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28551  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: December 03, 2006, 08:31:36 AM
Franchising Jihad



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




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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


J. Peter Pham is director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University. Michael I. Krauss is professor of law at George Mason University School of Law. Both are adjunct fellows of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.
28552  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Islamo-fascismo en Latino America on: December 03, 2006, 08:29:46 AM
Hola Todos:

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

CD
===============

Franchising Jihad



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




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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


J. Peter Pham is director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University. Michael I. Krauss is professor of law at George Mason University School of Law. Both are adjunct fellows of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.
28553  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: December 02, 2006, 09:31:12 PM
Weird shoes for Plantar Fascitis
http://www.zcoil.com:80/ztechnology.cfm
28554  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: December 02, 2006, 09:11:55 PM
http://pajamasmedia.com/upload/2006/12/FlyingImamsPolice%20Report.pdf

The police report on the Six Imans taken off the plane.  Note the original complaint was made by an Arab speaker who listened in on their conversation.  Although the report does not say so (PC reasons?  Security reasons?) given how few non-Arab Americans speak Arabic, the probability is that the complainant was Arab/Arab-American/Muslim?-- which given the concerns of many about where the loyalties of Arab Americans/Mulims lie, is worth noting.
28555  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: December 02, 2006, 01:13:18 PM
Note that the "handcuffing" never happened!
==========

 
http://powerlineblog.com/archives/016084.php

The flying imams: What didn't happen

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


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


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


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



===========

Also, here's this:



 
Marshals decry imams' charges

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


28556  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: December 02, 2006, 10:23:50 AM
Today's NY Times


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



28557  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Environmental issues on: December 02, 2006, 01:41:26 AM
Background:
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintains a nationwide network of 27 libraries that provide critical scientific information on human health and environmental protection, not only to EPA scientists, but also to other researchers and the general public.

The libraries represent a unique and invaluable source of scientific knowledge on issues from hazardous waste to toxicology to pollution control. Additional benefit to scientific researchers is gained from the expertise of a dedicated library staff, who field more than 100,000 database and reference questions per year from EPA scientists and the public.
http://www.peer.org/news/news_id.php?row_id=643
 
The above was sent to me by a dear friend, Arlene Blum who asked the following:
 
Please call EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson at (202) 564-4700 either today or Monday and tell him how much scientists rely on data and literature. Urge him to immediately halt the dismantling of the library system until Congress approves the EPA budget and all materials are readily available online.
 
Arlene is a mountain climber and bio-chemist who recently had an op-ed piece printed in the NY Times.  I re-print it below:
 
November 19, 2006
Op-Ed Contributor
Chemical Burns

By ARLENE BLUM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

http://www.arleneblum.com/photo_album.html .

Phone: 510-644-3164                     Fax  510 644-2164
E-mail: arlene@arleneblum.com           Web: www.arleneblum.com


28558  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science on: December 02, 2006, 01:32:40 AM
A B-1 Bomber lands wheels up.

http://www.zianet.com/tedmorris/dg/bombers4.html
28559  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: db in australia ? on: December 01, 2006, 07:56:23 PM
Woof Porn Star Dog:

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

Guro Crafty

PS:  How go things with you?  Come post on the Ass'n forum!
28560  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: December 01, 2006, 05:58:06 PM
Lo presente me lo mando' Mauricio. !Gracias!

====================


Lo que Fox Cumplió (de sus promesas):
 
Gobierno al servicio de los ciudadanos:
 
. Construir un estado democrático de derecho: promover reformas legales y constitucionales que acoten las facultades del presidente de la republica que garanticen la autonomía y el equilibrio entre los poderes legislativo, ejecutivo y judicial; y hagan realidad el federalismo y el municipio libre.
. Fortalecimiento de instituciones públicas y consolidación de la transición democrática.
. Respetar la libertad, la diversidad y la pluralidad de la sociedad mexicana y a no usar nunca el poder de estado para imponer estilos de vida, creencias o códigos particulares de comportamiento.
. Un gobierno plural e incluyente que integre a mujeres y hombres de reconocida capacidad, calidad moral y sentido de responsabilidad.
(nada extraordinario ni fuera de lo común).
(solo 4)
 
Lo que NO cumplió Fox (sus promesas rotas):
 
Mas empleos y mejores salarios:
 
. Crear las condiciones para que la economía crezca a tasas de 7%, y genere, cuando menos, 1,300,000 empleos anuales.
. Garantizar la estabilidad de los indicadores fundamentales de la economía y asegurar la solidez del sistema financiero.
. Combatir el rezago laboral y el subempleo en el que viven millones de personas.
Superación de la pobreza y justa distribución del ingreso:
. Diseñar una política social de estado con visón de largo plazo.
. Aplicar medidas que disminuyan los elementos de pobreza con resultados en el corto plazo e eliminar los factores que provocan la transmisión generacional de la miseria.
. Garantizar el acceso a la infraestructura social básica.
 
Ataque frontal a la corrupción:
 
. Un gobierno honesto y transparente que inspire confianza a la ciudadanía.
. Un gobierno que informe con veracidad y oportunidad.
. Combatir la corrupción sin privilegios y salvedades.
. Fin de impunidad de funcionarios que cometen actividades ilícitas.
 
Construcción de un país seguro:
 
. Llevar a cabo la reforma integral del sistema de seguridad pública y justicia, a fin de incrementar la eficacia de sus instituciones.
. Atacar con firmaza la inseguridad y solucionar sus causas.
. Combatir el narcotráfico y el crimen organizado.
. Promover el respeto a los derechos humanos.
 
Desarrollo regional equilibrado:
 
. Democratizar la economía, distribuyendo las oportunidades para todos y en todas las regiones del país.
. Transferencia equitativa de recursos y facultades a estados y municipios.
. Reactivar las regiones más rezagadas e impulsar la actividad económica local.
. Fortalecer el campo y estimular la industria.
 
Nueva relación entre Mexicanos:
 
. Dar un mayor dinamismo al sector social.
. Promover acciones para eliminar toda forma de discriminación y exclusión de grupos minoritarios.
. Garantizar la equidad de genero creando oportunidades en todos los ámbitos a las mujeres.
. Crear las condiciones políticas para la solución pacífica del conflicto en Chiapas, y para los grupos armados que existen en el país, con estricto apego a derecho.
. Reconocer a los ciudadanos de la tercera edad su retribución al país.
. Verdaderas oportunidades para que la juventud construya su propio destino.
 
Gobierno ecologista:
 
. Un plan verde para revertir el desarrollo ambiental de agua, aire, suelo y subsuelo a lo largo y ancho de país.
. Un gobierno comprometido con la naturaleza y el desarrollo, que de vida a la política ambiental.
. Esfuerzo común: gobierno, sectores productivos y sociedad.
 
Relaciones exteriores:
 
. Política exterior preactiva y diversificada.
. Mayor participación en organismos internacionales.
. Ampliación del comercio exterior.
. Defensa de los derechos de los Mexicanos que viven en el extranjero.
. Dinamizar el papel de las embajadas y consulados de nuestro país.
(32 si no conté mal)
 
Lo que Fox medio cumplió (sus intentos mediocres):
 
Acceso a una educación de calidad:
 
. Garantizar una educación pública, laica y gratuita de calidad y con valores.
. Asegurar la educación a los niños y jóvenes marginados.
. Establecer la equidad como un imperativo de la educación a través del sistema de becas y financiamiento.
. Elevar el nivel y la calidad del sistema educativo así que las condiciones de trabajo para los alumnos como para los maestros.
. Proporcionar a los Mexicanos la posibilidad de capacitación y educación permanente.
 
Lo que Fox deja:
 
Administración:
 
. Disturbio legal y político: relacionado con el desafuero del jefe de gobierno de la capital del país.
 
Reformas estructurales:
 
. Vicente Foz no pudo impulsar hasta su aprobación las tres reformas más importantes que había planeado para su mandato: la reforma fiscal, la reforma energética y la reforma laboral.
 
Relaciones exteriores:
 
. Confrontaciones con países latinoamericanos particularmente con Cuba, Venezuela y miembros del MERCOSUR (Argentina, Paraguay y Uruguay).
. Defensa categórica del ALCA.
 
. El alejamiento de México con América latina también se ha puesto en evidencia tras diversos desencuentros con otros países de la región, coincidentemente todos con Gobiernos de tendencia de Izquierda; pero elegidos democráticamente en las urnas (Brasil, Uruguay, Bolivia y Chile).
 
Comercial:
 
. De 2001 a 2005 la Secretaría de Economía ejecutó una amplia estrategia de negociaciones comerciales internacionales que han respaldado la colocación de un mayor número de productos mexicanos en los mercados del exterior: o el tratado de libre comercio con el triángulo del norte (El Salvador, Honduras y Guatemala, 2001) o el TLC con la Asociación Europea de Libre Comercio (Islandia, Noruega, Liechtenstein y Suiza, Julio 2001) o el TLC con Uruguay en Julio de 2004 o el Acuerdo de la asociación económica con Japón desde Abril de 2005; el Acuerdo de Complementación Económica (ACE) con Brasil, 2003.
 
Situación Política:
Inestabilidad:
 
. Plantón de Reforma.
 
. Conflicto de Oaxaca.
 
. Inestabilidad política brutal y desacuerdos.
 
. Separación del pueblo de México.
 
Empleo:
 
. Antes de ser elegido como presidente, Fox prometió en su campaña que proporcionaría a cada Mexicano la oportunidad de un trabajo en México. En la práctica se asegura que Fox ha dependido en gran parte de una política de migración hacia los Estados Unidos como manera de proporcionar los medios de subsistencia a los obreros Mexicanos.
 
. Entre el 2000 y el 2005, más de 2 millones 632 mil Mexicanos decidieron ir a EU en busca de empleo, según datos del Pew Hispanic.
 
. En México solo unos 15 millones de trabajadores, solo una tercera parte de la población económicamente activa (PEA) desempeña una ocupación en el sector formal.
. Las personas más afectadas directamente por el desempleo y las más precarias condiciones asciende a 31 millones 700 mil, que representan 30% de la oblación del país.
 
. En Diciembre de 2000 el organismo reportó que el universo de desocupados en el país se ubicaba en 612 mil 209 individuos; de tal manera que esta cifra registró una expansión de 188% en el sexenio, lo que representó que un millón 150 mil Mexicanos se sumaron a la búsqueda de empleo que no encuentran, sin considerar a las personas que decidieron abandonar el país para radicar en el extranjero.
 
Popularidad:
 
. En mayo de 2006, recibió críticas nacionales e internacionales, debido a una declaración que fue considerada racista.
 
. Un uso descuidado de formas idiomáticas comunes en el lenguaje coloquial mexicano, lo cual sus detractores afirman que es una de las muchas pruebas de su falta de habilidad como político y estadista.
 
Pobreza:
 
. En los últimos 6 años la pobreza creció 10% hasta abarcar 75% de los 100 millones de habitantes del país, y la desigualdad social se acentuó.
 
. Uno de los más sonados triunfos del gobierno de Fox fue el reconocimiento tácito del Banco Mundial en cuanto a que los programas sociales que se aplican en México, han permitido disminuir el porcentaje de la pobreza “extrema” (no confundir con pobreza) en 17 puntos porcentuales, sin embargo esta reducción apenas es 1% menor del porcentaje que teníamos en 1994 antes de la crisis provocada por Salinas de Gortari.
 
. La pobreza alimentaría se redujo en 6.9 puntos porcentuales, lo que significa que 5.6 millones de personas superaron esta condición.
 
Derechos Humanos (¿hay?):
 
. Mientras fue el primer país del mundo en adoptar plenamente el Protocolo de Estambul para combatir y sancionar cualquier acto de tortura, sin embargo la actual administración (o la que terminó) no pudo dar respuesta a los más de 400 asesinatos de mujeres en Ciudad Juárez.
 
. En México cada día 3 mujeres, niñas y adulas, son asesinadas solo por condición de género. Esta cifra revela que los feminicidios van más allá del caso de las muertas de Juárez, pues en 6 años de 1999 a 2005, 6000 mujeres fueron victimadas en 10 estados del país.
 
. Según estadísticas de la Comisión Nacional de los derechos Humanos (CNDH) del primero de Noviembre de 2000 al 31 de Julio de 2006 se han presentado 246 quejas de agresiones a periodistas.
 
. En México son asesinados en promedio 4 periodistas al año y de 2000 a la fecha suman 22 casos.
 
Seguridad, Orden y respeto:
 
. De 2001 a Agosto de 2006 la red consular atendió 491 mil 125 casos de protección y asistencia a Mexicanos en el exterior, a fin de apoyarlos en su defensa contra actos que atentan contra su dignidad y libertad, así como sus derechos humanos y laborales, cifra que representa un incremento de 72,2% comparada con los casos atendidos en el sexenio 1995-2000. Lo que significa que la actual administración ha atendido casi el doble de casos que la anterior.
 
. En 2005, México suplanto a Colombia en el puesto del país más asesino para la prensa, de todo el continente americano.
 
. México se convirtió en un país peligroso para la prensa durante el gobierno de Vicente Fox (2000-2006) con más de 20 asesinatos de periodistas.
 
Felipe Calderón Hinojosa:
 
Para que se den una idea; nada más los retos que debe cumplir por lo heredado gracias al incompetente de Vicente Fox, es más que todo lo que anteriormente he escrito para compartirlo con Ustedes.
 
Escribiré solo o que considero (no más importante) pero si actual sobre los temas relacionados con los asuntos que Calderón hereda de Vicente Fox.
 
. Aumentar las reservas premolerás de México pues han caído drásticamente.
 
. Aumentar el Producto Interno Bruto (PIB) (supongo que no se refieren a personas como Fox).
 
. México ocupa el cuarto lugar entre las naciones con mayor grado de desigualdad en América Latina, que es la región más desigual del mundo.
 
. Deberá tomar en cuanta a los simpatizantes del PRD (no como lo hizo, o no lo hizo Fox) para evitar frustraciones que leven a conflictos mayores.
 
. Control a focos rojos de violencia o estado de sitio como Oaxaca.
 
. Contexto de inseguridad.
 
. Incrementar los servicios de seguridad social, actualmente, 54.5% de los Mexicanos no están cubiertos por la seguridad social tradicional.
 
. Reanudar relaciones con América latina, especialmente con Cuba y Venezuela.
 
. Estrategias para impulsar el comercio, la infraestructura y la cooperación científica, tecnológica y académica.
 
. Establecer acuerdos con EU en materia de migración.
 
. Terminar con la inseguridad, la violencia y el robo. Hoy la inseguridad ha alcanzado niveles desproporcionados, causados por la infiltración del crimen organizado, y/o narcotráfico en los distintos niveles de gobierno y fuerzas de seguridad.
 
. Disminuir la cifra de secuestros, desapariciones y asesinatos.
 
. Garantizar que todas las personas tengan una ocupación digna, bien remunerada y estable.
 
. Disminuir la informalidad y el trabajo precario.
 
. Reducir un desempleo de más de 11 MILLONES de Mexicanos.
 
. Crear oportunidades internas para detener la excesiva migración de indocumentados e EU.
 
. Promover la igualdad de oportunidades educativas entre grupos vulnerables de la población.
 
. Aumentar el nivel educativo en la población, actualmente 28 de cada 100 jóvenes no tienen garantizado su derecho a la educación media.
 
.hasta el año 2000 la deforestación era de una 600 mil hectáreas anuales, tendencia que se mantenía a principio de 2006. Nuestro país contaba originalmente con 22 millones de hectáreas de selvas húmedas o bosques tropicales, hoy en día difícilmente restan más de 800 mil hectáreas dispersas en la región Lacandona, en Veracruz y otras regiones de Oaxaca (a pesar de los planes de Gobierno Ecologista de Fox: Gobierno ecologista:
 
. Un plan verde para revertir el desarrollo ambiental de agua, aire, suelo y subsuelo a lo largo y ancho de país.
 
. Un gobierno comprometido con la naturaleza y el desarrollo, que de vida a la política ambiental.
 
