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28601  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Taliban targets children on: December 30, 2008, 08:57:14 AM

"Watch the video, you will see the suicide bomber weaving through the barriers designed to slow down vehicles. The school children are walking against the wall on the right, and are in clear view. The suicide bomber clearly had a view of the children - he was moving slowly enough. Yet he detonated his bomb just as the line of children passed by his car. "
Pakistan: The Khyber Pass and Western Logistics in Afghanistan
Stratfor Today » December 30, 2008 | 1811 GMT

A truck with supplies for U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan transiting the Khyber PassSummary
A Pakistani security operation that began early Dec. 30 has temporarily closed the Khyber Pass to truck convoys supplying U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. Though necessary, the operation is unlikely to address the larger issues of border and internal security meaningfully — especially while Indo-Pakistani tensions remain high.

Related Links
Countries in Crisis: Pakistan
Part 1: The Perils of Using Islamism to Protect the Core
Part 2: A Crisis in Indian-Pakistani Relations
Part 3: Making It on Its Own
The Geopolitics of India: A Shifting, Self-Contained World
Related Special Topic Pages
Militant Attacks In Mumbai and Their Consequences
Pakistani Democracy and the Army
Pakistani security forces began an operation before dawn Dec. 30 to root out militants and Taliban fighters in and around Khyber Agency who have raided NATO supply convoys and supply depots and begun operating in Peshawar, the capital of Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province. Just Dec. 29, these militants attacked tanker trucks bound for Afghanistan with rocket fire. As part of the Pakistani government operation, the critical Torkham crossing through the Khyber Pass has been temporarily closed to convoys carrying fuel and supplies for U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

This is not the first time that the Khyber Pass has been temporarily shut down. It was closed for two days in early September in protest of U.S. unmanned aerial vehicle strikes inside Pakistan. It also was closed for one day during a November security operation; when it reopened Nov. 17, paramilitary escorts from Pakistan’s Frontier Corps accompanied convoy traffic.

Ultimately, the November operation and the subsequent escorts have not done much to stem the rise in attacks — and little indicates that the new operation will be any more effective. While Islamabad has massed security forces in the area and reinforced them with armor and attack helicopters, overall it is drawing military units and personnel away from the Afghan border to reinforce the Indian border while tensions with New Delhi remain high. Already, some 20,000 Pakistani troops have been shifted to the Indian border.

While the government could make temporary security gains in Khyber Agency, an isolated operation there is hardly going to address the issues and problems underlying border security.

Of course, logistical disruptions are nothing new to Afghanistan. The geographically isolated country has long presented challenges for supply because it is so far from the sea and lacks transit infrastructure and links. The United States and NATO have long maintained stocks to deal with such interruptions, and those stockpiles recently have been increased. Statements from Western forces in Afghanistan suggest that there are at least several weeks’ worth of supplies on hand in country.
And though the United States and NATO have searched for alternative routes, there simply are few other options. Given that the United States and NATO are looking to pour additional forces into Afghanistan, this logistical burden will only get heavier.

At present, more than 300 container and tanker trucks combined generally cross into Afghanistan each day at two crossings. One is Torkham; the other is the Chamman crossing, which connects the Pakistani province of Balochistan with Afghanistan’s Kandahar province. The latter crossing remains open, though Kandahar remains an area of high Taliban activity. This is especially true of the Kandahar-Kabul province corridor, which trucks that otherwise would have used the Khyber Pass probably will use. More than 70 percent of the supplies used by U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan arrive via these two crossings.

Meanwhile, Pakistan is mired in a deep crisis with India just as the United States is looking to ratchet up pressure on Islamabad to tackle militants on the Afghan border. While the actions Washington and New Delhi are pressuring Islamabad to take — namely, rooting out corruption in the Inter-Services Intelligence agency and establishing its writ throughout its territory — are not contradictory, they mainly require military campaigns in different parts of Pakistan. Islamabad simply lacks the capacity to carry them all out, especially while Pakistan remains deeply insecure about India’s intentions and keeps the bulk of its frontline military forces parked on the Indian border.

And while the logistical problem the United States and NATO face in Pakistan is nothing new, given these new tensions, it is especially important for Islamabad to remind Washington of its importance. (Mechanisms in place for the coordination of military activity along the Afghan-Pakistani border make it very likely that the United States was forewarned about the closure and the security operation.) Pakistan thus might have carried out the closure for two reasons. First, it might have sought to remind the United States of just how critical Pakistan’s territory and cooperation are to the new U.S. focus on the Afghan campaign. Second, it might be trying to show that it is doing enough to establish and maintain security on the Afghan border to prevent Washington from writing Pakistan off as a lost cause.

During this particularly critical moment in the crisis with India, as New Delhi contemplates military action against Pakistan, Islamabad needs the United States to continue to act to restrain Indian military action rather than to take India’s side. And whether or not the Khyber closure will last for only a day or two as before, the closure serves as a reminder of the deep logistical challenges for Western forces in Afghanistan that lie ahead.
28602  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The American Creed: Our Founding Fathers: on: December 30, 2008, 08:44:31 AM
The book "Liberal Fascism" (the author's name slips my mind at the moment) discusses TR at some length.  TR was McCain's idol/hero.  After McCain's terrible response to the market meltdown I'm finding it less upsetting that he lost.

Bush, McCain, and BO all were/are Keynesians and with the utter stupidity, vapidity, and disingenuity of how the story of the meltdown is being told (the market did it rolleyes tongue angry angry angry angry) it looks like we are set to repeat the same policy errors of FDR and with the same results of FDR and the Japanese's "lost decades".

Our cultural memory of what this country is about grows dimmer and dimmer.
28603  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Solar winds at low on: December 30, 2008, 08:33:28 AM
Solar Wind Loses Power, Hits 50-year Low


Sept. 23, 2008: In a briefing today at NASA headquarters, solar physicists announced that the solar wind is losing power.

"The average pressure of the solar wind has dropped more than 20% since the mid-1990s," says Dave McComas of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas. "This is the weakest it's been since we began monitoring solar wind almost 50 years ago."

McComas is principal investigator for the SWOOPS solar wind sensor onboard the Ulysses spacecraft, which measured the decrease. Ulysses, launched in 1990, circles the sun in a unique orbit that carries it over both the sun's poles and equator, giving Ulysses a global view of solar wind activity:

   Solar Wind Loses Power, Hits 50-year Low

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Sept. 23, 2008: In a briefing today at NASA headquarters, solar physicists announced that the solar wind is losing power.
"The average pressure of the solar wind has dropped more than 20% since the mid-1990s," says Dave McComas of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas. "This is the weakest it's been since we began monitoring solar wind almost 50 years ago."
McComas is principal investigator for the SWOOPS solar wind sensor onboard the Ulysses spacecraft, which measured the decrease. Ulysses, launched in 1990, circles the sun in a unique orbit that carries it over both the sun's poles and equator, giving Ulysses a global view of solar wind activity:
Above: Global measurements of solar wind pressure by Ulysses. Green curves trace the solar wind in 1992-1998, while blue curves denote lower pressure winds in 2004-2008. [Larger image]

Curiously, the speed of the million mph solar wind hasn't decreased much—only 3%. The change in pressure comes mainly from reductions in temperature and density. The solar wind is 13% cooler and 20% less dense.
"What we're seeing is a long term trend, a steady decrease in pressure that began sometime in the mid-1990s," explains Arik Posner, NASA's Ulysses Program Scientist in Washington DC.

How unusual is this event?
"It's hard to say. We've only been monitoring solar wind since the early years of the Space Age—from the early 60s to the present," says Posner. "Over that period of time, it's unique. How the event stands out over centuries or millennia, however, is anybody's guess. We don't have data going back that far."
Flagging solar wind has repercussions across the entire solar system—beginning with the heliosphere.

The heliosphere is a bubble of magnetism springing from the sun and inflated to colossal proportions by the solar wind. Every planet from Mercury to Pluto and beyond is inside it. The heliosphere is our solar system's first line of defense against galactic cosmic rays. High-energy particles from black holes and supernovas try to enter the solar system, but most are deflected by the heliosphere's magnetic fields.

Right: The heliosphere. Click to view a larger image showing the rest of the bubble.
"The solar wind isn't inflating the heliosphere as much as it used to," says McComas. "That means less shielding against cosmic rays."
In addition to weakened solar wind, "Ulysses also finds that the sun's underlying magnetic field has weakened by more than 30% since the mid-1990s," says Posner. "This reduces natural shielding even more."

Unpublished Ulysses cosmic ray data show that, indeed, high energy (GeV) electrons, a minor but telltale component of cosmic rays around Earth, have jumped in number by about 20%.
from the WT forum:
An increase in Cosmic Ray Flux (CRF) means more low cloud formation due to ionizing radiation producing ions which cause water vapor to condense on them. This causes a net cooling. There have been several controlled studies on this with the major test coming up next year in the EU. If this test works out and confirms the theory on CRF, then C02 induced climate feedback will get tossed in the trash.

There is a very high correlation between temperature changes on the Earth and CRF rates. In very short timescales, CRF is controlled by the sun with higher CRF occurring during low sunspot counts. On longer timescales, CRF is controlled by the Solar System's location within the Milky Way galaxy - with times within the spiral arms being high CRF (cold periods) and times between the arms as low CRF ( warm periods). In between these two timescales is the Milankovitch Cycle.

You can google "cosmic rays cloud formation" for more information. Here is an infamous article that really set the stage for this publicly.

You can watch the hourly and monthly CRF averages here.

Sunspot counts and climate. Plus, a prediction.
28604  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ on: December 29, 2008, 04:03:55 PM
Israel's air assault on Gaza in response to Hamas rocket attacks is inspiring familiar international denunciations. But the best commentary we've heard might be this one: "If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I would do everything to stop that, and would expect Israel to do the same thing."

Northern Gaza Strip as seen from Netiv Hasara, Israel, Dec. 27, 2008.
Barack Obama said those words in July while visiting Israel as a Presidential candidate.

Now as President-elect, Mr. Obama is maintaining an appropriate silence while deferring to the Bush Administration before his Inauguration. But his July remarks capture the essence of Israel's right to self-defense. Moreover, the more successful Israel is this week in damaging Hamas as a terrorist force, the better chance Mr. Obama will have to make progress in facilitating a genuine Mideast peace.

Naturally, the conventional diplomatic and journalistic wisdom is that the longer the fight goes on the more difficult the "peace process" becomes. The usual suspects at the United Nations are condemning Israel and blaming it for "excessive" force. Even Nicolas Sarkozy -- who holds the rotating European Union presidency and is considered Israel-friendly for a French president -- criticized Jerusalem's "disproportionate" response.

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But as Michael Oren and Yossi Klein Halevi explain, the Israeli public isn't about to make territorial concessions on the West Bank or the Golan Heights if Gaza is allowed to become a neighboring terrorist state that can launch attacks with impunity. Israel has already had a bad enough experience letting that happen with Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon. Meanwhile, the stronger Hamas becomes, the more resistance Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will face to making any concessions to Israel.

The chronology of this latest violence is important to understand. Israel withdrew both its soldiers and all of its settlers from Gaza in August 2005. Hamas won its internal power struggle with Mr. Abbas's Fatah organization to control Gaza in 2007. Since 2005 Hamas has fired some 6,300 rockets at Israeli civilians from Gaza, killing 10 and wounding more than 780.

Hamas did agree to a six-month cease-fire earlier this year, during which the rocket attacks declined in number but never completely stopped. But Hamas refused to extend the truce past December 19, and the group has since resumed attacks, firing nearly 300 missiles, rockets and mortars. The 250,000 Israelis in the southern part of the country live under constant threat, often in bomb shelters, and the economy has suffered. Yet the world's media seem to pay attention only when Israel responds to that Hamas barrage.

Israel's air assault has resulted in more Palestinian casualties, but that is in part because Hamas deliberately locates its security forces in residential neighborhoods. This is intended both to deter Israel from attacking in the first place as well as to turn world opinion against the Jewish state when it does attack. By all accounts, however, the Israeli strikes have hit their targets precisely enough to do significant damage to Hamas forces -- both to its leadership and, on Sunday, to the tunnels from Gaza to Egypt that Hamas uses to smuggle in weapons and build its growing army.

In Today's Opinion Journal


Israel's Gaza DefenseOrszag's Health WarningSudan's Slaves


The Americas: Hollywood Celebrates Che Guevara
– Mary Anastasia O'Grady


Palestinians Need Israel to Win
– Michael B. Oren and Yossi Klein Halevi'Stimulus' Doesn't Have to Mean Pork
– Clifford WinstonThe War on Terror Has Not Gone Away
– Thane RosenbaumCarbon Limits, Yes; Energy Subsidies, No
– William Tucker
Hamas claims the goal of its rocket attacks is merely to force Israel to ease its strict travel restrictions into and out of Gaza. But those restrictions are intended to prevent suicide bombers from blowing up Israeli citizens in cafes as they did during the intifadah earlier this decade. If Hamas wants its people to have freer movement, it can stop sponsoring terror killings.

Even as Arab leaders have formally condemned Israel's attacks, they have also noted Hamas's escalation. Mr. Abbas yesterday said "We talked to them [Hamas] and we told them 'please, we ask you, do not end the truce. Let the truce continue and not stop' so that we could have avoided what happened." Egypt's Foreign Minister, Ahmed Abul Gheit, assailed Israel's air strikes but also held Hamas responsible. They understand that Hamas, like Hezbollah, is increasingly allied with Iran and its goals for fomenting regional instability.

Israel itself faces a difficult decision of whether to escalate with a ground attack on Gaza. That would help further diminish Hamas, though at the cost of more casualties and greater international disapproval. The worst outcome would be a ground assault, a la the one in Lebanon in 2006, that stirred anti-Israel sentiment but stopped short of achieving its military goals.

The Bush Administration's support for Israel is welcome, though we should note the violence comes at the end of a four-year Bush effort to midwife a Palestinian peace. There's a lesson here for Mr. Obama, who is about to discover that the terrorists of the Middle East aren't about to change their radical ambitions merely because America has a new President.
28605  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / T.Parsons on: December 29, 2008, 12:16:25 PM

"We have duties, for the discharge of which we are accountable to our Creator
and benefactor, which no human power can cancel. What those duties are, is
determinable by right reason, which may be, and is called, a well informed

--Theophilus Parsons the Essex Result, 1778
28606  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: December 29, 2008, 12:08:48 PM
Forgive me CCP, but I am baffled why you would post such twaddle.

Hamas, in contravention to "Palestine's" international legal obligations, is dedicated to the destruction of Israel.  Exactly why is Israel supposed to faciliate it and its actions towards that end? 
28607  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ on: December 29, 2008, 11:58:06 AM
December 29, 2008

In today's Political Diary:

- Not Ready for SNL
- Overslept at Oversight
- A Transition to Remember (Quote of the Day I)
- Obama and the Age of Miracles (Quote of the Day II)
- Health Care, Chicago-Style

Caroline's 168 'You Knows'

When Sarah Palin gave a disastrous interview to CBS's Katie Couric, the national news media quickly jumped on the Alaska governor to declare her "not ready for prime time." Her verbal tics -- unusual sentence construction and a broad accent -- were skewered week after week on "Saturday Night Live."

Caroline Kennedy has largely avoided such ridicule in her quest to be appointed to replace Hillary Clinton as New York's Senator. The 51-year-old author and fundraiser has studiously ducked the media for years. Finally, barraged by criticism that she wasn't answering questions, she surfaced over the weekend to give a series of media interviews. They didn't go well. In fact, if the Palin standard were applied, Ms. Kennedy would be roundly judged unsuited for the national political stage.

Ms. Kennedy told the cable channel New York One that much of what makes a U.S. Senator effective are skills at "communication." But she utterly failed to articulate a reasonable case for why she should be placed in the U.S. Senate with no elective experience. "It's really, you know, it's not about just the Kennedy name," she said. "It's about my own work and what I've done with those values. . . . I just hope everybody understands that. . . . I have a lifelong devotion to public service."

But what raised the eyebrows of many people were Ms. Kennedy's verbal tics. In the space of the 30-minute NY One interview, she used the words "you know" a total of 168 times. In some sentences, she would employ that "filler" phrase three times.

A speaking problem such as hers can be cured and it's nothing to be made fun of. But as speech specialist Susan Ward notes: "Using excessive fillers is the most irritating speech habit. . . . They distract your listener often to the point that he doesn't hear anything you say. Your message is entirely lost."

Nor was her NY One interview an exception. Both the New York Daily News and the New York Times, which published reports on interviews with her on Sunday, noted her excessive use of "you know" and "um." But columnist Michael Goodwin of the Daily News was one of the few media analysts to report clearly on the problems surrounding her candidacy: "Her quest is becoming a cringe-inducing experience, as painful to watch as it must be to endure. Because she is the only survivor of that dreamy time nearly 50 years ago, she remains an iconic figure. But in the last few days, her mini-campaign has proved she has little to offer New Yorkers except her name."

