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27951  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Race, religion, ethnic origin on: May 11, 2007, 11:26:06 AM
Boys on the Bus
A black school-bus driver lost her job "because she used the 'n-word' in front of a black student," the Des Moines Register reports:

Anita Anderson, 48, of Des Moines was fired two days after the incident on her bus. According to state records, Anderson was driving students from Monroe Elementary School when a boy became disruptive and belligerent.

Anderson testified at a state hearing on her request for unemployment benefits: "I kept asking him to sit down. And he kept on and on. He said he was going to bust me in my face."

After she told the boy he should not speak to her that way, Anderson muttered under her breath, she said.

"I was talking to myself," she testified. "I was driving, and I said the word. You know, the 'n-word.' But I wasn't talking to the student; I was just talking to myself."

Anderson testified that a girl behind her overheard the remark and told others on the bus. That prompted another outburst from the boy who had threatened her.

"That little boy kept saying, 'Oh, when we get to the bus stop my mom and dad is going to beat you down. Oh, we're going to bust you in your face,' " Anderson testified.

When she finished her route and returned to the bus garage, she was told that the student's mother had complained that the epithet was directed at her son.

There's no excuse for what Anderson said, and she said at an unemployment hearing that she regretted the remark:

"I just couldn't even explain to you how sorrowful I am that the word came out of my mouth," she said. "I'm a Christian. . . . I'm also an African American. I know how whites or Caucasians or different people perceive that word."

But the real question is, what are the authorities doing about the boy who repeatedly threatened a bus driver? Did his mother discipline him for his misconduct, and if not, why does she still have custody?

Opinion Journsl of the WSJ
27952  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: May 11, 2007, 06:12:45 AM
Posted because of who writes it.  From today's NY Times Op Ed page:
=============

Give the Arab Peace Initiative a Chance
By FUAD SINIORA
Published: May 11, 2007
Beirut

ALMOST a year has passed since Israel’s bombardment of Lebanon, time enough to draw lessons from the conflict and reflect on its consequences.

Last week, Israel’s Winograd Commission published an interim report scrutinizing Israel’s conduct during what it called the country’s most recent military “campaign.” But the report failed to draw the most essential lesson from the July war and the wars that preceded it: military action does not give the people of Israel security. On the contrary, it compromises it. The only way for the people of Israel and the Arab world to achieve stability and security is through a comprehensive peace settlement to the overarching Arab-Israeli conflict.

It is in this vein that participants in the March Arab League summit in Riyadh called again for a peace proposal originally put forward at a similar gathering in Beirut in 2002. The Arab Peace Initiative, as it is called, was introduced by Saudi Arabia and endorsed by all the Arab countries. It offers Israel full recognition by the 22 members of the Arab League in exchange for an Israeli withdrawal to its pre-1967 borders, thus allowing the Palestinians to create a viable independent state on what is only 22 percent of historic Palestine.

This is a high price but one the Arabs are willing to pay, as it is the only realistic path to peace that conforms to all United Nations Security Council and General Assembly resolutions addressing the conflict, and ensures the right of return of the Palestinian people. The Arab states are not seeking to wipe Israel off the map. Rather, we are seeking the legitimate goals of an armistice, secure borders and the ability of all of the region’s people to live in peace and security.

Last summer’s war was only the latest eruption of violence in this enduring conflict, and hindered prospects for peace rather than creating opportunities for it. The Winograd interim report criticized the Israeli government’s war goals as being unclear and unachievable, yet the Israeli Army came dangerously close to achieving the stated goal of its chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz: to “turn Lebanon’s clock back 20 years.”

The report made no mention of the sheer damage inflicted. Lebanon’s airports, bridges and power plants were systematically ravaged. Villages were destroyed, and more than an eighth of its population displaced. The bombardment caused an estimated $7 billion in damage and economic losses while leaving behind 1.2 million cluster bomblets that continue to kill and maim innocent people.

Most important, the war took the lives of more than 1,200 Lebanese citizens, the vast majority of them civilians. This epitomizes the protracted injustice Arabs feel as a result of Israel’s record of destruction of their lives and livelihood, its oppression of the Palestinian people and its continued illegal occupation of Arab lands. The July war proved that militarism and revenge are not the answer to instability; compromise and diplomacy are.

This should be the impetus for Israel to seek a comprehensive solution based on the Arab Peace Initiative. The Winograd Commission’s failure to discuss the war’s implications for peace prospects leads one to wonder whether Israel would rather allow this conflict to fester as long as it is under relatively controlled conditions. Its goal should be regional peace and security, which can be realized only through a just resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. The inevitable alternative is increased extremism, intolerance and destruction.

Like the Israelis, the Arab people have legitimate security concerns, as evidenced by what Lebanon endured last summer. So often we have seen parties to the conflict use force in the name of self-defense and security, only to further aggravate the situation and compromise the very security they seek. These escalations also occur because there has never been full compliance with international law. Thus, illegal occupations, over-flights, detentions, house demolitions, humiliating checkpoints, attacks and counterattacks continue to heighten the anger and despair. Perpetuating hostility and distrust in this manner goes against the tide of confidence-building this region needs to foster stability. The conflict has persisted for so long, generating so many tangled consequences, that diplomacy remains the only option.

Because of its unique role in the world, the United States has a responsibility to display leadership and courage in helping the two sides achieve a just and lasting peace. The people of the Middle East aspire simply to live in freedom and dignity, without constant threats of violence, occupation and war. This is achievable if we demonstrate political will and learn the harsh lessons from the past. Leading these peace efforts is not only an American responsibility, it is in the United States’ interests: peace in the Middle East would offer a gateway to reconciliation with the Muslim world during these times of increased divisiveness and radicalism.

The Winograd Commission tried to draw conclusions about the Israeli political and military leadership from their actions during the July war. The correct lesson is that the only path to long-lasting peace is itself peaceful. With the support of the United States and its partners in the Quartet on the Middle East — the European Union, the United Nations and Russia — we hope to use the Arab Peace Initiative as the foundation to finally bring about a comprehensive peace to our troubled region. Only then will the people of the Middle East be able to finally realize their shared goal of living in freedom with security and lasting peace.

Fuad Siniora is the prime minister of Lebanon.
27953  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pressed by Police, Even Innocent Confess in Japan on: May 11, 2007, 05:58:06 AM

By NORIMITSU ONISHI
Published: May 11, 2007
NY Times

SHIBUSHI, Japan — The suspects in a vote-buying case in this small town in western Japan were subjected to repeated interrogations and, in several instances, months of pretrial detention. The police ordered one woman to shout her confession out a window and forced one man to stomp on the names of his loved ones.

Shibushi was rocked by an inquiry into allegations of vote buying.
In all, 13 men and women, ranging in age from their early 50s to mid-70s, were arrested and indicted. Six buckled and confessed to an elaborate scheme of buying votes with liquor, cash and catered parties. One man died during the trial — from the stress, the others said — and another tried to kill himself.

But all were acquitted this year in a local district court, which found that their confessions had been entirely fabricated. The presiding judge said the defendants had “made confessions in despair while going through marathon questioning.”

The Japanese authorities have long relied on confessions to take suspects to court, instead of building cases based on solid evidence. Human rights groups have criticized the practice for leading to abuses of due process and convictions of innocent people.

But in recent months developments in this case and two others have shown just how far the authorities will go in securing confessions. Calls for reforms in the criminal justice system have increased, even as Japan is to adopt a jury-style system in 2009 and is considering allowing victims and their relatives to question defendants in court.

In Saga Prefecture in March, a high court upheld the acquittal of a man who said he had been coerced into confessing to killing three women in the late 1980s. The court found that there was no evidence against the man other than the confession, which had been extracted from him after 17 days of interrogations that went on more than 10 hours a day.

In Toyama Prefecture the police acknowledged early this year that a taxi driver who had served almost three years in prison for rape and attempted rape in 2002 was innocent, after they found the real culprit. The driver said he had been browbeaten into affixing his fingerprint to a confession drawn up by the police after three days of interrogation.

“I Just Didn’t Do It,” a new documentary by Masayuki Suo, the director of “Shall We Dance?” has also raised popular awareness of coerced confessions. The documentary is based on the real-life story of a young man who was falsely accused of groping a teenage girl on the Tokyo subway and imprisoned for 14 months. It portrays how the authorities extract confessions, whether the accused are guilty or not.

“Traditionally in Japan, confessions have been known as the king of evidence,” said Kenzo Akiyama, a lawyer who is a former judge. “Especially if it’s a big case, even if the accused hasn’t done anything, the authorities will seek a confession through psychological torture.”

The law allows the police to detain suspects for up to 23 days without an indictment. Suspects have almost no contact with the outside world and are subject to constant interrogation, a practice that has long drawn criticism from organizations like the United Nations Human Rights Committee and Amnesty International.

Suspects are strongly pressed to plead guilty, on the premise that confession is the first step toward rehabilitation.

The conviction rate in Japanese criminal cases — 99.8 percent — cannot be compared directly with that of the United States, because there is no plea bargaining in Japan and prosecutors bring only those cases they are confident of winning. But experts say that in court, where acquittals are considered harmful to the careers of prosecutors and judges alike, there is a presumption of guilt.

In Tokyo, the National Police Agency acknowledged mistakes in the vote-buying case here in Shibushi but defended the system. “We do not think that this is the kind of thing that happens all the time,” said Yasuhiro Shirakawa of the agency’s Criminal Investigation Bureau.

“It is not only about confessions,” he added. “We always inspect whether there is corroborating evidence and whether what the suspects said is true or not.”

In Shibushi, the authorities have gone unpunished, as have those in the two other cases. In a written reply, the police said they had followed the law in their investigation but seriously took the verdict to heart.

It remains unclear what set off the investigation in 2003 of the campaign of a local politician, Shinichi Nakayama, who was elected for the first time to the local assembly that year, beating the protégé of a longtime power broker.

=========

Page 2 of 2)



The police started by accusing Sachio Kawabata — whose wife, Junko, is the assemblyman’s cousin — of giving cases of beer to a construction company in return for votes. Mr. Kawabata said he had given the beer because the company had sent guests to an inn that he owned.

Pressed by Police Mr. Kawabata soon found himself enduring nearly 15 hours of interrogation a day. Locked in a tiny room with an inspector who shouted and threatened, he refused to confess.

So on the third day, Mr. Kawabata recalled, the inspector scribbled the names of his family members on three pieces of paper. He added messages — “Grandpa, please hurry up and become an honest grandpa,” and “I don’t remember raising you to be this kind of person” — and told Mr. Kawabata to repent.

Drawing no confession after an hour, the inspector grabbed Mr. Kawabata by the ankles and made him trample on the pieces of paper.

“I was shocked,” recalled Mr. Kawabata, 61, who was hospitalized for two weeks from the stress of the interrogation. “Man, I thought, how far will the police go?”

Mr. Kawabata, who was never indicted, recently won a $5,000 judgment for mental anguish. Trampling the pieces of paper, it turned out, had its roots in a local feudal practice of ferreting out suspected Christians by forcing them to stomp on a cross.

The police then moved on to more potent alcohol. According to the trial’s verdict and interviews with 17 people interrogated by the authorities, the police concocted a description of events according to which the assemblyman spent $17,000 to buy votes with shochu, a popular distilled spirit, and gifts of cash.

One of the first to confess was Ichiko Fujimoto, 53, a former employee of the assemblyman. After a couple of days of interrogation she broke down and admitted not only to distributing shochu and cash to her neighbors, but also to giving four parties at her home to gather support for the assemblyman.

“It’s because they kept saying, ‘Confess, just confess,’ ” Ms. Fujimoto said in an interview at her home. “They wouldn’t listen to anything I said.”

Everything in her confession was made up, a court concluded. But it was enough for the police to start extracting confessions from others for supposedly receiving shochu and money at the parties. One neighbor, Toshihiro Futokoro, 58, began despairing on the third day of interrogation, even though he had yet to be formally arrested and was allowed to go home after each day’s questioning.

“They kept saying that everybody’s confessing, that there was nothing that I could do, no matter how hard I tried,” Mr. Futokoro said, adding, “I thought that nothing I said would ever convince them.”

At the end of the third day, Mr. Futokoro tried to kill himself by jumping into a river but was pulled out by a man out fishing. He then confessed.

Another man, Kunio Yamashita, 76, succumbed after a week of interrogation. The police told him that he was the lone holdout and that he could go home if he confessed. “I hadn’t done anything, but I confessed, and I told them I’d admit to whatever they said,” said Mr. Yamashita, who eventually spent three months in jail.

A woman, Eiko Hamano, 65, confessed after the police threatened to arrest her unless she cooperated. “They said that my grandson would be bullied at school, that my child would be fired from his company, that my whole family would suffer forever,” she recalled.

On the fourth day, feeling so sick that she could barely walk, Ms. Hamano confessed to accepting money. To prove that she had spent the money, the police told her to find a receipt for an $85 purchase, she said.

But when she presented the police an $85 receipt for adult diapers she had bought for her mother, they told her she was now confessing to having received $170 instead and needed a receipt for that amount. Luckily, she had just bought a sink for that amount.

“Now I can laugh about it,” said Ms. Hamano, who refused an order by the police to shout a confession out of a window. “But it was serious back then.”

Others never confessed, including the assemblyman, Mr. Nakayama, 61, who spent 395 days in jail, and his wife, Shigeko, 58, who spent 273 days.

The village postmaster, Tomeko Nagayama, 77, spent 186 days behind bars. She was held alone in a windowless cell that she was forced to clean every night after enduring a full day of interrogation.

The police said her refusal to confess was harming her family, she said. Her husband was sick and could not live alone; her daughter had to quit her job to take over the duties at the post office.

But Ms. Nagayama, a former schoolteacher, never once considered confessing.

“I felt I’d rather die,” she said. “This kind of thing just shouldn’t be tolerated in this world.”

27954  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: ESKRIMA COALITION TOURNAMENT July 14th 2007 on: May 10, 2007, 09:55:24 PM
Thank you very much!
27955  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: May 10, 2007, 10:31:13 AM
The Terrorists Next Door?
Plot Suspects Lived Quietly in Suburb

By Anthony Faiola and Dale Russakoff
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, May 10, 2007; A01



CHERRY HILL, N.J., May 9 -- From the front porch of her two-story home on Mimosa Drive, Susan DeFrancesco looked out on the neighborhood she calls "a little United Nations." Pointing from one house to the next, she said: "They're Asian; that family's from Poland. They're from Canada. She's from India. "

Living among those varied families for the past seven years were the Dukas, a three-generational clan of ethnic Albanians. Their Muslim religious garb, repeated minor run-ins with the law, and a brood of up to 20 children, grandchildren and other relatives made them unusual, but hardly unwelcome.

"You don't want to single out a family because of where they're from or what they believe," DeFrancesco said.

On Tuesday morning, it suddenly looked different when three of the Duka brothers -- young, bearded men in their 20s who had spent most of their lives in New Jersey -- were among the six men indicted in an alleged terrorist plot to attack nearby Fort Dix with assault weapons.

For this bedroom community in the shadow of the Philadelphia skyline, they would become the accused jihadists next door -- their arrest immediately shattering assumptions both here and beyond about who Islamic militants are.

Experts have warned that the next big terrorist threat will come from homegrown extremists, unaffiliated with al Qaeda but harboring resentments fostered by materials easily available from the Internet. In fact, the few who have shown themselves thus far prove that there is no stereotype.

Most of the men arrested Tuesday were European rather than Middle Eastern. They hail from one of the most pro-American and secular parts of the Muslim world -- the ethnic Albanian regions of Macedonia, where gratitude for U.S. assistance in Kosovo during the 1990s still runs high.
They live in a garden-variety subdivision like those on the outskirts of cities from Washington, D.C., to Seattle -- once-homogeneous communities now quickly becoming ethnically and racially mixed. Their children play soccer and video games with the neighbors' kids; they hawked their roofing business at Friday prayers.

Had they not offered up an alleged jihadist video to be duplicated at a nearby Circuit City, they might never have been spotted.
That is precisely what has shaken this tree-lined suburb, where residents and leaders have prided themselves on tolerance and unity in the face of significant demographic shifts. Only last Sunday, leaders from the Islamic, Jewish and Roman Catholic faiths united with Mayor Bernie Platt on a empty patch of land in a moving groundbreaking ceremony for the community's first mosque.

Farhat Biviji, 54, a founding member of the soon-to-be-built Anjuman-I-Fakhri Mosque in Cherry Hill, said: "My heart sank when we heard of these horrible men who claimed to be Muslims. They are testing us all. Testing our ability to retain that tolerance. I pray that they have not damaged the goodwill of our community."

Perhaps they already have.

As a reporter approached the Duka house on Wednesday evening, two young mothers across the street yelled out, "Don't go over there and talk to them -- you don't know what they'll do."

Then Zurata Duka, the mother of the three arrested brothers, proclaimed their innocence, asking why neighbors now run from her.

"My sons got caught saying nothing -- there is no proof, no words from them in that affidavit, only the other three," she said. Wearing a headscarf and long robe, she threw her arms out, gesturing at her sons' pickup truck. "Look, it's their roofing truck. They're hard workers. If they were really terrorists, would they take that tape to Circuit City?"

A teenager who declined to give his name but said he was their younger brother declared: "I'm with my brothers 24-7. They never talked like terrorists."

In their daily lives, according to dozens of interviews with neighbors, authorities and acquaintances, the six arrested men largely blended into the cultural patchwork of southern New Jersey, a region emblematic of the changing face of suburban America.

In the Cherry Hill School District, children now speak 62 native languages, compared with 53 in 1998. White children made up 92 percent of the school district in 1980 -- compared with 76 percent today.

Within 10 miles of Cherry Hill, two mosques have sprung up over the past 15 years. One is the South Jersey Islamic Center in Palmyra, about 11 miles northwest of Cherry Hill, where the Duka brothers -- whose brother-in-law, Mohamad Ibrahim Shmewer, was also arrested Tuesday -- regularly worshiped on Friday evenings.

U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie said in an interview that it was inside the South Jersey Islamic Center that the Duka brothers met and recruited Serdar Tatar, 23, a Turkish-born legal U.S. resident raised in the south Jersey area.

Members of the mosque remember the Dukas differently. The eldest brother, Dritan, 28, was described as a friendly, outgoing man who would use the center to drum up customers for his roofing business, often telling jokes and heartily slapping backs. But as ethnic Albanians in a mosque dominated by Pakistani and Arabs, many of whom did not speak fluent English, conversations with the Dukas were often cursory.

"How are we supposed to know what they are thinking? The brothers came to the mosque for Friday prayers, but did not seem overly religious or interested in Muslim teachings," said a 41-year-old Tunisian butcher and regular worshiper at the mosque who requested anonymity.
"The oldest brother was a funny guy, a joker. But he was not North African or Pakistani, and the language barriers often force us to talk among our own ethnic groups. But they certainly did not seem like people who hated this country."

The Dukas were living in America illegally, having entered two decades ago on now-expired visas. In almost every way, they were products of typical U.S. suburban life. Shain, 26, and Eljvir, 24, attended Cherry Hill West High School and often played soccer in their front yard.

They were also no strangers to the police. Tatar and the Dukas were habitual offenders, stopped dozens of times a year for speeding, illegal passing and driving without a license. Dritan Duka pleaded guilty in 2000 to possession of drug paraphernalia and Shain Duka to possession of marijuana -- low-level charges that at the time did not trigger immigration background checks.

Only one brother had a driver's license, and only briefly. But they drove anyway and were ticketed regularly by Cherry Hill police -- including four citations in one five-week period for Dritan Duka. The three had their driving privileges suspended -- meaning they could not even apply for a license -- 54 times in less than a decade. William Kushina, a Cherry Hill Police Department spokesman, said the department could do nothing about serial unlicensed driving except continue to issue tickets and suspend privileges. "You can't physically restrain a person from driving," he said.

The six men are scheduled for a bail hearing on Friday. But for Cherry Hill, the question is whether the town will sustain the tolerance that is a hallmark of community pride.

Mike Levine, 38, who lives two doors from the Dukas, said they were good neighbors: They gave him vegetables from their garden and were unfailingly pleasant.

"They were your everyday Muslims," he said. "The kids would be out front playing soccer. They seemed hardworking. I would have believed they were aliens before I'd think they were terrorists."

"Now some people on the block are feeling guilty we didn't pick up on something," he continued. "I don't want to worry what the people next door are doing behind closed doors. I don't want to think like that, but maybe now I have to."
27956  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: May 10, 2007, 07:26:12 AM
Two interesting reads on investment theory:

http://www.gladwell.com/2002/2002_04_29_a_blowingup.htm


Few and Far Between: Black Swans and the Impossibility of Prediction
http://www.changethis.com/33.04.FewFar
27957  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: May 10, 2007, 06:37:24 AM
stratfor.com

MEXICO: Michoacan Gov. Larazo Cardena Batel said in an interview with Excelsior that the Mexican army is the only force able to fight drug trafficking in Mexico. Batel cited a May 7 shootout, which involved soldiers killing four suspected drug smugglers in Apatzingan, Michoacan, as an example of the army's ability to combat criminal organizations. Batel also said violent organized crimes in the state have decreased as a result of military presence.
27958  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Vegan on: May 10, 2007, 06:34:38 AM


Vegan couple gets life over baby's death Malnourished baby was fed soy milk and apple juice, weighed 3 1/2 pounds
The Associated Press
Updated: 2:55 p.m. ET May 9, 2007

ATLANTA - A vegan couple were sentenced Wednesday to life in prison for the death of their malnourished 6-week-old baby boy, who was fed a diet largely consisting of soy milk and apple juice.

Superior Court Judge L.A. McConnell imposed the mandatory sentences on Jade Sanders, 27, and Lamont Thomas, 31. Their son, Crown Shakur, weighed just 3 1/2 pounds when he died of starvation on April 25, 2004.
The couple were found guilty May 2 of malice murder, felony murder, involuntary manslaughter and cruelty to children. A jury deliberated about seven hours before returning the guilty verdicts.

Defense lawyers said the first-time parents did the best they could while adhering to the lifestyle of vegans, who typically use no animal products. They said Sanders and Thomas did not realize the baby, who was born at home, was in danger until minutes before he died.

But prosecutors said the couple intentionally neglected their child and refused to take him to the doctor even as the baby’s body wasted away.
“No matter how many times they want to say, ‘We’re vegans, we’re vegetarians,’ that’s not the issue in this case,” said prosecutor Chuck Boring. “The child died because he was not fed. Period.”


Although the life sentences were automatic, Sanders and Thomas begged for leniency before sentencing. Sanders urged the judge to look past his “perception” of the couple.

“I loved my son — and I did not starve him,” she said.
When the judge told the defendants they could ask for a new trial, Thomas hung his head low.

“I’m dying every day in there,” he said, “and that could take three years.”
======================



"A DEFICIENCY IN JUST ONE nutrient--vitamin B12--can halt the development of a baby's brain. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently reported two cases of severe BI2 deficiency in toddlers who were breast-fed by vegan mothers. Vegans practice a strict form of vegetarianism, cutting all meat from their diet, as well as eggs, dairy and other animal by-products. The vitamin occurs naturally only in animal products and helps maintain nerve and blood cells.
The two mothers ( shocked ) who both lived in Georgia, were themselves deficient in B12. Although both morns said they intermittently took vitamin supplements, the deficiency caused developmental delays in the children, who were 15 months old and two and a half years old at the time of the study. Both had about half the language and motor skills of average kids their age. The rate of B12 deficiency in the general population is unknown, according to the CDC."


http://findarticles.com/p/articles/m...36/ai_n6028123


27959  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: June 2007 Gathering on: May 09, 2007, 06:19:54 PM
Woof All:

We are up to 40 registered fighters! cool grin cool
27960  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: ESKRIMA COALITION TOURNAMENT July 14th 2007 on: May 09, 2007, 06:10:14 PM
Traditionally there is a dinner for the fighters/Tribe.   When we have the deal settled with OP/NG we will work when and where the dinner will be and let everyone know.
27961  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Spike TV, the Dog Brothers Gathering Webisodes; National Geographic on: May 09, 2007, 06:06:22 PM
Waiting for test results can fcuk with one's mind  sad shocked huh angry tongue embarassed cry undecided grin

I trust all with be well. 

Did we say 90 second rounds?  evil  For you, no problem.  grin
27962  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: ESKRIMA COALITION TOURNAMENT July 14th 2007 on: May 09, 2007, 05:07:13 PM
I would LOVE to have my own copy of that!!!
27963  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Islamo-fascismo en Latino America on: May 09, 2007, 11:49:27 AM
Segundo post del dia:
==================



http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16840357/site/newsweek/

Tehran Goes Latin
By Joseph Contreras
Newsweek International
Feb. 5, 2007 issue - When Iran's firebrand president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,
chose to visit three Latin American capitals earlier this month, there's
little doubt he meant his trip to irritate the Great Satan to the north.
Sure enough, it had just that effect; "Iran's track record does not suggest
it wishes to play a constructive role in the hemisphere," said Eric Watnik,
a U.S. State Department spokesman. But U.S. officials are worried about more
than just Tehran's diplomacy these days. They fear that Iran might one day
help its terrorist proxy, Hizbullah, set up shop throughout the United
States' backyard. Indeed, Latin America could be emerging as a quiet new
front in the war on terror. So far, however, most regional governments
remain unmoved by Washington's requests that they clamp down, and the
controversy could further damage some already fragile relationships.

The lawless tri-border region, where Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay meet,
has long been a suspected locus for Hizbullah fund-raising, although the
State Department continues to rate the threat of terror strikes as low in
most of these countries. Last month U.S. Treasury officials issued a
statement describing in detail how an established Hizbullah network, based
in Ciudad del Este in eastern Paraguay, has sent millions of dollars to the
terrorist group over the past two years. The report also fingered nine
Lebanese men-most of whom hold Paraguayan or Brazilian passports-it claimed
were running the operation.

Latin America is home to between 3 million and 6 million Muslims, many of
whose forefathers came from Syria and Lebanon in the 19th century. They
settled largely in Brazil (which now has more than 1.5 million Muslims),
Argentina (which has 700,000), Venezuela and Colombia. The region is no
stranger to terror operations allegedly bearing Tehran's stamp.. In
November, an Argentine judge issued arrest warrants for Iran's ex-president,
Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, and eight of his associates for complicity in
the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85
people. An Argentine prosecutor has traced the planning for that operation
to a 1993 meeting in the Iranian city of Mashhad. But Iran has denied the
charges and said it would ignore any extradition requests from the
government of President Néstor Kirchner. The case has yet to produce a
single conviction and remains a sore point with Kirchner, who two weeks ago
abruptly canceled plans to attend the Inauguration of Ecuador's new
president, Rafael Correa, when he learned that Ahmadinejad would be there.

Sources in U.S. military intelligence have also identified Islamic radicals
in the Brazilian cities of São Paulo and Curitiba, the Colombian town of
Maicao, the Dutch Antilles island of Curaçao and the Chilean free port of
Iquique, where one of Hizbullah's fund-raisers traveled frequently to raise
cash. The mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, spent some
time in Brazil in 1995, and another Qaeda operative named Adnan G.
al-Shukrijumah visited Panama in 2001 while traveling on a passport issued
by Trinidad and Tobago. Dozens of missionaries belonging to a
Pakistani-based Islamic organization called Jamaat al-Tabligh are dispatched
to the region each year in search of converts. "The bottom line is that
there are Islamic radical groups throughout Latin America and the Caribbean
and not just in the tri-border area," says a U.S. military intelligence
official, who asked not to be named for security reasons. "Latin America is
still an area where it's easy for people to move in and out of, and there
are communities in which terrorists can hide." Now Iran's increased outreach
may be making matters worse, say diplomats. Jaime Daremblum, a former Costa
Rican ambassador to the United States, called Iran's new activism "a very
explosive cocktail that's being mixed."

