Dog Brothers Public Forum
Return To Homepage
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
May 24, 2015, 08:31:02 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Search:     Advanced search
Welcome to the Dog Brothers Public Forum.
86262 Posts in 2275 Topics by 1068 Members
Latest Member: cdenny
* Home Help Search Login Register
  Show Posts
Pages: 1 ... 567 568 [569] 570 571 ... 665
28401  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Epidemics: Bird Flu, TB, etc on: October 05, 2007, 03:19:04 PM

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The H5N1 bird flu virus has mutated to infect people more easily, although it still has not transformed into a pandemic strain, researchers said on Thursday.

The changes are worrying, said Dr. Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

"We have identified a specific change that could make bird flu grow in the upper respiratory tract of humans," said Kawaoka, who led the study.

"The viruses that are circulating in Africa and Europe are the ones closest to becoming a human virus," Kawaoka said.

Recent samples of virus taken from birds in Africa and Europe all carry the mutation, Kawaoka and colleagues report in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS Pathogens.

"I don't like to scare the public, because they cannot do very much. But at the same time it is important to the scientific community to understand what is happening," Kawaoka said in a telephone interview.

The H5N1 avian flu virus, which mostly infects birds, has since 2003 infected 329 people in 12 countries, killing 201 of them. It very rarely passes from one person to another, but if it acquires the ability to do so easily, it likely will cause a global epidemic.

All flu viruses evolve constantly and scientists have some ideas about what mutations are needed to change a virus from one that infects birds easily to one more comfortable in humans.

Birds usually have a body temperature of 106 degrees F, and humans are 98.6 degrees F usually. The human nose and throat, where flu viruses usually enter, is usually around 91.4 degrees F.

"So usually the bird flu doesn't grow well in the nose or throat of humans," Kawaoka said. This particular mutation allows H5N1 to live well in the cooler temperatures of the human upper respiratory tract.

H5N1 caused its first mass die-off among wild waterfowl in 2005 at Qinghai Lake in central China, where hundreds of thousands of migratory birds congregate.
That strain of the virus was carried across Asia to Africa and Europe by migrating birds. Its descendants carry the mutation, Kawaoka said.

"So the viruses circulating in Europe and Africa, they all have this mutation. So they are the ones that are closer to human-like flu," Kawaoka said.
Luckily, they do not carry other mutations, he said.

"Clearly there are more mutations that are needed. We don't know how many mutations are needed for them to become pandemic strains."
28402  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / DLO 2: Bringing a gun to a knife attack on: October 05, 2007, 12:48:12 PM
Woof All:

The trailer for our newest DVD, which is titled "DLO 2:  Bringing a gun to a knife attack" featuring Gabe Suarez and me, can now be seen at:

This clip will be posted with the other clips here on the website soon, and in the next day or so DLO 2 will be available for pre-orders here on the website.

The Adventure continues!
Guro Crafty Dog
28403  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Health Care needs an Internet Revolution: Bill Gates on: October 05, 2007, 11:43:29 AM
Health Care Needs an Internet Revolution
October 5, 2007; Page A17

We live in an era that has seen our knowledge of medical science and treatment expand at a speed that is without precedent in human history. Today we can cure illnesses that used to be untreatable and prevent diseases that once seemed inevitable. We expect to live longer and remain active and productive as we get older. Ongoing progress in genetics and our understanding of the human genome puts us on the cusp of even more dramatic advances in the years ahead.

But for all the progress we've made, our system for delivering medical care is clearly in crisis. According to a groundbreaking 1999 report on health-care quality published by the Institute of Medicine (the medical arm of the National Academy of Sciences) as many as 98,000 Americans die every year as a result of preventable medical errors. That number makes the health-care system itself the fifth-leading cause of death in this country.

Beyond the high cost in human life, we pay a steep financial price for the inability of our health-care system to deliver consistent, high-quality care. Study after study has documented the billions of dollars spent each year on redundant tests, and the prolonged illnesses and avoidable injuries that result from medical errors. The impact ripples through our society, limiting our ability to provide health care to everyone who needs it and threatening the competitiveness of U.S. businesses, which now spend an average of $8,000 annually on health care for employees.

At the heart of the problem is the fragmented nature of the way health information is created and collected. Few industries are as information-dependent and data-rich as health care. Every visit to a doctor, every test, measurement, and procedure generates more information. But every clinic, hospital department, and doctor's office has its own systems for storing it. Today, most of those systems don't talk to each other.

Isolated, disconnected systems make it impossible for your doctor to assemble a complete picture of your health and make fully informed treatment decisions. It also means that the mountain of potentially lifesaving medical information that our health-care system generates is significantly underutilized. Because providers and researchers can't share information easily, our ability to ensure that care is based on the best available scientific knowledge is sharply limited.

There is widespread awareness that we need to address the information problem. In 2001, the Institute of Medicine issued a follow-up report on health-care quality that urged swifter adoption of information technology and greater reliance on evidence-based medicine. In his 2006 State of the Union address, President Bush called on the medical system to "make wider use of electronic records and other health information technology."

But increased digitization of health-care information alone will not solve the problems we face. Already, nearly all procedures, test results and prescriptions are recorded in digital form -- that's how health-care providers transmit information to health insurers so they can be paid for their work. But patients never see this data, and doctors are unable to share it. Instead, individuals do their best to piece together the information that they think their caregivers might need about their medical history, the medications they take and the tests they've undergone.

What we need is to place people at the very center of the health-care system and put them in control of all of their health information. Developing the solutions to help make this possible is an important priority for Microsoft. We envision a comprehensive, Internet-based system that enables health-care providers to automatically deliver personal health data to each patient in a form they can understand and use. We also believe that people should have control over who they share this information with. This will help ensure that their privacy is protected and their care providers have everything they need to make fully-informed diagnoses and treatment decisions.

I believe that an Internet-based health-care network like this will have a dramatic impact. It will undoubtedly improve the quality of medical care and lower costs by encouraging the use of evidence-based medicine, reducing medical errors and eliminating redundant medical tests. But it will also pave the way toward a more important transformation.

Today, our health-care system encourages medical professionals to focus on treating conditions after they occur -- on curing illness and managing disease. By giving us comprehensive access to our personal medical information, digital technology can make us all agents for change, capable of pushing for the one thing that we all really care about: a medical system that focuses on our lifelong health and prioritizes prevention as much as it does treatment. Putting people at the center of health care means we will have the information we need to make intelligent choices that will allow us to lead healthy lives -- and to search out providers who offer care that does as much to help us stay well as it does to help us get better.

The technology exists today to make this system a reality. For the last 30 years, computers and software have helped industry after industry eliminate errors and inefficiencies and achieve new levels of productivity and success. Many of the same concepts and approaches that have transformed the world of business -- the digitization of information, the creation of systems and processes that streamline and automate the flow of data, the widespread adoption of tools that enable individuals to access information and take action -- can be adapted to the particular requirements of health care.

No one company can -- or should -- hope to provide the single solution to make all of this possible. That's why Microsoft is working with a wide range of software and hardware companies, as well as with physicians, hospitals, government organizations, patient advocacy groups and consumers to ensure that, together, we can address critical issues like privacy, security and integration with existing applications.

Technology is not a cure-all for the issues that plague the health-care system. But it can be a powerful catalyst for change, here in the U.S. and in countries around the globe where access to medical professionals is limited and where better availability of health-care information could help improve the lives of millions of people.

Mr. Gates is chairman of the Microsoft Corporation.

28404  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Help our troops/our cause: on: October 05, 2007, 11:01:46 AM
Warfront with Jihadistan: Berets and Blackwater
In last week’s witch hunt, “unbiased journalism” attempted to convict two from among America’s most elite fighting force, despite conclusive evidence that both were blameless. In Afghanistan last October, under the direction of Army Special Forces Capt. Dave Staffel, Master Sgt. Troy Anderson killed insurgent leader Nawab Buntangyar with a single, 100-yard sniper shot, thus “rehabilitating” the architect of countless suicide and roadside bombings. Incredibly, rather than being awarded medals for ridding planet Earth of this vermin, these two Green Berets were charged with premeditated murder, on the basis that Buntangyar was unarmed when he was shot. Apparently, SOCOM must now deploy lawyers when it sends out its finest, along with primers on Miranda warnings.

Two official Army investigations each concluded that Staffel’s seven-man team had fully complied with U.S. rules of engagement. Further, the reports noted that having been classified as an enemy combatant, Buntangyar was “fair game” as a target, armed or not. Finally, of considerable weight was the nontrivial issue that Buntangyar happened to showcase on the Special Forces’ “Top Ten” list of individuals to be killed or captured.

Evidently more convinced by media trials than he was by the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command, however, the recently-pinned-on Army three-star charged with Special Forces oversight in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. Frank Kearney, convened yet another hearing to weigh evidence against the two soldiers. As the attorney for Capt. Staffel noted, Kearney’s charges carried an air of “military politics” about them. Fortunately, the American justice system trumped media jurists in this case, but only barely. Although the two soldiers were exonerated earlier this week, neither Lt. Gen. Kearney nor any within media circles offered so much as an oops-we-goofed comment to clear the soldiers’ good names.

In this week’s witch hunt, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Left Coast) leads a House investigation into Blackwater, a private security firm providing protection for State Department members in Iraq and Afghanistan. At issue is the culpability of Blackwater agents on 16 September, when at least 14 Iraqis were killed following a shootout occurring while the agents were protecting U.S. Embassy staff in a Baghdad convoy. Though Rep. Waxman had agreed not to probe for specific information because of ongoing FBI investigations, his promise apparently didn’t weigh too heavily on his conscience, as he pressed on, unhindered, with his inquisition, er, investigation. We note that Rep. Waxman has a history of hounding Blackwater for everything from war-profiteering to 2004’s ambush at Fallujah (ironically, Waxman cites the cause as—wait for it—Blackwater’s cost-cutting!), so we’re not surprised by this latest move.

We should also note that we’re not asserting that Blackwater is without fault in this incident (U.S. military reports say they fired without provocation), however, like last week’s Green Beret incident, both the media, as well as key individuals in power, have made such a determination for themselves—and apparently for everyone else, if they can get away with it—before all the evidence is in and before ongoing investigations are complete

Patriot Post
28405  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: October 05, 2007, 10:56:45 AM
Anatomy of a BIG Lie: ‘Phony Soldiers’
Regular readers are aware that, since The Patriot’s founding a decade ago, we’ve included a short section within Friday’s Digest called, “The BIG Lie.” It’s a section we’ve reserved for egregious examples of Leftist disinformation.

There is an old maxim that if one repeats a lie often and loud enough, it will eventually be perceived as the truth.

Adolf Hitler defined that dictum in his 1925 autobiography Mein Kampf, writing that a big lie must be so “colossal” that the public would be confident that no national leaders “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.”

After Hitler became the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party, his chief propagandist, Joseph Goebbels, used the Third Reich’s big-lie apparatus to fortify the Nazi campaign against Jews. Goebbels blamed the Jews for Germany’s inability to recover from World War I, and this big lie led to the Holocaust—the wholesale murder of some six million men, women and children.

After Germany’s WWII defeat, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and subsequent Communist leaders perfected the big-lie propaganda machine with media “dezinformatsia” campaigns. The primary organ for disseminating this disinformation was the official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, Pravda, which in English means “the truth.” Even the name is a big lie.

Here in the U.S. , the organs of Leftist disinformation have assumed equally impressive identities: The New York Times, The Washington Post, CBS, CNN, MSNBC and NPR, and the list goes on. (For a weekly recounting of the MSM’s biggest whoppers, please see the “Dezinformatsia” section of our Wednesday Chronicle.)

Most recently, the Democrats’ dezinformatsia machines were running overtime to discredit Gen. David Petraeus, commander of our Armed Forces in Iraq. In advance of his congressional testimony about the progress of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Leftmedia gave endless play to those Demo-gogues who have bet their 2008 electoral prospects on failure in and retreat from Iraq.

On the morning of Gen. Petraeus’s testimony, the Democrats’ most effective web-based organ of disinformation,, was given a deep discount by the Democrats’ most effective print-based organ of disinformation, The New York Times, to run an appalling full-page lie under the heading, “General Petraeus or General Betray Us?”

Democrats and the George Soros-funded MoveOn thought they could, with impunity, brand one of our nation’s most distinguished warriors a traitor. By extension, they branded as traitors all American forces fighting jihadi terrorists in Iraq and around the world. However, Leftist politicos and MoveOn grossly underestimated the new media’s ability to expose such a colossal lie and grossly overestimated the public’s tolerance for such accusations once brought to their attention.

In short, the Left got caught in a big lie and was severely rebuked.

In an effort to offset that rebuke, Democrats and their radical cadre have fabricated another big lie—this one targeting Rush Limbaugh.

Rush, of course, is the arch-nemesis of the Left. He broke ground for conservative perspective on the radio, much as Fox News did for television and The Patriot did for the Web.

To recap: Rush had been responding to an on-air caller who noted that the MSM has continually dredged up a handful of troops—some real, some fake—to provide antiwar statements to support the Demos’ desire for defeat and retreat. Rush agreed, noting that some of these anti-warriors, in particular Jesse MacBeth, have flat-out lied about their military service. He rightly dubbed them “phony soldiers.”

For the record, Jesse MacBeth, the prototypical anti-OIF poster boy, was in fact born Jesse Al-Zaid. Al-Zaid claimed to have served in Iraq, even receiving a Purple Heart after being shot. He claimed to have witnessed atrocities committed by “fellow soldiers.” But it turns out that Al-Zaid never completed boot camp, being discharged after 44 days because of his “entry level performance and conduct.” He was not a Green Beret, never in Special Ops, never in Iraq—though he even attempted to defraud the VA of more than $10,000 for “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.” Al-Zaid, whose protest diatribes have been circulating for several years, is indeed a phony soldier.

But the truth never deters the Left’s big lies.

Their so-called “watchdog group,” Media Matters for America, removed from context the two words “phony soldiers” and blast-broadcasted the big lie that Rush had branded that label on the handful of anti-OIF protestors who actually served in Iraq. In lock step, that smear was dutifully regurgitated by the MSM and then picked up by opportunistic Demo-gogues in Congress, desperately seeking a reversal of charges after their disastrous attempt to question the patriotism of Gen. Petraeus.

Chief among the most despicable of those propagating this dezinformatsia campaign from their Senate soapboxes are John Kerry and Tom Harkin.

Kerry, like Jesse Al-Zaid, embellished his military record and then used his “hero status” as a platform to falsely accuse ground troops in Vietnam of all manner of atrocities. (He is the target of a national petition to indict him for acts of treason, which now has more than 200,000 signers.)

Kerry’s most notable commentary on Iraq in the past year was his assertion that American service personnel are “stuck in Iraq” because they are too stupid to get a better job.

This week he led the charge against Rush, saying, “In a single moment on his show, Limbaugh managed to question the patriotism of men and women in uniform who have put their lives on the line and many who died for his right to sit safely in his air conditioned studio peddling hate.”

This is the same Jean-Francois Kerry who, back in 2005, accused U.S. forces in Iraq of “going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children, uh, uh, uh, you know, women...”

Iowa Demo Sen. Tom Harkin, who also falsified his military record by claiming to have been a Vietnam combat pilot when he actually flew repaired aircraft from Japan to U.S. bases in Vietnam, perpetuated the lie, saying, “I must say that as a veteran, I find it offensive that Rush Limbaugh would attack the patriotism and the dedication of any soldier fighting in Iraq... I also find it disturbing that his offensive comments have not been condemned by our Republican colleagues or by the Commander in Chief, all of whom are so quick to condemn a similar personal attack on General Petraeus several weeks ago.”