Although critics have largely tiptoed around her liabilities, the general public is catching on that Camelot's Empress is under-dressed for her role. The Web site InTrade, which takes bets on the likelihood of political events, had her odds of being appointed by Governor Paterson at 85% just ten days ago. Now they are listed at just over 50%.

Ms. Kennedy is lucky that her status has spared her most of the verbal abuse that was heaped on Sarah Palin, but her qualification problems are big enough that she must now realize that the level of criticism -- especially from resentful New York Democrats -- is about to ramp up dramatically.

-- John Fund

While Edolphus Slept

President-elect Barack Obama has vowed a new war on "waste, fraud and abuse" within the federal government when he takes office.

But government reformers on both the left and right aren't expecting a major player in that fight to be the new chairman of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee. Rep. Edolphus Towns, a 74-year-old Democrat from New York, is set to take over from Rep. Henry Waxman in January, after the California Democrat moves over to take the helm of the powerful Commerce Committee.

While Mr. Waxman was viewed as an often-partisan figure, no one doubted his energy as he conducted dozens of hearings into management of the Iraq war, pay packages on Wall Street and conflicts of interest within the Bush administration. But Mr. Towns was seldom a part of those meetings. USA Today reports that he attended only 12 of the committee's 74 oversight hearings in the last two years. That included skipping four of the six sessions recently on the country's economic meltdown.

Mr. Towns, who has been in the House since 1982, blames his poor attendance on overlapping duties related to another committee assignment. But every member of Congress serves on two or three committees and usually manages to reconcile their demands.

Rep. Darrell Issa of California, the new ranking Republican on the investigative committee, told me he is revamping the GOP staff by recruiting group of new investigators to make up for what he expects will be a lack of aggressive oversight of the incoming Obama administration. "Congressional oversight hasn't been handled well under both Democratic and Republican administrations in recent years," he told me. "I hope the media and public demands a higher standard going forward."

-- John Fund

Quote of the Day I

"You can't move the ball forward if you don't have a team working together. That's a big challenge for every president. You know, you look at George W. Bush's first year in office: There was not a single leak, not a single story written in the Washington Post or the New York Times, not a single one quoting unattributed, unnamed White House sources. And that's an incredible testament to everybody pulling on the same oar at the same time that you have to have to move your agenda forward in this very complex policy environment in Washington" -- Terry Sullivan, executive director of the University of North Carolina's White House Transition Project, on what President-elect Barack Obama could learn from his predecessor, in a Q&A with National Journal magazine.

Quote of the Day II

"By July, we will come to feel that 2009 will be one of the most upbeat years in our history, as what used to be the news media begins to get behind America and report on all the mysteriously wonderful things that are suddenly taking place . . . . 'Depression' will transmogrify into 'recession' which in turn by July will be a 'downturn' and by year next an 'upswing' on its way to boom times. Indeed, almost supernaturally crises will be solved with the departure of the hated Bush. . . . Static, same-old, same-old government policy will, of course, be said to have altered radically ('hoped and changed'), but it will also be refashioned in the media as 'sober' and 'judicious', as the administration moves 'in circumspect fashion' to probe and explore 'complex' and often 'paradoxical' matters of national security that 'indeed at the end of the day have no easy answers'" -- historian Victor Davis Hanson, writing at on the next phase of Obama cheerleading in the media.

Blago's Health-Care Model

If Barack Obama hears footsteps, it might just be shoes dropping in Gov. Rod Blagojevich's pay-to-play scandal.

On Saturday, The Wall Street Journal dug this little nugget out of the 76-page criminal complaint filed against Mr. Blagojevich a few weeks ago: Allegedly as part of his scams, Blago exploited an "ethics reform" law that was ushered through the state legislature in 2003 by . . . Mr. Obama. Back then, Mr. Obama was a mere state senator and his reform -- cutting the number of people who serve on a government board overseeing hospital construction -- seemed innocuous at the time. Now it seems it may have allowed the governor to stack the board with individuals willing to hold up construction projects on his say-so, allegedly while he extracted campaign contributions in exchange for green lighting the projects.

No one has credibly claimed wrongdoing on Mr. Obama's part. But sensational corruption allegations are only part of the story unfolding in Illinois. Mr. Blagojevich came into office six years ago promising clean government and also made a signature issue of expanded government health care. The governor saw the two issues -- ethics and government health care -- as intertwined. He even announced his biggest health-care initiative from the pulpit of a downtown church in Chicago two years ago. His plan was to enact a massive tax increase to pay for the creation of a nearly-universal health-care program, but it floundered in the legislature in no small part because of the personal animus he had built up with legislative leaders. That was a lucky break for Illinois taxpayers in more ways than one: Imagine the pay-to-play boodle that his office might have extracted from billions of dollars in new health-care contracts his administration would have been writing these past two years.

All this circles back to Mr. Obama on the policy level. The Chicago pol will be sweeping into Washington next month with the intention of enacting a massive new universal health-care program. On both sides of the aisle in recent years, massive government expenditures from highways to defense contracts have almost invariably led to wasteful earmarks and even out-and-out corruption of the sort behind the bumper crop of recent indictments and convictions of federal lawmakers. Back in Illinois, Mr. Blagojevich reminds us that the altruistic intentions of politicians aside, pricey new government run health-care programs are likely to be no exception.

-- Brendan Miniter
28608  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: December 28, 2008, 02:18:07 PM
Peace through victory is the only option left to Israel.
28609  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: December 27, 2008, 11:07:30 PM
That article is profoundly and tragically true. cry cry cry
28610  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: December 27, 2008, 03:57:54 PM
Africa: Obama's Victory, Our Hypocrisy

Chris Agbiti
26 December 2008

November 4th, 2008 will, undoubtedly go down in world history as epoch making.

It was a day that signposted the final internment of the age-long divisive philosophy that held one race superior to another (apology to the legend, Bob Marley); it was a day the entire world came together, irrespective of creed and religion, to recite Dune Dimitis (however, not with long faces) for the monster of racial discrimination that had for long defined the political climate of America but now chased away; it was the day Barack Hussein Obama won in landslide, the U.S Presidential election.

The U.S. Presidential Election has come and gone but the echoes of it continue to reverberate in every nook and cranny of Africa especially in Kenya where Obama traces his patrilineal descent from. The euphoria of Obama's victory will for long continue its ripples in the Negroid race of Africa.

However, the point is worth making that for the Americans, the euphoria of joy sweeping through its entire nation is understandable: That, at last, someone who has a clear vision and a good grasp of the issues that need to be addressed to restore U.S. lost glory, consequent upon the lacklustre performance of the out-going president, was not held back from realizing that ambition by prejudices. But for Africans, what other reason beside the sentimental consideration that a fellow brother African now becomes President of U.S., can we adduce to bedrocks our own euphoria at the election of Obama?

If one may ask, what business do African countries, together with their stinking leaders, have in rejoicing over Obama's victory at the U.S. poll when we know in our hearts of hearts that we will never allow the kind of system that has produced Obama in U.S. election to be replicated in our own land?

Or, are we under a delusion that, with Obama's presidency, African countries shall wake up one morning, like the fabled Alice in Wonderland, and find all the good things of life in sufficiency for all as obtain in the western world, even while our leaders and people continue in their culture of greed, corruption, ethnic hostilities and all such practices antithetical to the dictate of modern civilization?

It bears repeating to state here that it borders on crass hypocrisy for African countries such as Zambia, Ivory Coast, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Nigeria, et al, to rejoice at Obama's victory even when they are all still involved in various acts of prejudices, this time around, not even against a coloured person but against their own black brothers.

We have witnessed instances in Zambia where the first post independent Kenneth Kaunda had his citizenship withdrawn on the allegation that his ancestry is somewhere in another African country! Similar acts have played out in Ivory Coast and Nigeria (Shugaba's case). The xenophobic hostilities in South Africa and Zimbabwe are all still fresh in our memories. Africans must be reminded not to expect too much from the presidency of Obama any more than they expected from the presidency of Bill Clinton.

Our only obvious claim to Obama is his blood ties to his Kenyan father. But we must call to memory that, for all the time the elder Obama lived, his conduct in juxtaposition to what Obama Jr. is and stands for today shows, in very lucid details, those sad commentaries of a pure bred African man. The elder Obama came to America and deceitfully led Obama's mother into marriage, even while he was already married to another Kenya woman back home.

He was to later abandon Obama's mother and returned to Kenya, leaving young Obama in the care of his maternal grandparents in America. It was recorded that he died drunk-driving. Should Obama's father were to be alive, one imagines that he too may be rejoicing just like the other African leaders are hypocritically doing.

We must stop deceiving ourselves. It is high time we told ourselves a few home truths. Whatever Obama is today or stands for, he owes it all to the American society.

If he were to be brought up in Kenya, his fatherland, with all his seeming immeasurable grace of intelligence, he would have ended up, at best, as a very brilliant but frustrated university don holed up somewhere in one of our glorified secondary schools, called university, like many other frustrated Obamas in our African society today. The American society that shaped Obama to become what he is to day places a higher premium of kinship of ideas over and above that of blood.

That explains the acceptance of Obama's candidature across the racial divides. If Obama were not of the rare breed of mankind (who recreates themselves independent of genetic force), he would not even be identifying his African root. It is only for Obama's high sense of humility and decency that he does so and I commend him for it. Africans must be reminded that as we cheer Obama's victory, we must cast away that extra baggage of hypocrisy and begin to reflect on the need for us to home-grow a system similar to what sustains in the U.S. that has made possible the Obama phenomenon.

The world today is ruled by ideas. It is not enough for us bank on blood kinship to Obama and think that alone will be the open sesame to our El Dorado.

In today's modern world, kinship of ideas, as aforesaid, rather than of blood or ethnicity is one of the driving force of attraction. In doing so, we must remind ourselves that until we jettison that negative attitude that encourages subjugation of fellow man rather than our environment which is what the white man has effectively achieved, we shall continue in our collective grope.

Chris Agbiti wrote from Port Harcourt.
28611  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Coming Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: December 27, 2008, 03:47:22 PM
Arguably it IS effective-- at least some are intimidated.
28612  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Rick Warren on: December 27, 2008, 01:58:39 AM
The most thoughtful and interesting debate of the two-year-long presidential campaign occurred last August at Saddleback Church between John McCain and Barack Obama, moderated by Saddleback pastor Rick Warren. So it is notable that President-elect Obama's choice of Rick Warren to give the invocation at his Inauguration next month has brought forth hyperpartisan invective from the Democratic left. It has spent the past week conveying to the world its disappointment and disgust with the choice of Pastor Warren because he opposes gay marriage and abortion.

APJoe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said that "By inviting Rick Warren to your Inauguration, you have tarnished the view that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender [LGBT] Americans have a place at your table."

The head of People for the American Way, Kathryn Kolbert, is "deeply disappointed." She says Mr. Obama should have picked someone with "consistent mainstream American values."

Perhaps the most telling comment came from a "very disappointed" Rep. Barney Frank, who pointed out that during the campaign Senator Obama's "stated commitment to LGBT rights won him the strong support of the great majority of those who support that cause." Mr. Frank is putting down a marker; the left will monitor whether the new President deserves their continued support after the Warren-blessed Inauguration.

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During the famous and corrosive Culture Wars, both sides accused the other of unremitting intolerance. Our own longstanding view has been that conferring protected legal status on the most politicized issues in those disputes, such as abortion and gay marriage, properly belongs inside the political system of the states, where diverse populations can work toward a political settlement.

Californians did so in November when they voted to pass Prop. 8, in effect disapproving of legal status for gay marriage. Rick Warren, an evangelical minister, as well as the Mormon Church worked for Prop. 8's passage. It won by about 52% to 47%.

Afterwards, some gay leaders said their side would have to work harder to make more voters understand their arguments. More publicized, though, were the acts of retribution taken by gay activists in California against individuals whom campaign-contributions showed to have supported Prop. 8. Some were forced out of their jobs.

For about a generation, many on the left have believed that active and unapologetic intolerance of the right was justified because its views on matters such as abortion and gay rights were simply unacceptable. This moral somersault may work for them, but to the average American voter, a full-throated assault on the likes of Rick Warren for being "wrong" on two of many issues looks like simple intolerance.

The person in this drama for whom the leftwing Democratic habit of moralized intolerance could be a problem is Barack Obama. The left loaded up heavily in its support of candidate Obama, first against the Clinton machine -- always thought to be too willing to compromise with the center -- and then in the general campaign. These elements in the Democratic Party know what they want Barack Obama to deliver on judges, the environment, global warming and lifestyle rights litigation.

Mr. Obama's choice of Rick Warren for the Inaugural's invocation suggests that he is intent on using the momentum of his remarkable victory to build a governing coalition for the long haul. The silver lining for Republicans may be that the left won't let him do that.
28613  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Lionel Tiger: Monkeys and Utopia on: December 27, 2008, 01:52:53 AM
Reveries about human perfection do not exist solely in the enthusiastic systems confected by Karl Marx, or in the REM sleep of Hugo Chávez, or through the utopian certainties of millenarians. There has been a persistent belief through countless societies that life is better, much better, somewhere else. In some yet-unfound reality there is an expression of our best natures -- our loving, peaceful, lyrically fair human core.

Anthropologists have been at the center of this quest, its practitioners sailing off to find that elusive core of perfection everywhere else corrupted by civilization. In the 1920s, Margaret Mead found it in Samoa, where the people, she said, enjoyed untroubled lives. Adolescents in particular were not bothered by the sexual hang-ups that plague our repressive society. Decades later an Australian researcher, Derek Freeman, retraced her work and successfully challenged its validity. Still, Mead's work and that of others reinforced the notion that our way of life was artificial, inauthentic, just plain wrong.

Enter primatology, which provided yet more questions about essential hominid nature -- and from which species we could, perhaps, derive guidance about our inner core. First studied in the wild were the baboons, which turned out to have harsh power politics and sexual inequity. Then Jane Goodall brought back heartwarming film of African chimps who were loving, loyal, fine mothers, with none of the militarism of the big bad baboons. But her subjects were well fed, and didn't need to scratch for a living in their traditional way. Later it became clear that chimps in fact formed hunting posses. They tore baby baboons they captured limb from limb, and seemed to enjoy it.

In Today's Opinion Journal


Rick Warren, Obama and the LeftA Rigged Auction DerailedPlankton Watch


Declarations: A Year for the Books
– Peggy Noonan


There's No Pain-Free Cure for Recession
– Peter SchiffCross Country: All I Wanted for Christmas Was a Newspaper
– Paul MulshineOf Monkeys and Utopia
– Lionel TigerWhere to look now for that perfect, pacifistic and egalitarian core? Franz de Waal, a talented and genial primatologist, observed the behavior of bonobos at Emory University's primate lab in the 1980s. These chimpanzees, he found, engaged in a dramatic amount of sexual activity both genital and oral, heterosexual and homosexual -- and when conflicts threatened to arise a bout of sex settled the score and life went on. Bonobos made love, not war. No hunting, killing, male dominance, or threats to the sunny paradise of a species so closely related to us. His research attracted enormous attention outside anthropology. Why not? How can this lifestyle not be attractive to those of us struggling on a committee, in a marriage, and seeking lubricious resolution?

Alas, Mr. de Waal also hadn't studied his species in the wild. And, with a disappointing shock in some quarters, for the past five years bonobos have been studied in their natural habitat in a national park in the Congo.

There, along with colleagues, Gottfried Hohman of the Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig has seen groups of bonobos engage in clearly willful and challenging hunts. Indeed, female bonobos took full part in the some 10 organized hunts which have been observed thus far. Another paradise lost.

Reveries about hidden human perfection centered in primate life have been sharply curtailed by what we've learned about the Malibu ape -- when it seeks its own food, doesn't live in an easy-hook-up dormitory, and may confront severe challenges in life.

Bonobo, we hardly know you.

Mr. Tiger is the Charles Darwin professor of anthropology at Rutgers University.
28614  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Making friends and influencing people on: December 27, 2008, 01:51:03 AM
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Little Teapot 
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 Viagra Helps CIA Win Friends in Afghanistan


Washington Post
By Joby Warrick
updated 6:01 a.m. ET Dec. 26, 2008

The Afghan chieftain looked older than his 60-odd years, and his bearded face bore the creases of a man burdened with duties as tribal patriarch and husband to four younger women. His visitor, a CIA officer, saw an opportunity, and reached into his bag for a small gift.

Four blue pills. Viagra.

"Take one of these. You'll love it," the officer said. Compliments of Uncle Sam.

The enticement worked. The officer, who described the encounter, returned four days later to an enthusiastic reception. The grinning chief offered up a bonanza of information about Taliban movements and supply routes — followed by a request for more pills. For U.S. intelligence officials, this is how some crucial battles in Afghanistan are fought and won. While the CIA has a long history of buying information with cash, the growing Taliban insurgency has prompted the use of novel incentives and creative bargaining to gain support in some of the country's roughest neighborhoods, according to officials directly involved in such operations.

