Dog Brothers Public Forum
Return To Homepage
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
July 29, 2014, 03:59:55 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Search:     Advanced search
Welcome to the Dog Brothers Public Forum.
81346 Posts in 2243 Topics by 1046 Members
Latest Member: MikeT
* Home Help Search Login Register
  Show Posts
Pages: 1 ... 567 568 [569] 570 571 ... 613
28401  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Australia on: December 06, 2006, 06:54:57 PM
Boys expelled from Islamic school for urinating on Bible
12:29 PM December 6

The headmaster of a Melbourne Islamic College has condemned the behaviour of two boys expelled for allegedly urinating on a Bible.

The incident is alleged to have happened on a school camp last week.

Teachers at the East Preston College have petitioned the principal telling of their shock and dismay.

Principal Shaheem Doutie says the behaviour of the boys was unacceptable.

"Principal, teachers and the school community hereby condemn in the strongest possible terms the alleged desecration of the Bible by two of our students at a school camp," he said.

Mr Doutie has offered an unconditional apology to everyone affected.

"I hereby apologise to all staff, including Muslim and non-Muslim teachers, or any other person that was offended by this horrible act as conducted by some ignorant and clearly ill-informed students," he said.

Source: ABC
28402  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: December 06, 2006, 12:26:19 PM
From another forum

December 5, 2006

Belgium: Muslims Stone Jewish Children

A story I found in Expatica News caught my attention. It described how Jewish children, who were visiting Beringen, in Limburg province, Belgium, were set upon by "local residents of foreign origins." I tried to think which people "of foreign origins" would want to attack a group of Jewish schoolchildren.

Being of a suspicious mind, I Googled, and eventually found more information, care of Islam in Europe, backed up by reports in Dutch from and Eyes and in English from JTA News. Their attackers were, unsurprisingly, Muslim youths of Turkish origin. What is bizarre is why Expatica bothered to report the ethnicity of the victims, but not their assailants.
About 60 Jewish children had gone to stay at a youth hostel on an excursion on Thursday, November 30. They had come to visit the Beringen mines, which include the Vlaams mijnmuseum, a mine which had closed in 1992 but has been preserved, with a museum. Other former coal mines, such as the Charbonnages de Beringen (pictured) which closed in 1989 lie deserted in the area, as historical sites of interest.

The Jewish children had come from Antwerp, and were aged from 12 to 15 years, expecting a stay which would be an educational holiday. The children were Hasidic, and wore their traditional black attire and hats, with long sideburns. As soon as they reached the youth hostel where they were to stay, they came under attack from 10 Turkish Muslims, who pelted them with stones. Once the children had gone into the hostel, the Muslims continued to throw stones and concrete blocks, smashing windows of the building. The Muslims were shouting anti-semitic abuse. The children had to shelter from the missiles and flying glass in an inner corridor of the hostel.

The leaders of the school group called the police, but even after the arrival of police, the youths continues to throw stones and shout insults for about an hour. Once the aggression had subsided, the Muslims continued to stay in the vicinity of the hostel. As a result, police decided that they could not guarantee the schoolboys' safety, and escorted them to the highway for them to return to Antwerp.

Four adults and six youths under the age of 18 were arrested, and at the weekend they were brought before a district court. All were sentenced to 30 hours' of community service, and were ordered to pay compensation to the youth hostel. The commune (district authority) issued an apology to the schoolchildren. It may press charges once all information on the case is clarified.
Already, charges have been filed by centre against racism and for equal chances. Claude Marinower, a Jewish member of parliament, said he will "raise the issue with the ministers of justice and the interior."

Forum, an Antwerp-based Jewish group demanded "drastic measures to guarantee the safety of all youth throughout Belgium. A failure to do so would endanger our democracy."
28403  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Humor on: December 06, 2006, 01:25:09 AM
Apparently a true story:

Flatulence, not turbulence forces plane landing in Nashville

Flatulence brought 99 passengers on an American Airlines flight to an unscheduled visit to Nashville early Monday morning.

American Flight 1053, from Washington Reagan National Airport and bound for Dallas/Fort Worth, made an emergency landing here after passengers reported smelling struck matches, said Lynne Lowrance, a spokeswoman for the Nashville International Airport Authority.

The plane landed safely. The FBI, Transportation Safety Administration and airport authority responded to the emergency, Lowrance said.

The passengers and five crew members were brought off the plane, together with all the luggage, to go through security checks again. Bomb-sniffing dogs found spent matches.

The FBI questioned a passenger who admitted she struck the matches in an attempt to conceal body odor, Lowrance said. The woman lives near Dallas and has a medical condition.

The flight took off again, but the woman was not allowed back on the plane.

"American has banned her for a long time," Lowrance said.

She was not charged but could have been. While it is legal to bring as many as four books of paper safety matches onto an aircraft, it is illegal to strike a match in an airplane, Lowrance said.
28404  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Invitation to dialog to Muslims on: December 05, 2006, 12:04:55 PM
Earlier in this thread there was some squabbling over the meaning of Fascism.  Here's Mussolini's take on it:
(Hat tip to TB)
Excerpt Follows:
<" While I could quote from numerous political and intellectual leaders throughout the war and welfare century, I have chosen one who summed up the dominant political thoughts in the twentieth century. He was the founder of fascism, and he came to power in 1922 in Italy. In 1927, Benito Mussolini stated:

Fascism … believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of perpetual peace…. War alone brings up to its highest tension all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility upon the peoples who have the courage to meet it…. It may be expected that this will be a century of authority, a century of the Left, a century of Fascism. For the nineteenth century was a century of individualism…. [Liberalism always signifying individualism], it may be expected that this will be a century of collectivism, and hence the century of the State…. For Fascism, the growth of Empire, that is to say, the expansion of the nation, is the essential manifestation of vitality, and its opposite is a sign of decay and death. [2] 

Guiding Principles

Mussolini's statement bears closer study because it dramatically states some of the guiding principles of the twentieth century:

It states that perpetual peace is neither possible, nor even to be desired.
Instead of peace, war is to be desired because not only is war a noble activity, but it reveals the true courage of man; it unleashes creative energy and causes progress. Moreover, war is the prime mover to enhance and glorify the state. War is the principal method by which collectivists have achieved their goal of control by the few over the many. They actually seek to create or initiate wars for this purpose.
Individualism, the philosophy practiced in the nineteenth century, is to be abolished and, specifically, collectivism is to rule the twentieth century.
Fascism is recognized as a variation of other forms of collectivism, all being part of the Left, as opposed to individualism. It was not until the "Red Decade" of the 30s, and the appearance of Hitler, that leftist intellectuals and the media began to switch Fascism on the political spectrum to the Right so that the "good forms of collectivism," such as socialism, could oppose the "extremism on the Right" that they said was fascism.
The founder of fascism clearly realized that all of these collectivist ideas — i.e., socialism, fascism, and communism — belonged on the Left and were all opposed to individualism. Fascism is not an extreme form of individualism and is a part of the Left, or collectivism.">>
28405  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: December 05, 2006, 11:23:26 AM
MEXICO: The leader of Mexico's People's Popular Assembly of Oaxaca (APPO), Flavio Sosa, was arrested late Dec. 4 on charges of kidnapping, robbery, vandalism and irregular detentions, El Universal reported. The charges are related to the APPO's street blockades in Oaxaca. Sosa was arrested after arriving in Mexico City to re-establish negotiations with the federal government.
28406  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Dog Brothers Tribe on: December 05, 2006, 10:53:31 AM
Woof All:

I've been catching up with fellow Council of Elder, Lonely Dog in the aftermath of the Swiss Gathering.

A hearty woof of welcome to the Tribe to:

a) Simon Hehl of Switzerland.  He is now "Dog Simon"
b) Ludo Bachy of Belgium.  He is now "Dog Ludo"
c) Mick Colin of Belgium.  He is now "Dog Mick"

"Higher Consciousness through Harder Contact!"(c)
Crafty Dog
Guiding Force
28407  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: December 05, 2006, 10:46:15 AM
Tale Of Fibbing Imams

Posted 12/4/2006

Islam And Politics: As we first suspected, the six imams bounced from a US Airways flight misled the public about the incident and likely staged the whole thing as a scheme to weaken security.

Their actions undermine any good will and trust Muslim leaders have built since 9/11. And they call into question what we really know about these supposedly virtuous men we invite to the White House and other halls of power in gestures of tolerance.

Are they really moderate? Do they really mean it when they renounce terrorism? Do they really have America's best interests at heart?

The police report detailing the US Airways flap gives us serious pause. The imams acted more like provocateurs than victims. At the gate before boarding, they angrily cursed the U.S. Then they bowed to Mecca and prayed "very loud," chanting "Allah, Allah, Allah," according to the gate agent and another witness.

On the plane, they didn't take their assigned seats and instead fanned out to the front, middle and rear of the plane. One even "pretended to be blind" to gain access to another passenger's seat, according to a flight attendant.

Some ran back and forth speaking to each other in Arabic. Adding to suspicions, most of them asked for seat belt extensions even though they didn't need them — or even use them.

Yet the ringleader, Omar Shahin, claimed before the police report was released that they "did nothing" unusual. "It's obvious discrimination," he insisted.

When the story first broke, the imams denied they chanted "Allah." Yet, several witnesses in the police report say they did. The imams also claimed they were handcuffed and harassed by dogs. "Six imams. Six leaders in this country," Shahin complained. "Six scholars in handcuffs." But the police report puts the lie to both those claims, too.

Shahin also claimed that a local FBI agent pleaded with US Airways to sell the Saintly Six imams another plane ticket, telling airline reps that the government had "no problem" with the men. "Never happened," says an FBI spokesman in Minneapolis.

Shahin and his fellow imams, who were educated in Sudan and Saudi Arabia, says he and the imams are all moderates who love the U.S. and denounce terror. He doubts Muslims were responsible for 9/11.

"We have been asked by God and by the prophet Muhammad to respect all human life," he said. "The Quran is very clear, to save one life he saves all human life, and whoever kills one person he kills all humankind, and that is what Islam is all about."

But Shahin engages in more dissembling. He leaves out a key part of the verse (5:32) that condones killing those who murder fellow Muslims or spread "mischief in the land." Mischief is defined as "treason against Allah," and the very next verse calls for guilty infidels to be beheaded.

Shahin himself has ties to terrorism. He served (unknowingly, he now says) as an agent and fundraiser for a Hamas front. He ran a mosque in Tucson, Ariz., attended by several al-Qaida operatives including the hijacker who flew the plane into the Pentagon. And he now runs an imam federation that counts an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing among its trustees.

Shahin also teaches at an Islamic school fully accredited by an Egyptian university tied to the dangerous Muslim Brotherhood. The school's founder preaches sharia law. One of the imams kicked off the US Airways flight, an Egyptian native, praised sharia law, according to a passenger who sat next to him.

"He expressed views I consider to be extreme fundamentalist Muslim views," said the witness, a clergyman who has traveled to the Middle East. "He indicated that it was necessary to go to whatever measures necessary to obey all that's set out in the Quran."

But most disturbing, these imams aren't the fringe. Shahin's group, the North American Imams Federation, represents more than 150 mosque leaders across the country. It works in concert with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which wasted no time slamming US Airways for "stereotyping" Muslims and calling on Congress to pass legislation to outlaw passenger profiling.

Both CAIR and NAIF work closely with Rep.-elect Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the first Muslim member of Congress. Conveniently enough, he immediately stepped in on their behalf to pressure US Airways and the local airport to change security policies.

If it were an orchestrated stunt to create public sympathy and force airports to look the other way when groups of Muslim men fly, it's working. The Minneapolis airport plans to add a prayer room for Muslims, and Democrats plan to hold hearings on Muslim profiling. This could have a chilling effect on efforts to investigate terror suspects in the Muslim community.

Such hearings would only confer legitimacy on bogus complaints by Muslim leaders. We need to take a harder look at them, not airlines' security policies.
28408  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Particular Stocks on: December 04, 2006, 11:29:19 PM
Solid steady progress from the Spear Report's water play UU.

Looks like I timed well my entry into AQNT.
28409  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Google technology tilts an election in Bahrain on: December 04, 2006, 11:26:50 PM
Overhead view stirs up Bahrain
Despite a government attempt to block them, Google Earth images of estates belonging to the ruling family become the talk of the island nation.
By William Wallis, Financial Times
December 4, 2006

MANAMA, BAHRAIN — Since Bahrain's government blocked the Google Earth website this year over its intrusion into private homes and royal palaces, Googling their island kingdom has become a pastime for many Bahrainis.

The site allows Internet users to view satellite images of the world in varying degrees of detail. When Google updated its images of Bahrain to higher definition, cyber-activists seized on the view it gave of estates and private islands belonging to the ruling Khalifa family to highlight the inequity of land distribution in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom.

A senior government official told the Financial Times that Google Earth had allowed the public to pry into private homes and ogle people's yachts and swimming pools. But he acknowledged that the government's three-day attempt to block the site had proved counterproductive.

It gave instant publicity to Google Earth and contributed to growing sophistication among Bahrainis in circumventing Web censorship.


It also provided more ammunition to democracy activists in advance of the recent parliamentary elections, the second since King Hamad ibn Isa Khalifa began introducing limited political change in 2001.

About 60% of Bahrain's population is Shiite, but the country is ruled by the Sunni Khalifa family. The elections took place against a backdrop of rising sectarian tension and demands from the Shiites for a greater share of wealth and power.

Opposition activists claim that 80% of the island has been carved up between royals and other private landlords, while much of the rest of the population faces an acute housing shortage.

Mahmood Yousif, a businessman whose political chat and blog site Mahmood's Den is among Bahrain's most popular, says that in the tense run-up to the polls, few Bahrainis have not surfed over the contours of their kingdom, comparing vast royal palaces, marinas and golf courses with crowded Shiite villages nearby, where unemployment is rife and services meager.

For those with insufficient bandwidth to access Google Earth, a PDF file with dozens of downloaded images of royal estates has been circulated anonymously by e-mail. Yousif, among others, initially encouraged Web users to post images on photo-sharing websites.

Some of the palaces take up more space than three or four villages nearby and block access to the sea for fishermen. People knew this already. But they never saw it. All they saw were the surrounding walls, said Yousif, who is seen in Bahrain as the grandfather of its blogging community.

He and other activists believe creative use of the Internet — connectivity in Bahrain is among the highest in the Arab world — is forcing the country to confront awkward realities and will speed the march toward a more egalitarian society.

But loyalists find irreverent discussion of the royal family on the Web offensive and dangerous. Though some younger members of the royal family apparently saw the futility of blocking Google Earth and quickly reversed the move, others in government have waged a virtual battle with the nation's proliferating cyber-activists using technology as well as an arsenal of press censorship laws. As the election approached, at least 25 Bahraini sites deemed to be carrying subversive material were blocked.

Yousif believes most subscribers in Bahrain downloaded free software — partly thanks to technical advice on his site — and thus were able to mask their location and access censored sites. Echoing that, Najeel Rajab, the director of the banned Bahrain Center for Human Rights, said that since his organization's site was blocked three weeks ago, the number of visitors has tripled.

There are some in the government who are still living in the age of the telex, when you could very easily put controls on communications. But these Orwellian policing methods do not have a place in this modern age, Yousif said.
28410  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Deipnosophist on: December 04, 2006, 03:03:52 PM
An outstanding call on NUE by David.  His post today assesses ISIS.
28411  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: December 04, 2006, 02:43:18 PM

Here's the meat of the article, starting about halfway through:

Don't get me wrong, I like a Friars' Club Roast as much as the next guy and I'm sure Jim Baker kibitzing with John Kerry was the hottest ticket in town. But doesn't it strike you as just a tiny bit parochial? Aside from Senator Kerry, I wonder whether the commission thought to hear from anyone such as Goh Chok Tong, the former prime minister of Singapore. A couple of years back, on a visit to Washington just as the Democrat-media headless-chicken quagmire-frenzy was getting into gear, he summed it up beautifully:

''The key issue is no longer WMD or even the role of the U.N. The central issue is America's credibility and will to prevail.''

As I write in my new book, Singaporean Cabinet ministers apparently understand that more clearly than U.S. senators, congressmen and former secretaries of state. Or, as one Baker Commission grandee told the New York Times, ''We had to move the national debate from whether to stay the course to how do we start down the path out.''

An ''exit strategy'' on those terms is the path out not just from Iraq but from a lot of other places, too -- including Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Venezuela, Russia, China, the South Sandwich Islands. For America would be revealed to the world as a fraud: a hyperpower that's all hype and no power -- or, at any rate, no will. According to the New York Sun, ''An expert adviser to the Baker-Hamilton commission expects the 10-person panel to recommend that the Bush administration pressure Israel to make concessions in a gambit to entice Syria and Iran to a regional conference . . .''

On the face of it, this sounds an admirably hard-headed confirmation of James Baker's most celebrated soundbite on the Middle East ''peace process'': ''F - - k the Jews. They didn't vote for us anyway.'' His recommendations seem intended to f - - k the Jews well and truly by making them the designated fall guys for Iraq. But hang on: If Israel could be forced into giving up the Golan Heights and other land (as some fantasists suggest) in order to persuade the Syrians and Iranians to ease up on killing coalition forces in Iraq, our enemies would have learned an important lesson: The best way to weaken Israel is to kill Americans. I'm all for Bakerite cynicism, but this would seem to f - - k not just the Jews but the Americans, too.

It would, furthermore, be a particularly contemptible confirmation of a line I heard Bernard Lewis, our greatest Middle Eastern scholar, use the other day -- that ''America is harmless as an enemy and treacherous as a friend.'' To punish your friends as a means of rewarding your enemies for killing your forces would seem to be an almost ludicrously parodic illustration of that dictum. In the end, America would be punishing itself. The world would understand that Vietnam is not the exception but the rule.

It has been strange to see my pals on the right approach Iraq as a matter of inventory and personnel. Many call for more troops to be sent to Baghdad, others say the U.S. armed forces overall are too small and overstretched. Look, America is responsible for 40 percent of the planet's military spending: It spends more money on its armed forces than the next 43 biggest militaries combined, from China, Britain and France all the way down the military-spending hit parade to Montenegro and Angola. Yet it's not big enough to see off an insurgency confined to a 30-mile radius of a desert capital?

It's not the planes, the tanks, the men, the body armor. It's the political will. You can have the best car in town, but it won't go anywhere if you don't put your foot on the pedal. Three years ago, when it was obvious Syria and Iran were violating Iraq's borders with impunity, we should have done what the British did in the so-called ''Confrontation'' with Indonesia 40 years ago when they were faced with Jakarta doing to the newly independent state of Malaysia exactly what Damascus and Tehran are doing to Iraq. British, Aussie and Malaysian forces sent troops on low-key, lethally effective raids into Indonesia, keeping the enemy on the defensive and winning the war with barely a word making the papers. If the strategic purpose in invading Iraq was to create a regional domino effect, then playing defense in the Sunni Triangle for three years makes no sense. We should never have wound up hunkered down in the Green Zone. If there has to be a Green Zone, it should be on the Syrian side of the border.

Perhaps the Baker Commission's proposals will prove not to be as empty and risible as those leaked. But, if they are, the president should pay them no heed. A bipartisan sellout -- the Republicans cut and the Democrats run -- would be an awesome self-humiliation of the United States. And once the rest of the world figures it out, it'll be America that's the Green Zone.

© Mark Steyn, 2006 
28412  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Movies on: December 04, 2006, 09:20:56 AM
A friend strongly recommends this movie:

Tribeca Review: Beyond the Call
Posted Apr 21st 2006 1:00PM by Christopher Campbell
Filed under: Action & Adventure, Documentary, Foreign Language, Tribeca, Theatrical Reviews

Another good title for Beyond the Call would be The Santa Claus 3, if only it didn't sound too similar to a very different movie scheduled for release later this year. Nonetheless, Beyond the Call is a perfeclty fine name for Adrian Belic's extraordinary documentary about three old men -- occasionally with white beards -- traveling the world with presents. Unlike Santa, they don't travel just once a year and they don't cover all of the earth in one mission. Also, instead of toys, they give out food, medical supplies, clothing and blankets. Sometimes, though, they bring something like a solar-powered oven, which certainly looks like a big toy.

Meet Ed Artis, Jim Laws and Walt Ratterman, aka Knightsbridge, a three-man humanitarian organization that provides aid to needy people, one impoverished country at a time. In the Tribeca Film Festival guide, the film's synopsis describes them as "part Mother Teresa and part Indiana Jones," which earned a few rolled eyes from the Cinematical staff at first. Well, wouldn't you know their interpretation is spot-on? Sure, they don't recover artifacts or fight Nazis, but their role is just as much adventurous as it is altruistic.

One of the big questions that went through my head first was, "Where does the money come from?" Some of the materials are donated, and the guys receive an 80-90% discount on medical supplies, but the expense of each trip appears to be high; at one point they pay for truckloads of food out of a pouch filled with wads of $100-bills. Later they hand $2,000 cash to an Afghan school that can't pay its teachers. The documentary isn't completely clear about how this cardiologist, construction company owner, and retired mortgage banker can work so rarely at home and devote so much time and money abroad, except to point out that while others are saving up for a boat or for retirement, they save up for the next mission. It is probably that simple, and of course, it doesn't really matter how they're able to do it -- they do it.

Beyond the Call shows them doing it throughout Afghanistan, where they planned to go even before 9/11; in the southern Philippines, where they help the U.S. military acquire medical equiptment for cheap; it shows them trying to do it on the Burmese border of Thailand. They claim to have no fear of death, because, as Artis puts it, a spreadsheet of his life comes out far more positive than negative. Artis admits one fear, however: being kidnapped; the idea of someone telling his wife, "We've got him," is the worst-case scenario he can think of. Although Knightsbridge travels through a lot of dangerous territory, Belic doesn't capture anything too intense (see Shadow of Afghanistan for that kind of film), which is okay. It is hard enough viewing the people already affected by war and poverty.

Beyond the Call is an extremely inspiring film that is also hilarious, exciting and heartwrenching. Not only are the three men unbelievably good willed, they are enjoyable characters filled with loveable quirks and wonderful stories to tell. I'd say someone should give them a reality show -- the film will leave you craving more -- except I respect that this is probably all the attention they could want or need.

28413  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 'America Alone' on: December 04, 2006, 09:17:51 AM
I agree with TB on the importance and power of the suffocating state.

Recent events in France such as the young elite school types successfully protesting the proposed law allowing companies to fire new employees more freely is but one example.   France is a country that throughout the Cold War had, IIRC, 20-something percent of its population consistently vote Communist!  The pro-union attitude is not pro-people or pro-growth, it is exclusionary in order to confer benefit that would not be attained freely.  The cost is to the excluded-- in this case the Paristineans.

PS:  Welcome aboard TB!  Delighted to have you hear with us! 
28414  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Pope's Engagement with Islam and other religions on: December 04, 2006, 01:11:57 AM

It seems to me that the Pope is on to something quite important with his discussion of God and Reason and his discussion of the principal of reciprocity.


Western Civ 101
Pope Benedict's seminar on fundamentals.

Friday, December 1, 2006 12:01 a.m. EST

It is somehow appropriate that amid the confusions of the U.S. involvement with the sectarians of Iraq, Pope Benedict XVI, fresh from his own "engagement" with contemporary Islam at Regensburg, should come to Turkey, which has sought membership in the European Union for 20 years. The theologian Michael Novak said recently of Benedict, "His role is to represent Western civilization." I'd say Benedict is more than up to the task. What remains to discover is whether Western civilization is still up to it.

We have been in this spot before, and won.

When Stalin famously asked how many divisions the pope had, he assumed that the brute force of military power would be everywhere decisive. That belief led to a four-decade standoff between the Soviets' tank armies and NATO. Finally in the 1980s, John Paul II, the Polish pope, gave intellectual hope and heft to anticommunist dissidents. Ronald Reagan and his allies prevailed over Europe's marching pacifists and installed Pershing missile batteries in Europe. By decade's end, the long Cold War with communism was dissipating. The pope's engagement mattered.

One may assume that in some Himalayan redoubt, history's latest homicidal utopians, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, believe that coupling their ideology to Islamic suicide bombers--in New York, London or Baghdad--is more than a match for the will of a morally diminished West. Are they wrong?

Benedict XVI has written with force about a morally diminished Europe. So like his predecessor, this pope decided to engage in the greatest military and intellectual battle of our age.
We all know how a few months ago at the University of Regensburg, Benedict made himself a central player in the post-9/11 era by quoting the 14th-century Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus. Not much noted at the time was Benedict's second quotation from Manuel II: "God is not pleased by blood, and not acting reasonably [emphasis added] is contrary to God's nature." Benedict's lecture at Regensburg mentioned "reason" and "rationality" repeatedly. He went so far as to claim that the "rapprochement" between Biblical faith and Greek philosophical inquiry (reason) was "of decisive importance" for world history. "This convergence," said Benedict, "created Europe and remains the foundation of what can rightly be called Europe."

Very simply, he is talking about and defending what we call "the West"--both the place and the classically liberal idea, which radical Islam wants to blow up. Just as John Paul championed the jailed or hiding dissidents behind the Iron Curtain, Benedict is seeking similar protections for persecuted Christian minorities--indeed all minorities--across the Islamic world. Starting in Turkey.

Arriving in Ankara, the pope immediately raised two ideas from the wellsprings of the West. He said on his first day that a just society requires freedom of religion and on behalf of Turkey's tiny Catholic community, he raised the issue of property rights.

One might say the pope's counteroffensive--in the Islamic world and in the West--is overdue. One might also say his chances of winning are a long shot. Benedict's appeals to Europe to rediscover strength inside its religious tradition comes at a difficult moment. He admitted as much in a book-length interview 10 years ago ("Salt of the Earth: The Church at the End of the Millennium"). It is Islamic belief, Cardinal Ratzinger said, that "the Western countries are no longer capable of preaching a message of morality, but have only know-how to offer the world. The Christian religion has abdicated."
Militant Islam is on the march, literally, with enormous moral self-confidence. By contrast the West, as Wilfred M. McClay, an historian at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, aptly described it recently, is in "an era of post-modern moral insouciance." With others, Benedict argues that this moral insouciance is the West's greatest vulnerability. This, too, ought to be part of "homeland security."

Every nation in Europe has a birth rate below replacement, opting for material well-being over the (relative) sacrifice of raising two or more children. (Of all industrialized nations, only the U.S. birth rate exceeds replacement.) Against this trend, Benedict has thrown what he's got: the traditional Western notion of finding strength in the union of reason and religious faith.

It has become a hard sell. If the Vatican opposes abortion or stem-cell research, the West's intellectual elites deem it unfit to participate in any imaginable public forum. In the U.S., Christian evangelicals are feared by many as a threat equal to Islamic extremists, and unfit to participate in our politics. The hottest "religion" subject in the West now is atheism in the person of Richard Dawkins, author of "The God Delusion," who, Time magazine wrote this month, is "riding the crest of an atheist literary wave." Our obsessions seem to be off-subject.

I think the pope is right that the West is engaged in a decisive intellectual competition with the ideas of radical Islam. This won't end with the battle for Baghdad. Will scientific agnosticism defend the West against militant Islam? With what? In Europe, its intellectuals can barely mount an argued defense against internal threats. Externally, as in Afghanistan, they won't even fight.
Benedict XVI's evident intention is to engage the Islamic world, particularly its religious and political leaders, in an intense and long discussion of the religious, political and legal rights of their resident minorities, in other words, the Western tradition. The implications of this effort are obvious for achieving an acceptable modus vivendi with global Islam.

How many divisions does this pope have? Good question. At the moment, I'd say, not as many as the last time.

Mr. Henninger is deputy editor of The Wall Street Journal's editorial page. His column appears Fridays in the Journal and on
28415  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: December 04, 2006, 12:57:12 AM
I'm less than fully persuaded by the end-game that results from his specific suggestions, but some pertinent points are made by former world chess champ.

Chessboard Endgame
Obsessed with Iraq, we've lost sight of the rest of the world.

Saturday, December 2, 2006 12:01 a.m. EST

For the past few years, the dictators and terrorists have been gaining ground, and with good reason. The deepening catastrophe in Iraq has distracted the world's sole superpower from its true goals, and weakened the U.S. politically as well as militarily. With new congressional leadership threatening to make the same mistake--failing to see Iraq as only one piece of a greater puzzle--it is time to return to the basics of strategic planning.

Thirty years as a chess player ingrained in me the importance of never losing sight of the big picture. Paying too much attention to one area of the chessboard can quickly lead to the collapse of your entire position. America and its allies are so focused on Iraq they are ceding territory all over the map. Even the vague goals of President Bush's ambiguous war on terror have been pushed aside by the crisis in Baghdad.

The U.S. must refocus and recognize the failure of its post-9/11 foreign policy. Pre-emptive strikes and deposing dictators may or may not have been a good plan, but at least it was a plan. However, if you attack Iraq, the potential to go after Iran and Syria must also be on the table. Instead, the U.S. finds itself supervising a civil war while helplessly making concessions elsewhere.

This dire situation is a result of the only thing worse than a failed strategy: the inability to recognize, or to admit, that a strategy has failed. Since the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, North Korea has tested a nuclear weapon. Iran is openly boasting of its uranium enrichment program while pouring money into Hezbollah and Hamas. A resurgent Taliban is on the rise in Afghanistan. Nearly off the radar, Somalia is becoming an al Qaeda haven. Worst of all is the answer to the question that ties all of these burning fuses together: No, we are not safer now than we were before.
The seeds for this situation were sown in the one real success the West has had. The attack on the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan went so well that the U.S. and its allies did not appreciate all the reasons for the success. Almost every player on the world stage benefited from the attack on Afghanistan. The rout of the Sunni Taliban delighted Iran. Russia and China have no love for religious extremism near their borders. India was happy to see the U.S. launch a direct attack on Muslim terrorists.

