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28501  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hamilton: Creator's law, Nature's law on: January 09, 2008, 07:37:32 AM
"To grant that there is a supreme intelligence who rules the
world and has established laws to regulate the actions of his
creatures; and still to assert that man, in a state of nature,
may be considered as perfectly free from all restraints of law
and government, appears to a common understanding altogether
irreconcilable.  Good and wise men, in all ages, have embraced
a very dissimilar theory.  They have supposed that the deity,
from the relations we stand in to himself and to each other, has
constituted an eternal and immutable law, which is indispensably
obligatory upon all mankind, prior to any human institution
whatever.  This is what is called the law of nature....Upon this
law depend the natural rights of mankind."

-- Alexander Hamilton (The Farmer Refuted, 1775)
28502  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Spike TV, the Dog Brothers Gathering Webisodes; National Geographic on: January 08, 2008, 09:09:26 PM

We are the Fight Club piece at 9PM.
28503  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: January 08, 2008, 12:25:38 PM
I like the FAIR tax idea a lot in theory-- but here's an attack on it:




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FairTax Flaws
January 8, 2008; Page A20

If talk show hosts ran the world, we'd have a national sales tax. We'd have no immigration, and we would have long ago carpet-bombed the entire Middle East. We'd also have something called "fair trade," which means no real trade at all.

But they don't run the world; they just pretend that if they did, everything would be great. I would be a lot more confident that this was true if I didn't know so many talk show hosts. I would be even more confident if they had really run anything of consequence before. But I do, and they haven't.

I mention this because last week Mike Huckabee won the Iowa caucus partly on a movement incubated in large part on radio talk shows: the FairTax. If words were deeds, then life would be great. We could simply declare that by switching from a federal income tax to a national retail sales tax, tax cheating would end, code complexity would be a thing of the past, and illegal immigrants would start paying taxes. And, of course, we'd switch into high economic growth -- forever.

The problem is that none of this would happen. People would simply switch from cheating on income taxes to cheating on sales taxes.

Small vendors often fail to withhold sales taxes. Buyers cheat on sales taxes now. They often fail to pay taxes on interstate catalogue sales. They buy some goods in black markets.

This doesn't happen much because sales taxes are much lower than income taxes, but if that were reversed, consumers would cheat more. Look at cigarettes. Organized crime sells smokes on the black market in jurisdictions that impose high cigarette taxes.

There is a large category of economic activity designed to avoid sales taxes -- it's called smuggling. We don't hear that word much anymore, because we're not a sales-tax or tariff-based system anymore. Increase sales taxes to a combined state and federal 30%, up from a state-based 6% now, and watch the dodging begin.

The immigrant stuff is nonsense on stilts. Let me ask you this: If they're here illegally, why won't they also buy and sell goods on the black market?

Then there's the complexity argument. You don't think the lobbyists and lawyers will get involved in this, looking for exemptions on houses, medical services and education? You're going to put a 30% tax on my home purchase, and my doctor visits and my kids' tuition? Yeah, great idea.

And what about business transactions? If you tax business-to-business transactions, then you'll set off a wave of corporate consolidation. Instead of buying from a supplier at a 30% markup, I'll just buy my supplier and be tax free. And what about financial firms like Goldman Sachs, which spend most of their money on payroll and investments, and very little on goods and services? Goldman will pay taxes on what? Paper clips?

If, on the other hand, we institute the most widely supported version of the national sales tax, then business transactions are to be exempted. In addition to the colossal job of selling America on a zero tax rate for business, a rigorous definition of the term "business transaction" would have to be provided. What is a business transaction, exactly? I write articles for publication. I consider it a hobby. Sometimes I get paid. Should I pay sales taxes on money I earn for writing this article?

What about the Internet connection I used to send it? Should readers pay taxes on the connection they use to read my article? What if a reader uses it for his job? If he is a financial adviser, then no, but otherwise it's yes? Will I pay taxes on gas I used to drive to the studio to talk about this article? What if I stop to buy my son Jack a birthday present on the way home?

I'm a recovering tax accountant (and not a good one at that) and I've got 50 ways to avoid this tax swimming around in my head. What about the really smart guys?

And what about transition rules? There are millions of transactions that are, at any given moment, occurring over an extended time. The most obvious example is retirement. I defer taxes now, for retirement later. So I make a decision based on an income-tax regime that doesn't make any sense in a sales-tax regime. Do I get my money back? What about Roth IRAs? I pay income taxes on the money now, and then pay again later when I spend it during retirement? Double taxation isn't really a "fair" tax, is it?

These are the easy-to-see cases, but what about the incredible variety of tax questions raised by installment sales? Inventory accounting? Wholesale purchases? Ebay?

None of this matters anyway. We will never make this change. The 16th Amendment will not be repealed in favor of a tax vigorously opposed by an army of restaurants, pubs and retail stores. It's hard to get good ideas through the ratification process; imagine how hard it would be to push this stinker. In point of fact, the FairTax serves one main purpose right now: It gives Mr. Huckabee the chance to sum up his economic plan in one line. And that just doesn't seem, well, fair.

Mr. Bowyer is chief economist of BenchMark Financial Network and a CNBC contributor.
28504  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: January 08, 2008, 10:54:07 AM
Bush of Arabia
This U.S. president is the most consequential the Middle East has ever seen.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008 12:01 a.m. EST

It was fated, or "written," as the Arabs would say, that George W. Bush, reared in Midland, Texas, so far away from the complications of the foreign world, would be the leader to take America so deep into Arab and Islamic affairs.

This is not a victory lap that President Bush is embarking upon this week, a journey set to take him to Egypt, Israel, the Palestinian territories, the Saudi Kingdom, Kuwait, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. Mr. Bush by now knows the heartbreak and guile of that region. After seven years and two big wars in that "Greater Middle East," after a campaign against the terror and the malignancies of the Arab world, there will be no American swagger or stridency.

But Mr. Bush is traveling into the landscape and setting of his own legacy. He is arguably the most consequential leader in the long history of America's encounter with those lands.

Baghdad isn't on Mr. Bush's itinerary, but it hangs over, and propels, his passage. A year ago, this kind of journey would have been unthinkable. The American project in Iraq was reeling, and there was talk of America casting the Iraqis adrift. It was then that Mr. Bush doubled down--and, by all appearances, his brave wager has been vindicated.
His war has given birth to a new Iraq. The shape of this new Iraq is easy to discern, and it can be said with reasonable confidence that the new order of things in Baghdad is irreversible. There is Shiite primacy, Kurdish autonomy in the north, and a cushion for the Sunni Arabs--in fact a role for that community slightly bigger than its demographic weight. It wasn't "regional diplomacy" that gave life to this new Iraq. The neighboring Arabs had fought it all the way.

But there is a deep streak of Arab pragmatism, a grudging respect for historical verdicts, and for the right of conquest. How else did the ruling class in Arabia, in the Gulf and in Jordan beget their kingdoms?

In their animus toward the new order in Iraq, the purveyors of Arab truth--rulers and pundits alike--said that they opposed this new Iraq because it had been delivered by American power, and is now in the American orbit. But from Egypt to Kuwait and Bahrain, a Pax Americana anchors the order of the region. In Iraq, the Pax Americana, hitherto based in Sunni Arab lands, has acquired a new footing in a Shiite-led country, and this is the true source of Arab agitation.

To hear the broadcasts of Al Jazeera, the Iraqis have sinned against the order of the universe for the American military presence in their midst. But a vast American air base, Al Udeid, is a stone's throw away from Al Jazeera's base in Qatar.

There is a standoff of sorts between the American project in Iraq on the one side, and the order of Arab power on the other. The Arabs could not thwart or overturn this new Iraq, but the autocrats--battered, unnerved by the fall of Saddam Hussein, worried about the whole spectacle of free elections in Iraq--survived Iraq's moment of enthusiasm.

They hunkered down, they waited out the early euphoria of the Iraq war, they played up the anarchy and violence of Iraq and fed that violence as well. In every way they could they manipulated the nervousness of their own people in the face of this new, alien wave of liberty. Better 60 years of tyranny than one day of anarchy, goes a (Sunni) Arab maxim.

Hosni Mubarak takes America's coin while second-guessing Washington at every turn. He is the cop on the beat, suspicious of liberty. He faced a fragile, democratic opposition in the Kifaya (Enough!) movement a few years back. But the autocracy held on. Pharaoh made it clear that the distant, foreign power was compelled to play on his terms. There was never a serious proposal to cut off American aid to the Mubarak regime.

In the Arabian Peninsula and the Gulf, a new oil windfall has rewritten the terms of engagement between Pax Americana and the ruling regimes. It is a supreme, and cruel, irony that Mr. Bush travels into countries now awash with money: From 9/11 onwards, America has come to assume the burden of a great military struggle--and the financial costs of it all--while the oil lands were to experience a staggering transfusion of wealth.

Saudi Arabia has taken in nearly $900 billion in oil revenues the last six years; the sparsely populated emirate of Abu Dhabi is said to dispose of a sovereign wealth fund approximating a trillion dollars. The oil states have drawn down the public debt that had been a matter of no small consequence to the disaffection of their populations. There had been a time, in the lean 1990s, when debt had reached 120% of Saudi GDP; today it is 5%. There is swagger in that desert world, a sly sense of deliverance from the furies.

The battle against jihadism has been joined by the official religious establishment, stripping the radicals of their religious cover. Consider the following fatwa issued by Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Abdallah al-Sheikh, the Mufti of the Kingdom--the highest religious jurist in Saudi Arabia--last October. There is evasion in the fatwa, but a reckoning as well:

"It has been noted that over the last several years some of our sons have left Saudi lands with the aim of pursuing jihad abroad in the path of God. But these young men do not have enough knowledge to distinguish between truth and falsehood, and this was one reason why they fell into the trap of suspicious elements and organizations abroad that toyed with them in the name of jihad."

Traditional Wahhabism has always stipulated obedience to the ruler, and this Wahhabi jurist was to re-assert it in the face of freelance preachers: "The men of religion are in agreement that there can be no jihad, except under the banner of wali al-amr [the monarch] and under his command. The journey abroad without his permission is a violation, and a disobedience, of the faith."
Iraq is not directly mentioned in this fatwa, but it stalks it: This is the new destination of the jihadists, and the jurist wanted to cap the volcano.

The reform of Arabia is not a courtesy owed an American leader on a quick passage, and one worried about the turmoil in the oil markets at that. It is an imperative of the realm, something owed Arabia's young people clamoring for a more "normal" world. The brave bloggers, and the women and young professionals of the realm, have taken up the cause of reform. What American power owes them is the message given them over the last few years--that they don't dwell alone.

True to the promise, and to the integrity, of his campaign against terror, Mr. Bush will not lay a wreath at the burial place of Yasser Arafat in Ramallah. This is as it should be. Little more than five years ago, Mr. Bush held out to the Palestinians the promise of statehood, and of American support for that goal, but he made that support contingent on a Palestinian break with the cult of violence. He would not grant Arafat any of the indulgence that Bill Clinton had given him for eight long years. It was the morally and strategically correct call.

The cult of the gun had wrecked the political life of the Palestinians. They desperately needed an accommodation with Israel, but voted, in early 2006, for Hamas.

The promise of Palestinian statehood still stood, but the force, and the ambition, of Mr. Bush's project in Iraq, and the concern over Iran's bid for power, had shifted the balance of things in the Arab world toward the Persian Gulf, and away from the Palestinians. The Palestinians had been reduced to their proper scale in the Arab constellation. It was then, and when the American position in Iraq had been repaired, that Mr. Bush picked up the question of Palestine again, perhaps as a courtesy to his secretary of state.

The Annapolis Conference should be seen in that light: There was some authority to spare. It is to Mr. Bush's singular credit that he was the first American president to recognize that Palestine was not the central concern of the Arabs, or the principal source of the political maladies.

The realists have always doubted this Bush campaign for freedom in Arab and Muslim lands. It was like ploughing the sea, they insisted. Natan Sharansky may be right that in battling for that freedom, Mr. Bush was a man alone, even within the councils of his own administration.

He had taken up the cause of Lebanon. The Cedar Revolution that erupted in 2005 was a child of his campaign for freedom. A Syrian dominion built methodically over three decades was abandoned in a hurry, so worried were the Syrians that American power might target their regime as well. In the intervening three years, Lebanon and its fractious ways were to test America's patience, with the Syrians doing their best to return Lebanon to its old captivity.

But for all the debilitating ways of Lebanon's sectarianism, Mr. Bush was right to back democracy. For decades, politically conscious Arabs had lamented America's tolerance for the ways of Arab autocracy, its resigned acceptance that such are the ways of "the East." There would come their way, in the Bush decade, an American leader willing to bet on their freedom.

"Those thankless deserts" was the way Winston Churchill, who knew a thing or two about this region, described those difficult lands. This is a region that aches for the foreigner's protection while feigning horror at the presence of strangers.

As is their habit, the holders of Arab power will speak behind closed doors to their American guest about the menace of the Persian power next door. But the Arabs have the demography, and the wealth, to balance the power of the Persians. If their world is now a battleground between Pax Americana and Iran, that is a stark statement on their weakness, and on the defects of the social contract between the Sunnis and the Shiites of the Arab world. America can provide the order that underpins the security of the Arabs, but there are questions of political and cultural reform which are tasks for the Arabs themselves.

Suffice it for them that George W. Bush was at the helm of the dominant imperial power when the world of Islam and of the Arabs was in the wind, played upon by ruinous temptations, and when the regimes in the saddle were ducking for cover, and the broad middle classes in the Arab world were in the grip of historical denial of what their radical children had wrought. His was the gift of moral and political clarity.
In America and elsewhere, those given reprieve by that clarity, and single-mindedness, have been taking this protection while complaining all the same of his zeal and solitude. In his stoic acceptance of the burdens after 9/11, we were offered a reminder of how nations shelter behind leaders willing to take on great challenges.

We scoffed, in polite, jaded company when George W. Bush spoke of the "axis of evil" several years back. The people he now journeys amidst didn't: It is precisely through those categories of good and evil that they describe their world, and their condition. Mr. Bush could not redeem the modern culture of the Arabs, and of Islam, but he held the line when it truly mattered. He gave them a chance to reclaim their world from zealots and enemies of order who would have otherwise run away with it.

Mr. Ajami teaches at Johns Hopkins University. He is author of "The Foreigner's Gift: The Americans, the Arabs, and the Iraqis in Iraq," (Free Press, 2006), and a recipient of the Bradley Prize.

28505  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers: on: January 08, 2008, 10:29:27 AM
The Patriot Post
Founders' Quote Daily

"Wisdom and knowledge, as well as virtue, diffused generally among
the body of the people, being necessary for the preservation of
their rights and liberties, and as these depend on spreading the
opportunities and advantages of education in the various parts of
the country, and among the different orders of people, it shall be
the duty of legislators and magistrates... to cherish the interest
of literature and the sciences, and all seminaries of them."

-- John Adams (Thoughts on Government, 1776)

Reference: The Works of John Adams, Charles Adams, ed., 259.

28506  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: January 07, 2008, 12:26:50 PM
Outrageous that Fox did not include RP in the debates last night  angry
Fox Under Fire for Excluding Ron Paul
Sunday, January 6, 2008 11:26 AM
By: Newsmax Staff   
When Fox News hosts its Republican candidates forum Sunday night, one of the leading candidates won't be invited.
The Fox debate is excluding Texas Congressman Ron Paul, even though he polls higher in New Hampshire, has raised significantly more money, and is campaigning more in New Hampshire than Fred Thompson -- who is invited.  The censorship of Paul has infuriated his loyal supporters, who note that he pulled 10 percent of the vote in Iowa, well ahead of Rudy Giuliani, who pulled just over 3 percent. Giuliani has also been invited to the Fox forum. Paul is also setting records in GOP fundraising, raking in $20 million in the last quarter alone.

New Hampshire Republicans are apparently not happy with Fox's arbitrary decision to exclude Paul.  This weekened the New Hampshire Republican Party issued a press release announcing it had dropped its affiliation with the Fox Republican debate.

"The first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary serves a national purpose by giving all candidates an equal opportunity on a level playing field," said Republican Chairman Fergus Cullen. "Only in New Hampshire do lesser known, lesser funded underdogs have a fighting chance to establish themselves as national figures."

Paul's campaign is also angered by the Fox effort to cut out his voice.

"The New Hampshire Republican Party did the right thing by pulling its sponsorship for Fox's candidate forum," said Ron Paul 2008 spokesman Jesse Benton. "'Fox News' decision to exclude Congressman Paul is unfair, but it won't stop Dr. Paul's message of freedom, peace and prosperity from resonating with the people of New Hampshire."

The Fox decision is not going over well with New Hampshire voters or media who don't like New York-based media coming to their state to dictate news coverage. This past Thursday, the Manchester Union Leader, New Hampshire's major newspaper, published a front-page editorial blasting news organizations that do not invite all candidates to their forums.  Fox said it decided to invite candidates who had received high standing in national polls, despite the fact small primary states like Iowa and New Hampshire will often back underdogs.   Paul supporters believe the move is an effort to marginalize their candidate, who has been a strong critic of the Iraq war.

"Fight Fox," a new Web site organized by Paul backers, tells readers: "We need to send a message to Fox's Rupert Murdoch & his fellow Neocon buddies that he is not Musharraf and the US is not Pakistan, yet! Fox News cannot just stifle public opinion. debate and impact a primary election by excluding Ron Paul just because they don't like his message of freedom and liberty."

Paul seems to share that view. According to a report in the Boston Globe, he called Fox News a "propagandist" for the Iraq war.
Despite the hoopla, Fox is sticking to its guns: no Ron Paul.

"We look forward to presenting a substantive forum which will serve as the first program of its kind this election season," David Rhodes, vice president of Fox News, said in a statement.

28507  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Reagan: City upon a hill on: January 07, 2008, 12:07:10 PM
“Our party must be the party of the individual. It must not sell out the individual to cater to the group. No greater challenge faces our society today than ensuring that each one of us can maintain his dignity and his identity in an increasingly complex, centralized society. Extreme taxation, excessive controls, oppressive government competition with business... frustrated minorities and forgotten Americans are not the products of free enterprise. They are the residue of centralized bureaucracy, of government by a self-anointed elite. Our party must be based on the kind of leadership that grows and takes its strength from the people...
  • ur cause must be to rediscover, reassert and reapply America s spiritual heritage to our national affairs. Then with God s help we shall indeed be as a city upon a hill with the eyes of all people upon us.” —Ronald Reagan
28508  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Madison: The Senate and appointments; S. Adams: Leaders on: January 07, 2008, 12:01:02 PM
"In forming the Senate, the great anchor of the Government, the
questions as they came within the first object turned mostly on
the mode of appointment, and the duration of it."

-- James Madison (letter to Thomas Jefferson, 24 October 1787)

Reference: Madison: Writings, Rakove, ed., Library of America (145)

“If men of wisdom and knowledge, of moderation and temperance, of patience, fortitude and perseverance, of sobriety and true republican simplicity of manners, of zeal for the honor of the Supreme Being and the welfare of the commonwealth; if men possessed of these other excellent qualities are chosen to fill the seats of government, we may expect that our affairs will rest on a solid and permanent foundation.” —Samuel Adams
28509  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: January 07, 2008, 11:16:14 AM

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A Supply-Side World
January 7, 2008; Page A12
Democrats in Congress remain committed to raising taxes on grounds that tax rates don't much matter to economic growth, and in any case they only help the rich. They may be the last public officials on the planet to believe this. In recent weeks alone, some of the unlikeliest political leaders have endorsed tax rate cuts in the name of making their economies better.

Start in Europe, where Socialist Party Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero pledged in December that if re-elected, "One of the first decisions I would take is to eliminate the wealth tax [up to 2.5%]," which he says is one of the highest in Europe and "punishes savings." Mr. Zapatero is no conservative. But he's joining the European march down the Laffer Curve on taxes, having already phased in reductions in Spain's corporate tax rate to 30% from 35% and its personal income tax rate to 43% from 45%.

Like France and Germany, Spain is cutting rates because of the tax competition from their European Union neighbors such as Ireland and East Europe. There are now at least 11 nations formerly behind the Iron Curtain with flat rate taxes of 25% or lower. On January 1, a new flat tax of 10% became law in Bulgaria, replacing its progressive rate structure and as far as we know the lowest such rate in the world. The newly elected Polish parliament is also planning to cut taxes, though an earlier flat-tax proposal earned a veto threat from the president.