'Whatever it takes'
In their efforts to win over notoriously fickle warlords and chieftains, the officials say, the agency's operatives have used a variety of personal services. These include pocketknives and tools, medicine or surgeries for ailing family members, toys and school equipment, tooth extractions, travel visas, and, occasionally, pharmaceutical enhancements for aging patriarchs with slumping libidos, the officials said.

"Whatever it takes to make friends and influence people — whether it's building a school or handing out Viagra," said one longtime agency operative and veteran of several Afghanistan tours. Like other field officers interviewed for this article, he spoke on the condition of anonymity when describing tactics and operations that are largely classified.

Officials say these inducements are necessary in Afghanistan, a country where warlords and tribal leaders expect to be paid for their cooperation, and where, for some, switching sides can be as easy as changing tunics. If the Americans don't offer incentives, there are others who will, including Taliban commanders, drug dealers and even Iranian agents in the region.
The usual bribes of choice — cash and weapons — aren't always the best options, Afghanistan veterans say. Guns too often fall into the wrong hands, they say, and showy gifts such as money, jewelry and cars tend to draw unwanted attention.

"If you give an asset $1,000, he'll go out and buy the shiniest junk he can find, and it will be apparent that he has suddenly come into a lot of money from someone," said Jamie Smith, a veteran of CIA covert operations in Afghanistan and now chief executive of SCG International, a private security and intelligence company. "Even if he doesn't get killed, he becomes ineffective as an informant because everyone knows where he got it."

The key, Smith said, is to find a way to meet the informant's personal needs in a way that keeps him firmly on your side but leaves little or no visible trace.

"You're trying to bridge a gap between people living in the 18th century and people coming in from the 21st century," Smith said, "so you look for those common things in the form of material aid that motivate people everywhere."

Sex as a motivator
Among the world's intelligence agencies, there's a long tradition of using sex as a motivator. Robert Baer, a retired CIA officer and author of several books on intelligence, noted that the Soviet spy service was notorious for using attractive women as bait when seeking to turn foreign diplomats into informants.

"The KGB has always used 'honey traps,' and it works," Baer said. For American officers, a more common practice was to offer medical care for potential informants and their loved ones, he said. "I remember one guy we offered an option on a heart bypass," Baer said.

For some U.S. operatives in Afghanistan, Western drugs such as Viagra were just part of a long list of enticements available for use in special cases. Two veteran officers familiar with such practices said Viagra was offered rarely, and only to older tribal officials for whom the drug would hold special appeal. While such sexual performance drugs are generally unavailable in the remote areas where the agency's teams operated, they have been sold in some Kabul street markets since at least 2003 and were known by reputation elsewhere.

"You didn't hand it out to younger guys, but it could be a silver bullet to make connections to the older ones," said one retired operative familiar with the drug's use in Afghanistan. Afghan tribal leaders often had four wives — the maximum number allowed by the Koran — and aging village patriarchs were easily sold on the utility of a pill that could "put them back in an authoritative position," the official said.

Both officials who described the use of Viagra declined to discuss details such as dates and locations, citing both safety and classification concerns.

'Think out of the box'
The CIA declined to comment on methods used in clandestine operations. One senior U.S. intelligence official familiar with the agency's work in Afghanistan said the clandestine teams were trained to be "resourceful and agile" and to use tactics "consistent with the laws of our country."

"They learn the landscape, get to know the players, and adjust to the operating environment, no matter where it is," the official said. "They think out of the box, take risks, and do what's necessary to get the job done."

Not everyone in Afghanistan's hinterlands had heard of the drug, leading to some awkward encounters when Americans delicately attempted to explain its effects, taking care not to offend their hosts' religious sensitivities.

Such was the case with the 60-year-old chieftain who received the four pills from a U.S. operative. According to the retired operative who was there, the man was a clan leader in southern Afghanistan who had been wary of Americans — neither supportive nor actively opposed. The man had extensive knowledge of the region and his village controlled key passages through the area. U.S. forces needed his cooperation and worked hard to win it, the retired operative said.

After a long conversation through an interpreter, the retired operator began to probe for ways to win the man's loyalty. A discussion of the man's family and many wives provided inspiration. Once it was established that the man was in good health, the pills were offered and accepted.  Four days later, when the Americans returned, the gift had worked its magic, the operative recalled.

"He came up to us beaming," the official said. "He said, 'You are a great man.' And after that we could do whatever we wanted in his area."
28615  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Class at Inosanto Academy on: December 27, 2008, 12:59:57 AM
Woof All:

The kids were playing Laser Tag in Cindy's office this AM and knocked out our internet connection.  Cindy just hooked up the lap top-- all this by way of explaining that I would have been reminding people this AM that there is no class tomorrow.   embarassed

Guro Crafty
28616  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Intervention goes sideways on: December 26, 2008, 08:01:29 AM

Beach brawl suspect to be charged with murder

Saturday night fight ended in man's death

Kris Wernowsky • • December 24, 2008
Ryan Toole, 28, who spent about two months this year training as a mixed martial arts fighter, is charged in the death of Michael Chesney, 32. A conviction on the charge carries a possible state prison term of 20 years to life.
Chesney never regained consciousness after the fight early Saturday morning and spent the last hours of his life at Baptist Hospital in intensive care. The Beulah man was taken off life support early Sunday.
Toole's family has retained veteran criminal defense attorney Barry Beroset to represent him.

Beroset said Tuesday he could not speak about the details of his meeting with Toole, but he said his client's family is concerned about the well-being of Chesney's family.

"It's a very unfortunate situation for the family of this young man," Beroset said.

Attempts to reach Chesney's family Tuesday were unsuccessful. His visitation is scheduled for Friday.  Assistant State Attorney David Rimmer said he has reviewed transcriptions of six interviews, including statements from Toole and other witnesses, about the altercation. 

Escambia County Sheriff's Office homicide investigator Chris Baggett expects Toole will be allowed to surrender as early as today on the new charge.  The second-degree murder charge could lead to an increased bond for Toole, who originally was arrested on a count of second-degree attempted murder. He posted a $25,000 bond Sunday.

While Rimmer contends Chesney likely died when the back of his head struck the pavement and not directly because of the punch delivered by Toole, he says the act itself supports the new charge.

"It's going to be the state's position that Ryan Toole caused that to happen," he said. "If you push somebody off a 10-story building, hitting the ground may have killed them. But the mere act that someone pushed them means they can be held liable."

Toole was involved in an altercation with a woman outside The Islander on Pensacola Beach early Saturday. Chesney and a friend, Jason Campbell, 35, intervened about 2:40 a.m., the Sheriff's Office said.

Toole punched Campbell, then punched Chesney, who went down and hit his head on the pavement, Baggett said.

On Tuesday night, deputies assigned to Pensacola Beach were expected to begin checking in with each of the 13 bars at the beach.
Sheriff's Office Lt. Gary Montee said he was instituting the new policy as a result of the fatal fight.

"We can't put a cop on every street corner, but we can try to do what we can with the resources we have," Montee said.

Montee said when he worked at the beach in the 1970s, deputies walked into beach businesses and talked with the owner or employees.
"We would walk into these bars during every shift," he said. "You walk into these places and you get a good feel for its clientele. We are getting back to the basics."
28617  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Unsecret donations on: December 26, 2008, 07:52:29 AM
How would you like elections without secret ballots? To most people, this would be absurd.

We have secret balloting for obvious reasons. Politics frequently generates hot tempers. People can put up yard signs or wear political buttons if they want. But not everyone feels comfortable making his or her positions public -- many worry that their choice might offend or anger someone else. They fear losing their jobs or facing boycotts of their businesses.

And yet the mandatory public disclosure of financial donations to political campaigns in almost every state and at the federal level renders people's fears and vulnerability all too real. Proposition 8 -- California's recently passed constitutional amendment to outlaw gay marriage by ensuring that marriage in that state remains between a man and a woman -- is a dramatic case in point. Its passage has generated retaliation against those who supported it, once their financial support was made public and put online.

For example, when it was discovered that Scott Eckern, director of the nonprofit California Musical Theater in Sacramento, had given $1,000 to Yes on 8, the theater was deluged with criticism from prominent artists. Mr. Eckern was forced to resign.

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Richard Raddon, the director of the L.A. Film Festival, donated $1,500 to Yes on 8. A threatened boycott and picketing of the next festival forced him to resign. Alan Stock, the chief executive of the Cinemark theater chain, gave $9,999. Cinemark is facing a boycott, and so is the gay-friendly Sundance Film Festival because it uses a Cinemark theater to screen some of its films.

A Palo Alto dentist lost patients as a result of his $1,000 donation. A restaurant manager in Los Angeles gave a $100 personal donation, triggering a demonstration and boycott against her restaurant. The pressure was so intense that Marjorie Christoffersen, who had managed the place for 26 years, resigned.

These are just a few instances that have come to light, and the ramifications are still occurring over a month after the election. The larger point of this spectacle is its implications for the future: to intimidate people who donate to controversial campaigns.

The question is not whether Prop. 8 should have passed, but whether its supporters (or opponents) should have their political preferences protected in the same way that voters are protected. Is there any reason to think that the repercussions Mr. Eckern faced for donating to Prop. 8 would be different if it were revealed that instead of donating, he had voted for it?

Indeed, supporters of Prop. 8 engaged in pressure tactics. At least one businessman who donated to "No on 8," Jim Abbott of Abbott & Associates, a real estate firm in San Diego, received a letter from the Prop. 8 Executive Committee threatening to publish his company's name if he didn't also donate to the "Yes on 8" campaign.

In each case, the law required disclosure of these individuals' financial support for Prop. 8. Supposedly, the reason for requiring disclosure of campaign contributions is to allow voters to police politicians who might otherwise become beholden to financiers by letting voters know "who is behind the message." But in a referendum vote such as Prop. 8, there are no office holders to be beholden to big donors.

Does anyone believe that in campaigns costing millions of dollars a donation of $100, or even $1,000 or $10,000 will give the donor "undue" influence? Over whom? Meanwhile, voters learn little by knowing the names and personal information of thousands of small contributors.

Besides, it is not the case that voters would have no recourse when it comes to the financial backers of politicians or initiatives. Even without mandatory disclosure rules, the unwillingness to release donation information can itself become a campaign issue. If voters want to know who donated, there will be pressure to disclose that information. Possibly voters will be most concerned about who the donors are when regulatory issues are being debated. But that is for them to decide. They can always vote "no."

In Today's Opinion Journal


Obama's Secretary of EarmarksBridges to EverywhereStill Oklahoma's Most Wanted


Declarations: A Year for the Books
– Peggy Noonan


Obama Picks a Moderate on Education
– Collin LevyThe Economic News Isn't All Bleak – Zachary KarabellDonor Disclosure Has Its Downsides
– John R. Lott Jr. and Bradley SmithBush Is a Book Lover
– Karl RoveA Brother's Plea: Remember Burma
– Min ZinIronically, it has long been minorities who have benefited the most from anonymous speech. In the 1950s, for example, Southern states sought to obtain membership lists of the NAACP in the name of the public's "right to know." Such disclosure would have destroyed the NAACP's financial base in the South and opened its supporters to threats and violence. It took a Supreme Court ruling in NAACP v. Alabama (1958) to protect the privacy of the NAACP and its supporters on First Amendment grounds. And more recently, it has usually been supporters of gay rights who have preferred to keep their support quiet.

There is another problem with publicizing donations in political elections: It tends to entrench powerful politicians whom donors fear alienating. If business executives give money to a committee chairman's opponent, they often fear retribution.

Other threats are more personal. For example, in 2004 Gigi Brienza contributed $500 to the John Edwards presidential campaign. An extremist animal rights group used that information to list Ms. Brienza's home address (and similarly, that of dozens of co-workers) on a Web site, under the ominous heading, "Now you know where to find them." Her "offense," also revealed from the campaign finance records, was that she worked for a pharmaceutical company that tested its products on animals.

In the aftermath of Prop. 8 we can glimpse a very ugly future. As anyone who has had their political yard signs torn down can imagine, with today's easy access to donor information on the Internet, any crank or unhinged individual can obtain information on his political opponents, including work and home addresses, all but instantaneously. When even donations as small as $100 trigger demonstrations, it is hard to know how one will feel safe in supporting causes one believes in.

Mr. Lott, a senior research scientist at the University of Maryland, is the author of "Freedomnomics" (Regnery, 2007). Mr. Smith, a former Federal Election Commission commissioner, is chairman of the Center for Competitive Politics and professor of law at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio.

28618  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NYT: Turkey on: December 26, 2008, 07:35:20 AM
ISTANBUL — Turkey’s religious businessmen spent years building empires on curtains, candy bars and couches. But as observant Muslims in one of the world’s most self-consciously secular states, they were never accepted by elite society.

Now that group has become its own elite, and Turkey, a more openly religious country. It has lifted an Islamic-inspired political party to power and helped make Turkey the seventh largest economy in Europe.

And while other Muslim societies are wrestling with radicals, Turkey’s religious merchant class is struggling instead with riches.

“Muslims here used to be tested by poverty,” said Sehminur Aydin, an observant Muslim businesswoman and the daughter of a manufacturing magnate. “Now they’re being tested by wealth.”

Some say religious Turks are failing that test, and they see the recent economic crisis as a lesson for those who indulged in the worst excesses of consumption, summed up in the work of one Turkish interior designer: a bathroom with faucets encrusted with Swarovski crystal, a swimming pool in the bedroom, a couch rigged to rise up to the ceiling by remote control during prayer. “I know people who broke their credit cards,” Ms. Aydin said.

But beyond the downturn, no matter how severe, is the reality: the religious wealthy class is powerful now in Turkey, a new phenomenon that poses fresh challenges not only to the old secular elite but to what good Muslims think about themselves.

Money is at the heart of the changes that have transformed Turkey. In 1950, it was a largely agrarian society, with 80 percent of its population living in rural areas. Its economy was closed and foreign currency was illegal. But a forward-looking prime minister, Turgut Ozal, opened the economy. Now Turkey exports billions of dollars in goods to other European countries, and about 70 percent of its population lives in cities.

Religious Turks helped power that rise, yet for years they were shunned by elite society. That helps explain why many are engaged in such a frantic effort to prove themselves, said Safak Cak, a Turkish interior designer with many wealthy, religious clients. “It’s because of how we labeled them,” he said. “We looked at them as black people.”

Mr. Cak was referring to Turkey’s deep class divide. An urban upper class, often referred to as White Turks, wielded the political and economic power in the country for decades. They saw themselves as the transmitters of the secular ideals of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Turkey’s founder. They have felt threatened by the rise of the rural, religious, merchant class, particularly of its political representative, Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“The old class was not ready to share economic and political power,” said Can Paker, chairman of the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation, a liberal research organization in Istanbul. “The new class is sharing their habits, like driving Mercedes, but they are also wearing head scarves. The old class can’t bear this.”

“ ‘They were the peasants,’ ” the thinking goes, Mr. Paker said. “ ‘Why are they among us?’ ”

Ms. Aydin, 40, who wears a head scarf, encountered that attitude not long ago in one of Istanbul’s fanciest districts. A woman called her a “dirty fundamentalist” when Ms. Aydin tried to put trash the woman had thrown out her car window back inside.

“If you’re driving a good car, they stare at you and point,” Ms. Aydin said. “You want to say, ‘I graduated from French school just like you,’ but after a while, you don’t feel like proving yourself.”

She does not have to.

Her father started by selling curtains. Now he owns one of the largest home-appliance businesses in Europe. Ms. Aydin grew up wealthy, with tastes no different from those of the older class. She lives in a sleek, modern house with a pool in a gated community. Her son attends a prestigious private school. A business school graduate, she manages about 100 people at a private hospital founded by her father. Her head scarf bars her from employment in a state hospital.

Her husband, Yasar Aydin, shrugged. “Rich people everywhere dislike newcomers,” he said. In another decade, those prejudices will be gone, he said.

The businessmen describe themselves as Muslims with a Protestant work ethic, and say hard work deepens faith.


Page 2 of 2)

“We can’t lie down on our oil like Arab countries,” said Osman Kadiroglu, whose family owns a large candy company in Turkey, with factories in Azerbaijan and Algeria. “There’s no way out except producing.”

Fortunes were made, forming new patterns of consumption. Istanbul, Turkey’s economic capital, is No. 4 in the world on the latest Forbes list of cities with the highest number of billionaires. Luxury cars stud its streets. Shopping malls, 80 at last count, are mushrooming.

“Now, unfortunately, there is a taste for luxury, excessive consumption and comfort, vanity, exhibitionism and greed,” said Mehmet Sevket Eygi, a 75-year-old newspaper columnist, who has written extensively about Muslims and wealth.

An Islamic concept called israf forbids consuming more than one needs, but the line is blurry, leaving rich Muslims struggling with questions like whether luxury cars can be offset by donations to charity, a central tenet of Islam.

