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28501  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East War on: September 25, 2007, 10:34:03 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Setting the U.S. Stage for Iranian Talks

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Monday that she sees no signs of talks with Iran on the issue of Iraq. Specifically, she said the Bush administration will "leave that channel open," though probably not "pursue it imminently."

Iranian-U.S. talks about Iraq's future are always touchy. Beyond the simple fact that Tehran and Washington do not exactly trust each other, the room for compromise between them is not exactly cavernous. The United States wants an Iraq that can hold its own against Iran and wield the threat of a renewed Sunni government fully armed and ready to repeat the 1980-1988 war. Iran wants an Iraq that is incapable of attacking and can threaten the United States with the unleashed fury of Iranian-aligned Shiite militias. Neither can make its dream come about without the other's acquiescence, but both have the ability to impose unilaterally the other's nightmare.

Negotiations are indeed what are on order. One effect -- indeed, the primary rationale -- of the Bush administration's decision to maintain as strong of a troop presence in Iraq as possible is to convince the Iranians that U.S. forces are not going anywhere -- not just now, but well into the term of the next U.S. president. Iran has a tendency to misjudge U.S. decision-makers, and now it is faced with a U.S. occupation in Iraq that will last, at bare minimum, another two years. Tehran might have been convinced a month ago that a U.S. departure was inevitable; now it cannot be so sure. The logic of talks to prevent Iran's worst-case scenario from occurring makes sense.

But not just yet. The United States first wants to set the stage. France is warning of war, Israel is (allegedly) bombing Syria, Germany is bullying sanctions, the Dutch are speaking of moral obligations to resist the Iranian nuclear program, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's attempt to turn a Sept. 24 speech at Columbia University into propaganda massively backfired. The international environment has deteriorated sharply in the past three years from Tehran's viewpoint -- with the worst developments reserved for the past few weeks. The U.S. State Department even confirmed Monday that it had invited none other than Iran's only ally, Syria, to an international conference on the future of the Palestinian territories. Syria has been on the U.S. no-talk list for years (ever since Damascus ordered the assassination of a former Lebanese prime minister).

The goal is simple: to make Iran feel isolated, make Iran fear that its foes are on the verge of using military force, make Iran feel like talks with the United States are the least-bad option. It is not an illogical strategy, albeit one laden with risks. It assumes that Iran will ultimately find it useful to not just speak with the Americans, but actively cooperate with them on security issues of extreme national importance. After all, Iraq is too far gone for either the United States or Iran to fashion it into some semblance of normality alone.
28502  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / The Legacy of Little Rock on: September 25, 2007, 09:37:14 AM
The Legacy of Little Rock
September 25, 2007; Page A19

Fifty years ago today, riot-trained troops from the 101st Airborne Division escorted nine black students through the doors of Central High School in Little Rock. Just 48 hours earlier, President Eisenhower deployed -- in a single day -- 1,000 troops to restore order and to reassert federal authority in Arkansas's capital city.

Gov. Orval Faubus of Arkansas complains about President Eisenhower's use of federal troops to enforce integration in Little Rock, September 1957.
For weeks the entire nation had watched on television as a mob of angry white adults gathered each morning to prevent the nine black students from integrating Central High. It would come to be remembered as one of the ugliest and meanest white mobs of the entire civil rights era. And because of television -- then still a very new medium -- the horrible images of people galvanized by ferocious racial hatred were seared into the national consciousness.

Finally, Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus succumbed to a kind of madness, if not to a perverse politics of racial hatred, and withdrew the National Guard from Central High, effectively turning the school over to the raging mob. The nine courageous black students, who had suffered so much to integrate the school, were withdrawn for their own protection. So, for a time, the authority of the mob prevailed over all governmental authority -- local, state and federal. And this was the provocation that pushed a reluctant President Eisenhower to deploy federal troops.

On this 50th anniversary of Eisenhower's troop deployment, the significance of the Little Rock crisis -- its place in history -- is much clearer. I believe it was the beginning of a profoundly different America.

For one thing, it foreshadowed the end of white supremacy as a legitimate authority. The Little Rock crisis was a conflict between two ideas of authority that had always been in tension in American life. The authority behind the Little Rock Nine came from that constellation of principles that define the American democracy -- the idea of individual rights, equality under the law and so on. But in America another authority had always been in play -- the atavistic authority of white supremacy, the idea that no less a power than God had chosen the white race to be ascendant over all other races. This was the authority behind the white mob in Little Rock. In taunting those nine black students, this mob was protecting a "divine right" against the ridiculous democratic notion that all men were created equal.

But the mob lost in Little Rock. Eisenhower enforced democratic authority over white supremacy. He made the point that these two authorities could no longer pretend to coexist in the public schools of even a Southern city. In this way the Little Rock crisis joined black Americans to a world-wide movement. The Mau Maus viciously fought this same nemesis in Kenya, Gandhi peacefully fought it in India, and the very first terrorist bombers fought it in Algeria. But in Little Rock the American government, overcoming two centuries of equivocation, broke off from white supremacy and took up the cause of black revolutionaries -- and so administered white entitlement a decisive defeat.

But the deeper historical importance of the Little Rock crisis follows from the simple fact that it was televised. It was, in fact, the first time that this still fledgling medium was able to make America into a community by rendering up a riveting real-life drama for the country to watch. Compelling personalities emerged, like the despicable and erratic Gov. Faubus, who kept flaunting federal authority like a little potentate. There was Eisenhower himself, whose grandfatherly patience with Faubus seemed to belie a sympathy with this racist's need to hold on to a fading authority. And there was the daily gauntlet that the black students were made to walk -- innocence face to face with evil. And, finally, there was great suspense. How would it all end? Would there by a military clash, another little civil war between North and South?

So Americans watched by the millions and, in this watching, saw something that would change the country fundamentally. Everyday for weeks they saw white people so consumed with racial hatred that they looked bestial and subhuman. When white racism was a confident power, it could look like propriety itself, like good manners. But here, in its insecurity, it was grotesque and shocking. Worse, it was there for the entire world to see, and so it broke through the national denial. The Little Rock crisis revealed the evil at the core of segregation, and it launched the stigmatization of white Americans as racists that persists to this day. After Little Rock whites stood permanently accused. They would have to prove a negative -- that they were not racist -- in order to claim decency. And this need to forever beg one's innocence is the very essence of white guilt.

Of course, it was the special genius of the civil rights leaders of that era to elicit displays of white evil by confronting whites with black innocence -- often children and teenagers, neatly dressed and scrupulously groomed, aspiring only to what all humans aspire to, a decent education or the right to eat at a lunch counter. Still, these leaders couldn't elicit what wasn't there. White evil was there. And the greatest significance of the Little Rock crisis was that it put on display a distinct white moral inferiority.

This introduced a new accountability into white American life. Americans had always thought themselves a great people -- more solidly grounded in the morality of fairness than any other people. Moreover, it was Western culture that had evolved the kind of moral system that made Little Rock look so evil. But, in the end, all this meant was that the good citizens of Little Rock should have known better. Evil was evil. And, after Little Rock, white America began to become accountable for its racial evil.

But Americans have not been particularly good at integrating this kind of accountability. We are a nation with a powerful investment in the idea of our own fundamental innocence. Our can-do optimism and ingenuity are based on the faith that we are a decent, open, and generous people. This is our identity. And when we shame ourselves, as in Little Rock, there is an impulse to get busy; to do something big that redeems the shame and proves that its implications about us are false. This is, of course, a form of denial. In our busyness we may dissociate from the shame, but this is no proof that we have integrated its meaning.

For the most part, this is how white America came to handle its new accountability in the civil rights era. The country got busy self-consciously redeeming itself. Redemption would be our big, ingenious achievement. If freedom and opportunity and wealth had always been the special mandates of American life, suddenly redemption was added to the list. And, as the civil rights movement worked its way through many more Little Rocks, as a movement for women's equality burst forth, and as the Vietnam War came to be held against America, the idea of American evil expanded and, thus, redemption became more and more entrenched as a national mandate.

By the mid 1960s this mandate had already given us a new illiberal liberalism -- a busybody, interventionist liberalism that was more bent on erecting an American redemption than ensuring freedom. The Great Society wanted to make America look like a country in which Little Rock could never have happened. It failed because it was a venture in denial rather than in realistic social transformation. And today's "diversity" will fail because it, too, is only a denial -- a kitsch that gives us an image of an America shorn of Little Rocks.

But on this 50th anniversary of the Little Rock crisis, it is important to remember that this evil did happen in America, and that no engineered redemption can make us innocent again. And we might also remember that it is better to be chastened than innocent. Innocents don't learn from their sins; the chastened are informed by them.

Mr. Steele, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford, is the author of "White Guilt" (HarperCollins, 2006).

28503  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Ninjas rob store on: September 25, 2007, 09:05:44 AM
28504  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politically (In)correct on: September 25, 2007, 08:49:39 AM
Demon Rummy
September 25, 2007
A premier U.S. university invites a controversial international figure to speak on campus. The faculty is outraged. "Speaking truth to power," the professors denounce the legitimacy conferred on a murderous tyrant. That is what largely did not happen yesterday after Columbia welcomed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Morningside Heights. That is, however, what is now happening at Stanford, and the man the faculty views as a tyrant is -- Donald Rumsfeld.

While Columbia President Lee Bollinger opines about "the powers of dialogue and reason," the Stanford faculty has mobilized against the appointment of the former Defense Secretary to a fellowship at the Hoover Institution, a conservative research center affiliated with the Palo Alto university. Mr. Rumsfeld will join a study group exploring terror and ideology in the post-9/11 world.

Mr. Rumsfeld's experience in these matters can't be denied. And though his politics may differ from the professoriate's, this would seem to make his "perspective" more valuable to a university dedicated to the exchange of ideas -- especially one, as its motto has it, where "the wind of freedom blows."

Something else altogether is blowing now. A group of self-described faculty "instigators" calls Mr. Rumsfeld "fundamentally incompatible with the ethical values of truthfulness, tolerance, [and] disinterested enquiry." Their petition has garnered more than 3,000 professor, student and alumni signatures.

English professor Robert Polhemus drafted an unofficial platform for the faculty opposition that calls the Hoover appointment "contemptible" and argues that Mr. Rumsfeld lacks "intellectual and academic experience and/or some measure of achievement." The psychologist Philip Zimbardo tolerantly noted, "They can have any fascist they want there [at Hoover], and they do."

So in the interests of "robust debate," a school is obliged to provide a public forum to the leader of a repressive terrorist regime. But the mere presence of an American with more than three decades of public service -- most recently dedicated to combating such regimes -- is beyond the pale? Stanford's only saving grace so far is that its administration isn't bending to this faculty intimidation.

All ideas are not created equal, and the beliefs of Messrs. Rumsfeld and Ahmadinejad are certainly not. Rather, these two case studies into the academic mindset contrast priorities. They confirm, if more confirmation were needed, that the modern academy's commitment to "intellectual freedom" too often fails to distinguish between those who defend freedom and those who would squash it.

28505  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: September 25, 2007, 08:47:13 AM

Moving right along, here's this from the WSJ:

Other People's Politics
In defense of the New York Times.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Two bastions of liberalism are discovering the nasty side of campaign finance reform now that it has landed in their own backyards.

On Sunday, a spokeswoman for the New York Times admitted it had "made a mistake" when it charged the radical group a special discounted rate for an ad accusing General David Petraeus of betrayal in advance of his Congressional testimony. Meanwhile, DailyKos's Markos Moulitsas Zuniga has faced a Federal Election Commission inquiry into advertising sales at his blog, which has become a force in pushing the Democratic Party to the left on various issues--among them, campaign finance reform.

DailyKos holds forth regularly that "our democracy is in danger" from money in politics and loudly supports McCain-Feingold and other campaign and media restrictions. The New York Times position on campaign finance reform is that it "has not gone far enough," and that more should be done to control donors and prevent changes that would "open the spigots to corporate and special-interest money."

Of course, it's always other people's influence that's a threat to democracy. DailyKos's misadventure was resolved with a Federal Election Commission ruling that allowed it (quite properly) to escape the rules it wants foisted on everybody else. And we certainly defend the Times's right to sign advertising contracts at whatever price it wants to charge--without the FEC combing through its books in search of rate discrepancies.

Unfortunately, the Times's passion for regulating everyone else's speech has now boomeranged, with politicians calling for an investigation into its favor to MoveOn. This is getting to be a bad Times habit: Recall its campaign for a special counsel to investigate media leaks that turned into a probe of its own sources and led to judicial rulings that limited press freedom.
House Oversight and Government Reform Ranking Member Tom Davis (R., Va.) wants hearings on whether the MoveOn discount represented a contribution in violation of campaign finance laws, and whether those laws are actually enforceable. Mr. Davis is indulging in some partisan opportunism here, and we wish instead that he was explaining that the problem is not that these organizations slipped through some campaign finance net. The problem is the net.

The DailyKos argues that it qualifies for the "commentary" exception under McCain-Feingold, while the Times would presumably qualify under the newspaper exception. Anyone who reads either one quickly figures out that they are both stalwart supporters of the Democratic Party and liberal causes. This is their right, but it's hard to see why their political speech deserves any more special legal protection than that of Big Labor or the NRA. As for the Times's ad discount, we also don't see why it shouldn't be as protected as the paper's inevitable endorsement next year of Hillary Clinton for President. Won't that be an "in-kind" political contribution worth at least a few thousand dollars?

The FEC deserves a pat on the back for backing away from media content oversight. But the real solution here is for the Supreme Court to rediscover its First Amendment principles and strike down campaign finance restrictions. As long as McCain-Feingold is on the books, regulators will be running around damming up leaks wherever they imagine they've found them. Sooner or later they'll come after the press, as maybe the Times and other left-wingers are beginning to figure out.
28506  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Help our troops/our cause: on: September 25, 2007, 08:44:08 AM

New York Times

September 24, 2007
Soldiers Describe Baiting of Insurgents


Under a program developed by a Defense Department warfare unit, Army snipers have begun using a new method to kill Iraqis suspected of being insurgents, planting fake weapons and bomb-making material as bait and then killing anyone who picks up them up, according to testimony presented in a military court.

The existence of the classified “baiting program,” as it has come to be known, was disclosed as part of defense lawyers’ efforts to respond to murder charges the Army pressed this summer against three members of a Ranger sniper team. Each soldier is accused of killing an unarmed Iraqi in three separate incidents between April and June near Iskandariya.

In sworn statements, soldiers testifying for the defense have said the sniper team was employing a baiting program developed by the Pentagon’s Asymmetrical Warfare Group, which met with and gave equipment to Ranger sniper teams in Iraq in January.

The Washington Post first described the baiting program in an article Monday.

An Army spokesman, Paul Boyce, said on Monday that the Army does not discuss specific methods for “targeting enemy combatants” publicly, and that no classified program authorizes the use of “drop weapons” to make a killing appear justified.

The court martial of one of the accused soldiers, Spec. Jorge Sandoval Jr., is scheduled to begin in Baghdad on Wednesday. The two other soldiers facing premeditated murder charges are Staff Sgt. Michael Hensley, the sniper team squad leader, and Sgt. Evan Vela. All three are part of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, based at Fort Richardson, Alaska.

None of the three soldiers deny that they killed the three Iraqis they are charged with murdering. Through their lawyers and in court documents, the soldiers argue that the killings were legal and authorized by their superiors. A transcript of the hearing was provided by a member of an accused soldier’s family.

Snipers are among the most specialized of soldiers, using camouflage clothing and makeup to infiltrate enemy locations and high-powered rifles and scopes to stalk and kill enemy fighters. The three snipers accused of murder had for months ventured into some of the most dangerous areas of Iraq, said lawyers for Sgt. Vela.

“Snipers are special people who are trained to shoot in a detached fashion, not to see their targets as human beings,” said James D. Culp, one of Sgt. Vela’s lawyers. “Snipers have split-seconds to take shots, and he had a split second to decide whether to shoot.”

After visiting the sniper unit in Iraq, members of the Asymmetrical Warfare Group gave soldiers ammunition boxes containing so-called “drop items” like bullets, plastic explosives and bomb detonation chords to use to target Iraqis involved in insurgent activity, according to Capt. Matthew P. Didier, a sniper platoon leader who gave sworn testimony in the accused soldiers’ court hearings.
28507  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / John Adams on: September 25, 2007, 08:39:02 AM
"Let the pulpit resound with the doctrine and sentiments of
religious liberty. Let us hear of the dignity of man's nature,
and the noble rank he holds among the works of God... Let it
be known that British liberties are not the grants of princes
and parliaments."

-- John Adams (Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law, 1765)

Reference: The Most Nearly Perfect Solution, Guinness, 3-26;
and John Adams and the Spirit of Liberty, Thompson, 54.
28508  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: September 24, 2007, 11:50:32 PM
Thank you.

Anyone want to hazard a guess as to how far Houston Alexander, who dramatically left Jardine KTFO, will go?

Edited to Add:  Erik Paulson IS FIGHTING!  cool cool cool
28509  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: September 24, 2007, 11:39:19 PM
In Defense of the Constitution

News & Analysis
016/07  September 24, 2007

CAIR Calls for Profiling of Muslims in the United States.
On September 20, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Washington DC based Islamic terrorism supporting group, issued a press release titled "CAIR Welcomes TSA Policy Change on Islamic Scarf".
From the article:
"Following discussions with community leaders of several faiths, including a representative of CAIR's Dallas-Fort Worth chapter, TSA officials have accepted a proposed modification to the August 4 policy. According to the updated policy, Muslim women who wear a head cover that is attached to the contour of the head, with no space between the scarf and the head, should not be subjected to a secondary screening. That style of cover is worn by the majority of Muslim women who wear scarves."
In a radical departure from past positions, CAIR is now calling on government agents to profile order to provide them special rights denied to non-Muslims.

Additionally, CAIR has signaled its Islamist terrorist masters that Muslim women are now America's newest privileged protected class and that they are now the perfect venue to smuggle unauthorized items aboard American airliners.

What could be the possible results of this latest appeasement of radical Islam?
-  A piece of sharpened carbon fiber, form-fitted to the head and covered with a scarf.
-  A plastic letter-opener secreted in the folds.
-  Any number of items, such as malleable plastic explosives, that could be formed to the contours of the head.
Let's not forget that there was time when the idea that an airliner could be taken over with a box cutter was laughable.
After 9-11, is anyone laughing?
Leaving aside the obvious security implications of this new policy, what about the rights of other travelers? 
For instance:
-  How will Mennonites, Jews, and other faiths that wear head-coverings react to the idea that they are to be subjected to searches that Muslims are excused from?
-  The first amendment to the Constitution demands that all faiths be treated equally under the law; how does this square with government employees giving preferential treatment to Muslims?
-  How will the airport inspectors determine someone is a Muslim?  (Will they ask?  Will Muslim travelers be provided a Muslim-only ID card?  Will there be Muslim-only lines at the airport?  We already have Muslim-only foot baths at some airports, is it really a stretch to call for Muslim-only lines?)  Will they...dare we say it.."profile" Muslims?

The bottom line: CAIR is approving of the TSA PROFILING Muslim women!
How much more appeasement are we going to stand for before we realize that radical Islam is not only making us second-class citizens in our own country, but that we are tripping all over ourselves to help them do it?
CAIR and their terrorist masters must certainly see this turn of events as nothing more than another example of Americans surrendering to the fist of radical Islam.
28510  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: September 24, 2007, 09:01:57 PM
And here's some more on the same subject:

Special Dispatch Series - No. 1357
November 15, 2006 No.1357

Qods (Jerusalem) Day in Iran: ‘The Nation of Muslims Must Prepare for the Great War So As to Completely Wipe Out the Zionist Regime and to Remove This Cancerous Growth’

On the occasion of Qods (Jerusalem) Day, which was observed this year in Iran on October 20, 2006, several conservative Iranian newspapers published editorials praising the resistance against Israel and urging Israel's destruction. [1]

The editorials, which appeared in the conservative dailies Resalat and Kayhan, reflected Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Qods Day speech, in which he said: "The existence of this regime [i.e. Israel] has been based on military threat, on military strength, and on its myth of invincibility. Today, by the grace of God, this myth has been shattered, with the help of the believers in Palestine, and thanks to the self-sacrifice and the belief of the Hizbullah commanders. Today, the Zionists do not feel safe, not even in their homes, [or] anywhere in the world."


The articles in Resalat and Kayhan said thatthe recent Lebanon war was only the first battle on the way to the elimination of Israel, and expressed the hope that the war will serve as a catalyst for an extensive Islamic uprising against Israel.

The following are excerpts from the two articles:

Kayhan: "Hizbullah Destroyed at Least Half of Israel in The Lebanon War... Now Only Half the Path [To Its Destruction] Remains"
On October 19, 2006, the conservative daily Kayhan, which is close to Iran's Supreme Leader 'Ali Khamenei, published an article on the occasion of Qods (Jerusalem) Day: [2] "...This year was a decisive one for Palestine and the Islamic Middle East region. Those opposed to the liberation of Jerusalem, Palestine, and the Middle East linked arms and sought to publicly topple the free foundations of sacred Jerusalem. America, Europe, Russia, many of the heads of Arab regimes in the region, and the Zionists all collaborated in this process, assuming that by means of a series of operations they would dry up the heart of the freedom of Jerusalem, in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Iran, and that by means of a terrible blow against these four countries they would close this dossier forever.

"On this basis [U.S. Secretary of State] Condoleezza Rice came to the Middle East in the first days of the Lebanon war and said: 'The new Middle East is like a newborn, and therefore we must suffer its birth pangs.' Then she clearly declared [the need] to eradicate the Lebanese Hizbullah. [But] the axis of the West, the East, and the Zionists against Hizbullah ended in its defeat and in a reversal in the balance [of power].

