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28501  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: July 19, 2007, 10:22:50 AM
ISRAEL/SYRIA: Israeli President Shimon Peres called for direct peace talks with Syria, saying the leaders of both countries should meet as a symbolic gesture of "mutual recognition." The statement comes after it was revealed that Israel has been passing messages to Syria secretly via Turkish envoys since February. Syrian President Bashar al Assad said July 17 that Syria would be open to talks if Israel promised to withdraw from the Golan Heights.
28502  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: July 19, 2007, 09:54:00 AM

'Slow-Motion Tantrum'
A ruling so silly, the dissenting judge didn't even bother read it.

Thursday, July 19, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

(Editor's note: Dennis Jacobs is chief judge of the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. This is his opinion, concurring in part and dissenting in part, in Husain v. Springer, which the court decided last Friday. The entire opinion is available here.)

I concur in the majority's result insofar as it affirms the dismissal of some claims, but I dissent insofar as it reverses the grant of qualified immunity.

I concede that this short opinion of mine does not consider or take into account the majority opinion. So I should disclose at the outset that I have not read it. I suppose this is unusual, so I explain why.

The majority has fulfilled its responsibility to explain at some length its vacatur of a part of the district court's judgment. But this is not a case that should occupy the mind of a person who has anything consequential to do. In a nutshell, the editors of the College Voice student newspaper used it as a campaign flyer to promote the self-styled radicals of the "Student Union" party in a long-ago student election, and the college president, finding that the partisan use of student-activity funds made a mockery of the election rules, directed that the election be re-run. The gist of the complaint is that the editors' speech was chilled, which is deemed to be a bad thing.
This is a case about nothing. Injunctive relief from the school's election rules is now moot (if it was ever viable); and plaintiffs' counsel conceded at oral argument that the only relief sought in this litigation is nominal damages. Now, after years of litigation over two dollars, the majority will impose on a busy judge to conduct a trial on this silly thing, and require a panel of jurors to set aside their more important duties of family and business in order to decide it. See Amato v. City of Saratoga Springs, 170 F.3d 311, 322-23 (2d Cir. 1999) (Jacobs, J., concurring) (noting that a trial over one dollar is a "wasteful imposition on the trial judge and on the taxpayers and veniremen").

With due respect to my colleagues in the majority, and to whatever compulsion they feel to expend substantial energies on this case, I fear that the majority opinion (44 pages of typescript) will only feed the plaintiffs' fantasy of oppression: that plutocrats are trying to stifle an upsurge of Pol-Potism on Staten Island. Contrary to the impression created by the majority's lengthy formal opinion, this case is not a cause célèbre; it is a slow-motion tantrum by children spending their graduate years trying to humiliate the school that conferred on them a costly education from which they evidently derived small benefit. A selection from the illiterate piffle in the disputed issue of the College Voice is set out in the margin for the reader's fun.1

On the merits, I would affirm for the reasons given in Judge Gershon's careful and thorough opinion (which I have read).
President Springer's decision to re-run the election was (to apply the governing standard) not unreasonable in light of clearly established law. The school adopted election rules intended to level the playing field and limit the use of student-activities funds for election-related purposes. President Springer's decision was based on her view that the May 1997 issue of the College Voice was "a thinly veiled student activity fee funded piece of campaign literature for the Student Union slate." The majority remands for a trial on whether the college president acted on an impermissible belief that a school newspaper funded by (compelled) student-activities fees should be balanced.

I think that the First Amendment protects the freedom of the press and that this protection should be strongest when a newspaper prints election-related content at election time. But this area of the law is (unfortunately) far from clear.

In 2003, six years after the student-government election at issue, the Supreme Court upheld numerous limitations on speech during election time--in an opinion that could open the way to direct regulation of a newspaper if its election coverage becomes too "slanted" or "biased." See McConnell v. Fed. Election Comm'n, 540 U.S. 93, 283-86 (2003) (Thomas, J., concurring in part and dissenting in part). In 2004, this Court upheld a state election law that provided for the regulation of news stories about candidates based on the discretionary rulings of the law's administrators. See Landell v. Sorrell, 382 F.3d 91, 181-82 (2d Cir. 2004) (Winter, J., dissenting), rev'd sub nom. Randall v. Sorrell, 126 S. Ct. 2479 (2006). That discretion to ensure a "fair" election is the same kind of discretion that President Springer exercised here.

In this light, it cannot be said that in 1997 there was a clear line between a viewpoint-based reprisal against a campus newspaper and [ii] the implementation of neutral and constitutional election standards. In any event, a school administrator should not have to become a constitutional-law professor in order to save herself from personal liability when giving a needed lesson in fair play.

This prolonged litigation has already cost the school a lot of money that could better have been spent to enrich course offerings or expand student day-care. If this case ends with a verdict for plaintiffs (anything is possible with a jury), the district court will have the opportunity to consider whether the exercise merits an award of attorneys' fees in excess of one-third of two dollars.

1. One student journalist laments that he is no longer the friend of the incumbent president of the student government: "I am very sad today. I lost a friend; his name is Joe Canale. . . . Things changed on April 9, 1997. It was a pizza day I won't forget. . . . Joe did not shake my hand and all he said to me, in a rather drone voice, was 'Getting ready for the elections?' From that point on I knew, Joe had disowned me, all because of my affiliation with [the Student Union]. . . . 'When I found out he renounced my friendship, because of my affiliation with Student Union, I adopted the slogan 'Joe Must Go' to console me in my hour of need.' "

Another article denounces "pizza politics": free pizza at student events is "another of the perverse policies set forth by this bureaucratic institution. The pizza is most certainly not 'free.' It was paid for, in full, by the student body of the College of Staten Island, it belongs to them. The pizza is the property of the student body, not of the student government." The same writer is agitated by a student-government planned "Solidarity/Unity Fest" which included a "velcro wall, a climbing mountain, a gladiator joust, a laser tag maze, human bowling, a bungee run, a Velcro wall [another velcro wall?], human fooseball [sic], face painters, jugglers, mimes, 12 different carnival style games and things of that nature." According to the author, this "Fest" was an "attempt[] to coerce votes out of the student body in exchange for carnal pleasures." The article closes with a call to "end the evil tyranous [sic] reign of the current [student government] by whatever means necesaary [sic]."

The paper's coverage of a "so-called Mayoral Forum" complains that the two political

parties "have historically been slaves to the Wall Street corporate tycoons, while either ignoring or killing the working class and poor people of this city and nation."

An editorial sets out the goals of the paper: "We oppose the poisonous divisions fostered on the basis of race by the bosses, who make Black and white workers fight each other for the crumbs off their table . . . even though it is the workers who produce all the wealth." The paper "seeks to engage all those who are committed to fighting exploitation and oppression in common action against the common enemy...capitalism." (ellipsis in original).

The issue features the Student Union's "12-Pt. Program For Change," including a call to "END CORPORATE CONTROL OF THE BOOKSTORE" so that it can "be returned immediately to the student body." The reason: "CUNY in general and CSI in particular have become the crown jewel in [Barnes & Noble's] campaign of corporate terror."
28503  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: July 19, 2007, 09:42:06 AM
Second post of the morning:

1145 GMT -- TURKEY, IRAQ -- Turkey's army shelled Kurdish targets inside northern Iraq, near the town of Zakho, on July 18, a Kurdish official said July 19. The Turkish military recently raised its troop levels at the Iraqi border and has asked the government for guidelines for an offensive against Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants in northern Iraq. The military accuses the PKK of preparing attacks against Turkish targets.

28504  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia on: July 19, 2007, 09:39:07 AM

Geopolitical Diary: Russia Tries to Re-Treaty the Present

In the grand tradition of the Cold War, Russia staged a press conference on Wednesday to lambaste Western security structures. The star of the show was Yevgeny Buzhinsky, head of the Russian Defense Ministry's international legal department. Buzhinsky's tongue practically danced in response to journalists' questions. Honestly, we've seen Broadway productions that are less scripted than this "press conference."

During the presentation, Buzhinsky proposed a number of possibilities to replace the current strategic formats between Russia and NATO. The three documents that make up the bulk of Russian-Western security understandings are the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) and the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE).

START places an absolute limit on the number of intercontinental nuclear weapons both Russia and the United States can field, and the INF does the same for intermediate-range missiles, while the CFE restricts how many troops individual NATO states and Russia can maintain -- as well as where Russia can station them. Taken together, the three treaties form the framework for Western-Russian relations, and it is that very framework that a strengthening Russia is now challenging. To a certain degree, this is understandable.

The three treaties locked into place the military realities of November 1990. Since then, not only has the Soviet Union collapsed, but the entire Soviet bloc (sans Russia of course), plus the three Baltic states and Slovenia, also has jumped the fence, taking its militaries with it. Add in more than a decade of Russian military decline and the result is a treaty-mandated system that puts the Russians at a grave disadvantage. It is this that the Kremlin seeks to change.

Such logic -- colored by the rhetoric and minutiae of the day -- is the core rationale for Russia's recent decision to halt its implementation of the CFE Treaty, by far the treaty with which Moscow is most dissatisfied. In addition to justifying this action, Buzhinsky also noted during Wednesday's press conference that the INF should be expanded and a successor to START determined.

Russia is not simply trying to amend the security structures that govern its relationship with the West; it is trying to convince the West to help it lock in a new system that is more representative of Russian fears and strengths. The INF currently applies only to the United States and Russia, but because it was signed during the Reagan administration, other states on Russia's borders have since developed respectable missile programs.

However, it will be START that really gets Russian engines revving in the near future. START is the only treaty that seriously limits Washington's defense spending on the U.S. nuclear deterrent. Since the Russian deterrent is one of the very few assets that guarantee Russia an international voice, Moscow desperately wants to preserve it at a level equal to that of the American program. With Washington looking over the Russian horizon toward a possible arms race with the more financially capable Chinese, there is no way any U.S. administration would agree to renew START in order to make the Russians feel better about themselves. The Russians know this, and it is pushing them to threaten to leave the INF altogether in order to maintain at least a semblance of parity: Intermediate-range missiles, while they cannot reach the United States, are much cheaper to produce.

During the Cold War, the Soviets regularly bandied about similar proposals in attempts to use treaties and Western opinion to lock U.S. force structures into untenable positions. As during the Buzhinsky conference, concepts of fairness and partnership were used liberally in an effort to make Moscow's position seem reasonable. This resulted in peace movements across Europe that greatly complicated alliance management for the Americans. After all, the last thing NATO needed -- and precisely what Moscow was after -- was splits in the alliance that could be exploited.

This time around, that does not seem to be happening. Europe is perhaps more awash than ever in anti-American sentiment due to the Bush administration and the war in Iraq, but there have been no mass rallies against U.S. weapons systems or Western parliamentary spectacles against U.S. policy. Most Central European states, such as Poland and Romania, are not buying the Russian line at all, and recent government changes in France and Germany have largely killed the idea of any broad Russian-European rapprochement.

There are structural limitations as well. Disarmament treaties typically only work when there is parity -- and very expensive parity at that -- that forces the two sides to talk. Despite Russia's resurgence, that parity does not exist, so the Americans see no reason to be particularly worried. And, to be perfectly honest, while Europeans -- at a minimum -- remain as nervous about Russia's rhetoric as its hardware, Russia's military degradation is perceived to have been so catastrophic that the Europeans are not breaking ranks. Then again, maybe it is simply that it is hard to play the victim when you are the one who walked away from the CFE Treaty in the first place.

The alliance might be wobbling somewhat, but it has held -- and done so with a much more diverse member list than it boasted in the 1980s. If Russia is going to split NATO and push through a new treaty regime, it will need to do more than simply dust off some old rhetoric.
28505  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NY Times: Moktada Sadr on: July 19, 2007, 09:27:24 AM
BAGHDAD, July 18 — After months of lying low, the anti-American Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr has re-emerged with a shrewd strategy that reaches out to Iraqis on the street while distancing himself from the increasingly unpopular government.

Sunni Arab snipers shot Shiites in line at this gas station on the border of Baghdad’s Amil neighborhood. The shooting has decreased since the increase in American troops. The U.S. sent Kurds to stabilize the situation.
Mr. Sadr and his political allies have largely disengaged from government, contributing to the political paralysis noted in a White House report last week. That outsider status has enhanced Mr. Sadr’s appeal to Iraqis, who consider politics less and less relevant to their daily lives.

Mr. Sadr has been working tirelessly to build support at the grass-roots level, opening storefront offices across Baghdad and southern Iraq that dispense services that are not being provided by the government. In this he seems to be following the model established by Hezbollah, the radical Lebanese Shiite group, as well as Hamas in Gaza, with entwined social and military wings that serve as a parallel government.

He has also extended the reach of his militia, the Mahdi Army, one of the armed groups that the White House report acknowledged remain entrenched in Iraq. The militia has effectively taken over vast swaths of the capital and is fighting government troops in several southern provinces. Although the militia sometimes uses brutal tactics, including death squads, many vulnerable Shiites are grateful for the protection it affords.

At the same time, the Mahdi Army is not entirely under Mr. Sadr’s control, and he publicly denounces the most notorious killers fighting in his name. That frees him to extend an olive branch to Sunni Arabs and Christians, while championing the Shiite identity of his political base.

On May 25, in his first public Friday Prayer in months, he explicitly forbade sectarian attacks.

“It is prohibited to spill the blood of Sunnis and Iraqi Christians,” he told Shiites in a much publicized sermon. “They are our brothers, either in religion or in the homeland.”

Almost from the day American troops entered Iraq, the mercurial Mr. Sadr has confounded American and Iraqi politicians alike. He quickly rallied impoverished Shiites in peaceful displays of Shiite strength, as had his father, a prominent cleric. When the Sunni Arab insurgency gained momentum, he raised a Shiite insurgency in direct opposition to the American-backed Iraqi government that had excluded him.

His basic tenets are widely shared. Like most Iraqis, he opposes the American military presence and wants a timetable for departure — if only to attain some certainty that the Americans will leave eventually. He wants the country to stay unified and opposes the efforts of those Shiites who have had close ties to Iran to create a semiautonomous Shiite region in southern Iraq.

After his Mahdi militia was defeated in a bloody battle against American forces in Najaf in 2004, Mr. Sadr established himself as a political player, using the votes of loyal Parliament members to give Nuri Kamal al-Maliki the margin needed to win the post of prime minister.

Now that the leadership is in poor repute, Mr. Sadr has shifted once again. The six ministers in the cabinet and 30 lawmakers in Parliament allied to him have been boycotting sessions. They returned Tuesday, but it is not clear they will stay long.

The mainstream political parties in Iraq realize that Mr. Sadr is growing more influential, but appear to be flummoxed over how to deal with him. They see him as unpredictable and manipulative, but too politically and militarily important to ignore.

“He’s powerful,” said Jaber Habeeb, an independent Shiite member of Parliament and political science professor at Baghdad University. “This is a fact you have to accept, even if you don’t like it.”

The latest stance by the more conventional political parties is to keep him at arm’s length. The two major Shiite parties, Dawa and the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, along with the two Kurdish parties, have been negotiating to form a new moderate coalition.

Mr. Sadr’s political leaders were told he was welcome to join, but the invitation came belatedly, after the other groups had all but completed their discussions. Mr. Sadr’s lieutenants announced that he had no interest in joining.

Experts in Shiite politics believe that efforts to isolate Mr. Sadr are bound to fail.

“Sadr holds the political center in Iraq,” said Joost Hiltermann, the director of the International Crisis Group’s office in Amman, Jordan. “They are nationalist, they want to hold the country together and they are the only political organization that has popular support among the Shias. If you try to exclude him from any alliance, well, it’s a nutty idea, it’s unwise.”

The mainstream parties talk about Mr. Sadr carefully. Some never mention his followers or the Mahdi militia by name, but speak elliptically of “armed groups.” Others acknowledge his position but are reserved on the challenge he poses.

Page 2 of 2)

“Moktada Sadr is one of the political leaders of this country,” Adel Abdul-Mahdi, one of Iraq’s two vice presidents, said in a recent interview. “We disagree on some things, we have differences. We have to work to solve our differences.”

Rahman al-Mussawi, 38, says he is proud that he still has Sunni Arab neighbors on his block, even though Sunni insurgents most likely killed his three younger brothers. A picture of them hangs in his living room.

The Sadrists exhibit a quiet confidence, and are pulling ever more supporters into their ranks. “The Sadr movement cannot be marginalized; it is the popular base,” said Sheik Salah al-Obaidi, the chief spokesman and a senior strategist for Mr. Sadr’s movement in Najaf. “We will not be affected by efforts to push us to one side because we are the people. We feel the people’s day-to-day sufferings.”

A number of working-class Shiites reflected that sentiment in conversations about the Mahdi militia and Mr. Sadr. Their relatives and neighbors work both for the Sadr offices and for the militia, blurring the line between social programs and paramilitary activity.

Mr. Sadr’s offices are accessible storefronts that dispense a little bit of everything: food, money, clothes, medicine and information. From just one office in Baghdad and one in Najaf in 2003, the Sadr operation has ballooned. It now has full-service offices in most provinces and nine in Baghdad, as well as several additional storefront centers. In some neighborhoods, the militiamen come around once a month to charge a nominal fee — about 5,000 Iraqi dinars, or $4 — for protection. In others, they control the fuel supply, and in some, where sectarian killings have gone on, they control the real estate market for empty houses.

The Mahdi militia is deeply involved in that sectarian killing. In a vicious campaign in the Amil neighborhood in western Baghdad, once a mixed working-class neighborhood of Shiites and Sunni Arabs, it has driven out many Sunnis and isolated others in a few enclaves.

Young men, said by residents to be part of the Mahdi militia, check every car coming into the Shiite section of the neighborhood. And many mornings, the bodies of several Sunni Arabs are dumped in a brick-strewn lot near the neighborhood’s entrance. Local Shiites routinely claim that the bodies are of foreign terrorists.

However, each community insists that it is the victim of the other. A sniper in the Sunni Arab area shoots at Shiites lined up to buy at a gasoline station that straddles the two communities. That, in turn, is used to justify retaliatory attacks on Sunni Arabs.

Among Shiites, the militia is viewed as their best form of protection from Sunni Arab insurgents. “This is the Mahdi Army standing in our streets,” said Rahman al-Mussawi, 38, a community leader who says he is proud that he still has Sunni Arab neighbors on his block, even though Sunni insurgents almost certainly killed his three younger brothers. They disappeared along a deadly stretch of road south of Baghdad where Shiites have been victims of Sunni extremists.

Mr. Mussawi gestured to the end of the block, where young Mahdi guards in T-shirts checked cars entering the neighborhood: “The Americans chase them away. If the Americans just would leave, then the neighborhood would be quiet.”

The Mahdi Army’s darker side is rarely discussed in Shiite neighborhoods. In Amil, some people fiercely reject any suggestion that the group runs death squads. Others might admit to some problems, but dismiss them as the excesses of a few bad apples.

“Of course there are some wrongdoings done by renegades in the Mahdi Army who deviated from the good and honorable line of the army,” said Mohammed Abu Ali, 55, a mechanical engineer who helps out in the Sadr office in Amil. “We do not approve these wrongdoings and we try to rid of elements in the Mahdi Army.”

Mr. Sadr began his most recent ascent after the bombing of the golden dome of the Askariya shrine in Samarra, sacred to Shiites, in February 2006. It was one of a string of assaults by Sunni Arab insurgents on Shiites that had gone on for more than two years.

Mr. Sadr’s militia began to strike back, supported by Shiites who felt it was their only protection.

Iraqi politicians say Mr. Sadr made another smart move this spring, when he pulled out of the government to protest its refusal to set a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops. Stymied by infighting, Mr. Maliki has yet to fill the posts.

Shortly after a second bombing in Samarra this June, Mr. Sadr called for a mass Shiite pilgrimage to the Sunni Arab city to honor an imam whose body lies in the ruined shrine. Government officials had to plead with him to cancel it to avoid violence. He eventually did, but not until he had made his point: he was a power to be reckoned with.

