to stop bleeding while experimenting with it as a matrix for regrowing brain cells in hamsters.


The researchers then conducted a series of experiments on various mammals, including rodents and pigs, applying the clear liquid agent to the brain, skin, liver, spinal cord, and femoral artery to test its ability to halt bleeding and seal wounds.


"It worked every single time," said Ellis-Behnke. They found that it stopped the bleeding in less than 15 seconds, and even worked on animals given blood-thinning medications.


The wound must still be stitched up after the procedure; but unlike other agents designed to stop bleeding, it does not have to be removed from the wound site.


The liquid's only byproduct is amino acids: tissue building blocks that can be used to actually repair the site of the injury, according to the researchers. It is also nontoxic, causes no immune response in the patient, and can be used in a wet environment, according to Ellis-Behnke. A paper outlining the findings is available online and will be published in the December issue of Nanomedicine.


Ellis-Behnke believes that first responders, say, on a battlefield or at a traffic accident, will save more lives with the nanosolution. Yet the most significant application may be in surgery, he says, especially on the liver and brain.


In fact, as much as half of the time during any operation is spent "doing some sort of bleeding control," says Ellis-Behnke. Consequently, such a liquid could "fundamentally change the pace of the operation."


Ram Chuttani, director of endoscopy and chief of interventional gastroenterology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, is familiar with their research. "Where I see huge applications is in patients who present with gastrointestinal bleeding," he says. "[Right now,] there's no ideal agent to endoscopically manage gastrointestinal bleeding."


"Technologically, this would be one of the easiest things for us to use," Chuttani adds. "It's an exciting agent, a very exciting agent...that's still quite far away. I'd definitely be an early adopter."




The researchers don't yet understand how the nanosolution works to stop bleeding, beyond that it doesn't clot the blood. "Maybe it's creating a nanoscale patch and knitting the materials back together," says Ellis-Behnke, adding that "this is just speculation." Clinical trials on humans are at least three years away, he says.


The research was funded by the Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation at MIT as well as the Technology Transfer Seed Fund of the University of Hong Kong and the Research Grant Council of Hong Kong.


The U.S. military already uses several agents to stop bleeding, including ones made by Z-Medica and HemCon. Z-Medica of Wallingford, CT, uses zeolite-based agents in its pourable products, called QuikClot, and bioactive glass. HemCon of Tigard, OR, uses an organic substance called chitosan in its bandages.


Both QuikClot and bioactive glass, a silica- and calcium-based material, are porous, and thus work like a sponge to mop up blood and adhere to tissue at and around the wound site.


The chitosan in HemCon's bandages binds to tissue and seals wounds. (Chitosan is found in shrimp shells, but extensive tests have shown that people with shellfish allergies don't suffer allergic reactions to chitosan, according to HemCon's president and CEO, John Morgan.) HemCon plans to sell a consumer version of its product next year.


"Both [Z-Medica and Hem-Con's products] have saved lives in my hands," says Captain Peter Rhee, a military trauma surgeon based at the Los Angeles County Medical Center, who oversaw the first study using pourable agents to halt bleeding on animals.


The liquid solution made by the MIT and University of Hong Kong researchers could offer several advantages, however. One is speed. In studies, the nanoliquid took only seconds to work, while competing products take around two minutes. The nanoliquid can also be used on a wound of any shape, unlike HemCon's square bandages, which don't fit over oddly shaped gashes. And the nanoscale solution doesn't have to be removed from the patient, unlike Z-Medica's bioactive glass, which cannot remain at the wound site indefinitely.

Copyright Technology Review 2006.
27705  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: October 13, 2006, 03:49:07 PM
Haven't a clue. grin  Why not ask them?  cheesy
27706  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: October 13, 2006, 10:29:17 AM
www.stratfor.com

IRAQ: Dubai-based satellite channel Al Arabiya aired a video of Abu Osama al-Mujahid, a man claiming to be a jihadi leader in Iraq, in which he told Osama bin Laden that al Qaeda in Iraq is weakening under the leadership of Abu Ayyub al-Masri. Al-Mujahid also said the group had committed "unjustified violations," such as the killing of prominent sheikhs.
27707  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / North and South Korea on: October 13, 2006, 08:25:58 AM
www.stratfor.com

Geopolitical Diary: The Non-Reactions to the North Korean Test

One of the rules of geopolitical analysis is that you should pay little attention to what people say and a great deal of attention to what they do. Applying that principle to the North Korean explosion (nuclear, fizzled or other) causes us to come to a singular conclusion: there is no great concern among the major powers about what happened. No one is doing anything on their own and no one can agree on what should be done together. If this is a crisis, no one is acting that way.

The United States and Japan, it is true, have imposed sanctions on North Korea. However, China and Russia aren't going along with this, therefore the action is fairly meaningless. It's like a balloon with two holes in it: it defeats the entire purpose. The United States, it should be added, can't be surprised by the Russian and Chinese position. Moscow and Beijing have always been wary of following the U.S. sanctioning protocol with other countries, and they were always unlikely to follow the Americans on North Korea. Given that fact -- and given that Washington knows it -- U.S. and Japanese sanctions are more a gesture than an action.

If one listens to conventional analyses of the situation, North Korea poses a threat to the international community, and the key countries -- the United States, China, Russia, Japan and South Korea -- are searching for ways to achieve the common goal of a non-nuclear North Korea. This is the community-of-nations theory of international relations, also known as multilateralism. It makes an assumption of a common interest that really isn't accurate. In fact, all of the key players have very different interests.

China, for example, sounds like a country that is quite upset that North Korea did something it didn't want. It behaves as a country that is quite content with North Korea's move, as it should be; the test flouts America's will and the United States is unable to do anything about it. American impotence is of direct interest to China. The United States has maneuvered itself into a position of taking primary responsibility for dealing with North Korea's threat. China, seeking a dominant position in Asia, welcomes anything that makes the United States appear incapable of carrying out this role. The weaker the United States appears, the greater the vacuum for China to step into. Beijing is going to make the appropriate sounds, but will also make certain that the United States looks as helpless as possible.

The Russians, too, are pleased to see North Korea's challenge to the United States and America's inability to respond; they are not going to bail Washington out. Russia sees itself as locked in a duel with the United States in the former Soviet Union. It holds the Americans responsible for the recent crisis in Georgia, as well as for a generally aggressive stance in Ukraine and Central Asia. The Russians are delighted to see the United States bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan. Anything that adds to American pain can only help.

Now, one might say that both Moscow and Beijing should be concerned that the unstable government in Pyongyang might threaten them with nuclear weapons. In our view, neither China nor Russia sees Pyongyang as unstable, politically or mentally. They are not worried about North Korean nukes because (a) North Korea doesn't really have nuclear weapons yet and (b) North Korea will be wiped from the face of the Earth by China or Russia should it strike at them and Pyongyang knows it. The risks are low and the benefits are high for both China and Russia. The appropriate expressions of concern will be uttered, but neither country will do anything.

Japan is concerned -- but not to the point of taking any unilateral action, because it can't. South Korea is far more worried about a conventional war than North Korean nukes, and does not want the government in Pyongyang to fall under any circumstances. The task of integrating a post-Communist North Korea with the South would cripple South Korea for decades. The South Koreans are not happy North Korea tested a nuke, but they are not about to do anything to destabilize the situation.

Multilateral approaches assume that there is a common interest in a solution and that the problem is working out the process to get there. There are indeed times when there is a common interest among nations, but they are rarer than times when interests diverge. In the case of North Korea, what we see is not a group of nations struggling to find a way to achieve a common goal. Rather, we see a group of nations pretending to have a common goal, and using that as a cover for pursuing very different ends. China and Russia view this as weakening the United States and they like it. South Korea does not want chaos to the North. Japan is waiting for someone else to take a risk. And the United States is out of options and allies.

The only good news for Washington is that it might discover that the test was not a nuclear test at all. That would relieve it of the burden of doing something, and therefore not make it look nearly as helpless as it now does. Indeed, discovering that there was no nuclear blast would solve a lot of problems; it would show that not doing anything was the result of prudence, and not of a lack of options.

27708  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans on: October 12, 2006, 04:29:54 PM
 Subject: Michael Monsoor - Funeral Announcement

Petty Officer Monsoor died 29 September 2006 while conducting combat
operations in Ramadi, Iraq. He was a graduate of BUD/S Class 250 and was
assigned to SEAL Team THREE. Michael was an incredible athlete of quiet
demeanor and dedication. His friends say he matched the "Silent Warrior"
SEAL mentality that was his life's calling. Though he carried himself in a
calm and composed fashion, he constantly led the charge to bring the fight
to the enemy. He distinguished himself as one of the bravest men on the
battlefield, remaining fearless while facing constant danger. It was
Michael's selfless actions that saved the lives of fellow SEALs.
Petty Officer Monsoor was awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star (with
Combat V), Purple Heart, and Combat Action Ribbon for his heroic actions in
battle. The interment for MA2 Michael Monsoor will be held with full military
honors at 1200, Thursday 12 October 2006 at FT Rosecrans, Point Loma, San Diego,
CA. Following the burial, a memorial celebration will be hosted at 1400 at
the First Presbyterian Church, 320 Date Street San Diego, CA. Teammates
and friends are encouraged to attend. Uniform for active duty is Service Dress
Blue.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations in Michael's
name be made to the Naval Special Warfare Foundation, P.O. Box 5965,
Virginia Beach ,VA 23471.

Condolences may be sent to The Monsoor Family, 12562 Safford Street,
Garden Grove, CA 92840.
 -----------------------------------------------------------------------
NAVY TIMES - October 11, 2006

Congress eyes higher special ops retired pay
By Rick Maze
Staff writer
Congress is laying the groundwork for possible new incentives for special
operations forces personnel that could include a big boost in retired pay.
As part of the 2007 defense authorization bill, Congress has ordered a
Pentagon report about what it could take to improve retention of military
personnel who have special operations forces designations. The report, due
next August, was included at the urging of Rep. Robin Hayes, R-N.C., who
has been pushing for hazardous and danger pays to be counted toward retired
pay for career special forces members. Hayes represents a congressional
district that includes Fort Bragg.

The defense bill was sent to the White House on Oct 5, and is expected to
be signed by President Bush by Oct. 15. Hayes believes that the expense of
increasing retired pay, which could rise by 10 percent or more, would be
more than offset by reducing the cost of training replacements for people
who leave the military.

To help prove his case, Congress is asking for information about how much
has been spent on the training of special forces personnel and the four-,
eight-, 12-, 16- and 20-year points of their careers.

The report also asks what percentage of special operations forces have
accumulated 48 months of hostile fire pay and what percentage have
accumulated more than 60 months, which are possible thresholds for when
incentive pays could be added to retired pay.

Although concerns are growing that career special forces people have been
lured away from the military by higher-paying private-sector jobs, defense
and service personnel officials are reticent to change the retired pay
formula for special operators when there are other military specialties -
such as medical professionals, pilots and nuclear-trained naval officers -
who also receive large bonuses and incentive pays over the course of their
military career. Those groups would also like to see that money added to
their retired pay, which currently is computed solely on basic pay.
27709  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Spike TV, the Dog Brothers Gathering Webisodes; National Geographic on: October 12, 2006, 11:38:44 AM
Precisely one of the points under discussion with Spike.
27710  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: October 12, 2006, 08:23:46 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Federalism and Factions in Iraq

Iraq's parliament approved a law on Wednesday that laid down the mechanics of establishing federal regions. The main Sunni parliamentary coalition, the Tawafoq Iraqi Front, and legislators from two major Shiite parties, the al-Sadrite Bloc and al-Fadhila, tried to prevent a vote on the bill by boycotting the session. There were still enough deputies for a quorum, however, and they unanimously approved each of the bill's 200-odd articles in individual votes.

The law establishes a system allowing provinces to come together into autonomous regions that would wield significant self-rule powers; any province interested in becoming part of a region would have to hold a referendum, provided a third of the provincial legislators agree to do so. The legislation also postpones the formation of the autonomous regions for another 18 months -- a concession designed to allay the concerns of the Sunnis, who in September agreed to allow the bill to go to a vote after reaching a deal with the Shia.

This move is not a final deal, but rather a placeholder designed to advance the federalism project so it can move toward the stage of sorting out details. The law's main proponents -- Iraq's main Shiite group, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), and its allies in the ruling Shiite United Iraqi Alliance -- want to be able to push ahead with the creation of a Shiite federal zone, composed of nine provinces in southern Iraq, before the violence in the country gets completely out of hand. They also know that their plans will be blessed by the United States; former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker's Iraq Study Group reportedly is planning to recommend to the Bush administration that Iraq be divided into three federal zones.

For the federalist Shia, the Sunnis are not the only problem -- as is clear from the fact that the al-Sadrite Bloc and al-Fadhila sat out of Wednesday's vote. Both groups oppose the move because they are already locked in a battle with the mainstream Shiite groups, SCIRI and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Hizb al-Dawah, for control of the Shiite south. Al-Fadhila and the movement of Muqtada al-Sadr view the creation of a federal zone as further undercutting the power they wield at the local and regional level in the southern provinces -- both in the official sense and on the street with the militias and oil mafias. This means that in addition to the problems SCIRI and its allies will face in negotiating with the Sunnis over the details of the move toward federalism, they will also have a tough time in the implementation phase, where they will have to deal with the al-Sadrites and al-Fadhila.

The Shiite federalists are to a great degree relying on U.S. military support for their plans to create an autonomous zone. Indeed, we are already seeing stepped-up operations by joint task forces composed of U.S. and Iraqi forces against al-Sadr's Mehdi Army militiamen. Incidentally, U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker said Wednesday that the Pentagon is making plans on the assumption that it may have to maintain current troop levels in Iraq until at least 2010. Obviously, Washington realizes that it will be quite some time before the Shiite-dominated Iraqi forces will be able to shoulder the responsibility of security.

SCIRI is the Bush administration's key Shiite ally, so the fact that SCIRI is pushing toward a Shiite federal zone means Washington approves of this plan even before Baker's recommendation. But given the domestic pressure on U.S. President George W. Bush with regard to Iraq, and with the upcoming midterm elections in November possibly giving Democrats control of Congress, it remains an open question whether the United States will be able to continue supporting the federalism project in the long term.
27711  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: October 12, 2006, 07:50:16 AM

Forwarding...


Instructor Call For Interest

POSITION SUMMARY

Homeland Security Corporation and PPCT Management Systems is currently
recruiting individuals interested in
instructing for the Department of State Antiterrorism Assistance
Program (ATAP). HSC/PPCT is seeking
successful and energetic trainers that will bring dynamics and
enthusiasm to the learning experience and who
have proven ability and expertise in the below listed fields. This is
an exciting opportunity for qualified
applicants to contribute to a successful and demanding organization
that embraces training as a valuable tool in
achieving our nation's security goals and objectives.


FIELDS OF INSTRUCTION

Hostage Negotiations - Lead Instructor and Instructor
Interdicting Terrorist Organizations - Policy -Lead Instructor, Staff
Instructor, Instructor "Cyber"
Interdicting Terrorist Activity - Basic - Lead Instructor and Instructor
Interdicting Terrorist Activity - Policy
Integrating Counter Terrorism Strategies at the National Level -
Implementation - Lead Instructor and Staff
Instructor
Integrating Counter Terrorism Strategies at the National Level - Policy
Emergency Medical Intervention for Mass Casualties - Lead Instructor
and Instructor
Hospital Based Management of Mass Casualty Incidents - Lead Instructor
and Instructor
Kidnap Incident Management - Lead Instructor and Instructor
Weapons of Mass Destruction - Awareness - Lead Instructor and Instructor
Weapons of Mass Destruction - Operations - Lead Instructor and Instructor
A Police Executive's Role in Countering Terrorism- Instructor
Anti-Terrorism Executive Forum- Expert moderator


REQUIREMENTS

. Must possess current certifications in the field of instruction from
state or federally recognized programs.
. Must have a minimum of five years of instructional experience.
. Must have well-developed interpersonal skills and excellent
leadership and motivational skills.
. Must possess confident public speaking, presentation, delivery, and
facilitation skills.
. Must be able to train one-on-one, in small groups, and in a
classroom setting while maintaining a mature,
composed, and professional approach within diverse student
environments and situations.
. Must be adaptable/flexible and work effectively under challenging
conditions.
. Selected applicants should have the flexibility to travel, as needed.
SALARY RANGE

The salary range for the contract is generally between $700-$800 per
day, based on position and experience.


FOR CONSIDERATION

Interested applicants are asked to submit a Resume' to Tom Jost via
email (tomjost@aol.com), or to call the
Belleville, IL. office of HSC/PPCT at 618-234-7728. Upon selection,
applicants will be asked to provide copies
of all applicable certifications and proof of 5 years instructional
experience as outlined on the resume'.
Deadline for resume' submittal is no later than October 19, 2006.
27712  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Spike TV, the Dog Brothers Gathering Webisodes; National Geographic on: October 11, 2006, 06:42:58 PM
Spike sent a two-man camera crew to shoot the Swiss Gathering and things proceed on course here at home.

The project with National Geographic has been soundly budgeted and there are whispers of theatrical release.

The Adventure continues!
27713  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: October 11, 2006, 06:23:52 PM
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

British hire anti-Taliban mercenaries
The Sunday Times - October 08, 2006
Christina Lamb, Kabul

BRITISH forces holed up in isolated outposts of Helmand province in Afghanistan are to be withdrawn over the next two to three weeks and replaced by newly formed tribal police who will be recruited by paying a higher rate than the Taliban.The move is the result of deals with war-weary locals and reverses the strategy of sending forces to establish ?platoon houses? in the Taliban heartland where soldiers were left under siege and short of supplies because it was too dangerous for helicopters to fly in.

Troops in the four northern districts of Sangin, Musa Qala, Nawzad and Kajaki have engaged in the fiercest fighting since the Korean war, tying up more than half the mission?s available combat force. All 16 British soldiers killed in the conflict died in these areas.

?We were coming under as many as seven attacks a day,? said Captain Alex Mackenzie of the 3rd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, who spent a month in Sangin. ?We were firing like mad just to survive. It was deconstruction rather than reconstruction.?

Lieutenant-General David Richards, commander of Nato forces in Afghanistan, has long been critical of tying up troops in static positions, while the British government has grown increasingly concerned that it was affecting public support for the mission.

Since taking command of the British forces at the end of July, Richards has been looking for a way to pull them out without making it look like a victory for the Taliban.

?I am confident that in two to three weeks the securing of the districts will be achieved through a different means,? he said. ?Most of the British troops will then be able to be redeployed to tasks which will facilitate rapid and visible reconstruction and development, which we?ve got to do this winter to prove we can not only fight but also deliver what people need.?

The districts will be guarded by new auxiliary police made up of local militiamen. They will initially receive $70 (?37) a month, although it is hoped that this will rise to $120 to compete with the $5 per fighting day believed to be paid by the Taliban. ?These are the same people who two weeks ago would have been vulnerable to be recruited as Taliban fighters,? said Richards.

?It?s employment they want and we need to make sure we pay more than the Taliban.?

The withdrawal of the British troops will coincide with the departure of 3 Para, whose six-month deployment is coming to an end. The battalion will be replaced by Royal Marines from 3 Commando Brigade who started arriving last week.

Locals in these districts are fed up with the fighting that has led to the destruction of many homes, bazaars and a school. A delegation of more than 20 elders from Musa Qala met President Hamid Karzai on Wednesday evening and demanded to be allowed to look after their own security. ?The British troops brought nothing but fighting,? they complained. They pledged that if allowed to appoint their own police chief and district chief, they would keep out the Taliban.

The other crucial factor has been Nato?s success last month in inflicting the heaviest defeat on the Taliban since their regime fell five years ago. The two-week Operation Medusa in the Panjwayi district of Kandahar province left between 1,100 and 1,500 Taliban dead, many of whom were believed to be committed fighters rather than guns for hire.

?Militarily it was against the odds ? it was only because the Taliban were silly enough to take us on in strength when we had superior firepower and because of very, very brave fighting on the part of Americans, Canadians, British and Dutch, as well as the Afghan national army,? said Richards.

The Taliban, emboldened by their successes in Helmand, had changed their strategy from hit-and-run tactics to a frontal attack, apparently intending to try to take the key city of Kandahar. They had taken advantage of a change of command of foreign troops in the south from American to Canadian and eventually Nato to move large amounts of equipment and men into the Panjwayi district southwest of the city. The area was a stronghold of the mujaheddin during the Russian occupation and contains secret tunnels and grape-drying houses amid orchards and vineyards alongside the Argandab River.

After initial setbacks, including the crash of a British Nimrod aircraft in which 14 servicemen died and an incident in which an American A10 bomber strafed Canadian forces, killing one and wounding 35, Nato forces turned the situation around. Wave after wave of Taliban arriving on pick-ups to join the fight were mown down. More than 100 are believed to have been captured and reports from Quetta in neighbouring Pakistan suggest that Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Taliban leader, has instructed his men to return to their old guerrilla tactics.

The number of daily ?contacts? between troops and insurgents has since dropped from a high of 24 in September to just two, although the lull in fighting may be partly because of Ramadan, the fasting month.

Richards believes that the victory has won his forces a six-month window during which the international community must make visible changes for the people of southern Afghanistan or risk losing everything.

?Fighting alone is not the solution,? he warned. ?We?ve got to win over the 70% of people in southern Afghanistan who are good peasant stock and basically want security and the means to feed their families. If it?s only fighting they see ahead of them for the next five years, chances are that they will say well, we?d rather have the Taliban and all that comes with it.

?The means to persuade them is not just to show we can win, as we have done, but also that it?s all worth it, which means pretty visible and ready improvements.?

He added: ?The military can?t do much more ? it?s up to the government and development agencies. At the moment somehow it isn?t happening and we?re beginning to lose time.?

The military is locked in a debate with the Department for International Development (DFID) which has ?20m to spend in Helmand but feels that the situation is too insecure for development and believes the focus should be on long-term projects.

Asked last week what reconstruction it had carried out in Helmand so far, a DFID representative could cite only the rebuilding of market stalls in two districts. The official added that the department did not want to draw attention to any improvements because that might make them targets.

The military want the DFID to hand over some of its funds to enable them to carry out work. ?We have to prove to the population today that tomorrow is worth waiting for,? said Richards.