"Hizbullah stood fast in Israel's 33-day war against Lebanon, and proved that the destruction of Israel was easier [work] than some of the Arab governments think - [namely,] that the destruction of Israel is impossible. The 33-day war proved that the intelligence-security capability of Israel is not so great as to be immeasurable and that it is possible to triumph over the Israeli Air Force - which had been considered the element that brought about the victory of the Israeli regime over the Arabs in the five previous wars - and this is said without disregarding its range of technological capabilities.

"When the air force of the Zionist Regime, together with its warships, besieged the shores of Lebanon - from the port of Tripoli in the north to the port of Tyre in the south - it retreated after Hizbullah's blow to the advanced Saar 5 warship at a distance of 12 miles from the coast of Beirut... thus it was proven that, by means of an offensive operation that need not be equal to Israel's moves, it is possible to neutralize the Zionist navy.

"With the downing of one of the Tel Aviv regime's advanced night-flight helicopters at the height of the war... it became clear to all that the Zionist regime's air force, despite 33 successive days of bombing, had not managed to deliver serious harm to the capability of Hizbullah's command and missiles. It was proven that it is possible to damage the Israeli Air Force from a distance...

"The 33-day war ended without any of the goals that had been declared by the Zionist government and the commanders of its military being attained - and this was the first time that Israel was forced to accept its complete downfall...

"In the 33-day war, the Lebanese Hizbullah destroyed at least 50% of Israel [and therefore] half the path to the liberation of Jerusalem equals 33 days. Now, only (at most) 50% of the path [to Israel's destruction] remains. This remaining 50% is easier than the 50% that was already accomplished. Now, in the face of the degree of fear and lack of confidence that has been deeply implanted in [all] parts of the Zionist regime, the Muslim peoples of the region, and particularly the four Arab countries neighboring Palestine [i.e. Israel] - Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon - are full of hope and confidence, and they have no doubt, that they will be able to very quickly overcome the Zionist regime...

"According to this description, just as in one 33-day war more than 50% of Israel was destroyed, and the hope of its supporters for the continued life of this regime was broken, it is likely that in the next battle, the second half will also collapse.

"On that day... Jordan will not be able to prevent the Jordanian Islamists from operating through the long Jordan-Palestine border, and the millions of Egyptian Islamists... will not let the Sinai-Israel border remain quiet, and the Syrian Golan Heights will not remain as a [mere] observer of the battle. That day is not so far off."
Resalat: "The Great War is Ahead of Us, [And Will Break Out] Perhaps Tomorrow, or in Another Few Days, or in a Few Months, or Even in a Few Years... Israel Must Collapse"
In an October 22, 2006 editorial titled "Preparations for the Great War," the conservative daily Resalat wrote: [3] "...The Qods Day marches in the month of Ramadan this year were held at a time when the takeover by the global arrogance [the U.S.] was shattered with Israel's defeat by the Lebanese Hizbullah.

"For the first time in the 60 years of its disgraceful life, the Zionist regime - the West's beloved in the Middle East - tasted the taste of defeat, and the citizens of this regime trembled at the menace of Hizbullah's missiles. There can be no doubt at all that the silence of the parents of this illegal creature [i.e. Israel] is temporary, and that they [i.e. the West] will not be willing to sit quietly before their wounded child and [just] worry at its misfortune.

"The Zionist regime and its supporters are, without doubt, preparing for the great war, in order to settle this conflict in one fell swoop. They will not be willing to relinquish the occupied lands of Ghajar and the Shab'a Farms - this in order to keep Lebanon's wound open. This regime's military movements in the north of occupied Palestine, the unconditional military and economic aid it receives from America, and [Israel's] effort to imitate Europe in the military arena [in] missile and satellite [technology] - all attest to this regime's preparedness for renewed war against Hizbullah.

"This sense of danger on the part of the supporters of the counterfeit Israeli regime is not limited to the Islamic resistance in Lebanon [i.e. Hizbullah]. On the contrary; the American plan of [U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza] Rice, which is titled 'Conditions for Neutralizing the Aspiration for Growth in the Islamic World and Coordination with the Arab Governments in the Region in Order to Contain the Shi'ites,' attests to the West's preparations for a wide confrontation with the Middle East's [Islamic] awakening movement in the third millennium. This is, of course, the first time in [the history of] America-Zionist relations that Washington has turned to the heads [of the Arab states] after an Israeli defeat, and asked them to unite and help it [i.e. Israel], in order to compensate for the losses in the war...

"In any event, we must be alert. Sights and rumors can tell us about the movements of this regime [i.e. Israel] in the coming months. Hizbullah was the undisputed victor of the 33-day war against Israel, but as the honorable Supreme Leader [Ali Khamenei] said at Friday prayers in Tehran: 'The defeated in this event are not, and will not remain, passive. The process is not over [yet]. They are busy with operations and efforts aimed at stopping the results of this disappointment and defeat [they suffered], because the blow that landed upon them was a hard one...'

"The Muslim peoples in the region must stop this conspiracy before it happens. The people's unprecedented participation in Qods [Jerusalem] Day this year attests to the continuation of the path of resistance against the Zionist regime... But on the first front of the resistance, that is, the Hizbullah [front], maintaining control over the 'Iron Triangle' [4] region and declaring it a closed military area can prevent the weakening of the forces of the Islamic resistance. In any event, America's effort is to turn UNIFIL's role into one of confrontation with and weakening of Hizbullah - but doubtless this deception will be neutralized by the alertness of [Hizbullah Secretary-General] Hassan Nasrallah.

"It must not be forgotten that the great war is ahead of us, [and it will break out] perhaps tomorrow, or in another few days, or in a few months, or even in a few years. The nation of Muslims must prepare for the great war, so as to completely wipe out the Zionist regime, and remove this cancerous growth. Like the Imam [Ayatollah] Khomeini said: 'Israel must collapse."


[1] Qods (Jerusalem) Day is observed yearly in Iran on the last Friday of Ramadan, in accordance with the orders of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. It marks Iran's aspiration for the liberation of all Palestine.

[2] Kayhan (Iran), October 19, 2006.

[3] Resalat (Iran), October 22, 2006.

[4] The Iron Triangle is a term for the area around the city of Tyre in Lebanon that Hizbullah used as its main launching pad for Katyushas aimed at Israel during the July-August 2006 Lebanon war.
28511  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: September 24, 2007, 09:00:31 PM

Just How Far Did They Go, Those Words Against Israel?

Published: June 11, 2006

EVER since he spoke at an anti-Zionism conference in Tehran last October, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran has been known for one statement above all. As translated by news agencies at the time, it was that Israel "should be wiped off the map." Iran's nuclear program and sponsorship of militant Muslim groups are rarely mentioned without reference to the infamous map remark.

Here, for example, is R. Nicholas Burns, the under secretary of state for political affairs, recently: "Given the radical nature of Iran under Ahmadinejad and its stated wish to wipe Israel off the map of the world, it is entirely unconvincing that we could or should live with a nuclear Iran."

But is that what Mr. Ahmadinejad said? And if so, was it a threat of war? For months, a debate among Iran specialists over both questions has been intensifying. It starts as a dispute over translating Persian but quickly turns on whether the United States (with help from Israel) is doing to Iran what some believe it did to Iraq — building a case for military action predicated on a faulty premise.

"Ahmadinejad did not say he was going to wipe Israel off the map because no such idiom exists in Persian," remarked Juan Cole, a Middle East specialist at the University of Michigan and critic of American policy who has argued that the Iranian president was misquoted. "He did say he hoped its regime, i.e., a Jewish-Zionist state occupying Jerusalem, would collapse." Since Iran has not "attacked another country aggressively for over a century," he said in an e-mail exchange, "I smell the whiff of war propaganda."

Jonathan Steele, a columnist for the left-leaning Guardian newspaper in London, recently laid out the case this way: "The Iranian president was quoting an ancient statement by Iran's first Islamist leader, the late Ayatollah Khomeini, that 'this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time,' just as the Shah's regime in Iran had vanished. He was not making a military threat. He was calling for an end to the occupation of Jerusalem at some point in the future. The 'page of time' phrase suggests he did not expect it to happen soon."

Mr. Steele added that neither Khomeini nor Mr. Ahmadinejad suggested that Israel's "vanishing" was imminent or that Iran would be involved in bringing it about. "But the propaganda damage was done," he wrote, "and Western hawks bracket the Iranian president with Hitler as though he wants to exterminate Jews."

If Mr. Steele and Mr. Cole are right, not one word of the quotation — Israel should be wiped off the map — is accurate.

But translators in Tehran who work for the president's office and the foreign ministry disagree with them. All official translations of Mr. Ahmadinejad's statement, including a description of it on his Web site (, refer to wiping Israel away. Sohrab Mahdavi, one of Iran's most prominent translators, and Siamak Namazi, managing director of a Tehran consulting firm, who is bilingual, both say "wipe off" or "wipe away" is more accurate than "vanish" because the Persian verb is active and transitive.

The second translation issue concerns the word "map." Khomeini's words were abstract: "Sahneh roozgar." Sahneh means scene or stage, and roozgar means time. The phrase was widely interpreted as "map," and for years, no one objected. In October, when Mr. Ahmadinejad quoted Khomeini, he actually misquoted him, saying not "Sahneh roozgar" but "Safheh roozgar," meaning pages of time or history. No one noticed the change, and news agencies used the word "map" again.

Ahmad Zeidabadi, a professor of political science in Tehran whose specialty is Iran-Israel relations, explained: "It seems that in the early days of the revolution the word 'map' was used because it appeared to be the best meaningful translation for what he said. The words 'sahneh roozgar' are metaphorical and do not refer to anything specific. Maybe it was interpreted as 'book of countries,' and the closest thing to that was a map. Since then, we have often heard 'Israel bayad az naghshe jographya mahv gardad' — Israel must be wiped off the geographical map. Hard-liners have used it in their speeches."

The final translation issue is Mr. Ahmadinejad's use of "occupying regime of Jerusalem" rather than "Israel."

To some analysts, this means he is calling for regime change, not war, and therefore it need not be regarded as a call for military action. Professor Cole, for example, says: "I am entirely aware that Ahmadinejad is hostile to Israel. The question is whether his intentions and capabilities would lead to a military attack, and whether therefore pre-emptive warfare is prescribed. I am saying no, and the boring philology is part of the reason for the no."

But to others, "occupying regime" signals more than opposition to a certain government; the phrase indicates the depth of the Iranian president's rejection of a Jewish state in the Middle East because he refuses even to utter the name Israel. He has said that the Palestinian issue "does not lend itself to a partial territorial solution" and has called Israel "a stain" on Islam that must be erased. By contrast, Mr. Ahmadinejad's predecessor, Mohammad Khatami, said that if the Palestinians accepted Israel's existence, Iran would go along.

When combined with Iran's longstanding support for Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah of Lebanon, two groups that have killed numerous Israelis, and Mr. Ahmadinejad's refusal to acknowledge the Holocaust, it is hard to argue that, from Israel's point of view, Mr. Ahmadinejad poses no threat. Still, it is true that he has never specifically threatened war against Israel.

So did Iran's president call for Israel to be wiped off the map? It certainly seems so. Did that amount to a call for war? That remains an open question.

Nazila Fathi contributed reporting from Tehran for this article.

28512  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: September 24, 2007, 08:58:12 PM
Mexico Security Memo: Sept. 24, 2007
September 24, 2007 20 20  GMT

Failing to Meet the Objective

The more than 1,000 federal agents who were sent the week of Sept. 9 to Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state, began winding down their operation this past week and pulling out of the city. When the operation began, a top federal official said the aim was to make important arrests in the city -- which meant federal authorities had their sights set on high-ranking members of the Gulf cartel. It is not surprising that the operation ended with few arrests and some of the agents reportedly retreating out of fear for their lives.

A Sept. 11 attack against agents in Monterrey demonstrated that federal forces would face a violent response if they confronted the cartel. Consequently, the only arrests reported during the operation were of members of small criminal kidnapping gangs -- not the big fish police were after. In addition, a group of approximately 200 agents left Monterrey late Sept. 18 and headed for Reynosa, Tamaulipas state; various media reported that the agents' safety was the primary reason for their departure. Despite the police's failure to meet the objective of the Monterrey mission, the heightened security presence did result in a decrease in drug-related killings, which had been on the rise.

The Monterrey operation illustrates the challenges facing federal police forces engaged in counternarcotics operations. The cartels are better armed than police and have sources in every important agency, causing law enforcement to take a defensive rather than offensive stance in their operations. However, police have shown themselves to be fairly effective at quelling other kinds of violence when deployed in large numbers to a specific location. But the cartels understand that such large-scale deployments are temporary and, when possible, will wait to carry out an assassination instead of risking being detected by a passing police patrol.

EPR Graffiti?

Security at Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) facilities was increased in Chihuahua state this past week after officials discovered graffiti from the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR) on pipelines near the city of Casas Grandes. Security also was increased in Ciudad Juarez and other cities along the U.S. border. The spray-painted messages were similar to those found near blast sites on the pipelines attacked in July and August in other states. The graffiti suggests EPR is not confined geographically, though it is doubtful the group is planning a Pemex attack in Chihuahua since authorities have been alerted to its presence. EPR has not taken credit for the spray painting, which could have been perpetrated as a hoax by pranksters.

Violence on the U.S. Side

Cartel violence this past week was not limited to Mexico. On Sept. 19, a city councilman from Ciudad Acuna, Coahuila state, was found shot to death at his home just across the U.S. border in Del Rio, Texas. The victim, an outspoken critic of organized crime and the Zetas, had been shot five times in the head in his garage. Public criticism of the cartels would be enough to draw the attention of cartel hit men, though the councilman was also a retired officer of the now-defunct Federal Judicial Police, an agency that was disbanded because of rampant corruption. There have been no suggestions that the victim himself was corrupt, but simply serving in such an agency would have put him in contact will all kinds of unsavory individuals. Nevertheless, the incident highlights how Mexican-style targeted killings are spreading north across the border.

Sept. 17
Sinaloa state police discovered the dismembered body of an unidentified victim two blocks from the government palace in Culiacan. Several body parts were found in a cooler near the body.

The body of a woman with a single gunshot wound in the back of the head was discovered along a highway in Guanajuato state.

Authorities in Costa Rica, Sinaloa state, found the body of a man who had been shot once in the head at close range.

A woman in Saltillo, Coahuila state, returned home to find three family members dead, including one who had been suffocated by a plastic bag taped over his head.

Mexico City officials arrested members of a kidnapping ring led by a former agent of the Federal Investigative Agency.

Sept. 18
Hidalgo state officials reported finding the body of a woman dumped in a ditch near Tulancingo. She had been shot at least seven times.

Sept. 19
Gunmen on motorcycles killed the Hidalgo state public security secretary as he rode in a vehicle with a driver near Huasca de Ocampo. The driver was wounded in the attack.

Two people died in Caborca, Sonora state, when the vehicle they were riding in was attacked by gunmen, who fired more than 40 shots.

The decomposing remains of an unidentified individual were discovered in La Ermita, Guanajuato state. The victim had been shot once in the back of the head.

Michoacan state officials reported the drug-related shooting deaths of four people in Tocumbo, Tacambaro and Apatzingan.

A city councilman from Ciudad Acuna, Coahuila state, was found shot to death in his garage just across the U.S. border in Del Rio, Texas. The councilman, a former federal police officer and an outspoken critic of the Zetas, had been shot five times in the head.

Sept. 20
Authorities at an airport in Cali, Colombia, detained two Mexican citizens with more than $4 million hidden in suitcases. The Mexicans had traveled from Mexico City to Panama before arriving in Colombia.

Police in Tijuana, Baja California state, discovered the body of a man who had been shot three times.

Sept. 22
The former mayor of Canelas, Durango state, was wounded by gunfire during an attack on his vehicle.

The body of a man was found in the trunk of a car in an industrial part of Hidalgo state.

Sept. 23
A man's body was discovered near a university in Aguascalientes, Aguascalientes state. He had been shot once in the back of the head.
28513  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: September 24, 2007, 05:24:45 PM
Agreed that the suit has the potential to be very interesting.  I have a supply of popcorn (organic of course) on hand and suspect none of the parties will come out of it looking very good grin
28514  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Protección civil familiar y personal on: September 24, 2007, 01:51:06 PM

Me alegra ver este nuevo hilo tan bien comenzado.  !Espero que hayan mucha participacion!

Aqui' en Los Angeles nosotros tambien tenemos mucho riesgo de terremotos fuertes, y posibilidades de ataques teroristas tambien.

Tenemos en casa (pues en el garaje) un generador de ecectricidad que usa gasolina y aproximadamente 60 litros de gasolina.  Eso nos permitara' continuar usando la refrigeradora, computadoras, luzes basicas etc.  Tambien tenemos aprox. 200 litros de agua; una variedad de luzes de mano de pilas, luzes de mano quimicos, comida en latas, comida seca etc que no requiere concinarse, etc. Es importante saber donde y como apagar el gas en evento de terremoto.

Y para que nadie te quite tus cosas en evento de desorden civil, es imporatante tener armas y balas , , , y los huevos para usarlas.

28515  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Politica-Economia en Latino America on: September 24, 2007, 01:40:43 PM
Lo siento que este articulo del Wall Street Journal sea en ingles:

Beware of Venezuelans Bearing Gifts
September 24, 2007; Page A18

When Argentine customs officials caught a Venezuelan businessman trying to smuggle almost $800,000 in cash into the country last month, they parted him from his loot but allowed him to leave the country. He flew to Uruguay and then to Florida where, as someone who also holds an American passport, he has a home.

The mystery of where the money came from and where it was going has not been solved. But thanks to investigative reporting by the Argentine daily La Nación, we now know that there was good reason for Guido Alejandro Antonini Wilson to think he could just walk off that plane with a bag of money. As it turns out, the Argentine government of President Nestór Kirchner has a policy of allowing Venezuelans tied to the government in Caracas to come and go freely at Buenos Aires' Aeroparque airport, with no scrutiny of their baggage whatsoever.

This revelation has raised serious questions about Argentine sovereignty and about the relationship Mr. Kirchner has established with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. More to the point, Argentines now want to know whether unchecked Venezuelan traffic through the country is what's behind the acceleration of Mr. Chávez's Bolivarian Revolution in Argentina, as it was in Bolivia. They also want to know if the money was destined for the political campaign of Mr. Kirchner's wife, Cristina Fernández Kirchner, who is the Peronist candidate in next month's presidential elections.

The Argentine government appeared happy to get rid of Mr. Antonini in the early morning hours of Aug. 4 when the money was discovered. With him out of the country, it apparently believed the whole thing could be easily swept under the rug. But then a local cable TV station reported the incident. Soon the wider Argentine media picked up the story and the public learned that the Venezuelan bagman had arrived on a charter flight from Caracas with two Argentine government officials and three executives of the Venezuelan state-owned oil company, PdVSA. This sparked a political firestorm for the Kirchners. Now Argentina wants Washington to extradite Mr. Antonini. That process could take up to a year.

In the meantime, the presidential race is heating up and the first couple is claiming to know nothing about what Mr. Antonini was up to. For a while that seemed at least plausible. But as details have emerged about the circumstances at Aeroparque, the government's umbrage at the suggestion that it could have been complicit in the matter is looking downright theatrical.

Mr. Chávez's influence has been rising in Argentina for some years now, in part because Mr. Kirchner has much in common ideologically with the Venezuelan. Like Mr. Chávez, Mr. Kirchner has surrounded himself with former left-wing terrorists and their sympathizers and has made anti-Americanism a central theme in his policy agenda. Mr. Kirchner is also a practical man and after Argentina was branded a deadbeat for its 2001 debt moratorium, the Chávez offer to play international banker and buy up government bonds was an offer he couldn't refuse. Now the Antonini affair has exposed another facet of the Chávez-Kirchner alliance: open access to Argentina for Chávez foot soldiers.

La Nación reported on Aug. 18 that PdVSA flights receive "preferential treatment" when they arrive in Argentina. The planes drop their passengers in the military zone at Aeroparque where they clear Customs and Immigration. But according to the paper, that zone has one special feature that makes it relevant to the suitcase scandal: "there are no scanners to examine baggage."

The plane Mr. Antonini was on, which was hired by the Argentine state-owned energy company Enarsa, seems to have parked at the wrong terminal. That's why he got nabbed. La Nación also reports that sources familiar with airport activity say that in the past few months at least eight PdVSA flights have landed at the military zone in Aeroparque and that at least one PdVSA plane lands there every month. Given what was found on Mr. Antonini it is reasonable to ponder what these flights might be carrying. As La Nación has pointed out, one of the organizers of the anti-American rally in Buenos Aires when George W. Bush went to Uruguay in March admitted that the event was paid for by Venezuela. But how the money got to Argentina is still not known.

Quite apart from money, there is also the question of revolutionary personnel coming and going. Citgo, the Venezuelan gasoline company that operates in the U.S. but has no business in Argentina or Bolivia, has a U.S. registered plane that has landed more than once in Aeroparque. The same plane, in July 2006, was used for an official visit to a presidential summit in Cordoba, Argentina. "But," according to La Nación, "in that moment, it was operating as the transportation for the Cuban delegation." In fact, the paper says "these planes are used for both government and business purposes and it is difficult to know the nationality of the passengers because they fly Venezuelans, Cubans and Bolivians."

The highest ranking Argentine official on Mr. Antonini's flight was Claudio Uberti, the director of highway concessions. La Nación says that Mr. Uberti flew out of Argentina 27 times in the past 12 months and six of those trips were to Venezuela. The paper reports that he went more frequently than that to Venezuela but sometimes flew from Bolivia. When he arrived home on charter flights, he repeatedly used the military zone at Aeroparque. "If that had happened this time, Mr. Antonini wouldn't be famous," writes La Nación reporter Daniel Gallo. For his part, Mr. Antonini reportedly entered Argentina 12 times in the past year.