And this just in: In the Middle East, Kuwait has decided to slash its corporate income tax on foreign companies to 15% from 55%. Finance Minister Mostafa al-Shemali argued for the cut, noting that Kuwait attracted less than $300 million in foreign investment last year, compared to some $18 billion in lower-tax Saudi Arabia (which has a religious tax but no corporate or income tax on Saudi nationals). "This law will encourage foreign investors to enter Kuwait," says Ahmed Baqer, head of the parliament's finance panel.

It's getting lonelier all the time at the top for America, which with a corporate tax rate of 35% is one of the few developed nations left with a rate of more than 30%. Economist Dan Mitchell tracks these trends for the Cato Institute, and he finds that 26 developed nations have cut either personal or corporate income tax rates since 2005. Since 1980, OECD nations have sliced their average personal income tax rate by 24 percentage points, to 40% from 64%. Corporate tax rates have fallen by more than 20 percentage points. Foreign leaders have learned that, in a world of easy global capital flows, high tax rates chase away investment and entrepreneurs.

Some of these tax-cutting nations -- such as Estonia, Ireland, Russia and Spain -- have seen revenues rise even as rates have fallen. This is what turns socialists into supply-siders in Spain, if regrettably not in the U.S.

28510  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DB Gathering of the Pack August 10th, 2008 on: January 06, 2008, 07:47:12 PM
Nah, you must be thinking of the ballistic weapons event that is being held in Diyala, Iraq.
28511  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: January 06, 2008, 05:38:38 PM
That you GM.

Here's Hillary's latest ad  wink
28512  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US consider "covert" on: January 06, 2008, 05:33:38 PM
I confess bafflement and anger at the officials who leak these sorts of things to the press and the press that print them.

I also note the apparent cluelessness of our officials analysis from the perspective of the Indian article that I posted.  I have no idea if the Indian article's point about the anger over the raid on the mosque is correct, I simply note the disparity.

Personally I find myself dubious of the effect of minor, incremental steps.  The Whackostans/Taliban/AQ have repeatedly launched attacks both successful and unsuccessful against the US, UK, and other parts of Europe.  To my way of thinking plenty of causus belli exists.

We helped Afg fight the Soviets, then left them alone.  In return they gave AQ safe harbor to attack us and now the same folks (in Afg and the Whackostans) produce 90% of the world's heroin and opium while lecturing us about morality and decadence and continue to launch attacks upon the US, UK, and elsewhere in Europe.  When I read “He is in South Waziristan agency, and let me tell you, getting him in that place means battling against thousands of people, hundreds of people who are his followers, the Mehsud tribe, if you get to him, and it will mean collateral damage,” my reaction is to wonder whether our incremental and incompetent dithering and meddling will ever get the job done.  Perhaps a goodly dose of Jacksonian War will be required?


NY Times
U.S. Considers New Covert Push Within Pakistan
Published: January 6, 2008
This article is by Steven Lee Myers, David E. Sanger and Eric Schmitt.

The New York Times

Al Qaeda and the Taliban use the tribal areas as a base.
WASHINGTON — President Bush’s senior national security advisers are debating whether to expand the authority of the Central Intelligence Agency and the military to conduct far more aggressive covert operations in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

The debate is a response to intelligence reports that Al Qaeda and the Taliban are intensifying efforts there to destabilize the Pakistani government, several senior administration officials said.

Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and a number of President Bush’s top national security advisers met Friday at the White House to discuss the proposal, which is part of a broad reassessment of American strategy after the assassination 10 days ago of the Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto. There was also talk of how to handle the period from now to the Feb. 18 elections, and the aftermath of those elections.

Several of the participants in the meeting argued that the threat to the government of President Pervez Musharraf was now so grave that both Mr. Musharraf and Pakistan’s new military leadership were likely to give the United States more latitude, officials said. But no decisions were made, said the officials, who declined to speak for attribution because of the highly delicate nature of the discussions.

Many of the specific options under discussion are unclear and highly classified. Officials said that the options would probably involve the C.I.A. working with the military’s Special Operations forces.

The Bush administration has not formally presented any new proposals to Mr. Musharraf, who gave up his military role last month, or to his successor as the army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who the White House thinks will be more sympathetic to the American position than Mr. Musharraf. Early in his career, General Kayani was an aide to Ms. Bhutto while she was prime minister and later led the Pakistani intelligence service.

But at the White House and the Pentagon, officials see an opportunity in the changing power structure for the Americans to advocate for the expanded authority in Pakistan, a nuclear-armed country. “After years of focusing on Afghanistan, we think the extremists now see a chance for the big prize — creating chaos in Pakistan itself,” one senior official said.

The new options for expanded covert operations include loosening restrictions on the C.I.A. to strike selected targets in Pakistan, in some cases using intelligence provided by Pakistani sources, officials said. Most counterterrorism operations in Pakistan have been conducted by the C.I.A.; in Afghanistan, where military operations are under way, including some with NATO forces, the military can take the lead.

The legal status would not change if the administration decided to act more aggressively. However, if the C.I.A. were given broader authority, it could call for help from the military or deputize some forces of the Special Operations Command to act under the authority of the agency.

The United States now has about 50 soldiers in Pakistan. Any expanded operations using C.I.A. operatives or Special Operations forces, like the Navy Seals, would be small and tailored to specific missions, military officials said.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who was on vacation last week and did not attend the White House meeting, said in late December that “Al Qaeda right now seems to have turned its face toward Pakistan and attacks on the Pakistani government and Pakistani people.”

In the past, the administration has largely stayed out of the tribal areas, in part for fear that exposure of any American-led operations there would so embarrass the Musharraf government that it could further empower his critics, who have declared he was too close to Washington.

Even now, officials say, some American diplomats and military officials, as well as outside experts, argue that American-led military operations on the Pakistani side of the border with Afghanistan could result in a tremendous backlash and ultimately do more harm than good. That is particularly true, they say, if Americans were captured or killed in the territory.

In part, the White House discussions may be driven by a desire for another effort to capture or kill Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri. Currently, C.I.A. operatives and Special Operations forces have limited authority to conduct counterterrorism missions in Pakistan based on specific intelligence about the whereabouts of those two men, who have eluded the Bush administration for more than six years, or of other members of their terrorist organization, Al Qaeda, hiding in or near the tribal areas.

The C.I.A. has launched missiles from Predator aircraft in the tribal areas several times, with varying degrees of success. Intelligence officials said they believed that in January 2006 an airstrike narrowly missed killing Mr. Zawahri, who had attended a dinner in Damadola, a Pakistani village. But that apparently was the last real evidence American officials had about the whereabouts of their chief targets.

Critics said more direct American military action would be ineffective, anger the Pakistani Army and increase support for the militants. “I’m not arguing that you leave Al Qaeda and the Taliban unmolested, but I’d be very, very cautious about approaches that could play into hands of enemies and be counterproductive,” said Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert at Georgetown University. Some American diplomats and military officials have also issued strong warnings against expanded direct American action, officials said.

Hasan Askari Rizvi, a leading Pakistani military and political analyst, said raids by American troops would prompt a powerful popular backlash against Mr. Musharraf and the United States.
In the wake of the American invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, many Pakistanis suspect that the United States is trying to dominate Pakistan as well, Mr. Rizvi said. Mr. Musharraf — who is already widely unpopular — would lose even more popular support.

“At the moment when Musharraf is extremely unpopular, he will face more crisis,” Mr. Rizvi said. “This will weaken Musharraf in a Pakistani context.” He said such raids would be seen as an overall vote of no confidence in the Pakistani military, including General Kayani.

The meeting on Friday, which was not publicly announced, included Stephen J. Hadley, Mr. Bush’s national security adviser; Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and top intelligence officials.

Spokesmen for the White House, the C.I.A. and the Pentagon declined to discuss the meeting, citing a policy against doing so. But the session reflected an urgent concern that a new Qaeda haven was solidifying in parts of Pakistan and needed to be countered, one official said.

Although some officials and experts have criticized Mr. Musharraf and questioned his ability to take on extremists, Mr. Bush has remained steadfast in his support, and it is unlikely any new measures, including direct American military action inside Pakistan, will be approved without Mr. Musharraf’s consent.

“He understands clearly the risks of dealing with extremists and terrorists,” Mr. Bush said in an interview with Reuters on Thursday. “After all, they’ve tried to kill him.”

The Pakistan government has identified a militant leader with links to Al Qaeda, Baitullah Mehsud, who holds sway in tribal areas near the Afghanistan border, as the chief suspect behind the attack on Ms. Bhutto. American officials are not certain about Mr. Mehsud’s complicity but say the threat he and other militants pose is a new focus. He is considered, they said, an “Al Qaeda associate.”

In an interview with foreign journalists on Thursday, Mr. Musharraf warned of the risk any counterterrorism forces — American or Pakistani — faced in confronting Mr. Mehsud in his native tribal areas.

“He is in South Waziristan agency, and let me tell you, getting him in that place means battling against thousands of people, hundreds of people who are his followers, the Mehsud tribe, if you get to him, and it will mean collateral damage,” Mr. Musharraf said.

The weeks before parliamentary elections — which were originally scheduled for Tuesday — are seen as critical because of threats by extremists to disrupt the vote. But it seemed unlikely that any additional American effort would be approved and put in place in that time frame.

Administration aides said that Pakistani and American officials shared the concern about a resurgent Qaeda, and that American diplomats and senior military officers had been working closely with their Pakistani counterparts to help bolster Pakistan’s counterterrorism operations.

Shortly after Ms. Bhutto’s assassination, Adm. William J. Fallon, who oversees American military operations in Southwest Asia, telephoned his Pakistani counterparts to ensure that counterterrorism and logistics operations remained on track.

In early December, Adm. Eric T. Olson, the new leader of the Special Operations Command, paid his second visit to Pakistan in three months to meet with senior Pakistani officers, including Lt. Gen. Muhammad Masood Aslam, commander of the military and paramilitary troops in northwest Pakistan. Admiral Olson also visited the headquarters of the Frontier Corps, a paramilitary force of about 85,000 members recruited from border tribes that the United States is planning to help train and equip.

But the Pakistanis are still years away from fielding an effective counterinsurgency force. And some American officials, including Defense Secretary Gates, have said the United States may have to take direct action against militants in the tribal areas.

American officials said the crisis surrounding Ms. Bhutto’s assassination had not diminished the Pakistani counterterrorism operations, and there were no signs that Mr. Musharraf had pulled out any of his 100,000 forces in the tribal areas and brought them to the cities to help control the urban unrest.

28513  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Yet more on Rosarito BC on: January 06, 2008, 04:49:51 PM
As an Angeleno, news of Rosarito is of particular interest to me:

Tourists shun crime-hit Mexico beaches By ELLIOT SPAGAT, Associated Press Writer
Sat Jan 5, 1:24 PM ET
PLAYAS DE ROSARITO, Mexico - Assaults on American tourists have brought hard times to hotels and restaurants that dot Mexican beaches just south of the border from San Diego.

Surfers and kayakers are frightened to hit the waters of the northern stretch of Mexico's Baja California peninsula, long popular as a weekend destination for U.S. tourists. Weddings have been canceled. Lobster joints a few steps from the Pacific were almost empty on the usually busy New Year's weekend.

Americans have long tolerated shakedowns by police who boost salaries by pulling over motorists for alleged traffic violations, and tourists know parts of Baja are a hotbed of drug-related violence. But a handful of attacks since summer by masked, armed bandits — some of whom used flashing lights to appear like police — marks a new extreme that has spooked even longtime visitors.

Lori Hoffman, a San Diego-area emergency room nurse, said she was sexually assaulted Oct. 23 by two masked men in front of her boyfriend, San Diego Surfing Academy owner Pat Weber, who was forced to kneel at gunpoint for 45 minutes. They were at a campground with about 30 tents, some 200 miles south of the border.

The men shot out windows of the couple's trailer and forced their way inside, ransacked the cupboards and left with about $7,000 worth of gear, including computers, video equipment and a guitar.

Weber, who has taught dozens of students in Mexico over the last 10 years, plans to surf in Costa Rica or New Zealand. "No more Mexico," said Hoffman, who reported the attack to Mexican police. No arrests have been made.

The Baja California peninsula is known worldwide for clean and sparsely populated beaches, lobster and margaritas and blue waters visited by whales and dolphins. Surfers love the waves; fishermen catch tuna, yellowtail and marlin. Food and hotels are cheap.

News of harrowing assaults on American tourists has begun to overshadow that appeal in the northern part of the peninsula, home to drug gangs and the seedy border city of Tijuana. The comparatively isolated southern tip, with its tony Los Cabos resort, remains safer and is still popular with Hollywood celebrities, anglers and other foreign tourists.

Local media and surfing Web sites that trumpeted Baja in the past have reported several frightening crimes that U.S. and Mexican officials consider credible. Longtime visitors are particularly wary of a toll road near the border that runs through Playas de Rosarito — Rosarito Beach.

In late November, as they returned from the Baja 1000 off-road race, a San Diego-area family was pulled over on the toll road by a car with flashing lights. Heavily armed men held the family hostage for two hours. They eventually released them but stole the family's truck.

Before dawn on Aug. 31, three surfers were carjacked on the same stretch of highway. Gunmen pulled them over in a car with flashing lights, forced them out of their vehicles and ordered one to kneel. They took the trucks and left the surfers.

Aqua Adventures of San Diego scrapped its annual three-day kayak trip to scout for whales in January, ending a run of about 10 years. Customers had already been complaining about longer waits to return to the U.S.; crime gave them another reason to stay away.

"People are just saying, 'No way.' They don't want to deal with the risk," said owner Jen Kleck, who has sponsored trips to Baja about five times a year but hasn't been since July.

Charles Smith, spokesman for the U.S. consulate in Tijuana, said the U.S. government has not found a widespread increase in attacks against Americans, but he acknowledged many crimes go unreported. The State Department has long warned motorists on Mexico's border to watch for people following them, though no new warnings have been issued.

Mexican officials acknowledge crime has threatened a lifeblood of Baja's economy. In Playas de Rosarito, a city of 130,000, police were forced to surrender their weapons last month for testing to determine links to any crimes. Heavily armed men have patrolled City Hall since a failed assassination attempt on the new police chief left one officer dead. On Thursday the bullet-riddled bodies of a Tijuana police official and another man were found dumped near the beach.

"We cannot minimize what's happening to public safety," said Oscar Escobedo Carignan, Baja's new secretary of tourism. "We're going to impose order ... We're indignant about what's happening."

Tourist visits to Baja totaled about 18 million in 2007, down from 21 million the previous year, Escobedo said. Hotel occupancy dropped about 5 percentage points to 53 percent.

Hugo Torres, owner of the storied Rosarito Beach Hotel and the city's new mayor, estimates the number of visitors to Rosarito Beach since summer is down 30 percent.

In the city's Puerto Nuevo tourist enclave, which offers $20 lobster dinners and $1 margaritas, restaurant managers said sales were down as much as 80 percent from last year. One Saturday afternoon in October, masked bandits wielding pistols walked the streets and kidnapped two men — an American and a Spanish citizen — who were later released unharmed. Two people who were with them were shot and wounded.

Omar Armendariz, who manages a Puerto Nuevo lobster restaurant, is counting on the new state and city governments to make tourists feel safer. He has never seen fewer visitors in his nine years on the job.

"It's dead," he said.
28514  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: For Any Conan/Frazetta/Robert E. Howard Fans. on: January 06, 2008, 01:33:42 PM
IIRC Tuhon Rafeal (Sun Helmet) has been involved with this character.  I will email him about this thread.
28515  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: 4 Elements query to Marc Denny on: January 06, 2008, 11:06:06 AM
Skinny Devil:

Please feel free to share that essay here or post a URL to it.

28516  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: January 06, 2008, 11:01:58 AM
Would someone please give me a URL for yesterday's debate?
28517  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / No go zones for non-Muslims on: January 06, 2008, 10:37:59 AM
Bishop warns of no-go zones for non-Muslims
By Jonathan Wynne-Jones
Last Updated: 12:39am GMT 06/01/2008

Islamic extremists have created "no-go" areas across Britain where it is too dangerous for non-Muslims to enter, one of the Church of England's most senior bishops warns today.

The Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, the Bishop of Rochester and the Church's only Asian bishop, says that people of a different race or faith face physical attack if they live or work in communities dominated by a strict Muslim ideology.

Bishop Nazir-Ali warns that attempts are being made to give Britain an increasingly Islamic character

Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, he compares the threat to the use of intimidation by the far-Right, and says that it is becoming increasingly difficult for Christianity to be the nation's public religion in a multifaith, multicultural society.

His comments come as a poll of the General Synod - the Church's parliament - shows that its senior leaders, including bishops, also believe that Britain is being damaged by large-scale immigration.

Bishop Nazir-Ali, who was born in Pakistan, gives warning that attempts are being made to give Britain an increasingly Islamic character by introducing the call to prayer and wider use of sharia law, a legal system based on the Koran.

In an attack on the Government's response to immigration and the influx of "people of other faiths to these shores", he blames its "novel philosophy of multiculturalism" for allowing society to become deeply divided, and accuses ministers of lacking a "moral and spiritual vision".

Echoing Trevor Phillips, the chairman of the Commission for Equalities and Human Rights, who has said that the country is "sleepwalking into segregation", the bishop argues that multiculturalism has led to deep divisions.

David Davis, the shadow home secretary, has accused Muslims of promoting a kind of "voluntary apartheid" by shutting themselves in closed societies and demanding immunity from criticism.

In the Synod survey, to be published this week, bishops, senior clergy and influential churchgoers said that an increasingly multi-faith society threatens the country's Christian heritage and blamed the divisions on the Government's failure to integrate immigrants into their communities.

It found that more than one in three believe that a mass influx of people of other faiths is diluting the Christian nature of Britain and only a quarter feel that they have been integrated into society.

The overwhelming majority - 80 per cent - said that the Government has not upheld the place of religion in public life and up to 63 per cent fear that the Church will be disestablished within a generation, breaking a bond that has existed between the Church and State since the Reformation.

Calls for disestablishment have grown following research showing that attendance at Mass has overtaken the number of worshippers at Church of England Sunday services.

Bishop Nazir-Ali, whose father converted from Islam to Catholicism, was criticised by Ibrahim Mogra, of the Muslim Council of Britain. He said: "It's irresponsible for a man of his position to make these comments.
"He should accept that Britain is a multicultural society in which we are free to follow our religion at the same time as being extremely proud to be British. We wouldn't allow 'no-go' areas to happen. I smell extreme intolerance when people criticise multiculturalism without proper evidence of what has gone wrong."

Religious membership in Britain:
click to enlarge

But the Bishop's concerns are shared by other members of the General Synod.
The Rt Rev Nicholas Reade, the Bishop of Blackburn, which has a large Muslim community, said that it was increasingly difficult for Christians to share their faith in areas where there was a high proportion of immigrants of other faiths.

He believes that increasing pressure will be put on the Government to begin the process of disestablishment and end the preferential status given to the Church of England. "The writing is on the wall," he said.
Gordon Brown relinquished Downing Street's involvement in appointing bishops in one of his first facts as Prime Minister - a move viewed by some as a significant step towards disestablishment.

Last night, Mr Davis said: "Bishop Nazir-Ali has drawn attention to a deeply serious problem. The Government's confused and counter-productive approach risks creating a number of closed societies instead of one open, cohesive one. It generates the risk of encouraging radicalisation and creating home-grown terrorism."


Can anyone help explain the role of the Church of England and its connection with the British government?
28518  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: January 05, 2008, 07:47:51 PM
Body has two supplies of energy: glycogen and fat.  When our body's hormones e.g. insulin are "in the zone" we burn both, but when we eat high glcemic foods we burn glycogen, but not fat.  Brain requires glycogen, hence when we run low the body'd demand for fuel becomes irresistable.  Over time weight ratchets upwards.  But if we maitain hormonal balance by eating correct mix of carbs (low glycemic) protein and fat, then body burns fat as well as glycogen.  Thus glycogen stores last longer before brain/body insists on more fuel and fat weight can truly be lost.