Qassim Daoud, a secular Shiite lawmaker, says Mr. Sadr has figured out the alchemy to playing the outsider, but having just enough of a place in the government to have leverage.

“He is one of those people who has two legs, one inside the political process and one outside the political process,” Mr. Daoud said. “So, he uses both to attack the process.”
28506  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Alien-Police Interaction on: July 18, 2007, 06:02:40 PM

Border case defended
By Jerry Seper
July 18, 2007

The U.S. attorney whose office won convictions against two U.S. Border Patrol agents for shooting a fleeing drug-smuggling suspect in the buttocks yesterday described as "the big lie" accusations that the prosecutions were not justified.

During a rancorous Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton defiantly said agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean, now serving lengthy prison terms, committed "serious crimes" in a case that was not about immigration issues or the Border Patrol but the rule of law.

"Agents Compean and Ramos crossed the line. They are not heroes," Mr. Sutton said. "They deliberately shot an unarmed man in the back without justification, destroyed evidence to cover it up and lied about it. A jury heard the facts and voted to convict.

"There is no one to blame for what has happened but themselves," he said.

But Sens. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, and John Cornyn, Texas Republican, questioned whether the 11- and 12-year prison sentences handed to Mr. Ramos and Mr. Compean, respectively, were justifiable and whether the decision to grant immunity to drug-smuggling suspect Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila was properly handled.

Mrs. Feinstein, who chaired the hearing, asked whether the government's priorities were "out of whack" when it made the immunity offer to "a drug trafficker," noting that Mr. Aldrete-Davila — who abandoned 743 pounds of drugs as he fled to Mexico — was "not an innocent who was caught in the wrong place at the wrong time."

"I find it hard to believe that someone trusted with $1 million in drugs is simply an amateur drug mule," she said.

Mr. Cornyn said he had "serious concerns about judgment calls" made during the case, adding that Mr. Sutton's office allowed Mr. Aldrete-Davila to violate the terms of his immunity agreement without consequences.

He and Mrs. Feinstein questioned Mr. Sutton on why the government gave Mr. Aldrete-Davila unlimited and unescorted access to the United States as part of the immunity agreement and whether he might have transported a second load of drugs into the country during that time.

They said that Mr. Aldrete-Davila re-entered the United States on at least 10 occasions from March to November 2005 and that the documentation authorized by the immunity agreement allowed him to cross the border legally at any time without notifying anyone and being unescorted.

"I would like to hear more about the policy that allows for this kind of unsupervised passage into our country and why someone who was known to smuggle in drugs would be given such flexibility," Mrs. Feinstein said.

Mr. Sutton acknowledged that a "humanitarian visa" given to Mr. Aldrete-Davila as part of the immunity agreement may have been "a mistake" but said it is necessary for his office to have access to would-be witnesses in pending cases — some of whom live in Mexico.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) documents, which remain under seal, show that Mr. Aldrete-Davila was the focus of a drug investigation into his reported stashing of 750 pounds of marijuana at a house in Clint, Texas, in November 2005 — nine months after he was shot.

The DEA's investigative reports, according to law-enforcement authorities and others who have seen the documents, said that the owner of the house, Cipriano Ortiz-Hernandez, picked Mr. Aldrete-Davila from a photo display and that the homeowner's brother, Jose Ortiz, told agents that Mr. Aldrete-Davila brought the marijuana from Juarez, Mexico, and identified him as "the person who was shot by Border Patrol agents."

Mrs. Feinstein also questioned why the agents were charged under a federal statute setting a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison. She said that as the law was written, it presupposes an underlying crime, adding that there was no underlying crime in the Ramos-Compean case.

She said the law needs to be clarified by Congress to prevent prosecutorial overcharging.

Ramos, 37, and Compean, 28, were sentenced in October on charges of causing serious bodily injury, assault with a deadly weapon, discharge of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence and a civil rights violation. The conviction came after Mr. Aldrete-Davila was located in Mexico by Homeland Security investigators.

In the packed audience was Patty Compean and Monica Ramos, both of whom shook their heads in disagreement when their husbands were accused of being responsible for the incident.

T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, which represents all 11,000 of the agency's nonsupervisory personnel, disputed government claims that the agents were prosecuted because they shot an unarmed man, covered it up, destroyed evidence and filed false reports.

"Make no mistake about it — Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila was not simply a mule as the prosecution tried to claim who was looking to earn $1,000 so he could care for his sick mother," he said. "The wrongdoing here was bringing 743 pounds of marijuana into the country ... and the person who did that was granted immunity by our federal government."

Presidential candidate Rep. Duncan Hunter, the California Republican who introduced a bill calling for a congressional pardon for the agents, described their prosecution as "the most severe injustice I've ever seen with respect to the treatment of U.S. Border Patrol agents or, I might add, the treatment of any uniformed officers."

Rep. Dana Rohrbacher, California Republican, said the decision to give immunity to "the drug dealer and throw the book at the Border Patrol agents was a prosecutorial travesty."

"The whole episode stinks to high heaven," he said.

Defending Mr. Sutton were Border Patrol Chief David V. Aguilar and former Border Patrol sector chief Luis Barker, who headed the office where the shooting occurred. They blamed Mr. Ramos and Mr. Compean for failing to follow Border Patrol policies and covering up the incident.

"This has been a tragedy with emotional undercurrent. But there should be no mistake. ... It begins and ends with the actions of Agents Compean and Ramos," Mr. Barker said. "Not the prosecutors. Not the judge or the jury, as has been suggested."

28507  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Wolves, Dogs and other canines on: July 18, 2007, 10:42:10 AM

The indictment handed down Tuesday against Falcons quarterback Michael Vick and three others describes in detail how they procured a property in Virginia for the purpose of staging dogfights, bought dogs and then fought them there, and in several other states, over a 6-year period. With at least three cooperating witnesses providing the details, federal authorities compiled a detailed case that traces the birth and rise of Bad Newz Kennels.

But not a single line in the 18-page indictment will generate more rage toward Vick and the others charged -- Purnell A. Peace, Quanis L. Phillips and Tony Taylor -- than a sentence near the end. It reads: "In or about April of 2007, Peace, Phillips and Vick executed approximately eight dogs that did not perform well in 'testing' sessions at 1915 Moonlight Road by various methods, including hanging, drowning and slamming at least one dog's body to the ground."

In interviews I conducted for an earlier story on the subculture of dogfighting and Vick's involvement, several experts described to me the process of "rolling" dogs. Owners take young dogs, usually puppies, and put them in an enclosed area and see how they react. They prod the dogs and urge them to get angry. If a dog shows aggression toward another dog, that's a positive. If a dog is timid, it is useless. Some fighters give away puppies that don't show the required "gameness." Other owners don't bother with the trouble of finding them a home and simply kill them.

Vick and his three associates, according to the indictment, fall in the latter category. Federal investigators allege Vick is a murderer of dogs who weren't willing to fight for his enjoyment. Even worse, his actions appear more sinister than most professional dogfighters. 
28508  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: July 18, 2007, 08:08:51 AM
The Bush Doctrine Lives
The president isn't selling out Israel or relaxing his call for Palestinian democracy.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

JERUSALEM--Newspapers in Israel yesterday were full of stories about President Bush's call on Monday for the creation of a Palestinian state and an international peace conference. While Israeli officials were quoted expressing satisfaction with the fact that "there were no changes in Bush's policies," commentators questioned whether the Saudis would participate in such a gathering and whether Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, with his single-digit approval ratings, could uproot Israeli settlers from the West Bank.

But all the focus on the conference misses the point. Mr. Bush has not backtracked an inch from his revolutionary Middle East policy. Never before has any American president placed the onus of demonstrating a commitment to peace so emphatically on Palestinian shoulders. Though Mr. Bush insisted that Israel refrain from further settlement expansion and remove unauthorized outposts, the bulk of his demands were directed at the Palestinians.

"The Palestinian people must decide that they want a future of decency and hope," he said, "not a future of terror and death. They must match their words denouncing terror with action to combat terror."

According to Mr. Bush, the Palestinians can only achieve statehood by first stopping all attacks against Israel, freeing captured Israeli Cpl. Gilad Shalit, and ridding the Palestinian Authority of corruption. They must also detach themselves from the invidious influence of Syria and Iran: "Nothing less is acceptable."

In addition to the prerequisites stipulated for the Palestinians, Mr. Bush set unprecedented conditions for Arab participation in peace efforts. He exhorted Arab leaders to emulate "peacemakers like Anwar Sadat and King Hussein of Jordan" by ending anti-Semitic incitement in their media and dropping the fiction of Israel's non-existence. More dramatically, Mr. Bush called on those Arab governments that have yet to establish relations with Israel to recognize its right to exist and to authorize ministerial missions to the Jewish state.

Accordingly, Saudi Arabia, which has offered such recognition but only in return for a full withdrawal to the 1967 borders, will have to accept Israel prior to any territorial concessions. Mr. Bush also urged Arab states to wage an uncompromising battle against Islamic extremism and, in the case of Egypt and Jordan, to open their borders to Palestinian trade.

If the Israeli media largely overlooked the diplomatic innovations of Mr. Bush's speech, they completely missed its dynamic territorial and demographic dimensions. The president pledged to create a "contiguous" Palestinian state--code for assuring unbroken Palestinian sovereignty over most of the West Bank and possibly designating a West Bank-Gaza corridor. On the other hand, the president committed to seek a peace agreement based on "mutually agreed borders" and "current realities," which is a euphemism for Israel's retention of West Bank settlement blocks and no return to the 1967 lines.

Most momentous, however, was Mr. Bush's affirmation that "the United States will never abandon . . . the security of Israel as a Jewish state and homeland for the Jewish people." This means nothing less than the rejection of the Palestinians' immutable demand for the resettlement of millions of refugees and their descendents in Israel. America is now officially dedicated to upholding Israel's Jewish majority and preventing its transformation into a de facto Palestinian state.

Beyond these elements, the centerpiece of Mr. Bush's vision was the international conference. The Israeli press hastened to interpret this as a framework for expediting the advent of Palestinian statehood, yet it is clear that the conference is not intended to produce a state but rather to monitor the Palestinians' progress in building viable civic and democratic institutions. The goal, Mr. Bush said, will be to "help the Palestinians establish . . . a strong and lasting society" with "effective governing structures, a sound financial system, and the rule of law."

Specifically, the conference will assist in reforming the Palestinian Authority, strengthening its security forces, and encouraging young Palestinians to participate in politics. Ultimate responsibility for laying these sovereign foundations, however, rests not with the international community but solely with the Palestinians themselves: "By following this path, Palestinians can reclaim their dignity and their future . . . [and] answer their people's desire to live in peace."
Unfortunately, many of these pioneering components in Mr. Bush's speech were either implicitly or obliquely stated, and one might have wished for a more unequivocal message, such as that conveyed in his June 2002 speech on the Middle East. Still, there can be no underrating the sea change in America's policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict brought about by this administration. If, under U.N. Resolution 242, Israelis were expected to relinquish territory and only then receive peace, now the Arabs will have to cede many aspects of peace--non-belligerency and recognition--well in advance of receiving territory.

Similarly, Mr. Bush's commitment to maintain Israel's Jewish majority signals the total rescinding of American support for Resolution 194, which provided for refugee return. Moreover, by insisting that the Palestinians first construct durable and transparent institutions before attaining independence, Mr. Bush effectively reversed the process, set out in the 1993 Oslo Accords, whereby the Palestinians would obtain statehood immediately and only later engage in institution building. Peace-for-land, preserving the demographic status quo, and building a civil society prior to achieving statehood--these are the pillars of Mr. Bush's doctrine on peace.

But will it work? Given the Palestinians' historical inability to sustain sovereign structures and their repeated (1938, 1947, 1979, 2000) rejection of offers of a state, the chances hardly seem sanguine.

Much of the administration's hope for a breakthrough rests on the Palestinians' newly appointed prime minister, Salaam Fayyad, who is purportedly incorruptible. Nevertheless, one righteous man is unlikely to succeed in purging the Palestinian Authority of embezzlement and graft and uniting its multiple militias.

The Saudis will probably balk at the notion of recognizing Israel before it exits the West Bank and Jerusalem, and Palestinian refugees throughout the region will certainly resist any attempt to prevent them from regaining their former homes. Iran and Syria and their Hamas proxies can be counted on to undermine the process at every stage, often with violence.

Yet, despite the scant likelihood of success, Mr. Bush is to be credited for delineating clear and equitable criteria for pursuing Palestinian independence and for drafting a principled blueprint for peace. This alone represents a bold response to Hamas and its backers in Damascus and Tehran. The Palestinians have been given their diplomatic horizon and the choice between "chaos, suffering, and the endless perpetuation of grievance," and "security and a better life."
So, too, the president is to be commended for not taking the easy route of railroading the Palestinians to self-governance under a regime that would almost certainly implode. Now his paramount task is to stand by the benchmarks his administration has established, and to hold both Palestinians and Israelis accountable for any failure to meet them.

Mr. Oren is a fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem and the author of "Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present" (Norton, 2007).

28509  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: July 18, 2007, 07:55:36 AM
The Bush Doctrine Lives
The president isn't selling out Israel or relaxing his call for Palestinian democracy.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

JERUSALEM--Newspapers in Israel yesterday were full of stories about President Bush's call on Monday for the creation of a Palestinian state and an international peace conference. While Israeli officials were quoted expressing satisfaction with the fact that "there were no changes in Bush's policies," commentators questioned whether the Saudis would participate in such a gathering and whether Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, with his single-digit approval ratings, could uproot Israeli settlers from the West Bank.

But all the focus on the conference misses the point. Mr. Bush has not backtracked an inch from his revolutionary Middle East policy. Never before has any American president placed the onus of demonstrating a commitment to peace so emphatically on Palestinian shoulders. Though Mr. Bush insisted that Israel refrain from further settlement expansion and remove unauthorized outposts, the bulk of his demands were directed at the Palestinians.

"The Palestinian people must decide that they want a future of decency and hope," he said, "not a future of terror and death. They must match their words denouncing terror with action to combat terror."

According to Mr. Bush, the Palestinians can only achieve statehood by first stopping all attacks against Israel, freeing captured Israeli Cpl. Gilad Shalit, and ridding the Palestinian Authority of corruption. They must also detach themselves from the invidious influence of Syria and Iran: "Nothing less is acceptable."

In addition to the prerequisites stipulated for the Palestinians, Mr. Bush set unprecedented conditions for Arab participation in peace efforts. He exhorted Arab leaders to emulate "peacemakers like Anwar Sadat and King Hussein of Jordan" by ending anti-Semitic incitement in their media and dropping the fiction of Israel's non-existence. More dramatically, Mr. Bush called on those Arab governments that have yet to establish relations with Israel to recognize its right to exist and to authorize ministerial missions to the Jewish state.

Accordingly, Saudi Arabia, which has offered such recognition but only in return for a full withdrawal to the 1967 borders, will have to accept Israel prior to any territorial concessions. Mr. Bush also urged Arab states to wage an uncompromising battle against Islamic extremism and, in the case of Egypt and Jordan, to open their borders to Palestinian trade.

If the Israeli media largely overlooked the diplomatic innovations of Mr. Bush's speech, they completely missed its dynamic territorial and demographic dimensions. The president pledged to create a "contiguous" Palestinian state--code for assuring unbroken Palestinian sovereignty over most of the West Bank and possibly designating a West Bank-Gaza corridor. On the other hand, the president committed to seek a peace agreement based on "mutually agreed borders" and "current realities," which is a euphemism for Israel's retention of West Bank settlement blocks and no return to the 1967 lines.

Most momentous, however, was Mr. Bush's affirmation that "the United States will never abandon . . . the security of Israel as a Jewish state and homeland for the Jewish people." This means nothing less than the rejection of the Palestinians' immutable demand for the resettlement of millions of refugees and their descendents in Israel. America is now officially dedicated to upholding Israel's Jewish majority and preventing its transformation into a de facto Palestinian state.

Beyond these elements, the centerpiece of Mr. Bush's vision was the international conference. The Israeli press hastened to interpret this as a framework for expediting the advent of Palestinian statehood, yet it is clear that the conference is not intended to produce a state but rather to monitor the Palestinians' progress in building viable civic and democratic institutions. The goal, Mr. Bush said, will be to "help the Palestinians establish . . . a strong and lasting society" with "effective governing structures, a sound financial system, and the rule of law."

Specifically, the conference will assist in reforming the Palestinian Authority, strengthening its security forces, and encouraging young Palestinians to participate in politics. Ultimate responsibility for laying these sovereign foundations, however, rests not with the international community but solely with the Palestinians themselves: "By following this path, Palestinians can reclaim their dignity and their future . . . [and] answer their people's desire to live in peace."
Unfortunately, many of these pioneering components in Mr. Bush's speech were either implicitly or obliquely stated, and one might have wished for a more unequivocal message, such as that conveyed in his June 2002 speech on the Middle East. Still, there can be no underrating the sea change in America's policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict brought about by this administration. If, under U.N. Resolution 242, Israelis were expected to relinquish territory and only then receive peace, now the Arabs will have to cede many aspects of peace--non-belligerency and recognition--well in advance of receiving territory.

Similarly, Mr. Bush's commitment to maintain Israel's Jewish majority signals the total rescinding of American support for Resolution 194, which provided for refugee return. Moreover, by insisting that the Palestinians first construct durable and transparent institutions before attaining independence, Mr. Bush effectively reversed the process, set out in the 1993 Oslo Accords, whereby the Palestinians would obtain statehood immediately and only later engage in institution building. Peace-for-land, preserving the demographic status quo, and building a civil society prior to achieving statehood--these are the pillars of Mr. Bush's doctrine on peace.

But will it work? Given the Palestinians' historical inability to sustain sovereign structures and their repeated (1938, 1947, 1979, 2000) rejection of offers of a state, the chances hardly seem sanguine.

Much of the administration's hope for a breakthrough rests on the Palestinians' newly appointed prime minister, Salaam Fayyad, who is purportedly incorruptible. Nevertheless, one righteous man is unlikely to succeed in purging the Palestinian Authority of embezzlement and graft and uniting its multiple militias.

The Saudis will probably balk at the notion of recognizing Israel before it exits the West Bank and Jerusalem, and Palestinian refugees throughout the region will certainly resist any attempt to prevent them from regaining their former homes. Iran and Syria and their Hamas proxies can be counted on to undermine the process at every stage, often with violence.

Yet, despite the scant likelihood of success, Mr. Bush is to be credited for delineating clear and equitable criteria for pursuing Palestinian independence and for drafting a principled blueprint for peace. This alone represents a bold response to Hamas and its backers in Damascus and Tehran. The Palestinians have been given their diplomatic horizon and the choice between "chaos, suffering, and the endless perpetuation of grievance," and "security and a better life."
So, too, the president is to be commended for not taking the easy route of railroading the Palestinians to self-governance under a regime that would almost certainly implode. Now his paramount task is to stand by the benchmarks his administration has established, and to hold both Palestinians and Israelis accountable for any failure to meet them.

Mr. Oren is a fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem and the author of "Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present" (Norton, 2007).

28510  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North Korea on: July 18, 2007, 07:47:09 AM
Thanks for the save Doug!  (PS I accidentally deleted your email about Scott G.  embarassed Would you resend it please?)

As for the NK situation, at the moment it looks like President Bush may actually have a win on this one.  As for Strat's analysis, I can't really comment-- I haven't understood the NK situation all along  cheesy
28511  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues on: July 18, 2007, 07:20:38 AM
Social Programs to Combat Gangs Seen as More Effective Than Police
Area Officials Advocate Mix of Prevention and Enforcement
By Tom Jackman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 18, 2007; B03

When it comes to fighting gangs, there's the New York City approach, and there's the Los Angeles approach, according to the Justice Policy Institute. And one statistic dramatizes the difference:
Two years ago, Los Angeles police reported 11,402 gang-related crimes; New York police, 520.

In a report being issued today, "Gang Wars," the Washington-based institute says it found overwhelming evidence that cities such as New York and suburbs and rural areas that use extensive social resources -- job training, mentoring, after-school activities, recreational programs -- make significant dents in gang violence. Areas that rely heavily on police enforcement, such as Los Angeles, have far less impact.

