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27751  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libertarian themes on: February 28, 2007, 03:59:06 AM
Nice read Buz  smiley

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

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

Enforcing Virtue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contributing Editor Cathy Young (CathyYoung63@aol.com) is the author of Ceasefire! (Free Press).
__________________
27752  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: February 28, 2007, 02:08:07 AM
Another interpretation:

WSJ

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

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

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

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

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

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





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

 
27753  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Chinese meltdown on purpose on: February 27, 2007, 11:43:49 PM
stratfor.com

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


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

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

How it Happened

This was an engineered drop.

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

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

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

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

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

What it Triggered

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

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

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

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

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

Feb. 28 and Beyond

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

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

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

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

Considering the flaws on which the Chinese system is based, this certainly will not be the last engineered drop. In theory, the move will make foreign investors far more cautious before diving into the Chinese system, but as longtime Stratfor readers know, we have been wrong on the timing of that particular development before.
27754  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WW3 on: February 27, 2007, 09:39:52 PM
First, a gentle leash yank:  Rog, GM, lets make that extra special effort that distinguishes this forum to speak to each other as if we were breaking bread together.

Returning now to the subject at hand.

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

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

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

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

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

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



27755  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Environmental issues on: February 27, 2007, 09:24:25 PM
C'mon Rog, the accusation here is one of hypocrisy so no, it is not a point on the merits.

As for the merits of his documentary, that has been discussed already.  Glad you agree his credentials are overblown.
27756  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: February 27, 2007, 08:51:08 AM
NY Times

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

=========

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

27757  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iraqi Oil Law Legislation Approved on: February 27, 2007, 08:39:02 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Iraqi Oil Law Legislation Approved
stratfor.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Kurds have more or less stayed out of the fray as Iraq's Shiite and Sunni factions have engaged in all-out war. But as the oil negotiations proceed, the Kirkuk referendum issue heats up and more of Iraq's Kurdish forces are sent to Baghdad as part of the new security plan, Iraqi Kurds will soon find themselves playing a bigger part in Iraq's bloody power struggle. The new oil draft legislation looks good on paper, but it is only delaying the inevitable battle.
27758  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: February 27, 2007, 08:31:15 AM
Jason:

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

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

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

Marc
27759  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Tippy-tappy drills-- threat or menace? on: February 27, 2007, 08:17:52 AM
Woof All:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Adventure continues,
Crafty Dog
27760  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science on: February 26, 2007, 10:13:41 PM
Iran: Sounding Off on its Latest Rocket Test
Summary

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

Analysis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

stratfor.com
27761  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Environmental issues on: February 26, 2007, 09:59:27 PM
A VERY INCONVINIENT TRUTH: POWER: GORE MANSION USES 20X AVERAGE HOUSEHOLD; CONSUMPTION INCREASE AFTER 'TRUTH': 
 
The Tennessee Center for Policy Research, an independent, nonprofit and nonpartisan research organization committed to achieving a freer, more prosperous Tennessee through free market policy solutions, issued a press release late Monday: 
 
Last night, Al Gore's global-warming documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, collected an Oscar for best documentary feature, but the Tennessee Center for Policy Research has found that Gore deserves a gold statue for hypocrisy.   
 
Gore's mansion, [20-room, eight-bathroom] located in the posh Belle Meade area of Nashville, consumes more electricity every month than the average American household uses in an entire year, according to the Nashville Electric Service (NES).   
 
In his documentary, the former Vice President calls on Americans to conserve energy by reducing electricity consumption at home. 
 
The average household in America consumes 10,656 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, according to the Department of Energy. In 2006, Gore devoured nearly 221,000 kWh--more than 20 times the national average.   
 
Last August alone, Gore burned through 22,619 kWh--guzzling more than twice the electricity in one month than an average American family uses in an entire year. As a result of his energy consumption, Gore's average monthly electric bill topped $1,359.   
 
Since the release of An Inconvenient Truth, Gore's energy consumption has increased from an average of 16,200 kWh per month in 2005, to 18,400 kWh per month in 2006.   
 
Gore's extravagant energy use does not stop at his electric bill. Natural gas bills for Gore's mansion and guest house averaged $1,080 per month last year.   
 
"As the spokesman of choice for the global warming movement, Al Gore has to be willing to walk to walk, not just talk the talk, when it comes to home energy use," said Tennessee Center for Policy Research President Drew Johnson. 
 
In total, Gore paid nearly $30,000 in combined electricity and natural gas bills for his Nashville estate in 2006.
 
 
27762  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WW3 on: February 26, 2007, 09:24:03 PM
Rog:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marc

27763  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politically (In)correct on: February 26, 2007, 07:55:23 PM
1) My point about homosexuality is that as a legal matter people should be free to hold whatever opinion they want to.   

2) I invite you to respond to my other points.
27764  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Help our troops/our cause: on: February 26, 2007, 01:44:00 PM
Woof Rog:

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

Marc
27765  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Help our troops/our cause: on: February 26, 2007, 12:52:15 PM
I'll agree that the use of the legal term "treason" is over the top, but IMHO as our troops, who have strong re-enlistment rates, are finally being unleashed to apply a different approach, that the actions of the Democratic majority are for the most part despicable.  They are telling the enemy AND those who would be our friends, to just wait it out a few months and we will be gone.  This dramatically reduces the chance of success of the mission for which our troops fight.
27766  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: February 26, 2007, 11:36:28 AM
February 26, 2007 -- LAST week, American troops checking traffic from Iran detained Amar al-Hakim, a cleric and the son of the head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) - the key Shia political organization we're counting on.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ASAS was the monster that ate MI.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.nypost.com/php/pfriendly/...lph_peters.htm
27767  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: February 26, 2007, 11:09:26 AM
stratfor.com

LEBANON: Hezbollah is increasing its forces north of Lebanon's Litani River, reinforcing its positions in anticipation of another conflict with Israel, following the one in August 2006, the Times of London reported. Shiite businessman Ali Tajiddine reportedly is aiding Hezbollah by buying land for the group to use as a base of operations.
27768  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: February 26, 2007, 08:56:02 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Emerging Strains in U.S. Partnerships

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

stratfor.com
27769  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Legal issues on: February 26, 2007, 08:48:35 AM
Second post of the morning:
NY Times
Editorial Observer
Why Have So Many U.S. Attorneys Been Fired? It Looks a Lot Like Politics
By ADAM COHEN
Published: February 26, 2007

Carol Lam, the former United States attorney for San Diego, is smart and tireless and was very good at her job. Her investigation of Representative Randy Cunningham resulted in a guilty plea for taking more than $2 million in bribes from defense contractors and a sentence of more than eight years. Two weeks ago, she indicted Kyle Dustin Foggo, the former No. 3 official in the C.I.A. The defense-contracting scandal she pursued so vigorously could yet drag in other politicians.

In many Justice Departments, her record would have won her awards, and perhaps a promotion to a top post in Washington. In the Bush Justice Department, it got her fired.

Ms. Lam is one of at least seven United States attorneys fired recently under questionable circumstances. The Justice Department is claiming that Ms. Lam and other well-regarded prosecutors like John McKay of Seattle, David Iglesias of New Mexico, Daniel Bogden of Nevada and Paul Charlton of Arizona — who all received strong job evaluations — performed inadequately.

It is hard to call what’s happening anything other than a political purge. And it’s another shameful example of how in the Bush administration, everything — from rebuilding a hurricane-ravaged city to allocating homeland security dollars to invading Iraq — is sacrificed to partisan politics and winning elections.

U.S. attorneys have enormous power. Their decision to investigate or indict can bankrupt a business or destroy a life. They must be, and long have been, insulated from political pressures. Although appointed by the president, once in office they are almost never asked to leave until a new president is elected. The Congressional Research Service has confirmed how unprecedented these firings are. It found that of 486 U.S. attorneys confirmed since 1981, perhaps no more than three were forced out in similar ways — three in 25 years, compared with seven in recent months.

It is not just the large numbers. The firing of H. E. Cummins III is raising as many questions as Ms. Lam’s. Mr. Cummins, one of the most distinguished lawyers in Arkansas, is respected by Republicans and Democrats alike. But he was forced out to make room for J. Timothy Griffin, a former Karl Rove deputy with thin legal experience who did opposition research for the Republican National Committee. (Mr. Griffin recently bowed to the inevitable and said he will not try for a permanent appointment. But he remains in office indefinitely.)

The Bush administration cleared the way for these personnel changes by slipping a little-noticed provision into the Patriot Act last year that allows the president to appoint interim U.S. attorneys for an indefinite period without Senate confirmation.

Three theories are emerging for why these well-qualified U.S. attorney were fired — all political, and all disturbing.

1. Helping friends. Ms. Lam had already put one powerful Republican congressman in jail and was investigating other powerful politicians. The Justice Department, unpersuasively, claims that it was unhappy about Ms. Lam’s failure to bring more immigration cases. Meanwhile, Ms. Lam has been replaced with an interim prosecutor whose résumé shows almost no criminal law experience, but includes her membership in the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group.

2. Candidate recruitment. U.S. attorney is a position that can make headlines and launch political careers. Congressional Democrats suspect that the Bush administration has been pushing out long-serving U.S. attorneys to replace them with promising Republican lawyers who can then be run for Congress and top state offices.

3. Presidential politics. The Justice Department concedes that Mr. Cummins was doing a good job in Little Rock. An obvious question is whether the administration was more interested in his successor’s skills in opposition political research — let’s not forget that Arkansas has been lucrative fodder for Republicans in the past — in time for the 2008 elections.

The charge of politics certainly feels right. This administration has made partisanship its lodestar. The Washington Post reporter Rajiv Chandrasekaran revealed in his book, “Imperial Life in the Emerald City,” that even applicants to help administer post-invasion Iraq were asked whom they voted for in 2000 and what they thought of Roe v. Wade.

Congress has been admirably aggressive about investigating. Senator Charles Schumer, Democrat of New York, held a tough hearing. And he is now talking about calling on the fired U.S. attorneys to testify and subpoenaing their performance evaluations — both good ideas.

The politicization of government over the last six years has had tragic consequences — in New Orleans, Iraq and elsewhere. But allowing politics to infect U.S. attorney offices takes it to a whole new level. Congress should continue to pursue the case of the fired U.S. attorneys vigorously, both to find out what really happened and to make sure that it does not happen again.

27770  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: February 26, 2007, 08:42:56 AM
Bush to Warn Pakistan to Act on Terror
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By DAVID E. SANGER and MARK MAZZETTI
Published: February 26, 2007
WASHINGTON, Feb. 25 — President Bush has decided to send an unusually tough message to one of his most important allies, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, the president of Pakistan, warning him that the newly Democratic Congress could cut aid to his country unless his forces become far more aggressive in hunting down operatives with Al Qaeda, senior administration officials say.

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The Reach of War
Go to Complete Coverage » The decision came after the White House concluded that General Musharraf is failing to live up to commitments he made to Mr. Bush during a visit here in September. General Musharraf insisted then, both in private and public, that a peace deal he struck with tribal leaders in one of the country’s most lawless border areas would not diminish the hunt for the leaders of Al Qaeda and the Taliban or their training camps.

Now, American intelligence officials have concluded that the terrorist infrastructure is being rebuilt, and that while Pakistan has attacked some camps, its overall effort has flagged.

“He’s made a number of assurances over the past few months, but the bottom line is that what they are doing now is not working,” one senior administration official who deals often with South Asian issues said late last week. “The message we’re sending to him now is that the only thing that matters is results.”

Democrats, who took control of Congress last month, have urged the White House to put greater pressure on Pakistan because of statements from American commanders that units based in Pakistan that are linked to the Taliban, Afghanistan’s ousted rulers, are increasing their attacks into Afghanistan.

For the time being, officials say, the White House has ruled out unilateral strikes against the training camps that American spy satellites are monitoring in North Waziristan, in Pakistan’s tribal areas on the border. The fear is that such strikes would result in what one administration official referred to as a “shock to the stability” of General Musharraf’s government.

General Musharraf, a savvy survivor in the brutal world of Pakistani politics, knows that the administration is hesitant to push him too far. If his government collapses, it is not clear who would succeed him or who would gain control over Pakistan’s arsenal of nuclear weapons.

But the spread of Al Qaeda in the tribal areas threatens to undermine a central element of Mr. Bush’s argument that he is succeeding in the administration’s effort to curb terrorism. The bomb plot disrupted in Britain last summer, involving plans to hijack airplanes, has been linked by British and American intelligence agencies to camps in the Pakistan-Afghan border areas.

General Musharraf has told American officials that Pakistani military operations in the tribal areas in recent years so alienated local residents that they no longer provide the central government with quality intelligence about the movements of senior Islamic militants.

Congressional Democrats have threatened to review military assistance and other aid to Pakistan unless they see evidence of aggressive attacks on Al Qaeda. The House last month passed a measure linking future military aid to White House certification that Pakistan “is making all possible efforts to prevent the Taliban from operating in areas under its sovereign control.”

Pakistan is now the fifth-largest recipient of American aid. Mr. Bush has proposed $785 million in aid to Pakistan in his new budget, including $300 million in military aid to help Pakistan combat Islamic radicalism in the country.

The rumblings from Congress give Mr. Bush and his top advisers a way of conveying the seriousness of the problem, officials said, without appearing to issue a direct threat to the proud Pakistani leader themselves.

“We think the Pakistani aid is at risk in Congress,” said the senior official, who declined to speak on the record because the subject involved intelligence matters.

The administration has sent a series of emissaries to see the Pakistani leader in recent weeks, including the new secretary of defense, Robert M. Gates. Mr. Gates was charged with prompting more action in a region in which American forces operate with great constraints, if they are allowed in at all.

“This is not the type of relationship where we can order action,” said an administration official involved in discussions over Pakistan policy. “We can strongly encourage.”