According to Mr. Gallo, "the PdVSA flights are peculiar in that their passengers, supposedly high-ranking Venezuelan representatives, do not appear on the registers or meeting agendas of Argentine officials, as they should by law. Neither [Planning] Minister Julio De Vido nor Mr. Uberti report meetings with PdVSA that would have required the trips by such visitors."

It may take a good long time to figure out just where Mr. Antonini was going with his stash. Speculation ranges from laundering money to paying a bribe to funding political activity. But in a sense it doesn't really matter. What has been revealed since Aug. 4 is that Mr. Kirchner has sacrificed Argentine national security in order to satisfy Mr. Chávez. That can't be good for the stability of the Southern Cone.

Write to O'
28516  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: September 24, 2007, 01:35:37 PM

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Surveillance Showdown
September 24, 2007

Would any sane country purposefully limit its ability to spy on enemy communications in time of war? That is the question Congress must answer as it takes up reform of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) this week. Privacy activists, civil libertarians and congressional Democrats argue that both foreign and domestic eavesdropping must be subject to judicial scrutiny and oversight, even if this means drastically reducing the amount of foreign intelligence information available to the government, without ever acknowledging the costs involved. It is time the American people had an open and honest debate on the relative importance of privacy and security.

FISA, of course, is the law regulating the government's interception of "electronic communications" for foreign intelligence purposes. Earlier this year the special FISA court narrowed dramatically the National Security Agency's (NSA) ability to collect overseas intelligence under the law, so Congress passed a six-month amendment before its August recess to allow current surveillance programs to continue. That amendment should be made permanent.

When FISA was enacted in 1978, most of this foreign intelligence collection was accomplished by NSA satellites and "listening posts" located outside of the United States. That enabled that agency to acquire, without any judicial involvement, vast quantities of global communications. The fact that foreign targets contacted Americans was of no legal consequence. Even the strongest congressional proponents of FISA's regulation of surveillance activities recognized that intelligence gathering was a key executive function, and the U.S. needed as much foreign intelligence as possible. This bipartisan consensus -- that FISA compliance should not impede foreign intelligence collection -- was all the more notable coming amidst the congressional reaction to Watergate and at a time when the Cold War threats to national security, while formidable, did not require real-time surveillance of numerous nonstate actors.

Today, primarily because of the communications technology revolution, much of the same foreign intelligence information, focused on non-U.S. persons overseas, passes along U.S.-based fiber optics systems. Unfortunately, much of the Democratic congressional leadership says this new world requires more stringent regulation than in the past because of the risk to the privacy of innocent Americans. But this problem is one inherent in all surveillance schemes whether they're overseen by courts or not.

All suspects, whether garden-variety criminals or terrorists, whether surveilled with or without a warrant, invariably contact numerous innocents. Requiring the government to obtain a judicial order for all overseas surveillance whenever an American's communications might be intercepted will not solve this problem.

The government does utilize a series of "minimization" procedures governing how foreign intelligence information is handled to prevent its inappropriate use or disclosure. As explained by CIA Director Michael Hayden in 2006, referring to the post-Sept. 11 terrorist surveillance program before it was subjected to FISA: "if the U.S. person information isn't relevant [without foreign intelligence value], the data is suppressed." The fact that senior U.S. government officials (unlike their counterparts in other countries) do not routinely have access to the unredacted surveillance-generated information about American citizens, and that the system is operated largely by career civil servants, provides an additional layer of privacy protection.

Warrantless surveillance is also constitutional. The Fourth Amendment prohibits only "unreasonable" searches and seizures. Although today's privacy advocates routinely claim that warrantless searches are inherently unreasonable, that position is insupportable. The Supreme Court has repeatedly approved numerous warrantless searches, balancing the government's interests against the relevant privacy expectations. Thus drivers can be subjected to sobriety checkpoints and international travelers are liable to search at the border.

The key in such cases has generally been the presence or absence of a "reasonable expectation of privacy." If there is no reasonable expectation of privacy associated with a particular location or activity, then a warrantless search is not unreasonable. Whether Americans have a reasonable expectation that their international communications -- which may be routed through any number of foreign countries and are routinely subject to capture by foreign intelligence services -- will not be incidentally intercepted by the U.S. government is debatable. But foreign nationals communicating abroad have no reasonable expectation of privacy vis-à-vis the NSA simply because their conversations are electronically transmitted through American switching stations.

On the other side of the scale, of course, is the government's obligation to protect the American people. Because the U.S. faces a dispersed, shadowy, and ideologically committed enemy -- in circumstances where defectors are rare and the CIA's ability to penetrate the hostile networks is extremely limited -- the most proactive electronic surveillance operations are essential. Requiring judicial orders for the collection of foreign intelligence anytime an innocent American's communications may also be intercepted would cripple U.S. intelligence gathering. Obtaining orders against many foreign targets about which comparatively little may be known, including their true identities or the precise modalities of their involvement with jihadist entities, would be impossible.

The privacy advocates claim that surveilling without traditional warrants, albeit still with substantial judicial involvement, "purely" foreign-to-foreign communications is enough. But many of the NSA's most valuable overseas targets routinely contact Americans. Moreover, if the Democratic-leadership authored FISA reform -- which requires judicial involvement once a foreign surveillance target reaches a certain number of communications with the U.S. -- were to pass, every foreign terrorist and spymaster would communicate with the U.S. enough to be enrolled in the warrant-driven surveillance program. As a result, the only people overseas who could still be surveilled warrantlessly would be the ones with the least intelligence value.

The privacy advocates also criticize the NSA's efforts to collect vast quantities of information, claiming that more targeted, individual-specific surveillance is both more privacy-friendly and better protects America's safety. However, unlike the Cold War-era -- when the NSA was focused largely on a few state entities, and had a pretty good idea of who the targets were -- today targeted surveillance alone is not enough. Thousands of individuals participate in various ways in jihadist activities, and even more individuals possess valuable information about them. All of them seek to blend into society, benefiting from the anonymity of modern life and ease of travel and communications. Because their behavior differs in subtle ways from the conduct of law-abiding citizens around them, NSA-led broad surveillance, backed up by various pattern-recognition programs, can identify the right targets.

Indeed, privacy advocates seek to ban the NSA's overseas-focused broad surveillance programs -- and require warrants whenever overseas targets have a number of contacts with the U.S. -- precisely to decrease dramatically the total number of foreigners tracked by the NSA. Their logic is unimpeachable -- the fewer foreign targets are reached by the NSA, the fewer innocent Americans would be caught up in the surveillance net. But this fervent commitment to protecting the privacy of Americans from all intrusions comes at a very high cost; for the first time in history, the U.S. is asked to collect less intelligence about the enemy while prosecuting a war.

Those who want to subject all government surveillance activities to a warrant requirement should honestly acknowledge that this approach would dramatically shrink the stream of foreign intelligence available.

Let's be clear here: Privacy is an important value. American society cannot afford, however, to elevate privacy concerns beyond all other considerations. Being suspicious about governmental power is consistent with our constitutional values -- the Framers certainly were so inclined -- but being paranoid about one's own government is not.

Messrs. Rivkin and Casey served in the U.S. Justice Department under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

28517  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: September 24, 2007, 01:17:56 PM
Its the LA Slimes and the reporter's name appears to be Iranian (we have a lot of Iranians in LA-- many came here when the Shah fell) so read the following interesting piece with that in mind:

Trials tested Muslim's faith in America
Osama Awadallah credits help from Americans, including Jews, for his acquittal on perjury charges tied to his acquaintance with two 9/11 hijackers.
By H.G. Reza, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
September 23, 2007

Managing a furniture store is not what Osama Awadallah had his sights on during college. But selling couches and dressers will do until an offer to develop computer information systems comes along.

His job opportunities are limited, he said, because of the notoriety from his friendship with two 9/11 hijackers. He was one of the hundreds of Muslim men jailed as material witnesses in the 9/11 investigation. After testifying before the grand jury, he was indicted on charges of perjury, and the experience caused him to question the American ideal of equal justice and democracy. At his first trial he was just one juror away from conviction and deportation. But his faith in this country was restored at the second trial when he was found not guilty in 2006.

"When I came to the United States I had these dreams about this beautiful country," Awadallah said in a recent interview. He came in 1999 as a student. "But after 9/11, I thought I was not in America. I was scared. Then I saw the goodness of the American people who believe in justice."

Sporting wire-rim glasses that blend into his round face, Awadallah tenses upon meeting strangers. The bushy beard he wore as a sign of his devotion to Islam has been cropped short, a compromise to help him get a foot in the corporate door.

Jogging and workouts have buffed up the scrawny frame he had when he was arrested in 2001.

Awadallah, 27, said his family elders did not want him to be interviewed for this article. "My family wants people to forget about me. At the same time, I want to make Americans aware of what's going on in their country. I don't think they understand their rights."

He met a reporter at the La Mesa condo of Mimi Pollack, a friend and teacher at Grossmont College in El Cajon, and was more than two hours late. After a tepid apology, he offered a brusque explanation that he is more careful now about whom he talks to because he "stopped trusting people" after his arrest.

Minutes later he began to relax and the furrowed brow was replaced by a warm grin. "Americans are great in their understanding," he said, gesturing toward Pollack.

His friendship with Pollack has endured even though she turned over to the FBI evidence that led to the two perjury counts lodged against him. Still, she believed in his innocence and was his most vocal advocate.

Despite his acquittal, Awadallah said he is still looked at with suspicion.

"There are non-Muslims who still think I had something to do with the attacks and Muslims who think I got my freedom because I'm working for the government. I can't control what people think. All I can do is move on."

Moving on means he wants to become a U.S. citizen, marry and "live like any American." Finding a woman to marry is a milepost in an American journey that for a while was like "a bad movie that turned real," he said.

He reached an important goal last year when he graduated from San Diego State with a business degree. His long-term goal is to become a doctor.

"I want to prove that I can be a good American citizen, but I can't get a job in my field because with a name like Osama, [employers] research me," he said. "They Google my name and get thousands of hits" about his trials and association with Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar, who were among the hijackers who crashed American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon.

He was a casual acquaintance of the two terrorists in 2000. He met them at the mosque in La Mesa and worked for about a month with Alhazmi at a service station. The FBI found his old telephone number in Alhazmi's car, which was parked at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C., and detained him as a material witness on Sept. 21, 2001.

Authorities took him to New York City to testify before a federal grand jury. He was indicted on two counts of perjury because under questioning he said he could not remember Almihdhar's first name, though there was proof he knew it.

Awadallah had written a report about his summer for Pollack's class on English as a second language, and she gave the essay to the FBI. "One of the quietest people I have ever met is Nawaf and Khalid," he had written. He blames the contradiction in his testimony on his poor English and fear and confusion after being kept awake all night by guards.

Defense attorney Randall B. Hamud said Awadallah appeared at his bail hearing before then-federal Judge Michael Mukasey, now President Bush's nominee for attorney general, after being detained as a material witness. Bail was denied, and Hamud said he complained to Mukasey that jailers had beaten Awadallah.

"He looked at Osama and said, 'Your client looks fine to me. You can file a lawsuit if you want to,' " according to Hamud.

U.S. District Judge Shira A. Scheindlin later wrote that "many of Awadallah's allegations about his treatment during the weeks of incarceration are uncontested" and noted that government officials acknowledged he had multiple bruises on his body and a cut on his left hand.


Trials tested Muslim's faith in America
September 23 2007

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Awadallah said his ties to Alhazmi and Almihdhar "will fade with time," and the two hijackers "have been judged by God." The attacks were not sanctioned by Islam, he said, and there is no excuse for killing 3,000 innocent people.

Born in Venezuela, Awadallah is a Jordanian citizen of Palestinian descent. He said his family lost its property when Israel was established in 1948. Pollack described him as an "in-your-face Muslim" who engaged in passionate debates about Islam and Israel's treatment of Palestinians before his arrest.

He was also "very conflicted" about Jews, Hamud said.

Though he still criticizes Israel, Awadallah now discusses the volatile issues of the Middle East in "calmer, rational and mature" discussions, Pollack said.

If walls separate Jews and Muslims in America, they can be breached, Awadallah said.

"In America it is possible for people to work together. My case proves that," he said. "Maybe one day people will work together in Israel and there will be justice for Palestinians."

As is Pollack, many people who helped clear Awadallah were Jewish, including his three New York lawyers, several jurors, and Scheindlin, who presided over the case. She dismissed the charges against Awadallah in a 60-page opinion that said jailing him solely as a material witness was unlawful. An appeals court reinstated the charges.

Awadallah said he saw the irony of Jews' helping him.

"People like [juror] David Lipschultz knew there was justice to be served," he said. Lipschultz, a nurse, was the lone holdout for acquittal at Awadallah's first trial. "Civil rights isn't just something you read about in history," Lipschultz said in an interview.

Awadallah said his unsettling experience also had an upside; it broadened his contact with non-Muslims. Before his arrest, his life revolved mostly around mosque and school, where he kept to himself.

"The best people who treat foreigners well are Americans. So many nice people have helped me with my English, showing me places and going out together," he said. America "is still a home for freedom. I have no thoughts whatsoever that this is not a good country for Muslims."

28518  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East War on: September 24, 2007, 12:22:45 PM
Geopolitical Diary: Iran Fright Month

Newsweek reports in this week's edition that U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney recently was considering asking Israel to launch a missile strike against the Iranian nuclear facility at Natanz. Its purpose would be to provoke an Iranian counter-strike against Israel, which would give the United States an excuse to launch its own airstrikes against Iran. Newsweek cited two unidentified sources as saying that Cheney's former Middle East adviser, David Wurmser, had told this to others a few months ago. Wurmser's wife denied the story.

So we have two unidentified (of course) sources, citing a conversation months ago between an aide and an unnamed group of people, claiming that Cheney was considering asking the Israelis to attack Natanz. Cheney is nothing if not Machiavellian. Still, there are a few unanswered questions in this story. For example, why it would be easier for the United States to attack Iran after it retaliated against a pre-emptive attack from Israel? A lot of people would say that Israel got what it deserved for attacking Iran. Or, if the United States wanted to attack Iran, why not just attack it? In fact, the whole story is wacky, since the last thing that Washington wants to appear to be doing is attacking Iran on behalf of Israel. If the United States is going to attack Iran, it will sit much better with the Saudis, Jordanians and Egyptians if the attack is not done to avenge Israel.

Of course, the point of the story might be that Cheney came up with the idea so that the Israelis would start the war, creating an upswell of pro-Israeli feeling in the United States and forcing President George W. Bush into attacking Iran against his will. Or perhaps Bush and Cheney thought of this together as a way to force the Democrats to demand an attack on Iran, since Bush would never do something Congress disapproved of.

It's quite a story. The mere fact that it doesn't make a lot of sense should not detract from is elegance. Newsweek can't be wrong, because the story doesn't say that Cheney asked the Israelis to attack, only that he was thinking about it. It comes down to what "thinking" about something means. We're sure that Cheney has a lot of strange thoughts. But then so do we -- we just try not to tell them to people since they might tell their friends. Perhaps Cheney just isn't secretive enough.

Our constant amazement at the media aside -- we're much too small to be one of the media -- this piece might be part of Iran Fright Month. The Bush administration has tried very hard to convince Tehran that an air attack against Iran is a very real possibility. The administration has leaked a wide range of stories about a range of options against Iran. The goal of threatening Iran (as opposed to simply attacking Iran) is political -- to get Iran to shift its policies in Iraq. We've heard some indication of senior Iranian officials expressing concern that an attack could come, so it might be having an impact. But thus far, there is no sign of a shift in the Iranian position.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is in New York for the U.N. General Assembly meeting, said in an interview with CBS, "It's wrong to think that Iran and the U.S. are walking toward war. Who says so? Why should we go to war? There is no war in the offing." He also reiterated that Iran does not want a nuclear weapon, pointing out, "If it was useful, it would have prevented the downfall of the Soviet Union. If it was useful, it would have resolved the problem the Americans have in Iraq."

There is actually a kind of logic to that -- but then Iranian presidents visiting New York always appear controlled, reasonable and pleasant. We have consistently taken the view that the Iranians are using the threat of nuclear weapons as a bargaining tool rather than expecting to complete a device, so we tend to believe him. His problem is that we may be the only ones who do. The Bush administration is going out of its way to intimidate Iran, and the United States is not a trivial force. We doubt that this signals a shift in Iran's policy, but at least Ahmadinejad's response makes more sense than Newsweek's story.
28519  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: September 24, 2007, 11:44:56 AM
Although the NY Times is always a source to be read with alertness for distortions, I found the following piece very interesting.

TEHRAN — When Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was first elected president, he said Iran had more important issues to worry about than how women dress. He even called for allowing women into soccer games, a revolutionary idea for revolutionary Iran.

Skip to next paragraph
New York Grudgingly Opens the Door (September 24, 2007)
Times Topics:
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Enlarge This Image
Vahid Salemi/Associated Press
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, surrounded by Iranian officials, reading the Koran Sunday before leaving Tehran.
Today, Iran is experiencing the most severe crackdown on social behavior and dress in years, and women are often barred from smoking in public, let alone attending a stadium event.

Since his inauguration two years ago, Mr. Ahmadinejad has grabbed headlines around the world, and in Iran, for outrageous statements that often have no more likelihood of being put into practice than his plan for women to attend soccer games. He has generated controversy in New York in recent days by asking to visit ground zero — a request that was denied — and his scheduled appearance at Columbia University has drawn protests.

But it is because of his provocative remarks, like denying the Holocaust and calling for Israel to be wiped off the map, that the United States and Europe have never known quite how to handle him. In demonizing Mr. Ahmadinejad, the West has served him well, elevating his status at home and in the region at a time when he is increasingly isolated politically because of his go-it-alone style and ineffective economic policies, according to Iranian politicians, officials and political experts.

Political analysts here say they are surprised at the degree to which the West focuses on their president, saying that it reflects a general misunderstanding of their system.

Unlike in the United States, in Iran the president is not the head of state nor the commander in chief. That status is held by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, whose role combines civil and religious authority. At the moment, this president’s power comes from two sources, they say: the unqualified support of the supreme leader, and the international condemnation he manages to generate when he speaks up.

“The United States pays too much attention to Ahmadinejad,” said an Iranian political scientist who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. “He is not that consequential.”

That is not to say that Mr. Ahmadinejad is insignificant. He controls the mechanics of civil government, much the way a prime minister does in a state like Egypt, where the real power rests with the president. He manages the budget and has put like-minded people in positions around the country, from provincial governors to prosecutors. His base of support is the Basiji militia and elements of the Revolutionary Guards.

But Mr. Ahmadinejad has not shown the same political acumen at home as he has in riling the West. Two of his ministers have quit, criticizing his stewardship of the state. The head of the central bank resigned. The chief judge criticized him for his management of the government. His promise to root out corruption and redistribute oil wealth has run up against entrenched interests.

Even a small bloc of members of Parliament that once aligned with Mr. Ahmadinejad has largely given up, officials said. “Maybe it comes as a surprise to you that I voted for him,” said Emad Afrough, a conservative member of Parliament. “I liked the slogans demanding justice.”

But he added: “You cannot govern the country on a personal basis. You have to use public knowledge and consultation.”

Rather than focusing so much attention on the president, the West needs to learn that in Iran, what matters is ideology — Islamic revolutionary ideology, according to politicians and political analysts here. Nearly 30 years after the shah fell in a popular revolt, Iran’s supreme leader also holds title of guardian of the revolution.

Mr. Ahmadinejad’s power stems not from his office per se, but from the refusal of his patron, Ayatollah Khamenei, and some hard-line leaders, to move beyond Iran’s revolutionary identity, which makes full relations with the West impossible. There are plenty of conservatives and hard-liners who take a more pragmatic view, wanting to retain “revolutionary values” while integrating Iran with the world, at least economically. But they are not driving the agenda these days, and while that could change, it will not be the president who makes that call.

“Iran has never been interested in reaching an accommodation with the United States,” the Iranian political scientist said. “It cannot reach an accommodation as long as it retains the current structure.”

Another important factor restricts Mr. Ahmadinejad’s hand: while ideology defines the state, the revolution has allowed a particular class to grow wealthy and powerful.

When Mr. Ahmadinejad was first elected, it appeared that Iran’s hard-liners had a monopoly on all the levers of power. But today it is clear that Mr. Ahmadinejad is not a hard-liner in the traditional sense. His talk of economic justice and a redistribution of wealth, for example, ran into a wall of existing vested interests, including powerful clergy members and military leaders.

“Ahmadinejad is a phenomenon,” said Mohammad Ali Abtahi, a former vice president under the more moderate administration of Mohammad Khatami. “On a religious level he is much more of a hard-liner than the traditional hard-liners. But on a political level, he does not have the support of the hard-liners.”

In the long run, political analysts here say, a desire to preserve those vested interests will drive Iran’s agenda. That means that the allegiance of the political elite is to the system, not a particular president. If this president were ever perceived as outlasting his usefulness, he would probably take his place in history beside other presidents who failed to change the orientation of the system.

Iranians will go to the polls in less than two years to select a president. There are so many pressures on the electoral system here, few people expect an honest race. The Guardian Council, for example, controlled by hard-liners, must approve all candidates.

But whether Mr. Ahmadinejad wins or loses, there is no sense here in Iran that the outcome will have any impact on the fundamentals of Iran’s relations with the world or the government’s relation to its own society.

“The situation will get worse and worse,” said Saeed Leylaz, an economist and former government official. “We are moving to a point where no internal force can change things.”