I hope I have explained this coherently and accurately, but guarantee neither smiley
28519  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Huckabee is for NWO?!? on: January 05, 2008, 06:34:58 PM
Third post of the day:

Mike Huckabee recently named Richard Haas (the President of the CFR) as his advisor on foreign policy. CNN's WOLF BLITZER asked "Who are your principal foreign policy advisers, Governor?" Mike Huckabee responded: "Well, I have a number of people from whom I get policy. I'm talking to Frank Gaffney, I talk to Richard Haas.."
So what does Richard Haas believe in? Here's an article below which was written by Haas for the Tapei Times. It basically states the Bill of Rights and Constitution should be given up in favor of a cooperative world body run by elite consensus. Who needs individual rights in the techno-futuristic world police state? And you thought liberty was in jeopardy now? Just wait till you see what your children will have to deal with. Get activated folks, These police state freaks want to shape your future into a control grid enforced through the fear based reaction to state sponsored false flag terror.
State Sovereignty Must be Altered in Globalized Era
In the age of globalization, states should give up some sovereignty to world bodies in order to protect their own interests
By Richard Haass

Taipei Times - For 350 years, sovereignty -- the notion that states are the central actors on the world stage and that governments are essentially free to do what they want within their own territory but not within the territory of other states -- has provided the organizing principle of international relations. The time has come to rethink this notion.
The world's 190-plus states now co-exist with a larger number of powerful non-sovereign and at least partly (and often largely) independent actors, ranging from corporations to non-governmental organizations (NGOs), from terrorist groups to drug cartels, from regional and global institutions to banks and private equity funds. The sovereign state is influenced by them (for better and for worse) as much as it is able to influence them. The near monopoly of power once enjoyed by sovereign entities is being eroded.
As a result, new mechanisms are needed for regional and global governance that include actors other than states. This is not to argue that Microsoft, Amnesty International, or Goldman Sachs be given seats in the UN General Assembly, but it does mean including representatives of such organizations in regional and global deliberations when they have the capacity to affect whether and how regional and global challenges are met.
Less is more Moreover, states must be prepared to cede some sovereignty to world bodies if the international system is to function. This is already taking place in the trade realm. Governments agree to accept the rulings of the WTO because on balance they benefit from an international trading order even if a particular decision requires that they alter a practice that is their sovereign right to carry out.
Some governments are prepared to give up elements of sovereignty to address the threat of global climate change. Under one such arrangement, the Kyoto Protocol, which runs through 2012, signatories agree to cap specific emissions. What is needed now is a successor arrangement in which a larger number of governments, including the US, China, and India, accept emissions limits or adopt common standards because they recognize that they would be worse off if no country did.
All of this suggests that sovereignty must be redefined if states are to cope with globalization. At its core, globalization entails the increasing volume, velocity, and importance of flows -- within and across borders -- of people, ideas, greenhouse gases, goods, dollars, drugs, viruses, e-mails, weapons and a good deal else, challenging one of sovereignty's fundamental principles: the ability to control what crosses borders in either direction. Sovereign states increasingly measure their vulnerability not to one another, but to forces beyond their control.
Globalization thus implies that sovereignty is not only becoming weaker in reality, but that it needs to become weaker. States would be wise to weaken sovereignty in order to protect themselves, because they cannot insulate themselves from what goes on elsewhere. Sovereignty is no longer a sanctuary.
This was demonstrated by the American and world reaction to terrorism. Afghanistan's Taliban government, which provided access and support to al-Qaeda, was removed from power. Similarly, the US' preventive war against an Iraq that ignored the UN and was thought to possess weapons of mass destruction showed that sovereignty no longer provides absolute protection.
Imagine how the world would react if some government were known to be planning to use or transfer a nuclear device or had already done so. Many would argue -- correctly -- that sovereignty provides no protection for that state.
Necessity may also lead to reducing or even eliminating sovereignty when a government, whether from a lack of capacity or conscious policy, is unable to provide for the basic needs of its citizens. This reflects not simply scruples, but a view that state failure and genocide can lead to destabilizing refugee flows and create openings for terrorists to take root.
The NATO intervention in Kosovo was an example where a number of governments chose to violate the sovereignty of another government (Serbia) to stop ethnic cleansing and genocide. By contrast, the mass killing in Rwanda a decade ago and now in Darfur, Sudan, demonstrate the high price of judging sovereignty to be supreme and thus doing little to prevent the slaughter of innocents.
Conditions needed Our notion of sovereignty must therefore be conditional, even contractual, rather than absolute. If a state fails to live up to its side of the bargain by sponsoring terrorism, either transferring or using weapons of mass destruction, or conducting genocide, then it forfeits the normal benefits of sovereignty and opens itself up to attack, removal or occupation.
The diplomatic challenge for this era is to gain widespread support for principles of state conduct and a procedure for determining remedies when these principles are violated.
The goal should be to redefine sovereignty for the era of globalization, to find a balance between a world of fully sovereign states and an international system of either world government or anarchy.
The basic idea of sovereignty, which still provides a useful constraint on violence between states, needs to be preserved. But the concept needs to be adapted to a world in which the main challenges to order come from what global forces do to states and what governments do to their citizens rather than from what states do to one another.
Richard Haass is president of the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of The Opportunity: America's Moment to Alter History's Course.
28520  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: January 05, 2008, 06:29:02 PM
GM my friend, I reject your moment of defeatism smiley  We have our guns yet and as for the rest, as long as we do have them, we shall see.

Here's Peggy Noonan on Iowa:

Out With the Old, In With the New
Obama and Huckabee rise; Mrs. Clinton falls.

Friday, January 4, 2008 12:01 a.m. EST

And so it begins.

We wanted exciting, we got exciting.

As this is written, late on the night of the caucuses, the outlines of the decisions seem clear: Barack Obama won.

Hillary Clinton, the inevitable, the avatar of the machine, lost.

It's huge. Even though people have been talking about this possibility for six weeks now, it's still huge. She had the money, she had the organization, the party's stars, she had Elvis behind her, and the Clinton name in a base that loved Bill. And she lost. There are always a lot of reasons for a loss, but the ur-reason in this case, the thing it all comes down to? There's something about her that makes you look, watch, think, look again, weigh and say: No.

She started out way ahead, met everyone, and lost.

As for Sen. Obama, his victory is similarly huge. He won the five biggest counties in Iowa, from the center of the state to the South Dakota border. He carried the young in a tidal wave. He outpolled Mrs. Clinton among women.

He did it with a classy campaign, an unruffled manner, and an appeal on the stump that said every day, through the lines: Look at who I am and see me, the change that you desire is right here, move on with me and we will bring it forward together.

He had a harder row to hoe than Mrs. Clinton did. He was lesser known, too young, lacked an establishment. He had to knock her down while building himself up. (She only had to build herself up until the end, when she went after his grade-school essays.) His takedown of Mrs. Clinton was the softest demolition in the history of falling buildings. I think we were there when it happened, in the debate in which he was questioned on why so many of Bill Clinton's aides were advising him. She laughed, and he said he was looking forward to her advising him, too. He took mama to school.

And so something new begins on the Democratic side.

Something new begins on the Republican side, too.
Everyone said Mike Huckabee was a big dope to leave Iowa Wednesday to fly to L.A. to be on Jay Leno, but did you see him on that thing? He got off a perfect line on why he's doing well against Romney: "People are looking for a presidential candidate who reminds them more of the guy they work with rather than the guy that laid them off." The studio audience loved him. And you know, in Iowa they watch "The Tonight Show" too.

Mr. Huckabee likes to head-fake people into thinking he's Gomer Pyle, but he's more like the barefoot boy of the green room. He's more James Carville than Jim Nabors.

What we have learned about Mr. Huckabee the past few months is that he's an ace entertainer with a warm, witty and compelling persona. He won with no money and little formal organization, with an evangelical network, with a folksy manner, and with the best guileless pose in modern politics. From the mail I have received the past month after criticizing him in this space, I would say his great power, the thing really pushing his supporters, is that they believe that what ails America and threatens its continued existence is not economic collapse or jihad, it is our culture.

They have been bruised and offended by the rigid, almost militant secularism and multiculturalism of the public schools; they reject those schools' squalor, in all senses of the word. They believe in God and family and America. They are populist: They don't admire billionaire CEOs, they admire husbands with two jobs who hold the family together for the sake of the kids; they don't need to see the triumph of supply-side thinking, they want to see that suffering woman down the street get the help she needs.

They believe that Mr. Huckabee, the minister who speaks their language, shares, down to the bone, their anxieties, concerns and beliefs. They fear that the other Republican candidates are caught up in a million smaller issues--taxing, spending, the global economy, Sunnis and Shia--and missing the central issue: again, our culture. They are populists who vote Republican, and as I have read their letters, I have felt nothing but respect.

But there are two problems. One is that while the presidency, as an office, can actually make real changes in the areas of economic and foreign policy, the federal government has a limited ability to change the culture of America. That is something conservatives used to know. Second, I'm sorry to say it is my sense that Mr. Huckabee is not so much leading a movement as riding a wave. One senses he brilliantly discerned and pursued an underserved part of the voting demographic, and went for it. Clever fellow. To me, the tipoff was "Don't Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?"

My sense is that Mr. Huckabee's good supporters deserve a better leader.
His next problem may be not so much New Hampshire as Ed Rollins, the Reagan White House political aide who came in a week ago to manage his campaign. Mr. Rollins began his tenure announcing to respectful young reporters that he--"the grizzled veteran," the "old battler"--would like to sink to his knees and "shoot Romney in the groin" and "punch his teeth out." Such class is of course always welcome on the trail, but one senses the verbal ante will constantly be upped, and I'm not sure that will work well for Mr. Huckabee. Self inflated dirigibles, especially unmoored ones, can cast shadows on parades.

Ms. Noonan is a contributing editor of The Wall Street Journal and author of "John Paul the Great: Remembering a Spiritual Father" (Penguin, 2005), which you can order from the OpinionJournal bookstore. Her column appears Fridays on
28521  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DB Gathering of the Pack August 10th, 2008 on: January 05, 2008, 12:00:28 PM
We hope to have our webmaster take care of it this week.
28522  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 10 Most Under Reported Stories of 2007 on: January 05, 2008, 11:58:30 AM

6. Hillary and her felonious fundraising: A shady Chinese megadonor to Sen. Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign named Norman Hsu drew some attention from mainstream media then faded. But virtually ignored was the fact it merely represented a host of illegal fundraising accusations against the Clintons. One case proceeding in the courts will require Sen. Clinton and her husband to testify under oath to fraud charges in the midst of the presidential election campaign this year.

Business mogul Peter Paul has filed a lawsuit charging President Clinton destroyed his entertainment company to get out of a $17 million agreement. The California Supreme Court already upheld a lower-court decision to deny the Clintons' motion to dismiss the case. Bill Clinton, according to the complaint, promised to promote Paul's company, Stan Lee Media, in exchange for stock, cash options and massive contributions to his wife's 2000 Senate campaign.

This month, Paul filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission asking the agency to re-open an investigation into illegal contributions and to probe alleged continuing violations of the law by Sen. Clinton.

Paul, armed with videotape he made of a July 2000 phone call, contends the senator committed felony violations carrying a prison sentence of up to five years.

Meanwhile, WND reported Norman Hsu's close ties to an aerospace mogul accused of sharing missile secrets with Beijing during the Clinton administration.

Republicans in Congress saw parallels to last decade's Chinagate fund-raising scandal and clamored for public hearings. Clinton rejected comparisons between Chinagate and Hsu, saying, "I don't think it's analogous at all."

7. Illegal aliens who rape, murder, kill driving drunk, commit voter fraud, welfare fraud and burden the system: WND has reported on the growing list of illegal immigrants who have not only ignored U.S. immigration laws, but state laws against drinking and driving as well, killing innocents on the highways in the process.

For example, if Luciano Melendres had been deported to Mexico following his 2006 arrest for driving drunk – or even if a judge hadn't suspended his six-month jail sentence and given him 12 months probation – Dacus Lamont Sims, 32, would be alive today.

Meanwhile, a new study has finally fixed an approximate taxpayer cost for the millions of illegal aliens residing in the U.S. The Heritage Foundation's Robert Rector found a household headed by an individual without a high school education, about two-thirds of illegal aliens, costs U.S. taxpayers more than $32,000 in federal, state and local benefits. That same family contributes an average of $9,000 a year in taxes, resulting in a net tax burden of $22,449 each year.

Over the course of the household's lifetime the tax burden translates to $1.1 million. If the lower figure of 12 million illegal aliens is used for estimation purposes, the total tax burden translates to $2.2 trillion.

Many states and local jurisdictions, however, are fighting back. For example, a new Arizona law to require employers to verify the immigration status of employees is being blamed – and credited – for chasing illegal aliens out of the state.

Just one week before that report, WND reported on a new Oklahoma law requiring the deportation of arrested illegal aliens was prompting an exodus from the state.

In Hazelton, Pa., the American Civil Liberties Union was joined by Hispanic activist groups in a lawsuit to block implementation of a law designed to restrict activities by illegal aliens.

Many of these developments were launched after a brokered plan in the U.S. Senate to create a path to legal residency for the millions of illegal aliens in the country collapsed.

But then-presidential spokesman Tony Snow told WND attempts by cities or other governments to sidestep federal policy and make their own provisions for illegal aliens won't get any attention from the White House.

WND also reported Snow said he wouldn't either condemn or endorse plans announced in several locations to set up "sanctuary" facilities for illegal aliens in violation of federal law.

Responding to the failed bill, an illegal alien who refused to follow a deportation took refuge in a Chicago-area church and called for suspension of the nation's immigration laws and a "campaign of resistance."

8. Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein's resignation from the Senate Military Construction Appropriations subcommittee, which she chaired, amid a conflict of interest due to her husband's ownership of two major defense contractors. : The firms owned by Feinstein's husband, Richard C. Blum, reportedly were awarded billions of dollars for military construction projects approved by the senator.

Feinstein "regularly took junkets to military bases around the world to inspect construction projects, some of which were contracted to her husband's companies, Perini Corp. and URS Corp.," reported Metroactive, an online report from the Silicon Valley.

Feinstein abandoned the Senate committee "as her ethical problems were surfacing in the media, and as it was becoming clear that her subcommittee left grievously wounded veterans to rot while her family was profiting from the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan," the report said.

In 2005, the Capitol Hill paper Roll Call calculated Feinstein's wealth at $40 million, up $10 million from just a year earlier. Reports show her family earned between $500,000 and $5 million from capital gains on URS and Perini stock.

9. Progress of Law of the Sea Treaty: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on a 17-4 vote, moved forward the Law of the Sea Treaty, or LOST, despite a wide spectrum of critics charging it would grant the United Nations control of 70 percent of the planet under its oceans and undermine U.S. sovereignty.


International negotiators drafted the treaty in 1982 in an attempt to establish a comprehensive legal regime for international management of the seas and their resources. President Ronald Reagan, however, refused to sign LOST because he concluded it didn't serve U.S. interests.

In 1994, President Clinton signed a revised version and forwarded it to the Senate, but the Senate deferred action, and it sat until resurrection by the Bush administration.

Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., has called it, "U.N. on steroids," and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has concluded it is "the dumbest thing we've ever done. It's like taking our sovereignty and handing it over to some international tribunal. What's wrong with us?"

Responding to a question from WND, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said in November, "The president is supportive of the treaty, and so is our military and our State Department. And we have testified on Capitol Hill multiple times about it. I understand that there are concerns, but we believe that those have been addressed."

But the Heritage Foundation warns the treaty would have unintended consequences for U.S. interests – including a threat to sovereignty.

The conservative think tank says "bureaucracies established by multilateral treaties often lack the transparency and accountability necessary to ensure that they are untainted by corruption, mismanagement or inappropriate claims of authority. The LOST bureaucracy is called the International Seabed Authority Secretariat, which has a strong incentive to enhance its own authority at the expense of state sovereignty."

Heritage fellows Baker Spring and Brett D. Schaefer said the treaty "would impose taxes on U.S. companies engaged in extracting resources from the ocean floor. This would give the treaty's secretariat an independent revenue stream that would remove a key check on its authority. After all, once a bureaucracy has its own source of funding, it needs answer only to itself."

One of the main authors of LOST not only admired Karl Marx but was an ardent advocate of the Marxist-oriented New International Economic Order. Elisabeth Mann Borgese, a socialist who ran the World Federalists of Canada, played a critical role in crafting and promoting LOST, as WND reported in 2005.

10. Syria's alleged WMDs and Israel's attack: Syrian President Bashar Assad claimed Israeli jets hit an unmanned military facility in a Sept. 6 raid. The Israel Defense Forces remained quiet, later admitting it targeted a military installation. But reports surfaced that Israel destroyed a facility at which North Korea was transferring nuclear technology to the Syrians.

WND's Jerusalem bureau reported Israel believed Syria planned to use proxy terrorist groups to respond indirectly to the air strike in September on an undisclosed military facility.

The report came as bureau chief Aaron's Klein's book – "Schmoozing with Terrorists: From Hollywood to the Holy Land, Jihadists Reveal their Global Plans – to a Jew!" – disclosed Syria recently formed a new guerrilla group modeling itself after the Lebanese Hezbollah militia. The new group is preparing for "resistance attacks" against Israel.

28523  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The 10 Most Under Reported Stories of 2007 on: January 05, 2008, 11:57:14 AM
I suppose this could be posted in the Media bias thread, but I feel like giving it its own thread.  It comes from WND, a site which often hyperventilates and IMHO sometimes plays fast and loose with the facts and with data, but often is worth keeping an eye on.  So with those caveats in place , , ,

Here, with our readers' help, are WorldNetDaily editors' picks for the 10 most underreported stories of 2007:

1. Developments moving U.S. and continent closer to a North American Union: President Bush ridiculed any talk of a continental merger as conspiracy theory, and recent articles published in The Nation and Newsweek magazines have attempted to characterize "NAFTA Superhighways" the same way, but numerous developments and admissions by officials this past year indicate otherwise.

The leaders of the United States, Canada and Mexico conferred over the Security and Prosperity Partnership

Last month, for example, Canada announced a plan to complete a continental highway grid designed to accommodate an anticipated tsunami of containers from China and the Far East.

Meanwhile, state lawmakers in Oklahoma and Texas continued to battle plans for a "NAFTA Superhighway and North American Union" as threats to the sovereignty of the U.S.

A number of influential voices raised the possibility the U.S. dollar might be replaced by a regional currency called the amero.

Stephen Jarislowsky, known as the Canadian Warren Buffet, told a parliamentary committee that Canada and the U.S. should abandon their dollars and move to a regional North American currency as soon as possible.

Former Mexican President Vicente Fox confirmed the existence of a plan conceived with President Bush to create a new regional currency in the Americas.

Fox admitted to CNN's Larry King he had agreed with Bush to pursue the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas – a trade zone extending throughout the Western Hemisphere – suggesting part of the plan was to institute a regional currency.

Much of the concern about incremental moves toward a continental merger centered on the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, an agreement Bush entered after secret discussions with Mexico's then-president Vicente Fox and Canada's then-prime minister Paul Martin in Waco, Texas, March 23, 2005.

An insider who presented a paper at a recent North American Forum meeting in Mexico, however, says public exposure has sparked opposition to North American integration, stalling SPP efforts, .

2. Bush's refusal to pardon imprisoned Border Patrol Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, who were prosecuted by the president's friend, U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton: Last month, a bi-partisan resolution was introduced into the House of Representatives calling on President Bush to commute the former agents' sentences immediately, allowing them to be home with their families by Christmas.

But Ramos and Compean continue to serve 11- and 12-year federal prison sentences for shooting an admitted drug smuggler as he fled across the border after smuggling into the U.S. a load of 750 pounds of marijuana in a van.

A Border Patrol activist group accused Sutton of protecting the drug smuggler, Osvaldo Adrete-Davila, from facing perjury charges, calling for a special prosecutor to investigate the U.S. attorney for subornation of perjury for allowing Aldrete-Davila to take the stand under "false pretenses."
Former U.S. Border Patrol agent Ignacio Ramos embraced his wife, Monica Ramos, two days before he was sentenced to 11 years in prison (Courtesy El Paso Times)

Aldrete-Davila was arrested at the Mexican border in November for alleged drug offenses committed while under immunity to testify as the star witness in the case.

WND also reported a long list of lies Aldrete-Davila told under oath, including the claim he committed a single drug offense because he was under duress to get money to buy medicine for his sick mother after he lost his commercial driver's license in Mexico.

Last month, the three judges hearing the Ramos and Compean appeal for the 5th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans were harshly critical of the prosecution in their questions and comments from the bench. Remarkably, the U.S. government admitted in federal court that Aldrete-Davila lied under oath. One judge said the "government overreacted" in applying a law that requires an additional 10-year minimum prison sentence if felons in the act of committing crimes such as rape or burglary carry a weapon.