Of course, as Limbaugh said in response, “Why should they condemn something that wasn’t said? You know what ought to be condemned here is [the Left’s] wanton inability to find the truth.”

Further perpetuating the big lie—and further wasting the taxpayers’ hard-earned money—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his cadre of MoveOn Demos sent a letter to Mark Mays, CEO of Clear Channel Communications, which broadcasts Rush’s program via more than 1,200 stations. The letter demanded that Mays condemn “Limbaugh’s hateful and unpatriotic” remarks.

Further, former Democrat presidential wannabe, General Wesley Clark, who has endorsed Hillary Clinton for President, is demanding that Rush be removed from the Armed Forces Radio network.

In the House, Lefty Mark Udall introduced a big-lie resolution condemning Limbaugh, and 26 Democrats have signed on as co-sponsors.

And what of Media Matters, the propaganda organ that launched the lie?

My colleague, National Review essayist Byron York, offered this analysis: “Media Matters is much more than a traditional media-watchdog group. Indeed, it is probably more accurate to view Media Matters as part of the constellation of groups that have come together on the left in the last year or so, all aimed at electing a Democratic President. Their [donors list] reads like a Who’s Who of those who have financed the new activist Left.”

“Constellation of groups”? In other words, a Socialist propaganda network that would make even Goebbels blush with pride!

Patriot Post
28406  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: October 05, 2007, 10:51:44 AM
IRAQ: Every Arab who wishes to leave the northern Iraqi province of Kirkuk is being paid about $16,500, Gulf News reported, citing Abdul Rahman Mustafa, governor of the Kirkuk province. An article in the Iraqi Constitution states that Shiite and Sunni Arabs in Kirkuk will be paid in order to facilitate their return to their native provinces.
28407  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Shifting Thinking, Eroding Advantage on: October 05, 2007, 10:40:24 AM
China, Taiwan: Shifting Thinking, Eroding Advantage
October 04, 2007 22 40  GMT


A potential shift in China's thinking about contingency war planning for conflict with Taiwan could herald some significant alterations in the military dynamic between the island and the mainland. Such a shift would come at a time of eroding technological advantage for Taipei.


A new aspect of Chinese contingency war planning for dealing with Taiwan in the event that the island declares independence is emerging from Chinese researchers and semigovernmental think tanks. These sources suggest that if Beijing feels such action against Taiwan is necessary, it will sacrifice even the 2008 Olympic Games, which are of paramount importance for the Communist Party of China. Though an outright declaration of Taiwanese independence is unlikely in the near future, there is still plenty Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian can do to get creative.

China's potential strategy centers on a punishing bombardment of Taiwan rather than a full-scale amphibious invasion. The combined tonnage of ballistic and cruise missiles, airstrikes and naval gunfire would focus specifically on the Taiwanese military's command-and-control infrastructure, with the objective of obliterating Taipei's ability to meaningfully coordinate a defense of the island. It appears China hopes to accomplish this in less than a week, and possibly as quickly as 24 hours, with the objective of forcing the direct capitulation of the government or compelling the population in general, the Kuomintang opposition in particular or the military itself to force the government into that capitulation. The ultimate goal of such a strategy would be a return to the status quo, rather than reunification.

While there are a number of problems with this strategy, the shift in thinking -- away from occupying the island and bringing it back into the mainland fold and toward bombardment and restoring the status quo -- is significant. And while it is ever-important for Beijing to appear politically firm on all things Taiwan, talk of sacrificing the Olympics is not idle banter in China.

The long-standing objective of an amphibious assault to retake the island has massive operational problems. Chinese ships laden with troops, tanks and supplies would be unlikely to survive the push across the 100-nautical-mile Taiwan Strait -- especially against an enemy that has spent decades preparing for just that. The island's coast bristles with anti-ship missiles.

Meanwhile, Taiwan already has begun to acquire the latest U.S. Patriot air defense system, the PAC-3, which offers a terminal-phase ballistic missile defense capability, in addition to its anti-aircraft heritage. There also is the matter of the island's Republic of China Air Force, which promises to make any assault from the mainland a costly one.

While there are infinite complexities to this dynamic, with the open sea as a buffer, Taiwan is in a good geographic position for its self-defense. But it cannot endure an endless onslaught from the mainland. Taiwan boasts less than a fifth of the combat-capable aircraft of the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), though frontline pilots on both sides of the strait reportedly get a very respectable 180 hours of flying per year.

Meanwhile, the mainland's modernization of the PLAAF -- both in terms of air defenses and aircraft -- has evoked strong concerns even from U.S. Lt. Gen. Bruce Wright, commander of U.S. Forces Japan and the U.S. 5th Air Force. Wright said during the week of Sept. 23 that he considered China's air defenses "nearly impenetrable" to all but the most modern U.S. aircraft -- a strong statement from the U.S. Air Force.

The trajectory of this modernization outpaces Taiwan's, in terms of both technology and sheer numbers. The island's F-16s are the Block 20 variant and are a significant asset. But its F-5E Tiger IIs and French Mirage 2000Ei-5s are dated. Its Ching Kuo Indigenous Defense Fighter (a sort of hybrid of the U.S. F-16 and F/A-18 Hornet designs), while an eminently respectable design and production achievement, already is slated for replacement by the newer Block 50 F-16s Taipei hopes to import soon.

The PLAAF already has imported more than 70 of the latest Su-30MKK Flanker fighters from Russia. Using these aircraft, the Indian air force occasionally has outperformed U.S. pilots in fourth-generation aircraft in exercises. Meanwhile, the indigenous production of the J-11, a licensed copy of the earlier Su-27 Flanker design, already has yielded more than 100 airframes. Production of the domestically designed J-10 fighter also is well under way.

Thus, while not true in all regards, Taipei's technological advantage in the realm of fighter aircraft is slowly being eroded. How both the Ching Kuo and J-10 would perform in combat remains an open question, as is the effectiveness of the PLAAF's nascent airborne early warning (AEW) and control aircraft, which might not even be available for operational deployment. Taiwan's E-2 Hawkeye AEW fleet -- which dates back to 1989 -- is far better established and would be of great significance, however.

Advantage in quality is an essential counter to disadvantage in quantity, but Taiwan simply is not in the position it was a decade ago. Meanwhile, the new evidence that China is contemplating more realistic military options for dealing with Taiwan (bombardment not invasion, restoring the status quo rather than reabsorbing the island) means Beijing's focus might no longer be a doomed amphibious assault, which would have represented a massive black hole for People's Liberation Army efforts -- to Taipei's benefit.

However things plays out, the avenues for escalation quickly expand. China and Taiwan could quickly find themselves engaged in the largest two-way air battle since World War II. This would be only one aspect of a complicated dynamic. And of course, U.S. or even Japanese intervention on behalf of Taiwan could radically alter the picture.

Such intervention is nearly guaranteed in the event of a Chinese military incursion into Taiwan, given Washington's legal obligation to come to Taiwan's aid. The USS Kitty Hawk, homeported in Yokosuka, Japan, is never far. Ultimately, the prospect of a short, furious bombardment of the island that does not involve a prolonged Chinese military commitment on the ground might be enticing for Beijing and has significant implications for foreign intervention.
28408  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East War on: October 05, 2007, 10:33:01 AM
Iraq: The Sectarian Tables Turn

Iraq's Shiite-dominated government issued a public criticism Oct. 4 condemning the United States for creating Sunni militias that operate outside the law. The formation of U.S.-backed Sunni militias to counter Iranian-backed Shiite militias fits into a larger U.S. strategy to pressure the Iranians into serious negotiations over Iraq. Iran, however, still appears to be undecided on how to progress in its own Iraq strategy.


The Shiite-dominated government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki sharply criticized what it called a U.S. policy to create Sunni militias that are operating outside the control of the central government. The United Iraqi Alliance (UIA) -- Iraq's largest Shiite bloc, which has close ties to Iran -- issued a statement Oct. 4 accusing these Sunni militias of kidnapping, killing and blackmailing Shiite militiamen belonging to Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army in Baghdad's western Saydiya neighborhood. These U.S.-backed groups, the UIA says, are setting up checkpoints without coordinating with the government.

The tables appear to be turning in Iraq. The complaints that the Shiite bloc is now issuing are exactly the same complaints that Iraq's Sunni bloc has voiced over Iranian-backed Shiite death squads. And this is precisely the dynamic that the United States is aiming to create in order to push the Iranians into serious negotiations.

Iran's biggest advantage in post-Saddam Hussein Iraq was that it had strong and disciplined Shiite militias lying in wait for the very moment that Hussein fell. These militias gave Iran a cohesive and well-trained militant proxy to carry out its objectives in Iraq. In addition, Iran's principal allies in Iraq's Shiite bloc, namely Abdel Aziz al-Hakim's Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council party, were unified enough to guarantee a Shiite majority in the Iraqi government.

The Sunnis, on the other hand, were in disarray. They lacked a unified political voice and insurgent leader to effectively counter the Shia on both the political and militant fronts. The Sunnis themselves were deeply divided among the jihadist factions, the Islamist-leaning Sunni nationalist factions and the secular former Baathists.

However, lately the United States has focused its efforts on re-creating Iran's worst nightmare: the rise of another hostile Sunni Baathist regime. By striking deals with key Sunni tribal leaders, the United States has lessened its own workload by getting Iraqi Sunni nationalists to turn on the jihadists, but this tactical strategy also fits into the broader U.S. strategy against Iran. Fashioning a potentially potent Sunni front made up of former Baathists to counter the Shia could ultimately force the Iranians into cutting a deal, or so Washington hopes. Factional differences still exist within the Sunni militant community, and uniting the bulk of Iraq's Sunni community into a single force against the Iranians will be no easy task. But most of Iraq's Sunni nationalist and Islamist insurgent groups have formed alliances in recent months that will allow them to pool their resources and build up a more formidable militant front in anticipation of a post-U.S. withdrawal bloodbath with the Shia. Many of Iran's key Shiite allies in the government also have been taken out in insurgent attacks that have exacerbated intra-Shiite tensions and complicated Iran's position in Iraq.

Now that these newly-fashioned, U.S.-backed Sunni militias are deliberately working outside the control of Iraq's Shiite-dominated government, a crisis of confidence is brewing in Iraq's already fractured Shiite bloc.

Iran and Iraq's Shia have a choice to make. They can dig their heels in, raise the stakes for U.S. forces in Iraq, push for a U.S. withdrawal and prepare for the coming bloodbath with the Sunnis. Or they can decide that it is not worth the risk of losing what they have gained thus far to a Sunni force receiving strong backing from Washington and Riyadh. Iran also might be unwilling to risk dealing with any surprises from the next U.S. president. This calculus is what would push the Iranians closer to talks and Iraq's Shia into working out a viable power-sharing arrangement with the Sunnis.

At this point the Iranians appear to be undecided. On one hand, there are strong forces within Iran advocating talks with the United States. On the other hand, Iran is signaling that it is willing to up the stakes by shipping surface-to-air missiles into Iraq. There are also rumors going around Baghdad that new Shiite mercenaries have shown up on the streets and are getting paid $5,000 for every U.S. soldier they kill.

The Iranians could very well risk a military confrontation with the United States should they decide to bleed U.S. forces and take on the newly-formed Sunni militias directly. Without any guarantee that the United States would withdraw from Iraq to allow the Iranians to reap their gains, this is a risky move. We expect the Iranians to err on the side of caution, but the coming months will reveal whether they are prepared to move toward an understanding with the United States over Iraq.

28409  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action on: October 05, 2007, 08:48:02 AM
SHABAK VALLEY, Afghanistan — In this isolated Taliban stronghold in eastern Afghanistan, American paratroopers are fielding what they consider a crucial new weapon in counterinsurgency operations here: a soft-spoken civilian anthropologist named Tracy.

Tracy, who asked that her surname not be used for security reasons, is a member of the first Human Terrain Team, an experimental Pentagon program that assigns anthropologists and other social scientists to American combat units in Afghanistan and Iraq. Her team’s ability to understand subtle points of tribal relations — in one case spotting a land dispute that allowed the Taliban to bully parts of a major tribe — has won the praise of officers who say they are seeing concrete results.

Col. Martin Schweitzer, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division unit working with the anthropologists here, said that the unit’s combat operations had been reduced by 60 percent since the scientists arrived in February, and that the soldiers were now able to focus more on improving security, health care and education for the population.

“We’re looking at this from a human perspective, from a social scientist’s perspective,” he said. “We’re not focused on the enemy. We’re focused on bringing governance down to the people.”

In September, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates authorized a $40 million expansion of the program, which will assign teams of anthropologists and social scientists to each of the 26 American combat brigades in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since early September, five new teams have been deployed in the Baghdad area, bringing the total to six.

(This being from the NY Times, one is not surprised by the presence of the next few paragraphs)

Yet criticism is emerging in academia. Citing the past misuse of social sciences in counterinsurgency campaigns, including in Vietnam and Latin America, some denounce the program as “mercenary anthropology” that exploits social science for political gain. Opponents fear that, whatever their intention, the scholars who work with the military could inadvertently cause all anthropologists to be viewed as intelligence gatherers for the American military.

Hugh Gusterson, an anthropology professor at George Mason University, and 10 other anthropologists are circulating an online pledge calling for anthropologists to boycott the teams, particularly in Iraq.

“While often presented by its proponents as work that builds a more secure world,” the pledge says, “at base, it contributes instead to a brutal war of occupation which has entailed massive casualties.”

In Afghanistan, the anthropologists arrived along with 6,000 troops, which doubled the American military’s strength in the area it patrols, the country’s east.

A smaller version of the Bush administration’s troop increase in Iraq, the buildup in Afghanistan has allowed American units to carry out the counterinsurgency strategy here, where American forces generally face less resistance and are better able to take risks.

A New Mantra

Since Gen. David H. Petraeus, now the overall American commander in Iraq, oversaw the drafting of the Army’s new counterinsurgency manual last year, the strategy has become the new mantra of the military. A recent American military operation here offered a window into how efforts to apply the new approach are playing out on the ground in counterintuitive ways.

In interviews, American officers lavishly praised the anthropology program, saying that the scientists’ advice has proved to be “brilliant,” helping them see the situation from an Afghan perspective and allowing them to cut back on combat operations.

The aim, they say, is to improve the performance of local government officials, persuade tribesmen to join the police, ease poverty and protect villagers from the Taliban and criminals.

Afghans and Western civilian officials, too, praised the anthropologists and the new American military approach but were cautious about predicting long-term success. Many of the economic and political problems fueling instability can be solved only by large numbers of Afghan and American civilian experts.

“My feeling is that the military are going through an enormous change right now where they recognize they won’t succeed militarily,” said Tom Gregg, the chief United Nations official in southeastern Afghanistan. “But they don’t yet have the skill sets to implement” a coherent nonmilitary strategy, he added.


Deploying small groups of soldiers into remote areas, Colonel Schweitzer’s paratroopers organized jirgas, or local councils, to resolve tribal disputes that have simmered for decades. Officers shrugged off questions about whether the military was comfortable with what David Kilcullen, an Australian anthropologist and an architect of the new strategy, calls “armed social work.”

“Who else is going to do it?“ asked Lt. Col. David Woods, commander of the Fourth Squadron, 73rd Cavalry. “You have to evolve. Otherwise you’re useless.”
The anthropology team here also played a major role in what the military called Operation Khyber. That was a 15-day drive late this summer in which 500 Afghan and 500 American soldiers tried to clear an estimated 200 to 250 Taliban insurgents out of much of Paktia Province, secure southeastern Afghanistan’s most important road and halt a string of suicide attacks on American troops and local governors.