28520  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 24, 2007, 11:20:46 AM
“There has been a void in the Republican presidential race. The GOP candidates have spoken about immigration, taxes, social issues, and the war in Iraq. Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, and John McCain have also spoken frequently about Ronald Reagan in order to position themselves as the political heirs to the great president. The candidates, however, have overlooked a central idea that animated Reagan’s view of government. That was federalism, the constitutional principle that the federal government’s responsibilities are ‘few and defined’ as James Madison put it. That’s why I’m pleased that Fred Thompson has thrown his hat into the ring. Thompson has been talking and writing about his belief in federalism. In a recent speech, he argued that ‘centralized government is not the solution to all our problems...[T]his was among the great insights of 1787, and it is just as vital in 2007.’ Thompson rightly argues that the abandonment of federalism has caused a range of pathologies including a lack of government accountability, the squelching of policy diversity between the states, and the overburdening of federal policymakers with local matters when they should be focusing on national-security issues.” —Chris Edwards
28521  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The more things change , , , on: September 24, 2007, 11:17:58 AM
“The mania for giving the Government power to meddle with the private affairs of cities or citizens is likely to cause endless trouble, through the rivalry of schools and creeds that are anxious to obtain official recognition, and there is great danger that our people will lose our independence of thought and action which is the cause of much of our greatness, and sink into the helplessness of the Frenchman or German who expects his government to feed him when hungry, clothe him when naked, to prescribe when his child may be born and when he may die, and, in time, to regulate every act of humanity from the cradle to the tomb, including the manner in which he may seek future admission to paradise.” —Mark Twain
28522  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Dan Rather on: September 24, 2007, 11:14:07 AM
“Dan Rather seems divinely inspired to crash more times than a Kennedy driving home from an office party. The multimillionaire semi-retired newsman is suing [CBS] for $70 million, $1 million for every year he’s been alive since he was 5 years old. Which is fitting, because that’s what he sounds like. The gist of his lawsuit is that CBS used him as a ‘scapegoat’ in the Memogate story to ‘pacify the White House.’ The swelled-headed former anchor, who used to brag incessantly about his toughness and independence, also whines in his suit that the network forced him to apologize under duress when ‘no apology from him was warranted,’ and that the former managing editor of CBS News ‘was not responsible for any such errors.’ Indeed, according to Rather and his lawyers, the only mistakes made were by CBS management, which, in its eagerness to ‘appease angry government officials,’ had the temerity to apologize for passing off fake documents as real ones in a news story intended to sway a presidential election... Frankly, we need this. And by ‘we,’ I mean a grand coalition of people who delight in watching one of the 20th century’s most pompous gasbags fall from the top of the laughingstock tree and hit every branch on the way down. These are dour times, and if Gunga Dan and Hurricane Dan and What’s-The-Frequency-Kenneth Dan want to trade their Afghan robes, yellow windbreakers and enormous tinfoil hats for some baggy pants, bright-orange wigs and floppy shoes, I say let them. I just hope all of the Dans show up at the courthouse in a teensy-weensy clown car.” —Jonah Goldberg

28523  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: September 24, 2007, 11:05:37 AM
I'm hoping for a summary-- who won, who lost, a few descriptive words-- that sort of thing.
28524  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Sayoc kali? on: September 24, 2007, 09:40:28 AM
Travis and Joey a school in Signal Hill (Long Beach area) that teaches Sayoc very well.  I took privates from Travis there for a goodly while.  If that works for you I will locate the contact info.
28525  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Alexander Hamilton on: September 24, 2007, 09:29:30 AM
"The State governments possess inherent advantages, which will
ever give them an influence and ascendancy over the National
Government, and will for ever preclude the possibility of federal
encroachments. That their liberties, indeed, can be subverted
by the federal head, is repugnant to every rule of political

-- Alexander Hamilton (speech to the New York Ratifying Convention,
17 June 1788)

Reference: The Works of Alexander Hamilton, Henry Cabot Lodge,
ed., vol.2 (17)
28526  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Distractions on: September 23, 2007, 10:02:29 PM
Well, it seems quite pertinent to me smiley

Any stories you can share here?
28527  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: September 23, 2007, 10:00:56 PM
What happened last night in the UFC?
28528  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: September 23, 2007, 02:35:07 PM
Yoni the Blogger is on right now!

Worth making note of this resource.
28529  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers: on: September 23, 2007, 02:26:36 PM

The Crisis Number I
by Thomas Paine
 Founding Documents > The Crisis Papers > 


THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated. Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to tax) but "to bind us in all cases whatsoever," and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth. Even the expression is impious; for so unlimited a power can belong only to God.
Whether the independence of the continent was declared too soon, or delayed too long, I will not now enter into as an argument; my own simple opinion is, that had it been eight months earlier, it would have been much better. We did not make a proper use of last winter, neither could we, while we were in a dependent state. However, the fault, if it were one, was all our own*; we have none to blame but ourselves. But no great deal is lost yet. All that Howe has been doing for this month past, is rather a ravage than a conquest, which the spirit of the Jerseys, a year ago, would have quickly repulsed, and which time and a little resolution will soon recover.

* The present winter is worth an age, if rightly employed; but, if lost or neglected, the whole continent will partake of the evil; and there is no punishment that man does not deserve, be he who, or what, or where he will, that may be the means of sacrificing a season so precious and useful.
I have as little superstition in me as any man living, but my secret opinion has ever been, and still is, that God Almighty will not give up a people to military destruction, or leave them unsupportedly to perish, who have so earnestly and so repeatedly sought to avoid the calamities of war, by every decent method which wisdom could invent. Neither have I so much of the infidel in me, as to suppose that He has relinquished the government of the world, and given us up to the care of devils; and as I do not, I cannot see on what grounds the king of Britain can look up to heaven for help against us: a common murderer, a highwayman, or a house-breaker, has as good a pretence as he.
'Tis surprising to see how rapidly a panic will sometimes run through a country. All nations and ages have been subject to them. Britain has trembled like an ague at the report of a French fleet of flat-bottomed boats; and in the fourteenth [fifteenth] century the whole English army, after ravaging the kingdom of France, was driven back like men petrified with fear; and this brave exploit was performed by a few broken forces collected and headed by a woman, Joan of Arc. Would that heaven might inspire some Jersey maid to spirit up her countrymen, and save her fair fellow sufferers from ravage and ravishment! Yet panics, in some cases, have their uses; they produce as much good as hurt. Their duration is always short; the mind soon grows through them, and acquires a firmer habit than before. But their peculiar advantage is, that they are the touchstones of sincerity and hypocrisy, and bring things and men to light, which might otherwise have lain forever undiscovered. In fact, they have the same effect on secret traitors, which an imaginary apparition would have upon a private murderer. They sift out the hidden thoughts of man, and hold them up in public to the world. Many a disguised Tory has lately shown his head, that shall penitentially solemnize with curses the day on which Howe arrived upon the Delaware.

As I was with the troops at Fort Lee, and marched with them to the edge of Pennsylvania, I am well acquainted with many circumstances, which those who live at a distance know but little or nothing of. Our situation there was exceedingly cramped, the place being a narrow neck of land between the North River and the Hackensack. Our force was inconsiderable, being not one-fourth so great as Howe could bring against us. We had no army at hand to have relieved the garrison, had we shut ourselves up and stood on our defence. Our ammunition, light artillery, and the best part of our stores, had been removed, on the apprehension that Howe would endeavor to penetrate the Jerseys, in which case Fort Lee could be of no use to us; for it must occur to every thinking man, whether in the army or not, that these kind of field forts are only for temporary purposes, and last in use no longer than the enemy directs his force against the particular object which such forts are raised to defend. Such was our situation and condition at Fort Lee on the morning of the 20th of November, when an officer arrived with information that the enemy with 200 boats had landed about seven miles above; Major General [Nathaniel] Green, who commanded the garrison, immediately ordered them under arms, and sent express to General Washington at the town of Hackensack, distant by the way of the ferry = six miles. Our first object was to secure the bridge over the Hackensack, which laid up the river between the enemy and us, about six miles from us, and three from them. General Washington arrived in about three-quarters of an hour, and marched at the head of the troops towards the bridge, which place I expected we should have a brush for; however, they did not choose to dispute it with us, and the greatest part of our troops went over the bridge, the rest over the ferry, except some which passed at a mill on a small creek, between the bridge and the ferry, and made their way through some marshy grounds up to the town of Hackensack, and there passed the river. We brought off as much baggage as the wagons could contain, the rest was lost. The simple object was to bring off the garrison, and march them on till they could be strengthened by the Jersey or Pennsylvania militia, so as to be enabled to make a stand. We staid four days at Newark, collected our out-posts with some of the Jersey militia, and marched out twice to meet the enemy, on being informed that they were advancing, though our numbers were greatly inferior to theirs. Howe, in my little opinion, committed a great error in generalship in not throwing a body of forces off from Staten Island through Amboy, by which means he might have seized all our stores at Brunswick, and intercepted our march into Pennsylvania; but if we believe the power of hell to be limited, we must likewise believe that their agents are under some providential control.

I shall not now attempt to give all the particulars of our retreat to the Delaware; suffice it for the present to say, that both officers and men, though greatly harassed and fatigued, frequently without rest, covering, or provision, the inevitable consequences of a long retreat, bore it with a manly and martial spirit. All their wishes were one, which was, that the country would turn out and help them to drive the enemy back. Voltaire has remarked that King William never appeared to full advantage but in difficulties and in action; the same remark may be made on General Washington, for the character fits him. There is a natural firmness in some minds which cannot be unlocked by trifles, but which, when unlocked, discovers a cabinet of fortitude; and I reckon it among those kind of public blessings, which we do not immediately see, that God hath blessed him with uninterrupted health, and given him a mind that can even flourish upon care.

I shall conclude this paper with some miscellaneous remarks on the state of our affairs; and shall begin with asking the following question, Why is it that the enemy have left the New England provinces, and made these middle ones the seat of war? The answer is easy: New England is not infested with Tories, and we are. I have been tender in raising the cry against these men, and used numberless arguments to show them their danger, but it will not do to sacrifice a world either to their folly or their baseness. The period is now arrived, in which either they or we must change our sentiments, or one or both must fall. And what is a Tory? Good God! what is he? I should not be afraid to go with a hundred Whigs against a thousand Tories, were they to attempt to get into arms. Every Tory is a coward; for servile, slavish, self-interested fear is the foundation of Toryism; and a man under such influence, though he may be cruel, never can be brave.

BUT, before the line of irrecoverable separation be drawn between us, let us reason the matter together: Your conduct is an invitation to the enemy, yet not one in a thousand of you has heart enough to join him. Howe is as much deceived by you as the American cause is injured by you. He expects you will all take up arms, and flock to his standard, with muskets on your shoulders. Your opinions are of no use to him, unless you support him personally, for 'tis soldiers, and not Tories, that he wants.

I once felt all that kind of anger, which a man ought to feel, against the mean principles that are held by the Tories: a noted one, who kept a tavern at Amboy, was standing at his door, with as pretty a child in his hand, about eight or nine years old, as I ever saw, and after speaking his mind as freely as he thought was prudent, finished with this unfatherly expression, "Well! give me peace in my day." Not a man lives on the continent but fully believes that a separation must some time or other finally take place, and a generous parent should have said, "If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace;" and this single reflection, well applied, is sufficient to awaken every man to duty. Not a place upon earth might be so happy as America. Her situation is remote from all the wrangling world, and she has nothing to do but to trade with them. A man can distinguish himself between temper and principle, and I am as confident, as I am that God governs the world, that America will never be happy till she gets clear of foreign dominion. Wars, without ceasing, will break out till that period arrives, and the continent must in the end be conqueror; for though the flame of liberty may sometimes cease to shine, the coal can never expire.

AMERICA did not, nor does not want force; but she wanted a proper application of that force. Wisdom is not the purchase of a day, and it is no wonder that we should err at the first setting off. From an excess of tenderness, we were unwilling to raise an army, and trusted our cause to the temporary defence of a well-meaning militia. A summer's experience has now taught us better; yet with those troops, while they were collected, we were able to set bounds to the progress of the enemy, and, thank God! they are again assembling. I always considered militia as the best troops in the world for a sudden exertion, but they will not do for a long campaign. Howe, it is probable, will make an attempt on this city [Philadelphia]; should he fail on this side the Delaware, he is ruined. If he succeeds, our cause is not ruined. He stakes all on his side against a part on ours; admitting he succeeds, the consequence will be, that armies from both ends of the continent will march to assist their suffering friends in the middle states; for he cannot go everywhere, it is impossible. I consider Howe as the greatest enemy the Tories have; he is bringing a war into their country, which, had it not been for him and partly for themselves, they had been clear of. Should he now be expelled, I wish with all the devotion of a Christian, that the names of Whig and Tory may never more be mentioned; but should the Tories give him encouragement to come, or assistance if he come, I as sincerely wish that our next year's arms may expel them from the continent, and the Congress appropriate their possessions to the relief of those who have suffered in well-doing. A single successful battle next year will settle the whole. America could carry on a two years' war by the confiscation of the property of disaffected persons, and be made happy by their expulsion. Say not that this is revenge, call it rather the soft resentment of a suffering people, who, having no object in view but the good of all, have staked their own all upon a seemingly doubtful event. Yet it is folly to argue against determined hardness; eloquence may strike the ear, and the language of sorrow draw forth the tear of compassion, but nothing can reach the heart that is steeled with prejudice.

QUITTING this class of men, I turn with the warm ardor of a friend to those who have nobly stood, and are yet determined to stand the matter out: I call not upon a few, but upon all: not on this state or that state, but on every state: up and help us; lay your shoulders to the wheel; better have too much force than too little, when so great an object is at stake. Let it be told to the future world, that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive, that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet and to repulse it. Say not that thousands are gone, turn out your tens of thousands; throw not the burden of the day upon Providence, but "show your faith by your works," that God may bless you. It matters not where you live, or what rank of life you hold, the evil or the blessing will reach you all. The far and the near, the home counties and the back, the rich and the poor, will suffer or rejoice alike. The heart that feels not now is dead; the blood of his children will curse his cowardice, who shrinks back at a time when a little might have saved the whole, and made them happy. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death. My own line of reasoning is to myself as straight and clear as a ray of light. Not all the treasures of the world, so far as I believe, could have induced me to support an offensive war, for I think it murder; but if a thief breaks into my house, burns and destroys my property, and kills or threatens to kill me, or those that are in it, and to "bind me in all cases whatsoever" to his absolute will, am I to suffer it? What signifies it to me, whether he who does it is a king or a common man; my countryman or not my countryman; whether it be done by an individual villain, or an army of them? If we reason to the root of things we shall find no difference; neither can any just cause be assigned why we should punish in the one case and pardon in the other. Let them call me rebel and welcome, I feel no concern from it; but I should suffer the misery of devils, were I to make a whore of my soul by swearing allegiance to one whose character is that of a sottish, stupid, stubborn, worthless, brutish man. I conceive likewise a horrid idea in receiving mercy from a being, who at the last day shall be shrieking to the rocks and mountains to cover him, and fleeing with terror from the orphan, the widow, and the slain of America.

THERE are cases which cannot be overdone by language, and this is one. There are persons, too, who see not the full extent of the evil which threatens them; they solace themselves with hopes that the enemy, if he succeed, will be merciful. It is the madness of folly, to expect mercy from those who have refused to do justice; and even mercy, where conquest is the object, is only a trick of war; the cunning of the fox is as murderous as the violence of the wolf, and we ought to guard equally against both. Howe's first object is, partly by threats and partly by promises, to terrify or seduce the people to deliver up their arms and receive mercy. The ministry recommended the same plan to Gage, and this is what the tories call making their peace, "a peace which passeth all understanding" indeed! A peace which would be the immediate forerunner of a worse ruin than any we have yet thought of. Ye men of Pennsylvania, do reason upon these things! Were the back counties to give up their arms, they would fall an easy prey to the Indians, who are all armed: this perhaps is what some Tories would not be sorry for. Were the home counties to deliver up their arms, they would be exposed to the resentment of the back counties who would then have it in their power to chastise their defection at pleasure. And were any one state to give up its arms, that state must be garrisoned by all Howe's army of Britons and Hessians to preserve it from the anger of the rest. Mutual fear is the principal link in the chain of mutual love, and woe be to that state that breaks the compact. Howe is mercifully inviting you to barbarous destruction, and men must be either rogues or fools that will not see it. I dwell not upon the vapors of imagination; I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as A, B, C, hold up truth to your eyes.

I thank God, that I fear not. I see no real cause for fear. I know our situation well, and can see the way out of it. While our army was collected, Howe dared not risk a battle; and it is no credit to him that he decamped from the White Plains, and waited a mean opportunity to ravage the defenceless Jerseys; but it is great credit to us, that, with a handful of men, we sustained an orderly retreat for near an hundred miles, brought off our ammunition, all our field pieces, the greatest part of our stores, and had four rivers to pass. None can say that our retreat was precipitate, for we were near three weeks in performing it, that the country might have time to come in. Twice we marched back to meet the enemy, and remained out till dark. The sign of fear was not seen in our camp, and had not some of the cowardly and disaffected inhabitants spread false alarms through the country, the Jerseys had never been ravaged. Once more we are again collected and collecting; our new army at both ends of the continent is recruiting fast, and we shall be able to open the next campaign with sixty thousand men, well armed and clothed. This is our situation, and who will may know it. By perseverance and fortitude we have the prospect of a glorious issue; by cowardice and submission, the sad choice of a variety of evils- a ravaged country- a depopulated city- habitations without safety, and slavery without hope- our homes turned into barracks and bawdy-houses for Hessians, and a future race to provide for, whose fathers we shall doubt of. Look on this picture and weep over it! and if there yet remains one thoughtless wretch who believes it not, let him suffer it unlamented.


Philadelphia, December 19, 1776.

28530  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: September 23, 2007, 02:13:13 PM
How Many U.S. Muslims?

by Daniel Pipes
New York Post
October 29, 2001
French version of this item
Italian version of this item
Spanish version of this item
How many Muslims live in the United States?
Until now, basically, no one has had any idea. By law, the U.S. Census cannot ask questions about religion. There are also plenty of other difficulties in coming up with a number, starting with the problem of defining who is a Muslim: Does one include non-standard believers like Louis Farrakhan and the Druze?
Uncertainty has generated some wildly divergent numbers. A large 1990 demographic survey counted 1.3 million Muslims. In 1998, a Pakistani newspaper put the number at 12 million. Even the usually authoritative Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches found 527,000 American Muslims in 1996 and six times as many (3.3 million) in 1998.
Needing some kind of consensus figure, Muslim organizations came up with a self-acknowledged "guestimation" of 6 million, which this year they decided to raise to 7 million.
These numbers were so widely adopted (even by this writer) that they acquired a sheen of authority. But repetition does not transform a guess into a fact.
The trouble is a generic one; religious organizations commonly inflate their membership to enhance their voice in the public square.
Fortunately, the smog of imprecision finally lifted last week, with the appearance of two authoritative studies by highly regarded demographers. (Each study relied on respondents' religious self-identification.) Interestingly, they agreed on a very similar number, one much smaller than the old guestimate.
The American Religious Identification Survey 2001 carried out by the Graduate Center of the City University of New York polled more than 50,000 people and found the total American Muslim population to be 1.8 million.
Meanwhile, the University of Chicago's Tom Smith reviewed prior national surveys and (in a study sponsored by the American Jewish Committee) found that the best estimate puts the Muslim population in 2000 at 1,886,000. (With a nod toward figures supplied by Islamic organizations, he allowed that this number could be as high as 2,814,000 Muslims.)
In other words, two authoritative studies carried out by scholars found that American Muslims number under 2 million - less than a third of the hitherto-consensus number.
To this, the militant Islamic groups in Washington - widely but erroneously seen as representative of American Muslims - responded with predictable hyperbole. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) furiously accused Smith's report of working "to block Muslim political participation."
The American Muslim Council (AMC) charged Smith with nothing less than trying to "deny the existence of 4 1/2 million American Muslims" and blamed him for "tearing at the very heart of America."
The AMC also amusingly claimed that its own estimate of "more than 7 million" Muslims came from the 2000 Census figures - erroneously thinking that the Census asks about religion.
Oh, and that's the same AMC which in 1992 pressured a researcher named Fareed Nu'man to find 6 million Muslims in the country; Nu'man later testified that he counted just 3 million and was fired by the AMC when he refused to inflate his number above 5 million.
Why does the militant Islamic lobby insist on the 6-7 million figures? Because a larger number, even if phony, offers it enhanced access and clout. Convincing the Republican Party that Muslims number 8 million, for example, led to urgent calls from its chairman for "meeting with [Muslim] leaders," something which becomes less of a priority when the Muslim population turns out to be much smaller.
Knowing the real number of Muslims will, most immediately, likely impede two militant Islamic efforts now underway: one (pushed by The Minaret magazine) to get Americans to acknowledge that their own misdeeds partially caused the atrocities of Sept. 11; and another (led by CAIR) to halt the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan. The longer-range implications will be yet more significant.
Those who beat their swords into plowshares usually end up plowing for those who kept their swords.--Ben Franklin
28531  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action on: September 23, 2007, 06:04:10 AM
Dear Members of the Community,

This week, our nation marked the sixth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. 

Each of us, in some way, was affected by the events of that day.  Perhaps your work-up schedule was accelerated to deploy to the Afghani theatre.  Maybe the fireman at the end of your street was a first responder at the World Trade Center, Pentagon, or in the field in Pennsylvania. 

Too many of us knew people who lost loved ones in the attack.  A few of us even lost friends and family members of our own.

September 11, 2001 was a day of great sacrifice for Americans.  No group has better understood that, nor has acted in such a manner as to make that sacrifice a more meaningful page in our nation’s history, than the United States Navy SEALs. 

The SEALs have taken the fight to the enemy with extraordinary result.  But their success has not been without cost.  More SEALs have made the ultimate sacrifice in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom than in any other conflict since Vietnam. 

Please join me in honoring the memories of Naval Special Warfare’s fallen heroes in the Global War on Terror.

