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27751  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela on: November 09, 2007, 11:59:15 AM
Venezuela: Protests, Chavez and the Constitutional Referendum
Summary

Venezuelan college students continued their protests Nov. 8 despite armed attacks on protesters at various universities ahead of a controversial referendum Dec. 2. Though the protests show little sign of letting up and enjoy support from the Roman Catholic Church and at least some military elements, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is in a good position to deal with the threat to his rule.

Analysis

University students in Caracas protested Nov. 8 against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, just one day after masked gunmen attacked students in the Venezuelan capital returning from a demonstration, injuring at least eight people. The Central University of Venezuela (UCV) would not confirm whether anyone had died. Five students were also injured during protests by plainclothes gunmen in the northwestern city of Barquisimeto on Nov. 7. The Nov. 7 shootings were not the first of their kind. At least one female student died and two others were seriously injured at the University of Zulia on Nov. 2 when armed men fired from a moving vehicle upon a group of protesting students. A deadly shooting also occurred Nov. 2 at the University of Lara, according to an unconfirmed report.

Chavista elements aiming to quell student protests through intimidation tactics likely carried out these attacks. And though the protests probably will continue and could appeal to a wider audience, Chavez has had a long time to prepare for just this sort of situation.

The tactics have met with varying levels of success. While some major student groups like the Federation of Student Centers at UCV have called off protest marches in the interest of protecting students in the wake of the shootings, others have continued to hold marches and to face off with government troops.

Overall, the protests against Chavez still show little sign of easing as the country heads towards an extremely controversial Dec. 2 referendum. At stake are a slew of constitutional reforms that would reinforce Chavez's grip on power, including provisions for the elimination of presidential term limits, for curbs on press freedoms and for extraordinary arrests during emergency rule in the name of the "Bolivarian Revolution."

Though Chavez's constitutional reform campaign has galvanized the country's university students, prompting them to take to the streets despite threats of violence, the protest movement still lacks enough heft to challenge the Chavez regime seriously. For regime change to take place in Caracas, the student activists need the support of the Roman Catholic Church and the poor -- who comprise a majority in Venezuela -- to break through Chavez's lines of defense. The church has joined the students. But the impoverished masses still lack an incentive to join the opposition -- and with oil prices soaring, Chavez has enough cash to buy their political support.

That leaves the military's loyalties as the remaining question. Some sparks from the military establishment flew over Chavez's reforms Nov. 6 when retired Defense Minister Gen. Raul Isaias Baduel called on Venezuelans to vote "no" to the Dec. 2 referendum. Chavez subsequently branded Baduel a traitor. Baduel is an old friend of Chavez who helped restore the Venezuelan president to power after a brief coup in 2002. For a member of Chavez's inner circle to break so publicly with the Venezuelan leader is a worrying sign for Chavez's ability to hold things together. But Chavez has long prepared for such eventualities with the buildup of his personal militias, and so far it does not look as if Baduel has enough support within the military to turn the tide against Chavez.
stratfor
27752  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / George Washington on: November 09, 2007, 11:47:40 AM

"Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for,
I have grown not only gray, but almost blind in the service of
my country."

-- George Washington (upon fumbling for his glasses before
delivering the Newburgh Address, 15 March 1783)

Reference: George Washington in the American Revolution, Flexner
(507)
27753  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: What does Kali Tudo 2 have in store for us?? on: November 09, 2007, 11:38:38 AM
Woof All:

I have gotten some emails asking about the status of this project.  My intended assistant, Cyborg Dog, is recovering from elbow surgery, Poi Dog is AWOL, and I have begun working with Dog Dan to be my assistant.

The Adventure continues,
Crafty Dog
27754  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Noonan on Hillary on: November 09, 2007, 09:26:54 AM
Things Are Tough All Over
But Mrs. Clinton is no Iron Lady.

Friday, November 9, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

The story as I was told it is that in the early years of her prime ministership, Margaret Thatcher held a meeting with her aides and staff, all of whom were dominated by her, even awed. When it was over she invited her cabinet chiefs to join her at dinner in a nearby restaurant. They went, arrayed themselves around the table, jockeyed for her attention. A young waiter came and asked if they'd like to hear the specials. Mrs. Thatcher said, "I will have beef."

Yes, said the waiter. "And the vegetables?"

"They will have beef too."

Too good to check, as they say. It is certainly apocryphal, but I don't want it to be. It captured her singular leadership style, which might be characterized as "unafraid."

She was a leader.

Margaret Thatcher would no more have identified herself as a woman, or claimed special pleading that she was a mere frail girl, or asked you to sympathize with her because of her sex, than she would have called up the Kremlin and asked how quickly she could surrender.

She represented a movement. She was its head. She was great figure, a person in history, and she was a woman. She was in it for serious reasons, not to advance the claims of a gender but to reclaim for England its economic freedom, and return its political culture to common sense. Her rise wasn't symbolic but actual.

In fact, she wasn't so much a woman as a lady. I remember a gentleman who worked with her speaking of her allure, how she'd relax after a late-night meeting and you'd walk by and catch just the faintest whiff of perfume, smoke and scotch. She worked hard and was tough. One always imagined her lightly smacking some incompetent on the head with her purse, for she carried a purse, as a lady would. She is still tough. A Reagan aide told me that after she was incapacitated by a stroke she flew to Reagan's funeral in Washington, went through the ceremony, flew with Mrs. Reagan to California for the burial, and never once on the plane removed her heels. That is tough.

The point is the big ones, the real ones, the Thatchers and Indira Gandhis and Golda Meirs and Angela Merkels, never play the boo-hoo game. They are what they are, but they don't use what they are. They don't hold up their sex as a feint: Why, he's not criticizing me, he's criticizing all women! Let us rise and fight the sexist cur.

When Hillary Clinton suggested that debate criticism of her came under the heading of men bullying a defenseless lass, an interesting thing happened. First Kate Michelman, the former head of NARAL and an Edwards supporter, hit her hard. "When unchallenged, in a comfortable, controlled situation, Sen. Clinton embraces her elevation into the 'boys club.' " But when "legitimate questions" are asked, "she is quick to raise the white flag and look for a change in the rules."

Then Mrs. Clinton changed tack a little and told a group of women in West Burlington, Iowa, that they were going to clean up Washington together: "Bring your vacuum cleaners, bring your brushes, bring your brooms, bring your mops." It was all so incongruous--can anyone imagine the 20th century New Class professional Hillary Clinton picking up a vacuum cleaner? Isn't that what downtrodden pink collar workers abused by the patriarchy are for?





But even better, and more startling, people began to giggle. At Mrs. Clinton, a woman who has never inspired much mirth. Suddenly they were remembering the different accents she has spoken with when in different parts of the country, and the weird laugh she has used on talk shows. A few days ago new poll numbers came out--neck and neck with Barack Obama in Iowa, her lead slipping in New Hampshire. There is a sense that Sen. Obama is rising, a sense for the first time in this election cycle that Mrs. Clinton just may be in a fight, a real one, one she could actually lose.
It's all kind of wonderful, isn't it? Someone indulged in special pleading and America didn't buy it. It's as if the country this week made it official: We now formally declare that the woman who uses the fact of her sex to manipulate circumstances is a jerk.

This is a victory for true feminism, in its old-fashioned sense of a simple assertion of the equality of men and women. We might not have so resoundingly reached this moment without Mrs. Clinton's actions and statements. Thank you, Mrs. Clinton.

A word on toughness. Mrs. Clinton is certainly tough, to the point of hard. But toughness should have a purpose. In Mrs. Thatcher's case, its purpose was to push through a program she thought would make life better in her country. Mrs. Clinton's toughness seems to have no purpose beyond the personal accrual of power. What will she do with the power? Still unclear. It happens to be unclear in the case of several candidates, but with Mrs. Clinton there is a unique chasm between the ferocity and the purpose of the ferocity. There is something deeply unattractive in this, and it would be equally so if she were a man.





I wonder if Sen. Obama, as he makes his climb, understands the kind of quiet cheering he is beginning to garner from some Republicans, and from those not affiliated with either party. They see him as a Democrat who could cure the Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton sickness.
I call it that because it seems to me now less like a dynastic tug of war than a symptom of deterioration, a lazy, unserious and faintly corrupt turn to be taken by the oldest and greatest democracy in the history of man. And I say sickness because on some level I think it is driven by a delusion: "We will be safe with these ruling families, whom we know so well." But we won't. They have no special magic. Dynasticism brings with it a sense of deterioration. It is dispiriting.

I am not sure of the salience of Mr. Obama's new-generational approach. Mrs. Clinton's generation, he suggests, is caught in the 1960s, fighting old battles, clinging to old divisions, frozen in time, and the way to get past it is to get past her. Maybe this will resonate. But I don't think Mrs. Clinton is the exemplar of a generation, she is the exemplar of a quadrant within a generation, and it is the quadrant the rest of us of that generation do not like. They came from comfort and stability, visited poverty as part of a college program, fashionably disliked their country, and cultivated a bitterness that was wholly unearned. They went on to become investment bankers and politicians and enjoy wealth, power or both.

Mr. Obama should go after them, not a generation but a type, the smug and entitled. No one really likes them. They showed it this week.

Ms. Noonan is a contributing editor of The Wall Street Journal and author of "John Paul the Great: Remembering a Spiritual Father" (Penguin, 2005), which you can order from the OpinionJournal bookstore. Her column appears Fridays on OpinionJournal.com.
27755  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: November 18, 2007 Dog Bros Gathering of the Pack on: November 08, 2007, 09:37:15 PM
Tom:

No worries, you get the well-seasoned-well-regarded veteran's slack  cheesy

Yip!
CD
27756  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Booster Shots on: November 08, 2007, 12:47:06 PM
WSJ

Booster-Shot Frequency
Is Questioned in Study
By SUZANNE SATALINE
November 8, 2007; Page D3

Vaccines against measles, mumps and tetanus can fight off diseases for decades, says a study that questions whether Americans need booster shots with the frequency they currently are being given.

In the study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers at Oregon Health & Science University in Beaverton said they found surprisingly high levels of disease-resisting antibodies in the blood of patients who had been vaccinated years earlier. Vaccines prompt antibody creation by giving patients a small dose of the virus that creates the disease.

The persistence of the antibodies suggests that current recommendations for booster shots for some common conditions could be revised, the study said. For instance, Mark K. Slifka, one of the study's authors, said that tetanus shots could be given once approximately every 30 years instead of once every 10 years, as currently is recommended.

The study found that protection from conditions such as measles, mumps and rubella following exposure to the diseases were, in most cases, maintained for life.

Although it isn't dangerous to get booster shots, the study's authors said it may be unnecessary in some circumstances. "If we can continue to improve our vaccines, someday we might be able to give one shot and give lifelong immunity," said Mr. Slifka, associate professor at the Oregon university's Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute.

John Treanor, a physician specializing in infectious diseases at the University of Rochester in New York state, said that before the health-care system eliminates boosters, more study is needed on outbreaks of certain diseases and declining vaccine efficacy. "I think this is helpful and great to have," he said, referring to the study. "I don't know if this is so definitive."

The researchers said that the efficacy of vaccines doesn't apply across the board: children frequently need chickenpox booster shots after five years because the vaccine antibodies aren't as potent as the antibodies created by the disease itself, Mr. Slifka noted.

The researchers analyzed 630 stored blood samples from 45 patients. With each sample, the authors analyzed the decay rate for antibodies from vaccines for measles, mumps, rubella, varicella-zoster virus, and Epstein-Barr, the herpes virus that causes mononucleosis.

Write to Suzanne Sataline at suzanne.sataline@wsj.com

27757  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: November 08, 2007, 12:37:57 PM
Judges vs. Jihadis
By DAVID B. RIVKIN JR. and LEE A. CASEY
November 8, 2007; Page A23

Advocates of a "law enforcement" approach to fighting transnational terror claimed vindication last week when 21 of 28 accused terrorists were convicted in Madrid. Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero described the Oct. 31 verdicts as "justice" and urged Spain to "look to the future." It is, of course, the future that is at issue.

Spain has every right to celebrate the capture, trial and conviction of these 21 individuals either implicated in helping to organize the March 11, 2004, train bombings in Madrid that killed 191 people, or otherwise associated with terrorism. Yet there is little reason to believe that the verdicts will have any measurable deterrent effect on jihadists, who remain determined to strike at the West's civilian populations whenever opportunity allows. Prevention remains key to defeating this threat.

 
Here, the justice system will be of limited utility because -- whether organized under the Civil Law (like Spain and most of Europe) or the Common Law (like the U.S.) -- it is not designed to anticipate and stop criminal behavior before it takes place. At least since the Enlightenment, Western judicial institutions have focused on dealing with society's deviants, rather than on meeting the threat of foreign attack, and have sought to prevent criminal behavior by inculcating a dread -- in the form of an individual's respect for, rather than terror of, the law.

As the great Italian legal scholar and reformer Beccaria wrote in the 1760s, to prevent crime, "make sure that men fear the laws and only the laws." Where respect fails, of course, there also is fear of punishment under the law -- deterrence. The system breaks down, however, when the criminals neither have respect for the law nor fear its potential punishments.

This is exactly the situation in which the West now finds itself. The followers of violent jihad do not respect the laws of democratic governments, but claim a superior legitimacy in the form of their own interpretation of Islam's Quran and Shariah law. Many of them also do not fear punishment. If proof of this were needed, it can be found both in the very nature of al Qaeda's Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S. by suicidal operatives, and the self-immolation of the seven ringleaders who masterminded the 2004 attacks on Madrid. When Spanish police closed in on their safe house outside that city, these men blew up the house -- and themselves.

To be sure, since 9/11 a number of European countries -- some experienced in fighting home-grown terror movements such as the IRA in Britain and the ETA in Spain -- have made their judicial systems more capable of meeting the challenge. Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain have all adopted new or expanded counterterrorism legislation. They've all taken one or more of the following actions: establishing or broadening the offense of terrorism to include membership in a terrorist organization; approving sometimes long pretrial detention for terror suspects; banning organizations with terrorist connections; and legalizing the use of deportation and expulsion of suspected terrorist suspects in some cases.

However, although Europe has had some notable successes in preventing terror plots -- largely through the use of national intelligence agencies -- the record of convictions has been less promising. As the U.S. State Department diplomatically concluded in its 2006 "Country Reports on Terrorism" with respect to Germany: "German laws and traditional procedures, as well as the courts' longstanding and expansive view of civil liberties, sometimes limited the success of cases prosecutors brought to trial."

Even the successful Spanish prosecutions did not include one of the individuals -- now jailed on terror charges in Italy -- believed by the government to have orchestrated the Madrid attacks. Rabei Osman, an Egyptian, was acquitted. Many March 11 victims were not satisfied with the outcome.

This, ultimately, is the problem. The criminal justice system is not infinitely elastic. It can be changed only so much before it becomes unrecognizable. Although the Civil Law system is marginally better suited than the Common Law system for antiterror prosecutions -- permitting more closed proceedings and less technically demanding evidentiary standards -- both are built upon the assumption that it is better to let the guilty go free than to convict the innocent.

That is an appropriate balance when a society is dealing with its own reprobates. It is not so obviously correct when the threat is a foreign movement whose purpose is to cause death and destruction on a grand scale.

If further proof were needed of the judicial system's inability to bear the primary burden of meeting (and defeating) transnational terror, it could be found in the scenes last Wednesday in Madrid. When the judge's decisions were handed down, the courthouse was surrounded by security forces -- including helicopters buzzing protectively around the building. Courts do not make good fortresses.

It's likely that these very limitations, at least in part, prompted the Bush administration to eschew a policing response to the 9/11 attacks, and to declare a war against terror. The result has been one of the sharpest trans-Atlantic divisions in postwar history, a division that probably will not end anytime soon. Regardless of whether the next American president is a Democrat or Republican, he or she is likely to continue the war on terror in practice, if not in rhetoric.

Only the law of armed conflict permits the flexibility needed to disrupt al Qaeda's operations on an international level. Had the Bush administration followed a law-enforcement path, and sought the judicial assistance of Afghanistan's Taliban, Osama bin Laden would still be secure in his bases and training facilities, far more capable of planning and executing future attacks.

Al Qaeda and its allies believe that they are at war with the West and have acted on that belief. Even with the best intentions, the West cannot prevail by ignoring this stark and unbending fact.

Messrs. Rivkin and Casey served in the Justice Department under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and were members of the U.N. Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights from 2004-2006.

WSJ
27758  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: November 08, 2007, 12:34:57 PM
Pakistanis Say No
By HUSAIN HAQQANI
November 8, 2007; Page A23

When Gen. Pervez Musharraf suspended Pakistan's Constitution, declared a state of emergency and put the nation once again under martial law, he expected limited civilian resistance and only ritual international condemnation, in view of his role in the war against terrorism. On both counts, Mr. Musharraf appears to have badly miscalculated.

 
Police officers clash with lawyers outside the district courts in Multan, Pakistan, on Nov. 6, 2007.
Pakistan's burgeoning civil society, led by lawyers and encouraged by judges ousted from the Supreme Court, is refusing to be cowed. Protests are spreading despite thousands of arrests and the use of tear gas and batons against peaceful demonstrators. More than 1,700 attorneys have been jailed but still more are taking to the streets. University students have joined the lawyers, and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has vowed to violate a ban on public meetings by leading a rally on Friday.

There are a number of important reasons why Pakistan's attorneys are leading the protests against Mr. Musharraf. They have a long tradition of activism for rule of law and human-rights issues. In 1968-69, the lawyers started the campaign that resulted in the ouster of Pakistan's first military ruler, Field Marshal Ayub Khan. They also were at the forefront of the campaign against Mr. Zia-ul-Haq, whose 11-year military rule ended when he died in a 1988 plane crash.

The legal fraternity has another advantage, in that they can afford to confront the government without fearing starvation for their families. Some 65 million of Pakistan's 160 million people subsist on less than $1 a day, while another 65 million survive just above the poverty line. The poor are willing to participate in organized rallies, such as the one that welcomed Ms. Bhutto back to Pakistan on Oct. 18 (and was targeted by a suicide terrorist), but they generally avoid protest demonstrations where getting arrested and missing work is almost inevitable.

That could change in the days and weeks to come. Although Mr. Musharraf has taken all private and international television channels off the air, images of the protests are being seen all over Pakistan through the Internet and with satellite dishes. Middle-class Pakistanis, and increasingly the poor, are making it clear that they want political freedom, along with an improvement in their economic prospects, and do not consider prosperity and democracy to be mutually exclusive.

The international community has also responded more strongly than Mr. Musharraf expected. The Netherlands has suspended aid, and several donors are reviewing their policy on military and economic assistance. The Bush administration is hoping to defuse the situation through assertive diplomacy. But withdrawal of aid, supported by several congressional leaders, remains a possibility.