Relations between General Musharraf and Mr. Bush have always been tense, as the Pakistani leader veers between his need for American support and protection and his awareness that many Pakistani people — and the intelligence service — have strong sympathies for Al Qaeda and the resurgent Taliban. Officials involved with the issue describe the current moment between the leaders as especially fraught.

Mr. Bush was deeply skeptical of the deal General Musharraf struck with the tribal leaders last year, fearing that it would limit the government’s powers to intercede in what Mr. Bush has called the “wild west” of Waziristan, administration officials said at the time.

During his visit to Washington last fall, General Musharraf said the agreement he signed with tribal leaders, giving them greater sovereignty in the region, had “three bottom lines.” He said one was “no Al Qaeda activities in our tribal agencies or across the border in Afghanistan.” The second was “no Taliban activity” in the same areas. And the third was “no Talibanization,” which he described as “obscurantist thoughts or way of life.”

American intelligence officials have made an assessment that senior Qaeda leaders in Pakistan have re-established significant control over their global network and are training operatives in some of the camps for strikes on Western targets.

One American official familiar with intelligence reports about Pakistan said intelligence agencies had established “clear linkages” between the Qaeda camps and the plot to blow up trans-Atlantic flights that was thwarted last August. American analysts said the recent trials of terrorism suspects in Britain showed that some defendants had been trained in Pakistan.

American officials say one reason General Musharraf agreed to pull government troops back to their barracks in North Waziristan and allow tribal leaders greater control over security was to give him time to rebuild his intelligence network in the border region gradually.
27771  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / D'Souza goes PC, part two on: February 26, 2007, 08:24:37 AM


Mr. D'Souza seeks "to understand [Muslims] as they understand themselves." His effort culminates in a chapter devoted to a defense of patriarchy. There he observes that the practices most offensive to modern Americans, such as arranged marriage and polygamy, are not distinctively Islamic. Rather, Mr. D'Souza explains, they are characteristic of patriarchal cultures such as those of ancient Israel. "More recently in America," Mr. D'Souza adds, "polygamy was permitted and practiced by the Mormons." Mr. D'Souza fails to note the traditional American condemnation of polygamy, in the words of the 1856 Republican platform, as a relic of barbarism; Utah was not admitted as a state until it prohibited polygamy. Mr. D'Souza seeks to mitigate our antipathy to polygamy with the observation that Islamic law limits polygamy to four wives and that it is conditioned on requirements so onerous that "its practice is quite rare in the Muslim world." Reliable data on the incidence of polygamy are not readily available and Mr. D'Souza cites no data whatsoever. It is at least worth noting in this context, even if Mr. D'Souza does not see fit to do so, that bin Laden is the issue of a polygamous marriage and is himself a polygamist. Bin Laden's father took numerous wives who collectively bestowed some fifty children on him.





Mr. D'Souza ignores secondary sources that contradict or fail to support his thesis, and he fares no better in his treatment of primary sources. Mr. D'Souza only briefly discusses bin Laden's pre-9/11 manifestos and does so in an extremely misleading manner. Foremost among them is bin Laden's 1996 "declaration of war" against the United States. The declaration obviously bears on Mr. D'Souza's thesis, but he never even cites the declaration by name: "Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places (expel the infidels from the Arab peninsula)." Bin Laden decries "the Zionist-Crusader alliance" and asserts that, with the American "occupation" of Saudi Arabia, Islam has suffered "the latest and greatest of" the aggressions committed against it in recent history. "It is the duty of every tribe in the Arabian peninsula to fight jihad," bin Laden announced, "and cleanse the land from these Crusader occupiers." According to Mr. D'Souza, bin Laden's grievance with the American occupation of Saudi Arabia "must be understood in a metaphorical sense. . . . What bin Laden objected to was America staying in the Middle East, importing with it the immoral ingredients of American values and culture." I think it's fair to say that the rambling 25-page text of the 1996 declaration belies Mr. D'Souza's reading of it.
The second of bin Laden's pre-9/11 manifestos is his 1998 declaration of holy war against the West and Israel. Again bin Laden complains of America "occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places." Again bin Laden refers to the "Crusader-Zionist alliance," alleging that more than one million Iraqis have been killed by Americans stationed in Saudi Arabia. Bin Laden then issues his "ruling to kill the Americans and their allies--civilians and military," proclaiming it the "individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy mosque [Mecca] from their grip." Mr. D'Souza does not devote more than a few words to bin Laden's 1998 manifesto specifically, though it is bin Laden's final pre-9/11 written declaration of war. Mr. D'Souza generally observes, "When bin Laden calls America a Crusader state, he means that America is on a vicious international campaign to impose its atheist system of government and its pagan values on Muslims."

According to Mr. D'Souza, bin Laden's war against the "Crusader" United States and his condemnation of the "Zionist" half of the "Zionist Crusader alliance" are not based on the religion of either, but rather their lack of it. "The context of bin Laden's arguments clearly shows that bin Laden is not speaking of a religious war between Islam and Christianity. . . . In the classical Muslim understanding, there is a fundamental distinction between Jews and Christians on the one hand and polytheists and atheists on the other." Mr. D'Souza suggests that bin Laden either thinks highly of Christians and Jews, consistent with Mr. D'Souza's understanding of traditional Islam, or maintains a discreet silence concerning his dissent from the tradition for fear of "alienat[ing] traditional Muslims." To paraphrase the Biblical verse, in Mr. D'Souza's book you shall not hear of jihad or rumors of jihad. The word does not appear in the index and the concept is not discussed in the book.

Mr. D'Souza places great stock in bin Laden's November 2002 "Letter to America." Mr. D'Souza cites it as cardinal evidence of bin Laden's hatred of "the cultural left." In the letter, bin Laden calls on Americans to "reject the immoral acts of fornication, homosexuality, intoxicants, gambling and trading with interest." For the purposes of argument we might concede that "fornication" and "homosexuality" can in some sense be laid at the feet of "the cultural left" and shoehorned into Mr. D'Souza's thesis. But alcohol, gambling and trading with interest cannot. Mr. D'Souza uses the passage to support his claim that bin Laden's quarrel with America does not derive primarily from foreign policy. He does not even pause to take note that the passage supports the proposition that Islam contributes more to the quarrel than does "the cultural left." Mr. D'Souza conveniently omits bin Laden's statement that "the first thing we are calling you to is Islam."

Mr. D'Souza is neither a historian nor a student of Islam. His research is neither broad nor deep. He refers in passing to interviews he conducted for the book, but he does not appear to have interviewed many scholars, journalists, or witnesses who have devoted themselves to the subjects that bear on his book's thesis.

"The Enemy at Home" is a strange book, both for what it says and for what it does not say on subjects that Mr. D'Souza must know conflict with its thesis. Mr. D'Souza says, for example, that he would rather go to a baseball game or have a drink with Michael Moore than with the grand mufti of Egypt (is this another lame stab at humor?), but that when it comes to "core beliefs," he feels closer to "the dignified fellow in the long robe and prayer beads than to the slovenly fellow with the baseball cap."

Having engaged in the effort to understand the Muslims as they understand themselves, in "The Enemy at Home" Mr. D'Souza generally does not seek to judge them by a standard above or beyond Islam. In this respect "The Enemy at Home" stands in contrast with Mr. D'Souza's first post-9/11 book, "What's So Great About America." In the earlier book, Mr. D'Souza first rehearsed many of the same themes that he explores in "The Enemy at Home." There he placed radical Islamists among the "blame America first" crowd. There Mr. D'Souza lauded the disentangling of the institutions of religion and government, "a separation that was achieved most completely in the United States." There he argued that Islamic fundamentalists don't just object to the excesses of American liberty, they object to liberty itself. There he noted that America could not appease the radical Islamists by staying out of their world because we live in an age when the flow of information is unstoppable. There he concluded that there was no alternative to facing their hostility. There he condemned the "coerced virtues" of the realm of Islam, because "compulsion cannot produce virtue." There he declared America to be, on balance, "an oasis of goodness in a desert of cynicism and barbarism." There he chose to cast his lot with his fellow citizens rather than with the grand mufti of Egypt.

If provocation is the standard by which "The Enemy at Home" is to be measured, the book is undoubtedly successful. It seems to me, however, that its cynicism exceeds its provocation.

Mr. Johnson writes at Power Line Blog This article appears in the March issue of The New Criterion.


27772  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / D'Souza goes PC on: February 26, 2007, 08:23:42 AM
D'Souza Goes Native
A onetime scourge of political correctness offers an ultra-PC view of Islam.
WSJ
BY SCOTT W. JOHNSON
Monday, February 26, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

Dinesh D'Souza was an early editor of the Dartmouth Review, the conservative student newspaper. He earned a reputation as an enfant terrible before he graduated from college. In his tenure at the Review, Mr. D'Souza brilliantly tormented the liberal college administration that presented him with the perfect target. Whatever his earlier attainments, he established himself as a writer of substance with his 1991 book "Illiberal Education: The Politics of Race and Sex on Campus," a critique of political correctness and multiculturalism. Intensely reported, the book was full of astute commentary and analysis. It justly won the applause of such knowledgeable observers as the eminent historian Eugene Genovese, who celebrated the book in a New Republic cover story.

In his subsequent career as an author and controversialist, Mr. D'Souza has followed the path he started down in "Illiberal Education." If he has sought to provoke, he has also sought to illuminate. Thus in his 1995 book, "The End of Racism: Principles for a Multiracial Society," Mr. D'Souza ably summarized a massive body of scholarship and literature. While there was much to disagree with in the book, he presented the evidence in such a way that an intelligent reader could both learn from him and form his own opinions.

"The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11"--Mr. D'Souza's new book--is something else entirely. The book works a strange metamorphosis. Whereas "Illiberal Education" and "The End of Racism" proved Mr. D'Souza a precocious commentator and gifted polemicist, the new book is crude and sophomoric. Worse than its sophomoric treatment of serious issues is its presentation of a blinkered and politically correct version of the Muslim world. It is a presentation that the young Mr. D'Souza would have scorned. It is as though, having arrived on the scene as Franz Kafka, he has turned himself into Gregor Samsa.

The subject of the book is the shooting war and the culture war. Mr. D'Souza frames the book on a thesis that, he acknowledges, "will seem startling at the outset." His thesis is an indictment that he levels in the second sentence of the book's introduction: "The cultural left in this country is responsible for causing 9/11." Mr. D'Souza does not reveal how, more than five years after the event, he alone among the thousands of commentators on 9/11 has tumbled to its root cause.

Mr. D'Souza identifies "the cultural left" that is responsible for 9/11 as "the left wing of the Democratic Party" and "a few Republicans, notably those who adopt a left-wing stance on foreign policy and social issues." As Mr. D'Souza himself proudly notes, he doesn't just hold a piece of paper in his hand and wave a list of names around. He actually names names, identifying the "leading figures" among the cultural left: Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy, Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer, George Soros, Bill Moyers and Noam Chomsky. He also names organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union, People for the American Way, and Planned Parenthood. (And to those named in the introduction he adds an extensive enemies' list in the last chapter of the book.)

The charge is serious, even if Mr. D'Souza's invocation of Joe McCarthy belies its seriousness. And the list is long. Does Mr. D'Souza prove his case? Although prosecutors are famously able to get grand juries to indict ham sandwiches, I don't think that Mr. D'Souza's indictment would make it out of a grand jury room. Mr. D'Souza simply lacks any evidence to sustain the charge connecting "the visceral rage," as Mr. D'Souza calls it, of the Muslims who carried out 9/11 to "the cultural left" that supposedly provoked it. Given the disparity between the seriousness of the charge and the thinness of the evidence, the book is a disgrace.





Mr. D'Souza acknowledges that he "is making a strong charge, one that no one has made before." One therefore expects that the book will bear the stamp of deep research to support its controversial thesis. On this count "The Enemy at Home" is a curious book. It purports to probe the deepest motives of Osama bin Laden and his followers. Yet the book lacks a bibliography and otherwise shows no evidence of familiarity with important accounts of the evolution of al Qaeda such as Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon's "Age of Sacred Terror" (2002), Richard Miniter's "Losing bin Laden" (2004) and, most recently, Lawrence Wright's "Looming Tower" (2006). Mr. D'Souza acknowledges the 9/11 Commission Report but does not mention its account (chapter two of the report) of the evolution of bin Laden's thought. Mr. D'Souza observes dismissively of the 9/11 Commission Report that "it does not tell us why [9/11] happened." None of these basic secondary sources support Mr. D'Souza's thesis. But a vision has been vouchsafed unto Mr. D'Souza.
Were Mr. D'Souza not a respected conservative commentator affiliated with one of the finest research institutes in the United States (the Hoover Institution), one could write his book off as unserious or worse. To be sure, as might be expected from a writer of Mr. D'Souza's caliber, parts of the book sparkle, such as Mr. D'Souza's exposition of the unholy alliance (in David Horowitz's words) between elements of the American left and radical Islam. Nevertheless, the book's insubstantial thesis and superficial research are not its only curiosities. In the four years he claims to have spent studying America and the West "through Muslim eyes," Mr. D'Souza appears to have gone native. Early in the book, for example, Mr. D'Souza writes: "No one can deny the horror of Palestinian and Chechen attacks on civilians, but these have to be measured against the state-sponsored terror on the other side: the bulldozing of Palestinian homes, the shooting of stone-throwing teenagers." I'm not sure that even State Department foreign service officers have yet gone quite as native as Mr. D'Souza.