Neil C. Roberts
 5 March 2002
Matthew J. Bourgeois
 27 March 2002
Thomas E. Retzer
 26 June 2003
David M. Tapper
 20 August 2003
Brian J. Oullette
 29 May 2004
Matthew G. Axelson
 28 June 2005
Danny P. Dietz
 28 June 2005
Michael P. Murphy
 28 June 2005
Jacques J. Fontan
 28 June 2005
Daniel R. Healy
 28 June 2005
Erik S. Kristensen
 28 June 2005
Jeffrey A. Lucas
 28 June 2005
Michael M. McGreevy, Jr.
 28 June 2005
Shane E. Patton
 28 June 2005
James Suh
 28 June 2005
Jeffrey S. Taylor
 28 June 2005
Marc A. Lee
 2 August 2006
Michael A. Monsoor
 29 September 2006
Joseph C. Schwedler
 6 April 2007

Keep their families in your thoughts.  And let their examples of selflessness and sacrifice be an inspiration in your own lives.

Kind regards,

Mark Divine
Founder and CEO
BUD/S 170

28532  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: September 23, 2007, 05:59:32 AM
Rapeseed biofuel produces more greenhouse gas than oil or petrol?
Lewis Smith, Environment Reporter
A renewable energy source designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is contributing more to global warming than fossil fuels, a study suggests.

Measurements of emissions from the burning of biofuels derived from rapeseed and maize have been found to produce more greenhouse gas emissions than they save.

Other biofuels, especially those likely to see greater use over the next decade, performed better than fossil fuels but the study raises serious questions about some of the most commonly produced varieties.

Rapeseed and maize biodiesels were calculated to produce up to 70 per cent and 50 per cent more greenhouse gases respectively than fossil fuels. The concerns were raised over the levels of emissions of nitrous oxide, which is 296 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Scientists found that the use of biofuels released twice as much as nitrous oxide as previously realised. The research team found that 3 to 5 per cent of the nitrogen in fertiliser was converted and emitted. In contrast, the figure used by the International Panel on Climate Change, which assesses the extent and impact of man-made global warming, was 2 per cent. The findings illustrated the importance, the researchers said, of ensuring that measures designed to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions are assessed thoroughly before being hailed as a solution.

"One wants rational decisions rather than simply jumping on the bandwagon because superficially something appears to reduce emissions," said Keith Smith, a professor at the University of Edinburgh and one of the researchers.

Maize for ethanol is the prime crop for biofuel in the US where production for the industry has recently overtaken the use of the plant as a food. In Europe the main crop is rapeseed, which accounts for 80 per cent of biofuel production.

Professor Smith told Chemistry World: "The significance of it is that the supposed benefits of biofuels are even more disputable than had been thought hitherto."

It was accepted by the scientists that other factors, such as the use of fossil fuels to produce fertiliser, have yet to be fully analysed for their impact on overall figures. But they concluded that the biofuels "can contribute as much or more to global warming by N2 O emissions than cooling by fossil-fuel savings".

The research is published in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, where it has been placed for open review. The research team was formed of scientists from Britain, the US and Germany, and included Professor Paul Crutzen, who won a Nobel Prize for his work on ozone.

Dr Franz Conen, of the University of Basel in Switzerland, described the study as an "astounding insight".

"It is to be hoped that those taking decisions on subsidies and regulations will in future take N2O emissions into account and promote some forms of biofuel production while quickly abandoning others," he told the journal?s discussion board.

Dr Dave Reay, of the University of Edinburgh, used the findings to calculate that with the US Senate aiming to increase maize ethanol production sevenfold by 2022, greenhouse gas emissions from transport will rise by 6 per cent.

28533  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Race, religion, ethnic origin on: September 23, 2007, 05:52:53 AM

NY Times
The Day Louis Armstrong Made Noise
Published: September 23, 2007

FIFTY years ago this week, all eyes were on Little Rock, Ark., where nine black students were trying, for the first time, to desegregate a major Southern high school. With fewer than 150 blacks, the town of Grand Forks, N.D., hardly figured to be a key front in that battle — until, that is, Larry Lubenow talked to Louis Armstrong.

On the night of Sept. 17, 1957, two weeks after the Little Rock Nine were first barred from Central High School, the jazz trumpeter happened to be on tour with his All Stars band in Grand Forks. Larry Lubenow, meanwhile, was a 21-year-old journalism student and jazz fan at the University of North Dakota, moonlighting for $1.75 an hour at The Grand Forks Herald.

Shortly before Mr. Armstrong’s concert, Mr. Lubenow’s editor sent him to the Dakota Hotel, where Mr. Armstrong was staying, to see if he could land an interview. Perhaps sensing trouble — Mr. Lubenow was, he now says, a “rabble-rouser and liberal” — his boss laid out the ground rules: “No politics,” he ordered. That hardly seemed necessary, for Mr. Armstrong rarely ventured into such things anyway. “I don’t get involved in politics,” he once said. “I just blow my horn.”

But Mr. Lubenow was thinking about other things, race relations among them. The bell captain, with whom he was friendly, had told him that Mr. Armstrong was quietly making history in Grand Forks, as he had done innumerable times and ways before, by becoming the first black man ever to stay at what was then the best hotel in town. Mr. Lubenow knew, too, that Grand Forks had its own link to Little Rock: it was the hometown of Judge Ronald Davies, who’d just ordered that the desegregation plan in Little Rock proceed after Gov. Orval Faubus of Arkansas and a band of local segregationists tried to block it.

As Mr. Armstrong prepared to play that night — oddly enough, at Grand Forks’s own Central High School — members of the Arkansas National Guard ringed the school in Little Rock, ordered to keep the black students out. President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s meeting with Governor Faubus three days earlier in Newport, R.I., had ended inconclusively. Central High School was open, but the black children stayed home.

Mr. Lubenow was first told he couldn’t talk to Mr. Armstrong until after the concert. That wouldn’t do. With the connivance of the bell captain, he snuck into Mr. Armstrong’s suite with a room service lobster dinner. And Mr. Armstrong, wearing a Hawaiian shirt and shorts, agreed to talk. Mr. Lubenow stuck initially to his editor’s script, asking Mr. Armstrong to name his favorite musician. (Bing Crosby, it turned out.) But soon he brought up Little Rock, and he could not believe what he heard. “It’s getting almost so bad a colored man hasn’t got any country,” a furious Mr. Armstrong told him. President Eisenhower, he charged, was “two faced,” and had “no guts.” For Governor Faubus, he used a double-barreled hyphenated expletive, utterly unfit for print. The two settled on something safer: “uneducated plow boy.” The euphemism, Mr. Lubenow says, was far more his than Mr. Armstrong’s.

Mr. Armstrong bitterly recounted some of his experiences touring in the Jim Crow South. He then sang the opening bar of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” inserting obscenities into the lyrics and prompting Velma Middleton, the vocalist who toured with Mr. Armstrong and who had joined them in the room, to hush him up.

Mr. Armstrong had been contemplating a good-will tour to the Soviet Union for the State Department. “They ain’t so cold but what we couldn’t bruise them with happy music,” he had said. Now, though, he confessed to having second thoughts. “The way they are treating my people in the South, the government can go to hell,” he said, offering further choice words about the secretary of state, John Foster Dulles. “The people over there ask me what’s wrong with my country. What am I supposed to say?”

Mr. Lubenow, who came from a small North Dakota farming community, was shocked by what he heard, but he also knew he had a story; he skipped the concert and went back to the paper to write it up. It was too late to get it in his own paper; nor would the Associated Press editor in Minneapolis, dubious that Mr. Armstrong could have said such things, put it on the national wire, at least until Mr. Lubenow could prove he hadn’t made it all up. So the next morning Mr. Lubenow returned to the Dakota Hotel and, as Mr. Armstrong shaved, had the Herald photographer take their picture together. Then Mr. Lubenow showed Mr. Armstrong what he’d written. “Don’t take nothing out of that story,” Mr. Armstrong declared. “That’s just what I said, and still say.” He then wrote “solid” on the bottom of the yellow copy paper, and signed his name.
Page 2 of 2)

The article ran all over the country. Douglas Edwards and John Cameron Swayze broadcast it on the evening news. The Russians, an anonymous government spokesman warned, would relish everything Mr. Armstrong had said. A radio station in Hattiesburg, Miss., threw out all of Mr. Armstrong’s records. Sammy Davis Jr. criticized Mr. Armstrong for not speaking out earlier. But Jackie Robinson, Sugar Ray Robinson, Lena Horne, Eartha Kitt and Marian Anderson quickly backed him up.

Mostly, there was surprise, especially among blacks. Secretary Dulles might just as well have stood up at the United Nations and led a chorus of the Russian national anthem, declared Jet magazine, which once called Mr. Armstrong an “Uncle Tom.” Mr. Armstrong had long tried to convince people throughout the world that “the Negro’s lot in America is a happy one,” it observed, but in one bold stroke he’d pulled nearly 15 million American blacks to his bosom. Any white confused by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s polite talk need only listen to Mr. Armstrong, The Amsterdam News declared. Mr. Armstrong’s words had the “explosive effect of an H-bomb,” said The Chicago Defender. “He may not have been grammatical, but he was eloquent.”

His road manager quickly put out that Mr. Armstrong had been tricked, and regretted his statements, but Mr. Armstrong would have none of that. “I said what somebody should have said a long time ago,” he said the following day in Montevideo, Minn., where he gave his next concert. He closed that show with “The Star-Spangled Banner” — this time, minus the obscenities.

Mr. Armstrong was to pay a price for his outspokenness. There were calls for boycotts of his concerts. The Ford Motor Company threatened to pull out of a Bing Crosby special on which Mr. Armstrong was to appear. Van Cliburn’s manager refused to let him perform a duet with Mr. Armstrong on Steve Allen’s talk show.

But it didn’t really matter. On Sept. 24, President Eisenhower sent 1,200 paratroopers from the 101st Airborne into Little Rock, and the next day soldiers escorted the nine students into Central High School. Mr. Armstrong exulted. “If you decide to walk into the schools with the little colored kids, take me along, Daddy,” he wired the president. “God bless you.” As for Mr. Lubenow, who now works in public relations in Cedar Park, Tex., he got $3.50 for writing the story and, perhaps, for changing history. But his editor was miffed — he’d gotten into politics, after all. Within a week, he left the paper.
Page 2 of 2)

The article ran all over the country. Douglas Edwards and John Cameron Swayze broadcast it on the evening news. The Russians, an anonymous government spokesman warned, would relish everything Mr. Armstrong had said. A radio station in Hattiesburg, Miss., threw out all of Mr. Armstrong’s records. Sammy Davis Jr. criticized Mr. Armstrong for not speaking out earlier. But Jackie Robinson, Sugar Ray Robinson, Lena Horne, Eartha Kitt and Marian Anderson quickly backed him up.

Mostly, there was surprise, especially among blacks. Secretary Dulles might just as well have stood up at the United Nations and led a chorus of the Russian national anthem, declared Jet magazine, which once called Mr. Armstrong an “Uncle Tom.” Mr. Armstrong had long tried to convince people throughout the world that “the Negro’s lot in America is a happy one,” it observed, but in one bold stroke he’d pulled nearly 15 million American blacks to his bosom. Any white confused by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s polite talk need only listen to Mr. Armstrong, The Amsterdam News declared. Mr. Armstrong’s words had the “explosive effect of an H-bomb,” said The Chicago Defender. “He may not have been grammatical, but he was eloquent.”

His road manager quickly put out that Mr. Armstrong had been tricked, and regretted his statements, but Mr. Armstrong would have none of that. “I said what somebody should have said a long time ago,” he said the following day in Montevideo, Minn., where he gave his next concert. He closed that show with “The Star-Spangled Banner” — this time, minus the obscenities.

Mr. Armstrong was to pay a price for his outspokenness. There were calls for boycotts of his concerts. The Ford Motor Company threatened to pull out of a Bing Crosby special on which Mr. Armstrong was to appear. Van Cliburn’s manager refused to let him perform a duet with Mr. Armstrong on Steve Allen’s talk show.

But it didn’t really matter. On Sept. 24, President Eisenhower sent 1,200 paratroopers from the 101st Airborne into Little Rock, and the next day soldiers escorted the nine students into Central High School. Mr. Armstrong exulted. “If you decide to walk into the schools with the little colored kids, take me along, Daddy,” he wired the president. “God bless you.” As for Mr. Lubenow, who now works in public relations in Cedar Park, Tex., he got $3.50 for writing the story and, perhaps, for changing history. But his editor was miffed — he’d gotten into politics, after all. Within a week, he left the paper.

28534  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: September 22, 2007, 09:00:30 PM
Uzi Mahnaimi and Sarah Baxter

Israeli commandos seized nuclear material of North Korean origin during a daring raid on a secret military site in Syria before Israel bombed it this month, according to informed sources in Washington and Jerusalem.

The attack was launched with American approval on September 6 after Washington was shown evidence the material was nuclear related, the well-placed sources say.

They confirmed that samples taken from Syria for testing had been identified as North Korean. This raised fears that Syria might have joined North Korea and Iran in seeking to acquire nuclear weapons.

Israeli special forces had been gathering intelligence for several months in Syria, according to Israeli sources. They located the nuclear material at a compound near Dayr az-Zwar in the north.

Evidence that North Korean personnel were at the site is said to have been shared with President George W Bush over the summer. A senior American source said the administration sought proof of nuclear-related activities before giving the attack its blessing.

Diplomats in North Korea and China believe a number of North Koreans were killed in the strike, based on reports reaching Asian governments about conversations between Chinese and North Korean officials.

Syrian officials flew to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, last week, reinforcing the view that the two nations were coordinating their response.
Source TimesOnline /Drudge
28535  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Distractions on: September 22, 2007, 01:10:19 PM
Although aimed at LEOs, the following seems to me to be relevant to all of us:

I. Have you tried these distractions?

Force Science News #81
September 21, 2007

Have you tried these distractions?

In a recent report on the value of using distractions to defuse potentially violent confrontations, we invited officers to submit some of their favorite ploys for diverting dicey suspects from thoughts of attacking.

Here's a sampling of responses we received, along with a trainer's observations on the need for more emphasis on communications skill instruction.

Our original article, "Distractions and aggressive subjects," was transmitted 8/24/07 [Read it now].

Let's see; there's Grumpy, Dopey, Tipsy... No, wait....

One of the tricks my team uses with volatile drunks involves a little humor. We tell them if they can name the 7 dwarfs before we get them back to the station, we'll let them go. They're usually occupied throughout the journey and are still trying to name all 7 while being booked in. Some of the regulars have even gotten used to the challenge and start naming the dwarfs as soon as we confront them.

Insp. Gerry Kiernan
Hampshire Police
United Kingdom

"I saw his demeanor change to a calm, how-can-I-help look"

I was working a high-crime housing project area, looking for a known gang member who had earlier fled from a vehicle stop involving a stolen auto. I located him as he walked down a sidewalk, but I knew he would flee if I bailed out of my patrol car and tried to rush him.

I parked across the street at a location he was walking toward. He was obviously nervous as I leisurely exited my car. I said, "Sir, have you seen a little 4-year-old boy? He's missing and we're trying to find him."

He looked at me a bit puzzled. I began to describe this imaginary child as I walked toward him, and I saw his demeanor change from a nervous fleeing look to a calm, how-can-I-help look. He walked with me to my patrol car while we discussed the "missing person."

I then transitioned into discussing the stolen vehicle. He became very compliant and cooperative and now wanted to help us find the car thief. After I checked him for weapons, he voluntarily went back to the stolen vehicle with me to help with the investigation. He was subsequently booked for auto theft and miscellaneous other charges without resistance.

Ofcr. Paul Willett
California Highway Patrol

Sniff, sniff

My partner and I would often pretend to smell smoke in the house while on domestics and other calls to private residences when the subjects were not paying attention to us. We'd both start walking around sniffing and asking loudly, "Do you smell smoke?" More often than not, the occupants would stop what they were doing and start sniffing. We could then gain their attention and deal with the situation calmly.

Brian Carter (ret.)
Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Deflecting Rage by Creating a Void Where It's Aimed

As I was booking a drunk for domestic violence, he started to swear and insult me, his voice becoming louder and louder. His hands, on the counter, clenched into fists. He said loudly, "Your mom musta been a real whore to raise a bastard like you."

Keeping a bladed stance and my hands up, I said, "Oh, you know my mom? She works the downtown area. They call her Gummy Bear 'cause she's got no teeth."

He looked at me with red, watery eyes and burst out laughing. The rest of the process went smoothly.

I used a common judo principle, "pull when pushed." I had every right to throw him into a separation cell, but by not responding, by creating a 'void' where he aimed his rage, his emotionality had nothing to fight against. And since his 'problem' was a woman, my statement had an element of, not agreement, but empathy.

An emotional action needs a calculated response, before a rational discussion can be attempted.

Dpty. Paul McRedmond
Multnomah County (OR) S.O.

"An inexpensive, non-incendiary distraction"

On vehicle stops, we all know that despite direction to see their hands, occupants, if they're high and holding controlled substances, often keep stuffing the seats in hope you won't notice. We have to consider also that they could be stashing or retrieving a weapon.

The routine seems to be that the officer repeats the commands in a louder tone and then louder again, maybe even drawing his pistol to emphasize the message. The problem is that the suspect is likely looking at where he/she wants to hide the drugs or weapon and is panicking to the point of auditory exclusion.

I've found that an open-handed slap as hard as you can with your free hand onto the roof of the car almost without fail causes everyone inside to magically freeze. It seems to serve as an inexpensive, non-incendiary distraction that breaks the suspect's attention fixation.

Det. Sgt. Chris Sheehan
Medicine Hat (Alberta) Police Service

Quick ice-breakers

Before joining law enforcement, I worked in a mental institution. I quickly learned that minor and innocent distractions when talking to upset or mentally ill persons was a quick ice breaker.

I used such simple things as "I really like that pair of boots you have there" and "It sure is hot here today. Let's move over to the shade and talk." These worked really well in conveying that I was interested in the person I was dealing with and his immediate well-being. There were times when this approach did not work, and I just responded in a quiet and respectful voice, addressing the person as Sir or Miss.

Instruction in distraction techniques should be included in every officer's annual refresher training.

Sgt. Phillip Schumpert
Federal Correctional Institution
Big Spring, TX

Just whistle

I am well-known for using a Fox 40 police whistle to stop domestics. I blow it until they stop yelling. Sometimes they get upset with me, distracting anger from each other.

I also use the whistle to disperse large, unruly crowds by walking into the crowd and blowing till they disperse. This has worked wonders for breaking up fights at large bar scenes. At one such scene, a lieutenant was told by the other LEOs, "Watch this." Then I did my act and the crowd of approximately 300 left in moments.

Ofcr. Steven Baum
Niagara Falls (NY) P.D.

The sorry state of police communications training

Distraction techniques are sometimes called "pattern interrupts," and their effectiveness in circumventing undesirable subject behavior is well researched.

The irony is that many major police agencies either provide officers with no communications skills training or the time allocated is inadequate or the method of training proves to be ineffective.

Law enforcement agencies and their trainers are providing the best officer safety training and equipment ever offered in policing. Extensive time is spent on weapon retention, weapon disarming, ground fighting, multiple assailant attacks, and a multitude of other skills. All these are essential.

But-have agencies provided as much training to equip their officers with the necessary skills to stay out of confrontations as they have to ensure that they win them? Surveys of agencies and academies indicate that typically less than 5% of the available instructional time is spent on communication training, despite the fact that officers will need to display communication competence during 95% of their active duties.

Even a cursory risk-management review of this situation should raise the alarm for agency administrators, particularly in light of the increasing civil litigation resulting from behavior-based complaints.

Police communications must be designed around the psychology of persuasion. Powerful verbal and non-verbal communication can work to modify a subject's behavior in such subtle ways that they are not detectable by the individual being influenced. However, officers who are not properly trained in these strategies may unwittingly use words and body language that undermine their attempt to positively influence behavior.

Strategic communications should be built upon the cornerstone of officer safety training and taught by use-of-force instructors. This maximizes the buy-in from front-line troops, since they correctly perceive that the training focus is on enhancing their safety and equipping them to better conduct their job, rather than as just a political initiative.

S/Sgt. Chris Butler
Chief Crowfoot Learning Center
Calgary (Alberta) Police Service

28536  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Communicating with the Muslim World on: September 22, 2007, 01:06:29 PM

Woof GM:

I certainly appreciate your point, but let me offer this: 

The same thing as you properly predict with the MB in Egypt just happened with Hamas in Palestine/Gaza.  I know that some have used this to say that President Bush's push for democracy is foolishness.  However, to me it seems like what happened with Hamas has been a good thing.  No longer are we pushing Israel to negotiate with a government that does not represent its people nor can commit them.  No longer does the world subsidize the PA government as it did before.  The Gaza strip has been declared , , , what was it?  "hostile territory"? as Israel begins to shut down electricity and other essentials.  Would any of this have been possible without the election of Hamas?

What would happen if the MB took over Egypt via elections?

In the big picture are we better off standing by our convictions, or supporting yet again another problematic regime out realism?

The question is just that-- a question, not an argument.
28537  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Communicating with the Muslim World on: September 22, 2007, 12:23:13 PM
Second post of the morning:

Although the Egyptian Government is usually on the other side of things, this article seems relevant to the subject of this thread:



Egyptian Exile
September 22, 2007

Far from the public eye a drama is playing out that will have the utmost consequences for the Bush administration's goal of promoting democracy in the Middle East. The region's most prominent dissident, Egyptian sociologist Saad Edin Ibrahim, suddenly finds himself in a kind of perambulatory exile, hopping from conference to conference -- in nine countries in the last three months. The one place he dare not go is home to Egypt because well-placed officials have warned him not to put himself within President Hosni Mubarak's grasp.