Since 9/11, Mr. Musharraf has positioned himself as the key Western ally in the global war against terrorism. But in recent months, he has been too distracted with domestic politics to play an effective role. The U.S., in particular, does not want anti-Musharraf sentiment to result in a fresh wave of anti-Americanism in Pakistan that further fuels terrorism. While some in the U.S. argue about America's limited options in dealing with the crisis in Pakistan, one could argue that Mr. Musharraf's options are even more limited.

The more he has to repress critics and political opponents, the less Pakistan will be able to fight terrorism. After all, when troops have to be deployed to detain Supreme Court judges, journalists, lawyers and politicians, there are fewer troops available to fight terrorists. Pakistan's intelligence services can either spy on dissenting Pakistani civilians or focus their energies on finding Osama bin Laden and his ever increasing number of deputies and operatives around Pakistan. But Pakistan needs to fight terrorism for Pakistan's sake. Mr. Musharraf cannot endlessly blackmail Washington by hinting that he would withdraw antiterror cooperation if the U.S. pressures him on other issues, including democracy and human-rights violations.

One thing is clear: Mr. Musharraf's authoritarianism is being challenged by diverse elements in Pakistani society. His self-cultivated image as a benign dictator is a thing of the past, and his recent harsh measures have failed to frighten Pakistan's civil society and political opposition into submission.

The defiance of the judiciary and the media might not immediately topple Mr. Musharraf, but it could render him ineffective to a point where the military rethinks its options. The army will soon recognize that the only thing keeping the general and his civilian cronies in power is the army's support. It risks further alienating the Pakistani people and losing their respect as long as it continues to act solely in the interests of Mr. Musharraf and his small band of political allies. At some point, the professional soldiers will wonder whether they should risk their institution's position to keep him in power.

The army is Mr. Musharraf's support base. It is a major beneficiary of U.S. security assistance, having received $17 billion since 1954 with equipment worth several hundred million dollars currently in the pipeline. Since 2002, the U.S. has subsidized the Pakistani army to the tune of $150 million per month. The army is also a stakeholder in Pakistan's growing economy, which benefits from international aid and investment. If Mr. Musharraf's autocratic policies threaten Pakistan's prosperity, the army is likely to be less unanimous in its support of its commander.

Already, there are signs of economic fallout from the political turmoil. Rumors of an anti-Musharraf military coup on Monday caused the biggest one-day decline in 16 months on the Karachi Stock Exchange, resulting in losses of an estimated $1.3 billion. Pakistan's credit rating has been revised downward in anticipation of further civic unrest and international sanctions.

Pakistanis are used to coups d'état where the army takes the helm of government. Things are different this time. In the past, generals have suspended the constitution to remove from power unpopular rulers, usually weakened civilians rightly or wrongly accused of corruption (as was the case when Mr. Musharraf ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in October 1999). This is the first time an unpopular military ruler has suspended the constitution to preserve his own rule. In doing so, Mr. Musharraf has clearly overplayed his hand.

Mr. Musharraf cannot blame a civilian predecessor for bringing the country to the brink. If there is internal chaos in Pakistan today, it is of the general's making. After all, it was his arbitrary decision to remove Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry in March that initiated the political crisis which has led to the current "state of emergency."

Justice Chaudhry, on the other hand, has become a symbol of resistance to arbitrary rule -- the man who refused to roll over and disappear, unlike earlier judges who cooperated with military rulers or simply went home when their conscience dictated otherwise. Justice Chaudhry's call upon the legal fraternity to "Go to every corner of Pakistan and give the message that this is the time to sacrifice" for the supremacy of Pakistan's Constitution has drawn elements disillusioned with existing political leaders to anti-Musharraf protests.

Among Pakistani political leaders, Ms. Bhutto has emerged as the viable civilian alternative to Mr. Musharraf, with public support at home and acceptance abroad. As the only politician in Pakistan to publicly describe Islamist extremism and terrorism as the principal threat to the nation, Ms. Bhutto was initially measured in her response to Mr. Musharraf's reckless actions. She demanded that he restore the constitution and call elections as scheduled. She hoped to change his attitude with the threat of putting hundreds of thousands of supporters in the streets, without actually doing so. But Mr. Musharraf's stubbornness is changing that position.

Like many in the U.S., Ms. Bhutto appears worried about directing attention away from fighting terrorism and destabilizing Pakistan further. But leaving the anti-Musharraf campaign leaderless is not an option. She has positioned herself as an opposition leader who represents the sentiment of the people, but is also willing to accept a negotiated settlement that restores the constitution, ends persecution, and results in free and fair elections leading to full civilian rule.

So far Mr. Musharraf has shown no inclination to negotiate in good faith with Ms. Bhutto or the international community. With each passing day, the Bush administration's hopes -- that with its help there could be a transition to democracy in Pakistan with a continuing role for Mr. Musharraf -- are diminishing. Unless Mr. Musharraf changes course quickly, the U.S. will be compelled to start looking beyond him to a more legitimate leader.

Mr. Musharraf seems determined to put his own political survival before the rule of law -- actions that warrant the label dictator. Pakistan's attorneys, and increasingly the rest of its citizenry, seem equally determined to prevent this from happening.

Mr. Haqqani is director of Boston University's Center for International Relations and the author of "Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military" (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2005). He also has served as adviser to several Pakistani prime ministers, including Ms. Bhutto.
WSJ
27759  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers: on: November 08, 2007, 12:04:40 PM
"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with
the blood of patriots and tyrants.  It is its natural manure."

-- Thomas Jefferson (letter to William Stephens Smith, 13
November 1787)

Reference: Jefferson: Writings, Peterson ed., Library of America
(911)
27760  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: November 08, 2007, 11:21:07 AM
WSJ

Jailed in Pakistan
November 8, 2007; Page A22
Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf says he imposed a state of emergency to limit terror attacks. Then why is he arresting so many nonterrorists?

Beginning Saturday, the main targets of police have been human rights workers and Mr. Musharraf's political opponents. While precise figures are hard to come by, more than 1,500 people -- mostly lawyers who participated in anti-Musharraf protests -- are thought to be incarcerated, either in their homes or in jails.

Topping the detainee list is Asma Jahangir, the Lahore-based head of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. Ms. Jahangir, a lawyer who is also a United Nations' special rapporteur on freedom of religion, agitated publicly for an independent judiciary and has represented the families of "disappeared" political dissidents. She was placed under a 90-day "preventative" house arrest on Saturday in Lahore.

Next comes Aitzaz Ahsan, president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, a member of Parliament and a former law minister. Mr. Ahsan, who defended former Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry earlier this year when Mr. Musharraf sacked him, stood up at a press conference Saturday and denounced the state of emergency. Mr. Ahsan is now in Adiala Jail near Rawalpindi.

Then there's Ali Ahmed Kurd, another lawyer for former Chief Justice Chaudhry, who human rights groups claim is now under the supervision of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency. Other lawyers in that case, including Munir Malik and Tariq Mahmood -- both former presidents of the Supreme Court Bar -- have also been arrested.

Other detainees include Javed Hashmi, the acting president of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's party; Imran Khan, a famous cricketer and leader of a new, small political party; and hundreds of workers for Jamaat-e-Islami, a large religious party. Mr. Khan managed to give the slip to his minders at his home and is now on the run.

If Mr. Musharraf wants to fight terrorism and move Pakistan toward democracy, arresting democrats and lawyers is an odd way of doing so. By targeting members of civil society, he's weakening the very forces that would have supported him had he moved forward with a power-sharing arrangement with Benazir Bhutto. Instead, he's angering the country's middle class and empowering militants.

27761  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: November 08, 2007, 11:19:49 AM
Inspiring!

http://www.michaelyon-online.com/wp/thanks-and-praise.htm
27762  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Anti-semitism & Jews on: November 08, 2007, 10:54:07 AM
Saving Civilization From Itself
Churchill understood that the Jews are the bedrock of Western tradition.

BY ARTHUR HERMAN
Thursday, November 8, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

"Why should we Anglo-Saxons apologize for being superior?" Winston Churchill once growled in exasperation. "We are superior." Certainly Churchill's views of what he and other late Victorians called the "lesser races," such as blacks and East Indians, are very different from ours today. One might easily assume that a self-described reactionary like Churchill, holding such views, shared the anti-Semitism prevalent among Europe's ruling elites before the Holocaust.

But he did not, as Martin Gilbert vividly shows in "Churchill and the Jews." By chronicling Churchill's warm dealings with English and European Jews throughout his long career, and his heartfelt support of Zionism, Mr. Gilbert conveys Churchill's deep admiration for the Jewish people and captures his crucial role in creating the state of Israel. Churchill offers the powerful example of a Western statesman who--unlike other statesmen in his own time and ours--understood the malignant nature of anti-Semitism and did what he could to oppose its toxic effects.

His father, Lord Randolph Churchill, had been a close friend and ally to many wealthy British Jews, almost notoriously so, given the rancid snobbery of his circles. The son rarely failed to follow his father's inclinations, in this matter as in others. Jews like the Rothschilds and the banker Sir Ernest Cassel helped to advance Winston Churchill's early career (including watching over his finances after his father's death), and he repaid their support in part by publicly condemning the kind of anti-Semitism that was all too common in England's upper classes. But his actions were not merely an expression of personal thanks.





A student of history, Churchill came to feel that Judaism was the bedrock of traditional Western moral and political principles--and Churchill was of a generation that preferred to talk about principles instead of "values." For Europeans to turn against the Jew, he argued, was for them to strike at their own roots and reject an essential part of their civilization--"that corporate strength, that personal and special driving power" that Jews had brought for hundreds of years to Europe's arts, sciences and institutions.
To deny Jews a national homeland was therefore an act of ingratitude. Churchill became a keen backer of the Balfour Declaration of 1917, which broached the idea of creating a Jewish homeland in Palestine. As a friend to Zionist leader Chaim Weizman, and as colonial secretary after World War I, Churchill made establishing such a homeland a matter of urgency. "The hope of your race for so many centuries will be gradually realized here," Churchill told a Jewish audience in Jerusalem during his visit in March 1921, "not only for your own good, but for the good of all the world."

By "all the world" Churchill most pointedly meant to include Palestine's Arabs. As Mr. Gilbert recounts, Churchill was dismayed and disgusted by Arab resistance to Jewish immigration and settlement in Palestine. "The Jews have a far more difficult task than you," he told Arab representatives, since "you only have to enjoy your own possessions," while the Jewish emigrants from Europe and elsewhere would have to carve a society out of a barren wilderness.

Yet Churchill was convinced that Arab civilization would benefit from contact with an entrepreneurial and morally centered people. "Speaking entirely as a non-Jew," he wrote, "I look on the Jews as the natural importers of western leaven so necessary for countries in the Near East." At the same time, Churchill tried to ensure that Palestinian Arabs got their own national homeland. It was Churchill who, as colonial secretary, decided to separate Transjordan (modern-day Jordan) from the rest of Palestine, assuming that Transjordan would become the site of the Arabs' future state and that other parts of Palestine (including the West Bank of the Jordan River) would be open to Jewish settlement.

Churchill was to be disappointed by the results of his Middle Eastern efforts, as Arabs hunted down and murdered Jewish settlers by the hundreds in the 1920s and 1930s--just at the time when Adolf Hitler was building his own regime around the persecution of the Jews in Germany. As early as 1930 Churchill realized that the Nazis' anti-Jewish policies carried the stench of an ancient evil. "Tell your boss from me," he said to a Hitler acquaintance in the late summer of 1932, as the Nazi Party was on the verge of power, "that anti-Semitism may be a good starter but it is a bad finisher."

In December 1942, Churchill--now prime minister--learned from a Roman Catholic member of the Polish resistance, a man named Jan Karsky, that thousands of Jews were being rounded up and sent by cattle cars to what turned out to be the death camp at Belzec, in eastern Poland. Churchill used the Karsky report to compel the Allies, including the Russians, to condemn "a bestial policy of cold-blooded extermination" in Germany--although he understood that the best way to halt the slaughter would be the speedy destruction of Hitler's empire. The chief of Britain's air staff, Sir Charles Portal, warned that any air raids "avowedly conducted on account of the Jews would be an asset to enemy propaganda," and Churchill reluctantly bowed to his advice. Nonetheless, in 1943 he wanted a film that documented the atrocities committed against the Jews to be shown to every American serviceman before the invasion of Europe.





After the war, Churchill felt that the most fitting response to the Holocaust would be to punish those guilty of the most horrific crimes against the Jews and to fulfill the promise of a Jewish homeland that he and Britain had made almost 30 years earlier. When Ernest Bevin, Britain's Labour Party foreign minister, hesitated to recognize Israel nine months after its founding, for fear of inflaming Arab opinion, Churchill swung back hard: "Whether the Right Honorable Gentleman likes it or not, the coming into being of a Jewish State in Palestine is an event in world history to be viewed in the perspective, not of a generation or a century, but in the perspective of a thousand, two thousand, or even three thousand years." Israel was just recompense, Churchill felt, not only for what the Jews of Europe had lost but for what they had given to civilization over the centuries.
This view, of course, no longer prevails. Today the existence of Israel is apparently something to be regretted, even deplored, not only in Arab capitals but in European ones and on American university campuses. Paradoxically, such feelings intensified after 9/11, an event that should have made us all aware of who the friends of Western civilization really are--and who its enemies. Martin Gilbert's book reminds us that anti-Semitism is the dark turn of the modern mind against itself, and a form of cultural patricide.

Mr. Herman's "Gandhi & Churchill" will be published by Bantam in April. You can buy "Churchill and the Jews" from the OpinionJournal bookstore.

WSJ
27763  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Stock Market on: November 08, 2007, 10:42:29 AM
Bought more LNOP yesterday around 20.25, and slept through this morning's scary ride.  Rick says there is rumor a hedge fund dropped a large block, which is a thinly traded stock like LNOP which is already volatile every day can really move things around.  He says to buy more.
27764  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: November 07, 2007, 07:45:21 PM
Pakistan's nuclear history worries insiders
'Nuclear coup' in 1990 and bin Laden meeting offer two chilling precedents
ANALYSIS
By Robert Windrem
Senior investigative producer
NBC News

updated 5:04 p.m. PT, Tues., Nov. 6, 2007
It is the most disturbing element in the mix that makes Pakistan the most dangerous country in the world: its stockpile of at least 30 and perhaps as many as 45 nuclear weapons. And it is always the element that captures the most attention from US intelligence officials.

The United States has essentially let Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal grow over the past three decades, as succeeding governments in Islamabad have supported US policies in neighboring Afghanistan, first in thwarting the Soviet occupation and then in driving out the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

Still, the fear is that in the chaos that regularly afflicts Pakistan, al-Qaeda or other jihadis will somehow gain control of one of the weapons, some of the highly enriched uranium that forms the core of a bomb or the technology to make a bomb -- or even gain control of the government.

“It’s always been easier to steal a government in Pakistan than to steal a bomb,” said one former senior US intelligence official.

It is not an abstract concern, one driven by war game scenarios. There have been two incidents in the past 20 years that call into question who controls the weapons, controls the technology.

Indeed, the incidents offer chilling precedents to what could happen now in a chaotic Pakistan. One is what Benazir Bhutto called a “nuclear coup” in 1990, while the other is knowledge from intelligence that al-Qaeda’s top leaders, including Osama bin Laden, met with Pakistani nuclear scientists in Afghanistan just before September 11 and offered the terrorist group advice on how to build a crude nuclear device.

For better or worse, the US is confident that it knows where the Pakistani nuclear arsenal is located and that it is secure. And in 2003, the US secretly provided technology and training to Pakistani nuclear scientists so they could develop “permissive action links”—codes that prohibit unauthorized detonation. Prior to US intervention in this area, none of the Pakistani warheads were protected, say US and Pakistani officials.

Moreover, military and intelligence officials have told NBC News that should the need arise, the US is prepared to take out—or simply take—the weapons from Pakistani control. As Condoleezza Rice said at her confirmation hearings in January 2005, “We have noted this problem, and we are prepared to try to deal with it. I would prefer not in open session to talk about this particular issue.”

“There wasn’t much concern about physical security, but a high degree of angst that the government would fall into the hands of bad guys and they would be in charge,” said the former official, who added that there were “some in the nuclear program who are sympathetic to the radicals”.

As laid out in “Critical Mass: The Dangerous Race for Superweapons in a Fragmenting World," a 1994 book by Robert Windrem and William E. Burrows, the first incident unraveled in the summer of 1990 when India and Pakistan were in one of their seemingly innumerable crises. For the first time, the US had detected that Pakistan had actually put together a nuclear weapon without the knowledge of the country’s prime minister, Benazir Bhutto. And not long after Bhutto learned what her military had done, she was deposed by the same men who had kept the weaponization secret from her.

The CIA had determined that in May 1990 Pakistani scientists had succeeded in converting highly enriched uranium from a gas into a heavy metal. The uranium had undergone successive changes, going from gas to pellets to the mold and machined spheres—perfect spheres—that constituted the cores of atomic bombs. The CIA knew that the cores were then stored near the other components needed to make a complete weapon so the Pakistani bomb could be assembled in as little as three hours at Dalbandin, an airbase in the Baluchistan desert well out of reach of Indian jets. There was enough metal to make between six and eight nuclear weapons, each with the explosive capability equivalent to the bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The United States later learned the final number of cores was seven. Two cores had been machined in May, and five more were turned out by the end of July. The first two used about 40 pounds of uranium while the last used about 26 pounds each. Like most other things, a learning curve improves efficiency.

The Pakistanis had not only “crossed the line” as the saying went in Washington’s nuclear precincts. They had actually prepared bombs for delivery. More importantly, in relation to the current crisis, the whole scenario had been carried out without Bhutto even knowing what had happened.

“I think it is criminal that the Prime Minister, who is ultimately responsible in the eyes of the people and in the eyes of history, should not be taken into confidence on such a major issue.” She told NBC two years later. “I did not know.”

Bhutto in fact had not just been Prime Minister. She was Defense Minister and Atomic Energy Minister as well.

The decision had been taken by the Army chief of staff, Mirza Aslam Beg, and the country’s president, Ghulam Ishaq Khan. The presidency then, unlike now, was more of a ceremonial post. Both had been proponents of the Pakistani bomb program, which ironically had been started by Bhutto’s father when he had been prime minister. Khan in fact had run the program.

Bhutto also found out in a most unorthodox way. In late June, two long time American friends of hers had come to Islamabad to tell her what happened. Peter Galbraith, then the south Asia specialist on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Mark Siegel, her Washington lobbyist, took her to a garden outside her offices in the Pakistani capital to inform her.

The news Galbraith and Siegel had delivered took Bhutto by surprise, but she knew the consequences. The United States now had the proof it needed to cut off aid to Pakistan under a law called the Pressler Amendment, and ultimately the US did just that.

A few weeks later, the US ambassador delievered the news to her. Robert Oakley informed her that US law required a cutoff in aid to Pakistan if it possessed a “nuclear explosive device” and demanded that Pakistan reverse the process.