Mr. D'Souza's reference to alleged "state-sponsored terror" by Israelis desperately seeking to defend themselves is of a piece with the blind eye he turns to the anti-Semitism that is ubiquitous in the Muslim world. Muslim anti-Semitism has turned "Mein Kampf" into a bestselling book, as Victor Davis Hanson has pointed out, under the title "Jihadi." Television in Muslim countries likewise features such rank anti-Semitic programming as the 41-part series based on "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion." Mr. D'Souza cannot even see bin Laden's anti-Semitism. "Yes," Mr. D'Souza asserts without any citation or support, "bin Laden opposes Israeli occupation because in his view it constitutes foreign rule over Muslims. But as bin Laden sees it, the deeper problem is a conspiracy on the part of Israel and America to take over the Muslim world." Mr. D'Souza omits any reference to the title of bin Laden's 1998 manifesto--"Declaration of the World Islamic Front for Jihad Against the Jews and the Crusaders." According to Mr. D'Souza, Muslim radicals "could repudiate the entire Islamic tradition and argue that Christians and Jews are no different from atheists and deserve the same treatment." Daniel Pearl didn't get much of an argument on the subject of his religion before he was murdered by radical Islamists, but they appear to have "repudiated the entire Islamic tradition" as Mr. D'Souza understands it. Mr. D'Souza appears to be unfamiliar with the sermons denouncing Jews as apes and monkeys that regularly issue from fundamentalist mosques.





Mr. D'Souza's portrait of the Muslim world verges on apologetics. He makes a gratuitous gibe at Jewish tradition in his discussion of the severity of Islamic justice: "Islam is notorious for the harshness of some its punishments, such as cutting off the arms and legs of thieves, flogging adulterers and executing drug dealers. In this respect, one may say, with only a hint of irony, that Muslims are in the Old Testament tradition."
One wonders if Mr. D'Souza is making a lame stab at humor with his concession that the "Western effort to understand the Islamic world is never more difficult than when Muslims do things like blow themselves up while flying planes into buildings--actions no sane Westerner would even contemplate." Mr. D'Souza holds himself out as one who has made the effort to understand Islam even in the face of 9/11. He issues pronouncements that suggest he is not a reliable guide either to Islam or to 9/11 as in the false antithesis he draws to dispel conservative misunderstanding: "This may come as news to some conservatives, but Wahhabi Islam is not a breeding ground of Islamic radicalism. It is a breeding ground of Islamic obedience." Mr. D'Souza does not address the authoritative accounts that connect Wahhabi Islam with Islamic radicalism or to the perpetrators of 9/11.

Mr. D'Souza's parenthetical comment on the Danish cartoon controversy is as inexplicable as his characterization of Wahhabi Islam: "If it is within the parameters of acceptable satire to blame Muhammad for the pathologies of radical Islam, why is it not within those same bounds to blame [Martin Luther] King for the pathologies of inner-city black America"? Mr. D'Souza condemns as "churlish and exaggerated" the view that, "since pious Muslims are the ones launching terrorist attacks against Europe and America, Islam is to blame and Islam is the problem," just as he does the view that Islam fosters "the fanatical mind-set that leads to terrorism." He does not stop to explain why.

Indeed, Mr. D'Souza stigmatizes such views as "Islamophobic." It is a judgment he expresses in the lexicon of the high church of political correctness that Mr. D'Souza mocked in a previous life. Getting in the spirit, he asserts that conservatives "have to cease blaming Islam for the behavior of radical Muslims." (We must instead learn to blame "the cultural left" for the behavior of radical Muslims.) Mr. D'Souza also advises that "it is time for conservatives to retire the tiresome invocation of Turkey as a model for Islamic society." Why? "What Atatürk did for Turkey was anomalous and, in all candor, ridiculous." Such candor! Of all the Muslim countries discussed in The Enemy at Home, Turkey is the only one that earns Mr. D'Souza's frank contempt.

Mr. D'Souza seeks to "refute the notion that radical Islam can be understood as the latest incarnation of totalitarian movements the West has seen before, such as the Nazis and the communists." Mr. D'Souza draws the following distinctions. There is no intellectual lineage between the Western totalitarian movements and radical Islam. Moreover, "there is not even a similarity" between fascism and contemporary Islamic fundamentalism. Islamic radicalism has produced true believers "who are willing to give their lives to destroy America and the West," while Nazism and communism did not. Finally, the totalitarian movements were atheistic, but "the distinguishing feature of Islamic radicalism is Islamic." Eureka!

Compared with his discovery that the distinguishing feature of Islamic radicalism is Islamic, his assertion that the totalitarian movements of the 20th century lacked true believers comes as a surprise. When Auden referred to Hitler as a "psychopathic god" and Richard Crossman titled his famous anthology of essays on disillusionment with Communism "The God That Failed," well, they lacked the benefit of Mr. D'Souza's insight. Will somebody get this man a copy of "Darkness at Noon"?

27773  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: February 26, 2007, 08:15:53 AM
An Upside-Down World
The British far left makes common cause with Muslim reactionaries.

BY NICK COHEN
Sunday, February 25, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST
WSJ

LONDON--The other day Ken Livingstone, the mayor of my hometown of London, organized a conference on Islam and the West. It was a carefully rigged affair in which handpicked speaker after handpicked speaker stood up and announced that the democracies were to blame for the tidal wave of murder sweeping the world. To provide a spurious air of balance, the organizers invited a few people who dissented from the line of the Muslim Brotherhood and its British allies. Agnès Poirier, a French feminist, was one of them, but she pulled out because although there were no special facilities for Christians, Hindus and Jews, Mr. Livingstone had provided separate prayer rooms for Muslim men and Muslim women.

She wanted to know: Does Ken Livingstone's idea of multiculturalism acknowledge and condone segregation? It clearly does, but what made this vignette of ethnic politics in a European city worth noting is that commentators for the BBC and nearly every newspaper here describe Mr. Livingstone as one of the most left-wing politicians in British public life. Hardly any of them notice the weirdness of an apparent socialist pandering to a reactionary strain of Islam, pushing its arguments and accepting its dictates.

Mr. Livingstone's not alone. After suicide bombers massacred Londoners on July 7, 2005, leftish rather than conservative papers held British foreign policy responsible for the slaughters on the transport network. ("Blair's Bombs," ran the headline in my own leftish New Statesman.) In any university, you are more likely to hear campaigns for the rights of Muslim women derided by postmodernists than by crusty conservative dons. Our Stop the War coalition is an alliance of the white far left and the Islamist far right, and George Galloway, its leader, and the first allegedly "far left" member to be elected to the British Parliament in 50 years, is an admirer of Saddam Hussein and Hezbollah.

I could go on with specific examples, but the crucial point is the pervasive European attitude to the Iraq catastrophe. As al Qaeda, the Baathists and Shiite Islamists slaughter thousands, there is virtually no sense that their successes are our defeats. Iraqi socialists and trade unionists I know are close to despair. They turn for support to Europe, the home of liberalism, feminism and socialism, and find that rich democrats, liberals and feminists won't help them or even acknowledge their existence.





There were plenty of leftish people in the 20th century who excused communism, but they could at least say that communism was a left-wing idea. Now overwhelmingly and everywhere you find people who scream their heads off about the smallest sexist or racist remark, yet refuse to confront ultra-reactionary movements that explicitly reject every principle they profess to hold.
Why is the world upside down? In part, it is a measure of President Bush's failure that anti-Americanism has swept out of the intelligentsia and become mainstream in Britain. A country that was once the most pro-American in Western Europe now derides Tony Blair for sticking with the Atlantic alliance. But if Iraq has pummeled Mr. Blair's reputation, it has also shone a very harsh light on the British and European left. No one noticed it when the Berlin Wall came down, but the death of socialism gave people who called themselves "left wing" a paradoxical advantage. They no longer had a practical program they needed to defend and could go along with ultra-right movements that would once have been taboo. In moments of crisis, otherwise sane liberals will turn to these movements and be reassured by the professed leftism of the protest organizers that they are not making a nonsense of their beliefs.

If, that is, they have strong beliefs to abandon. In Europe and North America extreme versions of multiculturalism and identity politics have left a poisonous legacy. Far too many liberal-minded people think that is somehow culturally imperialist to criticize reactionary movements and ideas--as long as they aren't European or American reactionary movements. This delusion is everywhere. Until very recently our Labour government was allowing its dealings with Britain's Muslim minority to be controlled by an unelected group, the Muslim Council of Britain, which stood for everything social democrats were against. In their desperate attempts to ingratiate themselves, ministers gave its leader a knighthood--even though he had said that "death was too good" for Salman Rushdie, who happens to be a British citizen as well as a great novelist.

Beyond the contortions and betrayals of liberal and leftish thinking lies a simple emotion that I don't believe Americans take account of: an insidious fear that has produced the ideal conditions for appeasement. Radical Islam does worry Europeans but we are trying to prevent an explosion by going along with Islamist victimhood. We blame ourselves for the Islamist rage, in the hope that our admission of guilt will pacify our enemies. We are scared, but not scared enough to take a stand.





I hope conservative American readers come to Britain. But if you do, expect to find an upside-down world. People who call themselves liberals or leftists will argue with you, and when they have finished you may experience the strange realization that they have become far more reactionary than you have ever been.
Mr. Cohen, a columnist for the Observer and The New Statesman, is the author of "What's Left?: How Liberals Lost Their Way" (Fourth Estate, 2007).


WSJ
27774  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Legal issues on: February 26, 2007, 08:09:35 AM

GLOBAL VIEW

Who Needs Jacques Bauer?
The Napoleonic Code is more conducive to counterterrorism than the U.S. Constitution.

BY BRET STEPHENS
Sunday, February 25, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

Twenty-nine defendants went on trial earlier this month in a Spanish courtroom for complicity in the March 11, 2004 Madrid train bombings that killed 191 commuters and injured another 1,800. Among the accused: Jamal Zougam, a 33-year-old Moroccan immigrant who once ran a cell-phone business. In June 2001, Spanish police raided Mr. Zougam's apartment, where they found jihadist literature and the telephone numbers of suspected terrorists. But the Spaniards judged the evidence insufficient to arrest or even wiretap him. Today, the Moroccan is believed to have furnished the cellphones through which the train bombs were detonated.

In raiding Mr. Zougam's apartment, the Spanish were acting on a request from French investigative magistrate and counterterrorism supremo Jean-Louis Bruguiere. Earlier, Mr. Bruguiere had also warned the Canadian government about a suspicious Algerian asylum-seeker named Ahmed Ressam, but the Canadians took no real action. On Dec. 14, 1999 Mr. Ressam--a k a the Millennium Bomber--was arrested by U.S. customs agents as he attempted to cross the border at Port Angeles, Wash., with nitroglycerin and timing devices concealed in his spare tire.

It would be reassuring to believe that somewhere in the ranks of the FBI or CIA America has a Jean-Louis Bruguiere of its own. But we probably don't, and not because we lack for domestic talent, investigative prowess, foreign connections, the will to fight terrorism or the forensic genius of a Gallic nose. What we lack is a system of laws that allows a man like Mr. Bruguiere to operate the way he does. Unless we're willing to trade in the Constitution for the Code Napoleon, we are not likely to get it.





Consider the powers granted to Mr. Bruguiere and his colleagues. Warrantless wiretaps? Not a problem under French law, as long as the Interior Ministry approves. Court-issued search warrants based on probable cause? Not needed to conduct a search. Hearsay evidence? Admissible in court. Habeas corpus? Suspects can be held and questioned by authorities for up to 96 hours without judicial supervision or the notification of third parties. Profiling? French officials commonly boast of having a "spy in every mosque." A wall of separation between intelligence and law enforcement agencies? France's domestic and foreign intelligence bureaus work hand-in-glove. Bail? Authorities can detain suspects in "investigative" detentions for up to a year. Mr. Bruguiere once held 138 suspects on terrorism-related charges. The courts eventually cleared 51 of the suspects--some of whom had spent four years in preventive detention--at their 1998 trial.
In the U.S., Mr. Bruguiere's activities would amount to one long and tangled violation of the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments to the Constitution. And that's not counting the immense legal superstructures that successive Supreme Courts have built over and around the Bill of Rights. In France, however, Mr. Bruguiere, though not without his critics, is a folk hero, equally at home with governments of the left and right. The main point in his favor is that whatever it is he's doing, it works.

"Every single attempt to bomb France since 1995 has been stopped before execution," notes a former Interior Ministry senior official. "The French policy has been [to] make sure no terrorist hits at home. We know perfectly well that foreign-policy triangulation is not sufficient for that, [even if] it helps us go down a notch or two in the order of priority [jihadist] targets. So we've complemented our anti-U.S. foreign policy with ruthless domestic measures."

That's something that U.S. civil libertarians, who frequently argue that the Bush administration should follow the "European model" of treating terrorism as a law-enforcement issue instead of a military one, might usefully keep in mind. As lawyers David Rivkin and Lee Casey argue in the forthcoming issue of The National Interest, "the [Napoleonic] Civil Law system offers considerable advantages to the state in combating terrorism--especially in terms of investigative tools and a level of secrecy--that are simply unavailable in the ordinary Common Law criminal prosecution and trial, at least as governed by the United States Constitution."





Again, review the contrasts between American and European practices. Except in limited circumstances, the U.S. does not allow pretrial detentions. But according to figures compiled by the U.S. State Department, 38% of individuals held in Italian prisons in 2005 were awaiting trial or the outcome of an appeal, while Spanish law allows for pre-trial detentions that can last as long as four years for terrorism suspects. In the U.S., the Posse Comitatus Act forbids the use of the military in law-enforcement work, and paramilitary units are relatively rare. By contrast, most European countries deploy huge paramilitary forces: Italy's Carabinieri; France's Gendarmerie Nationale; Spain's Guardia Civil.
Even Britain, which shares America's common law traditions, has been forced by Irish and now Islamist terrorism to resort to administrative detentions, trials without jury (the famous Diplock courts) and ubiquitous public surveillance. Wiretapping is authorized by the Home Secretary--that is, a member of the government--rather than an independent judge. In the early days of the Northern Irish "troubles," the government of Edward Heath placed some 2,000 suspects, without charge, in internment camps. Ironically, it was the decision to treat terrorists as ordinary criminals that led to the famous hunger strikes of Bobby Sands and his IRA crew.