WND reported on the intervention of Mexican consulates demanding the law enforcement agents be prosecuted for using force, even against illegal aliens committing crimes in the U.S. The demands were a major factor leading to prosecution not only of Ramos and Compean but others, including deputy sheriff Gilmer Hernandez of Rocksprings, Texas, who was convicted for shooting a fleeing van of illegal aliens who tried to run him over.

Sutton also prosecuted former Border Patrol agent Gary Brugman, who served a 24-month sentence in federal prison for a minor scuffle with an illegal alien at the U.S. border in January 2001. Brugman told WND, "For many years after what happened to me, I lost faith in the United States of America."

3. Research refuting man-made global warming: Former Vice President Al Gore won a Nobel prize in 2007 for his global warming campaigning to add to the Oscar for the documentary "An Inconvenient Truth. But numerous reports were issued throughout the year challenging the mainstream media's oft-repeated contention that the debate is settled over whether or not humans are causing global warming.

A new U.S. Senate report documented hundreds of prominent scientists – experts in dozens of fields of study worldwide – who say global warming and cooling is a cycle of nature and cannot legitimately be connected to man's activities.

An analysis of peer-reviewed literature by the Hudson Institute found more than 500 scientists have published evidence refuting the current man-made global warming scare.

After an investigation, a veteran meteorologist found dire "global warming" predictions were based on bad science from the very start, pointing out surface temperatures recorded throughout the U.S. are done with almost no regard to scientific standards.

Anthony Watts found temperature monitoring stations used by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration were constructed and placed without regard to achieving accurate recordings of natural temperatures.

The assessment supports another study on which WND reported, revealing carbon dioxide levels were largely irrelevant to global warming. Those results prompted Reid Bryson, founding chairman of the Department of Meteorology at the University of Wisconsin, to quip, "You can go outside and spit and have the same effect as doubling carbon dioxide."

WND also reported on a NASA-funded study that noted some climate forecasts might be exaggerating estimations of global warming. Taking aim at Gore and other "climate change" activists, the founder of the Weather Channel said the campaign to promote the theory of man-made global warming is "the greatest scam in history."

John Coleman, now a meteorologist for San Diego TV station KUSI, called it a "manufactured crisis" by "dastardly scientists with environmental and political motives" who have "manipulated long-term scientific data to create an illusion of rapid global warming."

Muriel Newman, director of the New Zealand Centre for Political Research called for Gore's Nobel to be rescinded after British High Court judge Michael Burton concluded "An Inconvenient Truth" should be shown in British schools only with guidance notes to prevent political indoctrination. The decision followed a lawsuit by a father, Stewart Dimmock, who claimed the film contained "serious scientific inaccuracies, political propaganda and sentimental mush." The British court pointed to 11 inaccuracies in the production.

A cover story in Newsweek reported a "denial machine," bought and paid for by big industry, was preventing critical government action to stop global warming. But the following week's issue of Newsweek contained a scathing report by longtime contributing editor Robert J. Samuelson characterizing the previous cover story as "highly contrived" and "fundamentally misleading."

A dramatic documentary produced by the UK's Channel 4 TV deviated from the dire presentations on impending global-warming disaster. In "The Great Global Warming Swindle," British TV director Martin Durkin interviewed scientist after scientist who claim the current hysteria over global warming is, in a word, nonsense.

4. Lack of action on border fence mandated by Congress: The Secure Fence Act of 2006 required the construction of a double-layered barrier covering 854 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border, but Democrats led efforts to squelch the plan.

Republican presidential hopeful Duncan Hunter blasted a Democrat-sponsored House bill that would prevent the fence from being built.

"By eliminating the double fence requirement, the Democratic Congress is going to make it easier for drug and human smugglers to cross our Southern land border," said Hunter. "This goes against the interests of any family that has been touched by illegal drugs or any American who has seen their job taken by an illegal alien."

Also, in the Senate, as WND reported , an amendment submitted by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, and co-sponsored by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, for the Department of Homeland Security 2008 budget was aimed at gutting the already-approved Secure Fence Act.

The Hutchison amendment would allow the secretary of homeland security to use discretion in deciding whether a fence was the most appropriate means to achieve and maintain operational control along the border with Mexico.

5. California bill introducing homosexuality to young children: Children as young as two years of age are in the bull's-eye of coming changes in California's school curriculum, which "gay rights" advocates now admit will alter the very foundation of information presented to public school classrooms.

Opponents of a new state law that bars "discriminatory bias" in public schools because of a "characteristic," including "perceived gender," argued before its passage that it would foster a pro-homosexual bias that would eliminate references to "mom" and "dad" or "husband" and "wife."

Supporters steadfastly maintained the bill only clarified anti-discrimination laws already on the books. But, already, demands by homosexual advocacy groups such as Equality California indicate the new law actually paves the way for editing of all school curricula in the state.

A list of school resources, sponsored by a homosexual-advocacy group called Safe Schools Coalition, suggests "Felicia's Favorite Story," which tells how a girl was "adopted by her two mothers." It also promotes a book called "Are You a Girl or a Boy?" for children ages 4-8 that advocates homosexuality, bisexuality, transgenderism and other lifestyles. Other resources promoted in the wake of California's new law include books authored by officials with Planned Parenthood and the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network.

One book, called "Tackling Gay Issues in School," is for kindergarten through grade 12, and features recommended "extracurricular" activities for classes.

WND also reported how thousands of requests for information about homeschooling organizations and Christian schools have been bombarded with requests for information.

A grass-roots advocacy group is working on a referendum and the non-profit Advocates for Faith and Freedom is filing a lawsuit challenging the law.
28524  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: January 05, 2008, 11:27:42 AM
Second post of the morning.  This very interesting piece was sent to me by a friend in India.  As best as I can tell, I have found the commentary from India about Afg-Pak often to be quite superior to that which we generate here in the US.

2008: Bleeding Pakistan - International Terrorism Monitor---Paper No. 345

By B. Raman

"It is obligatory on the Muslims in Pakistan to carry out Jihad and fighting to remove Pervez, his government, his army and those who help him.  We in al-Qaida Organization call on Allah to witness that we will retaliate for the blood of Maulana Abd al-Rashid Ghazi and those with him against Musharraf and those who help him, and for all the pure and innocent blood, foremost of which is the blood of the champions of Islam in Waziristan - both North and South - among them the two noble leaders, Nek Muhammad and Abdullah Mahsud." (My comment: Maulana Ghazi died in the Pakistan Army commando raid into the Lal Masjid of Islamabad between July 10 and 13, 2007) ---- From my article on "Bin Laden's Fatwa Against Musharraf & Pakistani Army" of September 22, 2007, at


Pakistan has gone through a traumatic 2007. The trauma started with the Pakistan Army commando action in the Lal Masjid of Islamabad from July 10 to 13, 2007, during which about 300 young tribal girls from the Pashtun tribal belt, who were studying in a girls' madrasa run by the masjid, were allegedly killed.  These girls came from poor tribal families. Many of them were the daughters or sisters of Pashtuns from the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) serving in the Army and other security forces.

2.The anger caused by the commando action, the resulting death of a large number of young tribal girls and the damage to the masjid triggered off a wave of suicide terrorism, the like of which Pakistan had not seen before.  The number of acts of suicide terrorism increased nine-fold from six in 2006 to 55 in 2007. The most dramatic victim of this wave was Mrs. Benazir Bhutto, who was killed by unidentified terrorists at Rawalpindi on December 27, 2007.

3. Unless one constantly keeps in mind the traumatic impact of the commando action on the minds of the Pashtuns, one is likely to err in one's assessment of the worsening state of jihadi terrorism in Pakistan and blame everything that is happening in Pakistan on Al Qaeda. There has been a frightening wave of tribal anger in the wake of the Lal Masjid operation. Al Qaeda and other pro-Al Qaeda jihadi terrorist organisations have been capitalising on this anger to promote their own pan-Islamic, anti-US and anti-Musharraf agenda, but they were not the cause of this anger.

4. President Pervez Musharraf caused this anger by his inept handling of the Lal Masjid episode. Initially, he did not act against the members of the Laskar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ), the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM), who were gathering inside the Masjid in order to instigate the madrasa students against the Government and the liberal sections of the Pakistani society. When these extremists started targeting some Chinese women working in Islamabad, he over-reacted, sent the commandos of the US-trained Special Services Group (SSG) in and used force, which was perceived by many as disproportionate.

5. The result---the current wave of suicide terrorism by angry tribals and others. The suicide bombers are of varying backgrounds--- Al Qaeda, pro-Taliban and pro-Al Qaeda tribals, the LEJ, which is largely an anti-Shia organisation of Punjabis, ex-servicemen not belonging to any organisation whose daughters or sisters died in the commando raid, the male students of a madrasa attached to the Lal Masjid, who want to avenge the death of the women students etc. Attempts to attribute everything to Al Qaeda and see everything that has been happening in Pakistan as part of Al Qaeda's global jihad against the US are too simplistic and would not permit a lucid understanding of the situation.

6. The international community and the post-9/11 crop of Al Qaeda watchers, who are largely influenced by American perceptions, may have difficulty in understanding the roots of the anger sweeping across Pakistan's tribal belt, but we in India should be able to understand it better. We passed through a similar trauma in the months after the Army's raid into the Golden Temple at Amritsar in June 1984, to flush out a group of Khalistani terrorists, who had taken control of the Temple. During the Army operation, many civilians, including Bhindranwale, the religious mentor of the extremists, were killed and some parts of the temple premises were badly damaged by the exchange of fire between the Army and the terrorists. The only saving grace for us was that there were no religious schools inside the temple complex and hence no young students were killed.

7. The Army raid into the Gold Temple, called Operation Blue Star, had a disastrous sequel---- many Sikh soldiers of the Indian Army deserted just as Pakistani tribal soldiers are deserting after  the Lal Masjid raid; four Sikh deserters crossed over into Pakistan and sought political asylum; some of the Sikh deserters shot dead a serving Brigadier; Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister,  was gunned down inside her house by her own Sikh security guards; Gen. A. S. Vaidya, who was the Chief of the Army Staff during Operation Blue Star was shot dead by Khalistanis at Pune where he was living after retirement; Khalistanis unsuccessfully tried to assassinate Mr. Jule Ribeiro, who had served as the Punjab police chief, at Bucharest where the Govt. had sent  him as Ambassador in order to protect him from the wrath of the Khalistanis, Mr. Bhajan Lal, former Chief Minister of Haryana, escaped a plot to kill him in the US due to the timely detection of the conspiracy by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); the Kanishka aircraft of Air India flying from Toronto to India was blown up in mid-air off the Irish coast by Khalistanis, coinciding with the first anniversary of Blue Star; another Air India aircraft escaped a similar disaster due to the premature explosion of the device at the Tokyo airport; Liviu Radu, a Romanian diplomat posted at New Delhi was kidnapped, migrant Hindu agricultural workers working in Punjab were targeted and killed; there was an upsurge in the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) not only in Punjab, but also in Delhi etc etc. The post-Blue Star trauma and anger started subsiding only after 1992. It lasted eight years.

8. Popular perceptions---right or wrong--- of acts of desecration against places of worship and religious significance have disastrous after-effects. We saw it after Operation Blue Star and after the demolition of the Babri Masjid in India. We have been seeing it in Malaysia in recent months. The Hindus of Malaysia were a very law-abiding people. They had never in the past taken their economic and social grievances out into the streets, but their anger over the demolition of some Hindu temples and alleged bulldozing of some Hindu idols by municipal authorities at some places provoked them to come out in the streets in large numbers in defiance of the police and the law. We have been seeing a growing wave of anger among the Hindus of India over the alleged plans of the authorities to demolish the Ramar Setu, a site of religious significance, for the construction of the Sethusamudram Project in India's southern coast.

9. The suicide wave, which we have been seeing in Pakistan, is partly---if not largely--- the result of the anger unleashed among the tribals by what happened in the Lal Masjid. This anger is among the Pashtun tribals on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Even Afghan Pashtuns in large numbers, who were previously fighting against the US and other NATO forces in Afghan territory, have now been moving into Pakistan since July for acts of reprisal against Musharraf and his perceived collaborators----military as well as civilian. Action to kill Musharraf, whom they view as apostate, and other apostates has assumed priority in their eyes over action against the NATO in Afghan territory. Moreover, in their view, if they eliminate these apostates, their jihad in Afghanistan against Western forces would be facilitated.

10. There are over a dozen jihadi terrorist organisations operating from the tribal belt---- Al Qaeda, the Neo Taliban, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan of which Baitullah Mehsud is the Amir, the TNSM of which Maulana Fazlullah is the Amir, the Lashkar Islam, the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM), the LEJ, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Islamic Jihad Union etc. Periodically, they have been putting out their own demands. Most of their agenda is influenced by local factors. But there is one agenda item which is common to all of them--- the need to avenge the alleged massacre in the Lal Masjid by Pakistani Army commandoes.

11. Even before the Lal Masjid episode, Al Qaeda, the Neo Taliban and other jihadi organisations were well entrenched in the tribal belt, but they were facing difficulty in getting volunteers for suicide terrorism, but after the Lal Masjid raid, they are getting volunteers in their hundreds from the tribal areas on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.  In its issue of August 3-9, 2007, the "Friday Times" of Lahore wrote as follows: "Recruits are formally registered with the Taliban as suicide bombers and given a receipt indicating their registration number. At any given point, there are thousands in line waiting to sacrifice their lives, an observer returning from South Waziristan told the weekly. If one of them is selected to be the next bomber, the news is a cause for celebration in his household. Once confirmation arrives of his death, the funeral prayers are substituted with congratulatory messages for the family....Women, because of the Taliban's strict anti-wife-beating policy, are largely in favour of them..... This is part of the strategy of winning over the mothers, who, according to the Taliban, have the greatest influence on the child as he grows up. Women are thus actively involved in the process of indoctrinating children in favour of the Taliban." The deaths of a large number of tribal girls in the Lal Masjid have further motivated Pashtun women to act as recruiters of suicide terrorists for whichever organisation wants them.

12. Al Qaeda is growing stronger in Pakistan. It has spread its tentacles even to Rawalpindi and into the lower and middle ranks of the Armed Forces. But, any counter-terrorism strategy, which focusses exclusively on the physical threat from Al Qaeda, without paying attention to the psychological factors being exploited by it, would prove ineffective. While stepping up action against Al Qaeda and other pro-Al Qaeda organisations, it is equally important to address the post-Lal Masjid anger in the tribal belt through actions such as an enquiry into the alleged deaths, compensation for the families of those killed etc. By refusing to admit the role of the commando raid in the upsurge of jihadi terrorism, Musharraf is only making the situation worse. If he continues with his ill-advised policies, Pakistan will continue to bleed.
28525  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: January 05, 2008, 09:24:25 AM
You seem to have followed this area more than most people.  I am curious:

Where do you think things heading?

What do you think the US should do?
28526  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: January 05, 2008, 01:57:08 AM
CCP:  Concerning your post #74, what do you think of the Zone Diet's analysis of this point?
28527  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: January 05, 2008, 01:53:28 AM
Clear and strong on the second amendment, ending the foolihsness of the War on Drugs, abolishing the IRS and many other departments of the govt sounds pretty good to me.
28528  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: January 04, 2008, 07:49:33 PM

Here's more on the dhimmitude in the Pentagon:
28529  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: January 04, 2008, 07:14:59 PM
RP also stands for a lot of fine things too.
28530  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The DC case on: January 04, 2008, 07:13:33 PM
The DC's brief in the case going to the Supreme Court on whether the Second Amendment is an individual right:

Its long.  If you are in a hurry, start at page 22.


Here's an AP article on the brief:

D.C.: 2nd Amendment Does Not Apply Here

January 4, 2008 - 7:28pm

Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Second Amendment's provisions protecting the right to keep and bear arms apply only to the federal government, not the 50 states and the District of Columbia, lawyers for the nation's capital argued Friday in a written brief to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The district is seeking to preserve its three-decade ban on handgun possession after a federal appeals court ruled in March that the ban is an unconstitutional infringement on an individual's right to keep and bear arms.

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to take the case, setting up what could be a landmark ruling on the scope of the Second Amendment. The court has not addressed the issue in a significant way for nearly 70 years.
"We are going to argue not just the most significant legal case in the history of the District of Columbia, but one of the most significant legal challenges in the history of the country," Mayor Adrian Fenty said at a press conference Friday in which he introduced former U.S. Solicitor General Walter Dellinger as the lead attorney representing the district.
The primary issue is whether the right to keep and bear arms is an individual right or a collective right belonging to state militias. A majority of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the founding fathers intended the right apply to individuals and struck down the D.C. law, though it remains in effect while the case is on appeal.
The district argues that the Second Amendment protects the right to keep and bear arms only in the context of an organized militia.

In the brief, the district makes an additional argument: That the founding fathers' concern in drafting the Second Amendment was to protect states from an overbearing federal government that might restrict access to firearms as a means of crippling state militias.

As such, the Second Amendment only restricts Congress, they argue.
"The primary goal of those who demanded (the Bill of Rights) as a condition of ratification to the Constitution was to control the federal government," the lawyers wrote. "That is especially true with respect to the inclusion of the Second Amendment."

Alan Gura, the lawyer representing the D.C. resident who challenged the law, called the district's argument "very creative but wrong."

The fundamental flaw, he said, is that the district is a creation of Congress and the federal government, so the D.C. Council would be subject to the same restrictions as Congress in passing gun-control laws.
Randy Barnett, law professor at Georgetown University, agreed that the argument is strained, and said that if the high court accepts the notion that the right to bear arms is an individual right, it would be hard pressed to turn around and allow the district and the states to violate that right.

The district's interpretation "is at odds with the text and the original meaning of the Second Amendment and the rest of the Bill of Rights as well," Barnett said.

The Supreme Court may hear arguments in the case in March.
Because the case addresses not only the Second Amendment but also the peculiar status of the District of Columbia as a federal enclave, it is unclear whether the Supreme Court ruling will have a direct impact on the national gun-control issue.

(Copyright 2008 The Associated Press
28531  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: January 04, 2008, 11:16:31 AM
I trust Dick Morris is known to all.  Here is his take on it all:

Dick Morris' Political Insider   

Hillary on the Ropes
Friday, January 4, 2008 8:31 AM
By: Dick Morris & Eileen McGann   
The amazing victories by Obama and Huckabee in Iowa are truly historic.

They demonstrate the impact and viability of a message of change in both parties. In the Democratic Party, Obama, winning in a totally white state, shows that racism is gone as a factor in American politics. On the Republican side, Huckabee?s win shows how a truly compassionate conservative can win by harvesting voters who want the message of concern for the poor and for values to prevail.

But what of Hillary? She's down but she's not out. Hillary Clinton, in the first really contested election of her own political career, lost dismally - outclassed, outdrawn, and outpolled by Barack Obama.

Her campaign professionals (including Bill) decided to stress experience, precisely the wrong message in a Democratic primary. Prematurely appealing to the center and abandoning the left, she fell between two chairs, not sufficiently centrist to win independents or liberal enough to attract Democrats.

On the Republican side, Huckabee brought a new phenomenon into politics.

A New Testament Christian politician, he takes the biblical message to the center-left, clothing the naked and feeding the hungry. His refusal to indulge in negative advertising sent a message to Iowa voters showing his strength under fire.

The Obama victory in Iowa probably presages a victory in New Hampshire and follow up victories in Nevada and South Carolina. (Hillary will win Michigan because she is alone on the ballot.) Suddenly, Hillary?s argument that she should be the candidate because she has a record of defeating the "Republican attack machine" will backfire. Sold as a winner, she will be exposed as a loser. The overhang of Iowa will dog her for all of the early primaries.

Particularly important for Obama is the poor finish of John Edwards, who has campaigned in Iowa for six years. Now Obama can count on being the nearly unanimous choice of the anti-Hillary voters. No longer will the vote be divided.

Hillary faces a serious problem: Voters rejected her and rejected Bill on a very personal basis. Iowa was a referendum on Hillary and she lost 30-70. Her argument of experience only reinforced her phoniness and her issues positioning showed how contrived her ideology is. This is a stinging personal defeat for Hillary.

But what will happen next? With the limelight comes the spotlight. Obama will suddenly become the putative candidate of the Democratic Party and will be subject to the scrutiny that comes with the title. Can he weather the examination?

Perhaps not. Democrats may turn on Obama, worried that he may not win in November. The doubts about Obama, up to now hidden behind concerns about Hillary?s candidacy, will be on center stage. I wonder if he can stand the scrutiny.