He said that in Helmand?s main town of Lashkar Gah last month, only one young man in a group of 20 he met had a job. ?If there aren?t any jobs and the Taliban come along and say we?ll offer you $5 a day for taking pot-shots at the Brits then they will,? he said.

?That?s where we should be spending our money ? creating jobs. And it really isn?t good enough just doing the long-term stuff.?

Karzai will chair a meeting on reconstruction this week, including ministers and foreign donors, in the hope of kickstarting programmes such as road building and irrigation.

?We?ve got six months to prove to the 70% that it?s all worth it, that we can not only deliver security but the things they really want,? Richards said. ?If we do, I think things will be much better and we will have turned the curve. If we don?t, then my prognosis is that next year will be even worse than this year.?
27714  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dog Brothers Gathering in Switzerland October 1, 2006 on: October 10, 2006, 06:36:56 AM

DB-Gathering und Seminar Report

First in my native language.....


Ein herzliches Wuff an alle.

Hier ein kurzer Rapport ?ber das erste ?Dog Brothers Gathering of the Pack? in Europa (Bern, Schweiz).

Dem Gathering vorausgehend fand am Samstag ein Seminar mit den Gr?ndern der Dog Brothers statt. Eric ?Top Dog? Knaus und Marc ?Crafty Dog? Denny gaben ihr Bestes um den 75 aus ganz Europa (Schottland, England, Norwegen, Schweden, Deutschland, Belgien, Polen, Italien, Schweiz)? angereisten Seminarteilnehmern ihre Sicht des Stockkampfes n?her zu bringen. Leider musste Mitbegr?nder Arlan ?Salty Dog? Sanford aus beruflichen Gr?nden absagen und so ?bernahm ich f?r ihn die Krabi Krabong Einheit.
Es war ein sehr gelungenes Seminar und vor allem die Anwesenheit ?Top Dog?s? machte es f?r die meisten Seminarteilnehmern zu einem unvergesslichen Erlebnis.

Am Sonntag dann war der grosse Tag. ?ber 40 K?mpfer aus ganz Europa sind angereist, um zusammen ein grossartiges DB-Gathering zu zelebrieren. Die Stimmung war von Anfang an sehr gut, und ich war angenehm ?berrascht ?ber den gemeinsamen ?Spirit? den alle an den Tag legten.

Die K?mpfe haben wie gew?hnlich mit ein paar Messerrunden zum warm machen begonnen. Um das Ganze nicht zu sehr in die L?nge zu ziehen haben wir die Messerrunden auf 60 sec. reduziert. Ich habe mich sehr gefreut, als mich Eric fragte, ob wir die erste Messerrunde zusammen machen m?chten, quasi um den Tag einzuweihen. ?Top Dog? ist ja vor einiger Zeit in ?Rente? gegangen und so hat es mich nat?rlich umso mehr gefreut mich mit ihm nochmals eine Runde zu machen.

Nachdem alle eine Runde Messer gemacht haben, fingen die Stockk?mpfe an. Man hat richtig die Lust und den ?Hunger? nach einem solchen Event gesp?rt. Denn die meisten haben ziemlich viele Runden gek?mpft. Ich war erstaunt, wie viele K?mpfe es im gesamten gegeben hat. Das Level war f?r das erste Gathering erstaunlich gut, denn f?r viele war dies die erste Erfahrung dieser Art. Sehr gefreut hat mich auch, dass ausnahmslos alle unseren Codex verstanden haben. Ich habe kein unangepasstes ?Ego? gesehen und alle K?mpfer konnten sich in brenzligen Situation sehr gut kontrollieren um den Partner nicht zu sehr zu verletzen. Auch diesbez?glich war dieses Gathering vorbildlich. Wir hatten soviel mir bekannt ist, keinen gebrochenen Knochen und ?nur? eine leichte Gehirnersch?tterung. Dies auch nur da im Kampf einem K?mpfer die Maske vom Kopf rutschte, der Gegner dies nicht sehen konnte und im gleichen Moment zuschlug. Was dann in einer ziemlich ?blen Beule endete. Dies war ein bl?der Unfall, was in solchen K?mpfen unbeabsichtigt passieren kann.

Die meisten K?mpfe waren Einzelstock K?mpfe. Ich habe aber auch ein paar K?mpfe mit Doppelstock gesehen. Des weiteren gab es einen Staff Kampf und einen mit Schild und Stock. Alles in allem hat es viele interessante K?mpfe gegeben. K?mpfe in denen ausschliesslich und sehr strategisch in der langen Distanz gek?mpft wurde. K?mpfe in denen man gute Clincharbeit und Bodenkampf beobachten konnte. Ein Kampf an den ich mich erinnern konnte sah ich sehr sch?nes Krabi Krabong mit vielen Tritttechniken. Auch waren die K?mpfe spannend in denen ein K?mpfer sein Stock verloren hat und dann ?empty hand? weitergemacht hat.

Sehr gefreut hat mich auch, dass wir einen ?Cat-Fight? (Frauenkampf) hatten. Beide haben mit einem guten Spirit und Skill gek?mpft.

Eine Besonderheit dieses Gatherings waren auch die K?mpfe Stock gegen Messer. In der Vergangenheit haben waren meist die Messerk?mpfer unterlegen da ihre Kampfkraft mit einem Alumesser dem Stock nicht eben b?rdig war. Diesmal hat Marc ein sogenanntes ?Shockknife? mitgebracht um dem Messerk?mpfer mehr Realismus zu geben. Auch diese K?mpfe waren sehr interessant zu beobachten.

Als das Gathering langsam dem Ende zuging, fragte mich Eric ob wir den Schlusskampf machen m?chten. Er meinte, dies sei eine sch?ne Idee das Gathering mit uns zu starten und zu beenden.
Einmal mehr war ich ?berrascht, da er trotz seinem R?cktritt jetzt auch noch einen Stockkampf machen will und habe angenommen, dass dies ein ?Showkampf? werden sollte. Musste dann allerdings schon nach den ersten Sekunden feststellen, dass er dieses Match durchaus richtig f?hren wollte. Und so wurde es ein sehr intensiv gef?hrter Kampf.....

Um ein Resum? zu ziehen, war dies alles in allem ein sehr guter Einstieg f?r weitere Gatherings hier in der Schweiz durchzuf?hren.


Ich m?chte allen K?mpfern herzlich danken, dass sie dazu beigetragen haben, dass wir alle einen grossartigen Tag zusammen erleben durften.

Wuff
Benjamin ?Lonely Dog? Rittiner

----------------------------------------

 ? ?.... and now in english


A big wuff to all from Switzerland!

Here the report about the first ?Dog Brothers Gathering of the Pack? in Europe (Bern, Switzerland).

Saturday, the day before the Gathering, I hosted a Seminar with the ?Council of Elders?. The 75 participants from all over Europe (Scotland, England, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Belgium, Poland, Italy, Switzerland) were very excited to learn from Eric ?Top Dog? Knaus and Marc ?Crafty Dog? Denny ?Real Contact Stickfighting?. Unfortunately was Arlan ?Salty Dog? Sanford not able to come to Switzerland at that weekend. So I tried to do my best to fill the gap and teached the Krabi Krabong.

On Sunday we had then our big day. Over 40 fighters from all Europe were there to fight and celebrate this great event. The atmosphere was from beginning on very good. And I was pleased to see that everybody brought the right spirit.

We started the day as usually with some rounds of? knife fighting. We decided, because we had so many fighters, to do only 60 sec. rounds for the knife. I was very happy that Eric ask me to do the first knife fight. He thought that it would be a good sign when we would open this event with the two of us.

Then the stickfights were on. It was really clear that people in Europe wanted a DB-Gathering. I could feel the desire and hunger of such an event. Most fighter did a lot of rounds.? And I was surprised how many fights total we had. It was a long day.
For the first Gathering the level was surprising good, because for many of them it was the first experience like this. I was very pleased to see that everybody understood completely our codex. I didn?t see anybody with an bad attitude / ego. And all fighters could hold their strikes back when the opponent was not able to protect himself anymore. So I?m happy that we had no broken bones and just a light concussion and that also only because in the middle of an exchange one mask fell off and his opponents stroke was already on his way. The result was a big bump.

Most fights were single stickfights but we had also some double stickfight and a staff-fight. There was also one fight with shield and stick. All in all I saw many interesting fights. Some were strategically fought chess matches. Others went directly to clinch and to the ground. Also I remember one fight were I could see nice Krabi Krabong with a lot of kicks. Other exciting fights were when one of the fighters lost his stick and decided to fight unarmed against the stick.

I was also glad that we had one ?Cat-fight? at this Gathering. Both women fought with skill and spirit.

Before the Gathering ended, Eric ask me if I would make the last fight of the day with him. He thought it would be a nice idea to start and end the day with us. I was very surprised, because of his ?retirement?. So I thought it would be something like a ?show-fight?, but after the first seconds I realized that this would be a real fight. A pretty intense one too.

All in all it was a great Gathering and for sure not the last here in Switzerland.

I would like to thank everybody who made this great day an success.

Wuff
Benjamin ?Lonely Dog? Rittiner

27715  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: October 09, 2006, 08:30:18 AM
Today's WSJ:

Maliki's Moment
Iraqis have to make compromises to limit incentives to violence.

Monday, October 9, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT

Iraq is a big issue this U.S. election season, and it deserves to be. But the debate is mostly backward looking, with arguments about whether regime change was justified, and the media focused on a new book detailing already well known divisions within the Bush Administration. What really matters at this point is supporting the Iraqi political leaders in whose hands the fate of our shared project there now rests. And despite the steady stream of bad news from Iraq, there's still everything to fight for.

It can't be denied that security in Baghdad is not improving. But neither has it grown markedly worse. And it is a matter of underestimated significance that Iraqi political leaders continue to defy pundits and choose not to lead their communities into a "civil war." They are still sitting together in a government, however imperfect.

A recent poll shows Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki with favorable ratings in the 80%-plus range, which means Iraqis of all stripes are prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt. We hope Mr. Maliki appreciates the political capital he now has to forge compromises on the multitude of tough issues he faces--as well as the fact that this goodwill could evaporate rapidly if he fails to use it.





The immediate concern has to be some progress on security, and the Prime Minister deserves credit for striking an agreement last week to create pan-sectarian neighborhood security committees that could help increase Iraqis' trust in their own police. Iraqi security forces have been making progress against the al Qaeda network. And the recent agreement of leaders in Anbar province to unite against foreign terrorists is also an encouraging sign.
But the Iraqi government is falling short on the provision of security and other basic government services in part because of its lack of honest and competent officials at both ministerial and lower levels. The ministries were handed out mostly as part of a spoils system after the country's sectarian election, and within the ministries themselves there are many officials putting their own political concerns ahead of the country's. Exhibit A may be the Prime Minister's office itself, which is staffed by Dawa Party operatives of questionable competence. One way to reassure Iraqis that he is serious about governing would be for Mr. Maliki to start bringing in some better advisers--from outside the Shiite community if need be.

More importantly, Prime Minister Maliki will have to use his bully pulpit to forge the broad political compromises that are essential to long-run peace. A key issue here is what to do with Iraq's oil wealth. There has been a lot of talk about Sunni opposition to federalism, or strong regional governments. But the Sunnis are primarily worried that strong Kurdish and Shiite regions would hoard Iraq's mineral resources; Sunnis would probably appreciate some autonomy in Anbar province if they were assured they wouldn't be deprived of funds as a result.

In other words, the way to cut the Gordian Knot on federalism is to come up with an oil-sharing plan that guarantees the resource will be apportioned equally. Our favorite idea on this score is the one proposed by Ahmed Chalabi during the Constitutional debates last year, which is the establishment of an Alaska-style oil trust that would make direct payments to all Iraqi citizens.

We spoke last week with Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih and he told us the trust, or "dividend" as he called it, remains very much on the table--and is an idea he supports. He said Iraq's parties have already committed to having the oil wealth apportioned equally by the central government, but that a dispute remains over whether the central government will also have control over new exploration contracts.





This is a disagreement Prime Minister Maliki might want to spend some political capital to settle quickly. The federalism issue, and other challenges such as disarming the militias, will be easier to tackle once everyone understands they have a monetary stake in Iraq's success. Oil can be "a unifying resource, as opposed to a resource people will fight over," as Mr. Salih puts it.
Finally, a word about U.S. troop levels, which continue to be a subject of debate. We've always been skeptical that more troops are a silver bullet for Iraq's violence, much of which is about trying to influence the country's future political landscape. However, if another 10,000 or 20,000 or however many troops would reassure Iraqis in the months ahead that it's safe to make political compromises, then by all means President Bush should deploy them.

The key point is that Iraqis have to make their own political compromises to limit the incentive for violence, and sooner rather than later. The time has long since passed where the U.S. can play anything other than a supporting role in Iraq, and while the patience of the American public has been admirable it is not endless. Iraq will be what its democratically elected, constitutionally legitimate leaders now make of it. In particular, this is Nouri al-Maliki's moment.

27716  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Amateur MMA at R1 (RAW Gym) in El Segundo on: October 09, 2006, 07:54:16 AM
Next ones on 10/29  cool
27717  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: October 08, 2006, 04:05:39 PM
"I am not going to steal the thunder here but thanks for sharing and keeping it real."

Those who have been ARE the lightening and the thunder. 
27718  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA on: October 08, 2006, 04:02:26 PM
Surf Dog is judging at the UFC on the 14th!  cool
27719  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Tradition and Culture Thread on: October 08, 2006, 11:59:12 AM
Woof All:

Because of reflection triggered by the question posed at the beginning of this thread, we are in the process of revamping our application procedures for the DBMA Association.

The Adventure continues,
Guro Crafty
DBIMA
27720  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Lebanon on: October 08, 2006, 11:47:56 AM
The Accidental Prime Minister
Fuad Siniora: "We managed to stop Israel from winning."

BY MICHAEL YOUNG
Saturday, October 7, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT

BEIRUT--There was a time, not so long ago, when Fuad al-Siniora was the most vilified man in Lebanon. As the person in charge of the nation's finances under the late prime minister, Rafiq Hariri, he was regarded by the Lebanese as the abominable taxman. On the evening of Hariri's assassination on Feb. 14, 2005, it was another Mr. Siniora I recall seeing among a gathering of anti-Syrian opposition figures at the Hariri mansion--a proper technocrat, seemingly misplaced amid the promenading politicians. Yet when the opposition elected a majority to parliament later in the year, Mr. Siniora emerged, almost naturally, as the successor to his onetime boss. For now, despite efforts by an array of forces to bring his government down, Mr. Siniora remains firmly in place.

There is an urban Sunni merchant's litheness in that metamorphosis from staid number-cruncher to persuasive prime minister. A native of the southern port city of Sidon who started his career as a Citibank executive, Mr. Siniora is velvety and unflappable, as befits a maven of the Levantine marketplace. He avoids hard angles in favor of nods, winks and baroque compromises--qualities essential for herding the fat cats that make up Lebanese government.

Mr. Siniora receives me in his cavernous office in the Grand S?rail, an Ottoman barracks that after World War I housed the French Mandatory authorities. The vast structure, built in 1853, was destroyed during Lebanon's civil war, before Hariri rebuilt it as a headquarters for the prime minister. Mr. Siniora now works as well as lives there, with his family. These days, like most of Syria's Lebanese foes, he spends much time indoors, to avoid assassination.





During the summer war between Hezbollah and Israel, Mr. Siniora walked a tightrope. A seven-point plan he devised was instrumental in creating a framework for an exit from the conflict and the extension of Lebanese state authority to the southern border. But this little endeared him to Hezbollah, which controlled an autonomous area in the south from which the Lebanese Army had been excluded. As Israel began bombing after the abduction of two of its soldiers on July 12, the prime minister had to balance conflicting interests: to use the violence as leverage to loosen Hezbollah's hold over the south, but without appearing to betray the party, which controls two ministers in his cabinet.
The high-wire act is continuing. That's why Mr. Siniora will admit that "it's definitely difficult now for Hezbollah to conduct any military operation south of the Litani River"--but he won't gloat. On the contrary, he insists, "We managed to stop Israel from winning, for the second time since the October 1973 Arab-Israeli war. This is important in the conscience of the Arabs." When I point out he is being disingenuous, that he and his allies in the parliamentary majority were never keen to see Hezbollah make gains, let alone endorse its claim of having scored a "victory" against Israel, Mr. Siniora says: "There were heroic efforts by [Hezbollah] combatants and by Lebanese who received the displaced. But I don't claim we won a victory. We could have sent the army south without this war, and we've now done so for the first time in 35 years. But here were the negatives: My country was reoccupied; it was destroyed; Israel took us back 10 years [economically]; and we must comply with international resolutions that affect Lebanese sovereignty."

I bring up a prickly moment two weeks ago when Hezbollah's secretary-general, Hassan Nasrallah, speaking at a rally in Beirut's southern suburbs, mocked Mr. Siniora. Last August, during an Arab League foreign ministers' summit in Beirut at the height of the fighting, the prime minister dissolved into tears in the midst of a speech defending Lebanon's Arab bona fides. In his address, Mr. Nasrallah affirmed: "Tears don't liberate [land]." What did Mr. Siniora think of the statement? "I don't react to every word I hear. I take it easy. I have a high degree of serenity. . . . Yet the impact of those tears on all the Arab world was greater than a thousand rockets [Hezbollah] fired on Israel."

There was a less obvious subtext to the exchange. The Arab summit was very much an effort by the predominantly Sunni Arab states to contain Shiite Iran and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Their way of doing so was to support the Siniora plan, which sought to remove excuses for new wars in the south. This succeeded: Aspects of the seven-point plan, including Lebanon's declaring a desire to return to the 1949 Armistice Agreement with Israel, were integrated into the U.N. resolution that ended the fighting, and Hezbollah agreed to them, albeit reluctantly. Mr. Nasrallah, in ridiculing Mr. Siniora, was expressing antipathy for his attachment to a Sunni Arab order that Hezbollah loathes.

As for a return to the armistice, I suggest to Mr. Siniora that this is easier said than done. Some experts argue the agreement is no longer valid, given its repeated violations; others say it needs to be updated. More importantly, Hezbollah and Iran don't like it. Mr. Siniora is dismissive: "It doesn't have to be updated or renegotiated. It was approved by the government, and will be implemented de facto." But going back to an armistice first requires a resolution of the disputed Shebaa Farms issue. The U.N. says the farms area, occupied by Israel, is Syrian; the Lebanese say it is part of Lebanon. Mr. Siniora wants to place it under U.N. auspices until this is decided, in effect forcing the Israelis out. His aim is to deny Hezbollah a reason to pursue armed resistance there. But the U.N. is not enthusiastic. Won't this only encourage Hezbollah to say Mr. Siniora's methods have failed, justifying the guns again? "What can armed resistance bring?" he retorts. "Israel recently reoccupied Lebanon. Only diplomacy made them withdraw."

Would Hezbollah play along, given its Iranian agenda? "I must assume that, and act as if Hezbollah has a Lebanese agenda," he answers. However, his government is not taking chances: "There are no restrictions on the Lebanese army's movements in the south. It has clear instructions to prohibit the appearance of weapons or uniforms, and to confiscate them." More worrying is that the U.N. force helping the Lebanese might be attacked by al Qaeda, or by Islamists supported by Syria. Does Mr. Siniora consider this likely? "I don't think so," he answers, adding, far less reassuringly, "but we should take our precautions."





The prime minister tells me once again that he has "a high level of serenity," but he does seem unsettled by the increasing pressure from Hezbollah, Christian leader Michel Aoun, Syria and Iran for him and the parliamentary majority to accept a new "national unity" government. He even sounds mildly irritated: "Change is unwarranted. Our performance this summer was outstanding. We passed the seven-point plan, reworked the U.N. resolution on Lebanon in our favor, ended the hostilities, sent the army south, forced Israel out, and gained international support, including financial support. What more could be done?"
Some discern more sinister designs in the effort to bring the government down. A few days ago, on Wednesday, the influential Christian Maronite bishops issued a statement implying that the call for a broader cabinet was a furtive way of blocking progress in the Hariri investigation. In the coming weeks the government must consent to guidelines for a mixed tribunal to try those accused of involvement in the late prime minister's murder. Syria is the leading suspect, and Mr. Siniora's allies fear the push to change the government is meant to ensure there are enough pro-Syrian ministers to block any cabinet vote on the tribunal--or impose a limper court.

The prime minister is sanguine. "This is a tempest in a teapot. My experience in this cabinet is that in a very limited number of cases did we resort to voting. The tribunal was agreed upon [in a national dialogue between Lebanese leaders], and it's in no one's interest to make an issue of it." But his last phase is plainly a warning to Hezbollah, one Mr. Siniora repeats: "If someone tries to stop the legal process, then we must make sure we don't go back on what was agreed." When I ask whether Syria is the Svengali behind the new government plan, he sidesteps only slightly: "The effort is being made by people who are pro-Syrian."

But Mr. Siniora's strongest argument against a cabinet change comes in an anodyne phrase: "Nabih Birri says it might be difficult to form a new government, and could take Lebanon into a crisis to no one's advantage." Mr. Birri is the parliament speaker, and a Shiite. By invoking him, Mr. Siniora is using one powerful Shiite to offset the demands of another, Mr. Nasrallah, in warning that a political vacuum might ensue.

Politics are not the only thing the prime minister has to worry about. With a $40 billion debt, a GDP estimated at only $18 to $20 billion, and losses from the July-August conflict estimated by some U.N. agencies at over $10 billion, Lebanon is in dire financial straits. Mr. Siniora says the situation was already "unsustainable" before the "catastrophe," making reform imperative. What he outlines, however, is a dilemma.

Lebanon's credit rating is set to go down in the near future, and the government urgently needs revenue. However, Mr. Siniora is first to admit that, given the country's dark mood, "we cannot raise taxes, this would lead to a recession. We need alternative sources." He means privatization, particularly of the lucrative fixed and mobile telecommunications network.

Fair enough, except that unless the government shows tangible progress on financial reform soon, particularly on privatization, a long-anticipated international donor conference to help Lebanon out of its debt noose will not materialize. And like so much else, privatization remains vulnerable to political discord. So, when Mr. Siniora says the conference might happen "I hope before the end of the year," I have my doubts.