The institute analyzed dozens of academic reports on combating gangs and conducted research on the best ways to reduce gang violence. The report does not discuss gangs in the Washington area or its suburbs, partly because extensive investigations have not been performed in the region.

"Nobody we talked to thought that D.C. had a real gang problem," said Kevin Pranis, one of the report's authors. "Which is good news."

Institute officials say they hope the report will persuade legislators, in Washington and across the country, to allocate more money to proven social programs that target illegal gang behavior and less for large-scale arrest-and-imprison initiatives that often show short-term gains but make gang problems worse.

Officials in the District and its suburbs often stress the importance of both prevention and enforcement. In 2003, then-D.C. police chief Charles H. Ramsey launched the Gang Intervention Partnership Unit, working with schools, neighborhood groups and resident activists to reduce violence.
An independent report issued last year, looking at the unit's effects on the city's Latino population, gave a resounding endorsement: The number of Latino gang-related homicides in the city dropped from 21 between 1999 and 2003 to zero between 2003 and 2006.

"Suppression [enforcement] alone, that doesn't work," said Sgt. Juan Aguilar of the D.C. police. "That's only a Band-Aid. You've got to get to the root of the problem. It's social."

Similar sentiments were expressed by officials in Arlington and Fairfax counties, who said their police departments work closely with a variety of social service providers. In 2005, after a spate of gang violence in Northern Virginia, Fairfax launched a Coordinating Council on Gang Prevention and required several county service providers to participate.
Last year, Arlington launched its "Attention to Prevention" initiative to provide mentoring, leadership training and tutoring for youths. Police spokesman John Lisle said, "It's clear to us, to reduce the impact of gangs, it's not just a matter of locking people up."

The Justice Policy Institute describes itself as a think tank dedicated to ending society's reliance on incarceration and promoting effective solutions to social problems.

Statistics show that youth crime in the United States is at its lowest levels in 30 years and that gangs are responsible for a relatively small share of crime. In addition, according to a national Justice Department survey of police departments, gang membership declined from 850,000 in 1996 to 760,000 in 2004.

But occasional outbursts of violence prompt the media and politicians to seek immediate answers, said the report's authors, Pranis and Judith Greene.

"And it's more about politics than it is about serious efforts to do something," Greene said yesterday. "It's frustrating to see officials come forward with money for mass arrests, when the money is so sorely needed in programs that are tried and true and can really work."

In New York, the use of social programs to prevent gangs started in the 1950s, and the programs have continued to receive funding throughout the cycles of gang activity, the new report says. Street-level social workers, gang intervention programs and job training have been used for decades. "New York really doesn't have a chronic gang problem," said Greene, a New York resident.

Los Angeles, on the other hand, "retains the dubious honor of being the gang capital of the world," the report says. A 25-year anti-gang effort has cost taxpayers billions of dollars but has resulted in six times as many gangs and twice the number of gang members, because Los Angeles has not adequately funded social programs, the report says.

"There are very little services," said Luis J. Rodriguez, a former Los Angeles gang member who is a member of that city's Ad Hoc Committee on Gang Violence and Youth Development. He said the city has 61 gang intervention workers to handle about 40,000 gang members.

"We need substantial, root-based work, ways for people to get out of gangs," Rodriguez said. "But there are no jobs, rehabilitation or treatment, and schools and services do not work with gang kids."
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28512  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Suzanne Spezzano: Majadpahit Silat on: July 17, 2007, 11:35:22 PM
The Spezzanos would be more on top of Wali Songo's influence than I, but I will say that Ma-phil-indo=Malaysian+Filipino+Indonesian and Majapahit refers to the Majapahit Empire, the boundaries of which were not indentical to the current boundaries of Malaysia, the RP, and Indonesia.  I think I have this right , , ,
28513  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Nuclear War? on: July 17, 2007, 09:05:39 PM
Defecting Iranian Intelligence General Reveals Iranian Nuclear Secrets.

Iranian general, Ali Reza Asgari, who disappeared in Istanbul last February, has defected and is being held by the United States, Yedioth Ahronot published Sunday. Asgari was considered by the US one of the top intelligence officials in Iran. His defection was made possible thanks to an intricate CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) operation, climaxing in him joining Western intelligence officers in Istanbul, who then had him and his family transferred to the US.

Asgari, who according to reports is being held in a top-secret military installation, has been able to shed a new light on much of the Iranian regime's most inner workings, especially regarding the Iranian nuclear development project. Up until now, Iran - according to known intelligence - has been building two nuclear plants, in Arak and Bushehr, and has been using centrifuges to enrich uranium. Iran, Asgari told his interrogators, is working in another stealth path, toward achieving its nuclear goal. This third method involves attempts to enrich uranium by using laser beams along with certain chemicals designed to enhance the process. These trials are held in a special weapons facility in Natanz.

This new information has those who know its details in full worried. The fact the Iranians are trying to find new ways to enrich uranium is not new onto itself, but the progress made, at least according to the information given by Asgari, is much greater than was suspected. Western intelligence agencies are now busy analyzing the information Asgari provided them with, and estimating just how long is it before Iran has a nuclear bomb.

According to a source, Iran had caught on to Asgari's defection, and had taken preventive actions to protect its intelligence assets, in anticipation of the information he may reveal. [Bergman/Middle East News/8July2007]
28514  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: July 17, 2007, 08:55:30 PM

Por favor, alguien me puede explicar que son:

1) AFI
2) PFP

28515  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Turkey, Kurds, Iran, US on: July 17, 2007, 08:47:13 PM
Turkey: Kurds, Iran and Prodding the United States

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on July 17 defended a preliminary natural gas deal with Iran to carry natural gas to Europe following strong criticism of the agreement from the White House. With U.S.-Turkish relations taking a serious hit from the Iraq war and its aftermath, Turkey is clearly sending a political message to the United States that it still has a number of ways to pressure Washington into cracking down on Kurdistan Workers' Party rebels in northern Iraq.


Iran and Turkey have signed a preliminary agreement to pump Iranian natural gas to Europe via Turkey, a senior Turkish energy official who requested anonymity said July 16. A U.S. State Department spokesman criticized the agreement the same day, saying now is not the right time to invest in Iran's energy sector, and that Iran has not necessarily proved itself to be the most reliable partner in this regard. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan responded by defending the agreement, saying Iran had made an attractive offer. He added, "Should we not think of our country's interests at this point? Is the United States going to ask why we did not seek their permission? I believe [the United States] will understand."

Turkey signed a deal with Tehran in 2001 to ship 10 billion cubic meters (bcm) of Iranian natural gas from Tabriz to Europe via Turkey. Washington greatly disapproved of the deal at the time, not liking the idea of a NATO ally defying its sanction strategy against the Islamic republic. Iran and Turkey now apparently have decided to take their energy cooperation a step further by signing an agreement to pump 30 bcm of natural gas per year to Europe via Turkey, leaving no need for alternative supplies to feed the Nabucco pipeline project.

The European Union designed Nabucco to reduce its dependence on Russia for natural gas. Though clearly Europe will fund Nabucco, and Turkey makes the most sense as the primary transit point into Europe, there is still the question of which country actually will fill the pipeline with natural gas. In no particular order, the prospective suppliers for Nabucco are Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Complications attend each of these suppliers.

Turkmenistan, for example, would have to violate existing energy agreements with Russia to become a dedicated supplier for this project. Iraq remains an incoherent mess. Egypt and Saudi Arabia would require infrastructure largely built from scratch to do the job. Finally, Iran has a wall of political sanctions that would have to be broken down through a U.S.-Iranian rapprochement. In spite of this, Iran is probably best positioned to supply Nabucco. The 2001 Iranian-Turkish deal already allows about 10 bcm to be shipped into Turkey, and unlike Saudi Arabia or Turkmenistan, Iran and Turkey share a border. Moreover, Iran also has larger natural gas reserves than all the other prospective suppliers combined.

Turkey previously has talked about getting Russia to supply natural gas for the pipeline, which defeats the Europeans' original purpose of building it. By now saying Iran will be a major partner in Nabucco, Turkey appears to be sending a clear political message to Washington that Ankara is unhappy with the U.S. handling of Iraq and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a Kurdish rebel group that focuses its attacks on Turkey -- using bases in northern Iraq as its refuge and a staging ground for operations.

Turkey harbors deep reservoirs of resentment toward the United States. Turks at practically every level of society argue that the United States has done nothing to contain the PKK, while Washington hypocritically expects full compliance from Ankara to help calm the situation in Iraq. Ankara also fears that any political settlement the United States attempts to push through in Baghdad will allow Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to make considerable progress toward greater political and economic autonomy -- something that could encourage Kurdish separatism inside Turkey. As a result, Turkey has spent the past few months engaged in heavy military posturing to convince the KRG and Washington that Ankara will not hesitate to send troops into northern Iraq to take care of the PKK, even if this ends up derailing Washington's political negotiations over Iraq.

Meanwhile, the Iranians are eager to take advantage of this deterioration in U.S.-Turkish relations by forming a strategic partnership with Ankara. Turkey also steadily has improved relations with Syria and has sought to assume the role of mediator between Israel and Syria, despite Washington's wish to keep Damascus isolated.

Iran, Turkey and Syria all find common cause in ensuring that Iraqi Kurdistan is boxed in by its neighbors. Iran also sees itself and Turkey as the rightful powerhouses of the Middle East -- as non-Arabs and as successors to the Ottoman and Safavid empires, respectively. Of course, plenty of divisive issues hamper such a partnership, including Turkey's secularist and Iran's Islamist ideology, as well as their opposing stances toward the West. But with the U.S.-Turkish relationship taking a beating, Iran sees a gap that it very much wants to fill. In fact, the Iranians already have begun to prove their worth to the Turks by launching cross-border operations against PKK rebels in northeastern Iraq.

This explains why Erdogan rather cheekily ridiculed Washington's expectation that Ankara ask for the U.S. position before signing this deal with Iran. Erdogan's comments also come just five days before the July 22 Turkish parliamentary polls. The ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party wants to extract maximum electoral mileage by tapping the growing anti-U.S. sentiment within the Turkish public. Though Erdogan is relatively confident that the AK Party will hold onto its parliamentary majority, he also knows his party will lose some seats, and he is trying to minimize this loss as much as possible.

This obvious political jab by the Turks intended to apply greater pressure on Washington to give into Turkish demands and crack down on PKK rebels in northern Iraq is sure to grab Washington's attention. The only way to break Turkey out of this growing strategic partnership with Iran and Syria will be through action against the PKK. In the interest of gluing Iraq back together, Washington does not appear prepared to take such action just yet -- meaning U.S.-Turkish relations are bound to suffer further as a result.
28516  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: July 17, 2007, 05:13:09 PM
I proudly note that our Poltical Rants thread passed 60,000 reads today!

28517  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: July 17, 2007, 04:28:23 PM

Week out of Focus: Washington, Iraq and Al Qaeda
By George Friedman

Last week, the United States focused on the state of the war -- not just the one in Iraq, but the broader war against al Qaeda. A National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) was released asserting that al Qaeda has reconstituted itself in Pakistan and is either at or near its previous capabilities. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said his gut told him there is an increased risk of an al Qaeda attack in the United States this summer. President George W. Bush said at a press conference that the July 15 status report on Iraq would show that progress is being made in the war. When the report actually was released, it revealed a somewhat more pessimistic picture in some areas. Meanwhile, the Republican Party was showing signs of internal strain over the war, while the Democrats were unable to formulate their own collective position. So, it was a week in which everyone focused on the war, but not one that made a whole lot of sense -- at least on the surface.

In some ways, the most startling assertion made was that al Qaeda has reconstituted itself in Pakistan. What is startling is that it appears to acknowledge that the primary U.S. mission in the war -- the destruction of al Qaeda -- not only has failed to achieve its goal, but also has done little more than force al Qaeda out of Afghanistan and into Pakistan. Chertoff's statement that there is a high threat of an attack this summer merely reinforces the idea that the administration is conceding the failure of its covert war against al Qaeda.

This is not an impossible idea. A recent book by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tim Weiner, "Legacy of Ashes," provides an extraordinary chronicle of the CIA's progressive inability to carry out its mission. So the NIE claim might well have been an admission of failure. But it was an odd admission and was not couched as a failure.

What made this odd is that the administration is not known to concede failure lightly. During the same week, it continued to assert the more dubious proposition that it is making progress in Iraq. Why, therefore, was it releasing such pessimistic reports on al Qaeda, and why was Chertoff saying his gut tells him an attack this summer is possible? Why make the best-case scenario for Iraq and the worst-case scenario for al Qaeda?

There is nothing absurd about a gut call in intelligence, and much of the ridicule of Chertoff was absurd. Intelligence analysis -- particularly good intelligence analysis -- depends on gut calls. Analysts live in a world of incomplete and shifting intelligence, compelled to reach conclusions under the pressure of time and events. Intuition of experienced and gifted analysts is the bridge between leaving decision-makers without an analysis and providing the best guess available. The issue, as always, is how good the gut is.

We would assume that Chertoff was keying off of two things: the NIE's assertion that al Qaeda is back and the attacks possibly linked to al Qaeda in the United Kingdom. His gut told him that increased capabilities in Pakistan, coupled with what he saw in England and Scotland, would likely indicate a threat to the United States.

One question needs to be asked: What should be made of the NIE report and the events in the United Kingdom? It also is necessary to evaluate not only Chertoff's gut but also the gut intuitions of U.S. intelligence collectively. The NIE call is the most perplexing, partly because the day it appeared Stratfor issued a report downplaying al Qaeda's threat. But part of that could well be semantics. Precisely what do we mean when we say al Qaeda?

When U.S. forces talk about al Qaeda, they talk about large training camps that move thousands of trainees through them. Those are not the people we talk about when we discuss al Qaeda. The people who go through the camps generally are relatively uneducated young men being trained as paramilitaries. They learn to shoot. They learn to devise simple explosives. They learn infantry tactics. They are called al Qaeda but they are more like Taliban fighters. They are not trained in the covert arts of moving to the United States, surviving without detection while being trained in flying airliners, and then carrying out complex missions effectively. They are al Qaeda in name and, inside Afghanistan or Pakistan, they might be able to do well in a firefight, but they are nothing like the men who struck on 9/11, nor are they trained to be. When the U.S. government speaks about thousands of al Qaeda fighters, the vision is that the camps are filled with these thousands of men with the skill level of the 9/11 attackers. It is a scary vision, which the administration has pushed since 9/11, but it isn't true. These guys are local troops for the endless wars of the region.

When we think of al Qaeda, we think of the tiny group of skilled operatives who gathered around Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and Mohammed Atef in the 1990s. That group was capable of planning attacks across continents, moving money and men around the world -- and doing so without being detected. Those people have been the target of U.S. intelligence. The goal has been to capture, kill or bottle up those men in inaccessible places in order to prevent another attack like 9/11 or worse.

If the NIE report meant to say this group has reconstituted itself, it would be startling news. One of the ways this group survived is that it did not recruit new members directly into the core organization. One of the ways Palestinian terrorist organizations have been destroyed is by allowing new personnel into the core. This allowed intelligence agencies to vector agents into the core, map them out and destroy them. Al Qaeda was not going to make the same mistake, so it was extremely reluctant to expand. This has limited its operations. It could not replace losses and therefore weakened as it was assaulted. But it did protect itself from penetration, which is why capturing surviving leaders has been so difficult.

If the NIE report is true, then the NIE is saying al Qaeda not only has been recruiting members into the core group, but also that it has been doing so for some time. If that is true then there have been excellent opportunities to penetrate and destroy what is left of it. But we don't think that is true, because al-Zawahiri and others, possibly bin Laden, are still on the loose. Therefore, we think the NIE is saying that the broad paramilitaries are active again and are now located in Pakistan.

Strange Week in Washington

Alternatively, the NIE is saying that a parallel covert group has been created in Pakistan, is using al Qaeda's name and is mounting new attacks. The attacks in the United Kingdom might have been part of its efforts, though they are an example of why we have always argued that terrorism is technically much more difficult to carry out than it might seem. Those attacks were botched from beginning to end. Unlike strikes by al Qaeda prime -- the core group -- these attacks, if they represent an effort by a new al Qaeda, should be a comfort. It was the gang that couldn't shoot straight operating globally. If Chertoff's gut is speaking about a secondary group in Pakistan carrying out attacks similar to those in the United Kingdom, then certainly there is cause for concern, but nothing like the concern that should be felt if al Qaeda prime is active again. But then we don't think it can be, unless it has recruited new members. And if it has been recruiting new members and U.S. intelligence hasn't slipped someone inside during the process, then that would be not only a shame but also the admission of a major intelligence fiasco. We don't think that is what the NIE is discussing. It is a warning that a group calling itself al Qaeda is operating in Pakistan. That can be called a revived al Qaeda, but only if one is careless with terminology.

It should also be remembered that the United States is placing heavy pressure on the Pakistanis. A report leaked early last week by the New York Times confirmed what Stratfor said as early as January 2004, that a major incursion into northwestern Pakistan had been planned by the United States but was called off at the last minute over fear of destabilizing President Gen. Pervez Musharraf. Or, more precisely, it was called off after Musharraf promised to carry out the operation himself. He did so, but ineffectively and half-heartedly, so that al Qaeda prime was not rooted out.

By leaking the report of the planned incursion, the United States was reminding Musharraf of his guarantee. By issuing the NIE report, it was increasing pressure on Musharraf to do something decisive about militant Islamists in Pakistan -- or the United States would have to do something. Already heavily pressured by domestic forces, Musharraf ordered the raid on the Red Mosque last week, demonstrating his commitment to contain radical Islamism in Pakistan and root out al Qaeda -- or at least that part of al Qaeda that is not part of the isolated primary group. Between the implicit threat of invasion and the explicit report that Pakistan is the center of a new al Qaeda, Pakistan got the message. Whether Islamabad will be able to act on it is another question.

So the NIE report was meant to pressure Pakistan, even if it looked like an admission of the total failure of the intelligence community's mission. Chertoff's warning of attacks this summer was partly an attempt to warn that there might be attacks like those that happened in the United Kingdom -- to which the answer is that one can only hope that they would be exactly like those. Even had they been successful, they would not have risen to the level of 9/11 or even close. And they failed.

The fact is that, in a simple empirical sense, the one thing that has been successful in this war is that there has not been a single follow-on attack to 9/11 in the United States. The reason might be because al Qaeda either doesn't want to attack or lacks the resources. Another answer might be that it has been stopped by effective U.S. counterterrorism activities. This is a subject that needs analysis. In our view, it is the latter. But the simple fact is that the one mission achieved by the administration is that no attacks have occurred.

There have been numerous warnings of potential attacks. Such warnings are always interesting. They imply that the United States has sufficient intelligence to know that attacks are being planned but insufficient intelligence to block them. The usual basis of these warnings is an attack elsewhere. The second is access to a fragmentary bit of intelligence, human or electronic, indicating in a nonspecific way that an attack is possible. But such warnings usually are untrue because an effective terrorist group does not leak information. That is its primary defense. So chatter about attacks rarely indicates a serious one is imminent. Or, and this happens, a potential attack was aborted by the announcement and by increased security. We have no idea what Chertoff saw to lead him to make his announcement. But the fact is that there have been no attacks in six years -- and should there be a strategic attack now, it would represent not a continuation of the war but a new phase.

All of this neatly intersected with Bush's discussion of Iraq . He does not want to withdraw or announce a time line for withdrawal. His reason should be that a withdrawal from Iraq would open the door to Iranian domination of Iraq and a revolution in the geopolitics of the Arabian Peninsula. Bush has not stated that, but it is the best reason to oppose a withdrawal. Not announcing a timetable for withdrawal also makes sense because it would be tantamount to announcing a withdrawal. It tells Iran to simply sit tight and that, in due course, good things will come to it.