In one of the first districts the team entered, Tracy identified an unusually high concentration of widows in one village, Colonel Woods said. Their lack of income created financial pressure on their sons to provide for their families, she determined, a burden that could drive the young men to join well-paid insurgents. Citing Tracy’s advice, American officers developed a job training program for the widows.

In another district, the anthropologist interpreted the beheading of a local tribal elder as more than a random act of intimidation: the Taliban’s goal, she said, was to divide and weaken the Zadran, one of southeastern Afghanistan’s most powerful tribes. If Afghan and American officials could unite the Zadran, she said, the tribe could block the Taliban from operating in the area.

“Call it what you want, it works,” said Colonel Woods, a native of Denbo, Pa. “It works in helping you define the problems, not just the symptoms.”

Embedding Scholars

The process that led to the creation of the teams began in late 2003, when American officers in Iraq complained that they had little to no information about the local population. Pentagon officials contacted Montgomery McFate, a Yale-educated cultural anthropologist working for the Navy who advocated using social science to improve military operations and strategy.

Ms. McFate helped develop a database in 2005 that provided officers with detailed information on the local population. The next year, Steve Fondacaro, a retired Special Operations colonel, joined the program and advocated embedding social scientists with American combat units.

Ms. McFate, the program’s senior social science adviser and an author of the new counterinsurgency manual, dismissed criticism of scholars working with the military. “I’m frequently accused of militarizing anthropology,” she said. “But we’re really anthropologizing the military.”

Roberto J. González, an anthropology professor at San Jose State University, called participants in the program naïve and unethical. He said that the military and the Central Intelligence Agency had consistently misused anthropology in counterinsurgency and propaganda campaigns and that military contractors were now hiring anthropologists for their local expertise as well.

“Those serving the short-term interests of military and intelligence agencies and contractors,” he wrote in the June issue of Anthropology Today, an academic journal, “will end up harming the entire discipline in the long run.”

Arguing that her critics misunderstand the program and the military, Ms. McFate said other anthropologists were joining the teams. She said their goal was to help the military decrease conflict instead of provoking it, and she vehemently denied that the anthropologists collected intelligence for the military.

In eastern Afghanistan, Tracy said wanted to reduce the use of heavy-handed military operations focused solely on killing insurgents, which she said alienated the population and created more insurgents. “I can go back and enhance the military’s understanding,” she said, “so that we don’t make the same mistakes we did in Iraq.”

Along with offering advice to commanders, she said, the five-member team creates a database of local leaders and tribes, as well as social problems, economic issues and political disputes.

Clinics and Mediation

During the recent operation, as soldiers watched for suicide bombers, Tracy and Army medics held a free medical clinic. They said they hoped that providing medical care would show villagers that the Afghan government was improving their lives.

Civil affairs soldiers then tried to mediate between factions of the Zadran tribe about where to build a school. The Americans said they hoped that the school, which would serve children from both groups, might end a 70-year dispute between the groups over control of a mountain covered with lucrative timber.

Though they praised the new program, Afghan and Western officials said it remained to be seen whether the weak Afghan government could maintain the gains. “That’s going to be the challenge, to fill the vacuum,” said Mr. Gregg, the United Nations official. “There’s a question mark over whether the government has the ability to take advantage of the gains.”

Others also question whether the overstretched American military and its NATO allies can keep up the pace of operations.

American officers expressed optimism. Many of those who had served in both Afghanistan and Iraq said they had more hope for Afghanistan. One officer said that the Iraqis had the tools to stabilize their country, like a potentially strong economy, but that they lacked the will. He said Afghans had the will, but lacked the tools.

After six years of American promises, Afghans, too, appear to be waiting to see whether the Americans or the Taliban will win a protracted test of wills here. They said this summer was just one chapter in a potentially lengthy struggle.

At a “super jirga” set up by Afghan and American commanders here, a member of the Afghan Parliament, Nader Khan Katawazai, laid out the challenge ahead to dozens of tribal elders.

“Operation Khyber was just for a few days,” he said. “The Taliban will emerge again.”

NY Times
28410  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: October 05, 2007, 08:38:31 AM
Part Two

Page 4 of 5)

Mr. Bradbury belonged to the same circle as his predecessors: young, conservative lawyers with sterling credentials, often with clerkships for prominent conservative judges and ties to the Federalist Society, a powerhouse of the legal right. Mr. Yoo, in fact, had proposed his old friend Mr. Goldsmith for the Office of Legal Counsel job; Mr. Goldsmith had hired Mr. Bradbury as his top deputy.

“We all grew up together,” said Viet D. Dinh, an assistant attorney general from 2001 to 2003 and very much a member of the club. “You start with a small universe of Supreme Court clerks, and you narrow it down from there.”

But what might have been subtle differences in quieter times now cleaved them into warring camps.

Justice Department colleagues say Mr. Gonzales was soon meeting frequently with Mr. Bradbury on national security issues, a White House priority. Admirers describe Mr. Bradbury as low-key but highly skilled, a conciliator who brought from 10 years of corporate practice a more pragmatic approach to the job than Mr. Yoo and Mr. Goldsmith, both from the academic world.

“As a practicing lawyer, you know how to address real problems,” said Noel J. Francisco, who worked at the Justice Department from 2003 to 2005. “At O.L.C., you’re not writing law review articles and you’re not theorizing. You’re giving a client practical advice on a real problem.”

As he had at the White House, Mr. Gonzales usually said little in meetings with other officials, often deferring to the hard-driving Mr. Addington. Mr. Bradbury also often appeared in accord with the vice president’s lawyer.

Mr. Bradbury appeared to be “fundamentally sympathetic to what the White House and the C.I.A. wanted to do,” recalled Philip Zelikow, a former top State Department official. At interagency meetings on detention and interrogation, Mr. Addington was at times “vituperative,” said Mr. Zelikow, but Mr. Bradbury, while taking similar positions, was “professional and collegial.”

While waiting to learn whether he would be nominated to head the Office of Legal Counsel, Mr. Bradbury was in an awkward position, knowing that a decision contrary to White House wishes could kill his chances.

Charles J. Cooper, who headed the Office of Legal Counsel under President Reagan, said he was “very troubled” at the notion of a probationary period.

“If the purpose of the delay was a tryout, I think they should have avoided it,” Mr. Cooper said. “You’re implying that the acting official is molding his or her legal analysis to win the job.”

Mr. Bradbury said he made no such concessions. “No one ever suggested to me that my nomination depended on how I ruled on any opinion,” he said. “Every opinion I’ve signed at the Office of Legal Counsel represents my best judgment of what the law requires.”

Scott Horton, an attorney affiliated with Human Rights First who has closely followed the interrogation debate, said any official offering legal advice on the campaign against terror was on treacherous ground.

“For government lawyers, the national security issues they were deciding were like working with nuclear waste — extremely hazardous to their health,” Mr. Horton said.

“If you give the administration what it wants, you’ll lose credibility in the academic community,” he said. “But if you hold back, you’ll be vilified by conservatives and the administration.”

In any case, the White House grew comfortable with Mr. Bradbury’s approach. He helped block the appointment of a liberal Ivy League law professor to a career post in the Office of Legal Counsel. And he signed the opinion approving combined interrogation techniques.

Mr. Comey strongly objected and told associates that he advised Mr. Gonzales not to endorse the opinion. But the attorney general made clear that the White House was adamant about it, and that he would do nothing to resist.

Under Mr. Ashcroft, Mr. Comey’s opposition might have killed the opinion. An imposing former prosecutor and self-described conservative who stands 6-foot-8, he was the rare administration official who was willing to confront Mr. Addington. At one testy 2004 White House meeting, when Mr. Comey stated that “no lawyer” would endorse Mr. Yoo’s justification for the N.S.A. program, Mr. Addington demurred, saying he was a lawyer and found it convincing. Mr. Comey shot back: “No good lawyer,” according to someone present.

But under Mr. Gonzales, and after the departure of Mr. Goldsmith and other allies, the deputy attorney general found himself isolated. His troublemaking on N.S.A. and on interrogation, and in appointing his friend Patrick J. Fitzgerald as special prosecutor in the C.I.A. leak case, which would lead to the perjury conviction of I. Lewis Libby, Mr. Cheney’s chief of staff, had irreparably offended the White House.


Page 5 of 5)

“On national security matters generally, there was a sense that Comey was a wimp and that Comey was disloyal,” said one Justice Department official who heard the White House talk, expressed with particular force by Mr. Addington.

Mr. Comey provided some hints of his thinking about interrogation and related issues in a speech that spring. Speaking at the N.S.A.’s Fort Meade campus on Law Day — a noteworthy setting for the man who had helped lead the dissent a year earlier that forced some changes in the N.S.A. program — Mr. Comey spoke of the “agonizing collisions” of the law and the desire to protect Americans.

“We are likely to hear the words: ‘If we don’t do this, people will die,’” Mr. Comey said. But he argued that government lawyers must uphold the principles of their great institutions.

“It takes far more than a sharp legal mind to say ‘no’ when it matters most,” he said. “It takes moral character. It takes an understanding that in the long run, intelligence under law is the only sustainable intelligence in this country.”

Mr. Gonzales’s aides were happy to see Mr. Comey depart in the summer of 2005. That June, President Bush nominated Mr. Bradbury to head the Office of Legal Counsel, which some colleagues viewed as a sign that he had passed a loyalty test.

Soon Mr. Bradbury applied his practical approach to a new challenge to the C.I.A.’s methods.

The administration had always asserted that the C.I.A.’s pressure tactics did not amount to torture, which is banned by federal law and international treaty. But officials had privately decided the agency did not have to comply with another provision in the Convention Against Torture — the prohibition on “cruel, inhuman, or degrading” treatment.

Now that loophole was about to be closed. First Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, and then Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican who had been tortured as a prisoner in North Vietnam, proposed legislation to ban such treatment.

At the administration’s request, Mr. Bradbury assessed whether the proposed legislation would outlaw any C.I.A. methods, a legal question that had never before been answered by the Justice Department.

At least a few administration officials argued that no reasonable interpretation of “cruel, inhuman or degrading” would permit the most extreme C.I.A. methods, like waterboarding. Mr. Bradbury was placed in a tough spot, said Mr. Zelikow, the State Department counselor, who was working at the time to rein in interrogation policy.

“If Justice says some practices are in violation of the C.I.D. standard,” Mr. Zelikow said, referring to cruel, inhuman or degrading, “then they are now saying that officials broke current law.”

In the end, Mr. Bradbury’s opinion delivered what the White House wanted: a statement that the standard imposed by Mr. McCain’s Detainee Treatment Act would not force any change in the C.I.A.’s practices, according to officials familiar with the memo.

Relying on a Supreme Court finding that only conduct that “shocks the conscience” was unconstitutional, the opinion found that in some circumstances not even waterboarding was necessarily cruel, inhuman or degrading, if, for example, a suspect was believed to possess crucial intelligence about a planned terrorist attack, the officials familiar with the legal finding said.

In a frequent practice, Mr. Bush attached a statement to the new law when he signed it, declaring his authority to set aside the restrictions if they interfered with his constitutional powers. At the same time, though, the administration responded to pressure from Mr. McCain and other lawmakers by reviewing interrogation policy and giving up several C.I.A. techniques.

Since late 2005, Mr. Bradbury has become a linchpin of the administration’s defense of counterterrorism programs, helping to negotiate the Military Commissions Act last year and frequently testifying about the N.S.A. surveillance program. Once he answered questions about administration detention policies for an “Ask the White House” feature on a Web site.

Mr. Kmiec, the former Office of Legal Counsel head now at Pepperdine, called Mr. Bradbury’s public activities a departure for an office that traditionally has shunned any advocacy role.

A senior administration official called Mr. Bradbury’s active role in shaping legislation and speaking to Congress and the press “entirely appropriate” and consistent with past practice. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Mr. Bradbury “has played a critical role in achieving greater transparency” on the legal basis for detention and surveillance programs.

Though President Bush repeatedly nominated Mr. Bradbury as the Office of Legal Counsel’s assistant attorney general, Democratic senators have blocked the nomination. Senator Durbin said the Justice Department would not turn over copies of his opinions or other evidence of Mr. Bradbury’s role in interrogation policy.

“There are fundamental questions about whether Mr. Bradbury approved interrogation methods that are clearly unacceptable,” Mr. Durbin said.

John D. Hutson, who served as the Navy’s top lawyer from 1997 to 2000, said he believed that the existence of legal opinions justifying abusive treatment is pernicious, potentially blurring the rules for Americans handling prisoners.

“I know from the military that if you tell someone they can do a little of this for the country’s good, some people will do a lot of it for the country’s better,” Mr. Hutson said. Like other military lawyers, he also fears that official American acceptance of such treatment could endanger Americans in the future.

“The problem is, once you’ve got a legal opinion that says such a technique is O.K., what happens when one of our people is captured and they do it to him? How do we protest then?” he asked.
28411  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: October 05, 2007, 08:37:24 AM
The NY Times is always a caveat lector source, but that said, this piece troubles me greatly.

Published: October 4, 2007
This article is by Scott Shane, David Johnston and James Risen.

WASHINGTON, Oct. 3 — When the Justice Department publicly declared torture “abhorrent” in a legal opinion in December 2004, the Bush administration appeared to have abandoned its assertion of nearly unlimited presidential authority to order brutal interrogations.

But soon after Alberto R. Gonzales’s arrival as attorney general in February 2005, the Justice Department issued another opinion, this one in secret. It was a very different document, according to officials briefed on it, an expansive endorsement of the harshest interrogation techniques ever used by the Central Intelligence Agency.

The new opinion, the officials said, for the first time provided explicit authorization to barrage terror suspects with a combination of painful physical and psychological tactics, including head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures.

Mr. Gonzales approved the legal memorandum on “combined effects” over the objections of James B. Comey, the deputy attorney general, who was leaving his job after bruising clashes with the White House. Disagreeing with what he viewed as the opinion’s overreaching legal reasoning, Mr. Comey told colleagues at the department that they would all be “ashamed” when the world eventually learned of it.

Later that year, as Congress moved toward outlawing “cruel, inhuman and degrading” treatment, the Justice Department issued another secret opinion, one most lawmakers did not know existed, current and former officials said. The Justice Department document declared that none of the C.I.A. interrogation methods violated that standard.

The classified opinions, never previously disclosed, are a hidden legacy of President Bush’s second term and Mr. Gonzales’s tenure at the Justice Department, where he moved quickly to align it with the White House after a 2004 rebellion by staff lawyers that had thrown policies on surveillance and detention into turmoil.

Congress and the Supreme Court have intervened repeatedly in the last two years to impose limits on interrogations, and the administration has responded as a policy matter by dropping the most extreme techniques. But the 2005 Justice Department opinions remain in effect, and their legal conclusions have been confirmed by several more recent memorandums, officials said. They show how the White House has succeeded in preserving the broadest possible legal latitude for harsh tactics.

A White House spokesman, Tony Fratto, said Wednesday that he would not comment on any legal opinion related to interrogations. Mr. Fratto added, “We have gone to great lengths, including statutory efforts and the recent executive order, to make it clear that the intelligence community and our practices fall within U.S. law” and international agreements.