A government priority is compensating those whose homes were destroyed in the recent fighting. Hezbollah garnered publicity by handing money to victims out of suitcases, an approach it sought to contrast with the slowness of the state's reaction. Does Mr. Siniora see himself in competition with the party? "No. We have an obligation toward the people. It was not their mistake that they suffered." He accepts that "Hezbollah might politicize the relief effort against the government," and when I ask whether the party's distribution of funds had provoked problems in certain villages, Mr. Siniora probably sees an opportunity to get one back: "I've heard there are problems. Giving more aid to certain people and less to others creates a great deal of sensitivity."

As we wrap up, the inevitable question provokes an inevitable answer. I ask Mr. Siniora what it feels like being a marked man. "I'm a believer. I know that if anything must happen, it will happen. But I take my precautions. I'm afraid of God. My mother once said: 'Don't be afraid of whoever is afraid of God.' " Many of Mr. Siniora's enemies will readily admit, of course, to a fear of God. What he must worry about is that they will increasingly fear Fuad al-Siniora, the accidental prime minister who may have turned out to be more than they bargained for.

Mr. Young, a Lebanese national, is opinion editor at the Daily Star newspaper in Beirut and a contributing editor at Reason magazine.

27721  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: October 08, 2006, 07:50:29 AM
The Secret Letter From Iraq
A Marine's letter home, with its frank description of life in "Dante's inferno," has been circulating through generals' in-boxes. We publish it here with the author's approval

Posted Friday, Oct. 06, 2006
Written last month, this straightforward account of life in Iraq by a Marine officer was initially sent just to a small group of family and friends. His honest but wry narration and unusually frank dissection of the mission contrasts sharply with the story presented by both sides of the Iraq war debate, the Pentagon spin masters and fierce critics. Perhaps inevitably, the "Letter from Iraq" moved quickly beyond the small group of acquantainaces and hit the inboxes of retired generals, officers in the Pentagon, and staffers on Capitol Hill. TIME's Sally B. Donnelly first received a copy three weeks ago but only this week was able to track down the author and verify the document's authenticity. The author wishes to remain anonymous but has allowed us to publish it here ? with a few judicious omissions.

All: I haven't written very much from Iraq. There's really not much to write about. More exactly, there's not much I can write about because practically everything I do, read or hear is classified military information or is depressing to the point that I'd rather just forget about it, never mind write about it. The gaps in between all of that are filled with the pure tedium of daily life in an armed camp. So it's a bit of a struggle to think of anything to put into a letter that's worth reading. Worse, this place just consumes you. I work 18-20-hour days, every day. The quest to draw a clear picture of what the insurgents are up to never ends. Problems and frictions crop up faster than solutions. Every challenge demands a response. It's like this every day. Before I know it, I can't see straight, because it's 0400 and I've been at work for 20 hours straight, somehow missing dinner again in the process. And once again I haven't written to anyone. It starts all over again four hours later. It's not really like Ground Hog Day, it's more like a level from Dante's Inferno.

Rather than attempting to sum up the last seven months, I figured I'd just hit the record-setting highlights of 2006 in Iraq. These are among the events and experiences I'll remember best.

Worst Case of D?j? Vu ? I thought I was familiar with the feeling of d?j? vu until I arrived back here in Fallujah in February. The moment I stepped off of the helicopter, just as dawn broke, and saw the camp just as I had left it ten months before ? that was d?j? vu. Kind of unnerving. It was as if I had never left. Same work area, same busted desk, same chair, same computer, same room, same creaky rack, same... everything. Same everything for the next year. It was like entering a parallel universe. Home wasn't 10,000 miles away, it was a different lifetime.

Most Surreal Moment ? Watching Marines arrive at my detention facility and unload a truck load of flex-cuffed midgets. 26 to be exact. We had put the word out earlier in the day to the Marines in Fallujah that we were looking for Bad Guy X, who was described as a midget. Little did I know that Fallujah was home to a small community of midgets, who banded together for support since they were considered as social outcasts. The Marines were anxious to get back to the midget colony to bring in the rest of the midget suspects, but I called off the search, figuring Bad Guy X was long gone on his short legs after seeing his companions rounded up by the giant infidels.

Most Profound Man in Iraq ? an unidentified farmer in a fairly remote area who, after being asked by Reconnaissance Marines if he had seen any foreign fighters in the area replied "Yes, you."

Worst City in al-Anbar Province ? Ramadi, hands down. The provincial capital of 400,000 people. Lots and lots of insurgents killed in there since we arrived in February. Every day is a nasty gun battle. They blast us with giant bombs in the road, snipers, mortars and small arms. We blast them with tanks, attack helicopters, artillery, our snipers (much better than theirs), and every weapon that an infantryman can carry. Every day. Incredibly, I rarely see Ramadi in the news. We have as many attacks out here in the west as Baghdad. Yet, Baghdad has 7 million people, we have just 1.2 million. Per capita, al-Anbar province is the most violent place in Iraq by several orders of magnitude. I suppose it was no accident that the Marines were assigned this area in 2003.

Bravest Guy in al-Anbar Province ? Any Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician (EOD Tech). How'd you like a job that required you to defuse bombs in a hole in the middle of the road that very likely are booby-trapped or connected by wire to a bad guy who's just waiting for you to get close to the bomb before he clicks the detonator? Every day. Sanitation workers in New York City get paid more than these guys. Talk about courage and commitment.

Second Bravest Guy in al-Anbar Province ? It's a 20,000-way tie among all these Marines and Soldiers who venture out on the highways and through the towns of al-Anbar every day, not knowing if it will be their last ? and for a couple of them, it will be.

Worst E-Mail Message ? "The Walking Blood Bank is Activated. We need blood type A+ stat." I always head down to the surgical unit as soon as I get these messages, but I never give blood ? there's always about 80 Marines in line, night or day.

Biggest Surprise ? Iraqi Police. All local guys. I never figured that we'd get a police force established in the cities in al-Anbar. I estimated that insurgents would kill the first few, scaring off the rest. Well, insurgents did kill the first few, but the cops kept on coming. The insurgents continue to target the police, killing them in their homes and on the streets, but the cops won't give up. Absolutely incredible tenacity. The insurgents know that the police are far better at finding them than we are ? and they are finding them. Now, if we could just get them out of the habit of beating prisoners to a pulp...

Greatest Vindication ? Stocking up on outrageous quantities of Diet Coke from the chow hall in spite of the derision from my men on such hoarding, then having a 122mm rocket blast apart the giant shipping container that held all of the soda for the chow hall. Yep, you can't buy experience.

Biggest Mystery ? How some people can gain weight out here. I'm down to 165 lbs. Who has time to eat?

Second Biggest Mystery ? if there's no atheists in foxholes, then why aren't there more people at Mass every Sunday?

Favorite Iraqi TV Show ? Oprah. I have no idea. They all have satellite TV.

Coolest Insurgent Act ? Stealing almost $7 million from the main bank in Ramadi in broad daylight, then, upon exiting, waving to the Marines in the combat outpost right next to the bank, who had no clue of what was going on. The Marines waved back. Too cool.

Most Memorable Scene ? In the middle of the night, on a dusty airfield, watching the better part of a battalion of Marines packed up and ready to go home after over six months in al-Anbar, the relief etched in their young faces even in the moonlight. Then watching these same Marines exchange glances with a similar number of grunts loaded down with gear file past ? their replacements. Nothing was said. Nothing needed to be said.

Highest Unit Re-enlistment Rate ? Any outfit that has been in Iraq recently. All the danger, all the hardship, all the time away from home, all the horror, all the frustrations with the fight here ? all are outweighed by the desire for young men to be part of a band of brothers who will die for one another. They found what they were looking for when they enlisted out of high school. Man for man, they now have more combat experience than any Marines in the history of our Corps.

Most Surprising Thing I Don't Miss ? Beer. Perhaps being half-stunned by lack of sleep makes up for it.

Worst Smell ? Porta-johns in 120-degree heat ? and that's 120 degrees outside of the porta-john.

Highest Temperature ? I don't know exactly, but it was in the porta-johns. Needed to re-hydrate after each trip to the loo.

Biggest Hassle ? High-ranking visitors. More disruptive to work than a rocket attack. VIPs demand briefs and "battlefield" tours (we take them to quiet sections of Fallujah, which is plenty scary for them). Our briefs and commentary seem to have no effect on their preconceived notions of what's going on in Iraq. Their trips allow them to say that they've been to Fallujah, which gives them an unfortunate degree of credibility in perpetuating their fantasies about the insurgency here.

Biggest Outrage ? Practically anything said by talking heads on TV about the war in Iraq, not that I get to watch much TV. Their thoughts are consistently both grossly simplistic and politically slanted. Biggest Offender: Bill O'Reilly.

Best Intel Work ? Finding Jill Carroll's kidnappers ? all of them. I was mighty proud of my guys that day. I figured we'd all get the Christian Science Monitor for free after this, but none have showed up yet.

Saddest Moment ? Having an infantry battalion commander hand me the dog tags of one of my Marines who had just been killed while on a mission with his unit. Hit by a 60mm mortar. He was a great Marine. I felt crushed for a long time afterward. His picture now hangs at the entrance to our section area. We'll carry it home with us when we leave in February.

Best Chuck Norris Moment ? 13 May. Bad Guys arrived at the government center in a small town to kidnap the mayor, since they have a problem with any form of government that does not include regular beheadings and women wearing burqahs. There were seven of them. As they brought the mayor out to put him in a pick-up truck to take him off to be beheaded (on video, as usual), one of the Bad Guys put down his machine gun so that he could tie the mayor's hands. The mayor took the opportunity to pick up the machine gun and drill five of the Bad Guys. The other two ran away. One of the dead Bad Guys was on our top twenty wanted list. Like they say, you can't fight City Hall.

Worst Sound ? That crack-boom off in the distance that means an IED or mine just went off. You just wonder who got it, hoping that it was a near miss rather than a direct hit. Hear it practically every day.

Second Worst Sound ? Our artillery firing without warning. The howitzers are pretty close to where I work. Believe me, outgoing sounds a lot like incoming when our guns are firing right over our heads. They'd about knock the fillings out of your teeth.

Only Thing Better in Iraq Than in the U.S. ? Sunsets. Spectacular. It's from all the dust in the air.

Proudest Moment ? It's a tie every day, watching our Marines produce phenomenal intelligence products that go pretty far in teasing apart Bad Guy operations in al-Anbar. Every night Marines and Soldiers are kicking in doors and grabbing Bad Guys based on intelligence developed by our guys. We rarely lose a Marine during these raids, they are so well-informed of the objective. A bunch of kids right out of high school shouldn't be able to work so well, but they do.

Happiest Moment ? Well, it wasn't in Iraq. There are no truly happy moments here. It was back in California when I was able to hold my family again while home on leave during July.

Most Common Thought ? Home. Always thinking of home, of my great wife and the kids. Wondering how everyone else is getting along. Regretting that I don't write more. Yep, always thinking of home.

I hope you all are doing well. If you want to do something for me, kiss a cop, flush a toilet, and drink a beer. I'll try to write again before too long ? I promise.
27722  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Free Speech vs. Islamic Fascism (formerly Buy DANISH!!!) on: October 08, 2006, 07:33:22 AM
Interesting that some of the response seems to be less or even non-violent this time:
================

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood denounces what it calls 'new Danish insults' to Islam
The Associated Press

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 7, 2006

CAIRO, Egypt Egypt's largest Islamic group, the Muslim Brotherhood, on Saturday denounced what it called "new Danish insults" to Islam and urged the world to boycott countries that allow offenses to all religions.

The Brotherhood's condemnation came a day after word spread about a Web video showing young members of a populist Danish political party mocking Islam's Prophet Muhammad.

The video showed people in their 20s and 30s participating in a drawing contest at a summer camp for the Danish People's Party Youth last August. They appeared to have been drinking alcohol.

The footage shows a woman presenting a drawing of a camel and saying it has "the head of Muhammad" and beer bottles as humps. The group laughs as the woman, who was not identified, explained the drawing.

"Muslims are shocked by this new Danish insult," the Muslim Brotherhood said in a statement issued Saturday. It described the drawing as "the ugliest for God's most honorable human being, peace be upon him."

Kenneth Christensen, chairman of the Danish People's Party Youth ? known for its anti-immigration stance ? refused to apologize Friday for the actions of its members, but acknowledged they were problematic.

"It is bad style because it overshadows our political line," Christensen said. But he added that he believed it was "OK to poke fun at Muhammad, Jesus or Bill Clinton."

The Brotherhood, which enjoys wide popularity in Egypt and across the Arab World, urged Muslims on Saturday to boycott products from Denmark and any other country that would allow such an "insult."

It also called on Muslims to "express denouncement through peaceful means, by demonstrations and protests."

The drawings depicted in the video, like the pope's comments about Islam earlier this month and Danish cartoons mocking Muhammad last year, were likely to provoke Muslims and could trigger a new round of angry demonstrations all around the world.

"The repetition of such actions is evidence of the depth of enmity carried by certain sectors in the West toward Islam and the prophet," the Brotherhood statement said.

In September 2005, the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten printed drawings of the Prophet Muhammad. Four months later, they were reprinted in a range of Western media, triggering protests from Morocco to Indonesia.

Some Islamic leaders called for the cartoonists to be killed. Throughout the crisis, the Danish government resisted calls to apologize for the cartoons and said it could not be held responsible for the actions of Denmark's independent media.

Islamic law is interpreted to forbid any depiction of the prophet for fear it could lead to idolatry.



8 October 2006



JAKARTA - A video lampooning the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) broadcast in Denmark has angered groups in Indonesia, the world?s largest Muslim-majority nation.


Denmark?s national TV2 channel on Friday broadcast excerpts from the video showing Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as a beer-drinking camel and as a drunken terrorist attacking Copenhagen.

The video, filmed in August, was made by members of the far-right Danish People?s Party.

It shows the Prophet being mocked during a summer party, with some portraying Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as dressed in a turban and wearing a belt with explosives, as others look on and laugh.

?In Islam, death is the penalty for insulting the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), visually through a caricature or verbally, except if the doer regrets his deed and promises not to repeat it,? said Fausan Al Ansori, a spokesman for the hardline Indonesian Muhajehdin Council.

He added: ?Danish authorities should think seriously, are they going to defend, in the name of human rights, one or two of its citizens who clearly insulted the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), and sacrifice its relations with the Islamic world??

The Danish embassy in Jakarta had to close down for weeks in Februaryfollowing angry protests over cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) published in the European nation and reprinted elsewhere.

Muslims consider all images of the Prophet to be blasphemous.

?I remind the Danish government, do not provoke (us). If the government of Denmark cannot maintain harmony, it will have to bear the risks,? said Tifatul Sembiring, the head of the Prosperous Justice Party, in a Detikcom online report.

?A state system should be able to control its citizens. (  shocked )  It is very regretful that provocation is repeating itself without the (Danish) government doing anything,? Sembiring said.

Amidhan, the chairman of the Indonesian Council of Ulema, the country?s highest authority on Islam, criticised the caricature of the Prophet.

?I cannot accept this. Denmark should give attention to this because no matter what, the country also bears responsibility over the actions of its citizens,? he told ElShinta radio.
27723  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Invitation to dialog to Muslims on: October 08, 2006, 07:26:35 AM

Speakout: Muslims must both denounce, renounce their violent hadiths
By Dr. Tawfik Hamid

Dr. Tawfik Hamid, an Egyptian physician, Islamic scholar and former
extremist, is the author of The Roots of Jihad (www.rootsofjihad.org). Hamid
will be speaking in Denver at the University of Denver on Monday at 7:30
p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students.

Rocky Mountain News
http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/opinion/article/0,1299,DRMN_38_5048866,00.html
October 6, 2006

Ayman al-Zawahri, al-Qaida's No. 2 man, leader, last month announced that
Americans must choose: Convert to Islam or continue to receive acts of
terror.

Al-Zawahri was reiterating a fundamental concept of Salafi Islamic teaching,
the fountainhead of extremist thinking. Yet the authors of the American
government's recent intelligence report on terrorism's spread seem not to
have been listening.

Zawahri's threat is based on a saying of the Prophet Muhammad as written in
Sahih Al-Buchary, a central book of Salafi Islamic teaching. This hadith, or
fundamental concept, states: "I have been ordered by Allah to fight and kill
all mankind until they say, 'No God except Allah and Muhammad is the prophet
of Allah' (Hadith Sahih)."

Based on this hadith, early Muslims used the sword to spread Islam
throughout the world. The same hadith inspires contemporary Islamic terror
including this summer's thwarted London airplane explosions. Other
rationales that terrorists use to justify terrorism - the Arab-Israeli
conflict, America's involvement in Iraq - are simply useful propaganda cover
stories, not the actual causes or goals of terrorists' actions.

Americans must be wary of political leaders who accept the propaganda
explanations. To win the war on terror, America's leaders must recognize the
powerful role of the Islamic religious principle of jihad, Islam's belief
that it must conquer the world, which derives from the above hadith. Belief
in jihad is what causes so many Muslims worldwide to cheer terrorist acts
such as 9/11, European subway bombings, and Hezbollah and Hamas attacks
against Israel.

Allowing jihadist teaching to continue is like allowing cancer cells to
survive in a human body.

The human immune system demonstrates that nurturing normal cells and
respecting their variance sustains life. A healthy body nourishes cell
diversity. A healthy body politic, similarly, must value respect for
different beliefs. At the same time, if an immune system shows any tolerance
whatsoever for cancer cells, the latter will terminate that body's life. The
immune system of a body politic must have a similar zero tolerance for
beliefs that incite violence against its citizens.

Cancer can be overcome if an individual has a strong immune system that acts
to triumph over the killer cells. Similarly, the cancerous teachings of
Salafi Islam could become insignificant if the majority of Muslims were to
vocally oppose them.

Unfortunately, however, the vast majority of Muslims, Islamic organizations
and Islamic scholars have not publicly objected to these teachings. There
have been no powerful Muslim demonstrations to denounce Osama bin Laden and
not a single fatwa by top Islamic scholars or organizations to consider bin
Laden an apostate - as was done to Salman Rushdie just for writing a novel.

Because the teachings continue, a significant proportion of the world's
Muslims have become passive terrorists, peaceful citizens whose sympathy in
their hearts and support with their purses enable terrorism's spread.

If Islamic scholars and organizations in America disapprove of jihadist
teachings, they must speak out against them. Americans should consider
Muslims to be moderates, and Islam a peaceful faith, only if, in English and
in Arabic, Muslims clearly denounce their violent hadiths and strike them
from the books that educate their next generation.

In addition to internal immune reactions, externally applied interventions
also can destroy cancer cells. Like cancer-fighting chemotherapy, strongly
applied military might can reduce large tumors. America eliminated al-Qaida
training camps in Afghanistan, but the verdict is not yet in on whether
Israel this past summer similarly decimated Hezbollah.

To conquer the metastases of extremist Islam, however, words may be the most
potent weapons. Outspoken condemnation of the theological sources of
terrorism by American intellectuals and politicians, reinforcing the
self-examination of Muslims themselves, could make a vital difference.

Addressing the theological wellsprings of Islamic terrorist motivation is
essential if America is to succeed in its war against terrorism. Pope
Benedict XVI has begun leading the way. Neither political correctness nor
Muslim outrage must be allowed to prevent further realistic talk about the
religious underpinnings of Islamic violence. Otherwise Islamic teaching will
continue to spread jihad's cancerous beliefs.

27724  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans on: October 07, 2006, 08:38:45 AM
EL CAJON, Calif. ? Sgt. Cameron Murad wanders the strip malls and parking lots of this Iraqi immigrant enclave in the arid foothills beyond San Diego. Wherever he goes, a hush seems to follow.

(This is the second article in an occasional series looking at the experiences of Muslims and the United States military. The final article will deal with one woman?s efforts to enlist and serve. )

 Jim Wilson/The New York Times

 

Sgt. Cameron Murad leaves the Kurdish Human Rights Watch offices, where he saw fliers offering six-figure salaries for civilian linguists. He stands by the entrance of a Middle Eastern grocery in khakis and a baseball cap, trying to blend in. He smiles gently. He offers the occasional Arabic greeting. Quietly, he searches the aisles for a version of himself: an Iraqi expatriate with greater ambition than prospects, a Muslim immigrant willing to fight an American war.

There are countless hard jobs for American soldiers supporting the occupation of Iraq. Few seem more impossible than the one assigned to Sergeant Murad. As the conflict grows increasingly violent and unpopular, the sergeant must persuade native Arabic speakers to enlist and serve with front-line troops.

?I feel like a nomad in the middle of the desert, looking for green pastures,? said Sergeant Murad, 34, who is from the Kurdish region of Iraq.

Linguists have emerged as critical figures in the occupation. They interpret for commanders in meetings with mayors and sheiks. They translate during the interrogation of Iraqi prisoners. They shadow troops on risky missions. In the pressing search for Arabic speakers, the military has turned to Middle Eastern immigrants in the United States. Sergeant Murad is a rising star in this effort. He has recruited 10 men to the program in little more than a year, a record unrivaled in the Army National Guard.

Still, he is an unlikely foot soldier in the campaign. His own evolution ? from a teenage immigrant who landed in North Dakota after the first gulf war to a spit-and-polish sergeant ? has been marked with private suffering. In boot camp, he was called a ?raghead.? Comrades have questioned his patriotism. Last year a staff sergeant greeted him by calling out, ?Here comes the Taliban!?  He remembers a day in 2002 when the comedian Drew Carey visited a base in Saudi Arabia where he was working. During a skit, Sergeant Murad recalled, Mr. Carey dropped to the ground to mimic the Muslim prayer. As the troops roared with laughter, Sergeant Murad walked out.

?I thought about my mom when she prays, how humble she is,? he said.

Yet, day after day, Sergeant Murad sets out to sell other immigrants on the life he has lived. He believes that Muslims need the military more than ever, he said: At a time when many feel alienated, it offers them a path to assimilation, a way to become undeniably American.

It has proved, for him and others, the ultimate rite of passage.

?It?s almost like Superman wearing his cape,? said Gunnery Sgt. Jamal Baadani, 42, an Egyptian immigrant with the United States Marine Corps. ?I?ve got my uniform on, and you can?t take that away from me because I?ve earned it.?