All this calls into question the seriousness, if not the sincerity, of European complaints that under the Bush administration the U.S. has become a serial human-rights violator. Europeans have every right to be proud of civil servants like Mr. Bruguiere and a legal tradition that in many ways has been remarkably successful against terrorism. But that is not the American way, nor can it be if we intend to be true to a constitutional order of checks and balances, judicial review and a high respect for the rights of the accused. When President Bush declared a war on terror after 9/11, it was because he had no other realistic legal alternative. And when the rest of us make invidious comparisons between Europe and America, we should keep our fundamental differences in mind. There is no European 82nd Airborne, and there is no American Jean-Louis Bruguiere.

Mr. Stephens is a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board. His column appears in the Journal Tuesdays.
27775  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / North on Moscow-Tehran Ties on: February 25, 2007, 11:16:04 PM
Moscow-Tehran Ties
Thursday , February 22, 2007

By Lt. Col. Oliver North
Washington, D.C. — “The lion and the bear are hunting the eagle.” That's how a refugee from Tehran's reigning ayatollahs put it when he called me this week about recent developments in his homeland. The lion to which my friend referred was on the coat of arms of nearly every Persian king for more than a thousand years. The bear, of course, is imperial Russia. And we're the bird.

It's an apt metaphor. Vladimir Putin, Moscow's current czar, is behaving like a bear awakened from hibernation — hungry and territorial. His recent words condemning U.S. foreign policy are mirrored by actions — both overt and covert — aimed at undermining U.S. national security. While eschewing animal symbols on their green, white and red flag, the Islamic radicals running Iran's theocracy act like lions on the prowl — dangerous to any prey. And while the simile is unlikely in nature — the lions and bears in my friend's parable have certainly teamed up to hunt the eagle. The only trouble with the allegory is that the United States is acting more like an ostrich than an eagle. A few examples:

Last week Mr. Putin told European leaders gathered in Munich "the United States has overstepped its national borders in every way." He claimed that the U.S. is forcing weaker nations to “acquire weapons of mass destruction" and defended Moscow's recent sale of $700 million worth of TOR-M1 anti-aircraft batteries to Iran. And in an effort to sound less like a bear and more like a Democrat running for the U.S. presidency, he declared that “wars, local and regional conflicts, have only grown in number" and charged America with taking "unilateral, illegitimate actions" in Iraq and elsewhere that "have not managed to resolve any problems, but made them worse."

This week, General Nikolai Solovtsov, commander of Russia's strategic missile forces, warned the U.S. against installing anti-ballistic missile (ABM) defenses in Eastern Europe. Construction is scheduled to begin on an ABM interceptor site in Poland and a radar array in the Czech Republic later this year. Both are components of a U.S.-NATO defense system to shield against a nuclear attack. In a clear-cut effort to intimidate the Czechs and the Poles to reconsider their participation, General Solovtsov suggested that Russia may abrogate the 1987 Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and observed that “[Russia's] strategic missile forces will be capable of targeting these facilities.”

While Moscow was busy dusting off its Cold War nuclear attack plans, Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency — the United Nation's toothless “nuclear watchdog” — told the U.N. Security Council that Iran has increased production of weapons-grade uranium and decreased cooperation with the IAEA. ElBaradei told the Financial Times that Iran would be able to enrich uranium on an industrial scale within six months, having now developed the technology to do so.

The phrase “industrial scale” is diplo-speak for “sufficient to build nuclear weapons.” U.S. and British intelligence agencies believe that much of the technology being used by Iranian engineers to construct 3,000 gas centrifuges to enrich uranium is being obtained from Moscow. In response to this frightening report, Russia's ambassador to the U.N. once again threatened to veto any resolution tightening sanctions on Tehran.

For their part, the lions in Iran have clearly stated their perspective on nuclear arms. In December 2001, Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani publicly announced that a nuclear exchange “would not leave any thing in Israel but the same thing would just produce [minor] damages in the Muslim world." Last week, after rejecting an offer for multi-party talks on stopping the production of fissile nuclear material, Iran's mercurial President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused the U.S. of pursuing false peace initiatives while secretly plotting with Israel to "hit Islamic countries," presumably with nuclear weapons.

But Moscow and Tehran aren't just cooperating on weapons of mass destruction. Last week, U.S. and allied officials in Baghdad presented irrefutable evidence that Iran has been supplying advanced weaponry to anti-coalition forces and killing Americans — charges Mr. Ahmadinejad describes as "excuses to prolong the stay" of U.S. forces in Iraq.

On Wednesday, Iraqi terrorists downed another U.S. helicopter — the eighth in the last five weeks. A U.S. commander on the ground told me that “nearly new SA-14 and SA-16 man-portable surface-to-air missiles are now being used against us” in Iraq. Source of the weapons: Russia — sold to Iran and slipped across the porous border for delivery to Iranian supported terror cells operating inside Iraq. That's cooperation between the bear and the lion, indeed.

Meanwhile, there is no “Eagle-Eye” on this burgeoning Moscow-Tehran nexus of evil. Our mainstream media remains fixated on the never-ending Anna Nicole Smith soap opera. The State Department is furiously cranking out press releases on how Condi is going to convene yet another “Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process.” And the navel-gazers in Congress busy themselves by doing all things possible to damage the commander-in-chief — regardless of the consequences to our troops in harm's way.

Those who think none of this matters should consider the comments of Iran's “Supreme Spiritual Guide.” After meeting this week with Syrian President Bashar Assad, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — the leading “Lion” in Tehran — said that "the position of [President George W.] Bush is so weak that even members of his own party criticize him." It's time for the Eagle to pull his head out of the sand.
27776  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Tippy-tappy drills-- threat or menace? on: February 25, 2007, 12:06:00 PM
Woof Maija:

WOOF!

I like very much the insight and articulation of the Eyes-- what they scan for and what they see-- very good!  What you describe for us is Snake Range.  In the context of RCSFg (as versus blade) we speak of Protecting our Head, Hands, and Knees; Hiding our Intention;  and Masking our Initiation.

yip!
CD
27777  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Crime Statistics on: February 25, 2007, 11:29:10 AM
CW:

By the way, , , Forgive me please a moment of shameless marketing, but the question you raise is directly addressed in the joint triple DVD that Gabe and I did:  "Die Less Often:  Intro to the Interface of Gun, Knife, and Empty Hand".    To flesh out the answer of my previous post, that brisk movement would be in what we call a "Kali Fence" structure from which one can pre-empt, intercept, or react.  The "Dogcatcher" is a low diagnostic quasi default reaction technique.

Yip!
CD
27778  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Venezuela Pol?tica on: February 25, 2007, 08:13:06 AM
Venezuela Spending on Arms Soars to World’s Top Ranks
NY Times
By SIMON ROMERO
Published: February 25, 2007

CARACAS, Venezuela, Feb. 24 — Venezuela’s arms spending has climbed to more than $4 billion in the past two years, transforming the nation into Latin America’s largest weapons buyer and placing it ahead of other major purchasers in international arms markets like Pakistan and Iran.

Venezuelan military and government officials here say the arms acquisitions, which include dozens of fighter jets and attack helicopters and 100,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles, are needed to circumvent a ban by the United States on sales of American weapons to the country.

They also argue that Venezuela must strengthen its defenses to counter potential military aggression from the United States.

“The United States has tried to paralyze our air power,” Gen. Alberto Muller Rojas, a member of President Hugo Chávez’s general staff, said in an interview, citing a recent effort by the Bush administration to prevent Venezuela from acquiring replacement parts for American F-16s bought in the 1980s. “We are feeling threatened and like any sovereign nation we are taking steps to strengthen our territorial defense,” he said.

This retooling of Venezuela’s military strategy, which includes creation of a large civilian reserve force and military assistance to regional allies like Bolivia, has been part of a steadily deteriorating political relationship with the United States.

The Bush administration has repeatedly denied that it has any plans to attack Venezuela, one of the largest sources of oil for the United States. But distrust of such statements persists here after the administration tacitly supported a coup that briefly removed Mr. Chávez from office in 2002.

Venezuela’s escalation of arms spending, up 12.5 percent in 2006, has brought harsh criticism from the Bush administration, which says the buildup is a potentially destabilizing problem in South America and is far more than what would be needed for domestic defense alone.

The spending has also touched off a fierce debate domestically about whether the country needs to be spending billions of dollars on imported weapons when poverty and a surging homicide rate remain glaring problems. Meanwhile, concern has increased among Venezuela’s neighbors that its arms purchases could upend regional power balances or lead to a new illicit trade in arms across Venezuela’s porous borders.

José Sarney, the former Brazilian president and a leading senator, caused a stir this week when he was quoted in the newspaper O Globo as describing Venezuela’s form of government as “military populism” and “a return to the 1950s,” when Venezuela was governed by the army strongman Marcos Pérez Jiménez.

“Venezuela is buying arms that are not a threat to the United States but which unbalance forces within the continent,” Mr. Sarney said. “We cannot let Venezuela become a military power.”

Still, officials in the administration of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil have been hesitant to publicly criticize Venezuela’s arms purchases.

The issue remains delicate after the Brazilian company Embraer lost a deal to sell military aircraft to Venezuela because the planes included American technology.

After turning unsuccessfully to Brazil and Spain for military aircraft, Venezuela has become one of the largest customers of Russia’s arms industry.

Since 2005, Venezuela has signed contracts with Russia for 24 Sukhoi fighter jets, 50 transport and attack helicopters, and 100,000 assault rifles. Venezuela also has plans to open Latin America’s first Kalashnikov factory, to produce the Russian-designed rifles in the city of Maracay.

A report in January by the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency pegged Venezuela’s arms purchases in the past two years at $4.3 billion, ahead of Pakistan’s $3 billion and Iran’s $1.7 billion in that period.

In a statement before the House Intelligence Committee, Lt. Gen. Michael D. Maples, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, called attention to Mr. Chávez’s “agenda to neutralize U.S. influence throughout the hemisphere,” contrasting Mr. Chávez with the “reformist left” exemplified by President Michelle Bachelet of Chile.

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

Beyond Russia, Venezuela is also considering a venture with Iran, its closest ally outside Latin America, to build a remotely piloted patrol aircraft. Gen. Raúl Isaías Baduel, the Venezuelan defense minister, recently told reporters that the project to build 20 of the aircraft could be used to bolster border surveillance and combat environmental destruction in Venezuela. Venezuela is also strengthening military ties with Cuba, sending officers and soldiers there for training.

Supporters of the arms buildup contend that under Mr. Chávez, who has been in power for eight years, Venezuela has spent proportionately less on its military in relation to the size of its economy than the United States or than other South American countries like Chile and Colombia.

In 2004, the last year for which comparative data were immediately available and before Venezuela’s arms buildup intensified, overall defense spending by Venezuela, including arms contracts, was about $1.3 billion and accounted for about 1.4 percent of gross domestic product, compared with 4 percent in the United States and 3.8 percent in Colombia, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which tracks military spending.

Doubts persist as to how powerful Venezuela’s armed forces have become in a regional context, even as they acquire new weapons. Military experts here say pilots in the air force still need training to start flying their new Russian fighters. And in terms of troop strength, Venezuela’s 34,000-soldier active-duty army still lags behind the armies of Argentina and Brazil, with about 41,400 and 200,000 members respectively, according to GlobalSecurity.org, a Web site that compiles data on military topics.

Pro-Chávez analysts also say the president is less adventurous in relation to military policy outside Venezuela than predecessors like Luis Herrera Campíns, who supported Argentina in the Falklands War in 1982 to detract attention from a decline in oil revenue and climbing inflation.

But critics of the arms purchases say they are being made with little participation from or discussion with the National Assembly, which recently allowed Mr. Chávez to govern by decree for 18 months.

Ricardo Sucre, a political scientist at the Central University of Venezuela, said that the lack of transparency of the weapons contracts had heightened concern that Mr. Chávez could be arming parts of the army, the new civilian reserve and partisans like the Frente Francisco de Miranda, a pro-Chávez political group, that would be loyal to him in the event of fractures within the armed forces.

General Muller Rojas, the president’s military adviser, said concern about the arms purchases was overblown, pointing to reports that Venezuela was considering an acquisition of nine diesel-powered submarines from Russia for about $3 billion.

He said the navy had “aspirations” for more submarines, but that no “concrete plan” for such a large contract had been developed.

“We simply have an interest in maintaining peace and stability,” General Muller Rojas said, describing the Caribbean as a crucial to its military influence. “We have no intent of using the Venezuelan armed forces to repress human rights.”
27779  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: February 25, 2007, 08:06:24 AM
NY Times (so read with care)
Iraq Rebel Cleric Reins In Militia; Motives at Issue


By DAMIEN CAVE
Published: February 25, 2007
BAGHDAD, Feb. 24 — Moktada al-Sadr, the radical Shiite cleric and founder of the Mahdi Army militia, discovered recently that two of his commanders had created DVDs of their men killing Sunnis in Baghdad. Documents suggested that they had received money from Iran.


So he suspended them and stripped them of power, said two Mahdi leaders in Sadr City, the heart of Mr. Sadr’s support here in the capital.

But did he do so as part of his cooperation with the new security plan for Baghdad, which aims to quell the sectarian violence tormenting the city? Because his men had been disloyal, taking orders from Iran, whose support he values but whose control he fights? Or was it just for show — the act of an image-conscious leader who grasped the risk of graphic videos and wanted to stave off direct American action against him?

Mr. Sadr has been the great destabilizer in Iraq since 2003, wielding power on the streets and in the ruling Shiite bloc, thwarting the Americans and playing out at least a temporary alliance with Iran.

With the new security plan for Iraq under way, every question about Mr. Sadr’s motives touches on a different facet of Iraq’s complicated struggle.

He now finds himself under pressure from several sources. One is his popular Shiite base, which demands protection from devastating Sunni attacks. Another is Iran, with which he has had long but difficult ties. Then there are renegade factions of his own militia that resent his move into the political mainstream.

Finally, the Americans, who have accused Iran of supplying Shiite militias, including Mr. Sadr’s, with an especially deadly roadside bomb known as an explosively formed projectile, or E.F.P, which has killed an increasing number of American soldiers.