More than two dozen current and former officials involved in counterterrorism were interviewed over the past three months about the opinions and the deliberations on interrogation policy. Most officials would speak only on the condition of anonymity because of the secrecy of the documents and the C.I.A. detention operations they govern.

When he stepped down as attorney general in September after widespread criticism of the firing of federal prosecutors and withering attacks on his credibility, Mr. Gonzales talked proudly in a farewell speech of how his department was “a place of inspiration” that had balanced the necessary flexibility to conduct the war on terrorism with the need to uphold the law.

Associates at the Justice Department said Mr. Gonzales seldom resisted pressure from Vice President Dick Cheney and David S. Addington, Mr. Cheney’s counsel, to endorse policies that they saw as effective in safeguarding Americans, even though the practices brought the condemnation of other governments, human rights groups and Democrats in Congress. Critics say Mr. Gonzales turned his agency into an arm of the Bush White House, undermining the department’s independence.

The interrogation opinions were signed by Steven G. Bradbury, who since 2005 has headed the elite Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department. He has become a frequent public defender of the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance program and detention policies at Congressional hearings and press briefings, a role that some legal scholars say is at odds with the office’s tradition of avoiding political advocacy.

Mr. Bradbury defended the work of his office as the government’s most authoritative interpreter of the law. “In my experience, the White House has not told me how an opinion should come out,” he said in an interview. “The White House has accepted and respected our opinions, even when they didn’t like the advice being given.”

The debate over how terrorist suspects should be held and questioned began shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, when the Bush administration adopted secret detention and coercive interrogation, both practices the United States had previously denounced when used by other countries. It adopted the new measures without public debate or Congressional vote, choosing to rely instead on the confidential legal advice of a handful of appointees.


Page 2 of 5)

The policies set off bruising internal battles, pitting administration moderates against hard-liners, military lawyers against Pentagon chiefs and, most surprising, a handful of conservative lawyers at the Justice Department against the White House in the stunning mutiny of 2004. But under Mr. Gonzales and Mr. Bradbury, the Justice Department was wrenched back into line with the White House.

After the Supreme Court ruled in 2006 that the Geneva Conventions applied to prisoners who belonged to Al Qaeda, President Bush for the first time acknowledged the C.I.A.’s secret jails and ordered their inmates moved to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The C.I.A. halted its use of waterboarding, or pouring water over a bound prisoner’s cloth-covered face to induce fear of suffocation.
But in July, after a monthlong debate inside the administration, President Bush signed a new executive order authorizing the use of what the administration calls “enhanced” interrogation techniques — the details remain secret — and officials say the C.I.A. again is holding prisoners in “black sites” overseas. The executive order was reviewed and approved by Mr. Bradbury and the Office of Legal Counsel.

Douglas W. Kmiec, who headed that office under President Ronald Reagan and the first President George Bush and wrote a book about it, said he believed the intense pressures of the campaign against terrorism have warped the office’s proper role.

“The office was designed to insulate against any need to be an advocate,” said Mr. Kmiec, now a conservative scholar at Pepperdine University law school. But at times in recent years, Mr. Kmiec said, the office, headed by William H. Rehnquist and Antonin Scalia before they served on the Supreme Court, “lost its ability to say no.”

“The approach changed dramatically with opinions on the war on terror,” Mr. Kmiec said. “The office became an advocate for the president’s policies.”

From the secret sites in Afghanistan, Thailand and Eastern Europe where C.I.A. teams held Qaeda terrorists, questions for the lawyers at C.I.A. headquarters arrived daily. Nervous interrogators wanted to know: Are we breaking the laws against torture?

The Bush administration had entered uncharted legal territory beginning in 2002, holding prisoners outside the scrutiny of the International Red Cross and subjecting them to harrowing pressure tactics. They included slaps to the head; hours held naked in a frigid cell; days and nights without sleep while battered by thundering rock music; long periods manacled in stress positions; or the ultimate, waterboarding.

Never in history had the United States authorized such tactics. While President Bush and C.I.A. officials would later insist that the harsh measures produced crucial intelligence, many veteran interrogators, psychologists and other experts say that less coercive methods are equally or more effective.

With virtually no experience in interrogations, the C.I.A. had constructed its program in a few harried months by consulting Egyptian and Saudi intelligence officials and copying Soviet interrogation methods long used in training American servicemen to withstand capture. The agency officers questioning prisoners constantly sought advice from lawyers thousands of miles away.

“We were getting asked about combinations — ‘Can we do this and this at the same time?’” recalled Paul C. Kelbaugh, a veteran intelligence lawyer who was deputy legal counsel at the C.I.A.’s Counterterrorist Center from 2001 to 2003.

Interrogators were worried that even approved techniques had such a painful, multiplying effect when combined that they might cross the legal line, Mr. Kelbaugh said. He recalled agency officers asking: “These approved techniques, say, withholding food, and 50-degree temperature — can they be combined?” Or “Do I have to do the less extreme before the more extreme?”

The questions came more frequently, Mr. Kelbaugh said, as word spread about a C.I.A. inspector general inquiry unrelated to the war on terrorism. Some veteran C.I.A. officers came under scrutiny because they were advisers to Peruvian officers who in early 2001 shot down a missionary flight they had mistaken for a drug-running aircraft. The Americans were not charged with crimes, but they endured three years of investigation, saw their careers derailed and ran up big legal bills.

That experience shook the Qaeda interrogation team, Mr. Kelbaugh said. “You think you’re making a difference and maybe saving 3,000 American lives from the next attack. And someone tells you, ‘Well, that guidance was a little vague, and the inspector general wants to talk to you,’” he recalled. “We couldn’t tell them, ‘Do the best you can,’ because the people who did the best they could in Peru were looking at a grand jury.”


Mr. Kelbaugh said the questions were sometimes close calls that required consultation with the Justice Department. But in August 2002, the department provided a sweeping legal justification for even the harshest tactics.

That opinion, which would become infamous as “the torture memo” after it was leaked, was written largely by John Yoo, a young Berkeley law professor serving in the Office of Legal Counsel. His broad views of presidential power were shared by Mr. Addington, the vice president’s adviser. Their close alliance provoked John Ashcroft, then the attorney general, to refer privately to Mr. Yoo as Dr. Yes for his seeming eagerness to give the White House whatever legal justifications it desired, a Justice Department official recalled.
Mr. Yoo’s memorandum said no interrogation practices were illegal unless they produced pain equivalent to organ failure or “even death.” A second memo produced at the same time spelled out the approved practices and how often or how long they could be used.

Despite that guidance, in March 2003, when the C.I.A. caught Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the chief planner of the Sept. 11 attacks, interrogators were again haunted by uncertainty. Former intelligence officials, for the first time, disclosed that a variety of tough interrogation tactics were used about 100 times over two weeks on Mr. Mohammed. Agency officials then ordered a halt, fearing the combined assault might have amounted to illegal torture. A C.I.A. spokesman, George Little, declined to discuss the handling of Mr. Mohammed. Mr. Little said the program “has been conducted lawfully, with great care and close review” and “has helped our country disrupt terrorist plots and save innocent lives.”

“The agency has always sought a clear legal framework, conducting the program in strict accord with U.S. law, and protecting the officers who go face-to-face with ruthless terrorists,” Mr. Little added.

Some intelligence officers say that many of Mr. Mohammed’s statements proved exaggerated or false. One problem, a former senior agency official said, was that the C.I.A.’s initial interrogators were not experts on Mr. Mohammed’s background or Al Qaeda, and it took about a month to get such an expert to the secret prison. The former official said many C.I.A. professionals now believe patient, repeated questioning by well-informed experts is more effective than harsh physical pressure.

Other intelligence officers, including Mr. Kelbaugh, insist that the harsh treatment produced invaluable insights into Al Qaeda’s structure and plans.

“We leaned in pretty hard on K.S.M.,” Mr. Kelbaugh said, referring to Mr. Mohammed. “We were getting good information, and then they were told: ‘Slow it down. It may not be correct. Wait for some legal clarification.’”

The doubts at the C.I.A. proved prophetic. In late 2003, after Mr. Yoo left the Justice Department, the new head of the Office of Legal Counsel, Jack Goldsmith, began reviewing his work, which he found deeply flawed. Mr. Goldsmith infuriated White House officials, first by rejecting part of the National Security Agency’s surveillance program, prompting the threat of mass resignations by top Justice Department officials, including Mr. Ashcroft and Mr. Comey, and a showdown at the attorney general’s hospital bedside.

Then, in June 2004, Mr. Goldsmith formally withdrew the August 2002 Yoo memorandum on interrogation, which he found overreaching and poorly reasoned. Mr. Goldsmith, who left the Justice Department soon afterward, first spoke at length about his dissenting views to The New York Times last month, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.

Six months later, the Justice Department quietly posted on its Web site a new legal opinion that appeared to end any flirtation with torture, starting with its clarionlike opening: “Torture is abhorrent both to American law and values and to international norms.”

A single footnote — added to reassure the C.I.A. — suggested that the Justice Department was not declaring the agency’s previous actions illegal. But the opinion was unmistakably a retreat. Some White House officials had opposed publicizing the document, but acquiesced to Justice Department officials who argued that doing so would help clear the way for Mr. Gonzales’s confirmation as attorney general.

If President Bush wanted to make sure the Justice Department did not rebel again, Mr. Gonzales was the ideal choice. As White House counsel, he had been a fierce protector of the president’s prerogatives. Deeply loyal to Mr. Bush for championing his career from their days in Texas, Mr. Gonzales would sometimes tell colleagues that he had just one regret about becoming attorney general: He did not see nearly as much of the president as he had in his previous post.

Among his first tasks at the Justice Department was to find a trusted chief for the Office of Legal Counsel. First he informed Daniel Levin, the acting head who had backed Mr. Goldsmith’s dissents and signed the new opinion renouncing torture, that he would not get the job. He encouraged Mr. Levin to take a position at the National Security Council, in effect sidelining him.

Mr. Bradbury soon emerged as the presumed favorite. But White House officials, still smarting from Mr. Goldsmith’s rebuffs, chose to delay his nomination. Harriet E. Miers, the new White House counsel, “decided to watch Bradbury for a month or two. He was sort of on trial,” one Justice Department official recalled.

Mr. Bradbury’s biography had a Horatio Alger element that appealed to a succession of bosses, including Justice Clarence Thomas of the Supreme Court and Mr. Gonzales, the son of poor immigrants. Mr. Bradbury’s father had died when he was an infant, and his mother took in laundry to support her children. The first in his family to go to college, he attended Stanford and the University of Michigan Law School. He joined the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis, where he came under the tutelage of Kenneth W. Starr, the Whitewater independent prosecutor.
28412  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia on: October 05, 2007, 07:57:33 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Georgia and Ukraine's Russian Problem

The former Soviet states of Georgia and Ukraine appear to be slipping further away from Russian control, but a closer look reveals that the opposite may well be occurring.

Georgia is in the midst of a fresh bout of political instability, this time due to dissatisfaction with President Mikhail Saakashvili, who rose to power in the 2003 Rose Revolution, a regime change that has greatly vexed Moscow. Saakashvili's popularity has plummeted to numbers that would elicit a policy change out of George Bush, and the opposition is beginning to organize. Just as the Rose Revolution ousted an anti-Russian, President Edward Shevardnadze, in favor of an even more anti-Russian, Saakashvili, the new opposition is yet more anti-Russian.

Ukraine seems to be emerging from instability for the first time since the primordial ooze retreated. Final results from the Sept. 30 parliamentary elections gave the two parties that spawned the 2004 Orange Revolution -- President Viktor Yushchenko's Our Ukraine and the eponymous Bloc Yulia Timoshenko -- the seats they need to eject pro-Russian forces from government again.

Yet all is not as it seems.

In Georgia, the Secretary-General of NATO, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer himself, visited on Thursday, and while warning unnamed countries not to interfere in NATO's expansion efforts, flatly stated that Georgia was not going to be on the alliance's candidate list any time soon. De Hoop Scheffer went on to indirectly criticize some of Saakashvili's policies, implying that not only were they slowing Georgia's accession efforts, but also unnecessarily souring relations with Russia.

Back in Ukraine, Yushchenko landed his own surprise by opining that once he and Timoshenko hammer out a coalition deal, several key posts should be reserved for his pro-Russian archrival, Party of Regions' Viktor Yanukovich. The (unspoken) logic was that Timoshenko is an overbearing, vindictive harpy who uses government office to enrich her allies and punish her enemies, and Yushchenko would rather have his enemies right where he can see them.

So NATO is giving Georgia the cold shoulder even as Yushchenko -- albeit for his own reasons -- is offering the Russians a say in how the Ukrainian government is run. Added together, two of the most critical states to the Russian effort to reassert its influence seem to be shifting to a more neutral stance, despite public developments to the contrary.

Russia now has an interesting decision to make. Both states are ameliorating the pain they have regularly caused the Kremlin in the past four years, and Moscow could well sit on its laurels. But the Russians have more fish to fry. With the United States military obsessed with Iraq, Moscow will never have a better opportunity to retake influence in its near abroad, so quiet realignments may not quite be enough for opportunity-rich Russia. The Kremlin may well insist on more public capitulations.

1146 GMT -- GEORGIA, RUSSIA -- The former chief of the Georgian Defense Ministry's procurement unit, an official with access to top secret information, has fled to Russia from Turkey, Georgia's interior minister told President Mikhail Saakashvili during a televised government session Oct. 4, online magazine Civil Georgia reported Oct. 5. The official, Iason Chikhladze, is wanted for misuse of power and embezzlement in a case that also involves charges against former Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili, according to the General Prosecutor's Office.
1123 GMT -- RUSSIA -- The presidents of Russia's breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia planned to meet in Moscow on Oct. 5 to discuss the situations in Georgia and their regions, Abkhaz President Sergei Bagapsh told Interfax. Bagapsh and Georgian President Eduard Kokoity will meet to coordinate their moves, "given the growing tensions in Georgia and the latest attempts to further stoke the Georgian-Abkhaz and Georgian-Ossetian conflicts," Bagapsh was quoted as saying.

28413  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Thomas Paine on: October 05, 2007, 07:09:24 AM
"The times that tried men's souls are over-and the greatest and
completest revolution the world ever knew, gloriously and happily

-- Thomas Paine (The American Crisis, No. 13, 1783)

Reference: The Spirit of `Seventy-Six, Commager and Morris (109);
original Writings of Pain, Conway, ed., vol. 1 (370-375)
28414  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The left's family values on: October 05, 2007, 07:08:00 AM
Missed those content warnings did ya?  cheesy
28415  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: October 04, 2007, 09:20:29 PM
"I don't understand."

My point exactly. cheesy  But it is OK.  grin

"We (The US) are not hated by much of the muslim world because of Israel, Israel is hated because it's a part of us (western civilization). Israel is hated because they dare to be free of islamic domination. They are hated because of their success. They are hated because of their strength. I'm about as non-jewish as you can get, and I support Israel because they are part of our shared civilization."

That is quite pithy GM.  I like it.
28416  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: October 04, 2007, 05:08:01 PM
My distinction is not registering with you.  Forward.  grin
28417  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Did Filipino Martial Arts Revolutionize Boxing? on: October 04, 2007, 03:53:26 PM
I post this on Corky's behalf.  Thank you Corky!
Hi there,

I just wanted to let you know about the free webcast of:

"The Great Pinoy Boxing Era"

You can watch it at:

(or, "copy & paste" the above link into your web browser, then push "enter")

Best regards,
28418  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: October 04, 2007, 01:11:34 PM
Sorry to be a nag, but please include the source of your posts.  For example: WHO wrote this?  Where was it written/posted?  etc.