. Esfuerzo común: gobierno, sectores productivos y sociedad.)
. Recientes análisis estiman que en México se perdieron 29,765Km2 de bosque (superficie equivalente al estado de Guanajuato) de 1976 a 1933, mientras que de 1993 a 2000 (bueno, aún no llegaba Fox) se perdieron 54,306 Km2 (superficie equivalente al estado de Campeche).
 
 
 
Y bueno … !Las Promesas!:
. Dar continuidad al cambio y seguir la democratización.
 
. Combatir la cultura de la ilegalidad; la corrupción (incluso en cuerpo policíacos); la impunidad; la ineficacia de la investigación criminal; y la ausencia de una política preventiva e integradora, donde lo relevante sea la participación ciudadana.
 
. Crear un sistema único de información criminalística.
 
. Hacer de México un país ganador y generador de empleo.
 
. Promover el crecimiento económico.
 
. Compromiso con la protección del medio ambiente, aunque dijo que hay obstáculos que superar (ya empezamos, pues ¿qué en lo demás no hay obstáculos?, y de haber obstáculos: ¿será más difícil eso que combatir la corrupción y la inseguridad social? Yo no lo creo).
 
. Política exterior responsable.
 
. Desarrollar una política exterior más activa a favor de los derechos humanos y democráticos universales.
 
. Procurarse mecanismos que refuercen y extiendan los lazos culturales (por fin), políticos y económicos con América latina mientras México es un país latinoamericano inserto en Norteamérica (¿y eso qué?).
 
. Complementar nuestras acciones con los objetivos del milenio propuestos por la Organización de las Naciones Unidas.
 
. Promover activamente los derechos humanos y la democracia en el plano nacional e internacional).
 
Muchas gracias por haberse tomado el tiempo de leer este correo, seguro estoy de que a todos les interesó, pues Vicente Fox (gracias a Dios) ya terminó su gestión, y (muy a pesar mío y de muchos millones más de Mexicanos) el IFE y el TRIFE dieron por vencedor a Felipe Calderón como presidente de México, y ahora (aunque el Peje haga teatro, maroma y circo con su supuesta toma de protesta y todo el show ridículo del 20 de noviembre de 2006 en el zócalo de la ciudad de México; que conste, de haber podido votar en las elecciones lo habría hecho pro el Peje, pero aún así no apoyo actos ridículos ni manifestaciones que atenten en contra de la paz social y de miles de Mexicanos (como el plantón de Reforma), ó que (en mi caso) arbitrariamente te me quiten 2 días de salario (por orden del Sindicato Mexicano de Electricistas) para mantener y apoyar la campaña y faramallas del Peje) debemos apoyar y confiar nuevamente en que el nuevo presidente cumplirá debidamente con sus obligaciones, o si no: que el pueblo se lo demande (ojala lo cumpliéramos alguna vez). Yo esperaré que todo lo malo de mi querido, adorado y amado México se resuelvan por la vía pacífica y por el diálogo, se que un presidente no es un mago ni es Dios, mucho menos un Jedi (broma), por eso apoyaré lo más que pueda y mientras mi criterio y bolsillo me lo permitan al nuevo presidente, pero eso si, y que quede muy claro, si me falla se lo demandaré agresivamente, que quede claro, pues para mi el no debió asumir la presidencia de México.
Salud.
 
Deseo a todo el pueblo de México felices pascuas y próspero año nuevo,
 
Mauricio Sánchez Reyes
 
1 de Diciembre de 2006.
Texto tomado del enlace en la página principal del sitio de Prodigy / MSN.
 
28561  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA on: November 30, 2006, 09:04:40 AM
Surf Dog is judging the 12/30 show of the UFC cool
28562  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Health Care Economics on: November 30, 2006, 09:00:50 AM
HSAs seem like a really good idea to me for dealing with medical costs.  Check this out:

http://www.investmentnews.com/docs/MFS-HSA.pdf
28563  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East War on: November 29, 2006, 08:19:55 PM
Geopolitical Diary: Syria's Militant Islamist Traffic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Syria is clearly ready to catapult itself back into a more influential role in the region, but the regime is still twiddling its thumbs waiting on recognition from Washington -- something that will not come easily with Iran running the game in Iraq.

www.stratfor.com
28564  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: November 29, 2006, 07:53:29 PM
Some friends comments:
=======================

Thanks for your input. You may want to check out this page: http://www.healthfreedomusa.org/aboutcodex/propaganda.shtml.

Here is a link to a British documentary on Codex and its implications: http://herballure.com/Special/WeBecomeSilent/QuickTime.html

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


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

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

CODEX: WHAT IS IT AND HOW DOES IT AFFECT YOU AND YOUR HEALTH?

http://www4.dr-rath-foundation.org/THE_FOUNDATION/Events/codex-whatisit.html

Best,   
Shannara Johnson
Senior Editor
Casey Research

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

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

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

?        What is Codex?

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

?        What is the scope and content of these Guidelines?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

=================
 

On 11/28/06, > wrote:

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

 

What say those of you who know this matter??

==============================================
 

A Nutricidal Codex
By Shannara Johnson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What, are they trying to kill us?

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

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

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

The only way is to fight it before it gets implemented, says Laibow, who is working on just that with a team of lawyers. If you want to help, send an email to your Congressman and/or sign the citizens petition on Laibow's website, www.HealthFreedomUSA.org.
 
28565  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: November 29, 2006, 07:19:41 PM

CAFTA and Dietary Supplements

by Rep. Ron Paul, MD




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 19, 2005
28566  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: November 29, 2006, 05:21:47 PM
Read elsewhere:

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

Fascinating , , ,
28567  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Google technology tilts an election in Bahrain on: November 29, 2006, 05:08:19 PM
Dennis Gartman  11-28-2006

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

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

 
28568  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Litvinenko Affair on: November 29, 2006, 05:00:32 PM
Russia's Interest in Litvinenko
By George Friedman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Andropov Doctrine

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

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

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

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

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

Saving the System: A Motive for Murder?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anomaly

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

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

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

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

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

And whatever the public's impression of the case might be, the KGB/FSB has not suddenly returned to the scene. In fact, it never left. Putin has been getting the system back under control for years. The free-for-all over economic matters has ended, and Putin has been restructuring the Russian economy for several years to increase state control, without totally reversing openness. This process, however, requires the existence of a highly disciplined FSB -- and that is not compatible with someone like a Litvinenko publicly criticizing the Kremlin from London. Litvinenko's death would certainly make that point very clear.
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28569  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: November 29, 2006, 04:35:24 PM
Very interesting.

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

Unfortunately, the rise of a parallel legal system based along these lines has some profound dangers to it.  Yet it is precisely because of its merit, that nipping it in the bud could accentuate divisions as well.  Does tragedy lie ahead?
28570  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Encounters with a Grandmaster: by Mike Belzer on: November 29, 2006, 11:25:17 AM
The Secrets of Kalis Ilustrisimo by Tony Diego and Christopher Ricketts, Diego stated:

 

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

SECRETS OF COMBAT     

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


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

 

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

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

?GIVE ME HALF OF YOUR MONEY?

 

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

 

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

 

TREKKING

 

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


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

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

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


A SPIRITUAL MAN

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

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


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


JUDO IN CEBU
 

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

 

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

 

GOING HOME

 

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

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

 

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

 

The Secrets of Kalis Ilustrisimo by Tony Diego and Christopher Ricketts
Filipino Martial Culture  by Mark Wiley
Filipino Fighting Arts by Mark Wiley
28571  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Encounters with a Grandmaster: by Mike Belzer on: November 29, 2006, 11:22:55 AM
Woof All:

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

Thank you.
Crafty Dog
====================

 ?Encounter With a Grand Master

 

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

 

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

 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

 

 

FANTASTIC LUCK

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

INTO TONDO

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

ARNIS, ESCRIMA OR KALI?

 

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

As we worked on these basics I asked Ilustrisimo and Tony the same question I planned to ask all of the instructors I met on my trip: ??What is the difference between arnis, escrima and kali??. ?Depending on who I asked, ?I received different answers but what it really came down to as a practical matter is that arnis, escrima, and kali are all different names for systems of stick, knife and empty hand systems all with very similar movements, theories, drills and techniques. They all display a distinctly ?Filipino flow? for lack of a better word. ?The geographical and historical truth is that there are as many names for the different fighting styles of the Philippines as there are individual islands and tribal groups in those islands. ?Ilustrisimo?s personal fighting style is a perfect example of this fact. ?When I first met young Roberto Morales, he told me he would take me to meet his arnis teacher. ?When I actually met Ilustrisimo and he talked about his style he referred to it as escrima. ? Years later, when I read the first book on Ilustrisimo?s style titled:
28572  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / The Bully vs. Me on: November 29, 2006, 11:15:38 AM
http://men.msn.com/articlemh.aspx?cp...22833&GT1=8784

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

Some fatherly advice: Kick his ass

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Primal scream

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take care of the basics, the rest will follow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Because it really is good advice, you know. Whether it's a bully, a tough career decision, a divorce, cancer: "Stay on your toes. Keep your elbows in. Don't be afraid. You may be smaller, but just gather your courage, and when you hit, hit hard."
28573  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Dog Brothers Tribe on: November 29, 2006, 09:36:56 AM
Woof All:

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

TAC
CD
28574  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 'America Alone' on: November 29, 2006, 02:08:16 AM
All:

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

Marc
=============


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

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

Steyn won me over immediately in his Prologue:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JMHO. What do you say, Marc?

===========
28575  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Part Four on: November 29, 2006, 01:48:45 AM
Asymmetric Warfare

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

American Hiroshima?

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

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

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

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

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

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


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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

28576  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Part Three on: November 29, 2006, 01:46:19 AM
Space Warfare

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

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

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

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

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

Robotic Warfare

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Limits of Technological Supremacy

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

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

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

Yet no matter how far information technology advances, it is doubtful that the Pentagon will ever succeed, as some utopians dream, in ?lifting the fog of war.? The fallibility of American soldiers and the cunning of their enemies will surely continue to frustrate the best-laid plans. Moreover, America?s growing reliance on high-tech systems creates new vulnerabilities of its own: Future enemies have strong incentives to attack U.S. computer and communication nodes. Strikes on military information networks could blind or paralyze the armed forces, while strikes on civilian infrastructure, such as banking or air control systems, could cause chaos on the home front. Adversaries will almost certainly figure out ways to blunt the U.S. informational advantage. From Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan to numerous misadventures in Iraq, they already have. Whether fighting in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan or in the alleys of Ramadi and Fallujah, U.S. soldiers have been ambushed by insurgents who managed to elude their sensor networks through such simple expedients as communicating via messengers, not cell phones.
28577  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Part Two on: November 29, 2006, 01:44:37 AM
Naval Warfare

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aerial Warfare

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A host of other aircraft, ranging from JSTARS and AWACS to Rivet Joint and Global Hawk, perform surveillance and electronic-warfare missions in support of combat forces. Their numbers have been growing: While there were only two JSTARS in the Gulf War, in the Iraq War there were 15. But commanders have become so reliant on these systems that there never seem to be enough to go around?the so-called LD/HD problem (Low Density/High Demand). These, too, are vital U.S. assets that few other nations have.
28578  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science on: November 29, 2006, 01:43:04 AM
Gotham)
Price: $35.00
Release Date: 10/19/2006

War Made New: Technology, Warfare, and the Course of History, 1500 to Today
by Max Boot

The United States spends more on developing and testing new weapons each year than any other nation spends on its entire defense. Given what military history teaches us, says Max Boot, that might be $70 billion well spent. Over the past 500 years, after all, war?s victors have been distinguished not so much by their wealth or size as by their ability to exploit new combat technologies. The empires that first mastered gunpowder weapons gave way to the nations that were quickest to harness steam power and steel. In the years leading up to World War II, the Soviet Union grabbed the advantage in tank warfare while the United States mastered in bombers and aircraft carriers. A fourth military revolution?the Information Revolution?finds the U.S. with no obvious battlefield rival, Boot says. But history also tells us that no technological advantage ever lasts.

Boot is a ?fantastic writer,? said Phillip Carter in Slate.com. Despite the grand sweep of War Made New, the book unfolds as a string of dramatic vignettes, from ?the drubbing of the Spanish Armada in 1588? to ?Japan?s smashing of the Russian fleet in 1905? and beyond. All the while, Boot seems determined to prove that new technology has provided a meaningful advantage only for nations that already excelled at an ?institutional, almost bureaucratic? approach to raising armies and deploying them wisely. But Boot suddenly abandons this mitigating idea when he arrives at America?s 1991 war in the Persian Gulf. Smart bombs and similar gadgetry bedazzle him, and he loses sight of the fact that none of our technological advantages will do America much good if our enemies decide to completely avoid conventional warfare.

Boot does acknowledge that the military?s industrial-era organizational structure may now be an albatross, said Frank Hoffman in Armed Forces Journal. He hints that forces that are able to decentralize decision-making may hold the edge in the future. Even so, Boot?s ?brilliantly crafted history? leaves you wondering if he isn?t utterly mistaken about the current revolution, said Robert H. Scales in The Wall Street Journal. Maybe technology?s long reign is over and ?the big news? of the current century will be ?written by an adaptive enemy who has learned?after 500 years of trying?how to lessen the effectiveness of Western technology through the imaginative use of patience, ideological fanaticism, and an enthusiasm for death.?

The Paradox of Military Technology

While various setbacks in the war on terror underscore the limits of American power, it is important not to lose sight of the bigger picture: we live in the age of American supremacy. Part of the explanation for U.S. dominance surely lies in America?s economic strength. But Europe and Japan are similarly wealthy, yet their global sway lags far behind. What they lack is America?s superior military capabilities. In the words of Gregg Easterbrook: ?The American military is now the strongest the world has ever known, both in absolute terms and relative to other nations; stronger than the Wehrmacht in 1940, stronger than the legions at the height of Roman power.? Although the dominance of U.S. forces can still be challenged when they come into close contact with the enemy on his home turf, they are undisputed masters of the ?commons? (sea, air, and space), which allows them to project power anywhere in the world at short notice.

Information technology is central to American military dominance. Not all of the changes wrought by the information age are obvious at first glance, because the basic military systems of the early twenty-first century look roughly similar to their predecessors of the second industrial age?tanks, planes, aircraft carriers, missiles. Military analyst Michael O?Hanlon notes that ?basic propulsion systems and designs for aircraft, ships, and internal-combustion vehicles are changing much more gradually than in the early twentieth-century, when two of those three technologies had only recently been invented.? The average speed of a U.S. Navy destroyer has not increased in the past 100 years. The U.S. Air Force continues to rely on B-52H bombers last built in 1962. And the Marine Corps still uses helicopters that flew in the Vietnam War. But since the mid-1970s, the communications, targeting, surveillance, and ordnance technologies that make such ?legacy? systems considerably more potent have been changing with great rapidity?and to America?s great advantage.

Yet in this period of American hegemony, Americans continue to feel vulnerable. As we learned on September 11, and continue learning on the battlefields of Iraq, the most advanced weapons systems and most sophisticated information technology are hardly a perfect shield against other kinds of destructive power. The paradox of our age is that modern technology is both the great separator and the great equalizer in military affairs: Technological supremacy separates America from the rest of the world, and yet modern technology leaves America vulnerable to vicious groups and gangs armed with AK47s, car bombs, or portable WMDs. To understand the future of warfare, we need to understand both sides of this paradox: specifically, how information technology has increased America?s conventional military supremacy (in land, sea, air, and space), and how this military edge may be subverted by determined radicals armed with new technologies of death.

Land Warfare

Advanced armies are still structured, as they have been since the 1940s, around armored forces complemented by light infantry troops who move by vehicle, truck, and aircraft. The best tank in the world is probably the American Abrams (of which the U.S. has 9,000) but the British Challenger II, the German Leopard II, the Israeli Merkava Mk. 4, and the Russian T-80 and T-90 come within striking distance. All modern tanks have stabilized turrets, night-vision capabilities, laser range-finders, and targeting computers that allow them to fight in conditions?on the move or in the dark?that would have stymied earlier models. In addition, composite or reactive armor offers far more protection than in years past, and main guns firing depleted-uranium rounds have far more penetrating power.