Much the same process will evolve on the Republican side. Ignored in the Iowa result, Giuliani appears to be in even worse shape than Hillary with his fifth place finish. But the same process that will unfold for the Republican Party may take place on the Democratic side. Voters may wonder if all that stands between the White House and the Democratic Party is a Mormon, a Christian evangelical, and a 70-year-old.

Rudy, like Hillary, may look better once the rest of the field unfolds.

But don't write off Obama or Huckabee. Their appeals are truly unique and obviously resonate with voters. Their approaches are now and the outcome shows how relevant their message is.

© 2008 Dick Morris & Eileen McGann
28532  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iowa on: January 04, 2008, 09:37:48 AM
A very interesting night last night!

Some quick initial thoughts:

The Dems:  VERY bad for Lady Evita.  Her aura of invincibility is broken.  Many supported her thinking she was the best bet to win in November even though they didn't like her that much.  Edwards may feel cocky at the moment that he too beat her, but ultimately it will not be him.  With Obama looking like someone who can win (yes Iowa is not representative, but the size of the enthusiastic turnout BO generated seems significant) most of his support will go to BO.  I caught BO's victory speech on Fox last night. Speaking purely from a handicapping point of view, it was VERY impressive.  The man calls to emotions people want to feel.  Very American optimism.  This man has the potential to win the nomination.

The Reps:  Turnout was , , , typical.  Great win for Huck, embarrassing body blow to Romney, who outspent Huck 15-1.   I was glad to see Fred take third (using money I sent him BTW) and continue to wish him well. Both he and McCain now goes into NH credibly. With Romney seriously wounded, and Huck moving on from the evangelical base in Iowa, and MCCain unloved on several important issues (immigration, campaign finance "reform"  rolleyes, taxes)  Fred may yet get another chance.  Even though Rudy was a no-show, Ron Paul virtually tripled him-- dang!  shocked

28533  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / AG Mukasey on Protecting Telcoms from lawsuits for helping track I-fascists on: January 04, 2008, 07:51:40 AM
Notable & Quotable
January 4, 2008; Page A11
Attorney General Michael Mukasey at the American Bar Association, December 19:

I also want to address the issue of protecting telecom companies from lawsuits. It's critical that Congress provide retroactive liability protection for telecommunications companies, as a bipartisan bill from the Senate Intelligence Committee does. Let me explain why this is important.

Over 40 lawsuits have been filed against telecommunication companies simply because these companies are believed to have assisted our intelligence agencies after the attacks of September 11th. The amounts of these claims -- which run into the hundreds of billions of dollars; that's billions with a B -- are enough to send any company into bankruptcy. These companies face lawsuits, they face bankruptcy, they face loss of reputation, they face millions of dollars in legal fees, all because they are alleged to have helped the government in obtaining intelligence information after 9/11.

Even if you believe the lawsuits will ultimately be dismissed, as we do, the prospect of having to defend against these massive claims is an enormous burden for the companies to bear.

Not only is the litigation itself costly, but the companies also may suffer significant business and reputational harm as the result of the allegations against them -- allegations which may or may not be true, but to which they cannot publicly respond, because they're not allowed to confirm or deny whether, and to what extent, they provide classified assistance to the Government. . . .

As you might imagine, these companies and others may decide that it's too risky to help the Intelligence Community in the future, no matter how great our need for their assistance may be.

28534  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Spike TV, the Dog Brothers Gathering Webisodes; National Geographic on: January 04, 2008, 07:30:40 AM
Woof Baltic Dog:

You are quite welcome.  The Dog Brothers and our Gatherings are one of my missions in this Life.  As for the documentary, I just got word yesterday that it will air on January 23rd.  By the way, you are one of the story lines. You came across very well.

The Adventure continues!
Crafty Dog
28535  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Adams: Education of Children on: January 04, 2008, 07:26:55 AM
"It should be your care, therefore, and mine, to elevate the
minds of our children and exalt their courage; to accelerate and
animate their industry and activity; to excite in them an habitual
contempt of meanness, abhorrence of injustice and inhumanity, and
an ambition to excel in every capacity, faculty, and virtue. If
we suffer their minds to grovel and creep in infancy, they will
grovel all their lives."

-- John Adams (Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law, 1756)

Reference: Our Sacred Honor, Bennett (253)
28536  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: January 03, 2008, 11:28:51 PM
A lucid point PC cheesy  What do you make of this?
NY Times

WHEN, in May 1991, former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi of India was killed by a suicide bomber, there was an international outpouring of grief. Recent days have seen the same with the death of Benazir Bhutto: another glamorous, Western-educated scion of a great South Asian political dynasty tragically assassinated at an election rally.

There is, however, an important difference between the two deaths: while Mr. Gandhi was assassinated by Sri Lankan Hindu extremists because of his policy of confronting them, Ms. Bhutto was apparently the victim of Islamist militant groups that she allowed to flourish under her administrations in the 1980s and 1990s.

It was under Ms. Bhutto’s watch that the Pakistani intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, first installed the Taliban in Afghanistan. It was also at that time that hundreds of young Islamic militants were recruited from the madrassas to do the agency’s dirty work in Indian Kashmir. It seems that, like some terrorist equivalent of Frankenstein’s monster, the extremists turned on both the person and the state that had helped bring them into being.

While it is true that the recruitment of jihadists had started before she took office and that Ms. Bhutto was insufficiently strong — or competent — to have had full control over either the intelligence services or the Pakistani Army when she was in office, it is equally naïve to believe she had no influence over her country’s foreign policy toward its two most important neighbors, India and Afghanistan.

Everyone now knows how disastrous the rule of the Taliban turned out to be in Afghanistan, how brutally it subjected women and how it allowed Al Qaeda to train in camps within its territory. But another, and in the long term perhaps equally perilous, legacy of Ms. Bhutto’s tenure is often forgotten: the turning of Kashmir into a jihadist playground.

In 1989, when the insurgency in the Indian portion of the disputed region first began, it was largely an amateur affair of young, secular-minded Kashmiri Muslims rising village by village and wielding homemade weapons — firearms fashioned from the steering shafts of rickshaws and so on. By the early ’90s, however, Pakistan was sending over the border thousands of well-trained, heavily armed and ideologically hardened jihadis. Some were the same sorts of exiled Arab radicals who were at the same time forming Al Qaeda in Peshawar, in northwestern Pakistan.

By 1993, during Ms. Bhutto’s second term, the Arab and Afghan jihadis (and their Inter-Services Intelligence masters) had really begun to take over the uprising from the locals. It was at this stage that the secular leadership of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front began losing ground to hard-line Islamist outfits like Hizbul Mujahedeen.

I asked Benazir Bhutto about her Kashmir policy and the potential dangers of the growing role of religious extremists in the conflict during an interview in 1994. “India tries to gloss over its policy of repression in Kashmir,” she replied. “India does have might, but has been unable to crush the people of Kashmir. We are not prepared to keep silent, and collude with repression.”

Hamid Gul, who was the head of the intelligence agency during her first administration, was more forthcoming still. “The Kashmiri people have risen up,” he told me, “and it is the national purpose of Pakistan to help liberate them.” He continued, “If the jihadis go out and contain India, tying down their army on their own soil, for a legitimate cause, why should we not support them?”

Benazir Bhutto’s death is, of course, a calamity, particularly as she embodied the hopes of so many liberal Pakistanis. But, contrary to the commentary we’ve seen in the last week, she was not comparable to Myanmar’s Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Ms. Bhutto’s governments were widely criticized by Amnesty International and other groups for their use of death squads and terrible record on deaths in police custody, abductions and torture. As for her democratic bona fides, she had no qualms about banning rallies by opposing political parties while in power.

Within her own party, she declared herself the president for life and controlled all decisions. She rejected her brother Murtaza’s bid to challenge her for its leadership and when he persisted, he was shot dead in highly suspicious circumstances during a police ambush outside the Bhutto family home.

Benazir Bhutto was certainly a brave and secular-minded woman. But the obituaries painting her as dying to save democracy distort history. Instead, she was a natural autocrat who did little for human rights, a calculating politician who was complicit in Pakistan’s becoming the region’s principal jihadi paymaster while she also ramped up an insurgency in Kashmir that has brought two nuclear powers to the brink of war.

William Dalrymple is the author, most recently, of “The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty, Delhi, 1857.”

Here's this from Stratfor:

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said Jan. 2 he will deploy the army during the general elections scheduled for Feb. 18. He did not say what would happen to anyone brazen enough to question the results.

The political situation in Pakistan is chaotic and delicate. The Dec. 27 assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto undid most of the political compromises made in the past several months — Bhutto was widely expected to be invited into the government in the aftermath of the upcoming elections. Now Pakistan’s various factions — especially those within the military, the only institution in Pakistan that truly matters — are all scrambling for alternatives.

For Musharraf, Bhutto’s departure from this world is a mixed blessing. While it certainly complicates his efforts to maintain control — Bhutto would have, after all, been joining his government — it also forces everyone else into a new round of negotiations with each other. As president and, until recently, military chief, Musharraf holds an institutional advantage in that race. He is one man with an apparatus at his back, rather than a collection of men who need to consult and build an alliance.

But as one might expect in a country where the military holds supreme power, Musharraf’s strength comes far more from his links to the military than his holding of the presidency. Thus it attracted our attention on Thursday when Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, chairing his first corps commanders conference since becoming chief of the army, flatly stated, “Ultimately it is the will of the people and their support that is decisive.” That, he said, will allow the army to “thwart and defeat all kinds of threats.”

This statement is the first sign that Musharraf and Kayani may not be on the same page as far as how to deal with the issue of elections. There are two potential outcomes of the Feb. 18 elections, both equally dangerous for Musharraf’s political health.

The first possibility is that the election is viewed by his opponents –- the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) — as reasonably free and fair, because it has produced a parliament dominated by them. The resulting government will in turn eventually be engaged in a tug of war over power between an aggressive parliament and a presidency asserting its right to oversight of the political system. This is not to mention the problems Musharraf could face in attempts to legalize his Nov. 3 move to suspend the constitution. Nevertheless, two past presidents were forced to step down by the military in similar gridlock situations during the 1990s.

A second possibility is that the opposition gets fewer seats than it is expecting and the pro-Musharraf Pakistan Muslim League emerges with a disproportionately greater number of seats. Such a move is very likely to stir up the proverbial hornet’s nest. A much more organized and sustained version of the rioting that took place in the aftermath of Bhutto’s assassination can be expected.

Given that his opponents have little faith in the judiciary or the election commission, which they see as consisting of Musharraf appointees, agitation is an even more likely recourse on the part of the opposition. Musharraf is well aware of this potential scenario, which is why he has specifically noted that the army will remain deployed even after the elections and that no one will be allowed to engage in civil disturbances. But this assumes that the army chief will order troops to open fire on unarmed demonstrators angry over what they perceive as government foul play in the elections.

Considering the current political climate and the existing negative sentiment against the army’s hold over the state, Kayani is unlikely to play with fire to salvage the future of one man, even if it is the president. His statements on Thursday serve as an indicator of what he is likely to do when faced with such a situation.

In no country is a spat between the president and the army something to scoff at, and Pakistan is not exactly known for having robust civilian oversight of the military. We are hardly to the point of a coup yet, but this is how the path to a coup starts.

Musharraf should know. He staged the last one.

28537  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / DB Gathering of the Pack August 10th, 2008 on: January 03, 2008, 11:05:56 PM
Woof All:

For reasons I will explain more fully shortly, the next Dog Brothers Gathering of the Pack will be held on August 10, 2008 at a location yet to be determined.

The Adventure continues!
Crafty Dog
Guiding Force
28538  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Working out While Sick?? on: January 03, 2008, 07:59:05 PM
I suspect training partners might not appreciate it , , ,
28539  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Stock Market on: January 03, 2008, 02:07:32 PM
POT is nearing a triple for me cool 
PAAS is virtually a quadruple  cool
Got out of CELG in time to keep nice profit intact
CWCO got hit hard for misleading accounting cry

LNOP is scaring me shocked-- but here's this:

LanOptics to Complete Acquisition of Substantially All of EZchip's Equity
Thursday January 3, 8:00 am ET 
LanOptics Trading Moves to NASDAQ Global Market Applied to Change Trading Symbol to "EZCH"

YOKNEAM, Israel, January 3 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- LanOptics Ltd. (NASDAQ: LNOP - News), a provider of Ethernet network processors, announced today that the last two principal shareholder groups of its subsidiary, EZchip Technologies Ltd., have elected to exchange all of their shares of EZchip for shares of LanOptics. This exchange represents the last major step in LanOptics' long-term plan to acquire 100% ownership of EZchip.
LanOptics will acquire preferred shares of EZchip from the two principal shareholders, representing the equivalent of 20,047,365 EZchip ordinary shares, in exchange for the issuance of 5,011,841 LanOptics shares. The resulting dilution in each LanOptics shareholder's percentage of ownership will be substantially offset by the increase in LanOptics' holdings in EZchip. LanOptics' business consists exclusively of the business of EZchip, a company that is engaged in the development and sales of Ethernet network processors.

Following the exchange, LanOptics will own approximately 99% of the outstanding share capital of EZchip, or 89% on a fully diluted basis. The residue represents unissued EZchip shares subject to outstanding EZchip options held by current and former employees of EZchip. Pursuant to the exchange agreement, LanOptics is required to register the shares issued in the exchange with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

LanOptics further announced that starting tomorrow January 4, 2008, the company's ordinary shares will be traded on the NASDAQ Global MarketSM. The company has also applied to change its trading symbol from "LNOP" to "EZCH" effective January 17, 2008.

"It is an exciting day in the history of our company and the beginning of a new era," commented Eli Fruchter, the Chairman of LanOptics and CEO of EZchip. "It has been our long-term goal to acquire full ownership of EZchip and we are excited to finally reach this milestone. We expect the rationalizing of our corporate structure and the unifying of the shareholdings in the two companies under our EZchip brand name to further support the company's continued growth and allow various efficiencies in the operation of the businesses."

"We are also delighted to announce our upgrade to the NASDAQ Global MarketSM - a testament to the company's recent results and increased trading in the company's shares. We expect the move to the more prestigious NASDAQ Global MarketSM, combined with our new trading symbol - "EZCH", once approved, will provide greater visibility and liquidity to our shares and promote our EZchip brand name recognition," Mr. Fruchter added.

This press release shall not constitute an offer to sell or solicitation of an offer to buy, any securities of LanOptics.

About LanOptics

LanOptics' business consists exclusively of the business of EZchip, a company that is engaged in the development and marketing of Ethernet network processors for networking equipment. EZchip provides its customers with solutions that scale from 1-Gigabit to 100-Gigabits per second with a common architecture and software across all products. EZchip's network processors provide the flexibility and integration that enable triple-play data, voice and video services in systems that make up the new Carrier Ethernet networks. Flexibility and integration make EZchip's solutions ideal for building systems for a wide range of applications in telecom networks, enterprise backbones and data centers. For more information on LanOptics and EZchip, visit the web site at

28540  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: January 03, 2008, 07:20:26 AM
Pakistan, Bhutto and the U.S.-Jihadist Endgame
January 2, 2008 | 2205 GMT
By George Friedman

The endgame of the U.S.-jihadist war always had to be played out in Pakistan. There are two reasons that could account for this. The first is simple: Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda command cell are located in Pakistan. The war cannot end while the command cell functions or has a chance of regenerating. The second reason is more complicated. The United States and NATO are engaged in a war in Afghanistan. Where the Soviets lost with 300,000 troops, the Americans and NATO are fighting with less than 50,000. Any hope of defeating the Taliban, or of reaching some sort of accommodation, depends on isolating them from Pakistan. So long as the Taliban have sanctuary and logistical support from Pakistan, transferring all coalition troops in Iraq to Afghanistan would have no effect. And withdrawing from Afghanistan would return the situation to the status quo before Sept. 11. If dealing with the Taliban and destroying al Qaeda are part of any endgame, the key lies in Pakistan.

U.S. strategy in Pakistan has been to support Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and rely on him to purge and shape his country’s army to the extent possible to gain its support in attacking al Qaeda in the North, contain Islamist radicals in the rest of the country and interdict supplies and reinforcements flowing to the Taliban from Pakistan. It was always understood that this strategy was triply flawed.

First, under the best of circumstances, a completely united and motivated Pakistani army’s ability to carry out this mission effectively was doubtful. And second, the Pakistani army was — and is — not completely united and motivated. Not only was it divided, one of its major divisions lay between Taliban supporters sympathetic to al Qaeda and a mixed bag of factions with other competing interests. Distinguishing between who was on which side in a complex and shifting constellation of relationships was just about impossible. That meant the army the United States was relying on to support the U.S. mission was, from the American viewpoint, inherently flawed.

It must be remembered that the mujahideen’s war against the Soviets in Afghanistan shaped the current Pakistani army. Allied with the Americans and Saudis, the Pakistani army — and particularly its intelligence apparatus, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) — had as its mission the creation of a jihadist force in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets. The United States lost interest in Afghanistan after the fall of the Soviet Union, but the Pakistanis did not have that option. Afghanistan was right next door. An interesting thing happened at that point. Having helped forge the mujahideen and its successor, the Taliban, the Pakistani army and ISI in turn were heavily influenced by their Afghan clients’ values. Patron and client became allies. And this created a military force that was extremely unreliable from the U.S. viewpoint.

Third, Musharraf’s intentions were inherently unpredictable. As a creature of the Pakistani army, Musharraf reflects all of the ambivalences and tensions of that institution. His primary interest was in holding on to power. To do that, he needed to avoid American military action in Pakistan while simultaneously reassuring radical Islamists he was not a mere tool of the United States. Given the complexity of his position, no one could ever be certain of where Musharraf stood. His position was entirely tactical, shifting as political necessity required. He was constantly placating the various parties, but since the process of placation for the Americans meant that he take action against the jihadists, constant ineffective action by Musharraf resulted. He took enough action to keep the Americans at bay, not enough to force his Islamist enemies to take effective action against him.

Ever since Sept. 11, Musharraf has walked this tightrope, shifting his balance from one side to the other, with the primary aim of not falling off the rope. This proved unsatisfactory to the United States, as well as to Musharraf’s Islamist opponents. While he irritated everybody, the view from all factions — inside and outside Pakistan — was that, given the circumstances, Musharraf was better than the alternative. Indeed, that could have been his campaign slogan: “Vote for Musharraf: Everything Else is Worse.”

From the U.S. point of view, Musharraf and the Pakistani army might have been unreliable, but any alternative imaginable would be even worse. Even if their actions were ineffective, some actions were taken. At the very least, they were not acting openly and consistently against the United States. Were Musharraf and the Pakistani army to act consistently against U.S. interests as Russian logistical support for U.S. operations in Afghanistan waned, the U.S./NATO position in Afghanistan could simply crack.

Therefore, the U.S. policy in Pakistan was to do everything possible to make certain Musharraf didn’t fall or, more precisely, to make sure the Pakistani army didn’t fragment and its leadership didn’t move into direct and open opposition to the United States. The United States understood that the more it pressed Musharraf and the more he gave, the less likely he was to survive and the less certain became the Pakistani army’s cohesion. Thus, the U.S. strategy was to press for action, but not to the point of destabilizing Pakistan beyond its natural instability. The priority was to maintain Musharraf in power, and failing that, to maintain the Pakistani army as a cohesive, non-Islamist force.

In all of this, there was one institution that, on the whole, had to support him. That was the Pakistani army. The Pakistani army was the one functioning national institution in Pakistan. For the senior leaders, it was a vehicle to maintain their own power and position. For the lowest enlisted man, the army was a means for upward mobility, an escape from the grinding poverty of the slums and villages. The Pakistani army obviously was factionalized, but no faction had an interest in seeing the army fragment. Their own futures were at stake. And therefore, so long as Musharraf kept the army together, they would live with him. Even the less radical Islamists took that view.

A single personality cannot maintain a balancing act like this indefinitely; one of three things will happen. First, he can fall off the rope and become the prisoner of one of the factions. Second, he can lose credibility with all factions — with the basic political configuration remaining intact but with the system putting forth a new personality to preside. Third, he can build up his power, crush the factions and start calling the shots. This last is the hardest strategy, because in this case, it would be converting a role held due to the lack of alternatives into a position of power. That is a long reach.