Around the same time, US officials flew to Islamabad while Bhutto was on a state visit to the Gulf States to warn Ishaq Khan and Beg there was no way Pakistan could win a war with India and that continued nuclear brinksmanship would risk a catastrophe.

Bhutto, unaware of the US meeting, contacted Ishaq Khan to relay Oakley’s warning and three times called for a meeting of the top-secret committee that ran the nuclear weapons program. Each time Ishaq Khan said he would get back to her. She also asked Beg for an explanation as well and he promised one would be forthcoming.

Neither happened, but on Aug. 6, less than three months after Pakistan had begun the process of building a bomb, Bhutto was deposed. With the world’s attention then focused on Saddam Hussein’s four-day old occupation of Kuwait, Ishaq Khan went on Pakistani television to denounce Bhutto’s government as corrupt and incompetent.

“I have no proof of this,” Bhutto later told NBC News, “but I feel that someone may have turned on the switch in the spring of 1990 to justify the dismissal of my government.” She called it a “nuclear coup.”

More troubling was what former CIA Director George J. Tenet wrote about in his memoir, “At the Center of the Storm” about al-Qaeda’s attempt to obtain nuclear know-how from Pakistani scientists.

In August 2001, just weeks before the 9/11 attacks, two officials of an ostensible Pakistani charity, both senior scientists in the country’s nuclear weapons program, met with Osama bin Ladin and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, in Afghanistan.

“There, around a campfire, they discussed how al-Qa’ida should go about building a nuclear device,” wrote Tenet.

The scientists were not ordinary scientists. Sultan Bashirrudan Mahmood, was the former director for nuclear power at Pakistan’s Atomic Energy Commission. Chaudiri Andul Majeed, a prominent nuclear engineer, had retired from the Pakistani Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology in 2000. Both institutes were part of the nuclear weapons establishment. Their charity, UTN, also included retired Pakistani nuclear scientists, military officers, engineers, and technicians.

The United States had already learned from Libyan intelligence that UTN scientists had approached Moammar Khaddafi’s government with an offer they thought the Libyans couldn’t refuse: “They tried to sell us a nuclear weapon,” Tenet quoted Musa Kusa, the head of Libyan intelligence, as saying. “Of course, we turned them down.” The CIA was able to confirm through other sources that indeed the offer had been made, according to Tenet.

“CIA passed our information on UTN to our Pakistani colleagues, who quickly hauled in seven board members for questioning,” Tenet wrote, adding with some exasperation, “The investigation was ill-fated from the get-go. The UTN officials all denied wrongdoing and were not properly isolated and questioned.

“In fact, they were allowed to return home after questioning each day. Pakistani intelligence interrogators treated the UTN officials deferentially, with respect befitting their status in Pakistani society. They were seen as men of science, men who had made significant contributions to Pakistan. Our officers read the question etched in the faces of their Pakistani liaison contacts: Surely, such men cannot be terrorists?”

Ultimately, after more intelligence came in, President Bush dispatched Tenet to Islamabad in November 2001 with a file of accusations and a less than subtle threat.

“After a few pleasantries, I explained to President Musharraf that I had been dispatched by the U.S. president to deliver some very serious information to him. I launched into a description of the campfire meeting between Usama bin Ladin, al-Zawahiri, and the UTN leaders. ‘Mr. President,' I said, ‘you cannot imagine the outrage there would be in my country if it were learned that Pakistan is coddling scientists who are helping Bin Ladin acquire a nuclear weapon. Should such a device ever be used, the full fury of the American people would be focused on whoever helped al-Qa’ida in its cause.'”

Musharraf was incredulous.

“But Mr. Tenet, we are talking about men hiding in caves,” Tenet quotes Musharraf as saying. “Perhaps they have dreams of owning such weapons, but my experts assure me that obtaining one is well beyond their reach. We know in Pakistan what is involved in such an achievement.”

“Mr. President, your experts are wrong,” Tenet said he responded.. “I told him that the current state of play between weapon design and construction and the availability of the needed materials made it possible for a few men hidden in a remote location—if they had enough persistence and money, and black enough hearts—to obtain and use a nuclear device.”

A second round of interrogations followed and the full story finally emerged. As Tenet recounts it, there was little doubt that bin Laden and Zawahiri saw Pakistan’s nuclear fraternity as its most likely source of help. Moreover, there was even less doubt of bin Laden’s interest in nuclear weapons.

“Mahmood confirmed all we had heard about the August 2001 meeting with Usama bin Ladin, and even provided a hand-drawn rough bomb design that he had shared with al-Qa’ida leaders. He told his interrogators that he had discussed the practicalities of building a weapon. ‘The most difficult part of the process,’ he told Bin Ladin, ‘is obtaining the necessary fissile material.’ ‘What if we already have the material?’ Bin Ladin replied. This surprised Mahmood. He said he did not know if this was a hypothetical question or if Bin Ladin was seeking a design to use with fissile material or components he had already obtained elsewhere.”

An unidentified senior al-Qaeda leader also present at the campfire displayed a canister for the visitors that may or may not have contained some kind of nuclear material or radioactive source. He also shared his ideas of building a simple firing system for a weapon using commercially available supplies, according to the interrogation quoted by Tenet.

Tenet says in spite of extensive efforts to learn whether bin Laden actually had HEU, the US intelligence and law enforcement community had no luck. Luck in fact may be what is needed more than anything else in dealing with Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.

© 2007 MSNBC Interactive
URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21660667/
27765  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Citizen-Police interactions on: November 07, 2007, 05:40:20 PM
Cops Say the Darndest Things!


#16 "You know, stop lights don't come any redder that the one you just went through."


#15 "Relax, the handcuffs are tight because they're new. They'll stretch after you wear them a while."


#14 "If you take your hands off the car, I'll make your birth certificate a worthless document."


#13 "If you run, you'll only go to jail tired."


#12 "Can you run faster than 1200 feet per second? Because that's the speed of the bullet that'll be chasing you."


#11 "You don't know how fast you were going? I guess that means I can write anything I want to on the ticket, huh?"


#10 "Yes, sir, you can talk to the shift supervisor, but I don't think it will help. Oh, did I mention that I'm the shift supe! rvisor?"


#9 "Warning! You want a warning? O.K., I'm warning you not to do that again or I'll give you another ticket."


#8 "The answer to this last question will determine whether you are drunk or not. Was Mickey Mouse a cat or a dog?"


#7 "Fair? You want me to be fair? Listen, fair is a place where you go to ride on rides, eat cotton candy and corn dogs and step in monkey poop."


#6 "Yeah, we have a quota. Two more tickets and my wife gets a toaster oven."


#5 "In God we trust, all others we run through NCIC."


#4 "How big were those 'Just two beers' you say you had?"


#3 "No sir, we don't have quotas anymore. We used to, but now we're allowed to write as many tickets as we can."


#2 "I'm glad to hear that Chief (of Police) Hawker is a personal friend of yours. So you know someone who can post your bail."


#1 "You didn't think we give pretty women tickets? You're right, we don't. Sign here!
27766  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Wanted to teach Al Qaeda on: November 07, 2007, 03:18:21 PM
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Musician in Terror Case Gets 15 Years

November 7, 2007 - 3:15pm

By LARRY NEUMEISTER
Associated Press Writer


NEW YORK (AP) - A New York jazz musician who pledged to teach martial arts to al-Qaida members was sentenced to 15 years in prison Wednesday by a judge who said it didn't matter that no one from the terrorist group was actually involved in the case.

Tarik Shah, a martial arts expert, pleaded guilty in the spring to conspiracy to provide material support to al-Qaida. He was the third of four defendants to be sentenced for his role in a conspiracy to aid terrorist groups abroad.

Shah's lawyers had said he should get leniency because the plot originated when a government informant enlisted him to help al-Qaida, taking him away from an otherwise law-abiding life.

U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska, however, gave him the maximum sentence, noting that Shah was recorded embracing a chance to teach martial arts to al-Qaida operatives, and even boasting that he knew how to fashion prayer beads into a strangulation tool.

Before he was sentenced, Shah, 44, asked the judge for mercy.
"I guarantee you will never see me again, judge, unless it's on the television playing (music) with someone," said Shah, who plays bass.
Tapes played at the trial of a co-defendant, Dr. Rafiq Abdus Sabir, showed that Shah met with an undercover FBI agent he thought was an al-Qaida recruiter in May 2005.

During the meeting, he pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida and agreed to provide martial arts expertise to al-Qaida fighters, according to the tape.

Prosecutors also said Shah met multiple times from 2003 through May 2005 with a confidential source and an FBI undercover agent, expressing the desire to help al-Qaida by recruiting others.

Sabir, of Boca Raton, Fla., is to be sentenced next week. He was convicted in May of providing material support to terrorists by agreeing to treat injured al-Qaida fighters so they could return to Iraq to fight Americans.

Previously in the case, a Brooklyn bookstore owner who pleaded guilty to money laundering and lying to federal agents was sentenced to 13 years in prison, and a Washington, D.C., cab driver who pleaded guilty to conspiring to help a terrorist organization was sentenced to 15 years.

(Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
27767  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: November 07, 2007, 12:30:30 PM
A long and thoughtful piece from Col. Ralph Peters
http://armedforcesjournal.com/2007/10/3026423
27768  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Hearts & Minds myth on: November 07, 2007, 11:32:45 AM

The hearts-and-minds myth
Sorry, but winning means killing
By Ralph Peters
Mastering the languages, cultural nuances, beliefs and taboos that prevail in a theater of war, area of operations or tactical environment is vital to military success. It's much easier to kill people you understand.
Beyond that, cultural insights ease routine operations and negotiations, the training of local forces and the development of intelligence. Environmental mastery helps us avoid making unnecessary enemies. But that is where the advantages end in conflicts of blood and faith: No amount of cultural sensitivity inculcated in U.S. troops will persuade fanatic believers to discard their religion, nor can any amount of American empathy change a foreign thug's ethnic identity.

Frustrated with the difficulties facing us in Iraq after being denied both adequate troop strength and the authority to impose the rule of law in the initial days of our occupation, U.S. military commanders responded with a variety of improvisations, from skillful "kinetic ops" to patient dialogue. Nothing achieved enduring results — because we never had the resources or the fortitude to follow any effort through to the end, and our enemies had no incentive to quit, surrender or cooperate. We pacified cities with force but lacked the forces to keep them pacified. We rebuilt schools, but our enemies taught us how easy it was to kill teachers. Accepting that it was politically impossible on the home front, we never conducted the essential first step in fighting terrorists and insurgents: We failed to forge a long-term plan based on a long-term commitment. Instead, we sought to dissuade fanatics and undo ancient rivalries with stopgap measures, intermittent drizzles of money and rules of engagement tailored to suit the media, not military necessity.
 

It is astonishing that our efforts have gone as well as they have.
Yet no honest soldier or Marine would argue that we could not have done better — and should have done better. Setting aside, for now, the inept leadership from the Rumsfeld Pentagon and the fateful, if not fatal, lack of adequate troop strength, we're left with one crippling deficiency on the part of our leadership: The unwillingness to recognize the nature of the various conflicts underway simultaneously in Iraq.
With an obtuseness worthy of the left's caricatures of military officers, we drew the wrong lessons from the wrong historical examples, then did exactly the wrong things. Enmeshed in bitter conflicts over religion and ethnicity resurgent after decades of suppression, senior officers ignored myriad relevant historical examples and focused instead on the counterinsurgency campaigns with which they were comfortable — and that were as instructive as dismantling a toaster to learn how to fix a computer.

Reality's delete key
Officers looked to operations in Malaya, Vietnam, Northern Ireland and, occasionally, Algeria for positive and negative examples. Yet not one of those political struggles is relevant to the situation in Iraq (or Afghanistan). As for the pertinent examples of insurgencies rooted in religious or ethnic fanaticism, such as the Moro Insurrection, Bloody Kansas, the Sepoy Mutiny, the Mahdist Wars, the various European Anabaptist risings, the Thirty Years' War, the Armenian Genocide, Nagorno-Karabagh, the destruction of Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Kashmir, the Pueblo Revolt, the Ghost-Dance Rebellion, 1,300 years of uninterrupted warfare between the Islamic and Judeo-Christian civilizations, and several thousand other examples dating back to the savagery chronicled in the Old Testament; well, the lessons they suggest are, to say the least, politically incorrect. So we hit the delete key on reality.
Our civilian and uniformed leaders have engaged in comforting fantasies about the multilayered conflicts we're in, while speaking in numbing platitudes. Now we're back to "winning hearts and minds."
We can't do it. Not in the Islamic world. Arabs — Sunni or Shiite, in Iraq and elsewhere — are so battered psychologically that many need to blame the West, Israel, unbelievers, Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds and the ice-cream man for their failures. Any chance we had of winning the minds, if not the hearts, of the biddable minority in Iraq was thrown away when we failed to enforce the rule of law the moment Baghdad fell. Proclamations of American generosity fall short when you cannot walk your neighborhood streets without fear.

Even with the limited forces we had on hand three-and-a-half years ago, we could have done more. But the Bush administration and our military leaders had fallen into the politically correct trap that spares the murderer at the expense of his victims. We weren't ready to kill enough of the right people. As a result, our enemies have been able to spend more than three years killing the people we meant to liberate. Our reluctance to kill evil men proved murderous to innocent men, women and children, and our unwillingness to do what needed to be done leaves us at least partly responsible for the thousands of Iraqis killed and maimed by acts of terrorism — as well as for our own unnecessary losses.
The law of war is immutable: Those unwilling to pay the butcher's bill up front will pay it with compound interest in the end.
Mush, not rigor

The new counterinsurgency doctrine the Army and Marines are developing gets the language right initially, noting that no two insurgencies are identical and that each must be understood on its own terms. Then it veers into nonsense, typified by the insupportable claim that a defection is always better than a surrender, a surrender is always better than a capture and a capture is always better than a kill. That's intellectual mush. And it's just plain wrong.
It's Malaya again, with doughty Brits hacking through the jungle to pip-pip-wot-ho those wily communists. It's Kit Carson Scouts in Vietnam and faithful Montagnards. It's the PX at Tan Son Nhut air base (oops, almost wrote "Balad"). It's the nonveteran John Wayne starring in "The Green Berets" and proving beyond any doubt that all good Vietnamese instinctively loved Americans and dreamed of drinking Cokes in suburban freedom. It's Mel Gibson reprising Pickett's Charge in the Ia Drang valley — and winning this time!

The well-intentioned drafters of our counterinsurgency doctrine are mining what they've recently read without serious analysis. Do they really believe that a Sunni Arab insurgent in Kirkuk is going to see the light and declare that, from now on, he's a Kurd? Or that a Shiite militiaman in the Mahdi Army is going to wake up and decide, "Twelfth Imam, Shmim-mam! I'm going to become a Sunni and move to Ramadi!"? Does anyone outside the nuthouse political left really believe that friendly persuasion will disarm al-Qaida in Iraq? Isn't a crucial lesson of Guantanamo that irredeemable prisoners are a strategic liability?
Our doctrine writers are in danger of producing a tome on procreation that doesn't mention sex.
We are in the middle of a multilayered, multisided struggle for supremacy between intolerant religious factions and age-old ethnic rivals. And we pretend that it's just another political struggle amenable to a political solution — because it's more pleasant to think so, because we believe we know what to do in such circumstances, because facing reality would force us to drastically change the way we behave in combat, and because acknowledging the truth about the situation in Iraq would demand that we question every goofball cliché about the human preference for peace that we've bought into for the past half-century.
Yet, unless we accept the truth about the kind of wars we're in — and inevitably will face in the future — we're going to continue to make a botch of things.

Blood ties, bloody gods
The political insurgencies of the last century were easy problems compared to this century's renewed struggles of blood and belief. In political insurgencies, some of the actors can, indeed, be converted. A capture may be better than a kill. Compromise may be possible. Dialogue is sometimes a useful tool, although even political insurgencies are best resolved from a position of indisputable military strength. Men who believe, often hazily, in an ideology occasionally can be converted — or bought. The political beliefs of the masses are fickle. Defeats discourage those with mundane goals. And a political struggle within a population otherwise united by its history can end in reconciliation even after horrible bloodshed — as in the American Civil War, the Risorgimento, the gruesome Mexican revolutions of 1910-20 and the civil wars in Vietnam, Greece and many another gore-drenched, relatively homogeneous states.
Violence arising from differences of religious confession, race or ethnicity is profoundly different — and far more difficult to quell. Generally, such struggles are brought to an end only through a great deal of killing. One side — or all — must be bled out. Whether cast as divinely sanctioned liberation struggles or simply about one bloodline getting its own back from another, these conflicts over God's will and ancestral wrongs are never amenable to reason. Self-righteous journalists love to claim that the first casualty of war is truth, but that's a self-serving lie; the first casualty of any form of violence is reason, that weakest and most disappointing of learned human skills.
__________________
Our exclusive focus on recent political insurgencies misleads us, because wars over tribe and God are humankind's oldest legacy, while the conflicts we choose to study all fall within a brief historical interval that stands as an aberration — the twilight decades of the Age of Ideology, which ran from 1775 to 1991, a blink in historical terms. Now we have reverted to the human norm of killing one another over interpretations of the divine will and ancient blood ties. We don't have to like it — and we won't — but we must recognize the reality confronting us. We have returned to the historical mainstream. The tribes want tribute. The gods want blood. And the killers are ready to help.

The road to Srebrenica was paved with pious platitudes, the path to 9/11 with wishful thinking. Presidents and generals may declare endlessly that we're not engaged in a religious war or that ethnic factions can be reconciled, but the first claim is a lie and the second relies for its fulfillment on intrusive military power and a strength of will greater than that of the factions in question. We are, indeed, engaged in religious wars — because our enemies have determined that these are religious wars. Our own refusal to understand them as such is just one more debilitating asymmetry. As for ethnic reconciliation, call me when Kosovo's Muslims and Serb Christians reintegrate their communities, form joint neighborhood-watch committees and vote for each other's political candidates (and check the ingredients of the casserole that Ivo's wife brought to the potluck, nonetheless).

Blood and budget deficits
If we want achievements commensurate with the risks we undergo and the costs we pay in blood and budget deficits, we must overcome our revulsion at the truth. Saying nice things about war to please the media or to placate noisome academics is useless, anyway, because they'll always oppose what the U.S. government does — even when, as with a dictator's overthrow and a war of liberation, our government implements the left's long-standing agenda. We must stop belching out chipper slogans and fleeing to simplistic models for answers. We have to start thinking beyond our moral comfort zones. When generals lack intellectual integrity, privates die for nothing.
Above all, we must regain our perspective on what truly matters. We must get over our impossible dream of being loved as a nation, of winning hearts and minds in Iraq or elsewhere. If we can make ourselves liked through our successes, that's well and good. But the essential requirements for the security of the U.S. are that our nation is respected and our military is feared. Our lack of resolve and mental rigor has brought us close to sacrificing both of these advantages. And a nation that is not respected encourages foreign chicanery, while a military that is not feared invites attack.