“You have money, but do you buy whatever you want?” said Recep Senturk, a sociologist at the Center for Islamic Studies in Istanbul. “Or should you keep a humble life? This is a debate in Turkey right now.”

Islam requires that the wealthy give away a portion of their income to the poor. In the Ottoman Empire, it paid for everything from hospitals to dishes broken by maids in rich houses.

Donations to Deniz Feneri, one of the largest charities in Turkey, jumped almost 100-fold in the six years ending in 2006, when they topped $62 million.

Even house designs take charity into account. Mr. Cak described a multimillion-dollar house whose design included an industrial-size kitchen where food was cooked daily and distributed in trucks.

Ms. Aydin, for her part, supports 25 families. The real problem is not finding a place to pray on a busy day out (mall fitting rooms work), but being truly charitable and putting others first when the frenzied pace of life pushes in the opposite direction. She holds onto traditions, like Muslim holidays, tightly.

“The world is changing but I don’t want to lose this,” she said.
28619  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NYT: The Reckoning on: December 26, 2008, 07:29:17 AM
“Usually it’s the rich country lending to the poor. This time, it’s the poor country lending to the rich.”
— Niall Ferguson

WASHINGTON — In March 2005, a low-key Princeton economist who had become a Federal Reserve governor coined a novel theory to explain the growing tendency of Americans to borrow from foreigners, particularly the Chinese, to finance their heavy spending.

The problem, he said, was not that Americans spend too much, but that foreigners save too much. The Chinese have piled up so much excess savings that they lend money to the United States at low rates, underwriting American consumption.

This colossal credit cycle could not last forever, he said. But in a global economy, the transfer of Chinese money to America was a market phenomenon that would take years, even a decade, to work itself out. For now, he said, “we probably have little choice except to be patient.”

Today, the dependence of the United States on Chinese money looks less benign. And the economist who proposed the theory, Ben S. Bernanke, is dealing with the consequences, having been promoted to chairman of the Fed in 2006, as these cross-border money flows were reaching stratospheric levels.

In the past decade, China has invested upward of $1 trillion, mostly earnings from manufacturing exports, into American government bonds and government-backed mortgage debt. That has lowered interest rates and helped fuel a historic consumption binge and housing bubble in the United States.

China, some economists say, lulled American consumers, and their leaders, into complacency about their spendthrift ways.

“This was a blinking red light,” said Kenneth S. Rogoff, a professor of economics at Harvard and a former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund. “We should have reacted to it.”

In hindsight, many economists say, the United States should have recognized that borrowing from abroad for consumption and deficit spending at home was not a formula for economic success. Even as that weakness is becoming more widely recognized, however, the United States is likely to be more addicted than ever to foreign creditors to finance record government spending to revive the broken economy.

To be sure, there were few ready remedies. Some critics argue that the United States could have pushed Beijing harder to abandon its policy of keeping the value of its currency weak — a policy that made its exports less expensive and helped turn it into the world’s leading manufacturing power. If China had allowed its currency to float according to market demand in the past decade, its export growth probably would have moderated. And it would not have acquired the same vast hoard of dollars to invest abroad.

Others say the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department should have seen the Chinese lending for what it was: a giant stimulus to the American economy, not unlike interest rate cuts by the Fed. These critics say the Fed under Alan Greenspan contributed to the creation of the housing bubble by leaving interest rates too low for too long, even as Chinese investment further stoked an easy-money economy. The Fed should have cut interest rates less in the middle of this decade, they say, and started raising them sooner, to help reduce speculation in real estate.

Today, with the wreckage around him, Mr. Bernanke said he regretted that more was not done to regulate financial institutions and mortgage providers, which might have prevented the flood of investment, including that from China, from being so badly used. But the Fed’s role in regulation is limited to banks. And stricter regulation by itself would not have been enough, he insisted.

“Achieving a better balance of international capital flows early on could have significantly reduced the risks to the financial system,” Mr. Bernanke said in an interview in his office overlooking the Washington Mall.

“However,” he continued, “this could only have been done through international cooperation, not by the United States alone. The problem was recognized, but sufficient international cooperation was not forthcoming.”

The inaction was because of a range of factors, political and economic. By the yardsticks that appeared to matter most — prosperity and growth — the relationship between China and the United States also seemed to be paying off for both countries. Neither had a strong incentive to break an addiction: China to strong export growth and financial stability; the United States to cheap imports and low-cost foreign loans.

In Washington, China was treated as a threat by some people, but mostly because it lured away manufacturing jobs. Others argued that China’s heavy lending to this country was risky because Chinese leaders could decide to withdraw money at a moment’s notice, creating a panicky run on the dollar.

Mr. Bernanke viewed such international investment flows through a different lens. He argued that Chinese invested savings abroad because consumers in China did not have enough confidence to spend. Changing that situation would take years, and did not amount to a pressing problem for the Americans.


age 2 of 3)

“The global savings glut story did us a collective disservice,” said Edwin M. Truman, a former Fed and Treasury official. “It created the idea that the world was doing it to us and we couldn’t do anything about it.”

But Mr. Bernanke’s theory fit the prevailing hands-off, pro-market ideology of recent years. Mr. Greenspan and the Bush administration treated the record American trade deficit and heavy foreign borrowing as an abstract threat, not an urgent problem.

Mr. Bernanke, after he took charge of the Fed, warned that the imbalances between the countries were growing more serious. By then, however, it was too late to do much about them. And the White House still regarded imbalances as an arcane subject best left to economists.

By itself, money from China is not a bad thing. As American officials like to note, it speaks to the attractiveness of the United States as a destination for foreign investment. In the 19th century, the United States built its railroads with capital borrowed from the British.

In the past decade, China arguably enabled an American boom. Low-cost Chinese goods helped keep a lid on inflation, while the flood of Chinese investment helped the government finance mortgages and a public debt of close to $11 trillion.

But Americans did not use the lower-cost money afforded by Chinese investment to build a 21st-century equivalent of the railroads. Instead, the government engaged in a costly war in Iraq, and consumers used loose credit to buy sport utility vehicles and larger homes. Banks and investors, eagerly seeking higher interest rates in this easy-money environment, created risky new securities like collateralized debt obligations.

“Nobody wanted to get off this drug,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican who pushed legislation to punish China by imposing stiff tariffs. “Their drug was an endless line of customers for made-in-China products. Our drug was the Chinese products and cash.”

Mr. Graham said he understood the addiction: he was speaking by phone from a Wal-Mart store in Anderson, S.C., where he was Christmas shopping in aisles lined with items from China.

A New Economic Dance

The United States has been here before. In the 1980s, it ran heavy trade deficits with Japan, which recycled some of its trading profits into American government bonds.

At that time, the deficits were viewed as a grave threat to America’s economic might. Action took the form of a 1985 agreement known as the Plaza Accord. The world’s major economies intervened in currency markets to drive down the value of the dollar and drive up the Japanese yen.

The arrangement did slow the growth of the trade deficit for a time. But economists blamed the sharp revaluation of the Japanese yen for halting Japan’s rapid growth. The lesson of the Plaza Accord was not lost on China, which at that time was just emerging as an export power.

China tied itself even more tightly to the United States than did Japan. In 1995, it devalued its currency and set a firm exchange rate of roughly 8.3 to the dollar, a level that remained fixed for a decade.

During the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98, China clung firmly to its currency policy, earning praise from the Clinton administration for helping check the spiral of devaluation sweeping Asia. Its low wages attracted hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign investment.

By the early part of this decade, the United States was importing huge amounts of Chinese-made goods — toys, shoes, flat-screen televisions and auto parts — while selling much less to China in return.

“For consumers, this was a net benefit because of the availability of cheaper goods,” said Laurence H. Meyer, a former Fed governor. “There’s no question that China put downward pressure on inflation rates.”

But in classical economics, that trade gap could not have persisted for long without bankrupting the American economy. Except that China recycled its trade profits right back into the United States.

It did so to protect its own interests. China kept its banks under tight state control and its currency on a short leash to ensure financial stability. It required companies and individuals to save in the state-run banking system most foreign currency — primarily dollars — that they earned from foreign trade and investment.

As foreign trade surged, this hoard of dollars became enormous. In 2000, the reserves were less than $200 billion; today they are about $2 trillion.

Chinese leaders chose to park the bulk of that in safe securities backed by the American government, including Treasury bonds and the debt of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which had implicit government backing.


Dollar Shift: Chinese Pockets Filled as Americans’ Emptied

published: December 25, 2008

(Page 3 of 3)

This not only allowed the United States to continue to finance its trade deficit, but, by creating greater demand for United States securities, it also helped push interest rates below where they would otherwise have been. For years, China’s government was eager to buy American debt at yields many in the private sector felt were too low.

This financial and trade embrace between the United States and China grew so tight that Niall Ferguson, a financial historian, has dubbed the two countries Chimerica.
‘Tiptoeing’ Around a Partner

Being attached at the hip was not entirely comfortable for either side, though for widely differing reasons.

In the United States, more people worried about cheap Chinese goods than cheap Chinese loans. By 2003, China’s trade surplus with the United States was ballooning, and lawmakers in Congress were restive. Senator Graham and Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, introduced a bill threatening to impose a 27 percent duty on Chinese goods.

“We had a moment where we caught everyone’s attention: the White House and China,” Mr. Graham recalled.

At the People’s Bank of China, the central bank, a consensus was also emerging in late 2004: China should break its tight link to the dollar, which would make its exports more expensive. Yu Yongding, a leading economic adviser, pressed the case. The American trade and budget deficits were not sustainable, he warned. China was wrong to keep its currency artificially depressed and depend too much on selling cheap goods.

Proponents of revaluation in China argued that the country’s currency policies denied the fruits of prosperity to Chinese consumers. Beijing was investing their savings in low-yielding American government securities. And with a weak currency, they said, Chinese could not afford many imported goods.

The central bank’s English-speaking governor, Zhou Xiaochuan, was among those who favored a sizable revaluation.

But when Beijing acted to amend its currency policy in 2005, under heavy pressure from Congress and the White House, it moved cautiously. The renminbi was allowed to climb only 2 percent. The Communist Party opted for only incremental adjustments to its economic model after a decade of fast growth. Little changed: China’s exports kept soaring and investment poured into steel mills and garment factories.

But American officials eased the pressure. They decided to put more emphasis on urging Chinese consumers to spend more of their savings, which they hoped would eventually bring the two economies into better balance. On a tour of China, John W. Snow, the Treasury secretary at the time, even urged the Chinese to start using credit cards.

China kicked off its own campaign to encourage domestic consumption, which it hoped would provide a new source. But Chinese save with the same zeal that, until recently, Americans spent. Shorn of the social safety net of the old Communist state, they squirrel away money to pay for hospital visits, housing or retirement. This accounts for the savings glut identified by Mr. Bernanke.

Privately, Chinese officials confided to visiting Americans that the effort was not achieving much.

“It is sometimes hard to change successful models,” said Robert B. Zoellick, who negotiated with the Chinese as a deputy secretary of state. “It is prototypically American to say, ‘This worked well, but now you’ve got to change it.’ ”

In Washington, some critics say too little was done. A former Treasury official, Timothy D. Adams, tried to get the I.M.F. to act as a watchdog for currency manipulation by China, which would have subjected Beijing to more global pressure.

Yet when Mr. Snow was succeeded as Treasury secretary by Henry M. Paulson Jr. in 2006, the I.M.F. was sidelined, according to several officials, and Mr. Paulson took command of China policy.

He was not shy about his credentials. As an investment banker with Goldman Sachs, Mr. Paulson made 70 trips to China. In his office hangs a watercolor depicting the hometown of Zhu Rongji, a forceful former prime minister.

“I pushed very hard on currency because I believed it was important for China to get to a market-determined currency,” Mr. Paulson said in an interview. But he conceded he did not get what he wanted.

In late 2006, Mr. Paulson invited Mr. Bernanke to accompany him to Beijing. Mr. Bernanke used the occasion to deliver a blunt speech to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, in which he advised the Chinese to reorient their economy and revalue their currency.

At the last minute, however, Mr. Bernanke deleted a reference to the exchange rate being an “effective subsidy” for Chinese exports, out of fear that it could be used as a pretext for a trade lawsuit against China.

Critics detected a pattern. They noted that in its twice-yearly reports to Congress about trading partners, the Treasury Department had never branded China a currency manipulator.

“We’re tiptoeing around, desperately trying not to irritate or offend the Chinese,” said Thea M. Lee, public policy director of the A.F.L.-C.I.O. “But to get concrete results, you have to be confrontational.”

An Embrace That Won’t Let Go

For China, too, this crisis has been a time of reckoning. Americans are buying fewer Chinese DVD players and microwave ovens. Trade is collapsing, and thousands of workers are losing their jobs. Chinese leaders are terrified of social unrest.

Having allowed the renminbi to rise a little after 2005, the Chinese government is now under intense pressure domestically to reverse course and depreciate it. China’s fortunes remain tethered to those of the United States. And the reverse is equally true.

In a glassed-in room in a nondescript office building in Washington, the Treasury conducts nearly daily auctions of billions of dollars’ worth of government bonds. An old Army helmet sits on a shelf: as a lark, Treasury officials have been known to strap it on while they monitor incoming bids.

For the past five years, China has been one of the most prolific bidders. It holds $652 billion in Treasury debt, up from $459 billion a year ago. Add in its Fannie Mae bonds and other holdings, and analysts figure China owns $1 of every $10 of America’s public debt.

The Treasury is conducting more auctions than ever to finance its $700 billion bailout of the banks. Still more will be needed to pay for the incoming Obama administration’s stimulus package. The United States, economists say, will depend on the Chinese to keep buying that debt, perpetuating the American habit.

Even so, Mr. Paulson said he viewed the debate over global imbalances as hopelessly academic. He expressed doubt that Mr. Bernanke or anyone else could have solved the problem as it was germinating.

“One lesson that I have clearly learned,” said Mr. Paulson, sitting beneath his Chinese watercolor. “You don’t get dramatic change, or reform, or action unless there is a crisis.”
28620  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Confessions of a foot soldier on: December 26, 2008, 07:14:11 AM
Friday, Dec. 26, 2008
By Ioan Grillo / Mexico City

For a confessed drug cartel hood whose alias is "The Nut Job," Marco Vinicio Cobo is remarkably calm and plain-looking. Sitting in the blue-walled interrogation room of a Mexican army base, the chubby, goatee-bearded 30-year-old coolly describes his work for the Zetas, a feared paramilitary force responsible for thousands of brutal murders. And even when he details how his bosses kidnapped and chopped the head off a soldier, he appears relaxed and unemotional, as if he were discussing the weather. But despite the unsettling indifference of its tone, Cobo's confession — of which a video has been obtained by TIME — offers some extraordinary insights into how the cartels have grown into a formidable threat to the Mexican government, outwitting and outgunning the armed forces in great swathes of the country.

In the statement made on video following his arrest in southern Mexico last April, Cobo explains how the cartels use a disciplined cell structure with a vertical, military-style chain of command to control thousands of men at arms. "I began as an H — the code they use for Hawk," he says. "After a time, I became a Central. I gave information to all the local H's in the community." He also reveals how his "family" stays one step ahead of the authorities by paying a vast network of informants, from local journalists to high-ranking federal agents. (See images of fighting crime in Mexico City)

In the worst year for Mexican law enforcement in recent history, cartel gunmen have killed more than 500 police and military personnel, including eight soldiers who were beheaded near Acapulco on Sunday. Cobo's own life story also sheds light on the machinations of the crime empires behind this killing spree. From a lower-middle class family, Cobo had worked for a while as a journalist in the poor state of Oaxaca before joining the cartel in his late 20s because it was the best job opportunity available. "They first paid me $300 a fortnight, and then it went up to $400," he explains. "The money was deposited at the local Elektra [a chain store that provides low-cost banking]". His modest wage shows how many cartel foot soldiers such as Cobo live a world apart from the extravagant kingpins with their million-dollar mansions and fleets of luxury cars, but it was still five times the country's minimum wage. And it's the swelling of the narco armies with tens of thousands of low-paid recruits that helps explain the scale of the bloodshed here, with more than 5,300 drug-related killings over the past year alone.

Cobo claims he first came into contact with the Zetas while covering crime for the small-town newspaper Sol del Istmo. "Journalists were threatened," he said. "One time, they told me not to publish a story about some men who were arrested with guns. They said the story couldn't come out." When he joined up with these gangsters, he said his first job was to monitor the local roads. Later he helped set up the abductions of any cartel targets on those routes. "They kidnapped people who had committed what they said was a crime," he said. "Many were people who worked as drug traffickers." He lost count of how many victims they abducted, but said three had had been killed and buried in the yard of a suburban house.

The Zetas act as the enforcement wing of the Gulf Cartel and extort payments from anyone who moves narcotics through their territories. The Oaxaca coast, where Cobo joined, is strategically important in trafficking routes of cocaine from Colombia to the United States. It is also the thinnest point between the Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico. "The Gulf Cartel controls the drug trade along the Gulf of Mexico and dominates the movement of drugs into this country primarily through Texas," said Michele M. Leonhart, Acting Administrator of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in a recent statement. "They are known, even among their rivals, for their extreme violence."