Nevertheless, that is why Musharraf decided to declare a state of emergency. No one was satisfied with him any longer, and pressure was building for him to “take off his uniform” — in other words, to turn the army over to someone else and rule as a civilian. Musharraf understood that it was only a matter of time before his personal position collapsed and the army realized that, given the circumstances, the collapse of Musharraf could mean the fragmentation of the army. Musharraf therefore tried to get control of the situation by declaring a state of emergency and getting the military backing for it. His goal was to convert the state of emergency — and taking off his uniform — into a position from which to consolidate his power.

It worked to an extent. The army backed the state of emergency. No senior leader challenged him. There were no mutinies among the troops. There was no general uprising. He was condemned by everyone from the jihadists to the Americans, but no one took any significant action against him. The situation was precarious, but it appeared he might well emerge from the state of emergency in a politically enhanced position. Enhanced was the best he could hope for. He would not be able to get off the tightrope, but at the same time, simply calling a state of emergency and not triggering a massive response would enhance his position.

Parliamentary elections were scheduled for Jan. 8 and are now delayed until Feb. 18. Given the fragmentation of Pakistani society, the most likely outcome was a highly fragmented parliament, one that would be hard-pressed to legislate, let alone to serve as a powerbase. In the likely event of gridlock, Musharraf’s position as the indispensable — if disliked — man would be strengthened. By last week, Musharraf must have been looking forward to the elections. Elections would confirm his position, which was that the civil institutions could not function and that the army, with or without him as official head, had to remain the center of the Pakistani polity.

Then someone killed Benazir Bhutto and changed the entire dynamic of Pakistan. Though Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party probably would have gained a substantial number of seats, it was unlikely to sweep the election and seriously threaten the military’s hold on power. Bhutto was simply one of the many forces competing for power. As a woman, representing an essentially secular party, she was unlikely to be a decisive winner. In many ways, she reminds us of Mikhail Gorbachev, who was much more admired by Westerners than he ever was by Russians. She was highly visible and a factor in Pakistani politics, but if Musharraf were threatened, the threat would not come from her.

Therefore, her murder is a mystery. It is actually a mystery on two levels. First, it is not clear who did it. Second, it is not clear how the deed was done. The murder of a major political leader is always hard to unravel. Confusion reigns from the first bullet fired in a crowd. The first account of events always turns out to be wrong, as do the second through fifth accounts, too. That is how conspiracy theories are spawned. Getting the facts straight in any murder is tough. Getting them straight in a political assassination is even harder. Paradoxically, more people witnessing such incidents translates into greater confusion, since everyone has a different perspective and a different tale. Conspiracy theorists can have a field day picking and choosing among confused reports by shocked and untrained observers.

Nevertheless, the confusion in this case appears to be way beyond the norm. Was there a bomber and a separate shooter with a pistol next to her car? If this were indeed a professional job, why was the shooter inappropriately armed with a pistol? Was Bhutto killed by the pistol-wielding shooter, shrapnel from the bomb, a bullet from a third assassin on a nearby building or even inside her car, or by falling after the bomb detonated? How did the killer or killers know Bhutto would stand up and expose herself through her armored vehicle’s sunroof? Very few of the details so far make sense.

And that reflects the fact that nothing about the assassination makes sense. Who would want Bhutto dead? Musharraf had little motivation. He had enemies, and she was one of them, but she was far from the most dangerous of them. And killing her would threaten an election that did not threaten him or his transition to a new status. Ordering her death thus would not have made a great deal of sense for Musharraf.

Whoever ordered her death would have had one of two motives. First, they wanted to destabilize Pakistan, or second, they wanted to kill her in such a way as to weaken Musharraf’s position by showing that the state of emergency had failed. The jihadists certainly had every reason to want to kill her — along with a long list of Pakistani politicians, including Musharraf. They want to destabilize Pakistan, but if they can do so and implicate Musharraf at the same time, so much the sweeter.

The loser in the assassination was Musharraf. He is probably too canny a politician to have planned the killing without anticipating this outcome. Whoever did this wanted to do more than kill Bhutto. They wanted to derail Musharraf’s attempt to retain his control over the government. This was a complex operation designed to create confusion.

Our first suspect is al Qaeda sympathizers who would benefit from the confusion spawned by the killing of an important political leader. The more allegations of complicity in the killing are thrown against the regime, the more the military regime is destabilized — thus expanding opportunities for jihadists to sow even more instability. Our second suspects are elements in the army wanting to use the assassination to force Musharraf out, replace him with a new personality and justify a massive crackdown.

Two parties we cannot imagine as suspects in the killing are the United States and Musharraf; neither benefited from the killing. Musharraf now faces the political abyss and the United States faces the destabilization of Pakistan as the Taliban is splintering and various jihadist leaders are fragmenting. This is the last moment the United States would choose to destabilize Pakistan. Our best guess is that the killing was al Qaeda doing what it does best. The theory that it was anti-Musharraf elements in the army comes in at a very distant second.

But the United States now faces its endgame under far less than ideal conditions. Iraq is stabilizing. That might reverse, but for now it is stabilizing. The Taliban is strong, but it is under pressure and has serious internal problems. The endgame always was supposed to come in Pakistan, but this is far from how the Americans wanted to play it out. The United States is not going to get an aggressive, anti-Islamist military in Pakistan, but it badly needs more than a Pakistani military that is half-heartedly and tenuously committed to the fight. Salvaging Musharraf is getting harder with each passing day. So that means that a new personality, such as Pakistani military chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, must become Washington’s new man in Pakistan. In this endgame, all that the Americans want is the status quo in Pakistan. It is all they can get. And given the way U.S. luck is running, they might not even get that.

28541  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: The Seinfeld campaign on: January 03, 2008, 07:08:36 AM
The Seinfeld Campaign
January 3, 2008; Page A13

Des Moines, Iowa

If there's one thing a presidential campaign should provide, it's a sense of what a candidate's presidency would look like. We got that in 1992 with Bill Clinton, who campaigned as a moderate Democrat and mostly governed that way as president. The same was true in 2000 with George W. Bush. The 9/11 attacks changed his national security policy, but his domestic policies (tax cuts, the faith-based initiative) were the staples of his campaign.

Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee and his wife after a rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Tuesday, Jan. 1.
The 2008 presidential race is different: Voters are scarcely getting any glimpse of how the next president would perform in the White House. Instead, the campaign has been dominated by uninformative debates with too many marginal candidates and by a series of unimportant squabbles.

On top of that, both Democratic and Republican candidates are spending an enormous amount of time making frivolous distinctions among themselves and their rivals. As the first actual voting begins today in the Iowa caucuses, it's only a slight exaggeration to say that voters have been cheated.

We know, of course, that the Democratic candidates are liberals and the Republicans tend to be conservative to one degree or another. But we knew this from the early beginnings of the campaign more than a year ago.

Since then, many of the candidates have issued position papers or taken detailed stands on various issues. But these are mostly of interest to policy wonks, single issue groups and some elements of the press. They aren't intended to attract much attention, and they haven't.

What matters is what the voters see and hear -- the public campaign. And it's here where the voters are learning disturbingly little from the candidates on how they'd act as president.

On the Democratic side, Sen. Hillary Clinton emphasizes her experience. But it's unclear whether that experience consists of anything more than having been the wife of a governor, first lady when husband Bill Clinton was president, and more recently a senator.

There's no evidence her experience ever involved crafting policy (except her failed health-care plan) or a critical role in decision making. As first lady, she never had a security clearance or attended meetings of the National Security Council. So who can tell if her experience would actually give her an advantage, as her husband insists, if a crisis occurs while she's president? I doubt if voters can.

Sen. Barack Obama's candidacy is centered on an equally vague point. He would end political polarization in Washington, seek bipartisan solutions, and heal divisions in the country. But how would he achieve this epic task? How would he "bring us together"?

That's still a mystery. And there's nothing in his record in Washington to indicate he's a champion of bipartisanship rather than a conventional Democratic liberal.

In his autobiography, "The Audacity of Hope," he praises the "gang of 14" senators, half Democrats, half Republicans, who blocked a change in Senate rules on judicial nominations and cleared the way for a handful of confirmations. But Mr. Obama declined to join the bipartisan effort, because it facilitated the confirmation of a few conservative judges.

John Edwards, the third major Democratic candidate, has made "corporate greed and influence" in Washington his chief talking point. It's an old-fashioned populist pitch that emphasizes class sentiment rather than a realistic presidential agenda. Can voters tell if this is anything more than hot air? I don't think so.

The Republicans aren't much better in conveying an idea of their presidencies. Rather, they've all insisted that they are the next Ronald Reagan. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney told USA Today that Reagan "knew how to build consensus and achieve victory" in the Cold War. "Those are the kinds of skills I have worked to develop." Republican consultant Ed Rollins, who has joined Mike Huckabee's campaign, claims that Mr. Huckabee sounded just like you-know-who -- Reagan. In truth, all the claims to be Reagan-like are unpersuasive and, I suspect, unhelpful to voters.

The arguments among the candidates haven't helped either. For weeks, Mr. Romney and ex-New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani attacked each other on immigration, each asserting his rival was soft on illegal immigrants. This debate was hardly illuminating, and I'd be surprised if voters could make heads or tails of it. Mr. Huckabee, too, is bound to have left voters scratching their heads. He first advocated compassion toward illegals, then was warmly endorsed by one of the harshest critics of illegal immigration, Minuteman leader Jim Gilchrist.

Even less revealing has been the effort by Mrs. Clinton and Messrs. Obama and Edwards to claim the distinction as the best agent of change. Mrs. Clinton says her experience in Washington means she knows best how to achieve change. Mr. Obama says the opposite, that his aloofness from the ways of Washington means he's not tied down by Beltway connections. Mr. Edwards suggests his readiness to combat corporate interests gives the best prospects for change. To put it mildly, this is an inane dispute.

Here's the crux of the problem with the 2008 campaign. The next president will have to deal with three enduring issues: Iraq, immigration and entitlements. Yes, taxes and spending are important, but these three are overriding. On Iraq, Democrats have stuck with their positions fashioned when the war was being lost. But what would they do when faced in 2009 with, in all likelihood, a more stable Iraq in which the insurgency has been defeated? We don't know. What a Republican president would do is more knowable. He'd be likely to follow Mr. Bush's lead.

On immigration, Republicans, even John McCain, have moved away from comprehensive reform that comes to grips with 12 million illegals who are already in America and not about to leave. What would they do beyond stiffer border enforcement? Who knows? The Democratic candidates are more favorably disposed toward comprehensive reform, but they aren't talking this up. So what they'd do is also far from certain.

Finally, there's Social Security and Medicare. Mr. Bush's failed effort to reform Social Security in 2005 appears to have cooled not only interest in coping with rising entitlement costs, but also any interest in seriously discussing the issue in the campaign.

Republican Fred Thompson has talked about entitlements, but the other candidates haven't bothered to respond to him. Mrs. Clinton says she'd do something but she hasn't said what. So the campaign has provided no clarity on entitlements, and voters are left not knowing what to expect.

Maybe we shouldn't expect to learn much from a presidential campaign. Franklin Roosevelt, after all, ran as a budget balancer in 1932 but, once elected, unleashed the New Deal. However, 1932 should be the exception and not the rule. We'll never get a perfect picture of the next presidency during a campaign. But a glimpse or a serious hint or a fleeting idea would help. That's what voters deserve and have a right to expect.

Mr. Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard and a Fox News commentator.
28542  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson: Law on: January 03, 2008, 06:51:06 AM
"We lay it down as a fundamental, that laws, to be just, must
give a reciprocation of right; that, without this, they are
mere arbitrary rules of conduct, founded in force, and not in

-- Thomas Jefferson (Notes on the state of Virginia, 1782)
28543  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: January 02, 2008, 06:40:19 PM

Terrorism arrests made on Texas border

Insurgents connected to Hezbollah, Hamas, al-Qaida detained

By: Jeff Carlton (The Associated Press)

Posted: 9/13/07

DALLAS - Texas' top homeland security official said Wednesday that terrorists with ties to Hezbollah, Hamas and al-Qaida have been arrested crossing the Texas border with Mexico in recent years.

"Has there ever been anyone linked to terrorism arrested?" Texas Homeland Security Director Steve McCraw said in a speech to the North Texas Crime Commission. "Yes, there was."

His remarks appear to be among the most specific on the topic of terrorism arrests along the Texas-Mexico border. Local and elected officials have alluded to this happening but have been short on details.

Leticia Zamarripa, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement in El Paso, said Wednesday she was unaware of any border arrests of people with terrorist ties. An ICE spokeswoman in San Antonio did not return phone messages left by The Associated Press. U.S. Border Patrol spokesman Lloyd M. Easterling was unable to comment.

However, McCraw's remarks are similar to those made recently by National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell, who last month told the El Paso Times that a small number of people with known links to terrorist organizations have been caught crossing the border.

McCraw identified the most notable figure captured as Farida Goolam Mahomed Ahmed, who was arrested in July 2004 at the McAllen airport. She carried $7,300 in various currencies and a South African passport with pages missing. Federal officials later learned she waded across the Rio Grande.

After her arrest, U.S. Customs and Border Protection issued a release saying she was wanted for questioning about the bombing of a U.S. Consulate office, jibing with similar statements from a U.S. congressman.

But the department quickly retracted the terrorism connection, calling it "inaccurate on several levels." Michael Shelby, then the U.S. attorney in Houston, said in January 2005 that any suggestion Ahmed was involved in terrorism "is in error."

According to federal court records, Ahmed pleaded guilty to improper entry by an alien, making a false statement and false use of a passport. She was sentenced to time served and deported to South Africa. Other details of the case were sealed.

But on Wednesday, McCraw described Ahmed as having ties to an insurgent group in Pakistan and whose specialty was smuggling Afghanis and other foreign nationals across the border.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Michael Friel could not confirm details about Ahmed on Wednesday.

McCraw also said that since March 2006, 347 people from what he called "terrorism-related countries" have been arrested crossing the border in Texas. The number of Iraqis captured at the border has tripled since last year, he said.

"A porous border without question is a national security threat," he said.

Terrorism isn't the only concern for homeland security officials in Texas, McCraw said. The state's size, population and geography make it susceptible to all sorts of disasters, both natural and man-made. Emergency responders must also be prepared for natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and wildfires, he said.

The state has made significant strides in emergency planning since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and Hurricane Rita, McCraw said. Plans include cooperating with large private companies, including grocery stores, Wal-Mart and the oil industry, to help the state respond during disasters.

"This is not a shot at FEMA, but we can't depend on FEMA to protect Texas," McCraw said. "The governor's mandate has made it clear: If those buses don't come, we better have our own buses. If that food doesn't come,we better have our own food. If that water doesn't come, we better have our own water to take care of Texas." © Copyright 2008 The Daily Texan
28544  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: January 02, 2008, 05:47:36 PM
Muhammad and Mrs. Jones - Kenny Gamble's Philadelphia Muslim Enclave

By Beila Rabinowitz

January 1, 2008 - San Francisco, CA - - Kenny Gamble is best known for being "the architect of the Philly Soul Sound." His catalog of hits includes "Me and Mrs. Jones" and he and longtime collaborator Leon Huff are slated to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next year. But Gamble is also the architect of a planned stealth Islamist enclave in Philadelphia where he is better known in Muslim circles as Brother Luqman Abdul Haqq.

Gamble has admitted that he intends to bring about the Muslim community in South Philadelphia through his "Universal Companies" and proclaims that his state and federally subsidized funded building endeavors are part of an Islamist blueprint, "We are not down here just for Universal-we are down here for Islam."
In 1975 after a personal crisis Gamble converted to Islam and took the name of Luqman Abdul Haqq. Founding an organization called "The United Muslim Movement," he opened a masjid of the same name. In 1993 he formed the "Universal Companies" specializing in urban revitalization projects. Both UMM and UC's mission statements are virtually identical.

Recently the United Muslim Masjid which Gamble founded and built "hosted" a conference call from Jamil Al Amin, the former H. Rap Brown, now serving a life sentence for murdering a police officer:

"...A highlight of one meeting, for example, was when we had Imam Jamil Al-Amin on speaker phone talking to us from his Georgia prison. MANA and its members have raised and donated several thousands of dollars to his family and legal defense team. Imam Jamil has recently been transferred to a "supermax" prison in Colorado, and we ask that you make du'a for him." [source,]
Gamble is also a member of the Majlis Ash Shura Council of MANA, the Muslim Alliance in North America, which is led by Siraj Wahhaj. MANA was created to support cop killer Al Amin. Siraj Wahhaj is perhaps most infamous as having been named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 by Federal prosecutor Mary Jo White.

"The catalyst for the founding of MANA was the arrest of Imam Jamil in March, 2000. Imam Jamil's arrest placed Al-Ummah (Imam Jamil?s organization) under intense pressure. In April, 2000 the leadership of Al-Ummah met in Philadelphia and decided that they needed to expand the base of the organization and to get more people involved to help in the efforts to free Imam Jamil and in the efforts of dawah and other Islamic work...On April 21 an executive committee was elected, which included: Imam Siraj and Imam Talib, in addition to Luqman Abdul Haqq, Asim Abdur Rashid, Amir al-Islam, Ihsan Bagby, Zaid Shakir and Hamza Yusuf…We ask Allah (SWT) to increase the good efforts of Universal Companies, United Muslim Movement, MANA, and others committed to helping our people, our communities and society-at-large." [source,]
It's hard to imagine how such a problematic proposal has gone this far without intense public scrutiny. Aside from considering the wisdom of creating what might amount to a little Somalia in a major urban center, there are the obvious questions regarding government funding - under the transparent guise of urban renewal - of what is clearly a hard-core Muslim da'wa [faith spreading] program.

Everything about Gamble's stealth plan for a government subsidized Muslim ghetto - "one of the best kept secrets of Muslim America" - suggests a need for concern; indeed one wonders if Pennsylvania taxpayers are even aware that their tax dollars are going to help Gamble's plans to build "jihad central" while calling it "a neighborhood transformation initiative," a so-far effective strategy, having garnered $1.6 billion in government and private grants and funding.

Now that the secret is out, it's time that Pennsylvanians move to stop Gamble's participation in this project. His motives are self-serving, thoroughly inconsistent with the concept of the American melting pot and obliterate the separation between church and state.

© 1999-2008 LLC, Beila Rabinowitz, all rights reserved.
28545  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: January 02, 2008, 05:23:51 PM
China Flexes Its Muscles
January 2, 2008; Page A11

The U.S. Navy said it was "befuddled" by Beijing's last-minute November denial of a long-arranged port call for the Kitty Hawk carrier group in Hong Kong. This turndown was on top of China's refusal to provide shelter for two U.S. minesweepers seeking refuge from a storm, and its rejection of a routine visit for a frigate, the Reuben James. The Air Force also received a "no" for a regular C-17 flight to resupply the American consulate in Hong Kong.

The immediate causes of these rebuffs may be American arms sales to Taiwan, which China regards as sovereign territory, and the award of a congressional medal to the Dalai Lama, with whom Beijing has had a multi-decade spat. But so many turndowns suggest the decisions were made at the highest levels of the Chinese central government -- and at a time when senior leaders are reorienting the country's foreign policy. Washington's relations with Beijing, in short, appear headed for increasing disagreement and tension.

Deng Xiaoping, who turned China away from Maoist revolution, believed that the country should "bide time" and keep a low profile in international affairs. Deng wanted Beijing to "seek cooperation and avoid confrontation," especially with the U.S. China, after a series of disastrous episodes like the Cultural Revolution and the Tiananmen massacre, needed a peaceful environment and the help of outsiders to rebuild its shattered economy.

Deng's successor, Jiang Zemin, followed this general approach even though he wanted Beijing to pursue his "big country" ambitions. Mr. Jiang desired recognition for China's growing status, but he saw his nation working cooperatively with the U.S. and its allies as partners.

Current President Hu Jintao has shifted China in a new direction. Like Mr. Jiang, he believes that the country should assert itself. But unlike his predecessor, he seems to think that China should actively work to restructure the international system to be more to Beijing's liking. In short, the current leader appears to see his country mostly working against the U.S.

The shape of China's grand strategy became apparent after a series of meetings in Beijing in the second half of 2006. In August, the Communist Party convened its Central Work Conference on Foreign Affairs. The meeting, the culmination of a half-year, top-to-bottom review of the country's external policies, brought together for the first time all members of the Politburo, provincial governors and Party secretaries, the State Council and central government ministers, about 60 ambassadors and 30 other diplomats, and key military officers with foreign affairs responsibilities.