The State Department has credited Panama, El Salvador, Trinidad and Tobago,
Jamaica and Mexico with stepping up their antiterror activities. Yet to
Washington's dismay, other local governments seem less willing to address
the threat. The Brazilian Foreign Ministry responded to Washington's charges
last month by stating that Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay had found no
evidence to corroborate the U.S. allegations about terrorist financing
activity in the tri-border area. Brasília went on to complain that
"unilateral declarations that point arbitrarily to the triple border cause
undue damage to the region." Some regional governments have adopted a
see-no-evil attitude, treating Hizbullah fund-raising, for example, as
innocent cases of Arab immigrants' sending cash remittances back home. "It's
difficult sometimes to get these countries to talk about the presence of
terrorist organizations within their borders," says Patrick O'Brien,
assistant Treasury secretary for terrorist financing. "But Hizbullah is a
global organization, and we certainly think [their Latin operatives] are
major figures in [this] activity."


      Juan Mabromata / AFP-Getty Images
      Muslims protested at the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires last summer
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

If some local governments appear reluctant to crack down on Iranian-backed
groups or sever ties with Tehran, it may be because Ahmadinejad has worked
hard to make himself an attractive friend. On his recent tour of the region,
he promised to open an embassy in Managua, build dams and housing, and
improve Nicaragua's drinking-water supplies. Meanwhile, Venezuela's
President Hugo Chávez has worked closely with Iran inside OPEC to boost oil
prices and has defended Ahmadinejad's nuclear ambitions. During the Iranian
president's latest visit to Caracas, Chávez announced that a $2 billion
investment fund previously established by the two countries would be used to
"liberate" other nations from what he called "the imperialist yoke."

It's no surprise, then, that U.S. concerns keep growing. The United States'
porous border with Mexico has long loomed as a tempting entry route for
terrorists, and Latin America itself has until recently been what one expert
calls a virtual "blind spot" in Washington's war against terror.
"Law-enforcement officials are very concerned about [South America's]
becoming a transit point [for terrorists], and [governments in the region]
have yet to demonstrate in any serious fashion their counterterrorism
capacity," says Magnus Ranstorp, a specialist in militant Islamic movements
at the Swedish National Defense College. "If I were a terrorist today, I'd
be hiding out in South America." If Washington's claims are right, some
Islamic radicals have done just that, and with an expanding Iranian presence
in the region, others may soon follow in their footsteps.

© 2007 Newsweek, Inc.
========================

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5786549/

Al-Qaida said to recruit in Latin America
Region on alert amid growing evidence of terrorist presence

Updated: 3:46 a.m. PT Aug 22, 2004
MONTERREY, Mexico - Governments throughout Mexico and Central America are on
alert as evidence grows that al-Qaida members are traveling in the region
and looking for recruits to carry out attacks in Latin America - the
potential last frontier for international terrorism.

The territory could be a perfect staging ground for Osama bin Laden's
militants, with homegrown rebel groups, drug and people smugglers, and
corrupt governments. U.S. officials have long feared al-Qaida could launch
an attack from south of the border, and they have been paying closer
attention as the number of terrorism-related incidents has increased since
last year.

The strongest possible al-Qaida link is Adnan G. El Shukrijumah, a
29-year-old Saudi pilot suspected of being a terrorist cell leader. The FBI
issued a border-wide alert earlier this month for Shukrijumah, saying he may
try to cross into Arizona or Texas.

In June, Honduran officials said Shukrijumah was spotted earlier this year
at an Internet cafe in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. Panamanian
officials say the pilot and alleged bombmaker passed through their country
before the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft in May singled out Shukrijumah as one of
seven especially dangerous al-Qaida-linked terrorist figures wanted by the
government, which fears a new al-Qaida attack. A $5 million reward is posted
for information leading to his capture.

'The alert has been sounded'
Mexican and U.S. border officials have been on extra alert, checking foreign
passports and arresting any illegal migrants. In a sign of a growing Mexican
crackdown, eight people from Armenia, Iran and Iraq were arrested Thursday
in Mexicali on charges they may have entered Mexico with false documents,
although they did not appear to have any terrorist ties.

Jose Luis Santiago Vasconcelos, Mexico's top anti-crime prosecutor, said
Mexican officials have no evidence that Shukrijumah - or any other al-Qaida
operatives - are in Mexico. But Mexican authorities are investigating and
keeping a close eye on the airports and borders.

"The alert has been sounded," Vasconcelos told The Associated Press last
month.

In Central America, Honduran Security Minister Oscar Alvarez said officials
have uncovered evidence that terrorists, likely from al-Qaida, may be trying
to recruit Hondurans to carry out attacks in Central America. He did not
offer details.

El Salvador authorities last week reinforced security at the country's
international airport and along the borders after purported al-Qaida threats
appeared on the Internet against their country for supporting the U.S.-led
coalition in Iraq. President Tony Saca, undeterred, is sending the country's
third peacekeeping unit - 380 troops - to Iraq.

Terrorists have struck in Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the
United States. Latin America could be next, analysts say, especially as it
becomes harder to operate elsewhere.

"If there is a crackdown, they are going to pick up shop and move," said
Matt Levitt, a terrorism analyst and senior fellow at the Washington
Institute.

Officials worry the Panama Canal could be a likely target. In 2003, boats
making more than 13,000 trips through the waterway carried about 188 million
tons of cargo.

Earlier this month, the United States and seven Latin American countries -
including Argentina, Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Peru
and Panama - carried out a weeklong anti-terror exercise aimed at protecting
the canal.

In South America, U.S. officials have long suspected Paraguay's border with
Brazil and Argentina as an area for Islamic terrorist fund-raising. Much of
the focus has fallen on the Muslim community that sprouted during the 1970s,
and authorities believe as much as $100 million a year flows out of the
region, with large portions diverted to Islamic militants linked to
Hezbollah and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

But Mexico remains a concern for U.S.
The more immediate concern is Mexico, which shares a porous, 2,000-mile
border with the United States and is the home to widespread organized crime.

In December, Mexican officials canceled two Aeromexico flights from Mexico
City to Los Angeles, and a third was forced to turn around after takeoff
because of terrorism concerns.

At the time, the United States, Canada and Interpol told Mexico that
officials suspected terrorists might be using Mexican soil to plan an
attack, Vasconcelos said.

Concerns increased this summer about whether Mexico was doing enough to
screen international visitors after a 48-year-old South African woman
arrived in Mexico with a passport that was missing several pages and then
waded across the Rio Grande into Texas.

Farida Goolam Mahamed Ahmed was arrested July 19 while trying to board a
flight in McAllen, Texas. She pleaded innocent Friday to immigration
violations and was under investigation for links to terrorist activities or
groups. Court testimony indicated she traveled from Johannesburg on July 8,
via Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to London, then to Mexico City on or about
July 14. The countries she traveled through do not require South Africans to
have visas.

Mexican officials said Ahmed was not stopped upon entering Mexico because
her name did not appear on any international terrorist watch-lists.

Mexican officials say they are closely scrutinizing visa requests from the
Middle East and have heightened surveillance at the nation's largest
airports since Sept. 11.

"The requirements for a visa for people from the Middle East have not
changed, but all requests are being checked more thoroughly," said Mauricio
Juarez, a spokesman with Mexico's Migration Institute.

The country is a popular U.S. entry point for people trying to sneak into
the United States, and the majority - 46 percent - of all people arrested on
immigration violations in Mexico come from Brazil. The rest are largely from
the Americas, China or Singapore.

It has become nearly impossible for people from Muslim countries to get
visas to come to Mexico since the Sept. 11 attacks.

Fayesa Amin, a 37-year-old Pakistani, started the process to get a Mexican
visa two months before she was to attend a wedding in Mexico. The Mexican
consulate in Karachi asked her to fill out several forms and to turn in
copies of her credit card and bank statements for a full year.

Amin, who runs three beauty salons in Pakistan, said Mexican authorities
told her a visa had been approved and it could be picked up in London. But
Mexican officials there said her visa was being held in Ankara, Turkey. In
the end, she ended up spending her holiday stranded in London.

"I knew it would be hard to get to that part of the world and that
everything had become more difficult," Amin said in a telephone interview
from Islamabad. "But I didn't realize how hard it could be."

© 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be
published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

27964  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Islamo-fascismo en Latino America on: May 09, 2007, 11:48:01 AM
Hezbollah builds a Western base
From inside South America's Tri-border area, Iran-linked militia targets
U.S.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17874369/
By Pablo Gato and Robert Windrem
NBC News
Updated: 2 hours, 36 minutes ago
CIUDAD DEL ESTE, Paraguay - The Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia has taken
root in South America, fostering a well-financed force of Islamist radicals
boiling with hatred for the United States and ready to die to prove it,
according to militia members, U.S. officials and police agencies across the
continent.

From its Western base in a remote region divided by the borders of Paraguay,
Brazil and Argentina known as the Tri-border, or the Triple Frontier,
Hezbollah has mined the frustrations of many Muslims among about 25,000 Arab
residents whose families immigrated mainly from Lebanon in two waves, after
the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and after the 1985 Lebanese civil war.

An investigation by Telemundo and NBC News has uncovered details of an
extensive smuggling network run by Hezbollah, a Shiite Muslim group founded
in Lebanon in 1982 that the United States has labeled an international
terrorist organization. The operation funnels large sums of money to militia
leaders in the Middle East and finances training camps, propaganda
operations and bomb attacks in South America, according to U.S. and South
American officials.

U.S. officials fear that poorly patrolled borders and rampant corruption in
the Tri-border region could make it easy for Hezbollah terrorists to
infiltrate the southern U.S. border. From the largely lawless region, it is
easy for potential terrorists, without detection, to book passage to the
United States through Brazil and then Mexico simply by posing as tourists.

They are men like Mustafa Khalil Meri, a young Arab Muslim whom Telemundo
interviewed in Ciudad del Este, Paraguay's second-largest city and the
center of the Tri-border region. There is nothing particularly distinctive
about him, but beneath the everyday T-shirt he wears beats the heart of a
devoted Hezbollah militiaman.

"If he attacks Iran, in two minutes Bush is dead," Meri said. "We are
Muslims. I am Hezbollah. We are Muslims, and we will defend our countries at
any time they are attacked



Hezbollah builds a Western base
From inside South America's Tri-border area, Iran-linked militia targets
U.S.

By Pablo Gato and Robert Windrem
NBC News
Updated: 2 hours, 36 minutes ago
CIUDAD DEL ESTE, Paraguay - The Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia has taken
root in South America, fostering a well-financed force of Islamist radicals
boiling with hatred for the United States and ready to die to prove it,
according to militia members, U.S. officials and police agencies across the
continent.

From its Western base in a remote region divided by the borders of Paraguay,
Brazil and Argentina known as the Tri-border, or the Triple Frontier,
Hezbollah has mined the frustrations of many Muslims among about 25,000 Arab
residents whose families immigrated mainly from Lebanon in two waves, after
the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and after the 1985 Lebanese civil war.

An investigation by Telemundo and NBC News has uncovered details of an
extensive smuggling network run by Hezbollah, a Shiite Muslim group founded
in Lebanon in 1982 that the United States has labeled an international
terrorist organization. The operation funnels large sums of money to militia
leaders in the Middle East and finances training camps, propaganda
operations and bomb attacks in South America, according to U.S. and South
American officials.
U.S. officials fear that poorly patrolled borders and rampant corruption in
the Tri-border region could make it easy for Hezbollah terrorists to
infiltrate the southern U.S. border. From the largely lawless region, it is
easy for potential terrorists, without detection, to book passage to the
United States through Brazil and then Mexico simply by posing as tourists.

They are men like Mustafa Khalil Meri, a young Arab Muslim whom Telemundo
interviewed in Ciudad del Este, Paraguay's second-largest city and the
center of the Tri-border region. There is nothing particularly distinctive
about him, but beneath the everyday T-shirt he wears beats the heart of a
devoted Hezbollah militiaman.

"If he attacks Iran, in two minutes Bush is dead," Meri said. "We are
Muslims. I am Hezbollah. We are Muslims, and we will defend our countries at
any time they are attacked



===========



Straight shot to the U.S.
U.S. and South American officials warn that Meri's is more than a rhetorical
threat.

It is surprisingly easy to move across borders in the Triple Frontier, where
motorbikes are permitted to cross without documents. A smuggler can bike
from Paraguay into Brazil and return without ever being asked for a
passport, and it is not much harder for cars and trucks.



The implications of such lawlessness could be dire, U.S. and Paraguayan
officials said. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, chairman of the House
Intelligence Committee, said Hezbollah militiamen would raise no suspicions
because they have Latin American passports, speak Spanish and look like
Hispanic tourists.

The CIA singles out the Mexican border as an especially inviting target for
Hezbollah operatives. "Many alien smuggling networks that facilitate the
movement of non-Mexicans have established links to Muslim communities in
Mexico," its Counter Terrorism Center said in a 2004 threat paper.

"Non-Mexicans often are more difficult to intercept because they typically
pay high-end smugglers a large sum of money to efficiently assist them
across the border, rather than haphazardly traverse it on their own."

Deadly legacy of a lawless frontier
Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Tri-border has become a
top-level, if little-publicized, concern for Washington, particularly as
tension mounts with Iran, Hezbollah's main sponsor. Paraguayan government
officials told Telemundo that CIA operatives and agents of Israel's Mossad
security force were known to be in the region seeking to neutralize what
they believe could be an imminent threat.

But long before that, U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies
regarded the region as a "free zone for significant criminal activity,
including people who are organized to commit acts of terrorism," Louis
Freeh, then the director of the FBI, said in 1998.

Edward Luttwak, a counterterrorism expert with the Pentagon's National
Security Study Group, described the Tri-border as the most important base
for Hezbollah outside Lebanon itself, home to "a community of dangerous
fanatics that send their money for financial support to Hezbollah."

"People kill with that, and they have planned terrorist attacks from there,"
said Luttwak, who has been a terrorism consultant to the CIA and the
National Security Council. "The northern region of Argentina, the eastern
region of Paraguay and even Brazil are large terrains, and they have an
organized training and recruitment camp for terrorists."

"Our experience is that if you see one roach, there are a lot more," said
Frank Urbancic, principal deputy director of the State Department's
counterterrorism office, who has spent most of his career in the Middle
East.

A mother lode of money
Operating out of the Tri-border, Hezbollah is accused of killing more than
100 people in attacks in nearby Buenos Aires, Argentina, during the early
1990s in operations personally masterminded by Hezbollah's military
commander, Imad Mugniyah.

Mugniyah is on the most-wanted terrorist lists of both the FBI and the
European Union, and he is believed to work frequently out of Ciudad del
Este.

For President Bush and the U.S.-led "war on terror," the flourishing of
Hezbollah in the Western Hemisphere demonstrates the worrying worldwide
reach of Islamist radicalism. In the Tri-border, Hezbollah and other radical
anti-U.S. groups have found a lucrative base from which to finance many of
their operations.

Smuggling has long been the lifeblood of the Tri-border, accounting for $2
billion to $3 billion in the region, according to congressional officials.
Several U.S. agencies said that Arab merchants were involved in smuggling
cigarettes and livestock to avoid taxes, as well as cocaine and marijuana
through the border with Brazil on their way to Europe. Some of the proceeds
are sent to Hezbollah, they said.

Many Arabs in the Tri-border openly acknowledge that they send money to
Hezbollah to help their families, and the man in charge of the local mosque
in Ciudad del Este, who asked not to be identified by name, declared that
Shiite Muslim mosques had "an obligation to finance it."

But the U.S. government maintains that the money ends up stained with blood
when it goes through Hezbollah, which is blamed for the bombings of the U.S.
Embassy and the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, in the 1980s, as well as
the kidnappings of Americans, two of whom were tortured and killed.

Patrick M. O'Brien, the assistant secretary of the Treasury in charge of
fighting terrorist financing, acknowledged flatly that "we are worried."

"Hezbollah has penetrated the area, and part of that smuggling money is used
to finance terrorist attacks," he said.

===========



In Paraguay, looking the other way
The biggest obstacle in the U.S. campaign to counter Hezbollah close to home
is Paraguay, whose "judicial system remains severely hampered by a lack of
strong anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism legislation," the State
Department said in a "Patterns of Global Terrorism" report.

Since 2004, a draft bill to strengthen money laundering laws has been
stalled in the Paraguayan legislature, and the government of President
Nicanor Duarte has introduced no draft legislation of its own.

Hampering reform efforts is an endemic reluctance in Paraguay to acknowledge
the problem.

Interior Minister Rogelio Benitez Vargas, who supervises the national
police, claimed that Hezbollah-linked smuggling was a relic of the 1980s.
Today, he said, the Triple Frontier is a safe and regulated "commercial
paradise."

But authorities from the U.S. State and Treasury departments to Interpol to
the front-line Paraguayan police agencies all paint a different picture.
Eduardo Arce, secretary of the Paraguayan Union of Journalists, said the
government was widely considered to be under the control of drug traffickers
and smugglers.

Without interference, thousands of people cross the River Parana every day
from Paraguay to Brazil over the Bridge of Friendship loaded with products
on which they pay no taxes. As police look the other way, he said, some
smugglers cross the border 10 to 20 times a day. Earlier this year,
Telemundo cameras were present as smugglers in Ciudad del Este loaded trucks
headed for Brazil. They could have been laden with drugs or weapons, but no
authorities ever checked.

Direct link to Iran alleged
José Adasco knows better than most why Hezbollah has the region in a grip of
fear.

In 1992 and 1994, terrorists believed to be linked to Hezbollah carried out
two attacks against Jewish targets in Buenos Aires, the Argentine capital.
In the first, a car bomb exploded at the Israeli Embassy, killing 29 people.
Two years later, a suicide bomber attacked the Argentine Israelite Mutual
Association, a Jewish community center, killing 85 more.

Adasco, who represents the Jewish association, has never been able to forget
that day and the friends he lost.

"Really, to see the knocked-down building, [to hear] the screams, the cries,
people running - it was total chaos. Chaos, chaos. It is inexpressible," he
said.

An investigation by Interpol and the FBI found not only Hezbollah's
involvement, but Iran's, as well. The Argentine prosecutor's office said the
Iranian president at the time, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, ordered the
attack to retaliate against Argentina for suspending nuclear cooperation
with Iran.

A warrant for Rafsanjani's arrest remains outstanding, and the prosecutor's
office continues its investigation 13 years later.

Hezbollah tells its story
Alberto Nisman, the Argentine district attorney leading the investigation,
said the connection between the Hezbollah attack and the Tri-border is
unquestionable. Among other things, he said, the suicide bomber passed
through the area to receive instructions.

In the intervening years, Hezbollah has spread throughout Latin America.

On their Web page, local Hezbollah militants in Venezuela call their fight
against the United States a "holy war" and post photographs of would-be
suicide terrorists with masks and bombs. There are also Web sites for
Hezbollah in Chile, El Salvador, Argentina and most other Latin American
countries.

"The Paraguayan justice [ministry] and the national police have found
propaganda materials for Hezbollah" across the hemisphere, said Augusto
Anibal Lima of Paraguay's Tri-border Police.

And it is not only propaganda. In October, homemade bombs were left in front
of the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela, which is next to a school.

Police arrested a student carrying Hezbollah propaganda in Spanish. One of
the pamphlets showed a picture of children and said, "Combat is our highest
expression of love and the only way to offer a healthy and uncorrupted
world."

Caracas police were able to detonate the bombs safely. Police Commissioner
Wilfredo Borras said they appeared to be "explosive devices made to make
noise and publicity" - very different from what would be used if the United
States attacked Iran.

"In [the] United States, there are many Arabs - in Canada, too," said Meri,
the Hezbollah member who spoke with Telemundo. "If one bomb [strikes] Iran,
one bomb, [Bush] will see the world burning.

"... If an order arrives, all the Arabs that are here, in other parts in the
world, all will go to take bombs, bombs for everybody if he bombs Iran."

Pablo Gato is a correspondent for Telemundo. Robert Windrem is an
investigative producer for NBC News.
27965  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WW3 on: May 09, 2007, 09:19:17 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Cheney in a Sandstorm

U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney left Tuesday for a trip to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Jordan. The Cheney trip comes on the heels of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's visit to Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt, where she attended a regional security conference on Iraq and interacted with the Syrian and Iranian foreign ministers.

Rice's meet-and-greets at Sharm el-Sheikh were all about putting a fresh, conciliatory face on the Bush administration in dealing with the Iranian and Syrian pariahs of the Middle East. By engaging the Syrians and Iranians in high-level talks, albeit brief ones, Washington took a small step toward bringing its back-channel negotiations over Iraq into the public realm. The forum allowed Rice to demonstrate a willingness by the United States to deal openly with Iraq's Sunni and Shiite neighbors in bringing stability -- and an eventual U.S. exit strategy -- to Iraq.

Cheney's visit to the region, however, has a starkly different purpose. Whereas Rice played the role of the engaging diplomat, Cheney will be playing the role of enforcer.

Cheney is notably visiting the main Sunni powerhouses of the region -- Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, Cairo and Amman. By intently focusing his trip on Washington's Arab allies, Cheney is sending a clear message to Tehran that the U.S. government is not about to allow Iran to sweep into Iraq and upset the regional balance by spreading Shiite influence into the heart of the Arab world. The Sunni Arab states are very concerned that any deal the United States makes with Iran would end up compromising the historical upper hand that the Sunnis have long maintained in containing their Shiite rivals.

Moreover, the Sunni powers are worried that the continuing sectarian conflict in Iraq will eventually spread beyond the country's borders and threaten political interests at home. Saudi King Abdullah expressed his exasperation at the U.S. lack of progress in Iraq quite bluntly at the Arab League summit in March, when he labeled the U.S. troop presence in Iraq as an "illegitimate foreign occupation." Though King Abdullah lambasted the United States in his speech, the reality of the situation is that Riyadh, as well as the other Sunni states, are not exactly keen on the idea of a U.S. troop withdrawal leaving a power vacuum in Iraq for the Iranians to fill. King Abdullah has doubtless given serious thought to a scenario down the line in which Iranian troops are sitting on the Iraqi-Saudi border within spitting distance of Saudi Arabia's prized oil fields.

In light of these concerns, Cheney will be delivering two very important messages to these Sunni governments. The first message will involve a number of reassurances that the United States is still a reliable ally to its Sunni friends in the region, and is not about to let Iraq transform into an Iranian satellite state. Cheney can pacify the Arab states by assuring them that U.S. troops are not on the verge of pulling out of Iraq (particularly as the Pentagon announced on Tuesday that it has earmarked 35,000 more troops for deployments there this year) -- but he will also tell these Arab leaders very bluntly that, with less than two years to go under the Bush administration and with a presidential race in which "withdrawal" has become practically every candidate's buzzword, he cannot promise U.S. troops will stay in Iraq for the long haul.

And this brings us to the second message that we expect Cheney to deliver. As we have outlined in depth in previous analyses, the United States is working toward a negotiated settlement on Iraq with the main power players in the region, most notably Iran and Saudi Arabia. For such a settlement to materialize, sectarian violence in Iraq must be brought down to manageable levels for the government in Baghdad to function. However, this strategy rests on faulty assumptions that Tehran and Riyadh have the leverage in Iraq to rein in the Sunni and Shiite militants responsible for the majority of the bloodshed. In other words, the United States cannot move forward in stabilizing Iraq until it knows who in Iraq it is dealing with -- and who can actually be dealt with in the first place.

This is where Iraq's Sunni neighbors come in.

Not coincidentally, Cheney is traveling to countries that house the Arab world's most sophisticated intelligence services. What Cheney is looking for is a commitment by Riyadh, Amman, Abu Dhabi and Cairo to step up and coalesce an Iraqi Sunni platform that can deliver in negotiations with Iraq's Shiite and Kurdish factions. These Arab states have the connections, the money and the coercive tools to bring the Sunni nationalist insurgents in line and close Iraq's doors to the foreign jihadists. Or so the United States would like to assume.

Whether the Sunni Arab powers will take action, or be successful in their efforts, depends on how seriously these states are considering the thought of U.S. troops withdrawing. U.S. President George W. Bush is in a very tricky position right now. By pursuing a surge strategy in Iraq, he is signaling to the Iranians that Washington has no intent to draw down its military presence in the region -- and that therefore it would be in the Persian ayatollahs' best interest to deal now, rather than wait out the administration. On the other hand, Bush also has to convince the Arab states that they had better start moving now to unite the Iraqi Sunni front, otherwise they will be dealing with the Iranians on their own in a couple of years.

Cheney has his work cut out for him during this trip -- getting the Sunni Arab powers to comply with Bush's strategy for Iraq is a bulls-eye that only the sharpest diplomatic marksman could hope to hit. We wonder whether, this time around, Cheney has improved his aim.
27966  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Classic Book About America’s Indians Gains a Few Flourishes as a Film on: May 09, 2007, 09:03:28 AM


LOS ANGELES, May 8 — When the historian Dee Brown published “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” in 1971, it became an instant sensation. In an age of rebellion, this nonfiction book told the epic tale of the displacement and decline of the American Indian not from the perspective of the winners, but from that of the Indians.

But the fact that Mr. Brown’s work has been translated into 17 languages and has sold five million copies around the world was not enough to convince HBO that a film version would draw a sizable mainstream audience. When the channel broadcasts its two-hour adaptation of the book, beginning Memorial Day weekend, at its center will be a new character: a man who was part Sioux, was educated at an Ivy League college and married a white woman.

“Everyone felt very strongly that we needed a white character or a part-white, part-Indian character to carry a contemporary white audience through this project,” Daniel Giat, the writer who adapted the book for HBO Films, told a group of television writers earlier this year.

The added character is based on a real person: Charles Eastman, part Sioux and descended from a long line of Santee chiefs but who was sent away by his father to boarding school and then held up as a model of the potential assimilation of 19th-century Native Americans. But the film fictionalizes significant portions of his life. In the HBO version he dodges bullets at the Battle of Little Bighorn. In reality he was far away, in grade school in Nebraska.

Fictionalizing history has long been standard in Hollywood. But rarely do filmmakers directly hitch their historically inaccurate projects to revered works of nonfiction. Dick Wolf, an executive producer of the film who is best known for the “Law & Order” television franchise, defended the fabrications.

“This was not an attempt to do the Ken Burns version of the Indian experience,” Mr. Wolf said in an interview. “It is a dramatization, and we needed a protagonist.”

(The chief executive of HBO, Chris Albrecht, announced yesterday that he was taking a leave of absence after being charged with assaulting a girlfriend in a Las Vegas parking lot early on Sunday.)

At the time it was published, Mr. Brown’s epic, subtitled “An Indian History of the American West,” struck a chord in a country embroiled in a divisive war in Vietnam and still shuddering from the American military’s massacre in the village of My Lai. Segregation was dying hard in the South, and the American Indian Movement was ascending.

The story is a relentless tragedy, tracing the history of American Indian nations from 1860, shortly after the first new states extended into the “permanent Indian frontier,” through 1890 and the massacre at Wounded Knee, in what is now South Dakota. It became a blockbuster best seller and helped shape the way the history of the American Indians has been interpreted ever since.