This piece still does not address the point that I was making-- that we did not enter the war to "get the economy going"-- which was your original assertion.

As for this point: "There is compelling evidence that the Roosevelt Administration knew of an impending attack, but allowed it to occur without warning because they knew it would sway public opinion toward war."  rolleyes This hoary piece of drivel has been around for a long time and has been debunked almost as long.  It belongs in the same category of the "911 truthers".
28419  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: October 04, 2007, 01:05:09 PM
As noted in the Media thread, much of what we are given to read is not honest-- due diligence is a must!  Bush's popularity and lack thereof has much to do with Iraq-- and worth noting is that Congress's ratings are distinctly worse than his!!!

Here's this:

Schip Hits the Fan

The crocodile outrage flowed fast and deep yesterday after President Bush's promised veto of the Schip bill that would have vastly expanded a federal subsidy for children's health care.

Ted Kennedy called it "the most inexplicable veto in the history of the country." Barack Obama decried a "callousness of priorities." Nancy Pelosi flirted with the edges of self-parody, saying: "President Bush used his cruel veto pen to say 'I forbid 10 million children from getting the health benefits they deserve.'"

Of course, the veto will not actually deprive any current enrollees (10% of whom are adults) of medical care. President Bush made sure of that when he signed a continuing resolution funding the program until an accommodation is reached. Count on this fact remaining little noticed amid the current political circus.

Democrats believe they have a strong shot at overriding the veto, but will wait a week or two to continue milking the controversy and to solidify a campaign issue for 2008. Of the eight House Democrats who opposed the expansion and three others who didn't vote, the leadership has already rolled five of them. That means at least 14 Republicans need to turn over as well, out of 151 in the opposition.

To that end, lobbying groups including Families USA,, AARP, SEIU and AFSCME, as well as the Democratic Party, are mounting an advertising campaign targeting vulnerable Republicans, mainly in swing districts. No doubt we'll see more of the same end-of-days hysteria.

Harry Reid in particular has been trying to shame Republicans by name, singling out Rep. Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland, the only member of his delegation to vote nay. In response, Mr. Bartlett thanked Mr. Reid "for recognizing that I cast the only correct vote about Schip in the state of Maryland.... Democrats are demanding that Schip be expanded to have government-controlled, taxpayer-paid health care for millions of children who already have private health coverage."

In a soundbite, Mr. Bartlett has exactly described what the battle is all about.
Political Journal WSJ
28420  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dog Brothers Training Camp? on: October 04, 2007, 12:58:20 PM

and yes, of course the camp costs extra! -- probably $250 for the weekend.  We haven't set the location yet, but it is usually held here in the South Bay area.
28421  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Older Warrior on: October 04, 2007, 12:54:57 PM
28422  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: October 04, 2007, 12:18:57 PM
Sorry to be relentless, but my point is that "getting the economy going" was not ANY of the reasons we entered WW2.  That it had that effect is often asserted (I disagree) but that is a separate point.
28423  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: October 04, 2007, 12:16:23 PM
Geopolitical Diary: The Kurdish Oil Reality

Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said on Tuesday that it is moving ahead with oil development in its region, independent of Baghdad's oil policies. To be more precise, since the Baghdad government hasn't passed laws enabling an oil policy, the Kurds have decided to take steps on their own. For its part, Iraq's Oil Ministry said any oil deals signed by the KRG would be "ignored or considered illegal." The KRG denies that it has violated any law -- since, after all, there isn't one. Deals have been struck for production-sharing agreements with a number of companies, including Canadian and American companies such as Texas-based Hunt Oil Co.

There are many symbolic moves toward separatism in Iraq, but this is the heart of the matter in the most practical sense. Whoever is able to make deals over extracting oil from Iraq can define who gets the money from those deals. That is where the power lies, and that is where the money comes from. Once these deals are struck and the money begins to flow into Kurdish hands, the Kurds will have the wherewithal to resist Baghdad's demands. It won't simply be a matter of money. The oil companies they are signing deals with will have a major stake in preserving the status quo. Therefore, those companies' governments will come under pressure to support increased autonomy for the Kurds.

That will put the United States in a difficult position. Officially, the U.S. policy is to supported a united, federated Iraq with a coalition government that will define both oil policy and the extent to which the Kurds (or others) have the right to determine whom they will do business with. But the Kurds are now moving to create a new reality on the ground -- and at least some oil companies are prepared to bet that the deal they are making with the Kurds will be upheld in whatever Iraqi oil agreement is finally signed.

Washington has had a special relationship with the Iraqi Kurds since the early 1990s. It helped the Kurds against the Saddam Hussein regime. The United States also does not mind seeing American oil companies benefit from deals with the Kurds, since it is still unclear what kind of oil policy will eventually come out of Baghdad. The special relationship also, we would imagine, gives the United States leverage with the Kurds. We suspect the Americans could have blocked the deals if they wanted to. But they haven't.

Part of the reason could have to do with a U.S. desire to force the Iraqis to create oil legislation. The fact that the northern deposits are going to be controlled by the Kurds -- and that the United States is going to allow it to happen -- is sure to cause more than a little consternation in Baghdad, particularly among the Sunnis. The Sunnis have no oil of their own -- they either get a share of the revenue from the central government, get a piece of the northern fields, or wind up with nothing. So this could be directed against them. But the Sunnis are not, at the moment, Washington's main problem. That is the Shia -- who control the southern oil fields and are ambivalent on the whole issue. This could simply encourage them to accelerate their unilateral exploitation of their own oil reserves.

It could, in other words, lead to the de facto division of Iraq into three regions -- with the Sunnis the odd man out -- faster than any other process. This might be what the United States is thinking. But there are complicating factors. An autonomous Kurdish region is not something that Turkey wants to see, and the United States would then be following a policy in direct opposition to Turkey's interests. At the moment, the American dance card is already filled with Muslim enemies. We doubt that it wants another one in Turkey.

Most important, we find it hard to imagine that the United States really wants to see a tripartite division of Iraq. That would leave southern Iraq, and the border with Saudi Arabia, in Shiite hands -- and therefore, in all likelihood, in the hands of a regional government with close ties to Iran. That would give the Iranians strategic opportunities Washington clearly doesn't want to give them. In some ways, Iranian domination of southern Iraq would be better for Tehran than dominating all of Iraq. Less fuss and bother, and a clear road into the Arabian Peninsula.

Too much should not be made of these contracts, nor of the unwillingness or inability of the United States to block these deals. But there is a tendency developing now to impose realities on the ground, regardless of Baghdad's position, and oil is what will impose realities most effectively. Kurdish oil policy will be one of the best indicators of where this is all going.

28424  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The left's family values on: October 04, 2007, 12:02:25 PM
Umm, , , no one here is issuing fatwas, calling for beheading, etc.   Not a very difficult distinction to make I'm thinking! Some of us are saying that the event in question was a prfoundly inappropriate place to be bringing two year old children.
28425  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: October 04, 2007, 11:59:39 AM
“George McGovern, who parlayed his $1,000-in-every-pot proposal into a 49-state loss in 1972, should sue for copyright infringement after Sen. Clinton told the Congressional Black Caucus’ annual legislative conference that every baby born in America should be given a $5,000 ‘baby bond.’ Actually, Hillary’s $5,000 is just McGovern’s $1,000 adjusted for inflation. McGovern’s $1,000 was equivalent in 2006 to $4,808.90. By the time she is sworn in, she should be right on the mark. Hillary argued that wealthy people ‘get to have all kinds of tax incentives to save, but most people can’t afford to do that.’ So her ‘baby bond’ is designed to give the kids of people who can’t afford to save ‘a $5,000 account that will grow over time, so that when that person turns 18 if they have finished high school they will be able to access it to go to college or maybe they will be able to make that down payment on that first home.’ But to pay for that home they will have to go to work and pay taxes. Hillary doesn’t propose cutting their taxes or those of their parents. Nor does she propose increasing the dependent deduction on their federal tax form. What Clinton proposes is another brick in the cradle-to-grave wall envisioned by liberals—paid for by ever-rising taxes... In 2004 (the latest year for which official figures are available), there were 4,116,000 live births in the United States. That works out to a current price of $21 billion per year, every year. It is an amount that will get bigger, particularly if illegal immigration is allowed to increase unimpeded. Since we now have a budget deficit, this $21-billion-plus new entitlement will have to be funded by borrowing. So the $5,000 savings ‘gift’ in fact is a government loan to each new baby, payable in full through their taxes when they grow up. Happy Birthday!” —Investor’s Business Daily
28426  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / John Adams on: October 04, 2007, 11:54:47 AM
"It already appears, that there must be in every society of men
superiors and inferiors, because God has laid in the constitution
and course of nature the foundations of the distinction."

-- John Adams (Thoughts on Government, 1776)

Reference: The Works of John Adams, Charles Adams, ed., 427.
“[J]udges, therefore, should be always men of learning and experience in the laws, of exemplary morals, great patience, calmness, coolness, and attention. Their minds should not be distracted with jarring interests; they should not be dependent upon any man, or body of men.” —John Adams

Patriot Post

"In times of peace the people look most to their representatives;
but in war, to the executive solely."

-- Thomas Jefferson (letter to Caeser Rodney, 10 February 1810)

Reference: Jefferson: Writings, Peterson ed., Library of America
28427  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: October 04, 2007, 11:37:29 AM

"Bush veto's (sic) anything that comes to Poor children or Poor folk's (sic) in general."

This simply is factually wrong.  This is only the second veto of Bush's presidency.   Please forgive my bluntness, but the rest of your post is mostly at variance with the facts as well.  Spending under Bush has gone up massively across the board-- including to "the poor".  This is not to say he doesn't have especially soft places in his heart for certain corporate interests, but the mob has been feeding at the public trough with little restraint during his presidency.

28428  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: October 04, 2007, 11:31:45 AM

Now you are making a different point-- that the war had the effect of getting the economy going.  Your original assertion was different-- that a reason for entering the war was to get the economy going.

The latter point I do not find to be serious and the former, although widely held, I think less accurate than to say that the Depression, which was triggered by the fragmentation of the world wide economy from competitive currency devaluations and the likes of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, did not end until the re-unification of the world wide economy with the Bretton Woods Accords after WW2.
28429  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: October 04, 2007, 11:26:47 AM
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 3 — The studio distributing “The Kite Runner,” a tale of childhood betrayal, sexual predation and ethnic tension in Afghanistan, is delaying the film’s release to get its three schoolboy stars out of Kabul — perhaps permanently — in response to fears that they could be attacked for their enactment of a culturally inflammatory rape scene.

Skip to next paragraph
 Trailer: 'The Kite Runner'
Enlarge This Image
Musadeq Sadeq/Associated Press
Ahmad Jaan Mahmoodzada, father of Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada, an actor in “Kite Runner.”
Executives at the distributor, Paramount Vantage, are contending with issues stemming from the rising lawlessness in Kabul in the year since the boys were cast.

The boys and their relatives are now accusing the filmmakers of mistreatment, and warnings have been relayed to the studio from Afghan and American officials and aid workers that the movie could aggravate simmering enmities between the politically dominant Pashtun and the long-oppressed Hazara.

In an effort to prevent not only a public-relations disaster but also possible violence, studio lawyers and marketing bosses have employed a stranger-than-fiction team of consultants. In August they sent a retired Central Intelligence Agency counterterrorism operative in the region to Kabul to assess the dangers facing the child actors. And on Sunday a Washington-based political adviser flew to the United Arab Emirates to arrange a safe haven for the boys and their relatives.

“If we’re being overly cautious, that’s O.K.,” Karen Magid, a lawyer for Paramount, said. “We’re in uncharted territory.”

In interviews, more than a dozen people involved in the studio’s response described grappling with vexing questions: testing the limits of corporate responsibility, wondering who was exploiting whom and pondering the price of on-screen authenticity.

“The Kite Runner,” like the best-selling 2003 novel by Khaled Hosseini on which it is based, spans three decades of Afghan strife, from before the Soviet invasion through the rise of the Taliban. At its heart is a friendship between Amir, a wealthy Pashtun boy played by Zekiria Ebrahimi, and Hassan, the Hazara son of Amir’s father’s servant. In a pivotal scene Hassan is raped in an alley by a Pashtun bully. Later, Sohrab, a Hazara boy played by Ali Danish Bakhty Ari, is preyed on by a corrupt Taliban official.

Though the book is admired in Afghanistan by many in the elite, its narrative remains unfamiliar to the broader population, for whom oral storytelling and rumor communication carry far greater weight.

The Taliban destroyed nearly all movie theaters in Afghanistan, but pirated DVDs often arrive soon after a major film’s release in the West. As a result, Paramount Vantage, the art-house and specialty label of Paramount Pictures, has pushed back the release of the $18 million movie by six weeks, to Dec. 14, when the young stars’ school year will have ended.

In January in Afghanistan, DVDs of “Kabul Express” — an Indian film in which a character hurls insults at Hazara — led to protests, government denunciations and calls for the execution of the offending actor, who fled the country.

Perhaps not coincidentally, the “Kite Runner” actor who plays Hassan, Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada, 12, told reporters at that time that he feared for his life because his fellow Hazara might feel humiliated by his rape scene. His father said he himself was misled by the film’s producers, insisting that they never told him of the scene until it was about to be shot and that they had promised to cut it.

Hangama Anwari, the child-rights commissioner for the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, said on Monday that she had urged Paramount’s counterterrorism consultant to get Ahmad Khan out of the country, at least until after the movie is released. “They should not play around with the lives and security of people,” she said of the filmmakers. “The Hazara people will take it as an insult.”

The film’s director, Marc Forster, whose credits include “Finding Neverland” (2004), another film starring child actors, said he saw “The Kite Runner” as “giving a voice and a face to people who’ve been voiceless and faceless for the last 30 years.” Striving for authenticity, he said, he chose to make the film in Dari, an Afghan language, and his casting agent, Kate Dowd, held open calls in cities with sizable Afghan communities, including Fremont, Calif., Toronto and The Hague. But to no avail: Mr. Forster said he “just wasn’t connecting with anybody.”

Finally, when Ms. Dowd went to Kabul in May 2006, she discovered her stars. “There was such innocence to them, despite all they’d lived through,” she said.

Mr. Forster emphasized that casting Afghan boys did not seem risky at the time; local filmmakers even encouraged him, he said: “You really felt it was safe there, a democratic process was happening, and stability, and a new beginning.”

Page 2 of 2)

Ms. Dowd and E. Bennett Walsh, a producer, said they met in Kabul with Ahmad Khan’s father, Ahmad Jaan Mahmoodzada, and told him that his son’s character was the victim of a “vicious sexual assault.” Mr. Mahmoodzada seemed unmoved, they said, remarking that “bad things happen” in movies as in life. The boy, they continued, did not receive a script until a Dari translation was available on the set in western China. The rape scene was rehearsed twice, they said, once with the father present.

Skip to next paragraph
Musadeq Sadeq/Associated Press
Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada, one of the film’s Afghan stars.

 Trailer: 'The Kite Runner'
Phil Bray/Paramount Vantage
Khaled Hosseini, in baseball cap, author of “The Kite Runner,” and Marc Forster, director of that novel’s film version.
On Tuesday the elder Mr. Mahmoodzada, reached by cellphone, rejected this account, and said he never learned the rape was a plot point until the scene was about to be shot. He also said his son never received a script.