While armored vehicles have improved over the years, so have anti-armor weapons. These range from heavy missiles fired from vehicles or aircraft (such as the U.S. Hellfire and Russian Ataka-V) to hand-held versions (such as the U.S. Javelin, the Franco-German Milan, and the Russian Kornet). In addition, even the most advanced tanks can be disabled by other tanks, massive mines, aerial bombs, or artillery shells. The full impact of advances in anti-armor technology has not yet become apparent because most of the forces that have fought modern tanks in recent years?Iraqis, Palestinians, Chechens?have not possessed the latest defensive weapons. But the U.S. success in wiping out Iraqi tanks from stand-off ranges suggests that, in the constant struggle between offense and defense, the advantage may have shifted against heavy armor. The Israelis got a taste of what the modern era has in store when, in August 2006, their tanks and troops ran into a blizzard of advanced anti-tank rockets during their attacks on Hezbollah?s strongholds in southern Lebanon.

The U.S. Army is responding to these changes by budgeting at least $124 billion?and possibly a great deal more?to develop a Future Combat System that will replace much of its current armored force with a family of lighter vehicles, manned and unmanned, with stealth designs that will make them harder to detect and hybrid-electric engines that will lessen their fuel requirements. (One of the chief disadvantages of the gas-guzzling Abrams is its heavy dependence on vulnerable supply lines.) Future vehicles will feature advanced composite armor designed to deliver more protection than current models for the same amount of weight, but they will rely for protection less on armor and more on locating and destroying the enemy before they are attacked. Critics believe this places too much faith in ?perfect situational awareness,? and that these vehicles will not be of much use against guerrillas who can strike with no warning.

As usual, the infantryman?s tools have changed least of all. A modern soldier has better protection than his forefathers if he wears Kevlar body armor, but his firepower?which comes primarily from a handheld assault rifle like the M-16 or AK-47 and from a variety of crew-served mortars and machine guns?does not vary significantly from that of a G.I. or Tommy in World War II. Electronic guns that are capable of spitting out a million rounds a minute have been developed, and might permit a soldier to stop an incoming rocket-propelled grenade with a solid wall of lead. But such weapons are years away from being fielded.

Unfortunately for Western soldiers, the proliferation of small arms can put even the most primitive foes on an almost equal footing with the representatives of the most advanced militaries. There are 250 million military and police small arms knocking around the world, and more are being manufactured all the time by at least 1,249 suppliers in 90 countries.

The salvation of information age infantry, at least when they are conducting conventional operations, is their ability to use a wireless communications device to call in supporting fire on exact coordinates. It is doubtful that any military force will again enjoy the preponderance of power of General H. H. Kitchener at Omdurman, but Americans dropping Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs) on Afghan tribesmen armed with Kalashnikovs?or even on Iraqi soldiers with outdated T-72 tanks?came close. The American edge decreases considerably, however, when its troops have to deploy for peacekeeping or counterinsurgency operations which leave them exposed to low-tech ambushes. ?With the possible exceptions of night-vision devices, Global Positioning Systems, and shoulder-fired missiles,? writes retired Major General Robert Scales, a former commander of the Army War College, ?there is no appreciable technological advantage for an American infantryman when fighting the close battle against even the poorest, most primitive enemy.?
28579  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action on: November 29, 2006, 01:37:23 AM
BY JAMES TARANTO
Tuesday, November 28, 2006 3:24 p.m. EST

Responding to Rangel
"The National Commander of The American Legion called on Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) to apologize for suggesting that American troops would not choose to fight in Iraq if they had other employment options," says a press release from the legion:

"Our military is the most skilled, best-trained all-volunteer force on the planet," said National Commander Paul A. Morin. "Like that recently espoused by Sen. John Kerry, Congressman Rangel's view of our troops couldn't be further from the truth and is possibly skewed by his political opposition to the war in Iraq." . . .

"These brave men and women lay it on the line every day for each and every one of us, for which I am very grateful," Morin said. "Their selfless commitment for the betterment of our world from radical extremists is beyond commendable. It's time for members of Congress to stop insulting our troops. . . ."

Some of our readers, responding to our item yesterday, took Rangel's disparagement personally. Here is Brian Bartlett:

I have a message for Mr. Rangel; I will not use the term Honorable with him. At age 17, I had already had seven years of college and university education for which I had received 3 1/2 years' credit due to the vagaries of our educational system and I was teaching at the university for those 3 1/2 years as well as working as a professional consultant starting at $40 per hour, a rather princely sum in 1974.

Following family tradition--my mother, father, grandfathers and beyond had all served--I entered the United States Navy nine days after my 17th birthday. There followed an education second to none in various fields of engineering including nuclear. The training was intense, essentially cramming years of engineering into six months, and not very many were left at the end of the school even in my section, the best and brightest. The civilian world has no equivalent; graduate school is a joke by comparison, and I should know, having been through both.

Despite my disabilities that resulted in my discharge after over 13 years of service, I am subject to recall to this day, and should they call, I will answer willingly. Unlike, apparently, Mr. Rangel, I know what is happening on the ground over there, as I have kin there to this day. I have been to the Middle East several times, and my sister served in Saudi Arabia and Iraq for the First Gulf War. In my family we serve, peace or war, because that is what we are and what we do. It's not for money, it's not for the educational benefits after the service, which in my case were laughable. He can go peddle his contempt elsewhere.

Patti Sayer adds:

I am the mother of a fine young man, an American soldier in the U.S. Army Reserve, who risked his life in Iraq for 14 of the longest months of his and my life . By the way, he just re-enlisted for another eight years. I also happen to be the Air Force brat daughter of a Vietnam vet. I grew up in Europe while my father defended that ungrateful continent from attack by the Soviet Union.

My father's brother served on the USS Louisville in World War II, and his turret was struck by a kamikaze during the Battle of Surigao Strait. He was grievously wounded. Another uncle spent a miserable year of service in Korea in 1951. I guess you could say that my family has sacrificed a lot for this nation. So when I hear Rep. Rangel imply, in essence, that my son, father and uncles served only because they had no other economic choices or were too stupid to know what they were doing, I get angry.

As for the issue of the Iraq war, how dare Mr. Rangel denigrate my son and his fellow soldiers as nothing but a bunch of uneducated, patsy, losers, being manipulated by an evil George Bush? He makes their sacrifice appear to be that born of ignorance and poor upbringing, and I am deeply resentful of his attitude. My son is not stupid, and there are plenty of economic opportunities where we live. It is apparent that Mr. Rangel perceives himself as smarter than my poor dumb son, who voluntarily joined the military and who is honored to serve our nation in spite of Mr. Rangel's contempt.

And here is Ben Kohlmann:

I think the comments attributed to Rep. Rangel reveal not only the mindset of liberal policy makers in relation to the military, but also their view of what I like to call "duty to the self." Those that achieve the greatest academic achievement usually tend to be the most self-centered, imagining their indispensability to the world as a whole. Why should someone give up four years (or more!) of comfort and high earning potential to be subjected to months away from family, cramped living conditions, and the legally binding orders of others? In our modern, liberated, self-centered mind, such a thought is inconceivable.

Much of this is fostered in the academic environment they are indoctrinated into. This view, in and of itself, is at odds with the underlying selflessness that must be present for an effective member of the armed forces. So I don't so much take it as insulting as revealing a gross negligence in comprehending the true nature of sacrifice.

I am a young naval officer, and for the record, I graduated with both Latin and departmental honors from a top 10 university. I was named "Greek Man of the Year" and held numerous leadership positions throughout campus. One of my good friends, who happens to be a Marine just back from Iraq, won the freshman writing award at the same institution, and also graduated with honors. My peers in our squadron's ready room have masters degrees from MIT and Ivies. My best friend earned a graduate degree from Stanford before his current service in Afghanistan. My roommate's wife, a Marine signals-intelligence officer, recently finished up work at Cambridge in chemistry stemming from a Gates scholarship.

We are all under 26, and had we so chosen, certainly could have had the "option of having a decent career" apart from the military. I cite these things not to egotistically promote our individual accomplishments, but only to show that I personally know the representative is wrong.

He scoffed at our true willingness to fight. Ironically, as an aside, since the beginning of the Iraq war, my only desire has been to get over there and fight, but to no avail, as my current military obligations have me training elsewhere. Anyway, we fight because we recognize that the best years of our lives are better spent serving something bigger than ourselves than serving selfish ends. We fight knowing that for all the hardship and tears shed over being away from loved ones, the defense of our Republic, and even the giving of our lives, is far more worthy than going through life focused on wealth and pleasure.

It is undoubtedly true that to the last, we all would like nothing better than to settle down, have a family, and raise them in peace, being there for every birthday and anniversary. We, too, would like to pursue jobs that pay tens of thousands more per year than we currently receive. I can't tell you how many times I've looked at my friends in law school and other prestigious professions in envy at the "opportunities" they have while I "endure" months of boredom.

But it is also true that there are men and ideologies in the world that would like nothing better than to rip those things away from many in our population who enjoy such blessings. We will not stand idly by and allow that to happen. Our educational and academic accomplishments make us more duty bound to serve the country that enabled us, better than any other, to realize our full potential. These past few years of service have encompassed the greatest struggles and most trying times of my entire life, but ultimately, that is the cost of defending an ideology of freedom. Indeed, it is that cost itself that brings true value to freedom.

The San Francisco Chronicle profiles someone with a similar attitude:

If Dr. Martin Holland had his way, he'd be in Iraq right now. In Fallujah or Ramadi or Baghdad. Up to his elbows in blood and brain matter, operating on Marines and soldiers with severe head injuries.

As it happens, it's unlikely the doctor will find himself hovering over a battlefield operating table. But he has a strong desire to serve -- to do something for the troops suffering severe combat injuries. Instead of teaching residents and interns how to stop intracranial bleeding in San Francisco, Holland is wearing Navy whites and operating on sailors and Marines in San Diego.

Holland is not an 18-year-old who joins the Marines fresh out of high school. He's 44, and he quit a prestigious job as director of neurotrauma at UC San Francisco. But there are similarities: Both put aside personal lives to enlist in the military.

They also serve who stand and operate.

"When I was a kid, I loved stories about knights in shining armor," he said. "There was something very appealing about the ideals of honor, courage and all that kind of stuff.

"The only thing I saw in the modern world that was even close to that code of chivalry was, one, the military, and two, was medicine with the Hippocratic oath."

It's noteworthy that few if any of Rangel's fellow Democrats have stepped forward to defend his bigoted statements. Further, when John Kerry* said something similar last month, he didn't even have the courage to stand by it and instead claimed to have been talking about something else entirely.

On the other hand, we haven't noticed many Democratic politicians or liberal commentators repudiating what Rangel said--in sharp contrast to the way Republicans and conservatives responded to Trent Lott's infamous comments about Strom Thurmond four years ago.
28580  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: November 29, 2006, 01:31:45 AM
OPINIONJOURNAL FEDERATION

Losing the Enlightenment
A civilization that has lost confidence in itself cannot confront the Islamists.

BY VICTOR DAVIS HANSON
Wednesday, November 29, 2006 12:01 a.m. EST

 Our current crisis is not yet a catastrophe, but a real loss of confidence of the spirit. The hard-won effort of the Western Enlightenment of some 2,500 years that, along with Judeo-Christian benevolence, is the foundation of our material progress, common decency, and scientific excellence, is at risk in this new millennium.

But our newest foes of Reason are not the enraged Athenian democrats who tried and executed Socrates. And they are not the Christian zealots of the medieval church who persecuted philosophers of heliocentricity. Nor are they Nazis who burned books and turned Western science against its own to murder millions en masse.

No, the culprits are now more often us. In the most affluent, and leisured age in the history of Western civilization--never more powerful in its military reach, never more prosperous in our material bounty--we have become complacent, and then scared of the most recent face of barbarism from the primordial extremists of the Middle East.

What would a beleaguered Socrates, a Galileo, a Descartes, or Locke believe, for example, of the moral paralysis in Europe? Was all their bold and courageous thinking--won at such a great personal cost--to allow their successors a cheap surrender to religious fanaticism and the megaphones of state-sponsored fascism?

Just imagine in our present year, 2006: plan an opera in today's Germany, and then shut it down. Again, this surrender was not done last month by the Nazis, the Communists, or kings, but by the producers themselves in simple fear of Islamic fanatics who objected to purported bad taste. Or write a novel deemed unflattering to the Prophet Mohammed. That is what did Salman Rushdie did, and for his daring, he faced years of solitude, ostracism, and death threats--and in the heart of Europe no less. Or compose a documentary film, as did the often obnoxious Theo Van Gogh, and you may well have your throat cut in "liberal" Holland. Or better yet, sketch a simple cartoon in postmodern Denmark of legendary easy tolerance, and then go into hiding to save yourself from the gruesome fate of a Van Gogh. Or quote an ancient treatise, as did Pope Benedict, and then learn that all of Christendom may come under assault, and even the magnificent stones of the Vatican may offer no refuge--although their costumed Swiss Guard would prove a better bulwark than the European police. Or write a book critical of Islam, and then go into hiding in fear of your life, as did French philosophy teacher Robert Redeker.

And we need not only speak of threats to free speech, but also the tangible rewards from a terrified West to the agents of such repression. Note the recent honorary degree given to former Iranian President, Mohammad Khatami, whose regime has killed and silenced so many, and who himself is under investigation by the Argentine government for his role in sponsoring Hezbollah killers to murder dozens of Jewish innocents in Buenos Aires.





There are many lessons to be drawn from these examples, besides that they represent a good cross-section of European society in Denmark, England, France, Germany, Holland, and Italy. In almost every case, the lack of public support for the threatened artist or intellectual or author was purportedly based either on his supposed lack of sensitivity, or of artistic excellence.
Van Gogh, it was said, was obnoxious, his films sometimes puerile. The academic Pope was perhaps woefully ignorant of public relations in the politically correct age. Were not the cartoons in Denmark amateurish and unnecessary? Rushdie was an overrated novelist, whose chickens of trashing the West he sought refuge in finally came home to roost. The latest Hans Neuenfels's adaptation of Mozart's "Idomeneo" was apparently as silly as it was cheaply sensationalist. And perhaps Robert Redeker need not have questioned the morality of Islam and its Prophet.

But isn't that fact precisely the point? It is easy to defend artists when they produce works of genius that do not challenge popular sensibilities--Da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" or Montesquieu's "Spirit of the Laws"--but not so when an artist offends with neither the taste of a Michelangelo nor the talent of a Dante. Yes, Pope Benedict is old and scholastic; he lacks both the charisma and tact of the late Pope John Paul II, who surely would not have turned for elucidation to the rigidity of Byzantine scholarship. But isn't that why we must come to the present Pope's defense--if for no reason other than because he has the courage to speak his convictions when others might not?

Note also the constant subtext in this new self-censorship of our supposedly liberal age: the fear of radical Islam and its gruesome methods of beheadings, suicide bombings, improvised explosive devices, barbaric fatwas, riotous youth, petrodollar-acquired nuclear weapons, oil boycotts and price hikes, and fist-shaking mobs, as the seventh century is compressed into the twenty-first.

In contrast, almost daily in Europe, "brave" artists caricature Christians and Americans with impunity. And we know what explains the radical difference in attitudes to such freewheeling and "candid" expression--indeed, that hypocrisy of false bravado, of silence before fascists and slander before liberals is both the truth we are silent about, and the lie we promulgate.

There is, in fact, a long list of reasons, among them most surely the assurance that cruel critics of things Western rant without being killed. Such cowards puff out their chests when trashing an ill Oriana Fallaci or a comatose Ariel Sharon or beleaguered George W. Bush in the most demonic of tones, but they prove sunken and sullen when threatened by a thuggish Dr. Zawahiri or a grand mufti of some obscure mosque.

Second, almost every genre of artistic and intellectual expression has come under assault: music, satire, the novel, films, academic exegesis, and education. Somehow Europeans have ever so insidiously given up the promise of the Enlightenment that welcomed free thought of all kinds, the more provocative the better.