As a "Central", Cobo had 13 "Hawks" under his command. Above him were Second Commanders. The Zeta ranking system is based on the Mexican military, which is unsurprising considering that the organization was founded by soldiers from the army's special forces who defected to the gangsters in the late 1990s. Cobo knew his superiors only by aliases, in order to protect their identities. "There was Franco, Tarzan, Texas, and Zorro," he said. He saw a book with names of dozens of police under the unit's payroll, he said, including officers from many nearby towns and federal agents stationed there. The corrupt police were also given aliases, including Papa and Brother.

In late March, Cobo's unit kidnapped a military officer, decapitated him and stuck his body out on a road, along with several bags of cocaine and about $2,000 in cash. "Franco told me that the officer was from military intelligence and he was getting too close," Cobo said. "The drugs and the money were planted so it would seem like he was involved in narco trafficking." Following the slaying, soldiers arrested Cobo and 13 others, along with semi-automatic rifles and radio equipment. His confession led the military to the suburban house where they dug up the bodies he had mentioned. Cobo was eventually sent to a civilian prison, where he awaits his court date on organized crime charges. Federal prosecutors declined to comment on whether his cooperation will lead to a more lenient sentence.
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28621  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / J. Story: Consitutional interpretation on: December 26, 2008, 07:00:26 AM
"The constitution of the United States is to receive a reasonable interpretation of its language, and its powers, keeping in view the objects and purposes, for which those powers were conferred. By a reasonable interpretation, we mean, that in case the words are susceptible of two different senses, the one strict, the other more enlarged, that should be adopted, which is most consonant with the apparent objects and intent of the Constitution."

--Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833

28622  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NYT: Circling the drain on: December 25, 2008, 08:29:10 PM
It being the NYT the enemy's indignation at UAV attacks goes unquestioned even as they deliberately target civilians and throw acid at little girls for attending school.  rolleyes

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — This frontier city boasts a major air base and Pakistani Army and paramilitary garrisons. But the 200 Taliban guerrillas were in no rush as they methodically ransacked depots with NATO supplies here two weeks ago.

An important NATO supply line goes over Khyber Pass.
The militants began by blocking off a long stretch of the main road, giving them plenty of time to burn everything inside, said one guard, Haroon Khan, who was standing next to a row of charred trucks.

After assuring the overmatched guards they would not be killed — if they agreed never to work there again — the militants shouted “God is great” through bullhorns. They then grabbed jerrycans and made several trips to a nearby gas station for fuel, which they dumped on the cargo trucks and Humvees before setting them ablaze.

The attack provided the latest evidence of how extensively militants now rule the critical region east of the Khyber Pass, the narrow cut through the mountains on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border that has been a strategic trade and military gateway since the time of Alexander the Great.

The area encompasses what is officially known as the Khyber Agency, which is adjacent to Peshawar and is one of a handful of lawless tribal districts on the border. But security in Khyber has deteriorated further in recent months with the emergence of a brash young Taliban commander who calls news conferences to thumb his nose at NATO forces, as well as with public fury over deadly missile attacks by American remotely piloted aircraft.

Khyber’s downward spiral is jeopardizing NATO’s most important supply line, sending American military officials scrambling to find alternative routes into Afghanistan through Russia and Central Asia. Three-quarters of troop supplies enter from Pakistan, most of the goods ferried from Karachi to Peshawar and then 40 miles west through the Khyber Pass into Afghanistan.

A half-dozen raids on depots with NATO supplies here have already destroyed 300 cargo trucks and Humvees this month. American officials insist that troop provisions have not suffered, but with predictions that the American deployment in Afghanistan could double next year, to 60,000 soldiers, the pressure to secure safer transportation is even more intense.

For NATO the most serious problem is not even the depots in Peshawar but the safety of the road that winds west to the 3,500-foot Khyber Pass. The route used to be relatively secure: Afridi tribesman were paid by the government to safeguard it, and they were subject to severe penalties and collective tribal punishment for crimes against travelers.

But now the road is a death trap, truckers and some security officials say, with routine attacks like one on Sunday that burned a fuel tanker and another last Friday that killed three drivers returning from Afghanistan.

“The road is so unsafe that even the locals are reluctant to go back to their villages from Peshawar,” said Gul Naseem, who lives in Landi Kotal, near the border.

The largest truckers’ association here has gone on strike to protest the lack of security, saying that the job action has sidelined 60 percent of the trucks that normally haul military goods. An American official denied that the drop-off had been that severe.

“Not a single day passes when something doesn’t happen,” said Shakir Afridi, leader of the truckers’ group, the Khyber Transport Association. He said at least 25 trucks and six oil tankers were destroyed this month. “Attacks have become a daily affair,” he said.

There are new efforts to deter Taliban raids, including convoy escorts by a Pakistani paramilitary group, the Frontier Corps. But now militants are attacking empty — and unguarded — trucks returning to Pakistan. The road from Peshawar to the border has become far more perilous than the route on the other side in Afghanistan, truckers say.

“Our lives are in danger and nobody cares,” said Shah Mahmood Afridi, a driver who was in the returning convoy attacked on Friday. “They fired at the trucks and killed three men inside. There is no security provided when we are empty.”

Escalating violence on the Khyber road has paralleled the rise of Hakimullah Mehsud, a young Taliban commander and lieutenant of Baitullah Mehsud, leader of the main Pakistani Taliban faction.

Earlier this year, Hakimullah Mehsud’s forces took control of Orakzai Agency and instituted the strict Islamic laws known as Shariah. At a news conference there one month ago, Hakimullah Mehsud declared his intention to intensify attacks on NATO supply convoys. Some security officials say they believe that he was behind the assassination in August of a rival militant leader, Hajji Namdar, in Khyber.


Page 2 of 2)

At the same time, another powerful Khyber warlord, Mangal Bagh, who officials say has not been attacking the convoys, has seen the geographic range of his influence narrow somewhat, easing the path for Mr. Mehsud’s authority to expand inside some parts of Khyber. “I have no love for Mangal Bagh, but the fact remains that Mangal Bagh does not do these attacks,” said Tariq Hayat, the Khyber political agent, the top government official in the region.

Pakistani employees two weeks ago inspected trucks burned by Taliban guerrillas at a depot with NATO supplies in Peshawar.
Increased missile attacks by remotely piloted American aircraft — like one that killed seven people in the South Waziristan Agency on Monday — have enraged residents in Khyber and other tribal areas near the border, increasing sympathy for attacks on convoys. Mr. Afridi, of the truckers’ association, condemns the strikes and blames them for increased assaults on his drivers. “We are a tribal people, and if the Americans hit innocent people in Waziristan, we also feel the pain,” he said.

Raising the prospect of an even wider threat to the convoys, an influential Islamic party, Jamaat-e-Islami, staged a rally last week in Peshawar, turning out thousands to condemn the missile strikes. The marchers demanded that Pakistan end the NATO convoys, and they vowed to cut the supply lines themselves.

Taliban militants have also moved into Khyber after Pakistani military campaigns in nearby areas like Bajaur Agency. Their migration is reminiscent of a tactic that bedeviled the American military in Iraq for years — dubbed “whack a mole” by combat officers — in which guerrillas eluded large American combat operations and moved to take up positions in areas with understaffed troop contingents.

All those factors have been amplified, in the view of some officials, by the torpor of the Pakistani government. Mahmood Shah, a retired Pakistani Army brigadier who until 2006 was in charge of security in the western tribal regions, said the government had the manpower to drive militants out of Khyber but had mounted only a weak response.

He recounted a recent conversation with a senior Pakistani government official. “You have the chance to wake up,” he said he told the official. “But if you don’t wake up now, there is a good chance you won’t wake up at all.”
28623  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Samuel Adams on: December 25, 2008, 06:31:57 PM
"Religion and good morals are the only solid foundation of public liberty and happiness."

--Samuel Adams, letter to John Trumbull, 16 October 1778
28624  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Agradecimiento de cada dia on: December 25, 2008, 06:30:52 PM
Agradezco que aunque yo haya fallado post (?como se dice "to post"?), que cada dia es una nueva oportunidad.    Agradezco este quinta dia de Chanukah y y esa dia Navidad y haberlo compartido con mi familia.
28625  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Vehicles, driving skills, crime, related issues on: December 25, 2008, 05:52:11 PM
Tony P makes a good point about leaving space in front of you when stopped for a light.  I believe this saved me one time from being carjecked.  Briefly, what happened is this:

I stopped in the #2 turn lane and left plenty of space in front of me.  A ratty van with 3 gang banger types pulled up along side me in the #1 turn lane.  This was odd because there was no one in front of them.  Spider sense tingled! The one in the passenger seat gestured towards me as if he wanted to talk and began getting out of the van.   I pulled forward several feet and reached under my seat while maintaining indirect visual on him out of the corner of my eye.  He got back in his van and it too moved forward several feet and again the second man began getting out.  I made a very deliberate gesture reaching under my seat and maintained indirect visual contact.  He got back in.  The light changed to green and as they drove by me we exchanged some very hard looks.

Given the POS that my truck is, I found it hard to comprehend that anyone would want to steal it.  When I told Gabe Suarez the story he said he thought that they probably simply saw the set up in the turn lanes as tactically desirable and simply wanted to take my truck to use it in some crime and then abandon it.

I sometimes tell this story when asked if I ever have had to use a gun in self-defense.  evil cheesy

28626  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Army stops use of WoundStat on: December 24, 2008, 09:17:07 AM
Army Stops Use of WoundStat: Officials need to study first-aid item more
Updated 1:27 PM EST, Tue, Dec 23, 2008

WASHINGTON -- Until more testing can be done, Army medics are being told to stop using a new product just sent to the war front to help control bleeding among wounded troops.

Officials were in the process of distributing some 17,000 packets of WoundStat, granules that are poured into wounds when special bandages, tourniquets or other efforts won't work. But a recent study showed that, if used directly on injured blood vessels, the granules may lead to harmful blood clots, officials said Tuesday.

The Army Medical Command will continue its research and work with the manufacturer in hopes of figuring out in the next few months whether to resume use of WoundStat, said Col. Paul Cordts, head of Army health policy and services.

WoundStat manufacturer TraumaCure, Inc., of Bethesda, Md., had no immediate comment.

The product, which was developed at Virginia Commonwealth University, had been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It was one of the latest in a series of Army efforts to improve survival rates on the battlefield.

Today, 90 percent of injured troops survive their wounds, the highest rate of any war, Cordts said in an interview. He credited better training of combat medics, better body armor the troops wear and better tactics they use on the battlefield, as well improved bandages, tourniquets and so on.

Defense Department figures show that as of this month, more than 4,800 troops have been killed in Iraq and the global war on terror. The latter category counts casualties mostly from Afghanistan. Some 34,000 troops have been wounded in the wars, where insurgents have made wide use of roadside bombs and other explosives.

Excessive blood loss is the number one killer on the battlefield, and the Army announced in October that it was sending two potential lifesavers -- the WoundStat packets and a bandage called Combat Gauze -- to replace older other products that had been in use at the time.

A committee of Army medics, Navy corpsmen, surgeons and others recommended the Combat Gauze bandage -- which has an agent that triggers blood clotting -- should be the first-line treatment for life-threatening hemorrhaging in cases where a tourniquet could not be placed, such as the armpit or groin area.

The WoundStat granules were to be used if the bandage failed to work.

Cordts said the Army put out a message on Dec. 18, directing the temporary halt in use of WoundStat. Though it has arrived at the war zones, officials are unclear on how widely it has been distributed so far. They're working to identify any soldiers who got the treatment, study their cases and examine them for any problems with blood clotting, Cordts said.

He said he didn't know whether it had been used on any soldiers and thus had no reports back from the field -- positive or negative -- on how effective it might have been.

Cordts said that after an additional few months of study, officials will likely determine whether they should discontinue its use altogether or perhaps redistribute it with warnings for how it is to be used.

28627  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NYT: Generation Faithful on: December 24, 2008, 09:07:23 AM
AMMAN, Jordan — Muhammad Fawaz is a very serious college junior with a stern gaze and a reluctant smile that barely cloaks suppressed anger. He never wanted to attend Jordan University. He hates spending hours each day commuting.

As a high school student, Mr. Fawaz, 20, had dreamed of earning a scholarship to study abroad. But that was impossible, he said, because he did not have a “wasta,” or connection. In Jordan, connections are seen as essential for advancement and the wasta system is routinely cited by young people as their primary grievance with their country.

So Mr. Fawaz decided to rebel. He adopted the serene, disciplined demeanor of an Islamic activist. In his sophomore year he was accepted into the student group affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, Jordan’s largest, most influential religious, social and political movement, one that would ultimately like to see the state governed by Islamic law, or Shariah. Now he works to recruit other students to the cause.

“I find there is justice in the Islamic movement,” Mr. Fawaz said one day as he walked beneath the towering cypress trees at Jordan University. “I can express myself. There is no wasta needed.”

Across the Middle East, young people like Mr. Fawaz, angry, alienated and deprived of opportunity, have accepted Islam as an agent of change and rebellion. It is their rock ’n’ roll, their long hair and love beads. Through Islam, they defy the status quo and challenge governments seen as corrupt and incompetent.

These young people — 60 percent of those in the region are under 25 — are propelling a worldwide Islamic revival, driven by a thirst for political change and social justice. That fervor has popularized a more conservative interpretation of the faith.

“Islamism for us is what pan-Arabism was for our parents,” said Naseem Tarawnah, 25, a business writer and blogger, who is not part of the movement.

The long-term implications of this are likely to complicate American foreign policy calculations, making it more costly to continue supporting governments that do not let secular or moderate religious political movements take root.

Washington will also be likely to find it harder to maintain the policy of shunning leaders of groups like the Brotherhood in Egypt, or Hamas in Gaza, or Hezbollah in Lebanon, which command tremendous public sympathy.

Leaders of Muslim countries have tried to appease public sentiment while doing all they can to discourage the West from engaging religious movements directly. They see the prospect of a thaw in relations with the West, and see these groups as a threat to their monopoly on power.

Authoritarian governments view relative moderation as more of a political challenge than extremism, which is a security problem that can be contained through harsh methods.

“What happens if Islamists accepted the peace process and became more pragmatic?” said Muhammad Abu Rumman, research editor at the newspaper Al Ghad in Amman. “People see them as less corrupt and as the only real opposition. Israel and the U.S. might look at them differently. The regime is afraid of the Brotherhood when it becomes more pragmatic.”

The financial crisis only adds to the anxiety of governments in the Middle East that had hoped economic development could appease their citizens, create jobs for legions of unemployed and underemployed young people and dilute the appeal of Islamic movements. But the crisis and the drop in oil prices have hit hard, throwing the brakes on once-booming economies in the Persian Gulf region, and modest economic growth elsewhere in the region.

In this environment, governments are forced to confront a reality of their own creation. By choking off democracy and free speech, the only space where groups could gather and discuss critical ideas became the mosque, and the only movements that had room to prosper were religion-based.

Today, the search for identity in the Middle East no longer involves tension between the secular and religious. Religion has won.

The struggle, instead, is over how to define an Islamic society and government. Zeinah Hamdan, 24, has traveled a typical journey in Jordan. She says she wants a more religious government guided by Shariah law, and she took the head scarf at a younger age than anyone else in her family.


(Page 2 of 3)

But when she was in college, she was offended when an Islamist student activist chastised her for shaking a young man’s hand. She wants to be a modern religious woman, and she defines that as working and socializing in a coed environment.

“If we implement Shariah law, we will be more comfortable,” she said. “But what happens is, the people who come to power are extremists.”

Like others here, she is torn between her discomfort with what she sees as the extreme attitudes of the Muslim Brotherhood and her alienation from a government she does not consider to be Islamic enough. “The middle is very difficult,” she said.

Focus on Popular Causes

Under a bright midday sun one recent day, Mr. Fawaz and his allies in the Islamic student movement put on green baseball caps that read, in Arabic, “Islamic Current of Jordan University” and prepared to demonstrate. Mr. Fawaz carried a large poster board reading, “We are with you Gaza.”

The university protest reflected the tactics of the Muslim Brotherhood in the country as a whole: precisely organized, deliberately nonthreatening and focused on popular causes here such as the Palestinians. The Brotherhood says it supports democracy and moderation, but its commitment to pluralism, tolerance and compromise has never been tested in Jordan.

Mr. Fawaz and about 200 other students stood in a straight line, extending nearly two city blocks, parallel to the traffic on the major roadway in front of the university. More than half of the students were women, many with their faces veiled.

State security men in plain clothes hurried up and down the line. “Brother, for God’s sake, when will you be angry?” one security agent screamed into his phone, recording for headquarters the slogan on a student’s placard.