For decades the book eluded attempts to turn it into a film, partly because of Mr. Brown’s distrust of Hollywood. At least two attempts by potential moviemakers to adapt the book failed. When the current producers optioned the book five years ago, Mr. Brown was in the last years of his life and, according to his grandson, did not believe anything would come of the project. (Mr. Brown died in 2002 at 94.)

Tom Thayer, the executive producer who originated the project, said the HBO team wrestled for months with how to boil down a book that spans 30 years and dozens of tribes into a 130-minute film.

“The book is basically an editorialized textbook,” Mr. Thayer said. “It doesn’t have a single narrative; it’s anthropological and episodic.” Therefore, he added, “we felt that to tell a story of that size, the Eastman character would be a great hand-holder for the audience.”

Many literary critics, and millions of readers, however, had little trouble following Mr. Brown’s story. Writing in The New York Times Book Review in March 1971, N. Scott Momaday, a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, emphasized that the book was a story, “a whole narrative of singular integrity and precise continuity; that is what makes the book so hard to put aside, even when one has come to the end.”

The film largely restricts itself to the late 1880s, the time of the Ghost Dance, a messianic movement that swept through the Plains Indian tribes. Within that period it weaves together three strands: the story of Sitting Bull, the legendary chief of the Sioux, who fought against Custer’s forces at Little Bighorn in 1876; that of Henry L. Dawes, the Massachusetts senator who pushed into law a plan to allocate portions of Indian land to individual tribe members; and Eastman, who was taken from his tribe by his father and attended Dartmouth and then Boston University School of Medicine.

It is in the last two stories that the film begins to bend history.

“Eastman was the most well-known, well-educated Indian at the beginning of the 20th century,” said Raymond Wilson, a professor of history at Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kan., who wrote what is considered to be the definitive biography of Eastman. “When I heard they were doing the film,” he said, “I joked with a couple of people that I hoped they didn’t have Charles Eastman shaking hands with Sitting Bull at Pine Ridge.

(Page 2 of 2)



Not quite, but almost. The film’s climactic scene has Eastman watching as Sitting Bull addresses a group of Sioux in Pine Ridge at a meeting of which Dawes is the chairman. Sitting Bull tells them not to accept the government land allotments. In fact, the chief lived 200 miles away at the Standing Rock agency, and the meeting never happened.

As for placing Eastman at the Battle of Little Bighorn, Mr. Giat, the screenwriter, defends that choice by noting that some members of Eastman’s tribe were there.

The film also shows Eastman courting Elaine Goodale, a Massachusetts poet and teacher who oversaw schools for Indians in the Dakota territory, over a period of years, beginning while he was in college. In fact, Eastman met her when he arrived at Pine Ridge less than two months before the Wounded Knee massacre. Nor was Goodale anywhere near the reservation in 1883 when Sitting Bull arrived, as shown in the film; she was in Virginia.

HBO executives said they saw no problem with the inconsistencies. “When we look at historical accuracy, we look at history as it plays in the service of a narrative,” said Sam Martin, a vice president at HBO Films in charge of production on the project. HBO has at times gone the opposite route; last year it publicized the pains it took to ensure the factual accuracy of its Emmy-winning miniseries “Elizabeth I.”

To its credit, HBO’s version of “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” does not glamorize Sitting Bull, but rather portrays him as he was: an egotistical, often brutal leader whose pride endangered members of his tribe as they suffered through famine, drought and disease.

Some people who have seen advance screenings of the HBO version have praised it. “This is the first time I’ve seen a film so accurately portray the impact of federal policy on our people,” said Jacqueline Johnson, the executive director of the National Congress of American Indians, which is cooperating with HBO on educational projects featuring the film. “You see the beginning of issues and policies whose effects we are still dealing with today.”

But others are dismayed. Nicolas Proctor, Mr. Brown’s grandson and one of three people who oversees his estate, as well as an associate professor of history at Simpson College in Iowa, said that as a historian he was “always kind of shocked that history is not moving enough, is not evocative enough and rich enough to keep people from having to get in there and start monkeying around with it.” He said that the estate had no control over the film’s content.

Mr. Proctor said his grandfather wouldn’t necessarily be surprised by HBO’s tinkering. “I don’t think he ever thought anything historically accurate would come out of any film version,” he said. Still, before this, “nobody had ever before gone and gutted it and turned it into a love story.”


27967  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / India-US deal a non-starter on: May 09, 2007, 01:38:55 AM

Nuclear Non-Starter
By BRAHMA CHELLANEY
May 9, 2007
WSJ

The much-trumpeted 2005 civil nuclear deal between the United States and India always had one problem: the elastically worded accord itself. New Delhi, however, bears the brunt of the blame for the current deadlock. While the U.S. never hid its nonproliferation objectives, India's policy makers embraced the political deal without fully understanding its implications. Now that the technical rules of nuclear commerce are to be defined, they find it difficult to meet the demands set by the U.S. Congress.

The root of the current stalemate over the fine print rests in the new U.S. legislation, dubbed the Hyde Act, governing the deal. The U.S. wants the right to cut off all cooperation and secure the return of transferred nuclear items if India, in Washington's estimation, fails to live up to certain nonproliferation conditions, such as a ban on nuclear testing. The prohibition seeks to implicitly bind India to an international pact whose ratification the U.S. Senate rejected in 1999 -- the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. The Hyde Act also sets out conditions to block India from ending International Atomic Energy Agency inspections even if American fuel supplies are suspended or terminated.

While the political deal had promised India "full civil nuclear cooperation and trade," what is on offer now is restrictive cooperation, tied to the threat of reimposition of sanctions if New Delhi does not adhere to the congressionally prescribed stipulations. India, however, insists that cooperation encompass uranium enrichment, reprocessing of spent fuel and heavy-water production, given that all such activities would be under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards and for peaceful purposes.

Under the deal inked in 2005, India agreed to "assume the same responsibilities and practices and acquire the same benefits and advantages as other leading countries with advanced nuclear technology, such as the U.S." It now complains that the Hyde Act denies it these "same benefits and advantages." However, New Delhi itself laid the groundwork for higher standards when months earlier it agreed to place 35 Indian nuclear facilities under permanent, legally irrevocable IAEA inspections -- not the token, voluntary inspections accepted by the U.S. on select facilities.

In any case, a growing perception that the U.S. was shifting the goalpost created outrage in India's Parliament. Why the shock and horror? It's simple: India embraced the U.S.-drafted deal hurriedly in July 2005 without fully grasping its significance. As Prime Minister Manhoman Singh admitted in Parliament on August 3, 2005, he received "the final draft from the U.S. side" only upon reaching Washington a day before signing. Until that point, India's negotiators had only discussed submitting "power reactors" to international inspections, not all civilian nuclear facilities. And they certainly didn't anticipate a test ban. Indeed, after signing the deal, Mr. Singh had assured Parliament that "our autonomy of decision-making will not be circumscribed in any manner."

The current deadlock could have easily been avoided. During the nine-month legislative drafting of the Hyde Act last year, India ought to have made it clear that it wouldn't allow its deal-related commitments to be expanded or turned into immutable legal obligations through the means of a U.S. domestic law. It was only after national outcry over the bill's approval by the U.S. House of Representatives that Prime Minister Singh grudgingly defined India's bottom-line: The "full" lifting of "restrictions on all aspects of cooperation" without the "introduction of extraneous" conditions. He went on warn that, "If in their final form, the U.S. legislation or the adopted Nuclear Suppliers' Group guidelines impose extraneous conditions on India, the government will draw the necessary conclusions, consistent with the commitments I have made to Parliament." That was too late to reverse the Congressional push for a tough law to govern the deal.

Last week, India's top diplomat, Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon, tried to repair some of this damage by sitting down with his U.S. counterparts in Washington. But the reality is that each government finds its negotiating space severely constricted. The Bush administration is bound by the Hyde Act passed by Congress last December, and Mr. Singh is stuck with the deal-related benchmarks he defined in Parliament last August.

Even if the follow-up bilateral agreement did not incorporate the controversial conditions, it would hardly free India from the obligations the Hyde Act seeks to enforce. The U.S. has always maintained that because such a bilateral agreement is a requirement not under international law but under U.S. law -- the Atomic Energy Act -- it cannot supersede American law. In fact, an earlier U.S.-India bilateral nuclear cooperation accord, signed in 1963, was abandoned by Washington in 1978 -- four years after the first Indian nuclear test -- simply by enacting a new domestic law that retroactively overrode the bilateral pact. That broke with impunity a guarantee to supply "timely" fuel "as needed" for India's U.S.-built Tarapur nuclear power plant near Bombay, forcing India to turn to other suppliers to keep the station running to this day. India cannot get a similar lifetime fuel-supply guarantee for the new commercial nuclear power reactors it wishes to import thanks to the Hyde Act, which also bars reprocessing and enrichment cooperation even under IAEA safeguards.

Another sticking point is India's insistence on the right -- under international safeguards -- to reprocess fuel discharged from imported reactors. The U.S. has granted such a reprocessing right to its European allies and Japan for decades. Given that the Tarapur spent fuel has continued to accumulate over the decades near Bombay, with the U.S. declining either to exercise its right to take it back or to allow India to reprocess it under IAEA inspection, New Delhi says it cannot get into a similar mess again. In fact, Washington has not compensated India for the large costs it continues to incur to store the highly radioactive spent fuel from Tarapur.

Faced with the Hyde Act's grating conditions, misgivings over the deal have begun to infiltrate the Indian establishment. The U.S. currently has 23 different bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements with partner-states but none is tied to such an overarching, country-specific domestic law. Even if the present hurdle were cleared, the deal faces more challenges in securing approval from the 45-state Nuclear Suppliers' Group and the 35-nation IAEA board.

New Delhi believes time is on its side. India's economic and strategic influence is growing, strongly positioning New Delhi to conclude a deal on terms that are fairer and more balanced than those on offer today. Its interests also demand a deal not just restricted to civil nuclear export controls, but encompassing the full range of dual-use technology controls in force against India.

The present deal, despite the good intentions behind it, seems doomed.

Mr. Chellaney, a professor of strategic studies at the privately funded Center for Policy Research in New Delhi, is the author of "Nuclear Proliferation: The U.S.-India Conflict" (Orient Longman, 1993).
27968  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Care Economics on: May 09, 2007, 01:36:15 AM
BUSINESS WORLD
By HOLMAN W. JENKINS, JR.   

WSJ
ABOUT HOLMAN W. JENKINS JR.
 
 Holman W. Jenkins Jr. is a member of the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal and writes editorials and the weekly Business World column.
Mr. Jenkins joined the Journal in May 1992 as a writer for the editorial page in New York. In February 1994, he moved to Hong Kong as editor of The Asian Wall Street Journal's editorial page. He returned to the domestic Journal in December 1995 as a member of the paper's editorial board and was based in San Francisco. In April 1997, he returned to the Journal's New York office. Mr. Jenkins won a 1997 Gerald Loeb Award for distinguished business and financial coverage.
Born in Philadelphia, Mr. Jenkins received a bachelor's degree from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, N.Y. He received a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and studied at the University of Michigan on a journalism fellowship.

Mr. Jenkins invites comments to holman.jenkins@wsj.com.

How the GOP Won Health Care
May 9, 2007; Page A16

How goes the cold war? We refer to the never-ending twilight struggle between advocates of socialized medicine in America and those who believe economically competent Americans should be required to budget and save for their own health care, as they do for the rest of their personal consumption.

Any cold war wouldn't live up to its name and reputation if the two sides didn't occasionally change uniforms and borrow each other's rhetoric and tactics. But from a squinty angle, Republicans might just be winning this one.

The latest flashpoint is "Medicare Advantage," a GOP initiative to entice beneficiaries to sign up for a private insurance option in lieu of traditional Medicare's direct payment of doctor's and hospital's bills. More than eight million Medicare beneficiaries now get their benefits this way, about 20% of the eligible population. Democrats like Rep. Pete Stark of California are alarmed. They accuse Republicans of seeking to "privatize" Medicare, turning it into a voucher program to buy health insurance, with most of the subsidies restricted to needy seniors.

They're right.

Republicans like Rep. Jim McCrery respond that Democrats want to eliminate the private insurance option for Medicare and bring the country "one step closer to a socialist-style government-run health care system." He's right.

That's where clarity ends in the twilight struggle.

Notice, for starters, that Medicare Advantage is thriving because of deliberate subsidies, over and above the cost of existing Medicare, directed at private insurers. Taxpayers shell out about 12% more for each beneficiary than they do for a traditional Medicare subscriber -- worth about $922 year. The extra money buys extra benefits not available in the traditional program, as well as reduced copays and deductibles.

As they did with the big new Medicare drug benefit, Republicans have usurped Democrats' role as Santa Claus to the middle class. Health insurers, once reliable bad guys who elicited boos in movie theaters, have been reborn as giant government contractors. NAACP, once a reliable Democratic ally, now lobbies to keep subsidies flowing to private insurers, saying the extra benefits are a godsend to poor seniors.

It gets worse. AARP, the old folks lobby, has been turning itself into the insurance industry's marketing arm. It recently signed deals with two of the biggest insurers, UnitedHealth and Aetna, to sell AARP-branded insurance to the over-50 crowd, who will then be ripe to be rolled into AARP-branded Medicare plans when they hit 65.

Insurers have been losing corporate business as companies cut back on health benefits and shoo their employees into Health Savings Accounts. The industry increasingly looks to government to fill up their book of business. Result: a growing compatibility of interests between insurers and the senior lobby. AARP, for one, expects to earn $4.4 billion over six years by lending its name to plans peddled to seniors.

Even the universal access issue is slipping from Democratic grasp as Republican governors experiment with mandates requiring all citizens to have private insurance (with insurance lobbyists cheering on). And Democrats are being checkmated on the electoral map. According to Blue Cross, any attempt to cut back on Medicare Advantage would mean reduced benefits for 196,000 voters in Ohio, 196,000 in Pennsylvania, 180,000 in Michigan, etc.

So far, the counterstrategy has been pitiful, pitiful. Led by Hillary Clinton, Senate Democrats suddenly discovered an urgent need to expand spending on children's health care by $50 billion over five years -- a sum conveniently equal to Medicare Advantage's subsidy over the same period. Dutiful newspaper columnists peddled the predictable oldie-moldy: By resisting cuts in Medicare Advantage, Republicans are favoring insurance industry CEOs. Democrats favor children.

The fallacy here is obvious. All federal dollars are created equal. If more spending on children's health care is such a good idea, the federal budget is a cornucopia of programs to cut: farm price supports, ethanol subsidies, the homeland security boondoggle. And Democrats control the purse strings these days.

No wonder Mr. Stark, one of his party's authoritative voices on health care, laments the good old days when Democrats and Republicans had the same agenda for Medicare, expanding it while trying here and there to make it more efficient. "But in no circumstance did [Republicans] feel that we should disband Medicare and I think that is the principle difference," he complained late last year.

His nostalgia is touching, but omits a key fact. With an unfunded liability of $70.5 trillion in present value, business-as-usual for Medicare is not a practical agenda.

Quietly, means-testing is already arriving to sully the program's image as a universal entitlement, starting this year with seniors earning more than $80,000 a year. Quietly, Medicare's trustees, under a new law, have been required to declare their first "funding warning" because dedicated taxes and premiums will meet less than 55% of the program's costs within seven years.

Republicans, however convoluted and spendthrift, have a strategy -- turning Medicare into a welfare program for poor seniors. Democrats have only a feckless hope that if they stall long enough, the problems will be so bad that the American people will vote for a universal government-run health system. That strategy is already a loser, however long the war drags on.
 
27969  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Boxing Thread on: May 08, 2007, 09:23:55 PM
IIRC a boxing welterweight is 147 pounds.
27970  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: ESKRIMA COALITION TOURNAMENT July 14th 2007 on: May 08, 2007, 09:22:32 PM
This announcement was posted with my prior approval.

I went to one of these many years ago and had a fine time.  It was wonderful meeting some of the masters and manongs of Stockton such as Gilbert Tenio (sorry don't know his proper title) Dentoy Revilar (sorry don't know his proper title), and others.
27971  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Race, religion, ethnic origin on: May 08, 2007, 11:37:55 AM
Political Journal WSJ

Thought Crime

Finally, George W. Bush has found his veto sword.

After vetoing the Democratic supplemental budget, he has now threatened a veto of the Hate Crimes bill passed by the House last week. Constitutional scholars are rightly celebrating Mr. Bush's intervention.

Democrats passed the legislation to federalize hate crimes at the bidding of civil rights groups, feminists and gay rights activists. The bill amends the federal criminal code to prohibit willfully causing bodily injury to any person because of their race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

The bill was inspired by detestable crimes like the murders of James Byrd and Matthew Shepard. But as Timothy Lynch, a legal expert at the Cato Institute, notes: "Every act of violence against a victim that would be protected by this new federal law is already a felony crime in every state in America. What's new here and inadvisable is the criminalization of the thought or motivation, not the deed itself."

The House bill creates a peculiar pecking order of victims, in which crimes against some groups in America are classified as more tolerable than crimes against others. As long as we're going down this road, some Republicans argued that Congress should at least make sure all definable groups receive hate crime protection -- not just those groups Democrats claim as their own voting blocs. Nonetheless, an amendment to protect members of the armed forces was defeated by the Democrats. An amendment to protect senior citizens was defeated, as was one to protect pregnant women. What about rich people? We know from the demented and hate-filled writings of Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho that he loathed the wealthy.

For more than a decade the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been required to compile data on hate crimes. Curiously, although blacks are at least 30 times more likely to commit a violent crime against a white than vice versa, blacks are three to five times more likely to be classified as victims of racially motivated crimes than whites. And the greatest hate motivated crime in America in decades, the 9/11 attacks, was somehow not classified as a hate crime. Perhaps too many of the thousands of victims were straight, white, men.

During one exchange in a Judiciary Committee markup, Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas asked: "If a minister was giving a sermon, a Bible study or any kind of written or spoken message saying that homosexuality was a serious sin, and a person in the congregation went out and committed a crime against a homosexual, would the minister be protected from being charged with the crime of incitement?" Rep. Artur Davis of Alabama said "no." The Democrats voted down amendments protecting freedom of thought, religion, conscience and speech in America.

Mr. Gohmert notes that this legislation absurdly tells the criminal: "If you are going to shoot me, brutalize me or hurt me, please, please don't hate me. Make it a random, senseless act of violence."
27972  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Betrayal of the Military Father on: May 08, 2007, 11:16:38 AM
From a Glenn Sachs email:
=============================

Deployed Troops Battle for Child Custody
As I've discussed in numerous columns, deployed military parents face a variety of family law-related problems, including custody and child support. In my co-authored Veterans Day column Protect Deployed Parents' Rights (Various papers, 11/11/06) I explained:

"Divorced or separated military parents often lose custody of their children--and sometimes permanently forfeit any meaningful role in their lives--simply because they have served their country. Many married parents deploy overseas, never suspecting that their parenthood essentially ended the day they left home."

Associated Press reporter Pauline Arrillaga wrote an excellent piece on this issue this week--Deployed Troops Battle for Child Custody (5/5/07). Arrillaga narrates the stories of several deployed service personnel who lost their children as a result of family law machinations done in their absence:

"Army reservist Brad Carlson lived in Phoenix with his wife, Bianca, and three kids when he volunteered to deploy to Kuwait in 2003. His wife and children were spending that summer with her parents in Luxembourg and expected to remain there until he returned from duty.

"A year later, after his wife indicated she wanted to end the marriage and remain in Luxembourg, Carlson filed for divorce in an Arizona court, seeking custody of Dirk, Sven and Phoebe, all American citizens.

"The Arizona court dismissed the custody case after Bianca's lawyer argued that jurisdiction belonged in Luxembourg because the children had resided there for at least six months.

"Again citing the Servicemembers Act, Carlson's attorney argued that the time the kids spent in Luxembourg shouldn't count toward residency because it came during Carlson's deployment.

"A Luxembourg court awarded custody to Bianca, and the kids remain there to this day.

"They call him 'Bradley' now, he says, instead of 'Daddy.' They converse in German in stilted long-distance phone calls that provide few precious minutes for a father to absorb missed moments - soccer games, kindergarten, birthdays. On Dirk's 9th, Carlson stood beneath a rainbow-colored birthday banner and had a friend take a digital photo of him holding a sign: 'Happy 9th Birthday Dirk!'

"Tears fill his eyes when it hits him: 'That's how I celebrate.'

"'I feel really betrayed,' Carlson says. 'To be able to send me into harm's way... and my own country can't protect my child custody rights. Why aren't they looking out for me, when I'm looking out for the country?'"

Carlson's story is similar to that of Gary S., the subject of my column The Betrayal of the Military Father (Los Angeles Daily News, 5/4/03). Former California Senator Bill Morrow saw that column, and, with the enormous assistance of Sacramento lobbyist Michael Robinson, it led to AB 1082, a military parents' bill signed into law in California in 2005. Some of you participated in our campaign in support of that bill--to learn more, click here.

In the column I wrote:

"When Gary, a San Diego-based US Navy SEAL, was deployed in Afghanistan in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, he never dreamed that his service to his country would cost him his little son. Gary's son was not taken from him by a terrorist or a kidnapper. This 17-year Navy veteran with an unblemished military and civilian record was effectively stripped of his right to be a father by a California court."

Arrillaga also discusses the case of Lt. Eva Crouch of the Kentucky National Guard. When she was mobilized, her daughter Sara (pictured above) went to stay with her father. Arrillaga writes:

"A year and a half later, her assignment up, Crouch pulled into her driveway with one thing in mind - bringing home the little girl who shared her smile and blue eyes. She dialed her ex and said she'd be there the next day to pick Sara up, but his response sent her reeling. 'Not without a court order you won't.' Within a month, a judge would decide that Sara should stay with her dad. It was, he said, in 'the best interests of the child.'

"What happened? Crouch was the legal residential caretaker; this was only supposed to be temporary. What had changed? She wasn't a drug addict, or an alcoholic, or an abusive mother.

"Her only misstep, it seems, was answering the call to serve her country.

"Crouch and an unknown number of others among the 140,000-plus single parents in uniform fight a war on two fronts: For the nation they are sworn to defend, and for the children they are losing because of that duty.

"A federal law called the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act is meant to protect them by staying civil court actions and administrative proceedings during military activation. They can't be evicted. Creditors can't seize their property. Civilian health benefits, if suspended during deployment, must be reinstated.

"And yet service members' children can be - and are being - taken from them after they are deployed.

"Some family court judges say that determining what's best for a child in a custody case is simply not comparable to deciding civil property disputes and the like; they have ruled that family law trumps the federal law protecting servicemembers. And so, in many cases when a soldier deploys, the ex-spouse seeks custody, and temporary changes become lasting."

Crouch did eventually get her daughter back--after all, she is a woman in family court--and now the father is only allowed a few days a month with the girl. The better solution would have been shared parenting and a rough 50-50 time split, with one or more parent(s) moving to accommodate the other one. Eva Crouch was treated unfairly, but her case pales in comparison to many others.
27973  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: May 08, 2007, 11:10:19 AM
stratfor.com

PAKISTAN: Pakistan has enlarged its military presence along the Afghan border, increasing the number of troops from 80,000 to 90,000 and increasing the number of military posts from 100 to 110, Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri said. Kasuri also said Pakistan expects Afghanistan to increase its efforts to secure the border. The increases are aimed at stopping Taliban militants from crossing the border.

PAKISTAN: NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer visited Pakistan to meet with Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf and Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri. They are expected to discuss regional security with a special focus on Afghanistan, where militant violence has recently increased. There has been pressure on Pakistan to stop militants from using the country as a base to stage attacks inside Afghanistan.

PAKISTAN: Rustam Shah Mohmand, head of the Pakistani delegation for the Pakistani-Afghan Peace Jirga Commission, said he does "not have much hope" that the commission will succeed against the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan. The commission is scheduled to hold its first meeting in August.

AFGHANISTAN: The upper house of the Afghan parliament voted to hold direct talks with Taliban members and other opposition forces. Parliament members also voted to advise coalition forces to stop pursuing militants in the country. The resolution will go to President Hamid Karzai for approval.
27974  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Islamic Countries: on: May 08, 2007, 11:04:01 AM
WSJ
Trouble in Turkey
By MELIK KAYLAN
May 8, 2007; Page A19

ISTANBUL -- There is a perfectly logical temptation to take the position of much of the non-native press on the current political crisis in Turkey. The argument goes something like this: Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his "mildly Islamic" Justice and Development Party (AKP) are good for the country. They proposed Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul for president. Under the current constitution, parliament elects the president. Thus the AKP has a freely elected majority in parliament and represents the will of the people, therefore Mr. Gul should be president.

The rest, observers argue, is just loud noise, such as the two massive demonstrations in 10 days in Ankara and Istanbul (the latter of a million or more people) in tandem with grim warnings by the military against any AKP violation of secularist principles. AKP, the argument goes, has played by the rules and democracy is all about due process, which produces stability over time.

Turkey must accept that it is culturally Eastern but politically Western. Otherwise the EU will never take it, foreign investment will dry up and the country will remain excluded from the Western world. So goes the argument in favor of Mr. Erdogan as well as Mr. Gul, who withdrew his candidacy on Sunday.

 
There are a number of critical flaws in this argument, the first being that such a country will ultimately neither belong to an Eastern nor a Western club. It might serve, distantly, as an example to other Muslim countries, but the EU will certainly not accept it because the EU considers itself as much a civilization as a political alliance.

The pro-AKP argument suffers from other critical flaws. Mr. Erdogan's party won only 35% of the vote, but under a constitution rigged to create a two-party system, AKP has 65% of parliamentary seats. Besides, even that 35% derived in part from voters disgusted by the corrupt incompetence of the secular parties, not from pro-Muslim sentiment.

The results in no way suggest that a majority of the country regards itself as politically Islamic or nonsecular, and under such conditions AKP has no mandate for foisting a partisan figure onto the presidency, an office that is supposed to rise above party dogma and represent the country and constitution. This is why most nominees for the presidency rarely survive the painstaking but necessary business of consultation and compromise between parties. It's a somewhat uncodified process but it works to ensure a unifying, rather than divisive, outcome.

Mr. Erdogan did the exact opposite. He pushed the system's limits for his own ends until it gave way at the seams. He didn't select a compromise candidate but tried to impose his choice on the country through his technical parliamentary majority. In the event, the other parties simply didn't turn up for the vote on Mr. Gul's confirmation. They then appealed to the Constitutional Court which held that without them the numbers would be inquorate, leaving Mr. Gul unelected. The Court intentionally sent the country to a June or July national election which is, surely, the best place to settle the entire matter.

Mr. Erdogan has responded with predictable acuity, proposing new parliamentary term-lengths and direct elections for presidency, thus offering his AKP as the party that most trusts in the ballot box. If he wins, he simply rewinds to the beginning. With prime minister, president and house speaker all AKP figures, he can make such structural changes as to shift the national polity for a several generations.

So what, some say, Mr. Erdogan is hardly a fundamentalist. Sure, he and Mr. Gul have said hair-raising things in the past -- an old Gul remark made in the 1990s that "the Republic is over" recently surfaced in the press -- but politicians become pragmatic once in power. What have he and Mr. Gul done concretely in the last four years to be alarmed about? One hears this question particularly from foreign observers who don't understand or can't credit the Islamic concept of "Takkiye," meaning dissimulation.

