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28401  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: November 02, 2007, 11:14:08 AM
How Europe Can Pressure Iran
November 2, 2007

The U.S. ratcheted up the financial pressure against Tehran last week, unilaterally slapping sanctions on Iran's powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp, three state-owned banks, and a number of key officials for their involvement in the regime's terrorist financing and WMD-related activities. Realizing the leverage that American financial markets give Washington, senior U.S. Treasury officials have been telling global financial institutions in the last couple of years that doing business with Iran could do great harm to their reputation and complicate their access to the U.S. market. As a result, a number of global institutions -- including Switzerland's UBS and Credit Suisse and Germany's Commerzbank and Deutsche Bank -- have either terminated or dramatically reduced business with Iran.

There are limits to this unilateral strategy, though. Companies and financial institutions that do not operate in the U.S. may be willing to ignore Washington's warnings. But being cut off from New York and the world's other leading financial capital, London, is a risk not too many of these firms would be willing to take. Few could afford to relocate to a smaller financial hub and miss out on the opportunities only the City of London or New York could offer just to continue doing business with Iran.

It is therefore encouraging that British Prime Minister Gordon Brown immediately backed Washington, noting that "we endorse the U.S. administration's efforts to apply further pressure on the Iranian regime." But while public support from the U.S.'s closest ally will undoubtedly help bolster the impact of the unilateral actions, the U.K. could do far more.

If the British government were to send a similarly strong warning to banks, it could dramatically increase the financial pressure on Iran. More than 550 international banks and 170 global security houses have a presence in London. Between $50-100 billion of Middle Eastern money will enter London in the next few years, estimates Peter Weinberg, the former CEO of Goldman Sachs International. Coordinated visits by top U.S. and U.K. officials to major financial institutions could be a particularly effective way to get the message across that business with Iran is risky so long as Tehran ignores the U.N. Security Council orders about its nuclear program. A joint U.S.-U.K. effort might carry particular weight coming on the heels of the Financial Action Task Force's Oct. 11 statement on Iran. Founded by the G7, the 34-country body instructed financial institutions to use "enhanced due diligence" when dealing with Iran to avoid inadvertently contributing to terrorist financing and money laundering. As U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said after Washington's latest step against Tehran: "In dealing with Iran, it is nearly impossible to know one's customer and be assured that one is not unwittingly facilitating the regime's reckless conduct."

While the U.K. wields particularly powerful tools, there may also be other European countries now willing and ready to ramp up financial and economic pressure against Iran. Ideally, this would be done at the European Union level -- something that French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been pushing for. But in the absence of a third U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing additional sanctions, many EU countries, primarily Germany, Austria and Spain, appear reluctant. The French have thus suggested that those European countries willing to act need not wait for unanimity. In fact, France has already announced that it is pressing large French companies to refrain from investing in Iran.

A combined initiative by the U.S. and individual European countries to press Iran may strengthen the hand of those in Tehran arguing for accommodation. It would also be a good way to show China, Russia and laggard European governments that with or without them, action will be taken against Iran. If they are dissatisfied with this approach, they should first spell out a realistic alternative that could bring Iran to suspend its enrichment program.

Mr. Clawson is the Washington Institute's deputy director for research and author of several books on Iran. Mr. Jacobson, a senior fellow in the institute's Stein Program on Terrorism, Intelligence, and Policy, previously served as a senior advisor in the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.

28402  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: November 02, 2007, 10:54:24 AM
'This Makes Voter Fraud Easier'
November 2, 2007; Page A12

Sen. Hillary Clinton was asked during a debate this week if she supported New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's plan to give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. At first she seemed to endorse the idea, then claimed, "I did not say that it should be done, but I certainly recognize why Governor Spitzer is trying to do it."

The next day she took a firmer stand (sort of) by offering general support for Gov. Spitzer's approach, but adding that she hadn't studied his specific plan. She should, and so should the rest of us. It stops just short of being an engraved invitation for people to commit voter fraud.

The background here is the National Voter Registration Act, commonly known as "Motor Voter," that President Bill Clinton signed into law in 1993. It required all states to offer voter registration to anyone getting a driver's license. One simply fills out a form and checks a box stating he is a citizen; he is then registered and in most states does not have to show any ID to vote.

But no one checks if the person registering to vote is indeed a citizen. That greatly concerns New York election officials, who processed 245,000 voter registrations at DMV offices last year. "It would be [tough to catch] if someone wanted to . . . get a number of people registered who aren't citizens and went ahead and got them drivers' licenses," says Lee Daghlian, spokesman for New York's Board of Elections. Assemblywoman Ginny Fields, a Long Island Democrat, warns that the state's "Board of Elections has no voter police" and that the state probably has upwards of 500,000 illegal immigrants old enough to drive.

The potential for fraud is not trivial, as federal privacy laws prevent cross-checking voter registration rolls with immigration records. Nevertheless, a 1997 Congressional investigation found that "4,023 illegal voters possibly cast ballots in [a] disputed House election" in California. After 9/11, the Justice Department found that eight of the 19 hijackers were registered to vote.

Under pressure from liberal groups, some states have even abandoned the requirement that people check a citizenship box to be put on the voter rolls. Iowa has told local registrars they should register people even if they leave the citizenship box blank. Maryland officials wave illegal immigrants through the registration process, prompting a Justice Department letter warning they may be helping people violate federal law.

Gov. Spitzer is treading perilously close to that. Despite a tactical retreat this week -- he says he will only give illegal immigrants a license that isn't valid for airplane travel and entering federal buildings -- Mr. Spitzer has taken active steps to obliterate any distinctions between licenses given to citizens and non-citizens.

In a memo last Sept. 24, he ordered county clerks to remove the visa expiration date and "temporary visitor" stamp on licenses issued to non-citizens who are legally in the country. A Spitzer spokeswoman explained the change was made because the "temporary" label was "pejorative," given that some visitors might eventually stay in the U.S. Under fire, Mr. Spitzer backed down this week, delaying the cancellation of the "temporary visitor" stamps through the end of next year.

But he has not retreated from another new bizarre policy. It used to be that county clerks who process driver's licenses were banned from giving out voter registration forms to anyone without a Social Security number. No longer. Lou Dobbs of CNN reported that an Oct. 19 memo from the state DMV informed the clerks they don't "have any statutory discretion to withhold a motor voter form." What's more, the computer block preventing a DMV clerk from transmitting a motor voter registration without a Social Security number was removed.

Gov. Spitzer's office told me the courts have upheld their position on Social Security numbers. Sandy DePerno, the Democratic clerk of Oneida County, says that makes no sense. "This makes voter fraud easier," she told me.

While states such as New York are increasing the risk of such fraud, a half-dozen states have recently adopted laws requiring voters to offer proof of identity or citizenship before casting a ballot. A federal commission, co-chaired by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker, gave such laws a big boost in 2005 when it called for a nationwide policy requiring a photo ID before voting.

Mr. Carter has personal knowledge of why such laws are needed. He recounts in his book "Turning Point" how his 1962 race for Georgia State Senate involved a local sheriff who had cast votes for the dead. It took a recount and court challenge before Mr. Carter was declared the winner.

Measures that curb voter fraud on the one hand and encourage it on the other will be central to the 2008 election. The Supreme Court will rule on the constitutionality of Indiana's photo ID law next spring, while lawsuits challenging Gov. Spitzer's moves will be in New York state courts.

Despite her muddled comments this week, there's no doubt where Mrs. Clinton stands on ballot integrity. She opposes photo ID laws, even though they enjoy over 80% support in the polls. She has also introduced a bill to force every state to offer no-excuse absentee voting as well as Election Day registration -- easy avenues for election chicanery. The bill requires that every state restore voting rights to all criminals who have completed their prison terms, parole or probation.

Pollster Scott Rasmussen notes that Mrs. Clinton is such a polarizing figure that she attracts between 46% and 49% support no matter which Republican candidate she's pitted against -- even libertarian Ron Paul. She knows she may have trouble winning next year. Maybe that's why she's thrown herself in with those who will look the other way as a new electoral majority is formed -- even if that includes non-citizens, felons and those who suddenly cross a state line on Election Day and decide they want to vote someplace new.

Mr. Fund, a columnist for, is author of a forthcoming revised edition of "Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy." (Encounter).

28403  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: November 02, 2007, 10:51:08 AM
Mukasey and the Democrats
Their real target is antiterror interrogation.

Friday, November 2, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Democrats welcomed Michael Mukasey as a "consensus choice" for Attorney General only weeks ago, but incredibly his confirmation is now an open question. The judge's supposed offense is that he has refused to declare "illegal" a single interrogation technique that the CIA has used on rare occasions against mass murderers.

All of the Democratic Presidential candidates have come out against the distinguished judge, and Democrats on the Judiciary Committee appear ready to block his nomination from even reaching the Senate floor. This is remarkable not for what it says about Judge Mukasey but for what it reveals about Democrats and the war on terror. They'd disqualify a man of impeccable judicial temperament and credentials merely because he's willing to give U.S. interrogators the benefit of the legal doubt before he has top-secret clearance.

Could there be a clearer demonstration of why voters don't trust Democrats with national security? In the war against al Qaeda, interrogation and electronic surveillance are our most effective weapons. Yet Democrats have for years waged a guerrilla war against both of these tools, trying to impose procedural and legal limits that can only reduce their effectiveness. Judge Mukasey is merely collateral damage in this larger effort.

Their immediate political figleaf is that the judge won't pre-emptively declare "waterboarding," or simulated drowning, to be illegal. Mr. Mukasey has declared that torture "violates the law and the Constitution, and the President may not authorize it as he is no less bound by constitutional restrictions than any other government official." But he refuses to say whether waterboarding meets the statutory definition of torture based only on "hypothetical facts and circumstances."
This seems fair enough given that he has not been briefed on any of the classified interrogation details (as top Congressional Democrats have been). It also seems wise given that, if confirmed, he will have to read and consider legal memoranda already approved by Justice Department officials on the same subject. How can he declare himself before he's read them?

Most important, his discretion serves the American people by helping to keep our enemies in some doubt about what they will face if they are captured. The reason that CIA interrogation methods are kept highly classified is so that enemy combatants can't use them as a resistance manual. If terrorists know what's coming, they can prepare for it beforehand and better resist.

What's really at stake here is whether U.S. officials are going to have the basic tools required to extract information from America's enemies. As CIA Director Michael Hayden pointed out in a speech this week, "the best sources of information on terrorists and their plans are the terrorists themselves."

Mr. Hayden added that fewer than 100 captives "have gone through the interrogation program since it began in 2002 with the capture of Abu Zubaydah," a top aide to Osama bin Laden and 9/11 plotter. Yet those interrogations have generated "thousands of intelligence reports." More than 70% of the human intelligence that makes it into formal U.S. intelligence estimates "is based on detainee information."

As for waterboarding, it is mostly a political sideshow. The CIA's view seems to be that some version of waterboarding is effective in breaking especially tough cases quickly. Press reports say it has been used only against a few high-value al Qaeda operatives like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Zubaydah. As former CIA Director George Tenet points out in his book "At the Center of the Storm," KSM and others never would have talked about "imminent threats against the American people" had they not been dealt with harshly. "I believe that none of these success would have happened if we had had to treat KSM like a white-collar criminal," he writes.

If Democrats want to strip the CIA of this tool, then they ought to legislate it openly, not make law under the table through the confirmation process. Congress has twice had the chance to ban or criminalize waterboarding, but it declined to do so in both the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 and the Military Commissions Act of 2006. And not for lack of trying: In debating the Military Commissions Act, Ted Kennedy offered a detailed amendment that specifically prohibited waterboarding, as well as other coercive interrogation methods; it lost on the Senate floor, 46-53.

The political calculation here is clear: Democrats want to pander to the antiwar war base of their party that doubts we are even in a war, and in any case wants to treat terrorist detainees no differently than a common street felon. Yet they don't want to be responsible for passing a statute that blocks CIA attempts to gain information that could prevent an imminent terrorist attack. So they dodge and employ ambiguous language that the Justice Department must then interpret. And then they try to run Judge Mukasey out of town because he won't do their political work for them.

In their less cynical moments, some Democrats will admit that a technique like waterboarding may prevent a future attack in extreme cases. "We ought to be reasonable about this," said one Senator at a hearing in 2004. "I think there are probably very few people in this room or in America who would say that torture should never ever be used, particularly if thousands of lives are at stake. . . . It is easy to sit back in the armchair and say that torture can never be used, but when you are in the foxhole it is a very different deal. And I respect, I think we all respect the fact that the President is in the foxhole every day." He added that all of this should be public in order to have "legitimacy."
That Senator? New York Democrat Chuck Schumer, who recommended Judge Mukasey for Attorney General in the first place. Now Mr. Schumer won't say one way or the other whether the judge has his support. If the Democrats reject Mr. Mukasey, it will tell us they simply aren't serious about the realities of the war on terror.

28404  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: November 02, 2007, 10:45:46 AM
Hillary Reveals Her Inner Self
It's startling. It's still 1993 in there, the year before her fall.

Friday, November 2, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

The story isn't that the Democrats finally took on Hillary Clinton. Nor is it that they were gentlemanly to the point of gingerly and tentative. There was an air of "Please, somebody kill her for me so I can jump in and show high minded compassion at her plight!"

Barack Obama, with his elegance and verbal fluency really did seem like that great and famous political figure from his home state of Illinois--Adlai Sevenson, who was not at all hungry, not at all mean, and operated at a step removed from the grubby game. Mr. Obama is like someone who would write in his diaries, "I shall point out Estes Kefauver's manifold inconsistencies, then to luncheon with Arthur and Marietta."

The odd thing is it's easier to be a killer when you know exactly what you stand for, when you have a real philosophy. The philosophy becomes a platform from which you can strike without ambivalence. Mr. Obama seems born to be mild. But still, that's not the story.

Nor is it that John Edwards seems like a furry animal on a wheel, trying so hard, to the point he's getting a facial tic, and getting nowhere, failing to get his little furry paws on his prey, not knowing you have to get off the wheel to get to the prey. You have to stop the rounded, rote, bromidic phrases, and use a normal language that cannot be ignored.

The story is not that Mrs. Clinton signaled, in attitude and demeanor, who she believes is her most dangerous foe, the great impediment between her and an easy glide to the nomination. Yes, that would be Tim Russert.

The story is that she talked about policy. Not talking points, but policy. In talking about it she seemed, for the first time, to be revealing what's inside.

It was startling. It's 1993 in there. The year before her fall, and rise.

I spent a day going over the transcripts so I could quote at length, but her exchanges are all over, it's a real Google-fest. Here, boiled down, is what she said.

Giving illegal immigrants drivers licenses makes sense because it makes sense, but she may not be for it, but undocumented workers should come out of the shadows, and it makes sense. Maybe she will increase the payroll tax on Social Security beyond its current $97,500 limit, to $200,000. Maybe not. Everybody knows what the possibilities are. She may or may not back a 4% federal surcharge on singles making $150,000 a year and couples making $200,000. She suggested she backed it, said she didn't back it, she then called it a good start, or rather "I support and admire" the person proposing such a tax for his "willingness to take this on."

She has been accused of doubletalk and she has denied it. And she is right. It was triple talk, quadruple talk, Olympic level nonresponsiveness. And it was, even for her, rather heavy and smug. Her husband would have had the sense to look embarrassed as he bobbed and weaved. It was part of his charm. But he was light on his feet. She turns every dance into the polka. And it is that amazing thing, a grim polka.

But the larger point is that her policy approach revealed all the impulses not of the New Centrism but the Old Leftism. Her statements were redolent of the 1990s phrase "command and control." They reflect a bias toward the old tax-raising on people who aren't rich, who aren't protected, the old "my friends and I know best, and we'll fill you dullards in on the details later."
For a few years now I've thought the problem for the Democrats in general but for Mrs. Clinton in particular is not that America is against tax increases. They've seen eight years of big spending, of wars, of spiraling entitlements. They've driven by the mansions of the megarich and have no sympathy for hedge fund/movie producer/cosmetics empire heirs. They sense the system is rigged toward the heavily protected. They sense this because they're not stupid.

The problem for Mrs. Clinton is not that people sense she will raise taxes. It's that they don't think she'll raise them on the real and truly rich. The rich are her friends. They contribute to her, dine with her, have access to her. They have an army of accountants. They're protected even from her.

But she can stick it to others, and in the way of modern liberalism for roughly half a century now one suspects she'll define affluence down. That she would hike taxes on people who make $150,000 a year.

But those "rich"--people who make $200,000 and have two kids and a mortgage and pay local and state taxes in, say, New Jersey--they don't see themselves as rich. Because they're not. They're already carrying too much of the freight.

What Mrs. Clinton revealed the other night was more than an unfortunate persona. What I think she revealed was that her baseline thinking has perhaps not changed that much since the 1990s, when she was a headband wearing, power suited, leftist-who-hadn't-been-wounded-yet. It seemed to me she made it quite possible to assume you know who she'll be making war on. And this--much more than the latest scandal, the Chinatown funny money and the bundling--could, and I think would, engender real opposition down the road. The big chink in her armor is not stylistic, it is about policy. It is about the great baseline question in all political life: Whose ox is being gored?

A quick word here on why the scandals I refer to above do not deter Mrs. Clinton's rise. There are people who've made quite a study of her life and times, and buy every book, from the awful ones such as Ed Klein's to the excellent ones, such as Sally Bedell Smith's recent "For Love of Politics," a carefully researched, data-rich compendium on the Clintons' time in the White House.
People who've studied Mrs. Clinton often ask why her ethical corner cutting and scandals have not caught up with her, why the whole history of financial and fund-raising scandals doesn't slow her rise.

In a funny way she's protected by her reputation. It's so well known it's not news. It doesn't make an impression anymore. People have pointed out her ethical lapses for so long that they seem boring, or impossible to believe. "That couldn't be true or she wouldn't be running for president." This thought collides with "And we already know all this anyway." Her campaign uses the latter to squash the latest: "old news," "cash for rehash."

I've never seen anything quite like this dynamic work in modern politics. But the other night, for the first time, I had the feeling maybe it isn't going to work anymore, or with such deadening consistency.

Ms. Noonan is a contributing editor of The Wall Street Journal and author of "John Paul the Great: Remembering a Spiritual Father" (Penguin, 2005), which you can order from the OpinionJournal bookstore. Her column appears Fridays on
28405  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: November 02, 2007, 10:36:12 AM

Jersey City worker triggerman in Pakistan assassination
Friday, November 2nd 2007

Akhtar Hussain Muawia worked in a Jersey City bodega following his alleged assassination of Shia leader Mahmood Shah in Pakistan in 1997.

The store, run by Muawai’s brother-in-law, is suspected of laundering money for a terror group.

A Jersey City grocery clerk had a secret life before he started stocking shelves: He was a Pakistani assassin wanted for a decade-old murder, law enforcement sources said.

Akhtar Hussain Muawia sneaked into the country under an assumed name less than a year after the murder of a top Shia leader, moved in with his sister and worked in his brother-in-law's Mashaallah Grocery, the sources said.

The NYPD unmasked Muawia several months ago when a 30-year-old civilian analyst discovered his true identity, sources said.

Muawia worshiped at the Sunni muslim mosque in Jersey City.

Muawia was arrested in May as the alleged gunman who killed Shia leader Mahmood Shah in Pakistan in 1997, sources said. He is in federal custody fighting deportation.

It's believed the three-aisle bodega laundered money for the terrorist organization Sunni Sipah-e-Sahaba/Pakistan (SSP).

Muawia was allegedly a favored assassin with the SSP, which has been blamed for the massacres of scores of Pakistani civilians as it pushed a pro-Sunni, anti-American agenda.

An SSP cell was first discovered in New York City in 2003, when investigators raided a Brooklyn apartment and found recruitment documents and membership forms, sources said.

Another SSP member was deported after being caught in 2004 photographing the Brooklyn and Williamsburg bridges.

Federal immigration officials arrested Muawia's brother-in-law, Mumtaz Ahmed, 47, last October, as part of a money-laundering investigation, sources said. Muawia was arrested at the same time and charged with being in the country illegally. Ahmed was eventually deported, but Muawia was let go.

Aside from his brush with immigration, Muawia remained under the radar until the NYPD analyst began piecing together his history in February last year.

By March this year, the Ivy League analyst felt he had pulled together enough information to prove the Jersey City grocery clerk was the wanted assassin.

A month later, the NYPD tracked Muawia to Jersey City, and put him under surveillance. The NYPD contacted the Newark Joint Terrorism Task Force and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which arrested him in early May.
28406  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Fred this Sunday on: November 02, 2007, 10:28:53 AM
This Sunday, Fred will be on NBC's Meet the Press as part of their "Meet the Candidates" series. Judging by the questions asked at Tuesday's Democratic Presidential debate any topic could come up: immigration, taxes, national security, even UFOs.

Unlike the debates and the typical news shows, Fred will have time to talk to the American people in a way that doesn't require slick, 10-second sound bites.

What will Fred talk about? The same issues he's talking about when campaigning across the country: securing our borders; ending sanctuary cities; keeping taxes low; taking on the impending entitlement crisis; the protection of life; and abiding by the principles of our Founding Fathers.

Specifically on immigration reform, Fred will continue his fight against letting illegal immigrants get drivers licenses. Hillary Clinton is wrong to allow people who already are breaking the law to get a license that would give them the opportunity to register to vote. Fred will not let lawbreakers continue breaking the law. He has a plan to secure the border and reform the nation's immigration process.

Meet the Press this Sunday will give  Fred another opportunity to show Americans why he's a consistent conservative. Out on the trail one of his most well-received lines is "That's what I was yesterday, that's who I am today, and that's who I will be tomorrow." Unlike other candidates who came late to the conservative movement Fred's track record proves his consistency.

Watch Fred Sunday on NBC.
28407  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Part Two on: November 02, 2007, 06:57:58 AM

They have fielded a wide array of rifles, including Russian SVDs, Romanian PSLs, domestic Al Kadesihs and Tabuks along with commercial sporting rifles and captured American sniper rifles. For the most part, the SVD, PSL, Al Kadesih and 7.62x39mm Tabuk are not noted for their sterling accuracy. However, inside 400 meters they can be quite deadly.

Items captured from a Jihadist sniper team’s vehicle included a Bushnell laser rangefinder, P35 pistol, grenade and video camera used for intelligence gathering and propaganda. Photo courtesy of the USMC

Optics usually consist of Romanian I.O.R., Yugoslavian Zrak and Chinese PSO-1s with a magnification of 4X. Offering the same magnification as our ACOG, these scopes work quite well at this distance. Indexing a man’s head with their chevron reticle is easily accomplished at 300 meters. So, considering the equipment they have, the urban terrain they are operating in and our troops’ body armor, it makes no sense for the insurgents not to close the distance if they are able.

The insurgents have used an array of 7.62x54R ammunition against our troops. Loads identified as currently being used by insurgent snipers against our troops in Iraq include:

7N1 sniper ammunition. This is a dedicated sniper load developed by the Soviets for their SVD sniper rifle. Loaded with a 152-grain bullet, it has a muzzle velocity of 2,723 fps. This ammunition can only be identified by its packaging, which is clearly marked “SNIPER.”

Jihadist snipers will often choose firing positions shielded by civilians/children to prevent our troops from returning fire. Photo courtesy of the 3/7th Cav.

7N13. This is a steel-core ball round capable of penetrating a 10mm-thick grade-2P steel plate 90 percent of the time at 250 meters and 25 percent of the time at 300 meters.