It is not clear whether the Americans will move directly against him. The United States has demanded that the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki act forcefully against the Mahdi Army; Mr. Maliki, however, owes much of his political strength in the ruling Shiite coalition to Mr. Sadr’s backing.

For now, American and Iraqi officials say Mr. Sadr seems to be cooperating with the effort to pacify Baghdad, ordering his men not to fight even as American armored vehicles roll into Mahdi strongholds in eastern Baghdad. He seems to be cleaning house of fighters who could taint him by association with Iran or with death squad killings. His aides say he has called for a sectarian truce. “Moktada al-Sadr said to protect your clerics, protect your shrines and cooperate with the government,” said Hazim al-Araji, head of the Sadr office in western Baghdad. “So no actions have been taken.”

In perhaps his boldest move yet, Mr. Sadr has assisted the joint Iraqi-American campaign against parts of his militia, signaling whom to arrest and telling others to flee, said two Mahdi commanders and a Shiite politician in Baghdad. On his own, they said, Mr. Sadr has “frozen” more than 40 commanders, including about 20 with links to Iran.

The moves are part of an organizational overhaul, the Sadr aides said. Though Mr. Sadr’s whereabouts are unknown — the Americans say he is in Iran, which his aides and Iran dispute — a new Mahdi general for all of Baghdad has been appointed for the first time, they said. Mr. Sadr has also selected new commanders for east and west Baghdad.

Some of the Sadr aides and commanders who described Mr. Sadr’s recent moves during separate interviews in Najaf and Baghdad refused to give their names, saying they had not been authorized to speak and feared reprisals from current or former members of the militia.

They said the cleric allowed the arrests of members of his own militia, or suspended them himself, because evidence showed that they had not obeyed his orders and because he wanted to show Iran, American officials and his militia that he was a strong leader who must be respected and feared.

“He wants to prove to the people that he has full control of his militia,” said a 47-year-old Mahdi commander from Sadr City who referred to himself as Jabar Abdul al-Hahdi. “He wants to show he’s in charge.”

Mr. Sadr’s conflicted relationship with Iran mirrors Iraq’s. Each country’s majority Shiites revere the other’s clerics and visit the other’s religious shrines. But they speak different languages, are dominated by different ethnic groups, and fought each other in a long war in the 1980s.

Mr. Sadr’s father, Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, became one of Iraq’s most popular Shiite clerics largely because he set himself up as the rebel alternative to Iran’s religious leadership, focusing on poor, oppressed Iraqis, not just theological debate. His mix of social and religious resistance led Saddam Hussein to order his assassination in 1999.

Moktada al-Sadr rose to prominence after the American invasion in 2003 with anti-American speeches and echoes of his father’s populism. But he was young, not yet 30, and less educated than his clerical rivals. So even as he railed against Iranian meddling, he sought money and support from Iran’s top clerics, meeting with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme religious leader, in June 2003. It was a dramatic reversal from family tradition.

Less than a year later, he led a revolt against American troops in Najaf, and again Iran played the role of patron. On the 11th day of the revolt, with Mr. Sadr under siege, an Iranian delegation arrived in Iraq to mediate. The Iranians were joined by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s most revered Shiite cleric, who called for Shiite unity and calm.

Mr. Sadr eventually agreed to stop fighting and join the political process. The Americans let him.

His popularity rose with the speed of a pop star’s, and the Mahdi Army grew like a fan club, from a few hundred young men to thousands — including some who proved hard to control.

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

Page 2 of 2)



Since then, according to some Shiite officials, Iran has funneled support to his organization. What it receives, how much and how consistently, remain a mystery, but some Shiite leaders say Mr. Sadr collects less from Iran than does a rival Shiite party: the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, which was founded in Iran by Iraqi exiles in 1984.


Iran generally supports many groups simultaneously, including some Sunni ones, so that it can benefit from any eventuality, said Sami al-Askari, a Shiite member of Parliament who works closely with Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki.

“Iran intervenes in many ways, with many methods,” Mr. Askari said.

In the case of the Mahdi Army, he said, Iran has recognized its diffuse nature, sprinkling support at high and low levels. Some support comes through ties to Hezbollah, the Shiite militia in Lebanon that also receives Iranian support. Beirut now has a Sadr office, and Mahdi commanders say they have been sending fighters to Hezbollah at least since last summer, when Hezbollah battled Israel.

Iran also provides institutional assistance to Iraq, mainly to the Health Ministry, which is run by Mr. Sadr’s political bloc. Three days after bombs killed more than 140 people in Sadr City last fall, for example, 50 Iraqi ambulances carried some of the wounded to the Iranian border. They were transferred to Iranian ambulances and taken to Iranian hospitals, with much of the cost covered by organizations in Iran.

Qasim Allawi, a spokesman for the Health Ministry who described the process, said another 25 wounded men and women from the recent Sadriya market bombing in Baghdad were to head to Iran any day.

Iran’s more potent forms of aid are direct — and some goes not to Mr. Sadr, but to underlings.

“Sometimes the aid comes for the leadership, and they get to decide where it goes,” Mr. Askari said. “Sometimes it goes to the local leadership, and this encourages them to rebel.”

“Iran puts Moktada al-Sadr between two pressing sides,” he said. “On one hand, they are helping him and they have the ability to take that away. At the same time, they’re undermining him by helping people below him.”

According to Sadr aides and Mahdi commanders, Mr. Sadr’s recent purges aim to put Iran on notice that he is in charge and independent. They said he also wanted to remind members of his militia that he would use every available tool, including Iraqi and American troops, to maintain control of the militia, the source of any political power he wields.

The goal is a top-down, tightly managed operation.

“We’re going to end the decentralized system that we had before,” said one of the aides in Najaf.

If Mr. Sadr consolidates power over his unruly militia, he could be held more responsible for the actions of its members. Until now, American and Iraqi efforts against the Mahdi Army have focused on so-called rogue elements.

The 30 members of Parliament associated with the Sadr bloc have not been arrested, keeping Mr. Sadr’s legitimate influence intact. At the same time, American, Iraqi and British officials are engaged in classified negotiations with his envoys over how to address the Mahdi Army and its Sadr City stronghold, the neighborhood named for Mr. Sadr’s father.

When asked about the talks, Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, the top military spokesman in Iraq, said the meetings represented a reasonable and appropriate attempt to avoid unnecessary bloodshed.

“Anytime you can find a political solution instead of a military solution,” he said, “it’s always better.”

But can Mr. Sadr deliver what the Americans want? Are his efforts adequate? Some American military officers remain skeptical.

“You know what their intent is,” said Maj. Kevin Hosier, an intelligence officer with the Third Stryker Brigade Combat Team, as his unit prepared for sweeps through predominantly Shiite areas near Sadr City this month. “They want Baghdad. They want to make Baghdad a Shia city.”

Peter Harling, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group, a research organization, who wrote a thorough profile of Mr. Sadr last summer, said the impact of the Mahdi purges and command restructuring would likely be short-lived.

“He has been excommunicating some of his key commanders, that’s a fact, but he has just put them in the corner,” Mr. Harling said, relying on interviews with several Mahdi commanders cited in his July profile. “Many of them, after Sadr really accused them in the harshest terms, actually came back in the movement and carried on with their careers. All this is kind of temporary.”

According to Mr. Harling, Mr. Sadr has little choice but to trim at the edges of his organization. His hold on power remains tenuous, dependent on a loose association of clients all over the country who he knows could turn on him at any moment.

“He remains in a strong position as a leader only as long as he is useful to all these smaller leaders,” Mr. Harling said. “He rules by consensus.”

Vali Nasr, a professor of national security affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School and author of “The Shia Revival,” says Mr. Sadr should be viewed as a politician who was trying to preserve his power. Poor Shiites have made him an Iraqi celebrity, a national symbol whose bearded visage graces everything from wristwatches to alarm clocks and large posters. Above all else, he will be loyal to them, Mr. Nasr said.

“Since the Samarra bombing last year, Moktada has received a lot of pressure to be tougher on the Sunnis,” he said, referring to the explosion in the northern city of Samarra last February that destroyed one of Shiite Islam’s holiest shrines. “He’s found that the tougher he’s been, the more his popularity has gone up.”

In the long run, Mr. Nasr said, “he’s not very concerned with what the Americans think of him. What matters to him is what the Shiites think.”

Reporting was contributed by Hosham Hussein, Richard A. Oppel Jr., Ali Adeeb, Khalid al-Ansary and Wisam A. Habeeb, in Baghdad, and an Iraqi employee of The New York Times in Najaf.
27780  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Tippy-tappy drills-- threat or menace? on: February 25, 2007, 07:50:27 AM
Woof All:

Karsk's ruminations on flow during TT drills and coming into harmony with the opponent reminded me of something I wrote some years ago:

BEGIN
The Days Before A Fight by Guro Crafty
 
The days before the fight are always a powerful crucible. I have a non-martial art teacher who when someone seeks to leave a situation that makes them uncomfortable says, "Whatever you do, keep on being here in this moment." I may not have the quote exactly right, but I hope I have the gist of it.

Scientist Konrad Lorenz's book "Behind the Mirror" addresses the evolutionary biology of consciousness. There is a passage in the book wherein he describes how a cat at play will seamlessly string together unrelated behaviors/movements from stalking prey, fighting a rival, bluffing a predator, courtship, killing prey etc. He then points out that the instant that the cat is stressed (e.g. the appearance of a rival) this ability disappears.

Many martial arts discuss how there are different mindsets/qualities with which one can defend/fight. Often the names are a bit poetic; Fire, Water, Wind, Rock, Earth, etc. but the point is made that the more realized the fighter is, the better his ability to fluidly shift between them. In the intense adrenal state of a fight, this can be a very good trick to actually do, yet as Lorenz's point about the cat makes clear, the state of Play is the state where this happens best. ("What Is Play?" in evolutionary biological terms is an interesting question in its own right.) Thus, the best fight is where the fight is play. Thus in Dog Brothers Martial Arts we say

"Do not have a Way as you Play. Fight the Way you Play. Let your Fight be Play" (c)

The Learning that takes place in the adrenal state is some of the deepest and highest that there is. (The adrenal state of course can be triggered by many things, not only immediate physical danger; criticism by loved ones, humiliation, etc etc.) The greater the adrenal state, the profounder the Learning. The greater the state of Play, the better the result. The more that one can move in both directions simultaneously, the better. "The greater the dichotomy, the profounder the transformation. Higher consciousness through harder contact." (c)

Woof!
Guro Crafty
http://dogbrothers.com/article_info.php?articles_id=7
END

The mental fluidity referred to in this piece also refers to ranges and the various skill sets developed in TT drills.  I suspect some people are disappointed by fighting not looking like TT drills-- I am reminded by Hot Dog (the Jester of the Hermosa Clan of the DBs) faux belligerent riff about "Don't make me hu-bud you!"  OF COURSE fighting does not look like the drills!  The idea is that the drills produce good results in the fluidity of the fight.  In our DVD "DB Gathering of the Pack"  there is a very nice staff fight between two good men, but as I comment in the voice over, one has a very clear advantage and he is the one of the two who had sombrada training.  With excellent fighting spirit and understanding and closing skills, this man simply lights up the other man every time the fight comes to media range with superior skills with his weapon.  THIS is what good sombrada training is intended to produce!  Paraphrasing what Cranewing noted above, doing sombrada well as most people do it does not develop fighting spirit, nor does it teach closing soundly to media against a 250 pound man swinging a staff at you, but if you do have fighting spirit and understanding and you have the ability to close to media THEN the skills cultivated in sombrada manifest.

TAC,
CD
27781  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Crime Statistics on: February 25, 2007, 07:26:24 AM
Start moving briskly as necessary to keep distance, possibly while verbalizing "Keep your distance" or something like that.  If he keeps coming you know you have a problem.
27782  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Tippy-tappy drills-- threat or menace? on: February 24, 2007, 08:36:40 PM
Woof Maija:

Thank you for sharing a very nice tidbit.

TAC,
CD

27783  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Unity of spirit on: February 24, 2007, 08:33:46 PM
Woof Jeff:

Tail wags for your very kind words.

What we have here I attribute to three things:  First, we seek truth.  Second, "Friends at the end of the day".  Third, my Pretty Kitty, DBMA's VP in Charge of Reality.

The Adventure continues,
Crafty Dog
27784  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Thailand on: February 24, 2007, 08:22:14 PM
http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/thais-sense-of-self-th...ullpage#contentSwap1

Thais' sense of self threatened by insurgency

Tom Allard National Security Editor
February 24, 2007

Brutality … a man carries a bar girl injured in a bombing in Yala province last Sunday.
Photo: AFP

BEHEADINGS, mutilated Buddhist monks, assassinations of secular teachers, mass-casualty attacks - the Islamist insurgency raging in Thailand's south is getting more barbaric and effective with each passing month.

That is the assessment of terrorism analysts and Thai Government advisers after a spate of co-ordinated and deadly bombings this week, and warnings of more to come, including in Bangkok.

Even more worrying is the possibility of attacks on tourist resorts where Westerners, including thousands of Australians, flock.

"The brutality is amazing," said Zachary Abuza, a US terrorism expert who specialises in a conflict that has simmered for decades. "For the previous generation, these acts would have been considered unseemly. No one would have done things like hacking apart monks, blowing them up when they are collecting their alms, targeting women and children."

Thailand's Islamic minority, centred on four provinces abutting Malaysia, has long complained of mistreatment. But the ferocity of the insurgency has stunned the Government, with more than 2000 people killed since 2004.

There have been about 30 beheadings, and 60 more botched attempts. More than 60 teachers have died, along with hundreds of bystanders, police and soldiers.

"This is new to the Thai people," said Panitan Wattanayagorn, an academic who advises the Prime Minister, Surayud Chulanont. "It's been quite a shock. Thais are learning about cultural differences. They assumed everyone was Thai, had the Thai national identity. Apparently, not so."