Only Pakistan was put under uncomfortable pressure, although even there, Pervez Musharraf has been able to play both sides well enough to appear to be an essential ally to the West, while terrorists and weapons cross his borders freely. Gen. Musharraf has perfected the formula of holding himself up as the last defense against the extremists in order to gain immunity for his dictatorship. Not only was there a confluence of world opinion aided by sympathy for the U.S. after 9/11, but the proverbial bad guys were undoubtedly bad, and we knew where they were. As subsequent events have shown, effectively bombing terrorists is a rare opportunity.

Learning from our defeats is obvious, but too often we fail to appreciate the reasons for our successes; we take them for granted. The U.S. charged into Iraq without appreciating the far greater difficulty of the postwar task there, and how it would be complicated by the increasingly hostile global opinion of America's military adventures.

America's role as "bad cop" has been a flop on the global stage. Without the American presence in Iraq as a target and scapegoat, Iraqis would be forced to make the hard political decisions they are currently avoiding. We won't know if Iraq can stand on its own until the U.S. forces leave. Meanwhile, South Korea and China refuse to take action on North Korea while accusing the U.S. of provocative behavior. How quickly would their attitudes change if the U.S. pulled its troops out of the Korean Peninsula? Or if Japan--not to mention Taiwan--announced nuclear weapon plans?

From Caracas to Moscow to Pyongyang, everyone follows their own agenda while ignoring President Bush and the U.N. Here in Russia, for example, Vladimir Putin gets Mr. Bush's endorsement for membership to the World Trade Organization while selling advanced air defense missile systems to Iran and imposing sanctions on Georgia, itself a WTO member. WTO membership is not going to benefit ordinary Russians, but it will provide more cover for Mr. Putin and his gang of oligarchs to continue to loot the country and launder the money abroad with no resistance from a distracted, discredited and enfeebled West.

We might not know what works, but we have many fine examples of what doesn't work, and we cannot continue to ignore them. As the world's sole superpower, the U.S. has become a lightening rod. Any intervention causes resentment, and even many traditional allies oppose U.S. plans almost out of hand. America's overly proactive foreign policy has also allowed other nations to avoid responsibility for their own safety, and to avoid making the tough decisions that come with that responsibility.

At the same time, the U.N. has become a perfect example of a broken institution. When leaders are afraid to take real action they go to the U.N., where they know nothing tangible will be achieved. Resolutions are routinely ignored without consequences and, in fact, are openly flouted. Hezbollah proudly waved weapons as the Israeli army left Lebanon, and the kidnapped Israeli soldiers have yet to be released.

So what then, to do? "Mission accomplished" jokes aside, the original goals in Iraq--deposing Saddam Hussein and holding elections--have been achieved. Nation-building was never on the agenda, and it should not be added now. All the allied troops in the world aren't going to stop the Iraqi people from continuing their civil war if this is their choice. As long as Muslim leaders in Iraq and elsewhere are unwilling to confront their own radical elements, outsiders will be spectators in the line of fire.
As for stability, if allied troops leave Iraq: What stability? I won't say things can't get worse--if we've learned anything, it's that things in the Middle East can always get worse; but at least the current deadly dynamic would be changed. And with change there is always hope for improvement. Without change, we are expecting a different result from the same behavior, something once defined as insanity.

Mr. Kasparov, a former world chess champion, is chairman of the United Civil Front in Russia.
28416  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: December 03, 2006, 04:51:20 PM
In contrast to the preceding , , , Not quite sure what to make of this one:

 By Ted Oberg
(11/29/06 - KTRK/KATY, TX) - There's an awful lot of exciting news when you round the corner on Baker Road. One of two big yellow signs announces a new neighbor is coming soon.

Also on

Send news tips | RSS | ABC13 E-lert | Info mentioned on air | Search

K.I.A., that's the Katy Islamic Association, plan to build a mosque here.

"It's not an appropriate place to have a mosque or church," said resident Barbara Simpson.

It isn't going over real well.

"As a house of worship, they shouldn't be disturbing the peace and tranquility of 15 homes," said resident John Wetmore.

Neighbors tell us they're concerned about traffic and drainage and a little fear of the unknown. Some of the homeowners even offered to buy the land back for more than a million dollars. The K.I.A. doesn't seem very interested in the offers.

"We're not going anywhere," said Katy Islamic Association member Alvi Muzfar.

So it seems the community at the end of Baker Road has a pretty good fight. But this fight has gone much farther than many between two neighbors. You see in these fights, sometimes neighbors throw mud at one another. In this instance, they're wallowing in it.

Craig Baker owns pigs. He's the guy behind the second big yellow sign on Baker Road. That's the one announcing Friday night pig races.

"What does it matter, I can do whatever I want with my land right," asked landowner Craig Baker.

Sure can. But aren't pigs on the property line racing on a Friday night a little offensive to a Muslim neighbor?

"The meat of a pig is prohibited in the religion of Islam," said Katy Islamic Association member Youssof Allam. "It's looked upon as a dirty creature."

Yeah, there's that and also that Friday night is a Muslim holy day.

"That is definitely a slap in the face," said Allam..

Now before you go thinking Craig Baker is unfair, or full of hate, or somehow racist, hear him out.

Baker has long roots here. His family named the road and when the new neighbors moved in, he tells us, they asked him to move out.

"Basically that I should package up my family and my business and find a place elsewhere," said Baker. "That's ridiculous, they just bought the place one week prior and he's telling me I should think about leaving."
That new owners deny they ever said anything like that, but Baker isn't budging.

Baker admits the pigs are a message he is not leaving.

The 11-acre property is sandwiched between a pricey subdivision and Craig Baker's business.

K.I.A. eventually plans to build a mosque, a gym and a school there. There's no date for the groundbreaking ceremonies, or the first pig race.
(Copyright © 2006, KTRK-TV)
28417  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fire Hydrant: Howls from Crafty Dog, Rules of the Road, etc on: December 03, 2006, 04:11:03 PM

If you would like to promote something, please check in with me and wait for an answer first.

Thank you,
28418  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / FBI uses cell phones as bugs on: December 03, 2006, 12:55:41 PM
FBI taps cell phone mic as eavesdropping tool
Agency used novel surveillance technique on alleged Mafioso: activating his cell phone's microphone and then just listening.
By Declan McCullagh and Anne Broache
Staff Writer, CNET

Published: December 1, 2006, 2:20 PM PST
Last modified: December 1, 2006, 6:35 PM PST
update The FBI appears to have begun using a novel form of electronic surveillance in criminal investigations: remotely activating a mobile phone's microphone and using it to eavesdrop on nearby conversations.

The technique is called a "roving bug," and was approved by top U.S. Department of Justice officials for use against members of a New York organized crime family who were wary of conventional surveillance techniques such as tailing a suspect or wiretapping him.

Bottom line:
While it appears this is the first use of the "roving bug" technique, it has been discussed in security circles for years.

Nextel cell phones owned by two alleged mobsters, John Ardito and his attorney Peter Peluso, were used by the FBI to listen in on nearby conversations. The FBI views Ardito as one of the most powerful men in the Genovese family, a major part of the national Mafia.

The surveillance technique came to light in an opinion published this week by U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan. He ruled that the "roving bug" was legal because federal wiretapping law is broad enough to permit eavesdropping even of conversations that take place near a suspect's cell phone.

Kaplan's opinion said that the eavesdropping technique "functioned whether the phone was powered on or off." Some handsets can't be fully powered down without removing the battery; for instance, some Nokia models will wake up when turned off if an alarm is set.

While the Genovese crime family prosecution appears to be the first time a remote-eavesdropping mechanism has been used in a criminal case, the technique has been discussed in security circles for years.

The U.S. Commerce Department's security office warns that "a cellular telephone can be turned into a microphone and transmitter for the purpose of listening to conversations in the vicinity of the phone." An article in the Financial Times last year said mobile providers can "remotely install a piece of software on to any handset, without the owner's knowledge, which will activate the microphone even when its owner is not making a call."

Nextel and Samsung handsets and the Motorola Razr are especially vulnerable to software downloads that activate their microphones, said James Atkinson, a counter-surveillance consultant who has worked closely with government agencies. "They can be remotely accessed and made to transmit room audio all the time," he said. "You can do that without having physical access to the phone."

Because modern handsets are miniature computers, downloaded software could modify the usual interface that always displays when a call is in progress. The spyware could then place a call to the FBI and activate the microphone--all without the owner knowing it happened. (The FBI declined to comment on Friday.)

"If a phone has in fact been modified to act as a bug, the only way to counteract that is to either have a bugsweeper follow you around 24-7, which is not practical, or to peel the battery off the phone," Atkinson said. Security-conscious corporate executives routinely remove the batteries from their cell phones, he added.

FBI's physical bugs discovered
The FBI's Joint Organized Crime Task Force, which includes members of the New York police department, had little luck with conventional surveillance of the Genovese family. They did have a confidential source who reported the suspects met at restaurants including Brunello Trattoria in New Rochelle, N.Y., which the FBI then bugged.

But in July 2003, Ardito and his crew discovered bugs in three restaurants, and the FBI quietly removed the rest. Conversations recounted in FBI affidavits show the men were also highly suspicious of being tailed by police and avoided conversations on cell phones whenever possible.

That led the FBI to resort to "roving bugs," first of Ardito's Nextel handset and then of Peluso's. U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones approved them in a series of orders in 2003 and 2004, and said she expected to "be advised of the locations" of the suspects when their conversations were recorded.

Details of how the Nextel bugs worked are sketchy. Court documents, including an affidavit (p1) and (p2) prepared by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Kolodner in September 2003, refer to them as a "listening device placed in the cellular telephone." That phrase could refer to software or hardware.

One private investigator interviewed by CNET, Skipp Porteous of Sherlock Investigations in New York, said he believed the FBI planted a physical bug somewhere in the Nextel handset and did not remotely activate the microphone.

"They had to have physical possession of the phone to do it," Porteous said. "There are several ways that they could have gotten physical possession. Then they monitored the bug from fairly near by."

But other experts thought microphone activation is the more likely scenario, mostly because the battery in a tiny bug would not have lasted a year and because court documents say the bug works anywhere "within the United States"--in other words, outside the range of a nearby FBI agent armed with a radio receiver.

In addition, a paranoid Mafioso likely would be suspicious of any ploy to get him to hand over a cell phone so a bug could be planted. And Kolodner's affidavit seeking a court order lists Ardito's phone number, his 15-digit International Mobile Subscriber Identifier, and lists Nextel Communications as the service provider, all of which would be unnecessary if a physical bug were being planted.

A BBC article from 2004 reported that intelligence agencies routinely employ the remote-activiation method. "A mobile sitting on the desk of a politician or businessman can act as a powerful, undetectable bug," the article said, "enabling them to be activated at a later date to pick up sounds even when the receiver is down."

For its part, Nextel said through spokesman Travis Sowders: "We're not aware of this investigation, and we weren't asked to participate."

Other mobile providers were reluctant to talk about this kind of surveillance. Verizon Wireless said only that it "works closely with law enforcement and public safety officials. When presented with legally authorized orders, we assist law enforcement in every way possible."

A Motorola representative said that "your best source in this case would be the FBI itself." Cingular, T-Mobile, and the CTIA trade association did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Mobsters: The surveillance vanguard
This isn't the first time the federal government has pushed at the limits of electronic surveillance when investigating reputed mobsters.

In one case involving Nicodemo S. Scarfo, the alleged mastermind of a loan shark operation in New Jersey, the FBI found itself thwarted when Scarfo used Pretty Good Privacy software (PGP) to encode confidential business data.

So with a judge's approval, FBI agents repeatedly snuck into Scarfo's business to plant a keystroke logger and monitor its output.

Like Ardito's lawyers, Scarfo's defense attorneys argued that the then-novel technique was not legal and that the information gleaned through it could not be used. Also like Ardito, Scarfo's lawyers lost when a judge ruled in January 2002 that the evidence was admissible.

This week, Judge Kaplan in the southern district of New York concluded that the "roving bugs" were legally permitted to capture hundreds of hours of conversations because the FBI had obtained a court order and alternatives probably wouldn't work.

The FBI's "applications made a sufficient case for electronic surveillance," Kaplan wrote. "They indicated that alternative methods of investigation either had failed or were unlikely to produce results, in part because the subjects deliberately avoided government surveillance."

Bill Stollhans, president of the Private Investigators Association of Virginia, said such a technique would be legally reserved for police armed with court orders, not private investigators.

There is "no law that would allow me as a private investigator to use that type of technique," he said. "That is exclusively for law enforcement. It is not allowable or not legal in the private sector. No client of mine can ask me to overhear telephone or strictly oral conversations."

Surreptitious activation of built-in microphones by the FBI has been done before. A 2003 lawsuit revealed that the FBI was able to surreptitiously turn on the built-in microphones in automotive systems like General Motors' OnStar to snoop on passengers' conversations.

When FBI agents remotely activated the system and were listening in, passengers in the vehicle could not tell that their conversations were being monitored.

Malicious hackers have followed suit. A report last year said Spanish authorities had detained a man who write a Trojan horse that secretly activated a computer's video camera and forwarded him the recordings.
28419  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Part Three on: December 03, 2006, 12:46:50 PM
(Page 7 of 10)

There was never a tipping point — “never a moment when two people who never knew each other could begin discussing something,” as Clay Shirky, a professor at New York University who was hired to consult on the project, explained to me. For the intelligence agencies to benefit from “social software,” he said, they need to persuade thousands of employees to begin blogging and creating wikis all at once. And that requires a cultural sea change: persuading analysts, who for years have survived by holding their cards tightly to their chests, to begin openly showing their hands online.

Is it possible to reconcile the needs of secrecy with such a radically open model for sharing? Certainly, there would be merit in a system that lets analysts quickly locate like-minded colleagues around the world to brainstorm new ideas about how the Iraqi insurgency will evolve. But the intelligence agencies also engage in covert operations that ferret out truly incendiary secrets: the locations of Iranian nuclear facilities, say, or the name of a Qaeda leader in Pakistan. Is this the sort of information that is safe to share widely in an online network?

Many in the intelligence agencies suspect not. Indeed, they often refuse to input sensitive intel into their own private, secure databases; they do not trust even their own colleagues, inside their own agencies, to keep their secrets safe. When the F.B.I. unveiled an automated case-support system in 1995, agents were supposed to begin entering all information from their continuing cases into it, so that other F.B.I. agents could benefit from the collected pool of tips. But many agents didn’t. They worried that a hard-won source might be accidentally exposed by an F.B.I. agent halfway across the country. Worse, what would happen if a hacker or criminal found access to the system?

These are legitimate concerns. After the F.B.I. agent Robert Hanssen was arrested for selling the identities of undercover agents to Russia, it turned out he had found their names by trawling through records on the case-support system. As a result, many F.B.I. agents opted to keep their records on paper instead of trusting the database — even, occasionally, storing files in shoeboxes shoved under their desks. “When you have a source, you go to extraordinary lengths to protect their identities,” I. C. Smith, a 25-year veteran of the bureau, told me. “So agents never trusted the system, and rightly so.”

Worse, data errors that allow information to leak can often go undetected. Five years ago, Zalmai Azmi — currently the chief information officer of the F.B.I. — was working at the Department of Justice on a data-sharing project with an intelligence agency. He requested data that the agency was supposed to have scrubbed clean of all classified info. Yet when it arrived, it contained secret information. What had gone wrong? The agency had passed it through filters that removed any document marked “secret” — but many documents were stamped “SECRET,” in uppercase, and the filter didn’t catch the difference. The next time Azmi requested documents, he found yet more secret documents inadvertently leaked. This time it was because the documents had “S E C R E T” typed with a space between each letter, and the filter wasn’t programmed to catch that either.

A spy blogosphere, even carefully secured against intruders, might be fundamentally incompatible with the goal of keeping secrets. And the converse is also true: blogs and wikis are unlikely to thrive in an environment where people are guarded about sharing information. Social software doesn’t work if people aren’t social.

Virtually all proponents of improved spy sharing are aware of this friction, and they have few answers. Meyerrose has already strained at boundaries that make other spies deeply uneasy. During the summer, he set up a completely open chat board on the Internet and invited anyone interested to participate in a two-week-long discussion of how to improve the spy agencies’ policies for acquiring new technology.

The chat room was unencrypted and unsecured, so anyone could drop in and read the postings or mouth off. That way, Meyerrose figured, he’d be more likely to get drop-ins by engineers from small, scrappy start-up software firms who might have brilliant ideas but no other way to get an audience with intelligence chiefs. The chat room provoked howls of outrage. “People were like, ‘Hold it, can’t the Chinese and North Koreans listen in?’ ” Meyerrose told me. “And, sure, they could. But we weren’t going to be discussing state secrets. And the benefits of openness outweigh the risks.”


Page 8 of 10)

For something like Intellipedia, though, which trafficks in genuinely serious intelligence, hard decisions had to be made about what risks were acceptable. Fingar says that deeply sensitive intel would never be allowed onto Intellipedia — particularly if it was operational information about a mission, like a planned raid on a terrorist compound. Indeed, Meyerrose’s office is building three completely separate versions of Intellipedia for each of the three levels of secrecy: Top Secret, Secret and Unclassified. Each will be placed on a data network configured so that only people with the correct level of clearance can see them — and these networks are tightly controlled, so sensitive information typed into the Top Secret Intellipedia cannot accidentally leak into the Unclassified one.

But will this make the Intellipedia less useful? There are a few million government employees who could look at the relatively unsecret Intellipedia. In contrast, only a few thousand intelligence officials qualify for a Top Secret clearance, and thus will be allowed into the elite version. This presents a secrecy paradox. The Unclassified Intellipedia will have the biggest readership and thus will grow the most rapidly; but if it’s devoid of truly sensitive secrets, will it be of any use?

Fingar says yes, for an interesting reason: top-secret information is becoming less useful than it used to be. “The intelligence business was initially, if not inherently, about secrets — running risks and expending a lot of money to acquire secrets,” he said, with the idea that “if you limit how many people see it, it will be more secure, and you will be able to get more of it. But that’s now appropriate for a small and shrinking percentage of information.” The time is past for analysts to act like “monastic scholars in a cave someplace,” he added, laboring for weeks or months in isolation to produce a report.

Fingar says that more value can be generated by analysts sharing bits of “open source” information — the nonclassified material in the broad world, like foreign newspapers, newsletters and blogs. It used to be that on-the-ground spies were the only ones who knew what was going on in a foreign country. But now the average citizen sitting in her living room can peer into the debates, news and lives of people in Iran. “If you want to know what the terrorists’ long-term plans are, the best thing is to read their propaganda — the stuff out there on the Internet,” the W.M.D. analyst told me. “I mean, it’s not secret. They’re telling us.”

Fingar and Andrus and other intelligence thinkers do not play down the importance of covert ops or high-tech satellite surveillance in intercepting specific jihadist plots. But in a world that is awash in information, it is possible, they say, that the meaning of intelligence is shifting. Beat cops in Indiana might be as likely to uncover evidence of a terror plot as undercover C.I.A. agents in Pakistan. Fiery sermons printed on pamphlets in the U.K. might be the most valuable tool in figuring out who’s raising money for a possible future London bombing. The most valuable spy system is one that can quickly assemble disparate pieces that are already lying around — information gathered by doctors, aid workers, police officers or security guards at corporations.

The premise of spy-blogging is that a million connected amateurs will always be smarter than a few experts collected in an elite star chamber; that Wikipedia will always move more quickly than the Encyclopaedia Britannica; that the country’s thousand-odd political bloggers will always spot news trends more quickly than slow-moving journalists in the mainstream media. Yet one of the most successful new terrorism-busting spy organizations since 9/11 does in fact function like a star chamber. The National Counterterrorism Center was established by Congress in 2004 and charged with spotting the most important terrorism threats as they emerge. The counterterrorism center is made up of representatives from every intelligence agency — C.I.A., F.B.I., N.S.A. and others — who work together under one roof. Each analyst has access to details particular to his or her agency, and they simply share information face to face. The analysts check their personal networks for the most dire daily threats and bring them to the group. In three meetings a day, the officials assess all the intel that has risen to their attention — and they jointly decide what the nation’s most serious threats are. “We call it carbon-based integration,” said William Spalding, the center’s chief information officer.


(Page 9 of 10)

When I raised the idea of collaborative tools like blogs and wikis, Spalding and Russ Travers, one of the center’s deputy directors, were skeptical. The whole reason the center works, they said, is that experts have a top-down view that is essential to picking the important information out of the surrounding chatter. The grass roots, they’ve found, are good at collecting threats but not necessarily at analyzing them. If a lot of low-level analysts are pointing to the same inaccurate posting, that doesn’t make it any less wrong.“

The key is to have very smart people culling” the daily tips, Travers told me. In October, for example, nervous rumors that a football stadium in the United States would be subject to a nuclear attack flooded the National Counterterrorism Center; analysts there immediately suspected it was spurious. “The terrorist problem has the worst signal-to-noise ratio,” Travers said. Without the knowledge that comes from long experience, he added, a fledgling analyst or spy cannot know what is important or not. The counterterrorism center, he said, should decide which threats warrant attention. “That’s our job,” he said.

The Spying 2.0 vision has thus created a curious culture battle in intelligence circles. Many of the officials at the very top, like Fingar, Meyerrose and their colleagues at the office of the director of national intelligence, are intrigued by the potential of a freewheeling, smart-mobbing intelligence community. The newest, youngest analysts are in favor of it, too. The resistance comes from the “iron majors” — career officers who occupy the enormous middle bureaucracy of the spy agencies. They might find the idea of an empowered grass roots to be foolhardy; they might also worry that it threatens their turf.

And the critics might turn out to be right. As Clay Shirky of N.Y.U. points out, most wikis and blogs flop. A wiki might never reach a critical mass of contributors and remain anemic until eventually everyone drifts away; many bloggers never attract any attention and, discouraged, eventually stop posting. Wikipedia passed the critical-mass plateau a year ago, but it is a rarity. “The normal case for social software is failure,” Shirky said. And because Intellipedia is now a high-profile experiment with many skeptics, its failure could permanently doom these sorts of collaborative spy endeavors.

There is also the practical question of running a huge civil-service agency where you have to assess the performance of your staff. It might be difficult to measure contributions to a wiki; if a brilliant piece of analysis emerges from the mob, who gets credit for it? “A C.I.A. officer’s career is advanced by producing reports,” notes David Weinberger, a fellow at the Harvard Berkman Center for the Internet and Society, who consulted briefly with the C.I.A. on its social software. “His ability is judged by those reports. And that gets in the way of developing knowledge socially, where it becomes very difficult to know who added or revised what.”

In addition, civil libertarians are alarmed by the idea of spies casually passing sensitive information around from one agency to another. “I don’t want the N.S.A. passing on information about innocent Americans to local cops in San Diego,” Weinberger said. “Those laws exist for good reasons.”

In many ways, the new generation of Web-savvy spies frames the same troubling questions as the Patriot Act, which sought to break down the barriers preventing military spy agencies from conducting operations inside the United States, on American citizens, and then sharing that information with domestic groups. On a sheerly practical level, it makes sense to get rid of all barriers: why not let the N.S.A. wiretap American conversations? Vice President Cheney has argued forcefully that these historical barriers between agencies hobble the American military and intelligence forces; the Patriot Act was designed in part to eliminate them. Terrorist groups like Al Qaeda heed no such boundaries, which is precisely why they can move so quickly and nimbly.


Page 10 of 10)

Then again, there’s a limit to how much the United States ought to emulate Al Qaeda’s modus operandi. “The problems the spies face are serious; I sympathize with that,” Shirky told me. “But they shouldn’t be wiping up every bit of information about every American citizen.” The Pentagon’s infamous Total Information Awareness program, which came to light in 2002, was intended to scoop up information on citizens from a variety of sources — commercial purchase databases, government records — and mine it for suggestive terrorism connections. But to many Americans, this sort of dot-connecting activity seemed like an outrageous violation of privacy, and soon after it was exposed, the program was killed. James X. Dempsey, director of the Center for Democracy and Technology, maintains that the laws on spying and privacy need new clarity. The historic morass of legislation, including the Patriot Act, has become too confusing, he says; both spies and the public are unsure what walls exist. While Dempsey agrees that agencies should probably be allowed to swap more information than they currently do, he says that revamped rules must also respect privacy — “otherwise, we’ll keep on producing programs that violate people’s sense of what’s right, and they’ll keep getting shut down.”

For all the complaints about hardware, the challenges are only in part about technology. They are also about political will and institutional culture — and whether the spy agencies can be persuaded to change. Some former intelligence officials have expressed skepticism about whether Meyerrose and Fingar and their national-intelligence colleagues have the clout and power to persuade the agencies to adopt this new paradigm. Though D.N.I. officials say they have direct procurement authority over technology for all the agencies, there’s no evidence yet that Meyerrose will be able to make a serious impact on the eight spy agencies in the Department of Defense, which has its own annual $38 billion intelligence budget — the lion’s share of all the money the government spends on spying. When I spoke to Wilson P. Dizard III, a writer with Government Computer News who has covered federal technology issues for two decades, he said, “You have all these little barons at N.S.A. and C.I.A. and whatever, and a lot of people think they’re not going to do what the D.N.I. says, if push comes to shove.”
Today’s spies exist in an age of constant information exchange, in which everyday citizens swap news, dial up satellite pictures of their houses and collaborate on distant Web sites with strangers. As John Arquilla told me, if the spies do not join the rest of the world, they risk growing to resemble the rigid, unchanging bureaucracy that they once confronted during the cold war. “Fifteen years ago we were fighting the Soviet Union,” he said. “Who knew it would be replicated today in the intelligence community?”

28420  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Part Two on: December 03, 2006, 12:45:41 PM
Page 4 of 10)

Andrus argued that the real power of the Internet comes from the boom in self-publishing: everyday people surging online to impart their thoughts and views. He was particularly intrigued by Wikipedia, the “reader-authored” encyclopedia, where anyone can edit an entry or create a new one without seeking permission from Wikipedia’s owners. This open-door policy, as Andrus noted, allows Wikipedia to cover new subjects quickly. The day of the London terrorist bombings, Andrus visited Wikipedia and noticed that barely minutes after the attacks, someone had posted a page describing them. Over the next hour, other contributors — some physically in London, with access to on-the-spot details — began adding more information and correcting inaccurate news reports. “You could just sit there and hit refresh, refresh, refresh, and get a sort of ticker-tape experience,” Andrus told me. What most impressed Andrus was Wikipedia’s self-governing nature. No central editor decreed what subjects would be covered. Individuals simply wrote pages on subjects that interested them — and then like-minded readers would add new facts or fix errors. Blogs, Andrus noted, had the same effect: they leveraged the wisdom of the crowd. When a blogger finds an interesting tidbit of news, he posts a link to it, along with a bit of commentary. Then other bloggers find that link and, if they agree it’s an interesting news item, post their own links pointing to it. This produces a cascade effect. Whatever the first blogger pointed toward can quickly amass so many links pointing in its direction that it rockets to worldwide notoriety in a matter of hours.

Spies, Andrus theorized, could take advantage of these rapid, self-organizing effects. If analysts and agents were encouraged to post personal blogs and wikis on Intelink — linking to their favorite analyst reports or the news bulletins they considered important — then mob intelligence would take over. In the traditional cold-war spy bureaucracy, an analyst’s report lived or died by the whims of the hierarchy. If he was in the right place on the totem pole, his report on Soviet missiles could be pushed up higher; if a supervisor chose to ignore it, the report essentially vanished. Blogs and wikis, in contrast, work democratically. Pieces of intel would receive attention merely because other analysts found them interesting. This grass-roots process, Andrus argued, suited the modern intelligence challenge of sifting through thousands of disparate clues: if a fact or observation struck a chord with enough analysts, it would snowball into popularity, no matter what their supervisors thought.

A profusion of spy blogs and wikis would have another, perhaps even more beneficial impact. It would drastically improve the search engines of Intelink. In a paper that won an honorable mention in the Galileo Awards, Matthew Burton — the young former D.I.A. analyst — made this case. He pointed out that the best Internet search engines, including Google, all use “link analysis” to measure the authority of documents. When you type the search “Afghanistan” into Google, it finds every page that includes that word. Then it ranks the pages in part by how many links point to the page — based on the idea that if many bloggers and sites have linked to a page, it must be more useful than others. To do its job well, Google relies on the links that millions of individuals post online every day.

This, Burton pointed out, is precisely the problem with Intelink. It has no links, no social information to help sort out which intel is significant and which isn’t. When an analyst’s report is posted online, it does not include links to other reports, even ones it cites. There’s no easy way for agents to link to a report or post a comment about it. Searching Intelink thus resembles searching the Internet before blogs and Google came along — a lot of disconnected information, hard to sort through. If spies were encouraged to blog on Intelink, Burton reasoned, their profuse linking could mend that situation. “


Page 5 of 10)

Imagine having tools that could spot emerging patterns for you and guide you to documents that might be the missing pieces of evidence you’re looking for,” Burton wrote in his Galileo paper. “Analytical puzzles, like terror plots, are often too piecemeal for individual brains to put together. Having our documents aware of each other would be like hooking several brains up in a line, so that each one knows what the others know, making the puzzle much easier to solve.”

With Andrus and Burton’s vision in mind, you can almost imagine how 9/11 might have played out differently. In Phoenix, the F.B.I. agent Kenneth Williams might have blogged his memo noting that Al Qaeda members were engaging in flight-training activity. The agents observing a Qaeda planning conference in Malaysia could have mentioned the attendance of a Saudi named Khalid al-Midhar; another agent might have added that he held a multi-entry American visa. The F.B.I. agents who snared Zacarias Moussaoui in Minnesota might have written about their arrest of a flight student with violent tendencies. Other agents and analysts who were regular readers of these blogs would have found the material interesting, linked to it, pointed out connections or perhaps entered snippets of it into a wiki page discussing this new trend of young men from the Middle East enrolling in pilot training.