Mr. Forster said that during rehearsals he considered including a shot of Hassan’s pants being pulled down, exposing his backside, and that neither Ahmad Khan nor his father objected. But the morning the scene was to be filmed, Mr. Forster found the boy in tears. Ahmad Khan said he did not want to be shown nude, Mr. Forster agreed to skip that shot, and the boy went ahead with the rape scene. Mr. Mahmoodzada confirmed this.

In the final version of the film, the rape is conveyed impressionistically, with the unstrapping of a belt, the victim’s cries and a drop of blood.

The filmmakers said they were surprised when Ahmad Khan and his father told The Sunday Times of London in January that they feared for their lives. Mr. Walsh and Rebecca Yeldham, another producer, flew to Kabul to learn more in February.

The producers dispelled one fear, that the filmmakers would use computer tricks to depict the boy’s genitals in the rape scene. But Ahmad Khan’s parents also pressed for more cash, the producers said.

On the advice of a Kabul television company, the boys had been paid $1,000 to $1,500 a week, far less than the Screen Actors Guild weekly scale of $2,557, but far more than what Afghan actors typically receive.

In late July, with violence worsening in Kabul, studio executives looked for experts who could help them chart a safe course. Aided by lobbyists for Viacom, Paramount’s parent company, they found John Kiriakou, the retired C.I.A. operative with experience in the region, and had him conduct interviews in Washington and Kabul.

“They wanted to do the right thing, but they wanted to understand what the right thing was,” Mr. Kiriakou said.

There was one absolute: “Nothing will be done if it puts any kid at risk,” Megan Colligan, head of marketing at Paramount Vantage, said.

Mr. Kiriakou’s briefing, which he reprised in a telephone interview, could make a pretty good movie by itself. A specialist on Islam at the State Department nearly wept envisioning a “Danish-cartoons situation,” Mr. Kiriakou said. An Afghan literature professor, he added, said Paramount was “willing to burn an already scorched nation for a fistful of dollars.” The head of an Afghan political party said the movie would energize the Taliban. Nearly everyone Mr. Kiriakou met said that the boys had to be removed from Afghanistan for their safety. And a Hazara member of Parliament warned that Pashtun and Hazara “would be killing each other every night” in response to the film’s depiction of them. None of the interviewees had seen the movie.

Another consultant, whom Paramount did not identify, gave a less bleak assessment, but Ms. Colligan said the studio was taking no chances. “The only thing you get people to agree on is that the place is getting messier every single day,” she said.

So on Sunday Rich Klein, a Middle East specialist at the consulting firm Kissinger McLarty Associates, flew to the United Arab Emirates to arrange visas, housing and schooling for the young actors and jobs for their guardians. (The United States is not an option, he said, because Afghans do not qualify for refugee status.)

Those involved say that the studio doesn’t want to be taken advantage of, but that it could accept responsibility for the boys’ living expenses until they reach adulthood, a cost some estimated at up to $500,000. The families, of course, must first agree to the plan.

“I think there was a moral obligation even before any of these things were an issue,” said Mr. Hosseini, the novel’s author, who got to know the boys on the set. “How long that obligation lasts? I don’t know that anybody has the answer to that.”

NY Times
28430  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: October 04, 2007, 08:21:14 AM
Hillary vs. Limbaugh

Liberals continue to step up their Hush Rush campaign. First, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid spent hours urging Clear Channel, Rush Limbaugh's syndicator, to repudiate him over what Mr. Reid claimed were comments that American soldiers who seek to end the war in Iraq were "phony soldiers."

That didn't work when Clear Channel pointed out Rush's long-standing support for and visits with U.S. troops and suggested that Mr. Reid's interpretation of his remarks was strained at best. Mr. Limbaugh notes that his broadcast referred to the specific case of an anti-war veteran whose exploits on the battlefield were found to have been fabricated.

Now liberals have deployed former General Wesley Clark, Bill Clinton's favorite man in uniform, to gnaw on Rush's ankles. Mr. Clark writes at "It's time to put real pressure on Rush Limbaugh" by getting him kicked off Armed Forces Radio. "It's time to tell Congress to act swiftly to hold Rush Limbaugh accountable."

The liberal attempt to divert attention from the infamous ad that twisted the name of General David Petraeus, the Iraq military commander, is driven by Media Matters, a left-wing media watchdog group. If anyone doubts that Media Matters isn't part of the Clinton attack machine, just consider that Hillary Clinton herself took credit for creating the group at last year's DailyKos blogger convention, when she was desperately trying to demonstrate her anti-war bona fides.

During her DailyKos speech, Senator Clinton proudly stated: "We are certainly better prepared and more focused on, you know, taking our arguments and making them effective and disseminating them widely and really putting together a network in the blogosphere and a lot of the new progressive infrastructure, institutions that I helped to start and support, like Media Matters and Center for American Progress."

The Center For American Progress is the liberal think tank run by former Clinton White House Chief of Staff John Podesta. Its most visible recent effort was a lengthy report urging Congress to revive the Fairness Doctrine, the discredited FCC policy that required all broadcasters to provide equal time for all points of view. The major target of those who would revive the Fairness Doctrine? Rush Limbaugh.

Hillary Clinton is running for president, but she also apparently finds time to use surrogates to limit and control the reach of one of her most persistent media critics.

Opinion Journal
28431  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The left's family values on: October 04, 2007, 08:13:14 AM
Getting lost here I think is the point behind GM's original post-- Two gay "dads" taking their toddler daughters to this event.
28432  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: October 04, 2007, 08:09:45 AM
I support President Bush's veto.

We need to read beyond the title of the bill.  It was not about "supporting poor children"-- it expanded coverage FAR beyond that.  This bill was simply another shot fired in the Democrats attack on the remaining vestiges of the private sector in our health care.

28433  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: October 04, 2007, 08:04:03 AM
I agree that we did not enter WW2 to help the Jews, though awareness on the part of some that Hitler was evil in part was due to his hatred for the Jews, but with this "We entered the war to kick start mass production from the war-machine", , ,  rolleyes
28434  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Modern Heroes on: October 04, 2007, 07:59:51 AM
Modern Heroes
Our soldiers like what they do. They want our respect, not pity.

Thursday, October 4, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

I'm weary of seeing news stories about wounded soldiers and assertions of "support" for the troops mixed with suggestions of the futility of our military efforts in Iraq. Why aren't there more accounts of what the troops actually do? How about narrations of individual battles and skirmishes, of their ever-evolving interactions with Iraqi troops and locals in Baghdad and Anbar province, and of increasingly resourceful "patterning" of terrorist networks that goes on daily in tactical operations centers?

The sad and often unspoken truth of the matter is this: Americans have been conditioned less to understand Iraq's complex military reality than to feel sorry for those who are part of it.

The media struggles in good faith to respect our troops, but too often it merely pities them. I am generalizing, of course. Indeed, there are regular, stellar exceptions, quite often in the most prominent liberal publications, from our best military correspondents. But exceptions don't quite cut it amidst the barrage of "news," which too often descends into therapy for those who are not fighting, rather than matter-of-fact stories related by those who are.

As one battalion commander complained to me, in words repeated by other soldiers and marines: "Has anyone noticed that we now have a volunteer Army? I'm a warrior. It's my job to fight." Every journalist has a different network of military contacts. Mine come at me with the following theme: We want to be admired for our technical proficiency--for what we do, not for what we suffer. We are not victims. We are privileged.

The cult of victimhood in American history first flourished in the aftermath of the 1960s youth rebellion, in which, as University of Chicago Prof. Peter Novick writes, women, blacks, Jews, Native Americans and others fortified their identities with public references to past oppressions. The process was tied to Vietnam, a war in which the photographs of civilian victims "displaced traditional images of heroism." It appears that our troops have been made into the latest victims.
Heroes, according to the ancients, are those who do great deeds that have a lasting claim to our respect. To suffer is not necessarily to be heroic. Obviously, we have such heroes, who are too often ignored. Witness the low-key coverage accorded to winners of the Medal of Honor and of lesser decorations.

The first Medal of Honor in the global war on terror was awarded posthumously to Army Sgt. First Class Paul Ray Smith of Tampa, Fla., who was killed under withering gunfire protecting his wounded comrades outside Baghdad airport in April 2003.

According to LexisNexis, by June 2005, two months after his posthumous award, his stirring story had drawn only 90 media mentions, compared with 4,677 for the supposed Quran abuse at Guantanamo Bay, and 5,159 for the court-martialed Abu Ghraib guard Lynndie England. While the exposure of wrongdoing by American troops is of the highest importance, it can become a tyranny of its own when taken to an extreme.

Media frenzies are ignited when American troops are either the perpetrators of acts resulting in victimhood, or are victims themselves. Meanwhile, individual soldiers daily performing complicated and heroic deeds barely fit within the strictures of news stories as they are presently defined. This is why the sporadic network and cable news features on heroic soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan comes across as so hokey. After all, the last time such reports were considered "news" was during World War II and the Korean War.

In particular, there is Fox News's occasional series on war heroes, whose apparent strangeness is a manifestation of the distance the media has traveled away from the nation-state in the intervening decades. Fox's war coverage is less right-wing than it is simply old-fashioned, antediluvian almost. Fox's commercial success may be less a factor of its ideological base than of something more primal: a yearning among a large segment of the public for a real national media once again--as opposed to an international one. Nationalism means patriotism, and patriotism requires heroes, not victims.

Let's review some recent history. From Sept. 11, 2001, until the middle of 2003, when events in Afghanistan and Iraq appeared to be going well, the media portrayed the troops in an uncomplicated, positive light. Young reporters who embedded early on became acquainted with men and women in uniform, by whom they were frankly impressed. But their older editors, children of the '60s often, were skeptical. Once these wars started going badly, skepticism turned to a feeling of having been duped, a sentiment amplified by the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.
That led to a different news cycle, this time with the troops as war criminals. But that cycle could not be sustained by the facts beyond the specific scandal. So by the end of 2004, yet another news cycle set in, the one that is still with us: the troops as victims of an incompetent and evil administration. The irony is that the daily actions of the troops now, living among Iraqis, applying the doctrines of counterinsurgency, and engaged regularly in close-quarters combat, are likely more heroic than in the period immediately following 9/11.

Objectively speaking, the troops can be both victims and heroes--that is, if the current phase of the war does indeed turn out to be futile. My point is only to note how the media has embraced the former theme and downplayed the latter. The LexisNexis statistics reveal the extent to which the media is uncomfortable with traditional heroism, of the kind celebrated from Herodotus through World War II. If that's not the case, then why don't we read more accounts about the battlefield actions of Silver Star winners, Bronze Star winners and the like?

Feeling comfortable with heroes requires a lack of cynicism toward the cause for which they fight. In the 1990s, when exporting democracy and militarily responding to ethnic and religious carnage were looked up upon, U.S. Army engineering units in Bosnia were lionized merely for laying bridges across rivers. Those soldiers did not need to risk their lives or win medals in order to be glorified by the media. Indeed, the media afforded them more stature than it does today's Medal of Honor winners. When a war becomes unpopular, the troops are in a sense deserted. In the eyes of professional warriors, pity can be a form of debasement.

Rather than hated, like during Vietnam, now the troops are "loved." But the best units don't want love; they want respect. The dilemma is that the safer the administration keeps us at home, the more disconnected the citizenry is from its own military posted abroad. An army at war and a nation at the mall do not encounter each other except through the refractive medium of news and entertainment.
That medium is refractive because while the U.S. still has a national military, it no longer has a national media to quite the same extent. The media is increasingly representative of an international society, whose loyalty to a particular territory is more and more diluted. That international society has ideas to defend--ideas of universal justice--but little actual ground. And without ground to defend, it has little need of heroes. Thus, future news cycles will also be dominated by victims.

The media is but one example of the slow crumbling of the nation-state at the upper layers of the social crust--a process that because it is so gradual, is also deniable by those in the midst of it. It will take another event on the order of 9/11 or greater to change the direction we are headed. Contrary to popular belief, the events of 9/11--which are perceived as an isolated incident--did not fundamentally change our nation. They merely interrupted an ongoing trend toward the decay of nationalism and the devaluation of heroism.

Mr. Kaplan, a correspondent for The Atlantic and a visiting professor at the U.S. Naval Academy, is the author of "Hog Pilots, Blue Water Grunts: The American Military in the Air, at Sea, and on the Ground," just published by Random House.


28435  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: October 02, 2007, 07:41:30 PM

Democrats on a Roll

Fundraising totals for presidential candidates during the summer months are coming
in, and most striking is what Rudy Giuliani concedes is the "phenomenal" ability of
Democratic candidates to outpace their GOP counterparts in the cash haul. Taken
together, Democratic candidates have raised some $225 million during the first nine
months of this year, eclipsing the estimated $145 million raised by Republican

Money isn't everything in politics, but it provides a clue as to which side is most
energized. The unpopular Iraq war, Democratic anger at President Bush and the
state-of-the-art fundraising machines assembled by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama
help explain the Democratic advantage. "They're on a roll," says Rep. Tom Cole of
Oklahoma, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee. "But
things can change quickly once there's a Republican nominee people can rally around
and issue contrasts between the parties are drawn."

That said, the GOP has reason to worry that the vast majority of new donors appear
to be giving to Democrats. Barack Obama brought in donations from a staggering
93,000 people in the third quarter, for a total of $19 million. Rudy Giuliani and
Mitt Romney have yet to report their final fundraising totals, though Fred Thompson
has brought in a respectable number of checks from 70,000 different donors, raising
a total of $8 million. John McCain stabilized his fund-raising operation, bringing
in $5 million, enough to ensure he can fight on till the Iowa caucuses. The big
surprise fundraising success on the GOP side was Rep. Ron Paul, the iconoclastic
libertarian from Texas, who managed to raise $3 million, almost all in small
donations over the Internet and through direct mail.

-- John Fund

Coming Home to Hillary

A recent issue of the Economist includes a joke New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson
cracked two years ago: The Democratic Party has a lot of good presidential
candidates, he said. "There's Governor Tom Vilsack of Iowa -- he'd bring back the
Midwest. There's Joe Biden -- he'd bring back the national-security voter. And
there's Hillary Clinton -- she'd bring back the White House furniture."

Mrs. Clinton may also bring back Ohio. With the latest fundraising numbers trickling
out, her campaign figures she raised somewhere between $17 million and $20 million,
giving her plenty of money to be competitive in the primaries. But beyond the bottom
line, Mrs. Clinton is also adding a few other valuable assets to her ledger -- she's
bringing back some Democrats who had drifted over to George W. Bush, including
notable donors in vote-rich Ohio.

One of them is venture capitalist James Gould, who helped Mr. Bush nail down the
Buckeye State three years ago. He's now backing Mrs. Clinton, telling a reporter
recently: "She's misunderstood." The Clinton campaign spent a considerable amount of
time courting the Cincinnati entrepreneur, even giving him several hours to talk to
Mrs. Clinton directly. He walked away thinking: "I liked her a lot more than I
thought I would. She's really smart. I was very impressed." He now plans to host a
fundraiser for her.

Rep. Ed Royce, a California Republican, dropped by the Journal?s offices this week
and told us the GOP had better make some cold calculations in coming months. Ohio is
slipping away, he says, thanks to various GOP scandals involving then-Gov Bob Taft
and Rep. Bob Ney, who pleaded guilty in the Jack Abramoff case. That means his party
must look anew at the electoral map and figure out which states a Republican
candidate has a real chance to carry. If Rudy Giuliani can carry New York, New
Jersey and Pennsylvania or put California in play, Mr. Royce tells us, that might
just replace the loss of Ohio.