At 12:30 p.m., the male students stepped into the road, blocking traffic, while the women rushed off to the sidewalk and melted back into the campus. One minute later, they walked out of traffic, took off their caps and folded up their signs, tucked them into computer bags and went back to school.

“I want to be able to express what I want; I want freedom,” Mr. Fawaz said, after returning to the campus. His glasses always rest crooked on his face, making him look younger, and a bit out of sorts. “I don’t want to be afraid to express my opinion.”

Mr. Fawaz grew up in a small village called Anjara, near Ajloun, about 50 miles from Amman. His father grew up in the Jordan Valley and worked as a nurse in Irbid. Mr. Fawaz said he was 8 years old he was first invited to “leadership retreats” with a youth organization of the Brotherhood.

When he was 13, the youth group took him on a minor pilgrimage to Mecca. So, he said, he had been enticed by religion at an early age. But he only decided to become politically active — and to join the Brotherhood — when he was denied a scholarship to study abroad.

While there are no official statistics on student membership in the Brotherhood, only a fraction of Jordan University students are formally affiliated. Yet many others say they share the same vague sense of discontent and yearning, the same embrace of the Brotherhood’s slogan, “Islam Is the Solution,” a resonant catchall in the face of many problems.

The university, with about 30,000 students from across the country, has long served as a proxy battlefield for Jordan’s competing interests.

Competing Loyalties

In Jordan, unlike Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood is legal, with a political party and a vast network of social services. It also has a political party, called the Islamic Action Front. While some fear it as too extreme, others argue that it has sold out by working within a political system they see as corrupt and un-Islamic. On campus, the Islamists try to build sympathy, handing out study sheets or copying notes for students.

Mr. Fawaz decided this year to run as an Islamist candidate for the student council, an influential organization with its own budget and the right to put up posters, distribute fliers and hold on-campus events.

The Islamic students’ movement had boycotted the elections for years to protest a change of election rules that called for appointing — not electing — half of the council’s 80 members. The rule change, decreed by the former university president, was made in order to block the Islamists, who were the most organized group on campus, from controlling the council.


Page 3 of 3)

That is a direct echo of how the state has long tried to contain the Islamist movement in Jordan. The Brotherhood is allowed to operate, but the government and the security services broadly control the outcome of elections.

Indeed, as Islamist movements have swelled, governments across the Middle East have chosen both to contain and to embrace them. Many governments have aggressively moved to roll back the few democratic practices that had started to take root in their societies, and to prevent Islamists from winning power through the voting booth. That risks driving the leaders and the followers of Islamic organizations toward extremism.

At the same time, many governments have tried to appease popular Islamist fervor. Jordan recently granted a Muslim Brotherhood-aligned newspaper the right to publish daily instead of weekly; held private talks with Hamas leaders; arrested a poet, saying he had insulted Islam by using verses of the Koran in love poems; and shut down restaurants that had served alcohol during Ramadan, though they had been licensed by the state to do so.

This year, the new president of Jordan University permitted all student council seats to be elected, but with rules in place that would, again, make it nearly impossible for the Islamist bloc to have control.

Two days before the voting took place, Mr. Fawaz was campaigning on the steps of the education building, dressed in his best suit and tie. His campaign message to the students was simply, “For your sake.”

Running as an Islamist risks consequences: Mr. Fawaz said that he was approached by a student in his class who he believed was delivering a message from the security services. “He told me that they will write about me; I will never get a job,” Mr. Fawaz said.

But even when the police ordered him to take down his posters on election day, he remained resolute and confident.

“Everybody knows that I am going to win,” Mr. Fawaz said, without sounding boastful. “Because I represent the Islamic movement.”

But he did not win. Instead, a candidate representing a large tribe from the city of Salt won, reflecting the loyalty to bonds of kinship and family heritage even as tribal culture has begun to absorb more conservative Islamic practices and beliefs.

Yet Mr. Fawaz was untroubled. “What is important for me,” he said, “is to serve the movement by spreading the word among the students.”

Amjad al-Absy, 28, remembers the moment when he pledged to join the Muslim Brotherhood. He was 15 and he was identified by Brotherhood recruiters when he was playing soccer in a Palestinian refugee camp. He described how the Brotherhood monitors young men — when they play soccer, go to school, to mosque, to work, as well as in the street and singles out those who appear receptive.

“Once you say yes, they put you in a ring, in a family,” said Mr. Absy. “Outside of the Brotherhood, there is no concern for young men, there is no respect. You are alone.”

Mr. Absy and his friend Tarak Naimat, 24, said that while they were students at the university, they had helped to recruit other young men.

“In the computer lab, in the mosque, you buddy up,” Mr. Naimat said. “Then you participate in events together. Then he becomes a member. If he’s advanced, it can take six months. If less, maybe two years.”

The appeal, Mr. Naimat said, was simple: “It gives you the feeling you can change things, you can act, you can be a leader. You feel like you are part of something important.”

Recruiters to the movement operate in a social atmosphere far more receptive than in the past. Every one of five young men talking near the cafeteria of the university recently insisted that the only way Jordan would have democracy was under an Islamic government, which is what the Brotherhood says it wants to achieve.

Muhammad Safi is a 23-year-old with neatly gelled hair and a television-white smile who described himself as the least religious student at the table. He said he had lived in the United States for five years and was eager to marry an American so he could return. Yet he declared: “An Islamic state would be better. At least it would take care of people.”

A Political Crossroads

The task facing Middle East governments and Islamic leaders is to figure out how to harness the energy of the Islamic revival. The young — the demographic bulge that is defining the future of the Islamic world and the way the West will have to engage it — have embraced Islam with all the fervor of the counterculture.

But the movement is still up for grabs — whether it will lead to greater extremism, even terrorism in some cases, and whether the vague dissatisfaction of young people will translate into political engagement or disaffection.

So the cycle is likely to continue, with religious identification fueled not only by the Islamic movements, but also by governments eager to use religion to enhance legitimacy and to satisfy demands of their citizens. That, in turn, broadens support for groups like the Brotherhood, while undermining support for the government, said many researchers, intellectuals and political scientists in Jordan.

The battle lines are clear on the campus of Jordan University. Bilal Abu Sulaih, 24, is a leader in the Islamic student movement. He returned to school this year to study Islamic law after being suspended for one year for organizing protests, he said. During the year off, he said, he worked as a student organizer for the political party office of the Brotherhood. “We are trying to participate,” he said of the movement’s role on campus. “We do not want to overpower everyone else.”

But his reassurances were brushed aside as another student confronted him. “It’s not true,” shouted Ahmed Qabai, 28, who was seated on a nearby bench. He thrust a finger in Mr. Sulaih’s direction.

“You want to try to control everything,” Mr. Qabai said. “I’ve seen it before, your people talking to women and asking them why they’re not veiled.”

Mr. Sulaih, embarrassed by the challenge, said, “It’s not true.”

Mr. Qabai made it clear that he detested the Muslim Brotherhood, getting more and more worked up, until finally he was screaming. But what he said summed up the challenge ahead for Jordan, and for so many governments in the region: “We all know Islam is the solution. That we agree on.”
28628  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington: on: December 24, 2008, 08:39:11 AM
"I have often expressed my sentiments, that every man, conducting himself as a good citizen, and being accountable to God alone for his religious opinions, ought to be protected in worshipping the Deity according to the dictates of his own conscience."

--George Washington, letter to the General Committee of the United Baptist Churches in Virginia, May 1789
28629  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Bill's donor list on: December 24, 2008, 12:59:44 AM
This is not about former President Bill Clinton's shakedown of the sheikhs. They can take care of themselves, Clinton Foundation or no Clinton Foundation.

APThis is also not about Hillary Clinton's vulnerability to her husband's donors. She can tell him to "go stuff it," which people say she's been doing for a long time anyway. Rest assured, the next secretary of state will not shirk her diplomatic obligations for the benefit of some scummy foreign mineral magnate's uranium.

What I've been tying to discern about the Clinton Foundation is why -- aside from the annual fancy party in New York -- foreign governments, other foundations and charities have given money to fund what they already do themselves.

I understand why McDonald's of central Arkansas would make a contribution to Mr. Clinton's present career. He has spent so much cash on Big Macs over three decades that they actually owe it to him. But I fail to grasp why the "I Won't Cheat" foundation gave a donation to Bill's charity. He isn't exactly an ideal poster boy.

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None of these gifts were really big money, at least not for Mr. Clinton, for whom a million dollars isn't at all big anymore. But the scrounging operation seems to have dug down very deep to pull in thousand-dollar gifts.

There were four United Way contributions, one from the national outfit, three from local branches. Since when is the Clinton Foundation one of the approved charities of the United Way?

Then there are more serious questions about operating charities. What was the purpose of a contribution by the National Opera of Paris? Or of hospitals themselves in strained circumstances, like Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn and Arkansas Children's Hospital?

The University of Cambridge and Liverpool University in the United Kingdom threw into the pot from the other side of the pond. American universities like Tufts, Columbia, Georgetown, Iowa State, Texas, Brown, Rensselaer Polytechnic, UCLA and its school of public health all gave, plus the University of Judaism with a whopping sum between $100,000 and $250,000. (Is Bill Clinton now supporting studies in theology?) Do these educational institutions have such deep pockets to share with Bill Clinton's ego?

On the donor list are also the names of the charities we all give to generically: Human Rights Watch (well, not me), Feed the Children, and the Hunger Project. The foundation also receives funding from the International Bank for Recovery and Development of the World Bank, and the World Health Organization. They have their own, far-reaching projects. Why would they give cash to charitable work for which Mr. Clinton is at most a matchmaker?

In Today's Opinion Journal


In Hoc Anno DominiCongress Targets PhilanthropyAn Ethanol Bailout?


Business World: Get Ready for a Lost Decade
– Holman W. Jenkins Jr.


Defense Spending Would Be a Great Stimulus
– Martin Feldstein

Clinton's Donor List Raises Lots of Questions
– Martin PeretzHow Bush Can Transcend the Shoe Thrower
– Mark BowdenA Christmas Tale – 1919
– Hans von SpakovskyThere's a certain looseness here that spreads downwards: District 1199 of the Service Employees International Union gave old comrade Bill somewhere in the range of half a million bucks. And then spreads upwards, so to speak: Citi gave him from $1 million to $5 million. Perhaps Citi's gift was just a pledge. In that case, is Treasury now paying up?

Many are focused on the contributions of the Arab states. Mr. Clinton started his charity in 1997 with four years to go in his presidency, a period when no American law provided for the most elementary public reporting of the enterprise. Still, the fact that Saudi Arabia is on the donor list comes as no surprise.

What we now know is that Mr. Clinton was indiscriminating when it came to accepting cash from all sorts of countries. He took money from poor countries like Jamaica, and more prosperous countries like Italy. He dipped into the Irish Aid Fund and the Swedish Postal Lottery for big money, and for small money from the Social Economic Council of the Netherlands. And then there was an especially strange source from which he schnorrered: Citgo, Hugo Chávez's oil company. Even if the revolucion didn't gain points for this, it is unseemly for an American president to ask the energy company of the Venezuelan dictatorship for spare cash.

So where did all this fund-raised money go? Wouldn't you want to know to which philanthropic undertaking the King of Saudi Arabia and the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques committed himself? This information is not in the report -- and it doesn't look like President-elect Obama has any interest in pushing for further disclosure. Maybe the king just gave to general expenses.

Mr. Peretz is editor in chief of The New Republic.
28630  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Boxing Thread on: December 24, 2008, 12:48:16 AM
Tangential story:

For a time one of my sisters parlayed working for Howard Cosell rolleyes into some fairly heavy involvement with boxing telecasts and PR (e.g. she represented heavyweight champ Riddick Bowe for a time) , , , Anyway, as part of this she would get me gigs from time to time as "assistant stage manager" for various championship fights.  Mostly this meant that I sat at Al Bernstein's elbow and controlled security in the area.   

When welter champ Marlon Starling came up to middleweight to challenge Michael Nunn, the color commentators were Angelo Dundee and then heavyweight champ Buster Douglas and I got to spend the day with them escorting them around and such.  Both AD and BD were a pleasure to spend the day with.

The night before BD defended his title against Evander Holyfield, there was a dress rehearsal for the pre-fight ceremonies.  I got to meet Sugar Ray AND Thommy Hearns (got to read TH's hand too-- an absolutely amazing hand!)  A few minutes later I saw TH and Sugar Ray sitting down together in deep conversation  IIRC they probably were plotting their second or third fight.    After TH returned to his entourage, someone else sat down with SR and during the course of the conversation SR apparently was showing the other man some details about jabbing.  Naturally this had my attention!

Good times , , ,
28631  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Islamic Countries: on: December 24, 2008, 12:29:50 AM
And JDN qualifies  smiley
28632  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ on: December 23, 2008, 11:51:07 AM
Note to Readers

PD will be busy deactivating its missile defenses in anticipation of Santa's arrival. We wish our readers a joyous and safe holiday. We'll be back on Monday.

-- The Mgmt.

A Christmas Miracle for Ted Stevens?

It's wise always to be careful of prosecutorial overreach, even if -- or perhaps especially if -- it involves a case where the evidence appears to be overwhelming.

An FBI agent assigned to the Alaska corruption investigation of GOP Senator Ted Stevens has filed a complaint of misconduct against fellow agents and at least one prosecutor involved in the pursuit of Mr. Stevens on charges he failed to report $250,000 in gifts from an oil-services company executive. Mr. Stevens was convicted on the charges in October, subsequently lost his re-election bid the next month by a few hundred votes, and is currently awaiting sentencing.

The FBI whistleblower's complaint was heavily redacted by Federal Judge Emmet Sullivan, who presided over the trial, but was nonetheless released publicly last night.

The name of the whistleblower along with the names of the agents he accused of misconduct were withheld by the court. In releasing the redacted complaint, Judge Sullivan said yesterday he would consider a request by Mr. Stevens's lawyers to release more of the document later.

"I have witnessed or learned of serious violations of policy, rules and procedures as well as possible criminal violations," the whistleblower asserted in his complaint to the Justice Department. He alleges that FBI agents became cozy with sources in the corruption probe, took gifts and favors from some of them and revealed confidential grand jury and investigation information to the media.

Even more seriously, the whistleblower says at least one prosecutor withheld "exculpatory" information from the Stevens defense team despite a legal requirement that it be turned over. He also said the government concocted a "scheme" by which it allowed Rocky Williams, a potential witness in the case, to return home just before the trial began. Mr. Williams had been subpoenaed by both sides to testify, but prosecutors decided he would make a weak witness and came up with the excuse that he was too ill to testify and should be sent thousands of miles away from Washington back to Alaska.

The charges by the FBI whistleblower will have to be vetted by Judge Sullivan, but it certainly seems Mr. Stevens has a fair chance of having his conviction overturned or winning a new trial. However, the verdict of the voters must stand. They had to vote on Mr. Stevens's fitness and effectiveness for the office of Senator only ten days after he was convicted in federal court. He wound up losing by less than one percentage point to Democrat Mark Begich. No doubt if the FBI whistleblower's charges had been known before the election, the minds of some voters would have been changed.

-- John Fund

Gift Horse

The good news for Caroline Kennedy in a new Quinnipiac University poll is that nearly half of New York State voters expect Governor David Paterson to appoint her to Hillary Clinton's vacated Senate seat, as opposed to 25% who don't think it will happen.

The bad news is that, by 41% to 40%, New York voters don't think the 51-year-old social activist and fundraiser is qualified to be senator. Nor does she get any special break from women, among whom she had only a slight one-percent edge on the matter of whether she is "qualified." Even Geraldine Ferraro, a former New York congresswoman who was the 1984 Democratic vice-presidential candidate, told me yesterday that, while she supports the idea of a woman taking Hillary Clinton's place in the Senate, she isn't sold on Caroline Kennedy. "With the problems and financial crisis we have, we need a Senator who can jump in from Day One and tackle the problem," she told me. "I think one of New York's six Democratic congresswomen are most likely to have that ability right away."

Nor is Ms. Kennedy exactly running away from the competition in the Quinnipiac Poll. Though she is a big favorite among New York City voters, who like her by 42% to 27% over state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, suburban voters are split evenly between the two candidates, while Mr. Cuomo has a four-point lead among upstate voters.

-- John Fund

Sanford v. Keynes

Not every state and local politician in America is sprinting to the federal trough for free money out of Washington. One of the few stimulus skeptics is South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, who is saying "no thanks" to federal bailout money for states. Mr. Sanford is one Republican who hasn't forgotten his fiscal conservative principles as so many other pols in the GOP have. "Out-of-control spending in Washington is the problem with the economy. So why spend more?" he said in an interview, sounding a lot like Ronald Reagan.

Mr. Sanford spoke with Mr. Obama when the governors met in Philadelphia and both reportedly agreed that the increased national debt was a problem. That's where the consensus ended. Mr. Sanford says he's no disciple of the Keynesian economic thinking that says spend now, save later, which has become the economic operating philosophy of Obamanomics. "Everybody is like, 'The budget can go up this year, but next year it's going down.' The conclusion I've come to is the only budget you've got is this year."