As those four original clues collected more links pointing toward them, they would have amassed more and more authority in the Intelink search engine. Any analysts doing searches for “Moussaoui” or “Al Qaeda” or even “flight training” would have found them. Indeed, the original agents would have been considerably more likely to learn of one another’s existence and perhaps to piece together the topography of the 9/11 plot. No one was able to prevent 9/11 because nobody connected the dots. But in a system like this, as Andrus’s theory goes, the dots are inexorably drawn together. “Once the intelligence community has a robust and mature wiki and blog knowledge-sharing Web space,” Andrus concluded in his essay, “the nature of intelligence will change forever.”

At first glance, the idea might seem slightly crazy. Outfit the C.I.A. and the F.B.I. with blogs and wikis? In the civilian world, after all, these online tools have not always amassed the most stellar reputations. There are many valuable blogs and wikis, of course, but they are vastly outnumbered by ones that exist to compile useless ephemera, celebrity gossip and flatly unverifiable assertions. Nonetheless, Andrus’s ideas struck a chord with many very senior members of the office of the director of national intelligence. This fall, I met with two of them: Thomas Fingar, the patrician head of analysis for the D.N.I., and Mike Wertheimer, his chief technology officer, whose badge clip sports a button that reads “geek.” If it is Meyerrose’s job to coax spy hardware to cooperate, it is Fingar’s job to do the same for analysts.

Fingar and Wertheimer are now testing whether a wiki could indeed help analysts do their job. In the fall of 2005, they joined forces with C.I.A. wiki experts to build a prototype of something called Intellipedia, a wiki that any intelligence employee with classified clearance could read and contribute to. To kick-start the content, C.I.A. analysts seeded it with hundreds of articles from nonclassified documents like the C.I.A. World Fact Book. In April, they sent out e-mail to other analysts inviting them to contribute, and sat back to see what happened.

By this fall, more than 3,600 members of the intelligence services had contributed a total of 28,000 pages. Chris Rasmussen, a 31-year-old “knowledge management” engineer at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, spends part of every day writing or editing pages. Rasmussen is part of the younger generation in the intelligence establishment that is completely comfortable online; he regularly logs into a sprawling, 50-person chat room with other Intellipedians, and he also blogs about his daily work for all other spies to read. He told me the usefulness of Intellipedia proved itself just a couple of months ago, when a small two-seater plane crashed into a Manhattan building. An analyst created a page within 20 minutes, and over the next two hours it was edited 80 times by employees of nine different spy agencies, as news trickled out. Together, they rapidly concluded the crash was not a terrorist act. “In the intelligence community, there are so many ‘Stay off the grass’ signs,” Rasmussen said. “But here, you’re free to do what you want, and it works.”


(Page 6 of 10)

By the late summer, Fingar decided the Intellipedia experiment was sufficiently successful that he would embark on an even more high-profile project: using Intellipedia to produce a “national intelligence estimate” for Nigeria. An N.I.E. is an authoritative snapshot of what the intelligence community thinks about a particular state — and a guide for foreign and military policy. Nigeria, Fingar said, is a complex country, with issues ranging from energy to Islamic radicalism to polio outbreaks to a coming election. Intellipedia’s Nigeria page will harness the smarts of the dozen or so analysts who specialize in the country. But it will also, Fingar hopes, attract contributions from other intelligence employees who have expertise Fingar isn’t yet aware of — an analyst who served in the Peace Corps in Nigeria, or a staff member who has recently traveled there. In the traditional method of producing an intelligence estimate, Fingar said, he would call every agency and ask to borrow their Africa expert for a week or two of meetings. “And they’d say: ‘Well, I only got one guy who can spell Nigeria, and he’s traveling. So you lose.’ ” In contrast, a wiki will “change the rules of who can play,” Fingar said, since far-flung analysts and agents around the world could contribute, day or night.

Yet Intellipedia also courts the many dangers of wikis — including the possibility of error. What’s to stop analysts from posting assertions that turn out to be false? Fingar admits this will undoubtedly happen. But if there are enough people looking at an entry, he says, there will always be someone to catch any grave mistakes. Rasmussen notes that though there is often strong disagreement and debate on Intellipedia, it has not yet succumbed to the sort of vandalism that often plagues Wikipedia pages, including the posting of outright lies. This is partly because, unlike with Wikipedia, Intellipedia contributors are not anonymous. Whatever an analyst writes on Intellipedia can be traced to him. “If you demonstrate you’ve got something to contribute, hey, the expectation is you’re a valued member,” Fingar said. “You demonstrate you’re an idiot, that becomes known, too.”

While the C.I.A. and Fingar’s office set up their wiki, Meyerrose’s office was dabbling in the other half of Andrus’s equation. In July, his staff decided to create a test blog to collect intelligence. It would focus on spotting and predicting possible avian-flu outbreaks and function as part of a larger portal on the subject to collect information from hundreds of sources around the world, inside and outside of the intelligence agencies. Avian flu, Meyerrose reasoned, is a national-security problem uniquely suited to an online-community effort, because information about the danger is found all over the world. An agent in Southeast Asia might be the first to hear news of dangerous farming practices; a medical expert in Chicago could write a crucial paper on transmission that was never noticed by analysts.

In August, one of Meyerrose’s assistants sat me down to show me a very brief glimpse of the results. In the months that it has been operational, the portal has amassed 38,000 “active” participants, though not everyone posts information. In one corner was the active-discussion area — the group blog where the participants could post their latest thoughts about avian flu and others could reply and debate. I noticed a posting, written by a university academic, on whether the H5N1 virus could actually be transmitted to humans, which had provoked a dozen comments. “See, these people would never have been talking before, and we certainly wouldn’t have heard about it if they did,” the assistant said. By September, the site had become so loaded with information and discussion that Rear Adm. Arthur Lawrence, a top official in the health department, told Meyerrose it had become the government’s most crucial resource on avian flu.

The blog seemed like an awfully modest thing to me. But Meyerrose insists that the future of spying will be revolutionized as much by these small-bore projects as by billion-dollar high-tech systems. Indeed, he says that overly ambitious projects often result in expensive disasters, the way the F.B.I.’s $170 million attempt to overhaul its case-handling software died in 2005 after the software became so complex that the F.B.I. despaired of ever fixing the bugs and shelved it. In contrast, the blog software took only a day or two to get running. “We need to think big, start small and scale fast,” Meyerrose said.

Moving quickly, in fact, is crucial to building up the sort of critical mass necessary to make blogs and wikis succeed. Back in 2003, a Department of Defense agency decided to train its analysts in the use of blog software, in hopes that they would begin posting about their work, read one another’s blogs and engage in productive conversations. But the agency’s officials trained only small groups of perhaps five analysts a month. After they finished their training, those analysts would go online, excited, and start their blogs. But they’d quickly realize no one else was reading their posts aside from the four other people they’d gone through the training with. They’d get bored and quit blogging, just as the next trainees came online.
28421  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: December 03, 2006, 12:44:13 PM
Today's NY Times:

When Matthew Burton arrived at the Defense Intelligence Agency in January 2003, he was excited about getting to his computer. Burton, who was then 22, had long been interested in international relations: he had studied Russian politics and interned at the U.S. consulate in Ukraine, helping to speed refugee applications of politically persecuted Ukrainians. But he was also a big high-tech geek fluent in Web-page engineering, and he spent hours every day chatting online with friends and updating his own blog. When he was hired by the D.I.A., he told me recently, his mind boggled at the futuristic, secret spy technology he would get to play with: search engines that can read minds, he figured. Desktop video conferencing with colleagues around the world. If the everyday Internet was so awesome, just imagine how much better the spy tools would be.

But when he got to his cubicle, his high-tech dreams collapsed. “The reality,” he later wrote ruefully, “was a colossal letdown.”
The spy agencies were saddled with technology that might have seemed cutting edge in 1995. When he went onto Intelink — the spy agencies’ secure internal computer network — the search engines were a pale shadow of Google, flooding him with thousands of useless results. If Burton wanted to find an expert to answer a question, the personnel directories were of no help. Worse, instant messaging with colleagues, his favorite way to hack out a problem, was impossible: every three-letter agency — from the Central Intelligence Agency to the National Security Agency to army commands — used different discussion groups and chat applications that couldn’t connect to one another. In a community of secret agents supposedly devoted to quickly amassing information, nobody had even a simple blog — that ubiquitous tool for broadly distributing your thoughts.

Something had gone horribly awry, Burton realized. Theoretically, the intelligence world ought to revolve around information sharing. If F.B.I. agents discover that Al Qaeda fund-raising is going on in Brooklyn, C.I.A. agents in Europe ought to be able to know that instantly. The Internet flourished under the credo that information wants to be free; the agencies, however, had created their online networks specifically to keep secrets safe, locked away so only a few could see them. This control over the flow of information, as the 9/11 Commission noted in its final report, was a crucial reason American intelligence agencies failed to prevent those attacks. All the clues were there — Al Qaeda associates studying aviation in Arizona, the flight student Zacarias Moussaoui arrested in Minnesota, surveillance of a Qaeda plotting session in Malaysia — but none of the agents knew about the existence of the other evidence. The report concluded that the agencies failed to “connect the dots.”

By way of contrast, every night when Burton went home, he was reminded of how good the everyday Internet had become at connecting dots. “Web 2.0” technologies that encourage people to share information — blogs, photo-posting sites like Flickr or the reader-generated encyclopedia Wikipedia — often made it easier to collaborate with others. When the Orange Revolution erupted in Ukraine in late 2004, Burton went to Technorati, a search engine that scours the “blogosphere,” to find the most authoritative blog postings on the subject. Within minutes, he had found sites with insightful commentary from American expatriates who were talking to locals in Kiev and on-the-fly debates among political analysts over what it meant. Because he and his fellow spies were stuck with outdated technology, they had no comparable way to cooperate — to find colleagues with common interests and brainstorm online.

Burton, who has since left the D.I.A., is not alone in his concern. Indeed, throughout the intelligence community, spies are beginning to wonder why their technology has fallen so far behind — and talk among themselves about how to catch up. Some of the country’s most senior intelligence thinkers have joined the discussion, and surprisingly, many of them believe the answer may lie in the interactive tools the world’s teenagers are using to pass around YouTube videos and bicker online about their favorite bands. Billions of dollars’ worth of ultrasecret data networks couldn’t help spies piece together the clues to the worst terrorist plot ever. So perhaps, they argue, it’ s time to try something radically different. Could blogs and wikis prevent the next 9/11?

The job of an analyst used to be much more stable — even sedate. In the ’70s and ’80s, during the cold war, an intelligence analyst would show up for work at the C.I.A.’s headquarters in Langley, Va., or at the National Security Agency compound in Fort Meade, Md., and face a mess of paper. All day long, tips, memos and reports from field agents would arrive: cables from a covert-ops spy in Moscow describing a secret Soviet meeting, or perhaps fresh pictures of a missile silo. An analyst’s job was to take these raw pieces of intelligence and find patterns in the noise. In a crisis, his superiors might need a quick explanation of current events to pass on to their agency heads or to Congress. But mostly he was expected to perform long-term “strategic analysis” — to detect entirely new threats that were still forming.

And during the cold war, threats formed slowly. The Soviet Union was a ponderous bureaucracy that moved at the glacial speed of the five-year plan. Analysts studied the emergence of new tanks and missiles, pieces of hardware that took years to develop. One year, an analyst might report that the keel for a Soviet nuclear submarine had been laid; a few years later, a follow-up report would describe the submarine’s completion; even more years later, a final report would detail the sea trials. Writing reports was thus a leisurely affair, taking weeks or months; thousands of copies were printed up and distributed via interoffice mail. If an analyst’s report impressed his superiors, they’d pass it on to their superiors, and they to theirs — until, if the analyst was very lucky, it landed eventually in the president’s inner circle. But this sort of career achievement was rare. Of the thousands of analyst reports produced each year, the majority sat quietly gathering dust on agency shelves, unread by anyone.


Published: December 3, 2006
(Page 2 of 10)

Analysts also did not worry about anything other than their corners of the world. Russia experts focused on Russia, Nicaragua ones on Nicaragua. Even after the cold war ended, the major spy agencies divided up the world: the F.B.I. analyzed domestic crime, the C.I.A. collected intelligence internationally and military spy agencies, like the National Security Agency and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, evaluated threats to the national defense. If an analyst requested information from another agency, that request traveled through elaborate formal channels. The walls between the agencies were partly a matter of law. The charters of the C.I.A. and the defense intelligence agencies prohibited them from spying on American citizens, under the logic that the intrusive tactics needed to investigate foreign threats would violate constitutional rights if applied at home. The F.B.I. even had an internal separation: agents investigating terrorist activity would not share information with those investigating crimes, worried that secrets gleaned from tailing Al Qaeda operatives might wind up publicly exposed in a criminal trial.


Then on Sept. 12, 2001, analysts showed up at their desks and faced a radically altered job. Islamist terrorists, as 9/11 proved, behaved utterly unlike the Soviet Union. They were rapid-moving, transnational and cellular. A corner-store burglar in L.A. might turn out to be a Qaeda sympathizer raising money for a plot being organized overseas. An imam in suburban Detroit could be recruiting local youths to send to the Sudan for paramilitary training. Al Qaeda operatives organized their plots in a hivelike fashion, with collaborators from Afghanistan to London using e-mail, instant messaging and Yahoo groups; rarely did a single mastermind run the show. To disrupt these new plots, some intelligence officials concluded, American agents and analysts would need to cooperate just as fluidly — trading tips quickly among agents and agencies. Following the usual chain of command could be fatal. “To fight a network like Al Qaeda, you need to behave like a network,” John Arquilla, the influential professor of defense at the Naval Postgraduate School, told me.

It was a fine vision. But analysts were saddled with technology that was designed in the cold war. They now at least had computers, and intelligence arrived as electronic messages instead of paper memos. But their computers still communicated almost exclusively with people inside their agencies. When the intelligence services were computerized in the ’90s, they had digitally replicated their cold-war divisions — each one building a multimillion-dollar system that allowed the agency to share information internally but not readily with anyone outside.

The computer systems were designed to be “air gapped.” The F.B.I. terminals were connected to one another — but not to the computers at any other agency, and vice versa. Messages written on the C.I.A.’s network (which they still quaintly called “cables”) were purely internal. To get a message to the F.B.I. required a special communication called a “telegraphic dissemination.” Each agency had databases to amass intelligence, but because of the air gap, other agencies could not easily search them. The divisions were partly because of turf battles and partly because of legal restrictions — but they were also technological. Mike Scheuer, an adviser to the C.I.A.’s bin Laden unit until 2004, told me he had been frustrated by the inability of the systems to interpenetrate. “About 80 percent of C.I.A.-F.B.I. difficulties came from the fact that we couldn’t communicate with one another,” he said. Scheuer told me he would often send a document electronically to the F.B.I., then call to make sure the agents got it. “And they’d say, ‘We can’t find it, can you fax it?’ And then we’d call, and they’d say, ‘Well, the system said it came in, but we still can’t find it — so could you courier it over?’ ” “

These systems have served us very well for five decades,” Dale Meyerrose told me when I spoke with him recently. But now, he said, they’re getting in the way. “The 16 intelligence organizations of the U.S. are without peer. They are the best in the world. The trick is, are they collectively the best?”


Page 3 of 10)

Last year, Meyerrose, a retired Air Force major general, was named the chief information officer — the head computer guy, as it were — for the office of the director of national intelligence. Established by Congress in 2004, the D.N.I.’s office has a controversial mandate: it is supposed to report threats to the president and persuade the intelligence agencies to cooperate more closely. Both tasks were formerly the role of the C.I.A. director, but since the C.I.A. director had no budgetary power over the other agencies, they rarely heeded his calls to pass along their secrets. So the new elevated position of national-intelligence director was created; ever since, it has been filled by John Negroponte. Last December, Negroponte hired Meyerrose and gave him the daunting task of developing mechanisms to allow the various agencies’ aging and incompatible systems to swap data. Right away, Meyerrose ordered some sweeping changes. In the past, each agency chose its own outside contractor to build customized software — creating proprietary systems, each of which stored data in totally different file formats. From now on, Meyerrose said, each agency would have to build new systems using cheaper, off-the-shelf software so they all would be compatible. But bureaucratic obstacles were just a part of the problem Meyerrose faced. He was also up against something deeper in the DNA of the intelligence services. “We’ve had this ‘need to know’ culture for years,” Meyerrose said. “Well, we need to move to a ‘need to share’ philosophy.”

There was already one digital pipeline that joined the agencies (though it had its own limitations): Intelink, which connects most offices in each intelligence agency. It was created in 1994 after C.I.A. officials saw how the Web was rapidly transforming the way private-sector companies shared information. Intelink allows any agency to publish a Web page, or put a document or a database online, secure in the knowledge that while other agents and analysts can access it, the outside world cannot.

So why hasn’t Intelink given young analysts instant access to all secrets from every agency? Because each agency’s databases, and the messages flowing through their internal pipelines, are not automatically put onto Intelink. Agency supervisors must actively decide what data they will publish on the network — and their levels of openness vary. Some departments have created slick, professional sites packed full of daily alerts and searchable collections of their reports going back years. Others have put up little more than a “splash page” announcing they exist. Operational information — like details of a current covert action — is rarely posted, usually because supervisors fear that a leak could jeopardize a delicate mission.

Nonetheless, Intelink has grown to the point that it contains thousands of agency sites and several hundred databases. Analysts at the various agencies generate 50,000 official reports a year, many of which are posted to the network. The volume of material online is such that analysts now face a new problem: data overload. Even if they suspect good information might exist on Intelink, it is often impossible to find it. The system is poorly indexed, and its internal search tools perform like the pre-Google search engines of the ’90s.“

One of my daily searches is for words like ‘Afghanistan’ or ‘Taliban,’ ” I was told by one young military analyst who specializes in threats from weapons of mass destruction. (He requested anonymity because he isn’t authorized to speak to reporters.) “So I’m looking for reports from field agents saying stuff like, ‘I’m out here, and here’s what I saw,’ ” he continued. “But I get to my desk and I’ve got, like, thousands a day — mountains of information, and no way to organize it.”

Adding to the information glut, there’s an increasingly large amount of data to read outside of Intelink. Intelligence analysts are finding it more important to keep up with “open source” information — nonclassified material published in full public view, like newspapers, jihadist blogs and discussion boards in foreign countries. This adds ever more calories to the daily info diet. The W.M.D. analyst I spoke to regularly reads the blog of Juan Cole, a University of Michigan professor known for omnivorous linking to, and acerbic analysis of, news from the Middle East. “He’s not someone spies would normally pay attention to, but now he’s out there — and he’s a subject-matter expert, right?” the analyst said.

Intelligence hoarding presented one set of problems, but pouring it into a common ocean, Meyerrose realized soon after moving into his office, is not the answer either. “Intelligence is about looking for needles in haystacks, and we can’t just keep putting more hay on the stack,” he said. What the agencies needed was a way to take the thousands of disparate, unorganized pieces of intel they generate every day and somehow divine which are the most important.

Intelligence heads wanted to try to find some new answers to this problem. So the C.I.A. set up a competition, later taken over by the D.N.I., called the Galileo Awards: any employee at any intelligence agency could submit an essay describing a new idea to improve information sharing, and the best ones would win a prize. The first essay selected was by Calvin Andrus, chief technology officer of the Center for Mission Innovation at the C.I.A. In his essay, “The Wiki and the Blog: Toward a Complex Adaptive Intelligence Community,” Andrus posed a deceptively simple question: How did the Internet become so useful in helping people find information?

28422  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Economics on: December 03, 2006, 08:45:11 AM

Milton Friedman's "Free to Choose"!
28423  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: December 03, 2006, 08:38:52 AM
  Posted December 02, 2006 06:43 AM  Hide Post

THE FAKING IMAMS -- Pajamas Media Exclusive: Police Report, Passenger Reveals That Flying Imams Were Up to No Good

PJM in Seattle
December 1, 2006 5:58 PM
The Now Notorious Flying Imams Claim Their Only Crime Was “Flying While Muslim,” But Our Exclusive Reporting Reveals They Are Trying to Sweep Their Real Motives Under Their Prayer Rugs

Area Muslims pray near the ticketing area of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, Friday, Dec. 1.

SEE ALSO: The first public publication of the official police report on the incident including handwritten statements from witnesses. Download file — PDF 3.8 Mgb

PLUS: The letter from US Airways passenger “Pauline” to U.S. Airways: Download file PDF 68K

[Bloggers are invited to examine these documents and provide theories for what happened. Please notify Pajamas Media. — Editors]

By Richard Miniter, PJM Washington Editor

The case of U.S. Airways flight 300 gets stranger by the minute. When six traveling Muslim clerics were asked to deplane last week, it looked like another civil rights controversy against post-9-11 airport security.

Now new information is emerging that suggests it was all a stunt designed to weaken security….

Yesterday I spoke with a passenger on that flight, who asked that she be only identified as “Pauline.” A copy of airport police report, which I also obtained, supports Pauline’s account - and includes shocking revelations of its own. In addition, U.S. Airways spokeswoman Andrea Rader also confirmed much of what Pauline revealed…..

The passenger, who asked that she only be identified as “Pauline,” said she is afraid to give her full name or hometown. She is spending the night at “another location” because she does not feel safe at home. She credits reports that one imam is apparently linked to Hamas. “It is scary because these men could be dangerous.”

Pauline said she never wanted media attention. She wrote an email to U.S. Airways and cc:ed her daughter, who unexpectedly emailed it to her friends. As the letter took on an internet life of its own, it made its way to the inbox of a retired CNN executive producer. Then, to her dismay, the feeding frenzy began.

Pauline revealed to the Pajamas Media that the six imams were doing things far more suspicious than praying - an Arabic-speaking passenger heard them repeatedly invoke “bin Laden,” and “terrorism,” a gate attendant told the captain that she did not want to fly with them, and that bomb-sniffing dogs were brought aboard. Other Muslim passengers were left undisturbed and later joined in a round of applause for the U.S. Airways crew. “It wasn’t that they were Muslim. It was all of the suspicious things they did,” Pauline said.

Here is her story, along with corroborating quotes from the U.S. Airways spokeswoman Andrea Rader and the official report, another Pajamas Media Exclusive.

Sitting in Minneapolis-St. Paul’s Airport Gate C9, she noticed one of the imams immediately. “He was pacing nervously, talking in Arabic,” she said.

She quickly noticed the others. “They didn’t look like holy men to me. They looked like guys heading out of town for a Vikings game.”

Pauline said she did not see or hear the imams pray at the gate (she was at dinner in a nearby airport eatery), but heard about the pre-flight prayers from other passengers hours later.

As the plane boarded, she said, no one refused to fly. The public prayers and Arabic phone call did not trigger any alarms - so much for the p.c. allegations that people were disturbed by Muslim prayers.

But a note from a passenger about suspicious movements of the imams got the crew’s attention. A copy of the passenger’s note appears in the police report.

To Pauline everything seemed normal. Then the captain - in classic laconic pilot-style - announced there had been a “mix up in our paperwork” and that the flight would be delayed.

In reality, the air crew was waiting for the FBI and local police to arrive.

Ninety minutes after the flight’s scheduled 5:15 p.m. departure, the captain announced yet another delay. Still, Pauline said, there was no sense of alarm.

Still, it seemed like just another annoying development, typical when flying the friendly skies.

The situation in cockpit was far more intense, according to a U.S. Airways spokeswoman and police reports.

Contrary to press accounts that a single note from a passenger triggered the imams’ removal, Captain John Howard Wood was weighing multiple factors - factors that have largely been ignored by the press.

Another passenger, not the note writer, was an Arabic speaker sitting near two of the imams in the plane’s tail. That passenger pulled a flight attendant aside, and in a whisper, translated what the men were saying. They were invoking “bin Laden” and condemning America for “killing Saddam,” according to police reports.

Meanwhile an imam seated in first class asked for a seat-belt extension, even though according to both an on-duty flight attendant and another deadheading flight attendant, he looked too thin to need one. Hours later, when the passengers were being evacuated, the seat-belt extension was found on the floor near the imam’s seat, police reports confirm. The U.S. Airways spokeswoman Andrea Rader said she did not dispute the report, but said the airline’s internal investigation cannot yet account for the seat-belt extension request or its subsequent use.

A seat-belt extension can easily be used as a weapon, by wrapping the open-end of the belt around your fist and swinging the heavy metal buckle.

Still, it seemed like just another annoying development, typical when flying the friendly skies. Days after the incident, the imam would claim that the steward helped him attach the device. Pauline said he is lying. Hours later, when the police was being evacuated, the steward asked Pauline to hand him the seat-belt extension, which the imam did not attach, but placed on the floor. “I know he is lying,” Pauline said, “I had it [seat belt extension] in my hand.”

A passenger in the third row of first class, Pauline said, told a member of the crew: “I don’t have a good feeling about this guy,” about the imam who wanted the seat-belt extension.

A married couple one row behind first-class, tried to strike up a conversation with the imam seated near them. He refused to talk or even look at the woman in the eye, according to Pauline. Instead, he stood up and moved to join the other imams in the back of the plane. Why would he leave the luxury end of the aircraft? Pauline wondered. The account of the married couple does not appear in the police report.

Finally, a gate attendant told the captain she thought the imams were acting suspiciously, according to police reports.

So the captain apparently made his decision to delay the flight based on many complaints, not one. And he consulted a federal air marshal, a U.S. Airways ground security coordinator and the airline’s security office in Phoenix. All thought the imams were acting suspiciously, Rader told me.

Other factors were also considered: All six imams had boarded together, with the first-class passengers - even though only one of them had a first-class ticket. Three had one-way tickets. Between the six men, only one had checked a bag.

And, Pauline said, they spread out just like the 9-11 hijackers. Two sat in first, two in the middle, and two back in the economy section. Pauline’s account is confirmed by the police report. The airline spokeswoman added that some seemed to be sitting in seats not assigned to them.

One thing that no one seemed to consider at the time, perhaps due to lack of familiarity with Islamic practice, is that the men prayed both at the gate and on the plane. Observant Muslims pray only once at sundown, not twice.

“It was almost as if they were intentionally trying to get kicked off the flight,” Pauline said.

A lone plain clothes FBI agent boarded the plane and briefly spoke to the imams. Later, uniformed police escorted them off.

Some press reports said the men were led off in handcuffs, which Pauline disputes. “I saw them. They were not handcuffed.”

Later, each imam was individually brought back on the aircraft to reclaim his belongings. They were still not handcuffed. They may have been handcuffed later.

At this point, the passengers became alarmed. “How do we know they got all their stuff off?” Pauline heard one man ask.

While the imams were soon released, Pauline is fuming: “We are the victims of these people. They need to be more sensitive to us. They were totally insensitive to us and then accused us of being insensitive to them. I mean, we were a lot more inconvenienced than them.”

The plane was delayed for some three and one-half hours.

Bomb-sniffing dogs were used to sweep the plane and every passenger was re-screened, the airline spokeswoman confirmed. Another detail omitted from press reports.

The reaction of the remaining passengers has also gone unreported. “We applauded and cheered for the crew,” she said.

“I think it was either a foiled attempt to take over the plane or it was a publicity stunt to accuse us of being insensitive,” Pauline said. “It had to be to intimidate U.S. Airways to ease up on security.”

So far, U.S. Airways refuses to be intimidated, even though the feds have launched an investigation. “We are absolutely backing this crew,” Rader said.

Tucked away in the police report is this little gem: one of the imams had complained to a passenger that some nations did not follow shariah law and his job in Bakersfield, Calif. was a cover for “representing Muslims here in the U.S.”

So what are the imams really up to? Something more than praying it seems.


By Beila Rabinowitz and William A. Mayer

December 1, 2006 - San Francisco, CA - - The November 20 action by 6 Imams on a U.S. Airways flight was a pre-conceived exercise in cultural jihad.

The Muslim preachers had just returned from the North American Imam Federation conference and were merely putting into practice the media manipulation techniques which they had studied and discussed at the 2 day event.

It is no coincidence that the event took place in Minneapolis where Muslim voters had just elected Keith Ellison, a Wahhabist Muslim [who, incidentally is insisting on taking the oath of office by swearing on the Quran rather than the Bible].

The Minneapolis/St. Paul airport was also the site of a controversy that we reported on in September [Muslim Taxi Drivers At Minneapolis International Airport Subjecting Fares To Sharia] when Muslim taxi drivers, working with radical Islamist groups refused to transport passengers whom they believed to be carrying alcohol. A follow-up piece [Are Minneapolis Taxi Fares Going To Support Al-Qaeda?] explored the ties to terror that exist among the mostly Somali immigrant taxi drivers.

The imam's actions were the culminating event in a carefully executed plan that was preceded by a series of smaller incidents in which Muslims tested the tolerance level of the airlines and passengers by wearing T shirts to the airport reading "I am not a Terrorist." As part of this ramp-up in provocation, an Islamist activist goaded airport security personnel into preventing him from entering a plane because he was wearing a T shirt emblazoned with possibly threatening Arabic text.

Following this same template, the imams intentionally pushed all the right buttons to arouse the suspicions of airport security, Federal air marshals and passengers alike.

Specifically, some of the Imams had one way tickets and checked no baggage, they had prayed loudly and very publicly before entering the plane, shouting Allahu Akhbar ["God is great," an Arabic chant often used by terrorists as a war cry] they refused to take their assigned seats instead occupying seats strategically chosen to control all entrances and exits of the airliner. Passengers overheard them making anti-American remarks, statements strongly against the war in Iraq and mentions of al-Qaeda and bin-Laden. Two of the Imams demanded seat belt extenders [which could be used as weapons] when neither of them were overweight and thus realistically in need of making their seat belts longer. When confronted for their bizarre behavior and asked to voluntarily leave the plane for questioning, they refused and were then forcibly removed.

Their actions were thus consistent with either a terrorist probe - a dry run - or the real thing, the prelude to a hijacking attempt.

It is extremely troubling to consider the degree to which these supposedly holy men were familiar with the intricacies of the airline terror MO especially their request for heavy buckled seat belt extenders, which were placed on the floor alongside the imam's seats - supposedly ready for action - and their desire to be able to control entry and exit from the aircraft.