The answer, of course, is that they have palpably tried to influence the army, universities and the Constitution itself, only to have their efforts stymied by those same institutions. Even so, disturbing incidents abound. In the city of Van a university dean is sacked because he resisted the request of a fully veiled female student for a go-between to deal with male teachers. He is later reinstated. In Istanbul's Uskudar district the municipality treats beer bars like a red-light zone and you can barely get alcohol anywhere. The national newspaper Sabah is taken over by state officials and soon the political commentators are being told what to write. Yasin El Kadi, a Saudi sought by the U.S. for financial links to terrorism, is publicly supported by Mr. Erdogan. Everywhere, barely qualified madrassa graduates replace more qualified secular technocrats in the civil service.

But the headscarf controversy and the bogeyman of military intervention eclipse such incremental dangers. Mr. Erdogan knows how to play the symbols and polarize for political ends. One side effect, no doubt unintended but predictable, is the spike in Islamic political violence: the murder of a Catholic nun near the Black Sea, of Protestant missionaries in the town of Malatya and so on. Pulled on either side by Europe and the Middle East, both Turkey and Turkish identity are as constantly in flux as its institutions are in danger of drifting out of control. That this never quite happens is in part due to the military threatening to step in periodically to restore democracy, a very Turkish paradox.

A military coup is always a disastrous option, but without past coups would there even be a Turkey today? One need only look at Iraq, a democracy without an effective army, or indeed Lebanon, to imagine the possibilities.

Turkey's democratic history shows that politicians can too easily lead the country, whether by drift or design, to such dangerous political extremes as to threaten national stability. It's wise to judge the merit of a Turkish politician by asking where his policies will ultimately lead.

Does Mr. Erdogan's populism suggest stability or a hidden drift to extremes? The voters will decide soon enough. They have got it wrong before. With such leaders, who can blame them?

Mr. Kaylan is an Istanbul-born writer living in New York.
27975  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: May 08, 2007, 10:55:37 AM
WSJ

Jerusalem Before Israel
At the twilight of empire, the origins of conflict.

BY AMY DOCKSER MARCUS
Tuesday, May 8, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Editor's note: The roots of Arab-Israeli enmity are usually traced to Palestine's administration as a British Mandate (1920-48). But in "Jerusalem 1913," Wall Street Journal reporter Amy Dockser Marcus--the paper's former Middle East correspondent (1991-98) and the winner of a Pulitzer Prize in 2005 for her coverage of improving cancer-survival rates--finds that the conflict's origins lie deeper in the past, in the Ottoman Empire before World War I. She begins by noting a long period of mutual accommodation that would vanish with the rise of modern nationalism. Some excerpts:

The Ottoman occupation of Jerusalem in the 16th century until the early 20th was often marked by peaceful coexistence: "Twice a year, Jews, Muslims, and Christians celebrated together at the shrine of Simon the Just, a popular biblical figure. For a single coin, you could buy a ride to the tombs on a camel or donkey. Their owners would lead the animals from café to café soliciting business, the colored rocks worn around the beasts' necks to protect them from the evil eye clicking rhythmically as they made their way down the street. During the monthlong Muslim holiday of Ramadan, nighttime shows featured entertainers who would make shadow puppets against the walls of the café, often using the puppets' dialogue to poke fun at local officials or make veiled political commentary on the latest events. During the Jewish holiday of Purim, children from all over the city dressed up in colorful costumes to celebrate and exchange sweets. The Arabs even had a name for Purim in their own language, which translated as 'the sugar holiday.' "

Theodor Herzl, the author of "The Jewish State," which called in 1897 for a Jewish homeland, visited Palestine after the first Zionist Congress that same year had settled on it as the best site for a Jewish home: "Herzl was everywhere greeted as a kind of prophet. Children lined up at the village gates to sing to him, dressed in white, freshly laundered linen and bearing gifts of chocolate. Old men rushed to his side clutching bread and salt, a traditional gesture of hospitality. Groups of farmers left their fields and rode out to meet him on horseback, cheering him on and shooting their rifles in the air as he approached.

"During an appearance at one Jewish settlement, three elderly men trailed behind him as he walked, falling to their knees to kiss the tracks he left in the sand. That incident so unsettled Herzl that afterward he made certain never to be seen riding a white donkey while in the country, for fear that people would think he considered himself the Messiah and turn him in to the Ottoman authorities."

World War I dissolved the Ottoman Empire, leaving Palestine, the nascent Jewish homeland, in the hands of British administrators for nearly 30 years. After gaining its independence in 1948, the country newly named Israel joined the United Nations the following year: "After the state of Israel had been founded and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was well under way, many looked back, trying to pinpoint the moment when they realized that that conflict was inevitable. David Ben-Gurion, who became Israel's first prime minister, said it was the day in 1915 that he sat on a train waiting to leave Jerusalem at the order of [Ahmed Djemal, the city's Ottoman ruler], who banished many known Zionist activists from the city.

"Ben-Gurion had tried to turn himself into an Ottoman--studying Turkish, attending law school in Constantinople, trying to organize a Jewish legion to fight on behalf of the Ottoman Empire in the war, and even donning a red fez. But all these gestures had been to no avail, for at the end of the day, Djemal had looked at him and seen not an Ottoman but an advocate for a future Jewish state, and had him jailed in Jerusalem. . . . Upon his release from jail, he was exiled to Alexandria. Later, in his books and memoirs, he recalled vividly a particular moment on the train, when an Arab acquaintance of his, whom he called Yeya Effendi, walked by and saw him waiting to leave. The men embraced, exchanged news and greetings, and then Yeya Effendi asked him where he was going.

"Ben-Gurion told him that he was being exiled, ordered never to return to Jerusalem. Yeya Effendi held him in the embrace of a true friend, mourning his loss of their shared city. Then he looked at Ben-Gurion and said something that Ben-Gurion pondered for the entire train ride to Alexandria. 'As your friend, I am sad,' Yeya Effendi told him. 'But as an Arab, I rejoice.' "

You can buy "Jerusalem 1913" from the OpinionJournal bookstore.
27976  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Paul's girl (the Wolfowitz affair) on: May 08, 2007, 10:54:54 AM
The Whistleblowers' Tale
The real disgrace at the World Bank.

BY BRET STEPHENS
Tuesday, May 8, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

In the summer of 1997, two senior World Bank officials published an academic article under the cheerful title, "Africa on the Move: Attracting Private Capital to a Changing Continent." The authors, Jean-Louis Sarbib of France and Callisto Madavo of Zimbabwe, were responsible for the bank's work in Africa, and they took an optimistic view. "A new spirit of social and economic progress has energized much of the region," they wrote, "and gradually the rest of the world is beginning to take notice."

Among the bank's own contributions to this African Renaissance, as it was then being billed, was something called the Niger Health Sector Development Program. It had been approved by Mr. Sarbib the year before with the stated objectives of improving the quality and coverage of basic health services, expanding the population's access to generic drugs and reforming the health sector. The plan anticipated expenditures of $275 million over five years, starting with an initial grant of $40 million--big sums for a small, highly indebted and politically unstable country.

Months before the project was formally approved by the bank's board, however, doubts about its size, nature and prospective efficacy were being raised by a midlevel bank officer named Bahram Mahmoudi. An Iranian-born economist with extensive field experience in Africa, Mr. Mahmoudi had been in Niger in April 1996 on a separate project. But he had seen enough of the health program to share his misgivings about it with its manager.

Why, for instance, were most of the program funds being allocated to construction projects when the World Bank's own "assistance strategy" to Niger emphasized rural and preventive care? Why were 13 staff members--more than double the usual size--assigned to the program? Why--despite two years and nearly $1 million worth of "concept development"--had there been no adequate financial and economic analysis of the program's feasibility? Did Niger have the institutional capacity to handle such large investments? And was it appropriate for team members to be using their time in Niger to take their spouses on sightseeing tours?





None of these observations went down well with the management. Mr. Mahmoudi made himself even more of a nuisance at the bank in 1998, when he raised a flag with Messrs. Madavo and Sarbib over the dismissal, ostensibly on budgetary grounds, of a dozen employees, mostly from developing countries, and their subsequent replacement with a dozen mostly European ones. In July 1999, an independent investigation by the law firm Dewey Ballantine concluded this was not, as Mr. Mahmoudi believed, a case of racial discrimination, although it did cite "significant management problems."
Yet by the time that conclusion was reached Mr. Mahmoudi had left the bank, having ended a 20-year career with a sharp downward turn in his performance reviews and a pink slip. A review given a year prior to his criticism of the Niger program praised Mr. Mahmoudi's work in Africa for its "dynamism and perspicacity." By contrast, a review from 1997 notes that his work in Niger, "which initially received favorable comments from peer reviewers . . . was not endorsed by the management team which felt he had moved too quickly without carrying out sufficient dialogue."

Convinced he had been sacked for his whistleblowing, Mr. Mahmoudi appealed his termination to the bank's administrative tribunal. In May 2000 the tribunal agreed he had been wrongfully dismissed--albeit on procedural grounds--and ordered his reinstatement. In an extraordinary step, the bank cited presidential discretion to refuse reinstatement and instead offer compensation of 18 months salary.

Given usual bank practices, Mr. Mahmoudi was lucky to have gotten even that much. "Keep in mind that nobody is truly independent at the Word Bank," says former bank official Anthony Van Vugt. "Not the ethics officers, not the judges, not the staff association. The managers are very severe about anyone who speaks out."

The Dutch-born Mr. Van Vugt has his own bitter experience as a whistleblower. In 1995, he discovered that $100,000 had been misappropriated by his managers from a trust fund intended to finance water-sector reform in the Philippines. At his retirement that year, he submitted an audit certificate for the project making note of the misused money. Several months later he requested a copy of the certificate. "What I found," he recalls, "was a substitute statement that was signed in my name. The qualification [regarding the $100,000] that I had included in the original statement had disappeared."

Mr. Van Vugt then filed an ethics investigation. "I made the point to quite a few people that $100,000 had been used improperly, and that made people uncomfortable. Eventually, I find a piece of paper that says that Tony Van Vugt mismanaged his project and for that reason he shall be denied any future employment with the bank." The ethics investigation went nowhere.

For Mr. Van Vugt, that note foreclosed the often lucrative consulting opportunities many retired bank officials enjoy. For midcareer officials, the bank's hex can be absolutely devastating. It can make its enemies unemployable. A foreign national who loses his job can have his U.S. visa revoked. The result is a culture of conformity, silence and fear. "As soon as you're seen blowing the whistle," says Mr. Van Vugt, "your own colleagues won't even sit next to you in the cafeteria."





As for Mr. Mahmoudi, a vindication of sorts came several years later when the bank quietly released a report assessing the Niger health program. The program, on which $50 million was ultimately spent, was rated as "unsatisfactory" for bank performance, borrower performance, sustainability and "quality at entry." A comparative analysis of project performance across six regions shows that during the tenure of Messrs. Sarbib and Madavo, Africa had the highest number of projects yet the lowest likely sustainability percentage, the lowest satisfactory percentage for bank performance and the lowest satisfactory borrower performance at implementation.
Mr. Sarbib was subsequently promoted to senior vice president before retiring last year. Mr. Madavo is a visiting professor at Georgetown. Both men recently signed a public letter calling on Paul Wolfowitz to resign for damaging the bank's reputation.

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

27977  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Nuclear War? on: May 08, 2007, 08:58:55 AM
Today's NY Times:

==========

WASHINGTON, May 7 — Every week, a group of experts from agencies around the government — including the C.I.A., the Pentagon, the F.B.I. and the Energy Department — meet to assess Washington’s progress toward solving a grim problem: if a terrorist set off a nuclear bomb in an American city, could the United States determine who detonated it and who provided the nuclear material?

So far, the answer is maybe.

That uncertainty lies at the center of a vigorous, but carefully cloaked, debate within the Bush administration. It focuses on how to refashion the American approach to nuclear deterrence in an attempt to counter the threat posed by terrorists who could obtain bomb-grade uranium or plutonium to make and deliver a weapon.

A previously undisclosed meeting last year of President Bush’s most senior national security advisers was the highest level discussion about how to rewrite the cold war rules. The existing approach to deterrence dates from the time when the nuclear attacks Washington worried about would be launched by missiles and bombers, which can be tracked back to a source by radar, and not carried in backpacks or hidden in cargo containers.

Among the subjects of the meeting last year was whether to issue a warning to all countries around the world that if a nuclear weapon was detonated on American soil and was traced back to any nation’s stockpiles, through nuclear forensics, the United States would hold that country “fully responsible” for the consequences of the explosion. The term “fully responsible” was left deliberately vague so that it would be unclear whether the United States would respond with a retaliatory nuclear attack, or, far more likely, a nonnuclear retaliation, whether military or diplomatic.

But that meeting of Mr. Bush’s principal national security and military advisers in May 2006 broke up with the question unresolved, according to participants. The discussion remained hung up on such complexities as whether it would be wise to threaten Iran even as diplomacy still offered at least some hope of halting Tehran’s nuclear program, and whether it was credible to issue a warning that would be heard to include countries that America considers partners and allies, like Russia or Pakistan, which are nuclear powers with far from perfect nuclear safeguards.

Then, on Oct. 9, North Korea detonated a nuclear test.

Mr. Bush responded that morning with an explicit warning to President Kim Jong-il that “transfer of nuclear weapons or material” to other countries or terrorist groups “would be considered a grave threat to the United States,” and that the North would be held “fully accountable.”

A senior American official involved in the decision, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was discussing private national security deliberations, said, “Given the fact that they were trying to cross red lines, that they were launching missiles and that they conducted the nuclear test, we finally decided it was time.”

Mr. Bush was able to issue a credible warning, other senior officials said, in part because the International Atomic Energy Agency has a library of nuclear samples from North Korea, obtained before the agency’s inspectors were thrown out of the country, that would likely make it possible to trace an explosion back to North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. The North Koreans are fully aware, government experts believe, that the United States has access to that database of nuclear DNA.

But when it comes to other countries, many of that library’s shelves are empty. And in interviews over the past several weeks, senior American nuclear experts have said that the huge gap is one reason that the Bush administration is so far unable to make a convincing threat to terrorists or their suppliers that they will be found out.

“I believe the most likely source of the material would be from the Russian nuclear arsenal, but you shouldn’t confuse ‘likely’ with ‘certainty’ by any means,” said Scott D. Sagan, co-director of Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation, who has studied the problem known in Washington and the national nuclear laboratories as “nuclear attribution.”

Mr. Sagan noted that nuclear material in a terrorist attack might also come from Pakistan, home of the network run by Abdul Qadeer Khan, who sold nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya.

The Bush administration is also finding a skeptical audience when it warns of emerging nuclear threats, since its assessments of Saddam Hussein’s nuclear capacity in advance of the 2003 invasion proved wildly off the mark. On Sunday, defending his new book during an interview on the NBC News program “Meet the Press,” George J. Tenet, the former director of central intelligence, made the case that any past errors should not blind the public to the threat of nuclear attack posed by Al Qaeda today.

“What I believe is that Al Qaeda is seeking this capability,” Mr. Tenet said.

Pakistani officials have been visiting Washington recently offering assurances that their nuclear supplies and weapons are locked down with sophisticated new technology. During a presentation at the Henry L. Stimson Center, a nonprofit organization here that studies nuclear proliferation, Lt. Col. Zafar Ali, who works in the arms control section of the Pakistani Strategic Plans Division, said that while Al Qaeda and other groups may want a nuclear weapon, “there are doubts that these organizations have the capability to fabricate a nuclear device.”
=======

He bristled at the continuing questions about Pakistan’s nuclear security, arguing that “there is no reported case of security failure subsequent to A. Q. Khan’s case” in 2004, and suggested that American concerns would be better directed at Russia.

But few experts in the Bush administration are reassured, saying that their fear is not only leakage from Pakistan, but a takeover of the government of the president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf. It is a subject they will never discuss on the record, but one that is the constant topic of study and assessment.

The issue of shaping a new policy even presents difficulties when dealing with a country like Iran, which, like North Korea, was once described by President Bush as a member of an “axis of evil.” Tehran does not yet possess nuclear weapons, and inspectors believe that it has produced only small amounts of nuclear fuel, not enough to make a bomb, and none of it bomb grade.

In the cabinet-level discussion last May, Mr. Bush’s top advisers concluded that issuing a warning to Iran might signal that the United States was preparing for the day when Iran becomes a nuclear-armed state, an impression that one former senior administration official said “is not the message we want to send.” As a result, Iran did not receive a warning similar to the one issued to North Korea, whose test made clear that it is edging into the nuclear club.

Mr. Sagan said he supported that approach, saying that if Mr. Bush issues a declaration specifically aimed at Iran, it may be heard among the most radical leaders in Tehran as a tacit acknowledgment that the United States has accepted the possibility that Iran is going to go nuclear.

“We need to distinguish between the leakage problem, where it would be inadvertent, and the provider problem, where it would be an intentional act,” said Robert S. Litwak of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the author of “Regime Change: U.S. Strategy Through the Prism of 9/11.”

“To the provider we should say, ‘Don’t even think about it,’ and this more explicit declaratory policy can get us traction because these regimes value their own survival above all else,” Mr. Litwak said. “For the leakage problem, we don’t want to be trapped into a question of how we retaliate against Russia or Pakistan. But through calculated ambiguity, we can create incentives for the Russians and the Pakistanis to do even more in the area of safeguarding their weapons and capabilities.”

The weekly meeting of the interagency group dealing with nuclear attribution is just one part of a governmentwide effort to prepare for what might happen after a small nuclear device was detonated in an American city, just as Washington once gamed out a nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union.

But it is a subject Mr. Bush and his aides have rarely referred to in public. In private, officials say, the Department of Homeland Security is trying to plan for more than a dozen scenarios — including one in which a bomb goes off, and terrorist groups then claim to have planted others in cities around the country.

While most of that planning takes place behind locked doors, officials responsible for it appeared at a workshop last month sponsored by the Preventive Defense Project, a research collaboration sponsored by Harvard and Stanford Universities.

The daylong discussion revealed major gaps in the planning. But it also demonstrated that while the first instinct of government officials after an explosion would be to figure out retaliation, “that would probably give way to an effort to seek the cooperation of a Pakistan or Russia to figure out where the stuff came from, what else was lost, and to hunt down the remaining bombs rather than punish the government that lost them,” said one of the conference’s organizers, Ashton B. Carter of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.

27978  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / How the Incas leapt Canyons on: May 08, 2007, 08:50:00 AM
I saw that shirt when Chester, my host at my Albuquerque seminar took me to the Navajo Reservation.  Tough to be the butt of the joke, but it had to be acknowledged  smiley

Anyway, here's this from today's NY Times:
========

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Conquistadors from Spain came, they saw and they were astonished. They had never seen anything in Europe like the bridges of Peru. Chroniclers wrote that the Spanish soldiers stood in awe and fear before the spans of braided fiber cables suspended across deep gorges in the Andes, narrow walkways sagging and swaying and looking so frail.


Yet the suspension bridges were familiar and vital links in the vast empire of the Inca, as they had been to Andean cultures for hundreds of years before the arrival of the Spanish in 1532. The people had not developed the stone arch or wheeled vehicles, but they were accomplished in the use of natural fibers for textiles, boats, sling weapons — even keeping inventories by a prewriting system of knots.

So bridges made of fiber ropes, some as thick as a man’s torso, were the technological solution to the problem of road building in rugged terrain. By some estimates, at least 200 such suspension bridges spanned river gorges in the 16th century. One of the last of these, over the Apurimac River, inspired Thornton Wilder’s novel “The Bridge of San Luis Rey.”

Although scholars have studied the Inca road system’s importance in forging and controlling the pre-Columbian empire, John A.Ochsendorf of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology here said, “Historians and archaeologists have neglected the role of bridges.”

Dr. Ochsendorf’s research on Inca suspension bridges, begun while he was an undergraduate at Cornell University, illustrates an engineering university’s approach to archaeology, combining materials science and experimentation with the traditional fieldwork of observing and dating artifacts. Other universities conduct research in archaeological materials, but it has long been a specialty at M.I.T.

Students here are introduced to the multidisciplinary investigation of ancient technologies as applied in transforming resources into cultural hallmarks from household pottery to grand pyramids. In a course called “materials in human experience,” students are making a 60-foot-long fiber bridge in the Peruvian style. On Saturday, they plan to stretch the bridge across a dry basin between two campus buildings.

In recent years, M.I.T. archaeologists and scientists have joined forces in studies of early Peruvian ceramics, balsa rafts and metal alloys; Egyptian glass and Roman concrete; and also the casting of bronze bells in Mexico. They discovered that Ecuadoreans, traveling by sea, introduced metallurgy to western Mexico. They even found how Mexicans added bits of morning-glory plants, which contain sulfur, in processing natural rubber into bouncing balls.

“Mexicans discovered vulcanization 3,500 years before Goodyear,” said Dorothy Hosler, an M.I.T. professor of archaeology and ancient technology. “The Spanish had never seen anything that bounced like the rubber balls of Mexico.”

Heather Lechtman, an archaeologist of ancient technology who helped develop the M.I.T. program, said that in learning “how objects were made, what they were made of and how they were used, we see people making decisions at various stages, and the choices involve engineering as well as culture.”

From this perspective, she said, the choices are not always based only on what works well, but also are guided by ideological and aesthetic criteria. In the casting of early Mexican bells, attention was given to their ringing tone and their color; an unusually large amount of arsenic was added to copper to make the bronze shine like silver.

“If people use materials in different ways in different societies, that tells you something about those people,” Professor Lechtman said.

In the case of the Peruvian bridges, the builders relied on a technology well suited to the problem and their resources. The Spanish themselves demonstrated how appropriate the Peruvian technique was.

Dr. Ochsendorf, a specialist in early architecture and engineering, said the colonial government tried many times to erect European arch bridges across the canyons, and each attempt ended in fiasco until iron and steel were applied to bridge building. The Peruvians, knowing nothing of the arch or iron metallurgy, instead relied on what they knew best, fibers from cotton, grasses and saplings, and llama and alpaca wool.

The Inca suspension bridges achieved clear spans of at least 150 feet, probably much greater. This was a longer span than any European masonry bridges at the time. The longest Roman bridge in Spain had a maximum span between supports of 95 feet. And none of these European bridges had to stretch across deep canyons.
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Published: May 8, 2007
(Page 2 of 2)



The Peruvians apparently invented their fiber bridges independently of outside influences, Dr. Ochsendorf said, but these bridges were neither the first of their kind in the world nor the inspiration for the modern suspension bridge like the George Washington and Verrazano-Narrows Bridges in New York and the Golden Gate in San Francisco.

In a recent research paper, Dr. Ochsendorf wrote: “The Inca were the only ancient American civilization to develop suspension bridges. Similar bridges existed in other mountainous regions of the world, most notably in the Himalayas and in ancient China, where iron chain suspension bridges existed in the third century B.C.”

The first of the modern versions was erected in Britain in the late 18th century, the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. The longest one today connects two islands in Japan, with a span of more than 6,000 feet from tower to supporting tower. These bridges are really “hanging roadways,” Dr. Ochsendorf said, to provide a fairly level surface for wheeled traffic.

In his authoritative 1984 book, “The Inka Road System,” John Hyslop, who was an official of the Institute of Andean Research and associated with the American Museum of Natural History, compiled descriptions of the Inca bridges recorded by early travelers.

Garcilasco de la Vega, in 1604, reported on the cable-making techniques. The fibers, he wrote, were braided into ropes of the length necessary for the bridge. Three of these ropes were woven together to make a larger rope, and three of them were again braided to make a still larger rope, and so on. The thick cables were pulled across the river with small ropes and attached to stone abutments on each side.

Three of the big cables served as the floor of the bridge, which often was at least four to five feet wide, and two others served as handrails. Pieces of wood were tied to the cable floor. Finally, the floor was strewn with branches to give firm footing for beasts of burden.

More branches and pieces of wood were strung to make walls along the entire length of the bridge. The side covering, one chronicler said, was such that “if a horse fell on all fours, it could not fall off the bridge.”

Still, it took a while for the Spanish to adjust to the bridges and to coax their horses to cross them. The bridges trembled underfoot and swayed dangerously in stiff winds.

Ephraim G. Squier, a visitor to Peru from the United States in the 1870s, said of the Apurimac River bridge: “It is usual for the traveler to time his day’s journey so as to reach the bridge in the morning, before the strong wind sets in; for, during the greater part of the day, it sweeps up the Canyon of the Apurimac with great force, and then the bridge sways like a gigantic hammock, and crossing is next to impossible.”

Other travelers noted that in many cases, two suspension bridges stood side by side. Some said that one was for the lords and gentry, the other for commoners; or one for men, the other for women.

Recent scholars have suggested that it was more likely that one bridge served as a backup for the other, considering the need for frequent repairs of frayed and worn ropes.

The last existing Inca suspension bridge, at Huinchiri, near Cuzco, is virtually rebuilt each year. People from the villages on either side hold a three-day festival and gather stiff grasses for producing more than 50,000 feet of cord. Finally, the cord is braided into 150-foot replacement cables.

In the M.I.T. class project, 14 students met two evenings a week and occasional afternoons to braid the ropes for a Peruvian bridge replica 60 feet long and 2 feet wide. They were allowed one important shortcut: some 50 miles of twine already prepared from sisal, a stronger fiber than the materials used by the Inca.

Some of the time thus gained was invested in steps the Inca had never thought of. The twine and the completed ropes were submitted to stress tests, load-bearing measurements and X-rays.

“We have proof-tested the stuff at every step as we go along,” said Linn W. Hobbs, a materials science professor and one of the principal teachers of the course.

The students incorporated 12 strands of twine for each primary rope. Then three of these 12-ply ropes were braided into the major cables, each 120 feet long — 60 feet for the span and 30 feet at each end for tying the bridge to concrete anchors.

One afternoon last week, several of the students stretched ropes down a long corridor, braiding one of the main cables. While one student knelt to make the braid and three students down the line did some nimble footwork to keep the separate ropes from entangling, Zack Jackowski, a sophomore, put a foot firmly down on the just-completed braid.

“It’s important to get the braids as tight as possible,” Mr. Jackowski said. “A little twist, pull it back hard, hold the twist you just put in.”

No doubt the students will escape the fate of Brother Juniper, the Franciscan missionary in Wilder’s novel who investigated the five people who perished in the collapse of the bridge of San Luis Rey.

Brother Juniper hoped to discern scientific evidence of divine intervention in human affairs, examples of “the wicked visited by destruction and the good called early to Heaven.”

Alas, he could not; there is some of both good and evil in people. So his written account was judged heretical. He and his manuscript were burned at the stake.

If the students’ bridge holds, they will have learned one lesson: engineering, in antiquity as now, is the process of finding a way through and over the challenges of environment and culture.

27979  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Boxing Thread on: May 08, 2007, 08:31:40 AM
I won't be seeing the fight until it is on for free, but I suspect you are right Keith.

As for Lampley, I met him several times (bit of a story there) and never cared for him at all.

Anyway, a bit off subject, but here's this:

Boxer Corrales dies in crash
The former IBF super-featherweight and WBC lightweight champ is killed on motorcycle in Las Vegas. He was 29.
By Lance Pugmire, Times Staff Writer
May 8, 2007


 
Former champion
 click to enlarge
Former world champion boxer Diego Corrales was killed in a motorcycle accident Monday night in Las Vegas.

A Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department source confirmed Corrales was killed in the evening crash and was "traveling at a high rate of speed" before impact. The spokesman said at least one other vehicle was involved and that one person in an automobile at the scene had sustained minor injuries.