Sergeant Murad has earned it, but with a price. He has changed his name. He has drifted from Islam. He often finds himself at odds with the immigrants he is trying to enlist. To many of them, he is a mystery. He sees himself as a man of unavoidable contradictions: an American patriot and a loyal Kurd; a champion of the military to outsiders, a survivor within its ranks.

Feeling Like an Outcast

The sergeant is six feet tall, but often stands shrunken, his hands politely clasped. He has a long, distinguished nose and wears glasses that darken in the sun but never fully fade, lending him a distant aura.

He plies the streets of El Cajon in a rumbling, black Toyota Tacoma pickup. In the back, he carries stacks of fliers advertising what the Army calls the ?09-Lima? program.

Through the program, speakers of Arabic, Farsi, Dari, Pashto and Kurdish are sent to boot camp like other soldiers. They later receive specialized training as linguists, and a majority are deployed to Iraq.

Of the thousands of interpreters working for the military in Iraq, most are civilians under contract, some of whom earn as much as $170,000 a year. But military commanders prefer uniformed linguists because they cannot refuse combat missions and are subjected to more thorough security checks.

They are offered a fraction of what many civilian linguists earn, with salaries starting at roughly $28,000, including allowances. The program?s perks, such as expedited citizenship, a starting bonus and medical coverage, are a major draw, military officials said.

Since the Army created the program in 2003, more than 800 people have signed up. But nearly 40 percent of them have either dropped out or failed language tests or boot camp. Enlistment in the program has improved with the help of civilian Arabic speakers contracted by the Army to recruit.

 In California, the Army National Guard is trying the same approach, but with troops. Capt. Hatem Abdine assembled a team of soldiers of mostly Middle Eastern descent to help recruit full time, and brought Sergeant Murad on board last year.
In April, the sergeant arrived in El Cajon. Before his first week was up, he felt like an outcast.

Stacks of fliers and business cards that he had left in grocery stores had vanished. Cashiers who welcomed him on his first visits were suddenly too busy to talk. One manager fled the store. The owner of another shop turned his back and flipped kebobs over a high-licking flame.

?They?re so agitated when I approach them,? Sergeant Murad said. ?Is it because I?m ugly? I don?t think I?m that ugly.?

Nestled in a parched valley, El Cajon drew its first Iraqi settlers half a century ago because of the resemblance it bore to their homeland. The population boomed in the 1990?s when thousands of refugees ? primarily Kurds and Shiites ? joined what had long been the domain of whites and Hispanics.

Sergeant Murad makes his rounds with a truck full of Army promotional items, including a box of T-shirts that state, in Arabic, ?If you can read this? ? and then in English ? ?the National Guard needs you.? He cannot bring himself to wear one.

?To put on that shirt and keep a face free of blush ? it?s just an impossible thing for me to do,? he said

He favors a more subdued approach. He strolls into restaurants and barber shops, as though he were just passing through. He offers a smooth, ?Assalamu alaikum,? or peace be upon you.

A conversation begins. Soon, Sergeant Murad is reminiscing about his hometown, Kirkuk. Then, almost as an afterthought, he mentions his job. ?Call if you know anyone,? he says, offering a card. But the calls rarely come. When they do, recruitment is hard won. In the fall of 2005, Sergeant Murad signed up his first two recruits. Over the next 12 months, he found about 20 other men. Half of them changed their minds.  Most often, recruits do not follow through because of objections from a parent or spouse. Others learn of more lucrative opportunities. Store windows in El Cajon are plastered with fliers advertising the six-figure salaries offered to civilian interpreters. Some of the sergeant?s candidates are overcome by fear. A 33-year-old Egyptian man from Hemet, Calif., withdrew from the program in June after watching news from the region on Arabic television channels.

?I know what?s happening over there,? said the man, who would not give his name. ?My kids need me more than the money.?

From late 2002 to May 2006, 172 civilian contract linguists were killed in Afghanistan and Iraq, representing 2.6 percent of the roughly 6,500 linguists who worked for United States coalition forces, a Department of Defense official said. None of the 152 interpreters who have served in Iraq for the 09-Lima program have been killed. But that fact carries little weight in El Cajon, where memories of violence linger.

?They came here to live in peace and now you?re asking them to go to war,? said the owner of a bakery on Main Street who had fought against Iran with Saddam Hussein?s army. ?We are full up of the war.?

In the pursuit of trust, it does not help that Sergeant Murad is Kurdish. The Kurds, like the Shiites, are often seen to have an interest in promoting the American occupation of Iraq because of the repression they suffered under Mr. Hussein. The sergeant, who refers to the occupation as ?the liberation,? does not hide his impassioned support of the war, or the fact that he is Kurdish. Sometimes, this backfires. When he told an Iraqi woman at a Laundromat that he was Kurdish, she snapped, ?Saddam was a wonderful president.?

Page 3 of 4)



One afternoon last April, Sergeant Murad dropped by the Main Street bakery, bought a box of chocolates and left another stack of pamphlets behind. He was sure they would be tossed, but seemed not to care. He was feeling giddy.

For the first time in weeks, he had a candidate.
The Sting of 9/11

Sergeant Murad?s path to the United States military began 15 years ago, on a lush meadow in Kurdistan. American helicopters hovered overhead, dropping packets of dehydrated food to thousands of refugees, including Sergeant Murad, his three brothers and their parents.  The next day, they reached a refugee camp run by the United States military in Zakho. There, a group of marines was standing guard, hefty, tattooed and smiling. Sergeant Murad, then 18 and rail-thin, thought the men looked like warriors. Soon after, in September 1991, the family arrived in Minot, N.D., as political refugees. A year later, Sergeant Murad got his green card and enlisted in the Army.

?If a person like me isn?t obligated to serve this country, who is?? he said. ?I had to make a decision that this is my country, that this side is my side.?

He entered the military as Kamaran Taha Muhammad. When he got to boot camp at Fort Jackson, S.C., he spoke choppy English. He was, and remains, a shy man. ?If a fly looks at me, I turn red,? Sergeant Murad said. But the first time a fellow soldier insulted him, he threw a punch. He fought often enough that he was relegated to kitchen patrol. In time, Sergeant Murad made friends. When he graduated as a light-wheel mechanic, his fellow soldiers cheered. The first few years of his military life went smoothly. He was stationed at a base in Germany. After his tour of duty ended, he found work as the head civilian linguist at an Air Force base in Riyadh. 

But on Sept. 11, 2001, as Sergeant Murad watched the attacks on television in Riyadh, he felt a searing angst. The next day, he walked into the dining hall holding a tray, and stopped at a table of officers he knew.

He told them he was sorry. No one responded.

?He didn?t know where he fit in,? said Fernando Muzquiz, 42, now a retired master sergeant with the Air Force.

Sergeant Murad experienced a shift after Sept. 11, both in his relationship to Islam and to America. It was as if a fault line crept through him.

As a Muslim, he felt ashamed.

?I was crushed theologically,? he said. He pored through the Koran, looking for proof that it condemned terrorism. But from the loud speakers of mosques in Riyadh, he heard sheiks praying for the mujahedeen.  From Americans, he felt the sting of suspicion. On trips home to Minnesota, where his parents had moved, Sergeant Murad noticed the new attention he got at airports. In Atlanta, a security officer saw his last name, which was still Muhammad, and called out, ?We got one.?

Sergeant Murad wanted to prove his loyalty. He got his chance when the United States invaded Iraq.

By then, he was working in Bahrain as a civilian linguist with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. (He had lost his job in Riyadh after taking an unauthorized trip off base, which he attributed to a lapse of judgment.)  In Bahrain, he was elated to learn that he would be sent to southern Iraq on a top-secret mission with the Navy Seals. But several days into the voyage, he heard a sailor on his ship whisper, ?Cam is one of them.?  Sergeant Murad stopped working for the Navy in March, with his mission in Iraq successfully completed.  That month, he changed his name.

?In a way, it was my reaction to say, ?No, I am not the same as this criminal, this coward,? ? said Sergeant Murad, referring to Osama bin Laden. ?I am an American, I am Cam, I am a naturalized citizen.?

Kamaran became Cameron. Muhammad was dropped for another, less conspicuous family name, Murad. The middle name he chose was perhaps most surprising: Fargo. ?I always wanted a connection to North Dakota,? he said.

Even with a new name, Sergeant Murad felt ill at ease back in the United States. He has stopped going to mosques. He no longer considers himself a practicing Muslim. He has few Middle Eastern friends.

?If somebody?s name is on a list, and that person has my name or contact number, I will get harassed,? he said.

The Army, he decided, was the most comfortable place to be. In 2005, he joined the National Guard full time. He is careful to tell potential recruits about the military?s zero tolerance policy on discrimination, and urges them to file complaints should harassment occur.

Still, Sergeant Murad has never filed a complaint of his own. During several interviews, he was reluctant to talk about his negative experiences, saying that he did not want to ?whine? and that all immigrants endure hardship before they are accepted.

Last year, when an instructor at an Army base referred to Sergeant Murad as ?the Taliban,? he laughed along.
?I laughed not to cause trouble,? he said. ?I laughed because I am really getting tired of this. I laughed because I know it?s a hopeless situation. What do you do? You just have to laugh.?

?It doesn?t matter what you think of me,? he said. ?Like it or not, I?m your brother in arms.?

Closing the Deal

The new candidate?s name was Khaled. Sergeant Murad jotted down his number, passed on by the captain. The Iraqi immigrant had called after spotting a brochure about the program, the captain explained. And there was one more thing: the man was on the fence. Sergeant Murad?s job is often one of delicate persuasion. He began by talking to Khaled, who lived near El Cajon, on the phone. (To protect his identity, the military requested that his last name not be published.)  By the time they agreed to meet, Sergeant Murad felt uneasy. Not only was Khaled a Sunni; he was from Mr. Hussein?s home province. A stout man with a mustache answered the door. He seemed overweight for the rigors of boot camp, thought the sergeant, and his age ? 39 ? was just short of the cutoff. They stiffly shook hands, and then sat and sipped tea in a tidy, candle-scented apartment. A framed picture showed Khaled, his wife and three children waving from Disney World. Since arriving in the United States in 1999, Khaled had hopped from one low-wage job to another, pumping gas, stocking groceries. Now, he told Sergeant Murad, he had made up his mind. He needed the educational loans the military offered. Still, he was nervous.

?I?m expecting a shock,? said Khaled. ?I?ve been hearing good things, bad things.?

As he does with all recruits, Sergeant Murad warned Khaled that he might be hazed at boot camp, and distrusted by other soldiers. But over time, the sergeant promised, he would make friends.

The two men sat talking until the afternoon turned to dusk. The sergeant gave Khaled tips on how to lose weight, and promised to help prepare him for the English tests. Before parting, they embraced. As Sergeant Murad drove off, he smiled and shook his head. ?This is an Arab from the Sunni Triangle trusting a Kurd with his life,? he said.

Khaled entered boot camp in July and is now in advanced training.

Often, finding recruits is only the beginning of Sergeant Murad?s job. He spends time with their families after they have joined up, reassuring mothers that their sons will eat properly, and helping wives fill out insurance forms. Last April, Sergeant Murad drove to a boxy stucco house to visit the pregnant wife of a 22-year-old Shiite recruit. The woman was worried about her husband?s safety in Iraq.

?The fact that he?s an Iraqi ? it?s unfathomable to these nationals that he would be with the United States military,? she said in Arabic, perched on a couch next to her mother-in-law.

?He is Muslim and in the military ? it doesn?t look right.?

The older woman frowned.

?If it were up to me, I would make you join the military because they freed you from Saddam,? she told her daughter-in-law.

Boot camp had been effective, the mother said. Her son seemed newly disciplined, more mature. There was only one thing she disliked: his limited vacation.

?Just two weeks!? she said. ?Even in the army of Saddam Hussein, this wasn?t the case.?

On a sunny afternoon in August, Sergeant Murad was back in his truck, cruising El Cajon with a fresh stack of business cards. He was learning to avoid certain shops. He waved mockingly at the kebab store as his truck rolled by, no longer concerned about who might be watching. He had come to the conclusion that first impressions counted little. Plenty of Iraqis had misjudged him. Eventually, though, they grew to like him.  It was the same with soldiers, Sergeant Murad said. He looked back on his time in boot camp as the ultimate proof that hardship can be overcome, and wary comrades, won over.

?In the end, when somebody gets to know Cam the soldier, Cam the citizen, they always take my side,? he said. ?That?s where my triumph is. The hurt goes away.?
27725  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: October 07, 2006, 07:26:26 AM
We're Ignoring Simple Measures to Prevent Terrorist Infiltration of Borders & Prisons
By Michael Cutler

It seems that the only thing that is predictable where our nation's supposed "War on Terror" is concerned is that incompetence is the order of the day. A recent ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) press release dealt with a thwarted effort by a translator, who was employed as a contract translator at a U.S. military base in Afghanistan, to secure an immigrant visa as the result of a fraudulent petition. I believe it is important to once again provide you with this press release because it meshes with the story in yesterday's "Washington Times" about a lack of translators who can read mail and other documents of detainees who are suspected of being involved in terrorism. According to the article, this lack of translators also prevents the Bureau of Prison, the agency in charge of these prisons, from monitoring verbal communications as well. This, in my opinion, creates two major critical issues that are not being addressed. First of all, it is important for officials in charge of a jail to be able to know what is going on to help prevent escapes and assaults on prison guards as well as other inmates. Second, this failure to read these letters and monitor phone conversations and other oral communication also impedes efforts to gain critical intelligence that might be culled from a review of all of these various potential sources of information.

We face a ludicrous paradox: While we agonize over how much pressure interrogators should bear against inmates who might possess intelligence that might be critical in preventing future terrorist attacks, our government is missing what might be critical information that would not even involve the interrogation of prisoners, only the ability to read and understand the languages in which they communicate, including Arabic.

Interestingly, I have recommended in testimony before Congress that it is essential to mandate that ICE enforcement personnel successfully complete a Spanish language training program, which was mandated when I attended Border Patrol Academy in 1972, as were all INS enforcement personnel. I further recommended that in addition to Spanish language training (a reasonable requirement since the great majority of illegal aliens are Spanish-speaking), that the ICE academy also provide other language training where strategic languages are concerned. Among those languages would be Arabic, Farsi and Urdu. Thus far, ICE special agents are still receiving absolutely no foreign language training! Apparently Bureau of Prison personnel are similarly hobbled by a lack of language training.

I hate to keep on saying the same things, but we need to remember that we are at war. Three thousand innocent victims of the attacks of September 11, 2001 provide mute testimony to that simple fact. Yet, the "Can-do" attitude that America demonstrated in prosecuting World War II is lacking today. While members of both houses jump up and down, usually only when a television camera is taping them, demanding that we do a better job of screening the containers arriving on vessels to search for Weapons of Mass Destruction, only a comparative few members of the House of Representatives and the United States Senate have been willing to tackle the issue of border security and the lack of integrity of the immigration system. Those who have consistently demanded such improvements are the true leaders of our nation, but they are waging an apparent uphill battle with their colleagues from both sides of the political aisle.

Clearly it is critical to provide language training to employees of BOP and ICE, as well as other agencies whose employees might be able to use foreign language ability to help prevent future terrorist attacks. This is not a new issue. After the attacks of September 11 much was made about the inability of the FBI to translate a mountain of intercepts and other material that might have helped them to prevent the attacks of 9/11. Yet, even this obvious strategy of providing appropriate foreign language is not being pursued. So while the debates about the use of torture to extract intelligence and information from detainees at Guantanamo has made the headlines, other non-controversial methods of securing intelligence have been ignored!

We the people have the absolute right to demand our government does a much better job of addressing these critical issues immediately! No less than the safety and survival of our nation and our citizens hang in the balance.


=======================================

"Supermax" mail unchecked
Most calls, letters by terrorist inmates in Florence aren't monitored, report says
By Mike Soraghan
Denver Post Staff Writer
DenverPost.com
Article Last Updated:10/05/2006 08:51:54 PM MDT

Washington - The federal government wants to do more wiretapping to catch terrorists, but according to a new Justice Department watchdog report, it's still not listening in on some of the terrorists it's already captured. Sometimes it doesn't even read their mail.

At "Supermax," the federal government's top-security prison in Florence, officials monitored less than half of the phone calls of prisoners on its "alert list," including those convicted of terrorism whose calls are supposed to be monitored "live."

The report by the Justice Department's inspector general warned that because of gaps like that, important information could be missed.

"The threat remains that terrorist and other high-risk inmates can use mail and verbal communications to conduct terrorist or criminal activities while incarcerated," said the report, issued this week.

Supermax - officially known as the Administrative Maximum United States Penitentiary, or USP Florence ADMAX - came under scrutiny in 2005 when NBC reported that three men convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing sent letters from the prison that were suspected of being used to recruit suicide bombers.

Since then, those prisoners have been locked up even tighter, and the prison has hired three Arabic translators with top-security clearances to monitor inmate letters and phone calls. But even then, prison officials didn't provide counterterrorism intelligence training to the translators in their first year on the job, the new report says.

The inspector general looked at 10 federal prisons including Supermax and found that the federal prison system does not read all the mail of its terrorist and other at-risk inmates; doesn't have enough good translators; doesn't do enough to flag the most dangerous international terrorists; and doesn't effectively monitor terrorists' phone calls and other conversations.

Federal prison officials said they've been trying to upgrade their monitoring of terrorists. But they told investigators they've been unable to do everything they want because they don't have enough money and the number of prisoners in their custody keeps going up.

The report recommended that:

Prisons should provide more foreign-language and counterterrorism intelligence training.

The federal Bureau of Prisons should improve its access to intelligence information.

Prisons should consider monitoring the cellblock conversations of all high-risk inmates.

Supermax, built to hold the nation's most dangerous criminals, houses more terrorists than any other federal prison.

Prison staffers told investigators they didn't feel as if they had the proper training to adequately analyze intelligence from terrorist inmates.

The report also says that investigative supervisors specially trained to monitor terrorists are often pulled for other duties because of staffing and funding shortages at the prison.

Supermax's two mailroom staffers randomly monitored less than 2 percent of the nearly 400 prisoners' mail, the report said.

Staff writer Mike Soraghan can be reached at 202-662-8730 or msoraghan@denverpost.com.
27726  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: October 06, 2006, 07:44:37 PM
Taliban put Pakistan on notice
By Syed Saleem Shahzad

KARACHI - With trouble on the battlefield, US Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has recommended, for the first time since September 11, 2001, the need to bring the Taliban into the Afghan government. At the same time, Pakistan is secretly playing its own game of carrot and stick in Afghanistan to influence events to its liking.

However, two quick warning signals to Islamabad this week convey the unmistakable message that regardless of what

 

Washington or Islamabad might desire, the Taliban are the ones who will decide which carrots and which sticks to play.

Last month could prove to be pivotal in determining the ultimate fate of the Taliban and Afghanistan, and even the United States' "war on terror".

The Taliban, after the success of this year's spring offensive, have drawn up a blueprint for an Islamic intifada in Afghanistan next year in the form of a national uprising and an internationalization of their resistance.

This followed a "peace" deal between the Pakistani Taliban in the Waziristan tribal areas on the border with Afghanistan in which Islamabad agreed to release some al-Qaeda suspects in return for the Taliban stopping cross-border activities.

President General Pervez Musharraf then went to Washington, where he announced that foreign forces in Afghanistan would be given the right of hot pursuit into the tribal areas. He also said the authorities would take action against former army officials associated with the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) for supporting the Taliban.

That all is not well with this agreement is illustrated by two events this week. First, a missile landed in Ayub Park, the highest-security zone in Rawalpindi, just a few hundred meters from Musharraf's official residence at Army House. The next day, several rockets apparently linked to a mobile phone for firing were found near parliament in Islamabad.

Asia Times Online has learned that the incidents were a clear show of disapproval in Waziristan over Musharraf's basking in "Washington's charm", and that he had not implemented a key aspect of the peace accord - the release of al-Qaeda suspects - despite numerous promises.

In other words, the Pakistani Taliban are using their own stick to keep Islamabad in line.

The sore point, as mentioned, was the release of "al-Qaeda-linked" Pakistani militants arrested in Pakistani cities. The Pakistani authorities did release many, but a few, whose arrest was also known to US intelligence, were not. Musharraf said they would be freed once he returned from Washington, but this did not happen. Negotiations were still taking place when an incident happened that angered the Pakistani Taliban.

Progress arrested
Shah Abdul Aziz of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, a six-party religious alliance, is a member of the National Assembly from Karak in North-West Frontier Province. Though his direct party affiliation is with the Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Islam led by Maulana Samiul Haq (the father of the Taliban), his real status derives from his being a veteran mujahideen from the days of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. He vocally supports the Taliban, Arab militants and Osama bin Laden, and his fiery speeches on these topics are compiled into compact discs that are popular among the Pakistani Taliban.

Shah Mehboob Ahmed is a younger brother of Shah Abdul Aziz and also enjoys a great deal of respect among local as well as Afghan Taliban for helping the mujahideen.

The story starts when Mehboob hosted a British-born Pakistani, known only as Abdullah, who was on a list of wanted people. Abdullah then went to Islamabad and met with the biggest Taliban-supporting cleric, Ghazi Abdul Rasheed, at Lal Mosque. As Abdullah left the mosque, he was picked up by intelligence agencies. One of the leads acquired from Abdullah was that he had been hosted by Mehboob. So Mehboob was also detained.

Shah Abdul Aziz, the member of parliament, contacted ISI high-ups about his brother's arrest and was informed that he would be released soon after formal investigations. However, neither Abdullah nor Mehboob was released.

This took tension between the Pakistani Taliban and the authorities to boiling point, with the former charging that not only had Islamabad not fulfilled its promises to release all Taliban and al-Qaeda detainees, but it was violating the agreement and arresting such people as Mehboob and Abdullah.

Islamabad responded that the two were part of Indian intelligence's proxy network, and that was why they had been held - not because of any possible links to al-Qaeda or the Taliban. The Pakistani Taliban did not buy this and made it clear that as the authorities had violated the agreement, they should be ready to face the Taliban's music.