One explanation for the imam's apparent first hand knowledge of terrorist methodology might be due to the acumen of Omar Shahin who has a long history of involvement with terrorists and terror fundraising activities as Imam of the Islamic Center of Tucson which is linked to Hamas and al-Qaeda. The former director of Shahin's mosque, Wael Hamza Julaidan was the co-founder of al-Qaeda and current board member, Mir Ramatullah who also worked with Shahin sits on the ICT board today. Shahin has admitted that he supported bin-Laden "in the past." In addition, Hani Hanjour, the pilot of the airliner that was crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11 attended this same Tucson mosque.

Shahin's familiarity with incipient hijackers is personal; he defended two Muslim college students who had been removed from an America West flight for attempting to storm the cockpit in what the FBI believes was a dry run for 9/11. One of the students had trained in Afghanistan and the other was a material witness in the 9/11 investigations.

Shahin was also a representative for the Hamas terror financing faux charity "Kind Hearts" which was shut down after an investigation by the U.S. Treasury Department.

Given the above realities it's obvious that the imams designed this incident, set it in motion and then managed the public relations aspect of it intending to create a sense of anti-Muslim victimhood, with lawyer/spokesmen and press releases ready even before they had to be wrestled from the plane.

Doubtless this group was emboldened by the Ellison election which they view as an important step on the journey towards eventual Islamization of the United States.

The imams see this whole event as an experiment in how far they might be able to manipulate the media. Any criticism of their actions is framed as religious discrimination and bigotry so it's not surprising in the least that Ellison has injected [he was a speaker at the NAIF conference after all] himself into this controversy, demanding high level meetings with the Minneapolis airport managers as well as US Airways.

The goal of all of this is of course to batter the airlines and security into submission through fears of financial liability for "discrimination" against Muslims.

The six Imams operated straight out of the handbook prepared for the NAIF Imam conference which described how Imams should handle the media.

"Islam is now almost constantly on the news, and Imams must be capable of dealing effectively with the media. Good communication skills encompass being able to respond to media inquires , fielding questions from journalists, addressing information about Islam and the media, generating positive story ideals, and writing letters to the editor when necessary. Communication should not be limited to responding to misconceptions, but Imams should also take advantage of opportunities to highlight activities in local mosques and the contribution of Muslims to local communities."
In this same document NAIF counseled extremely aggressive and thoroughly coordinated media manipulation:

"In this regard NAIF intends to select a number of Imams to be in charge of this task of responding to the media. Each Imam will be responsible for one or more specific week(s) of the year. Given the unfortunate state of the world. it is likely that during each week there will be an opportunity to condemn extremism and violence. The Imam in charge of this week would write a short message, perhaps 50 to 100 to 200 or 300 words , responding to the specific event released in the news during their week. Then this message would be sent via e-mail to all the Imams on NAIF mailing list seeking their approval or disapproval of the event that occurred. Aftwards, an official statement representing NAIF's stance condemning violence and extremism could be issued.. NAIF would then phone the editorial page editor or the city page editor of the local newspaper or the local broadcast station to post Imam's official statements, NAIF would tell this editor that his newspaper or broadcasting statement will have sole and exclusive right (sic) to print or broadcast the message within the next 24 hours. Afterwards the message will be sent to the national media."
Access entire NAIF conference handbook, in .pdf file format here.

In our opinion, by their actions these imams were waging psychological terrorism - cultural jihad - on America and therefore this event has to be considered a political act designed to degrade airport security by linking reasonable precautions with anti-Muslim bigotry.

The question remains as to whether U.S. Airways will hold their ground and refuse to succumb to this radical Muslim pressure.

We suggest that the U.S. Airways and Minneapolis/St. Paul airport refuse to meet with the imam's representatives, including Congressman elect Keith Ellison who sees the potential in this created controversy as payback for his Muslim constituents and a first test of how he can use his newly acquired Congressional clout to promote the radical Islamist agenda.

We further suggest that the Department of Justice investigate this incident as a conspiracy intended to destroy reasonable and prudent airport security measures, thus enabling future airline based terrorist activities.

©1999-2006 Beila Rabinowitz, William A. Mayer/
28424  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: December 03, 2006, 08:31:36 AM
Franchising Jihad

By J. Peter Pham & Michael I. Krauss : 04 Dec 2006

In a forthcoming study for the Institute for Counter-Terrorism at Israel's Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, senior researcher Ely Karmon raises the alarming prospect of Hezbollah affiliated groups bringing the Lebanese terrorists' brand of violence to the Americas. While acknowledging that it is too soon to draw clear conclusions about the nature and objectives of these Hezbollah "franchisees," Karmon nonetheless notes that "successful campaigns of proselytism in the heart of poor indigene Indian tribes and populations by both Shi'a and Sunni preachers and activists" have contributed to the growing attraction of Islamist terrorist groups in Latin America. Karmon also observes that "there is a growing trend of solidarity between leftist, Marxist, anti-global and even rightist elements with the Islamists," citing inter alia the September 2004 "strategy conference" of anti-globalization groups hosted by Hezbollah in Beirut.

Evidence of this was already available in the Washington Post's front page coverage of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah's September 22 mass rally, which mentioned that among those in attendance was a Lebanese expatriate who had flown in from Venezuela for the event and that "[a]t the mention of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, a critic of America, cheers went up."

As it happens, one month after the demonstration in Beirut, on October 23, Venezuelan police discovered two explosive devices near the U.S. Embassy in Caracas. According to a statement in El Universal from the acting police commissioner of the Baruta district, law enforcement officials arrested a man carrying a "backpack containing one hundred black powder bases, pliers, adhesive tape, glue, and electric conductors" who "admitted that the explosives had been set to detonate within fifteen minutes." The man arrested was José Miguel Rojas Espinoza, a 26-year-old student at the Bolivarian University of Venezuela, a Chávez-founded institution whose website proclaims that it offers a free "practical and on the ground education" contributing to "a more just, united, and sustainable society, world peace, and a new progressive and pluralist civilization."

Two days after the failed bombing, a web posting by a group calling itself Venezuelan Hezbollah claimed -- "in the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful" -- responsibility for the attack. The bombing was meant to publicize Venezuelan Hezbollah's existence and its mission to "build an Islamic nation in Venezuela and all the countries of America," under the guidance of "the ideology of the revolutionary Islam of the Imam Khomeini." (Without a hint of irony, the communiqué, signed by "Latin American Hezbollah," disparaged those who would present the suspect as "a lunatic and a madman in order to hide the truth that he is an Islamic mujahid, a man who has undertaken jihad through the call of our group.")

This episode, barely noticed in our preoccupation with the midterm elections, is not the first of its kind in the Americas. On November 9, a court in Argentina issued an arrest warrant for former Iranian president Hashemi Rafsanjani and eight other former Iranian officials for their part in the 1994 bombing of the a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, which killed 85 people and wounded hundreds. Prosecutors in the case formally accused Iran of ordering the terrorist attack and Hezbollah of carrying it out. Immediately after the judicial actions, Argentine Housing Minister Luis D'Elía, a self-professed follower of Chávez and a leftist demagogue on his own right (he is best known for organizing invasions of private property by piqueteros, unruly unemployed protesters), went to the Iranian embassy in Buenos Aires and read out a statement denouncing the legal proceedings as "American-Israeli military aggression against the Islamic Republic." (An embarrassed President Néstor Kirchner was forced to fire the minister.)

As Rachel Ehrenfeld spotlighted in an excellent National Review Online column back in 2003, exploiting its entrée with the Lebanese diaspora, Hezbollah has had a longstanding and profitable presence in South America. In the largely ungoverned jungles of the tri-border region of where Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay intersect, Hezbollah clerics have been active since the mid-1980s, seeking converts as well as recruiting new members and organizing cells among immigrant Muslim communities from the Middle East. In addition, Brazilian, Argentinean, and other Latin American intelligence sources report the existence of special Hezbollah-run weekend camps, where children and teenagers receive weapons and combat training, as well as indoctrination them in the anti-American and anti-Semitic ideologies of the Ayatollah Khomeini and his successors. Hezbollah is heavily involved in South America's thriving trade in illegal drugs, cultivating alliances with both drug cartels and narco-terrorist outfits with revolutionary aspirations like the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) and National Liberation Army (ELN) in Colombia. Brazilian security agencies estimate that hundreds of millions in profits are sent annually from Islamist organizations operating in the tri-border region to the Middle East, most of it going to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Last summer, one week before a cross-border raid by Hezbollah precipitated open conflict between the terrorist group governing southern Lebanon and the State of Israel we warned in a contribution to TCS Daily that the Iranian-backed terrorists' build-up along that border was producing dangerous tensions. "Time is not on Israel's side here," we wrote. "Eventually, Israel may feel compelled to exercise its sovereign right to self-defense by preemptively attacking in a manner that not only eliminates the Fajr rockets, but also prevents Tehran from easily reestablishing them." We concluded by arguing: "For all our sakes, it's high time to bring Hezbollah back into the international limelight."

Then came the ceasefire mandated by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, at which point we noted in another TCS essay that "by setting his strategic objective so ridiculously low—at one point he declared that his group 'needs only to survive to win'—Hezbollah's Nasrallah had emerged from the ordeal that he imposed on Lebanon with bragging rights." We feared that Nasrallah would exercise these rights to the detriment not just of Israelis and Lebanese, but also of Americans and others who oppose his terrorist group and the revolutionary ideology of his Iranian mullah patrons. Even we, however, did not anticipate how quickly Hezbollah would be exploiting its strategic opportunity to significantly expand both the scope and magnitude of its nefarious activities—and right into our own backyard at that.

Five months ago, we warned of a dangerous nexus between Iranian revolutionary and geopolitical ambitions, Syrian irredentism, and Hezbollah terrorism north of Israel's borders. Now it appears that the combination of Chávez's anti-Americanism, Iran's well-financed expansion of the umma and Latin American radicalism is forming yet another front for Islamist fascism, this time in nominally Christian South America. Secretary of Defense-designate Robert Gates, a former CIA chief, would do well to insist that this new front for jihad become a priority for the administration's war on terror.

J. Peter Pham is director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University. Michael I. Krauss is professor of law at George Mason University School of Law. Both are adjunct fellows of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.
28425  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Islamo-fascismo en Latino America on: December 03, 2006, 08:29:46 AM
Hola Todos:

Lamento que tantos de los articulos que comparto aqui sean en ingles, pero asi son mis fuentes embarassed   


Franchising Jihad

By J. Peter Pham & Michael I. Krauss : 04 Dec 2006

In a forthcoming study for the Institute for Counter-Terrorism at Israel's Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, senior researcher Ely Karmon raises the alarming prospect of Hezbollah affiliated groups bringing the Lebanese terrorists' brand of violence to the Americas. While acknowledging that it is too soon to draw clear conclusions about the nature and objectives of these Hezbollah "franchisees," Karmon nonetheless notes that "successful campaigns of proselytism in the heart of poor indigene Indian tribes and populations by both Shi'a and Sunni preachers and activists" have contributed to the growing attraction of Islamist terrorist groups in Latin America. Karmon also observes that "there is a growing trend of solidarity between leftist, Marxist, anti-global and even rightist elements with the Islamists," citing inter alia the September 2004 "strategy conference" of anti-globalization groups hosted by Hezbollah in Beirut.

Evidence of this was already available in the Washington Post's front page coverage of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah's September 22 mass rally, which mentioned that among those in attendance was a Lebanese expatriate who had flown in from Venezuela for the event and that "[a]t the mention of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, a critic of America, cheers went up."

As it happens, one month after the demonstration in Beirut, on October 23, Venezuelan police discovered two explosive devices near the U.S. Embassy in Caracas. According to a statement in El Universal from the acting police commissioner of the Baruta district, law enforcement officials arrested a man carrying a "backpack containing one hundred black powder bases, pliers, adhesive tape, glue, and electric conductors" who "admitted that the explosives had been set to detonate within fifteen minutes." The man arrested was José Miguel Rojas Espinoza, a 26-year-old student at the Bolivarian University of Venezuela, a Chávez-founded institution whose website proclaims that it offers a free "practical and on the ground education" contributing to "a more just, united, and sustainable society, world peace, and a new progressive and pluralist civilization."

Two days after the failed bombing, a web posting by a group calling itself Venezuelan Hezbollah claimed -- "in the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful" -- responsibility for the attack. The bombing was meant to publicize Venezuelan Hezbollah's existence and its mission to "build an Islamic nation in Venezuela and all the countries of America," under the guidance of "the ideology of the revolutionary Islam of the Imam Khomeini." (Without a hint of irony, the communiqué, signed by "Latin American Hezbollah," disparaged those who would present the suspect as "a lunatic and a madman in order to hide the truth that he is an Islamic mujahid, a man who has undertaken jihad through the call of our group.")

This episode, barely noticed in our preoccupation with the midterm elections, is not the first of its kind in the Americas. On November 9, a court in Argentina issued an arrest warrant for former Iranian president Hashemi Rafsanjani and eight other former Iranian officials for their part in the 1994 bombing of the a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, which killed 85 people and wounded hundreds. Prosecutors in the case formally accused Iran of ordering the terrorist attack and Hezbollah of carrying it out. Immediately after the judicial actions, Argentine Housing Minister Luis D'Elía, a self-professed follower of Chávez and a leftist demagogue on his own right (he is best known for organizing invasions of private property by piqueteros, unruly unemployed protesters), went to the Iranian embassy in Buenos Aires and read out a statement denouncing the legal proceedings as "American-Israeli military aggression against the Islamic Republic." (An embarrassed President Néstor Kirchner was forced to fire the minister.)

As Rachel Ehrenfeld spotlighted in an excellent National Review Online column back in 2003, exploiting its entrée with the Lebanese diaspora, Hezbollah has had a longstanding and profitable presence in South America. In the largely ungoverned jungles of the tri-border region of where Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay intersect, Hezbollah clerics have been active since the mid-1980s, seeking converts as well as recruiting new members and organizing cells among immigrant Muslim communities from the Middle East. In addition, Brazilian, Argentinean, and other Latin American intelligence sources report the existence of special Hezbollah-run weekend camps, where children and teenagers receive weapons and combat training, as well as indoctrination them in the anti-American and anti-Semitic ideologies of the Ayatollah Khomeini and his successors. Hezbollah is heavily involved in South America's thriving trade in illegal drugs, cultivating alliances with both drug cartels and narco-terrorist outfits with revolutionary aspirations like the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) and National Liberation Army (ELN) in Colombia. Brazilian security agencies estimate that hundreds of millions in profits are sent annually from Islamist organizations operating in the tri-border region to the Middle East, most of it going to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Last summer, one week before a cross-border raid by Hezbollah precipitated open conflict between the terrorist group governing southern Lebanon and the State of Israel we warned in a contribution to TCS Daily that the Iranian-backed terrorists' build-up along that border was producing dangerous tensions. "Time is not on Israel's side here," we wrote. "Eventually, Israel may feel compelled to exercise its sovereign right to self-defense by preemptively attacking in a manner that not only eliminates the Fajr rockets, but also prevents Tehran from easily reestablishing them." We concluded by arguing: "For all our sakes, it's high time to bring Hezbollah back into the international limelight."

Then came the ceasefire mandated by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, at which point we noted in another TCS essay that "by setting his strategic objective so ridiculously low—at one point he declared that his group 'needs only to survive to win'—Hezbollah's Nasrallah had emerged from the ordeal that he imposed on Lebanon with bragging rights." We feared that Nasrallah would exercise these rights to the detriment not just of Israelis and Lebanese, but also of Americans and others who oppose his terrorist group and the revolutionary ideology of his Iranian mullah patrons. Even we, however, did not anticipate how quickly Hezbollah would be exploiting its strategic opportunity to significantly expand both the scope and magnitude of its nefarious activities—and right into our own backyard at that.

Five months ago, we warned of a dangerous nexus between Iranian revolutionary and geopolitical ambitions, Syrian irredentism, and Hezbollah terrorism north of Israel's borders. Now it appears that the combination of Chávez's anti-Americanism, Iran's well-financed expansion of the umma and Latin American radicalism is forming yet another front for Islamist fascism, this time in nominally Christian South America. Secretary of Defense-designate Robert Gates, a former CIA chief, would do well to insist that this new front for jihad become a priority for the administration's war on terror.

J. Peter Pham is director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University. Michael I. Krauss is professor of law at George Mason University School of Law. Both are adjunct fellows of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.
28426  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: December 02, 2006, 09:31:12 PM
Weird shoes for Plantar Fascitis
28427  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: December 02, 2006, 09:11:55 PM

The police report on the Six Imans taken off the plane.  Note the original complaint was made by an Arab speaker who listened in on their conversation.  Although the report does not say so (PC reasons?  Security reasons?) given how few non-Arab Americans speak Arabic, the probability is that the complainant was Arab/Arab-American/Muslim?-- which given the concerns of many about where the loyalties of Arab Americans/Mulims lie, is worth noting.
28428  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: December 02, 2006, 01:13:18 PM
Note that the "handcuffing" never happened!

The flying imams: What didn't happen

Audrey Hudson follows up her two Washington Times stories on the flying imams with an interview of ringleader Omar Shahin: "Imam disputes ties to Hamas." It's an oddly muted interview by contrast, for example, with this AP report. Shahin does not claim that the imams were mistreated by authorities. No handcuffs. No barking dogs. He speaks up for US Airways: "We love US Airways, and we want to fly with them," he said, which I'm sure is a great comfort to all involved.
Shahin disputes his knowledge that the KindHearts charity he supported was a Hamas front. Although KindHearts was established as a successor to the Global Relief Foundation shuttered by the feds after 9/11, his involvement was an innocent mistake.
Hudson apparently didn't ask Shahin about the seat belt extenders for which two or three of the imams asked. Shahin was reportedly one of the imams who asked for and received one, despite the fact he has no apparent need for it.

Hudson's article seems to me to save the best for last:
Mr. Shahin says that after they were questioned and released, US Airways declined to sell them another plane ticket, even after an FBI agent intervened at the imam's request. "I told him, 'Please sir, to call them.' And he did and talked for more than 20 minutes. He was trying to tell them we have no problem with the government and we can fly with anybody, but they still refused. He told me, 'I'm sorry I did my best.' I really appreciated it."
Paul McCabe, FBI spokesman in Minneapolis, says no such call took place on behalf of the men. "That never happened," Mr. McCabe said.

But where did all those reports imams in handcuffs come from? According to this AP report, they came from none other than Shahin himself:
"They took us off the plane, humiliated us in a very disrespectful way," said Omar Shahin, of Phoenix.
The six Muslim scholars were returning from a conference in Minneapolis of the North American Imams Federation, said Shahin, president of the group. Five of them were from the Phoenix-Tempe area, while one was from Bakersfield, Calif., he said.
Three of them stood and said their normal evening prayers together on the plane, as 1.7 billion Muslims around the world do every day, Shahin said. He attributed any concerns by passengers or crew to ignorance about Islam.
"I never felt bad in my life like that," he said. "I never. Six imams. Six leaders in this country. Six scholars in handcuffs. It's terrible."

It's terrible -- terrible he made up the stuff about the imams in handcuffs special for the first wave of publicity about the incident. Those imams in handcuffs -- I guess, to quote Paul McCabe, "that never happened" either.


Also, here's this:

Marshals decry imams' charges

By Audrey Hudson
Published November 29, 2006
Air marshals, pilots and security officials yesterday expressed concern that airline passengers and crews will be reluctant to report suspicious behavior aboard for fear of being called "racists," after several Muslim imams made that charge in a press conference Monday at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

Six imams, or Muslim holy men, accused a US Airways flight crew of inappropriately evicting them from a flight last week in Minneapolis after several passengers said the imams tried to intimidate them by loudly praying and moving around the airplane. The imams urged Congress to enact laws to prohibit ethnic and religious "profiling."

Federal air marshals and others yesterday urged passengers to remain vigilant to threats.

"The crew and passengers act as our additional eyes and ears on every flight," said a federal air marshal in Las Vegas, who asked that his name not be used. "If [crew and passengers] are afraid of reporting suspicious individuals out of fear of being labeled a racist or bigot, then terrorists will certainly use those fears to their advantage in future aviation attacks."

But Rabiah Ahmed, spokeswoman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said Muslims "have to walk around on eggshells in public just because we don't want to be misconstrued as suspicious. You have to strike a balance between legitimate fears which people may have, but not allow passengers to have so much discretion that they can trigger a process that would violate a traveler's basic civil rights."

"Because one person misunderstood the actions of other law-abiding citizens, they were able to trigger a very long and daunting process for other travelers that were pulled off the plane in handcuffs and detained for many hours before they were cleared."

The imams say they were removed from the Phoenix-bound flight because they were praying quietly in the concourse. They had been in Minnesota for a conference sponsored by the North American Imams Federation.

But other passengers told police and aviation security officials a different version of the incident. They said suspicious behavior of the imams led to their eviction from the flight. The imams, they said, tested the forbearance of the passengers and flight crew in what the air marshal called a "[political correctness] probe."

"The political correctness needs to be left at the boarding gate," the marshal said. "Instilling politically correct fears into the minds of airline passengers is nothing less than psychological terrorism."

The passengers and flight crew said the imams prayed loudly before boarding; switched seating assignments to a configuration used by terrorists in previous incidents; asked for seat-belt extensions, which could be used as weapons; and shouted hostile slogans about al Qaeda and the war in Iraq.

Flight attendants said three of the six men, who did not appear to be overweight, asked for the seat-belt extensions, which include heavy metal buckles, and then threw them to the floor under their seats.

Robert MacLean, a former federal air marshal, expressed the fear yesterday that the situation "will make crews and passengers in the future second-guess reporting these events, thus compromising the aircraft's security out of fear of being labeled a dogmatist or a bigot, or being sued."

Flight attendants said they were concerned that the way the imams took seats that were not assigned to them -- two seats in the front row of first class, exit seats in the middle of the plane and two seats in the rear -- resembled the pattern used by September 11 hijackers, giving them control of the exits.

A Minneapolis police officer and a federal air marshal who were called to the plane after the imams refused to leave the plane for questioning said "the seating configuration, the request for seat-belt extensions, the prior praying and utterances about Allah and the United States in the gate area ... was suspicious."

One pilot for a competing airline said the incident would have a chilling effect on the flight crews.

"The flight crew may be a little more gun-shy about approaching people, they may have a higher standard for the next few weeks for screening unusual behavior. I hope that's not the case, because I do think US Airways did the proper thing."

Andrea Rader, spokeswoman for US Airways, said its employees "are going to do what is appropriate" to ensure that airplanes are safe and will not be dissuaded by uproar over last week's incident.

"I don't think people will be less vigilant as a result of this, and I think that's appropriate. There is a balance, and I think we will continue to achieve that. Our crews and people on the airplanes are going to watch for behavior that raises concerns."

Many airports offer private rooms for prayer, but CAIR's Miss Ahmed said travelers required to arrive at airports two hours in advance to go through security inspections are too exhausted and must pray at the gate.

"It's convenient to check in then get to the gate and pray there," she said.

28429  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: December 02, 2006, 10:23:50 AM
Today's NY Times

KABUL, Afghanistan, Nov. 29 — After a series of bruising battles between British troops and Taliban fighters, the Afghan government struck a peace deal with tribal elders in Helmand Province, arranging for a cease-fire and the withdrawal of both sides from one southern district. A month later, the ripples are still being felt in the capital and beyond.

The New York Times
The elders in the Musa Qala district brokered a local peace pact.
The accord, reached with virtually no public consultation and mediated by the local governor, has brought some welcome peace for residents of the district, Musa Qala, and a reprieve for British troops, who had been under siege by the Taliban in a compound there for three months.

But it has sharply divided former government officials, legislators and ordinary Afghans.

Some say the agreement points the way forward in bringing peace to war-torn parts of the country. Others warn that it sets a dangerous precedent and represents a capitulation to the Taliban and a potential reversal of five years of American policy to build a strong central government. They say the accord gives up too much power to local leaders, who initiated it and are helping to enforce it.

“The Musa Qala project has sent two messages: one, recognition for the enemy, and two, military defeat,” said Mustafa Qazemi, a member of Afghanistan’s Parliament and a former resistance fighter with the Northern Alliance, which fought the Taliban for seven years.

“This is a model for the destruction of the country,” he said, “and it is just a defeat for NATO, just a defeat.”

As part of the deal, the district has been allowed to choose its own officials and police officers, something one member of Parliament warned would open a Pandora’s box as more districts clamored for the right to do the same.

Some compare the deal to agreements that Pakistan has struck with leaders in its tribal areas along the Afghan border, which have given those territories more autonomy and, critics say, empowered the Taliban who have taken sanctuary there and allowed them to regroup.

“It is the calm before the storm,” one senior Afghan military officer said of the accord.

Even President Hamid Karzai, who sanctioned the deal, has admitted to mixed feelings. “There are some suspicions in society about this,” he said in a recent radio interview with Radio Free Europe.

“I trust everything these elders say,” Mr. Karzai said, but he added that two recent episodes in the area — of killing and intimidation — gave pause and needed investigation.

For their part, foreign military officials and diplomats expressed cautious optimism, saying the accord had at least opened a debate over the virtues of such deals and time is needed to see if it will work. “If it works, and so far it appears to work, it could be a pointer to similar understandings elsewhere,” said one diplomat, who would speak on the topic only if not identified.

The governor of Helmand, Mohammad Daud, brokered the deal and defended it strongly as a vital exercise to unite the Pashtun tribes in the area and strengthen their leaders so they could reject the Taliban militants.

Appointed at the beginning of the year, Mr. Daud has struggled to win over the people and control the lawlessness of his province, which is the largest opium-producing region as well as a Taliban stronghold.

Some 5,000 British soldiers deployed in the province this year as part of an expanding NATO presence have come under repeated attack. Civilians have suffered scores of casualties across the south as NATO troops have often resorted to airstrikes, even on residential areas, to defeat the insurgents.

It was the civilians of Musa Qala who made the first bid for peace, Mr. Daud explained.

“They made a council of elders and came to us saying, ‘We want to make the Taliban leave Musa Qala,’ ” he said in a telephone interview from the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah. “At first we did not accept their request, and we waited to see how strong the elders were.”

But the governor and the British forces soon demanded a cease-fire, and when it held for more than a month, they negotiated a withdrawal of British troops from the district, as well as the Afghan police who had been fighting alongside them. The Taliban then also withdrew.

Eventually the governor agreed on a 15-point accord with the elders, who pledged to support the government and the Afghan flag, keep schools open, allow development and reconstruction, and work to ensure the security and stability of the region. That included trying to limit the arming of people who do not belong to the government, namely the Taliban insurgents.

They drew up a list of local candidates for the posts of district chief and police chief, from which the governor appointed the new officials. They also chose 60 local people to serve as police officers in the district, sending the first 20 to the provincial capital for 20 days of basic training, according to provincial officials.

“Musa Qala is the way to do it,” Mr. Seraj said. “Sixty days since the agreement, and there has not been a shot fired.”

The agreement has been welcomed by residents of Musa Qala, who said in interviews by telephone or in neighboring Kandahar Province that people were rebuilding their houses and shops and planting winter crops, including the ubiquitous poppy, the source of opium.

The onset of the lucrative poppy planting season may have been one of the incentives behind their desire for peace, diplomats and government officials admitted.

Elders and residents of the area say the accord has brought calm, at least for now. “There is no Taliban authority there,” said Haji Shah Agha, 55, who led 50 members of the Musa Qala elders’ council to Kabul recently to counter criticism that the district was in the hands of the Taliban.

“The Taliban stopped fighting because we convinced them that fighting would not be to our benefit,” he said. “We told the Taliban, ‘Fighting will kill our women and children, and they are your women and children as well.’ ”

What the Taliban gained was the withdrawal of the British forces without having to risk further fighting. Meantime, the Taliban presence remains strong in the province, so much so that road travel to Musa Qala for a foreign journalist is not advised by United Nations security officials. While residents are happy with the peace, they do not deny that the militants who were fighting British forces all summer have neither disbanded nor been disarmed.

According to a local shopkeeper, Haji Bismillah, 40, who owns a pharmacy in the center of Musa Qala, the Taliban have pulled back to their villages and often come into town, but without their weapons.

“The Taliban are not allowed to enter the bazaar with their weapons,” he said in a telephone interview. “If they resist with guns, the tribal elders will disarm them,” he said.

He said the elders had temporarily given the Taliban “some kind of permission to arrest thieves and drug addicts and put them in their own prison,” since the elders did not yet have a police force of their own.

The district’s newly appointed police chief, Haji Malang, said the Taliban and the police had agreed not to encroach on each other’s territory. “They have their place which we cannot enter, and we have our place and they must not come in,” he said in a telephone interview this week.

Some residents said the deal would benefit the Taliban. “This is a very good chance for the Taliban,” said Abdul Bari, 33, a farmer who accompanied a sick relative to a hospital in neighboring Kandahar province.

“The people now view the Taliban as a force, since without the Taliban, the government could not bring peace in the regions.” he said. “It is not sure how this agreement will work, but maybe the Taliban will get more strength and then move against the elders.”

Opponents of the agreement warned that the elders were merely doing the bidding of the Taliban and would never be strong enough to face down Taliban commanders.

“The Taliban reappeared by the power of the gun, and the only way to defeat them is fighting, not dealing,” said Haji Aadil Khan, 47, a former police chief from Gereshk, another district of Helmand.

One event that has alarmed all sides was the killing and beheading of Haji Ahmad Shah, the former chief of a neighboring district, who returned to his home after the agreement was signed. Beheading is a tactic favored by some Taliban groups, and his friends say it is a clear sign that the Taliban are in control of the area. Elders of Musa Qala said that Mr. Shah had personal enemies and that they were behind the killing.

The governor, Mr. Daud, and the elders said a number of the opponents to the agreement were former militia leaders who did not want peace. “The people of Musa Qala took a step for peace with this agreement,” said the chief elder, Haji Shah Agha. “The Taliban are sitting calmly in their houses.”