The bombs are becoming larger and more sophisticated, and the ideology underpinning the attacks more virulent.

Dr Abuza said: "It's more Islamist than it's ever been … [but] they want separate communities, from private Islamic schools to their own courts. They are convincing women not to go to hospital to give birth."

The insurgency has received scant attention in the West, which is puzzling given the scale of the violence and Thailand's popularity as a tourist destination.

For Thailand's military-backed government, deposing Thaksin Shinawatra in September was justified, at least in part, by his inability to come to grips with the insurgency. It was Mr Thaksin who reacted with indifference when mosques were attacked and when 78 unarmed protesters died of asphyxiation in the back of army trucks. This infuriated Thai Muslims and prompted a surge of recruits.

However, a public apology, the dropping of charges against protesters, even a willingness to introduce a degree of Islamic law in the region have failed to gain the Government any kudos.

The Thai authorities do not even know who their enemy is, Dr Abuza says. The insurgents operate in largely autonomous cells, never stating their goals or accepting responsibility for attacks.

Jemaah Islamiah and other al-Qaeda-affiliated groups have been in contact with the insurgency - the JI leader Hambali was arrested in Thailand - but the consensus is that it remains self-directed.

Nevertheless, it has adopted many techniques of the global jihadist movement, from simultaneous bomb attacks, to the emphasis on civilian targets. Like Jemaah Islamiah, it also abhors the West, in particular the nightclubs, bars and others "dens of sin" that are so common in Bangkok and the tourist towns.

Tourism operators, who are enjoying a revival in business following the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, are terrified, Professor Panitan said. Muslims in Phuket "watch anyone who comes up from the south very closely. It's worked to date, but how long will it hold?" Dr Abuza says information from Phuket's Muslim minority led to the arrests of a group of suspected insurgents in November.

For now, Dr Abuza believes the insurgents will stay away from tourist centres. "It would be easy enough [to attack tourists]. But I don't think they have to yet, because they are winning. The change of strategy comes when you are losing.

"If they were backed into a corner, I don't think they would hesitate for a second."
27785  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politically (In)correct on: February 24, 2007, 11:54:04 AM
Well, because I didn't see anything from Buzwardo supporting censorship-- indeed the opening sentence of his posted piece was "Remember when the Right had a near-monopoly on censorship?"

Hamas & Hezbollah go quite a bit further than your replacement of "anti-semitism" with "politically incorrect".  They want to wipe out the Jews of Israel-- which sounds rather anti-semitic to me.

Also, you interject a separate albeit related point when you talk about defunding the KKK-- we are talking here about free speech.

Lastly, I reject the inflation of homosexuality to the same status as race.  I reject the notion that it is/should be a thought crime to disapprove of homosexuality. 

27786  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Tippy-tappy drills-- threat or menace? on: February 24, 2007, 08:55:28 AM
Woof All:

All:  I hope I don't embarass Maija, but she can be seen in our promo clip for "The Grandfathers Speak Vol 2: Maestro Sonny Umpad".  I was very impressed by her movement and bilateralism when she performed for Maestro Sonny when I was up in Oakland.

Using her point about ranges as a starting point:

In DBMA we have 7 Ranges:

Snake: Pre-contact
Weapon Range:  Where the fighters' bubbles collide.  This range's importance varies according to the weapons involved. With small knives, it is not important but with staffs it is.
Largo:  Known to all here
Medio: Known to all here
Corto: Known to all here
Clinch:  Self-explanatory
Ground: Self-explanatory

In ritual fighting, the fight usually starts in Snake Range and a lot of people experience a lot of cognitive dissonance right away.  They may have lots of experience training medio and corto range drills, but when confronted by someone moving around and whizzing a stick or two at them they realize they have absolutely no idea how to get to where they have skills without getting clocked.

Around this point some of them begin muttering about tippy tappy drills, when the real issue IMHO is that they lack the science of entering and striking and/or the science of entering and closing.  In DBMA this is where we use the concept of the Triangle from the Third Dimension, Attacking Blocks, Snaggletooth Variations, Los Triques and Dos Triques, etc.  These are the portals into the dimension where the skills cultivated in medio and corto range isolation drills are expressed.  From the little I've seen of Maestro Sonny this is where he used the pendulum step-- Maija?

Cranewings point is sound, people may do the medio and corto training without understanding but the answer for me is to supply the missing understanding, not delete the medio and corto training.

TAC,
CD

27787  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Translation of AQ strategy book on: February 24, 2007, 07:43:03 AM
http://www.ctc.usma.edu/naji.asp

Translation of Major al-Qaeda Book that Outlines Its Plan for Defeating U.S. and Its Allies

The genre of “strategic studies”—the name given by jihadi ideologues to their books and articles on the strengths and weakness of the jihadi movement and those of its enemies—had, until recently, been neglected by Western governments and analysts involved with counterterrorism. In 2004, Hegghammer and Lia called attention to the genre (which they dubbed “jihadi strategic studies”) and usefully commented on its features (Hegghammer and Lia, SCT, 2004). More recently, Brachman and McCants demonstrated how this genre can be used to identify and exploit the weaknesses of the jihadi movement (Brachman and McCants, SCT, 2006—a draft is available online). Despite this growing attention, a full translation of one of these books has not been publicly available.

One reason for the neglect of works in this genre is that they are written in Arabic and they are often quite lengthy. Moreover, they are much more difficult to translate than the usual diatribes by Bin Ladin and other prominent jihadi leaders. Unlike the latter, which are meant for popular consumption, jihadi strategic texts require translators to have a familiarity with Western strategic studies (from which they draw heavily), medieval Islamic history and theology, and contemporary developments in the jihadi movement. The reward for overcoming these obstacles is immeasurable—these works are brilliant (if diabolical) studies of global insurgency written by its most intellectually-gifted participants. While it is still an open question as to whether these texts guide the actions of foot soldiers, they are certainly read by the jihadi intelligentsia and they remain the best source for understanding the nature of the jihadi movement.

In recognition of their value, the Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard commissioned William McCants in 2005 to translate one of the most recent and significant of these works, Abu Bakr Naji’s Management of Savagery (some of its salient features are summarized in the Brachman and McCants article cited above). The Olin Institute, in collaboration with West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center, is making this translation available online for free. Writing as a high-level insider, Naji explains how al-Qaeda plans to defeat the U.S. and its allies in the Middle East, establish sanctuaries for Jihadis, correct organizational problems, and create better propaganda. It is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the strategic thinking of al-Qaeda’s leadership and the future of the jihadi movement.

Download "Stealing al-Qa`ida's Playbook"

The translation is available at the Olin Institute website (www.wcfia.harvard.edu/olin/) and the Combating Terrorism Center website (www.ctc.usma.edu).
27788  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East War on: February 24, 2007, 07:27:33 AM

NY Times 2/23/07

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, Feb. 22 - As fears grow over the escalating
confrontation between Iran and the West, Arab states across the Persian Gulf
have begun a rare show of muscle flexing, publicly advertising a shopping
spree for new weapons and openly discussing their security concerns.


Iran Expanding Nuclear Effort, Agency Reports (February 23, 2007)

Typically secretive, the gulf nations have long planned upgrades to their
armed forces, but now are speaking openly about them. American military
officials say the countries, normally prone to squabbling, have also
increased their military cooperation and opened lines of communication to
the American military here.

Patriot missile batteries capable of striking down ballistic missiles have
been readied in several gulf countries, including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and
Qatar, analysts say, and increasingly, the states have sought to emphasize
their unanimity against Iran's nuclear ambitions.

"There has always been an acknowledgment of the threat in the region, but
the volume of the debate has now risen," said one United Arab Emirates
official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized
to speak on the subject. "Now the message is there's a dialogue going on
with Iran, but that doesn't mean I don't intend to defend myself."

The Persian Gulf monarchies and sheikdoms, mostly small and vulnerable, have
long relied on the United States to protect them. The United States Fifth
Fleet is based in Bahrain; the United States Central Command is based in
nearby Qatar; and the Navy has long relied on docking facilities in the
United Arab Emirates, which has one of the region's deepest water ports at
Jebel Ali.

The United States, too, has begun a significant expansion of forces in the
gulf, with a second United States aircraft carrier battle group led by the
John C. Stennis now in the Persian Gulf and with minesweeping ships.

The expansion has helped calm fears among gulf governments that the United
States could pull out of the region in the future, even as it has raised
concerns about a potential American confrontation with Iran, accidental or
intentional.

As tensions with Iran rise, many gulf countries have come to see themselves
as the likely first targets of an Iranian attack. Some have grown more
concerned that the United States may be overstretched militarily, many
analysts say, while almost all the monarchies, flush with cash as a result
of high oil prices, have sought to build a military deterrent of their own.

"The message is first, 'U.S., stay involved here,' and second, 'Iran, we
will maintain a technological edge no matter what,' " said Emile el-Hokayem,
research fellow at the Henry L. Stimson Center, a research center based in
Washington. "They are trying to reinforce the credibility of the threat of
force."

Military officials from throughout the region descended this week on the
Idex military trade fair, a semiannual event that has become the region's
largest arms market, drawing nearly 900 weapons makers from around the
world. They came ready to update their military capacities and air and naval
defenses. They also came armed with a veiled message of resolve.

"We believe there is a need for power to protect peace, and strong people
with the capability to respond are the real protectors of peace," said Sheik
Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the president of the United Arab Emirates and
ruler of the emirate of Abu Dhabi, at the exposition. "That is why we are
keen to maintain the efficiency of our armed forces."

The Persian Gulf has been a lucrative market for arms. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait
and Oman spend up to 10 percent of their gross domestic product on the
military, amounting to nearly $21 billion, $4 billion and $2.7 billion,
respectively, estimates John Kenkel, senior director of Jane's Strategic
Advisory Services.

If they follow through on the deals announced recently, it is estimated that
countries like the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman and Saudi Arabia will
spend up to $60 billion this year. The biggest buyer in 2006, according to
the defense industry journal Defense News, was Saudi Arabia, which has
agreed to buy 72 Eurofighter Typhoon combat jets for $11 billion. It also
has a $400 million deal to upgrade 12 Apache AH-64A helicopters to the
Longbow standard. The kingdom also reportedly plans to acquire cruise
missiles, attack helicopters and tanks, all for a total of $50 billion.

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



Arab States, Wary of Iran, Add to Their Arsenals but Still Lean on the U.S.




Published: February 23, 2007
(Page 2 of 2)



Kuwait reportedly bought 24 Apache Longbow helicopters, while the United
Arab Emirates has continued to take delivery of 80 F-16 Block 60 fighters,
with plans to buy air tankers, missile defense batteries and airborne early
warning systems. Bahrain ordered nine UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters in an
estimated $252 million deal, while Oman reportedly bought 30 antitank rocket
launchers in a $48 million purchase and is planning a naval overhaul.


"It is a message to enemies that 'We are taking defense seriously,' " Mr.
Kenkel said, emphasizing that the new arms were for deterrence.

"If the U.S. ever does pull back, these countries in the gulf have realized,
they may have to fend for themselves," Mr. Kenkel said. "As the Boy Scouts
say, always be prepared."

The most marked change is in the public nature of the acquisitions, which
previously would have been kept secret, many analysts here said, itself a
form of deterrence.

"They have been doing these kinds of purchases since the '90s," said Marwan
Lahoud, chief executive of the European missile maker MBDA. "What has
changed is they are stating it publicly. The other side is making
pronouncements so they have to as well," he said, speaking of Iran's recent
announcements about its weapons capacity.

Senior United States military officials say gulf countries have become more
nervous as Iran has conducted naval maneuvers, especially near the Straits
of Hormuz, the main artery through which two-fifths of the world's oil
reaches markets.

"A year ago you could have characterized the interaction with the Iranians
as professional," said Vice Adm. Patrick Walsh, departing commander of the
Fifth Fleet. "What's different today has been the number and amount of
exercises and the proximity of those exercises to the Straits of Hormuz
themselves."

The exercises were among the reasons for the expansion of Navy forces in the
region, he said, but have also raised alarm about the potential for
accidents to lead to an unintended war.

Admiral Walsh said that American warships remained in international waters,
and that Iranian and American ships kept close watch on one another. Some
critics of the Bush administration have alleged that the increased military
presence in the gulf risks igniting a conflict.

Admiral Walsh said the increased American presence was aimed at o reassuring
gulf states that the United States remained committed to their security, but
also welcomed their efforts to build deterrence.

"We have found that we need to be physically present to prevent such armed
behavior," he said of the Iranian maneuvers. "We're mindful we're not giving
up any water, but also being careful not to take a provocative stance."
27789  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: February 24, 2007, 06:48:10 AM


From Daniel Pipes http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/679#meeting

Dear Reader:

A further decision is due in the controversy over taxi drivers at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport who refuse to transport passengers visibly carrying alcohol. The Metropolitan Airports Commission, which has jurisdiction over the drivers, invites the public's opinion; and I urge your involvement.

MAC has sent a notice (which I have posted in full on my website, at http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/679#meeting) that recounts developments since its decision in October 2006 to deny requests by drivers to distinguish between Shar'i-compliant and -noncompliant taxis. MAC writes:

For the past several months, the Metropolitan Airports Commission has worked with airport taxi industry representatives and with leaders from the Muslim American Society and the Somali Justice Advocacy League. The goal was to find a solution acceptable to everyone and transparent to the customer seeking airport taxi service. Unfortunately, those discussions have not resulted in a workable, voluntary, consensus-based solution. As a result, the Airports Commission is proposing stricter penalties for refusal of service: a 30-day suspension of a driver's airport taxi license for the first instance, and license revocation for a second instance.

Bravo to MAC. It is important that the drivers be sent a strong signal that they must obey the regulations. Were they allowed to boycott travelers with alcohol, I pointed out in "Don't Bring That Booze into My Taxi," that would intrude Islamic law "into a mundane commercial transaction in Minnesota" and could lead to the transport system as a whole being divided "between those Islamically observant and those not so."