The Marine Corps entered Iraq with a motto that captured the essence of what our efforts should have involved: "No better friend, no worse enemy." That restatement of the carrot-and-stick approach to military operations expressed in simple terms how to fight just about any kind of enemy — including insurgents and terrorists. The problem is that no American leader, in uniform or in a $3,000 suit, lived up to the maxim consistently. Instead, we applied it in fits and starts as we tried to make friends with our enemies. In the clinch, we defaulted to the carrot.
Consider how many potential turning points we missed: We failed to enforce the rule of law while all Iraq was terrified of us and anxious for clear orders. We failed to occupy the predictable trouble spots early on and in force. We failed to display sufficient imagination and courage to break up the artificial country we inherited from Saddam Hussein and a pack of Europeans at Versailles. With our typical dread of short-term costs, we passed up repeated and justified chances to kill Muqtada al-Sadr, inflating his image in the process — and paying a far higher price in the long term than we would have paid had we acted resolutely and promptly. We needed Henry V and got Hamlet. Our leaders fled from victory in the First Battle of Fallujah. Now an administration with a flagging will is determined to withdraw our troops prematurely — Mission Accomplished, Act II. And all the while our soldiers and Marines have paid the price — while re-enlisting to pay it again and again.
Our men and women in uniform deserve better. They're dying not only of roadside bombs but of phony morality imposed by those who face no risks themselves. Spare a terrorist, kill a soldier. Spare a terrorist leader, kill our soldiers by the hundreds.

We want to treat a country torn by rival visions of a punitive god and drenched in ethnic bloodshed as if it needs only a bit of political tinkering. We're not looking for exit strategies, just exit excuses.
The longer we wait to study and learn from the relevant conflicts of the past, the more American blood we'll squander. We have to be tough on ourselves, forcing each other to think beyond the deadly platitudes of the campus, the campaign trail and the press briefing. Begin by listing the number of religion-fueled uprisings throughout history that were quenched by reason and compromise — call me collect if you find a single one. Then list the ethnic civil wars that were solved by sensible treaties without significant bloodshed. Next, start asking the really ugly questions, such as: Hasn't ethnic cleansing led to more durable conditions of peace than any more humane approach to settling power relations between bloodlines? Monstrous as it appears, might not the current neighborhood-by-neighborhood ethnic and confessional cleansing in Iraq make that country more, rather than less, likely to survive as a confederation? Shouldn't we be glad when fanatics kill fanatics? Are all successes in the war on terrorism merely provisional? Is this a struggle that unquestionably must be fought by us but that began long before our country existed and will continue for centuries to come? Is there a historical precedent for coping with violent religious fanatics that does not include bloodshed to the point of extermination?

Even beyond these military and strategic issues, deeper questions about humanity — the individual and the mass — await serious minds. The one useful result of the coming generations of fanaticism will be to rid our own cultural bloodstream of the poison of political correctness, white lies that lead to black results. Why does humankind love war? And yes, the word is "love." Does religious competition have biological roots? Is the assertion of ethnic supremacy as natural as the changing of the seasons? Is genocide in our genes? We do not have to celebrate unpleasant answers, but, if humanity is ever to make the least progress in reducing mass violence, we need to face those answers honestly.
The American military knew how to deal with conflicts of blood and faith. But we do not study our own history when the lessons make us uneasy. During the Moro Insurrection, the U.S. Army lived up to the Marine Corps' motto for Operation Iraqi Freedom. For the peaceful inhabitants of the southern Philippines, our soldiers and administrators were benefactors. For the Moro warriors, they were the worst enemies those fanatics had ever faced. Of course, we didn't have CNN filming our Gatling guns at work, but, then, we may need to banish the media from future battlefields, anyway. Our brutal response to the brutality of Muslim fanatics kept the peace until the Japanese invasion four decades later. And no peace lasts forever — four decades qualifies as a big, big win.

The religious movement that fired the Boxer Rebellion could only be put down through massacre. The same need to rip the heart out of violent millenarian movements, enabling societies to regain their balance, applied from 1520s Germany and 1840s China through the 19th-century Yucatan and the Sudan, down to the Islamist counterrevolution today. Only massive killing brought peace. Only extensive killing will bring peace.
We need to grasp the basic truth that the path to winning the hearts and minds of the masses leads over the corpses of the violent minority. As for humanitarianism, the most humane thing we can do is to win our long struggle against fanaticism and terrorism. That means killing terrorists and fanatics.
__________________
27769  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: November 07, 2007, 10:17:39 AM
“Al Gore seems to have found a home at the peacock network. Both he and the network’s symbol like to strut a lot and frequently have their feathers ruffled. This week the peacock’s feathers are a solid green as NBC, among other activities, sends its ‘Today’ show stars, as the promo puts it, to ‘the ends of the earth’ to promote Gore’s agenda of saving the planet and repealing the Industrial Revolution... NBC began its Green Week with Sunday night’s Dallas Cowboys-Philadelphia Eagles football game. Bob Costas solemnly intoned: ‘As part of NBC Universal’s Green is Universal initiative, we have turned out the lights in the studio to kick off a week that will include more than 150 hours of programming designed to raise awareness about environmental issues.’ Actually, the studio lights were off for about a minute, during which time you could see the giant stadium screen over his right shoulder and glowing video monitors all over the set. At halftime, Costas tossed it to Matt Lauer standing before some sled dogs in the Arctic, bathed in bright lighting flown in for the occasion. The folks at Newsbusters.org have calculated that flying Lauer and two crew to the Arctic Circle in Greenland—from New York to Thule AFB, a 2,487-mile distance—produced six tons of carbon emissions. That’s one ton each way per person. They used the carbon calculator found on Gore’s ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ Web site. [Al] Roker’s journey from New York to Quito, Ecuador... produced another six tons of carbon emissions. Ann Curry’s trip to Antarctica—11,686 miles in all—produced a total of 12.9 tons of carbon. That’s a grand total of 24.9 tons of CO2 produced for a momentary photo-op while most people were up getting a beer or making a pit stop. According to Gore’s Web site, the average person produces 7.5 tons of CO2 in a year.” —Investor’s Business Daily
27770  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: November 07, 2007, 10:17:05 AM

“For today’s Democrats, resistance to unilateral presidential war-making reflects not principled constitutionalism but petulance about the current president. Democrats were supine when President Bill Clinton launched a sustained air war against Serbia without congressional authorization. Instead, he cited NATO’s authorization   as though that were an adequate substitute for the collective judgment that the Constitution mandates.” —George Will

27771  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: November 07, 2007, 10:15:09 AM
“Despite her muddled comments [last] week, there’s no doubt where Mrs. Clinton stands on ballot integrity. She opposes photo ID laws, even though they enjoy over 80% support in the polls. She has also introduced a bill to force every state to offer no-excuse absentee voting as well as Election Day registration—easy avenues for election chicanery. The bill requires that every state restore voting rights to all criminals who have completed their prison terms, parole or probation.” —John Fund

“Senator Clinton is determined not to tell us where she stands on anything. Instead, she has come to believe, probably correctly, that if we knew what she really wants to do as president, we would never vote for her.” —Dick Morris

It’s all about Hillary: “I had a dream that before I died I would see a woman as President of the United States. I think you are the woman and I think this is the time.” —ABC’s Carole Simpson to Hillary Clinton  “When [Hillary] Clinton was asked why she wouldn’t release her White House records from the time she was First Lady, her answer was, ‘Well, that’s not my decision to make.’ Baloney, whose decision is it, the Easter Bunny’s? Come on.” —CNN’s Jack Cafferty  “The notion that there’s stuff that’s being restricted potentially opens the door to asking questions about, well, the travel office where the independent counsel said she had been factually false. How did her brothers get pardons for two felons after being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars? How did she raise $100,000 trading cattle futures? This stuff hasn’t come up in the campaign, but you could almost hear the opponents beginning to chomp at the bit, waiting to ask, ‘What is she hiding?”’ —CBS political correspondent Jeff Greenfield  “[Hillary Clinton] is in a bit of a conundrum, is she not, because she doesn’t want to stake out positions that may haunt her later on if, in fact, she gets the nomination, you know? And at the same time, she risks coming across as if she has no core values or beliefs.” —CBS’s Katie Couric **That’s because she has no core values or beliefs.
27772  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Stock Market on: November 07, 2007, 09:12:39 AM
Silver company PAAS is now a four bagger for me  grin

David Gordon thinks the market is headed for a rougher patch shocked
27773  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: November 07, 2007, 08:29:47 AM
For years health authorities have warned of the growing threat posed by drug-resistant bacteria, but most of us have been half-listening. Not anymore.
A virulent strain of bacteria that resists many antibiotics appears to be killing more people annually than AIDS, emphysema or homicide, taking an estimated 19,000 lives in 2005, according to a study published last week in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The recent death of a 17-year-old high school football player in Virginia is a tragic reminder that methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, can prey on otherwise healthy people.
The best defense against the potentially deadly infection is common sense and cleanliness. “We need to reinvent hygiene for the 21st century,’’ said Dr. Charles Gerba, professor of environmental microbiology at the University of Arizona at Tucson. “You go to a grocery store, and hundreds of thousands of people have touched those surfaces every day. Microorganisms are evolving very rapidly.’’
Here are answers to common questions about community-acquired staph infections, or CA-MRSA.
What does CA-MRSA look like?
CA-MRSA is primarily a skin infection. It often resembles a pimple, boil or spider bite, but it quickly worsens into an abscess or pus-filled blister or sore. Patients who have sores that won’t heal or are filled with pus should see a doctor and ask to be tested for staph infection. They should not squeeze the sore or try to drain it — that can spread the infection to other parts of the skin or deeper into the body.
Who is at risk?
The vast majority of MRSA cases happen in hospital settings, but 10 percent to 15 percent occur in the community at large among otherwise healthy people. Infections often occur among people who are prone to cuts and scrapes, such as children and athletes. MRSA typically spreads by skin-to-skin contact, crowded conditions and the sharing of contaminated personal items. Others who should be watchful: people who have regular contact with health care workers, those who have recently taken such antibiotics as fluoroquinolones or cephalosporin, homosexual men, military recruits and prisoners. Clusters of infections have appeared in certain ethnic groups, including Pacific Islanders, Alaskan Natives and Native Americans.
What can I do to lower my risk of contracting MRSA?
Bathing regularly and washing hands before meals is just a start. Wash your hands often or use an antibacterial sanitizer after you’ve been in public places or have touched handrails and other highly trafficked surfaces. Make sure cuts and scrapes are bandaged until they heal. Wash towels and sheets regularly, preferably in hot water, and leave clothes in the dryer until they are completely dry. “Staph is a pretty hardy organism,’’ said Dr. Gerba.
Remind kids and teenagers that personal items shouldn’t be shared with their friends, he added. This includes brushes, combs, razors, towels, makeup and cell phones. A teenager in Dr. Gerba’s own family once contracted MRSA, he said, and he eventually traced the bacteria to her cell phone. She had shared it with a friend whose mother worked in a nursing home. Dr. Gerba went on to discover MRSA on the friend’s cell phone and makeup compact and on a countertop in her home.

Where does MRSA lurk?
Staph bacteria may be found on the skin and in the noses of nearly 30 percent of the population without causing harm. Experts believe it survives on surfaces in 2 percent to 3 percent of homes, cars and public places.
But the bacteria are evolving, and the statistics may already underestimate the prevalence of MRSA. Be especially vigilant in health clubs and gyms — staph grows rapidly in warm, moist environments. The risks of infection and necessary precautions should be explained to student athletes, particularly those in contact sports who often suffer cuts and spend time in locker rooms. When working out at the gym, make sure you wipe down equipment before you use it. Many people clean just the sweaty benches, but Dr. Gerba notes that MRSA also has been found on the grips of workout machines. And if you have a scrape or sore, keep it clean and bandaged until it heals. Minor cuts and scrapes are the way MRSA takes hold.
What is the single best thing I can do to protect myself from MRSA?
Without question, people need to show far more respect for antibiotics. Misuse of antibiotics allows bacteria to evolve and develop resistance to drugs. But parents often pressure pediatricians to prescribe antibiotics even when they don’t help the vast majority of childhood infections. When you do take an antibiotic, finish the dose. Antibiotic resistance is bad for everyone, but your body can also become particularly vulnerable to resistant bacteria if you are careless with the drugs.
How do I find out more?
One of the most useful Web sites is a MRSA primer from Mayoclinic.com. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a useful Q&A about MRSA in schools. A patient website called MRSA Resources lists a few stories of patients affected by MSRA. Recent Stanford University grad Nick Yee chronicles his struggle with MRSA on his Web site, which includes graphic videos of his wound and treatment. (I couldn’t get through them.) And if you have the stomach for it, a number of people have — inexplicably — posted videos of their MRSA wounds on YouTube.


NY Times
27774  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Peru on: November 07, 2007, 08:20:02 AM
Pass the Peruvian F.T.A.
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Published: November 7, 2007
Congressional Democrats took their time, but more than a year after it was originally signed, the free trade agreement between the United States and Peru is finally due for a vote in the House of Representatives today.

Democrats should vote for it. While the agreement is expected to pass on the strength of a majority of Republican votes, it would be a pity if Democratic leaders were not able to muster a substantial number of votes in favor of a deal they played such a large role in making — one that is likely to boost American jobs and help relations with an ally in a challenging region of the world.

The Peruvian agreement has had a tortuous journey, entangled in the growing Democratic hostility toward trade. Peru had to amend the original deal to add commitments on labor rights and the environment. Charles Rangel, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, had to work hard to bring some of his colleagues on board.

Despite these efforts, some estimates put Democratic support at less than 100 votes.

Democrats are right to worry about the stagnation of workers’ wages and to be concerned about those who lose their jobs because of increased competition from cheaper labor overseas. But these problems should be addressed through better education and training, a more robust social safety network and more progressive taxation to mitigate the impact of stagnating wages. Throttling trade would hurt more people than it would help.

The Peruvian deal would help expand trade between Peru and the United States, which today stands at about $9 billion. It would give American businesses greater access to Peru’s markets in everything from grains to tractors and other machinery.

Perhaps more important, the agreement would strengthen an essential ally in the combat against illegal narcotics in the Andes and tighten relations with one of the United States’ few remaining friends in South America — where Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez is gaining allies by spreading oil wealth around. In an open letter, all eight living former secretaries of state urged Congress to approve the Peru deal.

There are other trade agreements waiting in the wings with South Korea and Panama, and Congress should approve them. The pending deal with Colombia should also pass once the government of Álvaro Uribe demonstrates progress in bringing to justice the paramilitary leaders guilty of human rights violations and their backers in the Colombian government.

A group of Democratic leaders from the Clinton administration and Congress recently sent a letter to Congressional Democrats pointing out that rejecting the trade agreements signed in Latin America “would set back regional U.S. interests for a generation.”

Their argument also works on a bigger map. It would be a folly for the United States to turn its back on trade. Democrats, who have taken control of Congress and might soon take the White House, should not lose sight of that fact.

NY Times
27775  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: November 07, 2007, 08:17:17 AM
Joel Hafvenstein returned to Afghanistan in late 2004 armed with nothing but good intentions. Employed by Chemonics, a private company with a contract from the United States Agency for International Development, he was part of a team trying to discourage cultivation of the opium poppy by providing an alternative income for poor farmers.

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OPIUM SEASON

A Year on the Afghan Frontier

By Joel Hafvenstein

The Lyons Press. 337 pages. $24.95.

Within months the mission was in disarray, its American workers huddled in a fortified bunker after eight of its Afghan employees had been murdered. The next year’s poppy harvest would be the largest on record.

The sobering dispatches in “Opium Season,” a wrenching account of lofty hopes and bitter disappointments, shed a dismal light on American efforts to improve the lot of ordinary Afghans. All over the country development projects are under way aimed at winning over the Afghan people, depriving the Taliban of popular support and propping up Hamid Karzai’s government. The obstacles are as steep as the surrounding mountains, as Mr. Hafvenstein discovered and ruefully recounts in this bitter but affectionate book about his three stints in Afghanistan from October 2003 to May 2005.

In Helmand Province, where Mr. Hafvenstein had his final tour of duty, the immediate plan was simple: hire local people for big public-works projects and put money in their pockets before the government started cutting down profitable poppy fields. This stopgap effort would be the prelude to large-scale infrastructure projects that would lift the local economy permanently. Easier said than done.

Getting a multimillion-dollar project up and running plunged Mr. Hafvenstein and his co-workers into a social, political and economic morass that eventually sucked them under. In a country with scant resources, every dollar shifted the local balance of power in unforeseen ways.

The influx of international development companies distorted the Afghan economy, driving up the cost of housing and drawing educated Afghans away from vital but poorly paid jobs in, for example, education. Local power brokers, whether government officials or tribal leaders, eyed the Americans askance, worried that their own influence might be diminished. Big landowners schemed to steer benefits in their direction.

Mr. Hafvenstein arrived eager but unprepared in a region known to the ancient Persians as “the land of the unruly.” Racing to set up a project office, he interviewed a long line of Afghans with spotty qualifications and modest expectations. One stated on his application that he looked forward to working in “a mullet-cultural environment.” Another, hesitant to accept a job that required him to travel with payroll money, said, “I would like a job where I will not be killed.”

The security situation was indeed tenuous. Early on Mr. Hafvenstein got a cold dose of reality when the company’s security officer rattled off a list of must-buy items for the offices. These included blast film for the windows, razor wires for the walls and a windowless safe room lined with sandbags “if things get ugly.” Nevertheless, before safes arrived, Mr. Hafvenstein carried around bricks of American, Afghan and Pakistani currency in the inside pockets of his waistcoat.

The cash-for-work program showed progress. Chemonics hired thousands of laborers to do roadwork or dig out the silt from canals in a huge irrigation system built in the 1940s by Morrison-Knudsen, the engineering company that built the Hoover Dam and the San Francisco Bay Bridge. Spurred on by an energetic, idealistic Afghan-American in the office, the company made every effort to extend its reach to remote valleys badly in need of development aid.

But the hard realities of the poppy economy quickly reasserted themselves. The local government would plow under the poppy fields belonging to poor farmers just enough to mollify the central government, while powerful landlords paid the police to pass them by. After a particularly heavy rain in Lashkargah, the provincial capital, Mr. Hafvenstein noticed a thriving poppy field directly across the street from the American military outpost, its existence revealed by a collapsed section of earthen wall.

Everyone in Helmand, directly or indirectly, depended on poppy income, including top officials. In June 2005 police raided the mansion of Helmand’s governor, Sher Muhammad Akhundzada, and found nine metric tons of opium. Mr. Akhundzada, who enjoys close family ties to Mr. Karzai, explained that he had seized the opium from traffickers and was merely waiting for the appropriate moment to dispose of it.