Another elder, Amini, who uses only one name, said: “For four months we had fighting in Musa Qala and now we have peace. What is wrong with it, if we have peace?”

28430  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Environmental issues on: December 02, 2006, 01:41:26 AM
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintains a nationwide network of 27 libraries that provide critical scientific information on human health and environmental protection, not only to EPA scientists, but also to other researchers and the general public.

The libraries represent a unique and invaluable source of scientific knowledge on issues from hazardous waste to toxicology to pollution control. Additional benefit to scientific researchers is gained from the expertise of a dedicated library staff, who field more than 100,000 database and reference questions per year from EPA scientists and the public.
The above was sent to me by a dear friend, Arlene Blum who asked the following:
Please call EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson at (202) 564-4700 either today or Monday and tell him how much scientists rely on data and literature. Urge him to immediately halt the dismantling of the library system until Congress approves the EPA budget and all materials are readily available online.
Arlene is a mountain climber and bio-chemist who recently had an op-ed piece printed in the NY Times.  I re-print it below:
November 19, 2006
Op-Ed Contributor
Chemical Burns


THIRTY years ago, as a researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, I published papers in Science magazine calling for the ban of brominated and chlorinated Tris, two flame retardants used in children's sleepwear. Both forms of Tris caused mutations in DNA, and leached from pajamas into children's bodies. In 1977, when brominated Tris was found to be a potent carcinogen, the Consumer Product Safety Commission banned Tris from children's sleepwear.

So I was astonished to learn recently that the same chlorinated Tris that I helped eliminate from children's pajamas is being used today in the foam inside furniture sold in California to meet standards there for fire retardancy, and that the state is considering similar standards for pillows, comforters and mattress pads. The federal safety commission, following California's lead, is working to set a national standard for fire-retardant furniture.

Unfortunately, the most effective and inexpensive way for manufacturers to meet such standards is to treat bedding and furniture with brominated and chlorinated hydrocarbons like Tris. Though the chemical industry insists that they are safe, when tested in animals most chemicals in this family have been found to cause health problems like cancer, sterility, thyroid disorders, endocrine disruption, developmental impairment or birth defects, even at very low doses.

Many of these chemicals are long-lived and accumulate, especially in people and other animals high on the food chain. For example, PCBs, chlorinated chemicals that were also used as flame retardants, were banned in 1977, but very high concentrations can still be found in many creatures, including dead killer whales washed ashore in British Columbia.

According to the polyurethane-foam industry, if the new federal standard for furniture were similar to the California standard, using current technology, then an estimated 17 million pounds of fire-retardant chemicals, mostly brominated and chlorinated hydrocarbons, would be used annually. (A more rigorous standard also being considered by the safety commission would require up to 70 million pounds of chemicals a year, the industry says. Some of that could eventually end up in people and the environment.)
To complicate matters, consumers wouldn't know whether the sofa they're curled up on had been treated with Tris or its cousins. The United States does not require labeling on furniture contents.

All this is not to say that furniture fires don't pose a danger. According to a recent report from the commission, 560 Americans died in house fires that started in upholstered furniture in 2003. But by contrast, cancer killed more than 500,000.
What makes the potential increased use of chlorinated and brominated fire retardants all the more troubling is that it comes at a time when the risk of furniture fires is receding.
Most fatal furniture fires are caused by cigarettes, which typically smolder for half an hour after being put down. The good news is that after decades of opposition from the cigarette industry, cigarettes that extinguish themselves within minutes are now mandatory in New York State and laws have been passed requiring them in five other states. They are likely to become universal in the United States in the near future, thereby greatly reducing the risk of furniture fires  and the need for chemical treatments.
So why are we still using these potentially dangerous chemicals?
In the United States, chemicals are innocent until proven guilty: we wait until someone has been harmed by exposure to chemicals before regulating them. This is not an effective strategy, since most cancers occur 20 to 40 years after exposure, and are usually caused by multiple agents. Consequently, it's very difficult to link human cancer to specific chemicals or consumer products.

And there's another problem: In the United States, the manufacturers of consumer products are not required to disclose the results of toxicity tests to regulators or the public before selling their products.

In marked contrast, the European Union is adopting a "better safe than sorry" philosophy through regulations known as the Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals. Manufacturers must demonstrate that their products are safe for people and the environment to introduce them and keep them on the market.

This standard provides a strong incentive for finding new alternatives to potentially dangerous brominated and chlorinated chemicals. An innovative Swedish company, for example, is developing a nontoxic fire retardant, Molecular Heat Eater, derived from oranges and lemons, that prevents fires in plastics and fabrics.

Home fires are a defined danger in the present. Chemical fire retardants pose a more ambiguous risk that can last for decades. We need to consider the larger picture before passing regulations that would put chemical fire retardants inside our pillows and those of our children, who are even more vulnerable to carcinogens. These regulations would lead to the widespread use of fire retardants that could be ultimately much more hazardous to us and our environment than the fires they're intended to prevent.

Arlene Blum, the author of "Breaking Trail: A Climbing Life," is a biophysical chemist.

You can view photos and text from Arlene's new book  Breaking Trail: A Climbing Life at .

Phone: 510-644-3164                     Fax  510 644-2164
E-mail:           Web:

28431  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science on: December 02, 2006, 01:32:40 AM
A B-1 Bomber lands wheels up.
28432  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: db in australia ? on: December 01, 2006, 07:56:23 PM
Woof Porn Star Dog:

Thanks for the reminder.  Tentatively we are looking at summer 2007.

Guro Crafty

PS:  How go things with you?  Come post on the Ass'n forum!
28433  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: December 01, 2006, 05:58:06 PM
Lo presente me lo mando' Mauricio. !Gracias!


Lo que Fox Cumplió (de sus promesas):
Gobierno al servicio de los ciudadanos:
. Construir un estado democrático de derecho: promover reformas legales y constitucionales que acoten las facultades del presidente de la republica que garanticen la autonomía y el equilibrio entre los poderes legislativo, ejecutivo y judicial; y hagan realidad el federalismo y el municipio libre.
. Fortalecimiento de instituciones públicas y consolidación de la transición democrática.
. Respetar la libertad, la diversidad y la pluralidad de la sociedad mexicana y a no usar nunca el poder de estado para imponer estilos de vida, creencias o códigos particulares de comportamiento.
. Un gobierno plural e incluyente que integre a mujeres y hombres de reconocida capacidad, calidad moral y sentido de responsabilidad.
(nada extraordinario ni fuera de lo común).
(solo 4)
Lo que NO cumplió Fox (sus promesas rotas):
Mas empleos y mejores salarios:
. Crear las condiciones para que la economía crezca a tasas de 7%, y genere, cuando menos, 1,300,000 empleos anuales.
. Garantizar la estabilidad de los indicadores fundamentales de la economía y asegurar la solidez del sistema financiero.
. Combatir el rezago laboral y el subempleo en el que viven millones de personas.
Superación de la pobreza y justa distribución del ingreso:
. Diseñar una política social de estado con visón de largo plazo.
. Aplicar medidas que disminuyan los elementos de pobreza con resultados en el corto plazo e eliminar los factores que provocan la transmisión generacional de la miseria.
. Garantizar el acceso a la infraestructura social básica.
Ataque frontal a la corrupción:
. Un gobierno honesto y transparente que inspire confianza a la ciudadanía.
. Un gobierno que informe con veracidad y oportunidad.
. Combatir la corrupción sin privilegios y salvedades.
. Fin de impunidad de funcionarios que cometen actividades ilícitas.
Construcción de un país seguro:
. Llevar a cabo la reforma integral del sistema de seguridad pública y justicia, a fin de incrementar la eficacia de sus instituciones.
. Atacar con firmaza la inseguridad y solucionar sus causas.
. Combatir el narcotráfico y el crimen organizado.
. Promover el respeto a los derechos humanos.
Desarrollo regional equilibrado:
. Democratizar la economía, distribuyendo las oportunidades para todos y en todas las regiones del país.
. Transferencia equitativa de recursos y facultades a estados y municipios.
. Reactivar las regiones más rezagadas e impulsar la actividad económica local.
. Fortalecer el campo y estimular la industria.
Nueva relación entre Mexicanos:
. Dar un mayor dinamismo al sector social.
. Promover acciones para eliminar toda forma de discriminación y exclusión de grupos minoritarios.
. Garantizar la equidad de genero creando oportunidades en todos los ámbitos a las mujeres.
. Crear las condiciones políticas para la solución pacífica del conflicto en Chiapas, y para los grupos armados que existen en el país, con estricto apego a derecho.
. Reconocer a los ciudadanos de la tercera edad su retribución al país.
. Verdaderas oportunidades para que la juventud construya su propio destino.
Gobierno ecologista:
. Un plan verde para revertir el desarrollo ambiental de agua, aire, suelo y subsuelo a lo largo y ancho de país.
. Un gobierno comprometido con la naturaleza y el desarrollo, que de vida a la política ambiental.
. Esfuerzo común: gobierno, sectores productivos y sociedad.
Relaciones exteriores:
. Política exterior preactiva y diversificada.
. Mayor participación en organismos internacionales.
. Ampliación del comercio exterior.
. Defensa de los derechos de los Mexicanos que viven en el extranjero.
. Dinamizar el papel de las embajadas y consulados de nuestro país.
(32 si no conté mal)
Lo que Fox medio cumplió (sus intentos mediocres):
Acceso a una educación de calidad:
. Garantizar una educación pública, laica y gratuita de calidad y con valores.
. Asegurar la educación a los niños y jóvenes marginados.
. Establecer la equidad como un imperativo de la educación a través del sistema de becas y financiamiento.
. Elevar el nivel y la calidad del sistema educativo así que las condiciones de trabajo para los alumnos como para los maestros.
. Proporcionar a los Mexicanos la posibilidad de capacitación y educación permanente.
Lo que Fox deja:
. Disturbio legal y político: relacionado con el desafuero del jefe de gobierno de la capital del país.
Reformas estructurales:
. Vicente Foz no pudo impulsar hasta su aprobación las tres reformas más importantes que había planeado para su mandato: la reforma fiscal, la reforma energética y la reforma laboral.
Relaciones exteriores:
. Confrontaciones con países latinoamericanos particularmente con Cuba, Venezuela y miembros del MERCOSUR (Argentina, Paraguay y Uruguay).
. Defensa categórica del ALCA.
. El alejamiento de México con América latina también se ha puesto en evidencia tras diversos desencuentros con otros países de la región, coincidentemente todos con Gobiernos de tendencia de Izquierda; pero elegidos democráticamente en las urnas (Brasil, Uruguay, Bolivia y Chile).
. De 2001 a 2005 la Secretaría de Economía ejecutó una amplia estrategia de negociaciones comerciales internacionales que han respaldado la colocación de un mayor número de productos mexicanos en los mercados del exterior: o el tratado de libre comercio con el triángulo del norte (El Salvador, Honduras y Guatemala, 2001) o el TLC con la Asociación Europea de Libre Comercio (Islandia, Noruega, Liechtenstein y Suiza, Julio 2001) o el TLC con Uruguay en Julio de 2004 o el Acuerdo de la asociación económica con Japón desde Abril de 2005; el Acuerdo de Complementación Económica (ACE) con Brasil, 2003.
Situación Política:
. Plantón de Reforma.
. Conflicto de Oaxaca.
. Inestabilidad política brutal y desacuerdos.
. Separación del pueblo de México.
. Antes de ser elegido como presidente, Fox prometió en su campaña que proporcionaría a cada Mexicano la oportunidad de un trabajo en México. En la práctica se asegura que Fox ha dependido en gran parte de una política de migración hacia los Estados Unidos como manera de proporcionar los medios de subsistencia a los obreros Mexicanos.
. Entre el 2000 y el 2005, más de 2 millones 632 mil Mexicanos decidieron ir a EU en busca de empleo, según datos del Pew Hispanic.
. En México solo unos 15 millones de trabajadores, solo una tercera parte de la población económicamente activa (PEA) desempeña una ocupación en el sector formal.
. Las personas más afectadas directamente por el desempleo y las más precarias condiciones asciende a 31 millones 700 mil, que representan 30% de la oblación del país.
. En Diciembre de 2000 el organismo reportó que el universo de desocupados en el país se ubicaba en 612 mil 209 individuos; de tal manera que esta cifra registró una expansión de 188% en el sexenio, lo que representó que un millón 150 mil Mexicanos se sumaron a la búsqueda de empleo que no encuentran, sin considerar a las personas que decidieron abandonar el país para radicar en el extranjero.
. En mayo de 2006, recibió críticas nacionales e internacionales, debido a una declaración que fue considerada racista.
. Un uso descuidado de formas idiomáticas comunes en el lenguaje coloquial mexicano, lo cual sus detractores afirman que es una de las muchas pruebas de su falta de habilidad como político y estadista.
. En los últimos 6 años la pobreza creció 10% hasta abarcar 75% de los 100 millones de habitantes del país, y la desigualdad social se acentuó.
. Uno de los más sonados triunfos del gobierno de Fox fue el reconocimiento tácito del Banco Mundial en cuanto a que los programas sociales que se aplican en México, han permitido disminuir el porcentaje de la pobreza “extrema” (no confundir con pobreza) en 17 puntos porcentuales, sin embargo esta reducción apenas es 1% menor del porcentaje que teníamos en 1994 antes de la crisis provocada por Salinas de Gortari.
. La pobreza alimentaría se redujo en 6.9 puntos porcentuales, lo que significa que 5.6 millones de personas superaron esta condición.
Derechos Humanos (¿hay?):
. Mientras fue el primer país del mundo en adoptar plenamente el Protocolo de Estambul para combatir y sancionar cualquier acto de tortura, sin embargo la actual administración (o la que terminó) no pudo dar respuesta a los más de 400 asesinatos de mujeres en Ciudad Juárez.
. En México cada día 3 mujeres, niñas y adulas, son asesinadas solo por condición de género. Esta cifra revela que los feminicidios van más allá del caso de las muertas de Juárez, pues en 6 años de 1999 a 2005, 6000 mujeres fueron victimadas en 10 estados del país.
. Según estadísticas de la Comisión Nacional de los derechos Humanos (CNDH) del primero de Noviembre de 2000 al 31 de Julio de 2006 se han presentado 246 quejas de agresiones a periodistas.
. En México son asesinados en promedio 4 periodistas al año y de 2000 a la fecha suman 22 casos.
Seguridad, Orden y respeto:
. De 2001 a Agosto de 2006 la red consular atendió 491 mil 125 casos de protección y asistencia a Mexicanos en el exterior, a fin de apoyarlos en su defensa contra actos que atentan contra su dignidad y libertad, así como sus derechos humanos y laborales, cifra que representa un incremento de 72,2% comparada con los casos atendidos en el sexenio 1995-2000. Lo que significa que la actual administración ha atendido casi el doble de casos que la anterior.
. En 2005, México suplanto a Colombia en el puesto del país más asesino para la prensa, de todo el continente americano.
. México se convirtió en un país peligroso para la prensa durante el gobierno de Vicente Fox (2000-2006) con más de 20 asesinatos de periodistas.
Felipe Calderón Hinojosa:
Para que se den una idea; nada más los retos que debe cumplir por lo heredado gracias al incompetente de Vicente Fox, es más que todo lo que anteriormente he escrito para compartirlo con Ustedes.
Escribiré solo o que considero (no más importante) pero si actual sobre los temas relacionados con los asuntos que Calderón hereda de Vicente Fox.
. Aumentar las reservas premolerás de México pues han caído drásticamente.
. Aumentar el Producto Interno Bruto (PIB) (supongo que no se refieren a personas como Fox).
. México ocupa el cuarto lugar entre las naciones con mayor grado de desigualdad en América Latina, que es la región más desigual del mundo.
. Deberá tomar en cuanta a los simpatizantes del PRD (no como lo hizo, o no lo hizo Fox) para evitar frustraciones que leven a conflictos mayores.
. Control a focos rojos de violencia o estado de sitio como Oaxaca.
. Contexto de inseguridad.
. Incrementar los servicios de seguridad social, actualmente, 54.5% de los Mexicanos no están cubiertos por la seguridad social tradicional.
. Reanudar relaciones con América latina, especialmente con Cuba y Venezuela.
. Estrategias para impulsar el comercio, la infraestructura y la cooperación científica, tecnológica y académica.
. Establecer acuerdos con EU en materia de migración.
. Terminar con la inseguridad, la violencia y el robo. Hoy la inseguridad ha alcanzado niveles desproporcionados, causados por la infiltración del crimen organizado, y/o narcotráfico en los distintos niveles de gobierno y fuerzas de seguridad.
. Disminuir la cifra de secuestros, desapariciones y asesinatos.
. Garantizar que todas las personas tengan una ocupación digna, bien remunerada y estable.
. Disminuir la informalidad y el trabajo precario.
. Reducir un desempleo de más de 11 MILLONES de Mexicanos.
. Crear oportunidades internas para detener la excesiva migración de indocumentados e EU.
. Promover la igualdad de oportunidades educativas entre grupos vulnerables de la población.
. Aumentar el nivel educativo en la población, actualmente 28 de cada 100 jóvenes no tienen garantizado su derecho a la educación media.
.hasta el año 2000 la deforestación era de una 600 mil hectáreas anuales, tendencia que se mantenía a principio de 2006. Nuestro país contaba originalmente con 22 millones de hectáreas de selvas húmedas o bosques tropicales, hoy en día difícilmente restan más de 800 mil hectáreas dispersas en la región Lacandona, en Veracruz y otras regiones de Oaxaca (a pesar de los planes de Gobierno Ecologista de Fox: Gobierno ecologista:
. Un plan verde para revertir el desarrollo ambiental de agua, aire, suelo y subsuelo a lo largo y ancho de país.
. Un gobierno comprometido con la naturaleza y el desarrollo, que de vida a la política ambiental.
. Esfuerzo común: gobierno, sectores productivos y sociedad.)
. Recientes análisis estiman que en México se perdieron 29,765Km2 de bosque (superficie equivalente al estado de Guanajuato) de 1976 a 1933, mientras que de 1993 a 2000 (bueno, aún no llegaba Fox) se perdieron 54,306 Km2 (superficie equivalente al estado de Campeche).
Y bueno … !Las Promesas!:
. Dar continuidad al cambio y seguir la democratización.
. Combatir la cultura de la ilegalidad; la corrupción (incluso en cuerpo policíacos); la impunidad; la ineficacia de la investigación criminal; y la ausencia de una política preventiva e integradora, donde lo relevante sea la participación ciudadana.
. Crear un sistema único de información criminalística.
. Hacer de México un país ganador y generador de empleo.
. Promover el crecimiento económico.
. Compromiso con la protección del medio ambiente, aunque dijo que hay obstáculos que superar (ya empezamos, pues ¿qué en lo demás no hay obstáculos?, y de haber obstáculos: ¿será más difícil eso que combatir la corrupción y la inseguridad social? Yo no lo creo).
. Política exterior responsable.
. Desarrollar una política exterior más activa a favor de los derechos humanos y democráticos universales.
. Procurarse mecanismos que refuercen y extiendan los lazos culturales (por fin), políticos y económicos con América latina mientras México es un país latinoamericano inserto en Norteamérica (¿y eso qué?).
. Complementar nuestras acciones con los objetivos del milenio propuestos por la Organización de las Naciones Unidas.
. Promover activamente los derechos humanos y la democracia en el plano nacional e internacional).
Muchas gracias por haberse tomado el tiempo de leer este correo, seguro estoy de que a todos les interesó, pues Vicente Fox (gracias a Dios) ya terminó su gestión, y (muy a pesar mío y de muchos millones más de Mexicanos) el IFE y el TRIFE dieron por vencedor a Felipe Calderón como presidente de México, y ahora (aunque el Peje haga teatro, maroma y circo con su supuesta toma de protesta y todo el show ridículo del 20 de noviembre de 2006 en el zócalo de la ciudad de México; que conste, de haber podido votar en las elecciones lo habría hecho pro el Peje, pero aún así no apoyo actos ridículos ni manifestaciones que atenten en contra de la paz social y de miles de Mexicanos (como el plantón de Reforma), ó que (en mi caso) arbitrariamente te me quiten 2 días de salario (por orden del Sindicato Mexicano de Electricistas) para mantener y apoyar la campaña y faramallas del Peje) debemos apoyar y confiar nuevamente en que el nuevo presidente cumplirá debidamente con sus obligaciones, o si no: que el pueblo se lo demande (ojala lo cumpliéramos alguna vez). Yo esperaré que todo lo malo de mi querido, adorado y amado México se resuelvan por la vía pacífica y por el diálogo, se que un presidente no es un mago ni es Dios, mucho menos un Jedi (broma), por eso apoyaré lo más que pueda y mientras mi criterio y bolsillo me lo permitan al nuevo presidente, pero eso si, y que quede muy claro, si me falla se lo demandaré agresivamente, que quede claro, pues para mi el no debió asumir la presidencia de México.
Deseo a todo el pueblo de México felices pascuas y próspero año nuevo,
Mauricio Sánchez Reyes
1 de Diciembre de 2006.
Texto tomado del enlace en la página principal del sitio de Prodigy / MSN.
28434  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA on: November 30, 2006, 09:04:40 AM
Surf Dog is judging the 12/30 show of the UFC cool
28435  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Health Care Economics on: November 30, 2006, 09:00:50 AM
HSAs seem like a really good idea to me for dealing with medical costs.  Check this out:
28436  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East War on: November 29, 2006, 08:19:55 PM
Geopolitical Diary: Syria's Militant Islamist Traffic

An explosion occurred on the Syrian-Lebanese border on Tuesday. Lebanese security officials said the blast was caused by a Syrian assailant, driving toward Lebanon in southwestern Syria along the main international highway that links Beirut and Damascus. The driver was reportedly about seven minutes from the Lebanese border point of Masnaa when he was stopped at the border crossing of Jdeidet Yabous on the Syrian side. When Syrian police tried to search a suitcase in his car, the driver reportedly pulled out a pistol and fired at them. Officials say he then ran from the car, holding a grenade, which exploded and killed him on the spot. Two Syrian security officers were injured.

And then we have the Syrian version of the incident. The Syrian Interior Ministry issued a statement that identified the assailant as 28-year-old Omar Abdullah, the alleged leader of the Islamist militant group Tawhid and Jihad al-Takfiri. Abdullah, operating under the alias Omar Hamra, was allegedly trying to cross the border with nine forged documents. After firing at Syrian security forces, he tried to escape and ended up detonating an explosive belt.

Damascus is notorious for stretching the truth, particularly when it comes to reporting on Islamist militants operating in the country -- such as the alleged jihadist attack on the U.S. Embassy in Damascus in September, as well as a number of shady reports on shootouts between Islamist militants and Syrian security forces. In this latest incident, it does seem a bit odd that a leader of a shadowy jihadist group -- and not a foot soldier -- would be the one carrying out a suicide mission, and that he would behave so clumsily at a checkpoint.

Despite the glaring disparities between the Lebanese and Syrian accounts, one thing is clear: a Syrian assailant was stopped at a checkpoint and detonated an explosion of some kind while trying to escape. Though a clumsy affair, the incident reveals Syria's management of jihadists in the Levant region. Syria has long been in the business of funneling Islamist militants across the borders it shares with Iraq and Lebanon, while carefully managing to stay clear of Sunni militant attacks itself.

Syria manages these militants primarily through its intelligence assets in Lebanon who coordinate with Islamist groups operating in the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp near Sidon and in Sunni areas of Lebanon. An alleged al Qaeda-linked node has also set up shop in several refugee camps in Lebanon, including Burj al-Barajneh, Beddawi and Mar Elias.

Syria regularly likes to remind its neighbors and the United States through incidents such as the Tuesday border explosion that it, too, is battling jihadists within its borders, and that Washington's cooperation with Damascus is necessary to battle this common threat. The Syrian regime is also keen on driving home the point that Lebanon will return to chaos without Syrian forces in the country and that a price will be paid for driving Syrian forces out of the country following the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri. In order to squash any plans to topple the Syrian government, Damascus wants to play up the idea that the alternative to the secular Alawite-Baathist authoritarian regime in Syria would be a government led or heavily influenced by radical Islamists. The story on the border explosion clearly falls in line with Syria's intentions.

But Syrian President Bashar al Assad is playing with fire in facilitating the transport of Islamist militants into Lebanon and Iraq. Though the al Assad government isn't exactly known to be risk-averse, the Alawite regime in Damascus cannot be assured that it is completely safe from the jihadist threat, and must carefully manage the flow of insurgents to avoid falling victim to attacks on its own soil. The Syrians are also keeping a close eye on the raging insurgency in Iraq -- which has thus far served it well by keeping the United States occupied, but which runs the risk of becoming a bigger problem for Damascus should the Sunni militant movement get out of hand.

With the United States now well beyond its tolerance level in Iraq and searching for a shift in strategy to relieve U.S. forces in the region, recommendations by James Baker's Iraq Study Group to include Syria and Iran in negotiations have presented al Assad with a golden opportunity to emerge out of diplomatic isolation and bring Syria back into the regional spotlight. Al Assad has his Shiite allies in Iran to thank for this diplomatic opening, who have aggressively paved the way for Shiite influence to spread through the Arab world.

But Syria does not wish to present itself as a pawn of the Iranians in these negotiations. An ongoing meeting between Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran was supposed to include al Assad, but he politely declined the invitation, lamely citing scheduling conflicts as the reason for his absence. The reality of the situation is that Syria wants to make a name for itself in these talks and will not simply be strung along by the Iranians. In fact, Syria is planning on holding a summit of its own in Damascus in the near future with Iraqi security officials, including Interior Minister Jawad al-Bulani and National Security Affairs Minister Shirwan al-Waili.

In addition to making a name for itself in Iraq, Syria is also heavily exhibiting its influence in other parts of the region. In Lebanon, the recent assassination of Pierre Gemayel was a clear reminder from Damascus that it still has the assets in place to manipulate the Lebanese political system. In the Palestinian territories, Syria was involved in the negotiations that led to the current cease-fire between Israel and the Palestinian militant faction. Though this cease-fire is tenuous at best, Syria's influence over Hamas' exiled leader Khaled Meshaal in Damascus played a part in halting rocket fire into Israel over the past three days.

Syria is clearly ready to catapult itself back into a more influential role in the region, but the regime is still twiddling its thumbs waiting on recognition from Washington -- something that will not come easily with Iran running the game in Iraq.
28437  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: November 29, 2006, 07:53:29 PM
Some friends comments:

Thanks for your input. You may want to check out this page:

Here is a link to a British documentary on Codex and its implications:

Also, on its own website, the Codex Alimentarius Commission/FAO states:

Objective 6:
Promoting Maximum Application of Codex Standards
18. As the pre-eminent international standards setting body for food, the CAC has a clear and strategic interest in promoting the maximum use of its standards both for domestic regulation and international trade. (Emphasis mine.)

If you want to read more, here?s a very comprehensive article with dozens of embedded links:


Shannara Johnson
Senior Editor
Casey Research

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Tuesday, November 28, 2006 10:55 PM

This article did not make sense to me from a legal perspective (on what authority could Codex take over our laws??), so I did a quick google search.  As this is the first I've heard of it, I don't know all the implications or have any informed opinion, but it does seem as though the article you found is in conflict with what's on the fda site, and it seems like a rather large gap of misunderstanding somewhere.   -

We hope the responses below help you understand why the Codex Guidelines for Vitamin and Mineral Food Supplements will not restrict U.S. consumers' access to vitamin and mineral supplements or impose any restrictions that go beyond those established by U.S. law. We also hope the responses help explain why the U.S. participates in the Codex process and how you can keep abreast of Codex activities.

?        What is Codex?

?        What work has Codex undertaken on vitamin and mineral supplements?

?        What is the scope and content of these Guidelines?

?        What has been the U.S. position on these Guidelines?

?        Why won't these Guidelines restrict U.S. consumers' access to vitamin and mineral supplements?

?        The Guidelines also include packaging and labeling provisions for vitamin and mineral food supplement products. Would vitamin and mineral supplements sold in the U.S. be required to comply with these?

?        If the U.S. is not trying to harmonize its regulatory framework for dietary supplements with Codex, what are the benefits of our country participating in the process of developing these Codex Guidelines?

?        How can I keep abreast of the work of Codex?

What has been the U.S. position on these Guidelines?
The U.S. supports consumer choice and access to dietary supplements that are safe and labeled in a truthful and non-misleading manner. The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) ensures that a broad array of dietary supplements are available to U.S. consumers. The Codex Guidelines for Vitamin and Mineral Food Supplements do not, in any way, affect the availability of supplement products to U.S. consumers. On the contrary, the absence of science-based Codex guidelines could adversely affect the ability of U.S. manufacturers to compete in the international marketplace.

Why won't these Guidelines restrict U.S. consumers' access to vitamin and mineral supplements?
Some consumers mistakenly believe that with the adoption of the Guidelines on Vitamin and Mineral Food Supplements, the U.S. is required to automatically change its laws and regulations to comply with the international standard. Some have expressed concerns that the World Trade Organization (WTO) and its trade dispute settlement panels may place pressure on the U.S. to change its laws because of international trade agreements such as the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement), which references Codex as the international organization for food safety standards.

We see no basis for these concerns. First, the DSHEA covers a much broader range of dietary supplements than the vitamin and mineral supplements that are the subject of the Codex Guidelines. Moreover, for supplements covered by these Guidelines, we note the following:

?        The SPS Agreement does not require a country to adopt any international standard. Rather, the SPS Agreement provides that members may base their Sanitary and Phytosanitary measures either on international standards, guidelines or recommendations, where they exist, or may establish measures that result in a higher level of protection if there is a scientific justification, or if a country determines it to be appropriate in accord with provisions of the SPS Agreement (SPS Agreement, Article 3(1) and (3)).

?        WTO and WTO dispute panels do not have the power to change U.S. law. If a WTO decision in response to a dispute settlement panel is adverse to the U.S., only Congress and the Administration can decide whether to implement the panel recommendation, and, if so, how to implement it.