The primary U.S. hope for a solution to Iraq is an understanding with Iran. The administration both hates the idea and needs it. A withdrawal would make any such understanding unnecessary from the Iranian point of view and end any chance that Iran will reach an agreement. In our view, Iran appears to have decided not to continue the negotiating process it began precisely because it thinks the United States is leaving anyway. Therefore, Bush must try to convince the Iranians that this isn't so.

Bush has not given a straightforward justification for his concerns from the beginning, and he is not starting now, although the thought of an Iran-dominated Iraq should give anyone pause. But in arguing that the war in Iraq is a war against al Qaeda, and that al Qaeda is getting stronger, he justifies the continuation of the war. In fact, Bush explicitly said that the people who attacked the United States on 9/11 are the same ones bombing American troops in Iraq today. Therefore, the NIE report and Chertoff's warning of attacks are part of the administration's effort to build support for continuing the fight.

Bush's problem is that the idea that Iraq is linked to al Qaeda rests on semantic confusion -- many things are called al Qaeda, but they are different things. Something called al Qaeda is in Iraq, but it has little to do with the al Qaeda that attacked the United States on 9/11. They share little but the name.

U.S. policy on Iraq and the war is at a turning point. There would normally be a focusing down to core strategic issues, such as a withdrawal's consequences for the strategic balance of power. That not only is not happening, but Bush, for whom this is the strongest argument against withdrawing, also seems incapable of making the argument. As a result, the week saw an almost incoherent series of reports from the administration that, if examined carefully, amounted to saying that if you think the war in Iraq is going badly, you should take a look at the war against al Qaeda -- that is a total failure.

We simply don't think that is true. Of course, you can never prove a negative, and you cannot possibly prove there will be no more attacks against the United States by the original al Qaeda. Also, you can claim anything you want on a gut call and if it doesn't happen, people forget.

The intellectual chaos is intensifying -- and with it, the casualties on the ground.
© Copyright 2007 Strategic Forecasting Inc. All rights reserved.
28518  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: July 17, 2007, 02:40:55 PM
"A series of staged or permitted attacks would be spun by the captive media as a vindication of the neoconsevatives' Islamophobic policy, the intention of which is to destroy all Middle Eastern governments that are not American puppet states. Success would give the US control over oil, but the main purpose is to eliminate any resistance to Israel's complete absorption of Palestine into Greater Israel."


SB Mig, do you have a URL for this piece?

28519  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: July 17, 2007, 02:35:15 PM

TURKEY/IRAQ: Turkey will be making a "strategic mistake" if it launches a cross-border operation against Kurdish separatists in northern Iraq, said Abdul Rahman Chaderchi, a senior Kurdistan Workers' Party official. Chaderchi also renewed calls for a cease-fire between the two sides. He said a Turkish incursion into Iraq would unite Kurds on both sides of the Iraqi-Turkish border, as well as U.S. forces, against Turkey.
28520  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: July 17, 2007, 01:45:38 PM
Mexico Security Memo: July 16, 2007
July 16, 2007 1945 GMT

Hints of a Broken Cease-fire

Violence in the northern state of Nuevo Leon has erupted once again, starting with the attempted assassination of a police chief in Guadalupe on July 14, followed by the targeted killing on July 15 of a police officer in the wealthy Monterrey suburb of San Nicolas de los Garza. The July 14 attack is significant because it was the first against a police or government official in the state since June 12, when the warring Gulf and Sinaloa cartels apparently declared a cease-fire. Before June 12, such attacks occurred almost daily. Violence also has increased elsewhere in Mexico in recent days, suggesting that the cease-fire has been broken or at least strained. Last week's Mexico Security Memo indicated that any cease-fire would be short-lived, and we expect more killings across the country during the coming week.

Cartels and Kidnapping Rings

Authorities in Nuevo Leon said July 10 they had dismantled a kidnapping gang in Monterrey known as Las Estacas by detaining 14 members of the group in raids at two residences. The raids followed the July 1 arrest of seven members of Los Halcones, a similar kidnapping ring. Police officials said Las Estacas and Los Halcones are both linked to the Gulf cartel.

The deteriorating security situation in Mexico has contributed to a high rate of kidnappings throughout the country, and this has had a significant impact on business. For example, many of the large corporations operating in Baja California state have upgraded security at their facilities in order to mitigate this threat. Even so, abductions are on the rise in Baja California, especially in Tijuana. In most cases involving the kidnapping of high-value targets, the victims are released unharmed after a ransom is paid. These kinds of crimes are examples of the deteriorating security situation.

An Added Security Burden

As Mexico's security forces continue operate against drug cartels, they will have to take on the additional burden of increasing security at energy installations. A group known as the People's Revolutionary Democratic Party (PDPR), a splinter group of the People's Revolutionary Army (EPR), claimed responsibility July 10 for recent pipeline explosions in Guanajuato and Queretaro states.


Without mentioning any specific threats, the PDPR said it will continue a vague harassment campaign against "economic interests of the oligarchy" until the government releases two political prisoners allegedly detained May 25 in Oaxaca state. The PDPR is the most active splinter faction of the EPR, though during the last several years its activities have only been writing and posting online anti-government manifestos.

That the group has apparently pulled off a successful bomb attack against multiple energy targets -- the government has yet to confirm the PDPR was behind the bombings -- could indicate a shift in operations. The most likely scenario, however, is that the group acted when it did because it could, out of operational readiness, and that it will be unable to stage another such attack anytime soon. It is worth noting that Mexican security forces are known to be extremely effective against small anti-government groups such as the EPR; while the police might be wary of taking action against the cartels, they have no problem hunting down poorly armed Marxist rebels.

July 9
The body of a man was found wrapped in a blanket with his arms tied behind his back and a single gunshot wound to the neck in Tonala, Jalisco state.
One man died and another was wounded during an attack by six heavily armed men in the Tierra Caliente region of Michoacan state.
July 10
Police discovered the body of a man in a shallow grave with his arms tied behind his back and two gunshot wounds to his head in Charapan, Michoacan state.
July 11
Three gunmen died in a firefight with federal police on a highway near Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas state.

July 12
Mexican soldiers on a routine patrol in Sonora state seized 3.5 tons of marijuana, four vehicles and a number of federal police uniforms.
July 13
Federal police in Tijuana, Baja California state, detained three members of the Gabacho kidnapping gang, which is suspected in the abduction of several local business owners.
U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Tony Garza condemned threats to U.S. journalists by cartel hit men.
Police in Veracruz state reported that six people had been kidnapped in separate incidents by heavily armed men wearing uniforms similar to those of the Federal Investigative Agency.
July 14
The body of a man wrapped in a blanket was found along a highway outside Acapulco, Guerrero state. He evidently had been tortured.
July 15
Two men were found shot to death on the side of a highway in Durango state.
Two men were shot to death by several gunmen in Lazaro Cardenas, Michoacan state, in apparently related incidents.
28521  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mil-blogs: Michael Yon and others (support our troops) on: July 17, 2007, 11:14:48 AM
From MY:
===========Hello From Baqubah:

Superman is published at:

I made an appearance today (Tuesday) from Baqubah on Good Morning America to talk about events in Baqubah.  That video should be available on their site, and includes loud combat video I shot yesterday (Monday.)

I will be appearing on the Laura Ingraham radio show tomorrow (Wednesday.)

 We realize the site has become difficult to navigate after growing beyond all expectations, both in content and readership. The site will be overhauled during the coming months, but the work is very expensive so this will happen in stages.   


This site depends 100% on reader support.  Every bit helps and is critical.  We'll revamp the site as funding permits to allow for easier searches, and will continue to bring cutting edge stories from the war.


Very Respectfully,
28522  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Our Dismal Savings Rate on: July 17, 2007, 02:56:57 AM
Don't Dismiss Our Dismal Savings Rate
July 17, 2007; Page A17

The main fallacy in monetary theory and policy is the confusion of money and wealth. Money is wealth from the individual perspective since individuals can usually exchange it for goods and services. Money -- and financial assets easily converted to money -- may not be wealth for society as a whole if the production of goods and services has not kept pace with claims on it. Early spenders may have some success, but inflation will dilute the buying power of others. The bottom line is that real wealth has to be produced; it can't be printed.

Don't call me a Keynesian, but Keynes's Paradox of Thrift is another example of the fallacy of composition -- what's true for the individual may not be true for the group. Most U.S. families should be saving more. Indeed, the personal saving rate -- the percentage of disposable income not spent on consumption -- hovers around zero, with frequent dips into negative territory. This is made possible, for a while, by selling assets, accumulating debt, or spending capital gains in the housing and stock markets. Money obtained by realizing capital gains spends as well as money earned on the job. But not if too many of us try it at once.

The Paradox of Thrift says that attempts to save more in the aggregate reduce consumption spending, which, if not offset by increases in other spending, will reduce total spending and income. The paradox comes in when attempts to save more results in reduced saving out of lower incomes. The irony is that policy makers advise more saving but those who take the advice will benefit only if most of us ignore it, and policy makers are implicitly counting on that outcome.

A parallel is the farmer who hopes for a good crop year. But, if all or most farmers have a good crop year, the decline in prices may more than offset higher yields. What our farmer really needs is a good crop in a bad crop year. Then he could look for a popular restaurant that isn't crowded.

I realize this is not very sophisticated stuff, but it's on my mind because of the many talking heads I hear dismissing the adverse consequences of our low personal saving rate by saying it ignores capital gains as a source of spending. "Properly measured," they say, saving is not a problem.

Again, that may be true for the few, but not for the many. A penny saved may be a penny earned, but it matters whether it was earned by producing more or by a rise in the price of existing financial assets. A stock or housing market boom creates apparent wealth in the form of capital gains, but trying to convert it to real wealth en masse can make it disappear.

Economists say the main reason they worry about the budget deficit or the current account deficit is their impact on domestic saving. But my guess is that only other economists really get their meaning. Most people may be even further misled by the implication they hear that since the main harm of deficits is their impact on saving, they must not be too harmful after all. The old-fashioned notion that deficits are bad because they create debt that must be paid back with interest is probably a better prod to constructive behavior. Or that deficits impose a burden on our children or grandchildren.

Alan Greenspan has been one of the few economists to explain these matters correctly and -- I can't believe I'm saying this -- understandably, usually in the context of Social Security or other entitlement reforms. Whenever confronted by various financial fixes during congressional testimony, he frequently pointed out that any solution to the problem had to include real economic growth. With claims on output growing rapidly, output has to grow equally rapidly, or the claims are bogus. Any solution to our entitlement problems must include a bigger, more productive economy in the future. It's really as simple as not selling more tickets to the Super Bowl than there are -- or will be -- seats in the stadium. Of course, the political preoccupation with distribution rather than production puts unnecessary limits on the size of the economy on Super Bowl day.

The problem goes beyond government entitlement programs. Consider the baby boomers whose IRAs, 401(k)s and personal investments helped drive the stock market to record highs. What happens when cash-in time comes? There will be a mountain of paper claims on output, but will there be an equally tall mountain of output?

The great French economist, Frederic Bastiat, said that "The state is the great fictitious entity by which everyone seeks to live at the expense of everyone else." It's time to get real about producing real wealth, not just financial claims on wealth.

Mr. McTeer is a fellow at National Center for Policy Analysis and former president of the Dallas Fed.

28523  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia on: July 17, 2007, 02:44:57 AM
'For the Sake of One Man'
Getting the facts straight about the old-new Russia.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

In the six or seven years in which they interacted on a regular basis, Vladimir Putin's police state and journalist Fatima Tlisova had a mostly one-way relationship. Ms. Tlisova's food was poisoned (causing a nearly fatal case of kidney failure), her ribs were broken by assailants unknown, her teenage son was detained by drunken policemen for the crime of not being an ethnic Russian, and agents of the Federal Security Services (FSB) forced her into a car, took her to a forest outside the city of Nalchik and extinguished cigarettes on every finger of her right hand, "so that you can write better," as one of her tormentors informed her. Last year, the 41-year-old journalist decided she'd had enough. Along with her colleague Yuri Bagrov, she applied for, and was granted, asylum in the United States.

Ms. Tlisova and Mr. Bagrov are, as the wedding refrain has it, something old, something new: characters from an era that supposedly vanished with the collapse of the Soviet Union 16 years ago. Now that era, or something that looks increasingly like it, seems to be upon us again. What can we do?

The most important task is to get some facts straight. Fact No. 1: The Bush administration is not provoking a new Cold War with Russia.
That it is seems to be the view of Beltway pundits such as Anatol Lieven, whose indignation at alleged U.S. hostility to Russia is inversely correlated with his concerns about mounting Russian hostility to the U.S., its allies and the likes of Ms. Tlisova. In an article in the March issue of the American Conservative, the leftish Mr. Lieven made the case against the administration for its "bitterly anti-Russian statements," the plan to bring Ukraine into NATO and other supposed encroachments on Russia's self-declared sphere of influence. In this reading, Mr. Putin's increasingly strident anti-Western rhetoric is merely a response to a deliberate and needless U.S. policy of provocation.

Yet talk to actual Russians and you'll find that one of their chief gripes with this administration has been its over-the-top overtures to Mr. Putin: President Bush's "insight" into the Russian's soul on their first meeting in 2001; Condoleezza Rice's reported advice to "forgive Russia" for its anti-American shenanigans in 2003; the administration's decision to permit Russian membership in the World Trade Organization in 2006; the Lobster Summit earlier this month at the Bush family compound in Kennebunkport (which Mr. Putin graciously followed up by announcing the "suspension" of Russia's obligations under the 1990 Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty).

This isn't a study in appeasement, quite. But it stands in striking contrast to the British government's decision yesterday to expel four Russian diplomats over Mr. Putin's refusal to extradite Andrei Lugovoi, the former FSB man suspected of murdering Alexander Litvinenko in London last November with a massive dose of polonium. "The heinous crime of murder does require justice," British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said yesterday. "This response is proportional and it is clear at whom it is aimed." Would that Dick Cheney walked that talk.

Now turn to Fact No. 2. Russia is acting with increasingly unrestrained rhetorical, diplomatic, economic and political hostility to whoever stands in the way of Mr. Putin's ambitions.

The enemies' list begins with Mr. Putin's domestic critics and the vocations they represent: imprisoned Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky; murdered journalist Anna Politkovskaya; harassed opposition leader Garry Kasparov. It continues with foreign companies which have had to forfeit multibillion-dollar investments when Kremlin-favored companies decided they wanted a piece of the action. It goes on to small neighboring democracies such as Estonia, victim of a recent Russian cyberwar when it decided to remove a monument to its Soviet subjugators from downtown Tallinn. It culminates with direct rhetorical assaults on the U.S., as when Mr. Putin suggested in a recent speech that the threat posed by the U.S., "as during the time of the Third Reich," include "the same claims of exceptionality and diktat in the world."

None of these Kremlin assaults can seriously be laid at the White House's feet, unless one believes the lurid anti-Western conspiracy theories spun out by senior Russian officials. And that brings us to Fact No. 3. Russia has become, in the precise sense of the word, a fascist state.

It does not matter here, as the Kremlin's apologists are so fond of pointing out, that Mr. Putin is wildly popular in Russia: Popularity is what competent despots get when they destroy independent media, stoke nationalistic fervor with military buildups and the cunning exploitation of the Church, and ride a wave of petrodollars to pay off the civil service and balance their budgets. Nor does it matter that Mr. Putin hasn't re-nationalized the "means of production" outright; corporatism was at the heart of Hitler's economic policy, too.

What matters, rather, is nicely captured in a remark by Russian foreign ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin regarding Britain's decision to expel the four diplomats. "I don't understand the position of the British government," Mr. Kamynin said. "It is prepared to sacrifice our relations in trade and education for the sake of one man."

That's a telling remark, both in its substance and in the apparent insouciance with which it was made: The whole architecture of liberal democracy is designed primarily "for the sake of one man." Not only does Mr. Kamynin seem unaware of it, he seems to think we are unaware of it. Perhaps the indulgence which the West has extended to Mr. Putin's regime over the past seven years gives him a reason to think so.

Last night, Ms. Tlisova was in Washington, D.C., to accept an award from the National Press Club on behalf of Anna Politkovskaya. "She knew she was condemned. She knew she would be killed. She just didn't know when, so she tried to achieve as much as she could in the time she had," Ms. Tlisova said in her prepared statement. "Maybe Anna Politkovskaya was indeed very damaging to the Russia that President Putin has created. But for us, the people of the Caucasus, she was a symbol of hope and faith in another Russia--a country with a conscience, honor and compassion for all its citizens."
How do we deal with the old-new Russia? By getting the facts straight. That was Politkovskaya's calling, as it is Ms. Tlisova's, as it should be ours.

Mr. Stephens is a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board. His column appears in the Journal Tuesdays.

28524  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Training too much? on: July 17, 2007, 12:00:43 AM
What is your purpose in lifting them?
28525  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North Korea on: July 16, 2007, 10:37:55 PM
28526  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Amenazas/threats to US Reporters on: July 16, 2007, 01:01:41 PM
Mexico's Drug Cartels: The Threat to U.S. Reporters
Editors at the San Antonio Express-News ordered their Laredo, Texas, correspondent to leave the U.S.-Mexico border city July 12 after a source told the reporter he was in danger of being killed. The threat reportedly originated from Los Zetas, enforcers for the Gulf drug cartel. In response to the threat, the Dallas Morning News has instructed its Mexico City-based correspondent to stay away from the border for the time being.

Death threats against journalists are common on the Mexican side of the border -- and it is not uncommon to see them acted on. Reporters Without Borders, a Paris-based nongovernmental organization that advocates international press freedom, lists Mexico as the most dangerous country in the world -- except for Iraq -- for journalists. The group's 2006 report said nine journalists were killed and three others went missing last year. Journalists from major media outlets, as well as smaller local newspapers, have been killed or have disappeared after reporting on the activities of the drug cartels.

Even journalists working for smaller media outlets closer to the border that cover cartel activities in Mexico have been warned by their sources about their safety. A reporter working for a television station close to the border was threatened after the station aired a story about the Zetas. It is safe to say the killings and the threats against reporters are having a chilling effect on the coverage of drug-trafficking operations in Mexico.

So far, there are no reports that the cartels have carried out targeted killings of American journalists on either side of the border. U.S. authorities, however, believe the Zetas have crossed into the United States and killed other people on the U.S. side. Threats against reporters on the U.S. side, therefore, could easily escalate to an attempt against an American journalist inside the United States. Moreover, there is no reason to believe the enforcers would not strike at American reporters covering drug trafficking on Mexican soil.

U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Tony Garza on July 13 publicly condemned threats against U.S. journalists covering the cartels in Mexico. This indicates that the issue is being taken seriously at the higher levels of the U.S government, and will figure into Washington's relations with Mexico City.

The cartels are used to getting their way when it comes to influencing media coverage of their activities. Because of the intimidation and killings, many Mexican editors have been forced to be more selective in their coverage, even closing their papers temporarily until things cool off with the local cartels. The Cambio Sonora newspaper in Sonora state decided to close down temporarily in May following two grenade attacks at the newspaper -- probably from the Comando Negro, enforcers working for the Sinaloa federation of cartels. In February 2006, Nuevo Laredo's El Mañana newspaper ceased its investigative reporting on drug trafficking after an attack with assault rifles and a grenade at the newspaper left one of its reporters paralyzed.

Although some U.S. media outlets appear to be taking action to mitigate the threat against their reporters covering Mexican drug cartels, American journalists continue to follow what has become a major international news story. As the coverage continues, the cartels -- which have not demonstrated any fear of U.S. law enforcement -- could feel compelled to demonstrate their ability to reach across the border.
28527  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / PHO on: July 16, 2007, 12:27:26 PM
PHO is a basket of water stocks, which IMHO is an increasingly important sector with excellent long term fundamentals.  PHO is one of my largest holdings (average basis of 17.50)  Slow and steady!
28528  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Unorganized Militia on: July 16, 2007, 12:15:13 PM

Out of Montana

What happens when a mother of three and small town municipal judge decides to take on the online Jidhad? Shannen Rossmiller tells the story of how she helped unmask a number of malefactors, including some who were seeking to acquire Stinger missiles and finally track down a renegade in the US National Guard. Viewed from one perspective, it is a fascinating case study of the private citizen warrior, embarked on what Rossmiller called her own "counterJihad".
Before 9-11, I had no experience with the Middle East or the Arabic language. I was a mother of three and a municipal judge in a small town in Montana. But the terrorist attacks affected me deeply. ... I began to read vociferously [voraciously] about Islam, terrorism, extremist groups, and Islamist ideology. ...