7B-Z-3 (B-32) API. This is a 165-grain Armor Piercing Incendiary round with a muzzle velocity of 2,673 fps. It is claimed to be cable of penetrating a 10mm-thick grade-2P armor plate 80 percent of the time at 200 meters. B-32 cartridges are identified by a color code consisting of a red band beneath a black bullet tip.

7T2M (T-46) Tracer. This is a 152-grain Tracer load with a muzzle velocity of 2,642 fps. It can be identified by a green color code on the bullet tip.

To provide a higher probability of defeating our troops’ body armor, insurgent snipers often use 7.62x54R Armor Piercing and Armor Piercing Incendiary ammunition. A Special Forces friend commented that every PSL magazine they had captured had been loaded with straight API. I noted that one such captured cartridge he gave me was loaded by Russia’s Factory 17 (Barnaul) in 1981. On November 2, 2006, an insurgent sniper used a 7.62x54R AP round to knock L/Cpl Colin Smith from behind his machine-gun turret.

Although everything appears peaceful here, an insurgent sniper could be lurking in one of the cars, behind a window or on a rooftop. Photo courtesy of Dillard Johnson

Smith’s unit was leaving a rural settlement on the edge of Karma, near Fallujah in Iraq’s Anbar Province. They were climbing back into their vehicles after searching several houses when a single shot rang out. Smith, who was peering from behind a gun shield, was hit in the head. The 7.62mm AP round penetrated his Kevlar, passed through his skull and was recovered. Although Smith survived, he fell into a coma. The sniper took the shot from a minimum of 150 yards away using a canal as an obstacle. After firing the shot, he disappeared.

In addition to the 7.62x54R sniper rifles, the insurgents also field 7.62x39mm Tabuks. A domestically produced long-barreled Kalashnikov DMR, the Tabuk was manufactured with assistance from the Serb arms manufacturer Zastava. A friend, LTC Kendrick McCormick, while training Iraqi forces in Iraq, tested an example in unfired condition and shared his results with me.
Firing prone off sandbags at 100 meters using a Russian 6x42mm scope and Chinese-produced steel-core ball ammunition manufactured by Factory 9141 in 1979, he found the weapon capable of posting consistent two-inch groups. He felt that hitting a man-size target at 400 meters would be well within the capabilities of the weapon in the hands of an experienced shooter. This is quite acceptable accuracy for a weapon of this type. Ammunition in this caliber commonly used by insurgent snipers is standard M43-type steel-core ball. Exterior ballistics of this round are fairly poor, so it is best deployed at relatively short ranges.

Despite making a good shot, a sniper failed to kill Marine Pfc. Joshua Hanson when his 7.62mm bullet was stopped by Hanson’s SAPI plate. Photo courtesy of the USMC

In addition to the common Iraqi, there are also experienced foreign snipers operating with the insurgents, some of whom are quite good. The most talked about are the Chechens. Highly regarded due to their experience fighting the Federal Russian Army, they are a dangerous foe. Remember, a Jihad is being waged against the West by radical Muslims, so Jihadists may be of any nationality. As an example, SFC Dillard Johnson and SSG Jared Kennedy of C Troop 3/7 Cav engaged in a duel with an enemy sniper in Salman Pak on December 14, 2005.

At a range of 852 meters, the insurgent put a 7.62x54R round within six inches of SFC Johnson’s head. Smacking on the wall behind him, the round forced him to crawl to another position. Luckily, Johnson was able to locate the insurgent’s position and replied with an M14-based DMR. Adjusting his fire, Johnson hit him with his second shot, while SSG Kennedy killed the insurgent’s spotter with a bigbore Barrett rifle. The insurgent sniper SFC Johnson killed was not Iraqi but rather Syrian. Equipped with a Romanian PSL topped with a commercial German scope, he was suspected of killing more than 20 coalition soldiers.

One important aspect of the Jihadist sniping strategy that should not be overlooked is their value for propaganda purposes. It is the norm for Jihadist snipers in Iraq to videotape their operations for propaganda use on the Internet. Their desire is to arouse coverage by the international media. A friend currently working in Iraq made the comment, “They don’t care about killing soldiers as much as they want the publicity. They want their five minutes of fame to get their message out. Remember, propaganda is the terrorist’s friend.”

(Left) Insurgents often use API ammunition, identified with a black-and-red tip, to enhance their chance of defeating our troops’ body armor. (Right) The 7.62x54R round, in its various loadings, is the workhorse cartridge for insurgent snipers in Iraq. The cartridge shown is a 7N1 sniper load. Photos by Emily K. Fortier

That they are indeed starting to get their message out can be seen by the article “Sniper Attacks Adding Peril to U.S. Troops in Iraq” on the front page of the New York Times published just three days before the November 2006 election. Most of the world believes Americans have a very short attention span and no stomach for body bags. The Jihadists believe that if, having survived the initial U.S. military onslaught, they can successfully play the Vietnam card by keeping U.S. casualties in the news, the American public will cave and they will win. Snipers, especially with the recent Democrat victory, are becoming an important part of this strategy.

Gunners on armored vehicles are favorite targets of insurgent snipers, who attempt to get close enough to take a head shot. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army

Although our enemy is using snipers to a larger and more effective extent then previously, the problem is not something our military cannot handle. In actuality, our troops have been doggedly hunting them down and killing them. Just today I spoke via telephone with one of our snipers in Iraq. He had recently engaged in a duel with three Islamic snipers and killed all of them. Although his story is not one you will see in the liberal media, you can be proud to know our troops are quietly going about their work, making the world a better place for all of us, 175 grains at a time.
28408  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Insurgent Sniping on: November 02, 2007, 06:56:54 AM
Insurgent Sniping In Iraq
A look at how the insurgents are operating and their weapons
By David Fortier

It was only a matter of time before the insurgents in Iraq began to realize the potential of properly employed snipers.

Although U.S. troops have faced snipers in Iraq for years, as of late the danger posed by Jihadist snipers has been growing. Photo by Emily K. Fortier

In stark contrast to merely rattling away with a Kalashnikov in the direction of the infidels—in the belief that “If Allah wills it,” the bullets will fly true”—in recent months insurgent snipers have been more successful at dropping American troops with carefully aimed rifle fire.

In doing so, they have made the lives of our fighting men much more dangerous and stressful. While not classically trained in the Western sense, this new crop of insurgent snipers has nonetheless proven to be adept at firing one well-aimed shot and then displacing before they are located. News of the growing threat of insurgent snipers first spread on the Internet and eventually became a feature story on the front page of the New York Times. As the threat is indeed very real, I felt that it is an appropriate time to share some information I have collected over the past few years, along with my own thoughts on the matter.

As Americans, we have our own opinions on what constitutes both a sniper and sniping. Our Western view demands that a real sniper be school trained in the classical sense. Equipped with a heavy-barreled, bolt-action precision rifle topped with a high-magnification optic, he has the ability to reach 1,000 yards or more. He is trained to estimate distances, read wind/mirage and drills hitting targets far beyond the range of an ordinary rifleman. In addition, his stealth and fieldcraft skills are carefully honed to the point that, properly “ghillied up,” he can move virtually unseen. The end result is a warrior with the ability to spot and engage targets at astonishing distances while remaining undetected. In the Western mind, the longer the successful shot, the more impressive the sniper.

One sniper rifle very commonly employed by insurgent snipers is the Romanian PSL. A simple design, it is capable of acceptable accuracy. Photo by Emily K. Fortier

While there is nothing wrong with this now-traditional Western view, in reality it is just one take on sniping. Keep in mind, the nuts and bolts of sniping is to merely eliminate key targets and/or demoralize and drive fear into the enemy through the use of a rifle. While sniping equipment has changed drastically over the years, the art itself is the same as it was 100 years ago. Its crux is to locate a target without being seen, eliminate it with a single well-placed shot that seems to come from nowhere, then disappear, leaving a frustrated enemy behind who does not know where/when you will strike next. The insurgents in Iraq, despite their deficiencies in equipment and training, have learned to do just that.

How have they managed to accomplish this? Simply put, they have decided not to play by our rules, and in doing so they have turned their weakness into strength. Rather than trying to snipe at our troops at long range, they have instead elected to dramatically close the distance. Through stealth and subterfuge, the Jihadists are often closing with their targets to increase the probability of a successful shot. This allows them to ensure a hit on their chosen target, place their round to bypass our troops’ body-armor hardplates and film the shooting for propaganda purposes.

Spotted while attempting to collect information, an insurgent sniper team using this car was killed by Marine snipers. Note the video camera and captured M40A1 sniper rifle. Photo courtesy of the USMC

One method they have been employing successfully in urban areas is to use a vehicle as a mobile hide. This allows them to move undetected into position to take a shot, then immediately afterward disappear unnoticed into traffic. Typically, a car is modified to both hide the shooter and provide him with a firing/observation port. As an example, in one case a vehicle was disguised to look like it was simply transporting rolled-up blankets. Loaded with these, it could pass through a checkpoint after a quick once-over, as the soldiers/police wouldn’t make the driver unload his entire cargo.

However, beneath the blanket cargo was a hidden space containing a sniper with his weapon. A string allowed him to lower/raise one side of the rear bumper. With the bumper lowered, a hole cut in the car’s bodywork provided a port for the sniper to observe and fire from. In another instance a car was modified by having a hidden compartment added beneath the floor/trunk, between the frame rails.

Another sniper rifle fielded by the insurgents is the 7.62x39mm Tabuk. Built in Iraq with Serb assistance, it is a simple DMR based upon the RPK. Photo courtesy of LTC Kendrick McCormick

This was just large enough to allow a sniper to lie in it with his rifle. Sometimes a tail light will be removed or modified to provide an observation/firing port for a hidden sniper.

When using this method, the driver, who also acts as the spotter, plays an important role. As the sniper has a very limited field of view/fire, the driver must locate the target and then maneuver the car, without being noticed, to provide a clear shot for the sniper. In some instances, once the car is parked the driver will exit the vehicle and stand next to the trunk, where he can observe the area while speaking to the sniper hidden in the vehicle.

There have been occasions in which a third insurgent is used to bring a soldier into the kill zone. As an example, an insurgent posing as a good Samaritan may point out an IED to a patrol to funnel them into the kill zone. Shots of this type are usually taken at very close range with substantial traffic and civilians in the area. This makes it very difficult to locate where the shot came from or to return fire.

Marine Cpl. Daniel M. Greenwald survived being shot in the head thanks to his Kevlar helmet. Photo courtesy of the USMC

The insurgents then choose a specific target. These include, in order of importance to the enemy:

Our snipers. The main threat to a sniper is always another sniper.
Humvee gunners. They can lay down a lot of hate and discontent in a very short amount of time.
Medics. If they shoot the medic, there is no one to treat him or anyone else they shoot.
Chaplains. The insurgents offer a $10,000 bounty for killing a U.S. military religious leader.
Interpreters. This hinders the unit’s ability to interact and gain information from the locals.
Radiomen. This hinders the unit’s ability to communicate, pass on information and request medical assistance.
Leaders. This degrades the unit’s performance and ability to react by removing the men in charge.

All of these targets are easily identified. If a head shot is required, such as on a Humvee gunner sitting behind an armored gunshield, the insurgents will often attempt to get within 50 meters. This allows them to place the shot, even with a 7.62x39mm Tabuk, with surgical accuracy, ensuring a kill. If a body shot is chosen the sniper will aim to by-pass his target’s body armor SAPI hardplates, as these are capable of stopping his round.

Insurgents also improvise sniper rifles and sound suppressors. In this case a Mauser M98 has been fitted with a PSO-1 scope and a home-made suppressor. Photo courtesy of the USMC

To do this, he will shoot a man standing sideways to him in the upper arm. The round will perforate the arm before entering the torso in the region of the armpit. Such a shot will bypass body armor while hitting one or both lungs and possibly the heart. If making such a shot is not possible, the sniper will aim at the center of mass. If the target’s hardplate is not struck, his round will easily penetrate the surrounding Level IIIA soft body armor.

However, if the round is stopped by his target’s hardplate, the sniper hopes the shock of getting shot will at least cause his target to fall down. Insurgent snipers normally videotape their shots for propaganda purposes. So if an American soldier falls down after being shot in his SAPI plate, even if he gets back up it is still useful for propaganda purposes on the Internet.
As an example, Marine L/Cpl Edward Knuth was hit in his SAPI plate while his squad searched a market. Although the bullet was stopped, the impact knocked him to his knees. Another Marine dragged him to cover, then his unit rushed a line of cars, but the sniper had escaped.

Three common 7.62x54R sniper rifles seen in the hands of insurgent snipers in Iraq are, left to right, the Soviet SVD, Iraqi Al Kadesih and Romanian PSL. Photo by Emily K. Fortier

After the shot is taken the sniper team’s vehicle will casually pull out into traffic. In doing so, it will disappear before the target’s comrades even realize what just happened. A spotter, often riding on a Moped to enable him to move easily through traffic, then searches for a new target. When he locates one, he contacts the sniper team and the cycle begins again.

A Jihadist sniper operating in such a manner was recently killed in Baghdad. Luckily, he aroused the suspicion of an American sniper team he was preparing to engage. In the ensuing exchange, the Muslim got off the first shot but missed at a range of 225 yards. The American sniper put an end to the Jihadist’s career by punching a 175-grain Sierra MatchKing through the rear quarterpanel of the car, killing him.

Another Jihadist sniper operating in the Baghdad area plied his trade shooting from overpasses at oncoming military vehicles. An above-average rifleman, he was quite successful for a time in this fashion. His method was fairly simple. He would note what route a convoy or patrol would use in a particular area and pick his position accordingly.

Insurgent snipers try to carefully choose their targets for maximum effect. High on their list are medics, chaplains, interpreters, radiomen, leaders and heavy-weapon operators. Photo courtesy of the USMC

He would choose an overpass that the convoy/patrol would travel directly beneath. Then, as the convoy/patrol approached he would pick out a specific vehicle and fire a single shot at the driver at a range of approximately 150 meters. Considering the angle, speed of the target and deflection from the windshield, this particular sniper was fairly skilled with a rifle. I was told he killed 10 of our soldiers, including four headshots in a single-day, using this method. Equipped with a commercial Remington 700 hunting rifle in .308 Winchester, he was subsequently killed by U.S. forces.

On November 3, 2006, northwest of Baghdad in Karma, Iraq, a Jihadist sniper struck a patrol from the Second Battalion, Eighth Marines. After letting one fire team pass through his kill zone, he placed his scope’s aiming chevron on the right biceps of L/Cpl Juan Valdez-Castillo, the unit’s radio operator. At the shot, Valdez-Castillo fell heavily against a stone wall. The 7.62mm round passed through his right upper arm; entered his side, collapsing his lung; and exited his back.

Upon seeing one of his men down, the unit’s squad leader, Sgt. Jesse E. Leach, sprang forward. Disregarding his own safety, he entered the kill zone, grabbed Valdez-Castillo’s drag handle and hauled him through ankle-deep mud to safety.

With some concealment between them and the sniper, Sgt. Leach administered first aid, and Valdez-Castillo was safely evacuated. The insurgent fired from a distance of not less than 150 meters from an area with numerous civilians in it. He fired a single round, hit exactly at his point of aim and refused to compromise his position by firing more than one shot. After firing, he displaced to a different location and was not found.

A Marine sniper team hunts terrorists in Iraq. Although insurgent snipers are growing more effective, our boys continue to hunt them down and kill them. Photo courtesy of the USMC

The vast majority of shots taken by insurgent snipers in Iraq are at targets within 400 meters. While this may seem relatively short, it is actually in line with sniper actions during both world wars. The shorter ranges also favor the sniper rifles and optics commonly available to the insurgents.
28409  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Crimes using knives on: November 02, 2007, 06:48:53 AM
Knives, Not Guns, Have Been Weapon of Choice in Campus Crimes, Study Finds
By Ian Shapira
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 2, 2007; A09

More than 3 percent of 17 million crimes reported from 2000 through 2004 occurred at schools, colleges and universities, with knives being the most commonly used weapon, according to an FBI study released yesterday.

The Crime in Schools and Colleges study, which gathered data from about a third of the nation's law enforcement agencies, showed that the most commonly used weapon in more than 558,000 campus-related crimes over the five-year span was a knife -- not counting fists and feet, which accounted for most of the incidents.

Almost 11,000 incidents included a blade, and more than 3,400 included a firearm.

"I didn't realize how significant that discrepancy was" between knives and guns, said Dave Resch, the FBI's unit chief of behavior analysis. He said that finding surprised him the most. "These kids aren't building these knives in shop class. . . . These knives are coming from somewhere."

The bureau's first study of crime at schools offers a rough portrait of threats facing the country's education staff and students, from those in elementary school to those in college. About 96 percent of the crimes in which an arrest was made were assaults (simple or aggravated) or acts of intimidation.

The largest group arrested for crimes at school for which age was known was 13- to 15-year-olds, accounting for 38 percent of those arrested. More than 76 percent, or 313,556, of those arrested were males. Year after year, October was the month in which the most crimes occurred.
More than half of all campus crimes involved acquaintances. About 7.5 percent involved an attack by a stranger. There were reports of 3,700 such random assaults in 2004, up from 2,301 in 2000.

FBI officials cautioned against drawing conclusions about trends. Although the study shows the number and type of crimes that occurred annually over a five-year period, officials said that the number of law enforcement agencies that participated fluctuated from year to year. The agencies that gave data reflect about 22 percent of the country's population, officials said.

Still, Resch said that attacks by strangers -- such as the shooting rampage at Virginia Tech in April -- are alarming, in part because schools are growing more crowded each year, which can easily fuel tension.
"You get bumped in the hallway 20 years ago, and you kind of know the guy," Resch said. "Now, schools are so much bigger than they used to be."
28410  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: November 02, 2007, 05:28:29 AM
Ex-marine store owner overcomes gun in face and shoots
28411  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers: on: November 02, 2007, 05:23:20 AM
"It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and, at no distant
period, a great Nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and
too novel example of a People always guided by an exalted justice
and benevolence."

-- George Washington (Farewell Address, 19 September 1796)

Reference: George Washington: A Collection, W.B. Allen, ed. (522)
28412  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans on: November 01, 2007, 09:31:32 PM

Retired Air Force Brigadier General Paul Tibbets, who piloted the B-29 that dropped the first atomic bomb on Japan and hastened the end of World War II has died. He was 92.

Gerry Newhouse, a longtime friend of the family, said that General Tibbets passed away Thursday at his home in Columbus, Ohio. General Tibbets suffered from a variety of ailments, and Newhouse said his health had been in decline in recent months.

Tibbets requested no funeral and no headstone, fearing it would provide a protest site for his detractors, Newhouse said.

As a 30-year-old Air Force Colonel, Tibbets drew the assignment to drop the first atomic bomb on a Japanese city in August 1945, in hopes of ending the war. Barely one year earlier, he assumed command of the new, 509th Composite Group, then stationed at Wendover Field, Utah.

Tibbets was already a combat veteran when he took the reins of the 509th. He had served as a bomber squadron commander in Europe--leading the first B-17 mission over Europe in 1942--and flew combat missions in the Mediterranean Theater. Various accounts described Tibbets as the "best bomber pilot" in the Army Air Corps, and his outstanding record prompted his selection to lead the new unit.

Over the months that followed, Tibbets trained his unit for their nuclear mission, although details of the project remained highly classified. The specially-modified B-29s assigned to the 509th were built to Silverplate specifications, the first aircraft designed to carry nuclear weapons. The B-29s were assembled at a Glenn L. Martin Company plant in Omaha, Nebraska, then delivered to the group before it deployed to the Pacific.

Unlike "conventional" B-29s, the Silverplate models carried no defensive guns or extensive armor plating, and their multiple bomb bays were replaced with a single, 33-foot-long opening, designed to accomodate early nuclear weapons. Tibbets reportedly hand-picked the bombers for modification; he named his own Enola Gay, in honor of his mother.

At 2:45 a.m. (local time) on August 6, 1945, Tibbets was at the controls of the Enola Gay as it lifted off from the 509th's forward base on Tinian, in the Marianas Islands. Five-and-a-half hours later, Tibbets and his crew dropped their weapon, nicknamed "Little Boy" on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The ensuring blast and fire killed an estimated 60,000 Japanese, including military personnel, civilians and a small number of allied POWs imprisoned in the city. Thousands of other Japanese died later, from the long-term effects of radiation exposure.

But the mission acheived its objective. After a second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki three days later, Japan capitulated, averting the need for a U.S.-led invasion of the enemy homeland. By some estimates, that operation would have resulted in millions of American and Japanese casualties.

While the decision to use nuclear weapons on Japan grew controversial in the years that followed, General Tibbets--to his ever-lasting credit--expressed no regrets about the mission. As he told an reporter from the Columbus Dispatch two years ago:

“I knew when I got the assignment it was going to be an emotional thing,” Tibbets told the Columbus Dispatch for a story on Aug. 6, 2005, the 60th anniversary of the bomb. “We had feelings, but we had to put them in the background. We knew it was going to kill people right and left. But my one driving interest was to do the best job I could so that we could end the killing as quickly as possible.”

He expressed similar thoughts in a 1975 interview. He described the mission as "his patriotic duty--the right thing to do."

“I’m not proud that I killed 80,000 people, but I’m proud that I was able to start with nothing, plan it and have it work as perfectly as it did,” he said in a 1975 interview.

“You’ve got to take stock and assess the situation at that time. We were at war. ... You use anything at your disposal.”

He added: “I sleep clearly every night.”
Rest in peace, General Tibbets. You will rightfully be remembered as a warrior and a patriot, a man whose willingness to tackle the most difficult of assignments brought and end to a war--and spared millions of lives in the process.

However, it is regrettable that there will be no permanent tomb or headstone to mark the final resting spot of an American hero; unfortunately, those observations about your detractors are painfully correct. Thanks to seven decades of revisionist history and villification, the burial spot of the Enola Gay's pilot would become a gathering point for the kook fringe, lesser men (and women) with no appreciation for your service, rendered in the cause of freedom.
28413  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mil-blogs: Michael Yon and others (support our troops) on: November 01, 2007, 11:14:19 AM
Iraqi Islamic Party says, “Al Qaeda is Defeated.”
O1 November 2007
Iraqi Islamic Party: “Al Qaeda is Defeated”

“Al Qaeda in Iraq is defeated,” according to Sheik Omar Jabouri, spokesman for the Iraqi Islamic Party and a member of the widespread and influential Jabouri Tribe. Speaking through an interpreter at a 31 October meeting at the Iraqi Islamic Party headquarters in downtown Baghdad, Sheik Omar said that al Qaeda had been “defeated mentally, and therefore is defeated physically,” referring to how clear it has become that the terrorist group’s tactics have backfired. Operatives who could once disappear back into the crowd after committing an increasingly atrocious attack no longer find safe haven among the Iraqis who live in the southern part of Baghdad.  They are being hunted down and killed.  Or, if they are lucky, captured by Americans.

Colonel Ricky Gibbs, the American brigade commander with responsibility for the Rashid District in south Baghdad today told me, “So goes South Baghdad goes Baghdad.”  General Petraeus had told me similar things about the importance of South Baghdad. In fact, Rashid is quickly developing into what might be one of the final serious battlegrounds of the war.