Mr. Sanford has a stimulus idea that could not be more diametrically opposed to Mr. Obama's. Last week he called for a complete phase-out of South Carolina's 5% corporate income tax, while chopping the individual income tax in half. These ideas are needed "now more than ever," he says. Though his plan would be partially paid for by increasing the cigarette tax from 7 cents to 37 cents, on balance he would be instituting a giant tax cut at a time when most other governors want handouts to fatten government spending programs and avoid tough budget choices.

Mr. Sanford is widely touted as a conservative rising star among state leaders -- much in the mold of a Fife Symington of Arizona, John Engler of Michigan or William Weld of Massachusetts in the 1990s. "Mark is unquestionably one of our top-tier guys," says Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour. The Cato Institute rates Mr. Sanford as the second most fiscally conservative governor in the nation. And the National Taxpayers Union says that during his six years in Congress, he racked up one of the best anti-spending records of any of his House colleagues.

No wonder last week a new Web site was launched: ""

-- Stephen Moore

Quote of the Day I

"The three most prominent Democrats in national politics during the past two years -- Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton -- are all ascending from the U.S. Senate to the executive branch, creating open Senate seats for Democratic governors to fill. And, oh, what a spectacle it is -- of corruption, insider dealing, treacly dynastic politics and rank nepotism. . . . We might be witnessing the most brazen bout of cronyism since Napoleon made his relatives and minions rulers of conquered Europe. Or at least since the Kennedy family arranged in 1960 to have John Kennedy's pliable Harvard roommate keep his Massachusetts Senate seat warm until Ted turned 30 and could inherit -- er, get elected to -- it" -- National Review editor Rich Lowry.

Quote of the Day II

"The only way [the late Mark Felt, Watergate's 'Deep Throat'] could have the knowledge he did was if the FBI had been systematically spying on the White House, on the Committee to Re-elect the President and on all of the other elements involved in Watergate. Felt was not simply feeding information to Woodward and Bernstein; he was using the intelligence product emanating from a section of the FBI to shape The Washington Post's coverage. . . . Nixon was as guilty as sin of more things than were ever proven. Nevertheless, there is another side to this story. The FBI was carrying out espionage against the president of the United States, not for any later prosecution of Nixon for a specific crime (the spying had to have been going on well before the break-in), but to increase the FBI's control over Nixon. . . . The Washington Post created a morality play about an out-of-control government brought to heel by two young, enterprising journalists and a courageous newspaper. That simply wasn't what happened. Instead, it was about the FBI using The Washington Post to leak information to destroy the president, and The Washington Post willingly serving as the conduit for that information while withholding an essential dimension of the story by concealing Deep Throat's identity" -- Stratfor CEO George Friedman, on the passing of Mark Felt, the former FBI No. 2 who served as a secret Watergate source for reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

Getting Used to Senator Franken

The endless battle over Minnesota's Senate seat reconvenes today when the state's Canvassing Board meets to decide what to do with as many as 1,500 absentee ballots that may have been mistakenly rejected as well as some 130 ballots that Republican Norm Coleman's lawyers claim were double-counted.

The decisions the Canvassing Board makes will be crucial since it has almost completed its review of challenged ballots. At this point, Democrat Al Franken has a 48-vote lead out of well over two million votes cast.

No matter who wins the Canvassing Board's final count, the race is going to court. The Coleman campaign is upset that the Board, which is supposed to supervise a recount of the votes, nonetheless included in its totals 133 ballots that were cast on Election Day but wound up missing when the time came to recount them. "If the recount is supposed to come up with a new number, adding in ballots that are missing from the original count and can't be verified doesn't make sense," Coleman spokesman Erin Rath told me.

All of these issues are likely to wind up in court. Today, the Minnesota Supreme Court is hearing arguments on whether the rejected absentee ballots should be counted.

Bob Williams, president of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation in Washington State, says the whole process reminds him of the recount in that state's 2004 governor's race, which was ultimately won by Democrat Christine Gregoire by 133 votes. Minnesota's recount has been far more orderly and transparent than Washington's, but in both states the final result was determined by a series of controversial judgment calls that consistently pointed in the direction of counting suspect ballots.

28633  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Conservatives wrong on Palin on: December 23, 2008, 11:23:47 AM
Being listed in fourth place for Time magazine's "Person of the Year," as Sarah Palin was for 2008, sounds a little like being awarded the Order of Purity (Fourth Class). But it testifies to something important.

Though regularly pronounced sick, dying, dead, cremated and scattered at sea, Mrs. Palin is still amazingly around. She has survived more media assassination attempts than Fidel Castro has survived real ones (Cuban official figure: 638). In her case, one particular method of assassination is especially popular -- namely, the desperate assertion that, in addition to her other handicaps, she is "no Margaret Thatcher."

Very few express this view in a calm or considered manner. Some employ profanity. Most claim to be conservative admirers of Mrs. Thatcher. Others admit they had always disliked the former British prime minister until someone compared her to "Sarracuda" -- at which point they suddenly realized Mrs. Thatcher must have been absolutely brilliant (at least by comparison).

Inevitably, Lloyd Bentsen's famous put-down of Dan Quayle in the 1988 vice-presidential debate is resurrected, such as by Paul Waugh (in the London Evening Standard) and Marie Cocco (in the Washington Post): "Newsflash! Governor, You're No Maggie Thatcher," sneered Mr. Waugh. Added Ms. Coco, "now we know Sarah Palin is no Margaret Thatcher -- and no Dan Quayle either!"

Jolly, rib-tickling stuff. But, as it happens, I know Margaret Thatcher. Margaret Thatcher is a friend of mine. And as a matter of fact, Margaret Thatcher and Sarah Palin have a great deal in common.

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They are far from identical; they rose in different political systems requiring different skills. As a parliamentarian, Mrs. Thatcher needed forensic and debating skills which her training in Oxford politics and as a tax lawyer gave her. Mrs. Palin is a good speaker, but she needs to hone her debating tactics if she is to match those of the Iron Lady.

On the other hand, Mrs. Palin rose in state politics to jobs requiring executive ability. Her successful conduct of the negotiations with Canada, Canadian provinces and American states over the Alaska pipeline was a larger executive task than anything handled by Mrs. Thatcher until she entered the Cabinet and, arguably, until she became prime minister.

Mrs. Thatcher's most senior position until then had been education secretary in the government of Edward Heath where, as she conceded in her memoirs, she lacked real executive power. Her political influence within that government was so small that it took 17 months for her to get an interview with him. Even then, a considerate civil servant assured Heath that others would be present to make the meeting less "boring." Her main political legacy from that job was the vitriolic slogan, "Margaret Thatcher, Milk-Snatcher," thrown at her by the left because of a budgetary decision she had opposed to charge some children for school meals and milk. It was the single most famous thing about her when she defeated Heath for the Tory leadership in 1975.

At this point she became almost as "controversial" as Sarah Palin. Heath, for example, made it plain privately that he would not serve under her. And Sir Ian Gilmour, an intellectual leader of the Tory "wets," privately dismissed her as a "Daily Telegraph woman." There is no precise equivalent in American English, but "narrow, repressed suburbanite" catches the sense.

Mrs. Thatcher attracted such abuse for two reasons. First, she was seen by the chattering classes as representing a blend of provincial conservative values and market economics -- Middle England as it has come to be called -- against their own metropolitan liberalism. They thought this blend was an economic dead-end in a modern complex society and a political retreat into futile nostalgia. Of course, they failed to notice that their modern complex society was splintering under their statist burdens even as they denounced her extremism.

Second, Margaret Thatcher was not yet Margaret Thatcher. She had not won the 1979 election, recovered the Falklands, reformed trade union law, defeated the miners, and helped destroy Soviet communism peacefully.

Things like that change your mind about a girl. But they also take time, during which she had to turn her instinctive beliefs into intellectually coherent policies against opposition inside and outside her own party. Like Mrs. Palin this year, Mrs. Thatcher knew there were serious gaps in her knowledge, especially of foreign affairs. She recruited experts who shared her general outlook (such as Robert Conquest and Hugh Thomas) to tutor her on these things. Even so she often seemed very alone in the Tory high command.

As a parliamentary sketch writer for the Daily Telegraph (and a not very repressed suburbanite), I watched Mrs. Thatcher's progress as opposition leader. She had been a good performer in less exalted positions. But initially she faltered. Against the smooth, condescending Prime Minister James Callaghan in particular she had a hard time. In contrast to his chuckling baritone she sounded shrill when she attacked. But she lowered her tone (vocally not morally), took lessons in presentation from (among others) Laurence Olivier, and prepared diligently for every debate and Question Time.

I can still recall her breakthrough performance in a July 1977 debate on the Labour government's collapsing economy. She dominated the House of Commons so wittily that the next day the Daily Mail's acerbic correspondent, Andrew Alexander, began his report: "If Mrs. Thatcher were a racehorse, she would have been tested for drugs yesterday." She was now on the way to becoming the world-historical figure who today is the gold standard of conservative statesmanship.

In Today's Opinion Journal


Bush and Scooter LibbyColombo the Asbestos SleuthThe Domestic Threat


Main Street: The President Comforts a Marine Mom
– William McGurnGlobal View: A Monument for Obama
– Bret Stephens


Conservative Snobs Are Wrong About Palin
– John O'SullivanBernanke Is the Best Stimulus Right Now
– Robert E. Lucas Jr.Let's Confront North Korea on Human Rights
– Jay LefkowitzMrs. Palin has a long way to go to match this. Circumstances may never give her the chance to do so. Even if she gets that chance, she may lack Mrs. Thatcher's depths of courage, firmness and stamina -- we only ever know such things in retrospect.

But she has plenty of time, probably eight years, to analyze America's problems, recruit her own expert advice, and develop conservative solutions to them. She has obvious intelligence, drive, serious moral character, and a Reaganesque likability. Her likely Republican rivals such as Bobby Jindal and Mitt Romney, not to mention Barack Obama, have most of these same qualities too. But she shares with Mrs. Thatcher a very rare charisma. As Ronnie Millar, the latter's speechwriter and a successful playwright, used to say in theatrical tones: She may be depressed, ill-dressed and having a bad hair day, but when the curtain rises, out onto the stage she steps looking like a billion dollars. That's the mark of a star, dear boy. They rise to the big occasions.

Mrs. Palin had four big occasions in the late, doomed Republican campaign: her introduction by John McCain in Ohio, her speech at the GOP convention, her vice-presidential debate with Sen. Joe Biden, and her appearance on Saturday Night Live. With minimal preparation, she rose to all four of them. That's the mark of star.

If conservative intellectuals, Republican operatives and McCain "handlers" can't see it, then so much the worse for them.

Mr. O'Sullivan is executive editor of Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty in Prague, and a former special adviser to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. His book, "The President, the Pope, and the Prime Minister" (Regnery), has just been published in paperback.
28634  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Fort Dix convictions on: December 23, 2008, 11:10:31 AM
5 Men Found Guilty of Plotting to Kill Fort Dix Soldiers

Monday , December 22, 2008

Five Muslim immigrants accused of scheming to massacre U.S. soldiers at Fort Dix were convicted of conspiracy Monday in a case that tested the FBI's post-Sept. 11 strategy of infiltrating and breaking up terrorist plots in their earliest stages.

The men could get life in prison when they are sentenced in April.

The five, who lived in and around Philadelphia for years, were found guilty of conspiring to kill U.S. military personnel. But they were acquitted of attempted murder after prosecutors acknowledged the men were probably months away from an attack and did not necessarily have a specific plan. Four defendants were also convicted of weapons charges.

The federal jury deliberated for 38 hours over six days.

The government said after the arrests in 2007 that case underscored the dangers of terrorist plots hatched on U.S. soil. Although investigators said the conspirators were inspired by Osama bin Laden, they were not accused of any ties to foreign terror groups.

Defense lawyers argued that the alleged plot was all talk — that the men weren't seriously planning anything and that they were manipulated and goaded by two paid FBI informants.

Faten Shnewer, the mother of defendant Mohamad Shnewer, said the informants should be the ones in jail. "Not my son and his friends. It's not right, it's not justice," she said after the verdict. The government "sent somebody to push him to say something; that's it."

Convicted were: Shnewer, a Jordanian-born cab driver; Turkish-born convenience store clerk Serdar Tatar; and brothers Dritan, Eljvir and Shain Duka, ethnic Albanians from the former Yugoslavia, who had a roofing business. A sixth man arrested and charged only with gun offenses pleaded guilty earlier.

The government said the men were targeting New Jersey's Fort Dix for an attack but had also conducted surveillance at Fort Monmouth, Dover Air Force Base in Delaware and other military installations, and had talked about assaulting some of those spots. The jury did not have to find that the men had any specific target in mind to convict them.

"These criminals had the capacity and had done preparations to do serious and grievous harm to members of our military," Ralph Marra, the acting U.S. attorney for New Jersey, said after the verdict.

But some Muslim leaders in New Jersey disputed that.

"I don't think they actually mean to do anything," said Mohamed Younes, president of the American Muslim Union. "I think they were acting stupid, like they thought the whole thing was a joke."

Jim Sues, executive director of the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said: "Many people in the Muslim community will see this as a case of entrapment. From what I saw, there was a significant role played by the government informant."

The yearlong investigation began after a clerk at a Circuit City store told police that some customers had asked him to transfer onto DVD some video footage of them firing assault weapons and screaming about jihad.

The FBI asked two informants — both foreign-born men who entered the U.S. illegally and had criminal records — to befriend the suspects. Both informants were paid and were offered help obtaining legal resident status.

During the eight-week trial, the government relied heavily on information gathered by the informants, who secretly recorded hundreds of conversations.

Prosecutors said the men bought several assault rifles supplied by the FBI and that they trekked to Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains to practice their shooting. The government also presented dozens of jihadist speeches and videos that the men supposedly used as inspiration.

According to prosecutors, the group chose Fort Dix because one of the defendants was familiar with it. His father's pizza shop delivered to the New Jersey base, which is 25 miles from Philadelphia and used primarily to train reservists for duty in Iraq.

The group's objective was to kill "as many American soldiers as possible," prosecutors said.

But the men's lawyers attacked the credibility of the informants and accused them of instigating the plot.

After the verdict, Schnewer's attorney, Rocco Cipparone, said there would not have been a conspiracy without the involvement of the informants. "I believe they shaped the evidence," he said.

Prosecutor William Fitzpatrick defended the government's handling of the case, telling the jury: "The FBI investigates crime on the front end. They don't want to have to do it on the back end."

Members of the jury would not speak to reporters after the verdict.
The government said after the men's arrest that an attack was imminent, though prosecutors backed off that assertion at the trial.

The government has had a mixed record on terrorism prosecutions since Sept. 11. It won guilty pleas from Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui; Richard Reid, who tried to blow up a trans-Atlantic jetliner with a shoe bomb; and the Lackawanna Six, a terrorist cell outside Buffalo, N.Y. And it convicted Jose Padilla of plotting terrorist attacks.

But a case against four men in Michigan fell apart after a federal prosecutor was accused of withholding evidence. And a case in Miami against seven men accused of plotting to blow up Chicago's Sears Tower has produced one acquittal and two mistrials.,00.html
28635  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Happy Holidays, whatever your version on: December 23, 2008, 10:56:56 AM
Woof my friend!

A pleasure to have shared the trail with you from day one so very many years ago!

The Adventure continues!
Crafty Dog
28636  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / The Suri of Ethiopia on: December 23, 2008, 10:55:07 AM
The Suri were seen in the beginning of our Power: Real Contact Stickfighting:
28637  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Afg Surge on: December 23, 2008, 01:23:55 AM
Geopolitical Diary: The Afghanistan Surge
December 22, 2008

U.S. Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in Kabul on Saturday that the United States will send an additional 20,000 to 30,000 troops to Afghanistan in the first half of 2009. The plan is in line with President-elect Barack Obama’s statements during the presidential campaign and therefore is likely to come about. The United States currently has about 31,000 troops in Afghanistan, while other NATO countries have about 17,000 troops. Thus, the deployment will roughly double U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

The first issue is the military purpose of the buildup. Doubling the force will put a total of about 60,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan — 77,000 troops including the NATO contribution. That should be enough to secure the urban areas, but it is still far short of the force that would be needed to seal the border with Pakistan. It is, indeed, difficult to imagine a force large enough to achieve that mission.

The United States cannot win a defensive war in Afghanistan. In a defensive war, the assumption is that the enemy will run out of either troops or the willingness to lose soldiers before the United States does. That does not strike us as a reasonable scenario. Therefore, if this is a military move, we must assume that the purpose is to create an offensive opportunity. The targets are the remnants of al Qaeda, including Osama bin Laden in northwestern Pakistan, and the intention is to keep al Qaeda’s core from rebuilding its capability. Obama said during the campaign that he intended to target al Qaeda and bin Laden, but it is difficult to imagine how a conventional force of this size would be effective in a mission better left to special operations troops. And it is not clear how the capture of al Qaeda leaders would secure Afghanistan against the Taliban.