Another police spokesman, Blake Quackenbush, confirmed there was a fatal collision involving a motorcycle near the intersection of South Fort Apache Road and Hacienda Avenue in southwest Las Vegas.

Boxing trainer Joe Goossen and Jin Mosley, a close friend of the boxer, said the victim was Corrales, 29.

"It's confirmed, he's dead," said Mosley, the wife of Pomona boxer Shane Mosley. "Details are sketchy. We were told he was going over 100 mph. We're in absolute shock, this is tragic. He has a baby on the way."

Corrales' boxing promoter, Gary Shaw, said the fighter's manager told him he saw Corrales "under the sheets with his helmet on," with a "new racing bike" nearby. "We're being told he ran into the back of a car and was struck by another from behind," Shaw said.

Corrales (40-5, with 33 knockouts), a former International Boxing Federation super-featherweight and World Boxing Council lightweight champion, reached what Goossen called "the pinnacle" of his career in 2005, when he rallied from two 10th-round knockdowns to knock out Jose Luis Castillo.

"In my 35 years, that was the greatest fight I've ever seen," said Goossen, who was Corrales' trainer.

Castillo failed to make weight in two scheduled rematches, however, and a third meeting in June 2006 was scrapped, costing Corrales a $1.2-million payday, Goossen said.

The fighter's career began to spiral. He showed up overweight for an October 2006 lightweight title defense against Joel Casamayor, then lost by split decision. Last month, Corrales lost a unanimous decision to Joshua Clottey in a welterweight bout.

Shaw said Corrales' life "was in a tailspin" after that loss, and "we were trying to put his life back together." Corrales had also negotiated to join Oscar De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions, but the deal never materialized, boxing sources said.

"The guy was a true warrior; simply by the way he fought, he should be in the hall of fame," Shaw said. "Believe me, if he could've got off that cold pavement, he would."

Jin Mosley said Corrales was suffering marital and financial difficulties with his wife, Michelle, six months pregnant.

"Diego was not immune to the pitfalls of life, especially as a young man surrounded by the fame and fortune of this game," Goossen said. "His better times in boxing were behind him. I'm sure he felt he was in a bad spot. It's too bad Diego couldn't stay in the top place he once was. Now, we'll all say prayers for him."

Corrales discussed his motorcycle riding last summer in a Las Vegas Review-Journal story.

"I'm only young once and, unless someone hasn't told me something yet, I only get to live once," said Corrales. "If I couldn't do this stuff now, stuff I always wanted to do, I would never get a chance to do it."

Corrales is survived by his wife and five children, Jin Mosley said.
27980  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: May 08, 2007, 07:12:31 AM
Six Arrested in Fort Dix Murder Plot

Tuesday , May 08, 2007

Six people were arrested on Monday night in connection with a plot to murder as many soldiers as possible at Fort Dix, WNBC.com reports.

The six ethnic Albanians attempted to purchase automatic weapons from an arms dealer working with the FBI and were arrested in New Jersey after officials learned of the plot, a law enforcement source said.

The undercover investigation followed the men, three of whom are brothers, from New Jersey to the Poconos, where they allegedly practiced firing automatic weapons.

Officials raided the homes of the men, described as Islamic radicals, and said there is video showing some of the planning.
================


NEW YORK -- Six men from New Jersey have been arrested in an alleged terror plot against soldiers at Fort Dix, according investigators.

Investigators said the men planned to use automatic rifles to enter Fort Dix and kill as many soldiers as they could at the N.J. base. Fort Dix was just one of several military and security locations allegedly scouted by this group, authorities said.

Investigators told Newschannel 4's Jonathan Dienst that these arrests are the result of a tip to the FBI and use of an informant to track the suspects. Authorities were alerted in January 2006 after the terror suspects traveled to the Pocono’s for a training exercise where they practiced firing automatic weapons, investigators said.

Sources have told Newschannel 4's Brian Thompson that the suspects tried to have a their training video tape converted to DVD at a store in Cherry Hill, N.J., but the store owner alerted authorities.

Authorities then inserted a cooperating witness into the alleged terror cell to be a go between in their attempt to purchase M16 and AK-47 semi-automatic rifles. Arrests were made Monday night after the informant delivered dummy weapons paid for by the alleged terror cell suspects.

Investigators said the group discussed targeting numerous locations like Dover Air base, Fort Monmouth, a Coast Guard building in Philadelphia, and the Philadelphia Federal building before deciding on Fort Dix as their intended target. Fort Dix is run in part by the Army and is a reserve-training center, but active units take part in training, including some which focuses on counter-terrorism.

Sources tell Newschannel 4's Brian Thompson that the family of one of the suspects owns a pizzeria near Fort Dix and claimed to know the base "like the back of his hand." The same suspect told the alleged terror group it would be easy to penetrate to "get the most soldiers killed."

Investigators said the group of suspects have been discussing and planning for much of the last year. They allegedly pooled their savings to pay for the operation targeted at soldiers stationed here at home.

The six suspects arrested Monday night will face terror conspiracy charges. Three of the men are brothers, all believed to be Islamic radicals. Authorities have told Newschannel 4 that some of the men were born in Albania and the former Yugoslavia. Investigators said most of the suspects have spent several years here in the U.S.

Some of the group's alleged planning was caught on videotape, investigators said. On the videotape there is significant discussion of Martyrdom.

"Who is going to take care of my wife and kids," one suspect asks. Another responds, "Allah will take care of your wife and kids." The alleged terror cell is described by investigators as disciples of Osama Bin Laden. Among the evidence seized was the downloaded will and testament of two Sept. 11 hijackers.

Spokesmen for U.S. Attorney Chris Christie and the FBI in New Jersey and Philadelphia could not be reached for a comment.
The suspects will be arraigned this afternoon in front of a Federal Magistrate at 1 PM.
27981  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: May 07, 2007, 09:33:04 PM
I think he IS running and doing so in a manner to avoid the stupdities of McCain-Feingold Act (Shame on McCain and the US Supreme Court!  angry )  Also, he gets to be on TV lots and lots without triggering the obligation to air other candidates.

Newt is the only one I could support with considerable enthusiasm. 
27982  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Free Speech vs. Islamic Fascism (formerly Buy DANISH!!!) on: May 07, 2007, 09:25:05 PM
Not exactly within the subject of this thread, but worth noting. 

Dhimmitude wins again:
Little Green Footballs blog
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
France Bans Citizen Journalists from Reporting Violence

The French government, in inimitable French fashion, have decided that they can prevent more riots like the intifada that tore apart French suburbs in 2005 by cracking down on free speech: France bans citizen journalists from reporting violence. (Hat tip: LGF readers.)

The French Constitutional Council has approved a law that criminalizes the filming or broadcasting of acts of violence by people other than professional journalists. The law could lead to the imprisonment of eyewitnesses who film acts of police violence, or operators of Web sites publishing the images, one French civil liberties group warned on Tuesday.

The council chose an unfortunate anniversary to publish its decision approving the law, which came exactly 16 years after Los Angeles police officers beating Rodney King were filmed by amateur videographer George Holliday on the night of March 3, 1991. The officers’ acquittal at the end on April 29, 1992 sparked riots in Los Angeles.

If Holliday were to film a similar scene of violence in France today, he could end up in prison as a result of the new law, said Pascal Cohet, a spokesman for French online civil liberties group Odebi. And anyone publishing such images could face up to five years in prison and a fine of €75,000 (US $98,537), potentially a harsher sentence than that for committing the violent act.
============



Riot coverage ‘excessive’, says French TV boss. (Hat tip: Ralph.)

One of France’s leading TV news executives has admitted censoring his coverage of the riots in the country for fear of encouraging support for far-right politicians.
Jean-Claude Dassier, the director general of the rolling news service TCI, said the prominence given to the rioters on international news networks had been “excessive” and could even be fanning the flames of the violence.

Mr Dassier said his own channel, which is owned by the private broadcaster TF1, recently decided not to show footage of burning cars.

“Politics in France is heading to the right and I don’t want rightwing politicians back in second, or even first place because we showed burning cars on television,” Mr Dassier told an audience of broadcasters at the News Xchange conference in Amsterdam today.

“Having satellites trained on towns across France 24 hours a day showing the violence would have been wrong and totally disproportionate ... Journalism is not simply a matter of switching on the cameras and letting them roll. You have to think about what you’re broadcasting,” he said.





27983  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Newt Gingrich on: May 07, 2007, 07:18:29 PM
Newt Gingrich

A French Lesson for Republicans

BERLIN, Germany, May 7 -- Callista and I are in Europe this week for a conference on innovation in health care. More about our trip to Berlin in a minute, but first the big news in Europe this week isn't in Germany but in France.

I know this will seem strange to those of us who like to make jokes about the French, but the fact is that there is a great deal to be learned from the victory of Nicolas Sarkozy (a member of the ruling party) in last weekend's "change" election in France -- and Republicans had better learn it.

For those of you who haven't followed it closely, here is some background on the election.

The Background: An Unpopular Incumbent President and a Desire for Change

Incumbent French President Jacques Chirac had been twice elected, has served a total of 12 years in office, and is very unpopular. Coming into this election, people were very tired of the Chirac government and there was a sense that there had to be change.

But the opposition on the left, the Socialist Party, failed completely to capitalize on this desire for change. They nominated a candidate of great achievement, Ségolène Royal, but she proved herself to be the candidate of the status quo, not the candidate of change. She was actually committed to keeping all the bureaucracies that were failing and all the policies that were creating unemployment. She was committed to avoiding the changes necessary for a French future of prosperity, opportunity and safety.

Normally, with the incumbent conservative government so unpopular, the left would have been expected to win the election, probably by a significant margin. But the conservative candidate, Nicolas Sarkozy, won decisively because he is an aggressive, different kind of French political leader. He is a member of the Chirac government -- the Minister of the Interior. But not only is he a man who is willing to stand up and fight for what he believes in, but Sarkozy is also a man who hasn't followed the normal French path to success by going to an elite university, becoming part of the ruling elite and fitting in.

Sarkozy: A Different Kind of Frenchman

Instead, Sarkozy is just the opposite. He was born of Hungarian parents who had fled communism in Eastern Europe. That makes him the first president of France who is a first-generation immigrant. It also means his name doesn't sound very French. And his style certainly isn't very French. He is a tough, confrontational leader -- a man who has been preaching things that don't sound very much like the French establishment.

In the campaign, Sarkozy argued that the French have to work longer hours and, in order to give them an incentive to do so, that they shouldn't pay taxes if they work overtime. He called for tax cuts to encourage investment so the private sector can create jobs. And critically, Sarkozy has said that the people must obey the law, that the creation of law and respect for the law is a central part of any civilized society.

Remember, this is a jarring message for a country that routinely accepts the burning of up to 15,000 cars a year by hooligans who, according to the elites, are simply "expressing their desire to disrupt society." It's jarring for a country that was very proud a few years back to have the first mandatory 35-hour work week in history. Yet an increasing majority of the French believes that without the kind of changes Sarkozy is calling for, France's stature will disappear in a wave of lawlessness and economic decay.

A Royal Commitment to the Status Quo and a Candidate of Change

As for the opposition in the French election, much like the American Democratic Party, it is trapped by its commitment to big labor, big bureaucracy, high taxes and social values people don't believe in. Every time French voters seriously looked at Ségolène Royal and the kind of politics she represents, she lost ground. She simply couldn't make the case that left-wing Socialist policies would work.

The result was a surprising and powerful upset by Sarkozy -- a victory by a center-right reformer, a member of the unpopular ruling party, who came to personify change.

And here's where American Republicans really need to pay attention: In France, voting for change meant voting for the party in office, but not the personality in office. And voting to keep the old order meant voting for the opposition, not for the incumbent party.

If Republicans hope to win the presidency next year, they better find a candidate who is prepared to stand for very bold, very dramatic and very systematic change in Washington. Not only that, but they had better make the case that the left-wing Democrat likely to be nominated represents the failed status quo: the bureaucracies that are failing, the social policies that are failing, the high tax policies that are failing, and the weakness around the world that has failed so badly in protecting America.

Only if we have that kind of campaign do we have a reasonable chance to expect the American people will vote for effective change for a better, safer and more prosperous future -- and that they will see that effective change as being Republican.

A Franco-American Alliance for 'Green Conservatism'?

In the meantime, Sarkozy has pledged to repair relations between France and America, and we should take him seriously in his pledge. In particular, he has called on America to lead the world in addressing climate change.

This gives President Bush a unique opportunity to change the perception of his attitude toward both Europe and the environment. The President should take up Sarkozy's call for U.S. leadership on global warming by proposing a bold new initiative on market-based, entrepreneurial incentives to help in the environment. As I outline in an op-ed that appeared in Sunday's Atlanta Journal-Constitution, using new technology to dramatically increase energy independence and reduce reliance on carbon isn't giving in to the left -- it's resisting the big government solutions that the left routinely imposes under the guise of protecting the environment and instead finding a more effective way forward to protect and renew the natural world.

Solutions Watch

In the news here at home, I wanted to take a moment to congratulate former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani for his call in a speech [video, audio] at the Citadel last week for the creation of a special force to specifically handle post-combat operations in places like Iraq.

In 1999, I served on the United States Commission on National Security/21st Century (also known as the Hart-Rudman Commission) to examine our national security challenges as far out as 2025. One of the reforms we called for was the creation of a post-combat force.

In addition, I have long argued for the creation of a much larger military. Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Mitt Romney, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are all on record calling for a bigger army. The White House should answer their calls now. We can't wait until 2009.

Environmental Polar Opposites

While we are here in Berlin, Callista and I plan to stop by the zoo to see my namesake, Knut the polar bear. He's getting bigger these days, but you probably remember him from a few months ago when he was a cub recently abandoned by his mother. Some animal rights activists had declared that he should be put to death rather than be raised by humans. I'm going to see Knut, not only because of my great love of zoos and the natural world, but because I think he is a symbol of a growing divide on man's relationship with the environment. The activists who wanted Knut killed represent the radical view that humans are only destroyers of the natural world and that human needs and wants shall always be a distant second to the environment.

My view is that we are stewards of the natural world. We have an obligation to preserve and protect it, not only for future generations of human beings, but for all living things.

So long for now from Berlin. I'll report again next week on the launch of my new novel, Pearl Harbor, and the national security lessons it contains for America today.

27984  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Yoga on: May 07, 2007, 08:43:21 AM
This article from today's NYTimes leads me to open this thread.
=========================================

A Big Stretch
by SUKETU MEHTA
Published: May 7, 2007

I GREW up watching my father stand on his head every morning. He was doing sirsasana, a yoga pose that accounts for his youthful looks well into his 60s. Now he might have to pay a royalty to an American patent holder if he teaches the secrets of his good health to others. The United States Patent and Trademark Office has issued 150 yoga-related copyrights, 134 patents on yoga accessories and 2,315 yoga trademarks. There’s big money in those pretzel twists and contortions — $3 billion a year in America alone.

It’s a mystery to most Indians that anybody can make that much money from the teaching of a knowledge that is not supposed to be bought or sold like sausages. Should an Indian, in retaliation, patent the Heimlich maneuver, so that he can collect every time a waiter saves a customer from choking on a fishbone?

The Indian government is not laughing. It has set up a task force that is cataloging traditional knowledge, including ayurvedic remedies and hundreds of yoga poses, to protect them from being pirated and copyrighted by foreign hucksters. The data will be translated from ancient Sanskrit and Tamil texts, stored digitally and available in five international languages, so that patent offices in other countries can see that yoga didn’t originate in a San Francisco commune.

It is worth noting that the people in the forefront of the patenting of traditional Indian wisdom are Indians, mostly overseas. We know a business opportunity when we see one and have exported generations of gurus skilled in peddling enlightenment for a buck. The two scientists in Mississippi who patented the medicinal use of turmeric, a traditional Indian spice, are Indians. So is the strapping Bikram Choudhury, founder of Bikram Yoga, who has copyrighted his method of teaching yoga — a sequence of 26 poses in an overheated room — and whose lawyers sent out threatening notices to small yoga studios that he claimed violated his copyright.

But as an Indian, he ought to know that the very idea of patenting knowledge is a gross violation of the tradition of yoga. In Sanskrit, “yoga” means “union.” Indians believe in a universal mind — brahman — of which we are all a part, and which ponders eternally. Everyone has access to this knowledge. There is a line in the Hindu scriptures: “Let good knowledge come to us from all sides.” There is no follow-up that adds, “And let us pay royalties for it.”

Knowledge in ancient India was protected by caste lines, not legal or economic ones. The term “intellectual property” was an oxymoron: the intellect could not be anybody’s property. You did not pay your guru in coin; you herded his cows and married his daughter, and passed on the knowledge to others when you were sufficiently steeped in it. This tradition continues today, most notably in Indian classical music, none of whose melodies have been copyrighted.

Perhaps it is for this reason that Indians do not feel obligated to pay for knowledge. Pirated copies of my book are openly sold on the Bombay streets, for a fourth of its official price. Many of the plots and the music in Bollywood movies are lifted wholesale from Hollywood. I have sat in on Bollywood script meetings where we viewed American films and decided that replication was the sincerest form of flattery.

Still, Indians get upset every time they hear reports — often overblown — of Westerners’ stealing their age-old wisdom, through the mechanism of copyright law. They were outraged by a story last year of some Americans trying to copyright the sacred Hindu syllable “om” — which would be like trade-marking “amen.”

The fears may be exaggerated, but they are widespread and reflect India’s mixed experience with globalization. Western pharmaceutical companies make billions on drugs that are often first discovered in developing countries — but herbal remedies like bitter gourd or turmeric, which are known to be effective against everything from diabetes to piles, earn nothing for the country whose sages first isolated their virtues. The Indian government estimates that worldwide, 2000 patents are issued a year based on traditional Indian medicines.
27985  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: May 07, 2007, 08:36:49 AM

SOMETHING OF VALUE
How to Sink a Newspaper
Free news for online customers is a disastrous business plan.
BY WALTER E. HUSSMAN JR.
WSJ
Monday, May 7, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

One has to wonder how many of the newspaper industry's current problems are self-inflicted. Take free news. News has become ubiquitous, free, and as a result, a commodity. Anytime you are trying to sell something that becomes a commodity, you have lost much of the value in providing that product or service.

Not many years ago if someone wanted to find out what was in the newspaper they had to buy one. But not anymore. Now you can just go to the newspaper's Web site and get that same information for free.

The newspaper industry wonders why it is losing young readers. Those readers might be young, but many of them are smart, not to mention computer-savvy. Why would they buy a newspaper when they can get the same information online for free?

Newspapers initially created their Web sites with the best of intentions. After all, newspapers are in the information business. And rather than fight the new medium, the Internet, why not embrace it? Wanting to be the leading information providers and thereby have the most popular Web site in the community, they posted all of their news online for free.

Exacerbating the problem with free news was the decision by the newspaper industry, which owns the Associated Press, to sell AP copy to news aggregators like Yahoo, Google and MSN. These aggregators created lucrative news portals where the world could get much of the news that was in newspapers. So readers could now get free news not only on newspaper Web sites, but also from portals and aggregators that had a chance to monetize the content, most of which was created and financed by the newspaper industry.

With local radio and television stations also creating Web sites and posting their news for free, newspapers soon realized that much of the news on the broadcast Web sites had been created by the local newspaper. So, whereas before the newspapers were selling print ads while radio and TV were selling air time, now they were all selling the same medium: their Web sites. Since newspapers share their content with the Associated Press so other members can use it, radio and TV members are using much of that content to compete against the newspapers that created it.





Newspapers have for years been frustrated by radio stations which merely read the stories which are printed in that morning's edition. TV stations often get much of their news from the newspapers, too. But reading it on the air is clearly different from posting it online, placing them in direct competition with newspapers' Web sites.
All of this would be fine if newspapers generated lots of additional revenues from offering free news. But the fact is newspapers generate most of their online revenues from classified advertising, not from news. Gordon Borrell, CEO of Borrell Associates, estimated that newspaper Web sites generated 78% of their revenues from classifieds in 2006.

It turns out that a Web site is a very different medium from a newspaper. While consumers often find pop-up ads a distraction and banner ads as more clutter, readers often seek out the advertising in newspapers.

The Inland Cost and Revenue Study shows that newspapers will generate between $500 and $900 in revenue per subscriber per year. But a newspaper's Web site typically generates $5 to $10 per unique visitor per year. It may be that newspaper Web sites as an advertising medium, and free news, just can't generate the revenue to sustain a valued news operation.

In fact, online revenues for the publicly traded newspaper companies in 2005 varied from 1.7% at Journal Register Co. to 5.7% at Belo Corp. The only company higher was the Washington Post Co. at 8.4%. Yet newspapers typically spend 12% or more of their revenues on their news and editorial operations.

The Wall Street Journal Online now has 931,000 paying subscribers, more than the paying subscribers to all but three U.S. newspapers: USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. Our newspaper, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock, does not offer our news for free on the Web site. We offer free headlines. On a few selected stories, we offer a few free paragraphs, designed to get people to read our paper. We also offer free classifieds.

Recently I had the opportunity to compare our Web site policy with the free news policies of other papers. For the six months ending March 31, 2007, the newspaper industry's circulation was down 2.1% daily and 3.1% Sunday. By contrast, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's circulation was up 1.24% daily and up less than 1% Sunday.

I was able to make another interesting comparison, too, with the Columbus, Ohio, Dispatch. Columbus and Little Rock are both state capitals. Columbus is a larger market, and the Columbus Dispatch's circulation of 217,291 compares with 176,172 for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Up until Jan. 1, 2006, both our paper and the Columbus Dispatch offered news content only by subscription. We even charged the same price, $4.95, for an online monthly subscription, and both of us offered the same style electronic editions.

But Columbus dropped its subscription model on Jan. 1, 2006, and began offering most of its news for free. Its Web traffic and revenues certainly increased. But what happened to its paid circulation?

The six months ending Sept. 30, 2006 was a good comparison, since it compared six months in 2006 when the Columbus Dispatch had free news on its Web site compared with six months in 2005 when it did not offer free news. The Columbus Dispatch's daily circulation was down 5.8% while Sunday was down 1.1% for the six-month period. This compared with our loss of less than 0.4% daily and 1% Sunday.

When I looked at this comparison with Columbus, as well as the newspaper industry's larger losses, it didn't encourage me to change our Web policy to free news.





So what are we doing with our Web site? We have hired a videographer to complement our text coverage in the newspaper. We have added photo galleries to increase the number of photographs beyond what we can publish. We offer an electronic edition where you can search the entire edition by keywords, something you can't do in the print edition. And we offer breaking news email alerts, something else you can't do in print. In other words, we are offering value on our Web site that complements, rather than cannibalizes, our print edition.
Collectively, the American newspaper industry spends $7 billion on news and editorial operations. This includes everything from copy editor salaries to sports travel expenses. In addition, the Associated Press spent about $600 million world-wide in editing and creating news. By offering this news for free, and selling it to aggregators like Google, Yahoo and MSN for a small fraction of what it costs to create it, newspaper readership and circulation have declined.

These declines are accelerating. In 2004 and prior years, industry circulation declines were usually less than 1%. Since March 2005, these declines have been 2%-3% per year. With declining readership comes declining ad revenues, which are followed by layoffs.

The newsroom layoffs are most troubling, as less news with less quality, context and details results in more declines in readership and later, declines in advertising. If the $7 billion spent covering news becomes $6 billion, and later $5 billion, it is not just the newspaper industry that gets hurt. Journalism will be diminished in America with less investigative and enterprise reporting; indeed, less reporting of state houses, city halls, school boards, business and sports. Clearly a lot is at stake.

It is time for newspapers to reconsider the ultimate costs and consequences of free news.

Mr. Hussman is publisher of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.


27986  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: May 07, 2007, 08:29:14 AM
WHAT TO GIVE UP . . . AND WHAT LAND TO HOLD: ISRAEL'S TOUGHEST CHOICE
 
May 6, 2007 -- EACH time I visit Israel, I come home more pro-Israeli - and more worried about Israel's future.

The nation has been a stunning success, as close to a miracle as humanity achieved over the last, horrid century. But Israel is also a victim of that success. Built - like the United States - by the "old country's" rejects and outsiders, Israel's triumph is a slap in Europe's face. Europe was comfortable with its image of the Jew as a narrow-shouldered rabbinical student the local toughs could bully. But Europeans don't like Jews with muscles.  As for Israel's neighbors, they had 13 centuries to make a go of "Palestine." Instead, they turned the Land of Milk and Honey into a desert.

The ecological reclamation of the land of Israel is nearly as dramatic as the creation of a Jewish state. (Indeed, environmentalists of real integrity should count among Israel's strongest advocates.) That return to the garden is as humiliating to feckless Arab cultures as their military defeats.

And we won't even talk about Israel's introduction of rule-of-law democracy into the wretchedly governed Middle East.

The point is that, whatever Israel does or doesn't do, it will always have plenty of enemies. No matter how self-destructive and murderous Palestinian behavior may be in Gaza, how nakedly corrupt Palestinian leaders are, or how hypocritical Arab governments remain, the global left will always make excuses for them, while blaming Israel for every boil on a terrorist's backside.

SO why should Israel surren der any land to its enemies, if it gets in return nothing but empty promises and more security problems?

The reason has nothing to do with justice or sense, but with one of those oddities of the international system, "world opinion." I wish Israel could keep every inch of ground it now holds. But the reality is that global leaders who don't know Gaza from Giza will demand that Israel give up turf.

Some of those pressures can be shrugged off. But not all.

In this unjust world, Israel will be forced to make very difficult choices. Some of the toughest will have to do with the land it must surrender to thugs who'll turn it into yet another patch of self-made Arab misery. And there's a very real danger that, for internal political reasons, a future Israeli government will make faulty decisions.

ISRAEL must be severely prag matic, distinguishing between strategic terrain and evocative terrain - between those stretches of land critical to security and those whose appeal is purely emotional.

Sounds sensible and easy, but it isn't.

Israel's internal enemies are the rogue, extremist settlers who invoke a real-estate-magnate god to occupy West Bank territory that the state doesn't need and can't digest - and whose seizure plays into the hands of Israel's foes and complicates the support of her all-too-few friends.

Yet the fateful evolution of the Israeli parliamentary system has made those who return the least benefit to Israel - who drain its resources and give nothing back - into political kingmakers.

Jews who insist that their god cares more about a plot of bedeviled dirt than the reverence in their hearts are behaving like Arab militants (complete with the intolerance). No religious text is a valid deed.

Don't get me wrong: Jerusalem belongs to Israel. Christians have a stronger claim to Alexandria, Antioch and Istanbul than Muslims do to Jerusalem.

But when it comes to strategic terrain, forget about Hebron - the West Bank town that's home to less than 1,000 Israeli settlers, and well over 100,000 Palestinians. It's just one of the many settlements that hurt Israel's security instead of helping it.

SO what land truly matters to Israel's survival (assuming, for a moment, that Iran won't be permitted to build a nuclear arsenal)?

Israel can never surrender the Golan Heights. We might as well be honest about it. Syria repeatedly - three times - attacked Upper Galilee from the Golan. Three strikes and you're out.

Syria's a phony state, anyway, its borders drawn to please France. Israel has administered the Golan longer - and far better - than post-independence Damascus did.

Borders change. Get over it.

Elsewhere, though, traditional strategists have it wrong. They claim that whoever holds the mountainous "spine" running down through the West Bank controls the land that now comprises Israel. But Israel's survival and victorious wars disprove that "law."