Mr. Hafvenstein and his team disturbed the status quo, although they were never clear precisely when or how. When several workers were victimized by a carjacking, informants blamed common thieves, but the act might have been retaliation for giving too many jobs to members of the wrong clan. Later, in the same area, two Afghan workers were ambushed and killed. A party that set out the following day to transport the dead bodies to a cemetery in Kabul was also ambushed and its members executed. One man, an ethnic Hazara (member of the Shiite minority) was shot through the eyes.

Local leaders blamed the Taliban. But the killings might have been ordered by poppy growers angry that the American project was depriving them of badly needed labor for the harvest. The police showed little enthusiasm for investigating the matter.

That was it for Mr. Hafvenstein and his American colleagues. They headed home, sadder and wiser. “We had come to Helmand thinking of opium as the local currency, and had tried to replace it with cash,” Mr. Hafvenstein writes. “But security was the real currency of Afghanistan. The traumatized population of Helmand would trade anything for it, follow anyone who could offer it.”

In a country where violence trumps money every time, the United States, Mr. Hafvenstein suggests, will have to work out a different equation.
27776  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NY Times on Gay Muslims on: November 07, 2007, 08:12:14 AM
By NEIL MACFARQUHAR
Published: November 7, 2007
SAN FRANCISCO — About 15 people marched alongside the Muslim float in this city’s notoriously fleshy Gay Pride Parade earlier this year, with various men carrying the flags of Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine and Turkey and even Iran’s old imperial banner.

While other floats featured men dancing in leather Speedos or women with scant duct tape over their nipples, many Muslims were disguised behind big sunglasses, fezzes or kaffiyehs wrapped around their heads.

Even as they reveled in newfound freedom compared with the Muslim world, they remained closeted, worried about being ostracized at the mosque or at their local falafel stand.

“They’re afraid of the rest of the community here,” said Ayman, a stocky 31-year-old from Jordan, who won asylum in the United States last year on the basis of his sexuality. “It’s such a big wrong in the Koran that it is impossible to be accepted.”

For gay Muslims, change may come via a nascent body of scholarship in minority Muslim communities where the reassessment of sacred texts used to damn homosexuality is gaining momentum.

In traditional seats of Islamic learning, like Egypt and Iran, punishment against blatant homosexual activity, not to mention against trying to establish a gay rights movement, can be severe. These governments are prone to label homosexuality a Western phenomenon, as happened in September when Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, spoke at Columbia University. But far more leeway to dissect the topic exists in places where gay rights are more protected.

As a rule, gay Muslim activists lacked the scholarly grounding needed to scrutinize time-honored teachings. But that is changing, activists say, partly because no rigid clerical hierarchy exists in the West to bar such research.

Nonetheless, gaining acceptance remains such a hurdle that Muslims in the United States hesitate. Imam Daayiee Abdullah, 53, a black convert to Islam, was expelled from a Saudi-financed seminary in Virginia after the school found out he is gay. His effort to organize a gay masjid, or mosque, in Washington failed largely out of fear, he said.

“You have these individuals who say that they would blow up a masjid if it was a gay masjid,” he said. Mr. Abdullah and other scholars argue that there is no uncontested record of the Prophet Muhammad addressing homosexuality and that examples of punishment would surely exist had he been hostile.

Mirroring the feminist school of Islam, gay advocates pursue a holistic interpretation that emphasizes accepting everyone as equally God’s creation.

Most Koranic verses treating same-sex relations are ambiguous, said Omid Safi, an Islamic studies professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “They are talking about an ‘abomination,’” Professor Safi said, “but what an abomination is remains open to interpretation.”

Since the primary Koranic verses used to condemn homosexuality also suggest male rape, the progressive reading is that the verses revile using sex as domination, said Scott Kugle, an American convert and university professor who specializes in the topic. The arguments are not entirely modern; some are drawn from a medieval scholar in Andalusia, once a seat of enlightened Muslim governance, he said.

The classical attitude toward lesbians is even murkier, Mr. Kugle added, because sex was defined as penetration.

Hostility is rooted in the Koranic story of Lot, which parallels the biblical Sodom and Gomorrah. At Al-Tawhid Mosque in San Francisco, the imam, Hassan al-Jalal, a Yemeni with a short beard, printed a sheaf of Koranic verses that he said condemned homosexuals.

“This is the main sin in Islam,” Mr. Jalal said, describing how the town housing Lot’s tribe was lifted high into the sky and then dropped, killing all in the town before they were buried under what is now the Dead Sea. “He sent the flood to clean the earth from AIDS. There were no doctors at that time, but God knew they had a virus.”

All sects mandate capital punishment, he argued, although others differ. “Sunni, Shiite, they all agree that they have to be killed. But who does it? Not me or you, only by law.”

Muslim clerics reject being gay as biologically coded and advise anyone with homosexual stirrings to avoid temptation. They see America as rife with it given practices like open gym showers.

The hostility pushes some gay Muslims to interpret for themselves or to withdraw from the faith. For Rafique, a 56-year-old Southeast Asian Muslim in San Francisco, resolution came through a combination of medieval mystic poetry and individual spiritual efforts endorsed by Sufi Muslim traditions.

Renowned poets wrote odes glorifying handsome boys. Some were interpreted as metaphors about loving God, but some were paeans to gay sex. Rafique and others argue that homosexuality became criminalized only under European colonialism.
=======

“From the 10th to the 14th century, Muslim society used to be a far richer mix of the legal, the rational and the mystic,” said Rafique, an anthropologist. “They looked at sexuality as one aspect of life’s many possibilities, and they saw in it the hope for spiritual insight. I came across this stuff, and it helped me reconcile the two.”

Some mosques with a Sufi orientation extend a rare welcome to gay Muslims.

Ayman, the parade organizer, said his previous life in Jordan was marked by fear. Arrested at 17 after a sexual encounter in a public building, he said the police wrote “manyak,” a homosexual slur, into his file. He denied being gay, but the word resurfaced whenever the police stopped him. He worried that one day it would happen around a relative.

He is convinced that a 22-year-old gay friend who died after a fall from an apartment building was the victim of an “honor” killing meant to clean the family’s reputation. “I still feel like I’m a Muslim; I don’t accept that anyone insults the faith,” said Ayman, who avoids attending mosque. “When I read what it says in the Koran, then I fear Judgment Day.”

A 26-year-old from Saudi Arabia who took the first name Liam after rejecting his faith said that as a teenager he fought his homosexuality by becoming a religious zealot. He eventually accepted his sexuality while at college in Colorado, but moved to the Bay Area because gay life in the kingdom was too depressing.

But a 39-year-old burly, bearded computer consultant who left Saudi Arabia to live in the United States said the cosmopolitan city of Jidda had a thriving gay underground. In other Arab states, he said, it is rare to find men who are both religious and gay, but the high numbers in Jidda made them relax somewhat. “They don’t care about sex and alcohol, but they do avoid pork,” he said.

The consultant, trying to reconcile being gay and Muslim, divides his sins into the redeemable and those warranting hellfire. “Anal sex for either a man or woman is wrong, so when I really think about it, I tell myself not to have sex,” he said, describing a failed four-year experiment with celibacy. “I live with what I am doing, but I don’t want to live in a double standard, I don’t want to go through life unhappy.”
27777  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers: on: November 07, 2007, 08:03:51 AM
The Patriot Post
Founders' Quote Daily

"He [King George] has waged cruel war against human nature itself,
violating its most sacred right of life and liberty in the persons
of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying
them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable
death in their transportation thither."

-- Thomas Jefferson (deleted portion of a draft of the Declaration
of Independence, June 1776)

Reference: Jefferson: Writings, Peterson ed., Library of America
(22)
27778  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal issues on: November 07, 2007, 08:02:16 AM
Lobbyists or Spies?
By GABRIEL SCHOENFELD
November 6, 2007; Page A19

Government insiders who engage in unauthorized leaks of classified information are violating their oaths, breaking the law, damaging national security and deserving of punishment. Sometimes those outside government who receive secrets and pass them to others are also breaking the law and deserve punishment. The latter category includes enemy spies. But what about American lobbyists -- and journalists -- who receive secrets and pass them along?

In an important trial set to begin in January, the Justice Department has irresponsibly confused the distinction between spying and lobbying. Keith Weissman and Steven J. Rosen, two former employees of AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobbying organization, are charged with unlawfully receiving and transmitting classified national-defense information. The stakes are high. The Pentagon official, Lawrence Franklin, who illicitly furnished the two men with secrets, and then participated in an FBI sting operation against them, has pleaded guilty for his part in the affair and was sentenced by federal judge T.S. Ellis III to more than 12 years in federal prison.

This past Friday, the same judge decided a pivotal preliminary issue in the Weissman-Rosen case. The defense has subpoenaed 20 present and former administration officials to appear as witnesses for its side, including Elliott Abrams, Richard Armitage, Douglas Feith, Dennis Ross, Paul Wolfowitz, Stephen Hadley and Condoleezza Rice. The idea is to use their testimony to demonstrate that their clients had every reason to believe that what Mr. Franklin told them in conversation -- no classified documents ever changed hands in this case -- was part and parcel of the normal back-channel method by which the U.S. government sometimes conveys information to the media and/or to allied countries, in this case, to Israel.

Prosecutors have resisted this contention and moved to quash the subpoenas to almost all of the officials. On Friday, Judge Ellis ruled against the prosecutors. The defendants, he wrote in his opinion, "claim that AIPAC played an important role in U.S. foreign-policy development." If true, he continued, the "government's use of AIPAC for 'back channel' purposes may serve to exculpate defendants by negating the criminal states of mind the government must prove to convict defendants of the charged offenses."

Judge Ellis has cut to a core issue, pertinent to the broader issue of secrecy. Back in February 2006, the New York Times published classified information that compromised the NSA's terrorist-surveillance program aimed at intercepting the communications of al-Qaeda suspects around the world. While the Justice Department did not prosecute the paper, it was clear that the Times had run afoul of Section 798 of Title 18, which protects the ultra-sensitive category of communications intelligence. Under it, intent is irrelevant; the willful disclosure of classified information is itself the crime. Even observers sympathetic to the Times acknowledge that it broke black-letter law.

The Times repeated its reckless behavior in the spring of 2006, when it compromised another highly sensitive counterterrorism program aimed at tracking the movement of al-Qaeda funds. Here the Times' disclosure, while damaging and deplorable, was probably not a crime. Because communications intelligence was not involved, the only other applicable statute was the Espionage Act of 1917, the same law under which the two AIPAC men have been charged. That antiquated law, unlike Section 798, contains stringent criminal-intent requirements. However much one might disapprove of what the Times did, it would be nearly impossible to demonstrate that its editors and reporters acted with a criminal state of mind.

In the AIPAC case, an equal or even higher barrier to successful prosecution exists. In order to convict, Judge Ellis has ruled, the prosecutors must prove the defendants had a long laundry list of "mental states," indicative of culpability. They not only had to be acting in bad faith, but had to know that the information they received was classified and closely held.

The high-profile witnesses whom the defense can now bring into the courtroom will make it a tall order to demonstrate any of this. They are almost certain to attest that, at one or another juncture in the course of their careers, they were authorized, as a means of promoting the national interest, to disclose classified information to individuals outside of government, including, on some occasions, to officials at AIPAC itself.

When Lawrence Franklin passed on classified information to the two defendants, he lacked such authorization, which is why he is a felon. But given how routinely classified information is dispensed for legitimate purposes, how were Mr. Weissman and Mr. Rosen to know that Mr. Franklin was telling them things he was not allowed to tell them and involving them in his crime? The answer is: They could not know.

Under the circumstances, this is a case that should never have been brought. No fair-minded jury could conclude that Mr. Weissman and Mr. Rosen acted with criminal intent. Jurors will see only two lobbyists going about their jobs, interacting with government officials in an ordinary fashion as other lobbyists do all the time. Yes, protecting classified information is crucial to our national defense. But the law is narrowly and properly tailored to protect innocent people from becoming ensnared by it.

Mr. Schoenfeld, senior editor of Commentary, blogs for connectingthedots.us.com.

WSJ
27779  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Books on: November 07, 2007, 07:36:56 AM
Blunt Diplomacy
John Bolton's new memoir shows that he's no neocon.

BY BRENDAN SIMMS
Tuesday, November 6, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST
The British conservative Enoch Powell once famously said that all political careers end in failure. John Bolton's career, as we read in the opening pages of "Surrender Is Not an Option," began with the defeat of Barry Goldwater's 1964 presidential campaign, on which he had served as a teenage volunteer. It is a disarming start to the memoir of a man usually caricatured as a bombastic tub-thumper. In any case, history records that John Bolton bounced back from this disappointment, rose through the Republican ranks in the 1980s and, after loyal service interpreting Floridian chads during the 2000 election count, found himself propelled into high office. He tells the rest of the story with a focus, brutality and exasperation that will give pain and pleasure in all the right places.

Among Mr. Bolton's pungent chapter titles ("Sisyphus in the Twilight Zone," "Why Do I Want This Job?"), my favorite may be "Following the Yellow Cake Road on North Korea." Certainly "The Wizard of Oz" would have served as good preparation for Mr. Bolton's two Bush-era portfolios: undersecretary of state for arms control (2001-05) and U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations (2005-06). Mr. Bolton often finds himself in a fantasy-fueled Munchkinland in which all the problems of the Middle East are blamed on Israel and the Iranian quest for a nuclear bomb is either denied or ignored--or justified as a legitimate response to U.S. and Zionist hegemony.

The U.N. in particular, Mr. Bolton makes clear, was a place for Third World ax-grinding and waywardness. To be asked by a Congolese staffer during difficult Iran-related negotiations "Why do we care about nuclear weapons?" was par for the course, and to find many U.N. member states determined to revive the spirit of the long-repealed "Zionism is racism" resolution was almost routine. In that sense, Mr. Bolton's experience matched that of U.S. ambassadors to the U.N. going back to Jeane Kirkpatrick, Daniel Patrick Moynihan and perhaps beyond.
Much more worrying is Mr. Bolton's account of European policy on Tehran's nuclear program. The policy started as a well-meant attempt to avoid military confrontation by persuading the Iranians to abandon their plans peacefully. At almost every stage along the way, however, the French, British and German negotiators were hoodwinked by the Iranians, who later gloated over the deceptions they had been allowed to get away with. Far from holding all this against Iran, the Europeans--or "Euroids," as Mr. Bolton calls them--tended to vent their frustration on Mr. Bolton and America's supposed intransigence.

Thus the British representative to the Security Council is quoted as being "so tired of having to go out in front of those damned cameras and explain why we gave up on this or conceded on that." Far and away the most feeble performance is put in by the envoy from Berlin, who reflexively gives the Iranians the benefit of the doubt, crediting their claims of peaceful intentions. The Germans of all people should care about nuclear weapons in the hands of a maniac such as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has called for the destruction of Israel. Their diplomats at the U.N. should not be making excuses for an Iranian nuclear program that is plainly intended for military purposes.

Mr. Bolton, it should be said, does not proceed merely by assertion: He supplies dates, names names, cites documents, recounts conversations and gives a blow-by-blow record of his diplomatic dealings. His memoir is entirely without coyness and spares no one, not even George W. Bush himself, whom he accuses of dropping the ball on Iran in recent times.

Mr. Bolton is merciless with the senior and middling State Department officials who he felt tried to sabotage the campaign against Tehran. His criticism will no doubt send them back to their diaries to pen a rebuttal. For the moment, however, "Surrender Is Not an Option" serves as a first draft of history. Even for those who disagree with him, Mr. Bolton's account will be the first port of call for those seeking to understand U.S. policy on nuclear proliferation during President Bush's two administrations.

It will also lay to rest a tenacious misunderstanding about the author. Mr. Bolton has long been described, even by otherwise well-informed commentators, as a "neoconservative." In fact, his political roots in small-government Goldwater Republicanism could not be further removed from the big-government origins of the formerly Democratic neoconservatives. Moreover, Mr. Bolton is innocent--too much so, in my view--of any ambition to put the export of democracy at the center of U.S. foreign policy.

In fact, Mr. Bolton is, in many ways, a member of the same "realist" family as Colin Powell, Richard Armitage and Condoleezza Rice. But unlike them, he sees nothing realistic about appeasing Iran's nuclear ambitions. Mr. Bolton provides a depressing account of how, within the Bush administration itself, initial firmness gave way--in Mr. Powell's case to a concern for his "legacy" and in Ms. Rice's to a penchant for "carrots" over "sticks" in her dealings with Iran. He was so outraged over one of her capitulations that he pointedly ordered carrot soup at his next dinner with her.

In the end, history will record all this as a question of judgment. If Iran is peacefully persuaded to stop short of the final turn of the screwdriver--or even if Tehran uses a nuclear device it develops "responsibly"--then Ms. Rice, Mr. Powell and "the Euroids" will be vindicated. But if--as seems more likely--the Iranians develop a deliverable nuclear device and put it in the hands of the zealots currently running the country, then we shall rue the day that John Bolton stepped down. After all, to adapt Goldwater, restraint in the pursuit of durable solutions is no virtue, and robustness in pursuit of American interests is no vice.
Mr. Simms is the author, most recently, of "Three Victories and a Defeat: The Rise and Fall of the First British Empire, 1714-1789" (Penguin/Allen Lane). You can buy "Surrender Is Not an Option" from the OpinionJournal bookstore.
27780  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: November 18, 2007 Dog Bros Gathering of the Pack on: November 06, 2007, 10:44:25 PM
C-Irish Dog sends his regrets from Japan.
27781  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: November 06, 2007, 05:59:25 PM
Out With the Trans Fats,
In With a Whole Lot of Others
By JULIE JARGON
November 6, 2007; Page D1

Food companies are scrambling to replace trans fat in everything from french fries to cookies, but health experts worry that what's good for the nation's heart might be bad for its waistline.

 
Read more about different kinds of fats
Trans fat is created when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil. The resulting ingredient, known as partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, is what makes french fries crispy and croissants flaky. But trans fat's effect on cholesterol -- it raises the bad kind and lowers the good -- has made it a food-industry villain.

Ever since the Food and Drug Administration required food companies to disclose the amount of trans fat in their products last year, the industry has been searching for replacement ingredients. Kraft Foods Inc., the world's second-largest food manufacturer by revenue, has removed trans fat from numerous products, including Oreo cookies, Wheat Thins crackers and Jell-O pudding snacks. PepsiCo's Frito-Lay has eliminated trans fat from all of its chips.

So what's going in food instead of trans fat? Some food makers are going back to ingredients high in cholesterol-raising saturated fat, such as palm oil, palm kernel oil and coconut oil. In Kellogg's Eggo blueberry waffles, for example, trans fats have been replaced with palm oil and palm kernel oil, while Oreos now contain "palm oil and/or canola oil."

Kraft says that while the saturated fat content of Oreos is higher, the overall fat content is the same, at 7 grams per serving. "The effort wasn't just about removing trans fat, but about keeping the nutrition profile the same," says spokeswoman Laurie Guzzinati.