I appealed to readers in October to urge MAC to impose penalties on those who insist on imposing Shar'i norms in Minnesota and to send a message that this practice is unacceptable. The barrage of e-mails and phone calls had the hoped-for effect. According to airport spokesman Patrick Hogan back then, "we've heard from Australia and England. It's really touched a nerve among a lot of people. The backlash, frankly, has been overwhelming. People are overwhelmingly against any kind of cultural accommodation."

Again now, I appeal to all those opposed to application of the Shari'a in the United States to make their views heard in Minnesota. You can do this in either of two ways.

In writing: MAC is asking for "input from the public" through Friday, March 2, 2007, before it makes a decision on the proposed increase in penalties. Written comments should be addressed to:

Landside Operations Department
Metropolitan Airports Commission
MSP International Airport/Lindbergh Terminal
4300 Glumack Drive
Suite LT-3129B
Saint Paul, MN 55111-3010.

In person: For those living in the Twin Cities area, MAC will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, February 27, 2007, at 2 p.m., to solicit testimony from the public via verbal or written testimony. The location will be at:

Ramada Mall of America (formerly, the Thunderbird Hotel)
2300 East American Boulevard
Bloomington, Minnesota

I thank you in advance.

Yours sincerely,

Daniel Pipes


27790  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politically (In)correct on: February 23, 2007, 08:03:53 PM
Does this mean you support banning t-shirts supporting Hamas and Hezbollah because of their known anti-semitism?
27791  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Chimps arm themselves-Article on: February 23, 2007, 07:53:59 PM
Thank you. 

May I ask you to post it here please? http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=1191.0
27792  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Multiple player situations on: February 23, 2007, 05:35:36 PM
His final comments seem to indicate that he is still working on this lesson.  No doubt Life will offer it to him again.
27793  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Are there Knights? on: February 23, 2007, 08:54:47 AM
I remember this documentary-- absolutely awesome!  Do you have its name?

I agree that we now see a lot of political commentary seeking to use wildlife biology, but I think that will take us a bit astray from the topic of this thread.

How about posting on this on the Science, Culture etc forum at http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=1169.0
or even start a thread on "Politics mingling in the science of nature" or something like that.

27794  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Stratfor: Russia's Great Power Strategy on: February 23, 2007, 08:40:11 AM
Doesn't sound like the Russians can be counted on to help our efforts to stop Iran from going nuclear , , ,

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

stratfor.com
Geopolitical Diary: Syria's Russian Connection

The Israeli daily Haaretz reported Thursday that Syria is strengthening its army "in an unprecedented way" and massing troops near the border with Israel along the Golan Heights. Syrian lawmaker Mohammed Hasbah denied the report, saying Syria has not redeployed its troops to the front lines but is prepared for any situation. Hasbah warned that Israel would "pay a heavy price" if it should "decide to do something stupid."

This heated war of words between Israel and Syria likely was sparked by the Israelis catching wind of a Russian arms transfer to Damascus; Haaretz also reported that Syria is close to sealing a deal with Russia to procure thousands of advanced anti-tank missiles.

Russia currently sees a prime opportunity to return to its Cold War policies in the Middle East. From the mid-1950s to the fall of the Soviet empire, Moscow's principal clients in the Arab world included Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Algeria and Yemen. Supplying these regional allies with military assistance and training under long-term loan arrangements that were unlikely to be paid back -- or even, in some cases, for free -- bought the Soviet Union leverage against the United States in the region. Eventually, Moscow's financial constraints caught up with its geopolitical ambitions, and military expenditures in the Middle East dropped low on its list of priorities.

Now, with the United States trapped in a thorny standoff with Iran over the future of Iraq, Russia has a chance to edge itself back into the sandbox. Moscow once again is trying to make friends in the region, with a particular focus on the two countries with the greatest ability to aggravate Washington and undermine U.S. policies: Iran and Syria.

While there have been some rumors about shipments of modern Russian air defense equipment to Syria, many reports are unconfirmed and are, at best, being debated in defense establishment circles. Of major concern is the S-300 long-range air defense system, considered to be among the most capable air defense asset in the world. The latest version of this system, the S-300PMU2, is unlikely to be in Syrian hands -- but the mere discussion of such a sale would be enough to put Israeli and U.S. policymakers on edge.

That said, there are plenty of other Russian military goodies that could be used to add some muscle to Syria's air defense. The summer 2006 conflict between Israel and Hezbollah was a major gut check for the Syrian defense establishment. As Israel Defense Forces (IDF) engaged Syria's militant proxy in Lebanon, the Syrian regime had little choice but to play nice and stay out of the fray for fear of a devastating strike by the Israeli air force (IAF) -- which used two F-16s to buzz Syrian President Bashar al Assad's Latakia palace in June 2006. The relative ease with which the IAF penetrated Syrian airspace -- without fearing a response -- reinforced the need for Syria to improve on its Soviet-era air defense capabilities. Syria knows that the denial of airspace to Israel or the United States is a key strategic priority.

A likely Russian sale of upgraded SA-9 and SA-13 Strela surface-to-air missiles to Syria would fit into this strategy. New acquisitions and deployment of Iranian-built Chinese C-802 anti-ship missiles also are rumored to be under way. The Syrian navy has badly decayed in the last 10 years, and the acquisition of significant quantities of these missiles would be a serious improvement.

But while it makes perfect sense that Syria is taking advantage of the regional dynamic to rebuild its military capabilities, the Syrian regime is not looking for a fight with Israel. Rather, the acquisitions are meant to signal to Israel and the United States that the cost of engaging Syria militarily would be too high. Damascus would much rather work through its militant proxies as it remains focused on re-establishing itself in Lebanon.

Hezbollah, meanwhile, is busily evading U.N. troops in southern Lebanon and rebuilding its own military capabilities -- with Iranian and Syrian assistance -- in preparation for round two of the summer's conflict with Israel. Recent Syrian imports of AT-14 Kornet-E and AT-13 Metis-M anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) likely are making their way into Hezbollah arsenals in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. Hezbollah employed these advanced missiles against Israeli tanks during the 2006 conflict, when it successfully delayed an IDF advance near the Saluki River. The guerrilla tactics Hezbollah used against Israeli armor were not lost on Syria, which almost certainly will be deploying any new ATGMs it acquires near the Israeli border -- except for the ones that slip across the Lebanese border to Hezbollah.

Sources in Lebanon also say Hezbollah fighters in the Bekaa have been sighted at least twice carrying what appear to be SA-18s. The SA-18 is a shoulder-launched, infrared-guided missile akin to the U.S. FIM-92A Stinger (which was used to great effect against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan). While it will not stop the IAF, it will be especially useful in the Bekaa against low-flying close-air-support sorties and IDF helicopters.

Hezbollah has an interest in demonstrating that it possesses these weapons in order to dissuade Israel from launching commando raids against its forces in their Bekaa stronghold. After the 2006 summer conflict, Israel knows it will have little chance of crippling Hezbollah's militant arm unless it thrusts into the Bekaa; but the transfer of these weapons from Syria will make such an offensive more costly.

A concerted effort by Russia and Iran is clearly under way to exploit the U.S. position in the region and upset the regional balance in their favor -- which falls directly in line with Syrian interests. As long as Russia can take advantage of this geopolitical opening, it can stir up enough regional cyclones to make money for the Russian defense establishment, and more important, win back influence to barter with the United States. In the end, lesser powers like Syria stand to gain a great deal.
27795  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: February 23, 2007, 08:30:43 AM
What to do about Iran's nuke program is a vexing question.  This op-ed piece from today's NY Times by a seemingly qualified academic addresses that question.  I've inserted some questions and comments into the pice.
===============

What Scares Iran’s Mullahs?
By ABBAS MILANI
Published: February 23, 2007
Stanford, Calif.

IRAN has once again defied the United Nations by proceeding with enrichment activities, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported yesterday. And yet, simultaneously, Iranian officials have been sending a very different message — one that has gone largely unremarked but merits close attention.

MD:  Why does the piece not mention that not only has Iran "proceeded", but has actually accelerated the process?

After a meeting with the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the leader’s chief foreign policy adviser, Ali Akbar Velayati, declared last week that suspending uranium enrichment is not a red line for the regime — in other words, the mullahs might be ready to agree to some kind of a suspension. Another powerful insider, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, said much the same thing in a different setting, while a third high-ranking official acknowledged that the Islamic Republic is seriously considering a proposal by President Vladimir Putin of Russia to suspend enrichment at least long enough to start serious negotiations with the United Nations.

MD: One hopes that this is the case, but we must also realize that the past several years are littered with analogous hints-- which turned out to be stalls for Iran's continuation and now acceleration of its nuke program.

There have also been indications that the Iranians are willing to accept a compromise plan presented by Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency. That plan calls for the suspension of all major enrichment activities but allows the regime to save face by keeping a handful of centrifuges in operation.

MD: "Indications"?  Again, we've seen this before, many times.

The mullahs are keen on damage control on another front as well. After his meeting with Ayatollah Khamenei, Mr. Velayati announced that the Holocaust is a fact of history and chastised those who question its reality. Ali Larijani, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, also declared the Holocaust a “historical matter” to be discussed by scholars (and not, he implied, by ignorant politicians). In short, there is a new willingness among the Iranian political elite to avoid the rhetoric of confrontation and to negotiate.

MD:  Yet they are accelerating their nuclear program.

There are three ways to analyze this turn. Advocates of an American invasion of Iran say that last month’s strengthening of the American armada in the Persian Gulf has frightened the Iranian regime. What diplomacy could not do for years, a few destroyers did in less than a month. These advocates encourage more of the same, hoping either that the mullahs will accept defeat in the face of an imminent attack, or that a Gulf of Tonkin incident will lead to a full attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

MD:  One might also add that President Bush's surge shows a President willing to buck the tide of the current panic "stampede of the weak horses"  in the US Congress.  Also, it is not a few destroyers, if I have it correctly it is an additional aircraft carrier group and the elevation of an Admiral to head the US military for the region.  One might expect an academic of the credentials of the author of this piece to know, and mention these things.

A second camp attacks the build-up of the armada as dangerous saber-rattling at best, and at worst as camouflage for already settled plans to attack Iran’s nuclear sites. Such an attack, they say, might provide a much-needed feather for President Bush’s empty cap at a time when his Middle East policy has manifestly failed. According to this camp, what changed the minds of Iranian officials was only the United Nations resolution threatening economic sanctions, and the possibility of other resolutions and more serious sanctions.

Both camps are partly right and yet dangerously wrong. There is a third way of looking at the facts.

The mullahs have historically shown an unfailing ability to smell out and, when pragmatic, succumb to credible power in their foes. Indeed, the presence of the American ships has helped encourage them to negotiate. But no less clear is the fact that the mullahs’ attitude change began in late December, when the United Nations Security Council finally passed a resolution against the regime in Tehran.

MD:  Here the author elevates the "indications" and hints of the Iranian government to the "fact" rolleyes of a "attitude change".  Again, the fact reported yesterday is that Iran has accelerated its program.

The passage of the resolution hastened the demise of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s confrontational approach to the West. And the falling price of oil, leading to declining revenues for the regime, magnified the resolution’s economic impact. Top leaders of the Islamic Republic, from Ayatollah Khamenei to Mr. Rafsanjani, have made it clear that they consider sanctions a serious threat — more serious, according to Mr. Rafsanjani, than the possibility of an invasion.

MD:  This may well be.

In other words, what the unilateral and increasingly quixotic American embargo could not do in more than a decade, a limited United Nations resolution has accomplished in less than a month. And the resolution succeeded because few things frighten the mullahs more than the prospect of confronting a united front made up of the European Union, Russia, China and the United States. The resolution was a manifestation of just such a united front.

MD What an *sshole.  Quixotic?  angry  Maybe only the US had the testicles to take a principles stand and not allow those more interested in doing business with Iran than stopping apocalyptic religious nuts from getting nukes.  Maybe jack diddly would have been done but for the sustained insistence of the US/Bush Administration that the world/UN take its head out of its collective *ss and do something about this.  Look at how hard the US had to work to get the EU, Russia (especially Russia who just sold Iran an anti-aircraft missile system on top of its continuin nuclear plant support !  angry ) and China (who gets a lot of oil from Iran) to back even the half-hearted economic embargo that was passed.  And notice that the author softens the workd "embargo" into a "resolution".

While the combination of credible force, reduced oil prices and a United Nations resolution has worked to create the most favorable conditions yet for a negotiated solution to the nuclear crisis, any unilateral American attack on Iran is sure to backfire. It will break the international coalition against the Islamic Republic’s nuclear adventurism; it will allow China, Russia and even some countries in Europe to legitimately side with the mullahs; it will lead to higher oil prices and an increase in Iranian government revenues; and finally, it will help revive the waning power of the warmongers in Tehran.

MD:  Only if it fails-- which well it might.  The Bush Administration has not inspired confidence in its ability to pull such an attack.

Those convinced that only the combination of credible might and diplomatic pressure will work worry rightly that the Bush administration, frustrated by its failures in Iraq and goaded by hawks in Washington, will do to Iran what it did to Iraq. In confronting Saddam Hussein and the threat of his weapons of mass destruction, the Bush administration insisted that amassing an armada in the Persian Gulf was necessary to frighten Mr. Hussein into submission. But once the armada was in place, they used it to carry out a long-ago planned invasion of Iraq.

MD:  WTF?  Hillary, Edwards, Kerry et al voted to enable the President to go to war hoping that this would suffice to make SH back down but he didn't.  Apparently encouraged by the French and the Russians telling him that they would tie us up in the UN, he decided to pretend that he had WMD because of his fear of Iran and because of the regional prestige that the belief he had them brought.  The whole point is that SH was not frightened into coughing up weapons that he had previously admitted possessing-- and, at that point WHAT DO YOU DO?