This housewife found she could fight her private war from a computer keyboard. Her first step was visit and learn all she could about Jihadi websites.
In November 2001, I saw a news report about how terrorists and their sympathizers communicated on websites and Internet message boards and how limited government agencies were in their ability to monitor these web communications. This news report showed me how extensively Al-Qaeda used the Internet to orchestrate 9-11 and how out of touch our intelligence agencies were regarding this Internet activity. Apparently, there were not procedures in place for tracking communications and activity on the Al-Qaeda websites and Internet forums at the time.

So she invented her own procedures. But as she ghosted through the websites and forums, she realized that any further progress required a knowledge of Arabic. Nothing daunted, Rosssmiller set out to learn Arabic. And she did. Over the Internet, from a Cairo language academy.

Early in January 2002, I began taking an Arabic language course online for eight weeks from the Cairo-based Arab Academy, which, that autumn, I supplemented with an intensive Arabic course at the State University of New York at Buffalo. As I learned more Arabic, the jihadi websites opened for me. Certain individuals stood out for either their radicalism or the information that they sent. I followed and tracked these individuals and kept notebooks detailing each website and person of interest.

Soon Rossmiller grew skilled enough to pick out the signature style of individuals and successfully impersonate a Jihadi. If on the Internet nobody knew if you were a dog, it might be equally possible for a mom of three to convince her quarry she was a terrorist looking to hook up.
I created my first terrorist cover identity on the Internet on March 13, 2002, to communicate and interact with these targets. In my first chat room sting, I convinced a Pakistani man that I was an Islamist arms dealer. When he offered to sell me stolen U.S. Stinger missiles to help the jihadists fighting the U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan, I used the Persian Gulf dialect of Arabic to ask him to provide me with information that I could use to confirm his claims, such as stock numbers. Within a couple of weeks, the missile identification numbers were in my computer inbox.
Stock numbers and the e-mail correspondence in hand, I intended to drive to the closest field office for the FBI here in Montana but was afraid that the FBI would not take me seriously. What were the chances of a Montana mom showing up at their door with information about an individual in Pakistan who was trying to sell Stinger missiles? Instead, I submitted the information to the FBI's online tips site.
A few days later, I received a telephone call from an FBI agent from New Jersey who proceeded to question me. It felt like an interrogation. Several days later, the same agent called to thank me and say that the stock number information for the Stingers did match some of the information that the government had about the missiles.
Encouraged by this success, I continued to communicate with these jihadis online and proceeded to gather more information. Using various Muslim personalities and theatrics for cover, I began monitoring the jihadist chat rooms into the early hours of the morning while my family slept. Plunging in, I started making headway into the world of counterterrorism.

Rossmiller went on to detect early warnings of a bombing attack against expatriates in Saudi Arabia and was even asked -- in 2003 -- to courier some money for Saddam's fedayeen in Jordan. But not all the homes burning the midnight oil in America belonged to individuals fighting for their country. Some of the nocturnal denizens haunting the Internet were bent on selling out their country for gain or out of hatred. At some point Rossmiller's path and theirs were bound to cross.
It was soon afterwards that I learned that I was not the only American surfing the chat rooms. In October 2004, while monitoring Arabic Islamist websites for threat-related information and activity, I saw a message posted in English by a man calling himself Amir Abdul Rashid. He said he was a Muslim convert who "was in a position to take things to the next level in the fight against our enemy (the U.S. government)." He further requested that someone from the mujahideen contact him for details. I was suspicious because Rashid posted his message in English on an Arabic website and was openly seeking contact from the mujahideen. I traced his IP address back to an area outside of Seattle, Washington. Over time, it also became apparent to me that he was a member of the U.S. military.

With the Montana mom aware of him the net slowly closed. Rashid turned out to be Spec. Ryan G. Anderson, whose National Guard unit was scheduled to deploy to Iraq. Anderson was hawking the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of the M1-AI and M1-A2 Abrams tanks as well as U.S. troop locations in Iraq. The price for this success was the end Rossmiller's anonymity. Called to testify at Anderson's trial, Rossmiller's modus operandi and identity were revealed in court records. Her cloak stripped away, the hunter soon became the hunted.
After the media picked up my identity at Anderson's Article 32 hearing in May 2004, I received numerous threats and, on December 5, 2004, someone stole my car out of my family's garage. It was later found wrecked two counties away from my home, riddled with bullet holes. As a result, I now have permanent security.

There's more. And if you want to know of her other exploits you should as they say, read the whole thing.
Ironically if Rossmiller had been engaged in important sleuthing such as uncovering whether Scooter Libby had talked about Valerie Plame before or after Richard Armitage instead of the trivial pursuit of hunting down terrorists intent on mass murder or traitors selling their country's secrets, her story might already be the subject of a blockbuster movie instead of the obscure pages of Middle East Forum. Rossmiller would be on the Good Morning America and Oprah shows, pulling in money instead of shelling it out for personal security.
Yet her saga is more than a cultural commentary on our times. It also illustrates the largely unrecorded exploits of individuals who are fighting the Jihad on their own time and dime. Wearing a wire for the FBI. Tracking down Jihadi training camps in rural America. Translating documents. Jamming terrorist sites. Raising the alarm. Baking cookies for the troops. It's a story of the gaps in the official warfighting apparatus and the enterprise that quietly fills them in. It is a perfectly 21st century story; a tale of networked counterinsurgency. But it is also a story from the past: of the 18th century idea of a nation in arms, not literally perhaps -- the keyboard is probably a more common weapon -- but of people's war, something that shocked the Continent when the French revolution brought it into European existence.
This perhaps, is Osama Bin Laden's saddest contribution to history. Not that he should make war upon the nations, but that he has raised the nations, right down to their living rooms and front porches, to make war upon him and his.
28529  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NYT: Aid to Pakistan in Tribal Regions raises concerns on: July 16, 2007, 08:38:32 AM
GHALANAI, Pakistan — The United States plans to pour $750 million of aid into Pakistan’s tribal areas over the next five years as part of a “hearts and minds” campaign to win over this lawless region from Qaeda and Taliban militants.

Skip to next paragraph
Suicide Bombers Kill at Least 49 in North Pakistan (July 16, 2007)
But even before the plan has been fully carried out, documents and officials involved in the planning are warning of the dangers of distributing so much money in an area so hostile that oversight is impossible, even by Pakistan’s own government, which faces rising threats from Islamic militants.

Who will be given the aid has quickly become one of the most contentious questions between local officials and American planners concerned that millions might fall into the wrong hands. The local political agents and tribal chiefs in this hinterland on the Afghan border have for years accommodated the very groups the American and Pakistani governments seek to drive out.

A closely scripted visit to the hospital here, used for a pilot project by the United States Agency for International Development, showed the challenges on full display. The one-story hospital here was virtually empty on a recent day.

Local people had no way to get there. Three of the 110 beds were occupied. Two operating tables had not been used in months. Many doctors had left because the pay was too meager and security too precarious, said Dr. Yusuf Shah, the chief surgeon.

Sher Alam Mahsud, the local political boss who escorted this reporter on a rare visit, said he wanted all the American aid money “delivered to us.” But the precarious security does not allow the Americans to assess the aid priorities firsthand, or to provide oversight for the first installment of $150 million allocated by the Bush administration.

“Delivering $150 million in aid to the tribal areas could very quickly make a few people rich and do almost nothing to provide opportunity and justice to the region,” said Craig Cohen, the author of a recent study of United States-Pakistan relations at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. Yet it is here in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, or FATA, as the region is formally called, that Washington is intent on using the development aid as a counterinsurgency tool, according to a draft of the Agency for International Development plan given to The New York Times by an official who worked on it.

The draft warns that the “severe governance deficiencies” in the tribal areas will make it virtually impossible for the aid to be sustainable or to overcome the “area’s chronic underdevelopment and consequent volatility.”

The ambitious plan was publicly highlighted during a visit to Pakistan in June by Richard A. Boucher, the assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs, as a measure of Washington’s support for Pakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

“The objective driving this decision is the hope that by bringing the FATA into the mainstream and assuring that basic human services and infrastructure are on par with the rest of Pakistan, the people of FATA would be less likely to welcome the presence of Al Qaeda and Taliban,” the draft states. The projects include health and education services, water and sanitation facilities, and agricultural development, it says, making clear that these are a means to a broader end. “The main goal of the United States government in relation to the FATA is counterterrorism,” it says.

One way to improve the chances of the aid’s efficacy would be greater emphasis on political reform in the tribal areas, according to the draft. The Pakistani government has created a panel to study reform of the political structure in the areas, the draft noted, adding that “Usaid should explore opportunities for contributing its substantial experience in local government capacity building to any reform efforts the government of Pakistan decide to undertake.”

Even if the tribal areas were not under the sway of the Taliban, which they increasingly are, the development challenge here would be steep enough, the document and interviews make clear.

The area, home to 3.2 million people, remains a desolate landscape where women are strictly veiled. Female literacy — at 3 percent — is among the lowest in the world. Schools are often used to run businesses. There is no banking system. Smuggling of opium and other contraband is routine.

The hostility to almost anything that smacks of foreign influence is such that money from the modest development agency program, administered by the charity Save the Children at the hospital here, was being delivered anonymously, undercutting any potential public relations benefit for the United States.

“We can’t do branding,” said Fayyaz Ali Khan, the program manager for Save the Children, in an interview in the city of Peshawar. “Usually we say the aid comes from the American people, but here we can’t.”

Suspicions about modern medicine are rife. A Pakistani doctor was blown up in his car in June after trying to counter the anti-vaccine propaganda of an imam in Bajaur, one of the tribal agencies, Pakistani officials said.

The Pakistani government has virtually no authority here. After years of fighting to assert its authority, at the cost of about 600 soldiers, it negotiated peace accords with tribal authorities that have all but confined Pakistani troops to their barracks.

Published: July 16, 2007
(Page 2 of 2)

Tribal elders, local imams and governors known as political agents — their title goes back to the British colonial days — are the on-the-ground arbiters of all decisions in many districts. The political agents are widely considered corrupt.

Skip to next paragraph
Suicide Bombers Kill at Least 49 in North Pakistan (July 16, 2007) A senior American official in Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital, who would not speak for attribution, defended the plan’s goals as necessary and achievable. The official said that “Pakistani firms, consulting organizations and nongovernmental organizations” would be the main deliverers of the assistance.

The official said, referring to the international aid agency, that these would in turn be “managed under Usaid direct contracts and grants to American and international organizations.”

Mr. Cohen, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, was skeptical. Almost every potential recipient of the money was suspect in the eyes of the people it was supposed to help, he said. “The notion that there’s going to be $150 million a year to Pakistani nongovernmental organizations who are going to be out in the open seems naïve to me,” he said.

“The insecurity of the area will require a heavy reliance on local partners” like Pakistani nongovernmental organizations to administer projects, he added. “But the nongovernmental organizations don’t trust the military, the military doesn’t trust the tribal chiefs, and the tribal chiefs won’t trust us unless they’re getting a cut of the money.”

Such Pakistani groups were often targets of the Islamic militants in the tribal areas. The militants are increasingly destroying CD shops and attacking small efforts to gain advantages for women.

Mr. Mahsud, the political agent for the tribal agency, or district, of Mohmand, where the hospital is, had his own ideas. Any aid money from Western donors should be “pooled here,” he said, during an interview at the FATA secretariat headquarters in Peshawar, meaning it should be distributed through local officials.

His power was evident when he drove in his impressive new four-wheel-drive vehicle through the heavy metal black gates that mark the boundary to his tribal agency. Armed men in heavy gray uniforms, wearing black felt berets in the summer heat, snapped to attention.

The hospital itself was barren, and silent. Dr. Shah, the chief surgeon, and other doctors who had come to the hospital for the visit of an outsider, said water was a luxury trucked in by tanker, arriving at best every other day.

One doctor, Aaquila Khan, brimmed with passion about helping the poor and feeble women who came to visit the woefully underequipped hospital, but she lives in Peshawar, more than an hour’s drive away, and so comes in just two or three days a week, mornings only, to treat those female patients.

“They are very much anemic,” she said of eight women she treated during a recent visit. “They are not educated, they are not aware of family planning, they have no money.” Only the women living within walking distance could come, she said.

The aid program run by Save the Children, a small $11 million starter project that hints at the bigger things planned by the Americans, formally began last December with a signing of a memorandum of understanding with the tribal authorities.

The idea is for Pakistani doctors to train health care workers who will go into the field and train traditional health assistants on more modern methods.

But the first training sessions have only just begun, said Mr. Khan, the program manager for Save the Children. The only sign of the program was a “resource room” with a large blond wood table and a dozen or so chairs still in their plastic wrapping.

The training sessions take place in Peshawar, over the tribal boundary, to ensure the safety of the doctors.
28530  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues on: July 15, 2007, 08:27:25 PM
Second post of the day:

Fascinating shooting story:
28531  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: July 15, 2007, 12:27:29 PM
I'm second to few in my loathing for the Clintons, but is Morris here avoiding mentioning the concept of the Capital Gains tax?  Is he suggesting the individual cap gains should be taxed at the same rate as income?!? Does anyone know what rate corporations pay on cap gains?
28532  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam the religion on: July 15, 2007, 11:33:39 AM
Another installment from HotAir:’an-sura-2-“the-cow”-verses-222-286/
28533  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: July 15, 2007, 10:16:46 AM
The War About the War
By Herbert Meyer
Herbert E. Meyer served during the Reagan Administration as Special
Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence and Vice Chairman of the
CIA's National Intelligence Council.

The 9-11 attacks did more than start a war; they started a war about the
war. No sooner had the World Trade towers collapsed and the Pentagon burst
into flames than two perceptions of the threat began competing for the
public's support:

Perception One: We're at War

For the third time in history Islam - or, more precisely, its most radical
element - has launched a war whose objective is the destruction of Western
civilization. Our survival is at stake, and despite its imperfections we
believe that Western civilization is worth defending to the death. Moreover,
in the modern world - where a small number of people can so easily kill a
large number of people - we cannot just play defense; sooner or later that
strategy would bring another 9-11. This conflict really is a clash of
civilizations whose root cause is Islam's incompatibility with the modern
world. So we must fight with everything we've got against the terrorist
groups and against those governments on whose support they rely. If the Cold
War was "World War III," this is World War IV. We must win it, at whatever

Perception Two: We're Reaping What We've Sowed

There are quite a few people in the world who just don't like the United
States and some of our allies because of how we live and, more precisely,
because of the policies we pursue in the Mideast and elsewhere in the world.
Alas, a small percentage of these people express their opposition through
acts of violence. While we sometimes share their opinion of our values and
our policies, we cannot condone their methods. Our objective must be to
bring the level of political violence down to an acceptable level. The only
way to accomplish this will be to simultaneously adjust our values and our
policies while protecting ourselves from these intermittent acts of
violence; in doing so we must be careful never to allow the need for
security to override our civil liberties.

There is no middle ground between these two perceptions. Of course, you can
change a word here and there, or modify a phrase, but the result will be the
same. Either we're at war, or we've entered a period of history in which the
level of violence has risen to an unacceptable level. If we're at war, we're
in a military conflict that will end with either our victory or our defeat.
If we're in an era of unacceptable violence stemming from our values and our
policies, we are faced with a difficult but manageable political problem.

Splitting the Difference

Since the 9-11 attacks, President Bush has been trying to split the
difference. It's obvious that he, personally, subscribes to Perception One.
Just read his formal speeches about the conflict, such as those he's given
to Congress and at venues such as West Point. They are superb and often
brilliant analyses of what he calls the War on Terror. Yet he hasn't done
things that a president who truly believes that we're at war should have
done. For instance, in the aftermath of 9-11 he didn't ask Congress for a
declaration of war, didn't bring back the draft, and didn't put the US
economy on a wartime footing. A president at war would have taken out Iran's
government after overthrowing the Taliban in Afghanistan -- and then sent
500,000 troops into Iraq, rather than just enough troops to remove Saddam
Hussein but not enough to stabilize that country. And a president at war
would have long since disposed of Syria's murderous regime and helped the
Israelis wipe out Hezbollah.

Study history, and you quickly learn that oftentimes events and the
responses they generate look different a hundred years after they happen
than they look at the time. It may be that history will judge that President
Bush performed heroically, doing the very best that anyone could do given
the two incompatible perceptions about the conflict that have divided public
opinion and raised the level of partisanship in Washington to such a
poisonous level. Or, it may be that history will judge the President to have
been a failure because he responded to 9-11 as a politician rather than as a

Either way, it is the ongoing war about the war that accounts for where we
are today, nearly six years after the 9-11 attacks: We haven't lost, but we
aren't winning; fewer of us have been killed by terrorists than we had
feared would be killed, but we aren't safe.

While experts disagree about how "the war" is going, there isn't much
disagreement over how the war about the war is going: those who subscribe to
Perception Two are pulling ahead.

Here in the US, virtually every poll shows that a majority of Americans want
us "out of Iraq" sooner rather than later, and regardless of what's actually
happening on the ground in that country. Support for taking on Iran - that
is, for separating the Mullahs from the nukes through either a military
strike or by helping Iranians to overthrow them from within - is too low
even to measure. There isn't one candidate for president in either party
who's campaigning on a theme of "let's fight harder and win this thing
whatever it takes." Indeed, the most hawkish position is merely to stay the
course a while longer to give the current "surge" in Iraq a fair chance.
Moreover, just chat with friends and neighbors - at barbeques, at the
barbershop, over a cup of coffee - and you'll be hard-pressed to find a
solid minority, let alone a majority, in favor of fighting-to-win.

However it's phrased, just about everyone is looking for a way out short of

Overseas, public opinion is moving in the same direction. For example, in
Great Britain Tony Blair has stepped aside for Gordon Brown, who in the
midst of the recent terrorist attacks in London and Glasgow has ordered his
government to ban the phrase "war on terror" and to avoid publicly linking
the recent, mercifully failed attacks in London and Glasgow to any aspect of
Islam. The current leaders of Germany and France are less anti-American than
their predecessors, but no more willing to help us fight. Down under in
Australia John Howard - blessed be his name - is holding firm, but for a
combination of reasons may be approaching the end of his long tenure; none
of his likely replacements are nearly so robust. And the Israelis - who are
facing the triple-threat of Hamas, Hezbollah, and before too long a
nuclear-armed Iran - are going through one of their periodic bouts of
political paralysis.

A Second Attack

It's possible that something horrific will happen in the immediate future to
shift public support here in the US, and throughout the West, from the
second perception to the first. When asked by a young reporter what he
thought would have the greatest impact on his government's fate, British
Prime Minister Harold Macmillan responded cheerfully: "Events, dear boy,
events." One more 9-11-type attack - biological, chemical, or nuclear - that
takes out Houston, Berlin, Vancouver or Paris, and the leader of that
country will be overwhelmed by the furious public's demands to "turn the
creeps who did this, and the countries that helped them, into molten glass
and don't let's worry about collateral damage." (This will sound even better
in French or German.) Should the next big attack come here in the US, some
among us will blame the President but most won't. The public mood will be
not merely ferocious, but ugly; you won't want to walk down the street
wearing an "I gave to the ACLU" pin in your lapel.

Absent such an event in the near future, it's likely that over the next few
years the war will settle into a phase that proponents of Perception Two
will approve. Simply put, we will shift from offense to defense. The
Department of Homeland Security will become our government's lead agency,
and the Pentagon's role will be diminished. (Nothing will change at the
State Department - but then, nothing ever does.) Most people in the US, and
elsewhere in the West, will be relieved that "the war" is finally over.