At this point Musharraf said in an interview in the US that some retired ISI officials could be assisting Taliban insurgents, adding: "We are keeping a very tight watch and we will get hold of them if that at all happened. I have some reports that some dissidents, some retired people who were in the forefront in the ISI during the period of 1979 to 1989, may be assisting the links somewhere here and there."

This set off heated debate in Pakistan, leading some people to speculate that Hamid Gul, one of the most popular Islamist generals and Musharraf's immediate boss and close associate before September 11, 2001, might be arrested. Speaking to Asia Times Online, Gul termed Musharraf's statement a reflection of his "impulsive nature" and said he was in danger of opening up a "Pandora's box".

The upshot of all this, according to signals reaching this correspondent, is that Musharraf has been put on notice. The first two incidents this week caused no damage. That was possibly the intent. This is unlikely to be the case with the next ones.

Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online's Pakistan Bureau Chief. He can be reached at saleem_shahzad2002@yahoo.com.
27727  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Politica-Economia en Latino America on: October 06, 2006, 05:08:24 PM
Will Ecuador Join the Axis of Outcasts?

By MARY ANASTASIA O'GRADY
October 6, 2006; Page A15

What do you get when you cross a Venezuelan Bolivarian with an Argentine Peronist? Answer: a power-hungry demagogue who doesn't believe in paying debts.

That would be funnier if just such a hybrid -- Rafael Correa -- hadn't recently popped up as Ecuador's leading presidential candidate for the Oct. 15 election. Polls out this week show that Mr. Correa has surged from a distant third place only one month ago to first place, 10 percentage points ahead of his closest competitor. He is shy of what he needs for victory in the first round of balloting, and 40% of the electorate remains undecided. But Ecuadoran democrats have good reason to fear his growing popularity.

 
The 43-year-old Mr. Correa, who has a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Illinois, has railed against the cost of servicing Ecuador's foreign debt, the dollarized economy and free-trade talks with Washington. If he makes it to the seat of power in Quito, he has made it clear that Ecuador will join the Latin American axis of outcasts -- Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia and Argentina -- and make the U.S. an official enemy. A Correa presidency would be a negative for Colombia too, which would have to deal with hostile states on two borders along with home-grown narcoterrorism.

Yet what is most troubling is Mr. Correa's pledge to raze the political system and rebuild it to ensure his long-term agenda. If that sounds familiar, it may be because it is precisely what Venezuelan President Hugo Ch?vez promised to do when he took office in 1999. Since then Mr. Ch?vez has demolished any independence in the country's institutions, seized control of the economy, militarized the government and run the private sector into the ground. He says he plans to remain in power until 2021. If some Ecuadorans are frightened by Mr. Correa, it's because he has made so clear his intention to follow Mr. Ch?vez's path to unchecked power.

The candidate's appeal is easy enough to understand. In a country where more than 45% of the population still lives below the poverty line, many voters are out to punish the established political class. Their anger is rational. When Ecuador dollarized in 2000, the country experienced stability for the first time in decades. But, bowing to special interests, politicians stopped there, failing to modernize the financial system and further open and deregulate the economy. The end of inflation has been a boon to the poor, but with mediocre economic growth rising expectations have not been met. Along comes the charismatic Mr. Correa, billed as an "outsider" to the political system and threatening to trash the capitalists. At least some voters are enthralled.

As it turns out, though, Mr. Correa has had his hand in Ecuadoran politics more than he wants to admit. He did, after all, hold the job of minister of the economy for a short time last year until his resignation was accepted when he visited Mr. Ch?vez in Caracas without the permission of President Alfredo Palacios. During his tenure there was a rapid deterioration in the country's relationship with foreign investors and the international financial institutions. He also raised salaries for public-sector employees, surely helping his poll numbers in bureaucracy-bloated Quito. After he left his post in the ministry, his replacement followed through on the Correa plan to expropriate Occidental Petroleum's Ecuadoran assets.

Dollarization, which brought inflation down to 3.1% last year from persistent double-digit levels in the 1990s, is so popular -- 70% of Ecuadorans love it -- that Mr. Correa has had to tone down his hostility. Whereas he used to say that dollarization ruined the economy, he now claims to be agnostic about it. Yet all his other policies, which are designed to choke off foreign investment, close down international commerce and increase government spending, will ensure that in the end dollarization cannot survive. Once he reclaims control of money creation, devaluations, inflation, exchange controls and price controls won't be far behind. As the owner of the country's largest source of hard-currency revenues -- oil -- the government will have little trouble destroying the private sector and controlling dissent. This is a page out of his Venezuelan guru's playbook, as is his promise to hold a constituent assembly to rewrite the constitution.

On the campaign trail Mr. Correa has become a caricature of his more experienced teacher. After Mr. Ch?vez made a fool of himself at the United Nations two weeks ago in a rant calling President Bush the devil, Mr. Correa rushed to outdo him. In a nationally televised interview in Ecuador a week later the presidential candidate said that Mr. Ch?vez had insulted Satan.

University of Illinois professor Werner Baer, who was on the committee to approve Mr. Correa's doctorate, told the Associated Press last month that Mr. Correa's anti-Americanism is probably just a ploy to help him get votes, not the way in which he would govern. But Prof. Baer might be underestimating his former student's ambition. Markets are not nearly as sanguine. When the polls showing Mr. Correa's 10-point lead came out on Tuesday, investors dumped Ecuadoran bonds and the country's risk premium shot up.

The immediate concern is his pledge, if elected, to break contracts with foreign bondholders and demand a negotiated restructuring. In August Mr. Correa took a trip to Buenos Aires to meet with the dean of deadbeats, Argentine President N?stor Kirchner. If you're planning to stiff creditors, Mr. Kirchner is the go-to guy.

There is some speculation that Mr. Correa's campaign is peaking. If he doesn't get 50% plus one, or 40% with a 10% spread over the second-place finisher, on Oct. 15, there will be a second round. In that event, the more sensible, less interventionist ?lvaro Noboa, a wealthy businessman from Guayaquil who defends dollarization, free-trade agreements and good relations with the U.S. and is now polling in a statistical tie for second place, could upset him. That's because, despite all the blather from the left about anti-Americanism in Latin America, a majority of voters may be more worried about Venezuelan imperialism and the return of inflation than a Yankee invasion
27728  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WW3 on: October 06, 2006, 03:00:44 PM
Third post of the day:

The Boring Fabulist
"State of Denial" amazes me.

Friday, October 6, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT

Thirty-two years into his career as a writer of books, Bob Woodward has won a reputation as slipshod ("Wired"), slippery ("All the President's Men," "The Final Days"), opportunistic ("Veil"; everything) and generally unaware of the implications even of those facts he's offered that have gone unchallenged. As a reporter he's been compared to a great dumb shark, remorselessly moving toward hunks of information he can swallow but not digest. As a writer his style has been to lard unconnected sentences with extraneous data in order to give his assertions a fact-y weight that suggests truth is being told. And so: On July 23, 1994, at 4:18 p.m., the meeting over, the president gazed out the double-paned windows of the Oval Office, built in October 1909 by workers uncovered by later minimum wage legislation, and saw the storm moving in. "I think I'll kill my wife," he said, the words echoing in the empty room. I made that up. It's my homage.

Mr. Woodward has been that amazing thing, the boring fabulist.

The Bush White House has spent the past five years thinking they could manage him. Talk about a state of denial.

Now he has thwarted me. I bought "State of Denial" thinking I might have a merry time bashing it and a satisfying time defending the innocent injured.

But it is a good book. It may be a great one. It is serious, densely, even exhaustively, reported, and a real contribution to history in that it gives history what it most requires, first-person testimony. (It is well documented, with copious notes.) What is most striking is that Mr. Woodward seems to try very hard to be fair, not in a phony "Armitage, however, denies it" way, but in a way that--it will seem too much to say this--reminded me of Jean Renoir: "The real hell of life is that everyone has his reasons."

His Bush is not a monster but a personally disciplined, yearning, vain and intensely limited man. His advisers in all levels of the government are tugged and torn by understandable currents and display varying degrees of guile, cynicism and courage. As usual, prime sources get the best treatment--the affable Andy Card, the always well-meaning Prince Bandar. Members of the armed forces get a high-gloss spit shine. But once you decode it and put it aside--and Woodward readers always know to do that--you get real history:

The almost epic bureaucratic battle of Donald Rumsfeld to re-establish civilian control of the post-Clinton Joint Chiefs of Staff; the struggle of the State Department to be heard and not just handled by the president; the search on the ground for the weapons of mass destruction; the struggles, advances and removal from Iraq of Jay Garner, sent to oversee humanitarian aid; the utter disconnect between the experience on the ground after Baghdad was taken and the attitude of the White House--"borderline giddy." This is a primer on how the executive branch of the United States works, or rather doesn't work, in the early years of the 21st century.

There is previously unreported information. Former Secretary of State George Shultz was top contender for American envoy to Baghdad, but there were worries he was "not known for taking direction." Spies called "bats" were planted in American agencies by American agencies to report to rival superiors back home.

After Baghdad fell, Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia, who appears to be the best friend of everybody in the world, went to the White House and advised the president to fill the power vacuum immediately: The Baath Party and the military had run the country. Remove the top echelon--they have bloody hands--but keep and maintain everyone else. Tell the Iraqi military to report to their barracks, he advised, and keep the colonels on down. Have them restore order. Have Iraqi intelligence find the insurgents: "Those bad guys will know how to find bad guys." Use them, and then throw them over the side. This is advice that has the brilliance of the obvious, and not only in retrospect.

Mr. Woodward: "'That's too Machiavellian,' someone said. The Saudi notes of the meeting indicate it was either Bush or Rice."

It's isn't clear if "too Machiavellian" meant too clever by half, or too devious for good people like us. Either way it was another path not taken. The newly unemployed personnel of the old Iraqi government took to the streets, like everyone else.





To the central thesis. Was the White House, from the beginning, in a state of denial? I doubt denial is the word. They were in a state of unknowingness. (I have come to give greater credence to the importance, in the age of terror, among our leaders, of having served in the military. For you need personal experience that you absorbed deep down in your bones, or a kind of imaginative wisdom that tells you even though you were never there what war is like, what invasion is, what building a foreign nation entails.) They were in a state of conviction: They really thought Saddam had those WMDs. (Yes, so did Bill Clinton, so did The New Yorker, so did I, and so likely did you. But Mr. Bush moved on, insisted on, intelligence that was faulty, inadequate.) They were in a state of propulsion: 9/11 had just wounded a great nation. Strong action was needed.
Here I add something I have been thinking about the past year. It is about the young guys at the table in the Reagan era. The young, mid-level guys who came to Washington in the Reagan years were always at the table in the meeting with the career State Department guy. And the man from State, timid in all ways except bureaucratic warfare, was always going "Ooh, aah, you can't do that, the Soviet Union is so big, Galbraith told us how strong their economy is, the Sandinistas have the passionate support of the people, there's nothing we can do, stop with your evil empire and your Grenada invasion, it's needlessly aggressive!" Those guys from State--they were almost always wrong. Their caution was timorousness, their prudence a way to evade responsibility. The young Reagan guys at the table grew up to be the heavyweights of the Bush era. They walked into the White House knowing who'd been wrong at the table 20 years before. And so when State and others came in and said, "The intelligence doesn't support it, we see no WMDs," the Bush men knew who not to believe.

History is human.

Ms. Noonan is a contributing editor of The Wall Street Journal and author of "John Paul the Great: Remembering a Spiritual Father" (Penguin, 2005), which you can order from the OpinionJournal bookstore. Her column appears Fridays on OpinionJournal.com.

27729  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WW3 on: October 06, 2006, 08:19:32 AM
Second post of the morning:

www.stratfor.com

Iran, Iraq, Turkey: The Kurdish Factor
Summary

An explosion on an Iran-to-Turkey natural gas pipeline outside the Iranian border city of Maku probably resulted from sabotage by Kurdish separatist rebels, Iranian authorities said Sept. 29. The incident comes shortly after Iraq's Kurdish President Jalal Talabani said Baghdad could make trouble for Iran and Turkey if they do not stop interfering in Iraq's internal affairs. As Iraqi Kurds become more aggressive in their push to secure oil revenues in northern Iraq, Ankara and Tehran have made common cause to suppress Kurdish separatism, creating further complications for Washington's goal of containing Iran.

Analysis

An explosion on an Iran-to-Turkey natural gas pipeline outside the Iranian border city of Maku occurred at 11:30 p.m. Sept. 28. The explosion, which destroyed about 65-75 yards of the line, likely will take three to four days to repair, Turkey's state pipeline company, Botas, said. The company also said the shortage in Iranian gas deliveries to Turkey would be compensated by Russian natural gas coming through the Blue Stream pipeline beneath the Black Sea.

Most Kurdish acts of sabotage on the Iran-Turkey gas pipeline occur in Turkey and are carried out by guerrillas of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has increased attacks on security, government and commercial targets in Kurdish-majority areas of Turkey in recent months. The 1,600 mile pipeline, running from Tabriz to Ankara, is an attractive target for Kurdish guerrillas aiming to strike at the Turkish economy, since it supplies Turkey with more than a third of its annual gas consumption. Turkey most recently experienced natural gas shortages for four days when PKK rebels blew up part of the same pipeline in the Turkish city of Agri in September.

While the PKK has sustained its level of operations in Turkey, Kurdish separatist rebels in Iran have largely stayed quiet out of fear of incurring a major crackdown by the Iranian regime. Lacking a viable leadership structure, the Kurdish rebel movement in Iran generally sticks to low-level operations, which draw a stiff response from the Iranian armed forces. The latest pipeline explosion, however, reveals the manner in which the Kurds in Turkey, Iraq and Iran can cooperate on some level to further their territorial ambitions through hard-hitting attacks.

Iraq's Kurdish president, Jalal Talabani, made a telling statement Sept. 26 in Washington when he told National Public Radio that Iraq can "make trouble" for its neighbors (e.g., Turkey, Iran and Syria) if they do not stop interfering in his country's internal affairs. With a political arrangement in Baghdad still nowhere in sight, the Kurdish bloc in Iraq has taken the opportunity to push its own demands while Sunni and Shiite factions are deeply consumed in sectarian fighting. The most contentious of the Kurdish demands undoubtedly revolves around the issue of oil revenues in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq. Despite the lack of federal legislation on how to divide oil revenues among Iraq's three dominant factions, the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) has pressed forward in talks with oil majors, having even signed an agreement with Norwegian oil company DNO to start producing up to 5,000 barrels per day of oil in northern Iraq beginning the first quarter of 2007. While this outrages Iraq's Oil Ministry, which has said the government does not need to honor previous KRG oil investment deals, the political disarray in Baghdad prevents the center from taking any real action to suppress Kurdish moves to grab oil returns.

With sizable Kurdish populations, Iran and Turkey have been watching these developments closely, and are becoming increasingly alarmed at the rate at which the Iraqi Kurds are asserting their autonomy without restraint. As a result, Tehran and Ankara have coordinated military operations against Kurds on Iraqi soil, with the deepest Iranian incursion taking place Sept. 5 when Iran fired artillery against Kurdish positions near the Iraqi town of Mandali, 60 miles northeast of Baghdad. Talabani made it clear during his Washington visit that his patience for such actions is wearing thin, and that Iraq will respond by supporting "opposition forces" within its neighbors' borders, a warning that appears to have been actualized by the late-night pipeline explosion.

The pipeline attack will only strengthen Iran's and Turkey's incentive to work together to curb Kurdish separatist tendencies. Major crackdowns against Kurdish strongholds in the region thus can be expected in the coming weeks.

The Kurdish issue also complicates matters for Washington, as U.S. officials are running out of options to contain Iran's expansionist push. Ankara is especially peeved at Washington for not following through with a commitment to help contain the Kurds in Iraq and block support for PKK operations in Turkey. As long as Turkey feels territorially threatened by developments in its Iraqi neighbor, the United States will be hard-pressed to find strong regional allies to help keep the Iranians at bay.
27730  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WW3 on: October 06, 2006, 08:16:07 AM
Iran, Russia: A Nuclear Marriage of Convenience
Summary

Russia and Iran have signed a contract for the delivery of 80 tons of nuclear fuel to Iran's Bushehr facility, which is scheduled to be completed in September 2007. Russia appears to be in the process of finishing updating its military doctrine. Closer economic ties with Iran will allow Russia to maintain a foothold in the Middle East while keeping pressure on the United States, which lacks the bandwidth to respond to Russia's provocative moves.

Analysis

During a visit by an Iranian delegation to Russia, Tehran and Moscow signed agreements Sept. 26 for the delivery of 80 metric tons of nuclear fuel to supply the Bushehr nuclear plant in southern Iran in March 2007. Sergei Kiriyenko, the head of Russia's Federal Nuclear Power Agency, recently said the plant will be commissioned in September 2007, and will commence generating power two months later.

The fuel agreements are the most significant steps toward finalizing the shape of Russian-Iranian cooperation on Bushehr. Consistent with its current strategy, Russia is simultaneously strengthening ties with Iran and expanding its presence in the Middle East, both of which irk the United States. Of course, if the September 2007 deadline becomes inconvenient in the future by conflicting with Moscow's political goals, it can be altered to suit Russia's needs, as Moscow has repeatedly done during the past decade.

The Russian stance, including its continued cooperation with Iran on Tehran's civilian nuclear program, reflects Moscow's present global position. The Kremlin is focused on strengthening its hold on domestic industry and politics, maintaining influence on Russia's periphery and indirectly challenging the United States while Washington is preoccupied with the conflict in Iraq and November's midterm congressional elections. Russia's actions in the Middle East, which present a challenge for the U.S. presence in the region, also include continued weapons systems sales to Syria, the deployment of military engineers to assist in Lebanon's reconstruction and the possible sale of surface-to-air missile systems to Iran (ostensibly to protect the Bushehr plant from Israeli or U.S. aggression).

Moscow's position has been articulated by a leaked draft of the latest update to Russia's military doctrine, published by the Russian newspaper Gazeta on Sept. 19. (The Russian Ministry of Defense denied the document's mere existence.) Along with naming the United States and NATO as enemies Nos. 1 and 2, ahead of international terrorism, the document also states that Russia would participate in conflicts on the country's periphery in order to protect its citizens. By moving from a "universal regime of nonproliferation" to a mere stance "for nonproliferation of nuclear weapons and its means of delivery," Russia is leaving itself an out from being held responsible for allowing Iran the opportunity to get nuclear weapons. Though Russia has just as much incentive as the Western powers to make sure Iran does not acquire nuclear weapons, Moscow wants to make sure it is not seen as complicit with Tehran.

Even if the documents obtained by Gazeta turn out to be legitimate, little change will come to Russian foreign and domestic policy. All of the updates suggested are in line with what Russia is already doing or can do, and military doctrines as such are not binding. This particular document, however, could bolster Russian Defense Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov's position. Ivanov is widely seen as Russian President Vladimir Putin's possible successor. Ivanov has reportedly insisted on the changes in the doctrine that improve conditions in the Russian armed forces consistent with Putin's policy. This is helpful in consolidating the Kremlin's position ahead of the 2007 parliamentary and 2008 presidential elections, as is continued cooperation with Iran.

Though Russia and Iran cannot be called allies, Moscow does want to give the impression that it holds some sway over Tehran. Regardless of the continued cooperation between the two, the Islamic republic is just as likely to spurn Russian advances when it suits Tehran and play Russia just as skillfully.

27731  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Venezuela Pol?tica on: October 06, 2006, 08:08:49 AM
Venezuela, Nigeria: Empty Threats of Lower Oil Output
Summary

Venezuela and Nigeria both recently announced they are going to cut their oil outputs -- by 50,000 barrels per a day (bpd) and 150,000 bpd, respectively -- in response to tumbling oil prices. Although these numbers should be inciting panic in the oil-speculating world -- since Venezuela and Nigeria are OPEC members -- little fluctuation was seen when the markets opened Oct. 2. This is because Venezuela and Nigeria are the least reliable and stable of the 11-member OPEC group and because the two countries have no real intention of making the cuts in the first place.

Analysis

Following Nigeria's Sept. 28 announcement that it will cut its 2.6 million barrel-per-day (bpd) oil output by 120-150,000 bpd, Venezuela followed suit later that day and said it will cut its 3.3 million bpd production by 50,000 bpd. The cuts come in response to oil prices' tumble from their July peak.

Though these numbers should be inciting panic in the oil-speculating world -- since Venezuela and Nigeria are OPEC members -- little fluctuation was seen when the markets opened Oct. 2. This is because Venezuela and Nigeria are the two least reliable and most unstable of OPEC's 11 members, and because neither country actually plans to implement the cuts.

It is widely known that both Nigeria and Venezuela are not the most truthful when it comes to reporting their oil output. Nigeria reports that it is producing 2.6 million bpd, far above its OPEC-mandated quota of 2.3 million bpd. However the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA) estimates that the most Nigeria could actually be producing -- in light of numerous attacks on its energy infrastructure just this year -- would be the quota-bar of 2.3 million bpd and that Nigeria is more than likely producing approximately 2.2 million bpd. Venezuela's numbers are estimated to be even more fudged than Nigeria's. Venezuela claims it is producing 3.3 million bpd, though the EIA estimates it is probably more around 2.45 million bpd -- far below its 3.2 million bpd OPEC quota.

The countries' announcements that they will cut oil output are simply reactions to lower oil prices (oil dipped below $63 a barrel Oct. 2, down 20 percent from its July peak of $78.40). Lower prices could hit both Nigeria and Venezuela hard -- not only economically, but politically as well.

Attacks on its infrastructure are already affecting Nigeria's output; however, lower oil prices along with lower production could spell real trouble for President Olusegun Obasanjo's government. Nigeria counts on oil revenues to help sustain its great bribe continuum, which in turn keeps the many violent and troublesome parties -- rival private security forces, political and tribal militias and criminal gangs -- under some sort of control. Obasanjo is already under pressure to show that his government can contain the violence aimed at oil companies, which has seen a recent uptick. The growing violence and lowered oil income comes as Nigeria prepares to hold its presidential elections in six months.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has his own reasons to keep oil revenues high. Though Venezuela is tapped into the world's largest energy market -- roughly 11 percent of the United States' oil imports come from Venezuela -- Chavez has tripled government spending within just three years and needs money to keep coming in from somewhere. This is not to say that low oil prices will crush Chavez; he has a currency reserve account pushing $35 billion. However, Chavez counts on that money before it is even fully in his bank account to pay for loyalty. If prices continue to slide, Chavez will have to think hard about which among the 100,000 gun-toting loyalists, the subsidized rural population in the millions, or the fellow left-leaning Latin American countries he wants to cut out of his budget.