Yes, the present generation of Europeans really is heretical, made up of traitors of a sort. They themselves, not just their consensual governments, or the now-demonized American Patriot Act and Guantanamo detention center, or some invader across the Mediterranean, have endangered their centuries-won freedoms of expression--and out of worries over oil, or appearing as illiberal apostates of the new secular religion of multiculturalism, or another London or Madrid bombing. We can understand why outnumbered Venetians surrendered Cyprus to the Ottomans, and were summarily executed, or perhaps why the 16th-century French did not show up at Lepanto, but why this vacillation of present-day Europeans to defend the promise of the West, who are protected by statute and have not experienced war or hunger?

Third, examine why all these incidents took place in Europe, where more and more the state guarantees the good life even into dotage, where the here and now has become a finite world for soulless bodies, where armies devolve into topics of caricature, and children distract from sterile adults' ever-increasing appetites. So, it was logical that Europe most readily of Westerners would abandon the artist and give up the renegade in fear of religious extremists who brilliantly threatened not destruction, but interruption of the good life, or the mere charge of illiberality. Never was the Enlightenment sold out so cheaply.





We on this side of Atlantic also are showing different symptoms of this same Western malaise, but more likely through heated rhetoric than complacent indifference--given the events of September 11 that galvanized many, while disappointing liberals that past appeasement had created monsters rather than mere confused, if not dangerous rivals. The war on terror has turned out to be the torn scab that has exposed a deep wound beneath, of an endemic Western self-loathing--and near mania that our own superior education and material wealth have not eliminated altogether the need for force and coercion.
Consider some of the recent rabid outbursts by once sober, old-guard politicians of the Democratic Party. West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller insists that the world would be better off if Saddam were still running Iraq. Congressman John Murtha, of Pennsylvania, rushed to announce that our Marines were guilty of killing Iraqis in "cold blood" before they were tried. Illinois Senator Richard Durbin has compared our interrogators at Guantanamo Bay to Nazis and mass murderers, while Massachusetts Senator John Kerry said our soldiers have "terrorized" Iraqi women and children. The same John Kerry warned young Americans to study or they would end up in the volunteer army in Iraq--even though today's soldiers have higher educational levels than does the general public. But furor as well as fear, not logic, drives us in West to seek blame among the humane among us rather than the savagery of our enemies.

Billionaire leftist philanthropists seem to be confused about the nature of American society and politics that gave them everything they so sumptuously enjoy. Ted Turner of CNN fame and fortune said he resented President Bush asking Americans, after 9/11, to take sides in our war against Islamic terrorists. George Soros claimed that President Bush had improved on Nazi propaganda methods. Dreaming of killing an elected president, not a mass-murdering Osama Bin Laden, is a new national pastime. That is the theme of both a recent docudrama film and an Alfred Knopf book.

What are the proximate causes here in America that send liberal criticism over the edge into pathological hysteria? Is it only that George Bush is a singular polarizing figure of Christian and Texan demeanor? Or is the current left-wing savagery also a legacy of the tribal 1960s, when out-of-power protestors felt that expressions of speaking bluntly, even crudely, were at least preferable to "artificial" cultural restraint?

Or does the anger stem from the fact, that until last week, the Democrats had not elected congressional majorities in 12 years, and they've occupied the White House in only eight of the last 26 years. The left's current unruliness seems a way of scapegoating others for a more elemental frustration--that without scandal or an unpopular war they cannot so easily gain a national majority based on European-based beliefs. More entitlements, higher taxes to pay for them, gay marriage, de facto quotas in affirmative action, open borders, abortion on demand, and radical secularism--these liberal issues, at least for the moment, still don't tend to resonate with most Americans and so must be masked by opponents' scandals or overshadowed by a controversial war.

Just as the Europeans are stunned that their heaven on earth has left them weak and afraid, so too millions of Americans on the Left are angry that their own promised moral utopia is not so welcomed by the supposedly less educated and bright among them. But still, what drives Westerners, here and in Europe, to demand that we must be perfect rather than merely good, and to lament that if we are not perfect we are then abjectly bad--and always to be so unable to define and then defend their civilization against its most elemental enemies?

There has of course always been a utopian strain in both Western thought from the time of Plato's "Republic" and the practice of state socialism. But the technological explosion of the last 20 years has made life so long and so good, that many now believe our mastery of nature must extend to human nature as well. A society that can call anywhere in the world on a cell phone, must just as easily end war, poverty, or unhappiness, as if these pathologies are strictly materially caused, not impoverishments of the soul, and thus can be materially treated.

Second, education must now be, like our machines, ever more ambitious, teaching us not merely facts of the past, science of the future, and the tools to question, and discover truth, but rather a particular, a right way of thinking, as money and learning are pledged to change human nature itself. In such a world, mere ignorance has replaced evil as our challenge, and thus the bad can at last be taught away rather than confronted and destroyed.

Third, there has always been a cynical strain as well, as one can read in Petronius's "Satyricon" or Voltaire's "Candide." But our loss of faith in ourselves is now more nihilistic than sarcastic or skeptical, once the restraints of family, religion, popular culture, and public shame disappear. Ever more insulated by our material things from danger, we lack all appreciation of the eternal thin veneer of civilization.

We especially ignore among us those who work each day to keep nature and the darker angels of our own nature at bay. This new obtuseness revolves around a certain mocking by elites of why we have what we have. Instead of appreciating that millions get up at 5 a.m., work at rote jobs, and live proverbial lives of quiet desperation, we tend to laugh at the schlock of Wal-Mart, not admire its amazing ability to bring the veneer of real material prosperity to the poor.

We can praise the architect for our necessary bridge, but demonize the franchise that sold fast and safe food to the harried workers who built it. We hear about a necessary hearing aid, but despise the art of the glossy advertisement that gives the information to purchase it. And we think the soldier funny in his desert camouflage and Kevlar, a loser who drew poorly in the American lottery and so ended up in Iraq--our most privileged never acknowledging that such men with guns are the only bulwark between us and the present day forces of the Dark Ages with their Kalashnikovs and suicide belts.

So we are on dangerous ground. History gives evidence of no civilization that survived long as purely secular and without a god, that put its trust in reason alone, and believed human nature was subject to radical improvement given enough capital and learning invested in the endeavor. The failure of our elites to amplify their traditions they received, and to believe them to be not merely different but far better than the alternatives, is also a symptom of crisis in all societies of the past, whether Demosthenes' Athens, late imperial Rome, 18th-century France, or Western Europe of the 1920s. Nothing is worse that an elite that demands egalitarianism for others but ensures privilege for itself. And rarely, we know, are civilization's suicides a result of the influence of too many of the poor rather than of the wealthy.





But can I end on an optimistic note in tonight's tribute to Winston Churchill, who endured more and was more alone than we of the present age? After the horror of September 11, we in our sleep were also given a jolt of sorts, presented with enemies from the Dark Ages, the Islamic fascists who were our near exact opposites, who hated the Western tradition, and, more importantly, were honest and without apology in conveying that hatred of our liberal tolerance and forbearance. They arose not from anything we did or any Western animosity that might have led to real grievances, but from self-acknowledged weakness, self-induced failure, and, of course, those perennial engines of war, age-old envy and lost honor--always amplified and instructed by dissident Western intellectuals whose unhappiness with their own culture proved a feast for the scavenging Al-Qaedists.
By past definitions of relative power, al-Qaeda and its epigones were weak and could not defeat the West militarily. But their genius was knowing of our own self-loathing, of our inability to determine their evil from our good, of our mistaken belief that Islamists were confused about, rather than intent to destroy, the West, and most of all, of our own terror that we might lose, if even for a brief moment, the enjoyment of our good life to defeat the terrorists. In learning what the Islamists are, many of us, and for the first time, are also learning what we are not. And in fighting these fascists, we are to learn whether our freedom can prove stronger than their suicide belts and improvised explosive devices.

So we have been given a reprieve of sorts with this war, to regroup; and, in our enemies, to see our own past failings and present challenges; and to rediscover our strengths and remember our origins. We can relearn that we are not fighting for George Bush or Wal-Mart alone, but also for the very notion of the Enlightenment--and, yes, in the Christian sense for the good souls of those among us who have forgotten all that as they censor cartoons and compare American soldiers to Nazis.

So let me quote Winston Churchill of old about the gift of our present ordeal:

"These are not dark days: these are great days--the greatest days our country has ever lived."

Never more true than today.

Mr. Hanson is a senior fellow of the Hoover Institution, a distinguished fellow of Hillsdale College, and author most recently of "A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War." This article is adapted form a speech he delivered at the Claremont Institute's annual dinner in honor Sir Winston Churchill.


 
28581  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: November 29, 2006, 01:19:41 AM
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NATO and the Taliban
November 28, 2006; Page A14
The NATO forces battling resurgent Taliban in southern Afghanistan call to mind the Normandy landing. Once again, mostly Canadian, British and American troops are fighting and dying. Most of the rest of Europe is absent from the fight, a fact sure to be discussed at the NATO summit this week.

NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer is desperately seeking an additional 2,500 troops to suppress the Taliban. But with a few exceptions, such as the Dutch and Danes, most NATO members prefer the by now traditional division of labor: The Anglo-Saxons do the fighting while the others compete for popularity as armed aid workers.

The cover of last week's Der Spiegel magazine neatly captured the problem. "Germans Must Learn to Kill" read the headline above a picture of a German soldier in Afghanistan. The magazine wasn't advocating a more muscular German army. Rather, it was citing what American officials had told Karsten Voigt, Berlin's coordinator for U.S.-German relations.

The 2,900 German troops in Afghanistan are concentrated in the relatively safe north, focusing on reconstruction. France may withdraw its 200 special forces and opposes American plans for NATO to establish stronger links with like-minded countries outside the alliance. Most NATO members, including Italy, France and Spain, have placed absurd restrictions on their troops in Afghanistan. Some can operate only in certain (read: calm) regions; others won't fight in winter. These limits partly reflect the insufficient training and equipment of many European armies. While the U.S. spends about 4% of GDP on defense, the European average is half that.

Whatever the reason, this resistance to committing the troops and funds necessary to defeat the Taliban hardly matches the rhetorical commitment to the cause. The same NATO partners that refuse to provide adequate resources declare that losing Afghanistan is not an option. And right they are. If the Taliban are allowed to re-establish Afghanistan as global jihad's international headquarters, Europe would probably suffer more than the U.S. or Canada. The terrorists are opportunistic killers, attacking where there is the least resistance. Since September 11, they have failed to carry out another attack on U.S. soil. Scores have died in bomb attacks in Europe.

Afghanistan is both a test case for the West's resolve in the fight against Islamic terror and portent for the future of NATO. It is supposedly the "good" war, the multilateral war, the war that even the United Nations approved. If NATO can't muster the forces to defeat the remnants of al Qaeda's original state sponsor, what is it good for?
 


28582  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Venezuela Pol?tica on: November 28, 2006, 08:41:38 PM
Venezuela: Beyond the Presidential Election
Summary

Venezuelans will go to the polls Dec. 3 to decide between President Hugo Chavez and the more moderate opposition candidate, Manuel Rosales. Chavez, whose victory is almost assured, likely will use his next term to press for a national referendum on a constitutional amendment that would allow him to be re-elected indefinitely. The opposition, meanwhile, is using the election to build a solid domestic support base for future challenges to Chavez; it will also try to draw international attention by responding to Chavez's likely victory with post-election protests.

Analysis

Ahead of Venezuela's Dec. 3 presidential election, political tensions in the country have skyrocketed. Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans reportedly attended the Nov. 25 marches that closed the campaigns of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and opposition candidate Manuel Rosales. Most polls show Chavez leading by a wide margin; support for the opposition in Venezuela is difficult to gauge, but most estimates show that the opposition's support base is roughly 35 percent of the population. A commission of EU election observers could make vote manipulation difficult, but Chavez controls the government and the National Electoral Council, which he could use to influence the count in his favor. Regardless of the means of victory, Chavez is widely anticipated to win the election.

Chavez's expected victory will embolden him domestically. However, the opposition is well-financed and popular enough to ensure that, no matter the presidential election's outcome, political struggle in Venezuela will not end when the last ballot is counted.

If Chavez does win, this would be his last term in office under the current constitution. However, he has made it clear that he intends to pursue an amendment that would eliminate term limits, allowing him to be re-elected indefinitely. The amendment is planned for 2010 and would be put to a vote in a national referendum. Unless popular opinion shifts wildly, the amendment would likely pass -- or at least the government would say it had passed. Even if the amendment were to somehow fail, Chavez and his party would pick an analogous successor.

Venezuela's opposition movement is using the Dec. 3 election as an opportunity to gain enough momentum to be able to challenge Chavez in future elections. Rosales -- the current governor of Zulia and former governor of Maracaibo -- is a compromise candidate who represents a variety of interests. A popular politician who has never lost a race, Rosales' platform includes enhancing domestic security to deal with Venezuela's skyrocketing crime rate, fair distribution of oil profits to the poor and democratic reforms such as freedom of the press and judicial reform. Rosales' main critique of Chavez is that the jet-setting leader has committed too much of Venezuela's oil wealth to seeking a leadership role in the international community and too little to fulfilling the socialist goal of helping Venezuela's poor. Rosales also contends that the Chavez regime has corrupted the government and poses a challenge to democracy in Venezuela.

Rosales' supporters include many from the middle and upper classes, along with those who led a short-lived attempt to take control of the presidential palace in 2002. The United States was widely thought to be involved in that coup attempt, which was thwarted by Chavez supporters. After the attempt, the opposition attacked Chavez, launching a recall referendum and strikes. Both tactics failed; Chavez was overwhelmingly re-elected in the referendum, and the strikes prompted the government to take over the unions and replace their leaders. However, the Venezuelan opposition still receives funds from U.S. organizations such as the National Endowment for Democracy via democracy promotion programs in Venezuela -- most prominently from groups such as Sumate and the International Republican Institute, which Chavez's regime has accused of trying to undermine the government.

The opposition is so convinced that Chavez will win on Dec. 3 that it has already planned a post-election protest. Rafael Poleo, director of the Venezuelan newspaper El Nuevo Pais and a prominent opposition member, called on the Venezuelan people and military personnel to protest Dec. 4. Poleo advocated another "Orange Revolution" against the government -- a plea for peaceful but concerted resistance. A drawn-out sit-in protest -- like that of defeated Mexican presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and his followers -- is less likely than a short-term demonstration, given that such a protest would require significant international and domestic financial support. Though the opposition is relatively well-funded, it cannot compete with the government's purse. Additionally, Venezuelan police are more likely to use force than their Mexican counterparts and would be unlikely to tolerate drawn-out protests.

With high tensions among protesters, police and Chavez supporters, any sit-in would also be more violent than those held recently in Mexico. The opposition could likely easily promote clashes between Chavez supporters and Rosales supporters in order to create chaos in Caracas -- similar to the political, media and physical conflicts that followed the 2002 coup attempt. However, this time Chavez has firm control over the military, and Poleo's mostly rhetorical appeals to the military elite are not likely to loosen Chavez's grip. If Chavez supporters and opposition supporters clash, the military might intervene. The pro-opposition private media would take this opportunity to paint Chavez as a dictator and a monster, and the pro-Chavez state-run media would respond in kind. Chavez is prepared for a media onslaught and has threatened to shut down any television station that broadcasts calls for unrest.

In the long term, a Chavez victory on Dec. 3 will sideline the opposition. The leaders of the movement recognize that Chavez is in complete control of the government and have set their sights accordingly. During the course of this campaign, the opposition has managed to unify around a single candidate -- something it has never before been able to accomplish -- and is planning a reaction to Chavez's likely win with a pragmatic eye toward long-term goals: attracting international attention and building a solid base for future challenges to Chavez's government.

www.stratfor.com
28583  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: European matters on: November 28, 2006, 05:36:20 PM
If I have it right the Neo-Nazis are the ones in front of the doorway with bats, the marchers are "anti-facists" and the ones with guns are the police.  Is this right?
28584  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Free Speech vs. Islamic Fascism (formerly Buy DANISH!!!) on: November 28, 2006, 04:25:14 PM
Cartoons and Islamic Imperialism

by Daniel Pipes
New York Sun
February 7, 2006

The key issue at stake in the battle over the twelve Danish cartoons of the Muslim prophet Muhammad is this: Will the West stand up for its customs and mores, including freedom of speech, or will Muslims impose their way of life on the West? Ultimately, there is no compromise: Westerners will either retain their civilization, including the right to insult and blaspheme, or not.