What has Mr. Ibrahim done to enrage President Mubarak? He has loudly advocated democracy in public writings, interviews with Western reporters, and, most unforgivably, in a face-to-face meeting with President George W. Bush. As a result, members of Mr. Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party filed nine formal requests with the state prosecutor's office this summer for indictments against Mr. Ibrahim, for "damaging the state's economic interests" and even "treason." The state-run press has conducted a smear campaign against him.

Most recently, Egypt's largest paper, Al Ahram, carried a front-page editorial signed by Osama Saraya, its editor-in-chief, that branded Mr. Ibrahim an "agent" of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and a "criminal." Still more ominously, the author averred that Mr. Ibrahim had "repeated his old crime itself by giving false information to a foreign reader" to obscure "the environment of freedom and reform that Egypt lives in."

The real point of this absurd argument was to encourage and justify a repetition of the ordeal to which the Egyptian state subjected Mr. Ibrahim seven years ago. In 2000 he became the region's most celebrated political prisoner when he was jailed on spurious charges stemming from the efforts of his Ibn Khaldun Center to monitor Egyptian elections. Altogether he spent two years behind bars before Egypt's highest and most politically independent judicial body, the Court of Cassation, overturned his conviction. Alas, this did not come before his health had been permanently damaged.

Torture is all too common in Egyptian prisons, but his jailers were reluctant to leave scars on Mr. Ibrahim because the U.S. government followed his case closely. (He is married to an American and holds American as well as Egyptian citizenship.) Instead they resorted to sleep deprivation. After 45 days of being roughly wakened each time he started to doze, Mr. Ibrahim suffered a stroke.

A fit, athletic man who was still jogging at the age of 60, Mr. Ibrahim, 68, now walks with a severe limp. Another term in prison could literally seal his doom. Worse, Egyptian dissidents do not put it past the intelligence services, or mukhabarat, to arrange an "accident" that would rid Mr. Mubarak of this meddlesome advocate without generating the international campaign that will ensue if he is imprisoned. They point to the recent mysterious defenestration in London of Ashraf Marwan, an alleged spy for Israel, whose death the Israeli press suggests may have been caused by Egyptian agents. Fears of such dirty tricks are not paranoid: Just prior to Mr. Ibrahim's imprisonment in 2000 an unidentified truck ran his car into a ditch.

The campaign against Mr. Ibrahim is the latest evidence that Egypt is marching backwards on democracy and human rights. In his 2005 state of the union address, President Bush had called upon "the great and proud nation of Egypt [to] show the way toward democracy in the Middle East." When Mr. Mubarak announced Egypt's first ever presidential election, it seemed as if his exhortation was being heeded. To no one's surprise, the election was not fair, but hopes for the future were kindled by Mr. Mubarak's pledge to inaugurate an era of political reform after his re-election.

Instead, Mr. Mubarak had his main competitor, Ayman Nour, tossed in prison on trumped up charges, where he languishes in declining health. Mr. Mubarak then pushed through constitutional "reform" in the form of 35 amendments adopted as a single indivisible package, precluding meaningful deliberation. This was followed by arrests of dissident bloggers and other critics -- both secular and Islamist -- and then by the vicious persecution of a group of "Quranists," Muslim reformers who want a return to original Scripture as opposed to subsequent interpretations that are often more narrow-minded. Now, the hounding of Mr. Ibrahim completes the mockery of the hopes of 2005.

The new attacks on Mr. Ibrahim began in late May this year when the wife of the emir of Qatar hosted a conference to launch the Arab Foundation for Democracy. The Qatari government endowed it with $10 million with which to support reformers in the region, and Mr. Ibrahim was named to the board. Some of Egypt's state-controlled media portrayed the whole operation as a front for Mr. Ibrahim's disloyal activities. Ironically, he had been condemned previously for accepting Western donations for pro-democracy work, but now it turned out that Arab donations were no better. Apparently it was the purpose of the funds, rather than their source, that made them taboo.

A week later, Mr. Ibrahim spoke at a conference on democracy held in Prague, where President Bush met with him and dissidents from other countries. The Egyptian press again went into high dudgeon -- some even dubbing Mr. Ibrahim's organization the "Son of Zion Center" -- when Mr. Bush, in his highly publicized speech there, mentioned Ayman Nour as one of those "who couldn't join us because they are being unjustly imprisoned." The other absentees named by Mr. Bush were from Belarus, Burma, Cuba and Vietnam. The Egyptian government bristled at being placed in such company and accused Mr. Ibrahim of putting Mr. Bush up to it.

In his own Prague remarks, Mr. Ibrahim appealed to Western governments: "As freedom fighters, we ask you to stop supporting dictators in our countries. . . . in the name of stability and continuity." Soon thereafter, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to reduce U.S. aid to Egypt by $200 million unless that country showed progress on human rights. Mr. Mubarak blamed Mr. Ibrahim.

All of this has profound consequences not only for Mr. Ibrahim and Egypt, but for Washington, too. Mr. Ibrahim is being persecuted more for the actions of the U.S. president and Congress than for what he, himself, did. Can we tolerate this? In May, the Syrian dissident, Kamal Labwani, was sentenced to years in prison for the simple act of meeting U.S. officials. But Syria is a hostile state, an unindicted coconspirator in the Axis of Evil. Egypt, in contrast, is an ally to which we give $2 billion each year.

This relationship, of course, is exactly the problem. No U.S. administration wants to butt heads with Egypt, and the Senate declined to go along with the House's conditional cut in Egypt's aid.

Mr. Mubarak may see Mr. Ibrahim's alleged offenses as a matter of national honor. But is our own national honor not also at stake if someone, an American citizen no less, is persecuted for holding a conversation with the president of the U.S.? Somehow, Mr. Bush and Congress must convey a stern warning to Mr. Mubarak: Hands off Saad Edin Ibrahim.

Mr. Muravchik, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, is writing a book about democrats in the Middle East.

28538  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / TANSTAAFL on: September 22, 2007, 11:59:46 AM

No Free lunch

There was a Chemistry professor in a large college
that had some Exchange students in the class. 
One day while the class was in the lab the Prof
noticed one young man (exchange student) who kept
rubbing his back And stretching as if his back hurt.

The professor asked the young man what was the
matter. The student told him he had a bullet
lodged in his back. He had been shot while fighting
communists in his native country who were trying to
overthrow his country's government and install a new
communist government.

In the midst of his story he looked at the professor
and asked a strange question. He asked,
'Do you know how to catch wild pigs?'

The professor thought it was a joke and asked for
the punch line. The young man said this was no joke.
'You catch wild pigs by finding a suitable place in
the woods and putting corn on the ground.  The pigs
find it and begin to come everyday to eat the free
corn.  When they are used to coming every day, you
put a fence down one side of the place where they
are used to coming.  When they get used to the fence,
they begin to eat the corn again and you put up
another side of the fence.  They get used to that
and start to eat again. You continue until you have
all four sides of the fence up with a gate in the
last side.  The pigs, who are used to the free corn,
start to come through the gate to eat, you slam the
gate on them and catch the whole herd.

Suddenly the wild pigs have lost their freedom.
They run around and around inside the fence, but
they are caught.  Soon they go back to eating the
free corn.  They are so used to it that they have
forgotten how to forage in the woods for themselves,
so they accept their captivity.

The young man then told the professor that is exactly
what he sees happening to America. The government
keeps pushing us toward Communism/Socialism and
keeps spreading the free corn out in the form of
programs such as supplemental income, tax credit for
unearned income, tobacco subsidies, dairy subsidies,
payments not to plant crops (CRP),welfare, medicine,
drugs, etc. while we continually lose our freedoms
- just a little at a time.

One should always remember 'There is no such thing
as a free Lunch!' Also, 'You can never hire someone
to provide a service for you cheaper than you can
do it yourself.

Also, if you see that all of this wonderful
government 'help' is a problem confronting the
future of democracy in America, you might want to
send this on to your friends.  If you think the free
ride is essential to your way of life then you will
probably delete this email, but God help you when
the gate slams shut!
28539  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: September 22, 2007, 11:55:07 AM

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HillaryCare Flops in California
September 22, 2007

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Hillary Clinton is patting herself on the back for proposing a health-care plan that is much more politically astute than her 1993 Rube Goldberg effort. She told an audience in New York this week: "I think I have successfully thought through all of the objections and pre-empted them."

She may want to think again. Last January, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed an eerily similar plan using the same rhetoric and even the same slogan adopted by Mrs. Clinton to describe hers: "Shared Responsibility."

That's no coincidence. Both ArnoldCare and HillaryCare 2.0 are the product of the same advisers. But despite all of its clever political compromises, ArnoldCare is bogged down in trench warfare in California's liberal Democratic legislature. If anything passes, it will likely be only a shell of a bill without any financing component. Legislators will hope voters approve a general tax increase to pay for it in November 2008.

The two plans have many features in common. ArnoldCare's $12 billion-a-year price tag represents about a 10th of Mrs. Clinton's estimate for the costs of her plan, roughly in line with California's share of the national economy. Both include mandates to buy health insurance, a ban on premium differences based on health status, Medicaid expansion, and a requirement that insurers have to offer policies to all applicants.

All of this is the brainchild of Laurie Rubiner, who directed health-care issues at the liberal New America Foundation until she left in 2005 to become Mrs. Clinton's Senate legislative director. She was replaced by Len Nichols, who in 1993 served as the liaison between President Bill Clinton's budget office and Mrs. Clinton's health-care task force. Ms. Rubiner isn't taking direct credit for selling Mr. Schwarzenegger on her plan, but aides to the governor confirm her role. Steve Clemons of the New America Foundation acknowledges that Ms. Rubiner "incubated and hatched" the ideas at the heart of the governor's plan. Ms. Rubiner declined to respond to a request for an interview.

Given the similarities, here are some political lessons that ArnoldCare might teach us about how Mrs. Clinton's plan might be received:

• The claim that no new bureaucracies are created will be challenged. Like Gov. Schwarzenegger, Mrs. Clinton envisions requiring everyone to prove they have health insurance. But she's vague on the details: "At this point, we don't have anything punitive that we have proposed." You can bet she will have some ideas.

Even so, making certain people have insurance is easier said than done. California has had a law mandating that drivers have car insurance since 1970 and has required physical proof of insurance to register a car for a decade. Even so, the Insurance Research Council says 25% of the state's drivers remain uninsured.

• Illegal aliens and their access to health insurance will be controversial. Mrs. Clinton promises health care for all, but is punting on the issue of whether the illegal aliens who often use emergency room services will be covered. Ms. Rubiner admits it's a "huge issue," but says "that's one we're going to have to think through a little bit."

Criticism of the governor's plans to cover illegal aliens forced him to drop the idea, but this week he fumed at those who raise such "Mickey Mouse"-type concerns. Mrs. Clinton's plan could be caught between populist forces opposing health care for illegal aliens and liberals who will insist on it.

• Hoping for bipartisan support isn't the same thing as getting it. Gov. Schwarzenegger sincerely believed he could convince Republicans to support his plan. In the end, he couldn't find anyone from either party to push his plan in the legislature. It was too tax-heavy for Republicans (his effort to call proposed tax hikes "loans" flopped) and not nearly interventionist enough for Democrats.

"The governor got significant parts of the business community to sign on, from Safeway to the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce," one adviser to the governor told me. "But that didn't move the anti-tax Republican base."

• Nothing big passes Congress these days without bipartisan support. "The lesson from California is just how difficult it is to deal with so many players that have such disparate demands," says Dan Walters, a columnist for the Sacramento Bee. "The governor's original plan had the doctors opposing the fees it imposed on them and the nurses' union upset because it wasn't single-payer. Having all the first responders who dress in white opposing your plan isn't politically healthy."

Sen. Clinton claims she now realizes she'll need actual votes to pass something. But traces of the old Hillary remain. "I wish it were possible to just wave a magic wand and say from the White House, 'Here's what I want.' But that's not the way it works," she told the Associated Press.

The real test may be her willingness to accept some market-oriented GOP proposals such as tax-free savings accounts for health care and a curb on frivolous liability lawsuits as the price for the bipartisan support she now claims to want. Now that really would be a New Hillary.

Mr. Fund is a columnist for
28540  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Anti-semitism & Jews on: September 22, 2007, 09:50:30 AM
Second post of the morning:

The Chosen
Essential works about Judaism.

Saturday, September 22, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

1. "Days of Awe" by S.Y. Agnon (Schocken, 1948).

During the 10 days between the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, and the fast of Yom Kippur, Jews submit themselves to the all-knowing and unerring judgment of God. It is sometimes a challenge to experience this soul-sifting in the modern world as most others go about their daily business. For those who desire help--or for those who simply want to gain a deeper understanding of the observances--look no further than "Days of Awe," a nonfiction work by novelist S.Y. Agnon (1888-1970), who won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1966. His compendium of Jewish practices, legends and commentaries traces the rhythm of these September rituals, from the pre-holy day preparations to the aftermath of the concluding meal. The material includes simple customs (like eating an apple sweetened with honey), kabbalistic interpretations of the ram's horn blasts that are sounded in the synagogue, and prescriptions for a thorough moral accounting. Though my devotions do not approach the intensity of those of my ancestors--who, in the words of a Yiddish saying, trembled with the fish in the seas in the days of judgment--this little book puts me in awe of generations of Jews as they stood in awe of God.

2. "A Historical Atlas of the Jewish People" edited by Eli Barnavi (Schocken, 1992).

My teacher, the late Salo Baron, published 18 volumes of a "Social and Religious History of the Jews"--a project that he did not live to complete. Obviously, no single book can encompass all of Jewish experience. But when I want to find out about Jews in Palestine under the Romans, or learn how Jews fared in Muslim lands, or trace the migration of Jews to America, I turn to "A Historical Atlas of the Jewish People," an attractive volume of maps, documents, time lines and basic information. If I don't find exactly what I'm looking for, I become engrossed in something else, like an account of Jewish agriculture in South America. The book's organization is quirky, but its mixing of anthropology, history, religion and culture reflects how they are woven into the life of the Jews.

3. "Daniel Deronda" by George Eliot (1876).

One of the finest books about Jewish experience was written by an Englishwoman. George Eliot studied Judaism for years before writing this novel, her last, and her hero's gradual discovery of his Jewish origins seems to reproduce her own evolving appreciation of what Jews were about. Daniel Deronda's mother despised being Jewish, and when he was born she arranged for him to be raised as the ward of a wealthy English gentleman. But Deronda is pleased as his self-discovery unfolds, and he dreams of helping Jews find their own land "such as the English have"--in effect becoming a Zionist more than two decades before Theodor Herzl founded the Zionist movement. The novel has its painful side. Deronda's Jewish path thwarts his potential romance with the lovely Gwendolen Harleth, and well-meaning Christians who want to envelop Deronda in their embrace must learn from him the art of "separateness with communication."

4. "Tevye the Dairyman" by Sholem Aleichem (1894-1914).

No one did more than the Yiddish writer Sholem Aleichem (1859-1916) to forge the connection between Jewishness and comedy, and no character does it better than Tevye the Dairyman. In Aleichem's Tevye stories, set in Russia and collected in various forms over the years, the monologues of this first stand-up Jewish comedian treat many of the crises that Jews experienced in confronting modernity. A traditional father of many daughters (whittled down to three in the musical adaptation "Fiddler on the Roof"), Tevye must face both their challenges to his paternal authority and the dangers posed by the czarist regime. He does so with a philosophical humor that many readers attribute to Jewishness itself. "What does it say in the prayer book? We're God's chosen people; it's no wonder the whole world envies us." Whenever I teach this work, filled with specifically Jewish quotations and expressions, students of other minorities--especially those from religious families--recognize Tevye's predicaments, and they appreciate the moral balance he strives to maintain between metaphysical confidence and the disillusioning evidence presented by daily life.

5. "The Bellarosa Connection" by Saul Bellow (Penguin, 1989).

In this cautionary tale about the dangers of forgetting, the narrator, a cultured American Jewish widower, is the founder of the Mnemosyne Institute in Philadelphia. Appropriately for someone who teaches the techniques of memory, he lives in a house filled with antiques. A sudden inquiry from Jerusalem sends him in search of Harry Fonstein, a near-relative he hasn't seen in 30 years. Harry was once saved from the Nazis in Italy by the personal intervention of showman Billy Rose (mangled in Italian as "Bellarosa"), and for the remainder of this brief book the unnamed narrator recalls for us the story of the rescue and his encounters with Harry and his wife, Sorella, the woman he married after immigrating to America. Oversize yet delicate, Sorella functions as the book's oracle when she says: "The Jews could survive everything that Europe threw at them. . . . But now comes the next test--America." Wryly, and at his own expense, the memory-man describes how, by neglecting Harry and Sorella, he himself has failed that test.

Ms. Wisse, whose "Jews and Power" has just been published by Schocken, teaches Yiddish literature and comparative literature at Harvard.

28541  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Communicating with the Muslim World on: September 22, 2007, 09:42:39 AM
At State Dept., Blog Team Joins Muslim Debate
Published: September 22, 2007
WASHINGTON — Walid Jawad was tired of all the chatter on Middle Eastern blogs and Internet forums in praise of gory attacks carried out by the “noble resistance” in Iraq.

A page from the Web site Arabs Gate, one of the sites where a State Department blog team has contributed to the debate.
So Mr. Jawad, one of two Arabic-speaking members of what the State Department called its Digital Outreach Team, posted his own question: Why was it that many in the Arab world quickly condemned civilian Palestinian deaths but were mute about the endless killing of women and children by suicide bombers in Iraq?

Among those who responded was a man named Radad, evidently a Sunni Muslim, who wrote that many of the dead in Iraq were just Shiites and describing them in derogatory terms. But others who answered Mr. Jawad said that they, too, wondered why only Palestinian dead were “martyrs.”

The discussion tacked back and forth for four days, one of many such conversations prompted by scores of postings the State Department has made on about 70 Web sites since it put its two Arab-American Web monitors to work last November.

The postings, are an effort to take a more casual, varied approach to improving America’s image in the Muslim world.

Brent E. Blaschke, the project director, said the idea was to reach “swing voters,” whom he described as the silent majority of Muslims who might sympathize with Al Qaeda yet be open to information about United States government policy and American values.

Some analysts question whether the blog team will survive beyond the tenure of Karen P. Hughes, the confidante of President Bush who runs public diplomacy. The department expects to add seven more team members within the next month — four more in Arabic, two in Farsi and one in Urdu, the official language of Pakistan.

The team concentrates on about a dozen mainstream Web sites such as chat rooms set up by the BBC and Al Jazeera or charismatic Muslim figures like Amr Khaled, as well as Arab news sites like They choose them based on high traffic and a focus on United States policy, and they always identify themselves as being from the State Department.

They avoid radical sites, although team members said that jihadis scoured everywhere.

The State Department team members themselves said they thought they would be immediately flamed, or insulted and blocked from posting. But so far only the webmaster at the Islamic Falluja Forums ( has revoked their password and told them to get lost, they said.

Not that they don’t attract plenty of skeptical, sarcastic responses. One man identifying himself as an Arab in Germany commented that they were trying to put lipstick on a pig. During Congressional testimony last week by Gen. David H. Petraeus, for example, the two-man team went into chat rooms to ask people their opinion.

“God bless America, the giving mother,” went one sarcastic response, going on to say that everything the United States does goes into “the balance of your pockets, I mean the balance of your rewards.” Another noted that Iraqis were better off before the invasion, while a third jokingly asked the Digital Outreach Team for a green card.

Mr. Jawad’s responses tend toward the earnest: “We do not deny that the situation in Iraq is difficult, but we are achieving success in decreasing the level of violence there with the contribution of the Iraqis who care about their nation and who reject the terrorists and killers who target their victims based on sect,” he wrote at one point. He directed the green card writer to the Web sites describing how to apply.

Mr. Jawad and his colleague, Muath al-Sufi, are circumspect about biographical details that would allow readers to pigeonhole them by their roots, religion or education. Mr. Jawad, would only say that he is in his 30s, was born in Texas and raised around the Arab world. Mr. Sufi also said he was in his 30s.

The team said certain topics repeated regularly, including arguments over the accusations that American soldiers tortured Iraqis at Abu Ghraib and President Bush’s comment that the fight against terrorism is a “crusade.” Much time is also spent trying to douse the Internet brush fires that erupt whenever prominent Americans from talk-show hosts to politicians make anti-Muslim remarks of the “bomb Mecca” variety.

Each response is carefully shaped in English by the team and translated into often poetic Arabic.

“We try to put ourselves in the mindset of someone receiving the message,” said Duncan MacInnes, the director of the Counterterrorism Communication Center, of which the Digital Outreach Team is one branch. “Freedom for an Arab doesn’t necessarily have the same meaning it has for an American. Honor does. So we might say terrorism is dishonorable, which resonates more.”

Analysts said they had been surprised by the positive response, with people seemingly eager to engage, although the overall impact was impossible to assess. “They are not carrying the slogans of liberalization or democratization across the region,” said Adel al-Toraifi, a Saudi political analyst. “They are talking about peace and dialogue, and I think that makes it difficult for those debating them to justify criticizing them.”

Mr. Toraifi said the postings had generated some debate in the Arab world and had been the subject of a column in an Algerian newspaper lauding the State Department for discussing policy with ordinary people, something the writer said the Algerian government would never do.

Indeed, several analysts said having State Department employees on the Web helps to counter one source of radicalization — the sense that Washington is too arrogant to listen to the grievances of ordinary Arabs, so violence is the sole means to attract attention.

Mr. Jawad and Mr. Sufi say that in their roughly two dozen weekly postings they avoid all religious discussions, like whether jihad that kills civilians is legitimate. They even steer clear of arguments, instead posting straightforward snapshots of United States policy.