Though both Nigeria and Venezuela are attempting to incite panic and raise prices with their mythical production cuts, the one OPEC member that could effectively incite this fear would be Saudi Arabia. The largest producer among the OPEC members, Saudi Arabia produces 9.3 million bpd -- well above its 9 million bpd OPEC quota. The country already cut its production in early 2006 from 9.6 to 9.1 million bpd (but later raised it to its current level). Saudi Arabia will not easily be spooked into cutting its production, not only because of its close ties with the United States but also simply because market movements -- any market movements -- affect the Saudis' bottom line more than anyone else's. Saudi Arabia will closely and cautiously watch U.S. inventories in order to make a decision.

With U.S. inventories brimming and U.S. demand down after the end of the summer travel season, Saudi Arabia could very well cut production, but it seems pretty comfortable with oil prices hovering in the $60 area. If oil trends towards the $40 mark, then OPEC as a whole will move without delay to change its quotas and production -- but that would be too late for countries like Nigeria and Venezuela.
27732  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: October 06, 2006, 08:07:14 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Flyovers, Troops and the Oaxacan Protests

Mexican military planes and helicopters flew over protesters in the colonial city of Oaxaca for the second consecutive day Oct. 1. The months-old protest in Oaxaca has continued to escalate. What arose as an annual labor dispute by public school teachers demanding higher wages has been forcefully suppressed by Oaxacan Gov. Ulises Ruiz Ortiz and hijacked by radical fringe groups to form the People's Popular Assembly of Oaxaca (APPO).

Meanwhile, a large contingent of Oaxacan protesters that began marching Sept. 22 is expected to complete the 300-mile trek and arrive in Mexico City on Oct. 3. Mexican President-elect Felipe Calderon has called for President Vicente Fox to hand over a peaceful, conflict-free government Nov. 30. Still, Fox has been pressed from all sides to do something about the protests. However, he has shown little inclination to do anything.

Mexico has had a strong aversion to the federal use of force since an Oct. 2, 1968, student protest was put down violently in Mexico City with as many as 300 students killed. Even during recent protests in Mexico City triggered by the narrow defeat of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in the presidential election, crowds were getting out of hand directly in front of an important government building before any forceful action was taken. Things would have to go very badly for a skittish federal government to use force against the Oaxacan protesters, especially since Oct. 2 marks the 38th anniversary of the government violence against student protesters a few days before the beginning of the 1968 Mexico City Olympics.

However, tanks and troop transport trucks were seen arriving Oct. 1 in Huatulco, 150 miles from Oaxaca. Taken along with the military flyovers, this is certainly a significant development. Nevertheless, military intervention is far from a foregone conclusion. While the government's claim that the overflights are routine supply missions is questionable, they may be little more than an attempt to intimidate the protesters.

While fringe groups may have taken control of the protests, the people of Oaxaca do not have long-standing, intractable disputes with the government that would lead them to insurrection. The APPO is not Hezbollah. When "unidentified gunmen" -- likely to have been the governor's henchmen -- took potshots at protesters, there was no return fire. And while barricades have been built and buses set aflame, the protesters are not armed in any meaningful way.

Nevertheless, it is force that got the problem started in the first place. An annual strike took a new turn when the teachers made far-reaching demands about the rezoning of Oaxaca, but it did not become what it is until the governor used force to suppress it. (?Que debe de haber hecho entonces?)The protests have since centered around a call for Ruiz Ortiz's resignation. The governor has had ample opportunity to muster what local forces he has available, but he wants federal involvement. However, the only military activity we have seen thus far is hardly preparation for a push into Oaxaca -- military overflights and the movement of a small contingent of troops hardly constitutes preparation for military move against the Oaxacan protesters.
27733  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Politica-Economia en Latino America on: October 05, 2006, 01:01:22 PM
Crime and Militancy in South America's Tri-Border Area
Sometime this fall, Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay will join forces on an intelligence center aimed primarily at combating criminal and militant activity in their tri-border area (TBA). The expected U.S. cooperation in the center is an example of increasing vigilance by Western intelligence in the region, where a combination of geography, corruption, weak governments and an influx of investment has spawned what is now a flourishing organized crime industry -- and in turn opened the doors to militant groups.

The TBA, which sits at the intersection of the Parana and Iguazu rivers, comprises Ciudad del Este in Paraguay, Foz do Iguazu in Brazil and Puerto Iguazu in Argentina. Ciudad del Este is connected to Foz do Iguazu by the east-west Bridge of Friendship, while Puerto Iguazu is connected to Foz do Iguazu by the north-south Tancredo Neves International Bridge.




Because of tourist attractions such as Iguazu Falls, Brazil and Paraguay heavily promoted tourism and energy development in the region during the 1970s. As a result, Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay entered into free trade agreements and rapidly developed regional infrastructure. Today, Ciudad del Este generates an estimated 60 percent of Paraguay's gross domestic product and is the third-largest free-tax commerce zone in the world, after Miami and Hong Kong. Because of the job opportunities, the area attracts immigrants from the Middle East, Asia and former Soviet Union. With the free trade agreements and infrastructure development bringing investment into the TBA -- and little law enforcement oversight -- corruption soon followed.

Money laundering, cargo theft, drug trafficking, gun-running and other criminal activities all take place in the TBA. Beyond the lax law enforcement, the TBA also is popular with criminals because the rivers, roads and bridges in the area provide easy access to transportation networks. The Parana River, for example, leads to the port of Buenos Aires and the Atlantic Ocean, from which stolen or diverted shipments can be sent anywhere in the world.

This criminal presence, combined with lax law enforcement and corruption, has attracted militant groups as well. Relying on contacts and supporters within the TBA's large Arab community (predominantly ethnic Lebanese), Hezbollah has used the area as a logistics and transshipment base for years. The U.S. government also has investigated money-laundering and counterfeiting operations linked to Hezbollah and Hamas in the region. Hezbollah has used the TBA to support attacks against Israeli targets, most likely including the 1992 and 1994 attacks against the Israeli Embassy and Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires. Other groups, especially the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, also use the TBA to support themselves via drug trafficking and other illegal activities.

These activities have not gone unnoticed by the United States. As a result, intelligence cooperation between the United States and Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay began in earnest in 2002 with the establishment of the 3+1 Group, which monitors events that could affect security in the area. Paraguay, as the poorest of the three countries, has been perhaps the most eager recipient of the U.S. spending in the area. In July 2005, the United States first began deploying troops to Paraguay to train local security forces in counternarcotics operations. The FBI also has plans to open a field office in the Paraguayan capital of Asuncion in 2007.

Meanwhile, the three South American countries plan to join forces soon on an intelligence center established by Brazil in Foz do Iguazu in 2005. The new regional center will focus primarily on tracking the movements of criminal and militant groups in the TBA. Although the United States is not a financial sponsor of the facility, the U.S. State Department said in August that it "looks forward" to working with its partners in the 3+1 Group "on many important aspects of security in the tri-border area."

Despite the added vigilance in the TBA, however, corruption and weak government control will make eliminating organized crime and militant activity a difficult task.
www.stratfor.com
27734  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Seminar: Albuquerque, NM Oct 28-29 on: October 05, 2006, 12:32:04 PM
Woof All:

Get in touch with

Chester Brown, Jr.
Nava-sticks FMA
505-980-6454

By the way, Salty Dog plans to swing on down from Santa Fe during the weekend.

The Adventure continues!
Guro Crafty
27735  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: October 05, 2006, 12:18:57 PM
The 7 clips on this site, plus the readings therein are well worth the time:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/taliban/view/

================

Another recent reading from www.stratfor.com

On 9/14/06, :
Geopolitical Diary: The Afghan Stalemate

The NATO supreme allied commander in Europe, U.S. Marine Corps Gen. James L. Jones, publicly requested an additional 2,000-2,500 troops last week for operations in Afghanistan, to supplement the 20,000 already in-country. That request was soundly rebuffed on Wednesday in Brussels when a meeting of the 26-nation alliance failed to produce a single offer of reinforcements on the first day of the conference. Hopes are not high that there will be a change. Britain and Canada in particular are already stretched thin.

However, a leak to the press Sept. 11 revealed that Canada is planning to deploy 15 Leopard C2 main battle tanks and some 120 additional personnel to Afghanistan to reinforce its own units already there. This will certainly give the Canadians more firepower, though the bulk of Afghanistan is not particularly suited to tank warfare. The Canadian military will now have a full 25 percent of its tanks deployed overseas -- the first time a Canadian tank has headed into foreign combat since the World War II.

Military commanders in Afghanistan admit to being surprised at the intensity of fighting that has occurred this summer. Twenty-three NATO soldiers have been killed in the southern part of the country since deploying there in July. When British troops deployed earlier this year, their government expressed hopes of a deployment with no shots fired; last week, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported that some 80,000 rounds had already been expended. Meanwhile, suicide attacks are on the rise, with 14 in August. September is on track for even more.

The Taliban have successfully regained strength since the 2001 invasion. While the U.S. military conducted and continues to conduct major operations, some sources report that a bunker mentality fell over U.S. operations in Afghanistan: patrols were not conducted as often as they might have been, interactions with the population were not proactive and attempts were not made to integrate operations with the fledgling Afghan National Army.

So as we watch the violence in Afghanistan rise, we are seeing two phenomena. First, the Taliban are back with a vengeance, with poppy cultivation offering both a solidified financial base and a point of major contention that drives farmers away from the Afghan government and toward the Taliban. With an unstable countryside, reconstruction has not progressed as it might have and the government has not been reaching out to people. The public increasingly feels alienated from the Karzai government; there is a growing perception that the aid money coming to the government has not improved the lives of the common man. This situation is being exploited by the Taliban and their allies, helping allow the jihadist insurgency to grow. Meanwhile, tactics and techniques from the Iraqi insurgency have continued to flow eastward as foreign jihadists and new aggressive commanders pour in.

At the same time, new British and Canadian NATO operations are leaving their forward operating bases more often and taking new initiatives to interact with the people -- and in the process they are coming in more regular contact with Taliban forces. For centuries, controlling the countryside has always been the challenge for foreign powers in Afghanistan. The main cities, connected by a long road loop, have been comparatively easy to maintain control over; but any effort to win the "hearts and minds" of the populace has to risk moving out into the countryside.

Fighting will almost certainly become more intense before the winter downturn, but it will not be an entirely quiet winter. Supplies of both ammunition and explosives, as well as foreign jihadist radicals who carry out many of the suicide bombings in Afghanistan, will be hindered by the harsh climate. But they will not halt, and bombings in urban areas could continue unabated. Thus, despite all these problems, there is no reason to suggest that the stalemate between NATO and the Taliban will see any major shifts. The Taliban are no longer a national-level movement with the capacity to overrun the Afghan nation as they did in the 1990s -- at least not while NATO troops are in the country.
27736  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iraq on: October 05, 2006, 12:08:07 PM
Woof All:

The WW3 thread was getting crowded, so we are starting separate threads for the different theaters of WW3.

I begin with some news (about 4 weeks old) that your normal news sources probably did not report.

CD
==================

68 INSURGENTS CAPTURED IN A 2-DAY PERIOD

 

CAMP AL ASAD, Iraq ? Iraqi police and soldiers, along with U.S. Marines and soldiers from Regimental Combat Team 7, captured 68 confirmed insurgents over the weekend throughout the western Al Anbar Province, Iraq.

U.S. and Iraqi forces detained the known and suspected insurgents through a series of pre-planned operations.

 

   Iraqi police identified and detained 18 of the 38 captured insurgents in Rawah, Iraq, about 50 miles east of the Iraqi-Syrian border.

    One of the suspects captured by Rawah police officers is wanted for involvement with a vehicle suicide bombing against a U.S. military check point in the region July 29. Several more captured in Rawah are involved in a recent attack on a Rawah police officer?s family.  Police officers in Rawah also discovered two improvised explosive devices there Sunday.

   Iraqi and U.S. soldiers captured 11 insurgents Sunday in Hit, a city of about 60,000, located approximately 70 miles northwest of Ramadi.

   Through a variety of counterinsurgency operations, Iraqi soldiers and U.S. Marines captured 31 known insurgents in 3 cities. One captured insurgent was part of a 4-man insurgent cell operating in Hadithah.

    U.S. Marines captured 6 more insurgents Saturday in Sa?dah, a town just east of the Iraqi-Syrian border. Marines also discovered an ordnance cache near the border on Saturday. The cache consisted of 120 mm rockets, 155 mm rockets, and 122 mm rockets. 
 

5 TERRORISTS KILLED DURING RAID AND AIR STRIKE

 
BAGHDAD ? A raid early on the morning of Sept. 4 on a safe-house targeting an individual with ties to movement of terrorist finances and foreign fighters into Iraq led to 5 terrorists killed in Muqdadiyah.

    As U.S. forces assaulted the target, they were immediately engaged by terrorist forces.  In the ensuing firefight, 2 terrorists were killed.  Additionally, a woman and her two children were with the terrorists.  U.S. forces found blasting caps, improvised explosive device materials, and multiple ammunition rack systems and weapons on the objective. Both children were struck with fragmentation and one subsequently died.

   As the raid progressed, 2 additional terrorists, who were both armed, were killed in the courtyard of the house.   

  Prior to moving to a subsequent objective where armed terrorists had been observed earlier, multiple precision fires were directed on the location to suppress the threat while minimizing collateral damage.   This strike resulted in one terrorist?s death who was found carrying an assault rifle, a pistol, two ammunition racks and a ski mask.

   Two individuals were then observed moving from a nearby palm grove toward the objective. U.S. forces identified they were unarmed and intercepted them without force.  Upon questioning, they observed that the two men were beaten and wearing handcuffs.  The men described being held hostage by up to ten foreign and Iraqi terrorists for ransom.  They managed to escape when their captors fled as the raid and subsequent air strike was initiated.

  For several days, multiple terrorists have been observed operating out of the safehouse throughout the day and bedding down at night in the palm grove.
 
COALITION FORCES FREE ANOTHER KIDNAP VICTIM, CAPTURE 3 TERRORISTS

KIRKUK, Iraq ? Bastogne Soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division freed a kidnap victim and captured three of the terrorists who had taken him hostage just outside of Kirkuk today.

    An aerial reconnaissance team, flying missions near Kirkuk, spotted four men wearing black robes and wielding AK-47 rifles. The men stopped their sedan several times along one of the area?s main roads and set up illegal checkpoints at each stop. The aeriel recon team video-taped the entire action.

   As coalition ground forces moved into the area, the group made their last stop, holding 10 passengers in a van at gunpoint before pulling one of the men out of the vehicle. The four then forced the man into the trunk of their car and sped away.

    As Bastogne Soldiers on the ground were moving in on the vehicle, the sedan stopped, allowing one of the terrorists to get out of the vehicle. The remaining group continued to a nearby building where they jumped out of their car and ran into the building, taking their victim with them.

    A team of Bastogne Soldiers air assaulted to the area and quickly moved into the building, capturing the three assailants and freeing the hostage. A careful search of the building revealed three AK-47 rifles and several magazines, as well as a barrel filled with ammunition.

    This is the 3rd Iraqi citizen rescued from the hands of kidnappers by 101st Airborne Division Soldiers this month.   


MARINES CAPTURE 40 INSURGENTS, KILL 3; U.S. AIR STRIKE KILLS 3-MAN INSURGENT MORTAR CREW 


CAMP AL ASAD, Iraq ? U.S. Marines captured 40 insurgents yesterday throughout the Haditha Triad region in western Al Anbar Province, Iraq.

    Marines from the Hawaii-based 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, known as ?America?s Battalion,? captured the 40 insurgents during pre-planned counterinsurgency operations in the ?Triad? region.

    Also, a U.S scout sniper team fired upon insurgents, which were firing upon a Marine M1A1 tank on a road in Haditha.  2 of the insurgents were killed; 1 wounded. 

   This follows a day after a separate scout sniper team fired at insurgents. 1 insurgent was killed while digging a hole in a spot where numerous IEDs have recently been discovered or detonated.

    ?The Battalion?s successes over the last several days are really the result of the anti-Iraqi forces conducting attacks out of desperation.  They see the growing capability of the Iraqi Army and recent fielding of the Iraqi Police as the clear beginning to the end of their influence in the Triad,?  said Lt. Col. Norm Cooling, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment.

    The Haditha Triad is a region made up of three neighboring cities ? Haditha, Barwanah and Haqlaniyah ? with a combined population of about 70,000, nestled along the Euphrates River about 160 miles northwest of Baghdad.

In Baghdad, a U.S. air strike on a building killed 3 members of a mortar crew on Friday. Some civilians may have been wounded in the bombing.

293 IRAQIS JOIN ARMY

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq ? Soldiers from the 1st Iraqi Army Division enlisted 293 Iraqi males from greater Fallujah and Habbaniyah as part of an al Anbar Province-wide recruiting drive Tuesday and Wednesday.

    ?They looked enthusiastic about doing this, and that?s a good sign,? said Maj. William Gerst, an operations officer who assisted the Iraqis in the coordination of the campaign. ?It?s a sign that they notice we?re here to help them and they are taking control of their own destiny.?

    ?I want to serve our country and defend Iraq,? said one recruit through an interpreter.

    ?Patriotism? I want to defend my country,? said another.

The recruits were then transported by Marines to a month-long boot camp in Habbaniyah staffed solely by Iraqi personnel drawn from the 1st Iraqi Army Division.

Iraq Cites Arrest of a Top Local Insurgent; Officials say he is No. 2 in Al-Qaeda Group
BAGHDA, Sept. 3 -- U.S. and Iraqi forces have captured a top al-Qaeda leader who ordered the bombing of a Shiite Muslim shrine in Samarra that triggered a wave of ferocious sectarian killings, Iraqi officials said Sunday.

The arrest of Hamed Jumaa Faris Juri al-Saeidi, the No. 2 leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, was the latest in a series of blows to the insurgent group.

"The al-Qaeda organization in Iraq has been seriously weakened and is now suffering from a leadership vacuum," Iraq's national security adviser, Mowaffak al-Rubaie. 20 Senior al-Qaeda in Iraq fighters have been captured or killed based on information from Saeidi since his arrest within the past few weeks, Iraqi officials said.

The Mujaheddin Shura Council, an insurgent coalition that includes al-Qaeda in Iraq, denied that Saeidi was a member of al-Qaeda. A leader of another group in the council, however, confirmed that Saeidi belonged to al-Qaeda.

Saeidi, an intelligence officer for Saddam, was captured within the past few weeks as he hid among women and children in a location near Baghdad. Saeidi confessed that he had joined al-Qaeda in Iraq three years ago and is being held by U.S.-led  forces.

In an attempt to thrust Iraq into a full-scale civil war, Saeidi supervised Haitham al-Badri, an operative under his command, in carrying out the Feb. 22 bombing of a revered golden-domed Shiite shrine in Samarra, officials said. That attack sparked brutal reprisal killings by both Shiites and Sunnis that have left thousands of people dead.

"Why did you kill hundreds of people?" Saeidi was asked during a recent interrogation.

What do you mean 'hundreds of people?' I've killed thousands," Saeidi responded.

In other news:

MUQDADIYA - U.S. troops killed 5 men in a ground assault and air strike on what they called a "safe house", targeting a person involved in moving money and foreign fighters into Iraq. A child was also killed in the fighting in Muqdadiya, northeast of Baghdad, the U.S. military said in a statement. It said the operation freed two men who had been held hostage.


IRAQI ARMY TARGETS INSURGENTS IN MULTIPLE RAIDS

BAGHDAD ? Iraqi Army units, with Coalition Force advisers, conducted multiple raids on September 6 to capture individuals connected with insurgent activities that target Iraqi Army, Coalition Forces and Iraqi citizens.

   In a raid in Habbiniyah, Iraqi Army forces captured 4 individuals engaged in insurgent activities against Iraqi and coalition forces.  One individual was especially wanted as he was an improvised explosive device emplacer believed connected with multiple attacks.

    In another raid in Taji, an insurgent engaged in an intimidation campaign against Iraqi citizens was captured.  The insurgent had recently taken control of an insurgent cell whose previous leader had been captured by Iraqi security forces and was currently engaged in the systematic kidnapping of fellow citizens.


   In an additional raid in Ramadi, a sniper and 4 others for detonating IEDs against Iraqi forces were captured. All raids occurred without further incident with no reported casualties.

U.S. SOLDIERS KILL INSURGENT AND WOUND ANOTHER

TIKRIT, Iraq ? U.S. Soldiers killed one insurgent and wounded another near Hawija, Iraq. The Soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division, spotted the insurgents placing a roadside improvised explosive device and engaged them with small arms fire.

   An explosive ordinance disposal team was sent to the site and found a mortar round next to the insurgents? vehicle.

IRAQI POLICE, U.S. MPs CAPTURE 10 WEAPONS SMUGGLERS

BAGHDAD ? Iraqi police, with the assistance of Soldiers from 615th Military Police Company, 1st Armored Division, captured 10 weapons smugglers Thursday.

    The 33 weapons were confiscated in addition to more than 2,000 rounds of ammunition, nine body armor vests and various bomb-making materials.. 

  82nd Airborne Div.
  1/508 Infantry
================


27737  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: October 05, 2006, 11:37:39 AM
This is about 4 weeks old.
=========
 
Pakistan: Hello al-Qaeda, goodbye America
By Syed Saleem Shahzad

MIRANSHAH, North Waziristan - With a truce between the Pakistani Taliban and Islamabad now in place, the Pakistani government is in effect reverting to its pre-September 11, 2001, position in which it closed its eyes to militant groups allied with al-Qaeda and clearly sided with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

While the truce has generated much attention, a more significant development is an underhand deal between pro-al-Qaeda elements and Pakistan in which key al-Qaeda figures will either



not be arrested or those already in custody will be set free. This has the potential to sour Islamabad's relations with Washington beyond the point of no return.

On Tuesday, Pakistan agreed to withdraw its forces from the restive Waziristan tribal areas bordering Afghanistan in return for a pledge from tribal leaders to stop attacks by Pakistani Taliban across the border.