More specifically, will Westerners accede to a double standard by which Muslims are free to insult Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism, while Muhammad, Islam, and Muslims enjoy immunity from insults? Muslims routinely publish cartoons far more offensive than the Danish ones . Are they entitled to dish it out while being insulated from similar indignities?


 Germany's Die Welt newspaper hinted at this issue in an editorial: "The protests from Muslims would be taken more seriously if they were less hypocritical. When Syrian television showed drama documentaries in prime time depicting rabbis as cannibals, the imams were quiet." Nor, by the way, have imams protested the stomping on the Christian cross embedded in the Danish flag.
The deeper issue here, however, is not Muslim hypocrisy but Islamic supremacism. The Danish editor who published the cartoons, Flemming Rose, explained that if Muslims insist "that I, as a non-Muslim, should submit to their taboos ... they're asking for my submission."
Precisely. Robert Spencer rightly called on the free world to stand "resolutely with Denmark." The informative Brussels Journal asserts, "We are all Danes now." Some governments get it:
Norway: "We will not apologize because in a country like Norway, which guarantees freedom of expression, we cannot apologize for what the newspapers print," Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg commented.
Germany: "Why should the German government apologize [for German papers publishing the cartoons]? This is an expression of press freedom," Interior Minister Wolfgang Schauble said.
France: "Political cartoons are by nature excessive. And I prefer an excess of caricature to an excess of censorship," Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy commented.
Other governments wrongly apologized:
Poland: "The bounds of properly conceived freedom of expression have been overstepped," Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz stated.
United Kingdom: "The republication of these cartoons has been unnecessary, it has been insensitive, it has been disrespectful and it has been wrong," Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said.
New Zealand: "Gratuitously offensive," is how Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton described the cartoons.
United States: "Inciting religious or ethnic hatred in this manner is not acceptable," a State Department press officer, Janelle Hironimus, said.
Strangely, as "Old Europe" finds its backbone, the Anglosphere quivers. So awful was the American government reaction, it won the endorsement of the country's leading Islamist organization, the Council on American-Islamic Relations. This should come as no great surprise, however, for Washington has a history of treating Islam preferentially. On two earlier occasions it also faltered in cases of insults concerning Muhammad.
In 1989, Salman Rushdie came under a death edict from Ayatollah Khomeini for satirizing Muhammad in his magical-realist novel, The Satanic Verses. Rather than stand up for the novelist's life, President George H.W. Bush equated The Satanic Verses and the death edict, calling both "offensive." The then secretary of state, James A. Baker III, termed the edict merely "regrettable."

Even worse, in 1997 when an Israeli woman distributed a poster of Muhammad as a pig, the American government shamefully abandoned its protection of free speech. On behalf of President Bill Clinton, State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns called the woman in question "either sick or ? evil" and stated that "She deserves to be put on trial for these outrageous attacks on Islam." The State Department endorses a criminal trial for protected speech? Stranger yet was the context of this outburst. As I noted at the time, having combed through weeks of State Department briefings, I "found nothing approaching this vituperative language in reference to the horrors that took place in Rwanda, where hundreds of thousands lost their lives. To the contrary, Mr. Burns was throughout cautious and diplomatic."

Western governments should take a crash course on Islamic law and the historically-abiding Muslim imperative to subjugate non-Muslim peoples. They might start by reading the forthcoming book by Efraim Karsh, Islamic Imperialism: A History (Yale).

Peoples who would stay free must stand unreservedly with Denmark.
_________
Additions:
The cartoon above was drawn by J.J. McCullough of www.filibustercartoons.com and is posted with permission.
For those who wish to "Buy Danish," a list of products to purchase can be found at End the Boycott.
_________
From www.danielpipes.org | Original article available at: www.danielpipes.org/article/3360
28585  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Dog Brothers Tribe on: November 28, 2006, 08:52:48 AM
Apparently we previously neglected to list

Renato Judalena is now "Dog Ren".

Welcome to the Tribe!

CD
28586  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: November 27, 2006, 08:34:05 PM
Here's Ralph Peters take on things.  Quijote, if you are not familiar with RP, he is a retired Army Colonel who worked intel matters in the mid-east.  He is regarded as a bold thinker, willing to take chances, and there is never any doubt what he thinks. grin
=============

The piece by Ralph Peters was linked from RealClearPolitics yesterday. I saved it, didn't keep link. Should be in recent archives of NY Post or RCP. But another interesting counter conventional wisdom point of view about Europe. (Which I find compelling since I thought this in the late '90's when the skinheads were firebombing Turkish slums in Germany back then.)

THE 'EURABIA' MYTH
By RALPH PETERS
November 26, 2006 -- A RASH of pop prophets tell us that Muslims in
Europe are reproducing so fast and European societies are so weak
and listless that, before you know it, the continent will become
"Eurabia," with all those topless gals on the Riviera wearing veils.
Well, maybe not.

The notion that continental Europeans, who are world-champion
haters, will let the impoverished Muslim immigrants they confine to
ghettos take over their societies and extend the caliphate from the
Amalfi Coast to Amsterdam has it exactly wrong.

The endangered species isn't the "peace loving" European lolling in
his or her welfare state, but the continent's Muslims immigrants -
and their multi-generation descendents - who were foolish enough to
imagine that Europeans would share their toys.
In fact, Muslims are hardly welcome to pick up the trash on Europe's
playgrounds.

Don't let Europe's current round of playing pacifist dress-up fool
you: This is the continent that perfected genocide and ethnic
cleansing, the happy-go-lucky slice of humanity that brought us such
recent hits as the Holocaust and Srebrenica.
THE historical patterns are clear: When Europeans feel sufficiently
threatened - even when the threat's concocted nonsense - they don't
just react, they over-react with stunning ferocity. One of their
more-humane (and frequently employed) techniques has been ethnic
cleansing.

And Europeans won't even need to re-write "The Protocols of the
Elders of Zion" with an Islamist theme - real Muslims zealots
provide Europe's bigots with all the propaganda they need. Al Qaeda
and its wannabe fans are the worst thing that could have happened to
Europe's Muslims. Europe hasn't broken free of its historical
addictions - we're going to see Europe's history reprised on meth.
The year 1492 wasn't just big for Columbus. It's also when Spain
expelled its culturally magnificent Jewish community en masse - to
be followed shortly by the Moors, Muslims who had been on the
Iberian Peninsula for more than 800 years.
Jews got the boot elsewhere in Europe, too - if they weren't just
killed on the spot. When Shakespeare wrote "The Merchant of Venice,"
it's a safe bet he'd never met a Jew. The Chosen People were
long-gone from Jolly Olde England.

From the French expulsion of the Huguenots right down to the last
century's massive ethnic cleansings, Europeans have never been shy
about showing "foreigners and subversives" the door.
And Europe's Muslims don't even have roots, by historical standards.
For the Europeans, they're just the detritus of colonial history.
When Europeans feel sufficiently provoked and threatened - a few
serious terrorist attacks could do it - Europe's Muslims will be
lucky just to be deported.
Sound impossible? Have the Europeans become too soft for that sort
of thing? Has narcotic socialism destroyed their ability to hate? Is
their atheism a prelude to total surrender to faith-intoxicated
Muslim jihadis?

The answer to all of the above questions is a booming "No!" The
Europeans have enjoyed a comfy ride for the last 60 years - but the
very fact that they don't want it to stop increases their rage and
sense of being besieged by Muslim minorities they've long refused to
assimilate (and which no longer want to assimilate).

WE don't need to gloss over the many Muslim acts of barbarism down
the centuries to recognize that the Europeans are just better at the
extermination process. From the massacre of all Muslims and Jews
(and quite a few Eastern Christians) when the Crusaders reached
Jerusalem in 1099 to the massacre of all the Jews in Buda (not yet
attached to Pest across the Danube) when the "liberating" Habsburg
armies retook the citadel at the end of the 17th century, Europeans
have just been better organized for genocide.

It's the difference between the messy Turkish execution of the
Armenian genocide and the industrial efficiency of the Holocaust.
Hey, when you love your work, you get good at it.
Far from enjoying the prospect of taking over Europe by having
babies, Europe's Muslims are living on borrowed time. When a third
of French voters have demonstrated their willingness to vote for
Jean-Marie Le Pen's National Front - a party that makes the Ku Klux
Klan seem like Human Rights Watch - all predictions of Europe going
gently into that good night are surreal.

I have no difficulty imagining a scenario in which U.S. Navy ships
are at anchor and U.S. Marines have gone ashore at Brest,
Bremerhaven or Bari to guarantee the safe evacuation of Europe's
Muslims. After all, we were the only ones to do anything about the
slaughter of Muslims in the Balkans. And even though we botched it,
our effort in Iraq was meant to give the Middle East's Muslims a
last chance to escape their self-inflicted misery.
AND we're lucky. The United States attracts the quality. American
Muslims have a higher income level than our national average. We
hear about the handful of rabble-rousers, but more of our fellow
Americans who happen to be Muslims are doctors, professors and
entrepreneurs.
And the American dream is still alive and well, thanks: Even the
newest taxi driver stumbling over his English grammar knows he can
truly become an American.

But European Muslims can't become French or Dutch or Italian or
German. Even if they qualify for a passport, they remain
second-class citizens. On a good day. And they're supposed to take
over the continent that's exported more death than any other?
All the copy-cat predictions of a Muslim takeover of Europe not only
ignore history and Europe's ineradicable viciousness, but do a
serious disservice by exacerbating fear and hatred. And when it
comes to hatred, trust me: The Europeans don't need our help.
The jobless and hopeless kids in the suburbs may burn a couple of
cars, but we'll always have Paris.
Ralph Peters' latest book is "Never Quit the Fight."
Home

NEW YORK POST is a registered trademark of NYP Holdings, Inc. NYPOST.COM,
__________________
28587  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: November 27, 2006, 06:42:58 PM
U.K.: The Puzzling Polonium-210 Attack
Former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, who died of radiation poisoning in a London hospital Nov. 23, was exposed to high levels of the polonium-210 isotope, according to British health authorities. Although radiation has been discussed in the past as a possible assassination weapon, very few, if any, incidents of its successful use have occurred -- until now. British authorities, who already are dealing with thousands of active terrorism investigations, must now confront the fact that someone in London has acquired polonium-210, and knows how to use it to kill.

Litvinenko was admitted to a London hospital Nov. 17, 16 days after falling ill following a meeting with an Italian academic at a London sushi restaurant. Medical personnel first suspected Litvinenko had been dosed with thallium, an element in rat poison, because he showed a classic symptom of thallium poisoning: hair loss. Scotland Yard then began investigating the incident as a deliberate act. Later, however, the British Health Protection Agency said tests had revealed high levels of polonium-210 in Litvinenko?s system.

Polonium, also known as radium F, was discovered in 1897 by Marie Curie and her husband, Pierre. It is an alpha emitter, meaning that although it is highly radioactive, it cannot penetrate human skin or a sheet of paper. Although the element is common in nature (it is found in such things as dirt and tobacco), it does not naturally occur in lethal concentrations. Only about 100 micrograms of the polonium-210 isotope can be found in one metric ton of dirt, for example. Once concentrated, however, it is lethal. Polonium-210 emits 5,000 times more alpha particles than radium, and an amount the size of the period at the end of this sentence would contain about 3,400 times the lethal dose. A dose like that which killed Litvinenko would probably have been manufactured at a nuclear facility.

Although polonium-210 can be made into crystallized or powdered form and then disseminated via a spray, that method would have endangered the attacker as well. More likely, Litvinenko ingested the polonium-210 either through food or drink. The radiation killed Litvinenko?s cells, eventually causing his organs to shut down.

According to a 2002 database produced by Stanford University?s Institute for International Studies, approximately 88 pounds of radioactive material, including weapons-usable uranium and plutonium, were removed without authorization from nuclear facilities in the former Soviet Union, although most of that material has been recovered. The International Atomic Energy Agency listed 827 confirmed incidents involving the trafficking of radioactive material reported by participating member states from January 1993 to December 2005. Of these, 224 incidents involved nuclear materials, 516 involved other radioactive materials (mainly radioactive sources), 26 involved both nuclear and other radioactive materials, 50 involved radioactively contaminated materials and 11 involved other materials. Sixteen of the nuclear material incidents involved highly enriched uranium or plutonium.

Polonium-210 is difficult to detect unless it is being specifically sought, thereby making the substance easy to smuggle. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is working on methods to detect the substance in water samples, but current methods are time-consuming and require an experienced analyst.

Litvinenko, an outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin?s government, accused Putin of personally ordering his assassination in the weeks following the poisoning. Russian dissidents in London also hold the Russian government responsible for the attack. A source in the London Metropolitan Police Counterterrorism Command cited by the United Kingdom's Daily Mirror suggested the polonium-210 could have been smuggled into the United Kingdom in a diplomatic pouch from a ?former Soviet Union embassy.? This method, which would have nearly eliminated the risk of the material?s discovery while in transit, reportedly was used to smuggle in the materials used to poison Bulgarian dissident poet Georgi Markov in London in 1978. Russian authorities have dismissed charges of Moscow?s involvement in the Litvinenko attack as "silly."

Litvinenko?s death, regardless of who is behind it, has raised the stakes for British security and counterterrorism officials. Scotland Yard has had more active terrorism investigations in 2006 than at any other time in its history, and must now attempt to track down the source of this attack. Meanwhile, if this was a covert operation by Russian intelligence, London's sizable Russian dissident community has reason to be quite concerned indeed.
www.stratfor.com
28588  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: November 27, 2006, 03:49:36 PM
A second post, this from the Asia Times, which brings a perspective serious Americans would do well to bring onto their radar screen.
===============

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/HK28Ak04.html

Page 1 of 3
The Saudis strike back at Iran
By M K Bhadrakumar

If ever the need arose to differentiate between brothers and friends, that was last week when Saudi King Abdullah bin-Abd al-Aziz al-Saud spoke of Iran as a "friend" of the Saudi state.

The king said this while receiving Iranian Ambassador Hossein Sadeqi during the latter's farewell call on the conclusion of an eventful two-year tour, which witnessed, arguably, a steady rise in the warmth and coziness of Saudi-Iranian relations.

The king praised the trend in the relations between the two countries in recent years, and stressed the importance of bolstering Saudi-Iranian relations "in all fields", adding that Saudi Arabia had "confidence" in Iran. But what stood out was Saudi Arabia's characterization of ties between the two most important countries of the Muslim world as being between "friends".

Nevertheless, Iran's sense of unease about the shadows falling on Saudi-Iranian ties and the potentially deleterious trust deficit developing between them over issues of regional stability and peace was apparent in its decision last week to keep out Saudi Arabia from the trilateral summit that Tehran proposed, involving the heads of states of Syria and Iraq. What has led to a chill in Saudi-Iranian relations is the eruption of vicious sectarian strife in Iraq, apart from the crisis unfolding in Lebanon.

Saudi Arabia has viewed with disquiet the rapid ascendancy of Iranian influence in Iraq since the US invasion. The reasons are several, but primarily the Shi'ite claim of political empowerment in the region haunts Riyadh, coupled with the prospect of Iran's seemingly unstoppable march as the premier regional power in the Persian Gulf region and the Middle East. The disquiet has turned into dismay as the incipient murmurs of a likely shift in the United States' strategy in Iraq have lately become audible, and given the likelihood of the shift involving a constructive engagement of the regimes in Tehran and Damascus by Washington.

Despite sustained Saudi (and Egyptian) efforts to carve out a niche of influence in the fragmented Iraqi political landscape, the desired results haven't been forthcoming. The latest Saudi attempt was the Mecca Document of October 20, endorsed by 29 Iraqi Sunni and Shi'ite senior clerics who assembled in the Muslim holy city of Mecca. They vowed to God in front of the blessed Kaaba "not to violate the sanctity of Muslim blood and to incriminate those who shed [it]".