During the meeting, another member of the Iraqi Islamic Party said that al Qaeda has changed its strategy now that fomenting civil war between Sunni and Shia has backfired. Al Qaeda has shifted targets, now trying to generate friction between tribes. This time, however, the tribes are onto the game early, and they are not playing.

Sheik Omar, who has gained the respect of American combat leaders for his intelligence and organizational skills, said the tough line against al Qaeda is also enforced at the tribal level. According to Sheik Omar, the Jabouri tribe, too, is actively committed to destroying al Qaeda. So much so, that Jabouri tribal leaders have decided they would “kill their own sons” if any aided al Qaeda. To underscore the point, he went on to say that about 70 Jabouri “sons” had been killed by the Jabouri tribe so far.

In addition to brigade commander Colonel Ricky Gibbs, four of his battalion commanders were also present: Lieutenant Colonels James Crider, Patrick Frank, Stephen Michael and Myron Reineke.  Sheik Omar expressed deep gratitude for their assistance.

Omar’s influence extends beyond tribal and party levels, to include important channels within the Iraqi government and the US military in Baghdad, as evidenced by the agenda of the hours-long meeting. But for the talk about al Qaeda, the focus was mostly on other topics, such as returning displaced persons to their homes, efficiently delivering basic services and jumpstarting the economy. In fact, more and more meetings in Iraq are turning to day-to-day business, and less time is required on military and security topics like targeting and addressing intelligence-type matters, which until recently monopolized most meetings across Iraq.

Michael Yon
28414  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: November 01, 2007, 10:33:18 AM
My Nobel Moment
November 1, 2007; Page A19

I've had a lot of fun recently with my tiny (and unofficial) slice of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). But, though I was one of thousands of IPCC participants, I don't think I will add "0.0001 Nobel Laureate" to my resume.

The other half of the prize was awarded to former Vice President Al Gore, whose carbon footprint would stomp my neighborhood flat. But that's another story.

Large icebergs in the Weddell Sea, Antarctica. Winter sea ice around the continent set a record maximum last month.
Both halves of the award honor promoting the message that Earth's temperature is rising due to human-based emissions of greenhouse gases. The Nobel committee praises Mr. Gore and the IPCC for alerting us to a potential catastrophe and for spurring us to a carbonless economy.

I'm sure the majority (but not all) of my IPCC colleagues cringe when I say this, but I see neither the developing catastrophe nor the smoking gun proving that human activity is to blame for most of the warming we see. Rather, I see a reliance on climate models (useful but never "proof") and the coincidence that changes in carbon dioxide and global temperatures have loose similarity over time.

There are some of us who remain so humbled by the task of measuring and understanding the extraordinarily complex climate system that we are skeptical of our ability to know what it is doing and why. As we build climate data sets from scratch and look into the guts of the climate system, however, we don't find the alarmist theory matching observations. (The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite data we analyze at the University of Alabama in Huntsville does show modest warming -- around 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit per century, if current warming trends of 0.25 degrees per decade continue.)

It is my turn to cringe when I hear overstated-confidence from those who describe the projected evolution of global weather patterns over the next 100 years, especially when I consider how difficult it is to accurately predict that system's behavior over the next five days.

Mother Nature simply operates at a level of complexity that is, at this point, beyond the mastery of mere mortals (such as scientists) and the tools available to us. As my high-school physics teacher admonished us in those we-shall-conquer-the-world-with-a-slide-rule days, "Begin all of your scientific pronouncements with 'At our present level of ignorance, we think we know . . .'"

I haven't seen that type of climate humility lately. Rather I see jump-to-conclusions advocates and, unfortunately, some scientists who see in every weather anomaly the specter of a global-warming apocalypse. Explaining each successive phenomenon as a result of human action gives them comfort and an easy answer.

Others of us scratch our heads and try to understand the real causes behind what we see. We discount the possibility that everything is caused by human actions, because everything we've seen the climate do has happened before. Sea levels rise and fall continually. The Arctic ice cap has shrunk before. One millennium there are hippos swimming in the Thames, and a geological blink later there is an ice bridge linking Asia and North America.

One of the challenges in studying global climate is keeping a global perspective, especially when much of the research focuses on data gathered from spots around the globe. Often observations from one region get more attention than equally valid data from another.

The recent CNN report "Planet in Peril," for instance, spent considerable time discussing shrinking Arctic sea ice cover. CNN did not note that winter sea ice around Antarctica last month set a record maximum (yes, maximum) for coverage since aerial measurements started.

Then there is the challenge of translating global trends to local climate. For instance, hasn't global warming led to the five-year drought and fires in the U.S. Southwest?

Not necessarily.

There has been a drought, but it would be a stretch to link this drought to carbon dioxide. If you look at the 1,000-year climate record for the western U.S. you will see not five-year but 50-year-long droughts. The 12th and 13th centuries were particularly dry. The inconvenient truth is that the last century has been fairly benign in the American West. A return to the region's long-term "normal" climate would present huge challenges for urban planners.

Without a doubt, atmospheric carbon dioxide is increasing due primarily to carbon-based energy production (with its undisputed benefits to humanity) and many people ardently believe we must "do something" about its alleged consequence, global warming. This might seem like a legitimate concern given the potential disasters that are announced almost daily, so I've looked at a couple of ways in which humans might reduce CO2 emissions and their impact on temperatures.

California and some Northeastern states have decided to force their residents to buy cars that average 43 miles-per-gallon within the next decade. Even if you applied this law to the entire world, the net effect would reduce projected warming by about 0.05 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100, an amount so minuscule as to be undetectable. Global temperatures vary more than that from day to day.

Suppose you are very serious about making a dent in carbon emissions and could replace about 10% of the world's energy sources with non-CO2-emitting nuclear power by 2020 -- roughly equivalent to halving U.S. emissions. Based on IPCC-like projections, the required 1,000 new nuclear power plants would slow the warming by about 0.2 ?176 degrees Fahrenheit per century. It's a dent.

But what is the economic and human price, and what is it worth given the scientific uncertainty?

My experience as a missionary teacher in Africa opened my eyes to this simple fact: Without access to energy, life is brutal and short. The uncertain impacts of global warming far in the future must be weighed against disasters at our doorsteps today. Bjorn Lomborg's Copenhagen Consensus 2004, a cost-benefit analysis of health issues by leading economists (including three Nobelists), calculated that spending on health issues such as micronutrients for children, HIV/AIDS and water purification has benefits 50 to 200 times those of attempting to marginally limit "global warming."

Given the scientific uncertainty and our relative impotence regarding climate change, the moral imperative here seems clear to me.

Mr. Christy is director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and a participant in the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, co-recipient of this year's Nobel Peace Prize.

28415  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: November 01, 2007, 09:45:47 AM
Dollar Ben
November 1, 2007; Page A18
Watching the U.S. currency continue to decline in value, our irreverent friends at the New York Sun have stopped referring to the dollar. They now call it "the Bernanke," in mock honor of the Federal Reserve Chairman who is presiding over the greenback's plunge. With another rate cut yesterday, Ben Bernanke and the Fed are continuing to act as if they like the Sun's moniker.

At least this time the Fed accompanied its rate cut with a statement acknowledging that "some inflation risks remain" and that it will "act as needed to foster price stability" and economic growth. This time there was also a dissenter, with Kansas City Fed President Thomas Hoenig opposing the rate cut. Perhaps he's been paying attention to the super-rally in inflation-sensitive price signals since the Fed declared in September that it put a higher priority on limiting the housing recession than on the value of the currency.

Commodities have soared, including oil, which passed $94 a barrel yesterday; predictions of $100 oil are commonplace. Some politicians are blaming tensions with Iran for the oil spike, but those tensions have ebbed and flowed for several years. What has mostly flowed is the supply of dollars, and so some part of oil's increase should be called the Alan Greenspan-Ben Bernanke inflation premium. To the extent higher oil prices slow economic growth, they also defeat the stated purpose of the Fed's rate cuts.

The dollar price of gold is also reaching heights not seen since 1980, closing near $800 an ounce yesterday. Gold is not some magic talisman, but it has served throughout history as a reasonable proxy for other prices. The nearby chart shows the trend since 1971, and if nothing else the recent gold rally is a market commentary on the Fed's priorities. The speculators think the risk is all on the inflation side. Meanwhile, the dollar -- "the Bernanke" -- also hit a record low against the euro yesterday.

For the Fed and most of Wall Street, this is all worth any future inflation risk. The Fed is guarding against the danger that the recent credit-market turmoil will send the larger economy into a recession. The bankers holding bad mortgage assets are also cheering easier money, as they beg for a housing reflation so they don't have to take even larger write-offs. Then there are the exporters and economists who think the U.S. can devalue its way to prosperity, or at least to a few quarters of export-driven expansion until the housing market hits bottom.

Lost in all of this domestic focus is the fact that there are also major risks to the Fed's reflation. The Fed isn't merely a creature of U.S. policy but is the steward of the global financial system. The dollar is the world's reserve currency. It is vital as a medium of global trade and investment, and central banks hold hundreds of billions of dollars as reserves. Many countries peg their own currencies to the greenback, meaning that they are subcontracting their own monetary policies to the Fed. These countries import American inflation when the Fed makes a mistake.

All of which means the Fed has a special responsibility to avoid a disruption in the world monetary system. In particular, it needs to avoid the perception that it favors a devalued greenback for narrow domestic purposes, lest it signal to countries around the world that they can play the same game. The recent cry of concern over the dollar by Rodrigo Rato, the departing head of the International Monetary Fund, is a sign that the world is beginning to wonder.

In the worst case, the world could lose faith in U.S. monetary management and there would be a run on the dollar. Then the Fed would have no choice but to raise rates much higher and faster to restore its credibility, and the recession that followed would be far worse. That's what happened as recently as the 1970s, the last time gold and oil reached these heights and the dollar was this weak. In that era, as in this one, the excuse for easier money was always to save the U.S. economy from recession. In that era, too, the rise in oil prices, gold and other commodities was blamed on everything except monetary policy -- OPEC, or rising global demand or something.

We rehearse all this not to say we are back at the 1970s but as a warning that we can get there faster than the sages at the Fed imagine. Yesterday's report that third-quarter economic growth clocked in at 3.9%, following 3.8% in the second, already shows that most Wall Street forecasters were wrong earlier this year. The Fed is worried about growth after the summer credit implosion, to be sure. But if the economy defies the forecasters again, the Fed could be raising rates faster than it now expects. The dollar's credibility as the world's reserve currency may depend on it.
28416  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia on: November 01, 2007, 09:18:51 AM
Garry Kasparov, Dissident
Running for president in Russia is a dangerous enterprise.

Thursday, November 1, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

One of the current truisms of the news business is that the Internet has shrunk the world, and that everyone knows everything from the Web the moment it happens. Yet sometimes, we know nothing. Last month, the former world chess champion Garry Kasparov announced his candidacy for the presidency of Russia, to be decided in March. The world shrugged at the Kasparov candidacy, and went back to surfing the Web.

Is this because we in the wired world already know all there is to know about what's up in 21st century Russia? Or in fact are we clueless about the place Churchill described as the deepest enigma? Garry Kasparov believes the latter, and so as leader of a grab-bag coalition called Other Russia, he has undertaken his doomed effort to succeed Vladimir Putin. He works hard to get his message out in the West, but he is given relatively short shrift by the professional skeptics among the Western media and its intellectuals. Yes, he has no chance, but the inattention is a mistake.

I believe Garry Kasparov should be regarded as Russia's first post-Soviet dissident. Starting in the 1960s, deep in the Cold War, the world essentially put under its protective custody a generation of anti-Soviet dissidents. Their names became household names--Sakharov, Sharansky, Bukovsky, Medvedev, Sinyavsky, Kopelev, others. Solzhenitsyn, too hot to handle, was exiled in 1974.

The primary reason for analogizing Mr. Kasparov to these dissidents is not for his opposition to the Putin government and his views on Mr. Putin, though these are worth listening to. The more relevant reason is that he believes his life is in danger.

In an interview this past weekend for "The Journal Editorial Report" on Fox cable news, Mr. Kasparov spoke with his characteristic force and animation about what he believes are the underlying weaknesses of a Russia that looks to be thriving under Mr. Putin. Mr. Kasparov was scheduled to fly back to Russia a few days after the interview, and at the end he was asked if he feared for his safety. One could not help but notice that his answer came after a brief but obvious hesitation.
"Yes," he said, "I am. I'm afraid, my family's afraid. It's our greatest concern."

Why? Logic argues against killing Mr. Kasparov. The street demonstrations in Moscow by his group number in the low thousands (though they attract truncheon attacks by a small army of police agents). A murder would make him a martyr in Russia, where he is still revered as a Soviet and Russian hero. As a political threat, he is a fly on the back of the Putin rhinoceros.

But this is Russia. For all the same reasons one could have said the same of the Russian journalists killed or mysteriously dead there in recent years. Their names are also a "dissident" list: Ivan Safronov of Kommersant, Iskandar Khatloni of Radio Free Europe, Paul Klebnikov of Forbes Russia, Anna Politkovskaya of Novaya Gazeta. Freedom House estimates some two dozen journalists have been killed since Mr. Putin came to power. Earlier this month, in Prague and Washington, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty held symposiums on the status of Russian media, tied to the first anniversary of Ms. Politkovskaya's murder. Mr. Kasparov was there. Other than the Washington Times, the symposiums received virtually no press coverage in the West.

Mr. Kasparov is no political dilettante. His first article on the status of democracy in Russia appeared on this page in August 1991. He was 28 years old. He came to our offices near the World Trade Center for lunch, and one has to say that at first it was hard to set aside that the fellow discoursing over Chinese food on the West's unseemly affection for Mikhail Gorbachev possessed the most mammoth chess brain in history.

We made him a contributing editor to the Journal editorial page, and in the years since he has written often for these pages on Russia's wild ride to its current state. Across 16 years, Mr. Kasparov's commitment to democratic liberty in Russia and in its former republics has been unstinting. At that September 1991 lunch, Mr. Kasparov proposed an idea then anathema to elite thinking in Washington and the capitals of Western Europe: The West should announce support for the independence of the former Soviet republics--the Baltics, Ukraine, Armenia, Georgia, Moldova and the rest.

One suspects that Vladimir Putin noticed what the young chess champion was saying in 1991 about the old Soviet empire. The Russian president has famously said, "The demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century."

Russia today is not what it was. Mr. Kasparov, however, has not stopped analyzing what it has become. Briefly, he argues that Mr. Putin's internal and external politics should be seen almost wholly as a function of oil prices, the primary source of revenue for the Russian state and the prop beneath the extended Putin political family. Mr. Putin's "unhelpful" policies on Iran and the like, Mr. Kasparov argues, keep the oil markets boiling--but not boiling over. Money in the bank, at $94 a barrel. He says Mr. Putin is the glue that binds this fabulously wealthy family, and if he left politics in any real sense they would start killing each other.

As to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's argument that the West needed Mr. Putin inside the G-7 structure so it could "influence" him, the former chess champion replies: "Occasionally you have to look at the results of your brilliant theories." Bringing Mr. Putin in as G No. 8, he says, "jeopardized the whole concept of this club, seven great industrial democracies."
Arguably these views make Mr. Kasparov a dissident even in the increasingly cynical, "pragmatic" West. To their credit, the West's political elites in the 1970s protected the Soviet Union's dreamers. Today Mr. Putin wants Russia to be seen again as dangerous. It is that. Garry Kasparov deserves protection. He stands for something important. A word from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue would be a start.

Mr. Henninger is deputy editor of The Wall Street Journal's editorial page. His column appears Thursdays in the Journal and on

28417  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues on: November 01, 2007, 08:42:17 AM

Spotting deception in suspect responses about weapons   
Submitted by:
Officer Richard Johnson, Largo (FL) PD


As patrol officers, we frequently ask people, "Do you have any weapons?" The normal response is "No." Any other response should tell you "Yes!" When a subject is trying to be deceptive, they will often pause, stammer, hem & haw, change the subject, etc. to change the focus from what they are hiding; in this case a weapon. If they are being deceptive about being armed, act immediately!
Review the incredibly sad video of South Carolina Trooper Mark Coates when he is shot and killed by Richard Blackburn during a traffic stop. Coates asked Blackburn, "Do you have any weapons?" and Blackburn doesn't answer directly. Rather he says, " know." A short time later, he produces a .22 caliber handgun and shoots Trooper Coates. Recognizing this hesitant, deceptive behavior saved my life. Interviewing a shoplifting suspect, I asked, "Do you have any weapons?" Much like the Blackburn, he responded, " know." Fortunately, I reacted immediately and was able to disarm him as he tried to pull a combat knife out of his pants. What I didn't know at the time was that he was wanted for attempting to kill a police officer elsewhere in the state. Look for and recognize deception when it comes to weapons and act immediately when you encounter it.

28418  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: November 01, 2007, 07:34:25 AM
Geopolitical Diary: The Lead-up to a Diplomatic Orgy

Wednesday was another day of geopolitical drama involving the usual suspects: Iran, the United States and Russia. The highlights included:
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki visited Baghdad for talks with his Iraqi counterpart, Hoshyar Zebari, and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. During the discussions, Mottaki said his country is open to holding a new round of talks with the United States over Iraq's security, and that Tehran plans to bring a new proposal to the table. Mottaki was so busy in Baghdad that he even canceled a trip to Lebanon scheduled for the same day.

The Tajik Foreign Ministry said U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) Adm. William Fallon had unexpectedly postponed his two-day visit to Tajikistan by a few weeks. No explanation followed. This announcement comes as the United States and Russia move toward a compromise over ballistic missile defense (BMD) and the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty. CENTCOM visits to Tajikistan generally unnerve Russia, and the sudden cancellation of Fallon's trip appears to be a polite U.S. gesture to Moscow.

Following Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's Oct. 30 trip to Tehran, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad expressed his commitment to cooperating with the International Atomic Energy Agency on his country's nuclear program. While this might prove to be merely talk, it is a notable shift in Iran's tone.

A Kremlin spokesman said Turkey needs to exercise restraint in its pursuit of Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq so as not to stir up greater instability in the country -- a statement that could very well have come from the White House. There is no need for Russia to comment on this issue, in which it has no real stake -- unless it was attempting to throw a bone to the Americans.
Alone, each of these developments makes little sense. But Stratfor readers by now are well aware of the three-way game being played by the Americans, Russians and Iranians. The United States is looking for a comprehensive agreement with the Iranians over Iraq, and the Russians are looking to compromise with Washington over BMD and CFE (and Moscow is more than willing to use the Iranians as a tool to achieve this). Finally, the Iranians are looking to bolster their deterrent strategy by aligning with the Russians before engaging in serious talks with the United States over Iraq.

Each of these powers is playing the other two off one another in pursuit of its own interests -- with a very murky idea of how all this will play out. There is definite movement on all sides, but it is still anyone's guess as to where things will end up. Two weeks ago, the Iranians and Russians were squeezing the Americans. But things have taken a turn in the past week, with the Russians and the Americans now putting the squeeze on Iran. Soon enough, the Iranians and the Americans could end up working together, leaving the Russians in a tight spot.

And if you think Wednesday's chaos was something, just wait until Nov. 2, when all of these players will meet in the same room. A two-day international conference on Iraqi security is set to be held in Istanbul, and foreign ministers from each of the U.N. Security Council member countries -- as well as from Iraq's neighbors and a host of other states -- will attend. Though Ankara called this meeting to discuss the ongoing tensions in northern Iraq, the Iranians, Russians and Americans have bigger things on their minds. With this many powers in one place, there will be ample opportunities for private chats, secret handshakes and unsolicited intervention, making this diplomatic orgy all the more intriguing.

28419  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers: on: November 01, 2007, 06:56:24 AM

"It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth
can stand by itself. Subject opinion to coercion: whom will you
make your inquisitors?"

-- Thomas Jefferson (Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 17,

Reference: Jefferson: Writings, Peterson ed., Library of America
28420  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iraq: Shia vs. Sunni in Baghdad on: October 31, 2007, 12:27:17 PM
In Baghdad Neighborhood,
A Tale of Shifting Fortunes
October 31, 2007; Page A1

BAGHDAD -- In many neighborhoods across the Iraqi capital, Shiite Muslims have defeated their Sunni cousins in the civil war that's raged here over the past two years.

Shiites, marginalized under Saddam Hussein, have been able to seize real estate, businesses and municipal services from Sunnis. A mafia-like network of Shiite militias has engineered the takeover of entire neighborhoods. Of the 51 members on Baghdad's City Council, only one is Sunni; the police are almost entirely Shia.

Riyad Obaidi, center, standing next to policeman in blue cap, in Sayidia.
The central government here says the violence is winding down, and the U.S. military points out that civilian deaths have declined recently. But a new, quieter chapter of the civil war is unfolding. Shiite groups are trying to consolidate their on-the-ground gains and push into neighborhoods that have so far eluded their control. The Sunnis, pressed into a corner, are looking for new ways to fight back. In some cases, they've joined their former American enemies as allies.

Nowhere is this dynamic more evident than in the city's Sayidia section, a majority-Sunni enclave where Sunnis and Shiites had lived in relative peace. While other pockets of Sunni resistance remain, this district of 30,000 has emerged as the biggest theater in the battle against Shiite militants.

In February, a white sedan swerved and flipped over in front of Riyad Obaidi's home in Sayidia. The passengers clambered out and ran. Hearing a tapping sound, Mr. Obaidi approached the car and opened the trunk. A hog-tied and terrified elderly Sunni man tumbled out.

Shiite gunmen had just killed the man's son, the captive said, and packed the father off for a bumpy ride to an almost-certain death. Mr. Obaidi, a Sunni himself, had just fled to Sayidia after Shiite militias overran his old neighborhood. Shocked by the man's story, he decided to join a local band of Sunni fighters.

"When Sunnis were displaced from other areas, Sayidia became the most important place for us," he says.

Shiite forces now control more than half of Baghdad's neighborhoods. Shiite Arabs comprise roughly 60% of Iraq's total population; the remaining 40% are split between Sunni Arabs and Kurds, plus a few smaller minority groups.

Under Saddam Hussein, Sayidia, almost 70% Sunni, was home to many ranking military officers and educated elite. Well-off professionals lived here, too. Its shopping streets were among the best in the capital. "You used to see castles, not just houses, with swimming pools. It was a very rich area," says Abu Ibrahim, a dentist who used to live there.

Karim Obaidi, Riyad Obaidi's brother and a colonel in Mr. Hussein's air force, remembers the 2003 fall of Baghdad with remorse. "It was the first time in my life that I cried," Karim recalls. The Americans disbanded the Iraqi army, and the veteran fighter pilot took off his uniform, came back home to Sayidia and joined the anti-American resistance.

Other unemployed military officers from the area joined the insurgency, but the neighborhood itself remained relatively peaceful. Sayidia still held traces of its old affluence as late as last October. Shops were open, people were trimming hedges in front of their homes, and trash was collected on time.

But all around the district, other neighborhoods were falling under the sway of Shiite militants. The broader municipal area that includes Sayidia, known as West Rashid, is home to some 800,000 residents, or about one-fifth of Baghdad's total population. American officers stationed here have watched as Shiite militias made steady inroads. "Within West Rashid, the Shia have gained a lot of neighborhoods that weren't Shia in 2003," says U.S. Army Maj. John Cross.

Reconciliation is crucial to making Iraq a functioning state -- and a key condition for the eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops. But as Baghdad's few mixed areas yield to Shiite forces, that goal becomes harder to achieve. "If communities and their leaders can come together in mixed neighborhoods and hammer out some understandings, that's critical," says Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq.