?        For dietary supplements, it is unlikely that another country will accuse the U.S. of imposing a trade barrier for the importation of supplement products into the U.S. marketplace because the U.S. laws and regulations are generally broader in scope and less restrictive than the international standard.

?        However, other countries with more restrictive laws and regulations for dietary supplement products than the U.S. may create trade barriers to the importation of products manufactured by the U.S. dietary supplement industry. Thus, the U.S. government's involvement in the setting of international standards can help minimize the potential of trade barriers to U.S products in international trade.

Further, there is no basis for the concern that the Codex Guidelines on Vitamin and Mineral Food Supplements would require dietary supplements be sold as prescription drugs in the United States. First, there is nothing in the Guidelines that suggests that supplements be sold as drugs requiring a prescription. Second, U.S. regulatory agencies are bound by the laws established by Congress, not by Codex standards. Third, because of our generally less restrictive standards, it is unlikely that the trade dispute would be brought against the U.S.

In summary, U.S. consumers' access to a broad array of dietary supplements under DSHEA would not be changed in any way by Codex's adoption of guidelines on vitamin and mineral food supplements.

The Guidelines also include packaging and labeling provisions for vitamin and mineral food supplement products. Would vitamin and mineral supplements sold in the U.S. be required to comply with these?
All Codex standards and related texts are voluntary, and vitamin and mineral food supplement products sold in the U.S. would not be required to comply with provisions that are more restrictive than U.S. law (i.e., DSHEA).


On 11/28/06, > wrote:

I find this essay, from Doug Casey's bi-weekly, WHAT WE NOW KNOW, to be absolutely fascinating. I knew none of this; now, however, I am on alert. I ingest, among other mentioned items, CO-Q 10.


What say those of you who know this matter??


A Nutricidal Codex
By Shannara Johnson

Ever heard of the Codex Alimentarius? If not, don't be surprised. It's one of the best-kept "open secrets" of the U.S. government. It's scheduled to take effect on December 21, 2009 , and it may present the greatest disaster for our food supply?and thus for our health?this country has ever seen.

What is the Codex Alimentarius, and how did it come to pass?

In the Austro-Hungarian Empire between 1897 and 1911, a collection of standards and regulations for a wide variety of foods was developed, called the Codex Alimentarius Austriacus . It wasn't legally binding but served as a useful reference for the courts to determine standards for specific foods.

The post-World War II rebirth of the Codex Alimentarius (or short, Codex), however, is much more dubious. To understand the full implications, we need to go back to the history of one huge conglomerate: The Interessengemeinschaft Farben, or IG Farben?a powerful cartel that consisted of German chemical and pharmaceutical companies such as BASF, Bayer, and Hoechst.

IG Farben was, you could say, the corporate arm of the Third Reich. Having lucrative contracts with Hitler's regime, IG Farben produced everything from ammunition to Zyklon B, the nerve gas that was used to kill prisoners in the concentration camps. IG Farben was the single largest donor to Hitler's election campaign? and later the single largest profiteer of World War II.

"Whenever the German Wehrmacht conquered another country, IG Farben followed, systematically taking over the industries of those countries," states the website of the Dr. Rath Health Foundation, a non-profit promoter of natural health. "The U.S. government investigation of the factors that led to the Second World War in 1946 came to the conclusion that without IG Farben the Second World War would simply not have been possible."

Auschwitz, the largest and most infamous German concentration camp, also benefited IG Farben. New, unsafe pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines were liberally tested on Auschwitz prisoners?many of which died during the tests.

Not surprising, the Nuremberg War Crime Tribunal prosecuted 24 IG Farben board members and executives for mass murder, slavery and other crimes against humanity. One of those convicted was Fritz ter Meer, the highest-ranking scientist on the executive board of IG Farben, who was sentenced to seven years in prison (of which he only served four). When asked during trial whether he thought those human experiments had been justified, he answered that "concentration camp prisoners were not subjected to exceptional suffering, because they would have been killed anyway."

In 1955, ter Meer was reinstated as a member of the supervisory board at Bayer and one year later became its chairman. In 1962, together with other executives of BASF, Bayer and Hoechst, he was one of the main architects of the Codex Alimentarius.

"When he got out of jail, he went to his UN buddies," said Dr. Rima Laibow, MD, in a passionate speech at the 2005 conference of the National Association of Nutrition Professionals (NANP). "And he said, '[?] If we take over food worldwide, we have power worldwide.'"

The result was the creation of a trade commission called the Codex Alimentarius Commission, now funded and run by the UN's World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).

At its foundation in 1994, the World Trade Organization (WTO) accepted the standards of the Codex?and by the end of 2009, all member countries of the WTO will be required to implement the Codex, "to harmonize the standards" for the global trade of foods.

In the U.S. meanwhile, Congress passed the Dietary Supplements Health and Education Act (DSHEA) in 1994, which defined vitamins, minerals and herbs as foods, therefore not to be regulated by pharmaceutical standards. The Codex Alimentarius would reverse all that. It would treat those dietary supplements not as foods, but as toxins.

"How do you protect somebody from a poison?" asks Laibow. "You use toxicology. You use a science called 'risk assessment.'"

Risk assessment, she explains, works as follows. You take the toxin in question, feed it to lab animals and "determine the dose that kills 50% of them. That's called the LD 50. And you extrapolate what the LD 50 for a human being might be. Then you go down to the other end of the dosage range and you start feeding [little] bits of it to test animals, and you come up with the largest possible dose?the maximum permissible upper limit?that can be fed to an animal before a discernible impact is shown. [?] Then you divide that by 100. [?] And now you've got a safety margin, so you got 1/100 of the largest dose that can be given with no discernible impact."

In other words, classified as toxins, vitamins, minerals and herbs would only be allowed to be marketed in doses that have no discernible impact on anyone. Then why bother taking them?

And that's not all. Where our grocery and health food store shelves are now brimming with supplements, only 18 of them would be on the Codex whitelist. Everything not on the list, such as CoQ10, glucosamine, etc. would be illegal?not as in "prescription-only" illegal, but as in "take it and you go to jail" illegal.

But the mandatory requirements of the Codex will not only concern vitamins and minerals, but all foods. Under Codex rules, nearly all foods must be irradiated. And levels of radiation can be much higher than previously permitted.

While irradiated U.S. foods are currently treated with 1 ? 7.5 kiloGray of radiation, the Codex would lift its already high limit of 10kiloGray?the equivalent of ca. 330 million chest X-rays?"when necessary to achieve a legitimate technological purpose," whatever that may be. Granted, the text says, that the dose of radiation "should not compromise consumer safety or wholesomeness of the food." Note, however, that it says "should," not "shall" (an important legal difference, since "should" is not compulsory).

You buy rBST-free milk? Not much longer, because under the Codex all dairy cows will have to be treated with Monsanto's recombinant bovine growth hormone. All animals used for human consumption will have to be fed antibiotics. Organic standards will be relaxed to include such measures. And did we mention that under the Codex, genetically modified (GM) produce will no longer have to be labeled?

Say good-bye to true organic food, and maybe even food that retains any resemblance of nutritional value.

Moreover, in 2001, twelve hazardous, cancer-causing organic chemicals called POPs (Persistent Organic Pollutants) were unanimously banned by 176 countries, including the United States. Codex Alimentarius will bring back seven of these forbidden substances?such as hexachlorobenzene, dieldrin, and aldrin?to be freely used again. Permitted levels of various chemicals in foods will be upped as well.

What, are they trying to kill us?

Rima Laibow has done the math, she claims, using figures coming directly from the WHO and FAO. And according to those epidemiological projections, she believes that just the Vitamin and Mineral Guideline alone will result in about 3 billion deaths. "1 billion through simple starvation," she says. "But the next 2 billion, they will die from the preventable diseases of under-nutrition."

She calls the new Codex standards "food regulations that are in fact the legalization of mandated toxicity and under-nutrition."

Even if you're thinking of emigrating to Thailand or Guatemala to escape this nutritional holocaust, forget it. Once implemented, the Codex Alimentarius will set food safety standards, rules and regulations for over 160 countries, or 97% of the world's population.

The only way is to fight it before it gets implemented, says Laibow, who is working on just that with a team of lawyers. If you want to help, send an email to your Congressman and/or sign the citizens petition on Laibow's website,
28438  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: November 29, 2006, 07:19:41 PM

CAFTA and Dietary Supplements

by Rep. Ron Paul, MD

The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on the Central
American Free Trade Agreement in the next two weeks, and one
little-known provision of the agreement desperately needs to be
exposed to public view. CAFTA, like the World Trade Organization, may
serve as a forum for restricting or even banning dietary supplements
in the U.S.

The Codex Alimentarius Commission, organized by the United Nations in
the 1960s, is charged with "harmonizing" food and supplement rules
between all nations of the world. Under Codex rules, even basic
vitamins and minerals require a doctor's prescription. The European
Union already has adopted Codex-type regulations, regulations that
will be in effect across Europe later this year. This raises concerns
that the Europeans will challenge our relatively open market for
health supplements in a WTO forum. This is hardly far-fetched, as
Congress already has cravenly changed our tax laws to comply with a
WTO order.

Like WTO, CAFTA increases the possibility that Codex regulations will
be imposed on the American public. Section 6 of CAFTA discusses Codex
as a regulatory standard for nations that join the agreement. If CAFTA
has nothing to do with dietary supplements, as CAFTA supporters claim,
why in the world does it specifically mention Codex?

Unquestionably there has been a slow but sustained effort to regulate
dietary supplements on an international level. WTO and CAFTA are part
of this effort. Passage of CAFTA does not mean your supplements will
be outlawed immediately, but it will mean that another international
trade body will have a say over whether American supplement
regulations meet international standards. And make no mistake about
it, those international standards are moving steadily toward the Codex
regime and its draconian restrictions on health freedom. So the
question is this: Does CAFTA, with its link to Codex, make it more
likely or less likely that someday you will need a doctor's
prescription to buy even simple supplements like Vitamin C? The answer
is clear. CAFTA means less freedom for you, and more control for
bureaucrats who do not answer to American voters.

Pharmaceutical companies have spent billions of dollars trying to get
Washington to regulate your dietary supplements like European
governments do. So far, that effort has failed in America, in part
because of a 1994 law called the Dietary Supplement Health and
Education Act. Big Pharma and the medical establishment hate this Act,
because it allows consumers some measure of freedom to buy the
supplements they want. Americans like this freedom, however ?
especially the health conscious Baby Boomers.

This is why the drug companies support WTO and CAFTA. They see
international trade agreements as a way to do an end run around
American law and restrict supplements through international

The largely government-run health care establishment, including the
nominally private pharmaceutical companies, want government to control
the dietary supplement industry ? so that only they can manufacture
and distribute supplements. If that happens, as it already is
happening in Europe, the supplements you now take will be available
only by prescription and at a much higher cost ? if they are available
at all. This alone is sufficient reason for Congress to oppose the
unconstitutional, sovereignty-destroying CAFTA bill.

July 19, 2005
28439  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: November 29, 2006, 05:21:47 PM
Read elsewhere:

"An aircraft mechanic e-mailed Laura Ingram and said the extenders can be used to buckle the belts across the aisle and create a barrier."

Fascinating , , ,
28440  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Google technology tilts an election in Bahrain on: November 29, 2006, 05:08:19 PM
Dennis Gartman  11-28-2006

?In Bahrain? ?Google Earth? has played a huge role in deciding how the election plays out. Knowing, almost intuitively, that the Sunni royal family?s fortunes were enormous and that the Royals lived a life quite egregiously beyond the most wild dreams of the Shi?ia general populace, with the introduction of Google Earth on the net, the public finally could see just how utterly fantastic were the Royals? lives. They ?googled? the royal compounds hidden beyond huge walls, and were stunned by what they saw.

?The Khalifa family then tried to outlaw ?Google Earth? only to find that the uproar was so severe, and the political ramifications equally as severe, that they had no choice but to rescind that decision. The end result is resounding defeat for the parties loyal to the Khalifa royal family and victory for the radical Shi?ia Islamist parties.?

28441  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Litvinenko Affair on: November 29, 2006, 05:00:32 PM
Russia's Interest in Litvinenko
By George Friedman

The recent death of a former Russian intelligence agent, Alexander Litvinenko, apparently after being poisoned with polonium-210, raises three interesting questions. First: Was he poisoned by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), the successor to the KGB? Second: If so, what were they trying to achieve? Third: Why were they using polonium-210, instead of other poisons the KGB used in the past? In short, the question is, what in the world is going on?

Litvinenko would seem to have cut a traditional figure in Russian and Soviet history, at least on the surface. The first part of his life was spent as a functionary of the state. Then, for reasons that are not altogether clear, he became an exile and a strident critic of the state he had served. He published two books that made explosive allegations about the FSB and President Vladimir Putin, and he recently had been investigating the shooting death of a Russian journalist, Anna Politkovskaya, who also was a critic of the Putin government. Clearly, he was intent on stirring up trouble for Moscow.

Russian and Soviet tradition on this is clear: Turncoats like Litvinenko must be dealt with, for two reasons. First, they represent an ongoing embarrassment to the state. And second, if they are permitted to continue with their criticisms, they will encourage other dissidents -- making it appear that, having once worked for the FSB, you can settle safely in a city like London and hurl thunderbolts at the motherland with impunity. The state must demonstrate that this will not be permitted -- that turncoats will be dealt with no matter what the circumstances.

The death of Litvinenko, then, certainly makes sense from a political perspective. But it is the perspective of the old Soviet Union -- not of the new Russia that many believed was being born, slowly and painfully, with economic opening some 15 years ago. This does not mean, however, that the killing would not serve a purpose for the Russian administration, in the current geopolitical context.

For years, we have been forecasting and following the transformation of Russia under Vladimir Putin. Putin became president of Russia to reverse the catastrophe of the Yeltsin years. Under communism, Russia led an empire that was relatively poor but enormously powerful in the international system. After the fall of communism, Russia lost its empire, stopped being enormously powerful, and became even poorer than before. Though Westerners celebrated the fall of communism and the Soviet Union, these turned out to be, for most Russians, a catastrophe with few mitigating tradeoffs.

Obviously, the new Russia was of enormous benefit to a small class of entrepreneurs, led by what became known as the oligarchs. These men appeared to be the cutting edge of capitalism in Russia. They were nothing of the sort. They were simply people who knew how to game the chaos of the fall of communism, figuring out how to reverse Soviet expropriation with private expropriation. The ability to turn state property into their own property represented free enterprise only to the most superficial or cynical viewers.

The West was filled with both in the 1990s. Many academics and journalists saw the process going on in Russia as the painful birth of a new liberal democracy. Western financial interests saw it as a tremendous opportunity to tap into the enormous value of a collapsing empire. The critical thing is that the creation of value, the justification of capitalism, was not what was going on. Rather, the expropriation of existing value was the name of the game. Bankers loved it, analysts misunderstood it and the Russians were crushed by it.

It was this kind of chaos into which Putin stepped when he became president, and which he has slowly, inexorably, been bringing to heel for several years. This is the context in which Litvinenko's death -- which, admittedly, raises many questions -- must be understood.

The Andropov Doctrine

Let's go back to Yuri Andropov, who was the legendary head of the KGB in the 1970s and early 1980s, and the man who first realized that the Soviet Union was in massive trouble. Of all the institutions in the world, the KGB alone had the clearest idea of the condition of the Soviet Union. Andropov realized in the early 1980s that the Soviet economy was failing and that, with economic failure, it would collapse. Andropov knew that the exploitation of Western innovation had always been vital to the Soviet economy. The KGB had been tasked with economic and technical espionage in the West. Rather than developing their own technology, in many instances, the Soviets innovated by stealing Western technology via the KGB, essentially using the KGB as an research and development system. Andropov understood just how badly the Soviet Union needed this innovation and how inefficient the Soviet kleptocracy was.

Andropov engineered a new concept. If the Soviet Union was to survive, it had to forge a new relationship with the West. The regime needed not only Western technology, but also Western-style management systems and, above all, Western capital. Andropov realized that so long as the Soviet Union was perceived as a geopolitical threat to the West and, particularly, to the United States, this transfer was not going to take place. Therefore, the Soviet Union had to shift its global strategy and stop threatening Western geopolitical interests.

The Andropov doctrine argued that the Soviet Union could not survive if it did not end, or at least mitigate, the Cold War. Furthermore, if it was to entice Western investment and utilize that investment efficiently, it needed to do two things. First, there had to be a restructuring of the Soviet economy (perestroika). Second, the Soviet system had to be opened to accept innovation (glasnost). Andropov's dream for the Soviet Union never really took hold during his lifetime, as he died several months after becoming the Soviet leader. He was replaced by a nonentity, Konstantin Chernenko, who also died after a short time in office. And then there was Mikhail Gorbachev, who came to embody the KGB's strategy.

Gorbachev was clearly perceived by the West as a reformer, which he certainly was. But less clear to the West were his motives for reform. He was in favor of glasnost and perestroika, but not because he rejected the Soviet system. Rather, Gorbachev embraced these because, like the KGB, he was desperately trying to save the system. Gorbachev pursued the core vision of Yuri Andropov -- and by the time he took over, he was the last hope for that vision. His task was to end the Cold War and trade geopolitical concessions for economic relations with the West.

It was a well-thought-out policy, but it was ultimately a desperate one -- and it failed. In conceding Central Europe, allowing it to break away without Soviet resistance, Gorbachev lost control of the entire empire, and it collapsed. At that point, the economic restructuring went out of control, and openness became the cover for chaos -- with the rising oligarchs and others looting the state for personal gain. But one thing remained: The KGB, both as an institution and as a group of individuals, continued to operate.

Saving the System: A Motive for Murder?

As a young KGB operative, Vladimir Putin was a follower of Andropov. Like Andropov, Putin was committed to the restructuring of the Soviet Union in order to save it. He was a foot soldier in that process.

Putin and his FSB faction realized in the late 1990s that, however lucrative the economic opening process might have been for some, the net effect on Russia was catastrophic. Unlike the oligarchs, many of whom were indifferent to the fate of Russia, Putin understood that the path they were on would only lead to another revolution -- one even more catastrophic than the first. Outside of Moscow and St. Petersburg, there was hunger and desperation. The conditions for disaster were all there.

Putin also realized that Russia had not reaped the sought-after payoff with its loss of prestige and power in the world. Russia had traded geopolitics but had not gotten sufficient benefits in return. This was driven home during the Kosovo crisis, when the United States treated fundamental Russian interests in the Balkans with indifference and contempt. It was clear to Putin by then that Boris Yeltsin had to go. And go he did, with Putin taking over.

Putin is a creation of Andropov. In his bones, he believes in the need for a close economic relationship with the West. But his motives are not those of the oligarchs, and certainly not those of the West. His goal, like that of the KGB, is the preservation and reconstruction of the Russian state. For Putin, perestroika and glasnost were tactical necessities that caused a strategic disaster. He came into office with the intention of reversing that disaster. He continued to believe in the need for openness and restructuring, but only as a means toward the end of Russian power, not as an end in itself.

For Putin, the only solution to Russian chaos was the reassertion of Russian value. The state was the center of Russian society, and the intelligence apparatus was the center of the Russian state. Thus, Putin embarked on a new, slowly implemented policy. First, bring the oligarchs under control; don't necessarily destroy them, but compel them to work in parallel with the state. Second, increase Moscow's control over the outlying regions. Third, recreate a Russian sphere of influence in the former Soviet Union. Fourth, use the intelligence services internally to achieve these ends and externally to reassert Russian global authority.

None of these goals could be accomplished if a former intelligence officer could betray the organs of the state and sit in London hurling insults at Putin, the FSB and Russia. For a KGB man trained by Andropov, this would show how far Russia had fallen. Something would have to be done about it. Litvinenko's death, seen from this standpoint, was a necessary and inevitable step if Putin's new strategy to save the Russian state is to have meaning.


That, at least, is the logic. It makes sense that Litvinenko would have been killed by the FSB. But there is an oddity: The KGB/FSB have tended to use poison mostly in cases where they wanted someone dead, but wanted to leave it unclear how he died and who killed him. Poison traditionally has been used when someone wants to leave a corpse in a way that would not incur an autopsy or, if a normal autopsy is conducted, the real cause of death would not be discovered (as the poisons used would rapidly degrade or leave the body). When the KGB/FSB wanted someone dead, and wanted the world to know why he had been killed -- or by whom -- they would use two bullets to the brain. A professional hit leaves no ambiguity.

The use of polonium-210 in this case, then, is very odd. First, it took a long time to kill Litvinenko -- giving him plenty of time to give interviews to the press and level charges against the Kremlin. Second, there was no way to rationalize his death as a heart attack or brain aneurysm. Radiation poisoning doesn't look like anything but what it is. Third, polonium-210 is not widely available. It is not something you pick up at your local pharmacy. The average homicidal maniac would not be able to get hold of it or use it.

So, we have a poisoning that was unmistakably deliberate. Litvinenko was killed slowly, leaving him plenty of time to confirm that he thought Putin did it. And the poison would be very difficult to obtain by anyone other than a state agency. Whether it was delivered from Russia -- something the Russians have denied -- or stolen and deployed in the United Kingdom, this is not something to be tried at home, kids. So, there was a killing, designed to look like what it was -- a sophisticated hit.

This certainly raises questions among conspiracy theorists and others. The linkage back to the Russian state appears so direct that some might argue it points to other actors or factions out to stir up trouble for Putin, rather than to Putin himself. Others might say that Litvinenko was killed slowly, yet with an obvious poisoning signature, so that he in effect could help broadcast the Kremlin's message -- and cause other dissidents to think seriously about their actions.

We know only what everyone else knows about this case, and we are working deductively. For all we know, Litvinenko had a very angry former girlfriend who worked in a nuclear lab. But while that's possible, one cannot dismiss the fact that his death -- in so public a manner -- fits in directly with the logic of today's Russia and the interests of Vladimir Putin and his group. It is not that we know or necessarily believe Putin personally ordered a killing, but we do know that, in the vast apparatus of the FSB, giving such an order would not have been contrary to the current inclinations of the leadership.

And whatever the public's impression of the case might be, the KGB/FSB has not suddenly returned to the scene. In fact, it never left. Putin has been getting the system back under control for years. The free-for-all over economic matters has ended, and Putin has been restructuring the Russian economy for several years to increase state control, without totally reversing openness. This process, however, requires the existence of a highly disciplined FSB -- and that is not compatible with someone like a Litvinenko publicly criticizing the Kremlin from London. Litvinenko's death would certainly make that point very clear.
Send questions or comments on this article to

Was this forwarded to you? Sign up to start receiving your own copy ? it?s always thought-provoking, insightful and free. 

Go to to register

28442  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: November 29, 2006, 04:35:24 PM
Very interesting.

The current real time application of the magnificent tradition of Anglo-Saxon common law, which originated in UK and of which US is an off-shoot, has serious problems and the response here of the Somalis is not without its logic.

Unfortunately, the rise of a parallel legal system based along these lines has some profound dangers to it.  Yet it is precisely because of its merit, that nipping it in the bud could accentuate divisions as well.  Does tragedy lie ahead?
28443  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Encounters with a Grandmaster: by Mike Belzer on: November 29, 2006, 11:25:17 AM
The Secrets of Kalis Ilustrisimo by Tony Diego and Christopher Ricketts, Diego stated:


 ?The Ilustrisimo system of escrima is known by the name of the family that rightly deserves the honor: ?Ilustrisimo.  We prefer to call it kalis Ilustrisimo (kalis means sword), but it is also known as olistrisimo escrima (olisi means stick)  and Ilustrisimo arnis. By whatever name we call it, it still is and ever will be, the fighting art of Antonio Ilustrisimo.?


The secret is that there are no secrets.  According to Ilustrisimo, ?I do not specialize nor favor any combat range.  Everything depends on my opponent and the development and evolution of the fight?.  However, his use of the thrust was a distinguishing characteristic of Ilustrisimo?s personal style that became immediately apparent to me.  In fact, from all of the basic blocks and deflections Ilustrisimo would simply thrust the tip of the stick forward into the appropriate ?soft target?: eyes, throat, diaphram, groin, armpit, etc.  As he demonstrated this on me he simply said ?For combat.?

The Ilustrisimo style is based on the use of the blade.  Many different sizes and shapes of blades are used, but the barong was a personal favorite of Ilustrisimo.  The barong is a ?leaf shaped? blade that has been known to take off a limb if necessary.  Ilustrisimo should know, as his first life and death encounter came at age 15, when he was accosted by a Muslim fanatic who took offense at Ilustrisimo buying beer.  According to Tony Diego ?When Tatang ignored him, the Muslim cursed him vehemently and advanced on Tatang, drawing his kris.  As he prepared to slash at Ilustrisimo, Tatang drew his own barong, and cut off the attacker?s head in one motion called tumbada.?  As Ilustrisimo himself related the tale for Mark Wiley in his book Filipino Martial Culture, ??he strikes at me but I beat him (to the strike).  His head is cut off by me and the body run away.  It did not go down right away and the blood was still running everywhere.  His eyes were intense and staring at me from his head on the ground, so I thought maybe he has anting-anting (spiritual protection).  Wiley (who has made a series of ten research trips to the Philippines) also reports in his book that Ilustrisimo?s reputation as a fearsome fighter and participant in several of the infamous ?death-matches? of the Philippines is recognized by other master-instructors throughout the islands.  ?? Along the way, Ilustrisimo encountered martial arts masters from around the world and fought in more ?death-matches? than perhaps any other Filipino martial arts master.  Ilustrisimo is among the most respected and feared kali masters that the art has ever known ? as indicated by his nickname, ?Tatang?, a Tagalog term of respect.?   Wiley met Ilustrisimo at age 87.  I met him 15 years earlier at age 72 and he was quite ready to mix it up with anyone at anytime.


While there are no  ?secret techniques? in the art of kalis Ilustrisimo, there are two very important fighting strategies.  One is termed enganyo or feint.  The enganyo is designed to fake or make the opponent create an opening that can be attacked. Connected to enganyo is prakcion ( or fraction) which involves ?beating him to the punch? using more timing than speed.  Other strategies that are emphasized in this style are:

Keep calm and relaxed.
Know your distance.
Use the shortest path for your trajectory.
Put the weight of your body behind your strikes
Guide the opponents force rather than meet it.
Be an honest and good man, free of guilt and clear of mind and conscience.
Know when to break the rules.



During the month I was training with Ilustrisimo in Manila I shared with Roberto my plan to travel to other islands to meet different instructors and view their styles of escrima, arnis and kali.  One day, Roberto came to me and said ?Tatang has agreed to accompany you on your trek to the other islands.  He will act as your interpreter and bodyguard.  You will need them both.?   I was surprised and frankly a little stunned at this offer.  My first plan was to go on this island trek alone, but after talking with both Roberto and Ilustrisimo, we decided that Roberto should also go with us to act as the ?advance man? and make the initial inquires whenever we arrived at a new location.  By the end of the evening we had a three man team and we dubbed ourselves ?The Three Musketeers!?


We planned to be gone for about a month and the only payment Ilustrisimo asked me to make was to provide enough rice for his family while he was away and to pay his expenses while he was on the road with us.  Roberto asked for the same thing and I agreed.  Then Roberto said ?You should give me half of your money.  I will hold it for you?.  This really surprised me and I asked him why.  ? Because you are considered a rich American and will be looked at as a target as we travel.  If you get ?rolled? and have all of your money stolen, we will all be stuck somewhere without anyway to get home.  You are the only one of us that has any real money!?  After thinking about it for a few minutes, I realized that Roberto was right and I really needed to do just what he said.  I did so and through out the trip Roberto would give me a daily money report about expenses and what needed to be spent.  He was an honest man.




The first island we visited was Mindoro located just south of Luzon.  Roberto ?made the way? for us and knew of a mountain tribe known as the ?Mangyan?.  As we hiked up the mountain, Ilustrisimo kept up with us easily.  He just took it slow and steady and surprised us by saying the last time he ?walked in the mountains? was when he was 17! 

We made contact with a tribe called the Mangyan Hananoo.  We entered their village of thatched huts and quickly became the ?big news? of the day:  Outsiders from down below and a white man is with them!  The children gathered around us laughing and trying to touch us.  We met the head of the village and Tatang was able to communicate with him and explain what we were doing.  The ?chief? asked us to demonstrate ?your arnis? and we all did so.  The elders of the village were present for our demonstration and expressed interest in what we were doing.  They showed us their ?jungle bolos? that they carried and said that the weapons the Mangyans used were all for hunting.  They used the bow and arrow, the spear and the blow gun.  There are no specialized systems of training for these weapons other than the hunt itself with the children going out with the more experienced men.  They further explained that all of the Mangyan tribes used to live near the coast, but over the years ?civilization? has pushed them farther and farther into the mountains.  They were concerned that this might keep happening, but when I asked them if they would fight to stop that, the chief told me that ?fighting will only bring bloodshed, pain and suffering.  We will retreat further into the mountains.?  I asked him ?What if someone was coming to harm your family??  The chief answered me that he would ?wait in a tree and use my blowgun?.

After our demonstration and discussion, we played some games together.  I asked them to show me some ?competition games? and they showed me how to ?foot wrestle?.  I exchanged that with arm wrestling and everyone had a good laugh.

We decided to move on, said our goodbyes and worked our way down the mountain to a lagoon where we all took a much-needed bath in the middle of the jungle.


As we continued our trek through the islands, we visited Cebu, Negros, Mindanao, Bantayan, and even the small island of Jolo at the southern tip of the Philippines.  We traveled by banca (boat), bus, jeepney, and on foot.  Along the way I had unique opportunity to interview Ilustrisimo about many topics, train with him privately and gain more insight into his history and background.  He was a spiritual person who  prayed twice a day.  A practicing Christian, he also integrated Muslim beliefs and the Filipino concepts of oracyon and anting-anting.   Oracyon are prayers that are said to contain special powers and are usually written on small scraps of paper and kept with the individual.  Ilustrisimo has an oracyon tattooed across his chest says that this prayer makes people tend to be nice to him and not know why.  Anting-anting are little amulets that have been imbued with special, protective powers.  Ilustrisimo is adamant that the powers of both oracyon and anting-anting have kept him safe in his battles, especially when he fought against the Japanese.