But not only has the Mecca Document not arrested Shi'ite-Sunni hostilities within Iraq, the sectarian divide has since dramatically widened. Iran alleges that conspiracies pitting the Sunnis against Shi'ites are afoot. The powerful Speaker of the Iranian majlis (parliament), Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel, while visiting the eastern province of Sistan-Balochistan (bordering Pakistan's restive Balochistan province), said on Saturday, "Today the enemies wish to sow the seed of discord among Shi'ites and Sunnis and make them insult each other ... The enemies of Islam are attempting to disrupt Muslim vigilance, lay their hand on the wealth of Muslim lands and plunder their oil reserves. To achieve this goal, they are attempting to sow the seed of discord among Muslims."

Indeed, Western media have also reported that in recent months US and Israeli intelligence have been working together in equipping and training Kurdish, Azeri and Baloch tribesmen to undertake covert operations in Iran's northern and southeastern provinces. Tehran already visualizes that in Lebanon, too, in the latest confrontation, the battle lines will fast assume a Sunni-Shi'ite dimension.

The latent Saudi-Iranian rivalry is likely to play out in Lebanon. Unlike with the Iraq problem, there is a convergence of Saudi and US interests over Lebanon. Saudi commentators have been counseling Washington not to compartmentalize Iraq and Lebanon as separate issues.

From the Saudi perspective, any US-Iranian engagement in the region should not be limited to a US "exit strategy" in Iraq. The fear of a resurgent Iran is palpable. The London-based Al-Hayat newspaper recently compared Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad to Osama bin Laden as two renegades equally bent on destabilizing the region.

That is why Saudi diplomacy worked in tandem with the US to get a "global consensus" over the setting up of an international tribunal to look into the murder of former Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri. Saudi commentators heaved a sigh of relief when Moscow decided to delink from Syria's (and Iran's) dogged opposition to the tribunal. But what was extraordinary was that the Saudis publicly commended the "significant and remarkable cooperation" from China in making it clear to the Russians that China was "on the side of the US, France and Britain" in the United Nations Security Council negotiations over the decision to set up the tribunal.

A Saudi commentator boasted, "By doing so, China left Russia with the sole option of cooperating and not obstructing." Indeed, the People's Daily recently took note of Washington's realization of the need of a "new direction" in its Middle East policy - "a new
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Page 2 of 3
The Saudis strike back at Iran
By M K Bhadrakumar
------

Middle East plan, which aims to unite moderate Arab countries who are concerned about the rise of Iran and rampant extremist forces, to form an anti-Iran and anti-extremist alliance" - though it doubted what a mere course correction could do in "extricating the US from the quagmire it created by itself in the Middle East".

The Saudi expectation is that the UN decision to set up the tribunal (which was promptly approved by the Lebanese cabinet of Saudi-backed Prime Minister Fouad Siniora on Friday, despite warnings from Hezbollah) signifies a development of historic proportions in redrawing political alignments in the Middle East.

From the Saudi point of view, the tribunal will inexorably lead to the unraveling of the Ba'athist regime in Damascus; the breakup of the Iranian-Syrian nexus in the region; the return of Syria to the mainstream Arab fold; the near-total isolation of Hezbollah within Lebanon, which in turn could pave the way for its eventual co-option (once it is cleansed of militancy and sanitized from Iranian influence); and the overall weakening of Iran's standing as the Shi'ite powerhouse in the region, especially in Iraq.

Equally, the Saudis are displaying in Lebanon their true grit as a US ally in the region. They are showing that in countering Iranian influence they are prepared to dig in, no matter what it takes. Riyadh has cast aside its proclivity to remain on the sidelines while the Iraq crisis matured in the critical 2003-05 period, which led to its disastrous isolation (and Egypt's).

Riyadh expects Washington to take note that Iran's rising regional influence can still be arrested. Significantly, US Vice President Dick Cheney lost no time arriving in Riyadh on Saturday for a hurried two-hour meeting with King Abdullah. During the meeting, to quote the Saudi Press Agency, the two sides discussed "the whole range of events and developments on the regional and international scenes ... the Palestinian problem and the situation in Iraq in particular".

The choice of Cheney to undertake such a sensitive mission at this point speaks something of the thought processes of President George W Bush regarding Iraq. It also speaks something about the importance of Cheney in the last two years of Bush's presidency. Three things must be said about Cheney's beliefs. First, he is steadfast in his belief that the Iraq war is still a "doable" job. Second, he consistently maintains that an Iraq settlement is inconceivable without a regime change in Iran.

Most important, Cheney believes that when it comes to Israel's security, US politicians are alike. Name them, they are all "friends of Israel" - Democratic presidential hopefuls Senators Hillary Clinton and Evan Bayh, Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean, and the incoming chairman of the House Committee on International Affairs, Democratic Congressman Tom Lantos.

Thus it is of immense consequence that Bush decided to give Cheney a chance to perform (rather than Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice) in the center stage of the Middle East's geopolitics at this crucial turning point. The United States' strategy in the Iraq war is under intense scrutiny, and the White House should soon receive the report of the Iraq Study Group (ISG) co-chaired by former secretary of state James Baker and former congressman Lee Hamilton.

Cheney's consultations in Riyadh mesh with what Seymour Hersh wrote in the current issue of The New Yorker: "Sources with direct knowledge of the [ISG] panel's proceedings have told me that the group, as of mid-November, had ruled out calling for an immediate and complete American withdrawal but would recommend focusing on the improved training of Iraqi forces and on redeploying American troops."

What does this portend for Tehran? Certainly, what is becoming clear is that it is small change for Iran, even if the ISG recommends that Syria and Iraq should be brought into a regional conference to help stabilize Iraq, and if Bush accepts such a recommendation.

The point is Iran is inherently at a disadvantage with regard to the Saudi stratagem. The specter of a Shi'ite crescent is a useful rallying cry for the beleaguered regimes in Riyadh (and Cairo and Amman), whereas for Tehran it is a huge embarrassment and a major obstacle. For Iran, Shi'ite empowerment is a means to an end. Iran considers its manifest destiny to be the leader of the Islamic world.

As Tehran sees it, it has been a long wait but Iraq and Syria are finally emerging as a new center of gravity in the Arab world. And Iran is in alliance with it. Also, Iran sees a historic opportunity in that almost 100 years after the Sykes-Picot agreement carved up the Middle East, the regional powers may finally be able to fill the power vacuum to ensure the US withdrawal from Iraq. The process is no doubt cataclysmic and, therefore, imperfect, stuttering and difficult. Iran nonetheless must pursue it to its optimal potential.

But the brusqueness with which Washington moved last week to stifle the Iranian initiative on the trilateral summit with Iraq and Syria also underscores what Tehran is up against. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani just couldn't emplane for Tehran on Saturday. The Americans clamped a curfew on Baghdad and simply shut down the city's airport.
======
Page 3 of 3
The Saudis strike back at Iran
By M K Bhadrakumar

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad also stayed in Damascus on Saturday instead of proceeding to Tehran. The Iranian initiative seems all but stillborn. Iran has since clarified that the tripartite summit would be "good" but no such meeting had been planned "of the kind reported by certain sections of the media".

Meanwhile, the Arab League's 10-member Iraq Committee came up with an announcement on Saturday that it would hold a foreign minister-level meeting in Cairo on December 5 with a view to finding a way to end the "cascades of blood in Iraq".

No doubt, neither Iran nor Syria is likely to take lying low the US attempt to isolate them in the region. As prominent Middle East commentator Rami Khouri put it, they are "unlikely to behave like Libya by caving into the pressure and unilaterally giving the US what it wants ... They will demand a high price for cooperating with the US and helping it leave Iraq."

Therefore, it remains to be seen whether an international process in the form of the tribunal over Lebanon was a judicious move after all. In a region where assassinations form part of the political culture (and often, as for Israel, constitute an instrument of state policy), the setting up of a tribunal over Lebanon smacks of cynicism. Besides, such processes often acquire a momentum of their own, and it may so happen that the tribunal over Lebanon may spin out of US control. In essence, the international tribunal is a "new form of neo-colonial behavior" (to quote Khouri), even if the US is acting in league with Britain and France, two veteran battle-scarred colonial powers in the region, and despite China and Russia having acquiesced for reasons of their own.

To be sure, Iran and Syria will resist with all their capacity. For the present, though, the Iranians find themselves somewhat in the same predicament as Banquo in William Shakespeare's play Macbeth when "through the fog and filthy air", the noble warrior heard the witches' prophesy, "Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none."

M K Bhadrakumar served as a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service for more than 29 years, with postings including ambassador to Uzbekistan (1995-98) and to Turkey (1998-2001).

(Copyright 2006 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)


 
   
28589  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: November 27, 2006, 03:38:02 PM
On 11/27/06, Marc Denny <craftydog@dogbrothers.com> wrote:

Geopolitical Diary: Twisting the Rubik's Cube

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Sunday that the United States is "trapped" in Iraq -- and that Iran is prepared to help to extricate it from the Iraqi "quagmire" provided that Washington changes its "bullying" behavior toward Tehran. Ahmadinejad's statements came the same day that a spokesman for Iraqi President Jalal Talabani confirmed he will travel to Tehran on Monday to discuss Iran's role in containing the violence in Iraq. Meanwhile, a top Kurdish member of the Iraqi National Assembly, Mahmoud Othman, said that while the Talabani's visit would be beneficial to Iraq, "a lot depends on the relations between the United States and Iran."

Talabani's trip to Tehran comes amid a flurry of diplomatic activity. Both the United States and Iran are having discussions with key players throughout the region, and it appears increasingly likely they will at some point meet with each other as well. U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney met with Saudi King Abdullah in Riyadh on Saturday -- likely taking the Saudis, a critical component in any U.S.-Iranian dealings, into confidence on what Washington intends to offer in exchange for Iran's cooperation in stabilizing Iraq. And Jordan will host a meeting between U.S. President George W. Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Nov. 29, and Egypt will host the foreign ministers of Iraq's neighboring states Dec. 5, as they explore possible ways to contain the violence in Iraq.

Both the Arabs and the Israelis -- for different reasons -- are worried about the implications of a potential U.S.-Iranian accommodation. Naturally, the Bush administration is in quite an awkward position. In order to allay Israeli concerns about Iran's nuclear weapons, Washington could agree to yield a significant degree of influence over Iraq to Tehran. Doing so, however, would be unacceptable to Washington's allies among the Arab Sunni states, as well as Turkey.

For its part, Ankara opposes the possibility of partition for Iraq -- as Prime Minister Marouf Bakheet said Saturday in a joint statement with Jordanian King Abdullah II.

The diplomatic activity and positioning throughout the region is an important component of the complex negotiations that are crucial to both U.S. and Iranian strategies concerning Iraq. But there is a conundrum. As each of these regional pieces falls into place, what Washington needs is for Tehran to use its influence among the Iraqi Shia to reach a deal with the Sunnis in that state. The Iranians have signaled that they are willing to do this, but for a price:

1) Security for the Iranian regime
2) Recognition of Iranian influence in Iraq
3) Acknowledgment of Iran's dominance in the Persian Gulf and the wider Middle East.

Given that price, it would appear that achieving stability within Iraq means destabilizing the regional balance of power. Merely by engaging Tehran in direct discussions, the United States would, in a de facto sense, be empowering Iran. And Washington could not very well walk away from the table without conceding to some of Iran's demands for influence. No matter how you cut the cards, the rise of Iran as a regional power is all but inseparable from any solution on Iraq. Washington will want to limit that power, using the fine print of any political negotiations, but success is far from assured -- and the precise status of Iran ultimately may not be the most important consideration. As the results of elections in Bahrain this weekend showed, the Shia of the region are already gathering strength.
www.stratfor.com
=====================

28590  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: November 27, 2006, 02:51:47 PM
I get this via the Wall Street Journal's "Opinion Journal" 5 days a week.  Lots of tasty tidbits for poliitical junkies every day.
----------

November 27, 2006

In today's Political Diary:

Third Party in a Coal Mine
Kingston of All Media
The German Way
Here Comes the Tax Hike (Quote of the Day I)
We Wuzn't Robbed! (Quote of the Day II)
New Zealand Pols Try to Live Up to their Names

Libertarians, Independents and Greens - the New Axis of Evil

Democrats were certainly the big winner from this month's midterm elections, but they shouldn't be too complacent. They won a plurality of votes but not a majority of votes. Both parties need to worry that third party and independent candidates are winning an increasing share of the vote and determining the outcome of more and more close races.

Political analyst Richard Winger has developed the approach of using the top office on each state's ballot to gauge the support of each party. Under his method, Democrats won 49% of the vote in the latest election, Republicans 46% and others 5%. In 36 states, the "top office" he looked at was a governor's race, in eleven states it was U.S. Senator and in the remaining three states without a major statewide contest it was the total vote for U.S. House.

The 5% figure was the second highest vote for alternative candidates at the top of the ballot since 1934, only slightly exceeded by the result in the last midterm election of 2002. This year Republicans would have kept control of the U.S. Senate if voters who backed Libertarian candidates in Montana and Missouri had voted for the GOP incumbents instead. "It's clear that a good way of charting public dissatisfaction with major parties is to see how much they lose market share to candidates everyone knows can't win, but people still want [to use] to send a message," says Larry Sabato, a political analyst at the University of Virginia.

Democrats still bitterly complain that Green Party candidate Ralph Nader cost them the 2000 election in Florida when his 94,000 votes vastly exceeded the 547 votes that Al Gore lost to George W. Bush by. If the new Democratic Congress doesn't deliver on its promises, liberals may be the ones experiencing a critical part of their base defecting to Green Party or other protest candidates next time.

-- John Fund

YouTube Insurgent

Georgia Republican Congressman Jack Kingston has always been one to embrace innovative approaches to politics. As head of the Republican Theme Team, he was one of the first members to start his own blog. He was also eager to sit down with comedian Stephen Colbert of Comedy Central for an interview and unlike some Members who've visited with Mr. Colbert, managed to emerge looking neither arrogant nor clueless.

After this month's GOP loss of Congress, Mr. Kingston decided to campaign for a vacant spot in the GOP leadership, namely the chairmanship of the House Republican Conference. As part of his unconventional effort, he posted a campaign message on YouTube.com, the ubiquitous bulletin board for video junkies. "Thank you very much for opening this," Mr. Kingston told viewers at the beginning of his video. "I'm doing this because so many of you guys haven't been returning my phone calls and anyhow it saves all of us a little time."

Mr. Kingston says the YouTube posting attracted a decent amount of attention and was a useful reminder to Members "that there are lots of fun ways to send a message." Though his high-tech campaigning didn't land him the conference job, he came much closer than expected, losing only narrowly to establishment favorite Rep. Adam Putnam of Florida. Expect to see Mr. Kingston keep honing his alternative media skills as he continues to convince his colleagues that the way to reach younger voters is to supplement traditional media efforts with something completely different.

-- John Fund

How Not To Fix Social Security

Germany just "fixed" its Social Security system and what's frightening is that the same flimsy plan is likely to be heralded here in the U.S.

Under the deal between the conservative Christian Democrats and the leftwing Social Democrats, the German system will be shored up by raising taxes and cutting benefits. How ingenious. William Shipman, a worldwide expert on government pension programs and a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, says under the plan, the payroll taxes paid by a German worker would rise from 19.5% of his income to 22% in 2030. His full retirement benefit would drop from 54% of pre-retirement income to 43% by 2030. The age at which he can begin collecting benefits would rise from 65 to 67.

Germany was the first nation to devise a Social Security system -- under Otto von Bismarck in 1889 -- and when Franklin Roosevelt signed into law our Social Security Act some 50 years later, he cited Germany as the model to emulate. We've been following the German lead ever since. Mr. Shipman calculates that the average young German worker can now expect a monthly benefit upon retirement that pays at best half of what he would have earned if he could have saved the money himself. Here in the U.S. Generation X and Y workers are already facing a similar lousy rate of return from Social Security -- a payoff that would get a lot worse if we go the German direction.