Most reports said that the stumbling block toward signing this truce had been the release of tribals from Pakistani custody. But most tribals had already been released.

The main problem - and one that has been unreported - was to keep Pakistan authorities' hands off members of banned militant organizations connected with al-Qaeda.

Thus, for example, it has now been agreed between militants and Islamabad that Pakistan will not arrest two high-profile men on the "most wanted" list that includes Osama bin Laden, his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri and Taliban leader Mullah Omar.

Saud Memon and Ibrahim Choto are the only Pakistanis on this list, and they will be left alone. Saud Memon was the owner of the lot where US journalist Daniel Pearl was tortured, executed and buried in January 2002 in Karachi after being kidnapped by jihadis.
Pakistan has also agreed that many people arrested by law-enforcement agencies in Pakistan will be released from jail.

Importantly, this includes Ghulam Mustafa, who was detained by Pakistani authorities late last year. Mustafa is reckoned as al-Qaeda's chief in Pakistan. (See Al-Qaeda's man who knows too much, Asia Times Online, January 5. As predicted in that article, Mustafa did indeed disappear into a "black hole" and was never formally charged, let alone handed over to the US.)

Asia Times Online contacts expect Mustafa to be released in the next few days. He was once close to bin Laden and has intimate knowledge of al-Qaeda's logistics, its financing and its nexus with the military in Pakistan.

Militants at large
"Now they [Pakistani authorities] have accepted us as true representatives of the mujahideen," Wazir Khan told Asia Times Online at a religious congregation in Miranshah. "Now we are no longer criminals, but part and parcel of every deal. Even the authorities have given tacit approval that they would not have any objections if I and other fellows who were termed as wanted took part in negotiations."

Wazir Khan was once a high-profile go-between for bin Laden and one of his closest Waziristan contacts. He was right up there on the "wanted" list. Now he can move around in the open. "The situation is diametrically changed," he said.

From a personal point of view, things have changed for Wazir Khan and others like him, but in the bigger picture things have also changed diametrically.

Pakistan, the leading light in the United States' "war on terror" and a "most important" non-North Atlantic Treaty Organization ally, is returning to the heady times of before September 11 when it could dabble without restraint in regional affairs, and this at a time when Afghanistan is boiling.

"The post-September 11 situation [in Pakistan] was draconian," a prominent militant told Asia Times Online on condition of anonymity. "All jihadi organizations were informed in advance how they would be [severely] dealt with in the future and that they had better carve out an alternative low-profile strategy. But some people could not stop themselves from unnecessary adventures and created problems for the establishment. This gave the US the chance to intervene in Pakistan, and over 700 al-Qaeda mujahideen were arrested.

"Now the situation changed again ... we know the state of Pakistan is important for the Pakistan army, but certainly we know that the army would never completely compromise on Islam."

The truce between Islamabad and the Pakistani Taliban in Waziristan has been a bitter pill for Washington to swallow, although Pakistan's pledge to allow foreign troops based in Afghanistan hot pursuit into a limited area in Pakistan softens the blow a bit.

Islamabad's overriding concern, though, is to earn some breathing space domestically, as well as get Uncle Sam off its back.

The situation in Waziristan was becoming unmanageable - it's already virtually a separate state - and trouble is ongoing in restive Balochistan province, especially since the killing at the hands of Pakistani security forces of nationalist leader Nawab Akbar Bugti. Fractious opposition political parties have shown rare unity in attacking the government of President General Pervez Musharraf on the issue.

Redrawing the map
An article by retired US Major Ralph Peters titled "Blood borders" published in the Armed Forces Journal last month has given Pakistan some food for thought over manipulating the geopolitical game on its own terms and conditions.

Peters, formerly assigned to the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, where he was responsible for future warfare, argues that borders in the Middle East and Africa are "the most arbitrary and distorted" in the world and need restructuring.

Four countries - Pakistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Turkey - are singled out for major readjustments. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are also defined as "unnatural states".

Though the US State Department was quick to deny that such ideas had anything to do with US policymaking, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey read much between the lines of talk of restructuring their boundaries.

Among Peters' proposals was the need to establish "an independent Kurdish state" that would "stretch from Diyarbakir [eastern Turkey] through Tabriz [Iran], which would be the most pro-Western state between Bulgaria and Japan".

Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz recently visited Turkey and then Lebanon, where he announced that his country would not send any peacekeeping troops to the latter. Ankara then said that if peacekeeping forces tried to disarm Hezbollah, Turkey would pull out of the peace mission. These decisions are the result of back-channel diplomacy among Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Pakistan.

Across Pakistan's border in Afghanistan, the Taliban have control of most of the southwest of the country, from where Mullah Omar is expected soon to announce the revival of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan - the name of the country before the Taliban were driven out in 2001. Once the proclamation is made, a big push toward the capital Kabul will begin.

The sounds of jail doors opening in Pakistan will jar with the United States, as will Islamabad adopting a more independent foreign policy and, crucially, aligning itself with the resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan, which once again could become a Pakistani playground.

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

27738  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: October 05, 2006, 10:31:28 AM
Woof All:

Herewith a thread dedicated to this area.

CD
=============================
Taliban lay plans for Islamic intifada
By Syed Saleem Shahzad

THE PASHTUN HEARTLAND, Pakistan and Afghanistan - With the snows approaching, the Taliban's spring offensive has fallen short of its primary objective of reviving the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan, as the country was known under Taliban rule from 1996-2001.

Both foreign forces and the Taliban will bunker down until next spring, although the Taliban are expected to continue with suicide missions and some hit-and-run guerrilla activities. The Taliban will

 

take refuge in the mountains that cross the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, where they will have plenty of time to plan the next stage
of their struggle: a countrywide "Islamic Intifada of Afghanistan" calling on all former mujahideen to join the movement to boot out foreign forces from Afghanistan.

The intifada will be both national and international. On the one hand it aims to organize a national uprising, and on the other it will attempt to make Afghanistan the hub of the worldwide Islamic resistance movement, as it was previously under the Taliban when Osama bin Laden and his training camps were guests of the country.

The ideologue of the intifada is bin Laden's deputy, Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri, who has assembled a special team to implement the idea. Key to this mission is Mullah Mehmood Allah Haq Yar. Asia Times Online was early to pinpoint Haq Yar as an important player (see Osama adds weight to Afghan resistance, September 11, 2004).

Oriented primarily towards Arabs, especially Zawahiri, Haq Yar speaks English, Arabic, Urdu and Pashtu with great fluency. He was sent by Taliban leader Mullah Omar to northern Iraq to train with Ansarul Islam fighters before the US-led invasion of Afghanistan. He returned to Afghanistan in 2004 and was inducted into a special council of commanders formed by Mullah Omar and assigned the task of shepherding all foreign fighters and high-value targets from Pakistani territory into Afghanistan.

He is an expert in urban guerrilla warfare, a skill he has shared with the Taliban in Afghanistan. His new task might be more challenging: to gather local warlords from north to south under one umbrella and secure international support from regional players.

A major first step toward creating an intifada in Afghanistan was the establishment of the Islamic State of North Waziristan in the Pakistani tribal area this year. This brought all fragmented sections of the Taliban under one command, and was the launching pad for the Taliban's spring offensive.

Subsequently, there has been agreement between a number of top warlords in northern Afghanistan and the Taliban to make the intifada a success next year. Credit for this development goes mainly to Haq Yar.

Haq Yar was recently almost cornered in Helmand province in Afghanistan by British forces. Before that, he spoke to Asia Times Online at an undisclosed location in the Pashtun heartland straddling Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Asia Times Online: When are the Taliban expected to announce the revival of the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan?

Haq Yar: Well, the whole Islamic world is waiting for the revival of the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan, but it will take some time. But sure, it will ultimately happen, and this is what the Taliban's struggle is all about.

ATol: Can you define the level of Taliban-led resistance in Afghanistan?

Haq Yar: It has already passed the initial phases and now has entered into a tactical and decisive phase. It can be measured from the hue and cry raised by the US and its allies. Daily attacks on NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] forces are now routine and suicide attacks are rampant.

ATol: To date, the Taliban have been very active in southwestern Afghanistan, but traditionally success comes when a resistance reaches eastern areas, especially the strategically important Jalalabad. When will this happen?

Haq Yar: Well, I do not agree that the Taliban movement is restricted to southwest Afghanistan. We have now established a network under which we are allied with many big and small mujahideen organizations, and in that way we are fighting foreign forces throughout Afghanistan. In a recent development, the deputy chief of the Taliban movement, Maulana Jalaluddin Haqqani, is now positioned in the eastern zone, including Jalalabad, from where he is guiding attacks on coalition forces. This eastern zone is also part of the Taliban's stronghold.

ATol: What is the role of bin Laden and Zawahiri?

Haq Yar: We are allies and part and parcel of every strategy. Wherever mujahideen are resisting the forces of evil, Arab mujahideen, al-Qaeda and leaders Osama bin Laden and Dr Zawahiri have a key role. In Afghanistan they also have a significant role to support the Taliban movement.

ATol: Is the present Taliban-led resistance against the US and its allies a local resistance or is it international? That is, are resistance movements in other parts of the world led from Afghanistan?

Haq Yar: Initially it was a local movement, but now it is linked with resistance movements in Iraq and other places. We are certainly in coordination with all resistance movements of the Muslim world.

ATol: What is the Taliban strategy with groups like Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and the Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan (Khalis)?

Haq Yar: The Hezb-i-Islami of Hekmatyar and the Taliban are fighting under a coordinated strategy and support each other. The leadership of the Khalis group is now in the hands of his son, who is coordinating everything with Maulana Jalaluddin Haqqani.

ATol: What is the Taliban's weaponry? Is it old Russian arms or they have acquired new ones - and if so, where are they getting them?

Haq Yar: The Taliban have all the latest weaponry required for a guerrilla warfare. Where does it come from? Well, Afghanistan is known as a place where weapons are stockpiled. And forces that provided arms a few decades ago - the same weapons are now being used against them.

ATol: The Taliban contacted commanders in northern Afghanistan. What was the result?

Haq Yar: About one and a half years ago these contacts were initiated. Various groups from the north contacted us. We discussed the matter with [Taliban leader] Mullah Mohammed Omar Akhund and then, with his consent, I was assigned to negotiate matters with the Northern Alliance.

The first meeting was held in northern Afghanistan, where I represented the Taliban. Many individuals from various groups of the Northern Alliance attended the meeting and they all condemned the foreign presence in the country, but insisted that the Taliban should take the lead, and then they would follow suit. Another meeting was held after that in which various individuals come up with some conditions, and there was no conclusion. There was no collective meeting, but there are contacts.

ATol: What is the role of the tribal chiefs?

Haq Yar: The tribal chiefs have always been supportive of the Taliban and still are. How could they not be? The US bombed and killed thousand of their people and the puppet [President Hamid] Karzai government is silent. All Afghans are sick and tired of US tyrannies and daily bombardment, whether they are commoners or chiefs, and that is why they are all with the Taliban.

Actually, we have also worked on organizing that support. On the instructions of Mullah Mohammed Omar Akhund, I met with tribal chiefs last year and prepared the grounds for this year's battle [spring offensive], and all tribal chiefs assured me of their support. And now there is support - it is there for everybody to see.

ATol: It is said that the Taliban are now fueled by drug money. Is this correct, and if not, how do they manage their financial matters?

Haq Yar: It is shameful to say that the Taliban, who eliminated poppies from Afghanistan, are dependent on the drug trade to make money. This is wrong. As far as money is concerned, we do not need much. Whatever is required, we manage it through our own limited resources.

ATol: Are you satisfied with the media's role?

Haq Yar: Not at all. They do not publish our point of view. They never tried to talk to the genuine Taliban. Rather, they go after not genuine people who are basically plants and rejected by the Taliban leadership.

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

 
  
 
 

 
 

 

'War on terror' returning to its cradle (Oct 5, '06)

Pakistan reaches into Afghanistan (Oct 3, '06)

Afghanistan: Why NATO cannot win (Sep 30, '06)

Military policy in Afghanistan 'barking mad' (Sep 30, '06)


 
 

 

================
Geopolitical Diary: Musharraf Gets a Warning

A bomb exploded on Wednesday around 9:30 p.m. local time in Rawalpindi's Ayub public park, about a mile from Pakistani President Gen. Perez Musharraf's army residence. The explosion took place at a time when most residents in the area would have been indoors attending congregational prayers after breaking their fast for Ramadan. No casualties have been reported and Pakistani officials deny that this was an attempt against Musharraf's life.

Though Musharraf has more enemies than Saudi Arabia has princes, assassination attempts against him are usually more serious than this. Recall December 2003, when Musharraf's convoy was targeted twice by al Qaeda in the same month as his car crossed the bridge leading to his army house in Rawalpindi. When Musharraf's assassins get to work, they mean business.

Instead, Wednesday's explosion appears to be carrying a political message for the embattled president, who has come under intense pressure upon his return home from a lengthy visit to the United States. Musharraf has been placed in the hot seat by the White House to deliver a high-value al Qaeda target and suppress the Taliban insurgency in neighboring Afghanistan. His peculiar behavior in the past month revealed that he has caved in to U.S. demands -- and is struggling for ways to absolve himself of blame and buy time before U.S. forces expand their operations on Pakistani soil.

The thought of Musharraf sacrificing Pakistan's territorial sovereignty is troubling, to say the least, for the Pakistani masses; but is of utmost concern for former members of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). There are a number of former ISI officers who were heavily involved in supporting the Afghan mujahideen in the 1980s, and then went on to support militant groups working on the Kashmir front to aid in the Pakistani policy of keeping India's hands tied. These former officers see the militants (both in Afghanistan and Kashmir) as state assets that they worked long and hard to cultivate -- and they fear Musharraf is now compromising those assets and throwing everything away.

While Musharraf has more or less cleansed the ISI of dissenters, many former ISI officers maintain close links with the Pakistani establishment. These officers are often paid as military contractors to maintain contacts with various militant groups after retiring from service; or they are given other civilian jobs, as was the case with former ISI Director-General Lt. Gen. Mahmud Ahmed, who got the boot the day the United States began bombing Afghanistan in October 2001.

This network of ISI veterans has ideological and material interests in maintaining the status quo. They strike a delicate balance between supporting Musharraf on the one hand, to avoid being arrested and stay on the military's payroll, while on the other hand furthering their ideological interest in resisting foreign intervention by providing support to militant groups such as the Taliban. Musharraf has threatened this delicate balance in his deals with the United States and in recent remarks he made on the involvement of former ISI officials with the Taliban. In an interview with NBC News, Musharraf said he keeps a "very tight watch" on his intelligence agency as army chief, though he has "some reports that some dissidents, some retired people who were in the forefront in ISI during the period of 1979 to 1989, may be assisting the links [to the Taliban] somewhere here and there."

This blatant admission by Musharraf prompted a flood of backlash from former ISI officials, who have taken every opportunity to voice their criticism of the president. Former ISI Director-General Lt. Gen. Asad Durrani said there was no evidence to support Musharraf's remarks. Another former ISI director, Hameed Gul, called Musharraf a team captain scoring goals against his own team, and said that Pakistan was astonished to see the captain hell-bent on his own team's defeat. While saying that he prays for the Taliban's success to drive U.S. forces out of Afghanistan, Gul said that no Afghan leader, including President Hamid Karzai, has leveled such an allegation against the ISI.

In a particularly eye-opening statement, retired squadron leader and former ISI official Khalid Khawaja said "General Musharraf is playing the role Saddam Hussein played in Middle East. He did all the nuisance jobs in the region with U.S. support, but could not save his own country from American occupation. Similarly, the real target here is Pakistan, its army, ISI and Pakistan's nuclear program. The U.S. used Musharraf to destroy them one after other."

Khawaja's remark about the nuclear program refers to mid-October 2001, when the United States began to launch airstrikes in Afghanistan. Washington did not feel it could rely on the ISI at the time, and took it as its duty to secure access to Pakistani nuclear facilities in order to prevent nuclear materials from being handed over to the ISI. The United States threatened not only to bomb Pakistan back to the Stone Age, but also to take out the country's nuclear capabilities if Musharraf failed to cooperate.

Cooperating, however, has also put Musharraf in a dangerous position. The level of outrage against the president by former ISI operatives strongly suggests that Wednesday's explosion was, not an assassination attempt, but rather a stern warning: Musharraf cannot unravel the old system without suffering the consequences.

www.stratfor.com
27739  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WW3 on: October 05, 2006, 08:32:58 AM
Taliban lay plans for Islamic intifada
By Syed Saleem Shahzad

THE PASHTUN HEARTLAND, Pakistan and Afghanistan - With the snows approaching, the Taliban's spring offensive has fallen short of its primary objective of reviving the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan, as the country was known under Taliban rule from 1996-2001.

Both foreign forces and the Taliban will bunker down until next spring, although the Taliban are expected to continue with suicide missions and some hit-and-run guerrilla activities. The Taliban will

 

take refuge in the mountains that cross the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, where they will have plenty of time to plan the next stage
of their struggle: a countrywide "Islamic Intifada of Afghanistan" calling on all former mujahideen to join the movement to boot out foreign forces from Afghanistan.

The intifada will be both national and international. On the one hand it aims to organize a national uprising, and on the other it will attempt to make Afghanistan the hub of the worldwide Islamic resistance movement, as it was previously under the Taliban when Osama bin Laden and his training camps were guests of the country.

The ideologue of the intifada is bin Laden's deputy, Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri, who has assembled a special team to implement the idea. Key to this mission is Mullah Mehmood Allah Haq Yar. Asia Times Online was early to pinpoint Haq Yar as an important player (see Osama adds weight to Afghan resistance, September 11, 2004).

Oriented primarily towards Arabs, especially Zawahiri, Haq Yar speaks English, Arabic, Urdu and Pashtu with great fluency. He was sent by Taliban leader Mullah Omar to northern Iraq to train with Ansarul Islam fighters before the US-led invasion of Afghanistan. He returned to Afghanistan in 2004 and was inducted into a special council of commanders formed by Mullah Omar and assigned the task of shepherding all foreign fighters and high-value targets from Pakistani territory into Afghanistan.

He is an expert in urban guerrilla warfare, a skill he has shared with the Taliban in Afghanistan. His new task might be more challenging: to gather local warlords from north to south under one umbrella and secure international support from regional players.

A major first step toward creating an intifada in Afghanistan was the establishment of the Islamic State of North Waziristan in the Pakistani tribal area this year. This brought all fragmented sections of the Taliban under one command, and was the launching pad for the Taliban's spring offensive.

Subsequently, there has been agreement between a number of top warlords in northern Afghanistan and the Taliban to make the intifada a success next year. Credit for this development goes mainly to Haq Yar.

Haq Yar was recently almost cornered in Helmand province in Afghanistan by British forces. Before that, he spoke to Asia Times Online at an undisclosed location in the Pashtun heartland straddling Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Asia Times Online: When are the Taliban expected to announce the revival of the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan?

Haq Yar: Well, the whole Islamic world is waiting for the revival of the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan, but it will take some time. But sure, it will ultimately happen, and this is what the Taliban's struggle is all about.

ATol: Can you define the level of Taliban-led resistance in Afghanistan?

Haq Yar: It has already passed the initial phases and now has entered into a tactical and decisive phase. It can be measured from the hue and cry raised by the US and its allies. Daily attacks on NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] forces are now routine and suicide attacks are rampant.

ATol: To date, the Taliban have been very active in southwestern Afghanistan, but traditionally success comes when a resistance reaches eastern areas, especially the strategically important Jalalabad. When will this happen?

Haq Yar: Well, I do not agree that the Taliban movement is restricted to southwest Afghanistan. We have now established a network under which we are allied with many big and small mujahideen organizations, and in that way we are fighting foreign forces throughout Afghanistan. In a recent development, the deputy chief of the Taliban movement, Maulana Jalaluddin Haqqani, is now positioned in the eastern zone, including Jalalabad, from where he is guiding attacks on coalition forces. This eastern zone is also part of the Taliban's stronghold.

ATol: What is the role of bin Laden and Zawahiri?

Haq Yar: We are allies and part and parcel of every strategy. Wherever mujahideen are resisting the forces of evil, Arab mujahideen, al-Qaeda and leaders Osama bin Laden and Dr Zawahiri have a key role. In Afghanistan they also have a significant role to support the Taliban movement.

ATol: Is the present Taliban-led resistance against the US and its allies a local resistance or is it international? That is, are resistance movements in other parts of the world led from Afghanistan?

Haq Yar: Initially it was a local movement, but now it is linked with resistance movements in Iraq and other places. We are certainly in coordination with all resistance movements of the Muslim world.

ATol: What is the Taliban strategy with groups like Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and the Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan (Khalis)?

Haq Yar: The Hezb-i-Islami of Hekmatyar and the Taliban are fighting under a coordinated strategy and support each other. The leadership of the Khalis group is now in the hands of his son, who is coordinating everything with Maulana Jalaluddin Haqqani.

ATol: What is the Taliban's weaponry? Is it old Russian arms or they have acquired new ones - and if so, where are they getting them?

Haq Yar: The Taliban have all the latest weaponry required for a guerrilla warfare. Where does it come from? Well, Afghanistan is known as a place where weapons are stockpiled. And forces that provided arms a few decades ago - the same weapons are now being used against them.

ATol: The Taliban contacted commanders in northern Afghanistan. What was the result?

Haq Yar: About one and a half years ago these contacts were initiated. Various groups from the north contacted us. We discussed the matter with [Taliban leader] Mullah Mohammed Omar Akhund and then, with his consent, I was assigned to negotiate matters with the Northern Alliance.

The first meeting was held in northern Afghanistan, where I represented the Taliban. Many individuals from various groups of the Northern Alliance attended the meeting and they all condemned the foreign presence in the country, but insisted that the Taliban should take the lead, and then they would follow suit. Another meeting was held after that in which various individuals come up with some conditions, and there was no conclusion. There was no collective meeting, but there are contacts.

ATol: What is the role of the tribal chiefs?

Haq Yar: The tribal chiefs have always been supportive of the Taliban and still are. How could they not be? The US bombed and killed thousand of their people and the puppet [President Hamid] Karzai government is silent. All Afghans are sick and tired of US tyrannies and daily bombardment, whether they are commoners or chiefs, and that is why they are all with the Taliban.