MORE


• A Look at Trans-Fat ReplacementsThuy-An Wilkins, a spokeswoman for Kellogg, says the company has removed the trans fat in most of its products without increasing the amount of saturated fat, but it's still "a work in progress."

Other products are achieving trans-fat-free status through interesterification, a process in which fatty acids are redistributed on a fat molecule to make liquid fats behave more like solid fats. Products made with interesterified fat include Promise Buttery Spread and Enova cooking oil. Unilever, the maker of Promise, conducted its own study 10 years ago that found no adverse effects from food made with interesterified fat, says Doug Balentine, Unilever's director of nutrition sciences for the Americas.

But other nutrition experts say not enough is known about the safety of interesterified fat. There was little interest in researching the ingredient until the recent push for trans-fat alternatives. David Baer, a research physiologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, says his own research has studied only blended fats, and offers no insights on interesterified fats specifically. "We're interested in trying to figure out the health effects," he says. "The nutrition community is puzzled by what might be the most healthful alternative to trans fat."

K.C. Hayes, director of the Foster Biomedical Research Lab at Brandeis University, says that while the ingredient is in relatively few products now, its use may grow before the health-care community fully understands its impact. Dr. Hayes, who conducted a small study funded by the palm-oil industry that did find negative health effects from interesterified fats, says, "The point is, we should know more before we go off trans fat and onto something else."

The American Heart Association recommends replacing trans fat with monounsaturated fats, which are found in olive, canola, peanut and sunflower oils, or with the polyunsaturated fats found in soybean, corn and safflower oils. For instance, a lot of the chicken sold at KFC is now fried in a type of soybean oil, and McDonald's in the U.S. is switching to a proprietary blend of canola, soybean and corn oils for its french fries.

The biggest danger of the trans-fat swap-out could be that consumers will eat more junk food because they think it's healthier. For one thing, zero doesn't necessarily mean zero. Products can still have up to half a gram of trans fat and carry a "zero trans fat per serving" label. So if someone eats more than a serving of cookies, they could still be consuming a few grams of trans fat.

• Email: healthjournal@wsj.com
 
27782  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: November 06, 2007, 05:57:37 PM
Pakistan and its Army
By George Friedman

Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency over the weekend, precipitating a wave of arrests, the suspension of certain media operations and the intermittent disruption of communications in and out of Pakistan. As expected, protests erupted throughout Pakistan by Nov. 5, with clashes between protesting lawyers and police reported in Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad and several other cities. Thus far, however, the army appears to be responding to Musharraf's commands.

The primary issue, as Musharraf framed it, was the Pakistani Supreme Court's decision to release about 60 people the state had charged with terrorism. Musharraf's argument was that the court's action makes the fight against Islamist extremism impossible and that the judiciary overstepped its bounds by urging that the civil rights of the accused be protected.

Musharraf's critics, including the opposition's top leader, former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, argued that Musharraf was using the Supreme Court issue to protect his own position in the government, avoid leaving the army as promised and put off elections. In short, he is being accused of staging a personal coup under the guise of a state of emergency.

Whether Musharraf himself survives is not a historically significant issue. What is significant is whether Pakistan will fall into internal chaos or civil war, or fragment into smaller states. We must consider what that would mean, but first we must examine Pakistan's underlying dilemma -- a set of contradictions rooted in Pakistani history.

When the British conquered the Indian subcontinent, they essentially occupied the lowlands and pushed their frontier into the mountains surrounding the subcontinent -- the point from which a relatively small British force, augmented by local recruits, could hold against any external threat. The eastern line ran through the hills that separated Bengal from Burma. The northern line ran through the Himalayas that separate China from the subcontinent. The western line ran along the mountains that separated British India from Afghanistan and Iran.

This lineation -- which represented not a political settlement but rather a defensive position selected for military reasons -- remained vague, driven by shifting tactical decisions designed to secure a physical entity, the subcontinent. The Britons were fairly indifferent to the political realities inside the line. The British Raj, then, was a wild jumble of states, languages, religions and ethnic groups, which the Britons were quite content to play against one another as part of their grand strategy in India. As long as the British could impose an artificial, internal order, the general concept of India worked. But as the British Empire collapsed after World War II, the region had to find its own balance.

Mahatma Gandhi envisioned post-British India as being a multinational, multireligious country within the borders that then existed -- meaning that India's Muslims would live inside a predominantly Hindu country. When they objected, the result was both a partition of the country and a transfer of populations. The Muslim part of India, including the eastern Muslim region, became modern Pakistan. The eastern region gained independence as Bangladesh following a 1971 war between India and Pakistan.

Pakistan, however, was not a historic name for the region. Rather, reflective of the deeply divided Muslims themselves, the name is an acronym that derives, in part, from the five ethnic groups that made up western, Muslim India: Punjabis, Afghans, Kashmiris, Sindhis and Balochis.

The Punjabis are the major ethnic group, making up just under half of the population, though none of these groups is entirely in Pakistan. Balochis also are in Iran, Pashtuns also in Afghanistan and Punjabis also in India. In fact, as a result of the war in Afghanistan more than a quarter century ago, massive numbers of Pashtuns have crossed into Pakistan from Afghanistan -- though many consider themselves to be moving within Pashtun territory rather than crossing a foreign border.

Geographically, it is important to think of Pakistan in two parts. There is the Indus River Valley, where the bulk of the population lives, and then there are the mountainous regions, whose ethnic groups are deeply divided, difficult for the central government to control and generally conservative, preferring tradition to modernization. The relative isolation and the difficult existence in mountainous regions seem to create this kind of culture around the world.

Pakistan, therefore, is a compendium of divisions. The British withdrawal created a state called Pakistan, but no nation by that name. What bound its residents together was the Muslim faith -- albeit one that had many forms. As in India -- indeed, as in the Muslim world at the time of Pakistan's founding -- there existed a strong secularist movement that focused on economic development and cultural modernization more than on traditional Islamic values. This secularist tendency had two roots: one in the British education of many of the Pakistani elite and the second in Turkish founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who pioneered secularism in the Islamic world.

Pakistan, therefore, began as a state in crisis. What remained of British rule was a parliamentary democracy that might have worked in a relatively unified nation -- not one that was split along ethnic lines and also along the great divide of the 20th century: secular versus religious. Hence, the parliamentary system broke down early on -- about four years after Pakistan's creation in 1947. British-trained civilian bureaucrats ran the country with the help of the army until 1958, when the army booted out the bureaucrats and took over.

Therefore, if Pakistan was a state trying to create a nation, then the primary instrument of the state was the army. This is not uniquely Pakistani by any means, nor is it unprincipled. The point that Ataturk made -- one that was championed in the Arab world by Egypt's Gamal Abdul Nasser and in Iran by Reza Pahlavi -- was that the creation of a modern state in a traditional and divided nation required a modern army as the facilitator. An army, in the modern sense, is by definition technocratic and disciplined. The army, rather than simply an instrument of the state, therefore, becomes the guarantor of the state. In this line of thinking, a military coup can preserve a constitution against anti-constitutional traditionalists. If the idea of a military coup as a guarantor of constitutional integrity seems difficult to fathom, then consider the complexities involved in creating a modern constitutional regime in a traditional society.

Although the British tradition of parliamentary government fell apart in Pakistan, one institution the Britons left behind grew stronger: the Pakistani army. The army -- along with India's army -- was forged by the British and modeled on their army. It was perhaps the most modern institution in both countries, and the best organized and effective instrument of the state. As long as the army remained united and loyal to the concept of Pakistan, the centrifugal forces could not tear the country apart.

Musharraf's behavior must be viewed in this context. Pakistan is a country that not only is deeply divided, but also has the real capacity to tear itself apart. It is losing control of the mountainous regions to the indigenous tribes. The army is the only institution that transcends all of these ethnic differences and has the potential to restore order in the mountain regions and maintain state control elsewhere.

Musharraf's coup in 1999, which followed a series of military intrusions, as well as attempts at secular democratic rule, was designed to preserve Pakistan as a united country. That is why Musharraf insisted on continuing to wear the uniform of an army general. To remove the uniform and rule simply as a civilian might make sense to an outsider, but inside of Pakistan that uniform represents the unity of the state and the army -- and in Musharraf's view, that unity is what holds the country together.

Of course the problem is that the army, in the long run, reflects the country. The army has significant pockets of radical Islamist beliefs, while Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the military's intelligence branch, in particular is filled with Taliban sympathizers. (After all, the ISI was assigned to support the mujahideen fighting the Soviets in the 1980s, and the ISI and other parts of the army absorbed the ideology). Musharraf has had to walk a tightrope between U.S. demands that he crack down on his own army and his desire to preserve his regime -- and has never been able to satisfy either side fully.

It is not clear whether he has fallen off the tightrope. Whatever he does, as long as the army remains united and he controls the corps commanders, he will remain in power. Even if the corps commanders -- the real electors of Pakistan -- get tired of him and replace him with another military leader, Pakistan would remain in pretty much the same position it is in now.

In simple terms, the real question is this: Will the army split? Put more broadly, will some generals simply stop taking orders from Pakistan's General Headquarters and side with the Islamists? Will others side with Bhutto? Will ethnic disagreements run so deep that the Indus River Valley becomes the arena for a civil war? That is what instability in Pakistan would look like. It is not a question of civilian institutions, elections or any of the things we associate with civil society. The key question on Pakistan is whether the army stays united.

In our view, the senior commanders will remain united because they have far more to lose if they fracture. Their positions depend on a united army and a unified chain of command -- the one British legacy that continues to function in Pakistan.

There are two signs to look for: severe internal dissent among the senior generals or a series of mutinies by subordinate units. Either of these would raise serious questions as to the future of Pakistan. Whether Musharraf survives or falls and whether he is replaced by a civilian leader are actually secondary questions. In Pakistan, the fundamental issue is the unity of the army.

At some point, there will be a showdown among the various groups. That moment might be now, though we doubt it. As long as the generals are united and the troops remain under control, the existence of the regime is guaranteed -- and in some sense the army will remain the regime. Under these conditions, with or without Musharraf, with or without democracy, Pakistan will survive.

stratfor
27783  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: November 18, 2007 Dog Bros Gathering of the Pack on: November 05, 2007, 10:07:02 PM
Cat Linda Matsumi is looking for some women to fight.

And I am looking to lure Patrick "Choirboy" McNee (you saw him in RCSFg #1 Power fighting "the Juggernaut") out of retirement.  He's a bit stronger and savvier since that fight in 1992 when he was barely old enough to be allowed to fight.

TAC!
27784  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: When you don't feel like fighting... on: November 05, 2007, 10:03:56 PM
Well, he better get his Fighter Registration in then!

Also, Cat Linda Matsumi (who fought at the Swiss Gathering by the way  cool ) is looking for some women to fight and will be posting tomorrow.  I will be digging up tomorrow the contact info of her opponent Gina from the June Gathering.

TAC!
27785  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: November 05, 2007, 07:35:32 PM
Haven't had a chance to look at it closely, but this site tracks illegal acts of , , , illegals:

http://illegal.globalincidentmap.com/home.php
27786  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: November 05, 2007, 07:30:37 PM
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

UK: Children involved in terrorism

LONDON, England (CNN) -- The head of Britain's intelligence services has warned that children as young as 15 are becoming involved in terrorist-related activity.

Jonathan Evans, the chief of MI5, also said that at least 2,000 people are living in Britain who pose a threat to security because of the country's support for al Qaeda-inspired terrorism.

"As I speak, terrorists are methodically and intentionally targeting young people and children in this country. They are radicalising, indoctrinating and grooming young, vulnerable people to carry out acts of terrorism," he told a gathering of newspaper editors in Manchester.

Evans said the figure of 2,000 -- an increase of 400 since November 2006 -- only included those the intelligence services knew about and that the actual number could be double.

He said there had been 200 terrorist convictions in Britain since the September 11 attacks.

The MI5 head added that over recent years much of the command and inspiration for attack planning in the UK had come from al Qaeda's remaining core leadership in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

However, he said in the last 12 months terrorist plots on British soil were increasingly been inspired by al Qaeda cadres in other countries, including in Iraq and East Africa.

"There is no doubt now that al Qaeda in Iraq aspires to promote terrorist attacks outside Iraq. There is no doubt that there is training activity and terrorist planning in East Africa -- particularly in Somalia -- which is focused on the UK," he told the Society of Editors meeting.

According to Evans, there had been "no decrease" in the number of Russian covert intelligence officers operating in Britain since the end of the Cold War.

He said that resources that could be devoted to counter-terrorism were instead being used to protect Britain against spying by Russia, China and others.

"A number of countries continue to devote considerable time and energy trying to steal our sensitive technology on civilian and military projects, and trying to obtain political and economic intelligence at our expense," he said.
27787  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: When you don't feel like fighting... on: November 05, 2007, 05:43:08 PM
This is the spirit!!!  cool
27788  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: November 05, 2007, 01:56:20 PM
Guau Mauricio:

?Puedes sugerir algun fuente digna de fe por honestidad y eficiencia y darnos un URL?

Gracias,
CD
27789  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: When you don't feel like fighting... on: November 05, 2007, 10:39:17 AM
 cheesy grin cool
27790  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Cuba on: November 05, 2007, 10:20:19 AM
A Cuban Hero
By MARY ANASTASIA O'GRADY
November 5, 2007; Page A18
WSJ

Cuban physician Oscar Elías Biscet and seven others will be awarded the presidential medal of freedom by George W. Bush in a White House ceremony today. But Dr. Biscet will not be there to accept his honor in person. Today, like most days for the better part of the past eight years, he is locked away in a dungeon on Fidel Castro's island paradise.

 
Americas columnist Mary Anastasia O'Grady discusses the bold radical maneuvers of a Cuban doctor who is now in prison.
Tales of totalitarian gulags may strike some readers as ancient history, something that happened during Europe's 20th-century experiments in fascism, communism and Nazism. Yet in Cuba, the gulag and its suffering have not ended. Dr. Biscet's medal serves to remind us of this fact. By raising the profile of his struggle for a free Cuba, the award also highlights what Castro's regime fears most. It is not the guns and tanks of some imperial invader, but rather the faith, courage and nonconformity of the country's own people.

Dr. Biscet, 46, is a renowned pacifist and devout Christian. He has said that he is inspired by the examples of Martin Luther King, Gandhi and the Dalai Lama. We know this and much more about his life thanks to the Coalition of Cuban-American Women, which says it documents all the facts it publishes about political prisoners through live testimonies from Cuba.

While practicing medicine in Cuban hospitals for more than a decade, Dr. Biscet became increasingly concerned about the government's abortion practices. In 1998, at a Havana hospital, he took the risk of engaging in a clandestine study on the administration of a drug called rivanol to abort advanced pregnancies. The drug was being widely used, particularly on girls as young as 12, who, having been forced to leave their parents and work in rural areas as part of their schooling, found themselves "in trouble."

The study concluded that rivanol resulted in viable fetuses being born alive. What often happened next horrified Dr. Biscet, who later wrote that, "the umbilical cord was cut and they were allowed to bleed to death or they were wrapped in paper and asphyxiated."

 
As a result of his vocal opposition to these abortion practices he lost his job, his family lost their home and Castro's goons were sent to beat him up. But the bullying didn't work. By now he was actively engaged in resistance against the regime and, as he has written, his conscience would not allow him to back down. Those familiar with Dr. Biscet's work say that he was instrumental in building -- at the grassroots level -- on the impact of Pope John Paul II's visit to Cuba in January 1998. The regime took notice. Dr. Biscet became one of the few dissidents that Castro has ever attacked by name in a speech to the nation. As a proponent of Cuban democracy told me, "It proves that Biscet really got under Castro's skin."

From July 1998 until November 1999, Dr. Biscet was jailed 26 times. During those detentions, he was held for days in windowless cells or thrown in with populations of violent criminals and the mentally ill. In February 2000, he was tried and sentenced to three years in prison for holding a press conference to announce a peaceful march during the 1999 Ibero-American Summit in Havana. The backdrop at the press conference was two Cuban flags hung upside down to protest the state's violations of human rights. He was convicted for "dishonoring national symbols, public disorder and inciting delinquent behavior" and sent to a maximum security prison 450 miles east of Havana, making family visits difficult.

Cuba's political prison system is structured not only to punish dissent, but also to force the "rehabilitation" of the prisoner. Captives who give in, admit the error of their political ways and beg forgiveness sometimes can get out of jail. But Dr. Biscet is no such prisoner. While serving his three-year sentence, he increased his resistance, carrying out fasts and pushing for the release of political prisoners. The regime responded by putting him again in a squalid, solitary confinement cell or among dangerous inmates. He was denied visitors and medical treatment, and his Bible was confiscated.

In late October 2002, Dr. Biscet was released from prison only to be arrested 36 days later as he was preparing to meet with fellow Cuban human-rights advocates. In April 2003, he was convicted, as were 75 others who had been rounded up in the now-infamous March 2003 crackdown on dissent. He received a 25-year sentence for "serving as a mercenary to a foreign state." The Coalition of Cuban-American Women reports that, from November 2003-January 2004, he was held in "an underground dungeon with a common criminal and lost 40 pounds."

His time in solitary has been no less inhumane. Dr. Biscet has described his 3-foot-by-6-foot cell as having no windows or running water. It has a hole in the floor for a toilet and is infested with vermin. One of his confinement periods there lasted 42 days. Dr. Biscet says that "the Cuban government has tortured me during eight years, trying to drive me insane." Perhaps most painfully for the prisoner, his wife has been fired from her job as a nurse and is harassed by the state.

Dr. Biscet says that the regime has offered to let him go if he agrees to leave Cuba. He will not. In an April letter to his wife Elsa, he explained why: "My suffering is much, much less since I began to seek after my dream of being free, but not only for me personally. If I thought only of myself, you know that I would have been free a long time ago, and I would have been rid of these unsettling anxieties. But I want to see my friend's son, my adversary's son, or any citizen laughing happily from the satisfaction in their lives and enjoying a wealth of freedom because it is the only way human talent reaches its maximum splendor. . . ."

Reading those words, it is difficult to think of anyone more deserving of a medal honoring those who serve the cause of freedom.

• Write to O'Grady@wsj.com
27791  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Turkey on: November 05, 2007, 10:16:50 AM
WSJ

Storm Clouds Over Northern Iraq
By NORMAN STONE
November 5, 2007; Page A19

ANKARA -- Condoleezza Rice stepped from an aircraft onto Turkish soil last week for a short, and surely uncomfortable, visit. The U.S. secretary of state fielded sharply pointed and well-informed questions about Iraq and the ongoing attacks on Turkish troops just across the border. Many of those questions will no doubt be repeated in Washington during today's scheduled meeting between Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and President Bush.