Riyad Obaidi used to manage some 200 small shops in a mixed neighborhood next to Sayidia. Shopkeepers paid him rent. But when his leases came up for renewal, local Shiite militants muscled him out and told him to leave the area, he says. Around the same time, another Obaidi brother who ran a parking lot nearby was strangled with a rubber cord. Mr. Obaidi got the message and fled to Sayidia, where his brother, the colonel, lived. It was fast becoming the only safe haven for Sunnis in West Rashid.

Things weren't that way for long. Shiite militants started infiltrating Sayidia from adjacent areas under their control. According to U.S. military officials, their movements were often aided by the Shiite-dominated Iraqi police. "We were surrounded," says Omar Mohammed, a local Sunni resident.

Late last year, the Iraqi police started setting up a maze of checkpoints throughout Sayidia. Shiite militants would often be lurking nearby. Reports of kidnappings of Sunnis in the vicinity of checkpoints started piling up in the spring, according to U.S. officers and local Sunni activists.

In one recent incident, plainclothes gunmen ambushed a car carrying two Sunni political activists after police pulled them over at a checkpoint. The gunmen shot at the ground and then aimed their fire at the two Sunnis, according to an American account of the incident. The two men managed to get away with minor gunshot wounds.

Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, says the accusations that the police are working with Shiite militants are unsubstantiated. "The police forces represent the government, and the government doesn't support one side against the other," he says.

Shiite forces also targeted basic services in the neighborhood, according to U.S. military officials. Electricity lines were cut. Water delivery became erratic. Trash collectors were murdered.

Sunni shop owners were ordered to close down. Shiite gunmen raided Sunni mosques. Last month, only one of 11 mosques remained open. Sunnis started to leave Sayidia. House rents, once among the highest in Baghdad, plummeted.

But some Sunni residents also started fighting back. Mr. Obaidi, the air force colonel, joined a ragtag Sunni militia that started challenging Shiite gunmen, battling it out with them in the streets. His brother Riyad, shocked by the man he found in the trunk of the car, joined him.

"Almost every night we fought," says Riyad. Gunfire became so frequent and indiscriminate that local resident Abu Hassan observed that fronds of a palm tree in front of his house had become shredded by bullets.

Still, Shiite militants gained ground, and a new band of combatants entered the fray early this year: extremist fighters from al-Qaeda in Iraq, a fundamentalist Sunni group known for slaughtering Shiites. Al-Qaeda fighters trickled into Sayidia through a neighboring enclave called Dora.

Just east of Sayidia, Dora is one of the last exclusively Sunni parts of Baghdad, and it opens out onto Sunni-controlled belts that wind along the outskirts of the Iraqi capital. Dora is home to battle-hardened Sunni militants, and gunfire aimed at American patrols crackles throughout the sprawling district.

Sayidia's desperate Sunnis were initially happy to see the new fighters, hoping they would help fend off the Shiite onslaught. "The Sunnis had no choice but to receive al-Qaeda, because nobody else was protecting them" says Mr. Ibrahim, the Sayidia dentist.

Instead, the Sunni extremists embarked on a simple but brutal strategy: kill any Shiite they could get their hands on. A peaceful Shiite population had always resided in the neighborhood. They were now targets.

Ali al-Ameri, a Shiite, lost two brothers in Sayidia's increasingly chaotic clashes. One worked as a carpenter and was gunned down in his shop. The other went to check on a malfunctioning electricity generator and disappeared. The murder rate in Sayidia went through the roof.

Sayidia's Sunnis, who initially tolerated al-Qaeda, soon realized the group had no interest in protecting them -- only a desire to kill Shiites. Far from being any sort of ally, al-Qaeda was living up to its reputation for inciting violence.

Sayidia's Sunni residents regrouped. Recruited by a major Sunni political party, some 300 Sunni fighters joined an ad-hoc police unit that would provide a counterweight to the neighborhood's Shiite-dominated cops. The Americans patrolling Sayidia, desperate for a solution, went along with the plan. They screened applicants and helped finance the unit, paying between $300 to $450 a month to each volunteer. Both Obaidi brothers passed muster and joined the force.

One morning last month, a dozen Sunni volunteers, including the Obaidi brothers, shared a checkpoint with a regular police unit. The joint watch was tense, with the Shiite police heckling the Sunni outfit. "Make sure you shave your beards, so you look like soldiers, not like men from a mosque," a Shiite officer teased a huddle of Sunni volunteers, most of whom were clean-shaven.

Local Sunnis -- who had grown so terrified of the checkpoints that many procured fake IDs with Shia-sounding names -- were happy to see Sunni volunteers on the streets.

The new Sunni presence enraged Nahil al-Musawi, a prominent Shiite cleric and a member of the Baghdad City Council. He's not originally from Sayidia but chose to rent a house in the neighborhood, and he started leading prayers at a local Shiite mosque.

Mr. al-Musawi and his supporters accused the Sunni volunteers of burning Shia shops and houses, and complained to the central government. The Americans, who closely monitor the new force, say they have no evidence the Sunni guards have done anything improper.

Early this month, the Iraqi government issued an order banning the Sunni battalion from the streets. "It was like a punch in the gut to get that order," says Maj. Cross.

Shiite militants, with their sophisticated roadside bombs, pose as much of a threat to American lives as the most battle-hardened Sunni insurgents.

Under pressure from the Iraqi government, the U.S. is now trying to recruit some Shia volunteers into the force, so that it can be allowed back on the streets. Mr. al-Musawi is insisting that the group include Shiites, not just Sunnis.

But the Americans scored their own small victory. They've repeatedly complained to the Iraqi government that Sayidia's official, Shia-dominated police unit has been harassing local Sunnis. Last month, the government replaced the unit with an Iraqi army battalion. Though also almost exclusively Shia, it is far less sectarian than the old guard, according to local residents and U.S. troops in the area.

Mr. al-Musawi, the Shiite cleric, has pushed the transformation of Sayidia in other ways. In early September, he convened a meeting of what he said were displaced Sayidia residents at the local police headquarters. He told American military officials that his meeting was an attempt at reconciliation between Sunnis and Shiites.

The room that day was filled with over a hundred people. But American officers who attended noticed there were almost no Sunnis in the room, a fact Mr. al-Musawi doesn't deny. A few days later, workmen lifted concrete barriers from an approach road to a residential block in the neighborhood, and two dozen Shiite families who had attended the meeting drove through the breach.

Panic spread among Sunni residents as plainclothes gunmen went door to door, ordering Sunnis to vacate their houses. U.S. officers rushed to the scene. Most of the new Shia arrivals couldn't produce titles to homes they claimed were theirs, so the Americans turned them back.

Fingering red prayer beads on a recent day, the black-turbaned Mr. al-Musawi says that Sayidia had always been a majority-Shia area. "Most people who suffered in Sayidia are Shia," he says.

Write to Philip Shishkin at
28421  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Stock Market on: October 31, 2007, 12:18:22 PM

MSN Money Homepage
MSN Money Investing
1. Google Phone Plan Draws Interest
2. Merrill's Job: Cleaning Up and Moving On
3. Can Google-Powered Phones Connect With Carriers?
4. Bernanke Rewrites Fed Playbook
5. O'Neal Gets No Severance, but $161.5 Million in Pension, Stock

Also read these stories:

  What's This?
LanOptics 3Q Losses: 5c/Share Vs 18c >LNOP

October 30, 2007 9:08 a.m.

 LanOptics Ltd. (LNOP) on Tuesday reported a third-quarter net loss of $768,000, or 5 cents a share, narrowing from $2.1 million, or 18 cents a share, in last year's third quarter.

The Israeli maker of network processors had revenue for the period ended Sept. 30 of $5.24 million, up from $2.07 million a year earlier, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The company's shares closed Monday on the Nasdaq Capital Market at $22.84.

 -Ingrid Pedrick Lehrfeld, Dow Jones Newswires; 202-862-1361

28422  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North Korea on: October 31, 2007, 12:16:20 PM
Bush's North Korea Meltdown
October 31, 2007; Page A21

Facts about Israel's Sept. 6 raid on a suspected nuclear facility in Syria continue to emerge -- albeit still incompletely, especially regarding the involvement of the Democratic People's Republic of (North) Korea. Important questions remain, such as whether its personnel were present when the attack occurred, and whether they had been working to clone the Yongbyon nuclear facility in the Syrian desert since the North Korean commitment in February (the latest in a long series) to give up its nuclear programs.

Seemingly unperturbed, however, the Bush administration apparently believes North Korea is serious this time, unlike all the others. The concessions continue to flow in essentially only one direction, crossing repeated "red lines" Washington had drawn.

These include: (1) the humiliating U.S. collapse on North Korea's access to international financial markets; (2) accepting a mere "freeze" of Yongbyon (misleadingly called "disablement" by the administration) rather than real dismantlement; (3) failing to ensure enforcement of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1718's sanctions, imposed after Pyongyang's nuclear test; and (4) the State Department's palpable hunger to remove North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism and the Trading With the Enemy Act's prohibitions, and re-establish full diplomatic relations.

The Bush administration's most serious concession is forthcoming, in which the U.S. will accept, with little or no concrete verification, Pyongyang's imminent declaration that it actually has very little nuclear activity other than what we have long known about at Yongbyon.

Even critics from the left now worry that State is conceding far more than it should. Jack Pritchard, the special envoy for negotiations with North Korea who resigned during Secretary of State Colin Powell's tenure because our policy was too unyielding, said recently that North Korean officials think "they can ask for and get what they want from the Bush administration because [it] is so eager to demonstrate a diplomatic achievement." Mr. Pritchard concluded, "The North Koreans are rubbing their hands together with glee."

Our current Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, and other partisans of the six-party talks respond to all internal administration complaints or criticisms by asking, "What is your alternative? What would you have us do otherwise, risk war on the Peninsula?" Herewith, some responses:

First, it is simply inapposite to judge every tactical decision -- to accede or stand firm on this or that subsidiary point -- by forecasting the complete demise of the entire six-party process if North Korean sensibilities are ruffled by occasionally saying "no." Indeed, showing tactical toughness can frequently enhance the long-term prospects for success, not reduce them. Sadly, however, toughness at the tactical or strategic level is no longer the hallmark of our North Korea policy. Weakness is the watchword.

Second, before it is too late, President Bush has to draw a deep line in the sand on verification. The State Department has yet to say anything publicly about how verification will be accomplished, especially on the North's uranium-enrichment efforts, giving rise to the suspicion that our negotiators don't really have a clue what they mean. The idea of North Korea for years engaged in cloning Yongbyon in Syria (or anywhere else -- Burma, for instance) should be a fire bell in the night. President Reagan's mantra of "trust but verify" in the Cold War days didn't offend anyone, and if it offends Kim Jong Il, that should tell us something. If anything, however, with North Korea, President Bush should reverse Reagan's order: Let's see real verification, and leave trust until later.

Third, consider the severely negative effect these repeated concessions have on our relations with Japan and South Korea. President Bush used to stress that this was a "six-party" process, but now all of the action is bilateral. The State Department's lust to remove North Korea from the terrorism list is having a profoundly negative impact on our treaty ally, Japan, the nation most directly threatened by Pyongyang's nuclear capability. Thomas Schieffer, the Bush administration's ambassador to Japan, reportedly complained recently to the president that he was "cut out of the process." State should explain why it trusts North Korea more than our ambassador to Tokyo, and why we ignore Tokyo's concerns over North Korea's kidnappings of Japanese citizens.

South Korea is facing a critical presidential election in December. The last thing Washington should do is pursue concessionary policies that might enhance the prospects for a new president who follows the same appeasement line as incumbent President Roh Moo-hyun. If South Korea can discard Mr. Roh's rose-colored glasses, our overall prospects will improve considerably, but our unquestioning embrace of North Korea could have exactly the wrong impact in the South's volatile politics.

Fourth, and most importantly, the right response to the North Korean threat is to apply pressure steadily and consistently, rather than hastily releasing it. After its nuclear test, Pyongyang faced growing pressure from the cumulative impact of Chinese anger, U.N. Security Council sanctions, ongoing implementation of the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), and the U.S. Treasury's continuing financial squeeze.

There was a plan, of sorts, and it was producing some evidence of success. Instead of squeezing harder, such as by encouraging refugee flows out of the North, the administration did a U-turn. It let a desperate North Korea up off the mat, provided tangible economic support for this appallingly authoritarian regime, allowed Kim Jong Il to relegitimize himself, and undercut the PSI world-wide.

The icing on Kim's cake is that for years -- before, during and after the 2005 and 2007 "agreements" -- North Korea was happily violating its commitments. Instead of focusing China on solving the problem of the regime it has propped up for so long, we absolved China, sidelined Japan, inserted ourselves and started life-support for the administrators of the world's largest prison camp.

This will perpetuate the North Korean problem, not solve it. Any by perpetuating Kim Jong Il's regime, and its continuing threat, it is actually the State Department's policy that poses the greater risk to international peace and security. This is true not only for Pyongyang, but for other would-be proliferators watching our ongoing failure to stop North Korea.

The debate within the Bush administration is not yet over, although time is short before irreparable harm is done. Growing restiveness in Congress among Republicans and Democrats may increasingly become a factor. For President Bush, I can only hope he re-reads his first term speeches on North Korea.

Mr. Bolton, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, is the author of "Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations," out next week from Simon & Schuster/Threshold Editions.

28423  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: October 31, 2007, 12:11:54 PM
 to Eternity
One of the ways in which the media bolster their anti-Iraq narrative is by maximizing the number of U.S. casualties. The figures you hear for the number of deaths--currently approaching 4,000--almost always include noncombat deaths. Roughly 20% of "Iraq war" deaths are from illness, accident, suicide or other "nonhostile" causes.

By this standard, of course, every serviceman in Iraq is doomed, and so are the rest of us. Even for those who perish in combat, war is only the proximate cause of death.

A striking example of "Iraq war" deaths that weren't appeared last week in the New York Times:

The Department of Defense has identified 3,825 American service members who have died since the start of the Iraq war. It confirmed the deaths of the following Americans on Tuesday:

CAMACHO, Anamarie Sannicolas, 20, Seaman, Navy; Panama City, Fla.; Naval Support Activity.

GRESHAM, Genesia Mattril, 19, Seaman, Navy; Lithonia, Ga.; Naval Support Activity.

The San Francisco Chronicle published news of Camacho's and Gresham's deaths under the headline "U.S. Toll in Iraq," and the text said they had died "in Iraq."

This is false, as the Chronicle's own Web site confirms. The paper has a database with details of all the deaths "in Iraq," and both Camacho's and Gresham's entries show that they "died Oct. 22 in Bahrain during a non-combat related incident." (Nonetheless, the heading on the Chronicle's database pages reads "Portraits of Sacrifice: U.S. Casualties in Iraq.")

To find out how they died, we turn to the Gulf Daily News, an English-language Bahraini paper:

Anamarie Sannicolas Camacho, 20, and her colleague Genesia Mattril Gresham, 19, were shot dead at the Naval Support Activity Base, Juffair, at around 5am on October 22.

Their alleged killer, fellow serviceman Clarence Jackson, 20, is still clinging to life after apparently shooting himself in the head immediately after the murders.

He is now at the National Naval Medical Centre in Bethesda, Maryland, US, after being transferred to the US from a specialist hospital in Germany. . . .

[Camacho's mother, Jovie] Paulino, who served in the US Air Force for six years, is also angry at the way the navy have handled the shooting.

"I had entrusted my daughter to the navy when she joined and this is what has happened, I just don't understand," she said. "I was in the military and right now I feel so angry and disappointed. She put her life on the line for our freedom and the only thing they should do (in return) is protect her."

Her comments echo that of Ms Gresham's mother Anita, who earlier blamed officials for leaving her daughter exposed to danger from a man she said turned nasty when she tried to cool their "casual" relationship.

Ms Gresham revealed Jackson had a restraining order against him and had been on suicide watch, after he allegedly attacked Miss Gresham less than four months ago.

She was also angry that Jackson was allowed to carry a gun after his alleged attack on her daughter and that officials were not telling her what happened in the run-up to the killings.

If Jackson dies of his wounds, will the Times and the Chronicle list him as another casualty of the "Iraq war" rather than of his own twisted rage?

The incident does illustrate an uncomfortable truth: that romantic entanglements can be harmful to military discipline. This is why servicemen can be prosecuted for adultery, and it is one reason that the military excludes open homosexuals and restricts the roles in which women may serve. This was a horrific and senseless crime. Imagine how disruptive it would have been in a combat unit.

28424  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: October 31, 2007, 12:01:36 PM
Pedestrian Down

Democrats who are nervous about having Hillary Clinton as their nominee had their fears confirmed last night. Mrs. Clinton finally stumbled in her seventh Democratic debate once the other candidates decided to chew on her.

Mrs. Clinton responded to the criticism by retreating to her briefing books, giving rehearsed answers to questions in a too loud, slightly shrill voice. She was pummeled for not releasing White House records kept by the National Archives that would shine light on her claim to be the most experienced candidate based on her service as First Lady.

But her worst moment came when she gave a bizarre answer to a question about a proposal by her fellow New York Democrat, Governor Eliot Spitzer, to give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. Pressed by Tim Russert about whether she still favors his plan, as she told a New Hampshire paper, she launched into a long defense of it. Then, after Senator Chris Dodd attacked her stance, she interrupted and said: "I did not say that it should be done."

NBC's Tim Russert, one of the debate moderators, jumped in and said to her: "You told [a] New Hampshire paper that it made a lot of sense. Do you support his plan?"

"You know, Tim," Mrs. Clinton replied, "this is where everybody plays 'gotcha.'"

John Edwards quickly pounced: "Unless I missed something, Senator Clinton said two different things in the course of about two minutes. America is looking for a president who will say the same thing, who will be consistent, who will be straight with them."

Chris Matthews of MSNBC concluded that Mrs. Clinton had put herself in a box: "She will have to come out against giving . . . people in the country illegally a driver's license. It doesn't sell."

I'm not so sure. Mrs. Clinton has always had a soft spot for measures that many election officials say compromise the integrity of the ballot box. She sponsored a major bill to strip states of their right to bar felons from voting, a right many legal scholars say is enshrined in the Constitution.

Governor Spitzer's plan to grant driver's licenses to illegal aliens is equally controversial, in part because anyone with such a license could probably vote in elections with impunity. In order to register to vote, a person must sign an affidavit stating that he or she is an American citizen. "You assume that people don't lie, and that's what the form says," state Board of Elections spokesman Lee Daghlian told the New York Post. "It would be [tough to catch] if someone wanted to . . . get a number of people registered [to vote] who aren't citizens and went ahead and got them driver's licenses." Mr. Daghlian conceded that "nobody checks it" to determine if someone registering to vote is truly eligible.

Because of the federal Motor Voter Law, everyone getting a driver's license in New York is automatically handed a voter registration form. With New York being home to upwards of 500,000 illegal aliens, the potential for mischief is great, especially since the Spitzer administration has reversed a policy that would have barred the Department of Motor Vehicles from handing out motor-voter registration forms to anyone without a Social Security number.

Politically speaking, supporting driver's licenses for illegal aliens is an untenable position in a general election. But in the Democratic primaries, the issue is a litmus test for many liberal and immigrant groups backing Mrs. Clinton's candidacy. That helps explain her bizarre obfuscations in last night's debate, when she showed the first chink in her armor, her first failure to square her appeals to the liberal base with attempts to portray herself as a moderate.

"If she loses the nomination, [last night's debate] will go down in history as the first step to her defeat -- no fatal 'Dean Scream' catastrophe, but far from her finest moment, to say the least," concluded Time magazine political handicapper Mark Halperin.

-- John Fund
Political Journal/WSJ
28425  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal issues on: October 31, 2007, 11:47:07 AM
Woof All:

RBG was my Constitutional Law prof at Columbia, so I read this piece with particular interest.  I would add that in the Gore v. Bush decision of the 2000 election her opinion was the first time I ever heard her side with a state's rights argument in a federalism issue.  Indeed, quite the contrary-- I got on her frosty side by disagreeing with her in class over National League of Cities vs. Usery (IIRC whether the Feds could compel state governments to pay federal minimum wage).


Speaking Ruth to Power
What business does Justice Ginsburg have trying "to propel legislative change"?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg recently gave an address on the role of dissenting opinions that included a remarkable explanation for her dissent last term in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber. That case involved a statute regulating when discrimination claims must be filed; the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the lawsuit in that case was filed too late. Justice Ginsburg dissented, and she took the unusual step of reading her dissent from the bench.

In her address, Justice Ginsburg explains that the purpose of her dissent was "to attract immediate public attention and to propel legislative change." She then explains how the other branches responded:

Several members of Congress responded within days after the Court's decision issued. A corrective measure passed the House on July 31, 2007. Senator Kennedy introduced a parallel bill, with 21 co-sponsors. The response was just what I contemplated when I wrote: "The ball is in Congress' court . . . to correct [the Supreme] Court's parsimonious reading of Title VII." But the fate of the proposed legislation has been clouded. On July 27, the Administration announced that if the measure "were presented to the President, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill."
If I understand Justice Ginsburg correctly, she wrote a legal opinion at least in significant part to push a different branch of government to enact a law closer to her personal policy preferences. If I am reading her speech correctly, she appears to be pleased that Congress is following up on her efforts. She's watching the House and Senate, and the passage of a bill in the House and introduction in the Senate is just what she had in mind when she wrote her dissent and read it from the bench. But then she seems less than pleased that President Bush has "clouded" the prospects of the bill's passage by threatening a veto.
I find this explanation troubling. It seems to me that a Justice's job in a statutory case is to say what the statute means and no more. If you dissent, then dissent. But trying to push Congress to enact a law that you like better isn't part of the job description.


To be clear, it's not newsworthy that Supreme Court justices have been and are influenced by their personal policy preferences. That much is human nature. But Justice Ginsburg is not saying that her own views may color her view of what the law is. Nor is she simply acknowledging her personal view that it would be good for Congress to amend the law in a particular way (a position I tentatively share). Rather, she seems to believe that she has a legitimate interest in her capacity as a Supreme Court Justice to push coequal branches of government to enact a new law that will be more to her personal liking.
This view seems hard to square with Justice Ginsburg's frequent invocations of "judicial independence," the notion that legislators should leave the judging to the judges. Justice Ginsburg has frequently criticized legislators--particularly conservatives--who have tried to influence the federal courts by regulating its jurisdiction or closely scrutinizing appointees on political grounds. According to Justice Ginsburg, these efforts threaten the constitutional order because they involve legislative overreaching into the sphere of the judiciary.

But shouldn't this be a two-way street? If it is improper for legislators to try to influence the outcomes of future cases, why is it perfectly OK for her as a Supreme Court justice to try to influence the outcomes of future legislation? I don't mean to be too harsh, but I do find her position quite puzzling. Some might argue that her view of her role really isn't surprising, and that we should expect Justice Ginsburg to try to influence Congress this way. But if that's true, doesn't it mean Justice Ginsburg's argument for judicial independence falls flat and that legislators are justified in trying to influence the decisions of the court? I don't see how you can have it both ways.