What matters is control of the lines of communication - the roads - that enable Israel to shift military forces rapidly, and the control of foreign borders across which weapons can be infiltrated.

Thus, control of the Jordan Valley and its vital north-south highway is essential. The string of hilltop settlements east of Jerusalem that dominate the direct route to Jordan can never be given up.

And the recently floated scheme to swap Arab towns in northern Israel for part of the West Bank is madness - it would cost Israel control of a militarily vital highway from the coast into Galilee.

IN short, there are vital loca tions within the West Bank. They're just not the ones obsessing the fanatics who shame their faith.

If Israel doesn't do a cold- blooded analysis of what it truly needs to retain, the world will ask too much, its government will make decisions based upon political pressure rather than military necessity - and the result will be a far-worse mess than the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip created.

Israel must do what its survival requires. As the interim Winograd Report made clear on Monday, last summer's duel with Hezbollah was disastrous. Now Israel's enemies smell blood. Instead of the longed-for era of peace, we'll see no end of violence in the Middle East.

THERE'S no good solution to the region's problems. There may not even be any bad solutions that work. The failed civilization surrounding Israel may be hopeless - a possibility we pretend away because we cannot bear the implications.

But Israel can't pretend anything away. In a world in which so many openly seek its destruction - while others secretly long for the same thing - Israel is going to have to play flawless political chess. That means giving up the spaces on the board that don't help it checkmate its enemies.

Ralph Peters' most recent book is "Never Quit The Fight."
27987  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Boxing Thread on: May 06, 2007, 10:48:14 AM
Well, we passed on spending $55 for boxing  rolleyes

BTW, my seven year old and I were watching the promo clips yesterday and he said he thought Mayweather was going to win.  I asked why.  "Because he seems to do more hard training and the other guy seems to mostly be talking."  grin
27988  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Assessing Blame for Iraq front of WW3: on: May 05, 2007, 12:46:42 PM

Failures of Generalship in Iraq

America's generals have repeated the mistakes of Vietnam in Iraq. First, throughout the 1990s our generals failed to envision the conditions of future combat and prepare their forces accordingly. Second, America's generals failed to estimate correctly both the means and the ways necessary to achieve the aims of policy prior to beginning the war in Iraq. Finally, America's generals did not provide Congress and the public with an accurate assessment of the conflict in Iraq.

Despite paying lip service to "transformation" throughout the 1990s, America's armed forces failed to change in significant ways after the end of the 1991 Persian Gulf War. In "The Sling and the Stone," T.X. Hammes argues that the Defense Department's transformation strategy focuses almost exclusively on high-technology conventional wars. The doctrine, organizations, equipment and training of the U.S. military confirm this observation. The armed forces fought the global war on terrorism for the first five years with a counterinsurgency doctrine last revised in the Reagan administration. Despite engaging in numerous stability operations throughout the 1990s, the armed forces did little to bolster their capabilities for civic reconstruction and security force development. Procurement priorities during the 1990s followed the Cold War model, with significant funding devoted to new fighter aircraft and artillery systems. The most commonly used tactical scenarios in both schools and training centers replicated high-intensity interstate conflict. At the dawn of the 21st century, the U.S. is fighting brutal, adaptive insurgencies in Afghanistan and Iraq, while our armed forces have spent the preceding decade having done little to prepare for such conflicts.

Having spent a decade preparing to fight the wrong war, America's generals then miscalculated both the means and ways necessary to succeed in Iraq. The most fundamental military miscalculation in Iraq has been the failure to commit sufficient forces to provide security to Iraq's population. U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) estimated in its 1998 war plan that 380,000 troops would be necessary for an invasion of Iraq. Using operations in Bosnia and Kosovo as a model for predicting troop requirements, one Army study estimated a need for 470,000 troops. Alone among America's generals, Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki publicly stated that "several hundred thousand soldiers" would be necessary to stabilize post-Saddam Iraq. Prior to the war, President Bush promised to give field commanders everything necessary for victory. Privately, many senior general officers both active and retired expressed serious misgivings about the insufficiency of forces for Iraq. These leaders would later express their concerns in tell-all books such as "Fiasco" and "Cobra II." However, when the U.S. went to war in Iraq with less than half the strength required to win, these leaders did not make their objections public.

Given the lack of troop strength, not even the most brilliant general could have devised the ways necessary to stabilize post-Saddam Iraq. However, inept planning for postwar Iraq took the crisis caused by a lack of troops and quickly transformed it into a debacle. In 1997, the U.S. Central Command exercise "Desert Crossing" demonstrated that many postwar stabilization tasks would fall to the military. The other branches of the U.S. government lacked sufficient capability to do such work on the scale required in Iraq. Despite these results, CENTCOM accepted the assumption that the State Department would administer postwar Iraq. The military never explained to the president the magnitude of the challenges inherent in stabilizing postwar Iraq.

After failing to visualize the conditions of combat in Iraq, America's generals failed to adapt to the demands of counterinsurgency. Counterinsurgency theory prescribes providing continuous security to the population. However, for most of the war American forces in Iraq have been concentrated on large forward-operating bases, isolated from the Iraqi people and focused on capturing or killing insurgents. Counterinsurgency theory requires strengthening the capability of host-nation institutions to provide security and other essential services to the population. America's generals treated efforts to create transition teams to develop local security forces and provincial reconstruction teams to improve essential services as afterthoughts, never providing the quantity or quality of personnel necessary for success.

After going into Iraq with too few troops and no coherent plan for postwar stabilization, America's general officer corps did not accurately portray the intensity of the insurgency to the American public. The Iraq Study Group concluded that "there is significant underreporting of the violence in Iraq." The ISG noted that "on one day in July 2006 there were 93 attacks or significant acts of violence reported. Yet a careful review of the reports for that single day brought to light 1,100 acts of violence. Good policy is difficult to make when information is systematically collected in a way that minimizes its discrepancy with policy goals." Population security is the most important measure of effectiveness in counterinsurgency. For more than three years, America's generals continued to insist that the U.S. was making progress in Iraq. However, for Iraqi civilians, each year from 2003 onward was more deadly than the one preceding it. For reasons that are not yet clear, America's general officer corps underestimated the strength of the enemy, overestimated the capabilities of Iraq's government and security forces and failed to provide Congress with an accurate assessment of security conditions in Iraq. Moreover, America's generals have not explained clearly the larger strategic risks of committing so large a portion of the nation's deployable land power to a single theater of operations.

The intellectual and moral failures common to America's general officer corps in Vietnam and Iraq constitute a crisis in American generalship. Any explanation that fixes culpability on individuals is insufficient. No one leader, civilian or military, caused failure in Vietnam or Iraq. Different military and civilian leaders in the two conflicts produced similar results. In both conflicts, the general officer corps designed to advise policymakers, prepare forces and conduct operations failed to perform its intended functions. To understand how the U.S. could face defeat at the hands of a weaker insurgent enemy for the second time in a generation, we must look at the structural influences that produce our general officer corps.

The Generals We Need

The most insightful examination of failed generalship comes from J.F.C. Fuller's "Generalship: Its Diseases and Their Cure." Fuller was a British major general who saw action in the first attempts at armored warfare in World War I. He found three common characteristics in great generals — courage, creative intelligence and physical fitness.

The need for intelligent, creative and courageous general officers is self-evident. An understanding of the larger aspects of war is essential to great generalship. However, a survey of Army three- and four-star generals shows that only 25 percent hold advanced degrees from civilian institutions in the social sciences or humanities. Counterinsurgency theory holds that proficiency in foreign languages is essential to success, yet only one in four of the Army's senior generals speaks another language. While the physical courage of America's generals is not in doubt, there is less certainty regarding their moral courage. In almost surreal language, professional military men blame their recent lack of candor on the intimidating management style of their civilian masters. Now that the public is immediately concerned with the crisis in Iraq, some of our generals are finding their voices. They may have waited too long.

Neither the executive branch nor the services themselves are likely to remedy the shortcomings in America's general officer corps. Indeed, the tendency of the executive branch to seek out mild-mannered team players to serve as senior generals is part of the problem. The services themselves are equally to blame. The system that produces our generals does little to reward creativity and moral courage. Officers rise to flag rank by following remarkably similar career patterns. Senior generals, both active and retired, are the most important figures in determining an officer's potential for flag rank. The views of subordinates and peers play no role in an officer's advancement; to move up he must only please his superiors. In a system in which senior officers select for promotion those like themselves, there are powerful incentives for conformity. It is unreasonable to expect that an officer who spends 25 years conforming to institutional expectations will emerge as an innovator in his late forties.

If America desires creative intelligence and moral courage in its general officer corps, it must create a system that rewards these qualities. Congress can create such incentives by exercising its proper oversight function in three areas. First, Congress must change the system for selecting general officers. Second, oversight committees must apply increased scrutiny over generating the necessary means and pursuing appropriate ways for applying America's military power. Third, the Senate must hold accountable through its confirmation powers those officers who fail to achieve the aims of policy at an acceptable cost in blood and treasure.

To improve the creative intelligence of our generals, Congress must change the officer promotion system in ways that reward adaptation and intellectual achievement. Congress should require the armed services to implement 360-degree evaluations for field-grade and flag officers. Junior officers and noncommissioned officers are often the first to adapt because they bear the brunt of failed tactics most directly. They are also less wed to organizational norms and less influenced by organizational taboos. Junior leaders have valuable insights regarding the effectiveness of their leaders, but the current promotion system excludes these judgments. Incorporating subordinate and peer reviews into promotion decisions for senior leaders would produce officers more willing to adapt to changing circumstances, and less likely to conform to outmoded practices.

Congress should also modify the officer promotion system in ways that reward intellectual achievement. The Senate should examine the education and professional writing of nominees for three- and four-star billets as part of the confirmation process. The Senate would never confirm to the Supreme Court a nominee who had neither been to law school nor written legal opinions. However, it routinely confirms four-star generals who possess neither graduate education in the social sciences or humanities nor the capability to speak a foreign language. Senior general officers must have a vision of what future conflicts will look like and what capabilities the U.S. requires to prevail in those conflicts. They must possess the capability to understand and interact with foreign cultures. A solid record of intellectual achievement and fluency in foreign languages are effective indicators of an officer's potential for senior leadership.

To reward moral courage in our general officers, Congress must ask hard questions about the means and ways for war as part of its oversight responsibility. Some of the answers will be shocking, which is perhaps why Congress has not asked and the generals have not told. Congress must ask for a candid assessment of the money and manpower required over the next generation to prevail in the Long War. The money required to prevail may place fiscal constraints on popular domestic priorities. The quantity and quality of manpower required may call into question the viability of the all-volunteer military. Congress must re-examine the allocation of existing resources, and demand that procurement priorities reflect the most likely threats we will face. Congress must be equally rigorous in ensuring that the ways of war contribute to conflict termination consistent with the aims of national policy. If our operations produce more enemies than they defeat, no amount of force is sufficient to prevail. Current oversight efforts have proved inadequate, allowing the executive branch, the services and lobbyists to present information that is sometimes incomplete, inaccurate or self-serving. Exercising adequate oversight will require members of Congress to develop the expertise necessary to ask the right questions and display the courage to follow the truth wherever it leads them.

Finally, Congress must enhance accountability by exercising its little-used authority to confirm the retired rank of general officers. By law, Congress must confirm an officer who retires at three- or four-star rank. In the past this requirement has been pro forma in all but a few cases. A general who presides over a massive human rights scandal or a substantial deterioration in security ought to be retired at a lower rank than one who serves with distinction. A general who fails to provide Congress with an accurate and candid assessment of strategic probabilities ought to suffer the same penalty. As matters stand now, a private who loses a rifle suffers far greater consequences than a general who loses a war. By exercising its powers to confirm the retired ranks of general officers, Congress can restore accountability among senior military leaders.

Mortal Danger

This article began with Frederick the Great's admonition to his officers to focus their energies on the larger aspects of war. The Prussian monarch's innovations had made his army the terror of Europe, but he knew that his adversaries were learning and adapting. Frederick feared that his generals would master his system of war without thinking deeply about the ever-changing nature of war, and in doing so would place Prussia's security at risk. These fears would prove prophetic. At the Battle of Valmy in 1792, Frederick's successors were checked by France's ragtag citizen army. In the fourteen years that followed, Prussia's generals assumed without much reflection that the wars of the future would look much like those of the past. In 1806, the Prussian Army marched lockstep into defeat and disaster at the hands of Napoleon at Jena. Frederick's prophecy had come to pass; Prussia became a French vassal.

Iraq is America's Valmy. America's generals have been checked by a form of war that they did not prepare for and do not understand. They spent the years following the 1991 Gulf War mastering a system of war without thinking deeply about the ever changing nature of war. They marched into Iraq having assumed without much reflection that the wars of the future would look much like the wars of the past. Those few who saw clearly our vulnerability to insurgent tactics said and did little to prepare for these dangers. As at Valmy, this one debacle, however humiliating, will not in itself signal national disaster. The hour is late, but not too late to prepare for the challenges of the Long War. We still have time to select as our generals those who possess the intelligence to visualize future conflicts and the moral courage to advise civilian policymakers on the preparations needed for our security. The power and the responsibility to identify such generals lie with the U.S. Congress. If Congress does not act, our Jena awaits us.

 
27989  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Assessing Blame for Iraq front of WW3: on: May 05, 2007, 12:46:13 PM

http://www.armedforcesjournal.com/2007/05/2635198
A failure in generalship
By Lt. Col. Paul Yingling
"You officers amuse yourselves with God knows what buffooneries and never dream in the least of serious service. This is a source of stupidity which would become most dangerous in case of a serious conflict."
- Frederick the Great


For the second time in a generation, the United States faces the prospect of defeat at the hands of an insurgency. In April 1975, the U.S. fled the Republic of Vietnam, abandoning our allies to their fate at the hands of North Vietnamese communists. In 2007, Iraq's grave and deteriorating condition offers diminishing hope for an American victory and portends risk of an even wider and more destructive regional war.

These debacles are not attributable to individual failures, but rather to a crisis in an entire institution: America's general officer corps. America's generals have failed to prepare our armed forces for war and advise civilian authorities on the application of force to achieve the aims of policy. The argument that follows consists of three elements. First, generals have a responsibility to society to provide policymakers with a correct estimate of strategic probabilities. Second, America's generals in Vietnam and Iraq failed to perform this responsibility. Third, remedying the crisis in American generalship requires the intervention of Congress.

 
The Responsibilities of Generalship

Armies do not fight wars; nations fight wars. War is not a military activity conducted by soldiers, but rather a social activity that involves entire nations. Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz noted that passion, probability and policy each play their role in war. Any understanding of war that ignores one of these elements is fundamentally flawed.

The passion of the people is necessary to endure the sacrifices inherent in war. Regardless of the system of government, the people supply the blood and treasure required to prosecute war. The statesman must stir these passions to a level commensurate with the popular sacrifices required. When the ends of policy are small, the statesman can prosecute a conflict without asking the public for great sacrifice. Global conflicts such as World War II require the full mobilization of entire societies to provide the men and materiel necessary for the successful prosecution of war. The greatest error the statesman can make is to commit his nation to a great conflict without mobilizing popular passions to a level commensurate with the stakes of the conflict.

Popular passions are necessary for the successful prosecution of war, but cannot be sufficient. To prevail, generals must provide policymakers and the public with a correct estimation of strategic probabilities. The general is responsible for estimating the likelihood of success in applying force to achieve the aims of policy. The general describes both the means necessary for the successful prosecution of war and the ways in which the nation will employ those means. If the policymaker desires ends for which the means he provides are insufficient, the general is responsible for advising the statesman of this incongruence. The statesman must then scale back the ends of policy or mobilize popular passions to provide greater means. If the general remains silent while the statesman commits a nation to war with insufficient means, he shares culpability for the results.

However much it is influenced by passion and probability, war is ultimately an instrument of policy and its conduct is the responsibility of policymakers. War is a social activity undertaken on behalf of the nation; Augustine counsels us that the only purpose of war is to achieve a better peace. The choice of making war to achieve a better peace is inherently a value judgment in which the statesman must decide those interests and beliefs worth killing and dying for. The military man is no better qualified than the common citizen to make such judgments. He must therefore confine his input to his area of expertise — the estimation of strategic probabilities.

The correct estimation of strategic possibilities can be further subdivided into the preparation for war and the conduct of war. Preparation for war consists in the raising, arming, equipping and training of forces. The conduct of war consists of both planning for the use of those forces and directing those forces in operations.

To prepare forces for war, the general must visualize the conditions of future combat. To raise military forces properly, the general must visualize the quality and quantity of forces needed in the next war. To arm and equip military forces properly, the general must visualize the materiel requirements of future engagements. To train military forces properly, the general must visualize the human demands on future battlefields, and replicate those conditions in peacetime exercises. Of course, not even the most skilled general can visualize precisely how future wars will be fought. According to British military historian and soldier Sir Michael Howard, "In structuring and preparing an army for war, you can be clear that you will not get it precisely right, but the important thing is not to be too far wrong, so that you can put it right quickly."

The most tragic error a general can make is to assume without much reflection that wars of the future will look much like wars of the past. Following World War I, French generals committed this error, assuming that the next war would involve static battles dominated by firepower and fixed fortifications. Throughout the interwar years, French generals raised, equipped, armed and trained the French military to fight the last war. In stark contrast, German generals spent the interwar years attempting to break the stalemate created by firepower and fortifications. They developed a new form of war — the blitzkrieg — that integrated mobility, firepower and decentralized tactics. The German Army did not get this new form of warfare precisely right. After the 1939 conquest of Poland, the German Army undertook a critical self-examination of its operations. However, German generals did not get it too far wrong either, and in less than a year had adapted their tactics for the invasion of France.

After visualizing the conditions of future combat, the general is responsible for explaining to civilian policymakers the demands of future combat and the risks entailed in failing to meet those demands. Civilian policymakers have neither the expertise nor the inclination to think deeply about strategic probabilities in the distant future. Policymakers, especially elected representatives, face powerful incentives to focus on near-term challenges that are of immediate concern to the public. Generating military capability is the labor of decades. If the general waits until the public and its elected representatives are immediately concerned with national security threats before finding his voice, he has waited too long. The general who speaks too loudly of preparing for war while the nation is at peace places at risk his position and status. However, the general who speaks too softly places at risk the security of his country.

Failing to visualize future battlefields represents a lapse in professional competence, but seeing those fields clearly and saying nothing is an even more serious lapse in professional character. Moral courage is often inversely proportional to popularity and this observation in nowhere more true than in the profession of arms. The history of military innovation is littered with the truncated careers of reformers who saw gathering threats clearly and advocated change boldly. A military professional must possess both the physical courage to face the hazards of battle and the moral courage to withstand the barbs of public scorn. On and off the battlefield, courage is the first characteristic of generalship.

Failures of Generalship in Vietnam

America's defeat in Vietnam is the most egregious failure in the history of American arms. America's general officer corps refused to prepare the Army to fight unconventional wars, despite ample indications that such preparations were in order. Having failed to prepare for such wars, America's generals sent our forces into battle without a coherent plan for victory. Unprepared for war and lacking a coherent strategy, America lost the war and the lives of more than 58,000 service members.

Following World War II, there were ample indicators that America's enemies would turn to insurgency to negate our advantages in firepower and mobility. The French experiences in Indochina and Algeria offered object lessons to Western armies facing unconventional foes. These lessons were not lost on the more astute members of America's political class. In 1961, President Kennedy warned of "another type of war, new in its intensity, ancient in its origin — war by guerrillas, subversives, insurgents, assassins, war by ambush instead of by combat, by infiltration instead of aggression, seeking victory by evading and exhausting the enemy instead of engaging him." In response to these threats, Kennedy undertook a comprehensive program to prepare America's armed forces for counterinsurgency.

Despite the experience of their allies and the urging of their president, America's generals failed to prepare their forces for counterinsurgency. Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Decker assured his young president, "Any good soldier can handle guerrillas." Despite Kennedy's guidance to the contrary, the Army viewed the conflict in Vietnam in conventional terms. As late as 1964, Gen. Earle Wheeler, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated flatly that "the essence of the problem in Vietnam is military." While the Army made minor organizational adjustments at the urging of the president, the generals clung to what Andrew Krepinevich has called "the Army concept," a vision of warfare focused on the destruction of the enemy's forces.

Having failed to visualize accurately the conditions of combat in Vietnam, America's generals prosecuted the war in conventional terms. The U.S. military embarked on a graduated attrition strategy intended to compel North Vietnam to accept a negotiated peace. The U.S. undertook modest efforts at innovation in Vietnam. Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support (CORDS), spearheaded by the State Department's "Blowtorch" Bob Kromer, was a serious effort to address the political and economic causes of the insurgency. The Marine Corps' Combined Action Program (CAP) was an innovative approach to population security. However, these efforts are best described as too little, too late. Innovations such as CORDS and CAP never received the resources necessary to make a large-scale difference. The U.S. military grudgingly accepted these innovations late in the war, after the American public's commitment to the conflict began to wane.

America's generals not only failed to develop a strategy for victory in Vietnam, but also remained largely silent while the strategy developed by civilian politicians led to defeat. As H.R. McMaster noted in "Dereliction of Duty," the Joint Chiefs of Staff were divided by service parochialism and failed to develop a unified and coherent recommendation to the president for prosecuting the war to a successful conclusion. Army Chief of Staff Harold K. Johnson estimated in 1965 that victory would require as many as 700,000 troops for up to five years. Commandant of the Marine Corps Wallace Greene made a similar estimate on troop levels. As President Johnson incrementally escalated the war, neither man made his views known to the president or Congress. President Johnson made a concerted effort to conceal the costs and consequences of Vietnam from the public, but such duplicity required the passive consent of America's generals.

Having participated in the deception of the American people during the war, the Army chose after the war to deceive itself. In "Learning to Eat Soup With a Knife," John Nagl argued that instead of learning from defeat, the Army after Vietnam focused its energies on the kind of wars it knew how to win — high-technology conventional wars. An essential contribution to this strategy of denial was the publication of "On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War," by Col. Harry Summers. Summers, a faculty member of the U.S. Army War College, argued that the Army had erred by not focusing enough on conventional warfare in Vietnam, a lesson the Army was happy to hear. Despite having been recently defeated by an insurgency, the Army slashed training and resources devoted to counterinsurgency.

By the early 1990s, the Army's focus on conventional war-fighting appeared to have been vindicated. During the 1980s, the U.S. military benefited from the largest peacetime military buildup in the nation's history. High-technology equipment dramatically increased the mobility and lethality of our ground forces. The Army's National Training Center honed the Army's conventional war-fighting skills to a razor's edge. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 signaled the demise of the Soviet Union and the futility of direct confrontation with the U.S. Despite the fact the U.S. supported insurgencies in Afghanistan, Nicaragua and Angola to hasten the Soviet Union's demise, the U.S. military gave little thought to counterinsurgency throughout the 1990s. America's generals assumed without much reflection that the wars of the future would look much like the wars of the past — state-on-state conflicts against conventional forces. America's swift defeat of the Iraqi Army, the world's fourth-largest, in 1991 seemed to confirm the wisdom of the U.S. military's post-Vietnam reforms. But the military learned the wrong lessons from Operation Desert Storm. It continued to prepare for the last war, while its future enemies prepared for a new kind of war.
27990  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Cops need naps on: May 05, 2007, 06:55:41 AM
Force Science Research Center <Info@forcesciencenews.com> wrote:
Date: Fri, 04 May 2007 20:33:33 -0500
Subject: FORCE SCIENCE NEWS: Transmission #71
From: Force Science Research Center <Info@forcesciencenews.com>
To: <stickwacker1@yahoo.com>

Force Science News #71
May 4, 2007

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"OUR COPS ARE TICKING TIME BOMBS FOR LACK OF SLEEP"

About the time we were transmitting our recent article on the need for
on-shift naps, one of the nation's foremost law enforcement risk managers
was independently telling a standing-room crowd at the annual ILEETA
training conference that fatigue is a life-threatening issue for street
officers and that approved napping should be considered an on-duty necessity.

Risk and liability specialist Gordon Graham, an attorney and retired captain
with the California Highway Patrol, claimed later in an interview with Force
Science News that fatigue played a significant role in at least 3 officer
deaths that he's aware of in recent months in just one state alone.

"Administrators won't talk about it," Graham says, "but our cops are
ticking time bombs for lack of sleep.

"If a big rig runs off the road, we take that driver's life apart for the
previous few days, looking at his sleep log, among other things. But when
something tragic happens with a cop, we don't analyze for fatigue.

"Wouldn't it be interesting to know how many hours of sleep officers have
had before some of the controversial shootings that have rocked law
enforcement? Or to correlate citizen complaints with officer fatigue?

"Fatigue is an identifiable risk. Let's take responsibility and manage that
risk.

"I'd like to see officers paid to take care of 3 basic needs while on duty:
to eat, to nap, and to work out so they stay in better physical shape. This
could be a negotiable issue with the unions. I'm convinced that all the
positives would be up and that we'd save money in the long run."

[Gordon Graham, who consults with agencies throughout the nation on
liability issues, can be reached at: Ggraham@Lexipol.com]

In our report on fatigue and napping, which you can read here:

http://www.policeone.com/writers/columnists/ForceScience/articles/1238757/

we asked for comments. In this "Mailbag" edition of Force Science News, we
present a representative sampling of your responses, edited for clarity and
brevity. The views expressed do not necessarily represent those of the
writers' employers.

OFFICER THROUGH THE WRINGER: 3 DIFFERENT SHIFTS IN 1 WEEK!

As the research continues to confirm the importance of adequate sleep,
employers continue to ignore the implications. Police agencies are far and
beyond the worst offenders, small agencies in particular.

I work in a 12-officer agency. My REGULAR schedule, not affected by other
officers taking a sick day or holiday or overtime/court requirements, has me
working AT LEAST 2 different shifts in the SAME week.

"Double backs," with only 8 hours scheduled off between shifts (e.g.,
working an evening shift until midnight then having to be back at work at 8
AM) are the rule for every officer's schedule. Given report time, commute
time, getting ready for bed, sleeping, getting up and ready for work, that
translates to about 4 hours of actual sleep.

A TYPICAL schedule for me is midnight, double back to an evening shift,
another midnight, then double back again to another evening, then double
back yet again to a day shift: All 3 shifts in 1 week, with 3 double backs
and MAYBE 12 hours of total sleep--assuming your body isn't so confused by
the constantly variable schedule that you CAN sleep--and you're so damn
tired you can hardly think straight.

It isn't safe, it isn't smart, and it's a miserable way to live. Officers
are irritable and short with people, their productivity is quite
lacking--but at least they're not crashing their patrol cars into civilians.

Oh, wait...they are! When they're not racking up citizen complaints for
being rude.

Two factors perpetuate this pattern: One, there aren't enough officers.
Adding officers means more money, and small agencies simply do not have
enough money. Second, the administrators and supervisors writing the
schedules that affect all their officers work a straight day shift with
weekends off. They lose track of what it means to be sleep deprived.

Forget sanctioned naps. When you have only 1 officer on duty, you want him
to actually be awake for calls.

A Deputy from Texas


SNOOZE ELSEWHERE

I agree with the need to catnap to recharge. However, if our brothers in
blue are tired only because they have a second job, sleep on that one.