-- Brendan Miniter
28436  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: October 02, 2007, 07:36:53 PM
 to Syria to upgrade the Syrian air-defense network, London daily The Times reported. The team reportedly was dispatched after Syrian airspace was penetrated by an alleged Israeli airstrike Sept. 6 near Dayr az-Zawr. The Times report also suggests that the Israeli air force successfully applied, for the first time, a sophisticated electronic warfare system that jammed Syria's Russian-made radar during the attack.

ISRAEL, SYRIA: The Israeli air force targeted an abandoned military building during its secret mission into Syria on Sept. 6, Syrian President Bashar al Assad said Oct. 1. In his first public comments about the event, al Assad said the raid demonstrated Israel's disregard for peace, but distanced himself from the possibility of war with Israel. He also said Syria will boycott the U.S.-hosted Middle East peace conference if the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights would not be discussed.

ISRAEL, SYRIA: Israel Defense Forces lifted a censorship measure preventing Israeli media from reporting that Israel carried out an airstrike on a Syrian target Sept. 6. The move comes after Syrian President Bashar al Assad on Oct. 1 confirmed the airstrike, which he said targeted an unused military facility. Israel is upholding censorship on any details about the strike.
28437  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia on: October 02, 2007, 07:31:19 PM

There has been extensive speculation about what will happen in Russia after next spring's presidential elections. It has long been assumed that Vladimir Putin, although constitutionally prevented from running for re-election, will somehow find a way to continue running Russia. Finding such a way would not be unpopular. Putin has a great deal of support in Russia, and there is serious concern about what would happen if he transferred power to someone else. This is a case in which an extra-constitutional solution would calm public fears rather than excite them.

Putin on Monday gave the first direct indication of how he is planning to cope with the problem. Rather than trying to hold power without having a formal position in the government, Putin suggested that he would become prime minister after leaving office. Putin said the idea "is quite a realistic proposal," though he added that it is too early to think about this option. Since it is but half a year from election time, it is hardly too early to think about these things -- and Putin is not a man given to idle speculation in public -- so it is reasonable to assume that Putin is letting the country know that he will be changing jobs but neither leaving government nor abandoning power.

The Russian Constitution has, like all constitutions, ambiguities; and being quite new, it has few legal precedents. There is minimal constitutional reason why effective power couldn't rest with the prime minister's office while the president serves as the head of state and ceremonial figurehead. The way this would work is relatively simple. United Russia, a leading Russian political party, nominated Putin for one of its leading positions. Until now Putin has not formally belonged to any party (although he is clearly part of United Russia), saying the president should be beyond politics.

At a party congress, party member Sergey Borisov pleaded with Putin to take a leadership position and lead the party, saying, "So long as the state is outside a party, our party system is bulky and, to be honest, a somewhat decorative institution with little influence. I believe that by participating in one of the parties, you, Vladimir Putin, would make a large contribution to a stronger democracy and a multiparty system." Putin replied, saying, "I thankfully accept your proposal that I should head the United Russia ticket." And so it was done.

In our opinion, Putin had both the authority and the informal levers to dominate Russian politics without holding any formal office, simply working in the background. However, this maneuver makes things simple. Whoever replaces Putin as president will be head of state; Putin will be head of government. Putin moves his desk, or he might not even bother, keeping it right where it is.

We would say this is the end of democracy in Russia, except for the fact that it is going to be a very popular move and it doesn't clearly violate the constitution in any way. What it does do is promise Russia long-term continuity in leadership by a popular leader. It also means that there will not be an extended period of uncertainty in Russia about the political future, and it will cut off speculation outside of Russia about whether a post-Putin Russia would be less assertive, or at least whether a transition would provide some breathing room.

The answer is now in, although it is not surprising. There will be no post-Putin Russia, at least for the foreseeable future. There will be no transitional period. There will be no breathing space. Russia will continue to assert itself without interruption.
28438  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The left's family values on: October 02, 2007, 07:19:02 PM

"No people will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can
any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffusd and Virtue is
preservd. On the Contrary, when People are universally ignorant,
and debauchd in their Manners, they will sink under their own
weight without the Aid of foreign Invaders."

-- Samuel Adams (letter to James Warren, 4 November 1775)
28439  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dog Brothers Training Camp? on: October 02, 2007, 07:16:17 PM
Woof Marx:

We are in the process of organizing the Winter one (they are held twice a year) within the DBMA Association right now.

28440  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Samuel Adams on: October 02, 2007, 07:11:23 PM

"No people will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can
any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffusd and Virtue is
preservd. On the Contrary, when People are universally ignorant,
and debauchd in their Manners, they will sink under their own
weight without the Aid of foreign Invaders."

-- Samuel Adams (letter to James Warren, 4 November 1775)
28441  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: October 02, 2007, 09:30:56 AM

MSN Money Homepage
MSN Money Investing
1. Stocks Jump, Dow Soars Past 14000
2. Citigroup Warns of Profit Slump
3. Ethanol Boom Is Running Out of Gas
4. Top Small Workplaces 2007
5. Is Florida Over?

Also read these stories:
People who like this also like...
The Queerest Denial
Nuclear Secrets
Immigration Losers
Hail to the Taxers
Virtuous Losses

  What's This?

 Personalized Home Page Setup
 Put headlines on your homepage about the companies, industries and topics that interest you most. 
Palestinian Propaganda Coup
October 2, 2007; Page A17

Last month, a French court heard an appeals case whose forthcoming verdict will have far-reaching ramifications for all who value truth and accuracy in Middle East news reporting. The case involves Philippe Karsenty, a French journalist and media commentator, who was found guilty of defamation after he called for the firing of two France 2 Television journalists responsible for the Sept. 30, 2000, news report on the alleged killing of a 12-year-old Palestinian boy, Mohammed al-Dura, by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

It has been seven years since France 2 Television broadcast the excruciating footage of Mohammed and his father Jamal crouching in terror behind a barrel in Gaza's Netzarim Junction while, according to the report, under relentless fire from IDF soldiers. The 59-second clip, which ends with the boy apparently shot dead, was presented around the world as an unambiguous case of Israeli savagery.

The tape fanned the flames of what became known as the second intifada. The boy Mohammed was the iconic martyr, his name and face gracing streets, parks and postage stamps across the Arab world. His memory was invoked by Osama bin Laden in a jihadist screed against America, and in the ghastly video of the beheading of American Jewish journalist, Daniel Pearl.

Shortly following the al-Dura incident, however, a series of inquiries cast grave doubt on the accuracy of the original France 2 report. The official IDF investigation concluded that, based on the position of IDF forces vis-à-vis the Duras, it was highly improbable, if not impossible, that an Israeli bullet hit the boy. Research by the Atlantic Monthly, the New Republic and Commentary magazine concurred. Then a German documentary revealed inconsistencies and probable manipulations in the account of France 2's lone journalist on the scene that day, Palestinian cameraman Talal Abu Rahmeh.

And yet France 2 refused to release Abu Rahmeh's full 27 minutes of raw footage. It did, however, agree to let three prominent French journalists view the footage. All three concluded that it comprised blatantly staged scenes of Palestinians being shot by Israeli forces, and that France 2's Jerusalem Bureau Chief Charles Enderlin had lied to conceal that fact.

Subsequently, alleging gross malfeasance, Mr. Karsenty called for the firings of Mr. Enderlin and France 2 News Director Arlette Chabot. But France 2 stood defiant, suing Mr. Karsenty for defamation.

The defamation trial passed almost unnoticed in Israel, to the apparent detriment of Mr. Karsenty's case. In his ruling in favor of France 2, judge Joël Boyer five times cited the absence of any official Israeli support for Mr. Karsenty's claims as indication of their speciousness.

Israel's decision to stay on the sidelines was unfortunate because the truth always matters. The al-Dura incident wasn't the only media report to inflame passions against Israel in recent years, but it was the one with the highest profile. Moreover, if, as Mr. Karsenty and others have claimed persuasively, the al-Dura incident is part of the insidious trend in which Western media outlets allow themselves to be manipulated by dishonest and politically motivated sources (recall the Jenin "massacre" that never was, or the doctored Reuters photos from Israel's war against Hezbollah in 2006), then France 2 must be held accountable.

It is important to note that the al-Dura news report profoundly influenced Western public opinion. When I served in the Israeli government as minister of Diaspora Affairs from 2003 to 2005, I traveled frequently to North American college campuses. I heard first hand how Mohammed al-Dura had shaped the perceptions of young people just beginning to follow events in the Middle East. For many Jewish students, the incident was a stain of dishonor that called into question their support for Israel. For anti-Israel students, the story reaffirmed their sense of Zionism's innately "racist" nature and became a tool for recruiting campus peers to the cause.

To its credit, Israel has come to recognize that it must play an active role in uncovering the truth. The IDF recently sent a letter to France 2 demanding the release of Talal Abu Rahmeh's 27 minutes of raw footage, asserting the implausibility of IDF guilt for the death of Mohammad al-Dura, and raising the possibility that the entire affair may have been staged.

Tragically, there is no way to repair the damage inflicted on Israel's international image by the France 2 report, much less restore the Israeli and Jewish victims whose lives were exacted as vengeance. It is possible, however, to deter slanderous news reporting -- and the violence that often accompanies it -- by setting a precedent for media accountability via the handover of Talal Abu Rahmeh's full 27 minutes of raw footage. Encouragingly, the judge presiding over Mr. Karsenty's appeal has now requested the tapes. France 2 must make a full public disclosure. If there is nothing to hide, why should it refuse?

Mr. Sharansky is chairman of the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem.


28442  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: October 02, 2007, 09:23:25 AM
There is quite a bit I disagree with in this piece, but it makes points which must be considered.


Immigration Losers
A new study shows the heavy price the GOP paid for "get-tough" border politics.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Many conservatives believe that "enforcement first" of existing immigration law must precede any form of guest-worker or earned-legalization legislation to normalize the status of some 12 million undocumented workers. Iterations of this opinion fill the airwaves of talk radio, the speeches of Republican presidential contenders and the opinion pages of conservative publications.

The formula alleviates, or at least postpones, the antagonism between those who want to deport illegal workers, and those who want them to stay. The language of comprehensive immigration reform--a combination of strict border enforcement and a path to legalization--has been abandoned even by many who hope eventually to revive it.

This rhetorical consensus is unserious. Deportation advocates understand full well that existing civil penalties will not overcome the economic incentives that drive these immigrants and their employers. That is why Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, the primary sponsor of the Border Protection, Antiterrorism and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005, added criminal penalties to the common frauds perpetrated by illegal workers and those who employ them.

The illegals themselves--the group most directly affected--understand "enforcement first" for what it really is: a step toward mass deportation. That is why thousands of undocumented Brazilians exited Riverside, N.J., when the town council sanctioned their landlords and employers.

To these two groups that reject "enforcement first" as a rhetorical euphemism, we may now add a third: Hispanic citizens who vote.

Undocumented Latinos constitute 3.8% of the American work force. But these 5.6 million workers are a mere fraction of the 17.3 million Latino citizens 18 years or older. Of these, 4.4 million are themselves foreign born.

How does "enforcement first" or "enforcement only" play among these voters? Polling has offered rationales for conflicting projections. Some contend that Hispanics' strong support for border security signals a negligible partisan impact; others, citing Latino endorsement of guest-worker and earned-legalization programs, predict electoral disaster for the party that abandons a comprehensive framework.

In my recent study for the Americas Majority Foundation entitled "Border Wars: The Impact of Immigration on the Latino Vote," I document not what Hispanics opined, but how they actually voted, given a clear choice between advocates of "enforcement first" and comprehensive immigration reform. The results, based on returns from 145 heavily Hispanic precincts and over 100,000 tabulated votes, indicate this: Immigration policies that induce mass fear among illegal residents will induce mass anger among the legal residents who share their heritage.
The congressional election of 2006 provided a unique opportunity to gauge Hispanic voter behavior. In three congressional districts of the Southwest, two of them on the border, Republican candidates ran on an "enforcement-only" platform. In each case, this constituted a departure from previous congressional representation. And in each case, Hispanic support for the Republican candidate collapsed from 2004 levels.

Former Republican Rep. Jim Kolbe of Arizona was an architect of comprehensive immigration reform. His retirement in 2006 precipitated a five-way primary in which Randy Graff prevailed with 42% of the vote. Mr. Graff, supported by the deportationist Minutemen Civil Defense Corps PAC, lost to Democrat Gabrielle Giffords, 42%-54%. Ms. Giffords aligned herself with the comprehensive reform positions of Sens. Jon Kyl and John McCain. Among the heavily Hispanic precincts of Cochise County, Rep. Kolbe carried 43% of the vote in 2004. Mr. Graff's share of the vote in those precincts shrank to 18%.

In Texas, former Republican Rep. Henry Bonilla, chairman of the powerful House Agriculture Appropriations subcommittee, was the paradigm of Republican Hispanic success--until he voted for Rep. Sensenbrenner's "enforcement-only" bill. In the heavily Hispanic counties of Dimmit, Presidio, Val Verde, Maverick and Zavala, Mr. Bonilla's support dropped to 30% in 2006 from 59% in 2004. He lost the district to Democrat Ciro Rodriguez, 46%-54%.

In 2004, Republican Rep. J.D. Hayworth, the flamboyant incumbent of Arizona's Fifth District, defeated his Democratic rival 59%-38%. His 2006 book "By Any Means" described his conversion from advocacy of comprehensive immigration reform to a deportationist viewpoint. Campaigning on enforcement-only, Mr. Hayworth was defeated by his Democratic challenger, Tempe Mayor Harry Mitchell, 46%-50%. Mr. Hayworth's majority-white district provided a test of whether a deportationist platform would attract a strong backlash vote among non-Hispanic whites. It did not. In the Hispanic influenced, majority-white precincts of Maricopa County, Mr. Hayworth's vote share declined to 36% in 2006 from 48% in 2004.

In these three races, Republicans' vote share in heavily Latino precincts dropped 22 percentage points.

What does this mean nationwide? Republicans' presidential Hispanic vote share increased to 40% in 2004 from 21% in 1996. In 2004, Latinos comprised 6% of the electorate, but 8.1% of the voter-qualified citizenry. With the partisan margin shrinking, the incentive for major Hispanic registration efforts by either party was scant.

That changed in 2006, when the GOP's Hispanic vote share declined by 10%. And, as we have seen, the drop was twice as precipitous where Republicans disavowed comprehensive immigration reform. With the huge wedge in vote share that "enforcement-only" opened, the cost-effectiveness of voter-registration efforts improved dramatically--for Democrats.

In recent years, Democratic Party operatives have conducted registration drives in urban communities that boosted African-American turnout to 65% from 23%. Republicans, should their national ticket adopt "enforcement-only," can expect Democrats to wage similar Hispanic campaigns in the most hotly contested political real estate of 2008. Such standard political operations will more than erase Republican majorities in New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, Florida and Iowa, and may endanger the GOP electoral hold on Arizona as well.

That is the short-term fallout Republicans may suffer from "enforcement-only." But the election of 2008 marks the beginning of the political attrition, not its end.

One-half of U.S. population growth this decade occurred among Latinos. Were the border hermetically sealed today, the children of Latino citizens will yet vote. Moreover, there are currently 3.1 million American-born minors with one or both parents who are illegal aliens. These young Americans share the same citizenship status as those seeking their parents' removal. It is folly to believe they will not remember who sought to deport their parents when they eventually go to the polls.
The pending catastrophe is not inevitable. Republicans have campaigned effectively among Hispanics on the basis of entrepreneurship, school choice, tax cuts and right-to-life. And, as the 2006 re-election of Republicans Heather Wilson and Steve Pearce of New Mexico and Jeff Flake of Arizona demonstrated, the GOP agenda can include national security as well. In 2006, Latinos helped re-elect candidates who advocated the border fence, electronic surveillance, expedited deportation of violent criminals, and biometric worker identification.