We also discussed the mental and emotional qualities that Ilustrisimo felt were critical to his style. The mind-set is called Dakip-Diwa and according to Ray Galang, Ilustrisimo?s most senior student in the United States, ?Dakip-Diwa is the secret behind the reputation, the art, the skill of the Filipino warrior, The Mandrigma.  In the practice and cultivation of this mind-set, the Mandrigma develops, trains and controls his mind for combat situations until Dakip-Diwa takes supreme and absolute control of his body emotions and spirit.?

The concept of Dakip-Diwa seems most similar to the Japanese concept of mushin or ?no-mind.?  There is no preconceived idea of what is to happen in a combative encounter.  Your mind is much like a mirror that simply reflects what is happening and you respond spontaneously and appropriately.


We made our way to the Visayan island of Cebu which many practitioners consider to be the ?home of escrima? and located the famous Doce Pares school of the Canete Clan.  It was a Sunday and while I waited outside the school I learned that Cacoy Canete required that all of his students practice judo on Sundays as a pre-requisite to participate in his escrima training.  He felt that the throws, takedowns, joint locks and grappling techniques were all applicable in the ?close quarters? of a fight and in fact integrated them into his own style of escrima he called ?Eskrido?


I worked out with the judo club and had some good tussles with the young men that showed up that day.  I met Guro Cacoy Canete and he invited us back the next day to watch their regular escrima training.  In fact, they prepared a big demonstration for us and we were shown a variety of techniques for training with single and double sticks, stick and knife, staff, bull whip and many empty hand techniques.  Several of Guro Cacoy?s uncles were there - they were also in their 70s and contemporaries of Ilustrisimo.  I saw them talking off to the side and they were all laughing and showing each other their different ?battle scars?.




The ?Three Musketeers? had many more adventures as we visited Ilustrisimo?s home island of Bantayan and he was ?welcomed home? by the entire village; then we made the long boat ride down into the southern Philippines, the land of the Moros, visiting the cities of Davao and Zamboanga; and finally down to the little island of Jolo where Ilustrisimo also spent many years as a youth.  In each of these places we were successful in finding instructors of various styles, interviewing them

and seeing demonstrations of their own personal styles and systems.  It was for me ?a martial dream come true?.  After our month of trekking, Ilustrisimo announced that he had to return home to his family.  I also realized that it was time for me to return to the United States and see what was waiting for me back home.


My ?fantastic luck? was there for me that day when I stepped off the bus in Manila and was taken to meet this Grand Master of the Filipino fighting arts ? Antonio ?Tatang? Ilustrisimo.  Born in 1904, Ilustrisimo finally passed away in 1997 at the age of 93.  He was a strong man, a fighter, a good teacher and most of all, a kind man who was willing to help a stranger.  The story I have related in this article is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of Ilustrisimo?s amazing life and his personal style of combat.  If you are interested in learning more about him I encourage you to locate the following books:


The Secrets of Kalis Ilustrisimo by Tony Diego and Christopher Ricketts
Filipino Martial Culture  by Mark Wiley
Filipino Fighting Arts by Mark Wiley
28444  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Encounters with a Grandmaster: by Mike Belzer on: November 29, 2006, 11:22:55 AM
Woof All:

A hearty woof of thanks to my friend Mike Belzer for kindly sharing the following copyrighted material with me and trusting me in using my judgement in how to share it. ?So please note this material IS copyrighted by Mike. ?Please DO NOT post it elsewhere. ?Please simply direct people with whom you want to share it here.

Thank you.
Crafty Dog

 ?Encounter With a Grand Master


 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? By


 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?Michael Belzer

 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?





Throughout my martial art career, I have been blessed with what can only be called ?fantastic luck? when it comes to finding, meeting and training with some of the most accomplished martial artists alive. ?This started back in 1974, at the age of 18, when I traveled to Japan for a year and met Sensei Donn F. Draeger. ?Most people who are interested in the history and culture of martial arts know the name Donn F. Draeger. ?Not only was he a scholar who wrote more than 20 books on a variety of arts from ?judo to classical kenjutsu to pentjak-silat and many more; he also developed a comprehensive system of investigation known as hoplology which is designed as a method to study all fighting systems in detail. ?Draeger himself was a professional warrior as a U.S. Marine officer seeing action in Korea and Manchuria. ?An imposing figure at 6? 2? 240 lbs. ?all muscle, he had ?been there, done that with all of the modern Japanese sport disciplines (judo, karate-do, kendo) and found them lacking in terms of combative ?reality and application?. ?His personal training was focused on what is termed the koryu or ancient styles of weapon systems used by the samurai fighting man. ?Along with his personal martial arts training Draeger would travel for three or four months of the year ?On Safari? in remote areas of the world seeking out native practitioners of obscure fighting systems, who still used them for personal survival. ?Much of his work was concentrated in the Indonesian archipelago focusing on various pentjak silat styles of Malaysia, Sumatra and Java.


While in Japan I was invited to study at the stick fighting (jojutsu) dojo where Draeger trained when he came into Tokyo from his hometown of Narita. ?Over the year that I was training at the dojo, I only trained with him personally a few times, but as I was preparing to leave to go back to the states he told me that if I was interested in learning more about hoplology he would stay in touch by letter and fill me in on the details. ?I told him that I was interested and over the next 5 years I maintained a relationship with him through letters that culminated in being invited to travel with him from Japan into Thailand and then take a 25 hr. train ride from Bangkok down into Malaysia and the island of Penang. ?During the summer of 1979, I spent three amazing weeks training and traveling with Draeger. ?We practiced stick fighting as part of an international group of jojutsu exponents who meet every three years for a centralized training. ?After the 5-day camp, I was privileged to be introduced to a variety of master-instructors of different styles including Indian silambam (stick fighting), Chinese shaolin, Malaysian pentjak silat and combative tai chi chuan. ?Throughout all of these meetings, Draeger explained how he used hoplology to study the fighting systems and put them into historical context. ?Many times he told me ?If you really want to learn about a fighting art, you must go to it?s source. ?Go to the country of origin, find the native practitioners and ask them to show you their art?.


As I was preparing to fly out of Malaysia, I asked Draeger for advice as to ?what to do next? in terms of my own martial art training. ?His reply was to ?find a weapons based system and focus on that. ?Empty hand systems can only take you so far. ?To understand fighting and combat you must train using weapons?. ?As we said goodbye at the airport I shook his hand and said ?This was such an amazing experience, ?saying ?thank you? just doesn?t convey what I am trying to say?. ?Draeger smiled ?No words need to be said?.


By September of ??79 I had found the Kali Academy located in Torrance, California and began training there under Guros Richard Bustillio and Dan Inosanto. ?The Filipino arts of kali, escrima, and arnis ?were all weapons based systems that also had extremely effective empty hand applications. ?I have to say that my training at the Academy was the beginning of my ?graduate school? in the martial arts. ?Growing up from the age of nine practicing jujutsu, traveling to Japan to study aikido and jojutsu, meeting and traveling with Donn F. Draeger and now training at the Kali Academy were the realization of many of my martial arts ?dreams?.


I followed Guro Inosanto as he opened up different schools in Culver City and Marina del Rey. ?Between 1979 and 1985 I progressed through the phases of training, gained an understanding of the basic elements, training methods and weapons of the Filipino fighting arts. ?By mid ?85, an opportunity came to travel to the Philippines and ?go to the source? to see how these arts were practiced in their native environment. ?I jumped at the chance, plunked down the credit card and prepared for a trip that would take about 3 months. ?I was 28, in excellent shape and felt like I could ?hold my own? if I had to. ? ?My goal was to travel throughout the islands, meet a variety of instructors and document their different styles. ?I had no contacts to meet when I arrived. ?It would be a ?catch-as-catch can? traveling style?




As I stepped off the bus in front of the Manila YMCA, I noticed a young man leaning against a wall watching the bus unload. ?I grabbed my backpack (which happened to have two rattan sticks strapped to it?s side) and walk toward the front desk. ?As I waited to check in, the young man approached and asked where I was from. ??I am from the U.S. and I came to study the Filipino martial arts?. ?The young man smiled and said that he practiced arnis and introduced himself as Roberto Morales. ?We chatted a bit and within just a few minutes, Roberto told me ?I can take you to my arnis teacher. ?His name is Antonio Ilustrisimo and he is a famous teacher with a fearsome reputation here in the Philippines?.


The first decision I had to make was what to do with my all the gear in my backpack. ?This YMCA had you sharing the room with another traveler ? a complete stranger. ?He was not in the room when I opened the door so I had to decide: ?Do I take all my gear with me along with all my money? ?I decided to leave the gear and take the money with me. ?Sure, most of it was in Traveler?s Checks but I did not look forward to dealing with getting robbed on my first day in country!


With the gear stashed, I moved out with Roberto and we started to walk through the streets of Manila. ?Things were getting more and more ?ghetto like?; corrugated tin buildings, narrow streets congested with people, ?jeepnys?, chickens and dogs. As we wound through a maze of streets, a couple of thoughts occurred to me:


Young Roberto could stick a knife in me and take whatever the ?rich Americano? was carrying.
I had no idea where I really was and did not know how to get back to the YMCA on my own.

However, even with these concerns, my ?spidey-sense? was not activated and Roberto and I walked and talked as we wound through the narrow streets and alleys. ?Although I did not know it at the time, the area of Manila we were walking through was infamous for being ?dangerous and violent?. ?Many muggings and gang attacks took place in this ghetto of Manila. ?As we moved through the streets, I noticed that Roberto moved deliberately and nodded in recognition to several people.


 After about 30 minutes of walking, Roberto announced, ?We?re here!? ?We walked though a small outdoor basketball court where the local kids were playing and Roberto called out ?Tatang!? ?Tatang means ?Father? and is the term that Ilustrismo?s students used to refer to him as a sign of respect. ?An old man opened the curtain and nodded at me. ?Roberto spoke to him in Tagalog and told him that I was a martial artist from the states and I was interested in learning about arnis. ?Ilustrisimo smiled and invited us to come inside. ?To say that we were in ?tight quarters? was an understatement. ?We were in a corrugated tin hut about the size of a single apartment. ?There were two bunk beds inside along with a kitchen area. ?Ilustrisimo lived there with his wife and two others. ?Almost immediately, Ilustrisimo reached up into the ceiling and pulled down a metal pipe that had two fine/flexible metal ?feelers? on the ?business end? of the stick. ?Ilustrisimo said, ?I attack, you block?. ?He gave me angles 1 & 2 and each time I blocked the pipe, the metal ?feelers? ended up in my eyes. ?He smiled and said it was one of his ?special weapons?. ?Then he asked to see more of my movements with the stick. ?I demonstrated various techniques both solo and using Roberto as a partner. ?Ilustrisimo and Roberto spoke together and then Roberto said to me ?Tatang says your movements are ?very beautiful? but they are not what he does. ?If you would like to train with us we meet at Rizal Park every morning. ?You are invited.? ?? I?ll be there.? ?I said. ?Roberto escorted me back to the ?Y? and we found dinner along with a few San Miguels and I was off to sleep.




I met with Ilustrisimo and his small band of students every morning from about 7:00 am to 9:00 am. ?His senior instructor, Tony Diego was present during most of these sessions and spent a good amount of time drilling with me over the next month. ?We worked on basics that are common to all of the Filipino stick and knife fighting styles: ?angles of attack with the stick, evasive foot work, blocks and deflections, follow up strikes, stick and knife combinations and double sticks.

As we worked on these basics I asked Ilustrisimo and Tony the same question I planned to ask all of the instructors I met on my trip: ??What is the difference between arnis, escrima and kali??. ?Depending on who I asked, ?I received different answers but what it really came down to as a practical matter is that arnis, escrima, and kali are all different names for systems of stick, knife and empty hand systems all with very similar movements, theories, drills and techniques. They all display a distinctly ?Filipino flow? for lack of a better word. ?The geographical and historical truth is that there are as many names for the different fighting styles of the Philippines as there are individual islands and tribal groups in those islands. ?Ilustrisimo?s personal fighting style is a perfect example of this fact. ?When I first met young Roberto Morales, he told me he would take me to meet his arnis teacher. ?When I actually met Ilustrisimo and he talked about his style he referred to it as escrima. ? Years later, when I read the first book on Ilustrisimo?s style titled:
28445  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / The Bully vs. Me on: November 29, 2006, 11:15:38 AM

Me vs. The Bully
As a tortured nerd in high school, the author sought his tough-guy father's counsel. His dad's surprising advice changed his life forever.

Some fatherly advice: Kick his ass

When I was 15, I was terrorized by a 12th-grade headbanger. A big, mean S.O.B. who ran with the skinheads, snorted coke before school, and walked the halls with a menacing scowl on his face and a 4-inch switchblade tucked in his vest. I was a nerd. Or, perhaps more precisely, I was an achiever: honor-service-club president, straight-A student, essay-contest winner, track-team captain. I guess all that suburban propriety offended him (hell, it offended me at times), and somewhere along the line he decided that he hated me. He'd sabotage my locker, yell at me between classes, intimidate my friends. He once even slammed my lily-white cheerleader girlfriend's head into a desk. Everyone at the school was afraid of him. I was afraid of him. I had no idea what to do about it.

So, I told my dad. Now, Dad and I were nothing alike. It's fair to say that throughout my childhood, we had a strained relationship. He could be a great guy and all, but because of his ninth-grade education and bad temper, I wanted nothing more than not to be him. He'd been an outlaw in his youth, running drugs to Mexico, writing fraudulent checks, and spending 3 years in prison. These things haunted me. I mean, they were good stories to tell my buddies, whose suburban fathers were typical rat racers. But I felt marked, the child of a felon, destined for a life of mediocrity.

I would literally picture his face as I memorized chemistry formulas at 3 a.m. or rounded the final turn of some track workout, arms flailing, face drawn back in a deathly grimace, driving myself into the ground, running away from what seemed like the destiny he'd created for me.

My dad would've thought this was funny, had I come clean with him at the time. Not because he considered my work pointless, but because he always described prison in the '60s as just another bump on a long road. It was nothing like the modern conception, with murders in the wood shop and gang rapes in the shower. It seemed almost charming, like something out of Cool Hand Luke. A place filled with roughneck, blue-collar guys with missing teeth, who play poker, get in fistfights, and have trouble with the conjugation of basic verbs.

Everyone in prison thought my dad was crazy. Whenever someone came too close, he'd go berserk, yelling with that incredibly powerful voice of his, intimidating whoever approached him, convincing them that he was a cannon ready to go off. And maybe he was. In any case, it worked. They left him alone. And he got through it. "I did my time, and they did theirs," my dad would say.

Which is why he seemed like the right guy to talk to about the headbanger. I sat him down one morning and told him about the threats, the intimidations, the months spent with my stomach in knots. He listened intently and thought for a moment, furrowing his weathered brow as I did during geometry class. Then he looked up and said, simply, "Well, you're going to have to kick his ass."
This was a quandary. Kick his ass? The thought had never occurred to me. I would have been less surprised if he'd told me to quit school and join the circus. I was not a kicker of asses. The SAT, service clubs, track meets -- these things I could do. But kick ass? Absurd. I'd never even been in a real fight. But my dad was dead serious: "Just 'cause he's bigger don't mean sh--."

Half an hour later, I stood in the driveway in front of our house with my dad, receiving instruction, like a heavyweight boxer, on how to throw a punch ("Stay on your toes, keep your elbows in, and when you hit, hit hard"), how to scream really loud to intimidate the opponent, how to duck so I wouldn't get punched. He held a pillow while I hit it, and told me things like "There's no such thing as fighting dirty. Once you're in a fight, win." And "You can confuse him by spitting in his face first, then punching him while he wipes it off." And "Walk up to him with a stack of books and toss them in the air, and when he reaches out to catch them, break his nose with your fist." Like the good student I was, I brought a pad of paper and a pen, scribbling notes in the margin: "Kick knee, then punch neck, yell real loud. Break nose." I was advised to carry a roll of nickels to add more power to my punch. I was told to wear loose-fitting clothes and not eat too much for breakfast. He explained these things the way an astronomer might explain to his son the reasons for a solar eclipse -- calmly and with a commitment to getting the details right.

Primal scream

The next morning, I went to school, terrified as usual.

I was shaking as I walked down the hall, fingering the heavy roll of nickels in my right pocket.

The headbanger found me during the morning break, as he always did -- standing by my locker, trying to open it despite the heavy dents he'd made in it previously. He walked up to me and pushed me into the wall. "Hey, punk, am I going to kick your ass today?"

The question lingered in my mind for a moment. I'd spent the morning wondering the exact same thing. Then, slowly at first, I felt the thin, precarious strand of sanity that had stretched and stretched for months -- begging for moderation, for pacifism, for the easier route of, well, punking out -- finally reach some kind of limit, and snap.

I turned toward him, mustered every frenzied, screeching nerve in my body, looked him straight in the eye -- and punched him as hard as I could, dead in the face. I threw the punch with my weight balanced, my elbows tucked, and yelled, "Come on," real, real loud. Just as Dad had said to do.

And then a strange thing happened. I let loose with the most surreal stream of unending profanities that I had ever uttered in my life. I bounced uncontrollably. I screamed maniacally. My entire body, my entire field of vision, every thought, every muscle, every ounce of fear I'd ever felt for the preceding months became pure, bottomless, unadulterated rage.

"Let's go, let's go! I'll kick your ass. Come on!" The headbanger was wearing steel-tipped motorcycle boots and a ring with a nail driven through it. I bobbed and weaved and slammed my skinny fist in his face, 10, maybe 15 times, until blood streamed from his eye, from his nose, from his mouth. It was bizarre. I felt detached, almost calm at the center of it. As if I were watching myself on television.

I remember seeing the faces of my classmates, who stood with jaws dropped, wondering how I could possibly be the same kid who'd been discussing T.S. Eliot in honors English only yesterday. They looked terrified. Surely, I'd lost my mind.

The anger was familiar. I'd heard that voice many times before -- that confident, loud, intimidating voice that told you to stay very far away. I'd heard it directed at cars in traffic, at my neighbor when he tried to poison our dog, at anyone or anything that threatened our family. I'd even heard it directed at me a few times. It was my dad's voice. And here I was, having hated that voice for so many years, having resented the life that necessitated it, in the midst of the most terrifying situation of my life, and I was not afraid. The voice had immediately become my ally, just as it had been his.

And then, just like that, the fight was over, the bully left bleeding in the corner. I went home that afternoon and told my dad about the fight. How I'd screamed and wailed and jumped and beat the crap out of the headbanger. My dad took it all in with this enormous smile covering his leathery face. He was hanging on my every word, clarifying details, asking me, What then? What next? and Then what?

Never was my father prouder of me. Not because he wanted me to be a fighter, but because, unlike with report cards and essay contests, this was a success he'd contributed to. It was a sign -- perhaps the first of my entire life -- that there was a little bit of the old man in me after all.

Take care of the basics, the rest will follow

I spent the next few months as something of a local hero. High fives and back pats and comments in the hallways like "Damn, Einstein, you messed that dude up." Everyone had hated the headbanger.

And there was a certain poetic justice to his demise. At the end of the fight, he'd told a bunch of his cronies that he was planning to sic some big "skinhead" on me. Word of this got out, and a number of people took great exception to his, uh, social affiliations. He received death threats at his house and never came back to school again. Last I heard, he was working at Target.

The glory of my victory soon faded, but I noticed a subtle change in my standing -- surreptitious nods in the hall, a certain stoic deference from even the toughest kids in the school -- which seemed to ignore academic standing and future prospects and instead communicated, rather plainly, that I was a person who spoke their language. I was cool.

In the 15 years since that day, I've never once had to throw a punch again. I've backed down on a number of occasions, and have been ready to step outside on a few others. But cooler heads have always prevailed. I guess it's almost always the case that a difficult situation requires restraint, a soft word, diplomacy. But occasionally, it requires a left hook to the jaw. On that day, I learned that, if pressed, I could deliver that left hook. It's an important thing for a man to know.

I suppose that's something my dad always understood. It's funny: I've learned a lot from books in my life, things I resented my dad for not knowing. But as I've gotten older, I've realized that the most important things in life can't be memorized from a book. It wasn't that my dad didn't care about my grades; he was more concerned that I be a good person, with a square head on my shoulders. He was interested in basics.

Since that day with the bully, my relationship with my father has continued to mature and grow. Today, we're best friends. He's sick now, with a host of heart and liver problems that are partly the result of shooting heroin in his 20s. The doctors have said many times that he's going to die. But he just keeps fighting. Working out. Eating well. Trying to manage stress. Again, basics.

These days, Dad likes to say, "I could've been a contenda." What he doesn't realize is this: He was a contender. Is a contender. All that b.s. from his youth never mattered.

All that mattered was the attention, the advice, the jokes, the fact that he selflessly gave everything he had to help me solve whatever problem came up in my life.

Because it really is good advice, you know. Whether it's a bully, a tough career decision, a divorce, cancer: "Stay on your toes. Keep your elbows in. Don't be afraid. You may be smaller, but just gather your courage, and when you hit, hit hard."
28446  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Dog Brothers Tribe on: November 29, 2006, 09:36:56 AM
Woof All:

I missed Bryan Stoops who is now "Dog Bryan".  Welcome to the Tribe!

28447  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 'America Alone' on: November 29, 2006, 02:08:16 AM

I recently persuaded a high IQ friend of libertarian orientation to read Steyn's book.  He has opposed Bush's Iraq decision with considerable vigor and intellectual rigor from a principled perspective from the beginning.  I'm hoping to persuade him to come play here. Here is his response to Steyn's book:


As you predicted, Marc, I found many ideas and suggestions that I can accept or even enthusiastically endorse.

First a comment about the broad themes: (1) that the developed world's low birth rates constitutes demographic suicide, (2) that Islamic people will soon constitute a political majority in many European countries, and (3) that Islam is both a political and religious force that is hostile and dangerous to all non-Muslims. I can agree with the broad outline presented by Steyn. His view of Islam's fundamental nature I see as controversial, but I agree that -- at a minimum -- some significant number of people who claim the Muslim heritage are in fact dangerous and hostile toward us.

Steyn won me over immediately in his Prologue:

"The state has gradually annexed all the responsibilities of adulthood ? health care, child care, care of the elderly ? to the point where it's effectively severed its citizens from humanity's primal instincts, not least the survival instinct. In the American context, the federal 'deficit' isn't the problem; it's the government programs that cause the deficit. These programs would be wrong even if Bill Gates wrote a check to cover them each month. They corrode the citizen's sense of self-reliance to a potentially fatal degree. Big government is a national security threat; it increases your vulnerability to threats like Islamism ?" (page xx)

Unfortunately, however, I still find Steyn to be outrageously inconsistent. The words just quoted and many other passages appear to blame "big government" for the near destruction of our society. Other comments in this direction include: "? an apocalyptic scenario ? can best be avoided not by more government but by less ? by government returning the primal responsibilities it's taken from them in the modern era."  Another one: "What flopped ? big time, as the vice president would say ? was federal government, the FBI, CIA, INS, FAA, and all the other hotshot, money-no-object, fancypants acronyms." 

After expressing such enlightened views, how does Steyn then go on to say   "I'm a supporter of the Bush Doctrine, of bringing liberty to the Middle East" ?  Or, how can he say things like:  "? there's a lot to be said for a great nation that understands its greatness is not an accident and that therefore it should spread the secrets of its success around" ?

First of all, I reject his belief in America's "exceptional" qualities. Maybe we were exceptional at one time, but now we are just a few years behind the Europeans in our implementation of a death-inducing welfare state. There are also ways in which we are unfortunately exceptional in a negative sense.  In truth, our US government leaders don't have any idea what the "secrets of our success" were. Steyn himself fails to mention the most important determinants: the concepts of private property, free exchange, and the division of labor. Societies in the modern era pretty clearly achieve success in proportion to their implementation of these principles. These are the corner stones of liberty; liberty is not ensured by "democracy." In fact, when carried to logical extremes, democracy erodes respect and official support for private property and other fundamental liberties.

After watching this Iraq war unfold, how can anybody still think that the US government can make productive changes in Middle Eastern cultures? It's preposterous to believe that the "Bush Doctrine" contains any useful concepts whatsoever. Steyn even says this, in part, "This leaves option three: Reform Islam -- which is not ours to do. Ultimately, only Muslims can reform Islam." (page 205).

Another nice line from Steyn (page 207): "The threat to US power comes not principally from Chinese innovation or Indian engineering graduates but from America's own cultural indolence, just as the sack of Rome was a symptom of the fall of the empire rather than the cause."   Right on.

As I keep saying, to save ourselves from this Steyn-articulated doom, we need to -- somehow -- undo the government policies and concepts that have destroyed our economic system's superiority and pretty nearly destroyed our people's will and abilities. With respect to Islam our problem is most significantly related to demographic and immigration issues. That's not to say that we should never whack somebody militarily, but the big problem is not going to be solved by the USAF, the Navy, or even the Marine Corp. Steyn agrees with much of this, but apparently still likes the ideas of "ending the Iranian regime" and "striking militarily when the opportunity presents itself."  (page 206). Hasn't Steyn noticed that big government is at it's biggest and most expansive when at war? Historically, our most rapid movements toward socialism and fascism-like behaviors occurred during wars. I am afraid he is arguing that we should pursue two totally incompatible strategies simultaneously.

JMHO. What do you say, Marc?

28448  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Part Four on: November 29, 2006, 01:48:45 AM
Asymmetric Warfare

Given the size and scope of America?s military advantage, it is doubtful that any country will mount a full-spectrum challenge to U.S. military capabilities in the foreseeable future. The entry barriers are simply too high, especially for air, sea, and space systems. Virginia-class nuclear submarines cost $2.4 billion, Nimitz-class aircraft carriers go for $6 billion, and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program will cost at least $245 billion. The U.S. spends around $500 billion a year on its military, almost as much as the rest of the world combined. In fact, the U.S. spends more simply on the research, development, testing, and evaluation of new weapons?$71 billion in 2006?than any other country spends on its entire armed forces. (By way of comparison, the top three spenders after the U.S. are Russia, whose defense budget in 2003 was estimated at $65 billion; China, at $56 billion; France, at $45 billion; and Japan and the United Kingdom, at $42 billion. These are only estimates; the figures for Russia and China may be considerably higher.)

It is not only U.S. hardware that?s hard to replicate; so is the all-volunteer force that makes it work. Operating high-tech military equipment requires long-service professionals, not short-term conscripts. Countries as diverse as Vietnam, China, Germany, and Russia are emulating the Anglo-American model by downsizing their forces and relying less on draftees; many other nations have abolished the draft altogether. The U.S. military?s edge lies not simply in recruiting high-quality personnel but in its methods for training and organizing them. Initiatives undertaken in earlier decades, such as setting up realistic training centers to simulate combat conditions and forcing the services to work more closely together (the Goldwater-Nichols Act), continue to bear fruit. Few other armed forces have made comparable reforms.

But a potential adversary does not need to duplicate the U.S. force structure in order to challenge it. The United States faces a growing ?asymmetric? threat both from other states and from sub-state groups. As the National Intelligence Council concluded in its recent report ?Mapping the Global Future?: ?While no single country looks within striking distance of rivaling U.S. military power by 2020, more countries will be in a position to make the United States pay a heavy price for any military action they oppose.? As we have seen, a variety of off-the-shelf missiles can threaten U.S. tanks, surface ships, and aircraft, especially when they get close to hostile territory. The power of smart munitions is outstripping the protection afforded by speed or armor. After 2010, write defense analysts Michael Vickers and Robert Martinage, ?the survivability of aircraft carriers, high-structure surface combatants [e.g., tanks], and non-stealthy aircraft of all types could increasingly be called into question as maritime, over-the-horizon ?area denial? capabilities and extended-range air defense systems continue to mature.? In a similar vein, George and Meredith Friedman contend that ?the ability of conventional weapons platforms?tanks and aircraft carriers?to survive in a world of precision-guided munitions is dubious.?

Also vulnerable are the ports, airfields, and bases which the U.S. uses to project its power overseas. Imagine how much damage Saddam Hussein could have done in 2003 if he had been able to annihilate the one port in Kuwait that was being used to disembark coalition troops or the large desert bases in Kuwait where over 100,000 British and American troops gathered prior to the invasion of Iraq. The Pentagon?s 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review warned that ?future adversaries could have the means to render ineffective much of our current ability to project military power overseas.?

If the U.S. armed forces could not count on safe, assured access to overseas bases they would need to change radically the way they do business. It would no longer be practical to rely on large land armies or lots of short-range combat aircraft operating out of vulnerable forward bases supplied by equally vulnerable cargo ships, trucks, and aircraft. The U.S. Army might be forced to rely on small numbers of commandos supported by long-range aircraft and missiles?as it did in Afghanistan. The Navy might have to depend more on submarines and the Air Force on stealth aircraft. All the services might have to make greater use of unmanned vehicles. The battlefield, which has been becoming less crowded for centuries, might empty out even further as small units try to conceal themselves from ubiquitous sensor networks, emerging only briefly to launch lightning strikes before they go back into hiding.

This has become known as the ?swarming? scenario, and it has attracted support from the likes of military historian Alexander Bevin. ?Large concentrations of troops and weapons are targets for destruction, not marks of power,? he writes, ?and [in the future] they no longer will exist.... Military units, to survive, must not only be small, but highly mobile, self-contained, and autonomous.? Even if these predictions are accurate, however, it isn?t clear when they would become reality, and timing matters tremendously. The key to winning future wars is knowing when to move from one form of military to another: A premature decision to change (such as the U.S. Army?s flawed Pentomic design in the 1950s) can leave one unprepared to fight and win the wars that actually occur, Vietnam being the classic example.