Mr. Kerr is a law professor at George Washington University.
28426  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Joseph Story on: October 31, 2007, 11:33:25 AM
From: "PatriotPost.US" <Patriot-CR13724847@m1.PatriotPost.US>
To: <>
Subject: Founders' Quote Daily
Date: Wednesday, October 31, 2007 3:01 AM

The Patriot Post
Founders' Quote Daily

"On the other hand, the duty imposed upon him to take care,
that the laws be faithfully executed, follows out the strong
injunctions of his oath of office, that he will "preserve,
protect, and defend the constitution." The great object of the
executive department is to accomplish this purpose; and without
it, be the form of government whatever it may, it will be utterly
worthless for offence, or defence; for the redress of grievances,
or the protection of rights; for the happiness, or good order,
or safety of the people."

-- Joseph Story (Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833)

Reference: Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 576.


28427  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: October 30, 2007, 11:32:21 PM
Geopolitical Diary: Russia Swings Between the U.S. and Iran
October 31, 2007 03 00  GMT

It was a day of diplomacy, with people shuttling around and hints of proposals and counterproposals. About two weeks ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Iran. On Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov flew to Tehran for a follow-on visit with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki. It was a very short meeting, raising questions as to what message was being delivered and why it required Lavrov to fly there personally.

At the same time, rumors circulated -- some in the media, some from pretty good sources -- that the United States is putting together a package of concessions for Russia in order to induce Moscow not to support the Iranians and to participate in sanctions against them. One report, published in the International Herald Tribune, says the United States is getting ready to make concessions on the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty. The only part of conventional forces in Europe Russia is interested in is making sure that NATO forces are not based in the former Soviet Union, particularly in the Baltics, and that limits are placed on troops in Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania. It would take concessions on that order to interest the Russians. Whether the United States is willing to make such guarantees, and what this would do to U.S. relations with these countries, of course, are open questions.

Finally, there are reports from multiple sources that Iraqi Sunni tribal sheikhs have flown to Washington for meetings on the future of their country. The willingness of Sunni leaders to visit Washington constitutes a continuation of a sea change in U.S.-Sunni relations that has been under way for months.

It is hard to read this activity, but it seems to us that the following happened: After Putin's visit to Iran, the United States saw itself being squeezed diplomatically and losing its options against Tehran. The Russians wanted the Americans to feel that way. Putin kept his options open on Iran, simultaneously demanding that the Americans not attack and telling the Iranians that they need not necessarily abandon their long-term attempts to build nuclear weapons by leaving the question of the Bushehr nuclear facility open-ended.

Moscow has positioned itself neatly, siding with Iran on one hand and making itself Washington's intermediary for Iran's nuclear program on the other. By aligning with the Iranians, Russia has made itself the only practical conduit for pressuring Iran over its nuclear program. The United States needs that conduit, and also for the Russians to back away from Iran. To induce the Russians, the United States must make concessions in an area of fundamental interest to Russia -- the regional conventional military balance. Now, it is speculative whether Washington actually has made any overtures in this area. We just don't know. But if the reports of CFE concessions are correct, this is the only thing that would really interest Moscow.

We don't know what message Lavrov delivered on Tuesday, but it was important and had to be conveyed face-to-face. We suspect that the Russians increased their pressure on the Iranians concerning nuclear weapons while inviting Ahmadinejad to Moscow to continue the discussions that began Oct. 16. Ahmadinejad undoubtedly has heard the same rumors and read the same newspapers. A short meeting like that shows respect, but not necessarily warmth.

At the same time, the United States wanted to pressure the Iranians directly. Tehran's worst nightmare is a heavily armed Sunni government in Baghdad. We are far from that, but it must be remembered that the Sunnis, under Saddam Hussein, dominated Iraq for a reason: the underlying weakness of and divisions among the Shia. The U.S.-Sunni talks are far from Iran's worst-case scenario, but at the same time, they can't simply be dismissed.

A couple of weeks ago, Iran and the Russians were squeezing the United States. Now, the United States is squeezing Iran back, working with the Russians and the Sunnis. The most important thing to see here is not the details, which are to a great extent opaque, but the general outline. The Russians and Sunnis now are the swing players in a very complicated situation. They have the options. The Russians, in particular, have freedom of action and are moving between the two sides.

28428  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: October 30, 2007, 11:28:56 PM
Iraq, U.S.: A Sunni Signal to Iran
October 30, 2007 17 44  GMT

A delegation of Iraq's anti-jihadist Sunni tribal sheikhs is planning to visit Washington to meet with senior officials including U.S. President George W. Bush, Iraq's Al Malaf news agency reported Oct. 30. The tribal chiefs will discuss, among other issues, ways of improving security. They also will propose the reinstatement of high-ranking Iraqi officers from the disbanded army of the ousted Baathist regime. Ahmed Abu Risha, the head of the Anbar-based Iraq Awakening Movement, said he will call on the Bush administration "to support the Iraqi security forces to become self-sufficient in addressing any foreign challenge, and to stamp out the intelligence role that neighboring countries, and its (sic) influence on the security and political situation in Iraq." The report adds that the idea was to benefit from the accumulated battlefield expertise of the former officers' expertise in defending the borders of Iraq from external forces.

Considering that these are Sunni tribal elements with ties to the now-defunct Baath Party, the unnamed foreign power with whom they have experience fighting is Iran. These Sunni elements have despised the takeover of the country's security and intelligence apparatus by Iraqi Shia and their Iranian patrons. Abu Risha and his allies are trying to take advantage of the recent rise in U.S.-Iranian tensions over Iraq and align with Washington in the Sunni bid to combat Iranian domination of Iraq. Conversely, the United States also benefits immensely from the move because it signals to the Iranians that they either cut a deal with the United States instead of aligning with Russia or face the prospect of the revival of the Baathist military structure -- the only force capable of mucking up Iranian plans to dominate Iraq.

We fully expect the Iranians will get the message, and that they will be more than a little concerned. But we do not expect them to yield on the issue. Instead, they probably will try to counter the U.S. moves. This will manifest itself as the Iraqi Shia backing away from the review of the de-Baathification law. The Iranians want in on all U.S.-Sunni dealings, but they are not going to come to the table easily.

28429  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: October 30, 2007, 11:21:00 PM
Russia, Iran: The Next Step in the Diplomatic Tango

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is paying a brief visit to Tehran on Oct. 30 to meet with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. His trip comes just two weeks after a major Russian-Iranian summit in Tehran, during which Russian President Vladimir Putin publicly conveyed that he had every intention of entangling Russia in Iran's showdown with the United States over Iraq. Though this love triangle is filled with more drama than a Brazilian telenovela, each step carries significant implications for U.S., Iranian and Russian foreign policy.


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is in Tehran on Oct. 30 paying a brief visit to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry. This is the second major Iranian-Russian meeting this month. At the Oct. 15-16 Caspian Summit in Tehran, Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his unequivocal support for Iran against U.S. aggression. Ahmadinejad also is expected to visit Moscow soon.

Lavrov's surprise visit to Tehran is likely intended to work out the details of an alleged offer Putin made to the Iranians during the Caspian Summit. Before a discussion of what this murky Iranian-Russian deal could entail, the Lavrov-Ahmadinejad meeting needs some context.

Russia has a fine-tuned strategy of exploiting its Middle Eastern allies' interests for its own political purposes. Iran is the perfect candidate. It is a powerful Islamic state that is locked into a showdown with the United States over its nuclear program and Iraq. Though Washington and Tehran are constantly battling in the public sphere with war rhetoric, they need to deal with each other for the sake of their strategic interests. Russia, meanwhile, has its own turf war with the United States that involves a range of hot issues, including National Missile Defense, renegotiating Cold War-era treaties, and Western interference in Russia's periphery. By demonstrating that Moscow has some real sway over the Iranians, Russia gains a useful bargaining chip to use in its dealings with the United States.

The Iranians, on the other hand, are focused on Iraq. The fall of Saddam Hussein gave Iran a historic opportunity to extend a Shiite buffer zone into Iraq, but Tehran still must contend with the United States, which remains the primary obstacle to Iran's expansionist ambitions. Iran has used its nuclear program as a bargaining chip in its negotiations with the United States over Iraq, but is engaged in an intense internal debate over how to best use the nuclear issue in talks with Washington.

Iran knows the United States -- not Russia -- has leverage in Iraq. Why, then, are the Iranians so interested in cozying up to Russia, a country they deeply distrust? The Iranians appear to be searching for a way to bolster their deterrent strategy against the United States before Tehran makes any bold moves in Iraq. Russia has offered itself as Iran's backup, providing the necessary diplomatic cover and military support to ward off U.S. aggression against Iran. With Russian support, the Iranians have more leverage in their negotiations with the United States.

But the Russian offer does not come without a price. For Moscow to demonstrate that it has actual leverage in its relationship with Tehran, the Iranians must offer cooperation on the nuclear issue. After all, Russia is just as interested as the United States is in preventing a nuclear Iran from becoming a reality. This way, Russia extracts political benefits from the United States, and Iran has an opening to move forward in serious negotiations with Washington over Iraq.

Lavrov is likely playing the role of messenger during this brief visit. Stratfor would love nothing more than to know what he reports back to Putin, and it will be interesting to see if this visit sets off another political storm in Tehran as the internal policy debate there rages on. In the meantime, Stratfor will be prowling for any clues surrounding this latest step in the Iranian-U.S.-Russian tango.
28430  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hasbro castrates GI Joe on: October 30, 2007, 11:11:51 PM
VIN SUPRYNOWICZ: G.I. Joe was just a toy, wasn't he?
MORE COLUMNSHollywood now proposes that in a new live-action movie based on the G.I. Joe toy line, Joe's -- well, "G.I." -- identity needs to be replaced by membership in an "international force based in Brussels." The IGN Entertainment news site reports Paramount is considering replacing our "real American hero" with "Action Man," member of an "international operations team."

Paramount will simply turn Joe's name into an acronym.

The show biz newspaper Variety reports: "G.I. Joe is now a Brussels-based outfit that stands for Global Integrated Joint Operating Entity, an international co-ed force of operatives who use hi-tech equipment to battle Cobra, an evil organization headed by a double-crossing Scottish arms dealer."

Well, thank goodness the villain -- no need to offend anyone by making our villains Arabs, Muslims, or foreign dictators of any stripe these days, though apparently Presbyterians who talk like Scottie on "Star Trek" are still OK -- is a double-crossing arms dealer. Otherwise one might be tempted to conclude the geniuses at Paramount believe arms dealing itself is evil.


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(Just for the record, what did the quintessential American hero, Humphrey Bogart's Rick Blaine in "Casablanca," do before he opened his eponymous cafe? Yep: gun-runner.)

According to reports in Variety and the aforementioned IGN, the producers explain international marketing would simply prove too difficult for a summer, 2009 film about a heroic U.S. soldier. Thus the need to "eliminate Joe's connection to the U.S. military."

Well, who cares. G.I. Joe is just a toy, right? He was never real. Right?

On Nov. 15, 2003, an 85-year-old retired Marine Corps colonel died of congestive heart failure at his home in La Quinta, Calif., southeast of Palm Springs. He was a combat veteran of World War II. His name was Mitchell Paige.

It's hard today to envision -- or, for the dwindling few, to remember -- what the world looked like on Oct. 25, 1942 -- 65 years ago.

The U.S. Navy was not the most powerful fighting force in the Pacific. Not by a long shot. So the Navy basically dumped a few thousand lonely American Marines on the beach at Guadalcanal and high-tailed it out of there.

(You old swabbies can hold the letters. I've written elsewhere about the way Bull Halsey rolled the dice on the night of Nov. 13, 1942, violating the stern War College edict against committing capital ships in restricted waters and instead dispatching into the Slot his last two remaining fast battleships, the South Dakota and the Washington, escorted by the only four destroyers with enough fuel in their bunkers to get them there and back. By 11 p.m., with the fire control systems on the South Dakota malfunctioning, with the crews of those American destroyers cheering her on as they treaded water in an inky sea full of flaming wreckage, "At that moment Washington was the entire U.S. Pacific Fleet," writes naval historian David Lippman. "If this one ship did not stop 14 Japanese ships right then and there, America might lose the war. ..." At midnight precisely, facing those impossible odds, the battleship Washington opened up with her 16-inch guns. If you're reading this in English, you should be able to figure out how she did.)

But the Washington's one-sided battle with the Kirishima was still weeks in the future. On Oct. 25, Mitchell Paige was back on the God-forsaken malarial jungle island of Guadalcanal.

On Guadalcanal, the Marines struggled to complete an airfield that could threaten the Japanese route to Australia. Admiral Yamamoto knew how dangerous that was. Before long, relentless Japanese counterattacks had driven the supporting U.S. Navy from inshore waters. The Marines were on their own.

As Platoon Sgt. Mitchell Paige and his 33 riflemen set about carefully emplacing their four water-cooled .30-caliber Brownings on that hillside, 65 years ago this week -- manning their section of the thin khaki line that was expected to defend Henderson Field against the assault of the night of Oct. 25, 1942 -- it's unlikely anyone thought they were about to provide the definitive answer to that most desperate of questions: How many able-bodied U.S. Marines does it take to hold a hill against 2,000 armed and motivated attackers?

But by the time the night was over, "The 29th (Japanese) Infantry Regiment has lost 553 killed or missing and 479 wounded among its 2,554 men," historian Lippman reports. "The 16th (Japanese) Regiment's losses are uncounted, but the 164th's burial parties handled 975 Japanese bodies. ... The American estimate of 2,200 Japanese dead is probably too low."

You've already figured out where the Japanese focused their attack, haven't you? Among the 90 American dead and seriously wounded that night were all the men in Mitchell Paige's platoon. Every one. As the night of endless attacks wore on, Paige moved up and down his line, pulling his dead and wounded comrades back into their foxholes and firing a few bursts from each of the four Brownings in turn, convincing the Japanese forces down the hill that the positions were still manned.

The citation for Paige's Medal of Honor picks up the tale: "When the enemy broke through the line directly in front of his position, P/Sgt. Paige, commanding a machine gun section with fearless determination, continued to direct the fire of his gunners until all his men were either killed or wounded. Alone, against the deadly hail of Japanese shells, he fought with his gun and when it was destroyed, took over another, moving from gun to gun, never ceasing his withering fire."

In the end, Sgt. Paige picked up the last of the 40-pound, belt-fed Brownings and did something for which the weapon was never designed. Sgt. Paige walked down the hill toward the place where he could hear the last Japanese survivors rallying to move around his flank, the belt-fed gun cradled under his arm, firing as he went.

Coming up at dawn, battalion executive officer Major Odell M. Conoley was the first to discover how many able-bodied United States Marines it takes to hold a hill against two regiments of motivated, combat-hardened infantrymen who have never known defeat.

On a hill where the bodies were piled like cordwood, Mitchell Paige alone sat upright behind his 30-caliber Browning, waiting to see what the dawn would bring.

The hill had held, because on the hill remained the minimum number of able-bodied United States Marines necessary to hold the position.

And that's where the unstoppable wave of Japanese conquest finally crested, broke, and began to recede. On an unnamed jungle ridge on an insignificant island no one ever heard of, called Guadalcanal.

When the Hasbro Toy Co. called some years back, asking permission to put the retired colonel's face on some kid's doll, Mitchell Paige thought they must be joking.

But they weren't. That's his mug, on the little Marine they call "G.I. Joe." At least, it has been up till now.

Mitchell Paige's only condition? That G.I. Joe must always remain a United States Marine.

But don't worry. Far more important for our new movies not to offend anyone in Cairo or Karachi or Paris or Palembang.

After all, it's only a toy. It doesn't mean anything.

Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the Review-Journal and author of the books "Send in the Waco Killers" and "The Black Arrow."

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28431  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: When you don't feel like fighting... on: October 30, 2007, 08:50:05 PM
"When I'm training and I don't feel like fighting ... I don't."

What he said  grin
28432  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: October 30, 2007, 04:59:29 PM
NY Times: Caveat lector

GARDEZ, Afghanistan — Afghan police officers working a highway checkpoint near here noticed something odd recently about a passenger in a red pickup truck. Though covered head to toe in a burqa, the traditional veil worn by Afghan women, she was unusually tall. When the police asked her questions, she refused to answer.

Skip to next paragraph
Tomas Munita for The New York Times
Afghan officials say Muhammad Kuzeubaev, 23, of Kazakhstan, is a bombmaker. He says he was visiting as a tourist.
VideoMore Video » When the veil was eventually removed, the police found not a woman at all, but Andre Vladimirovich Bataloff, a 27-year-old man from Siberia with a flowing red beard, pasty skin and piercing blue eyes. Inside the truck was 1,000 pounds of explosives.

Afghan and American officials say the Siberian intended to be a suicide bomber, one of several hundred foreign militants who have gravitated to the region to fight alongside the Taliban this year, the largest influx since 2001.

The foreign fighters are not only bolstering the ranks of the insurgency. They are more violent, uncontrollable and extreme than even their locally bred allies, officials on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan border warn.

They are also helping to change the face of the Taliban from a movement of hard-line Afghan religious students into a loose network that now includes a growing number of foreign militants as well as disgruntled Afghans and drug traffickers.

Foreign fighters are coming from Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Chechnya, various Arab countries and perhaps also Turkey and western China, Afghan and American officials say.

Their growing numbers point to the worsening problem of lawlessness in Pakistan’s tribal areas, which they use as a base to train alongside militants from Al Qaeda who have carried out terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Europe, according to Western diplomats.

“We’ve seen an unprecedented level of reports of foreign-fighter involvement,” said Maj. Gen. Bernard S. Champoux, deputy commander for security of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force. “They’ll threaten people if they don’t provide meals and support.”

In interviews in southern and eastern Afghanistan, local officials and village elders also reported having seen more foreigners fighting alongside the Taliban than in any year since the American-led invasion in 2001.

In Afghanistan, the foreigners serve as mid-level commanders, and train and finance local fighters, according to Western analysts. In Pakistan’s tribal areas, they train suicide bombers, create roadside-bomb factories and have vastly increased the number of high-quality Taliban fund-raising and recruiting videos posted online.

Gauging the exact number of Taliban and foreign fighters in Afghanistan is difficult, Western officials and analysts say. At any given time, the Taliban can field up to 10,000 fighters, they said, but only 2,000 to 3,000 are highly motivated, full-time insurgents.

The rest are part-time fighters, young Afghan men who have been alienated by government corruption, who are angry at civilian deaths caused by American bombing raids, or who are simply in search of cash, they said. Five to 10 percent of full-time insurgents — roughly 100 to 300 combatants — are believed to be foreigners.

Western diplomats say recent offers from the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, to negotiate with the Taliban are an effort to split local Taliban moderates and Afghans who might be brought back into the fold from the foreign extremists.

But that effort may face an increasing challenge as foreigners replace dozens of midlevel and senior Taliban who, Western officials say, have been killed by NATO and American forces.

At the same time, Western officials said the reliance on foreigners showed that the Taliban are running out of midlevel Afghan commanders. “That’s a sure-fire sign of desperation,” General Champoux said.

Seth Jones, an analyst with the Rand Corporation, was less sanguine, however, calling the arrival of more foreigners a dangerous development. The tactics the foreigners have introduced, he said, are increasing Afghan and Western casualty rates.

“They play an incredibly important part in the insurgency,” Mr. Jones said. “They act as a force multiplier in improving their ability to kill Afghan and NATO forces.”

Western officials said the foreigners are also increasingly financing younger Taliban leaders in Pakistan’s tribal areas who have closer ties to Al Qaeda, like Sirajuddin Haqqani and Anwar ul-Haq Mujahed. The influence of older, more traditional Taliban leaders based in Quetta, Pakistan, is diminishing.

“We see more and more resources going to their fellow travelers,” said Christopher Alexander, the deputy special representative for the United Nations in Afghanistan. “The new Taliban commanders are younger and younger.”

In the southern provinces of Oruzgan, Kandahar and Helmand, Afghan villagers recently described two distinct groups of Taliban fighters. They said “local Taliban” allowed some development projects. But “foreign Taliban” — usually from Pakistan — threatened to kill anyone who cooperated with the Afghan government or foreign aid groups.


Page 2 of 2)

Hanif Atmar, the Afghan education minister, said threats from foreign Taliban have closed 40 percent of the schools in southern Afghanistan. He said many local Taliban oppose the practice, but foreign Taliban use brutality and cash to their benefit.

Skip to next paragraph VideoMore Video » “That makes our situation terribly complicated,” Mr. Atmar said. “Because they bring resources with them, their agenda takes precedence.”

Large groups of Pakistani militants operate in southern Afghanistan, according to Afghan officials. In the east, more Arab and Uzbek fighters are present.

Mr. Bataloff, the Russian arrested in a burqa, insists he is a religious student who traveled to Pakistan last year to learn more about his new faith. In an hourlong interview in an Afghan jail in Kabul, he said his interest in Islam blossomed three years ago when he was living in Siberia.

“First, I heard from TV, radio and newspapers about Islam,” he said in Russian. “I found Islam had a lot of good things, especially that Islam respects all prophets, including Jesus.”

But he declined to describe many details of his trip and grew angry when asked about his personal background. “Homicide and suicide is not allowed in any religion,” he said, when asked about the allegations against him. “Why are you asking me these questions?”

Mr. Bataloff said he grew up in Siberia, but would not identify his hometown or region. He said he could not remember the names of the Pakistanis he met or the two Afghan men who drove the pickup truck.

He said he decided to go to a predominantly Muslim country last fall to study Islam and learn about “the morals, the customs, the ethics and the literature.” He flew alone from Russia to Iran, he said, and met a Russian-speaking “guide” in the airport.

After spending 10 days in Iran, he crossed into Pakistan and traveled to North Waziristan, a remote tribal area that is a longtime Taliban and Qaeda stronghold. There, he spent a year living and studying in a small mosque in Mir Ali.

Pakistani security officials say the Islamic Jihad Union, a terrorist group led by militants from Uzbekistan, operates a training camp in Mir Ali.

[In mid-October, in some of the heaviest fighting in four years, the Pakistani military said 50 foreign fighters were among 200 militants reported killed in three days of clashes around Mir Ali. The dead foreigners were said to include mostly Uzbeks and Tajiks, as well as some Arabs, the army said.]

Some of the suspects arrested in a failed bombing plot in Germany in September received training in the tribal areas, according to German officials. Several men involved in the July 2005 London transit bombings and a failed August 2006 London airliner plot did as well.

Mr. Bataloff said he met no foreign militants in his 10 months in the tribal areas. But American military officials said he had told interrogators that he had attended a terrorist training camp in North Waziristan. He said local militants forced him to go to the camp and taught him how to fire an AK-47 assault rifle, the officials said.

“I didn’t have any specific teacher,” he said, when asked about Pakistanis he met there. “There were local people who knew the Koran.”

A second foreign prisoner produced by Afghan officials identified himself as Muhammad Kuzeubaev, a 23-year-old from Temirtau, Kazakhstan. Afghan officials said he was a bombmaker arrested in September in Badakhshan Province in northern Afghanistan.

In an interview, Mr. Kuzeubaev, who also spoke fluent Russian, said he was visiting Afghanistan as a tourist. “I was close to the border,” he said. “I thought I would go explore the country.”

In Badakhshan, he said, two Afghan men abducted him and demanded he join Al Qaeda. He agreed to do so fearing he would be killed, he said. That night, the men showed him parts of a suicide vest and promised to take him to Pakistan for training.

“They showed me the explosives, the vest and grenade,” said Mr. Kuzeubaev. “The next day, they brought some kind of weapons.”

Two days later, Afghan police officers surrounded the house and arrested him, he said. Afghan interrogators beat him, chained him to a wall and prevented him from sleeping for four days, he said.