John Mertz
State Conservation Ofcr.
Knoxville, IA


HOURS OF NO CALLS ARE UNSAFE

I would not agree to napping on the 3 PM to 11 PM shift but definitely on
the midnight shift. It becomes unsafe when you have been driving around for
6 hours with little or no calls. If the call volume is high the fatigue does
not seem to set in as much. But the slow nights make it very hard to stay
awake.

Ofcr. Cliff Mahan
Guthrie (OK) PD


A COMPASSIONATE DEPARTMENT

My old department would let us come in for a 20- to 30-min. break and
snooze. This did wonders, especially when things were slow, since I could
only average 3-4 hours of sleep before work. Working 12-hr. shifts killed me.

A Force Science Reader


"WE ALREADY HAVE A TARNISHED IMAGE"

Officer fatigue is a valid argument for 2-person assignments. As a sergeant
I notice I am less efficient when I have to drive and supervise. When I have
a driver, my work is more efficient and I have more energy because I can
rest while being driven.

Napping, however, is another matter and unacceptable in a world where we
already have a tarnished image of not doing enough!

Sgt. Richard Aztlan
Chicago PD, Mass Transit


HAVE ANOTHER COP WATCH OVER YOU

I have said to my officers on the 3rd watch (2100-0700) that I am not
encouraging sleeping on duty, but I am a realist. I know it will happen,
especially at the first couple of weeks into the shift change. Therefore,
call your beat partner or me and have another cop park next to you while you
catch a 30-min. nap.

I have done so myself. I find the short rest is very refreshing and will
carry you alertly through the rest of the shift. I view this nap as healthy
and possibly lifesaving, not only during your shift but afterward while
you're on your way home.

A Sergeant from California


THE DISRUPTION OF BEING "FAIR"

For a decade I worked a job with a shift of 24 hours on and 48 hours off. It
took my body and brain nearly 2 years to become truly accustomed to this
shift, and for me to learn coping strategies to deal with the issues this
shift induced.

My local police department rotates officer shifts every 3 months, to be
"fair" don't you know. This is a huge mistake. I suspect officers may take 2
of the 3 months for their bodies, brains, and sleep and their family and
social patterns to become mostly adapted to the new shift. Just as they're
getting into a rhythm, their department disrupts them all over again with a
mandatory shift rotation.

Such departments must have a lot of officers operating at fractional
potential much of the time, just because of this effort to be "fair." If
this disruptive practice has not been studied, it's dang time it were.

Gary Marbut, president
Montana Shooting Sports Assn.
Missoula, MT


"A HARD SELL"

All of us know [napping] has gone on since the first night shift began. It's
human nature. Having trained your body to be awake in the day and asleep at
night then telling it to do something totally to the contrary on changing
intervals is not only very dangerous it's unhealthy.

Still, I believe this is a hard sell to administrators who don't have to
deal with this issue themselves. Also not everyone can just fall asleep on
command.

A Force Science Reader


MANPOWER DEMANDS OVERRIDE GOOD INTENTIONS

I have been in LE for over 28 years and totally agree that sleep deprivation
is a severe detriment to many officers. I average about 5 hours of sleep a
night while working our day shift. Because my spouse works and my child is
grown, I have the luxury of sleeping in on my days off, trying to make up
for my lost sleep. However, I find that I am often fatigued at work,
especially during the early morning hours and after the work day. Our shift
pattern causes all shifts to work during some hours of darkness.

Over the years we have allowed, and even encouraged, officers to come to the
station and take a snooze if they become over-tired. Unfortunately, even
though our manning is higher than it has ever been, our calls for service
have also increased to the point that allowing for a nap except under the
most serious situations has become a thing of the past.

Until there's a plan that allows for naps without causing a problem with
response to calls, it's coffee and supplements!

A Lieutenant from Florida


SWAP FOOD FOR SLEEP

If a lunch hour is in your shift hours, even half an hour, get permission to
sleep your lunch break, and eat energy bars and fruit as you drive to
replace a formal lunch.

Mike Hargreaves
CEO, Community Patrol, Inc.
Orlando, FL

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(c) 2007: Force Science Research Center, www.forcescience.org.
27991  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: May 05, 2007, 06:48:08 AM
Move Over Olmert
Will Tzipi Livni be Israel's next prime minister?

BY FANIA OZ-SALZBERGER
Saturday, May 5, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT
WSJ

HAIFA, Israel--On Wednesday, Tzipi Livni gave a press conference calling for Ehud Olmert's resignation in the wake of the Winograd Commission's sharp critique of his performance during the Lebanon war. She also announced she would be challenging him in the Kadima Party primary elections. Mr. Olmert fumed, but stopped short of firing the minister of foreign affairs, aware of her popularity within the party and striving to keep his government above water.

Many Israelis, by contrast, found Ms. Livni's soft tone and refusal to step down a symptom of political weakness. Still, she is determined to keep alive both Kadima and the chances for Israeli-Arab peace. Amid the political tsunami that washed over Israel in the last four days, this is something of a feat.

In an interview given prior to the release of the Winograd Report--which lambasted Prime Minister Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz and former Chief of Staff Dan Halutz--Ms. Livni told me why she ought to stay in power. She has a peace-seeking vision for Israel's future, which she has consistently pursued since her appointment in March 2006 and throughout the 34 days of war with Lebanon. Despite current accusations of wishy-washiness, she is still considered by many voters to be the stuff prime ministers are made of. If not now, a little later--assuming Kadima survives.





Ms. Livni has the distinction of being Israel's least-hated leader, widely trusted and considered a spotless and serious stateswoman. The president is suspended and faces likely prosecution on rape, and both prime minister and finance minister are suspected of corruption; Ms. Livni's slate, by contrast, is glaringly clean. A good number of Israelis have considered her a viable heir to Mr. Olmert, and now, in the eye of the storm, many of her party members and supporters still do.
Yet the country is on a political roller-coaster. More than 100,000 protesters flocked to Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on Thursday, calling for Messrs. Olmert and Peretz to step down. Minister Livni was not targeted. And significantly, the rally did not demand new elections. The reason is clear: Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud is poised to win them. His support rose to 27% in recent polls. But many Israelis fear his leadership no less than they despise Mr. Olmert's. This concern is echoed by prominent voices world-wide. Germany's foreign minister Steinmeyer, on behalf of the EU, said on Thursday that "Israel's internal crisis must not be allowed to jeopardize the efforts to resuscitate the Middle East peace process."

If the polling box stays comfortably far, Ms. Livni faces four alternative futures: Mr. Olmert may survive and oust her; he may survive, swallow his pride and keep her in the cabinet, setting his sights on mending both army and peace process; Shimon Peres could take over if Mr. Olmert is forced to resign; or Ms. Livni would take the prime ministerial helm herself. The last three options leave ample room for her international vision to push onward.

This weekend, therefore, Ms. Livni's views are still deeply relevant to Israel's future.

We met in her modest, one-day-a-week Tel Aviv office. Somewhat slumped after a heavy lunch with EU ambassadors, Ms. Livni's energies promptly resurfaced as she recalled addressing a cheering Kadima audience. She told them she had left Likud last year because she couldn't support a political platform dominated by the word "No." "My colleagues and I established Kadima because we were sick and tired of Likud's political fallacies, both ideological and procedural. We wanted to spell out what Likud knows, but due to militant members of its electoral assembly, cannot utter: the principle of two states for two nations. The Kadima platform is based on a paper I originally drafted for the Likud; I took it from my computer, deleted the title 'Reaching Agreement in Likud,' and typed 'Platform' instead."

Ms. Livni's document won voters' confidence last March, scoring a historical victory for the newly founded party shortly after it was deprived of its natural leader, Ariel Sharon. Ms. Livni misses him, personally and politically: "He belonged to a generation of leaders whose commitment to Israel and to the Jewish people was obvious to the public even when they erred," she told me. His heirs, by contrast, must prove their worth. "Kadima represents a huge portion of the Israeli public that is sitting on the fence [between left and right]," she says. "We must regain its trust."

Center parties have never done well in this opinionated country, but Ms. Livni thinks the middle road will prevail. "It is a worldview, not a bunch of nondeciders. My vision of Israeli society and economy is clear and focused." In effect, her economic views are consistent with Kadima's social-minded but essentially free-market stance. Far more urgent for most Israelis is her international outlook. Can she get talks with the Palestinians going? Can she jump-start the peace process, cashing in on American support while courting a helpful European input? Will Israel's strongest female politician since Golda Meir deliver the goods which all her predecessors--Golda most of all--failed to bring home?

Born in 1958 to a seasoned right-wing family--her father was Knesset member for Likud--Tzipora Livni trained as a lawyer and worked for Mossad. Married with two children, she entered Israeli parliament in Netanyahu's list in 1999, and held several ministerial posts under Sharon. Her rise to political stardom was swift and relatively painless. Her political views shifted from right to center early in the new millennium. The longtime hawk, who at 16 years old demonstrated against Henry Kissinger's mission to get Israel out of the Sinai and the Golan Heights, became a supporter of major territorial compromise, buttressed by a vital condition: that not one Palestinian refugee be repatriated into the Jewish state as part of the final deal.

"The establishment of Israel," she says, "has removed 'the Jewish problem' from world agenda. A Palestinian state must do the same for all Palestinians, residents of the territories and exiles alike. It is the only solution for the refugee problem." Can this be anchored in the newly awakened Saudi peace initiative? Ms. Livni draws a clear demarcation: She would give her blessing to the Saudi plan--in fact, she did so from the day it was broached in 2002--as long as the Palestinian "right of return" is off the agenda. "Any border disagreement can be solved by negotiation," she says. Demography is another matter.





This statement not only matches a near-consensus among Jewish Israelis, it also reflects a constitutional credo. Ms. Livni and I have met during the lively debates of the public council of the Israeli Democracy Institute, a powerful independent think tank drafting a written constitution for the country and closely associated with legislators of all political shades. This ambitious project is based on Israel's self-definition as a "Jewish and democratic state" (though some Israelis, this writer included, would prefer to change the order of the adjectives). Ms. Livni is committed to both tags, along with "a strong protection of individual rights." Put together, "these are the Israeli values that every immigrant should memorize, just like the American values in the U.S." Not all Israelis would agree, I retort. Ms. Livni thinks that the solid center is on her side. So, by implication, is the political left. "The real political fault-line runs between those who accept the 'Jewish and democratic' principle, and such religious groups who demand Jewish presence in as much of the Land of Israel as possible. For them, each passing day is a net gain. For me, every decision must substantiate Israel's dual-value vision. Therefore, the land must be divided into two nation states."
Unlike her former Likud friends, she chose to face reality: Avery large Palestinian minority within Israel's final borders would kill off either its Jewish or its democratic character. A generous territorial compromise is her way to square the ensuing circle. This was Kadima's initial raison d'etre, before it slalomed into Lebanon and corruption charges.

Till recently, Israel did not officially respond to the Saudi peace plan. A mistake? "We ought to have put our concept on the table years ago," Ms. Livni concedes. "By neglecting to do so, we lost opportunities of launching a viable process." Her tenure at the ministry of foreign affairs is marked by an effort to advertise a clearer Israeli stance. "There is a pragmatic Muslim-Arab world, which conceives Iran as the primary threat rather than Israel and its [West Bank] settlements. The fundamental solution we can offer these countries is based on two equilibriums: a Palestinian state entailing a [non-repatriation] solution for the Palestinian refugees, and a border agreement entailing [Israel dealing with] the Jewish settlements." The Oslo accord, negotiated by Yitzhak Rabin's labor-led coalition, was therefore a dire error. "Leaving the refugee issue hanging out for separate negotiation is our worst-case scenario. The two-state concept incorporates the solution for the refugees' problem. Israel agrees to a major border compromise in return for a clear international statement about the non-return of the refugees. We have accomplished this with the Bush administration, and I have asked for a similar statement from the Europeans. My interlocutors tell me it makes sense."

Ms. Livni is convinced that an independent, peaceful Palestine is in Israel's best interest. "I want to accomplish a viable Palestine. It is in our interest, because the Palestinian nation state would vouchsafe the Jewish nation state." Are moderate Muslims part of the solution? "Oh yes. They are crucial for strengthening the Palestinian moderates, who are unfortunately weak."





In recent months, Ms. Livni has publicly called for immediate dialogue on a prospective Palestinian state, based on a new common denominator. Iranian Shiite ideology is now a shared enemy, and Middle Eastern extremism no longer stems from the Israeli-Palestinian struggle. "The camps and the alignments have changed. The solution depends on Israelis, moderate Palestinians and pragmatic Arabs and Muslims working together. The two nation state concept is the touchstone of moderation."
Like many Israelis, Ms. Livni feels that television is the enemy of peace-promoting subtlety. "The electronic media does not generate moderation: neither Al-Jazeera television, nor the Internet insofar as it serves al Qaeda. Public opinion has become a tool for extremists, and [Muslim] moderates are afraid to speak up." Another good reason, I tell Ms. Livni, to cultivate every bud of European-Muslim moderation. She consents, then lashes out against what she calls "attempts to theologize the conflict. I cannot solve a religious strife," she says, "but I can solve a conflict between nations."

The Road Map is of course a starting point, although Ms. Livni regrets its vagueness on the refugee issue. Territorial compromise, furthermore, demands mutual flexibility. "We must explain--mainly to Europe--that a wholesale return to the 1967 border is no magic solution. It would bust the dream of a Palestinian state, because there was no geographical or political connection between Gaza and the West Bank. So amendments would be necessary, and both sides would appeal for them. I believe in bilateral negotiation."

"Is Europe a helpful member of the peace-brokering Quartet?" I ask. Most Israelis are painfully suspicious of the old continent's true feelings toward the Jewish state. Ms. Livni is quick to praise the EU's new presence in the Middle East. After all, the deployment of European forces in Lebanon last summer is partly credited to her diplomatic performance. "Yet Israel's image among the European public is remote from reality," she adds. "European leaders told me they must take their own public opinion and media on board. Some EU members, impatient to move on, might soften the conditions imposed on the Palestinians, and speed the process in the wrong direction. If they tell the Palestinians they need not recognize Israel's existence, then we are back to 1947." For the German chancellor, though, Ms. Livni has nothing but praise. "Angela Merkel is a leader with strong values. Like myself, she refuses to accept that one man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter. She has a moral backbone."

Nothing of the sort can be said of Vladimir Putin. "Russia is recently edging away from American positions, and from the Quartet. It aims for independent policies, softer on Iran, accommodating to Hamas." A pause, and then a small concession to Israeli frankness: "Russia's wish to play a different game, vis a vis the Americans, is not helpful." What of the U.S. after President Bush? Israeli commentators suggest that a Democratic White House would pull some carpet from under our feet. On this, Ms. Livni is the diplomat again. "I take the American outlook I have discussed here to be bipartisan."

At close quarters, Ms. Livni is very much the sharp and likeable Sabra gal that middle Israel cannot dislike. She has genuine and refreshing faith in Israeli society and economy. The recent corruption investigations are a healthy sign, she says. Norms are changing and a painful cleanup operation would leave the country stronger, its ethical standards even higher. This utterance is no lip service: Israelis have good feelers for fakes, and Ms. Livni's optimism strikes even her political rivals as authentic.


Asked to comment on the outstanding performance of the Israeli economy throughout these years of crisis, her face lightens up. "This is amazing indeed: war in Lebanon, political dramas, and investments keep pouring in. I ascribe it to the human quality and originality of a group of Israelis. . . . Our economic policy has remained stable, despite the frequent government changes. We have not tilted between ideologies, but kept a consistent middle path. The Israeli public, grumpy as it is, has faith in its economy. So do international investors." Significantly, Israel's stock exchange did not even blink during this week's Winograd mayhem.





Ms. Livni's particular strength is the solid, optimistic, almost old-fashioned Israeli faith in her moral vision. Widespread public trust has been her greatest asset. Ironically, her greatest liability is the party she co-founded, fraught from its infancy by an unending tide of drama: Ariel Sharon's stroke, Mr. Olmert's Lebanese misadventure, Labor's unsuccessful chief as coalition partner, the string of probes and investigations, and now the Winograd showdown. If Kadima sinks, it is hard to see how Ms. Livni will remain afloat. If Kadima survives, however, Ms. Livni may yet be called upon to navigate the ship of state through the world's wildest water course.

Ms. Oz-Salzberger is the Leon Liberman Chair of Modern Israel Studies at Monash University and a senior lecturer in history at the University of Haifa.
27992  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Senator challenges M4 on: May 05, 2007, 06:40:56 AM


http://www.military.com/NewsContent/0,13319,133962,00.html?ESRC=dod.nl

Senator Tells Army to Reconsider M4
Military.com  |  By Christian Lowe  |  April 30, 2007
The debate over the Army's choice to purchase hundreds of thousands of M4 carbines for its new brigade combat teams is facing stiff opposition from a small group of senators who say the rifle may be inferior to others already in the field.

In an April 12 letter to acting Army Secretary Pete Geren, Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn said purchase of the M4 - a shortened version of the Vietnam-era M16 - was based on requirements from the early 1990s and that better, more reliable weapons exist that could give Army troops a more effective weapon.

Coburn asked the Army to hold a "free and open competition" before inking sole-source contracts worth about $375 million to M4 manufacturer, West Hartford, Conn.-based Colt Defense - which just received a $50 million Army contract for M4s on April 20.

"I am concerned with the Army's plans to procure nearly half a million new rifles outside of any competitive process," Coburn wrote in the mid-April letter obtained by Military.com.

A Geren spokesman said the secretary's office is putting together a reply to Coburn's letter, but provided no further details.

Take Action: Tell your public officials how you feel about this issue.

Coburn has banded together with a small group of like-minded senators to push the Army into a competition to determine whether the M4 is the best choice to equip newly-forming brigade combat teams, a top Coburn aide said.

The senator's concerns grew out of media coverage that showed the M4's design fails in critical situations and that special operations forces prefer other designs.

"Considering the long standing reliability and lethality problems with the M16 design, of which the M4 is based, I am afraid that our troops in combat might not have the best weapon," Coburn wrote. "A number of manufacturers have researched, tested and fielded weapons which, by all accounts, appear to provide significantly improved reliability."

Related Article: Army Won't Field Rifle Deemed Superior to M4

Special operations forces, including "tier one" units such as the Army's Delta Force and the Navy's SEAL Development Group - or SEAL Team Six - have used their own funds to purchase the Heckler & Koch-built 416, which uses a gas-piston operating system less susceptible to failure than Colt's gas-operated design.

"That's significant, because these guys don't screw around," the aide said.

In fact, Colt included four different weapons in the competition to build the Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle, or SCAR, none of which used the M4s gas system, the aide said.

In a routine acquisition notice March 23, a U.S. Special Forces battalion based in Okinawa announced that it is buying 84 upper receiver assemblies for the HK416 to modify their M4 carbines. The M4 fires using a system that redirects gas from the expended round to eject it and reload another. The 416 and SCAR use a gas-operated piston that physically pushes the bolt back to eject the round and load another.

Carbon buildup from the M4's gas system has plagued the rifle for years, resulting in some close calls with Soldiers in combat whose rifles jammed at critical moments.

According to the solicitation for the new upper receiver assemblies, the 416 "allows Soldiers to replace the existing M4 upper receiver with an HK proprietary gas system that does not introduce propellant gases and the associated carbon fouling back into the weapon's interior. This reduces operator cleaning time, and increases the reliability of the M4 Carbine, particularly in an environment in which sand and dust are prevalent."

Yet the Army has still declined to buy anything other than the M4 for its regular troops, requesting about $100 million in the 2007 wartime supplemental to buy M4s for its Soldiers.

The office in charge of equipping Soldiers said in a March 30 statement the service has no plans to purchase the HK416.

"I am certain we can all agree that America's Soldiers should have the best technology in their hands," Coburn wrote. "And there is simply no excuse for not providing our soldiers the best weapon - not just a weapon that is 'good enough.' "

The Army has not yet responded to Coburn's letter, but his aide said if the senator doesn't receive a response to the letter by Monday, Coburn plans to call Geren personally to address the issue.

"Our feeling is once people see the facts on the face of it they're going to say that this is ridiculous and demand that the Army does it right and competes the contract," the aide said.
27993  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: May 05, 2007, 06:36:36 AM
A Beautiful Mine
By ERIK REECE
Published: May 5, 2007
Rowdy, Ky.

MY home state contains the largest contiguous forests in southern Appalachia, which is home to the most biologically diverse landscape in North America. To sit quietly in such a place is an extraordinary thing to do. I have heard ovenbirds and black-and-white warblers, sometimes a wood thrush, as steep ridgelines rose around me, mountains older than the Himalayas. There is a lot to see in this forest: 250 different songbirds, 70 species of trees, bears, bobcats and my favorite nonspeaking mammal, the Southern flying squirrel.

Alas, many of these species are vanishing because their habitat is vanishing. A form of strip mining called mountaintop removal has ripped apart all of the ridgelines that surround this forest, leaving miles of lifeless gray plateaus, lunar wastelands. Mountaintop removal entails the blasting of entire summits to rubble in an effort to reach, as quickly and inexpensively as possible, thin seams of bituminous coal. Trees, topsoil and sandstone are dumped into the valleys below. More than 1,000 miles of streams have been buried in this way, and an Environmental Protection Agency study found that 95 percent of headwater streams near mines have been contaminated by heavy metals leeching from the sites.

When it comes to mountaintop removal, a certain fatalism seems to take hold in Appalachia — the coal companies are too powerful, the politicians are corrupt, the regulators won’t regulate and the news media don’t care. But we cannot give up on rehabilitating Appalachia. While most efforts to reclaim the land destroyed by strip-mining have done little to restore the landscape or improve the region’s economy, one effort holds out special promise. It is a three-year-old program within the United States Office of Surface Mining called the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative, and it is based on decades of research.

Pioneering foresters found that the best way to grow trees on a strip mine is not to compact the soil, as has been done on most strip mine sites, where regrowth has been scant and slow, but simply to plant saplings in the loose mix of sandstone and shale, known as spoil, that mines leave behind. High-value hardwoods will grow twice as fast in this loose rubble as in their native forest, because there is plenty of room below ground for the roots to take hold, and no competition from taller trees above ground. The porous spoil acts like a sponge during heavy rainfalls and greatly reduces the flooding caused by compacted strip mines.

Last spring I took a ride with Patrick Angel, the initiative’s point man in Kentucky, to a large mountaintop removal site called Bent Mountain. It was covered with mounded sandstone where foot-high saplings grew. On one acre, 1,000 disease-resistant American chestnuts waved like lawn flags in the gray rock. More small trees grew in the loosened spoil. Mr. Angel told me that the trees’ survival rate was 75 percent to 90 percent.

Then Mr. Angel drove me to one of the state’s largest strip jobs, the Starfire Mine. We pulled away from the heavy machinery and cratered landscape, toward a test site established nine years ago. Back then it looked like Bent Mountain. Nine years later, we were wandering among 30-foot tall poplar and 20-foot tall white ash. The trees had already developed a canopy. If I hadn’t heard the sounds of mining in the distance, I could almost imagine myself in a young forest.

“A culture,” wrote the poet W. H. Auden, “is no better than its woods.” Over a million acres have been strip-mined in Kentucky since 1980, and the numbers in West Virginia are worse. Mountaintop removal sites across Appalachia will soon reach the size of Delaware. And much of that acreage has been “reclaimed” as pasture: companies spray the mines with a layer of grass seed and hope it takes.

But to replace the forest with a grassland monoculture does not reclaim what has been lost. A forest sequesters 20 times more carbon than a grassland, prevents flooding and erosion, purifies streams, turns waste into food and insures species survival. Reforesting wasted mine sites would replace failed industrial methods with a system that mimics nature. Toward that goal, foresters have planted two million high-value trees on 2,700 acres of abandoned mine land.

Appalachia’s land is dying. Its fractured communities show the typical symptoms of hopelessness, including OxyContin abuse rates higher than anywhere in the country. Meanwhile, 22 states power houses and businesses with Kentucky coal. The people of central and southern Appalachia have relinquished much of their natural wealth to the rest of the country and have received next to nothing in return.

To right these wrongs, first we need federal legislation that will halt the decapitation of mountains and bring accountability to an industry that is out of control. Then we need a New Deal for Appalachia that would expand the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative, or create a similar program, to finally return some of the region’s lost wealth in the form of jobs and trees, rebuilt topsoil and resuscitated communities. Financing should come from a carbon tax on Appalachian coal bought and burned by utility companies across the country — a tax that would also discourage the wasteful emissions of greenhouse gases. Such a project would educate and employ an entire generation of foresters and forest managers, who would be followed by locally owned wood-product industries and craftsmen like Patrick Angel’s brother Mike, who makes much sought-after hardwood chairs just like ones his grandfather fashioned.

We know that our species, and most other species, will survive only in a future that burns no coal or oil. The question now is whether we have the nerve to get there before the world’s oldest mountains are gone.

Erik Reece is the author of “Lost Mountain: A Year in the Vanishing Wilderness.”
27994  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Darwin, Intelligent Design, Creationism in Christianity on: May 05, 2007, 06:07:33 AM
NY Times

A Split Emerges as Conservatives Discuss Darwin
By PATRICIA COHEN
Published: May 5, 2007
Evolution has long generated bitter fights between the left and the right about whether God or science better explains the origins of life. But now a dispute has cropped up within conservative circles, not over science, but over political ideology: Does Darwinian theory undermine conservative notions of religion and morality or does it actually support conservative philosophy?

On one level the debate can be seen as a polite discussion of political theory among the members of a small group of intellectuals. But the argument also exposes tensions within the Republicans’ “big tent,” as could be seen Thursday night when the party’s 10 candidates for president were asked during their first debate whether they believed in evolution. Three — Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas; Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas; and Representative Tom Tancredo of Colorado — indicated they did not.

For some conservatives, accepting Darwin undercuts religious faith and produces an amoral, materialistic worldview that easily embraces abortion, embryonic stem cell research and other practices they abhor. As an alternative to Darwin, many advocate intelligent design, which holds that life is so intricately organized that only an intelligent power could have created it.

Yet it is that very embrace of intelligent design — not to mention creationism, which takes a literal view of the Bible’s Book of Genesis — that has led conservative opponents to speak out for fear their ideology will be branded as out of touch and anti-science.

Some of these thinkers have gone one step further, arguing that Darwin’s scientific theories about the evolution of species can be applied to today’s patterns of human behavior, and that natural selection can provide support for many bedrock conservative ideas, like traditional social roles for men and women, free-market capitalism and governmental checks and balances.

“I do indeed believe conservatives need Charles Darwin,” said Larry Arnhart, a professor of political science at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, who has spearheaded the cause. “The intellectual vitality of conservatism in the 21st century will depend on the success of conservatives in appealing to advances in the biology of human nature as confirming conservative thought.”

The arguments have played out in recent books, magazine articles and blogs, as well as at a conference on Thursday at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. There Mr. Arnhart was grouped with John Derbyshire, a contributing editor at National Review, against John G. West and George Gilder, who both are associated with the Discovery Institute, which advocates intelligent design.

Mr. Derbyshire, who has described himself as the “designated point man” against creationists and intelligent-design proponents at National Review, later said that many conservatives were disturbed by positions taken by the religious right.

“There are plenty of people glad to call themselves conservatives,” he said, “who don’t see any reason not to support stem cell research.”

The reference to stem cells suggests just how wide the split is. “The current debate is not primarily about religious fundamentalism,” Mr. West, the author of “Darwin’s Conservatives: The Misguided Quest” (2006), said at Thursday’s conference. “Nor is it simply an irrelevant rehashing of certain esoteric points of biology and philosophy. Darwinian reductionism has become culturally pervasive and inextricably intertwined with contemporary conflicts over traditional morality, personal responsibility, sex and family, and bioethics.”