In any case, it is doubtful that a complete switchover to ?swarming? will ever occur. Winning wars, as opposed to winning battles, will continue to require controlling territory, which in turn will require a substantial presence of ground troops, as the U.S. has learned in Afghanistan and Iraq. No wonder-weapon will alter this fundamental reality, which means even the most high-tech military force will always remain vulnerable to the less sophisticated but still deadly technology of its adversaries on the ground.

American Hiroshima?

Even as strategists look to the future, armed forces must not lose sight of the threats of the moment, and they do not come for the most part from traditional militaries. They come largely from terrorist groups?some with state sponsorship, others without?that use the fruits of modern military technology to their perverse advantage.

?Irregular? attacks carried out by tribes, clans, or other non-state actors are as old as warfare itself; they long predate the development of modern armed forces and the nation-state. The religious fanaticism which animates so many of today?s terrorists and guerrillas is equally ancient. But technological advances have made such attacks far more potent than in the distant past. The progeny of the second industrial revolution?assault rifles, machine guns, mortars, rocket launchers, landmines, explosives?long ago spread to the remotest corners of the globe. Fighters who a century ago might have made do with swords and muskets now have access to cheap and reliable weapons such as the AK-47 capable of spewing out 100 bullets a minute. More advanced technologies, from handheld missiles to chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, give even a small group of insurgents the ability or potential ability to mete out far more destruction than entire armies could unleash just a century ago. And thanks to modern transportation and communications infrastructure?such as jumbo jets, the Internet, and cell phones?insurgents have the capability to carry out their attacks virtually anywhere in the world.

September 11 showed the terrifying possibilities of such unconventional warfare. It is easy to imagine that in the future super-terrorists will be able to kill hundreds of thousands, even millions, with effective weapons of mass destruction. All of the materials, as well as the know-how needed to craft such devices, are all too readily available.

The proliferation of nuclear weapons has the greatest ability to trump U.S. military hegemony. The atomic bomb is more than sixty years old. It belongs to an age of rotary-dial telephones and fin-winged cars. It is a miracle that it has not been used by maniac dictators or political radicals since 1945, but that streak won?t last forever. And while information age technology offers a reasonable chance of stopping a nuclear-tipped missile, there is much less probability of stopping a terrorist with a nuclear suitcase. There is little in theory to prevent al Qaeda from carrying out its oft-expressed desire to create an ?American Hiroshima.? In the words of Eugene Habiger, a retired four-star general who once ran antinuclear terror programs for the Department of Energy, ?it is not a matter of if; it?s a matter of when.?

The most important challenge for the U.S. armed forces and their allies in the post-9/11 world is to ?leverage? their advantage in conventional weaponry to deal with today?s unconventional threats. Information technology can be an important part of this task. Embedded microchips can track the 18 million cargo containers moving around the world and help prevent terrorists from using them to smuggle weapons. Computerized cameras scanning a crowd may be able to pick out a terrorist based on facial recognition patterns. Dog-like sniffing machines may be able to recognize suspects by their body odor. Powerful computers utilizing artificial intelligence programs can sift vast reams of Internet data to pick out information about terrorist plots?if concerns about violating the privacy of innocent people do not get in the way. A variety of unobtrusive sensors can detect the presence of explosives or chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons. Handheld computer translating devices such as the Phraselator, already in use by U.S. troops, can bridge some of the language gap between Western operatives and the regions where they operate.

But in the final analysis, having the best technology is not enough to defeat the most committed terrorists armed with the deadliest weapons. Some of the most expensive weapons systems being purchased by the United States and its allies are irrelevant to fighting and winning the war against terrorism. And the combination of moral restraint and bureaucratic sluggishness that defines America?s military culture may leave the U.S. at a comparative disadvantage against nimble, networked, nihilistic enemies like al Qaeda, who will deploy whatever weapons they have with urgent brutality. To deal with the essential paradox of the information age?that the march of advanced technology may decrease our security in some areas while increasing it in others?we need not just better machines but also the right organizations, training, and leadership to take advantage of them. That?s where the U.S. has lagged badly behind; its industrial-age military bureaucracy remains configured primarily for fighting other conventional militaries, rather than the terrorist foes we increasingly confront. Changing the culture and structure of our armed forces?to say nothing of the CIA or State Department?is a far more daunting task than simply figuring out which weapons systems to buy. Yet even if we rise to that bureaucratic and political challenge, there will likely be times, tragically, when our military supremacy is no match for the technology-enhanced savagery of our inferior enemies.


Max Boot is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, and a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard. This article is adapted from his new book War Made New: Technology, Warfare, and the Course of Modern History, 1500 to Today, published by Gotham Books (October 2006).

28449  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Part Three on: November 29, 2006, 01:46:19 AM
Space Warfare

A growing amount of surveillance, communications, and intelligence work is being performed by unmanned aircraft and satellites. In 2001 the U.S. had an estimated 100 military satellites and 150 commercial satellites in orbit, as much as the rest of the world combined. The U.S. spends more than $15 billion a year on military space, perhaps 90 percent of the global total. The most advanced U.S. surveillance satellites can reportedly pick out a six-inch object from 150 miles above. (This is an estimate for Keyhole imaging satellites which can work day or night but cannot penetrate cloud cover. Lacrosse or Onyx systems that use radar imaging can work in all kinds of weather. They can reportedly distinguish objects 3 to 9 feet across. Satellite capabilities are strictly classified; these are only informed guesses.) A new generation of satellites uses stealth technology so that other countries will not be able to track the satellites? movement and thus know when to hide equipment from American eyes.

Yet the advantage the U.S. military derives from mastery of space is slowly eroding. GPS, a system developed by the Defense Department, is now widely available for countless commercial applications that have spawned a $30-billion-a-year industry. A potential enemy could use GPS signals to locate targets in the U.S. the same way the U.S. military uses it to locate targets in Iraq or Afghanistan. The U.S. could jam or degrade GPS signals in wartime, but it would have to do so very selectively for fear of imposing a severe toll on the economy, because GPS devices are now essential for civil aviation, shipping, and other functions. In addition, the European Union in cooperation with China is launching its own GPS constellation, known as Galileo, that would be outside of direct U.S. control.

More and more countries?at least forty to date?are lofting their own satellites. In addition, various multinational organizations such as the Asia Satellite Corp., Arab Satellite Communications Organization, International Telecom Satellite Organization, and European Space Agency have launched their own satellites. But getting access to space no longer requires having your own satellite. A growing number of private firms such as Google, DigitalGlobe, and Space Imaging sell or give away high-resolution satellite photos via the Internet. The best of these offer imagery of sufficient quality to identify objects one and a half feet wide. The Israeli-owned ImageSat International offers customers the opportunity to redirect its EROS-A imaging satellite (launched in 2000 aboard a Russian rocket) and download its data in total secrecy with few if any restrictions. Its CEO boasts: ?Our customers, in effect, acquire their own reconnaissance satellite ... at a fraction of the cost that it would take to build their own.? The private satellite industry is becoming so pervasive that the U.S. military now relies upon it to provide some of its own imaging (typically low-resolution pictures used for mapping) and much of its communications needs.

Targets identified from space could be attacked either with terrorist (or commando) missions or with the growing number of missiles spreading around the world. More than two dozen nations have ballistic missiles and by 2015 at least a dozen will have land-attack cruise missiles. Either type of projectile could be topped with chemical, biological, or nuclear warheads. Eight or nine countries already have nuclear weapons and more are trying to get them, in part to offset the tremendous U.S. advantage in conventional weaponry.

In response, the U.S. is working on a variety of missile defenses. The most advanced are the ground-based Patriot Advanced Capability 3 and the sea-based Standard Missile 3, which have been deployed already to protect U.S. troops overseas. The deployment of a long-heralded system designed to protect the U.S. homeland against long-range missiles began in 2004 with the installation of interceptors in Alaska. Eventually, the U.S. plans to field a multi-layered defense using a variety of sensors and weapons on land, sea, air, and space. Also in the works are systems designed to defeat low-flying cruise missiles, which are hard to distinguish from ground clutter. But whether these systems will protect Americans against the most likely or most deadly types of attacks remains an open question.

Robotic Warfare

The falling size and cost of electronics has made it possible to decrease the number of people needed to operate major weapons systems or, in some instances, eliminated the need for human operators altogether. Maintaining the engines aboard a ship used to require dozens of sailors to work for extended periods in noisy, grimy, cramped quarters. The new DD(X) destroyer will have an engine room controlled entirely by remote sensors and cameras. Or, to take another example, consider the evolution of the long-range bomber from the B-29, which had a crew of 11, to the B-2 which can hit many more targets but has a crew of just two, who spend much of their time supervising the autopilot functions.

The greatest advances in robotics have been made in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), with the U.S. in the lead, Israel following close behind, and at least 40 other countries trying to catch up. By the time of the Iraq War in 2003, the U.S. had fielded six major UAVs: the Air Force?s Predator and Global Hawk, the Army?s Hunter and Shadow, and the Marines? Pioneer and Dragon Eye. These ranged in size from the 27,000-pound Global Hawk (comparable to a Lear jet) to the five-pound Dragon Eye (more like a model airplane). What they had in common was that they were all designed as surveillance systems. But in a pattern that echoes the history of manned flight, UAVs such as the Predator were soon put to work attacking enemy positions.

Soon to be deployed are drones built especially for combat?Boeing?s X-45 and Northrop Grumman?s X-47. In Matthew Brzezinski?s fanciful description, the former is ?flat as a pancake, with jagged 34-foot batwings, no tail and a triangular, bulbous nose? that give it the appearance of ?a set piece from the television program Battlestar Galactica,? while the latter is a ?a sleek kite-shaped craft with internal weapons bays for stealth and curved air intakes like the gills of a stingray.? Both are designed to be almost invisible to radar and to perform especially dangerous missions like suppressing enemy air defenses. The major difference is that the X-45 is supposed to take off from land like the F-15, while the X-47 is to operate off aircraft carriers like the F-18. Also in development is the Unmanned Combat Armed Rotorcraft which is designed to perform the functions of an attack helicopter like the Apache. An unmanned helicopter, known as Fire Scout, is already being bought by the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. Unlike the Predator, most of these new UAVs do not require constant control by a human operator; newer UAVs can be programmed to fly themselves and even drop munitions without direct human intervention.

Further into the future may be projects such as a nuclear-powered UAV that could fly at 70,000 feet and stay on station for months or even years at a time; a UAV ?tender? that could serve as a mother ship for launching and recovering smaller UAVs; UAV tankers that could refuel other UAVs in flight; and vertical-takeoff UAV cargo-carriers that could supply troops in a combat zone. Many of these UAVs could use smart munitions with their own target-recognition systems, thus introducing another layer of robotics into the process. An existing example is the Low-Cost Autonomous Attack System, a 100-pound bomb with fins and a small turbojet engine that allow it to loiter over an area for up to 30 minutes, using a laser-radar sensor to search for high-priority targets based on programmed algorithms. Once it picks out a target, it can configure its multi-mode warhead into the most appropriate form?fragmentation explosives for unprotected soldiers or an armor-piercing projectile for tanks?prior to impact.

The most revolutionary UAVs are the smallest. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is working on aerial vehicles the size of an insect or a hummingbird that could hover undetected and perch on a telephone pole or a window ledge. Some models have no wings at all; others use flapping, bird-style wings. They are designed to be cheap enough that they could saturate a battlefield with sensors.

Unmanned ground vehicles are not as advanced as UAVs, but they are starting to play a growing role as well. In Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. Army and Marine Corps have used robots with names like PackBot, Matilda, Andros, and Swords to search tunnels, caves, and buildings for enemy fighters and explosives. ?Some are as big as a backhoe. Others can be attached to a backpack frame and carried by a soldier,? writes the trade industry publication Defense News. ?They move on treads or wheels, climb over obstacles with the aid of flippers, mount stairs, peep through windows and peer into caves with cameras and infrared sensors, sniff for chemical agents, and even operate a small ground-penetrating radar.?

As this description indicates, ground-based robots, like their aerial counterparts, are still used mainly for reconnaissance. But weapons are beginning to be mounted on them, too. The Talon, a two-foot-six-inch robot which looks like a miniature tank and was designed for bomb disposal, was sent to Iraq equipped with grenade and rocket launchers as well as a .50-caliber machine gun. It is controlled remotely by a soldier using a video screen and joystick.

Developing more sophisticated unmanned ground vehicles will be tougher than developing better UAVs because there are so many more obstacles that can impede movement on the ground. But progress is rapidly being made. In 2004, DARPA sponsored a race in the Mojave Desert to see if an autonomous robotic vehicle could complete a 132-mile course. That year, the furthest any competitor got was 7.4 miles, but in 2005 four vehicles finished the entire course, with the winner (a souped-up Volkswagen Touareg) claiming the $2 million prize. Buoyed by these results, the Pentagon is pushing ahead with plans for new ground robots such as the MULE (Multifunction Logistics and Equipment Vehicle), a two-and-a-half-ton truck that could carry supplies into battle or wounded soldiers out of it; the Armed Robotic Vehicle, a five-ton mini-tank that could be equipped with missiles or a .30mm chain gun; and the Soldier Unmanned Ground Vehicle, a 30-pound, man-portable scout that comes equipped with weapons and sensors. These are all integral elements of the Army?s Future Combat System.

Scientists are also trying to create a self-powered robotic suit?an exoskeleton?that could enable soldiers to carry far heavier loads, move much faster, and conceivably even leap short buildings in a single bound. A prototype developed at the University of California, Berkeley, allows a soldier to carry 180 pounds as if it were less than five pounds.

The U.S. Navy is exploring robotic technology for a variety of its own missions. In addition to carrier-based UAVs (both fixed-wing and rotary), the navy is developing Unmanned Surface Vehicles and Unmanned Undersea Vehicles. Most of these drones would swim but some might crawl along the ocean floor like crabs. They could perform such difficult missions as antisubmarine warfare, mine clearance, undersea mapping, and surveillance in coastal waters.

All drones, whether operating on soil, sea, or sky, offer major advantages over traditional manned vehicles. They can be deployed for longer periods because robots don?t need to eat or sleep; they can undertake maneuvers that might put too much stress on the human frame; they can be made much smaller and cheaper because they don?t need all sorts of expensive redundancies and life-support systems (no oxygen tanks! no ejection seats!); and they can be much more readily sent on high-risk missions because, should anything go wrong, nobody has to worry about notifying the next of kin. These advantages have persuaded Congress to ratchet up spending on unmanned programs. Lawmakers have mandated that one-third of all U.S. deep-strike aircraft be unmanned by 2010 and that one-third of all ground combat vehicles be unmanned by 2015.

There are two chief limitations on the use of robots at the moment. First, computers and sensors are not yet smart enough to deliver anything close to the ?situational awareness? of a human being. Second, a shortage of bandwidth limits the number of drones that can be remotely controlled at any one time. Both problems will become less acute with improvements in computer and communications technology, but there is still little reason to think that robots will be alone on the battlefield of the future. It is doubtful that machines will ever be smart enough to do all of the fighting, even if they can perform some of the dullest, dirtiest, or most dangerous work.

The Limits of Technological Supremacy

Taken together, the changes in military power wrought by the information revolution are still in their early stages, and they still have serious limitations. Even the best surveillance systems can be stymied by simple countermeasures like camouflage, smoke, and decoys, by bad weather, or by terrain like the deep sea, mountains, or jungles. Sensors have limited ability to penetrate solid objects, so that they cannot tell what is happening in underground bunkers such as those that North Korea and Iran likely use to hide their nuclear weapons programs. Urban areas present a particularly difficult challenge: There are far more things to track (individuals) and far more obstructions (buildings, vehicles, trees, signs) than at sea or in the sky. Figuring out whether a person is a civilian or an insurgent is a lot harder than figuring out whether an unidentified aircraft is a civilian airliner or an enemy fighter. It is harder still to figure out how many enemy soldiers will resist or what stratagems they will employ. No machine has yet been invented that can penetrate human thought processes. Even with the best equipment in the world, U.S. forces frequently have been surprised by their adversaries.

Some strategists expect that advances in information technology will greatly diminish if not altogether obliterate some of these difficulties. The Pentagon is creating a Global Information Grid that will pool data from all U.S. assets, whether an infantryman on the ground or a satellite in space. The ultimate goal: to provide a perfect operational picture?a ?God?s-eye view? of the battlespace.

This ambitious objective could be furthered by the development of better microwave radars that could see through walls, foliage, or soil; cheaper, more pervasive sensors that could provide 24/7 coverage of the battlefield; better data compression and transmission techniques that could allow more bytes to be sent much faster; and more powerful computers that might make it possible to create, for example, a real-time, three-dimensional model of a city showing all the people who reside in it.

Yet no matter how far information technology advances, it is doubtful that the Pentagon will ever succeed, as some utopians dream, in ?lifting the fog of war.? The fallibility of American soldiers and the cunning of their enemies will surely continue to frustrate the best-laid plans. Moreover, America?s growing reliance on high-tech systems creates new vulnerabilities of its own: Future enemies have strong incentives to attack U.S. computer and communication nodes. Strikes on military information networks could blind or paralyze the armed forces, while strikes on civilian infrastructure, such as banking or air control systems, could cause chaos on the home front. Adversaries will almost certainly figure out ways to blunt the U.S. informational advantage. From Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan to numerous misadventures in Iraq, they already have. Whether fighting in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan or in the alleys of Ramadi and Fallujah, U.S. soldiers have been ambushed by insurgents who managed to elude their sensor networks through such simple expedients as communicating via messengers, not cell phones.
28450  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Part Two on: November 29, 2006, 01:44:37 AM
Naval Warfare

Navies remain divided, as they have been since the dawn of the second industrial age, into aircraft carriers, submarines, and surface ships. The major difference is that blue-water naval competition has disappeared after more than 500 years. No one even tries to challenge the U.S. Navy anymore on the high seas. Virtually every other navy in the world is little more than a coastal patrol force.

The U.S. has 12 aircraft carriers, nine of them Nimitz-class, nuclear-powered supercarriers that can carry more than 70 high-performance aircraft such as the F/A-18 Super Hornet. A tenth supercarrier is in the works. No one else has a single one. France has the world?s only other nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle, but it is half the size of the Nimitz. Russia has one aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, that rarely leaves port, and it has sold another one, the Admiral Gorshkov, to India. Britain has three small Invincible-class aircraft carriers that are used only for helicopters and vertical-takeoff Harrier jets. France, Italy, Spain, Japan, and South Korea have similar helicopter carriers in the works. These ships are comparable to the U.S. Navy?s 12 amphibious assault ships, which transport helicopters, jump jets, and Marines.

Whenever they leave port, U.S. capital ships are surrounded by surface and submarine escorts. Twenty-four Ticonderoga-class cruisers and 45 (and counting) Arleigh Burke-class destroyers come equipped with Aegis phased-array radar which can track up to 900 targets in a 300-mile radius. These surface combatants can also operate on their own or in conjunction with smaller vessels such as frigates and minesweepers.

In World War II, ships that didn?t carry aircraft were limited to firing torpedoes or heavy guns with a range of less than 30 miles. Starting in the 1960s some submarines were equipped with intercontinental range ballistic missiles, but their targeting was so imprecise that it made no sense to equip them with conventional warheads. Ballistic-missile subs became a mainstay of nuclear deterrence. The development of accurate cruise missiles starting in the 1970s allowed submarines and surface combatants to hit land targets hundreds of miles away with conventional ordnance. Improvements in torpedo design, including the development of rocket-propelled supercavitating torpedoes, also allow submarines to do more damage in their traditional anti-ship role.

The U.S. has the world?s largest fleet of nuclear-powered attack submarines (54) and nuclear-powered ballistic-missile subs (16). Russia comes in second with 37 attack submarines and 14 ballistic missile subs. Britain has 15 nuclear-powered submarines, followed by France with 10, and China with six. Not only are U.S. submarines more numerous, they are also more advanced. The most sophisticated are three 1990s-vintage Seawolfs described by one defense analyst as ?the fastest, quietest, and most heavily armed undersea vessels ever built.?

Because of the growing power of each of its vessels and the lack of competitors, the U.S. Navy has consolidated its high seas hegemony even while its fleet has shrunk from almost 500 ships in the 1980s to fewer than 300 in the early years of the twenty-first century. The potency of U.S. naval vessels is increased by linking together sensors and weapons systems with a tactical computer network known as FORCEnet.

While the U.S. Navy probably will remain unchallenged in blue waters, it faces greater threats as it gets closer to shore. Here water currents, thermal layers, and various obstacles can interfere with even the most advanced sensors, and a variety of defensive weapons systems lurk in wait.

More than 75,000 anti-ship missiles are owned by 70 countries. A few are ballistic, but most are of the cruise-missile variety. Their potency was proved in 1987 when French-made Exocets fired by an Iraqi aircraft crippled the frigate USS Stark, killing 37 sailors. Earlier, Argentina used Exocets to sink two British ships during the 1982 Falklands War. Newer anti-ship cruise missiles such as the Russian-made Yakhont, Sunburn, and Uran are even deadlier because they have faster speeds, greater stealth capabilities, and more accurate, GPS-enhanced targeting. Russia is selling these missiles to customers abroad and some nations like China are developing their own versions. Israel suffered the consequences during its recent Lebanon war when an Iranian-provided C-802 cruise missile crippled one of its warships off the coast of Lebanon.

U.S. warships have sophisticated defensive systems to guard against air attack: Incoming missiles can be deflected by electronic countermeasures, flares, or chaff, or destroyed by naval aircraft, sea-to-air Standard missiles, or, as a last resort, by rapid-fire, radar-guided Phalanx guns. But, like the Stark, a warship could be caught by surprise or overwhelmed by a flurry of missiles coming from different directions.

Even more worrisome from an American viewpoint is the fact that transport ships and fuel tankers which have to replenish a fleet at sea have no protection when they are outside the defensive range of a battle group. They are as vulnerable as supply convoys on the roads of Iraq. Because a supercarrier has only about a three-day stockpile of JP-5 jet fuel (6,500 barrels a day are needed during combat operations), the most powerful warship in history could be rendered useless if its fuel tankers were sunk.

The threat to shipping, civil and military, is increased by diesel submarines. The latest diesel submarines have ultra-quiet electric engines that make them hard to detect with sonar, and they are much cheaper to buy or produce than a nuclear-powered submarine. Russia has exported Kilo-class diesel-electric subs to China, India, Iran, and Algeria, among others. China is producing its own Song-class diesel submarines in a bid to challenge U.S. naval hegemony using the same strategy that Germany, with its U-boats, once used to challenge British dominion of the waves. U.S. antisubmarine defenses are quite sophisticated, especially in open waters, but even American sensors can have trouble tracking quiet diesel subs in noisy coastal waters.

Mines, which can be scattered by submarines or other vessels, represent another major threat to shipping. More than 300 different varieties are available on the world market. They can be triggered by changes in magnetic fields, acoustic levels, seismic pressure, or other factors. Some come equipped with microelectronics that allow them to distinguish between different types of ships, while others have small motors that allow them to move around. This makes it difficult to certify that a shipping channel is free of mines?it may have been safe an hour ago, but not any more. Demining technology has lagged behind; the U.S. Navy, for one, has never placed much emphasis on lowly minesweepers. It has paid a price for this neglect. In 1987, during operations to prevent Iran from closing the Persian Gulf, an Iranian mine of World War I design nearly sank the frigate USS Samuel Roberts. Four years later, in the Gulf War, the cruiser USS Princeton and the amphibious landing ship USS Tripoli were nearly blasted apart by Iraqi mines. And even a cheap motorboat packed with explosives can pose a significant threat to a modern warship. The USS Cole, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, was badly damaged in such a terrorist attack in 2000.

All of these threats could be largely negated if U.S. fleets were to stay far out at sea, but they have to approach fairly close to land to launch aircraft or missiles with operational ranges of only a few hundred miles. Moreover, the places where the U.S. Navy is likely to fight in the future are dangerously narrow. The Persian Gulf is only 30 miles wide at its narrowest point, the Taiwan Strait only 100 miles wide.

To maintain its dominance, the U.S. Navy regularly updates the electronics and weapons aboard its warships even as the hulls and propulsion systems remain unchanged. It also plans to build a variety of unmanned vessels along with a CVN-21 aircraft carrier to replace the Nimitz-class, a Zumwalt-class DD(X) destroyer to replace Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates and Spruance-class destroyers, a CG(X) cruiser to replace the Ticonderoga-class cruisers, and a smaller and speedier Littoral Combat Ship with no direct parallel in today?s fleet that would focus on clearing mines, hunting submarines, and fighting terrorists in coastal waters. All of these new vessels will have improved defenses and information-processing tools as well as ?plug and play? capacity that will allow them to be quickly reconfigured for different missions. They will also incorporate composite materials, stealthier designs, and electric propulsion to make them harder to detect, though an aircraft carrier with a 4.5-acre flight deck can never exactly hide.

Whether all of these warships are truly needed, given the U.S. Navy?s already substantial lead over all competitors, remains an open question. A program to develop giant sea bases?perhaps akin to offshore oil-platforms?that would allow American ground and air forces to operate overseas might be of greater use, given the growing difficulty the U.S. has had in gaining basing and overflight rights from other countries. But what seems clear, on sea as on land, is that the development of new weapons systems will continue to augment American supremacy while leaving American military forces vulnerable to various ?low-tech? attacks.

Aerial Warfare

Fighters such as the American F-15 and the Russian MiG-29 were designed in the 1970s for air-to-air combat, but this has become almost as rare as ship-to-ship actions. Since the Israelis destroyed much of the Syrian air force in 1982, and the U.S. and its allies made similarly quick work of the Iraqi air force in 1991, few if any aircraft have been willing to challenge top-of-the-line Western militaries. (The U.S. Air Force hasn?t produced an ace?an airman with at least five aerial kills?since 1972.) That may change with the sale to China of the Russian-built Sukhoi Su-30, whose performance characteristics are said to exceed those of the F-15C, but the F/A-22 Raptor, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and the Eurofighter should restore the Western edge. The odds of future aerial dogfights, however, still remain slim.

Modern surface-to-air missiles pose a more immediate danger, because they are cheaper and easier to operate. The U.S. and its allies have developed effective methods of neutralizing most existing air defenses. In addition to jammers, radar-seeking missiles, and decoys, the U.S. employs stealth technology, first used on the F-117 Nighthawk, then on the B-2 Spirit, and now on the F/A-22 and F-35. Future aircraft may be designed with ?visual stealth? technology to make them almost invisible even in daylight. No other nation has deployed any stealth aircraft. But advanced sensor networks may now be able to detect first-generation stealth planes. The Serbs actually managed to shoot down an F-117 in 1999.

None of the most sophisticated surface-to-air missiles, such as Russia?s double-digit SAMs (SA-10, SA-15, SA-20), was available to Iraq, Serbia, Afghanistan, or other states that the U.S. has fought in recent years, but they are being sold to other customers, including China, Vietnam, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Greece, and Cyprus. So are shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles such as the American FIM-92 Stinger, British Starstreak, French Mistral, Chinese Qianwei-2, and the Russian SA-7 Grail, SA-14 Gremlin, SA-16 Gimlet, and SA-18 Grouse. There are at least 100,000 such systems in the arsenals of over 100 states and at least 13 non-state groups such as Hezbollah, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), and the Tamil Tigers. The best models have a range of 23,000 feet.

The potential of hand-carried missiles was demonstrated in the 1980s when Stingers took a significant toll on Soviet aircraft in Afghanistan. The threat is sufficient for the U.S. to rely increasingly on unmanned drones for high-risk missions and to mandate that manned aircraft in war zones stay above 15,000 or 20,000 feet. SAMs pose an especially great threat to helicopters, which don?t have the option of flying that high, and for airplanes taking off or landing. Three cargo aircraft leaving Baghdad International Airport have been seriously damaged by missiles, and, while all of them survived, several U.S. helicopters hit with SAMs in Iraq and Afghanistan did not. An Israeli jetliner was almost shot down in Mombasa, Kenya, in 2002 by al Qaeda operatives firing an SA-7. Only the terrorists? targeting error prevented the deaths of 271 passengers and crew. Other civilian airliners are sure to be less lucky.

Assuming that warplanes can reach their destination, the growing precision of bombs and missiles has made it possible to take out targets with fewer and smaller munitions than ever before. (The U.S. Air Force?s latest bomb carries only 50 pounds of explosives.) Weapons are getting smarter all the time. The U.S. Sensor-Fuzed Weapon, first employed in the current Iraq War, disperses 40 ?skeet? anti-armor warheads that use infrared and laser sensors to find and destroy armored vehicles within a 30-acre area. The Tactical Tomahawk, which entered production in 2004, can loiter up to three hours while searching for targets and receiving in-flight retargeting instructions.

The U.S. preponderance in smart bombs and missiles helps to compensate for the relatively small size of its manned bomber force. As of 2005, the U.S. Air Force had only 157 long-range bombers (B-52s, B-1s, B-2s), a considerable fall not only from World War II (when the U.S. had 34,780) but also from the end of the Cold War (360). While few in number, each B-2 can perform the work of thousands of B-29s by ?servicing? 80 ?aim points? per sortie.

Tankers such as the KC-10 and KC-135 vastly extend the range and effectiveness of combat aircraft. Cargo-lifters like the U.S. C-5, C-17, and C-130 and the Russian An-70 and An-225 also perform an invaluable, if unglamorous, role in projecting military power around the world. The U.S. owns 740 tanker aircraft and 1,200 cargo aircraft?far more than any other country. A lack of such support aircraft makes it difficult for even the relatively sophisticated European militaries to move their forces very far.

A host of other aircraft, ranging from JSTARS and AWACS to Rivet Joint and Global Hawk, perform surveillance and electronic-warfare missions in support of combat forces. Their numbers have been growing: While there were only two JSTARS in the Gulf War, in the Iraq War there were 15. But commanders have become so reliant on these systems that there never seem to be enough to go around?the so-called LD/HD problem (Low Density/High Demand). These, too, are vital U.S. assets that few other nations have.
Pages: 1 ... 567 568 [569] 570 571 ... 613
Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.19 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!