Whether Germany's younger voters will rebel against this kind of financial child abuse is not known yet, but America's kids would be wise to start paying attention. Mr. Bush and the Democrats are said to be planning a grand entitlement program overhaul, and the parameters sound suspiciously like the German fix. Congressional Democrats succeeded in shooting down Mr. Bush's reform proposal based on private savings last year but offered no plan of their own. Today we have a better sense of where Washington politicians are headed. Bottom line: The case for private accounts is stronger than ever especially if you are one of the tens of millions of workers in your mid-40s or younger who would end up paying more and getting less.

-- Stephen Moore

Quote of the Day I

"Judging from the hints flying around Washington, the administration sees how to bridge this divide [on Social Security]. Democrats may be allergic to personal Social Security accounts, but they are enthusiastic about other ideas for personal retirement accounts that just don't have 'Social Security' in the title.... [E]veryone would get the chance to contribute to an account and receive a government contribution as a match, with the most generous match going to low-income workers. To pay for this program, the government could prune the existing $150 billion patchwork of tax breaks for saving. This patchwork is extraordinarily, scandalously regressive: 90 percent of the tax breaks go to the richest 40 percent of taxpayers" -- Washington Post columnist Sebastian Mallaby.

Quote of the Day II

"Diebold, one of the biggest manufacturers of computerized voting machines was until recently headed by a CEO who happened to be a vocal supporter of President Bush. Writing in the New York Times in 2003, Paul Krugman sought to blow the lid off: 'You don't have to believe in a central conspiracy to worry that partisans will take advantage of an insecure, unverifiable voting system to manipulate election results... The credibility of U.S. democracy may be at stake.' That theme was rolled out again this election season on left-wing blogs and in the print media. There was even an HBO documentary, 'Hacking Democracy,' which emphasized the danger of Diebold disenfranchisement. But then, just as the paranoia reached its peak, a funny thing happened: The Democrats won on Election Day. As suddenly as they had blared to life, the alarm bells fell silent. The critics paused for a moment, then burst out in a new refrain: The people have spoken! The realignment is here! Democracy works! And so the Diebold villain has retreated to the shadows for the next two years, at least" -- from an editorial in National Review.

A Brash Exit

New Zealand's governing Labour Party now trails in the polls after winning election last year by only the narrowest of margins. But Prime Minister Helen Clark has little to worry about if the opposition National Party continues to self-destruct.

Despite a strong platform based on lower taxes and less government spending, the Nationals lost last year's election by 2% of the popular vote, for which many members blamed former central banker Don Brash, the Nats' leader. Mr. Brash's public gaffes were many: He excused himself after performing poorly in an debate with Ms. Clark by saying he took it easy because she's a woman; he attacked Labour for neglecting the sanctity of marriage, then admitted to one affair and refused to deny a second.

Mr. Brash, who was once nicknamed Mr. Magoo by his own chief of staff, had vowed to resign if his party lost and many members were growing tired of waiting for him to keep his promise. He finally quit last Thursday amid rumors of an impending revolt led by party finance spokesman John Key, who has now assumed the title of party boss.

Under Labour Finance Minister Roger Douglas in the 1980s, New Zealand arguably bested even Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan in shrinking the state, reducing subsidies and trade barriers, and encouraging market-based growth. But it's been a while since New Zealand was a policy pioneer. Polls today show the Nationals leading Labour by as much as 13%, but the next election isn't scheduled until 2008. Whether the conservative party's popular free-market agenda will prevail then may depend on whether it has found the key leader to match its brash ambitions.

-- Adrian Ho



28591  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Free Speech vs. Islamic Fascism (formerly Buy DANISH!!!) on: November 27, 2006, 02:47:05 PM
Second post of the day

A Muslim writes a "Islam is against terrorism" letter to the editor, is kicked out of his mosque, and is threatened with violence.

====================
Posted November 27, 2006 12:50 PM  Hide Post
http://www.tulsaworld.com/NewsStory.asp?ID=061029_Op_G4_Messa31453

Readers Forum: Message of Islam is not jihad, fatwahs
By JAMAL MIFTAH
10/29/2006


I moved to the United States in March 2003, with my four kids and wife from Pakistan bordering Afghanistan. There was a call by a local jihadi organization to fight the coalition forces in Afghanistan. One of my dearest friends, Mirza Kohistani, fell prey to that call and joined the group, despite my advice and that of his wife to him.

All the leaders of that organization returned safely after the fall of the Taliban empire, but they left behind the body of my friend and hundreds of other innocent people like him.

I am obliged to respond to Ayman al-Zawahri's recent video message, portraying himself as champion of Islam and others as liars.

My message to Ayman al-Zawahri and Muslims of the world: "Islam" means submission and is derived from a word meaning "peace." Islam, Christianity and Judaism have the same origin, the Prophet Abraham. The prophet of Islam has said that God has no mercy on someone who does not have mercy for others.

I ask that al-Zawahri look at his deeds and those of his master, Osama bin Laden, and other so-called Islamic jihadists.

Because of lack of knowledge of Islam, Muslim youth are misguided into believing by the so-called champions of the cause of Islam that the current spate of killings and barbarism, which has no equal in the recent civilized history, is jihad in the name of Islam. They are incited, in the name of Islam, to commit heinous crimes not pardonable by any religion and strictly forbidden in Islam.

Cowards like al-Zawahri and bin Laden are inciting the ignorant and innocent youths to commit suicide bombings to kill innocent civilians including children, women and the elderly, while they hide in spider holes and caves. They never send their own sons and daughters, born out of half a dozen of their wives, to get killed in the name of Islam. They are themselves hypo crites, cowards, thugs and liars. For 12 years they misappropriated aid received from the U.S. and the West to fight Russia. Now they are ensuring smooth flow of petro dollars from Arab countries in the name of jihad against the West.

Even mosques and Islamic institutions in the U.S. and around the world have become tools in their hands and are used for collecting funds for their criminal acts. Half of the funds collected go into the pockets of their local agents and the rest are sent to these thugs.

They are the reason for branding the peaceful religion of Islam as terrorism. The result, therefore, is in the form of Danish cartoons and remarks/reference by the Pope.

I appeal to the Muslim youth in particular and Muslims of the world in general to rise up and start jihad against the killers of humanity and help the civilized world to bring these culprits to justice and prove that Islam is not a religion of hatred and aggression.

I appeal to the Muslim clerics around the world that, rather than issuing empty fatwas condemning suicide bombing, they should issue a fatwa for the death of such scoundrels and barbarians who have taken more than 4,267 lives of innocent people in the name of Islam and have carried out more than 24 terrorist attacks on civilian installations throughout the world. This does not include the chilling number of deaths because of such activities in Iraq and Afghanistan, which is well over 250,000.

I appeal to al-Zawahri and his band of thugs to hand themselves over to justice and stop spreading evil and killing innocent humans around the world in the name of Islam. Their time is limited and Muslims of the world will soon rise against them to apprehend them and bring them to justice.


Jamal Miftah is a resident of Tulsa.

===============
Now see a news clip about the response from the leaders and some others in his in his mosque.

http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=23480_Why_We_Rarely_Hear_from_Moderate_Muslims&only


 
28592  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Free Speech vs. Islamic Fascism (formerly Buy DANISH!!!) on: November 27, 2006, 02:31:46 PM
Dissent Crushed
By Adam Brodsky
New York Post | November 20, 2006


Muslims are often accused of not speaking out sufficiently against terrorism. Nonie Darwish knows one reason why: Their fellow Muslims won't let them.
Darwish, who comes from Egypt and was born and raised a Muslim, was set to tell students at Brown University about the twisted hatred and radicalism she grew to despise in her own culture. A campus Jewish group, Hillel, had contacted her to speak there Thursday.

But the event was just called off.

Muslim students had complained that Darwish was "too controversial." They insisted she be denied a platform at Brown, and after contentious debate Hillel agreed.

Weird: No one had said boo about such Brown events as a patently anti-Israel "Palestinian Solidarity Week." But Hillel said her "offensive" statements about Islam "alarmed" the Muslim Student Association, and Hillel didn't want to upset its "beautiful relationship" with the Muslim community.

Plus, Brown's women's center backed out of co-sponsoring the event, even though it shares Darwish's concerns about the treatment of women. Reportedly, part of the problem was that Darwish had no plans to condemn Israel for shooting Arab women used by terrorists as human shields, or for insufficiently protecting Israeli Arab wives from their husbands.

In plugging their ears to Darwish, Brown's Muslim students proved her very point: Muslims who attempt constructive self-criticism are quickly and soundly squelched - by other Muslims.

"Speaking out for human rights, women's rights, equality or even peace with Israel is a taboo that can have serious consequences" in the Arab world, Darwish says. In part to drive home that point, she wrote a book, just out. Its title says it all: "Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror."

Darwish argues that her own community - in the Middle East and in America - is hostile to criticism, even from Muslims. After 9/11, she says, many in Egypt refused to believe that Muslims were responsible. Instead, they blamed "the Zionist conspiracy."

From her childhood in the '50s, she's seen seething animosity toward Jews, Israel, America and non-believers generally pervert her culture. "I asked myself, as a Muslim Arab child, was I ever taught peace? The answer is no. We learned just the opposite: honor and pride can only come from jihad and martyrdom."

In elementary schools in Gaza, where she lived until age 8, Darwish learned "vengeance and retaliation. Peace," she says, "was considered a sign of defeat and weakness."

An event in 1996 inflamed her longstanding frustration with her community. Her brother suffered a stroke while in Gaza, and his Egyptian friends and relatives all agreed: To save his life, he needed to go to Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem, not to Cairo. Even though they had spent their lives demeaning Israelis - and boasting of Arab supremacy.

Hadassah saved her brother's life; understandably, her appreciation for Jews and Israelis grew. Today Darwish preaches not only the almost embarrassing lengths to which Jews go to seek dialogue and peace, but also their cultural, political, scientific and economic contributions.

Such notions from anyone in the Arab Muslim world are indeed rare. But Darwish isn't just anyone: Her father was killed by Israelis. Yet she doesn't blame the Jewish state - for her father was Lt. Col. Mustafa Hafaz, an Egyptian who headed one of the modern world's first terrorist groups, the anti-Israel fedayeen in Gaza.

Hafaz's terrorists killed hundreds, maybe thousands, of Israelis in cross-border attacks. Of course the Israelis fought back. Darwish realized that Egyptian ruler Gamal Abdul Nasser, who controlled Gaza, had sent her father to a certain death.

Hafaz became a shahid - a martyr for jihad - and that bought Darwish's family great status. She'd rather have had her father alive.

Darwish's message is invaluable for our age. Too few Arabs and Muslims share her desire for peace with Israel, equality and cultural reform; too few speak - in their living rooms or mosques - about the need to root out radicals from among them. When one Muslim voice does raise such sentiments, it deserves to be heard. Too bad the young Muslims (and their Jewish enablers) at Brown won't hear it.

And if those values can't be espoused in America - land of tolerance and free speech - well, what hope is there for meaningful cultural change?
28593  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Dog Brothers Tribe on: November 26, 2006, 05:46:37 PM
On behalf of the Council of Elders:

The Tribe grew quite a bit on Sunday.? Frankly I don't come close to remembering all the ascensions that took place and at the time told people to remind me at info@dogbrothers.com should they not see their names appear.

These I do remember:

Gints Klimanis is now "Baltic Dog"
Mike de Lio is now "Scrappy Dog"

Greg Brown is now "C-name to be decided later"
Milt Tinkoff is now "C-Devil Dog"
Rog Tinkoff is now "C-Space Dog"
Dave Rothburg is now "C-Stray Dog"
Richard Estepa is now "C-Seeing Eye Dog"

Ryan Gruhn is now "Dog Ryan"
Richard Estepa is now "Dog Richard"
Tim Ferguson is now "Dog Tim"
D.A. is now "Dog DA"
Mo Estepa is now "Dog Mo"
Tony Caruso is now "Dog Tony"

several others

To the new members of the Tribe, a hearty woof of congratulations and likewise to the newly ascended.

"Higher consciousness through harder contact" (c)
Crafty Dog
Guiding Force of the Dog Brothers
28594  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: November 26, 2006, 05:04:48 PM
Let me know what you think of the Steyn book when it arrives and you read it  smiley
28595  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Gay Parents on: November 26, 2006, 11:30:00 AM
Gay couple awaits adoption ruling from U.S. court
The Seattle men's quest for their child's birth certificate in Oklahoma highlights how states' rules conflict.
By Nicholas Riccardi, Times Staff Writer
November 26, 2006




denver ? It was a note from the Oklahoma Health Department that started the chain of events that would propel Ed Swaya and Gregory Hampel into a federal court here.

The two men, partners for 13 years, had arranged through courts in their home state of Washington to adopt their daughter, Vivian, whose Oklahoma mother had agreed to give the baby to the two men when she was born in 2002.

When the couple asked Oklahoma to issue her birth certificate, the state sent a form with spaces for the names of the mother and father. Swaya and Hampel crossed out the categories and marked themselves as "parent #1" and "parent #2."

The state didn't accept it, and sent back the form. The couple then listed Hampel as the father and Swaya as the mother. Oklahoma rejected it, writing: "We could not establish maternity for Mr. Swaya."

Nonetheless, Oklahoma's attorney general warned that the state would have to honor the legal adoption order from Washington state.

The Legislature stepped in, passing a bill prohibiting the state from acknowledging adoptions by same-sex couples from other jurisdictions, setting the stage for a legal battle that some gay rights activists fear could become increasingly common as states seek to curtail the abilities of same-sex couples to adopt children.

Battles over such adoptions date back almost 30 years, to the Florida campaign led by singer Anita Bryant that sought and achieved that state's ban on adoption by gays in 1977. But, as with same-sex marriage, the legal situation involving adoption by gays remains fragmented across the country.

A handful of states, including Utah and Mississippi, have banned such adoptions over the years, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Other states, including California, permit such adoptions.

Courts have dealt with these bans in conflicting ways. In December 2004, a federal judge in Little Rock, Ark., struck down the state's ban on gay foster parenting and adoptions. Weeks later, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of a ruling upholding Florida's ban.

Same-sex adoptions became an issue in the governor's race in Arkansas this year, where both candidates called for reinstating the state's ban. The American Academy of Pediatrics says 16 other states discussed constitutional amendments to ban gay adoption this year.

Chris Stovall, senior legal counsel at the Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative public interest legal group, said legal issues surrounding adoption by same-sex couples were similar to those surrounding same-sex marriage. "These things are connected," he said. "Men and women do have different roles and contribute in different ways to the upbringing of a child."

Ken Upton, the attorney who sued Oklahoma for Swaya, Hampel and two other same-sex couples, also sees a similarity to the issue of same-sex marriage. "Foster care and adoption are what we see as battlegrounds in the conservative states," said Upton, a senior staff attorney for Lambda Legal, a gay rights group. "That's the next frontier for people trying to attack gay people."

Each side cites studies to bolster its stand. Opponents of gay adoption say research has shown that children thrive when they have parents of each gender. Gay rights groups say the same is true of children raised by same-sex couples, and they note that many of the largest family medicine groups, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Assn., say homosexual parenting does not have harmful effects on children.

Oklahoma already prohibited same-sex couples from adopting children when Swaya and Hampel learned through an adoption agency of a pregnant 19-year-old woman in Oklahoma City who planned to put her baby up for adoption. The couple wanted an open adoption, in which the birth mother would remain a part of their child's life. The two men flew to Oklahoma for the birth, met her family and returned to Seattle with their new daughter.

But because of the law passed in response to their quest for Vivian's birth certificate, Swaya and Hampel say, they cannot return to Oklahoma for their daughter to get to know her grandfather or other birth relatives. (They have in the past flown the birth mother to Seattle.)

"This is hurting my daughter and keeping families apart," Swaya, 37, a marriage and family counselor, said.

Swaya and Hampel sued Oklahoma, joined by two lesbian couples who adopted children in other states and then moved to Oklahoma to find those adoptions unrecognized. One couple, Lucy and Jennifer Doel, adopted their 6-year-old daughter in California in 2002. In the court case, the two cited an incident in which their daughter had to be rushed to the hospital in an ambulance and medical personnel said only the birth mother could accompany her.