The technocrats, he charged, wanted to grab control from “ordinary citizens and their elected representatives” so that they alone could make decisions over “controversial issues such as sex education, partial-birth abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research and global warming.”

Advances in biotechnology — and pressure on elected Republicans to curb them — are partly responsible for the surge of interest in linking evolutionary and political theory, said those in the thick of the debate.

The fledgling field of evolutionary psychology also spurred some conservatives to invoke Darwinism in the 1990s. In “The Moral Sense” (1993), followed by “The Marriage Problem: How Our Culture Has Weakened Families” (2002), James Q. Wilson used evolution to explain the genesis of morality and to support traditional family and sex roles. Conservative thinkers from Francis Fukuyama to Richard Pipes have drawn on evolutionary psychology to support ideas like a natural human desire for private property and a biological basis for morality.

Debates over Darwinism became more pointed in 2005, however, as school districts considered teaching intelligent design, and President Bush stated that it should be taught along with evolution. The conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer wrote in Time magazine that to teach intelligent design “as science is to encourage the supercilious caricature of America as a nation in the thrall of a religious authority.” George F. Will wrote that Kansas school board officials who favored intelligent design were “the kind of conservatives who make conservatism repulsive to temperate people.”
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Mr. Arnhart, in his 2005 book, “Darwinian Conservatism,” tackled the issue of conservatism’s compatibility with evolutionary theory head on, saying Darwinists and conservatives share a similar view of human beings: they are imperfect; they have organized in male-dominated hierarchies; they have a natural instinct for accumulation and power; and their moral thought has evolved over time.

The institutions that successfully evolved to deal with this natural order were conservative ones, founded in sentiment, tradition and judgment, like limited government and a system of balances to curb unchecked power, he explains. Unlike leftists, who assume “a utopian vision of human nature” liberated from the constraints of biology, Mr. Arnhart says, conservatives assume that evolved social traditions have more wisdom than rationally planned reforms.

While Darwinism does not resolve specific policy debates, Mr. Arnhart said in an interview on Thursday, it can provide overarching guidelines. Policies that are in tune with human nature, for example, like a male military or traditional social and sex roles, he said, are more likely to succeed. He added that “moral sympathy for the suffering of fellow human beings” allows for aid to the poor, weak and ill.

To many people, asking whether evolution is good for conservatism is like asking if gravity is good for liberalism; nature is morally neutral. Andrew Ferguson in The Weekly Standard and Carson Holloway in his 2006 book, “The Right Darwin? Evolution, Religion and the Future of Democracy,” for example, have written that jumping from evolutionary science to moral conclusions and policy proposals is absurd.

Skeptics of Darwinism like William F. Buckley, Mr. West and Mr. Gilder also object. The notion that “the whole universe contains no intelligence,” Mr. Gilder said at Thursday’s conference, is perpetuated by “Darwinian storm troopers.”

“Both Nazism and communism were inspired by Darwinism,” he continued. “Why conservatives should toady to these storm troopers is beyond me.”

Of Mr. Arnhart, he said, “Larry has a beautiful Darwinism, a James Dobson Darwinism” — referring to the chairman of the Christian organization Focus on the Family — “a supply-side Darwinism.” But in capitalism, he added, “the winners don’t eat the losers.” Mr. West made a similar point, saying you could find justification in Darwin for both maternal instinct and for infanticide.

It is true that political interpretations of Darwinism have turned out to be quite pliable. Victorian-era social Darwinists like Herbert Spencer adopted evolutionary theory to justify colonialism and imperialism, opposition to labor unions and the withdrawal of aid to the sick and needy. Francis Galton based his “science” of eugenics on it. Arguing that cooperation was actually what enabled the species to survive, Pyotr Kropotkin used it to justify anarchism.

Karl Marx wrote that “Darwin’s book is very important and serves me as a basis in natural science for the class struggle in history.” Woodrow Wilson declared, “Living political constitutions must be Darwinian in structure and in practice.”

More recently the bioethicist and animal rights activist Peter Singer’s “Darwinian Left: Politics, Evolution, and Cooperation” (1999) urged people to reject the notion that there is a “fundamental difference in kind between human beings and nonhuman animals.”

At the American Enterprise Institute’s conference, the tension between the proponents of intelligent design and of evolution was occasionally on display. When Mr. Derbyshire described himself as a “lapsed Anglican,” which he compared to “falling out of a first-floor window,” Mr. Gilder piped up, “Did you fall on your head?”

What both sides do agree on is that conservatives who have shied away from these debates should speak up. Mr. Arnhart said that having been so badly burned by social Darwinism, many conservatives today did not want “to get involved in these moral and political debates, and I think that’s evasive.”

Yet getting involved is more important than ever, after “the disaster” of “President Bush’s compassionate conservatism,” he said, because the only hope for Republicans is a “fusion of libertarianism and traditionalism, and Darwinian nature supports that conservative fusion.”

Mr. West agreed that “conservatives who are discomfited by the continuing debate over Darwin’s theory need to understand that it is not about to go away”; that it “fundamentally challenges the traditional Western understanding of human nature and the universe.”

“If conservatives want to address root causes rather than just symptoms,” he said, “they need to join the debate over Darwinism, not scorn it or ignore it.”

As for Mr. Derbyshire, he would not say whether he thought evolutionary theory was good or bad for conservatism; the only thing that mattered was whether it was true. And, he said, if that turns out to be “bad for conservatives, then so much the worse for conservatism.”
27995  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The US Congress; Congressional races on: May 05, 2007, 05:45:16 AM
The following article helped me realize we need a thread specifically for the doings/shenanigans of our elected representatives

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http://www.military.com/NewsContent/0,13319,133428,00.html?ESRC=dod.nl

Air Force Might Cut Pay for Surge
Military.com  |  By Christian Lowe  |  April 25, 2007
The Air Force’s top officer said Wednesday that if nearly $1 billion in personnel funds taken from the service to pay for combat in Iraq and Afghanistan isn’t restored by the end of the summer, Airmen and civilian employees might not get their pay.

Due to a congressional delay in approving a wartime supplemental funding bill this year, the Pentagon pulled about $880 million from the Air Force’s personnel accounts to make up for a shortfall it warned lawmakers would come in mid-April.

Poll: Should Air Force personnel be used to man Army billets in Iraq?
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Michael “Buzz” Moseley said at a breakfast meeting with reporters today that the money is coming out of the military personnel account earmarked for the last four months of the year.

“Somebody’s going to have to pay us back,” Moseley said. “You have to pay people every day when they come to work.”

“A: it’s the right thing to do, and B: it’s kind of the law,” he added.

Alert: Tell your public officials how you feel about this issue.

The shortfall could delay permanent change of station moves, temporary duty expenses and other pays that “take care of people,” he said.

On April 15, the Army announced it would have to cut training, depot repair, and maintenance of non war-related gear because funding for the surge in Iraq, combat operations in Afghanistan and other Global War on Terrorism costs was running dry.

The Army also requested that about $1.6 billion be diverted from the Air Force and Navy personnel accounts to help put the wartime funding tab in the black.

With Congress locked in a political battle with the Bush administration over withdrawal deadlines and troop rotation schedules, the $100 billion wartime spending bill to pay for operations through the end of the fiscal year has yet to be signed into law.

Though both the Senate and House have submitted the supplemental bill to the floor for a vote this week, President Bush has vowed a veto over withdrawal deadlines inserted into the law.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Peter Pace has said if the wartime funds aren’t in place by mid-May, even more drastic cuts will have to be made, including reductions in training for forces on their way to Iraq, which will force the Pentagon to extend the deployments of units already there.

“The comptroller now has a check that they’re going to have to give us back to pay for [personnel] as we get closer to the end of the summer,” Moseley explained, putting the screws to Pentagon and administration budgeteers to recoup the loss.

“I don’t want to have any concerns about getting that money back,” he said. “It would be a breach of faith to take mil-pers money out of a service and then fast forward a couple of quarters and then just say ‘eat it.’”

Moseley said he’ll resist providing Airmen to man jobs the Army and Marine Corps can’t fill due to high operational tempo and increased demand, insisting his service is “drawing some red lines” to deny ground commanders’ requests.

About 20,000 Air Force personnel have filled shortfalls in the ground services’ manning – dubbed “in lieu of taskings” – including convoy and base security operations and even detainee handling jobs. As early as 2005, Air Force security personnel began augmenting Army detainee-handling troops at Camp Bucca prison near Baghdad and have continued to man prison jobs in Iraq.

“We don’t guard prisoners, we don’t even have a prison,” Moseley said. “To take out people and train them to be a detainee-guarding entity requires time away from their normal job.”

Some U.S.-based Air Force commands have as many as 25 percent of their personnel deployed to Iraq and are still executing their home station duties. For example, the San Angelo, Texas-based 17th Training Wing has its crash, fire, and rescue teams and security force units deployed “and we’re still operating the wing,” Moseley said.  

Moseley said he’s happy to provide personnel with job skills the Air Force has in abundance, including drivers and information technology specialists. But “I am less supportive of things outside of our competencies,” he said.

“We’ve drawn some red lines on some of the ‘in lieu of’ taskings to get away from the tasking of our folks that is incredibly outside the competencies.”


27996  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Spike TV, the Dog Brothers Gathering Webisodes; National Geographic on: May 05, 2007, 05:39:57 AM
Woof Tom:

Your "Happy Cuatro de Mayo" reminds me of when today, the first Saturday of May, used to be the date of our Spring Gatherings when we held them at the park across from where I lived in Hermosa Beach.   Indeed it would be most excellent if we could hold a Gathering there again, but it appears that such is not to be. 

Life moves forward and there are considerable benefits to being in an environment where one can exclude people who need to be excluded and this was not possible in a public park. 

Assuming all goes well with OP/Nat Geo, the June Gathering will be at a warehouse in Glendale belonging to OP.  I have seen it and think it will be tres cool.

The Adventure continues!
CD
27997  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: May 04, 2007, 05:55:04 PM
Newt Analyzes the First GOP Debate
Hannity and Colmes
Fox News Transcripts 
Sean Hannity   Alan  Colmes   Newt Gingrich   
ALAN COLMES: Welcome back to "Hannity & Colmes."

The Republican candidates' first debate in California is happening now, but the conservative that everybody wants to hear from tonight, right here, only on "Hannity & Colmes." Former speaker of the House, FOX News contributor, author of "Rediscovering God," Newt Gingrich joins us.

Mr. Speaker, do you wish you were on that stage tonight?

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: No. If anything would convince me to lean away from running, it was watching all of those guys with too little time, with too many Mickey Mouse questions from the reporters. It's exactly the wrong way to pick a president, and I think it doesn't help the country much.

Some of them I think did very well in brief moments. Senator McCain and Governor Tommy Thompson both were very, very eloquent on Iraq and offered very good ideas about Iraq. Governor Romney was very good in talking about health care, where he knows a great deal. Mayor Giuliani was very good about having controlled crime, having turned New York around.

But think about -- you know, you have 10 people up there. You have a couple of news media types being self-important. Towards the close of the debate, we get this absolutely childish question: How would you feel about Senator Clinton being in the White House? I mean, why would you waste the time of the American people and the 10 candidates when it's obvious that every single Republican is going to say that Senator Clinton shouldn't be in the White House?

Compare this for a minute, Alan, with the debate the French had last night. The French presidential runoff is Sunday. And last night, two candidates went head-to-head with almost no interference from the two moderators, and they went at each other. It was emotional; it was direct; it was aggressive.

And people had a chance to see the real personalities come out. I think, if they eliminated the moderators, and allowed the candidates to ask each other questions and kept the entire process between the candidates, it would be fascinating to see how an evening like this would evolve.

COLMES: By the way, is this why, in all the speculation about you, that you have decided, if you get in, it will be later in the process, is this example Exhibit A as to why that would be the case, so you don't have to go through this particular kind of gauntlet? And if you do get in, it will be after this part of the process?

GINGRICH: It's not a gauntlet. It's boring. Look, I have great respect for the people who are running. They're working very, very hard. They're on the road every day.

My hunch is Governor Thompson, by the time this was done, will have been in every town in Iowa 12 times. Governor Romney has done a great job of raising money. Senator McCain has been campaigning now for years and has built a huge national network. These are serious people doing serious things. You know, Mayor Giuliani, as you know, is the front-runner.

But what I'm struck with is, we as a country need to have a serious dialogue about a lot of things. This is not about Newt Gingrich. It's something, as you know, Governor Cuomo and I have talked about. Governor Cuomo recently wrote two articles talking about this and suggesting that the Democrats would be much better off to have a longer debate in an open, free form, to really talk things out.

But there's a second part of this, Alan, that really worries me. You have people sitting around in May of this year trying to describe what they would do in January of 2009. And now, let's say the world changes. Something different happens, and so somebody changes their position in September, October, November. Suddenly they'll have seven reporters, 16 blog sites, all saying, "Ah, this person switched." And you suddenly freeze people into defending positions that they took a year and a half or two years before they're ever going to be in office.

SEAN HANNITY: All right, I'm a little intrigued, because we're friends, Mr. Speaker, and you're going to hate me for going down this road, but when you said this would make you lean away more, I think people would like a little bit more definitive an answer about you.

GINGRICH: Well, I've told you, and I've told everybody that American Solutions is going to have a nationwide workshop on September 27th on the Internet, available to everybody in the country, in both Democrat, Republican, independent, and we're going to try to explain how you could change and dramatically improve government at every level. There are 511,000 elected offices in America; only one of them is the Oval Office.

But we have an amazing number of elected officials in this country. After we're done with that, we'll have a second workshop on Saturday the 29th of September. And then I'll look at it. But I am absolutely not going to think about this until then.

If it weren't for my friendship with you two and my willingness to come on tonight and talk about this, I wouldn't even be talking about the debate tonight. I mean, I think that it is so absurd to have this much attention paid to an office that doesn't get filled until January of 2009, that I really think this is exactly the wrong model for this country.

HANNITY: Well, I agree with you, and I like the debate that you mentioned in France that took place. I love the free-for-all. This is basically a joint press conference, where you end up getting like four minutes each in the course of an hour-and-a-half debate, so I think your criticism is valid. And you don't really have the substance that either one of us would like.

Do you glean anything -- the two issues that are picking news out of this debate, one has to do with Mayor Giuliani and his comments that it would be OK to repeal Roe v. Wade, it would be OK if a strict constructionist viewed it as precedent, and Senator McCain saying the Bush administration had terribly mismanaged the war.

Your reaction to both of those moments, which will make all the news here tonight?

GINGRICH: Well, I mean, I do think that, if Mayor Giuliani's position tomorrow clarifies what he just said, that would be a remarkable change from what I understood his position to be. So I think that will certainly lead to several days of conversation, probably more news out of that one item than everything that happened at the Democratic debate a week ago.

In the case of Senator McCain's position, I think he has been -- you have to give him enormous credit. He has been in Iraq over and over again. He has been deeply concerned for years. He has been public about his concerned about this war.

He has served very, very ably in a very senior position in the Senate on this. He's a graduate of Annapolis. As you know, he was a prisoner of war. I mean, Senator McCain has as much authority as any person in this country to render judgment on the mismanagement of the war in Iraq, and I think it's an act of courage on his part to simply tell the truth.

I mean, I don't care how much you like President Bush or how loyal you are to the Republican Party. This is clearly not where we wanted to be and not where we thought we would be in 2003 when the war began.

HANNITY: Is that what you're saying then yourself, Mr. Speaker, that the war is terribly mismanaged? Because I know you've had criticisms, but...

GINGRICH: Look, I said, in December of 2003, publicly in "Newsweek" and on several TV shows, that we went off a cliff in June of 2003 when Ambassador Bremer changed all the plans, abandoned the Iraqi army, failed to go through with having an Iraqi governing council, took over the administration, and made it an American administration. I spoke out as -- if you go back and look at what I said at that time, I was as clear and as direct as I could be that we were on a disastrous path and it was going to cause us an enormous amount of trouble.

Recently, I testified in the Senate in front of Senator Biden's committee, and I outlined 18 additional changes over and above the surge that I thought we needed. And I'm very, very concerned, Sean. I mean, as you know, I think that being defeated in Iraq, which clearly many Democrats in the House and Senate would like to see happen, will be a terrible blow to the United States and to the cause of freedom. And I think it is very, very dangerous for us to contemplate being defeated and think that's going to make life easier.

I think it's doubly dangerous to have the Congress imposing defeat on the United States in a way that will resonate around the world. But I am also very troubled. I believe very deeply in General Petraeus, as I believed earlier in General Abizaid. I think both of them are superb people, and I think that, had their advice been followed more carefully, we'd be in dramatically better shape today.

COLMES: We can debate whether Democrats really want defeat, but I'd rather talk about the debates. I don't see it that way, and many Democrats don't see it that way.

But I want to get back to John McCain, because when John McCain said it's been mismanaged, the other part of what he said tonight was, "But now we're on the right track." Most Americans, Quinnipiac poll out today, says 31 percent don't agree with Bush's Iraq policy. Most Americans don't see it that way. So I wonder if Senator McCain hurt himself by somehow saying we're now on the right track, when many of us, most Americans, don't see a difference.

GINGRICH: Well, look, I think Senator McCain has decided that it's his duty to be honest about what he honestly believes. And I think that's actually a very courageous thing for him to be doing.

I think, on the issue of Iraq, that John McCain is not going to look at any polling. He's not going to listen to any advisors. This is a field where he has spent his lifetime serving his country. He believes in his own knowledge. He knows very, very well the senior military leaders. He has been on the ground. And I think he is telling us what he believes to be the case.

Now, I don't think he's telling us we're going to win the war next Tuesday. I don't think he's telling us that bombings are going to go away. But what he is saying is that the team that General Petraeus has assembled, the strategy that they're following, gives us a better chance of defeating the terrorists than anything we've done up until now.

And, Alan, what we have to face up to as a country is this is very hard and very painful, but the alternative may be worse. And I think that it's very important to have a conscious national dialogue about, what's the world going to look like if the Congress mandates defeat, forces the U.S. to withdraw, and we end up with the entire world seeing us as having been defeated?

COLMES: If that's what it is. You know, most of the candidates, most of the Republican candidates who either want to stay in Iraq, or support a surge, or support the continuation of this war, and I include some Democrats in this, are out of synch with what most of the American public is now saying. So how would the American public vote for somebody who wants to continue any of the Bush policies for which most Americans don't agree?

GINGRICH: Look, I think the question is, what do the American people think after six weeks of discussing the consequences of defeat? I think what we've had -- look, I've not been happy, and I've been pretty public about the fact that I think there are a lot of changes we ought to have in how the American government works. There are a lot of changes we ought to have in what we've been doing in Iraq. I have always been against using American forces in the streets of big cities, because I don't think that they're very effective as policemen. I think they should be the reinforcers of Iraqi troops, rather than enforcers.

So I'm not sitting here as a pie in the sky, let's salute and march forward stubbornly. But I am saying, it's one thing to try to find a way to be patient and determined and to ultimately find a way to victory. It's another thing to say, "Let's set a deadline. Let's guarantee that the U.S. Congress will legislate defeat," and not talk about the consequences, Alan.

All I'm saying is, let's have a national debate about what the world is going to look like a year after the United States is publicly defeated, and the terrorists publicly are in triumph, and countries around the world look at us as a country that doesn't have the will to keep its word and doesn't have the will to protect its friends. I think, after that debate, you might be surprised how many Americans say, "Well, let's go a little slow with this legislative defeat process."

HANNITY: You know, Mr. Speaker, I'm listening to you, and what you're describing is so consequential. And I'm listening to the comments of Senator McCain here tonight and what you're saying here. And I can't imagine, especially in light of the veto that took place, and, you know, the slow bleed strategy that has emerged from the Democrats, and, you know, Harry Reid saying the war is lost, meanwhile we have troops over there in harm's way that are fighting and trying to win this whole thing.

And it seems what you've hit on here is the one thing that nobody has ever thought of: What happens if we lose Iraq? What does the world think? We create a safe haven for Al Qaeda and Iran inside of Iraq, and the world is a less dangerous place. And with all the criticism -- and I guess there's a lot to go around -- it seems that nobody has thought of that and nobody is thinking about that. And I don't think anyone's stopping to do so.

GINGRICH: You know, it's as though our neighbor's house was on fire, to quote Franklin Delano Roosevelt, somebody who I assume Alan would approve of...

HANNITY: At times.

GINGRICH: ... it's as though our neighbor's house was on fire, and we were getting tired of fighting the fire, and we said, you know, let's just give up. This is too hard. The house is going to burn down. And nobody has stopped to say, "Well, what if the fire spreads to our house?"

Yesterday, in Great Britain, five terrorists were sentenced to prison for life, and the judge said to them, "Do not expect to ever be back on the street, because you are ruthless, dangerous, evil men." I just want to suggest to you, the British weren't doing that as some kind of political ploy. They know that they are in a serious, long war and that the terrorists out there want to destroy us, if they can.

So all I think we have to ask is, let's have a national dialogue about, how are we going to manage the Middle East? How are we going to manage America's role in the world? Why would any of our allies trust us, if the Congress decides to legislate defeat and if we, in fact, leave in defeat?

HANNITY: Let me ask you this question.

GINGRICH: I'm not saying this is easy. I am not saying this is a happy time. I'm not saying this is a positive thing we should feel good about. I'm saying that Senator McCain tonight and Governor Thompson both had positive ideas.

HANNITY: What are the troops thinking? We're running out of time. What are the troops thinking when they hear Senator McCain, the Republican, say that? What are they thinking when they hear Senator Reid say that it's lost? What do they think when they have slow bleed strategies and other strategies emerging to cut off bullet supplies and armor? What are these guys thinking, you know, out there?

GINGRICH: There's no question -- I was just told today by somebody who has a son who's serving at Fort Bragg -- that the level of demoralization and confusion among the younger troops watching the Congress, watching the news, watching the debates, watching the maneuvering, these guys want to serve their country. They're willing to risk their lives. They sure wish the political class would get them the money, have the policy fights, but don't mess up the military while you're doing it.

COLMES: The confusion might be because of policy, not because of free speech in the United States, Mr. Speaker.

We thank you very much for being with us tonight. Thank you for your time.

27998  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gonzales at it again! on: May 04, 2007, 05:44:22 PM
GONZALES WANTS ARBITRARY POWER TO BLOCK GUN PURCHASES; SAF SAYS HE SHOULD RESIGN
BELLEVUE, WA – Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ troubling support of legislation that would allow him and future attorneys general the arbitrary power to block firearms purchases without due process is cause for him to step down as the nation’s highest ranking law enforcement officer, the Second Amendment Foundation said today.

The bill, S. 1237, was introduced last week at the Justice Department’s request by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), one of the most extreme anti-gunners in Congress. Called the “Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2007,” this legislation would give the Attorney General discretionary authority to deny the purchase of a firearm or the issuance of a firearm license or permit because of some vague suspicion that an American citizen may be up to no good.

“This bill,” said SAF founder Alan Gottlieb, “raises serious concerns about how someone becomes a ‘suspected terrorist.’ Nobody has explained how one gets their name on such a list, and worse, nobody knows how to get one’s name off such a list.

“The process by which someone may appeal the Attorney General’s arbitrary denial seems weak at best,” Gottlieb suggested, “and there is a greater concern. When did we decide as a nation that it is a good idea to give a cabinet member the power to deny someone’s constitutional right simply on suspicion, without a trial or anything approaching due process?

“We’re not surprised that General Gonzales has found an agreeable sponsor in Frank Lautenberg,” Gottlieb observed. “The senator from New Jersey has never seen a restrictive gun control scheme he did not immediately embrace, and S. 1237 is loaded with red flags. It would allow an appointed bureaucrat the authority to suspend or cancel someone’s Second Amendment right without even being charged with a crime.

“Attorney General Gonzales has no business asking for that kind of power over any tenet in the Bill of Rights,” Gottlieb said. “He took an oath to uphold the Constitution, not trample it. Perhaps it is time for him to go.”
27999  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: KALI TUDO (tm) Article on: May 04, 2007, 03:59:27 PM
Woof All:

Just a quick yip to say that we are looking to shoot KT2 and maybe KT3 in August.  We haven't decided how to organize it, but subject areas are:

KT for the Clinch
KT against the Guard
KT Guard

TAC,
Guro Crafty
28000  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: May 04, 2007, 02:39:33 PM


The Burgeoning Extortion Racket along the U.S.-Mexico Border
U.S. authorities are investigating what appears to be a new extortion scheme that involves the threat of bodily harm to attorneys, bankers and their families in Laredo, Texas. This is yet another sign that the extortion racket is expanding and escalating along the U.S.-Mexico border. Left unchecked, this criminal activity could escalate into violence on the U.S. side, similar to what is occurring now south of the border.

Since mid-April, at least a dozen attorneys and an unknown number of bankers have received phone calls from a man threatening to harm them or their families unless money is paid immediately. The caller, who speaks with a Spanish accent, provides a significant amount of personal information about the targets, such as names, addresses, habits and the birthdates and schools of family members.

The caller then orders the targets to wire a certain amount of money to various Western Union offices in Mexico, threatening that "bad things" will happen if they fail to pay. The amount of the extortion demand is unclear, but the victims are given just 30 minutes to send the money. They are told that if the money is even one minute late, they and their families will suffer the consequences -- a tactic designed to prevent targets from thinking rationally, and thus to increase the chances that they will pay. The tactic apparently has worked, as some victims reportedly have complied with the demands and transferred money.

These calls are very similar to the virtual kidnapping
schemes that are common in Mexico. Both exploit the fear generated by the frequent kidnappings in Mexico and the violence that occurs on both sides of the border. While a typical kidnapping requires the victim to be housed and fed -- and thus usually requires a group of accomplices to successfully execute -- crimes of the virtual nature are cheap and easy to commit, requiring very little physical risk and infrastructure. In essence, this crime takes far less effort than one involving an actual kidnap victim.

It is unclear whether the calls in this latest scheme are originating from the United States or Mexico, and whether the scheme is being perpetrated by a lone criminal or an extortion ring. The tactics, however, are similar to other extortion schemes targeting business owners along the border. The targets of those schemes have had connections to both sides of the border, such as a Mexico resident who owns property in Texas. In one case, a Mexican business owner was shown evidence that the criminals threatening him had surveilled his home in Brownsville, Texas. Considering that bankers and lawyers are the targets of this latest scheme, it appears the extortionists are focusing on those who have the ability to pay higher sums than earlier victims.

In most extortion schemes, the problem often is more widespread than it appears on the surface because victims can be reluctant to involve law enforcement authorities on either side of the border for reasons that include distrust of authorities, fear of the consequences and a desire to avoid publicity. This reluctance already has been seen in cases involving trucking companies operating between the United States and Mexico. Evidence suggests that, when threatened with the hijacking of their shipments, many truckers have found it easier and less damaging to their bottom line to simply pay the criminals rather than involve the authorities.

Unlike in extortion cases involving truckers, or even small-business owners and shopkeepers, however, lawyers have better access to law enforcement assistance -- and are more likely to use it. By targeting this group, then, the extortionists appear fearless of law enforcement involvement. This is cause for concern, especially considering that the extortion payments are being directed to Mexico, where drug cartels and other criminals often have killed lawyers and judges. Having already demonstrated a disregard for the law -- and the attorneys who practice it -- these extortionists could progress to more violent means to influence them.

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