Despite assurances from Ms. Rice that Turkey and the U.S. share a "common enemy" in Kurdish militants, the situation boils down to something of a conundrum: What for America is a solution -- the Kurds -- is for Turkey a terrible problem. In the last few months a terrorist organization, the PKK (it stands for Kurdish Workers' Party) has been killing young Turkish soldiers -- reportedly, at times, with American weapons -- and has established safe havens just over the Iraqi border.

 
The PKK is -- along with Sendero Luminoso in Peru, and the Basque terrorists in Spain -- the last of the Mao-inspired "National Liberation Fronts" that caused such mayhem in what we have to call the developing world. The PKK was founded in 1979, by Turkish-educated students, and in the 1980s and 1990s it was responsible for 37,000 deaths, most of them Kurdish.

Now, from its apparent safe haven in Kurdish northern Iraq, and with an office in Armenia -- was the timing of the U.S. Congress resolution anent the "genocide" coincidental? -- the PKK is back, and this time in a much more dangerous form. The attacks in Turkey have been well-organized, and seemingly on the basis of serious intelligence. So it was that Ms. Rice landed in a Turkey in uproar -- and with an increasingly anti-American citizenry.

One must remember that Turkey and the U.S. have long been key allies, if not dear friends. Adnan Menderes, the first Turkish prime minister to be democratically elected (in 1950), said "whatever America does, is right for us." Menderes opened up the economy and joined NATO. Turkey is a relatively new country, established in 1923 in the rubble of the old Ottoman Empire, and foreign models have been very important. The dominant one was once French, but is now American; and if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Americans in Turkey have good reason to be pleased.

Turkey is now in the same league as, say, South Korea or Taiwan or even Japan as a testimony to the incredible positive influence of postwar America. With her geographical location and her demographic problem, she could have been an Egypt. Instead, she is a Spain -- industrialized, literate, and the only place between Athens and Singapore where people actually want to live: Turkey is home to two million refugees, many from Iran.

American hard power is here, in the shape of NATO institutions and the great air base at Incirlik; and the IMF has been called upon to support the Turkish currency. But it is the "soft power" that you cannot miss. The Turks have even set up private universities on the American model, far more of them than in Western Europe, and thousands of Turkish students make for the States each year.

So, will the PKK and the troubles in northern Iraq bring this so positive relationship to an end? Probably not. Mr. Erdogan and the Turkish elite understand the value of their alliance with the U.S. -- and are unlikely to let the mess of Iraq undo it.

The Turks know Iraq historically and very well. In the days of the Ottoman Empire, three disparate provinces had been ruled from Baghdad, which the Turks had taken in 1638. The empire had originally been Balkan-based, looking to Europe. But the long war with Persia sucked the Turks into the Middle East, and the character of the empire changed.

In the 19th century, following French precepts, the Sultans tried to centralize it, but over Iraq they gave up, and simply did deals with the local powers-that-be, whether the Sunni elite in Baghdad, the Shia (and proto-Iranian) groupings in the south, or various Kurdish tribal chiefs in the mountainous north. One way of controlling them was to set up a "tribal school" in Istanbul, where the sons were educated (they often fought).

One result was that, of all the elements in Iraq, it was the Kurds who were in the end closest to Turkey. After World War I, the British took over Iraq, and there were also shadowy ideas of dividing eastern Turkey between Armenian and Kurdish nation-states. The Kurds, on the whole, opted for Turkey, and contributed much to her war of independence. They were good fighters, which the Armenians, mainly traders, were not, and the Turks won in a remarkable comeback.

At the time, they drew up a "National Pact," and the Kurdish areas of northern Iraq were included as a territorial claim. The British, then occupying Iraq, did not intend to let these oil-rich areas fall into Turkish hands, and manipulated the League of Nations into leaving the Kurdish area in the British-dominated Iraqi colony (or "mandate" as it was known). They then faced a war of all against all, and their chief expert, Lawrence of Arabia, sagely wondered why it was that the British, with 100,000 men, tanks, aircraft and poison gas, could not control a region that the Turks had run with a native army of 14,000 men, executing 90 men per annum. Then, as now.

The Turks' National Pact had much to be said for it, and when the first Iraq War occurred, the then Turkish leader, Turgut Özal (himself half-Kurdish) might even just have annexed Kurdish northern Iraq, if the first Bush administration had been in a creative mode.

Iraq in the end is just another of those artificial, post-1918 creations, like Yugoslavia or Czechoslovakia. Kurds, nomadic tribes for the most part, are settled all over the Middle East, even in Afghanistan, but the Kurdish state is really Turkey; and Istanbul, where (after Black Sea migrants) Kurds are the largest group, is the biggest Kurdish city.

These millions of Kurdish migrants are rapidly becoming assimilated, speaking Turkish among themselves, with, in heated moments, some Kurdish words. Some have become very successful indeed; many have intermarried; even Black Sea taxi drivers, fulminating against dirt and thievery, will say that they have several Kurdish friends.

The Istanbul-based Kurds do not vote for a Kurdish nationalist party at all, and just follow the Turkish ones, secularist, religious (they like the present government) or middle-of-the-road. The fact is that most Kurds in Turkey just want their children to go ahead in the national language -- the more so as there is not even a single Kurdish language: there are four, or even seven, depending on how you classify dialects.

However, in the southeast of Turkey there is a huge Kurdish problem. The region is far poorer than anywhere else: Hakkari on the Iraqi border has a tenth of the GDP per head of Istanbul, and there is a terrible demographic problem, of endless raggedy children, little girls of four dragging tiny tots of two across motorways. The tots will in some cases grow up to hate the Turkish state, to join the PKK, and to look at northern Iraq as the future Kurdistan.

And there they will encounter some sympathy. Northern Iraq is uneasily settled as a Kurdish entity, as the result of a compromise between the chiefs of two tribal federations, Massoud Barzani on the border, Jalal Talabani to the east, and now, formally, president of Iraq. They have fought, in the recent past, but made up their differences in a flood of dollars (which, incidentally, flow back to Turkey, where the dollar and even the euro have been plunging as a result).

Mr. Barzani's own family has a long history of fighting for Kurdistan, and all Turks think that he is playing politics. He does not like the PKK: let the Turks deal with them. On the other hand, with the PKK out of the picture, he will be the lion of the Kurds, as his father tried (with Soviet help) to be.

Meanwhile, if American-Turkish relations are soured, then so much the better: The Americans in Iraq cannot do without him. There is also huge money to be made out of oil, and out of the smuggling of heroin and hashish, as 500,000 trucks go back and forth every year through Mr. Barzani's fiefdom.

So he plays his game, allowing the PKK to raid southeastern Turkey, in the expectation that the resulting trouble can only bring him profit. Mr. Bush and Mr. Erodgan, in their meeting today, should make certain he's wrong.

Mr. Stone is a professor of international relations at Bilkent University in Ankara and author of "World War I: A Short History" (Penguin, 2007).
27792  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers: on: November 05, 2007, 08:58:17 AM
"If we desire to insult, we must be able to repel it; if we
desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of
our rising prosperity, it must be known, that we are at all times
ready for War."

-- George Washington (fifth annual address to Congress, 13
December 1793)
27793  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Want to make a knife for the US Army? on: November 05, 2007, 08:57:12 AM
As far as I know, its dead in the water-- a key player is busy doing other things for our country.
27794  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East War on: November 05, 2007, 08:55:08 AM
Its getting really tricky to figure out in which thread to post about the Kurds!
============
1223 GMT -- TURKEY, IRAQ, IRAN -- Turkish Kurdish rebels are leaving Iraqi Kurdistan for Iran to avoid attack from the Turkish army, The Independent newspaper reported Nov. 6, citing Osman Ocalan, a former leader of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and brother of imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan. The move, he said, is a tactic among PKK members. "When they feel pressure in one country, they move to another." Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is to meet U.S. President George W. Bush in Washington on Nov. 6 to discuss ways to deal with the PKK in Iraqi Kurdistan.

stratfor
27795  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: November 05, 2007, 08:52:33 AM
And now here's the WSJ's take on this-- not quite the same as Stratfor:

========

Pakistan Emergency
Musharraf backs himself into an even tighter corner.

Monday, November 5, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

In the war on terror, few problems are more difficult for U.S. foreign policy than our alliance with the nuclear-armed Muslim state of Pakistan. President Pervez Musharraf's imposition of emergency rule this weekend is the latest setback. It runs the risk of making Pakistan even less stable than it already is and makes it harder for Mr. Musharraf to restore democratic legitimacy, as he says he still wants to do.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was quick to criticize Mr. Musharraf's move and said yesterday that the U.S. would review its financial aid to Pakistan, which has amounted to more than $10 billion over the past five years (most of it for the military). Senator Joseph Biden, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, issued a statement urging the Administration to "move from a Musharraf policy to a Pakistan policy." That oversimplifies both current U.S. policy and the options going forward, but it should indicate to General Musharraf how his "second coup," as some are calling it, will be received in Washington.

Mr. Musharraf defends his emergency decree as a response to rising Islamic militancy and political instability caused by an interfering judiciary. But the timing and his sacking of the chief justice of the Supreme Court suggest that the general was mainly interested in pre-empting a ruling on his recent re-election, which the opposition boycotted. The high court was expected to make a decision soon on that October referendum, and the General couldn't be sure of the outcome.





No one can dispute that Islamic violence is on the rise in Pakistan. Three weeks ago 139 people died in a bomb attack on a homecoming parade for former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. More than 800 Pakistanis have perished in suicide bombings and militant attacks since July, when Mr. Musharraf ordered troops to storm the Red Mosque in Islamabad to destroy a Taliban-style movement headquartered there.
But the violence is not the product of democratic opponents of Mr. Musharraf's rule. It is the work of the same Islamist extremists who have also tried to kill the General more than once. Thanks to some of Mr. Musharraf's own mistakes, such as a 2006 truce, those forces have been able to build safe havens in the tribal areas along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Far from targeting those forces, however, the weekend action has included rounding up democratic politicians, lawyers and human rights activists. The General also suspended the constitution and closed down the free media. By attacking these sources of moderate civil society, Mr. Musharraf makes it easier for the Islamists to pose as the main opposition.

A more effective way to defeat the extremists is by respecting the rule of law and introducing a democratic government that reflects the wishes of Pakistan's mostly moderate population. This is the course Pakistan had been on in recent weeks. With encouragement from Washington, Mr. Musharraf, who seized power in a 1999 coup, was working toward a political compromise with democratic opponents. He had pledged to give up his military role by mid-November and become a civilian President. He brokered a tentative power-sharing deal with Ms. Bhutto that would have curtailed religious parties' power in Parliament. Elections, which may now be delayed, were scheduled for January.





It will now be more difficult, though not impossible, to get back on this track. Ms. Bhutto, who condemned the state of emergency as the "blackest day" in Pakistan's history, pointedly did not rule out continuing power-sharing talks with Mr. Musharraf. Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz told a news conference yesterday that "We are committed to making sure that elections are held and that \[the\] democratic process flourishes in Pakistan." But the decree will make it harder for Ms. Bhutto to agree to any deal with the General.
The main U.S. interest here is a stable Pakistan that can help defeat the jihadists. That interest won't be served by precipitously moving to sever ties with Mr. Musharraf, or with the Pakistan military the way the U.S. did in the 1990s. That would only reduce whatever leverage the U.S. continues to have with Islamabad, as well as reduce the prospects for cooperation in pursuing al Qaeda safe havens.

The Bush Administration will have to speak clearly to Pakistanis that its support for its government is not limited to Mr. Musharraf, and to loudly and publicly urge the General to honor his pledge to relinquish his military commission and hold elections as soon as possible. After this weekend, it is clearer than ever that U.S. policy has to prepare for the post-Musharraf era.

27796  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: November 05, 2007, 08:51:11 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Making Sense of Pakistan

Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf finally pulled the trigger Nov. 3 after many weeks of keeping the world guessing. He declared a state of emergency, essentially took control of the judiciary, arrested a group of dissidents and shut down private media outlets (including access to foreign media). The immediate issue was the role of the Supreme Court in freeing 61 individuals charged with terrorism. The deeper issue has to do with the role of the military in Pakistani society.

The Pakistani military has been the guarantor of the state from the beginning -- and therefore has been, in the long run, the arbiter of Pakistani politics. Musharraf's coup in 1999 simply made clear Pakistan's underlying reality. Pakistan is a deeply divided entity (it is not quite reasonable to call it a nation) presided over by a state. Whatever the formal character of the state, be it democratic, military, Islamist or otherwise, the greatest threat to Pakistan's territorial integrity comes from the divisions among the country's various ethnic groups. Pakistan requires a unified military to ensure cohesion.

Whatever demonstrations there are, whatever politicians may say, whether elections are held or not -- so long as military cohesion holds, the military will be the glue of society. Much of the rest that goes on is irrelevant.

Two things are therefore interesting and important. First, there is no visible sign of dissent within the military concerning Musharraf's move; thus far, the corps commanders or their subordinates do not appear to be resisting. Second, there is no indication of any mass resistance to the state of emergency. Nov. 5 will be the test -- so far it has been the weekend -- but by all reports any demonstrations have been scattered, small and quickly suppressed.

The question is why Musharraf made this move. To a great extent it had to do with his own political survival rather than survival of the regime. There was great pressure on Musharraf to take off his uniform -- to leave the military and become a civilian leader. However, Musharraf understands what many others do not: His power and legitimacy come from his role in the military, not in spite of it. By giving up his uniform, he would be leaving the chain of command and thereby turning ultimate power over to his successor in the military. However carefully picked, that successor would command the army, and in due course would hold ultimate political power as well.

Musharraf was not going to allow that to happen. He was not prepared to leave the stage just yet; he planned to stay in uniform and put off the election. The challenge from the Supreme Court was simply the catalyst for Musharraf's deeper decision. His calculation was that, following the immediate shock to the Pakistani polity, things would settle down and he would continue to hold power. There is no indication thus far that he was wrong about this.

The United States scolded Musharraf publicly (and likely privately as well), but in truth Washington has only two interests in Pakistan. First, it wants a state that will fight Islamists along the Afghan border. Second, it wants a government that will hold Pakistan together and prevent internal collapse. In that sense, whatever the moral sentiments expressed by the administration, the United States has only one issue with Musharraf's move: that it had better not fail.

We suspect that the army remains united and will support Musharraf, and therefore we expect the move to work. Musharraf (or someone like him) will continue to govern. But that doesn't bring us closer to answering the fundamental question: what exactly is this entity he is governing?
stratfor
27797  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: November 05, 2007, 08:01:32 AM
Giuliani Judges Lean Left
By: Ben Smith
March 3, 2007 12:23 AM EST

When Rudy Giuliani faces Republicans concerned about his support of gay rights and legal abortion, he reassures them that he is a conservative on the decisions that matter most.

"I would want judges who are strict constructionists because I am," he told South Carolina Republicans last month. "Those are the kinds of justices I would appoint -- Scalia, Alito and Roberts."

But most of Giuliani's judicial appointments during his eight years as mayor of New York were hardly in the model of Chief Justice John Roberts or Samuel Alito -- much less aggressive conservatives in the mold of Antonin Scalia.

A Politico review of the 75 judges Giuliani appointed to three of New York state's lower courts found that Democrats outnumbered Republicans by more than 8 to 1. One of his appointments was an officer of the International Association of Lesbian and Gay Judges. Another ruled that the state law banning liquor sales on Sundays was unconstitutional because it was insufficiently secular.

A third, an abortion-rights supporter, later made it to the federal bench in part because New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer, a liberal Democrat, said he liked her ideology.

Cumulatively, Giuilani's record was enough to win applause from people like Kelli Conlin, the head of NARAL Pro-Choice New York, the state's leading abortion-rights group. "They were decent, moderate people," she said.

"I don't think he was looking for someone who was particularly conservative," added Barry Kamins, a Democrat who chaired the panel of the Bar Association of the City of New York, which reviewed Giuliani's appointments. "He picked a variety from both sides of the spectrum. They were qualified, even-tempered, academically strong."

That is the kind of praise that will amount to damnation (not necessarily faint) among some of the people Giuliani will be trying to impress in Washington on Friday, when he addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference. The group is filled with social conservatives, for whom the effort to recast the ideological orientation of the federal judiciary has been a generation-long project. Giuliani already faced a high threshold of skepticism from many of these activists because of his comparatively liberal record on such hot-button issues as abortion rights, tolerance of gays and gun control.

Giuliani's judicial appointments continue to win good reviews in New York legal circles for being what conservatives sometimes say they want: competent lawyers selected with no regard to "litmus tests" on hot-button social issues. Many of these people were in the mode of Giuliani himself: tough-on-crime former prosecutors with reformist streaks and muted ideologies.

"He took it very seriously -- he spent a lot of time with these candidates," recalled Paul Curran, a Republican and former U.S. attorney who chaired Giuliani's Commission on Judicial Nominations. "He was looking for judges who were willing to enforce the laws."

The mayor of New York appoints judges to three of the state's lowest courts, the Criminal Court and Family Court, which deal with lower-grade crimes than the state's Supreme Court, the main trial court and the Civil Court, which deals in relatively small financial disputes.

When Giuliani took office in 1994, he inherited a system of judicial appointments created by one of his predecessors, Ed Koch, and designed to insulate the courts from political influence. Under the system, the mayor appoints members of an independent panel. Aspiring judges apply to the panel, which recommends three candidates for each vacancy. The mayor chooses among the three.

Giuliani, a former U.S. attorney, and top aides who remain close to him, Dennison Young and Michael Hess, reviewed the applications.

Giuliani cast himself in New York not as a conservative (he had actually run on the Liberal Party line) but as a reformer. Though at least 50 of his 75 appointees were registered Democrats (only six were registered Republicans), Giuliani also won praise for, some say, appointing fewer judges with ties to local Democratic politics than his predecessors.

"It was not people coming out of the clubhouses, which is what I'd seen earlier," said Charles Moerdler, a member of the Commission on Judicial Nominations who had served other mayors in the same capacity. "I did not support Rudy (the first time he ran) because he was too conservative for me, so I was very alert to that, but I didn't see any litmus tests on his part," he said.

Giuliani's judges serve across New York's courts, where they're more likely to encounter misdemeanant celebrities -- Boy George and Naomi Campbell have appeared recently in front of his appointees -- than they are to tangle with the Establishment Clause. Some, like a Family Court judge who ruled that an unmarried couple couldn't adopt, would please national conservatives. But many of their occasional forays into jurisprudence would likely make Scalia wince.

Charles Posner, a Brooklyn judge appointed by Giuliani, made the kind of decision that keeps conservatives up nights when he was asked to levy a fine against a shopkeeper, Abdulsam Yafee, who had illegally sold beer at 3:30 a.m. on a Sunday. In an unusual, lengthy 2004 ruling, Posner found that "there is no secular reason why beer cannot be sold on Sunday morning as opposed to any other morning."