Significantly, the public summary of the meeting did not include references to the invariably cited "bide time" strategy of Deng Xiaoping -- an indication of a fundamental change in thinking. Adopting the new tone, that same month Beijing's top U.N. diplomat in Geneva, Sha Zukang, told the U.S. to "shut up" about China's military buildup.

Later in the year, senior leaders met one or more times to confirm the new foreign policy direction. As veteran China watcher Willy Lam has noted, Mr. Hu and the leadership decided "to make a clean break with Deng's cautious axioms and instead, embark on a path of high-profile force projection."

Mr. Hu's reorientation of foreign policy is a consequence of his increasing reliance on the People's Liberation Army as a political base inside the Party. Since the middle of 2004, he stepped up efforts to court senior generals for support of his efforts to assert supremacy over Jiang Zemin, who has been clinging to power and blocking some of his initiatives. The military, for example, appears to have been behind Mr. Hu's partially successful effort, in the run-up to last year's 17th Party Congress, to pick his own successor.

It seems that at the massive conclave, held once every five years, Mr. Hu obtained the assistance of the more hawkish officers of the PLA in return for accelerating increases in military spending, promoting some of them to senior positions -- especially Gen. Chen Bingde to be the chief of general staff -- and steering the country toward a more assertive posture toward other nations in general, and Taiwan in particular.

There are several other incidents consistent with China's new assertive posture. In October 2006, a Chinese submarine for the first time surfaced in the middle of an American carrier group. This episode, occurring in the Philippine Sea southeast of Okinawa, was an obvious warning to the U.S. Navy to stay away. And in January of last year, the PLA, in an unmistakable display of military power, destroyed one of China's old weather satellites with a ground-based missile.

Beijing's military has also started to boast about its new weapons and war-fighting capabilities. Peace Mission 2007, cooperative military exercises in Central Asia in August, was China's first large-scale foreign military deployment, and recent military maneuvers, apparently rehearsals to take Taiwan and disputed islands in the South China Sea, were remarkable in scope and sophistication.

China's new ambitions have been confirmed by Hong Yuan, a military strategist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, who noted a significant departure from Beijing's prior posture. China, he said in October, intended to project force in areas "way beyond the Taiwan Strait."

China's military assertiveness has been matched by tougher diplomacy. Last year, a series of high-level meetings showed that Beijing has moved closer to Moscow to cement their "friendship for generations" and confirm their opposition to American initiatives, especially to stop the Iranian nuclear program.

China's sustained campaign against German Chancellor Angela Merkel for meeting the Dalai Lama in September is also notably intense. China even threatened military and political responses over economic disputes -- such as those relating to market barriers and intellectual property piracy -- at last month's session of the "Strategic Economic Dialogue," the high-level talks between the U.S. and China.

The Kitty Hawk port call fits into this pattern. In the past, this snub would have merely been the product of petulance. Today, it is another indication of a change in China's approach to the world.

Last month, Washington and Beijing agreed to put the Kitty Hawk and similar incidents behind them. Now, the challenge for the U. S. is to recognize that Chinese attitudes have turned a corner, and to craft new policies in response.

Mr. Chang is the author of "The Coming Collapse of China" (Random House, 2001).
28546  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: January 02, 2008, 05:12:19 PM

What a bizarre saga this is.  The list of plausible suspects is quite long , , ,
28547  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Why we are in the Gulf on: January 02, 2008, 05:03:57 PM
While we are on the subject of the role of the US Navy , , ,

Why We're in the Gulf
The world would be a much more dangerous place without America as a policeman.
Tuesday, January 1, 2008 12:01 a.m. EST

Few subjects matter as much as oil, the Persian Gulf and American foreign policy. But few subjects are less well understood. Even relatively sophisticated observers will attribute American interest in the Persian Gulf to Uncle Sam's insatiable thirst for crude, combined with an effort to gain lucrative contracts for American oil firms. The U.S. on this view is something like a global Count Dracula, roaming the earth in search of fresh bodies, hoping to suck them dry.

True, the security of America's oil supply has been an element in national strategic thinking at least since Franklin Roosevelt met with King Abdul Aziz in the waning days of World War II. And true, the U.S. government has never been indifferent to the concerns of the major oil concerns. But the security of our domestic energy supplies plays a relatively small role in America's Persian Gulf policy, and the purely commercial interests of American companies do not drive American grand strategy.

The U.S. today depends on the Middle East for only a small portion of its energy supplies. Still the world's third largest oil producer and holding large coal reserves, America is significantly less dependent on foreign energy sources than the other great economies. Imports account for 35% of U.S. energy consumption versus 56% for the European Union and 80% for Japan. Nearly half the oil and all the natural gas imported by the U.S. comes from the Western Hemisphere; sub-Saharan Africa supplies most of the balance. Only 17% of U.S. oil imports and less than 0.5% of our natural gas come from the Persian Gulf; 80% of Japan's imports come from the Gulf, and by 2015 70% of China's oil will come from the same source.

While U.S. import needs are projected to grow significantly, U.S. dependence on Persian Gulf energy is not, thanks largely to expected production increases in the Western Hemisphere and sub-Saharan Africa. U.S. energy imports from the Persian Gulf are expected to remain below 20% of total consumption. The oil market, of course, is global, and if something were to happen to the Middle Eastern supplies, prices would rise world-wide, and the U.S. economy would be seriously disrupted. But domestic supply is not the key to American interest in the Gulf.

For the past few centuries, a global economic and political system has been slowly taking shape under first British and then American leadership. As a vital element of that system, the leading global power--with help from allies and other parties--maintains the security of world trade over the seas and air while also ensuring that international economic transactions take place in an orderly way. Thanks to the American umbrella, Germany, Japan, China, Korea and India do not need to maintain the military strength to project forces into the Middle East to defend their access to energy. Nor must each country's navy protect the supertankers carrying oil and liquefied national gas (LNG).
For this system to work, the Americans must prevent any power from dominating the Persian Gulf while retaining the ability to protect the safe passage of ships through its waters. The Soviets had to be kept out during the Cold War, and the security and independence of the oil sheikdoms had to be protected from ambitious Arab leaders like Egypt's Gamal Abdel Nasser and Iraq's Saddam Hussein. During the Cold War Americans forged alliances with Turkey, Israel and (until 1979) Iran, three non-Arab states that had their own reasons for opposing both the Soviets and any pan-Arab state.

When the fall of the shah of Iran turned a key regional ally into an implacable foe, the U.S. responded by tightening its relations with both Israel and Turkey--while developing a deeper relationship with Egypt, which had given up on Nasser's goal of unifying all the Arabs under its flag.

Today the U.S. is building a coalition against Iran's drive for power in the Gulf. Israel, a country which has its own reasons for opposing Iran, remains an important component in the American strategy, but the U.S. must also manage the political costs of this relationship as it works with the Sunni Arab states. American opposition to Iran's nuclear program not only reflects concerns about Israeli security and the possibility that Iran might supply terrorist groups with nuclear materials. It also reflects the U.S. interest in protecting its ability to project conventional forces into the Gulf.

The end of America's ability to safeguard the Gulf and the trade routes around it would be enormously damaging--and not just to us. Defense budgets would grow dramatically in every major power center, and Middle Eastern politics would be further destabilized, as every country sought political influence in Middle Eastern countries to ensure access to oil in the resulting free for all.
The potential for conflict and chaos is real. A world of insecure and suspicious great powers engaged in military competition over vital interests would not be a safe or happy place. Every ship that China builds to protect the increasing numbers of supertankers needed to bring oil from the Middle East to China in years ahead would also be a threat to Japan's oil security--as well as to the oil security of India and Taiwan. European cooperation would likely be undermined as well, as countries sought to make their best deals with Russia, the Gulf states and other oil rich neighbors like Algeria.

America's Persian Gulf policy is one of the chief ways through which the U.S. is trying to build a peaceful world and where the exercise of American power, while driven ultimately by domestic concerns and by the American national interest, provides vital public goods to the global community. The next American president, regardless of party and regardless of his or her views about the wisdom of George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq, will necessarily make the security of the Persian Gulf states one of America's very highest international priorities.

Mr. Mead is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of the recently published "God and Gold: Britain, America, and the Making of the Modern World" (Knopf, 2007).


28548  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Guide, part two on: January 02, 2008, 09:31:30 AM

In a sense, we are the Mahsuds. The Wazirs ached with humiliation at the loss of their dominance. Their grudge against the Mahsuds stemmed far more from Waziri decline than from any specific complaint. Even as the Mahsuds were scapegoated for the Wazirs' diminishment, America and the West have been blamed for world-wide Muslim decline. Addressing Muslim "grievances" won't solve this problem, because the professed grievances didn't start the jihad to begin with.
Mr. Ahmed is clearly embarrassed by the Wazirs' intra-Muslim jihad against the Mahsuds. Foreshadowing his later apologetics, he is at pains to distinguish between "authentic" Islam and Noor Muhammad's seemingly bogus claim of Mahsud infidelity--a claim obviously rooted in narrow tribal rivalry and interest. In his recent work, Mr. Ahmed puts much of what seems warlike or problematic in traditional Muslim society into the "tribal" basket, segregating out a supposedly pure and peaceful Islam. There is some justification for this procedure. Middle Eastern conceptions of honor, marriage practices, female seclusion, revenge and much else can fairly be understood as practices with tribal roots, rather than formal Islamic commandments. Reformist Muslims therefore make a point of separating the tribal dross from authentic Islamic teachings.

Yet there is clearly some sort of "elective affinity" between Islam, in the strict sense, and tribal social life. The two levels interact and interpenetrate, leaving the boundaries undefined. Pushtuns who set out to avenge purely personal offences will dress and scent themselves as if embarking on jihad. So a given theologian's "true" Islam is one thing; "actual existing" Islam on the ground is another. Noor Muhammad's jihad against Muslims he judged to be infidels turns out to be representative of the new religious wave, and reflects a complex and longstanding Muslim synthesis between theology and tribalism. Nor was the mullah's accusation of Mahsud infidelity without resonance. He accurately identified the modernist thread that united his immediate tribal enemies, the developing state of Pakistan, and ultimately the West itself.

If Islamist rebellion and narrow tribal interest are difficult to disentangle, the opportunity to separate them is the key to America's sophisticated new counterinsurgency strategy (actually a rediscovery of classic British and Pakistani strategies for dealing with Muslim tribes). Inveterate Wazir/Mahsud rivalry was the single greatest weakness of the tribes throughout the British era in Waziristan. The British ignored tribal feuding when the stakes were small. Yet if one tribe seemed at risk of gaining a permanent upper hand, the Brits intervened to keep opponents more or less equally at each other's throats. And since nearly every clan troublemaker has rival kin, the P.A. cultivated multiple factions, so as to play one off against the other. Under Pakistan, the tribes have sometimes turned this game against the government, playing a sympathetic official (often a fellow Pashtun) against a rival administrator.
America's new counterinsurgency strategy seeks to appeal to tribal interests, as a way of breaking the link between al Qaeda's global jihad and its erstwhile Sunni allies in Iraq. So far the new strategy has helped to stabilize Anbar and other rebellious tribal regions in Iraq. The danger is that the tribal winds will shift, and our military will likely come under constant pressure to favor one tribal faction or another. If mishandled, this could drive less favored clans back into enemy hands. Tribal politics can be mastered, yet it requires a constant presence. And learning to play the tribal game is very different from establishing a genuine democracy, which would mean transcending the game itself.

Can America or Pakistan adopt this new strategy in Waziristan itself--breaking the link between al Qaeda and the tribal coalition now united against us in jihad? Theoretically this is possible, yet the outlook is far from ideal. Al Qaeda has already murdered many of Waziristan's maliks. (Mullah Noor Muhammad rose to power in the '70s on assassination threats and violence against traditional maliks.) Insofar as economic and educational change has penetrated Pakistan's tribal areas, it seems to have undercut the basis for creating a new generation of government-friendly maliks, and fed into a populist Islamist revolt instead. Nevertheless, there are unconfirmed reports that America and Pakistan are even now exploiting latent tensions between al Qaeda and the Taliban in Waziristan.

In the 1970s, once Noor Muhammad's combination Islamist rebellion/tribal war got out of hand, Pakistan was forced to crush it. The army bulldozed Wana's thriving traditional market, turning the Wazirs' most important trading center into little more than freshly plowed ground. Tipped off, the mullah took to the hills. Employing tactics reminiscent of Britain's original P.A.s, Pakistan seized his followers' property and systematically blew up their homes and encampments. After three months of this, the disheveled mullah and his followers came down from the hills and surrendered. Nowadays, burning a thriving Waziristan marketplace to the ground and blowing up civilian settlements as ways of getting to Osama bin Laden would doubtless elicit global howls of protest. Yet far from the glare of international publicity, Pakistan once freely employed such tactics.

When, a couple of years after the destruction of Wana's market, Mr. Ahmed took over as P.A., the defeated Wazirs were looking to restore their lost honor and prove their loyalty to Pakistan. Trained as an anthropologist and convinced he could use the Pushtun's code of honor to good effect, he decided to give the Wazirs their chance. Breaking with established agency precedents, he placed his own life at risk by taking regular evening strolls around Wana without bodyguards. Mr. Ahmed could easily have been kidnapped and held in exchange for the imprisoned mullah's release, but the Wazirs left him untouched. Mr. Ahmed then visited the Wazirs' holiest shrine, on the far border with Afghanistan--territory where no P.A. had ever set foot. As a guest of the Wazirs, he once again staked his own life and honor on the Pushtunwali of his Wazir hosts. In this way, he both pacified the Wazirs and extended Pakistan's writ in Waziristan further than it had ever gone. He even managed to coax a number of the region's storied "Robin Hoods" into surrender.
Based on these impressive successes, Mr. Ahmed concludes in his book that despite their reputation for violence and double-dealing, tribesmen can be peaceably governed within the terms of their own code of honor, if only they are given the chance. He regards solving tribal problems through military action as a sign of failure. Unfortunately, despite his considerable insight, his optimistic conclusions far outrun the terms of his own account.

Mr. Ahmed was the consummate good cop, in the right place at the right time. His ability to use the Pushtunwali code to evoke the best in the Wazirs clearly depended upon the army's violent actions in Wana two years before. Even the cross-border miscreants talked into surrender were balancing the refuge and respect he promised against the substantial dangers of living under the Soviets, who had entered Afghanistan during Mr. Ahmed's term. The former P.A. acknowledges some of this in passing, yet his unrelievedly sunny conclusions about tribal governance don't begin to acknowledge the depth of his own dependence on Soviet and Pakistani bad cops for success. His account has much to teach us. The honor code can indeed serve to offset and minimize tribal violence, and that effect can be encouraged by wise rule. But taken alone, Mr. Ahmed's analysis and prescriptions are dangerously misleading and incomplete.

The thesis of his next book, "Islam Under Siege," was an extension of the analysis presented in "Resistance and Control in Pakistan." The Muslim world as a whole is suffering from a loss of dignity and honor, Mr. Ahmed argues. As mass-scale urbanization, uneven economic development, migration and demographic expansion undercut traditional social forms, the Muslim response has been to resist these changes and interpret them as outrages against collective honor. His solution was for the West to accept, support and ally with traditional Muslim society, thereby helping the Islamic world to recapture its lost sense of honor.

Mr. Ahmed's latest book, "Journey into Islam," is riven by tensions between the author's public battle against "Islamophobia" and his reluctant acknowledgment that the Islamist ascendancy might be worth fearing after all. "Journey Into Islam" is based on Mr. Ahmed's recent travels across the global Muslim community, and he bills this tour of the Muslim world (with American students in tow) as an "anthropological excursion." Yet constant coverage of his entourage in Middle Eastern media outlets likely gentled his interviewees' responses. Pictures of Mr. Ahmed and his smiling American students posing with friendly Muslims get the central message across. Unless one desperately wants to be persuaded that all is well, however, his reassurances fall flat.
The book's Panglossian facade is broken by a single, searingly powerful moment. Mr. Ahmed's entourage visited Aligarh University in India, expecting to rediscover an academic beacon of Anglo-liberalism that had long and famously spread democratic values throughout India and Pakistan. Aligarh University shaped Mr. Ahmed himself in his youth, allowing him to synthesize his pride in Islam with a genuinely liberal and modern sensibility.

Yet moments after entering the Aligarh University campus, Mr. Ahmed and his American companions were surrounded by furious Muslim students praising bin Laden and raging at President Bush. Students came even closer to descending into mob violence here, at India's erstwhile bastion of Muslim liberalism, than they had during Mr. Ahmed's visit to Deoband, the acknowledged center of South Asian Islamism. This frightening, unexpected encounter at his beloved alma mater was clearly agonizing for Mr. Ahmed, and forced him to acknowledge the collapse of the "Aligarh model" of liberal Islam. "The nation-state and the Aligarh model are not a viable alternative in the Muslim world at present," he concedes sadly.

This is indeed a tragedy. Mr. Ahmed himself embodies another side of the Aligarh model's fate in today's world. Modern and liberal though he may be, he is unwilling to concede the need for fundamental reform within Islam. Instead of facing the evident incompatibility with modernity of core aspects of Muslim religious and social life, he reverts to sanitized accounts, accusations of Islamophobia, and complaints about American foreign policy. Although he bitterly resents the influence of Bernard Lewis on American conservatives, Mr. Ahmed periodically (and reluctantly) mimics Mr. Lewis's claim that Americans are being scapegoated for the Muslim world's own decline. Mr. Lewis's conviction that the use of force must be a key aspect of American foreign policy in the Middle East infuriates Mr. Ahmed. Yet, rightly understood, his own account in "Resistance and Control in Pakistan" confirms Mr. Lewis's insight. Without the destruction of the Wana market and the capture of Noor Muhammad, not to mention the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Mr. Ahmed's gentle, honor-based rule in Waziristan would not have been possible.

In a sense, global Islam is now Waziristan writ large. Mr. Ahmed rightly spots tribal themes of honor and solidarity throughout the Muslim world--even in places where tribal social organization per se has receded. Literally and figuratively, Waziristan now seeks to awaken the tribal jihadist side of the global Muslim soul. This has effectively thrust the leaders of the Western world into the role of British and Pakistani P.A.s (a famously exhausting job, Mr. Ahmed reminds us). With technological advance having placed once-distant threats at our doorstep, the West may soon resemble South Waziristan's perpetually besieged encampment at Wana. Perhaps it already does. Yet Waziristan was ruled indirectly, without ordinary law or policing. Preventing terror plots and the development of weapons of mass destruction requires a more active hand.
Muslim society will have to reform far more profoundly than Akbar Ahmed concedes if the worst is to be avoided. Our best option may be to reintroduce somehow the Aligarh University tradition of liberal learning and merit-based employment (independent of kinship ties) to the Muslim world. With our strategy in Iraq now reinforcing tribalism, the obvious front to try this is Europe, where concerted efforts must be made to assimilate Muslims to Western values. Globalization may then work for us, as cultural changes bounce back to the Middle East.

Even in the best case, we face a long-term struggle. Simmering tensions between modernity and Muslim social life are coming to a head. Yet all our present recent schemes are patchwork. And someday, perhaps at the peak of a post-emergency civil war between the army and the Islamists in Pakistan, the military steamroller may be called upon to settle the Waziristan problem once and for all. Who knows if, even then, it will work.

Mr. Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

28549  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A guide to the wilds of NW Pak on: January 02, 2008, 09:30:41 AM
Second post of the day:

Tribes of Terror
A guide to the wilds of northwest Pakistan.
Wednesday, January 2, 2008 12:01 a.m. EST

Lord Curzon, Britain's viceroy of India and foreign secretary during the initial decades of the 20th century, once declared:

No patchwork scheme--and all our present recent schemes . . . are mere patchwork--will settle the Waziristan problem. Not until the military steam-roller has passed over the country from end to end, will there be peace. But I do not want to be the person to start that machine.
Nowadays, this region of what is today northwest Pakistan is variously called "Al Qaedastan," "Talibanistan" or, more properly, the "Islamic Emirate of Waziristan." Pakistan gave up South Waziristan to the Taliban in spring 2006, after taking heavy casualties in a failed four-year campaign to consolidate control of this fierce tribal region. By the fall, Pakistan had effectively abandoned North Waziristan. The nominal truce--actually closer to a surrender--was signed in a soccer stadium, beneath al Qaeda's black flag.
Having recovered the safe haven once denied them by America's invasion of Afghanistan, al Qaeda and the Taliban have gathered the diaspora of the world-wide Islamist revolution into Waziristan. Slipping to safety from Tora Bora, Osama bin Laden himself almost certainly escaped across its border. Now Muslim punjabis who fight the Indian army in Kashmir, Chechen opponents of Russia, and many more Islamist terror groups congregate, recuperate, train and confer in Waziristan. This past fall's terror plotters in Germany and Denmark allegedly trained in Waziristan, as did those who hoped to hijack trans-Atlantic planes leaving from Britain's Heathrow Airport in 2006. The crimson currents flowing across what Samuel Huntington once famously dubbed "Islam's bloody borders" now seem to emanate from Waziristan.