“They are saying, ‘You are the man who was making the vests,’ ” said Mr. Kuzeubaev. “But the ammunition and other explosives were not mine.”
28433  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Umpad Corto-Kadena on: October 30, 2007, 04:39:09 PM
Thank you.
28434  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: October 30, 2007, 04:37:57 PM
Hamas Shows Off Body Parts at Press Conference
( According to the Bethlehem-based Maan news agency, Hamas terrorists held a press conference on Monday night claiming a victory over IDF soldiers in gunfights earlier in the day. Hamas leaders said terrorists had taught the soldiers “an unforgettable lesson.”
The terrorists displayed body parts during the press conference, claiming that the body parts belonged to Israeli soldiers who were wounded during the day. No IDF soldiers lost body parts in Gaza on Monday, and it is not clear who the body parts actually belonged to.
The press conference was held next to the Gaza home of Ahmed Abu Tahoun, one of the Hamas terrorists who was killed in Monday’s fighting. At least one other terrorist was killed, as was one IDF reservist.
No URL came to me with this, but the person who sent it to me I regard to be quite reliable and well-informed.
28435  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: October 30, 2007, 04:08:10 PM
War Plans: United States and Iran
By George Friedman

A possible U.S. attack against Iran has been a hot topic in the news for many months now. In some quarters it has become an article of faith that the Bush administration intends to order such an attack before it leaves office. It remains a mystery whether the administration plans an actual attack or whether it is using the threat of attack to try to intimidate Iran -- and thus shape its behavior in Iraq and elsewhere. Unraveling the mystery lies, at least in part, in examining what a U.S. attack would look like, given U.S. goals and resources, as well as in considering the potential Iranian response. Before turning to intentions, it is important to discuss the desired outcomes and capabilities. Unfortunately, those discussions have taken a backseat to speculations about the sheer probability of war.

Let's begin with goals. What would the United States hope to achieve by attacking Iran? On the broadest strategic level, the answer is actually quite simple. After 9/11, the United States launched counterstrikes in the Islamic world. The goal was to disrupt the al Qaeda core in order to prevent further attacks against the United States. The counterstrikes also were aimed at preventing the emergence of a follow-on threat from the Islamic world that would replace the threat that had been posed by al Qaeda. The disruption of all Islamic centers of power that have the ability and intent to launch terrorist attacks against the United States is a general goal of U.S. strategy. With the decline of Sunni radicalism, Iran has emerged as an alternative Shiite threat. Hence, under this logic, Iran must be dealt with.

Obviously, the greater the disruption of radically anti-American elements in the Islamic world, the better it is for the United States. But there are three problems here. First, the United States has a far more complex relationship with Iran than it does with al Qaeda. Iran supported the U.S. attack against the Taliban in Afghanistan as well as the U.S. invasion of Iraq -- for its own reasons, of course. Second, the grand strategy of the United States might include annihilating Islamic radicalism, but at the end of the day, maintaining the balance of power between Sunnis and Shia and between Arab and non-Arab Muslims is a far more practical approach. Finally, the question of what to do about Iran depends on the military capabilities of the United States in the immediate future. The intentions are shaped by the capabilities.

What, therefore, would the U.S. goals be in an attack against Iran? They divide into three (not mutually exclusive) strategies:

1. Eliminating Iran's nuclear program.
2. Crippling Iran by hitting its internal infrastructure -- political, industrial and military -- ideally forcing regime change that would favor U.S. interests.
3. Using an attack -- or threatening an attack -- to change Iranian behavior in Iraq, Lebanon or other areas of the world.

It is important to note the option that is not on the table: invasion by U.S. ground forces, beyond the possible use of small numbers of Special Operations forces. Regardless of the state of Iranian conventional forces after a sustained air attack, the United States simply does not have the numbers of ground troops needed to invade and occupy Iran -- particularly given the geography and topography of the country. Therefore, any U.S. attack would rely on the forces available, namely air and naval forces.

The destruction of Iran's nuclear capabilities would be the easiest to achieve, assuming that U.S. intelligence has a clear picture of the infrastructure of that program and that the infrastructure has not been hardened to the point of being invulnerable to conventional attack. Iran, however, learned a great deal from Iraq's Osirak experience and has spread out and hardened its nuclear facilities. Also, given Iran's location and the proximity of U.S. forces and allies, we can assume the United States would not be interested in a massive nuclear attack with the resulting fallout. Moreover, we would argue that, in a world of proliferation, it would not be in the interest of the United States to set a precedent by being the first use to use nuclear weapons since World War II.

Therefore, the U.S. option is to carry out precision strikes against Iran's nuclear program using air- and sea-launched munitions. As a threat, this is in an interesting option. As an actual operation, it is less interesting. First, the available evidence is that Iran is years away from achieving a deliverable nuclear weapon. Second, Iran might be more interested in trading its nuclear program for other political benefits -- specifically in Iraq. An attack against the country's nuclear facilities would make Tehran less motivated than before to change its behavior. Furthermore, even if its facilities were destroyed, Iran would retain its capabilities in Iraq, Lebanon and elsewhere in the world. Therefore, unless the United States believed there was an imminent threat of the creation of a deliverable nuclear system, the destruction of a long-term program would eliminate the long-term threat, but leave Iran's short-term capabilities intact. Barring imminent deployment, a stand-alone attack against Iran's nuclear capabilities makes little sense.

That leaves the second option -- a much broader air and sea campaign against Iran. This would have four potential components:

1. Attacks against its economic infrastructure, particularly its refineries.
2. Attacks against its military infrastructure.
3. Attacks against its political infrastructure, particularly its leadership.
4. A blockade and sanctions.

Let's begin in reverse order. The United States has the ability to blockade Iran's ports, limiting the importation of oil and refined products, as well as food. It does not have the ability to impose a general land blockade against Iran, which has long land borders, including with Iraq. Because the United States lacks the military capability to seal those borders, goods from around Iran's periphery would continue to flow, including, we emphasize, from Iraq, where U.S. control of transportation systems, particularly in the Shiite south, is limited. In addition, it is unclear whether the United States would be willing to intercept, board and seize ships from third-party countries (Russia, China and a large number of small countries) that are not prepared to participate in sanctions or might not choose to respect an embargo. The United States is stretched thin, and everyone knows it. A blockade could invite deliberate challenges, while enforcement would justify other actions against U.S. interests elsewhere. Any blockade strategy assumes that Iran is internationally isolated, which it is not, that the United States can impose a military blockade on land, which it cannot, and that it can withstand the consequences elsewhere should a third party use U.S. actions to justify counteraction, which is questionable. A blockade could hurt Iran's energy economy, but Iran has been preparing for this for years and can mitigate the effect by extensive smuggling operations. Ultimately, Iran is not likely to crumble unless the United States can maintain and strengthen the blockade process over a matter of many months at the very least.

Another option is a decapitation strike against Iran's leadership -- though it is important to recall how this strategy failed in Iraq at the beginning of the 2003 invasion. Decapitation assumes superb intelligence on the location of the leadership at a given time -- and that level of intelligence is hard to come by. Iraq had a much smaller political elite than Iran has, and the United States couldn't nail down its whereabouts. It also is important to remember that Iran has a much deeper and more diverse leadership structure than Iraq had. Iraq's highly centralized system included few significant leaders. Iran is more decentralized and thus has a much larger and deeper leadership cadre. We doubt the United States has the real-time intelligence capability to carry out such a broad decapitation strike.

The second option is an assault against the Iranian military. Obviously, the United States has the ability to carry out a very effective assault against the military's technical infrastructure -- air defense, command and control, aircraft, armor and so on. But the Iranian military is primarily an infantry force, designed for internal control and operations in mountainous terrain -- the bulk of Iran's borders. Once combat operations began, the force would disperse and tend to become indistinguishable from the general population. A counterpersonnel operation would rapidly become a counterpopulation operation. Under any circumstances, an attack against a dispersed personnel pool numbering in the high hundreds of thousands would be sortie intensive, to say the least. An air campaign designed to impose high attrition on an infantry force, leaving aside civilian casualties, would require an extremely large number of sorties, in which the use of precision-guided munitions would be of minimal value and the use of area weapons would be at a premium. Given the fog of war and intelligence issues, the ability to evaluate the status of this campaign would be questionable.

In our view, the Iranians are prepared to lose their technical infrastructure and devolve command and control to regional and local levels. The collapse of the armed forces -- most of whose senior officers and noncoms fought in the Iran-Iraq war with very flexible command and control -- is unlikely. The force would continue to be able to control the frontiers as well as maintain internal security functions. The United States would rapidly establish command of the air, and destroy noninfantry forces. But even here there is a cautionary note. In Yugoslavia, the United States learned that relatively simple camouflage and deception techniques were quite effective in protecting tactical assets. The Iranians have studied both the Kosovo war and U.S. operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and have extensive tactical combat experience themselves. A forced collapse from the air of the Iranian infantry capability -- the backbone of Iran's military -- is unlikely.

This leaves a direct assault against the Iranian economic infrastructure. Although this is the most promising path, it must be remembered that counterinfrastructure and counterpopulation strategic air operations have been tried extensively. The assumption has been that the economic cost of resistance would drive a wedge between the population and the regime, but there is no precedent in the history of air campaigns for this assumption. Such operations have succeeded in only two instances: Japan and Kosovo. In Japan, counterpopulation operations of massive proportions involving conventional weapons were followed by two atomic strikes. Even in that case, there was no split between regime and population, but a decision by the regime to capitulate. The occupation in Kosovo was not so much because of military success as diplomatic isolation. That isolation is not likely to happen in Iran.

In all other cases -- Britain, Germany, Vietnam, Iraq -- air campaigns by themselves did not split the population from the regime or force the regime to change course. In Britain and Vietnam, the campaigns failed completely. In Germany and Iraq (and Kuwait), they succeeded because of follow-on attacks by overwhelming ground forces.

The United States could indeed inflict heavy economic hardship, but history suggests that this is more likely to tighten the people's identification with the government -- not the other way around. In most circumstances, air campaigns have solidified the regime's control over the population, allowing it to justify extreme security measures and generating a condition of intense psychological resistance. In no case has a campaign led to an uprising against the regime. Moreover, a meaningful campaign against economic infrastructure would take some 4 million barrels per day off of the global oil market at a time when oil prices already are closing in on $100 a barrel. Such a campaign is more likely to drive a wedge between the American people and the American government than between the Iranians and their government.

For an air campaign to work, the attacking power must be prepared to bring in an army on the ground to defeat the army that has been weakened by the air campaign -- a tactic Israel failed to apply last summer in Lebanon. Combined arms operations do work, repeatedly. But the condition of the U.S. Army and Marines does not permit the opening of a new theater of operations in Iran. Most important, even if conditions did permit the use of U.S. ground forces to engage and defeat the Iranian army -- a massive operation simply by the size of the country -- the United States does not have the ability to occupy Iran against a hostile population. The Japanese and German nations were crushed completely over many years before an overwhelming force occupied them. What was present there, but not in Iraq, was overwhelming force. That is not an option for Iran.

Finally, consider the Iranian response. Iran does not expect to defeat the U.S. Air Force or Navy, although the use of mine warfare and anti-ship cruise missiles against tankers in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz should not be dismissed. The Iranian solution would be classically asymmetrical. First, they would respond in Iraq, using their assets in the country to further complicate the occupation, as well as to impose as many casualties as possible on the United States. And they would use their forces to increase the difficulty of moving supplies from Kuwait to U.S. forces in central Iraq. They also would try to respond globally using their own forces (the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps), as well as Hezbollah and other trained Shiite militant assets, to carry out counterpopulation attacks against U.S. assets around the world, including in the United States.

If the goal is to eliminate Iran's nuclear program, we expect the United States would be able to carry out the mission. If, however, the goal is to compel a change in the Iranian regime or Iranian policy, we do not think the United States can succeed with air forces alone. It would need to be prepared for a follow-on invasion by U.S. forces, coming out of both Afghanistan and Iraq. Those forces are not available at this point and would require several years to develop. That the United States could defeat and occupy Iran is certain. Whether the United States has a national interest in devoting the time and the resources to Iran's occupation is unclear.

The United States could have defeated North Vietnam with a greater mobilization of forces. However, Washington determined that the defeat of North Vietnam and the defense of Indochina were not worth the level of effort required. Instead, it tried to achieve its ends with the resources it was prepared to devote to the mission. As a result, resources were squandered and the North Vietnamese flag flies over what was Saigon.

The danger of war is that politicians and generals, desiring a particular end, fantasize that they can achieve that end with insufficient resources. This lesson is applicable to Iran.

28436  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: October 30, 2007, 03:53:52 PM
U.S.: U.S. State Department investigators have offered immunity deals to the Blackwater security guards who were involved in a Sept. 16 shootout in Baghdad, Agence France-Presse reported, citing The New York Times and The Washington Post. The State Department officials reportedly do not have the authority to grant immunity, and the FBI officials who took over the investigation of Blackwater cannot use information obtained by the State Department to prosecute the guards.

IRAQ, U.S.: A delegation of Iraqi tribal leaders plans to visit Washington to propose to U.S. officials that former officers from the disbanded Iraqi army be reinstated, reported, citing Al-Malaf Press. Tribal leader Sheikh Ahmed Abu Risha reportedly said the delegation will discuss ways to help Iraqi security forces become self-sufficient and face foreign challenges. He added that former Iraqi army officers can offer expertise in defending Iraq's borders.

IRAQ: The Iraqi Cabinet approved a draft law to end foreign security contractors' immunity from prosecution. The bill follows the Blackwater shooting incident on Sept. 16, when 17 Iraqis were killed, though the U.S. firm has said its guards acted lawfully. The legislation places foreign firms and those they employ under Iraqi law, an Iraqi government spokesman told Reuters. It also suggests requiring foreign security firms to register and apply for licenses to work in Iraq and proposes that all guards have weapons permits. Under the law, contractors with identity cards from the U.S. Defense Department would have to apply for entry visas. Further, it has been proposed that guards and the convoys they protect be subject to searches at Iraqi security checkpoints.

28437  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: October 30, 2007, 03:36:49 PM
Second post of the day:

Forwarded by David Gordon:
28438  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: October 30, 2007, 03:26:04 PM
Low Buzz May Give Mice Better Bones and Less Fat

Published: October 30, 2007
Clinton T. Rubin knows full well that his recent results are surprising — that no one has been more taken aback than he. And he cautions that it is far too soon to leap to conclusions about humans. But still, he says, what if ... ?

Skip to next paragraph
FAT Abdominal scans of two mice show subcutaneous fat (gray) and visceral fat (red). The vibrated mouse, right, has less of both.

Less Fat in Vibrated Mice And no wonder, other scientists say. Dr. Rubin, director of the Center for Biotechnology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, is reporting that in mice, a simple treatment that does not involve drugs appears to be directing cells to turn into bone instead of fat.

All he does is put mice on a platform that buzzes at such a low frequency that some people cannot even feel it. The mice stand there for 15 minutes a day, five days a week. Afterward, they have 27 percent less fat than mice that did not stand on the platform — and correspondingly more bone.

“I was the biggest skeptic in the world,” Dr. Rubin said. “And I sit here and say, ‘This can’t possibly be happening.’ I feel like the credibility of my scientific career is sitting on a razor’s edge between ‘Wow, this is really cool,’ and ‘These people are nuts.’”

The responses to his work bear out that feeling. While some scientists are enthusiastic, others are skeptical.

The mice may be less fat after standing on the platform, these researchers say, but they are not convinced of the explanation — that fat precursor cells are turning into bone.

Even so, the National Institutes of Health is sufficiently intrigued to investigate the effect in a large clinical trial in elderly people, said Joan A. McGowan, a division director at the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.

Dr. McGowan notes that Dr. Rubin is a respected scientist and that her institute has helped pay for his research for the past 20 years, but she does caution against jumping to conclusions.

“I’d call it provocative,” she said of the new result. “It says, ‘Keep looking here; this is exciting.’ But it is crucial that we don’t oversell this.” For now, she added, “it is a fundamental scientific finding.”

The story of the finding, which was published online and will appear in the Nov. 6 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, began in 1981 when Dr. Rubin and his colleagues started asking why bone is lost in aging and inactivity.

“Bone is notorious for ‘use it or lose it,’” Dr. Rubin said. “Astronauts lose 2 percent of their bone a month. People lose 2 percent a decade after age 35. Then you look at the other side of the equation. Professional tennis players have 35 percent more bone in their playing arm. What is it about mechanical signals that makes Roger Federer’s arm so big?”

At first, he assumed that the exercise effect came from a forceful impact — the pounding on the leg bones as a runner’s feet hit the ground or the blow to the bones in a tennis player’s arm with every strike of the ball. But Dr. Rubin was trained as a biomechanical engineer, and that led him to consider other possibilities. Large signals can actually be counterproductive, he said, adding: “If I scream at you over the phone, you don’t hear me better. If I shine a bright light in your eyes, you don’t see better.”

Over the years, he and his colleagues discovered that high-magnitude signals, like the ones created by the impact as foot hits pavement, were not the predominant signals affecting bone. Instead, bone responded to signals that were high in frequency but low in magnitude, more like a buzzing than a pounding.

That makes sense, he went on, because muscles quiver when they contract, and that quivering is the predominant signal to bones. It occurs when people stand still, for example, and their muscles contract to keep them upright. As people age, they lose many of those postural muscles, making them less able to balance, more apt to fall and, perhaps, prone to loss of bone.

“Bone is bombarded with little, teeny signals from muscle contractions,” Dr. Rubin said.

He discovered that in mice, sheep and turkeys, at least, standing on a flat vibrating plate led to bone growth. Small studies in humans — children with cerebral palsy who could not move much on their own and young women with low bone density — indicated that the vibrations might build bone in people, too.

Dr. Rubin and his colleagues got a patent and formed a company to make the vibrating plates. But they and others caution that it is not known if standing on them strengthens bones in humans. Even if it does, no one knows the right dose. It is possible that even if there is an effect, people might overdose and make their bones worse instead of better.

Some answers may come from the federal clinical trial, which will include 200 elderly people in assisted living. It is being directed by Dr. Douglas P. Kiel, an osteoporosis researcher and director of medical research at the Institute for Aging Research at Harvard. The animal work made him hopeful that the buzzing platforms would have an effect on human bones.

“This work is fascinating and very legitimate,” Dr. Kiel said.

But then Dr. Rubin reported that the mice were also less fat, which led to the revised plans to look for changes in body fat as well.

Dr. Rubin says he decided to look at whether vibrations affect fat because he knows what happens with age: bone marrow fills with fat. In osteoporosis, the bones do not merely thin; their texture becomes lacy, and inside the holes is fat. And a few years ago, scientists discovered a stem cell in bone marrow that can turn into either fat or bone, depending on what signal it receives.

No one knows why the fat is in bone marrow — maybe it provides energy for failing bone cells, suggests Dr. Clifford J. Rosen, director of the Maine Center for Osteoporosis Research and Education. And no one knows whether human fat cells ever leave the bone marrow and take up residence elsewhere.

But Dr. Rubin had an idea. “We thought, Wait a second,” he said. “If we are mechanically stimulating cells to form bone, what isn’t happening? We thought maybe these bone progenitor cells are driving down a decision path. Maybe they are not becoming fat cells.”

He paid a visit to Jeffrey E. Pessin, a diabetes expert at Stony Brook, and presented his hypothesis. Dr. Pessin laughed uproariously. He “almost kicked me out of his office,” as Dr. Rubin put it.

But when Dr. Rubin decided to go ahead anyway, Dr. Pessin joined in. Their hope was to see a small effect on body fat after the mice stood on the platforms 15 minutes a day, 5 days a week, for 15 weeks. Dr. Rubin was stunned by the 27 percent reduction.

“Talk about your jaw dropping,” he said.

Some obesity researchers, though, say there may be other reasons that the mice were less fat.

“It is a very intriguing paper,” said Claude Bouchard, an obesity researcher who is director of the Pennington Center for Biomedical Research at Louisiana State University. But he wondered whether the mice on the platform were simply burning more calories.

“It seems to me,” Dr. Bouchard said, “that putting myself in the body of a mouse, if I was on a platform that was vibrating 90 times a minute, I would try to adhere to the surface and not be thrown off. I would probably tense my legs a little bit. That is energy expenditure.”

Stress may be another factor, he added. Standing on the platform may have frightened the mice, and they might have become sick.

Dr. Rudolph L. Leibel, an obesity researcher who is co-director of the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center at Columbia University, had similar questions.

A platform that seems to be barely vibrating to a human could feel like an earthquake to a mouse, Dr. Leibel said, adding, “they could be scared to death,” which could affect the study data.

He also questioned the idea that precursor cells from bone marrow could turn into fat cells in the rest of the body, calling it “a contested and, I would say, incorrect notion.”

If the mice that stood on the platform became thinner and if they ate as much as mice that did not stand on the platform (as Dr. Rubin reported), they must be burning more calories, Dr. Leibel said.

Others are more hopeful.

“This is very, very cool,” said Dr. John B. Buse, a diabetes researcher at the University of North Carolina who is president for science and medicine at the American Diabetes Association. If it turned out to hold for people too, “it would be great for diabetes,” he added. He noted that people with Type 2 diabetes were likely not only to be overweight but also to have problems with their bones.

Still, Dr. Buse awaits more definitive studies in humans.

“It is almost too good to be true,” he said.

NY Times
28439  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Humor/WTF on: October 30, 2007, 03:24:37 PM
Why Men don't write Advice Columns:

Dear Walter:

I hope you can help me here. The other day I set off for work leaving my husband in the house watching the TV as usual. I hadn't gone more than a mile down the road when my engine conked out and the car shuddered to a halt.

I walked back home to get my husband's help. When I got home I couldn't believe my eyes. He was in the bedroom with a neighbor lady making mad passionate love to her.

I am 32, my husband is 34 and we have been married for twelve years.

When I confronted him, he tried to make out that he went into the back yard and heard a lady scream, had come to her rescue but found her unconscious.  He'd carried the woman back to our house, laid her in bed, and began CPR. When she awoke she immediately began thanking him and kissing him and he was attempting to break free when I came back. But when I asked him why neither of them had any clothes on, he broke down and admitted that he'd been having an affair for the past six months.

I told him to stop or I would leave him. He was let go from his job six months ago and he says he has been feeling increasingly depressed and worthless. I love him very much, but ever since I gave him the ultimatum he has become increasingly distant. I don't feel I can get through to him anymore.

Can you please help?


Mrs. U of Santa Clarita, CA

Dear Mrs. U:

A car stalling after being driven a short distance can be caused by a variety of faults with the engine. Start by checking that there is no debris in the fuel line. If it is clear, check the jubilee clips holding the vacuum pipes onto the inlet manifold. If none of these approaches solves the problem, it could be that the fuel pump itself is faulty, causing low delivery pressure to the carburetor float chamber.

I hope this helps.

28440  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Care Economics on: October 30, 2007, 03:21:59 PM
NYTimes-- caveat lector

Looking at Dutch and Swiss Health Systems
Published: October 30, 2007
WASHINGTON, Oct. 29 —The Swiss and Dutch health care systems are suddenly all the rage. They have features similar to proposals by at least two presidential hopefuls, and next month the United States’ top health official will visit Switzerland and the Netherlands to kick the tires.