Today, many worry that the plans for an invasion of Iran, too, were made long ago, and that the armada is there to make possible either another Gulf of Tonkin resolution or an Iranian act of provocation against American forces, which could then serve as an excuse for an attack on Iran.

MD:  Well, to be precise the plans were made-- as they should have been-- but what the author means is that the DECISION has been made.  Again, one cannot bluff about these things.  One does need to go in knowing what one will do if the saber wrattling does not work.

War and peace with Iran are both possible today. With prudence, backed by power but guided by the wisdom to recognize the new signals coming from Tehran, the United States can today achieve a principled solution to the nuclear crisis. Congress, vigilant American citizens and a resolute policy from America’s European allies can ensure that this principled peace is given a chance.

MD:  I agree that both war and peace are possible.  I hope that this time the "indications" coming from some players on the Iranian side are not yet another smokescreen.  I agree that attacking Iran is very difficult and that if not well done by a tired and overstretched military (and yes, President Bush deserves firm criticism for his failures in this regard) that things will get worse-- but this author does not confront the key question.  Without the perceived will to use the power, the US will not be able to get Iran to back off its long and determined plan to acquire nuclear bombs, build missiles that can carry them to Europe and someday the US.   Indeed, with his "Gulf of Tonkin" rhetoric the author adds to our domestic clamor that persuades the Iranian government of exactly the contrary.

Abbas Milani is the director of Iranian studies at Stanford and a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.

MD:  Good thing he's not responsible for making real decisions.
27796  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Zang! on: February 23, 2007, 01:36:56 AM
The following is a case of open mouth, insert foot:
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Luke AFB Fly Over
A WAKE UP CALL FROM LUKE AFB, AZ:

A certain lieutenant colonel at Luke AFB deserves a big pat on the back.

Apparently, an individual who lives somewhere near Luke AFB wrote the local paper complaining about a group of F-16s that disturbed his/her day at the mall.   When that individual read the response from a Luke AFB officer, it must have stung quite a bit.

The complaint:

"Question of the day for Luke Air Force Base: Whom do we thank for the morning air show?   Last Wednesday, at precisely 9:11 a.m., a tight
formation of four F-16 jets made a low pass over Arrowhead Mall,
continuing west over Bell Road at approximately 500 feet.   Imagine our
good fortune!   Do the Tom Cruise-wannabes feel we need this wake-up call, or were they trying to impress the cashiers at Mervyns'
early-bird special?   Any response would be appreciated."

The response:

Regarding "A wake-up call from Luke's jets" (Letters, Thursday): On
June 15, at precisely 9:12 a.m., a perfectly timed four-ship flyby of F-16s from the 63rd Fighter Squadron at Luke Air Force Base flew over the grave of Capt. Jeremy Fresques. Capt. Fresques was an Air Force officer who was previously stationed at Luke Air Force Base and was killed in Iraq on May 30, Memorial Day.   At 9 a.m. on June 15, his family and friends gathered at Sunland Memorial Park in Sun City to mourn the loss of a husband, son and friend.

Based on the letter writer's recount of the flyby, and because of the
jet noise, I'm sure you didn't hear the 21-gun salute, the playing of
taps, or my words to the widow and parents of Capt. Fresques as I gave them their son's flag on behalf of the President of the United States and
all those veterans and servicemen and women who understand the
sacrifices they have endured.  A four -ship flyby is a display of respect
the Air Force pays to those who give their lives in defense of freedom.
We are professional aviators and take our jobs seriously, and on June
15 what the letter writer witnessed was four officers lining up to pay
their ultimate respects.  The letter writer asks, "Whom do we thank for
the morning air show?"   The 56th Fighter Wing will call for you, and
forward your thanks to the widow and parents of Capt. Fresques, and
thank them for you, for it was in their honor that my pilots flew the
most honorable formation of their lives.

Lt. Col. Scott Pleus
CO 63rd Fighter Squadron
Luke Air Force Base, Ar
27797  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: February 22, 2007, 11:34:43 PM
Sorry, no URL on this, but it seems to have enough info to be traceable.

By the way, 12.5%= one out of eight people.

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

Sun, February 18, 2007
Disturbing reality buried
Fear of causing offence and wilful blindness will only end the day innocent Canadians die
By LICIA CORBELLA


In the news business, it's called burying the lead.
It means you missed the most important or interesting part of a story and led with something less significant.
On Feb. 13, the CBC published and aired the results of an Environics poll, which on their website was billed as "Glad to be Canadian, Muslims say."
Apparently "more than 80% of Canada's roughly 700,000 Muslims are broadly satisfied with their lives here."
That's a nice and cuddly kind of story, but hardly surprising. I've been to Afghanistan -- where many of Canada's latest Muslim population comes from -- and even the upper-middle class in Afghanistan live in difficult conditions. I stayed in Kabul's only five-star hotel in December 2003 where hot water was available one-to-two hours a day, electricity was sporadic and my lovely room was utterly freezing.
Poor and middle-class Afghans -- the vast majority -- have no running water, no heat, no electricity and most are totally illiterate to boot.
They are handsome hospitable people -- and extremely resourceful -- but Canada's homeless shelters would look like luxury to your average Afghan refugee. But I digress.

Waaaay down in the online CBC story about this poll is the news that when "asked about the arrests last summer of the 18 Muslim men and boys who were allegedly plotting terrorist attacks in southern Ontario, 73% of Muslim respondents said these attacks were not at all justified." That portion of the poll ended there. No more details. Why? The Environics website made no mention about this portion of the poll either.
However, on CBC's The National television program on the same day, this part of the poll was fleshed-out and the results are alarming.
Fully 12% of Muslim Canadians polled by Environics said the alleged terrorist plot -- that included kidnapping and beheading the prime minister and blowing up Parliament and the CBC -- was justified.
Predictably, the CBC managed to find a talking head -- in this case York University sociology professor Haideh Moghissi -- who dismissed this disturbing revelation.
"It's really negligible that 12 percent feel that the attacks would be justified," said Moghissi. "I don't think it even warrants attention."
Clearly, other news agencies and those who put the poll results on the CBC website agree with Moghissi.
But just how "negligible" is 12% of 700,000 people.
Well, if Moghissi knew arithmetic like she knows denial, she'd know if this poll is accurate, 84,000 Canadian Muslims think it's justifiable to behead our democratically elected prime minister and blow up the very symbol and centre of our democracy!
The Environics poll interviewed 500 Canadian Muslims and 2,045 members of the general population between Nov. 30 and Jan. 5 and is said to be accurate within 4.4 percentage points with regard to the Muslim respondents and 2.2 points with the larger sample group 19 times out of 20.
So, let's err on the side of caution here. Let's subtract the margin of error -- 4.4% -- from 12%. That comes to 7.6%, so let's say, just to be really non-alarmist, we round that down to 7%. That still means 49,000 Canadian Muslims believe conducting a terrorist attack on their own country -- Canada -- is justified.
Is it just me, or does this not strike anyone else as the opposite of "negligible?"
Isn't this significant news?
Considering this poll was published on the same day it was learned al-Qaida -- the Islamic terrorist organization behind the 9/11 attacks -- was urging its followers to target all oilfields, including Canada's, should wake complacent Canadians up.
"We should strike petroleum interests in all areas which supply the United States and not only in the Middle East, because the target is to stop its imports or decrease it by all means," it states.
That threat was made on an al-Qaida online magazine called Sawt al-Jihad (Voice of Holy War) and was discovered by a U.S. non-profit group that monitors militant websites called Search for International Terrorist Entities (SITE).
In other words, the Environics poll indicates anywhere between 49,000 to 84,000 Muslim Canadians likely would view attacks on our oilsands development justifiable, and if that's the case, it's safe to assume some portion of those tens of thousands of people might be prone to carrying out such an attack.
We already know calls to martyrdom and jihad have been made from Canadian mosques, including one in B.C. and the one in Ontario the 18 alleged wanna-be beheaders attended. It's safe to assume there are more.
But, hey, this is Canada, where in the interest of political correctness and fear of offending, the lead on these kinds of stories gets buried and our heads remain planted where there is no illumination and therefore, no truth. That wilful blindness will likely only end the day innocent Canadians get buried instead of just leads by those who justify terror on their fellow citizens and country.
27798  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: February 22, 2007, 11:05:13 PM
Sorry I don't have the URL for this, and yes it is argumentative.  That said, it will be very interesting to see how this plays out.

27799  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Other fronts on the clash between cultures on: February 22, 2007, 09:34:42 PM
WAZIRISTANISATION OF SOUTHERN THAILAND - INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM MONITOR---PAPER NO. 196

By B. Raman

The Thai counter-terrorism agencies have not yet been able to arrest the inexorable Waziristanisation of the four Muslim-majority provinces of Southern Thailand. Targeted attacks with small arms and ammunition on individuals with extreme cruelty, multiple explosions with minimum casualties and attacks on places considered anti-Islam such as places of entertainment continue to be reported almost every day. The individuals targeted are not only Buddhists, but also public servants, including Muslims, viewed as collaborators of the Government. The ground situation resembles partly that in the  the Waziristan area of the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan and partly that in Bangladesh. There are no similarities with the ground situation in the rest of South-East Asia.

2. The targeted attacks with extreme cruelty on individuals viewed as collaborators of the Government and the attacks on places such as Karoke bars viewed as symbols of non-Islamic decadence call to mind what has been happening in South and North Waziristan almost every day. Very often, the Pakistani authorities have no clue as to who is behind the continuing violence in the Waziristan area. Al Qaeda, the Neo Taliban, the local Taliban, tribal militant groups of various hues, followers of individual tribal leaders, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Chechens from Russia and  the Uighurs from the Xinjiang region of China have all been blamed on different occasions by the Pakistani authorities with no conclusive evidence. Unidentifiable jihadi forces orchestrated by an invisible command and control have been keeping the security forces at bay. So too in Southern Thailand.

3. At least in Waziristan some individual leaders and the organisations to which they belong have been identified---such as Baitullah Mehsud and Abdullah Mehsud of the local Taliban, Tohir Yuldashev of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Ayman al-Zawahiri of Al Qaeda and Jalaluddin Haqqani of the Neo Taliban. They are as invisible as the jihadi leaders in Southern Thailand, but they are at least audible. They keep disseminating audio messages, issuing statements, talking to the media over satellite phones etc. In Waziristan, human intelligence is as scanty as in Southern Thailand, but technical intelligence has been forthcoming from the US agencies operating in the area.

4. In Southern Thailand, the jihadi leaders are neither visible nor audible. No recorded messages, no statements, no TECHINT intercepts, no HUMINT derived either from sources or during the interrogation of arrested suspects. There are hardly any arrests----not even accidental. Counter-terrorism agencies often get a lucky break in the form of suspects accidentally intercepted and detained, failed attacks due to human error on the part of the terrorists or malfunctioning of their improvised explosive devices. One hears of hardly any such lucky-break in Southern Thailand. There is evidently no satisfactory data-base which could enable analysts to quantify the threat and assess the results of the counter-terrorism efforts.

5. There are two major differences from Waziristan, though.An increasing number of terrorist strikes in the Waziristan area are by suicide bombers. Suicide bombers are yet to make their appearance in Southern Thailand. Suicide bombers are normally used to kill high-profile targets and for mass casualty terrorism. The second major difference is that in Waziristan there is evidence of complicity of some serving and retired officers of the Pakistan army and intelligence with the jihadis. There is so far no evidence of such complicity in Southern Thailand.

6.  The Thai jihadis seem content for the time being with attacking low profile targets such as teachers, Buddhist monks, junior public servants etc. They continue to avoid mass casualty terrorism like the jihadis in Bangladesh. Multiple explosions with minimum public casualties have been a defining characteristic of the Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen (JUM) of Bangladesh. Demonstrating its presence and reach with widespread multiple explosions with calibrated low-level lethality in order not to antagonise public opinion is the JUM's modus operandi. So too in Southern Thailand.

7. The Thai jihadis seem to be graduating to spectacular economic terrorism, which would cause serious economic damage with minimum human casualties as illustrated by their latest arson attack on a major rubber godown of Southland Rubber Co's branch in Yala town on February 21,2007. Attacks on tourist spots cause large human casualties as one saw in Bali twice, Mombasa and other places. Hence, their avoidance of attacks on tourism spots. Attacks on foreign targets bring international pressure and strengthen international intelligence co-operation. Hence avoidance of attacks on foreign targets so far.

8. Considerable intelligence and thinking have gone into the planning of  the jihad in southern Thailand. It is a low intensity conflict with low-intensity, but continuous bleeding. Counter-terrorism operations in Southern Thailand are like fighting an invisible enemy in the dark. One can neither fight effectively nor talk productively.  The Government's expression of regrets for past deaths of jihadi cadres and innocent civilians and its readiness for a dialogue have remained unreciprocated. Malaysia's offer of co-operation with the Thai authorities is unlikely to make a difference to the situation unless it co-operates through intelligence sharing..

9. When the terrorists are not known and they are not prepared to talk, one has to start talking to the community from which the jihadis have arisen. This is where police-community relations count. They seem to hardly exist in Southern Thailand. Apart from strengthening the intelligence capability and physical security, building up effective police-community relations has to be an important component of the counter-terrorism strategy. The Government has to encourage local non-Governmental initiatives to make  the police and the community interact with each other. Announcement of very handsome rewards for actionable intelligence and a safe channel for communicating such intelligence which will safeguard the anonymity and life of the source is another important requirement.

10. The Government has two options: Either remain in a state of helplessness on the ground that the identities of the jihadi leaders are not known and they are not willing to talk; or find new ways of coming out of the present darkness. The first option would mean more and more bleeding. With some imagination and luck, the second option could produce results. There appears to be no third option.

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: itschen36@gmail.com)
27800  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Multiple player situations on: February 22, 2007, 08:19:26 PM
Fascinating story of a pro MMA fighter against several people in Bali:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOQLg7Kc8So
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