To preserve the peace we will have to be more than willing to make the
occasional accommodation to Moslems. If they ask us to put more pressure on
the Israelis - well, we can easily do that. If Moslem checkout clerks at our
supermarkets don't want to touch pork - by all means let's have separate
checkout counters for customers who've bought those products. And now that
we think about it, "Happy Winter" will be as good a greeting, if not a
better one, than "Merry Christmas." Won't it?

Of course, there will be the occasional terrorist attack. Some, like the
recent ones in London and Glasgow, will fail. Others will succeed, but
guided by the mainstream media we will view them with the same detachment as
we would view a meteor shower that brought flaming rocks crashing randomly
into the Earth. Most will land harmlessly in fields, some will land on
houses and kill those few residents unlucky enough to be home at the time.
Once in a while, one will crash into a crowded shopping mall or, sadly, into
a school packed with children. These things happen - alas - and while it's
riveting to watch the latest disaster unfold on television there really
isn't much one can do about it. Life goes on.

In the long run, history always sorts things out.

If it turns out that Perception Two of the threat is valid, then over time
we will become accustomed to the level of casualties caused by the
terrorists. After all, more than 40,000 Americans are killed each year in
traffic accidents and we don't make a big political issue out of that, do
we? Our attitude toward death-by-terrorist-attack will be the same as our
attitude toward deaths on the highway: a tragedy for the victim and members
of the family, but nothing really to fuss over. And if Perception Two is
valid, it's even possible that the terrorist threat eventually will ease.
Can you even remember the last time anyone got bombed by the IRA?

But if those of us who subscribe to Perception One are correct, then it's
only a matter of time before something ghastly happens that will swing
public opinion throughout the West our way - and hard. Whether this will
happen in two years, or five, or in 15 years, is impossible to predict. All
we can know for certain is that if Western civilization really is under
attack from Islam, or from elements within Islam, then they will not give up
or be appeased. At some point they're going to go for the knockout punch.

Fighting, Finally, to Win

The pessimists among us will argue that by this time we'll be too far gone
to save; that years of merely playing defense and of making concessions to
the sensitivities of our enemy will have eroded our military power, and
sapped our will, to the point where de facto surrender will be the only

We optimists see things differently: For better or worse, it's part of the
American character to wait until the last possible moment - even to wait a
bit beyond the last possible moment - before kicking into high gear and
getting the job done. It's in our genes; just think of how many times you've
ground enamel off your teeth watching your own kid waste an entire weekend,
only to start writing a book report at 10:30 Sunday night that, when you
find it on the breakfast table Monday morning is by some miracle a minor

However horrific it may be, the knockout punch won't knock us out. Instead,
it will shift us from playing defense back to offense - and this time we
won't hold back. The president will ask Congress for a declaration of war
and he, or she, will get it. We'll bring back the draft, send our troops
into battle without one hand tied behind their backs by lawyers, and we
won't waste time and energy pussyfooting with the United Nations. And if
we've closed GITMO by this time - we'll reopen it and even double its size
because we're going to pack it. All of this will take longer to organize,
and cost more, than if we'd done it right in the aftermath of 9-11. That's
unfortunate, but that's the way we Americans tend to do things. And when we
do finally start fighting for real -- we'll win.
28534  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Question to Crafty and The Boys. "Dogs" on: July 15, 2007, 09:06:31 AM
Woof Max:

The dogs in my pictures with me are Akitas.  My first one was "Zapata" and was the model for the Akita in our logo, which was drawn by Shaggy Dog.

Crafty Dog
28535  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Communicating with the Muslim World on: July 15, 2007, 08:31:57 AM

What About Muslim Moderates
London does a better job than Washington reaching out to them.

Sunday, July 15, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Islamist terrorism has led the American and British governments in the past month to launch separate public-diplomacy programs aimed at engaging Muslims at home and abroad. A quick comparison shows the two initiatives are headed in opposite directions. At least the Brits have finally got it right.

The Bush administration is building bridges to well-funded and self-publicized organizations that claim to speak for all Muslims, even though some of those groups espouse views inimical to American values and interests. After years of pursuing similar strategies--while seeing home-based terrorists proliferate--the Blair-Brown government is now more discerning about which Muslims it will partner with. Stating that "lip service for peace" is no longer sufficient, the British are identifying and elevating those who are willing to take clear stands against terrorism and its supporting ideology.

Thus, in a major address at a two-day government conference early last month (titled "Islam and Muslims in the World Today"), then-Prime Minister Tony Blair, with Gordon Brown in attendance and hosting a reception, vowed to correct an imbalance. He stated that, in Britain's Muslim community, unrepresentative but well-funded groups are able to attract disproportionately large amounts of publicity, while moderate voices go unheard and unpublished.

Mr. Blair emphasized that Islam is not a "monolithic faith," but one made up of a "rich pattern of diversity." The principal purpose of the conference, Mr. Blair stressed, was to "let the authentic voices of Islam, in their various schools and manifestations, speak for themselves." He was as good as his word.
Invitations to participate in the assembly were extended to the less-publicized, moderate groups, such as the Sufi Muslim Council, the British Muslim Foundation and Minhaj-ul-Quran. Notably absent from the program was the Muslim Council of Britain, a group that claims to represent that nation's Muslims but is preoccupied with its self-described struggle against "Islamophobia"--a term it tries to use to shut down critical analysis of anything Islamic, whether legitimate or bigoted.

Also dropped from the speaking roster was the leading European Islamist Tariq Ramadan, who, while denied a visa by the United States, has been a fixture at official conferences on Muslims in Europe. The grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mr. Ramadan is fuzzy on where he stands on specific acts of terror--and he infamously evaded a challenge by Nicolas Sarkozy to denounce stoning.

Mr. Blair committed funds to improve the teaching of Islamic studies in British universities; announced a new effort to develop "minimum standards" for imams in Britain; and, most significantly, declared that henceforth the government would be giving "priority, in its support and funding decisions, to those leadership organizations actively working to tackle violent extremism." Routine but vague press releases against terrorism would no longer do.

A few days later, British backbone was demonstrated again with the knighting of novelist Salman Rushdie. Since 1989, when Iran's mullahs pronounced one of his works "blasphemous," Mr. Rushdie has lived under the shadow of a death threat, the first fatwa with universal jurisdiction against a Muslim living in the West. With the news that Britain would honor him, extremist Muslims rioted. But many Western Muslim reformers, increasingly threatened by death threats and murderous fatwas themselves, cheered the Brits. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a former Dutch parliamentarian who was born a Muslim in Somalia, wrote: "The queen has honored the freedom of conscience and creativity cherished in the West."

On the eve of his departure from office, Mr. Blair gave a television interview taking on those he once courted--British Islamists who have been quick to level charges of Islamophobia and oppression against Britain and the United States: "The reason we are finding it hard to win this battle [against terror] is that we're not actually fighting it properly. We're not actually standing up to these people and saying, 'It's not just your methods that are wrong, your ideas are absurd. Nobody is oppressing you. Your sense of grievance isn't justified.' . . . Some of what is written on this is loopy-loo in its extremism."

Contrast this with the Bush administration's new approach. On June 27, President Bush delivered his "Muslim Initiative" address at the Washington Islamic Center in tribute to the 50th anniversary of that organization's founding, by Saudi Arabia. Wahhabism is the state religion of Saudi Arabia, and its extremist ideology often flows with the kingdom's money. The Islamic Center is not an exception.

A few years ago when we were with Freedom House, concerned Muslims brought us Saudi educational material they collected from the Washington Islamic Center that instructed Muslims fundamentally to segregate themselves from other Americans. One such text stated: "To be dissociated from the infidels is to hate them for their religion, to leave them, never to rely on them for support, not to admire them, to be on one's guard against them, never to imitate them, and to always oppose them in every way according to Islamic law."

Though Mr. Bush's remarks were intended for all American Muslims, the administration left the invitation list to Washington Islamic Center's authorities. Predictably, they excluded the truly moderate, who are not Saudi-founded or funded: the Islamic Supreme Council of America, the American Islamic Congress, the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, the Center for Eurasian Policy, the Center for Islamic Pluralism, the Islam and Democracy Project, the Institute for Gulf Affairs, the Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia and many others.

These organizations are frequently shut out of U.S. government events and appointments on the basis that they are considered insignificant or "controversial" by the petro-dollar-funded groups. The administration makes a terrible mistake by making such Wahhabi-influenced institutions as the Washington Islamic Center the gate keepers for all American Muslims.

The actual substance of Mr. Bush's mosque speech--particularly good on religious freedom--was overshadowed by the announcement of its single initiative: America is to send an envoy to the Organization of Islamic Conference. Based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the OIC was created explicitly to promote hostility to Israel, and its meetings largely consist of ritualistic Israel-bashing. At one last year, Iran's president called for the "elimination of the Zionist regime." It has no mechanism for discussing the human rights of its member states, and thus has never spoken out against Sudan's genocide of Darfuri Muslims. It is advancing an effort to universalize Islamic blasphemy laws, which are applied as often against speech critical of the governments of OIC member states as against profanities. Last month the OIC council of foreign ministers termed Islamophobia "the worst form of terrorism." Currently no Western power holds either member or observer status at the OIC.

The Bush administration is now actively considering whether its public diplomacy should reach out to Muslim Brotherhood groups. While such groups may pay lip service to peace, they do not denounce terror by Hamas, a Brotherhood offshoot. It keeps as its motto: "Allah is our objective, the Prophet is our leader, the Koran is our law, jihad is our way, dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope." By choosing those whose definition of terror does not include the murder of Jews, honor killings and lethal fatwas against Muslim dissidents and reformers, the U.S. government makes them look strong--particularly in the shame-and-honor culture of the Middle East--and strengthens their hand against the real moderates and reformers.
Great Britain, as we have been reminded recently, has much work ahead in defeating Muslim terror, as well as in overcoming the misguided form of multiculturalism of its recent past. Not all of Britain's measures will be right for America, with our First Amendment. But the British Labour Party socialists appear to have done one major thing right that this American Republican administration has not: Reach out to Muslim leaders who are demonstrably moderate and share our values, even though they may not have petrodollar-funded publicity machines.

While we don't have a Queen to dub knights, Americans do have distinct way of honoring our heroes. Mr. President, confer the Medal of Freedom on one of our own outstanding Muslim-American citizens. For a selection of honorees, look at who was not invited to your recent speech. If Islamists charge "Islamophobia," repeat after Tony: "Loopy loo. Loopy loo."

Mr. Woolsey, co-chair of the Committee on the Present Danger, was Director of Central Intelligence 1993-1995. Ms. Shea is the director of the Center for Religious Freedom of the Hudson Institute.

28536  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Freedom of religion... on: July 15, 2007, 07:12:39 AM
From another forum:

Somewhere along the way, the Federal Courts and the Supreme Court have misinterpreted the U. S. Constitution. How could fifty States be wrong?
THIS IS VERY INTERESTING! Be sure to read the last two paragraphs. America's founders did not intend for there to be a separation of God and state, as shown by the fact that all 50 states acknowledge God in their state constitutions:

Alabama 1901, Preamble. We the people of the State of Alabama, invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish the following Constitution ...

Alaska 1956, Preamble. We, the people of Alaska, grateful to God and to those who founded our nation and pioneered this great land ....

Arizona 1911, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Arizona, grateful to Almighty God for our liberties, do ordain this Constitution...

Arkansas 1874, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Arkansas, grateful to Almighty God for the privilege of choosing our own form of government...

California 1879, Preamble. We, the People of the State of California, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom .....

Colorado 1876, Preamble. We, the people of Colorado, with profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of Universe.

Connecticut 1818, Preamble. The People of Connecticut, acknowledging with gratitude the good Providence of God in permitting them to enjoy ...

Delaware 1897, Preamble. Through Divine Goodness all men have, by nature, the rights of worshipping and serving their Creator according to the dictates of their consciences ...

Florida 1885, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Florida, grateful to Almighty God for our constitutional liberty establish this Constitution...

Georgia 1777, Preamble. We, the people of Georgia, relying upon protection and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish this Constitution...

Hawaii 1959, Preamble. We, the people of Hawaii, Grateful for Divine Guidance .. establish this Constitution.

Idaho 1889, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Idaho, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, to secure its blessings ...

Illinois 1870, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Illinois, grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy and looking to Him for a blessing on our endeavors.

Indiana 1851, Preamble. We, the People of the State of Indiana, grateful to Almighty God for the free exercise of the right to chose our form of government.

Iowa 1857, Preamble. We, the People of the State of Iowa, grateful to the Supreme Being for the blessings hitherto enjoyed, and feeling our dependence on Him for a continuation of these blessings . establish this Constitution.

Kansas 1859, Preamble. We, the people of Kansas, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious privileges . establish this Constitution.

Kentucky 1891, Preamble. We, the people of the Commonwealth of Kentucky grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties...

Louisiana 1921, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Louisiana, grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties we enjoy.

Maine 1820, Preamble. We the People of Maine .. acknowledging with grateful hearts the goodness of the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe in affording us an opportunity ... and imploring His aid and direction.

Maryland 1776, Preamble. We, the people of the state of Maryland, grateful to Almighty God or our civil and religious liberty...

Massachusetts 1780, Preamble. We...the people of Massachusetts, acknowledging with grateful hearts, the goodness of the Great Legislator of the Universe ... in the course of His Providence, an opportunity ..and devoutly imploring His direction ..

Michigan 1908, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Michigan, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of freedom ... establish this Constitution.

Minnesota 1857, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Minnesota, grateful to God for our civil and religious liberty, and desiring to perpetuate its blessings.

Mississippi 1890, Preamble. We, the people of Mississippi in convention assembled, grateful to Almighty God, and invoking His blessing on our work.

Missouri 1845, Preamble. We, the people of Missouri, with profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, and grateful for His goodness ...

Montana 1889, Preamble. We, the people of Montana, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of liberty. establish this Constitution ...

Nebraska 1875, Preamble. We, the people, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom .. establish this Constitution ..

Nevada 1864, Preamble. We the people of the State of Nevada, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom establish this Constitution...

New Hampshire 1792, PartI. Art. I. Sec. V. Every individual has a natural and unalienable right to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience.

New Jersey 1844, Preamble. We, the people of the State of New Jersey, grateful to Almighty God for civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing on our endeavors ...

New Mexico 1911, Preamble. We, the People of New Mexico, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of liberty .

New York 1846, Preamble. We, the people of the State of New York, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, in order to secure its blessings.

North Carolina 1868, Preamble. We the people of the State of North Carolina grateful to Almighty God, the Sovereign Ruler of Nations, for our civil, political, and religious liberties, and acknowledging our dependence upon Him for the continuance of those ...

North Dakota 1889, Preamble. We, the people of North Dakota, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, do ordain...

Ohio 1852, Preamble. We the people of the state of Ohio, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, to secure its blessings and to promote our common ....

Oklahoma 1907, Preamble. Invoking the guidance of Almighty God, in order to secure and perpetuate the blessings of liberty ... establish this ..

Oregon 1857, Bill of Rights, ArticleI. Section 2. All men shall be secure in the Natural right, to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their consciences..

Pennsylvania 1776, Preamble. We, the people of Pennsylvania, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, and humbly invoking His guidance.

Rhode Island 1842, Preamble. We the People of the State of Rhode Island grateful to Almighty God for the civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing...

South Carolina, 1778, Preamble. We, the people of he State of South Carolina, grateful to God for our liberties, do ordain and establish this Constitution.

South Dakota 1889, Preamble. We, the people of South Dakota, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious liberties ... establish this

Tennessee 1796, Art. XI. III. That all men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their conscience...

Texas 1845, Preamble. We the People of the Republic of Texas, acknowledging, with gratitude, the grace and beneficence of God.

Utah 1896, Preamble. Grateful to Almighty God for life and liberty, we establish this Constitution ....

Vermont 1777, Preamble. Whereas all government ought to ... enable the individuals who compose it to enjoy their natural rights, and other blessings which the Author of Existence has bestowed on man...

Virginia 1776, Bill of Rights, XVI ... Religion, or the Duty which we owe our Creator ... can be directed only by Reason ... and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian Forbearance, Love and Charity towards each other ..

Washington 1889, Preamble. We the People of the State of Washington, grateful! to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe for our liberties, do ordain this Constitution .....

West Virginia 1872, Preamble. Since through Divine Providence we enjoy the blessings of civil, political and religious liberty, we, the people of West Virginia .. reaffirm our faith in and constant reliance upon God...

Wisconsin 1848, Preamble. We, the people of Wisconsin, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, domestic tranquility ..

Wyoming 1890, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Wyoming, grateful to God for our civil, political, and religious liberties ... establish this Constitution...

After reviewing acknowledgments of God from all 50 state constitutions, one is faced with the prospect that maybe, just maybe, the ACLU and the out-of-control Federal Courts are wrong!


Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Article I Section 3: All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences; and no preference shall ever be given by law to any religious establishments or modes of worship.

Section 4. No person who acknowledges the being of a God and a future state of rewards and punishments shall, on account
of his religious sentiments, be disqualified to hold any office or place of trust or profit under this Commonwealth


Rhode Island Constution Article I Section 3: Freedom of religion. -- Whereas Almighty God hath created the mind free; and all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burdens, or by civil incapacitations, tend to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness; and whereas a principal object of our venerable ancestors, in their migration to this country and their settlement of this state, was, as they expressed it, to hold forth a lively experiment that a flourishing civil state may stand and be best maintained with full liberty in religious concernments; we, therefore, declare that no person shall be compelled to frequent or to support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatever, except in fulfillment of such person's voluntary contract; nor enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in body or goods; nor disqualified from holding any office; nor otherwise suffer on account of such person's religious belief; and that every person shall be free to worship God according to the dictates of such person's conscience, and to profess and by argument to maintain such person's opinion in matters of religion; and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect the civil capacity of any person.


Commonwealth of Virginia Article I Section 16. Free exercise of religion; no establishment of religion.

That religion or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and, therefore, all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other. No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but all men shall be free to profess and by argument to maintain their opinions in matters of religion, and the same shall in nowise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities. And the General Assembly shall not prescribe any religious test whatever, or confer any peculiar privileges or advantages on any sect or denomination, or pass any law requiring or authorizing any religious society, or the people of any district within this Commonwealth, to levy on themselves or others, any tax for the erection or repair of any house of public worship, or for the support of any church or ministry; but it shall be left free to every person to select his religious instructor, and to make for his support such private contract as he shall please.
Ohio Constitution;

§ 1.07 Rights of conscience; education; the necessity of religion and knowledge (1851)

All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own conscience. No person shall be compelled to attend, erect, or support any place of worship, or maintain any form of worship, against his consent; and no preference shall be given, by law, to any religious society; nor shall any interference with the rights of conscience be permitted. No religious test shall be required, as a qualification for office, nor shall any person be incompetent to be a witness on account of his religious belief; but nothing herein shall be construed to dispense with oaths and affirmations. Religion, morality, and knowledge, however, being essential to good government, it shall be the duty of the general assembly to pass suitable laws to protect every religious denomination in the peaceable enjoyment of its own mode of public worship, and to encourage schools and the means of instruction.

Thomas Jefferson's letter referring to separation of Church and State:

And please note the exclusion of the name "Jesus Christ" from the document and instead the use of Almighty God.

"Jefferson drafted the following measure, but it was Madison who skillfully secured its adoption by the Virginia legislature in 1786. It is still part of modern Virginia's constitution, and it has not only been copied by other states but was also the basis for the Religion Clauses in the Constitution's Bill of Rights. Both men considered this bill one of the great achievements of their lives, and Jefferson directed that on his tombstone he should not be remembered as president of the United States or for any of the other high offices he held, but as the author of the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, and as the founder of the University of Virginia."