The next proposal for comprehensive immigration reform can contain all of this. To retain their Hispanic gains, Republicans need to repudiate only the immoral, uneconomical goal of mass deportation.

Mr. Nadler is the president of Americas Majority Foundation, a Midwest public-policy think tank.

28443  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: November 18, 2007 Dog Bros Gathering of the Pack on: October 02, 2007, 02:09:55 AM
Yes, email it to Cindy.
28444  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East War on: October 02, 2007, 02:07:32 AM
Iran, Iraq: Upping the Ante with SAMs

Signs indicate that Iran is planning to supply its militant proxies in Iraq with shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles. The threat of SAM shipments into Iraq is a useful pressure tactic for Iran to use in its negotiations with the United States over Iraq, but should the threat materialize, Tehran will be crossing a huge redline with Washington.


Stratfor has seen indications that Iran is planning to up the ante in Iraq by supplying its militant proxies with shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles (SAMs). These man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS) are short range and are only able to shoot down helicopters and other low-flying aircraft. The U.S. military also announced Sept. 30 that it had seized Iranian-made surface-to-air missiles called Misagh-1s being used by insurgents in Iraq.

Iranian military and logistical support to Iraqi Shiite militants is nothing new. But adding SAMs to the weapons mix opens up a whole new can of worms.

U.S.-supplied Stinger missiles were eagerly and quite successfully employed by the Afghan mujahideen during the Soviet war in Afghanistan. These point-and-shoot, easily transportable, heat-seeking SAMs are an excellent tool, allowing insurgents to wage asymmetrical warfare. Sunni insurgents in Iraq employed SAMs, likely old SA-7s and SA-14s, to cause a surge of chopper crashes in early 2007, though most helicopter losses to hostile fire in Iraq have been attributed to small-arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire. Iran's Misagh-1s are a knockoff the Chinese QW-1 Vanguard, but still would do an extremely effective job of creating a worst-case scenario for U.S. forces in Iraq.

The Iranians have had plenty to think about since U.S. President George W. Bush announced that the United States essentially would be staying the course in Iraq by keeping enough U.S. troops in the country to appease the Sunnis and make Iran sweat. But even though the United States is standing firm on keeping the Iranians at bay and resisting calls to withdraw, Iran might not be entirely convinced that its chances of filling the power vacuum in Iraq are completely shot.

The Iranians face two options now that Bush has announced the U.S. policy for Iraq moving forward, and they may not have decided which strategy to pursue:

1. Accept that policy as a reality, continue with the usual military posturing and negotiate seriously with the Bush administration for a security agreement that recognizes Iranian influence in Iraq, or
2. Entertain the idea of negotiations, but focus its efforts on reversing U.S. policy under a new administration by raising the stakes further for U.S. forces in Iraq.

Bush's Iraq strategy can be defended so long as U.S. casualties do not shoot up to unacceptable levels. Chopper crashes in Iraq are attention-grabbing events that can take a heavy toll on U.S. public morale, and could create pressure on the U.S. administration to shift its strategy. Moreover, helicopters are absolutely integral to the conduct of U.S. operations in Iraq, and will only become more so as troops become spread more thinly in the coming year.

At this point, the Iranians cannot bet that the tide will turn enough in Congress for Republican senators to side with the Democrats and pressure Bush into a withdrawal. Time and again, Bush has defied the odds and battled off pressure in Congress knowing that no senator in his or her right mind would dare cut funding to troops. But if Iran is looking beyond the Bush presidency, it could be working toward bleeding U.S. forces in Iraq to the point at which any incoming U.S. president would be pressured into carrying out a withdrawal.

This strategy, of course, carries its fair share of consequences. With war threats looming, Iran has no guarantee that the United States would continue to be hamstrung in Iraq and refrain from attacking Iran, especially when it becomes widely apparent that the SAMs used to shoot down U.S. choppers are made in Iran. Iranian SAMs would be much more traceable than explosively formed projectiles, the deadliest form of IED, and it would not take much to make the connection to Tehran should Washington decide to make a case for war.

The Iranians probably are well aware that they would be heading for trouble if the SAM threat materializes. For now, the prospect of Iranian-supplied SAMs to Iraqi insurgents is enough to get Washington's attention. As long as this threat is used as a pressure tactic, negotiations between Washington and Tehran have a chance of going somewhere. But if U.S. choppers start going down, a shift in Iranian thinking will immediately be made apparent -- and it will be Washington's turn to make a decision on grand strategy in Iraq.

28445  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: October 02, 2007, 02:05:53 AM
Mexico Security Memo: Oct. 1, 2007
October 01, 2007 20 23  GMT

Targeting the Feds in Baja

After several assassinations targeting police in central and northern Mexico, the Baja peninsula stood out this past week as a hot spot of violence against federal authorities. Minutes after a police officer in Tijuana, Baja California state, was killed Sept. 24, a group of armed men opened fire on a federal police headquarters in the city, wounding several agents inside. The gunmen, who were armed with assault rifles and traveling in sport utility vehicles, escaped after a 10-minute exchange of gunfire with police. Farther south, in La Paz, Baja California Sur state, a police commander was gunned down outside his house as he was leaving for work. This was the first targeted killing of a police officer in the state this year.

These incidents demonstrate how Mexico's drug violence is reaching into every corner of the state, even typically tranquil places like Baja California Sur. They also suggest that the level of violence is getting worse. Information released by Mexico's attorney general shows that, by mid-September of this year, 2,308 drug killings had already occurred in the country -- more than the total for 2006. Cartel retaliation against increasingly aggressive government forces explains the increase. Higher casualty counts are not how President Felipe Calderon hoped to begin his first term, but they are likely to continue as long as his administration keeps up its campaign against the country's drug traffickers.

More Action in the Yucatan

A Gulfstream II jet loaded with more than 3 tons of cocaine crashed this past week in a remote part of Yucatan state. The flight reportedly originated in Colombia and was monitored by Mexican military aircraft after it entered Mexican airspace. It is still unclear what caused the plane to crash. The pilot, a Mexican, survived and had fled the crash site by the time authorities arrived, though he was later apprehended. Two other individuals were arrested after they attempted to bribe Mexican soldiers, who were securing the site, to allow them to remove the cargo from the plane.

The incident highlights one important way that drugs are being transported from South America to Mexico on their way to the United States. It also illustrates the Yucatan Peninsula's strategic value as a trans-shipment point for drug flights from Colombia and maritime shipments arriving in ports such as Cancun. Though drug violence has been less common in the Yucatan compared to other regions in Mexico, the peninsula is not immune. In addition to the plane crash this past week, a Cuban man suspected of working with drug cartels was found dead in an abandoned car in the heart of Cancun's hotel district. On the same day, several hundred soldiers and federal police arrived in the area. The small size of the force, and the fact that the federal police are part of the Federal Preventive Police and not the Federal Investigative Agency, suggests its mission is to set up highway checkpoints and generally enhance security, rather than serve arrest warrants to high-ranking cartel members.

28446  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: October 01, 2007, 04:37:58 PM
"As over 150 heads of state and government gather at UN headquarters in New York to
discuss climate change, former Vice President Al Gore, the most prominent proponent
of the theory of the human-induced, catastrophic global warming, continues to refuse
repeated challenges to debate the issue. Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who addressed
the General Assembly on climate change September 24, is but the latest global
warming skeptic to receive the cold shoulder from Gore. In ads appearing in the Wall
Street Journal, New York Times, and Washington Times, Klaus has called on Gore to
face him in a one-on-one debate on the proposition: 'Global Warming Is Not a
Crisis.' Earlier in the year, similar challenges to Gore were issued by Dennis
Avery, director of the Center for Global Food Issues and senior fellow at the Hudson
Institute, and Lord Monckton of Brenchley, a former adviser to British Prime
Minister Margaret Thatcher. All calls on the former vice president to face his
critics have fallen on deaf ears" -- Bonner Cohen, writing at

28447  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: October 01, 2007, 04:36:10 PM
Political Journal WSJ

Randy Evans, a close adviser to Newt Gingrich, had scheduled a media briefing today
to explain just how some $30 million in pledges could be raised in the next month in
order to convince the former House Speaker to run for president.

It was not to be. On Saturday, Mr. Gingrich announced he was definitely out of the
2008 presidential race, saying he had just received legal advice that any further
effort by him to explore a presidential bid would have jeopardized the non-profit
status of his American Solutions educational group. Mr. Gingrich said he was pleased
with the success of hundreds of issue workshops conducted by American Solutions over
this past weekend, and he did not want to be forced to leave the group to pursue a
presidential run.

It may simply be that Mr. Gingrich is bowing out after recognizing the difficulty of
securing enough money for a last-minute parachute jump into the presidential race.
But he's also a victim of the McCain-Feingold campaign law, which makes any mixing
of purely political work with educational political projects almost impossible.

This latest episode is a reminder of just how much McCain-Feingold has failed to
live up to its billing. Exactly how has the law, which restricts political speech,
creates endless bureaucracy and now has played a factor in blocking the
ever-interesting Mr. Gingrich from livening up the interminable 2008 campaign, been
a boon to our democracy?

-- John Fund
28448  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: October 01, 2007, 04:27:33 PM
“[T]he so-called ‘explosion’ of the uninsured has been driven entirely by wealthy households opting out of health insurance. In the decade after 1995—i.e., since the last round of coercive health reform—the proportion of the uninsured earning less than $25,000 has fallen by 20 percent, and the proportion earning more than 75 grand has increased by 155 percent. The story of the past decade is that the poor are getting sucked into the maw of ‘coverage,’ and the rich are fleeing it. And, given that the cost of health ‘insurance’ bears increasingly little relationship to either the cost of treatment or the actuarial reality of you ever getting any particular illness, it’s entirely rational to say: ‘You know what? I’ll worry about that when it happens. In the meantime, I want to start a business and send my kid to school.’ Freedom is the desire of my human heart even if my arteries get all clogged and hardened.” —Mark Steyn

“Governments are not empowered to grant rights; governments can only limit, or extinguish rights. Governments can, however, bestow gifts upon its citizens. But in order to do so, governments must first take resources from those who have earned them, and redistribute those resources to others. Hillary-care, Obama-care, Edwards-care, and every other form of socialized medicine, is inherently fraught with fraud, abuse, and corruption... If the federal government is to be involved in health care, it should be looking toward encouraging, and providing incentives for private medical care that is determined between the patient and provider. The problem is complex, and cannot be solved by any government program. Health care is certainly one of the primary areas where the principles of freedom should be observed and advanced. Any candidate, or politician, who thinks government can solve the problem better than a free market, should be rejected.” —Henry Lamb
28449  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: October 01, 2007, 04:24:42 PM
Geopolitical Diary: Israeli Politics and Geopolitics

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will meet Oct. 2 for the sixth summit in the current peace process, leading up to an international peace conference planned by the United States for November. Normally, such peace conferences either achieve nothing or culminate in disaster. In the first case, they are simply gestures by all sides toward a peace process, without anyone really expecting a resolution. They are PR moves.

Then there are summits that really tackle fundamental tensions, like then-U.S. President Bill Clinton's Camp David meeting in 2000 with Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat. At these kinds of meetings, core issues -- such as the status of Palestinian refugees, control of Jerusalem and recognition of Israel's right to exist -- are faced squarely. Either the meeting blows apart on the spot, or the two sides start making concessions, in which case there are explosions back home. Normally, neither side has the political authority to make concessions; so with the grand gestures over, everyone goes home after the photo-ops are completed and life goes on pretty much as it did before.

The great exception to this rule was the Camp David accords signed between Egypt and Israel 30 years ago. In spite of universal expectations to the contrary, that agreement has held for more than a generation. It is the foundation of Israeli national security -- since a serious conventional threat to Israel is impossible without Egypt's participation -- and it relieved Egypt of the burden of confronting Israel. It was an agreement rooted in geopolitical reality. Egypt did not wish to mortgage its future on behalf of the Palestinians and the Israelis did not need the Sinai desert. A buffer zone was created, with foreign troops symbolically enforcing the buffer -- and it worked.

For any Israeli-Palestinian agreement to have any chance of working, there has to be some geopolitical rationality to it. Up to now, no settlement has been possible because of geography. A Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza is a social and economic abortion. It would immediately fall into dependence on Israel. Yet, at the same time, it represents a long-term threat to Israeli security, creating a Palestinian state within artillery range of Tel Aviv. And this does not even begin to deal with the questions of the future of Jerusalem, the right of Palestinians to return to Israel, or compensation for Israelis who left Arab countries.

But there is an opening at the moment. The victory of Hamas in Gaza and the continuation of the Palestinian National Authority in the West Bank has, for the moment, effectively created two Palestinian entities. In many ways, they are more bitterly opposed to each other than they are to Israel, at least for the time being. The division of the Palestinians is obviously advantageous to the Israelis.

Now the Israelis have to make a strategic decision. The maintenance of a split among the Palestinians requires that Abbas be strengthened. Israel is releasing Fatah fighters from prisons to bolster Abbas' forces. But creating a political settlement with Abbas that leaves Hamas stranded and isolated in Gaza, while Abbas' West Bank entity emerges into as viable a state as possible, is more difficult and more important. It means that Israel must deal with the more intractable issues, making concessions not only to strengthen secular Palestinians against Islamists, but institutionalizing the split in the Palestinian community.

The kind of political settlement that has to be made to strengthen Abbas will run directly into Israeli domestic politics. Fatah was the sponsor of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, which was pivotal in the suicide bombing campaigns. Abbas has common interests with Israel for the moment, but he is no friend of Israel by any stretch of the imagination. For many Israelis, Abbas is the heir of Arafat, which means the heir of 40 years of terrorism.

Olmert hardly has the political base to make concessions to Abbas. At the same time, the deep division among the Palestinians, which has always been there in various ways, has now congealed into a geographical split. The more radical and intractable faction controls Gaza. Its enemy, the more secular movement, dominates the West Bank. The West Bank is far more important to Israel than Gaza. Maintaining that split and making a separate peace with Abbas should be tantalizing.

But the Israelis are likely to pass up the chance, for three reasons. First, they simply don't trust Abbas. Second, a Palestinian state along the 1948 borders poses a danger to Israel regardless of whether it includes Gaza. Finally, the Israelis are not prepared to make the kind of concessions that would make Abbas a Palestinian hero. However, from the Israeli point of view, the problem with inaction is that Hamas has been the rising tide among Palestinians -- if Israel passes on this moment, it could face Hamas in a pre-eminent position in the West Bank as well as in Gaza.

Splitting one's enemies is the pivot of geopolitics. The United States sided with Stalin against Hitler, with Mao against Brezhnev. The Palestinians have split themselves. Geopolitically, Israel has an obvious move, but politically it is an unsustainable one. Abbas is no friend of Israel and is playing his own game. His back is against the wall. But Abbas has a common enemy with Israel: Hamas.

It is Israel's move. If history is any guide, it will choose politics over geopolitics.
28450  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Older Warrior on: October 01, 2007, 04:08:58 PM
Woof Tom:

Bummer about the troubles.

Turning to cheerier things, pray tell what is the origen and theory of that diet?!?

Pages: 1 ... 567 568 [569] 570 571 ... 665
Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.19 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!