Mr. Jawad is often maligned as a “U.S. agent,” including by Radad, the man of the “just Shiites” remark. After Mr. Jawad wrote that all life was equally worth preserving, part of the man’s response was, “Don’t you think an agent of Arab nationality deserves to be killed?”

Mr. Jawad wrote back in part, “It seems to me that many people are quick to offer judgments based on political views so those who oppose them are always agents and infidels. Which leads to law of the jungle, which is not just, but chaotic.”

Mona el-Naggar contributed reporting from Cairo.
28542  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: September 22, 2007, 09:34:15 AM
Written with shading typical of the NY Times, but the subject is important and some interesting data is covered:

Israeli Raid on Syria Fuels Debate on Weapons

Published: September 22, 2007
WASHINGTON, Sept. 21 — American concerns about ties between Syria and North Korea have long focused on a partnership involving missiles and missile technology. Even many hawks within the Bush administration have expressed doubts that the Syrians have the money or technical depth to build a serious nuclear program like the one in Iran.

But the Sept. 6 Israeli airstrike inside Syria has reignited debate over whether the Syrians are trying to overcome past obstacles by starting their own small nuclear program, or by trying to buy nuclear components from an outside supplier. It is a particularly difficult question for American spy agencies, which are still smarting from the huge prewar misjudgments made about the status of Iraq’s weapons programs.

American officials are now sorting through what they say are Israel’s private claims that what their jets struck was tied to nuclear weapons development, not merely to missile production. So far, American officials have been extremely cautious about endorsing the Israeli conclusion.

Syria’s efforts to bolster its missile arsenal have been a source of worry for Israel for years, especially given Syria’s track record of arming Hezbollah fighters when they clash with Israeli troops. During the summer of 2006, Hezbollah, the militant Shiite group, fired hundreds of missiles at targets inside Israel from Lebanon, surprising Israeli officials with the sophistication of its arsenal.

And North Korean engineers are long believed to have helped Syria develop a sophisticated class of Scud missiles that have a longer range and are more accurate than earlier versions. According to, a defense research organization, North Korea has helped Syria develop the Scud-D missile, with a range of about 435 miles.

Whether Syria is actively pursuing a nuclear program has been the subject of fierce debate in Washington for several years. The dispute was at the center of the fight in 2005 over the nomination of John R. Bolton to become ambassador to the United Nations.

At the time, several intelligence officials said they had clashed in 2002 and 2003 with Mr. Bolton, then an under secretary of state, about the extent of Syria’s unconventional weapons programs. According to the officials, Mr. Bolton wanted to include information in a public speech about a Syrian nuclear program that could not be corroborated by intelligence agencies.

In recent interviews, Mr. Bolton has suggested that the Israeli strike may have partly vindicated his view.

Yet that is hard to assess, since whatever information a few senior officials in Washington and Jerusalem possess has been so restricted that two senior Asian diplomats, representing close American allies who are frequently updated on North Korea, said late this week that they had received no useful information from their American counterparts.

On Thursday, President Bush declined three times to shed any light on the Israeli strike, although he did repeat a warning to North Korea.

It is unclear to what extent the secrecy about the Israeli strike has been motivated by American doubts about the intelligence or by an effort to protect sources and classified information. But American officials are now looking at the possibility that the Syrians saw an opportunity to buy some of the basic components of a nuclear program on the cheap, perhaps because North Korea is trying to get elements of its nuclear program out of the country to meet deadlines in a precarious denuclearization agreement with Washington.

American officials are also studying at least two technology trade agreements between Syria and North Korea that were signed over the summer, trying to determine whether the arrangements may be designed for nascent nuclear cooperation between the two countries.

“One has to balance the skepticism that the Syrians can build an indigenous nuclear program with the very sobering assessment that North Korea is the world’s No. 1 proliferator and a country willing to sell whatever it possesses,” said a former senior Bush administration official who once had full access to the intelligence about both countries, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was discussing intelligence assessments.

Though it has long sold its missile technology — to Syria, Iran, Pakistan and other customers — North Korea has never been known to export nuclear technology or material. Last Oct. 9, hours after the North tested its first nuclear device, Mr. Bush went in front of cameras in the White House to issue the North a specific warning that “the transfer of nuclear weapons or material by North Korea to states or nonstate entities would be considered a grave threat to the United States, and we would hold North Korea fully accountable of the consequences of such action.”

His declaration that day had been urged for years by hard-liners in the administration who believed that the United States had never been explicit enough with North Korea. They saw their opportunity after the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, ignored pressure from China, South Korea, Russia and others and conducted its test.

Even though the Israelis are whispering that there was a nuclear connection to the Sept. 6 attack, so far there has been no hard evidence that the North has ever tried to sell elements of its two nuclear programs. One of those programs, involving plutonium, is quite advanced, enough to produce six to a dozen nuclear weapons. But selling that fuel would be enormously risky, and perhaps easily detectable.

The other program, based on uranium-enrichment equipment believed to have been bought from the network created by Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Pakistani nuclear engineer, is assessed to be in its very early stages, and some doubt the North Koreans ever made much progress on it at all. That program involves the construction of centrifuges to enrich uranium, the path that Iran is taking. But it is complex, expensive and hard to hide, and many experts believe it is beyond Syria’s capabilities or budget.

Syria does have one very small research reactor, which is Chinese built. But it was described in a 2004 Swedish defense research agency report as “the smallest on the world market and incapable of military applications.”

John Pike of said that, given its neighborhood, Syria might be interested in a nuclear deterrent, but that he was highly skeptical that Damascus could at this point have developed anything that would pose a significant risk to Israel.

“Any country in the region that was not at least learning what it would take to develop a nuclear program is asleep at the switch,” he said. “But the proposition that there is anything sufficiently mature to warrant bombing is difficult to believe.”
28543  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Islamismo radical y España on: September 22, 2007, 09:22:27 AM

Gracias por esta informacion.  Esperamos mas por favor.

!La Aventura continua!
28544  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: September 22, 2007, 09:20:45 AM

!Buenisima idea!  Pero como se ve en los recientes eventos en Peru, la pregunta que planteas aqui no se limita a Mexico.  Por favor, comienza un nuevo hilo dedicado a esta tema.

28545  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Peru on: September 22, 2007, 09:18:41 AM
NY Times
Chileans Order Peru’s Ex-Chief Home for Trial
Published: September 22, 2007

SANTIAGO, Chile, Sept. 21 — Chile’s Supreme Court on Friday approved the extradition of Peru’s former president, Alberto K. Fujimori, on charges of human rights abuses and corruption during his time in power in the 1990s.

Peruvians with photos of relatives who were killed at La Cantuta University today celebrating a ruling by Chile’s Supreme Court to extradite Peru’s former president.

The ruling, which cannot be appealed, may have broader influence, legal experts said. In Latin America and elsewhere, former heads of state have normally been able to avoid extradition, even between countries with treaties, or they have been sent for trial before special tribunals, usually after political negotiations between governments.

The very fact that Chile’s judiciary seriously reviewed the case at the request of Peruvian prosecutors was exceptional, and the judges then treated Mr. Fujimori, Peru’s president from 1990 to 2000, like any citizen, handling his case in its own courts.

After the ruling, Mr. Fujimori, 69, continued under house arrest in a mansion in this capital city, where he has been since June while awaiting a ruling on the extradition request. He arrived here in 2005, en route from exile in Japan back to Peru, where he had wanted to return to power.

Mr. Fujimori faced a return home on Friday under circumstances very different from what he had hoped. The prospect of his trial and imprisonment in Peru seems certain not only to undo those ambitions, but also to introduce a polarizing and potentially destabilizing figure back into Peru’s politics.

“For me this is an opportunity to return,” Mr. Fujimori said in comments Friday on Peruvian radio, “because my objective is to reunite with the people.”

“I’m physically and emotionally prepared to deal with this situation,” he said.

Mr. Fujimori has retained a loyal following in Peru despite the revelations of abuse and generalized corruption in institutions controlled by him and his former spy chief, Vladimiro Montesinos. Even today the government of President Alan García relies on votes from pro-Fujimori lawmakers to approve legislation, and declarations from prison by Mr. Fujimori could alter Peru’s political landscape.

“This is not the best scenario for Alan García, since Fujimori will almost certainly make waves,” said José Ugaz, a Peruvian lawyer who was a special state attorney investigating Mr. Fujimori and Mr. Montesinos. “But it is a clear victory against corruption and impunity.”

Peru’s comptroller general has estimated that Mr. Fujimori received $43.2 million to $59.4 million from the national intelligence service from 1992 to 2000, and he is accused of arranging the transfer of $15 million in state funds to Mr. Montesinos shortly before the collapse of his government.

In addition, Mr. Fujimori is accused of human rights abuses related to the activities of the Colina Group, a secretive squad of military intelligence officers believed to have carried out more than two dozen extrajudicial killings in the early 1990s. The squad carried out massacres in which 25 people died in 1991 and 1992.

“This is not vengeance, but justice,” said Gisela Ortiz, 35, the sister of one of nine students killed by the group at La Cantuta University in 1992. The squad’s operatives shot and killed the students and a professor, later hiding their bodies. “I feel tranquillity,” Ms. Ortiz said as she and other relatives of victims gathered Friday at a park in Lima.

Mr. Fujimori has denied the charges, despite videotaped evidence in which the death squad’s operational head stated that Mr. Fujimori specifically approved policy creating the group.

“This will strengthen us because the truth will become known,” Santiago Fujimori, Mr. Fujimori’s brother and a Peru congressman, said in comments to the Andina news agency.

After faxing his resignation from Tokyo in 2000, Mr. Fujimori received citizenship from Japan, from which his parents had emigrated to Peru.

In 2005 Mr. Fujimori unexpectedly ended his self-imposed exile and traveled to Chile, apparently intending to return to Peru and try for a political comeback. But he was arrested soon after he arrived, and Peru quickly sought extradition.

Chile’s Supreme Court had been reviewing the case since July, when one of its members ruled against extradition. Under Chilean law, the case was appealed to the full court. The court said last week that it had reached a decision, but delayed its ruling until after a national holiday that ended Wednesday.

“It was easier than expected to get to this point,” said Justice Alberto Chaigneau, who announced the ruling, pointing to the court’s unanimous decision on the human rights charges.

The ruling could ease political tension between Chile and Peru, at odds for decades over maritime boundaries. President Michelle Bachelet phoned Mr. García to tell him of the ruling.

Chile’s decision to take up the case was significant, given its courts’ previous hesitance to grant the extradition of a Nazi war criminal and a perception that the judiciary lacked independence during and after the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who presided over human rights abuses.

“This is a breaking point in international law,” said Alfredo Etcheberry, the Chilean lawyer who represented Peru’s government in the extradition case. “It is the first time Chile grants delivery of a former head of state by way of extradition to the country where he is wanted.”

Before now, Chile and other countries have been reluctant to do that. Gen. Alfredo Stroessner, the former dictator of Paraguay, for example, lived in exile in Brazil from 1989 until his death last year. Despite a treaty between the countries, and the fact that he was wanted on murder charges, no serious effort was made to extradite him.

In other recent cases, former heads of state have been turned over to international tribunals. Serbia delivered Slobodan Milosevic to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and Nigeria handed over Charles Taylor, the former dictator of Liberia, to face trial by the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

But the Chilean decision offers a contrast, because it was a domestic court and not the executive branch in negotiation with other governments that ruled to extradite a former head of state.

José Miguel Vivanco, the Americas director for Human Rights Watch, said the ruling fit a trend begun when the British House of Lords ruled that General Pinochet could be extradited to Spain to face charges of torture.

“This is a significant historical decision for both Chile and Peru,” Mr. Vivanco said. “It involves the workings of domestic institutions, not political negotiations between governments.”

But in the Pinochet case, the British courts ultimately turned down Spain’s extradition request and let the general return to Chile on grounds that a series of strokes had left him unfit for trial.

“A taboo has been broken, with Fujimori treated like any other person accused of embezzlement or murder who flees to Chile,” said M. Cherif Bassiouni, an expert on extradition at the DePaul University College of Law in Chicago. “The symbolic consequences of this decision will embolden other countries to say that nobody is above the law.”

Andrea Zarate contributed reporting from Lima.

28546  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: September 22, 2007, 09:15:07 AM
This article from today's NY Slimes could easily have gone in the Media thread as an example of liberal media bias-- witness the repeated efforts to blur the distinction between illegal and legal immigrants.  It could also have gone in the immigration thread as an example of the consequences of illegal immigration.  And it fits here-- this has all the makings of a political football.

Immigrants’ Emergency Care Is Limited by U.S. Rule


Published: September 22, 2007
The federal government has told New York State health officials that chemotherapy, which had been covered for illegal immigrants under a government-financed program for emergency medical care, does not qualify for coverage. The decision sets the stage for a battle between the state and federal governments over how medical emergencies are defined.

The change comes amid a fierce national debate on providing medical care to immigrants, with New York State officials and critics saying this latest move is one more indication of the Bush administration’s efforts to exclude the uninsured from public health services.
State officials in New York and other states have found themselves caught in the middle. The New York dispute, focusing on illegal immigrants with cancer — a marginal group of unknown size among the more than 500,000 people living in New York illegally — has become a flash point for health officials and advocates for immigrants in recent weeks.

Under a limited provision of Medicaid, the national health program for the poor, the federal government permits emergency coverage for illegal immigrants and other noncitizens. But the Bush administration has been more closely scrutinizing and increasingly denying state claims for federal payment for some emergency services, Medicaid experts said.

Last month, federal officials, concluding an audit that began in 2004 and was not challenged by the state until now, told New York State that they would no longer provide matching funds for chemotherapy under the emergency program. Yesterday, state officials sent a letter to the federal Medicaid agency protesting the change, saying that doctors, not the federal government, should determine when chemotherapy is needed.

Federal health officials declined to discuss chemotherapy or the New York claims. But Dennis Smith, director of the Center for Medicaid and State Operations at the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said in a statement, “Longstanding interpretations by the agency have been that emergency Medicaid benefits are to cover emergencies.”

The federal statute that defines an emergency under Medicaid makes it clear that routine care for illegal immigrants and nonresidents, including foreign students and visitors, is not covered. But the only procedures it specifically excludes from reimbursement are organ transplants, leaving to the states the task of further defining an emergency. States and courts have grappled with the question for years, yielding no clear definition.

Some states have maintained that any time a patient is able to schedule an appointment — as opposed to showing up at an emergency room — the condition would not be considered an emergency. Others, including New York, have defined an emergency as any condition that could become an emergency or lead to death without treatment.

“There are clearly situations that we consider emergencies where we need to give people chemotherapy,” Richard F. Daines, the New York State health commissioner, said in an interview late yesterday. “To say they don’t qualify is self-defeating in that those situations will eventually become emergencies.”

Dr. Daines said that for every effort in the state to use Medicaid “creatively” to cover the uninsured, “the Bush administration, at every chance, is pushing it back.”

The state estimated that the federal government denied $60 million in matching funds for emergency Medicaid from 2001 to 2006, including $11.1 million for chemotherapy. Medicaid costs are typically split evenly between the state and the federal government.

It is unclear how many other states are providing chemotherapy to illegal immigrants, because all emergency services are generally lumped together in state Medicaid reports. But others have also been challenged on emergency Medicaid claims.

In Washington State, where illegal immigrants are entitled to Medicaid coverage for a month or more after treatment in an emergency, officials said a federal audit of their emergency Medicaid claims was under way, and the state has asked the federal government to provide a definition of emergency services.

“The awkward position state Medicaid programs are in is trying to figure out what kinds of medical care should be available for emergency conditions,” said Douglas Porter, assistant secretary for the Washington Health and Recovery Services Administration.

Washington and other states have also fought the federal government over Medicaid for infants born to illegal immigrants, an issue reflected in the ferocious debate over the national children’s health insurance program.

In the wake of stricter federal rules, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and 20 other states have extended full Medicaid coverage, using only state money, to some immigrants who do not qualify for federal aid. Under federal law, proof of citizenship is required for full Medicaid coverage, but not for emergency coverage.


(Page 2 of 2)

But some states with growing immigrant populations, like Georgia and Arizona, have themselves moved to limit coverage under emergency Medicaid, leading to intense opposition from immigrant health advocates.

Advocates for breast cancer patients said they were particularly concerned about the denial of coverage after lobbying the federal government for years to provide breast cancer screening to uninsured women. Under a program offered to underinsured and uninsured women, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides free or low-cost screening.

“To allow women to be diagnosed with breast cancer and then create an obstacle for them to get treatment is a horrendous policy,” said Donna Lawrence, executive director of Susan G. Komen for the Cure in New York.

In New York City, cancer kills 15,000 residents a year. It is the second leading cause of death among both the native- and the foreign-born, according to a 2006 survey by the city’s health department, with lung, breast and colon cancer the top killers.

The state had initially accepted the federal finding that New York was not entitled to federal reimbursement for chemotherapy under the emergency Medicaid program. But until last month, state health officials had not informed medical providers that the treatment would no longer be covered by either state or federal funds.

That provoked a pitched outcry from immigrant health advocates over the last few weeks, and state health officials reversed their position this week, saying Medicaid should cover the treatment.

State officials said they were challenging the federal decision on the grounds that chemotherapy treatment qualifies as an emergency under the federal government’s own rules. Certain conditions, including diseases of the brain, spinal cord and bone marrow disease, could require immediate chemotherapy.

The state’s letter also said that chemotherapy can be used to “cure cancer, control cancer and/or ease cancer symptoms,” and that if that the measures typically used to treat cancer were not available to patients, their health could be in serious jeopardy — one of the federal criteria in determining an emergency.

The cost of emergency Medicaid is still a relatively small portion of state Medicaid budgets, experts said, and a majority of the money is spent on care for pregnant women, labor and delivery. But the demand for it rising quickly as the immigrant population balloons.

Health advocates say that many illegal immigrants who need and qualify for emergency care are afraid to seek help, and that emergency Medicaid is underused.

A recent study of emergency Medicaid services in North Carolina found that spending, largely devoted to pregnant women, increased by 28 percent from 2001 to 2004; still, the emergency costs accounted for less than 1 percent of total Medicaid expenditures.

New York City public hospitals, which serve 400,000 uninsured patients a year, among them illegal immigrants, would continue to provide the cancer treatment no matter what, said officials from the Health and Hospitals Corporation. But if there is no reimbursement from Medicaid, they said, they will have to look elsewhere for financial support.
28547  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam the religion on: September 22, 2007, 09:04:41 AM

There Is No God but Politics
by Theodore Dalrymple   

In my youth (in which I include my early adulthood), I read a lot of philosophy. In those days, I picked up books of metaphysics with an excitement that I cannot now recapture, and that completely mystifies me, indeed seems to me faintly ridiculous. I still cannot quite make up my mind, however, whether or not I wasted my time. After all, I was a medical student, not someone training to be an intellectual. I doubt that philosophy made me a better person, let alone a better doctor, but I suppose it is possible that it made me a better writer, which is not the same thing at all.

In those days, the Soviet Union loomed very large in all our imaginations. It was the ruffian on the stair of western civilisation, or a looming presence to the east. And that meant that, for anyone who wanted to understand the world, it appeared necessary to immerse himself in Marxism (actually, it was more important to read the history of the Russian intelligentsia from the time of Nicholas I than to read Marx), since the Soviet Union claimed to be a society founded on Marxist principles.

Marxist writers were not famed for their clarity or elegance of exposition. Indeed, clarity was rather looked down upon by them, for the dialectical nature of the world was inherently hard to understand and therefore to express. For Marxists, clarity was simplification, or worse still vulgarisation. It was the handmaiden of false consciousness that misled the workers into not being revolutionaries.

As with philosophy, I am not sure whether my efforts to understand Marxism were a complete waste of time, which I could and should have employed better. At any rate, when the Soviet Union collapsed, no thanks to my efforts to understand Marxism, I  thought, 'Well, at least I shall never have to struggle through any ideological nonsense again if I want to understand what is going on.'

How wrong I was! In short order, I found myself reading about Islam, a subject of great interest to scholars, no doubt, for nothing human fails to interest them, and of course also because Islam was the basis of great civilisations in the past, but not a subject (in my opinion) worth studying for any internal or new truths that it might be expected to yield me. No; I found myself reading about Islam because it had suddenly emerged as the next potential totalitarianism.

During my reading, I found myself swinging like a pendulum between taking Islam as a threat very seriously indeed, and not taking it seriously at all. The reasons for taking it seriously were that a large proportion of humanity was Muslim, that an aggressive and violent minority had emerged within that population with apparently very widespread, if largely passive, approval, and that the leadership of western countries was very weak and vacillating in the face of this, or any other, challenge. The reasons for not taking Islam seriously were that, in the modern world, it was intellectually nugatory, that the disproportion in power between the rest of the world and the Islamic world appeared to be growing rather than contracting, and that behind all the bluster about the certain possession of the unique, universal and divinely ordained truth for man was an anxiety that the whole edifice of Islam, while strong, was extremely brittle, which explained why free enquiry was so limited in Islamic countries. There was a subliminal awareness - and perhaps not always subliminal - that free philosophical and historical debate could quickly and fatally undermine the hold of Islam on various societies. Fundamentalism was therefore a manifestation of weakness and not of strength.

Recently, I have been reading one of Sayyid Qutb's best-known books, Milestones. Of course, not being an Arabic-speaker, I rely on the accuracy of the translation. Qutb, who was hanged by the secularising nationalist, Nasser, in 1966, for allegedly plotting the overthrow of the government, was one of the most influential Muslim thinkers of the 20th Century. He did not start out as an Islamist, but became one partly in response to his sojourn in the United States. He was appalled by what he saw there as its moral laxity (though he went at a time now looked back on by moral conservatives as a time of great and even exemplary personal restraint, at least by comparison with the moral atmosphere of today). He was a cultivated man, and very far from an ignorant one. He did not deny, for example, the contribution that Europe (and America , which he regarded as part of Europe) had made: speaking of the Renaissance and the recent past, he said:

   This was the era during which Europe 's genius created its
   marvellous works in science, culture, law and material
   production, due to which mankind has progressed to great
   heights of creativity and material comfort.