Health and Human Services Secretary Michael O. Leavitt will see health systems in the Netherlands and Switzerland.
Health and Human Services Secretary Michael O. Leavitt will visit Switzerland on Nov. 7 and then fly to The Hague for two days. His schedule is filled with meetings with ministers and technocrats, hospital officials and insurance executives and patients and their advocates.

His visit arose, health department officials said, because policy experts here have promoted Swiss and Dutch changes as models.

In Switzerland and the Netherlands, all people have to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty. Employers are exempt from the mandates, and private insurers and hospitals provide care.

“We have been hearing a lot of people in the health policy community talk about how those two countries had been doing new things in health access, and the secretary wanted to get a closer look at what they’re doing,” a department official said.

The trip is not a sign, however, that the Bush administration is considering major health initiatives, officials said.

“We don’t have anything cooking that we haven’t announced,” the department official said. “We would not endorse a system like the Netherlands or Switzerland’s. But if there’s something we could learn about their system, we should learn about it.”

Other experts, however, are endorsing the two countries’ health systems.

The proposals of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Edwards borrow heavily from changes in the two countries. Mitt Romney’s changes when he was governor of Massachusetts were in part modeled on those in Switzerland. Mr. Romney has not endorsed this approach as a candidate seeking the Republican presidential nomination.

The Healthy Americans Act, introduced by Senators Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, and Robert F. Bennett, Republican of Utah, would largely adopt the Dutch reforms.

Mr. Wyden said Mr. Leavitt’s trip was part of growing Republican support for proposals for universal health care through individual mandates and private providers.

“I think Mr. Leavitt’s trip is a really positive development,” Mr. Wyden said.

A spokeswoman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, Susan Pisano, said she was struck by Mr. Leavitt’s timing. On Wednesday, Ms. Pisano’s trade group will be the host of a luncheon at which Dutch and Swiss insurance executives will discuss the changes in Europe.

The event is meant to dispel the myth that every nation that provides universal health care does so through government-run systems.

“The only models we seem to focus on here are those in Canada and Great Britain, which both have government-run systems,” Ms. Pisano said. “We thought it made sense to look at two countries that have universal coverage but rely on the private sector to get there.”

W. David Helms, president of AcademyHealth, a health policy research organization here, said he met top Dutch health officials for several days this month in the Netherlands.

The Netherlands is a particularly good model for the United States, Mr. Helms said, because it has solved two basic problems: moving from an employer-based system to one in which individuals buy their own insurance and subsidizing care for the poor.

“I think the Netherlands is hot right now because a number of people are realizing that we need to go to an individual-based system instead of an employer-based one,” he said.

President Bush recently proposed eliminating the different tax treatment for employer- and individually purchased health insurance by letting individuals buy insurance with pre-tax dollars.

Robert Blendon, a professor of health policy and political analysis at the Harvard School of Public Health, said interest in the Swiss and Dutch models had soared among policy experts because of a growing consensus that the United States would never adopt a single-payer system.

Professor Blendon said that the Massachusetts plan and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposal for California demonstrated that such changes were politically feasible, and that the Netherlands and Switzerland showed that they could work.
28441  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / NY Times: Too much praise on: October 30, 2007, 02:54:19 PM
An excess of praise may be doing kids more harm than good.
A cover story in this month’s Scholastic Instructor magazine asks whether kids today are “overpraised.'’ The concern is that by focusing on self-esteem and confidence building, parents and teachers may be giving real goals and achievement short shrift. The article cites a recent study in which eighth graders in Korea and the United States were asked whether they were good at math. Among the American students, 39 percent said they were excellent at math, compared to just 6 percent of the Korean eighth graders. But the reality was somewhat different. The Korean kids scored far better in math than the over-confident American students.
The notion that you can praise a kid too much is heresy to parents and teachers who have long believed that building self-esteem should be the cornerstone of education. If kids believe in themselves, the thinking goes, achievement will naturally follow. But confidence doesn’t always produce better students. Scholastic cites a 2006 report on education from the Brookings Institution’s Brown Center that found that countries in which families and schools emphasize self-esteem for students lag behind cultures where self-esteem isn’t a major focus.
The problem with this “rah-rah mentality,'’ as the magazine describes it, is that it can take away the sense of satisfaction that comes from genuine achievement. “Self-esteem is based on real accomplishments,” Robert Brooks, faculty psychologist at Harvard Medical School, told the magazine. “It’s all about letting kids shine in a realistic way.”
The downside of too much praise is that kids may start to focus on the reward rather than what they are learning. Worse, failure can be devastating and confusing for a student whose confidence is based on an inflated ego, rather than his or her actual abilities, the magazine notes. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t praise our kids or that teachers shouldn’t try to engender self-confidence. But self-esteem should be the result of good grades and achievement, not false accomplishments.
Last month, Cognitive Daily reported that parents and teachers should be specific rather than general when they dispense praise. An example of general praise is telling a child, “You’re smart.'’ Specific praise would be to say, “You did a good job reading,'’ or “You did great on your math test.'’ Kids who receive general praise about their abilities are more likely to exhibit “helpless” behavior when they encounter problems with learning, compared with kids who receive specific praise about their achievement on a task. The reason: a child who knows she’s a smart girl feels defeated if she has trouble reading a sentence. But a child who has been told she is a good reader is more likely to have confidence in that specific ability and work a little harder to tackle a more difficult book.
28442  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Buchanan on Giuliani on: October 30, 2007, 02:38:21 PM
Looking for Mr. Right
By Patrick J. Buchanan
Friday, October 26, 2007

"I was conservative yesterday, I'm a conservative today, and I will be a conservative tomorrow," declared Fred Thompson to the Conservative Party of New York, billing himself as the "consistent conservative" in the GOP race -- in contrast to ex-mayor Rudy Giuliani.

In his defense, Rudy cites George Will as calling his eight years in office in the Big Apple the most conservative city government in 50 years.

And, truth be told, Thompson was reliably conservative in his Senate years. But so, too, has John McCain been, and Ron Paul, Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo. Hunter, however, splits with Thompson and McCain on trade. Paul disagrees with all six of them on the war. And Tancredo assails McCain for backing Bush's amnesty for 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens.

Will the real conservative please stand up? Or perhaps we should recall John 14:2, "In my father's house there are many mansions."

What does it mean to be a conservative -- in 2007?

Sixty years ago, Robert A. Taft was the gold standard. Forty years ago, it was Barry Goldwater, who backed Bob Taft against Ike at the 1952 convention. Twenty years ago, it was Ronald Reagan, who backed Barry in 1964. Reagan remains the paragon -- for the consistency of his convictions, the success of his presidency and the character he exhibited to the end of his life. About Reagan the cliche was true: The greatness of the office found out the greatness in the man.

Reagan defined conservatism for his time. And the issues upon which we agreed were anti-communism, a national defense second to none, lower tax rates to unleash the engines of economic progress, fiscal responsibility, a strict-constructionist Supreme Court, law and order, the right-to-life from conception on and a resolute defense of family values under assault from the cultural revolution that hit America with hurricane force in the 1960s.

With the collapse of the Soviet Empire and the breakup of the Soviet Union, anti-communism as the defining and unifying issue of the right was gone. The conservative crack-up commenced.

With George H.W. Bush came the advent of what Fred Barnes of The New Republic hailed as Big Government Conservatism. Some thought the phrase oxymoronic. But when Bush stood at the rostrum of the U.N. General Assembly in October 1991 to declare that America's cause was the creation of a New World Order, the old right reached reflexively for their revolvers.

In 1992, with foreign policy off the table, the Bush economic record a perceived failure and Ross Perot running on protectionism and populism, Bush refused to play his trump card with the Clintons: the social and moral issues he and Lee Atwater had use to beat Michael Dukakis senseless in 1988. And so, George H.W. Bush lost the presidency.

Now, 15 years later, what does it mean to be a conservative?

There is no pope who speaks ex cathedra. There is no bible to consult, like Goldwater's "The Conscience of a Conservative" or Reagan's "no-pale-pastels" platform of 1980. At San Diego in 1996, Bob Dole told his convention he had not bothered to read the platform. Many who heard him did not bother to vote for Bob Dole.

And so, today, the once-great house of conservatism is a Tower of Babel. We are big government and small government, traditionalist and libertarian, tax-cutter and budget hawk, free trader and economic nationalist. Bush and McCain support amnesty and a "path to citizenship" for illegals. The country wants the laws enforced and a fence on the border.

And Rudy? A McGovernite in 1972, he boasted in the campaign of 1993 that he would "rekindle the Rockefeller, Javits, Lefkowitz tradition" of New York's GOP and "produce the kind of change New York City saw with ... John Lindsay." He ran on the Liberal Party line and supported Mario Cuomo in 1994.

Pro-abortion, anti-gun, again and again he strutted up Fifth Avenue in the June Gay Pride parade and turned the Big Apple into a sanctuary city for illegal aliens. While Ward Connerly goes state to state to end reverse discrimination, Rudy is an affirmative-action man.

Gravitating now to Rudy's camp are those inveterate opportunists, the neocons, who see in Giuliani their last hope of redemption for their cakewalk war and their best hope for a "Long War" against "Islamofascism."

I will, Rudy promises, nominate Scalias. Only one more may be needed to overturn Roe. And I will keep Hillary out of the White House.

A Giuliani presidency would represent the return and final triumph of the Republicanism that conservatives went into politics to purge from power. A Giuliani presidency would represent repudiation by the party of the moral, social and cultural content that, with anti-communism, once separated it from liberal Democrats and defined it as an institution.

Rudy offers the right the ultimate Faustian bargain: retention of power at the price of one's soul.

Pat Buchanan is a founding editor of The American Conservative magazine, and the author of many books including State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America .
28443  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: VIDEO CLIPS OF INTEREST on: October 30, 2007, 02:02:06 PM
Amazon women stickfighting
28444  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Part Three on: October 30, 2007, 11:25:26 AM

As Nelson?s statement hints, the utopian is less interested in freeing women to make their own choices than in engineering and imposing her own elite vision of a perfect society. Indeed, she is under no illusions that, left to their own democratic devices, women would freely choose the utopia she has in mind. She would not be surprised by recent Pakistani elections, where a number of the women who won parliamentary seats were Islamist. But it doesn?t really matter what women want. The universalist has a comprehensive vision of ?women?s human rights,? meaning not simply women?s civil and political rights but ?economic rights? and ?socioeconomic justice.? Cynical about free markets and globalization, the U.N. utopian is also unimpressed by the liberal democratic nation-state ?as an emancipatory institution,? in the dismissive words of J. Ann Tickner, director for international studies at the University of Southern California. Such nation-states are ?unresponsive to the needs of [their] most vulnerable members? and seeped in ?nationalist ideologies? as well as in patriarchal assumptions about autonomy. In fact, like the (usually) unacknowledged socialist that she is, the U.N. utopian eagerly awaits the withering of the nation-state, a political arrangement that she sees as tied to imperialism, war, and masculinity. During war, in particular, nations ?depend on ideas about masculinized dignity and feminized sacrifice to sustain the sense of autonomous nationhood,? writes Cynthia Enloe, professor of government at Clark University.

Having rejected the patriarchal liberal nation-state, with all the democratic machinery of self-government that goes along with it, the utopian concludes that there is only one way to achieve her goals: to impose them through international government. Utopian feminists fill the halls of the United Nations, where they examine everything through the lens of the ?gender perspective? in study after unreadable study. (My personal favorites: ?Gender Perspectives on Landmines? and ?Gender Perspectives on Weapons of Mass Destruction,? whose conclusion is that landmines and WMDs are bad for women.)

The 1979 U.N. Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), perhaps the first and most important document of feminist utopianism, gives the best sense of the sweeping nature of the movement?s ambitions. CEDAW demands many measures that anyone committed to democratic liberal values would applaud, including women?s right to vote and protection against honor killings and forced marriage. Would that the document stopped there. Instead it sets out to impose a utopian order that would erase all distinctions between men and women, a kind of revolution of the sexes from above, requiring nations to ?take all appropriate measures to modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women? and to eliminate ?stereotyped roles? to accomplish this legislative abolition of biology. The document calls for paid maternity leave, nonsexist school curricula, and government-supported child care. The treaty?s 23-member enforcement committee hectors nations that do not adequately grasp that, as Enloe puts it, ?the personal is international.? The committee has cited Belarus for celebrating Mother?s Day, China for failing to legalize prostitution, and Libya for not interpreting the Qur?an in accordance with ?committee guidelines.?

Confusing ?women?s participation? with self-determination, and numerical equivalence with equality, CEDAW utopians try to orchestrate their perfect society through quotas and affirmative-action plans. Their bean-counting mentality cares about whether women participate equally, without asking what it is that they are participating in or whether their participation is anything more than ceremonial. Thus at the recent Women?s Summit in Jordan, Rima Khalaf suggested that governments be required to use quotas in elections ?to leapfrog women to power.? Khalaf, like so many illiberal feminist utopians, has no hesitation in forcing society to be free. As is often the case when elites decide they have discovered the route to human perfection, the utopian urge is not simply antidemocratic but verges on the totalitarian.

That this combination of sentimental victimhood, postcolonial relativism, and utopian overreaching has caused feminism to suffer so profound a loss of moral and political imagination that it cannot speak against the brutalization of Islamic women is an incalculable loss to women and to men. The great contribution of Western feminism was to expand the definition of human dignity and freedom. It insisted that all human beings were worthy of liberty. Feminists now have the opportunity to make that claim on behalf of women who in their oppression have not so much as imagined that its promise could include them, too. At its best, feminism has stood for a rich idea of personal choice in shaping a meaningful life, one that respects not only the woman who wants to crash through glass ceilings but also the one who wants to stay home with her children and bake cookies or to wear a veil and fast on Ramadan. Why shouldn?t feminists want to shout out their own profound discovery for the world to hear?

Perhaps, finally, because to do so would be to acknowledge the freedom they themselves enjoy, thanks to Western ideals and institutions. Not only would such an admission force them to give up their own simmering resentments; it would be bad for business.
The truth is that the free institutions?an independent judiciary, a free press, open elections?that protect the rights of women are the same ones that protect the rights of men. The separation of church and state that would allow women to escape the burqa would also free men from having their hands amputated for theft. The education system that would teach girls to read would also empower millions of illiterate boys. The capitalist economies that bring clean water, cheap clothes, and washing machines that change the lives of women are the same ones that lead to healthier, freer men. In other words, to address the problems of Muslim women honestly, feminists would have to recognize that free men and women need the same things?and that those are things that they themselves already have. And recognizing that would mean an end to feminism as we know it.

There are signs that, outside the academy, middlebrow literary circles, and the United Nations, feminism has indeed met its Waterloo. Most Americans seem to realize that September 11 turned self-indulgent sentimental illusions, including those about the sexes, into an unaffordable luxury. Consider, for instance, women?s attitudes toward war, a topic on which politicians have learned to take for granted a gender gap. But according to the Pew Research Center, in January 2002, 57 percent of women versus 46 percent of men cited national security as the country?s top priority. There has been a ?seismic gender shift on matters of war,? according to pollster Kellyanne Conway. In 1991, 45 percent of U.S. women supported the use of ground troops in the Gulf War, a substantially smaller number than the 67 percent of men. But as of November, a CNN survey found women were more likely than men to support the use of ground troops against Iraq, 58 percent to 56 percent. The numbers for younger women were especially dramatic. Sixty-five percent of women between 18 and 49 support ground troops, as opposed to 48 percent of women 50 and over. Women are also changing their attitudes toward military spending: before September 11, only 24 percent of women supported increased funds; after the attacks, that number climbed to 47 percent. An evolutionary psychologist might speculate that, if females tend to be less aggressively territorial than males, there?s little to compare to the ferocity of the lioness when she believes her young are threatened.

Even among some who consider themselves feminists, there is some grudging recognition that Western, and specifically American, men are sometimes a force for the good. The Feminist Majority is sending around urgent messages asking for President Bush to increase American security forces in Afghanistan. The influential left-wing British columnist Polly Toynbee, who just 18 months ago coined the phrase ?America the Horrible,? went to Afghanistan to figure out whether the war ?was worth it.? Her answer was not what she might have expected. Though she found nine out of ten women still wearing burqas, partly out of fear of lingering fundamentalist hostility, she was convinced their lives had greatly improved. Women say they can go out alone now.

As we sink more deeply into what is likely to be a protracted struggle with radical Islam, American feminists have a moral responsibility to give up their resentments and speak up for women who actually need their support. Feminists have the moral authority to say that their call for the rights of women is a universal demand?that the rights of women are the Rights of Man.

Feminism Behind the Veil

Feminists in the West may fiddle while Muslim women are burning, but in the Muslim world itself there is a burgeoning movement to address the miserable predicament of the second sex?without simply adopting a philosophy whose higher cultural products include Sex and the City, Rosie O?Donnell, and the power-suited female executive.

The most impressive signs of an indigenous female revolt against the fundamentalist order are in Iran. Over the past ten years or so, Iran has seen the publication of a slew of serious journals dedicated to the social and political predicament of Islamic women, the most well known being the Teheran-based Zonan and Zan, published by Faezah Hashemi, a well-known member of parliament and the daughter of former president Rafsanjani. Believing that Western feminism has promoted hostility between the sexes, confused sex roles, and the sexual objectification of women, a number of writers have proposed an Islamic-style feminism that would stress ?gender complementarity? rather than equality and that would pay full respect to housewifery and motherhood while also giving women access to education and jobs.

Attacking from the religious front, a number of ?Islamic feminists? are challenging the reigning fundamentalist reading of the Qur?an. These scholars insist that the founding principles of Islam, which they believe were long ago corrupted by pre-Islamic Arab, Persian, and North African customs, are if anything more egalitarian than those of Western religions; the Qur?an explicitly describes women as the moral and spiritual equals of men and allows them to inherit and pass down property. The power of misogynistic mullahs has grown in recent decades, feminists continue, because Muslim men have felt threatened by modernity?s challenge to traditional arrangements between the sexes.

What makes Islamic feminism really worth watching is that it has the potential to play a profoundly important role in the future of the Islamic world?and not just because it could improve the lot of women. By insisting that it is true to Islam?in fact, truer than the creed espoused by the entrenched religious elite?Islamic feminism can affirm the dignity of Islam while at the same time bringing it more in line with modernity. In doing this, feminists can help lay the philosophical groundwork for democracy. In the West, feminism lagged behind religious reformation and political democratization by centuries; in the East, feminism could help lead the charge.

At the same time, though, the issue of women?s rights highlights two reasons for caution about the Islamic future. For one thing, no matter how much feminists might wish otherwise, polygamy and male domination of the family are not merely a fact of local traditions; they are written into the Qur?an itself. This in and of itself would not prove to be such an impediment?the Old Testament is filled with laws antithetical to women?s equality?except for the second problem: more than other religions, Islam is unfriendly to the notion of the separation of church and state. If history is any guide, there?s the rub. The ultimate guarantor of the rights of all citizens, whether Islamic or not, can only be a fully secular state.
28445  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Men & Women on: October 30, 2007, 11:24:25 AM

Major foundations too seem to take gender feminism seriously enough to promote it as an answer to world problems. Last December, the Ford Foundation and the Soros Open Society Foundation helped fund the Afghan Women?s Summit in Brussels to develop ideas for a new government in Afghanistan. As Vagina Monologues author Eve Ensler described it on her website, the summit was made up of ?meetings and meals, canvassing, workshops, tears, and dancing.? ?Defense was mentioned nowhere in the document,? Ensler wrote proudly of the summit?s concluding proclamation?despite the continuing threat in Afghanistan of warlords, bandits, and lingering al-Qaida operatives. ?uilding weapons or instruments of retaliation was not called for in any category,? Ensler cooed. ?Instead [the women] wanted education, health care, and the protection of refugees, culture, and human rights.?

Too busy celebrating their own virtue and contemplating their own victimhood, gender feminists cannot address the suffering of their Muslim sisters realistically, as light years worse than their own petulant grievances. They are too intent on hating war to ask if unleashing its horrors might be worth it to overturn a brutal tyranny that, among its manifold inhumanities, treats women like animals. After all, hating war and machismo is evidence of the moral superiority that comes with being born female.

Yet the gender feminist idea of superior feminine virtue is becoming an increasingly tough sell for anyone actually keeping up with world events. Kipling once wrote of the fierceness of Afghan women: ?When you?re wounded and left on the Afghan plains/And the women come out to cut up your remains/Just roll to your rifle and blow out your brains.? Now it?s clearer than ever that the dream of worldwide sisterhood is no more realistic than worldwide brotherhood; culture trumps gender any day. Mothers all over the Muslim world are naming their babies Usama or praising Allah for their sons? efforts to kill crusading infidels. Last February, 28-year-old Wafa Idris became the first female Palestinian suicide bomber to strike in Israel, killing an elderly man and wounding scores of women and children. And in April, Israeli soldiers discovered under the maternity clothes of 26-year-old Shifa Adnan Kodsi a bomb rather than a baby. Maternal thinking, indeed.

The second variety of feminism, seemingly more sophisticated and especially prevalent on college campuses, is multiculturalism and its twin, postcolonialism. The postcolonial feminist has even more reason to shy away from the predicament of women under radical Islam than her maternally thinking sister. She believes that the Western world is so sullied by its legacy of imperialism that no Westerner, man or woman, can utter a word of judgment against former colonial peoples. Worse, she is not so sure that radical Islam isn?t an authentic, indigenous?and therefore appropriate?expression of Arab and Middle Eastern identity.

The postmodern philosopher Michel Foucault, one of the intellectual godfathers of multiculturalism and postcolonialism, first set the tone in 1978 when an Italian newspaper sent him to Teheran to cover the Iranian revolution. As his biographer James Miller tells it, Foucault looked in the face of Islamic fundamentalism and saw . . . an awe-inspiring revolt against ?global hegemony.? He was mesmerized by this new form of ?political spirituality? that, in a phrase whose dark prescience he could not have grasped, portended the ?transfiguration of the world.? Even after the Ayatollah Khomeini came to power and reintroduced polygamy and divorce on the husband?s demand with automatic custody to fathers, reduced the official female age of marriage from 18 to 13, fired all female judges, and ordered compulsory veiling, whose transgression was to be punished by public flogging, Foucault saw no reason to temper his enthusiasm. What was a small matter like women?s basic rights, when a struggle against ?the planetary system? was at hand?

Postcolonialists, then, have their own binary system, somewhat at odds with gender feminism?not to mention with women?s rights. It is not men who are the sinners; it is the West. It is not women who are victimized innocents; it is the people who suffered under Western colonialism, or the descendants of those people, to be more exact. Caught between the rock of patriarchy and the hard place of imperialism, the postcolonial feminist scholar gingerly tiptoes her way around the subject of Islamic fundamentalism and does the only thing she can do: she focuses her ire on Western men.

To this end, the postcolonialist eagerly dips into the inkwell of gender feminism. She ties colonialist exploitation and domination to maleness; she might refer to Israel?s ?masculinist military culture??Israel being white and Western?though she would never dream of pointing out the ?masculinist military culture? of the jihadi. And she expends a good deal of energy condemning Western men for wanting to improve the lives of Eastern women. At the turn of the twentieth century Lord Cromer, the British vice consul of Egypt and a pet target of postcolonial feminists, argued that the ?degradation? of women under Islam had a harmful effect on society. Rubbish, according to the postcolonialist feminist. His words are simply part of ?the Western narrative of the quintessential otherness and inferiority of Islam,? as Harvard professor Leila Ahmed puts it in Women and Gender in Islam. The same goes for American concern about Afghan women; it is merely a ?device for ranking the ?other? men as inferior or as ?uncivilized,? ? according to Nira Yuval-Davis, professor of gender and ethnic studies at the University of Greenwich, England. These are all examples of what renowned Columbia professor Gayatri Spivak called ?white men saving brown women from brown men.?