Slowly but surely, the Islamic Emirate's writ is pushing beyond Waziristan itself, to encompass other sections of Pakistan's mountainous tribal regions--thereby fueling the ongoing insurgency across the border in Afghanistan. With a third of Pakistanis in a recent poll expressing favorable views of al Qaeda, and 49% registering favorable opinions of local jihadi terror groups, the Islamic Emirate of Waziristan may yet conquer Pakistan. Fear of a widening Islamist rebellion in this nuclear-armed state was Gen. Pervez Musharraf's stated reason for the recent imposition of a state of emergency. And in fact Osama bin Laden publicly called for the overthrow of Mr. Musharraf's government this past September. It is for fear of provoking such a disastrous revolt that we have so far dared not loose the American military steamroller in Waziristan. When Lord Curzon hesitated to start up the British military machine, he was revolving in his mind the costs and consequences of the great 1857 Indian "Mutiny" and of an 1894 jihadist revolt in South Waziristan. Surely, Curzon would have appreciated our dilemma today.

Foreign journalists are now banned in Waziristan, and most local reporters have fled in fear for their lives. Because scholars have long neglected this famously inhospitable region, Waziristan remains a dark spot, and America remains proportionately ignorant of the forces we confront in the terror war. Yet an extraordinary if neglected window onto the inner workings of life in Waziristan does exist--a modern book, with deep roots in the area's colonial past.
The British solution in Waziristan was to rule indirectly, through sympathetic tribal maliks (elders), who received preferred treatment and financial support. By treaty and tradition, the laws of what was then British India governed only 100 yards on either side of Waziristan's main roads. Beyond that, the maliks and tribal custom ruled. Yet Britain did post a representative in Waziristan, a "political agent" or "P.A.," whose headquarters was protected by an elite military force, and who enjoyed extraordinary powers to reward cooperative maliks and to punish offenders. The political agent was authorized to arrest and jail the male kin of miscreants on the run (particularly important given the organization of Waziristan's tribes around male descent groups). And in special cases, the political agent could blockade and even destroy entire settlements. After achieving independence in 1947, Pakistan followed this British scheme, indirectly governing its many tribal "agencies" and posting P.A.s who enjoyed the same extraordinary powers as under the British.

Akbar Ahmed, a British-trained social anthropologist, served as Pakistan's P.A. in South Waziristan from 1978 through 1980. Drawing on his academic background and political experience, he has written a fascinating book about his days as "king" (as the tribesmen used to call the political agent). First published in 1983 under the title "Religion and Politics in Muslim Society," the book was reissued in 1991, and revised and released again in 2004, each time under the title "Resistance and Control in Pakistan." Its obscure title and conventional academic introductory chapters explain why it has been neglected. Yet that neglect is a serious mistake. Given Waziristan's newfound status as the haven and headquarters of America's global enemies, Mr. Ahmed's book is an indispensable guide to thinking through the past and anticipating the future of the war on terror. In addition to shedding new and unexpected light on the origins of the Taliban, "Resistance and Control in Pakistan" offers what is, in effect, a philosophy of rule in Muslim tribal societies--a conception of government that has direct relevance to our struggle to stabilize Iraq.

Since completing the book, Mr. Ahmed, a devout Muslim who holds a chair in Islamic studies and is a professor of international relations at American University, has gone on to write several works analyzing the dilemmas of the Islamic world and explaining Muslim perspectives to Westerners. These include "Islam Under Siege" (2003) and his recently published "Journey Into Islam." For a time, he served as the high commissioner of Pakistan to Great Britain, and in a note at the end of "Journey Into Islam," he says that he coined the term "Islamophobia" shortly after taking that post.

Having once been tasked with governing the most notoriously unruly tribes in the Muslim world, Mr. Ahmed never entirely embraces the politically fashionable line. More than his academic colleagues in Middle East studies, he acknowledges the contribution of tribalism's violence and traditionalism to the Middle East's contemporary dilemmas. In fact, the story of the "king" of Waziristan's transformation into the man who coined the term "Islamophobia" reveals some extraordinary tensions and tragedies lurking beneath our polarized political debates.

The first thing that strikes the reader of "Resistance and Control in Pakistan" is the pervasive nature of political violence in South Waziristan. And here, in contrast to his later work, Mr. Ahmed himself is at pains to emphasize the point. A popular novelist of the British Raj called Waziristan tribesmen "physically the hardest people on earth." British officers considered them among the finest fighters in the world. During the 1930s Waziristan's troublesome tribesmen forced the British to station more troops in that agency than in the remainder of the Indian subcontinent. In more settled agricultural areas of Pakistan's tribal Northwest Frontier Province, Mr. Ahmed says, adults, children and soldiers mill about comfortably in the open, while women help their men in the fields. No guns are visible. But arid Waziristan is a collection of silent, fortresslike settlements. Women are invisible, men carry guns, and desolation rules the countryside.
Even in ordinary times, from the British era through the present, the political agent's headquarters at Wana in South Waziristan wears the air of a fortress under perpetual siege. Five British political agents died in Waziristan. Mr. Ahmed reports that during a visit to Wana by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1976, the entourage of Pakistan's prime minister was kept nervously awake most of the night by machine gun and rifle fire from the surrounding hills. In short, the Wana encampment in South Waziristan seems like nothing so much as a century-old version of Baghdad's Green Zone.

Politics in Waziristan is inseparable from violence. A British official once called firing on government officers the local "equivalent for presenting a petition." Sniping, explosions on government property, and kidnappings are common enough to necessitate continuous military protection for political officials. And the forms of routinized political violence extend well beyond direct attacks on government personnel.

Because government allowances are directed to tribal elders who control violent troublemakers in their own ranks, ambitious maliks have reason to insure that such outlaws do in fact emerge. Waziristan's many "Robin Hoods," who make careers out of kidnapping even non-government officials and holding them for ransom, are simultaneously encouraged and controlled by local maliks. This double game allows the clans to profit from their own capacity for causing trouble, while also establishing a violence valve, so to speak, through which they can periodically convey displeasure with the administration. "To create a problem, control it, and terminate it is an acknowledged and highly regarded yardstick of political skill," writes Mr. Ahmed. For the most part, income in Waziristan is derived from "political activity such as raiding settled districts" and "allowances from the administration for good behavior." Unfortunately, a people that petitions by sniper fire seems poorly suited to democratic citizenship.

In his later work, Mr. Ahmed's insight into the subtle choreography of tribal violence dissolves in a haze of cultural apologetics. In "Islam Under Siege," for example, he argues that Americans misunderstand what they see when Afghan tribesmen fire rifles into the sky, or store ammunition and weapons in caves. Although Americans associate these actions with terrorism, Mr. Ahmed calmly explains that firing into the sky is simply a mark of celebration at birth and marriage. Weapons storage, he reassures his readers, is merely "insurance against tribal rivalries." But is there not some connection between the resort to terror tactics, on the one hand, and societies characterized by violent tribal rivalry and demonstrative gunfire, on the other?

The connection arises from the way Middle Eastern tribes are organized. These tribes are giant lineages, traced from male ancestors, which subdivide into tribal segments, which in turn divide into clans, subclans and so on, down to families, in which cousins may be pitted against cousins, or brother against brother. Traditionally existing outside the police powers of the state, Middle Eastern tribes keep order through a complex balance of power between these ever-fusing and -dividing ancestral groups. (Anthropologists call such tribes "segmentary lineages.")
In such tribes, the central institution is the feud. Absent state policing, security depends on the willingness of every adult male in a given family, clan, tribe, etc., to take up arms in its defense. An attack on a lineage-mate must be avenged by the entire group. Likewise, any lineage member is liable to be killed for an offense committed by a relative, just as all lineage members would collectively share in compensation should peace be made (through, say, a tribal council or the mediation of a holy man). Tribal feuding and segmentation allow society to keep a rough (sometimes very rough) peace in the absence of a state. Conversely, societies with strong tribal components tend to have weak states.

A powerful code of honor ties the system together. Among the Pushtun tribes that populate Waziristan and much of Afghanistan, that code is called "Pushtunwali." Avenging lineage honor is only one aspect of Pushtunwali. The code also mandates that hospitality and sanctuary be provided to any stranger requesting them. Thus a means is provided whereby, in the absence of a state, zones of security are established for travelers. Yet the system is based on an ever-shifting balance of terror which turns friends into enemies, and back again into friends, in a heartbeat. And this ethos of honor writes violent revenge and collective guilt deep into the cultural psyche. Although the British political agents who learned to live with Pushtunwali generally lionized it, Winston Churchill condemned it as a "system of ethics, which regards treachery and violence as virtues rather than vices." In any case, the dynamics of the war on terror are easily recognizable as an extension of this tribal system of collective guilt, honor, humiliation and revenge.

The years immediately prior to Mr. Ahmed's term as South Waziristan's P.A. saw the rise and seeming collapse of an Islamist rebellion that, in retrospect, clearly stands as a precursor to the Taliban. Led by a mullah named Noor Muhammad, the movement was crushed by Pakistan's army in 1976. Armed with documentary resources, including access to the personal diary of Noor Muhammad, Mr. Ahmed takes us through the riveting story of this uprising.
On the one hand, the mullah's rebellion was classically Islamist. He established a traditional madrassah (religious school) in South Waziristan, whose students, or talibs (whence the word "Taliban"), were among the rebellion's core supporters. He criticized Pakistan's government for failing to adopt Islamic law, forbade the use of "un-Islamic" innovations, like the radio, and had violators of his various prohibitions beaten. Yet these familiar Islamist features were built upon a tribal foundation. The mullah's ascent was due, in part, to his ability to mediate tribal feuds.

South Waziristan is populated by two major tribes, the Wazirs and the Mahsuds. (A century ago the Mahsuds were part of the Wazirs, but have since split off and gained their own identity.) The Mahsuds traditionally outnumbered the Wazirs and were at least relatively more integrated into modern society. After Pakistan gained independence in 1947, a few Mahsuds moved to "settled areas" and entered school. Many of these made their way into government service, thus connecting the Mahsuds to influential bureaucratic networks. Others started businesses, which brought a modern source of wealth to the tribe.

Noor Muhammad's ability to resolve tribal feuds, at a time when the Wazirs felt intense humiliation in the face of rising Mahsud power and wealth, turned him into a symbol of Wazir honor. Under the mullah's leadership, the Wazirs effectively declared a jihad against both the government of Pakistan and the Mahsuds, demanding a separate tribal agency for themselves. Properly speaking, of course, a jihad can be fought only against non-Muslims. The mullah solved this problem by declaring the Mahsuds to be infidels--a tribe of toadies to an un-Islamic Pakistani regime--who had sold out their Wazir cousins for government allowances and debased modern ways. Of course, this accusation of infidelity is exactly how al Qaeda and the Taliban justify their attacks on fellow Muslims today.

Notice, too, that Noor Muhammad's movement developed in the early '70s, well before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. The rise of the Taliban is often ascribed to "blowback" from CIA support of Pakistani Islamists who fought the Soviets in the 1980s. Mr. Ahmed's account shows that simplistic "blame America" theories cannot hold. Critics of the blowback argument rightly note that America had no other means of fighting the Soviet invasion than to work through the Pakistani government, which for its own reasons needed to deploy Islamist proxies. (Supporting Pushtun nationalist proxies, the only other option, would have played into the hands of those in Afghanistan and India seeking to dismember Pakistan.) The problem is that this entire debate passes over the deeper social sources of the contemporary Islamist ascendancy.

Mr. Ahmed argues that the mullah's insurrection was "generated by Muslim actors as a result of internal tensions in society." And at one level, this proto-Taliban movement was deeply traditional. Mullah-led tribal rebellions have a long history, not only in Waziristan but in Muslim society as a whole. The great 14th-century philosopher-sociologist Ibn Khaldun famously described a cyclical process in which, unified by a righteous mullah, fierce outlying tribes conquer an effete and corrupt state. Over time the new set of ruling tribesmen falls into luxury, disunity and corruption, and is in turn overthrown by another coalition of the righteous. These rebellions generally fuse an Islamic aspect with some narrower tribal interest, and the Wazirs' jihad against an allegedly "infidel" rival tribe certainly fits the bill.

There may be at least something new under that harsh Waziristan sun, however. Modernity's manifold economic opportunities seem to supercharge traditional tribal resentment at substantial disparities of wealth and status. And paradoxically, modern wealth also subverts such shallow internal tribal hierarchies as once existed, with explosive results.

Following the oil boom of the 1970s, Wazirs and Mahsuds alike migrated to the Persian Gulf to work the oil fields and send their remittances back home. Maliks from the most prestigious tribal lineages initially resisted the call of migration. So the oil boom created an opening that "depressed lineages" happily filled. By the time the maliks began to send their sons to the Gulf, intratribal disparities of wealth and influence were disappearing.
So while the Mahsuds had outpaced the Wazirs, the power of maliks was waning among the Wazirs themselves. Now the Wazirs could afford to throw off those pliant elders who had taken and distributed British and later the Pakistan government's pelf; and by supporting a radical mullah, the restive tribe could feed its resentment of both the government and the Mahsuds.

As Mr. Ahmed notes, and in pointed contrast to the "poverty theory" of Islamism, modern education and wealth seem to have sparked this early Islamist rebellion. Instead of spurring further development, economic opportunities have fed the traditionalist reaction. Waziristan's tribesmen understand full well that their rulers mean to transform their way of life, thereby "taming" them through the seductions of education and modern forms of wealth. While some have accepted the trade, the majority consciously reject it. During the colonial period, education was despised as an infidel plot. In the 1970s, conservative tribesmen systematically destroyed electrical poles, which were seen as a threat to Waziristan's isolation and therefore to the survival of traditional Pushtun culture. Economic development might well "tame" these tribesmen, yet poverty is less the cause of their warlike ways than the result of a deliberate decision to preserve their traditional way of life--their Pushtun honor--even at material cost.

The Islamist revolution is a conscious choice--an act of cultural self-defense against the intrusions and seductions of an alien world. Although the social foundations of the traditional Muslim way of life have been shaken, they are far from broken. So long as these social foundations cohere, advancing globalization will provoke more rebellion, not less--whatever America decides to do in Iraq and beyond. The root of the problem is neither domestic poverty nor American foreign policy, but the tension between Muslim social life and globalizing modernity itself.
28550  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / What we want in a President on: January 02, 2008, 09:17:52 AM
What We Want in a President
Ruthlessness is important when it comes to foreign enemies. Charity is essential for domestic opponents.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008 12:01 a.m. EST

In the next six weeks Americans are going to pick the two finalists in the long job search for the most important CEO position on the planet. As someone who has served in three White Houses and been a Federal Reserve governor during a fourth, I have become a firm believer that the character traits someone brings to the job are more important than the issue papers or debate sound bites that get so much attention in the primaries.

Consider two examples. In December, Joe Trippi, a strategist for John Edwards, noted that polls showed a quarter of Barack Obama's own supporters did not think he would be qualified to be president. This says little about Mr. Obama, but it does say a lot about the process. These voters are not choosing someone to lead the country; they are trying to send a message about their own personal frustrations, or perhaps about another candidate.

Or consider the comments of a friend of mine and active fund-raiser about Fred Thompson, who is my choice. My friend agreed that Mr. Thompson was smart and well informed and had good judgment. But he felt that Republicans should definitely not nominate him because he was temperamentally unsuited to the campaign trail. Mr. Thompson probably would rather discuss the nuances of issues than shake hands or write thank-you notes to donors, two skills very important to the running. Polls now suggest my friend may be right. If so, all it means is that the process of selecting a president has little to do with the skills needed for the job.

By its very nature, the presidency involves a lot of on-the-job training. Some of our presidents have had to come up to speed quite quickly.
For example, John F. Kennedy faced the Bay of Pigs fiasco after just a few weeks on the job. No one would argue that he handled it well. Some serious historians have noted the links between that performance and our involvement in Vietnam (having "lost" in Cuba, he was determined not to let it happen again), not to mention the Cuban Missile Crisis just 18 months later. Kennedy is remembered fondly for bringing style, grace and humor to the White House--wedged between the boring Eisenhower and his graceless successors, Johnson and Nixon. But he was still learning on the job at a time when nuclear annihilation was a real possibility. Still more amazingly, with 14 years in Congress, Kennedy had far more national political experience than many now seeking the job.

As president, there is a lot to learn both factually and about the process of governing. Beginning on day one, he or she will have to confront a bureaucracy and a media establishment that has its own agenda, to hire expert advisers and administrators on a whole host of foreign and domestic policy issues, and to structure the whole operation in a way that carries out the will of the people. Our job as voters should be to select someone who will (1) know what he or she doesn't know, (2) get up to speed quickly, and (3) avoid making serious mistakes in the meantime.

A process driven by 30-second commercials prepared by the candidates themselves, and so-called debates that ask candidates to explain in 60 seconds how they would bring about world peace or national prosperity, does not help. Nor does media coverage that focuses on whose commercials are moving polling points and who performed well in the last inane debate.

But we voters can still do a respectable job in the CEO selection process. Obviously ideology and our visceral reactions to the candidates matter, since they are also part of job performance. There are, however, three other questions about a candidate's character that are likely to shed some light on whether that candidate will do well in the on-the-job training school of the Oval Office. These questions have nothing to do with party or ideology.

First, has the candidate faced a crisis or overcome a major setback in his or her life? A president's first crisis will teach two important lessons. The first is that bad things happen, in fact they happen on a regular basis. The second is that the real power of the office to affect, let alone control, events is far less than imagined. If the occupant of the Oval Office has faced this double whammy--encountering a tragedy involving events over which he or she has had little control, yet finding a way to persevere--the new president is far more likely to succeed.
Harry Truman, who made some of the toughest decisions of any president, overcame business failure. Teddy Roosevelt lost his first wife after childbirth. On the other hand, someone who got straight A's, never got turned down for a date, was never fired from a job or defeated in an election, is going to have a very rude awakening. The average voter can research this personal history quite easily.

Second, has the candidate had a variety of life experiences? The presidency is a job for a generalist. You never know what direction a crisis will come from: foreign threats, economic calamity, civil unrest. It might even be a biological pandemic that involves all three at the same time.

A variety of life experiences or careers helps a person to understand that actions which make sense in one framework may have unintended consequences elsewhere. It also increases the chances that a president will think creatively and not get boxed in, and gain control of events rather than be controlled by them.

By contrast, someone who has only been an elected official is likely to interpret problems only in a political context. Again, whether a candidate has had a variety of experiences is something the average voter can easily discern.

Third, can the candidate tell the difference between a foreign enemy and a political opponent? A certain degree of ruthlessness is a necessary attribute for any successful CEO or president. But our liberty, which is ultimately our nation's greatest resource, requires that a president restrain this trait when acting domestically.

We should seek an individual who is ruthless about protecting us against others, but acts with charity toward all and malice toward none at home: a tall order. But this trait comes out on the campaign trail, and in the past job performances of the candidates. We should opt for candidates who are ruthless in debating real public policy issues but steer away from attacking the personal traits of their opponents.

No candidate is going to be perfect, and reasonable people can differ about whether a certain candidate possesses each of these traits. But these are a good filter.
Johnson and Nixon would never have passed the last two tests, and in Nixon's case, the line about not having "Nixon to kick around any more" was a sign he couldn't handle setbacks well. By contrast, Reagan had a variety of life experiences, and mastered the difference between domestic opponents and foreign enemies marvelously. He was also gracious in his defeat in 1976. Franklin Roosevelt's polio undoubtedly helped make him a success as president; and although ruthless, he also knew how to have a bipartisan cabinet and war effort.

Ultimately, when we make up our minds we should think about the qualities the candidate would bring to the Oval Office--and not just whether or not they would make a good candidate.

Mr. Lindsey is author of "What a President Should Know . . .. but Most Learn Too Late," which will be published by Rowman & Littlefield this month.

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