He did not expect the Muslim world to equal the European world in wealth or power soon, but this did not worry him. Like many an intellectual from a materially backward society, at least by comparison with a much richer and more advanced one, he consoled himself with the spiritual superiority of his own society, at least in potential. (Actually, he was highly critical also of so-called Muslim societies, which he criticised for not being Islamic enough and for chasing after the false god of westernisation.)

Curiously, though, Qutb's thought has many parallels with Marxism. Where Marx has Historical Inevitability, Qutb has God's Law. Marx, you remember, envisages a time when the state will wither away and history will end. In Marx's vision, political power will have dissolved, and the exploitation of man by man will have ceased, to be replaced by the mere administration of things. (How anybody of minimal intelligence could have believed such a thing beats me.) In Qutb's vision, all political power will have dissolved, replaced by man's spontaneous obedience to God's law. Just as the administration of things in Marx's utopia will not confer power on the administrators, presumably because everything will be so plentiful that no one will be tempted to appropriate more than the next man, so in Qutb's utopia no one will have to interpret the law and gain power from doing so. God's law will be as evident as thing will be abundant in Marx's classless society.

In both Marx and Qutb, the idea is expressed that, under the new dispensation, man will become more human, less animal. Personally, I have always found this kind of thought an appallingly arrogant slur on all the people who have lived before the thinker of it: does humanity really have to wait for Marx and Qutb before it becomes truly human?                     

Marx understood that the classless society could not come about by merely preaching socialism, as if it were merely an ethical demand or theory. Violence would be necessary. Similarly, Qutb denies that the world will become Islamic merely by preaching the word of God. He refers to Mohammed's Meccan period, when the Prophet did not resort to arms. This, he says, was merely tactical; it would have been impossible in practice to impose his rule by force. But when he went to Medina, he had no hesitation in fighting his enemies, including those who simply did not accept his message.

Just as Marx says that a showdown between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie is inevitable, leading to the triumph of the former and the subsequent establishment of a classless society, so Qutb thinks that a showdown between believers and infidels is inevitable, leading to the victory of Islam, which will eliminate all religious conflict. Is this Marx or Qutb speaking:

   [there] is a natural struggle between two systems which cannot
   co-exist for long.

It is Qutb; but it could have been taken from the writings of thousands of followers of Marx, if not from Marx himself, including Mao Tse-Tung.

The violent imposition of a socialist and Islamic society is justified in the same way in Marx and Qutb: if people were really free, that is to say suffering from neither false consciousness not jahilliyah (ignorance of divine guidance), they would accept the socialist or Islamic state not merely without demur, but joyously, as being for their own good freely chosen. True freedom in both Marx and Qutb is the recognition of necessity. Everything that prevents people from seeing the truth of their messages is an enemy of real, as against merely apparent, freedom.

There is very little that is specifically spiritual in Qutb's book: it is a political rather than a religious manifesto. And like Marx, he insists that Islam is not so much a body of doctrine or theory or facts, but a method. His notion is uncommonly like the Marxist one of praxis, of a dialectical relationship between theory and practice. Here is what he says about the Islamic society to come:
   Only when such a society comes into being, faces various
   practical problems, and needs a system of law, the Islam initiates
   the constitution of law and injunctions, rules and regulations.

Over and over again he insists, just like Marx, that Islam is not doctrine, but a unified theory and practice.

Qutb insists that the triumph of Islam is the only way that what he calls the lordship of man over man will be abolished, just as Marx and Marxists insist that the triumph of Marxism is the only way that the exploitation of man by man will cease. 

Marx believed that man once lived in a state of primitive communism which ended with the division of labour. Qutb believes (much less excusably or plausibly) that the first generations after Mohammed lived in a perfectly functioning Islamic society. He doesn't ask himself, at least not in this book, why it was, then, that three of the four supposedly rightly-guided caliphs were brutally murdered. This is a very odd kind of perfection, to say the least. But, just as the division of labour came and spoiled primitive communism, so did Greek philosophy and other innovations come and spoil the perfect Islamic society. Why perfection should fall apart because of outside influences - could perfection be as imperfect as that? - is a question Qutb does not ask himself.

Throughout his book, one senses his rage. Just as Marx expresses his admiration for the work the bourgeoisie has done in the past, so does Qutb pay tribute to Europe: but both Marx and Qutb are full of hatred. Of course, Qutb would have claimed to be nothing more than a humble instrument of God, expressing God's design for humanity, just as Marx would have claimed that he was merely the mouthpiece of historical inevitability. But all is not humility that claims to be humble. Self-knowledge and self-examination is no more part of Qutb's programme than it is of Marx's.

Qutb's book is obsessed with the achievement of political and social power. There is very little spiritual content in it. He says:
   It is clear, then that a Muslim community cannot be formed or
   continue to exist until it attains sufficient power to confront the
   existing jahili society.

Only the total triumph of Islam (in Qutb's sense) will bring peace to the world, just as all human conflict will end when the classless society is brought about by the final triumph of the proletariat.

The only religious aspect of Qutb's thought is his belief that the Koran is the unmediated word of God, a belief that he does not, because he cannot, justify. For him, the will of God is indisputably known without any need of interpretation, and in fact he knows it. It isn't difficult to see, then, that in the name of the destruction of all political authority and of the lordship of man over man in obedience to God's will, Qutb thinks he ought to be total dictator, and that he is as obsessed with the here and now as any Marxist.

It is the same old story. As Dostoyevsky said, starting out from limitless freedom, we end up with total despotism.
28548  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Anti-semitism & Jews on: September 22, 2007, 07:54:15 AM
The Sword of Wood
retold by Doug Lipman
There was once a king who loved nothing better than to go out alone in the clothes of a commoner. He wanted to meet the ordinary people of his kingdom--to learn their way of life, and especially their way of thinking about the world. One night, this king found himself walking in the poorest, narrowest street of the city. This was the street of the Jews. He heard a song in the distance. The king thought, "A song sung in this place of poverty must be a lament!" But as he got closer, he could hear the true character of the song: it was a song of pride! "Bai-yum-dum, bai-yum-bai, yum-bai, bai...."

The king was drawn to the source of the song: the smallest, humblest shack on that street. He knocked on the door. "Is a stranger welcome here?"

The voice from within said, "A stranger is G-d's gift. Come in!"

In the dim light inside, the king saw a man sitting on the only piece of furniture, a wooden box. When the king came in, the man stood up and sat on the floor, offering the king the crate for a seat.

"Well, my friend," the king asked, "what do you do to earn a living?"

"Oh, I am a cobbler."

"You have a shop where you make shoes?"

"Oh, no, I could not afford a shop. I take my box of tools--you are sitting on it--to the side of the road. There I repair shoes for people as they need them."

"You cobble shoes by the side of the road? Can you make enough money that way?"

The cobbler spoke with both humility and pride. "Every day, I make just enough money to buy food for that day."

"Just enough for one day? Aren't you afraid that one day you won't make enough, and then you'll go hungry?"

"Blessed be G-d, day by day."

The next day, the king determined to put this man's philosophy to the test. He issued a proclamation that anyone wishing to cobble shoes by the side of the road must purchase a license for fifty pieces of gold.

That night, the king returned to the street of the Jews. Again he heard a song in the distance, and thought, "This time, the cobbler will be singing a different tune." But when the king neared the house he heard the cobbler sing the same song. Worse, it was even longer, with a new phrase that soared joyfully: "Ah, ha-ah-ah, ah-hah, ah-hah, ah-yai."

The king knocked on the door. "Oh, my friend, I heard about that wicked king and his proclamation. I was so worried about you. Were you able to eat today?"

"Oh, I was angry when I heard I could not make my living in the way I always have. But I knew: I am entitled to make a living and I will find a way. As I stood there saying those very words to myself, a group of people passed me by. When I asked them where they were going, they told me: into the forest to gather fire wood. Every day, they bring back wood to sell as kindling. When I asked if I could join them, they said, 'There is a whole forest out there. Come along!'

"And so I gathered fire wood. At the end of the day, I was able to sell it for just enough money to buy food for today."

The king sputtered. "Just enough for one day? What about tomorrow? What about next week?"

"Blessed be G-d, day by day."

The next day, the king again returned to his throne, and issued a new proclamation: anyone caught gathering firewood in the royal forest would be inducted into the royal guard. For good measure, he issued another: no new members of the royal guard would be paid for forty days.

That night, the king returned to the street of the Jews. Amazed, he heard the same song! But now, it had a third part that was militant and determined: "Dee, dee, dee, dee-dee, dee-dee, dah...."

The king knocked on the door. "Cobbler, what happened to you today?"

"They made me stand at attention all day in the royal guard! They issued me a sword and a scabbard. But then they told me I wouldn't be paid for forty days!"

"Oh, my friend, I bet you wish now that you had saved some money."

"Well, let me tell you what I did. At the end of the day, I looked at that metal sword blade. I thought to myself, that must be valuable! So I removed the blade from the handle, and fashioned another blade of wood. When the sword is in the scabbard, no one can tell the difference. I took the metal blade to a pawnbroker, and I pawned it for just enough money to buy food for one day."

The king was stunned. "What if there's a sword inspection tomorrow?"

"Blessed be G-d, day by day."

The next day, the cobbler was pulled out of line in the king's guard. He was presented with a prisoner in chains.

"Cobbler, this man has committed a horrible crime. You are to take him to the square. Using your sword, you are to behead him."

"Behead him? I'm an observant Jew. I couldn't take another human life."

"If you do not, we'll kill both of you."

The cobbler led this poor, trembling man into the square, where a crowd had gathered to watch the execution. The cobbler put the prisoner's head on the chopping block. He stood tall, his hand on the handle of his sword. Facing the crowd, he spoke.

"Let G-d be my witness: I am no murderer! If this man is guilty as charged, let my sword be as always. But if he is innocent, let my sword turn to wood!"

He pulled his sword. The people gasped when they saw the wooden blade. They bowed down at the great miracle that had happened there.

The king, who had been watching all of this, came over to the cobbler. He took him by both his hands, and looked him deep in the eyes. "I am the king. And I am your friend who has visited you these last nights. I want you to come live with me in the palace and be my advisor. Please teach me how to live like that--one day at a time."

Then, in front of everyone, the two of them danced and sang: "Bai-yum-dum, bai-yum-bai, yum-bai, bai...."

I first found this story in Dov Noy's Folktales of Israel, University of Chicago Press, 1963. Another, essentially similar, Jewish version from Afghanistan is in Howard Schwartz's Elijah's Violin, Harper and Row, 1983. This story is sometimes attributed to Rebbe Nachman of Bratslav, who retold and interpreted it. The basic plot is also known in Turkey and Uzbekistan, as well as in Finland, Germany, Italy, Czechoslovakia, and Greece.
28549  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: September 22, 2007, 07:19:33 AM
Second post of the morning:



21st-Century Monk
Tibet's spiritual leader thanks America for its support.

Saturday, September 22, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

DHARAMSALA, India--"So, Rupert Murdoch is buying your newspaper?"

It's unclear whether the Dalai Lama's private secretary is making small talk about News Corp.'s impending takeover of Dow Jones, or if he's obliquely reminding me of Mr. Murdoch's oft-quoted reference to his boss as "a very political old monk shuffling around in Gucci shoes." I'm momentarily flummoxed--how does one reply when surrounded by monks?--but I recover as we make our way through clouds to the Dalai Lama's residence here in the Himalayan foothills.

For more than 40 years, the man better known as "His Holiness"--or, if you're in China, the "splittist," "separatist" or--the ultimate slight--"politician"--has been waging a peaceful campaign for a free Tibet, which was invaded by Communist China in 1949 and has been brutally suppressed ever since. His "middle way" diplomacy, a talk-and-talk-some-more approach, has produced distinctly middling results. In the lead-up to next summer's Beijing Olympics, the atrocities in Tibet have barely been mentioned--overshadowed by China's weapons sales in Darfur, a world away.

Over the border, China is tightening its vise. The State Administration for Religious Affairs declared last month that all Buddhist reincarnations must get government approval, a move that sets the stage for Beijing to name its own Dalai Lama once this one passes. The Party's "Go West" campaign is flooding Tibet with Han Chinese, marginalizing the native Tibetans. And a wave of recent political crackdowns has been left largely unnoticed in the Western press.

But the Dalai Lama seems unperturbed, even buoyant. He emerges from the mist, shuffling down a footpath to minister to a waiting line of devotees. He chats with a group of former Tibetan special forces personnel who helped whisk him over the border in 1959 ("let's take a photograph"); then he tends to the sick ("visit a doctor"), and blesses visiting Buddhist pilgrims.

In the line also stand two teenage Tibetan schoolgirls whose father was imprisoned last month for standing up at Tibet's annual Lithang horseracing festival and denouncing the local monks for cooperating with the communists--sparking sympathetic protests and subsequent crackdowns all over the province. "Your father is a brave man," the he tells the ponytailed girls, who look simultaneously awed and sad. (The secretary is translating for me in a jarringly perfect American accent; he spent time in New Jersey as a youth.)

The girls had trekked over the Himalayas to Nepal and, later, to India and freedom. Like many of the approximately 3,000 refugees who come here every year, they may never see their family again. The Dalai Lama, the private secretary whispers in my ear, grants each of them an audience upon his arrival in Dharamsala. Moving into a sitting room, we leave the misty courtyard behind.

There is room for cautious optimism for Tibetans that things will improve in their homeland, but perhaps not in the Dalai Lama's lifetime. As China gets richer and citizens search for spiritual fulfillment, underground religious movements are budding across the country. Last year, more than 500 mainland Chinese trekked to southern India to hear the Dalai Lama preach, according to the Tibetan government-in-exile. Others now come to Dharamsala to learn Buddhism and then return to China. When Zhao Ziyang, China's former premier, passed away, his family asked the Dalai Lama for a blessing.

"Chinese society is now ruled by autocrats," the Dalai Lama says with a laugh, as we start our formal interview. "But the society is still Chinese society." (The New Jersey-infused private secretary sits nearby, helping with translations when necessary.) "Chinese society built many, many Buddhist temples. . . . Now with a little liberalization, or lenient policy, their religious faith is now, khare-zego-re [Tibetan for 'what is the word?'], returning, reviving, including the Buddhist faith." I must have looked surprised at his cheerful optimism. "Mmm," he murmurs, shifting slightly in his chair.

Authoritarian, closed societies are "unpredictable," but the Dalai Lama insists that he's taking the right approach. "We are not seeking independence," he says. "We want a solution according to the Chinese Constitution." The Constitution, as his negotiators often remind Beijing, says "all nationalities in the People's Republic of China are equal," and adds "the state protects the lawful rights and interests of the minority nationalities and upholds and develops the relationship of equality, unity and mutual assistance among all of China's nationalities."

Beijing, of course, insists that this the "splittist" wants "independence," not autonomy. That was true--30 years ago. Through the upheaval of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, there wasn't much dialogue to be had with Beijing. In the early 1970s, as the Cultural Revolution was peaking, the Dalai Lama decided to shift to a call for autonomy, not independence, as a sign of good faith. At the time, he described it as a "middle approach."
Since then, the monk who's never been far from politics has tried to separate himself from the process to give it real legitimacy. The Tibetan government-in-exile founded a parliament in 1960. But in 1991, a new constitution, the Charter of Tibetans in Exile, transferred the power to select its members to the Tibetan people. In 2001, the charter was amended to allow the direct election of the prime minister--Samdhong Rinpoche, a reincarnate lama himself. "I have no longer any political status," the Dalai Lama emphasizes. "I remain just a simple Buddhist monk," he says, "quiet!"

Beijing hasn't responded in kind to these gestures. If anything, the relationship has deteriorated over six rounds of talks. Last year President Hu Jintao's administration launched an intensive round of attacks against the Dalai Lama, calling him "unworthy" of being a religious leader. China's rhetorical venom has created a growing sense of fury in the Tibetan exile community. Many Tibetans worry that the Communist Party is playing a waiting game, stringing along the Tibetan negotiators until the Dalai Lama passes--a fear that the Buddhist leader acknowledges.

"There's certainly more and more signs of frustrations, not only on our side, but inside," the Dalai Lama admits. A Tibetan youth tried to immolate himself when Mr. Hu visited Mumbai last year; another tried last month. In Tibet, violent tendencies have been crushed by the communists, but that doesn't mean they won't surface. "The suicides, the bombings, these things . . . it's possible," the Dalai Lama acknowledges, sighing slightly, with his hands now open. "But then, we always ask people to keep, keep peace."

One way of doing that is to institutionalize the Tibetan cause in the younger generation. Through private donations, the Tibetan government funds the Tibetan Children's Village, a network of schools for refugee children. Others are educated at Indian government-funded institutions. All teach Tibetan language, culture and a version of Chinese history that would never see the light of day on the mainland.
"In the past, Tibetans, particularly the nomads and also the farmers, they simply carried their centuries-old way of life . . . completely ignorant about the current world," the Dalai Lama says. "We Buddhists must be Buddhists of the 21st century." (Maybe that's why the secretary is following Mr. Murdoch's purchases so closely.)

Another way to perpetuate the movement--especially inside China--is to debunk the Communist Party's characterization of religion as a destabilizing force. The Dalai Lama preaches what he dubs "secular ethics"--the idea that there are common experiences that all people, regardless of religious faith, share. In his view, all spiritual traditions talk about basic concepts of love, compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, contentment, self-discipline. While these ideas may come packaged in different philosophies, the message is the same.

"The main thing is some kind of usefulness to others." He pauses. "That's the meaning of life," he says, leaning forward and pointing his finger at me gently.

Despite his optimism, there's little chance that the "middle way" will spark a breakthrough anytime soon. From Beijing's perspective, the Dalai Lama's return to Tibet would galvanize Tibetans to rally behind their leader and push for independence--an example that China, which has suppressed other ethnic groups, such as the Uighurs, could not tolerate.

For the Communist Party, Tibet remains the third rail of politics--a topic so sensitive that it turns mild-mannered Chinese bureaucrats red in the face at a mere mention. The party toyed briefly with liberalization of the region in the 1980s, only to find Tibetans gleefully displaying the Dalai Lama's image and calling for independence. In 1989, a crackdown ensued, overseen by now-President Hu, then the party secretary of the Tibet Autonomous Region. Since taking office, Mr. Hu has installed a loyal hard-liner to oversee the area.
China's economy is increasingly providing political cover for its suppression of Tibet; it's too big and important to let a little bright light shine on human-rights abuses in a faraway land. The Dalai Lama's cause is especially lonely in Asia, given China's economic rise and its rapidly accruing military clout. "Very few" democracies in the region publicly support Tibet, with the notable exception of India--which comes under pressure frequently from Beijing. The silence is deafening, given that many Asian democracies, including those in Japan and South Korea, are home to large populations of Buddhists.

Even Western democratic nations come under intense pressure from Beijing. Belgium cancelled an official visit with the Dalai Lama before an EU-China meeting in May this year. Australian Prime Minister John Howard hesitated to meet the Buddhist leader in June, but, after intense lobbying from Washington, acquiesced. Germany's Angela Merkel is proving braver--she's hosting the Dalai Lama's first-ever visit to the German chancellery on Sunday.

"When we look at Tibet issue locally, then almost hopeless," the Dalai Lama concedes. But from a "wider perspective," the Tibet cause is "always hopeful." Recalling how the Soviet Union changed, he muses for a moment on how China is developing. "China is communist without communist ideology--only power," he declares. "So logically, no future!" The "only future" for China is "democracy, rule of law, free press, religious freedom, free information. China's future depends on these factors." That's something, he adds, that President Hu must know. "I really feel sympathy" for him.

The U.S. has always proved a strong supporter of the Tibetan cause--a close relationship that makes the Dalai Lama feel "proud." America, he says is a "champion of democracy, freedom and liberty. So their full support means they recognize our struggle as a just cause and a moral issue." Next month's Congressional Gold Medal award ceremony has sent the Chinese Embassy into high defensive gear. But that hasn't stopped President Bush from scheduling a private audience with the Dalai Lama.
"Of course, sometimes I have disagreement with . . . President Bush, but as a person, I always made clear, personally, I like him. He's very straightforward," the Dalai Lama recalls, "down to earth." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is a "close friend of me personally and, I should say, a close friend of Tibet."

As we end, the Dalai Lama drapes a traditional white katag scarf around my neck and presents me with a pin depicting Potala Palace in Lhasa, his ancestral home. Then, like a child might, he throws his arms around me, and whispers into my ear: "We are passing through a difficult period," he says. "One ancient nation, with a unique heritage in a way, dying. So support from the free world is very much appreciated."

But will the free world follow through?

Ms. Kissel is The Wall Street Journal Asia's editorial page editor.
28550  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 22, 2007, 07:11:54 AM
Second post of the morning:

Political Journal/WSJ

'A Very Interesting Past'
"A top campaign adviser to Hillary Rodham Clinton says Rudy Giuliani's stormy personal life will be fair game should he win the Republican nomination for president," the New York Post reports:

"There's a lot that the rest of the country is going to get to know about Mayor Giuliani that the folks in New York City know," said Tom Vilsack, former Iowa governor and a co-chairman of the Clinton campaign.

"I can't even get into the number of marriages and the fact that his children--the relationship he has with his children--and what kind of circumstances New York was in before Sept. 11," Vilsack said during an interview on NY1 last night.

"There are lot of issues involving Mayor Giuliani . . . He's got a very interesting past."

Giuliani is just lucky Mrs. Clinton doesn't practice the politics of personal destruction.
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