Actually, we have also worked on organizing that support. On the instructions of Mullah Mohammed Omar Akhund, I met with tribal chiefs last year and prepared the grounds for this year's battle [spring offensive], and all tribal chiefs assured me of their support. And now there is support - it is there for everybody to see.

ATol: It is said that the Taliban are now fueled by drug money. Is this correct, and if not, how do they manage their financial matters?

Haq Yar: It is shameful to say that the Taliban, who eliminated poppies from Afghanistan, are dependent on the drug trade to make money. This is wrong. As far as money is concerned, we do not need much. Whatever is required, we manage it through our own limited resources.

ATol: Are you satisfied with the media's role?

Haq Yar: Not at all. They do not publish our point of view. They never tried to talk to the genuine Taliban. Rather, they go after not genuine people who are basically plants and rejected by the Taliban leadership.

Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online's Pakistan Bureau Chief. He can be reached at saleem_shahzad2002@yahoo.com.
==========================================
27740  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Help our troops/our cause: on: October 05, 2006, 08:10:13 AM
> >
> >By Rush Limbaugh:
> >
> >I think the vast differences in compensation between victims of the
> >September 11 casualty and those who die serving our country in Uniform
> >are profound. No one is really talking about it either, because you just
> >don't criticize anything having to do with September 11. Well, I can't
> >let the numbers pass by because it says something really disturbing
> >about the
> >entitlement mentality of this country. If you lost a family member in
> >the September 11 attack, you're going to get an average of $1,185,000.
> >The range is a minimum guarantee of $250,000, all the way up to $4.7
> >million.
> >
> >If you are a surviving family member of an American soldier killed in
> >action, the first check you get is a $6,000 direct death benefit, half
> >of which is taxable.
> >
> >Next, you get $1,750 for burial costs. If you are the surviving spouse,
> >you get $833 a month until you remarry. And there's a payment of $211
> >per month for each child under 18. When the child hits 18, those
> >payments come to a screeching halt.
> >
> >Keep in mind that some of the people who are getting an average of
> >$1.185 million up to $4.7 million are complaining that it's not enough.
> >Their deaths were tragic, but for most, they were simply in the wrong
> >place at the wrong time. Soldiers put themselves in harms way FOR ALL OF
> >US, and they and their families know the dangers.
> >
> >We also learned over the weekend that some of the victims from the
> >Oklahoma City bombing have started an organization asking for the same
> >deal that the September 11 families are getting. In addition to that,
> >some of the families of those bombed in the embassies are now asking for
> >compensation as well.
> >
> >You see where this is going, don't you? Folks, this is part and parcel
> >of over 50 years of entitlement politics in this country. It's just
> >really sad. Every time a pay raise comes up for the military, they
> >usually receive next to nothing of a raise. Now the green machine is in
> >combat in the Middle East while their families have to survive on food
> >stamps and live in low-rent housing. Make sense?
> >
> >However, our own U.S. Congress voted themselves a raise. Many of you
> >don't know that they only have to be in Congress one time to receive a
> >pension that is more than $15,000 per month. And most are now equal to
> >being millionaires plus.
> >
> >If some of the military people stay in for 20 years and get out as an
> >E-7, they may receive a pension of $1,000 per month, and the very people
> >who placed them in harm's way receives a pension of $15,000 per month.
> >
> >I would like to see our elected officials pick up a weapon and join
> >ranks before they start cutting out benefits and lowering pay for our
> >sons and daughters who are now fighting.
> >"When do we finally do something about this?" If this doesn't seem fair
> >to you, it is time to forward this to as many people as you can.
> >
> >How many people
> >
> >CAN YOU
> >
> >send this to?
> >
27741  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Dog Brothers Tribe on: October 04, 2006, 04:20:23 PM
Woof All:

This is just a "housecleaning post" wherein I bring over the contents of a different thread of the same name as this one.   Please know that the posts of the last two days are the most current ones.

yip!
CD
===============

July 23, 2006, 01:54:24 PM ?     

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A Howl of Respect:

Dennis Hall, is now a full Dog Brother.  I lack contact info for him at the moment and forget his requested name.  As soon as I get it, he will be properly posted.  If anyone has contact info for him, please let me know.

Ivan "C-Kuma Dog" Reboli
Gints "C-Baltic Dog" Klimanis

should finally be getting their names properly recorded on the page of record on the public site.

Our newest Candidate Dog Brothers

Corey "C-Dog Pound" Davis
Hugh "C-Irish Dog" Sargeant
Marc "C-Sheepdog" Scott
Roan "C-Poi Dog" Grimm

Our newest members of the tribe

Dog Miguel Velez
Dog Richard Estepa
Dog Tom Guthrie

a couple of others which will come to me-- please send any reminders to me via email.

And, , , , drum roll please , , , Benjamin "Lonely Dog" Rittiner ascends to the Council of Elders by a heartily unanimous vote.

Crafty Dog
Guiding Force
 
 Report to moderator    71.116.175.138 (?) 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny
Dog Brothers, Inc.
mailto:craftydog@dogbrothers.com
 
 
xtremekali
Power User

Posts: 141



      The Dog Brothers Tribe
? Reply #1 on: July 23, 2006, 03:30:52 PM ?     

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Congrats to all.

Myke Willis
 
 Report to moderator    70.142.61.179 (?) 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
For those who fight for it, freedom has a flavor the protected will never know
 
 
carlo
Newbie

Posts: 40


     The Dog Brothers Tribe
? Reply #2 on: July 24, 2006, 12:36:54 PM ?     

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Congratulations all.

-C
 
 Report to moderator    207.212.177.51 (?) 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A nation of one ancestry and race is weak. We must hold strong our custom of welcoming all foreigners who seek to join our cause, treating them with dignity and respect and teaching them our language and customs.

-Attila the Hun
 
 
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User

Posts: 1831


     The Dog Brothers Tribe
? Reply #3 on: July 24, 2006, 05:53:23 PM ?     

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Woof C-Grinning Dog:

How is your shoulder doing?

CD
 
 Report to moderator    69.226.212.181 (?) 

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Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny
Dog Brothers, Inc.
mailto:craftydog@dogbrothers.com
 
 
ponytotts
Newbie

Posts: 43


     The Dog Brothers Tribe
? Reply #4 on: July 26, 2006, 12:28:31 PM ?     

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
congrats guys! the hard work has paid off! dont stop!
 
 Report to moderator    213.39.182.134 (?) 
 
 
 
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User

Posts: 1831


     The Dog Brothers Tribe
? Reply #5 on: July 27, 2006, 11:01:37 AM ?     

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I have been told that Dennis Hall's requested name is "Edge Dog".  So be it.   
 
 Report to moderator    71.116.175.138 (?) 

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Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny
Dog Brothers, Inc.
mailto:craftydog@dogbrothers.com
 
 
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User

Posts: 1831


     Re: The Dog Brothers Tribe
? Reply #6 on: August 13, 2006, 04:27:31 PM ?     

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Woof All:

Mike de Lio is now "C-Scrappy Dog".

WOOF!
Crafty Dog
Guiding Force
 
 Report to moderator    71.116.179.191 (?) 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny
Dog Brothers, Inc.
mailto:craftydog@dogbrothers.com
 
 
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User

Posts: 1831


     Re: The Dog Brothers Tribe
? Reply #7 on: August 20, 2006, 05:40:16 AM ?     

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Woof All:

Dave Rothburg smacks me with a stick to remind me   that he now is "Dog Dave Rothburg".  Indeed he is and we welcome him to the Dog Brothers tribe. 

Crafty Dog
GF
 
 
27742  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Dog Brothers Tribe on: October 04, 2006, 01:01:57 PM
Russ "C-Bad Dog" Iger is currently in China.  Here he is on bass guitar.

http://www.kodakgallery.com/ShareLandingSignin.jsp?Uc=ouu1643.7m14a03v&Uy=-ym5orn&Upost_signin=Slideshow.jsp%3Fmode%3Dfromshare&Ux=0
27743  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Condtioning for the stick on: October 04, 2006, 11:03:18 AM
Good piece in many ways.  I agree with his assessment of the importance of the 7 Minute Rotator Cuff Solution.

I have no idea of the merit of his 6 days a week for the same movements methodology.

Where I think he misses a vital point in his analysis is in the foundational role of the hips.  When the hips are tilted forward (due to tight hip flexors (psoas, ilio, quads) and weak peak contraction of the glute-hamstring nexus) -- which is the case with a huge majority of the population due to excessive sitting in modern life, there are consequences for the undelrying alignment of the shoulder joint.  Specifically, it rolls forward.  This is easy to spot in various ways.  One indicator is that when standing the thumbs should be paralell but when the shoulder is rolled forward, the thumbs point inward to varying degrees.  Another indicator is when viewed from the side the ears should be above the shoulders, but when the hips are tilted forward and the shoulders rolled forward, the ears are well in front of the shoulders.  If you point this out to someone, typically he will try to solve it with the neck, but the true solution lies restoring the hips to level.

IMHO to try to solve shoulder problems without also leveling the hips is like peeing into the wind.
27744  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politics on: October 04, 2006, 02:22:12 AM
Woof All:

Herewith begins a catch-all thread.

TAC,
CD
=================

Bush and the Perception of Weakness
By George Friedman

There is good news for the Republican Party: Things can't get much worse. About five weeks from the midterm elections, a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) asserting that the situation in Iraq will deteriorate in 2007 is leaked. On top of that, Bob Woodward's book is released to massive fanfare, chronicling major disagreements within the White House over prosecution of the Iraq war and warnings to U.S. President George W. Bush in the summer of 2003 that a dangerous insurgency was under way and that the president's strategy of removing Baathists from the government and abolishing the Iraqi army was a mistake. These events are bad enough, but when U.S. Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) -- the head of a congressional committee charged with shutting down child molesters using the Internet -- is caught sending e-mails to 16-year-old male pages, the news doesn't get much worse.

All of this is tied up with the elections of course. The NIE document leak was undoubtedly meant to embarrass the president. The problem is that it did, as it revealed the rift between the intelligence community and the White House's view of the world. The Woodward book was clearly intended to be published more than a month before the elections, and it was expected to have embarrassing revelations in it. The problem is that not a whole lot of people quoted in the book are denying that they said or did what was described. When former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card is quoted as trying to get U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld out of office and the assertion is made that first lady Laura Bush tried as well, and denials are not flying, you know two things: Woodward intended to embarrass Bush just before the election, and he succeeded. For all we know, the leak about Foley asking about a 16-year-old's boxer shorts may have been timed as well. The problem is that the allegations were true, and Foley admitted what he did and resigned.

These problems might be politically timed, but none of them appears to be based on a lie. The fact is that this confluence of events has created the perception that the Bush White House is disintegrating. Bush long ago lost control of leakers in the intelligence community; he has now started to lose control over former longtime staffers who, having resigned, have turned on him via the Woodward book. Bush appears to be locked into a small circle of advisers (particularly Vice President Dick Cheney and Rumsfeld) and locked into his Iraq strategy, and he generally appears to have suspended decision-making in favor of continuing with decisions already made.

Now, this may not be a fair perception. We are not in the White House and do not know what is going on there. But this is now the perception, and that fact must be entered into the equation. True or not, and fair or not, the president appears to be denying what the intelligence communities are saying and what some of his closest advisers have argued, and it appears that this has been going on for a long time. With the election weeks away, and the Foley scandal adding to the administration's difficulties, there is a reasonable probability that the Republicans will get hammered in the elections, potentially losing both houses of Congress if the current trend continues.

One theory is that Bush doesn't care. He believes in the things he is doing and, whatever happens in the 2006 elections, he will continue to be president for the next two years, with the power of the presidency in his hand. That may be the case, although a hostile Congress with control over the purse strings can force policies on presidents (consider Congress suspending military aid to South Vietnam under Gerald Ford). Congress has substantial power when it chooses to exercise it.

But leaving the question of internal politics aside, the perception that Bush's administration is imploding can have a significant impact on his ability to execute his foreign policy because of how foreign nations will behave. The perception of disarray generates a perception of weakness. The perception of weakness encourages foreign states to take advantage of the situation. Bush has argued that changing his Iraq policy might send the Islamic world a signal of weakness. That might be true, but the perception that Bush is losing control of his administration or of Congress can also signal weakness. If Bush's intent is the reasonable goal of not appearing weak, he obviously must examine the current situation's effects on his ability to reach that goal.

Consider a matter not involving the Islamic world. This week, a crisis blew up in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, which is now closely aligned with the United States. Georgia arrested four Russian military officers, charging them with espionage. The Russians demanded their release and halted the withdrawal of Russian troops from Georgia -- a withdrawal Moscow had promised before the arrests gave it the opportunity to create a fundamental crisis in Russo-Georgian relations.

Normally a crisis of this magnitude involving a U.S. ally like Georgia would rise to the top of the pile of national security issues at the White House, with suitable threats made and action plans drawn up. Furthermore, the Russians would normally have been quite careful about handling such a crisis. There was little evidence of Russian caution; the Russians refrained from turning the situation into a military conflict, but they certainly turned up the heat on Georgia as the crisis evolved on its own. The Kremlin press service said Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin talked about Georgia in a telephone conversation Oct. 2, and that Putin told Bush third parties should be careful about encouraging Georgia.

The Russians frankly do not see the United States as capable of taking meaningful action at this point. That means Moscow can take risks, exert pressure and shift dynamics in ways it might have avoided a year ago out of fear of U.S. reprisals. The Russians know Bush does not have the political base at home, or even the administrative ability, to manage a crisis. Both National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice are obsessed with Iraq and the Washington firestorm. As for Rumsfeld, Woodward quoted the head of U.S. Central Command, Gen. John Abizaid, as saying Rumsfeld lacks credibility. That statement has not been denied. It is bad when a four-star general says that about a secretary of defense. Since the perception of U.S. crisis management is that no one is minding the shop, the Russians tested their strength.

There is, of course, a much more serious matter: Iran. Iran cut its teeth on American domestic politics. After the Iranians seized U.S. Embassy personnel as hostages, they locked the Carter administration into an impossible position, in which its only option was a catastrophic rescue attempt. The Iranians had an enormous impact on the 1980 election, helping to defeat Carter and not releasing the hostages until Ronald Reagan was sworn in as president. They crippled a president once and might like to try it again.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was involved in the hostage-taking and got a close-up view of how to manipulate the United States. Iran already undermined Bush's plans for a stable government in Iraq when it mobilized Shiite forces against the Baghdad government over the summer. Between that and the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict, Iran saw itself in a strong position. Iran then conducted a diplomatic offensive, as a former Iranian president and the current Iranian president both traveled to the United States and tried to make the case that they are more moderate than the Bush administration painted them.

With five weeks until the U.S. congressional midterm elections, the Iranians would love to be able to claim that Bush, having rejected their overtures, was brought down -- or at least crippled -- by Iran. There are rumors swirling about pending major attacks in Iraq by pro-Iranian forces. There are always rumors swirling in Iraq about attacks, but in this particular case, logic would give them credibility. The Iranians might be calculating that if Iranian-sponsored groups could inflict massive casualties on U.S. troops, it would affect the U.S. election enough to get a Democratic Congress in place -- which could cripple Bush's ability to wage war and further weaken the United States' position in the Middle East. This, of course, would increase Iran's standing in the region.

The Iranian perception is that the United States does not have the resources to launch either an invasion or massive airstrikes against Iran. The Bush administration's credibility on weapons of mass destruction (WMD) is too low for that to be regarded as a plausible excuse, and even if strikes were launched to take out WMD, that rationale would not justify an extended, multi-month bombing campaign. Since the Iranians believe the United States lacks the will and ability to try regime change from the air, Tehran is in a position to strike without putting itself at risk.

If the Iranians were to strike hard at the United States in Iraq, and the United States did not respond effectively, then the perception in key countries like Saudi Arabia -- a religious and geopolitical rival of Iran's -- would be that aligning with the United States is a dangerous move because the U.S. ability to protect them is not there, and therefore they need to make other arrangements. Since getting the Saudis' cooperation against al Qaeda was a major achievement for the Bush administration, this would be a major reversal. But if Riyadh perceived the United States as inherently weak, Riyadh would have no choice but to recalculate and relaunch its foreign policy.

Iran and others are feeling encouraged to take risks before the upcoming U.S. election -- either because they see this as a period of maximum American weakness or because they hope to influence the election and further weaken Bush. If they succeed, many U.S. allies will, like the Saudis, have to recalculate their positions relative to the United States and move away. The willingness of people in Iraq and Afghanistan to align with the United States will decline. If the United States is seen as a loser, it will become a loser. Furthermore, the NIE and the Woodward book create the perception that Bush has become isolated in his views and unable to control his own people. He needs to reverse this perception.

It is easy to write that. It is much harder to imagine how he will accomplish it, particularly if there is a major attack in Iraq or elsewhere. Bush's solution has been to refuse to bend. That worked for a while, but that strategy is no longer credible because it is not clear that Bush still has the option of not bending. The disarray in his administration and the real possibility of losing Congress means that merely remaining resolved is not enough. Bush needs to bring perceived order to the perceived chaos in the administration. Between the bad luck of degenerate congressmen and the intentions of the Iranians, he does not have many tools at his disposal. The things he might have done a year ago, like replacing Rumsfeld, are not an option now. It would smell of panic, and he cannot afford to be seen as panicky. Perhaps Bush's only option at this point is to remain self-assured and indifferent to the storm around him.

Whatever the perception in the United States, Bush's enemies overseas are not impressed by his self-assurance, and his allies are getting very worried that, like Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, his political weakness will not allow him to control the U.S. course.

We believe that, in the end, reality governs perception. But we are not convinced that, in this case, the perception and the reality are not one and the same; and we are not convinced that, in the coming weeks, the perception is not in fact more important than the reality. And if the Republicans lose the upcoming elections, the perception that Bush lacks the plans and political power needed for decisive action will become the reality.

For Bush to be able to execute the foreign policy he wants, his party must win the midterm elections. For that to happen, Bush must get control of the political situation quickly. To do that, he must change the perception that his own administration is out of control.

Easy to write. Harder to do.
www.stratfor.com
27745  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Die Less Often: Interface of Gun, Knife and Emtpy Hand on: October 02, 2006, 05:31:47 PM
Here's a recent letter of recommendation from some training I did using the material in the "Die Less Often" DVD. In the interest of accuracy, I must note that when I train LEOs that additional material is shown which is not shared with the general public:

The Adventure continues, Crafty Dog

===================

To whom it may concern:

We would like to express our sincere appreciation to Guro Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny, Head Instructor of Dog Brothers Martial Arts for allowing us an opportunity to participate in his excellent no-nonsense edged weapon defense class. The techniques and methodologies taught succeed where others fail because:

1) of the innovative "Kali Fence", which as a field interview position allows the officer both to prevent access to his sidearm, to advantageously frame the possible angles of engagement to effectively pre-empt attacks, and to initiate handcuffing procedures. 2) the material taught is responsive to the primal realities of criminal assault with edged weapon and with empty hand. 3) the material taught gives the officer the option of creating the range and angle necessary to safely access his/her sidearm or move to restrain/disarm/cuff. 4) the teaching methods impart functional results with surprising rapidity ? officers trained can walk away with something that they can use. 5) Guro Denny is very much a "hands-on" teacher, freely moving and engaging with those being trained to maximize their understanding of the techniques ? he brings passion and commitment to his work.

This course inspires the confidence needed to withstand a full-on mad-dog (no pun intended) street/prison style knife attack. When you have finished the course you will know without hesitation that these counter assault techniques work.

I have been involved with SWAT and Special Operations for more than 10 years and can honestly say that I have never written a testimonial favoring any one specific course of training until now and that is because it simply works. Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny brings the reality of edged weapon attacks to the training arena. His techniques and methodologies are applied, not theoretical. His pragmatic edged weapon defense system is distinguished by the fact that it works against all kinds of attacks to include those coming from progressive resistant fighters employing the "sewing machine" style of attack that is so commonly used by street fighters and criminals.

Be forewarned, this is definitely not a course for the timid, but when you walk away from the training arena, you will leave with the confidence and an unwavering validation that these methods will allow your people to "die less often" as the result of an edged weapon attack.

I highly recommend Guro Denny's Dog Brothers Martial Arts' course for any Special Operations team that is serious about training its people to survive an edged weapon attack. This course will save lives and that is the bottom line.

John Mansell U.S. Border Patrol
Special Response Team
Department of Homeland Security
CBP Advanced Training Center
Harpers Ferry,
West Virginia
27746  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MoreDBMA self defense on DVD / Marc on: October 02, 2006, 05:26:14 PM
Woof Shane:

Our new "Die Less Often:  Intro to the Interface of Gun, Knife, and Empty Hand" triple disc DVD addresses many of the questions you ask.

The material for Kali Tudo clinchand KT ground is currently under vigorous research. wink

TAC,
Crafty Dog
27747  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Albuquerque stick fighting on: October 02, 2006, 05:22:03 PM
Woof All:

I will be doing a seminar in Albuquerque the last weekend of this month.  Details to be posted when I get back to the US.

CD
27748  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: FMA Footwork for Context-Based Gunfighting on: October 02, 2006, 05:19:39 PM
Woof Michael:

I am conferring with Chris Gizzi, formerly a linebacker with the Green Bay Packers (seen in our Kali Tudo DVD btw) about moving forward my concept in this area.  Looking forward to our paths crossing again, probably at WTS3 in Memphis.

Yip
CD
27749  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Help our troops/our cause: on: October 02, 2006, 05:15:17 PM
Woof All:

I have been very concerned, indeed angry, about things I have been reading recently about our government taking advantage of our troops and not fully stocking them or resting them so it seems like a good time to bring this thread back to the top.  Please take a look through it and see what you can do.

CD
27750  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Dog Brothers Tribe on: October 02, 2006, 05:07:49 PM
Let the howl go forth:

New members of the tribe:

Dog Vitaliano Sestito- Italy
Dog Marcus Schillinger-Germany
Dog Graeme Higgins-Scotland
Dog Oli Sch?r- Switzerland
Dog Stefan Kostanjevec- Germany
Dog Tomek Jurkiewioz- Poland

"Higher Conciousness through Harder Contact." (c)
Crafty Dog
Council of Elders
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