Whereas Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as it was in his Almighty power to do; that the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavouring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world, and through all time; that to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical; that even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion, is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor, whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness, and is withdrawing from the ministry those temporary rewards, which proceeding from an approbation of their personal conduct, are an additional incitement to earnest and unremitting labours for the instruction of mankind; that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry; that therefore the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which in common with his fellow-citizens he has a natural right; that it tends only to corrupt the principles of that religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess and conform to it; that though indeed these are criminal who do not withstand such temptation, yet neither are those innocent who lay the bait in their way; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion, and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency, is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty, because he being of course judge of that tendency will make his opinions the rule of judgment, and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own; that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government, for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order; and finally, that truth is great and will prevail if left to herself, that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them:

Be it enacted by the General Assembly, That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.
And though we well know that this assembly elected by the people for the ordinary purposes of legislation only, have no power to restrain the acts of succeeding assemblies, constituted with powers equal to our own, and that therefore to declare this act to be irrevocable would be of no effect in law; yet we are free to declare, and do declare, that the rights hereby asserted are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present, or to narrow its operation, such act shall be an infringement of natural right."

Jefferson in commenting on the act clearly states that the term "Almighty God" DOES NOT include "Jesus Christ" because in doing so would exclude Jews, Muslims, and Hindus. Thus, you contention that the use of the word "God" as Trinitarian finds no basis in history. And also note that "denomination" here means different religion. Jefferson stated:

"Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting "Jesus Christ," so that it would read "A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;" the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination."

-Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography, in reference to the Virginia Act for Religious Freedom
28537  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Heroic action in NYC on: July 15, 2007, 07:02:55 AM


Officers Herman Yan, 26 (top), and Russel Timoshenko, 23, approach a stolen SUV on Rogers Avenue — parking their car next to a trash can so Timoshenko has cover if he is fired at. But the perps would wait until he was past the can before shooting.

July 11, 2007 -- Cool-headed cop Herman Yan went into autopilot - and followed his NYPD training to the letter - as he ignored the bullets raining down on him and fired back at the gunmen who had brutally shot his partner twice in the face, police experts said yesterday.
Supercop Yan, bleeding profusely after he was struck by a bullet in the arm and reeling after taking a slug in his bulletproof vest, showed no fear as he faced down the thugs who had gravely wounded his partner, Russel Timoshenko, just seconds before.
Three seconds after Timoshenko fell to the ground, exclusive surveillance footage clearly shows the 26-year-old Yan backing down the street as he fires at the stolen BMW X5 that he and Timoshenko had pulled over on Rogers Avenue just after 2:15 a.m.
With nothing to shelter him from the gunfire, Yan is seen on the tape ducking and weaving, trying to keep his body small so it would not be struck by the fusillade, said several experts who reviewed the video for The Post.
"It's all about cover and concealment. He had no cover in front of him, so he did everything he could to keep his body a small moving target," said retired NYPD Detective Mike Charles.
As the perpetrators keep shooting at him, Yan sizes up the situation, and determines that his best move is to get back to the radio car.
All the while, his thoughts are obviously on getting to his partner to try to save his life, said Charles.
Seconds pass before he is seen calmly radioing for assistance - calling in the key details that would help authorities quickly identify two suspects.
The brave officer even refuses to give in to his injuries as he tries to make his way to his partner to check on Timoshenko's condition. In one frame, Yan is seen falling to the ground, clutching his bleeding arm - but before his body touches the asphalt, he jumps back to his feet and continues to head toward his partner.

Yan, released from Kings County Hospital yesterday, said of his gravely ill partner, "I believe in miracles.
"I hope he recovers fully. I will recover fully and be back on the street again. I hope the same thing happens to him."
Yan, his right arm in a sling, added, "I feel fine."
Asked about the bulletproof vest credited with saving his life, Yan said, "Always put it on."
Detective Charles, who spent 20 years on the force and now trains police forces overseas, said, "Everything [Yan] did was perfect and absolutely heroic.

"Look at the way he tries to get low [in the footage during the shooting]. This officer has been shot, but he has no thought for his pain. He is thinking of the threat, his partner and calling in for help."
The brave officer's actions allowed Timoshenko to be carried into a police car just a minute and a half after he was shot. He was taken to the Kings County Hospital, where he is now fighting for his life.
From the moment the two officers pulled over the SUV, they followed their training to a T, said Charles and other experts.
Timoshenko gets out of the police car in line with trash can, making sure he can quickly duck for cover if someone opens fire.
Both officers put their right hands to their guns and walk toward the vehicle at the same pace in a straight line, the procedure whenever a cop pulls over a car.
But the officers face immediate danger when they arrive at the vehicle and see that the windows are tinted, blocking their view of any potential gunmen in the car.
"One of the most dangerous situations in policing is car stops, but officers become even more vulnerable when it's 2:30 in the morning and the vehicle has tinted windows," Charles said. The video shows that Timoshenko was by the rear quarter panel of the SUV- before he could get a clear view of the gunman - when he's shot and falls. etser__additional_reporting_lorena_mongelli__murra y_weiss_and_larry_celona.htm
28538  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: 360 Miles to Enlightenment on: July 15, 2007, 06:32:53 AM
I am impressed.
28539  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: July 15, 2007, 06:15:22 AM
Richard Viguerie goes after Fred Thompson as a phony conservative:

Extensive interview with Ron Paul
28540  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Anti-semitism & Jews on: July 15, 2007, 06:01:37 AM
Yeah, terrible of us, , , rolleyes cheesy

Going back to some basics here:

Concentration Camps #1







28541  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / CAIR vs. Anti-CAIR on: July 14, 2007, 06:23:04 PM
CAIR vs Anti-CAIR litigation discussed by Anti-CAIR's attorney.  Excellent discussion:

On the other hand, in fairness one must note this CAIR denunciation of Holocaust denial:

The bit about "people of the book" IMO is diningenuous, and I utterly doubt the sincerity of it all given the group's track record, but still in fairness it must be noted.
28542  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A Jewish Founding Father on: July 14, 2007, 05:24:28 PM
I didn't know this:
28543  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Suzanne Spezzano: Majadpahit Silat on: July 14, 2007, 12:23:05 PM
By the way, one of Suzanne's silat teachers is Tony Felix:
28544  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Suzanne Spezzano: Majadpahit Silat on: July 13, 2007, 09:19:49 PM
From her husband John:

Hey everyone,
Suzanne's outstanding instructional Silat DVD is finally ready for order.  Here's a link to the promo clip on You Tube.  CHECK IT OUT!!!
Please contact her to order the DVD at
Thanks for your interest!!

I have seen Suzanne teach this material at the Inosanto Academy and think the material excellent.  Like much silat, it asks much of the practitioner and is not for everyone.  I will be buying it for me because I think the material to be outstanding for moving well on and striking well from the ground in a way that can be quite "outside the box".  What I saw had a wonderful "silat yoga" quality and I am thinking that the DVD will contain this material.  I will review here once I get my copy.

Crafty Dog
28545  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues on: July 13, 2007, 10:04:01 AM
The camera doesn't lie, right? Wel-l-l-l-l-l-l........

Force Science News #76
July 13, 2007


Brief, dark, and grainy, the video image is a punch to the gut.

A California sheriff's deputy trying to detain a subject who's on the ground after a high-speed chase says to him, "Get up! Get up!" The man says, "Ok, I'm gonna get up," and starts to rise. Without another word, the deputy shoots him, 3 times in quick succession.

With millions of others, you probably became a vicarious eye-witness when the scene was telecast over and over world-wide. Be honest. The man complied with an officer's command, and the shooting was not an unintentional discharge. Didn't it look like a slam-dunk case of egregious abuse of force?

Late last month [6/28/07], after less than 4 hours' deliberation following a trial that lasted over a month, a jury acquitted the deputy, Ivory Webb Jr., of attempted voluntary manslaughter and firearms assault. The charges could have sent him to prison for 18 years. For people who knew nothing more about the case than what they'd seen on TV or the Internet, the verdict seemed a puzzlement, if not an outrageous miscarriage of justice.

But jurors said the tale of the video took on a whole different flavor when considered in context with circumstances that were little known publicly until Webb's trial.

Dr. Bill Lewinski, executive director of the Force Science Research Center at Minnesota State University-Mankato, was part of the defense team. He was brought into the case "to explain the human factors behind the shooting," based on his expertise as a behavioral scientist and on FSRC's unique studies of lethal-force dynamics.

In a recent interview with Force Science News, Lewinski reprised his courtroom testimony and his insider's knowledge of the pressure-cooker confrontation that embroiled Ivory Webb and resulted in his becoming the first LEO ever charged criminally for an on-duty shooting in the history of San Bernardino County.

"It was important to paint a picture of what happened from Webb's perspective," Lewinski says. "The video was so vivid, so seemingly clear-cut, that people didn't properly factor in what led up to the shooting."

The Players. Ivory Webb was 46 years old at the time of the shooting, a former college football player (Rose Bowl '82), the son of a retired California police chief, and a veteran of nearly 10 years with the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department. Most of his career had been spent as a jail officer. Although he'd been on the street for over 4 years, "he had never been the primary officer on a felony vehicle stop," Lewinski says. "He performed pretty much as a backup officer."

The subjects he confronted at the shooting scene were Luis Escobedo, 22, who had a rap sheet from previous run-ins with police and would later be arrested for CCW, and Elio Carrion, 21, an Air Force senior airman and security officer.

The Chase. On the last weekend night in January, 2006, Luis Escobedo and Elio Carrion were at a late-night barbeque in Montclair, east of Los Angeles, celebrating Carrion's recent return from a 6-month stint in Iraq. They'd been "heavily" consuming beer and tequila when they decided to take a fellow partygoer's Corvette for a spin. Both had blood alcohol levels of more than double the state's legal limit.

Escobedo took the wheel (although he had no driver's license) and on a "lightly trafficked industrial road" near some railroad tracks, he opened up the sleek muscle car to see how fast it would go. Soon they passed a San Bernardino deputy who gave pursuit but couldn't keep up.

Webb, returning to patrol from another call, heard radio traffic about the chase and moments later saw the Corvette "coming directly at me. If I hadn't swerved into the other lane, they would have smashed right into me."

Webb barreled after them and soon was driving over 100 mph to keep up. The Corvette screeched around a corner, caromed off curbs, and at one point "spun around and came directly at me a second time." Before colliding, it suddenly smoked into a U-turn and wove wildly from one side of the street to another, then crashed into a cinder block wall facing opposing traffic and "hung up there." The chase had ended in the municipality of Chino.

When Webb pulled up, the vehicle was shaking as the occupants tried to force the doors open, he said. The trunk lid had popped up from the impact, blocking the view from behind. He nosed in slightly toward the right rear of the Corvette and stepped out of his patrol car.

The Confrontation. "Considering that they'd played chicken with him twice and had shown no regard for human safety with their reckless speeding, Webb reasonably assessed the car's occupants as really dangerous," Lewinski says. "He had his full uniform on, his overheads were flashing, and he had his gun and flashlight out, so there was no mistaking his authority.

"Carrion began to exit the vehicle and took a step in the direction of Webb's patrol car. Webb ordered him to show his hands clearly. Carrion didn't. Webb ordered him to get down. Carrion didn't. Inside the vehicle, Escobedo kept reaching his hands into areas Webb could not see." The deputy's commands to both subjects were repeated in a stream, with no compliance. In his frustration and concern, Webb ratcheted up his language with liberal infusions of profanity.

At trial a retired LASD lieutenant testified as a tactical expert for the prosecution and condemned Webb for not remaining "calm and assertive," as officers are trained to do. But Lewinski took Webb's words out of the context of antiseptic Monday morning quarterbacking and put them in the context of his on-the-spot fears.

The chase had led the deputy into an unfamiliar section of Chino and, essentially, "he was lost," Lewinski says. He knew the street he was on but in the blur of the pursuit he'd had a hard time tracking the cross streets. Several times he named the nearest intersection incorrectly when radioing for help. Deputies trying to reach him sometimes cited directions and their own locations erroneously, too.

The two suspects could overhear the radio jabber. "Webb knew that they knew his back up couldn't find him and that he was all alone with two drunken young men who were not complying with any of his orders," Lewinski says.

The pair was physically separated, so Webb constantly had to shift his focus and his flashlight from one to the other to keep tabs on their actions. And they kept trying verbally to intimidate him, Lewinski explains. "Carrion at one point told the deputy, 'I've spent more time than you in the fuckin' police, in the fuckin' military.'

"Webb recognized all this from his jail experience as a common tactic among gangbangers: separate, keep up a barrage of chatter to distract, then attack. Webb ordered them to shut up, but they didn't."

At a point when Carrion had gotten within his reactionary gap, Webb kicked him to take him to the ground. (The prosecution's expert would claim later that police are not trained to kick suspects because it puts them off-balance. But Lewinski points out that in fact kicks and leg strikes are common staples in contemporary defensive tactics.) On the ground, Carrion was propped up on his arms, "controlled to some degree" but not proned out like Webb wanted.

The grinding crash of the speeding Corvette against the wall and the flashing lights and all the yelling that followed had alerted a used car salesman living across the street that something worth filming was going down. He grabbed his Sony digital zoom camera and started recording after Carrion climbed out of the car.

This man, a Cuban refugee, was wanted on old felony warrants for aggravated assault in Florida. His past would surface after his sensational footage saturated the airwaves.

But for now, his camera was about to capture what photographers call "the money shot."

The Shooting. When the video was first reviewed and broadcast, the figures of Webb and Carrion could be grossly seen on the darkened street, the deputy with his gun out standing over the semi-grounded suspect. But subtleties were hard to distinguish. The audio track, too, was tough to make out, although what could be heard sounded discouragingly incriminating.
Carrion: We're here on your side. We mean you no harm.
Webb: OK, get up! (inaudible) Get up!
Carrion: OK, I'm just gonna get up.

Carrion starts to move up. Three shots ring out from Webb's .45. Carrion is hit in the left shoulder, the left thigh, and the left ribs. He's critically wounded but survives.

The digital recording was "enhanced" by an FBI laboratory to reveal more visual detail. Through ultra-sophisticated technology of David Notowitz, a video expert engaged by Webb's attorneys, it was then enhanced even further, to the point that images were recovered from a section of the recording that seemingly had been completely whited out by the amateur cameraman ineptly fiddling with the controls.

Webb had experienced difficulty articulating precisely what happened just before he started shooting. In Lewinski's opinion, he suffered memory problems that are not uncommon after high-intensity officer-involved shootings. "But when the enhanced footage was slowed down and time coded so we could study the action fragment by fragment, I became convinced he was reacting instinctively to a legitimate perceived threat."

As Carrion braces on his hands, resistant to going fully to the ground, he first can be seen jabbing a hand up toward Webb's gun. The weapon is well within his grasp, but he quickly lowers his hand without attempting a grab.

Then the video confirms that he twice reaches his hand inside his black Raiders jacket. Carrion would claim on the witness stand that he was just pointing to his chest. "But the enhanced image shows his hand buried in the jacket up to the knuckles," Lewinski says. "It was definitely inside."

Less than a second later, Webb jerks his gun barrel up slightly as if motioning with it as he commands, "Get up! Get up!"

"He's talking to the hand, focusing on it," Lewinski says. "What I sincerely believe he was thinking was, 'Get your hand up,' meaning get it away from where you may have a weapon hidden and out where I can see it. But the words came out different than his thought.

"Some of our studies have shown that when officers feel they are in control of a situation, they tend to give clear and relevant commands. But when they feel out of control, their commands often deteriorate. For Ivory Webb, that was an enormously stressful situation and there was nothing he felt in control of.

"Under stress and time compression, people commonly experience slips between thought and speech." En Route to the trial, for example, Lewinski asked a harried airline ticket agent for directions to a travelers' lounge. "Down there," she said-and pointed up. Even the prosecutor while cross-examining Lewinski misspoke in referencing something, and apologized for it. "It's easy to do, isn't it?" Lewinski softly replied.

Lewinski cited a case of an officer who, facing a suspect with a knife, repeatedly shouted "Show me your hands!" even though both hands were visible. The officer was trying to say "Drop the knife" but "resorted to familiar commands from his training under stress," Lewinski explained.

In the uncertain and rapidly evolving circumstances on the street in Chino, Carrion reaching into his jacket had "extremely threatening implications," Lewinski says. "He turned out not to be armed, but Webb couldn't know that. For the first time in the encounter, Carrion obeyed the command he heard. He began to rise up and a little forward, like starting to lunge. Webb had already made the decision to fire, thinking his life was in jeopardy, and pulled the trigger."

A tactics expert who volunteered for the defense, Sgt. Kenton Ferrin of Inglewood (CA) PD, said he would have shot under the same circumstances. Webb "thought he was going to die," Ferrin testified.

The prosecutor's expert, however, asserted that each of Webb's shots was a deliberate decision, bolstering the contention that the deputy in effect had committed a cold, calculating execution. But Lewinski pointed out that the time-coded video enhancement showed there was just 6/10 of a second between each round. He explained that FSRC's time-and-motion studies had proven that in that tight sequencing, with both the officer and the subject moving slightly, there's no possibility of conscious decision-making prompting each shot. "At that point, after the first round, it was just an instinctive process."

"The purpose of Dr. Lewinski's testimony," says Webb's attorney Michael Schwartz of the Santa Monica law firm Silver, Hadden, Silver, Wexler and Levine, "was to help the jury see that behavior the prosecution considered grounds for suspicion and criminal action could, in fact, be understood as common human behavior in circumstances of extreme stress."

The Outcome. The first poll inside the jury room was 11 for acquittal, 1 for conviction. The dissenter soon changed his mind. When the verdict was announced, Ivory Webb burst into tears and praised God.

That was just the first of the legal challenges he faces. Elio Carrion and his family have asked federal authorities to bring criminal charges against Webb, and a civil suit has of course been filed.

Meanwhile, with cell phone cameras and camcorders proliferating, a profusion of controversial police actions seems destined in days ahead to be seen and judged by millions who understand little about them.

After the Webb verdict, a reporter for the Associated Press interviewed Eugene O'Donnell, a former cop and prosecutor who now teaches police studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City.

"Videos are drenched with caveats," O'Donnell cautioned. "One thing we've learned about videos is that there are often missing pieces."


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28546  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: July 13, 2007, 08:37:16 AM
VDH is always a good read GM.

July 13, 2007
Deserting Petraeus

By Charles Krauthammer

"The key to turning [Anbar] around was the shift in allegiance by tribal sheiks. But the sheiks turned only after a prolonged offensive by American and Iraqi forces, starting in November, that put al-Qaeda groups on the run."
-- The New York Times, July 8
Finally, after four terribly long years, we know what works. Or what can work. A year ago, a confidential Marine intelligence report declared Anbar province (which comprises about a third of Iraq's territory) lost to al-Qaeda. Now, in what the Times's John Burns calls an " astonishing success," the tribal sheiks have joined our side and committed large numbers of fighters that, in concert with American and Iraqi forces, have largely driven out al-Qaeda and turned its former stronghold of Ramadi into one of most secure cities in Iraq.
It began with a U.S.-led offensive that killed or wounded more than 200 enemy fighters and captured 600. Most important was the follow-up. Not a retreat back to American bases but the setting up of small posts within the population that, together with the Iraqi national and tribal forces, have brought relative stability to Anbar.
The same has started happening in many of the Sunni areas around Baghdad, including Diyala province -- just a year ago considered as lost as Anbar -- where, for example, the Sunni insurgent 1920 Revolution Brigades has turned against al-Qaeda and joined the fight on the side of U.S. and Iraqi government forces.
We don't yet know if this strategy will work in mixed Sunni-Shiite neighborhoods. Nor can we be certain that this cooperation between essentially Sunni tribal forces and an essentially Shiite central government can endure. But what cannot be said -- although it is now heard daily in Washington -- is that the surge, which is shorthand for Gen. David Petraeus's new counterinsurgency strategy, has failed. The tragedy is that, just as a working strategy has been found, some Republicans in the Senate have lost heart and want to pull the plug.
It is understandable that Sens. Lugar, Voinovich, Domenici, Snowe and Warner may no longer trust President Bush's judgment when he tells them to wait until Petraeus reports in September. What is not understandable is the vote of no confidence they are passing on Petraeus. These are the same senators who sent him back to Iraq by an 81 to 0 vote to institute his new counterinsurgency strategy.
A month ago, Petraeus was asked whether we could still win in Iraq. The general, who had recently attended two memorial services for soldiers lost under his command, replied that if he thought he could not succeed he would not be risking the life of a single soldier.
Just this week, Petraeus said that the one thing he needs more than anything else is time. To cut off Petraeus's plan just as it is beginning -- the last surge troops arrived only last month -- on the assumption that we cannot succeed is to declare Petraeus either deluded or dishonorable. Deluded in that, as the best-positioned American in Baghdad, he still believes we can succeed. Or dishonorable in pretending to believe in victory and sending soldiers to die in what he really knows is an already failed strategy.
That's the logic of the wobbly Republicans' position. But rather than lay it on Petraeus, they prefer to lay it on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and point out his government's inability to meet the required political "benchmarks." As a longtime critic of the Maliki government, I agree that it has proved itself incapable of passing laws important for long-term national reconciliation.
But first comes the short term. And right now we have the chance to continue to isolate al-Qaeda and, province by province, deny it the Sunni sea in which it swims. A year ago, it appeared that the only way to win back the Sunnis and neutralize the extremists was with great national compacts about oil and power sharing. But Anbar has unexpectedly shown that even without these constitutional settlements, the insurgency can be neutralized and al-Qaeda defeated at the local and provincial levels with a new and robust counterinsurgency strategy.
The costs are heartbreakingly high -- increased American casualties as the enemy is engaged and spectacular suicide bombings designed to terrify Iraqis and demoralize Americans. But the stakes are extremely high as well.
In the long run, agreements on oil, federalism and de-Baathification are crucial for stabilizing Iraq. But their absence at this moment is not a reason to give up in despair, now that we finally have a counterinsurgency strategy in place that is showing success against the one enemy -- al-Qaeda -- that both critics and supporters of the war maintain must be fought everywhere and at all cost.