Spivak?s phrase, a great favorite on campus, points to the postcolonial notion that brown men, having been victimized by the West, can never be oppressors in their own right. If they give the appearance of treating women badly, the oppression they have suffered at the hands of Western colonial masters is to blame. In fact, the worse they treat women, the more they are expressing their own justifiable outrage. ?When men are traumatized [by colonial rule], they tend to traumatize their own women,? Miriam Cooke, a Duke professor and head of the Association for Middle East Women?s Studies, told me. And today, Cooke asserts, brown men are subjected to a new form of imperialism. ?Now there is a return of colonialism that we saw in the nineteenth century in the context of globalization,? she says. ?What is driving Islamist men is globalization.?

It would be difficult to exaggerate the through-the-looking-glass quality of postcolonialist theory when it comes to the subject of women. Female suicide bombers are a good thing, because they are strong women demonstrating ?agency? against colonial powers. Polygamy too must be shown due consideration. ?Polygamy can be liberating and empowering,? Cooke answered sunnily when I asked her about it. ?Our norm is the Western, heterosexual, single couple. If we can imagine different forms that would allow us to be something other than a heterosexual couple, we might imagine polygamy working,? she explained murkily. Some women, she continued, are relieved when their husbands take a new wife: they won?t have to service him so often. Or they might find they now have the freedom to take a lover. But, I ask, wouldn?t that be dangerous in places where adulteresses can be stoned to death? At any rate, how common is that? ?I don?t know,? Cooke answers, ?I?m interested in discourse.? The irony couldn?t be darker: the very people protesting the imperialist exploitation of the ?Other? endorse that Other?s repressive customs as a means of promoting their own uniquely Western agenda?subverting the heterosexual patriarchy.

The final category in the feminist taxonomy, which might be called the world-government utopian strain, is in many respects closest to classical liberal feminism. Dedicated to full female dignity and equality, it generally eschews both the biological determinism of the gender feminist and the cultural relativism of the multiculti postcolonialist. Stanford political science professor Susan Moller Okin, an influential, subtle, and intelligent spokeswoman for this approach, created a stir among feminists in 1997 when she forthrightly attacked multiculturalists for valuing ?group rights for minority cultures? over the well-being of individual women. Okin admirably minced no words attacking arranged marriage, female circumcision, and polygamy, which she believed women experienced as a ?barely tolerable institution.? Some women, she went so far as to declare, ?might be better off if the culture into which they were born were either to become extinct . . . or preferably, to be encouraged to alter itself so as to reinforce the equality of women.?

But though Okin is less shy than other feminists about discussing the plight of women under Islamic fundamentalism, the typical U.N. utopian has her own reasons for keeping quiet as that plight fills Western headlines. For one thing, the utopian is also a bean-counting absolutist, seeking a pure, numerical equality between men and women in all departments of life. She greets Western, and particularly American, claims to have achieved freedom for women with skepticism. The motto of the 2002 International Women?s Day??Afghanistan Is Everywhere??was in part a reproach to the West about its superior airs. Women in Afghanistan might have to wear burqas, but don?t women in the West parade around in bikinis? ?It?s equally disrespectful and abusive to have women prancing around a stage in bathing suits for cash or walking the streets shrouded in burqas in order to survive,? columnist Jill Nelson wrote on the MSNBC website about the murderously fanatical riots that attended the Miss World pageant in Nigeria.
28446  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / 2003 article on Feminism and Islam on: October 30, 2007, 11:23:15 AM
Why Feminism Is AWOL on Islam
Kay S. Hymowitz

U.S. feminists should be protesting the brutal oppression of Middle Eastern women. But doing so would reveal how little they have to complain about at home.

Argue all you want with many feminist policies, but few quarrel with feminism?s core moral insight, which changed the lives (and minds) of women forever: that women are due the same rights and dignity as men. So, as news of the appalling miseries of women in the Islamic world has piled up, where are the feminists? Where?s the outrage? For a brief moment after September 11, when pictures of those blue alien-creaturely shapes in Afghanistan filled the papers, it seemed as if feminists were going to have their moment. And in fact the Feminist Majority, to its credit, had been publicizing since the mid-90s how Afghan girls were barred from school, how women were stoned for adultery or beaten for showing an ankle or wearing high-heeled shoes, how they were prohibited from leaving the house unless accompanied by a male relative, how they were denied medical help because the only doctors around were male.

But the rest is feminist silence. You haven?t heard a peep from feminists as it has grown clear that the Taliban were exceptional not in their extreme views about women but in their success at embodying those views in law and practice. In the United Arab Emirates, husbands have the right to beat their wives in order to discipline them??provided that the beating is not so severe as to damage her bones or deform her body,? in the words of the Gulf News. In Saudi Arabia, women cannot vote, drive, or show their faces or talk with male non-relatives in public. (Evidently they can?t talk to men over the airwaves either; when Prince Abdullah went to President Bush?s ranch in Crawford last April, he insisted that no female air-traffic controllers handle his flight.) Yes, Saudi girls can go to school, and many even attend the university; but at the university, women must sit in segregated rooms and watch their professors on closed-circuit televisions. If they have a question, they push a button on their desk, which turns on a light at the professor?s lectern, from which he can answer the female without being in her dangerous presence. And in Saudi Arabia, education can be harmful to female health. Last spring in Mecca, members of the mutaween, the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue, pushed fleeing students back into their burning school because they were not properly covered in abaya. Fifteen girls died.

You didn?t hear much from feminists when in the northern Nigerian province of Katsina a Muslim court sentenced a woman to death by stoning for having a child outside of marriage. The case might not have earned much attention?stonings are common in parts of the Muslim world?except that the young woman, who had been married off at 14 to a husband who ultimately divorced her when she lost her virginal allure, was still nursing a baby at the time of sentencing. During her trial she had no lawyer, although the court did see fit to delay her execution until she weans her infant.

You didn?t hear much from feminists as it emerged that honor killings by relatives, often either ignored or only lightly punished by authorities, are also commonplace in the Muslim world. In September, Reuters reported the story of an Iranian man, ?defending my honor, family, and dignity,? who cut off his seven-year-old daughter?s head after suspecting she had been raped by her uncle. The postmortem showed the girl to be a virgin. In another family mix-up, a Yemeni man shot his daughter to death on her wedding night when her husband claimed she was not a virgin. After a medical exam revealed that the husband was mistaken, officials concluded he was simply trying to protect himself from embarrassment about his own impotence. According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, every day two women are slain by male relatives seeking to avenge the family honor.

The savagery of some of these murders is worth a moment?s pause. In 2000, two Punjabi sisters, 20 and 21 years old, had their throats slit by their brother and cousin because the girls were seen talking to two boys to whom they were not related. In one especially notorious case, an Egyptian woman named Nora Marzouk Ahmed fell in love and eloped. When she went to make amends with her father, he cut off her head and paraded it down the street. Several years back, according to the Washington Post, the husband of Zahida Perveen, a 32-year-old pregnant Pakistani, gouged out her eyes and sliced off her earlobe and nose because he suspected her of having an affair.

In a related example widely covered last summer, a teenage girl in the Punjab was sentenced by a tribal council to rape by a gang that included one of the councilmen. After the hour-and-a-half ordeal, the girl was forced to walk home naked in front of scores of onlookers. She had been punished because her 11-year-old brother had compromised another girl by being been seen alone with her. But that charge turned out to be a ruse: it seems that three men of a neighboring tribe had sodomized the boy and accused him of illicit relations?an accusation leading to his sister?s barbaric punishment?as a way of covering up their crime.

Nor is such brutality limited to backward, out-of-the-way villages. Muddassir Rizvi, a Pakistani journalist, says that, though always common in rural areas, in recent years honor killings have become more prevalent in cities ?among educated and liberal families.? In relatively modern Jordan, honor killings were all but exempt from punishment until the penal code was modified last year; unfortunately, a young Palestinian living in Jordan, who had recently stabbed his 19-year-old sister 40 times ?to cleanse the family honor,? and another man from near Amman, who ran over his 23-year-old sister with his truck because of her ?immoral behavior,? had not yet changed their ways. British psychiatrist Anthony Daniels reports that British Muslim men frequently spirit their young daughters back to their native Pakistan and force the girls to marry. Such fathers have been known to kill daughters who resist. In Sweden, in one highly publicized case, Fadima Sahindal, an assimilated 26-year-old of Kurdish origin, was murdered by her father after she began living with her Swedish boyfriend. ?The whore is dead,? the family announced.

As you look at this inventory of brutality, the question bears repeating: Where are the demonstrations, the articles, the petitions, the resolutions, the vindications of the rights of Islamic women by American feminists? The weird fact is that, even after the excesses of the Taliban did more to forge an American consensus about women?s rights than 30 years of speeches by Gloria Steinem, feminists refused to touch this subject. They have averted their eyes from the harsh, blatant oppression of millions of women, even while they have continued to stare into the Western patriarchal abyss, indignant over female executives who cannot join an exclusive golf club and college women who do not have their own lacrosse teams.

But look more deeply into the matter, and you realize that the sound of feminist silence about the savage fundamentalist Muslim oppression of women has its own perverse logic. The silence is a direct outgrowth of the way feminist theory has developed in recent years. Now mired in self-righteous sentimentalism, multicultural nonjudgmentalism, and internationalist utopianism, feminism has lost the language to make the universalist moral claims of equal dignity and individual freedom that once rendered it so compelling. No wonder that most Americans, trying to deal with the realities of a post-9/11 world, are paying feminists no mind.

To understand the current sisterly silence about the sort of tyranny that the women?s movement came into existence to attack, it is helpful to think of feminisms plural rather than singular. Though not entirely discrete philosophies, each of three different feminisms has its own distinct reasons for causing activists to ?lose their voice? in the face of women?s oppression.

The first variety?radical feminism (or gender feminism, in Christina Hoff Sommers?s term)?starts with the insight that men are, not to put too fine a point upon it, brutes. Radical feminists do not simply subscribe to the reasonable-enough notion that men are naturally more prone to aggression than women. They believe that maleness is a kind of original sin. Masculinity explains child abuse, marital strife, high defense spending, every war from Troy to Afghanistan, as well as Hitler, Franco, and Pinochet. As Gloria Steinem informed the audience at a Florida fundraiser last March: ?The cult of masculinity is the basis for every violent, fascist regime.?

Gender feminists are little interested in fine distinctions between radical Muslim men who slam commercial airliners into office buildings and soldiers who want to stop radical Muslim men from slamming commercial airliners into office buildings. They are both examples of generic male violence?and specifically, male violence against women. ?Terrorism is on a continuum that starts with violence within the family, battery against women, violence against women in the society, all the way up to organized militaries that are supported by taxpayer money,? according to Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, who teaches ?The Sexuality of Terrorism? at California State University in Hayward. Violence is so intertwined with male sexuality that, she tells us, military pilots watch porn movies before they go out on sorties. The war in Afghanistan could not possibly offer a chance to liberate women from their oppressors, since it would simply expose women to yet another set of oppressors, in the gender feminists? view. As Sharon Lerner asserted bizarrely in the Village Voice, feminists? ?discomfort? with the Afghanistan bombing was ?deepened by the knowledge that more women than men die as a result of most wars.?

If guys are brutes, girls are their opposite: peace-loving, tolerant, conciliatory, and reasonable??Antiwar and Pro-Feminist,? as the popular peace-rally sign goes. Feminists long ago banished tough-as-nails women like Margaret Thatcher and Jeanne Kirkpatrick (and these days, one would guess, even the fetching Condoleezza Rice) to the ranks of the imperfectly female. Real women, they believe, would never justify war. ?Most women, Western and Muslim, are opposed to war regardless of its reasons and objectives,? wrote the Jordanian feminist Fadia Faqir on ?They are concerned with emancipation, freedom (personal and civic), human rights, power sharing, integrity, dignity, equality, autonomy, power-sharing [sic], liberation, and pluralism.?

Sara Ruddick, author of Maternal Thinking, is perhaps one of the most influential spokeswomen for the position that women are instinctually peaceful. According to Ruddick (who clearly didn?t have Joan Crawford in mind), that?s because a good deal of mothering is naturally governed by the Gandhian principles of nonviolence such as ?renunciation,? ?resistance to injustice,? and ?reconciliation.? The novelist Barbara Kingsolver was one of the first to demonstrate the subtleties of such universal maternal thinking after the United States invaded Afghanistan. ?I feel like I?m standing on a playground where the little boys are all screaming ?He started it!? and throwing rocks,? she wrote in the Los Angeles Times. ?I keep looking for somebody?s mother to come on the scene saying, ?Boys! Boys!? ?

Gender feminism?s tendency to reduce foreign affairs to a Lifetime Channel movie may make it seem too silly to bear mentioning, but its kitschy naivet? hasn?t stopped it from being widespread among elites. You see it in widely read writers like Kingsolver, Maureen Dowd, and Alice Walker. It turns up in our most elite institutions. Swanee Hunt, head of the Women in Public Policy Program at Harvard?s Kennedy School of Government wrote, with Cristina Posa in Foreign Policy: ?The key reason behind women?s marginalization may be that everyone recognizes just how good women are at forging peace.? Even female elected officials are on board. ?The women of all these countries should go on strike, they should all sit down and refuse to do anything until their men agree to talk peace,? urged Ohio representative Marcy Kaptur to the Arab News last spring, echoing an idea that Aristophanes, a dead white male, proposed as a joke 2,400 years ago. And President Clinton is an advocate of maternal thinking, too. ?If we?d had women at Camp David,? he said in July 2000, ?we?d have an agreement.?
28447  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Newt plugs his book on: October 30, 2007, 11:08:11 AM

Do you remember back in the late 1980s and early 1990s when people began thinking differently about welfare?

Politicians in Washington and in state capitals actually woke up to the fact that the usual left-right screaming matches weren't doing any good. Lots of us came to understand that the welfare system we then had was actually harming many of the people it was supposed to be helping. The result of this new way of thinking was welfare reform.

Eleven years later, the effects of this change are nothing less than transformational. Welfare rolls have declined by more than 60 percent. And a million and a half fewer children are living in poverty.

Today, I want to introduce you to a new way of thinking about the environment.

This week marks the launch of my new book, A Contract with the Earth.

I wrote it with my friend Terry Maple, who was once the head of Zoo Atlanta and is now president and CEO of the Palm Beach Zoo and professor of conservation and behavior at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

If I had to boil down the message of A Contract with the Earth to just a couple sentences, I would say it's this:

The left doesn't have the last word on how we protect our environment -- and neither do the folks who say we should sit back and do nothing.

The fact is, according to polling done by my grassroots organization, American Solutions, 95 percent of Americans believe we have an obligation to be good stewards of God's creation for future generations. Eighty-two percent said they believe so "intensely."

Over the last 36 years, I have watched the pro-regulation, pro-litigation, pro-taxation and pro-centralized-government advocates become the definers of environmentalism.

The left would have us believe that to be an environmentalist you have to believe in catastrophic threats, dramatic increases in government power and economically draconian solutions. Such a big-government bureaucracy, trial-lawyer-litigation and excessive-regulation "environmentalism" does a poor job of protecting the environment while it erodes individual freedom, destroys jobs and weakens our country.

The time has come to propose a fundamentally different approach to a healthy environment and a healthy economy.

The time has come for the development of a mainstream environmentalism as an alternative to big bureaucracy and big litigation environmentalism. You could call it "green conservatism," but it's really the mainstream environmental approach that has worked so well in the United States. President Theodore Roosevelt epitomized this approach when he said, "The movement for the conservation of wild life and the larger movement for the conservation of all our natural resources are essentially democratic in spirit, purpose and method."

A Better Way to Protect God's Creation

A Contract with the Earth, which is available in both book and audio form, describes a different -- and better -- way to protect God's creation.

Take this quick quiz:

Do you believe a healthy environment should be able to coexist with a healthy, growing economy?

Do you believe investments in science and technology will generate solutions to most of our environmental problems?

Do you believe incentives should be offered to encourage corporations to clean up the environment?

Do you believe corporate and private philanthropy is essential to the success of a global and environmental movement?

If you answered "yes" to most of these questions, you're probably in the environmental mainstream. You may even be a green conservative.

I'll have a lot more to say about A Contract with the Earth and new ways of thinking about protecting our environment in the weeks and months ahead. For now, you can read more about green conservatism at
28448  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers: on: October 30, 2007, 11:07:04 AM
"History by apprising [citizens] of the past will enable them
to judge of the future; it will avail them of the experience of
other times and other nations; it will qualify them as judges
of the actions and designs of men; it will enable them to know
ambition under every disguise it may assume; and knowing it,
to defeat its views."

-- Thomas Jefferson (Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 14,
28449  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Communicating with the Muslim World on: October 30, 2007, 10:43:27 AM

What I Said
By David Horowitz | 10/30/2007

[The following is a speech given by David Horowitz at the University of Wisconsin last Monday as part of the university’s Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week program]

I understand that the cold weather set in just to day so I planned this event to warm things up. Actually, it wasn’t my plan to warm things up. The heat has been provided by a national hate campaign organized by the political left to intimidate and discredit the student organizers of the event and prevent the discussion they hoped to stimulate from taking place. Some of this hate crowd is present tonight. Yes, I can hear you. You attack this event by alleging that it is put on by racists and bigots and Islamo-phobes. I’m going to disappoint you, if you listen. This evening is not about prejudice against Muslims. On the contrary, this evening is on behalf of all those Muslims who are oppressed by Islamo-Fascism, which you would know if you read what we have said.
If you want to understand what this week is about, here is the poster we designed to announce our events. What it shows is a soccer field in Afghanistan. The figure with the AK-47 is a Taliban soldier. And this poor woman, who is about to have her head blown off at point blank range by an AK-47 has been accused of sexual improprieties, which violate Islamic law. As you may or may not know, in countries where Sharia, which is Islamic law, is imposed by the state, women cannot be witnesses. So this poor woman had no defense. Nor could other women testify in her behalf. Islamic law forbids it. The person who shot the video from which this still is taken asked the Taliban why they were doing this on this soccer field. It happens the United States, in its never-ending generosity, gave Afghanistan that soccer field. The Taliban soldier replied, “Well, if the United States will give us a place for executions, we will play soccer on the soccer field.” These are the religious barbarians we face.
Every person in this photo is a Muslim. The victim is a Muslim. There are 130 million girls in Islamic countries who have had their genitals sliced off at puberty, without anesthetic, because sexual pleasure in a woman is held to be evil by some perverted interpretation of Islamic law. The clitorectomies are to save these girls from evil. This evening and this week is to protest that barbaric treatment of young Muslim women. There are 4,000 homosexuals who have been executed in Iran. This evening is to protest that as well. There are 52 countries in the world where there have been honor killings of Muslim women. If a Muslim woman is raped, her family is shamed. Remove the stain of that shame, one of her relatives, a brother, a cousin, parent, murders her. This is a week to bring awareness about that barbaric practice by Islamo-fascists and to try to stop it.
One of our concerns in this regard is the failure of the Women’s Studies Movement to educate students about these atrocities. There are probably 600 Women’s Studies programs on American campuses, which focus on the unequal treatment of women in society. We have had a very hard time locating a single class which focuses on the oppression of women under Islamic law.
As you probably know, women under Islamic law get half the inheritance a man does. In some countries where Sharia is enforced, women can’t even get an education. In Saudi Arabia, there is currently a campaign for women’s liberatiion which is attempting to get women the right to drive an automobile. To drive an automobile! Why aren’t Women’s Studies Departments up in arms about this? You can probably go to a Women’s Studies class at this university and learn about the oppression of women in the faculty lounge, but you can’t learn about the oppression of women in Tehran or Riyadh or Kuala Lumpur.
For the information of our opponents here tonight, this week is already a tremendous success, because no matter how hostile you are to what you imagine to be our views, which have been unbelievably distorted in the attacks this week, you yourselves are already now discussing the issues we set out to raise: “Why is it that American feminists are not up in arms about the savage abuses of women by Islamo-fascists, about those 130 million young girls who have their genitals sliced off?”
So we have already done a service to Muslim women all over the world just by raising this. I know that there are the people who feel that the Muslim community is under threat here. But think of the Muslim community in Algeria where between 150,000 and 200,000 moderate Muslims were slaughtered in the 1990s, by an organization calling itself Al Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb. Think about the Muslims in the Sudan who are being slaughtered by a Taliban-like regime, simply because they don't subscribe to the regime's version of Islam. This is a serious problem in the Islamic world where (except for the nation of Turkey, which seems to be going in the other direction) there is a lack of separation of church and state. What that means is if radical clerics get in control of the state, they will use the state law to enforce their version of the Qur'an.
In Iran, just last week, the modesty police issued a new edict that couples can't hold hands in public. If you want the definition of a totalitarian state, it's a state that controls every aspect of a person's life. Religions, and particularly Islam, are concerned with many aspects of a person’s life. Religion is about morality, about the family, and about social relations. So when interpretations of religious law are enforce by the political state that’s the end of all freedom. It means one set of priests is going to have the power state behind their interpretation of what you can and cannot do. The end result of that process is this poor woman in the photo who is about to have her head blown off by an AK-47 for violating a government edict about her sex life. I don’t think there is anybody in this room who would support that. I hope there isn’t.
That’s really what we intended to do with this week, to make people aware of this problem. I have called it “Islamo-Fascism.” That is not a term designed to say that all Muslims or a majority of Muslims are fascists. In fact a majority of Muslims are either victims of Islamo-Fascists or threatened by them. The FoxNews channel anchor and other misguided individuals think that the term “Islamo-Fascism” is hate speech. That’s the same thing as saying the term should be banned. In a democracy, at least in our democracy as it has been degraded by so-called liberals today, the way you ban ideas is by calling them “hate speech.” But saying that Islamo-Fascism implicates all Muslims make no logical sense.
We use the term “Italian Fascism” without assuming that all Italians are fascists. Hitler did not even win a majority of the vote in Germany, yet we use the phrase “German Fascism” without implying that all people of German descent are fascists. People like Alan Colmes will throw around the term “white racism” pretty casually. Everyone in this room has either used the phrase “white racism” or read it without objection. Do you mean to call every white person a racist when you use that term? That would make Alan Colmes a racist. Yet that’s precisely what the opponents of Islamo-Fascism week seem to be claiming.
The hateful attacks on this week are, in fact quite stupid, when you think about what they are claiming. If I intended to come on a college platform and say hateful things about all Muslims, I would be hooted off the stage. No campus organization would invite me to say such things and if I did say them I would never be invited by any campus organization again. Since no one on a college campus is prepared to hear hate speech, why bother to protest it in advance. It’s self-discrediting. Yet we live in such Orwellian times that no one laughs when the left makes these preposterous claims.
So, on the one hand, the hate campaign against us is a very stupid campaign, although it is also malicious. On the other, it is quite sinister. When you are called a racist from one end of the country to another, when you are identified as somebody who is preaching hate against a religious or ethnic or racial group, someone is going to believe those charges. The effect, in other words, is to put a target on your back. Which is why there is so much security present tonight...
28450  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Umpad Corto-Kadena on: October 30, 2007, 10:32:56 AM
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