Oklahoma officials could not be reached for comment last week, but in court papers they argued that their state had the right to set its own policy on adoptions by same-sex couples. They argued that the purpose of the law was "to halt the erosion of the mainstream definition of the family unit and provide the possibility for the optimal environment for the child's development in a home with a male parent and a female parent."

In May, a federal judge in Oklahoma found that the law did "little if anything to promote the traditional family unit" and attempted "to penalize the plaintiff children for the acts of their parents."

The law "in essence tells one of the adult plaintiffs, 'You are no longer the parent of your child,' " added U.S. District Court Judge Robin J. Cauthron.

On Nov. 17, the state argued before the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver that Cauthron's decision should be overturned. It could be several months before a ruling is issued.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
nicholas.riccardi@latimes.com
28596  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: November 26, 2006, 11:27:27 AM
IMHO the Eurabia theory cannot simply be wished away-- there does seem to be rational basis for it.  Yes it does make things harder for bringing Muslims into the mainstream-- just as ignoring certain realities does not make them go away.  Its a tough problem.

Anyway, here's this Quijote, which complements some of the points you are making.
=========

U.S. tour offers visitors lessons on tolerance
Eastern Europeans meet with community leaders in L.A. and across the nation as part of a program to foster ethnic relations at home.
By Teresa Watanabe, Times Staff Writer
November 26, 2006


If you think ethnic conflict is bad in Los Angeles, listen to the stories of recent visitors Aleksandar Milovanovic, Edin Colic and Gjylnaze Syla.

Milovanovic, a Serbian Christian, said Albanian Muslims expelled him from his land, decapitated his uncle and burned his family homes. Syla, a member of the Kosovo parliament in Serbia, said mobs burned her family homes and expelled her sister. Colic of Bosnia-Herzegovina said he went without sufficient food, healthcare, schooling and electricity for three years while Serbian military forces surrounded his native Sarajevo.

Having survived the terrors of ethnic cleansing, war and raging hatred as the former Yugoslavia broke up in the 1990s, the three Eastern Europeans came to Los Angeles recently to learn how this city manages its dizzying ethnic diversity and promotes pluralism and tolerance.

Among the lessons learned: Dialogue makes a difference. Networking among ethnic community groups to promote common interests is vital. And ducking the problems makes them worse."What I found out is that you have your problems here, but the U.S. addresses them," Syla said. "You see it. You face it. That's what makes America great. Europe is much slower to react."

The 10-day visit to a total of seven cities, co-sponsored by the American Jewish Committee, included meetings with city officials, Hollywood players, religious leaders and community activists from Latino, Asian American, black, gay and Jewish groups.

The committee's Rabbi Andy Baker said he began organizing the "Promoting Tolerance in Central and Eastern Europe" program in 1992 in collaboration with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation of Germany to help the region's developing democracies learn from U.S. experiences with diversity.

Jewish communities, which had suffered repression under the region's Communist rule, were beginning to see what Baker called populist anti-Semitism after the end of the Cold War. New press freedoms, for instance, opened the door to the republication of Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf" and other biased publications, Baker said.

"Freedom didn't suddenly bring understanding and appreciation of ethnic relations, as we saw in the former Yugoslavia," Baker said. "The challenge for us was what could we take from our experiences in America to benefit what was going on in these societies."

The program's 18 participants visited Capitol Hill and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.; toured Little Italy and the Jewish Lower East Side in New York City; and explored Olvera Street and Chinatown in Los Angeles. They also visited the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles and experienced Shabbat at the homes of local families.

Several participants, most of them young political leaders, said their meetings with ethnic and charitable organizations left some of the deepest impressions. In Washington, for instance, the group discussed race and ethnic issues with representatives from the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute, Japanese American Citizens League and the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People.

At the Skirball Center, a panel about Hollywood's effect on pluralism was a "big hit," according to Steve Addison, the American Jewish Committee's director of international relations in Los Angeles.

Vic Bulluck, executive director of the NAACP's Hollywood office, said he outlined how his organization serves as a watchdog over media portrayals of African Americans and works with other ethnic groups to push minority hiring.

And at the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center, Chief Executive Lorri L. Jean described the organization's successful legal fight more than three decades ago to win nonprofit status, which the federal government had denied, and its collaborative work with other groups to protest bias against immigrants, ethnic minorities and others.

To Julia Leferman, a National Liberal Party of Romania member, the dynamic role of U.S. nonprofit and community organizations in promoting tolerance was particularly instructive. In Romania, where the government officially recognizes 18 minority groups, people depend on the state to solve their problems, she said. She wondered aloud if the nation's Gypsies, formally known as Romas, might become more integrated into society with stronger networking among private minority organizations.

"In Romania, people depend on the state to solve their problems, including minorities," she said. "Here, communities are working together to better promote their interests without necessarily relying on the federal and state governments."

Milovanovic, a legal assistant at the Democratic Party of Serbia's Education Center, said he was impressed by discussions about common values and beliefs between Muslim and Jewish youth in Chicago.

"This is something we could do between Serbians and Albanians," he said. "We have so many common issues: unemployment, the pain we share on both sides. "It would require a lot of energy and strength to do this," he added, "but if we don't deal with it we'll be in constant danger of another cycle of violence."

And Colic, a political science student and Liberal Democratic party board member of Bosnia-Herzegovina, said he gained hope for the future between Bosnians and Serbs after seeing how the Jewish committee and German foundation had paired up to produce the tolerance program. He also was inspired by the educational power of the Holocaust Memorial, he said.

"We definitely need something like that so we can teach the next generation of kids what people can do to people ? so they can learn from the mistakes of their parents," he said. "I don't think it will happen soon, though, because everything is still fresh."

28597  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam the religion on: November 26, 2006, 11:21:51 AM
I wasn't sure where to put this interesting piece, so here it is:
============

Islam's unlikely soul mate -- the pope
Both bemoaning the West's secularism, Benedict XIV and Mideast Muslims have a shot at true dialogue.
By John L. Allen Jr., JOHN L. ALLEN JR. is the Vatican correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter and author of "The Rise of Benedict XVI."
November 26, 2006


Can jihad be redeemed? That is, can the religious and moral sense of purpose that often fuels Islamic extremism be leavened with a commitment to reason and peace, and can it be done without opening the door to gradual secularization? It's the

$64,000 question facing Islam, and it is, for the most part, one that only Muslims can answer.

One could make the case, however, that if anyone in the West can help, it's Pope Benedict XVI, despite the firestorm unleashed by his Sept. 12 comments on Islam. Benedict is the lone figure of global standing in the West who speaks from within the same thought-world that many Muslims sympathetic to the jihadists inhabit.

Benedict XVI will visit Turkey this week, his first trip to a majority Muslim state. And given the furor following his quotation of a 14th century Byzantine emperor that Muhammad brought "things only evil and inhuman," the pope will certainly have the Islamic world's attention. Much may ride on what he does with it.

A detour into the recent history of Islamic thought illustrates the potential for common ground.

Egyptian poet and essayist Sayyid Qutb, hanged by Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1966, is the father of modern Islamic radicalism. He spent 1948-50 in the United States attending Wilson Teachers College, the Colorado State College of Education (today the University of Northern Colorado) and Stanford University as part of an exchange program. Based on that experience, Qutb penned his famous tract, "The America I Have Seen," which still exercises a profound effect in shaping Muslim perceptions of American culture.

The work amounted to a ferocious attack on what Qutb called "the American man," depicted as obsessed with technology but virtually a barbarian in the realm of spirituality and human values. American society, for Qutb, was "rotten and ill" to its very core.

He wrote: "This great America: What is it worth in the scale of human values? And what does it add to the moral account of humanity? And, by the journey's end, what will its contribution be? I fear that a balance may not exist between America's material greatness and the quality of its people. And I fear that the wheel of life will have turned and the book of life will have closed and America will have added nothing, or next to nothing, to the account of morals that distinguishes man from object, and indeed, mankind from animals."

A particular zone of disgust for Qutb was what he saw as the sexual licentiousness of American culture (and this, bear in mind, was the early 1950s). He wrote that a society in which "immoral teachings and poisonous intentions are rampant" and in which sex is considered "outside the sphere of morality" is one in which "the humanity of man can hardly find a place to develop." Qutb said that "providing full opportunities for the development and perfection of human characteristics requires strong safeguards for the peace and stability of the family."

In general, Qutb's writing simmers with an outrage and extremism that no one would associate with the Old World, cerebral style of Joseph Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI. Yet for anyone familiar with Ratzinger's cultural criticism over the years, there is nevertheless something strikingly familiar in Qutb's polemic ? not so much with regard to America as with the West in general. What both figures share is a conviction that the West's cult of technology has produced a deep spiritual and moral crisis.

In his 1990 book, "In the Beginning," on the doctrine of creation, Ratzinger wrote of Western society: "The good and the moral no longer count, it seems, but only what one can do. The measure of a human being is what he can do, and not what he is, not what is good or bad. What he can do, he may do?. And that means that he is destroying himself and the world?. [The question] 'What can we do?' will be false and pernicious while we refrain from asking, 'Who are we?' The question of being and the question of our hopes are inseparable."

Ratzinger has even linked this argument to the question of birth control, saying that contraception is merely a mechanical solution to an ethical and cultural problem. In his 1997 book, "Salt of the Earth," he said: "One of our great perils [is] that we want to master the human condition with technology, that we have forgotten that there are primordial human problems that are not susceptible to technological solutions, but that demand a certain lifestyle and certain life decisions." Benedict XVI would thus find in Qutb a version ? admittedly in a sometimes irrational form ? of his own critique of the West.

This is the most compelling reason why Benedict's repeated insistence that he wants a "frank and sincere" dialogue with Islam is more than lip service. Fundamentally, the clash of cultures Benedict sees in the world today is not between Islam and the West but between belief and unbelief ? between a culture that grounds itself in God and religious belief and a culture that lives etsi Deus non daretur, "as if God does not exist." In that struggle, Benedict has long said, Muslims are natural allies.

Recently, for example, the Vatican vigorously protested a gay pride march in Jerusalem, arguing that such an event is "offensive to the great majority of Jews, Muslims and Christians." It's a classic example of an issue around which Benedict believes engagement with Muslims is possible.

Yet Benedict is also well aware that Islamic radicalism tends to discredit religious commitment in any form by associating it with violence and fanaticism. Hence, when Benedict presses Muslims to reject terrorism and to embrace religious liberty, he believes himself to be doing so not as a xenophobe or a crusader but as a friend of Islam, pressing it to realize the best version of itself.

That, no doubt, will be part of the argument he tries to make in Turkey.

If they could set aside their prejudices, at least some of the spiritual sons and daughters of Sayyid Qutb might well recognize a potential ally in Joseph Ratzinger ? and therein lies perhaps the last, best hope for Muslim-Christian dialogue under Benedict XVI.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
28598  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: November 26, 2006, 09:27:48 AM
Quijote:

The Thomas principle you cite has considerable merit of course.  Of course the flip side is sticking one's head in the sand or up one's butt when there really is a problem has its own drawbacks.  These are challenging times we live in.

I am reminded of mathematician Nash's prisoner's dilema game theory here and subsequent evolutions thereof.  In Nash's original thought experiement, the players play one time.  Do they choose win-win or zero sum?  Subsequent theoreticians of these things then researched what happens when the same players play each other repeatedly.  It turns out that the best strategy is "tit for tat"  i.e. I treat you as you treat me.  In an environment where the cultural context tends to assume win-win, then the first time the game is played, people tend to choose win-win.  Conversely, someone who plays win-win repeatedly in a zero sum environment tends to get fcuked.

For good people used to win-win mindset, the Thomas thereom you site seems self-evident.  But to repeatedly apply it with those who live by zero sum presents some real survival questions.

Marc

PS:  I would also add to the mix the economic policies that IIRC the French call "dirigiste" meaing a government directed quais-socialist economy.  IMHO these policies, such as extreme job security laws, high unemployment benefits, high mandated benefits, etc tend to be very destructive of job creation.  If I have my facts right, unemployment rates in countries such as France and Germany are over 10%, more than double that of the US.  (IIRC you are German, yet live in Switzerland (which is not part of the EU) because of the lack of job opportunity?)  In an environment lacking opportunity, exclusionary attitudes on the part of some are hard to avoid.
(A plausible case can be made that a part of the Paristinean Infitifada has much of its roots in these economics.)  Conversely, here in the US where job creation is much higher and unemployment much lower, Muslims are much better integrated.  Coincidence?  I suspect not.
28599  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Panantukan & Kali Tudo on: November 26, 2006, 09:06:39 AM
Keith:

I found the relevant thread on FMA & Boxing on page 10 at http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=206.0


Jeff:

You may find the following thread of interest:  http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=384.0

TAC!
28600  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Panantukan & Kali Tudo on: November 26, 2006, 08:56:17 AM
Woof Keith et al:

You wrote:

"Panantukan is my favorite aspect of the FMA's.  I love the way that the FMA empty-hand material is grafted so effectively onto a western boxing base."

Actually IMHO it goes the other way around-- boxing is an off-shoot of Panatukan.  (I suggest you go back and find the subtantial thread on this question-- I think you will find it well worth your time)  As a teacher my sense of things is that if someone installs boxing first there is a real risk that they will never truly operate in Panantukan mode.  My preference is to establish double stick first and then simply fight EH with those movements.  Equally valid are knife based Panantukan movements, the double stick movements are simply my personal preference alathough of course I do use some of the knife based movements.

"I recently purchased and have worked thru the Kali Tudo videos and was impressed with the content.  I'm looking to more installments in this series!"

Tail wags for the kind words-- and yes there are more installments in the pipeline  grin

"Having also seen and worked on the stick material, I know that the Dog Brother approach to some extent is to take the "traditional" drills and training methods and put them into the crucible of the fight and see what shakes out.   I've been impressed with the training drills that are presented on the stick videos that are obviously a "been there and done that" summary of what works.   So my question is this......How much of the Panantukan material has been found to hold up in a real fighting situation in the dog brother experience?   What has not been found to be reliably effective?"

Although some of my students have moments where they apply KT in the context of a DB fight, to be precise the basis for DB KT has been in my own EH sparring and in that of my students, especially Lonely Dog, DBMA Lakan Guro Jeff Brown (who has lots of other credentials as well) and C-DB Greg Brown (who currently is thinking about what name he wants).  My own experience has principally been at the R1 Gym and the code there quite properly excludes video cameras, so there is no footage of my research.  That said, IMHO Panatukan has considerable merit.

I suspect where the doubt originates for many people is that they have not hit people with sticks or knives with its movements, so when sparring EH they lack a certain understanding of application.  Thus efforts to apply it become "graftings" onto different idiomatic movements i.e. western boxing.


"On the Kali Tudo DVDs I didn't see limb destructions discussed.   Seems to me that this would be one aspect that would show up pretty well and really help the cage fighter.   After all, its very acceptable to pound a guy's quad with round kicks to reduce his mobility and kicking ability....why not pound a guy's biceps with elbow strikes to reduce his ability to punch?"

As you correctly note, many points are not addressed in our KT DVD.   I chose to emphasize footwork first-- which for most people requires quite a bit of focus in its own right.    Also, I wanted to communicate effectively with the MMA audience as well, and felt that putting in things such as destructions on top of the footwork would dilute the focus.  Limb destructions DO appear in DBMA's KT, but perhaps in a different way than you may be expecting wink

"Anyway....I realize that I have managed to write a rather rambling post."   

Not at all!

"The main thing I am interested is seeing discussed is the relationship between "traditional" Panantukan and the Kali Tudo approach to empty-hand fighting.   Thanks!"

Although there are/were good grappling methods in some of the FMA, my sense of things is that the modern MMA fighter takes grappling to a different level and that this requires adaptation on the part of Panantukan.  Modern MMA is full of people who drift shot under high line responses to strikes for single leg takedowns, double leg takedowns, fireman's carry throws, etc.  Against someone skillfully versed in such skills, to go for a noogie (venerable ancient term of my youth long ago in New York City) of the bicep may have a risky cost/benefit ratio.

Does this help?

TAC,
Guro Crafty

Keith
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