None of that surprises me. I knew Ramadi was winnable last November. I posted this on another thread at that time.

Excerpts from a long report:

Nobody pretends the Iraqi Army will ever approach the U.S. military in its willingness and ability to fight; but in fairness, how many armies do? Further, it's not as if the anti-Iraqi forces' abilities will ever approach those of the Viet Cong. It's considered remarkable when the enemy is so much as able to coordinate an attack, rather than just tossing a bunch of untrained men at an objective. The Iraqi Army units in Ramadi are capable of defending themselves and going on the attack with just a couple of American advisers. That's real progress. Unfortunately, these units are almost exclusively Shiite at the enlisted level, with Sunni officers, which is not ideal for this Sunni region. But still they have the ability to speak with and relate to Iraqis of any sectarian persuasion better than Americans ever will.

Historically, successful counterinsurgency efforts have involved pacifying areas by plopping small garrisons with interlocking communications into enemy territory and sending out patrols to gather information and engage the enemy. Perhaps the most famous example of such garrison use was that of King Edward I of England (yes, the guy who had Braveheart drawn and quartered), who used castles to consolidate his hold on a conquered but restive Wales. More recently U.S. Army Special Forces established Civilian Irregular Defense Group camps in South Vietnam, manned primarily by indigenous tribes or South Vietnamese with a core of Special Forces soldiers. Such camps are considered one of the most effective strategies of that war. Certainly they were far more useful than the "search and destroy" missions sent out from huge base camps.
The military refers to COP use as "the inkblot strategy." One dot spreads into a bigger spot. Further, the troops are practically forced to work with the locals. That means building up networks of indigenous people who know the terrain, culture, and other people better than any forces – even one from the same country but another province – ever could. This also allows for more direct contact between the leader of the military force and the local leadership. All of this creates a force multiplier. Since the Bush administration appears unlikely to increase troop strength significantly, this ability to make better use of troops without weakening the forward operating bases from which they're drawn is vital.
Another value of the Ramadi COPs over the FOBs and Camp Ramadi is that we're fighting an enemy that relies primarily on roadway bombs – whether IEDS, vehicle-borne IEDs, or suicide-vehicle borne IEDs (driven vehicles) – to inflict casualties and damage, with the potential for greatly restricting movement. But missions from COPs are inherently short-range; you're always almost there. That's less road to be on and hence fewer explosives and ambushes to worry about. Even COPs operating at half strength have no chance of being overrun both because of the inability of the enemy to fight skillfully or mass in large numbers and because of the multilayered defenses.

View from Anvil showing its excellent clear-kill zones. The short-looking tubes are HESCO baskets connected to form an impregnable wall.

An observer atop COP Anvil takes aim.
Sapp showed me the impact of the Combat Operation Post system in Ramadi (Fallujah also has some) on a map. The foreign fighters who come into this area do so along the main highway from the Syrian border to the west. It's a mini-Ho Chi Minh Trail, so to speak. From this road the terrorists used to fan out in the area where the COPs have been inserted. "In the last four months, we've kept pushing them right around here," Sapp indicated, with his finger moving in a counter-clockwise pattern. "Initially we wouldn't go anywhere in this area with anything less than a platoon and sometimes even armor," he said. "But now I allow them to enter with just squads." The only part of the fan still remaining abuts the Euphrates. "We give the terrorists a place to focus here," Sapp says of that last slice. "This gives them somewhere to go and I'd rather they go there where my men can deal with them than have them setting up IEDs thickly throughout the area they used to control."
At Anvil almost all missions are on foot and off the trails. That's part of the beauty of the COP system; you can go almost anywhere you need to on foot without alerting enemy sentinels – which are probably nothing more than some guy paid a few bucks a night to keep watch. The night I was there we set off to grab some of bin Laden's buddies.

Put it all together – the Forward Observation Bases, new Combat Operation Posts, new Observation Posts, tribal cooperation, ever more Iraqi army and police, better intelligence, and public works projects. There's no "stay the course" strategy here; the course changes as necessary and it's continually changed for the better. I believe we are winning the Battle of Ramadi. And if the enemy can be beaten here, he can be beaten anywhere.
28547  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WW3 on: July 13, 2007, 07:51:36 AM
Geopolitical Diary: The Reality of Al Qaeda's Resurgence

A leak from the U.S. defense community revealed a document titled "Al Qaeda better positioned to strike the West" on Thursday, touching off a firestorm of debate within the United States over the status of the war on terror. According to the leak, al Qaeda is "considerably operationally stronger than a year ago," has "regrouped to an extent not seen since 2001" and is "showing greater and greater ability to plan attacks in Europe and the United States."

Stratfor cannot analyze the contents of the report because we have not read it; so far, no one has felt it necessary to commit a felony by leaking this specific document to us. But the general thrust of the document, that al Qaeda has regenerated, is clear. Many of Stratfor's readers have noted that this position clashes with our recently clarified assessment that, while al Qaeda remains dangerous, the group's day in the sun is over.

The first and most important question to ask when looking at this leaked report, then, is which al Qaeda is being discussed. Evolution and misuse of terminology means there are now two.

The first is the al Qaeda that carried out the 9/11 attacks. This group deeply understands how intelligence agencies work, and therefore how to avoid them. After the 9/11 attacks, however, this group's security protocols forced it to go underground, pushing itself deeper into the cave each time it thought one of its assets or plans had been compromised. The result was a steady degradation of capabilities, with its attacks proving less and less significant. Stratfor now estimates that, while this al Qaeda -- which we often refer to as the apex leadership, or al Qaeda prime -- still exists and is still dangerous, it is no longer a strategic threat to the United States. Its members can carry out attacks, but not ones of the grandeur and horror of 9/11, or even of the Madrid bombings, that achieve the group's goal of forcing policy changes on Western governments.

The second al Qaeda is a result of the apex leadership's isolation. It represents a range of largely disconnected Islamist militants who either have been inspired by the real al Qaeda or who seek to use the name to bolster their credibility. While many of these groups are rather amateurish, others are deadly efficient. It is best to think of them as al Qaeda franchises. However, these franchises lack the security policy or vision of their predecessor, and they do not constitute a strategic threat.

The difference between a strategic and a tactical threat is the core distinction, and one that should not be trivialized. There are hundreds of militant groups in the world that pose tactical threats, and many of them are indeed affiliated with al Qaeda in some way. As a bombmaker or expert marksman, a single person possesses the skills to kill many people, but that does not make that individual a strategic threat to the United States.

Posing a strategic threat requires the ability to carry out operations in a foreign land, raise and transfer funds, recruit and relocate people, train and hide promising agents, a multitude of reconnaissance and technical skills, and -- most important -- the ability to do all this while avoiding detection before striking at a target of national importance. Yes, an attack against a local mall or a regional airport would be a calamity, but it would not be the sort of strategic attack against national targets that reshapes Western geopolitics as 9/11 did.

Charging that al Qaeda is as strong now as it was in 2001 simply seems a bridge too far. Prior to 9/11, al Qaeda was running multiple operations across multiple regions simultaneously. Its agents were traveling the globe regularly and operating very much in the open financially. Their vision of resurrecting the caliphate was a large and difficult one. Achieving that vision required mobilizing the Muslim masses, and this required spectacular attacks.

A spectacular attack is what they carried out -- once. Since then, all the apex leadership has done is issue a seemingly endless string of empty threats, and consequently its credibility is in tatters. No one doubts al Qaeda's desire to strike at the United States as hard and as often as possible, but the lack of activity indicates its capabilities simply do not measure up.

And even if al Qaeda did not have a goal that required regular attacks, we would still doubt the veracity of this report. If an intelligence agency has penetrated an organization sufficiently to be aware of its full capabilities, the last thing the agency would want to disclose is this success. The agency would keep its intelligence secret until it had neutralized the militants. Shouting to the world that it knows what the militants are up to tells the militants they have been penetrated and starts them on the process of going underground and sealing the leak.

Which, of course, raises the question: What is this report actually seeking to accomplish? That depends on who commissioned the report in the first place, and -- considering the size of the U.S. intelligence community -- it could well mean just about anything. A partial list of justifications could include:
an effort to pressure Pakistan into cracking down on al Qaeda for fear that the group is just about ready to launch another attack,

an effort by the U.S. administration to regenerate its political fortunes by reconsolidating national security conservatives under its wing,

a plea for more funding for this or that branch of U.S. security forces,

a general warning to force any militants currently planning attacks to pull back and reassess -- in essence, an effort by intelligence services to disrupt any cells they have been unable to penetrate,

or even an effort by one branch of the government to discredit the efforts of another.
But regardless of which memos are floating around in Washington these days, al Qaeda prime is not feeling all that confident of late. In his most recent taped release (al Qaeda's attacks have sputtered but its multimedia arm is booming), deputy al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri calls on Muslims everywhere to focus their efforts on the jihad in Afghanistan. He does not focus on Iraq, where the fires burn bright, or on Pakistan, where the apex leadership resides.

It appears the Pakistani government is on the verge of finally moving in force against al Qaeda in the country, and a looming U.S.-Iranian rapprochement is making the position of foreign jihadists in Iraq increasingly tenuous. That leaves the movement with only the mountains of Afghanistan for shelter. After all, there is no spot on the globe farther away from what the West might consider friendly shores.
28548  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Question for a friend on Joining the DB when there is no DB on: July 13, 2007, 07:08:31 AM
Woof Max:


Joining the DBMAA:

Does this help?

28549  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Canada on: July 13, 2007, 06:59:07 AM

Global Market Brief: Canada's Arctic Potential
Following up on part of a major campaign promise, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on July 9 announced formal plans to construct up to eight Polar Class 5 Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships -- armed icebreakers -- and establish a deepwater port from which they will operate in the Far North. His speech was rife with words such as "sovereignty" and "national identity," and emphasized Canada's territorial claims in the Arctic. Not only are higher energy prices making more extreme forms of oil and natural gas extraction in the Arctic more attractive, but the receding summer ice pack also is opening up a world of possibilities -- literally.

Global warming has begun changing the geography of the Canadian North. And, given Ottawa's current status in terms of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the slew of Canadian islands extending far into the Arctic, there is little doubt that Canada will reap substantial benefits from the increasing accessibility of the North. Under UNCLOS, countries have full rights to the minerals within their exclusive economic zones of 200 nautical miles. Special considerations for long continental shelves can extend those rights even farther. In the Arctic, these shelves extend for hundreds of miles, which means that, with the exception of a small disputed area on the U.S. border, the vast bulk of the resources under the Arctic in the Western Hemisphere belong to Canada.


Long-disputed claims in the Arctic are beginning to take on new relevance. The dispute between Denmark and Canada over Hans Island -- a hunk of rocks smaller than New York's Central Park -- began to heat up (in a Canadian/Danish kind of way -- flags were planted and pastry imports were threatened) in 2004, and the U.S.-Canadian spat over a sliver of a wedge of floor in the Beaufort Sea has continued. Though the area of the latter is small by Alaskan standards, it could hold huge oil and natural gas deposits.

But the renewed interest in the Arctic runs deeper than revived territorial disputes. As the ice pack slowly recedes northward, more of Canada's North -- and beyond -- becomes accessible, altering how energy is not only developed but also delivered to market.

The $7 billion, 750-mile-long Mackenzie Valley natural gas pipeline project, which would ship natural gas southward from the Far North, has already run into a four-year delay, and costs have more than doubled. But if the northern coasts of the Yukon and the Northwest Territories become accessible by water year-round for big liquefied natural gas ships, the pipeline (and its royalties to governments and First Nations) will become completely unnecessary.

Furthermore, as the ice pack continues to recede each year, it opens up more and more potential deposits to year-round offshore drilling without the need for massively costly hardened ice-proof rigs like those in the water off Sakhalin Island.

Given the resources already being exploited at the extreme edge of the ice pack -- the experience of Prudhoe Bay and the promise of Sakhalin -- one can only guess what might lie farther north. But rest assured, there are companies that will find out. And the stage will be set for even more hotly contested battles over the ownership of the North Pole itself.


Oil and natural gas promise huge payoffs (and, despite some current small-scale disputes and the potential for larger ones, Canada will no doubt see its share of the wealth), but a more significant shift is possible: a true opening of the fabled Northwest Passage that could greatly change the face of business. But resource rights along the seafloor and territorial waters on the surface of the sea are governed differently under UNCLOS -- though, in Canada's case, they will be equally contested. While Canada might push the argument that the potential shipping lane (should it open) is within its territorial waters (using the straight baseline method outlined in UNCLOS, which in this case gives the most favorable outcome for Canada), the United States and others will make strong cases that it is an international strait connecting the Pacific and Atlantic -- the trump card in the treaty that would qualify the strait as international waters.

Whatever the ultimate legal status of the Northwest Passage, Canada will have effective control either way. Even before Ottawa's eventual acquisition of as many as eight armed icebreakers -- which will be far and away the largest fleet of such ships in the world -- it will be Canadian icebreakers patrolling the waters of the North. And a more direct route over the North Pole will only open up if the ice of the Arctic Ocean gets close to melting completely.

This is all, of course, 20 years down the road. Today, there are only the first indications -- a receding ice pack, rising energy prices and massive amounts of global maritime shipping. A small window each summer for crude carriers and container ships to make one headlong rush through the Arctic Ocean will hardly be worth the risk, much less worth altering the patterns of global shipping.

But if these trends continue unabated, exploration will certainly expand in the North. Spearheaded in all likelihood by energy interests, explorers will begin to chart and mark the most significant channels, expanding the navigability of the passage. If a reasonable assurance of safety can be made and shipping companies push hard enough, insurers could begin to take their bets. If those early bets pay off, the 21st century will experience one of those true rarities of history: a meaningful shift in global geography.

This will come at a cost -- any meaningful channel will mature amid treaties and compromises. Bad weather, poor visibility for much of the year and ice flow will all inject a certain amount of risk into the equation. But the prospect of cutting as much as 5,000 miles from transoceanic crossings from Europe to the U.S. West Coast is compelling and would fundamentally shift the center of balance of global shipping. The result -- pulling massive amounts of shipping traffic from Panama (and, to a lesser extent, the Suez Canal) -- could free the maritime world from the minor tyranny of the beam and draft restrictions, respectively, of Panamax and Suezmax shipbuilding standards. (Of course, exploration could reveal a new maritime design constraint -- a Canadamax tyranny. If anything, higher standards are needed for shipping hulls that are more likely to encounter ice.)

All that can be certain for now is a wealth of possibility -- and that the Canadian Coast Guard might soon have something to guard.
28550  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: July 13, 2007, 06:57:03 AM

Pakistan: Al Qaeda After the Red Mosque

The Red Mosque operation in Pakistan has created both a major opportunity and a serious challenge for al Qaeda prime. The standoff, which ended bloodily, has generated a significant degree of resentment among many Pakistanis, something al Qaeda can be expected to exploit. But the post-Red Mosque operation atmosphere also represents a major security threat to al Qaeda's apex leadership -- which is hiding out in northwestern Pakistan -- explaining the remarks from al Qaeda's No. 2 in his latest communique.


Deputy al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri's most recent taped message, which addresses the Red Mosque standoff in Pakistan's capital, contains very telling insights about the situation facing the apex leadership of the transnational jihadist organization, despite being issued before Pakistani security forces overran the mosque/madrassa complex. Now that the mosque operation has ended, having whipped up a great degree of anti-government sentiment, al-Zawahiri can be expected to release a follow-up tape to try to exploit the situation. But even in this initial tape, which was made some time after Red Mosque cult leader Maulana Abdul Aziz was arrested while trying to escape from the facility wearing female robes, al-Zawahiri demonstrates an awareness of the threat to al Qaeda that lies ahead.

As far back as June 2005, we identified that al Qaeda's clandestine global headquarters had relocated to the area comprising the districts of Dir, Malakand and Swat in Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) following the ouster of the Taliban regime in neighboring Afghanistan. Being based in Pakistan meant al Qaeda could not go too far in staging attacks in country for fear of attracting unwanted attention. It therefore tried to ensure that jihadist activity in the country did not become a security liability for the apex leadership.

Clearly, a great deal of militant activity within Pakistan is not commissioned by al-Zawahiri, but rather is the handiwork of domestic jihadist actors. Despite several attacks against Western and Pakistani government targets since Islamabad joined the U.S. war against jihadism, the government of Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf refrained from engaging in major action against the Islamist militancy. The Red Mosque crisis, however, forced the Pakistanis to change their attitude. Not only did the government decided to engage in an unprecedented assault against a mosque, but in a July 12 address to the nation Musharraf also announced plans to go after militant groups all over the NWFP and the adjacent tribal badlands.

We forecasted this move, predicting it could prove devastating for al Qaeda prime. Al-Zawahiri is well aware of the potential for such an outcome, which explains his remarks urging Pakistanis to focus on jihadist activity in Afghanistan as opposed to the situation in Pakistan -- which, from al Qaeda's point of view, is hopeless. Al-Zawahiri said, "Muslims of Pakistan ... you must now back the mujahideen in Afghanistan with your persons, wealth, opinion and expertise, because the jihad in Afghanistan is the door to salvation for Afghanistan, Pakistan and the rest of the region. Die honorably in the fields of jihad."

The call to focus on Afghanistan makes sense given the strategic and tactical situation al Qaeda faces. Pakistan has thus far provided the leadership sanctuary, but at the cost of significantly diminishing al Qaeda's operational capability. Furthermore, despite the significant radical Islamist presence within Pakistan, the country poses significant structural impediments to al Qaeda's objectives.

What al Qaeda really needs is the anarchy Afghanistan offers, presenting conditions conducive not only to the group's survival but also to a revival of its operational capabilities. Al Qaeda calculates that, given U.S. problems in Iraq and the disarray among NATO member states, the United States eventually will force the West yet again to abandon Afghanistan. The jihadists would then be able to use Afghanistan again for their purposes. The West is not going to leave Afghanistan anytime soon, but al Qaeda prime, which faces only bad options, will pursue the best one.

Although al Qaeda would love to exploit the anti-government sentiments that have arisen among Pakistanis in the wake of the storming of the Red Mosque, the group probably is bracing for what Stratfor has identified as the beginning of a long-term struggle between the Pakistani state and the jihadist Frankenstein it created over an extended period. While the struggle against the jihadists will be a long engagement, the founders of al Qaeda could get caught in the cross-fire between Islamabad and its former proxies in the not-too-distant future.
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