Noting that Sunday is only the Christian Sabbath, Posner continued, "Other than this entanglement with religion, there is no rational basis for mandating Sunday as a day of rest as opposed to any other day."
Giuliani was out of office at the time of the decision and, in any case, had no say over his appointees' rulings. His spokeswoman, Maria Comella, declined to comment on the difference between the judges he appointed and those he promises to appoint.

Another Giuliani appointee reached a socially conservative verdict by a means that might not please strict constructionists. Judge Michael Sonberg denied a motion by two Bronx strip-club owners to dismiss prostitution charges against them that were based on dancers' offering "lap dances" to an undercover officer.

Sonberg ruled that the changing "cultural and sexual practices" of the previous two decades permitted him to alter the definition of prostitution.
"Statutory construction cannot remain static while entrepreneurial creativity brings forth heretofore unimagined sexual 'diversions,' " he wrote in a ruling that would have pleased social conservatives while, perhaps, alarming strict constructionists and strippers alike.

More troubling to some of the social conservatives Giuliani is courting, however, would have been Sonberg's other affiliation: When he was appointed in 1995, he was already an officer of the International Association of Lesbian and Gay Judges, a professional group. After his appointment, he became the group's president.

Laboring in the state's lower courts, few of Giuliani's other appointees show signs of ideological leanings. Two, however, were appointed to federal district courts -- one of them, Richard Berman, by President Bill Clinton. The other, Dora Irizarry, was a Bush nominee considered so liberal that Schumer pushed her nomination through.

Irizarry, appointed by Giuliani to the Bronx Criminal Court in 1996, had disclosed that she considers herself "pro-choice" during her 2002 campaign for New York state attorney general. Her appointment to the federal bench was almost derailed when the American Bar Association ruled her "not qualified" on the grounds that as a state judge, she had been "gratuitously rude and abrasive" and "flew off the handle in a rage."

But to Schumer, who led the fight against Bush's appellate judges, Irizarry was a Republican he could live with.

"Temperament is not at the top of my list," Schumer explained at the time, when asked why he supported the former Giuliani appointee. "Ideology is key." 


http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0207/2957.html
27798  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: "You go to war with the citizens you have, not the citizens you want." on: November 05, 2007, 07:49:42 AM
12 Myths of 21st-Century War
Unaware of the cost of freedom and served by leaders without military expertise, Americans have started to believe whatever's comfortable.
 The American Legion Magazine  November, 2007, By Ralph Peters
Ralph Peters is a retired Army officer, strategist and author of 22 books, including the recent "Wars of Blood and Faith: The Conflicts That Will Shape the 21st Century."

  We're in trouble. We're in danger of losing more wars. Our troops haven't forgotten how to fight. We've never had better men and women in uniform. But our leaders and many of our fellow Americans no longer grasp what war means or what it takes to win.
 Thanks to those who have served in uniform, we've lived in such safety and comfort for so long that for many Americans sacrifice means little more than skipping a second trip to the buffet table.  Two trends over the past four decades contributed to our national ignorance of the cost, and necessity, of victory.
  First, the most privileged Americans used the Vietnam War as an excuse to break their tradition of uniformed service. Ivy League universities once produced heroes. Now they resist Reserve Officer Training Corps representation on their campuses.
  Yet, our leading universities still produce a disproportionate number of U.S. political leaders. The men and women destined to lead us in wartime dismiss military service as a waste of their time and talents. Delighted to pose for campaign photos with our troops, elected officials in private disdain the military. Only one serious presidential aspirant in either party is a veteran, while another presidential hopeful pays as much for a single haircut as I took home in a month as an Army private.
  Second, we've stripped in-depth U.S. history classes out of our schools. Since the 1960s, one history course after another has been cut, while the content of those remaining focuses on social issues and our alleged misdeeds. Dumbed-down textbooks minimize the wars that kept us free. As a result, ignorance of the terrible price our troops had to pay for freedom in the past creates absurd expectations about our present conflicts. When the media offer flawed or biased analyses, the public lacks the knowledge to make informed judgments.
  This combination of national leadership with no military expertise and a population that hasn't been taught the cost of freedom leaves us with a government that does whatever seems expedient and a citizenry that believes whatever's comfortable. Thus, myths about war thrive
.
Myth No. 1: War doesn't change anything.
  This campus slogan contradicts all of human history. Over thousands of years, war has been the last resort - and all too frequently the first resort - of tribes, religions, dynasties, empires, states and demagogues driven by grievance, greed or a heartless quest for glory. No one believes that war is a good thing, but it is sometimes necessary. We need not agree in our politics or on the manner in which a given war is prosecuted, but we can't pretend that if only we laid down our arms all others would do the same.
  Wars, in fact, often change everything. Who would argue that the American Revolution, our Civil War or World War II changed nothing? Would the world be better today if we had been pacifists in the face of Nazi Germany and imperial Japan?
  Certainly, not all of the changes warfare has wrought through the centuries have been positive. Even a just war may generate undesirable results, such as Soviet tyranny over half of Europe after 1945. But of one thing we may be certain: a U.S. defeat in any war is a defeat not only for freedom, but for civilization. Our enemies believe that war can change the world. And they won't be deterred by bumper stickers.

Myth No. 2: Victory is impossible today.
  Victory is always possible, if our nation is willing to do what it takes to win. But victory is, indeed, impossible if U.S. troops are placed under impossible restrictions, if their leaders refuse to act boldly, if every target must be approved by lawyers, and if the American people are disheartened by a constant barrage of negativity from the media. We don't need generals who pop up behind microphones to apologize for every mistake our soldiers make. We need generals who win.
 And you can't win if you won't fight. We're at the start of a violent struggle that will ebb and flow for decades, yet our current generation of leaders, in and out of uniform, worries about hurting the enemy's feelings.
  One of the tragedies of our involvement in Iraq is that while we did a great thing by removing Saddam Hussein, we tried to do it on the cheap. It's an iron law of warfare that those unwilling to pay the butcher's bill up front will pay it with compound interest in the end. We not only didn't want to pay that bill, but our leaders imagined that we could make friends with our enemies even before they were fully defeated. Killing a few hundred violent actors like Moqtada al-Sadr in 2003 would have prevented thousands of subsequent American deaths and tens of thousands of Iraqi deaths. We started something our national leadership lacked the guts to finish.
  Despite our missteps, victory looked a great deal less likely in the early months of 1942 than it does against our enemies today. Should we have surrendered after the fall of the Philippines?
  Today's opinionmakers and elected officials have lost their grip on what it takes to win. In the timeless words of Nathan Bedford Forrest, "War means fighting, and fighting means killing."  And in the words of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, "It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it."

Myth No. 3: Insurgencies can never be defeated.
  Historically, fewer than one in 20 major insurgencies succeeded. Virtually no minor ones survived. In the mid-20th century, insurgencies scored more wins than previously had been the case, but that was because the European colonial powers against which they rebelled had already decided to rid themselves of their imperial possessions. Even so, more insurgencies were defeated than not, from the Philippines to Kenya to Greece. In the entire 18th century, our war of independence was the only insurgency that defeated a major foreign power and drove it out for good.
  The insurgencies we face today are, in fact, more lethal than the insurrections of the past century. We now face an international terrorist insurgency as well as local rebellions, all motivated by religious passion or ethnicity or a fatal compound of both. The good news is that in over 3,000 years of recorded history, insurgencies motivated by faith and blood overwhelmingly failed. The bad news is that they had to be put down with remorseless bloodshed.

Myth No. 4: There's no military solution; only negotiations can solve our problems.
  In most cases, the reverse is true. Negotiations solve nothing until a military decision has been reached and one side recognizes a peace agreement as its only hope of survival. It would be a welcome development if negotiations fixed the problems we face in Iraq, but we're the only side interested in a negotiated solution. Every other faction – the terrorists, Sunni insurgents, Shia militias, Iran and Syria - is convinced it can win.
  The only negotiations that produce lasting results are those conducted from positions of indisputable strength.

Myth No. 5: When we fight back, we only provoke our enemies.
  When dealing with bullies, either in the schoolyard or in a global war, the opposite is true: if you don't fight back, you encourage your enemy to behave more viciously. Passive resistance only works when directed against rule-of-law states, such as the core English-speaking nations. It doesn't work where silent protest is answered with a bayonet in the belly or a one-way trip to a political prison. We've allowed far too many myths about the "innate goodness of humanity" to creep up on us. Certainly, many humans would rather be good than bad. But if we're unwilling to fight the fraction of humanity that's evil, armed and determined to subjuga te the rest, we'll face even grimmer conflicts.

Myth No. 6: Killing terrorists only turns them into martyrs.
  It's an anomaly of today's Western world that privileged individuals feel more sympathy for dictators, mass murderers and terrorists - consider the irrational protests against Guantanamo - than they do for their victims. We were told, over and over, that killing Osama bin Laden or Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, hanging Saddam Hussein or targeting the Taliban's Mullah Omar would only unite their followers. Well, we haven't yet gotten Osama or Omar, but Zarqawi's dead and forgotten by his own movement, whose members never invoke that butcher's memory. And no one is fighting to avenge Saddam. The harsh truth is that when faced with true fanatics, killing them is the only way to end their influence.
  Imprisoned, they galvanize protests, kidnappings, bombings and attacks that seek to free them. Want to make a terrorist a martyr? Just lock him up. Attempts to try such monsters in a court of law turn into mockeries that only provide public platforms for their hate speech, which the global media is delighted to broadcast. Dead, they're dead.
  And killing them is the ultimate proof that they lack divine protection. Dead terrorists don't kill.

Myth No. 7: If we fight as fiercely as our enemies, we're no better than them.
  Did the bombing campaign against Germany turn us into Nazis? Did dropping atomic bombs on Japan to end the war and save hundreds of thousands of American lives, as well as millions of Japanese lives, turn us into the beasts who conducted the Bataan Death March?
  The greatest immorality is for the United States to lose a war. While we seek to be as humane as the path to victory permits, we cannot shrink from doing what it takes to win. At present, the media and influential elements of our society are obsessed with the small immoralities that are inevitable in wartime.
  Soldiers are human, and no matter how rigorous their training, a miniscule fraction of our troops will do vicious things and must be punished as a consequence. Not everyone in uniform will turn out to be a saint, and not every chain of command will do its job with equal effectiveness.
  But obsessing on tragic incidents - of which there have been remarkably few in Iraq or Afghanistan - obscures the greater moral issue: the need to defeat enemies who revel in butchering the innocent, who celebrate atrocities, and who claim their god wants blood.

Myth No. 8: The United States is more hated today than ever before.
  Those who served in Europe during the Cold War remember enormous, often-violent protests against U.S. policy that dwarfed today's let's-have-fun-on-a-Sunday-afternoon rallies. Older readers recall the huge ban-the-bomb, pro-communist demonstrations of the 1950s and the vast seas of demonstrators filling the streets of Paris, Rome and Berlin to protest our commitment to Vietnam. Imagine if we'd had 24/7 news coverage of those rallies.
  I well remember serving in Germany in the wake of our withdrawal from Saigon, when U.S. soldiers were despised by the locals – who nonetheless were willing to take our money - and terrorists tried to assassinate U.S. generals.
  The fashionable anti-Americanism of the chattering classes hasn't stopped the world from seeking one big green card. As I've traveled around the globe since 9/11, I've found that below the government-spokesman/professional-radical level, the United States remains the great dream for university graduates from Berlin to Bangalore to Bogota.
  On the domestic front, we hear ludicrous claims that our country has never been so divided. Well, that leaves out our Civil War. Our historical amnesia also erases the violent protests of the late 1960s and early 1970s, the mass confrontations, rioting and deaths. Is today's America really more fractured than it was in 1968?

Myth No. 9: Our invasion of Iraq created our terrorist problems.
  This claim rearranges the order of events, as if the attacks of 9/11 happened after Baghdad fell. Our terrorist problems have been created by the catastrophic failure of Middle Eastern civilization to compete on any front and were exacerbated by the determination of successive U.S. administrations, Democrat and Republican, to pretend that Islamist terrorism was a brief aberration. Refusing to respond to attacks, from the bombings in Beirut to Khobar Towers, from the first attack on the Twin Towers to the near-sinking of the USS Cole, we allowed our enemies to believe that we were weak and cowardly. Their unchallenged successes served as a powerful recruiting tool.
  Did our mistakes on the ground in Iraq radicalize some new recruits for terror? Yes. But imagine how many more recruits there might have been and the damage they might have inflicted on our homeland had we not responded militarily in Afghanistan and then carried the fight to Iraq. Now Iraq is al-Qaeda's Vietnam, not ours.

Myth No. 10: If we just leave, the Iraqis will patch up their differences on their own.
  The point may come at which we have to accept that Iraqis are so determined to destroy their own future that there's nothing more we can do. But we're not there yet, and leaving immediately would guarantee not just one massacre but a series of slaughters and the delivery of a massive victory to the forces of terrorism.
  We must be open-minded about practical measures, from changes in strategy to troop reductions, if that's what the developing situation warrants. But it's grossly irresponsible to claim that our presence is the primary cause of the violence in Iraq - an allegation that ignores history.

Myth No. 11: It's all Israel's fault. Or the popular Washington corollary: "The Saudis are our friends."
  Israel is the Muslim world's excuse for failure, not a reason for it. Even if we didn't support Israel, Islamist extremists would blame us for countless other imagined wrongs, since they fear our freedoms and our culture even more than they do our military. All men and women of conscience must recognize the core difference between Israel and its neighbors: Israel genuinely wants to live in peace, while its genocidal neighbors want Israel erased from the map.
  As for the mad belief that the Saudis are our friends, it endures only because the Saudis have spent so much money on both sides of the aisle in Washington. Saudi money continues to subsidize anti-Western extremism, to divide fragile societies, and encourage hatred between Muslims and all others. Saudi extremism has done far more damage to the Middle East than Israel ever did. The Saudis are our enemies.

Myth No. 12: The Middle East's problems are all America's fault.
  Muslim extremists would like everyone to believe this, but it just isn't true. The collapse of once great Middle Eastern civilizations has been under way for more than five centuries, and the region became a backwater before the United States became a country. For the first century and a half of our national existence, our relations with the people of the Middle East were largely beneficent and protective, notwithstanding our conflict with the Barbary Pirates in North Africa.
  But Islamic civilization was on a downward trajectory that could not be arrested. Its social and economic structures, its values, its neglect of education, its lack of scientific curiosity, the indolence of its ruling classes and its inability to produce a single modern state that served its people all guaranteed that, as the West's progress accelerated, the Middle East would fall ever farther behind.
  The Middle East has itself to blame for its problems. None of us knows what our strategic future holds, but we have no excuse for not knowing our own past. We need to challenge inaccurate assertions about our policies, about our past and about war itself. And we need to work within our community and state education systems to return balanced, comprehensive history programs to our schools. The unprecedented wealth and power of the United States allows us to afford many things denied to human beings throughout history. But we, the people, cannot afford ignorance.
27799  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: November 04, 2007, 10:32:30 AM
Holocaust Denial and Tehran
By ROYA HAKAKIAN
November 3, 2007; Page A8

Dictatorships bear paradoxes. I came across a set of them 10 years ago, when I hosted a dinner for two female Iranian medical students who'd come to Yale Medical School on a rare academic exchange program. These impressive women had climbed to the top 10th percentile in a man's profession, in a man's country. But I was stunned to learn that -- despite 16 years of education at some of Iran's premiere schools -- neither had ever heard of the word "Holocaust," or thought of Hitler as anything but the German equivalent of Napoleon.

Tehran's Holocaust denial did not begin with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It began in 1979 with the Islamic Revolution and the subsequent miseducation of the entire post-revolutionary generation. The Holocaust did not exist in the textbooks of my two young guests, and there was hardly any literature about it in Persian.

Now, millions of Iranian youths are hearing about the Holocaust for the first time through the airing of a government-sponsored soap opera called "Zero Degree Turn." In it, the Islamic Republic's handpicked director, Hassan Fatthi, breaks the regime's taboos. Beautiful women appear without the Islamic dress code. Men and women also come together, hold hands, and even fall into a fleeting embrace.

In the end, however, the program offers little more than an aesthetically pleasing venue for the regime's usual diatribes. Its linchpin is a conspiracy theory: Two Israeli agents assassinate the chief rabbi of Tehran to frighten the Iranian Jewish community into leaving Iran for Israel. The noble chief of the Iranian embassy in France, Abdol Hossein Sardari, who facilitated the escape of hundreds of Iranian and French Jews by providing them with Iranian passports, is portrayed as a mere opportunist motivated by bribes.

The good news is that Iran is now home to a highly rebellious young generation that is deeply disenchanted with the status quo and suspicious of government propaganda in all its forms, including misinformation about Jews and Israel. Iranians actually possess a healthy curiosity toward Israel. In the 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon's Hezbollah, for example, young Iranians were reportedly not interested in supporting Hezbollah, and were vehemently against their government's investment in it.

Unfortunately, Mr. Ahmadinejad steals the spotlight. With his threats toward Israel and his dreams of a nuclear Iran he has engendered a fear, however legitimate, that too often blinds Western and Israeli leaders of the broader, more complex realities of the Iranian people. American, European and Israeli media are full of dire warnings about the threat of a nuclear Iran. There is little mention of the plight of the Iranians themselves, or the ripe opportunity presented by a nation disenchanted with 30 years of theocratic rule: A people that has historically been friendly to Jews, can, with some effort, be so once again.

Mr. Ahmadinejad, along with his coterie of fundamentalist radicals, is already a threat to Israel and the region. But they do not represent everyday Iranians. And as much as the regime in Tehran would like to deny it, a more accepting, rational view of Israel was once held by Iranian leaders.

In the early 1960s, several leading Iranian intellectuals traveled to Israel on the invitation of the Israeli foreign ministry and for the most part, the travelogues of their trips amounted to what may be the longest love letter to Israel ever to be penned in Persian. That sentiment, of course, would change dramatically. But for several years at least, it seemed that it would determine the attitude of an entire generation toward Israel.

Iran's Holocaust education could begin in Iran itself. Through the Port of Pahlavi in 1942, tens of thousands of Polish refugees, Jewish and non-Jewish, escaped the Nazis found a safe haven in Iran. Eventually, the majority of them relocated to other parts of the world. Yet, hundreds fell in love with "Persia" and stayed. Iranians could learn of their shared history with the Jewish people by visiting the hundreds of Polish graves in Tehran's Doulab cemetery alone.

Despite the regime's anti-Semitic rhetoric, the people have held fast to the values of their ancient civilization. They pride themselves on the idea that they have accepted members of other religions and ethnicities as equals, and as Iranians.

Ms. Hakakian is the author of "Journey from the Land of No: A Girlhood Caught in Revolutionary Iran" (Three Rivers Press, 2005), a memoir of growing up Jewish in Iran.
27800  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam the religion on: November 04, 2007, 07:53:01 AM
Most Muslims Reject Terrorism?
By Robert Spencer
FrontPageMagazine.com | 11/2/2007

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