The other option is to use the forces to strike at Taliban bases inside Pakistan in order to disrupt their lines of supply and communications. That would be effective, but it is hard to imagine a force of 60,000 both securing vulnerable urban areas in Afghanistan and conducting substantive offensive operations into Pakistan. Undoubtedly, Obama will be asking NATO to increase its manpower in Afghanistan. Some NATO members could halt withdrawals already scheduled or even send more troops (though U.S. Army Gen. John Craddock at NATO headquarters has acknowledged that Washington’s NATO allies will not provide any major troop increases). But the size of the force needed to conduct sustained operations against the Taliban in Pakistan would be enormously larger than anything conceived or conceivable, and the willingness and ability of the Pakistanis to carry out the mission themselves simply isn’t there.

What is being proposed is a force that can shore up Afghanistan, but which is not sufficiently larger than the current force to seriously threaten the Taliban. We must always remember that the Soviets — with 130,000 troops, a border with Afghanistan and highly liberal rules of engagement — could not achieve a decisive military victory in almost 10 years. Sixty thousand troops dependent on a line of supply that stretches through Pakistan and back to the United States are unlikely to succeed.

Mullen and Obama certainly know this. So does Gen. David Petraeus, the architect of the surge in Iraq. It would seem to us that the plan is to re-create that surge. The key to Iraq was not that the 30,000 troops sent there made a qualitative difference militarily, but that they helped to create a psychological perception — demonstrating that the United States was not about to withdraw. That allowed talks to open between the United States and the Sunni insurgents previously vilified by the Americans, which set in motion the political process under way in Baghdad.

The question is whether what worked in Iraq will work in Afghanistan. The political dynamics of Iraq left the Sunnis in fear of isolation, should the Americans reach an agreement with the Shia. The Taliban are not concerned about being isolated. They emerged as the victors in the civil war of the 1990s, and they are confident they can do so again. Furthermore, the sectarian divide that is inherent to Iraq isn’t present in Afghanistan, where the insurgency is far less fragmented. The Taliban are also aware of the other pressures the United States is facing and are doubtful that Obama is inclined to allow the conflict in Afghanistan to continue interminably. Their view is that time is on their side.

Now if Petraeus can split the Taliban, that would be another story. And that could be the intention behind this deployment. How it would work is unclear, but what is clear is that barring a dramatic change in Pakistani policy (which is not out of the question but is highly unlikely), splitting the Taliban and negotiating with some factions is the key. The success of that strategy is in the hands of the Taliban; Mullah Mohammed Omar reportedly has named seven conditions for ending the insurgency. The surge is intended to increase American control over the process. It is unclear why the United States thinks this will happen — it is not impossible, but it is unclear.
28638  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ on: December 22, 2008, 04:25:05 PM
Sweet Caroline

It wasn't his idea. He may be irritated at being pressured into it. But it appears New York Governor David Paterson is moving towards appointing Caroline Kennedy to the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Hillary Clinton.

The dynamics are complicated. Normally, Mr. Paterson would have selected someone like Andrew Cuomo, the state's attorney general. Not only would that have removed Mr. Cuomo as a possible primary challenger to Mr. Paterson when he seeks a full term in his own right in 2010. Appointing Mr. Cuomo also would have given New York a proven operator with instant clout and credibility in the Senate.

But Mr. Cuomo's supporters were blindsided by the Kennedy boomlet, which was pushed by allies of Barack Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Within days it was made clear to Governor Paterson that if he appointed Ms. Kennedy, he would have no trouble raising money against any possible primary opponent and would be looked on with great favor by an Obama White House.

All of this leaves both Mr. Cuomo and allies of Hillary Clinton sputtering. They are unhappy with the blitzkrieg campaign waged on behalf of Ms. Kennedy but realize there's little they can do to thwart it.

The only thing that could gum up the works now is Ms. Kennedy's possible overexposure in coming weeks -- i.e., if she answers too many questions. The perils of having this political Greta Garbo reveal too much about her opinions showed up even in the tentative answers she gave to about some key policy positions.

Her answers had to be carefully calibrated to navigate the turbulent waters of New York special interest politics. She indicated support for same-sex marriage, opposition to school vouchers and sympathy with Governor Paterson's refusal (so far) to seek broad-based tax increases on wealthy New Yorkers. In other words, she showed herself to be a loyal Democrat, except on one question. When asked if she would support the Democratic nominee for mayor of New York next year against her friend Mr. Bloomberg, who may run as an independent, she took a pass. While that might anger some Democrats, it's certainly smart politics for her in the short run.

-- John Fund

'That Fifth CD Thing'

The legal team of President-elect Barack Obama will release a report this week clearing incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel of any involvement in a scheme to sell the U.S. Senate seat held by Mr. Obama. The report will find that Mr. Emanuel had only one phone conversation with Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and it was mostly a "pro forma" talk in which a list of candidates acceptable to Mr. Obama was conveyed.

What that doesn't mean is that all the questions about Mr. Emanuel's role will have been answered. The federal criminal complaint against Mr. Blagojevich says that about a week after last month's election, Mr. Blagojevich expressed interest in having a top Obama adviser be told of the governor's interest in creating a non-profit group that would need "10, 15 million" dollars in funding. Mr. Blagojevich says, in reference to the Obama adviser, "When he asks for the Fifth CD thing, I want [the funding] to be in his head."

The adviser in question is likely either Mr. Emanuel or someone intimately concerned with the special election that would pick a replacement for Mr. Emanuel in the House when he resigns his seat to go to the White House. But House seats, unlike Senate seats, aren't filled by gubernatorial appointment. So what exactly might Mr. Emanuel and the governor have to talk about?

Possibly, a great deal. Mr. Blagojevich held Mr. Emanuel's seat in Congress before becoming governor and exercises a great deal of clout in the North Shore of Chicago, where the district is located. Mr. Emanuel is known to be wistful about giving up his seat in the House, where he planned to stay for decades and eventually become Speaker. The speculation among political observers in Chicago is that Mr. Emanuel was keen on Mr. Blagojevich using his influence to back a "placeholder" to run for the seat -- i.e. someone who would serve in Congress but be willing to step aside in exchange for some other job when Mr. Emanuel wanted to reclaim his House seat.

One would hope the internal Obama report discusses the curious references to the Emanuel House seat in the criminal complaint. If not, we may never learn the full story. Mr. Obama has stopped short of pledging to release emails or other information relevant to the inquiry. A gap in government disclosure laws blocks presidential transition offices from having to make their records public under the Freedom of Information Act. That exemption may prove very handy to Mr. Obama, who obviously hopes his internal report will close out discussion of the relationship between his office and Governor Blagojevich.

-- John Fund

Memo to Pelosi

President-elect Barack Obama took off for a 13-day Christmas vacation in Hawaii on the weekend, leaving supporters stewing over his selection of Pastor Rick Warren to perform at next month's inauguration. Yesterday, Rep. Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat and the first openly gay Member of Congress, blasted Mr. Obama's choice, saying: "Mr. Warren compared same-sex couples to incest. I found that deeply offensive and unfair."

The media naturally have hyperventilated over the seeming breach between Mr. Obama and a powerful Congressional Democrat, though Mr. Obama is likely not losing sleep over it. Mr. Frank, who has spent 27 years in Congress and endured revelations of a relationship with a gay hooker, survives politically because he represents one of the most liberal districts in one of the nation's most liberal states. He's hardly somebody most voters in America identify with. Meanwhile, with the Warren pick, Mr. Obama is building bridges to "values voters," some of whom helped him get elected by staying home in November. He also shows he's personally comfortable around conservative Christians, even when he disagrees with them on policy.

Besides, it's not too early to demonstrate who's on top in the Democratic Party. In a piece entitled "Pelosi lays down the law with Rahm," reported last week that, in a private communication with incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tried to "set parameters" on her expectations from the new White House, including "no surprises" and "no backdoor efforts to go around her and other Democratic leaders by cutting deals with moderate New Democrats or conservative Blue Dogs."

Mr. Warren's selection may be Mr. Obama's answer to Ms. Pelosi, whose House Democrats had even lower approval ratings on Election Day than George Bush.

-- Brendan Miniter

Quote of the Day

"Dr. Holdren, now a physicist at Harvard, was one of the experts in natural resources whom Paul Ehrlich enlisted in his famous bet against the economist Julian Simon during the 'energy crisis' of the 1980s. Dr. Simon, who disagreed with environmentalists' predictions of a new 'age of scarcity' of natural resources, offered to bet that any natural resource would be cheaper at any date in the future. . . . In 1980 Dr. Holdren helped select five metals -- chrome, copper, nickel, tin and tungsten -- and joined Dr. Ehrlich and Dr. Harte in betting $1,000 that those metals would be more expensive ten years later. They turned out to be wrong on all five metals, and had to pay up when the bet came due in 1990. Now, you could argue that anyone's entitled to a mistake, and that mistakes can be valuable if people learn to become open to ideas that conflict with their preconceptions and ideology. That could be a useful skill in an advisor who's supposed to be presenting the president with a wide range of views. . . . But I haven't seen much evidence of such open-mindedness in Dr. Holdren" -- New York Times columnist John Tierney, on the selection of John Holdren as President-elect Obama's science advisor.

Bailout Nation North

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Saturday announced a complementary auto bailout, following the one announced by President Bush. In fact, the troubled asset Mr. Harper is trying to rescue is his own administration.

"I will not fool you," Mr. Harper told voters in discussing the $3.29 billion lifeline. "There may be, well, more money as we go forward."

Recall that, after winning re-election in October, Mr. Harper faced a vote of "no confidence" in Parliament, with opposition parties banding together ready to form a coalition government. Recall that, rather than negotiating a solution to the impasse, the Conservative premier chose to "prorogue" the legislature -- or suspend Parliament until Jan. 26 so it couldn't pass a no-confidence resolution.

By authorizing the bailout, Mr. Harper now hopes to pressure left-leaning members of the opposition into dropping the effort dissolve his government. Both New Democratic Party Leader Jack Layton and Liberal Party Leader Michael Ignatieff hail from vote-rich Ontario, center of the Canadian auto industry. The bailout was also strongly applauded by Canadian Auto Workers union chief Ken Lewenza, who nonetheless insists the Big Three's problems are all south of the border. Canadian workers, he says, "could work for nothing and we wouldn't sell another vehicle" thanks to trouble caused in Detroit and Washington.

He's got a point, since the cheap Canadian dollar and Canada's national health system have helped keep Canada's labor costs more competitive than the UAW's. Mr. Harper's move may be a shrewd attempt to save his government, but it puts Canada in line to pour potentially unlimited sums down a mismanaged U.S auto industry.

-- Adrian Ho

28639  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Citizens defend themselves/others. on: December 22, 2008, 03:37:41 PM
From the WT forum on this case:

Good Samaritan laws raise the standard for liability, they do not eliminate liability. Generally speaking, under a GS law, if you are a trained care giver, you are only liable for Gross Negligence, not Ordinary Negligence. These terms are defined as:

Ordinary negligence is the failure to exercise such care as the great mass of mankind ordinarily exercises under the same or similar circumstances (Clemens v. State, 176 Wis. 289; 57 Am. Jur. 2d Negligence, § 98).

Gross negligence, on the other hand, generally signifies more than ordinary inadvertence or inattention, but less than conscious indifference to consequences (Alspaugh v. Diggs 195 Va. 1, 77 S. E. 2d 362; Prosser on Torts, Gross Negligence).

Wilful and Wanton Negligence
The usual meaning assigned to wilful and wanton negligence is that the actor has intentionally done an act of unreasonable character, in disregard of a risk known to him or so obvious that he must be taken to have been aware of it, and so great as to make it highly probable that harm would follow. Second Restatement of Torts, Section 500; Cope v. Davidson 30 Cal. 2d 193; Prosser on Torts-Degrees of Negligence. It is usually accompanied by a conscious indifference to the consequences amounting almost to a willingness that they shall follow. Wilful or wanton negligence is an action or omission which amounts to an extreme departure from ordinary care, in a situation where a high degree of danger is apparent. Prosser on Torts, Degrees of Negligence. Such wilful or wanton negligence must be more than mere thoughtlessness, inadvertence, or simple inattention.

Federal law has spoken on this matter as well.

The Volunteer Protection Act of 1997 (P. L 105-19) became effective in September of 1997. In addition to establishing immunity for acts of negligence, it also establishes a clear and convincing standard of proof for punitive damages to be awarded against volunteers and makes them liable for noneconomic damages (pain and suffering) only to the degree their wrongdoing caused the harm.

The act preempts state laws to the extent they are inconsistent with it. It does not preempt state laws that provide additional protection from liability. But states can opt out of the law by passing an act explicitly doing so.

Scope of Limitation on Liability

Under the act, no volunteer of a nonprofit organization or governmental entity can be liable for harm caused by his act or omission on its behalf if:

1. he was acting within the scope of his responsibilities at the time of the act or omission;

2. he was properly licensed, certified, or authorized by the appropriate authorities in the state where the harm occurred;

3. the harm was not caused by willful or criminal misconduct, gross negligence, reckless misconduct, or a conscious flagrant indifference to the rights or safety of the person harmed by the volunteer; and

4. the harm was not caused by the volunteer operating a motor vehicle, vessel, aircraft or other vehicle for which the state requires the operator or owner to possess a license or maintain insurance.

The act specifies that it does not affect (1) any civil action brought by the nonprofit organization or governmental entity against the volunteer; or (2) such organization’s or entity’s liability with respect to harm a volunteer causes.

The act also specifies that a state law is not inconsistent with the federal act because it:

1. requires the organization or entity to adhere to risk management procedures including mandatory training of volunteers;

2. makes the organization or entity liable for the volunteer’s acts or omissions to the same extent as an employer is liable for its employees’ acts or omissions;

3. subjects the volunteer to liability if the civil action was brought by a state or local government officer under state or local law; or

4. limits liability protection to cases where the organization or entity provides a financially secure source of recovery such as an insurance policy for those harmed by the volunteer.

These laws are not on the books so everyone who wants to help can help without fear of liability. They have been enacted so that a dentist on his way to a golf game who sees a kid get hit by a car can stop, render aid under a stressful, sudden situation, and not be found liable for a mistake made in the course of treatment if the mistake does not rise to the level of gross negligence.

People off the street, even well meaning people, are on their own. Always have been, always will be.


If you are going to do something for someone, you have to use ordinary care.

If you are a drunk chick in a car with another drunk chick who wrapped the car around a tree/poll/object, see the airbags deploy and panic, then drag your badly injured friend out of the car because you think its going to explode...then put her down next to the car...


You are NOT a medical professional to which the law is addressed, and even if you were, that's probably gross negligence..."Gross negligence, on the other hand, generally signifies more than ordinary inadvertence or inattention, but less than conscious indifference to consequences (Alspaugh v. Diggs 195 Va. 1, 77 S. E. 2d 362; Prosser on Torts, Gross Negligence)."

The sky is NOT falling. People can help people. Stop panicking about this and go back to watching the price of oil fall to 1990's prices.

28640  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Woodward & Redford on: December 22, 2008, 03:26:09 PM
The Death of Deep Throat and the Crisis of Journalism
December 22, 2008

By George Friedman

Mark Felt died last week at the age of 95. For those who don’t recognize that name, Felt was the “Deep Throat” of Watergate fame. It was Felt who provided Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of The Washington Post with a flow of leaks about what had happened, how it happened and where to look for further corroboration on the break-in, the cover-up, and the financing of wrongdoing in the Nixon administration. Woodward and Bernstein’s exposé of Watergate has been seen as a high point of journalism, and their unwillingness to reveal Felt’s identity until he revealed it himself three years ago has been seen as symbolic of the moral rectitude demanded of journalists.

In reality, the revelation of who Felt was raised serious questions about the accomplishments of Woodward and Bernstein, the actual price we all pay for journalistic ethics, and how for many years we did not know a critical dimension of the Watergate crisis. At a time when newspapers are in financial crisis and journalism is facing serious existential issues, Watergate always has been held up as a symbol of what journalism means for a democracy, revealing truths that others were unwilling to uncover and grapple with. There is truth to this vision of journalism, but there is also a deep ambiguity, all built around Felt’s role. This is therefore not an excursion into ancient history, but a consideration of two things. The first is how journalists become tools of various factions in political disputes. The second is the relationship between security and intelligence organizations and governments in a Democratic society.

Watergate was about the break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington. The break-in was carried out by a group of former CIA operatives controlled by individuals leading back to the White House. It was never proven that then-U.S. President Richard Nixon knew of the break-in, but we find it difficult to imagine that he didn’t. In any case, the issue went beyond the break-in. It went to the cover-up of the break-in and, more importantly, to the uses of money that financed the break-in and other activities. Numerous aides, including the attorney general of the United States, went to prison. Woodward and Bernstein, and their newspaper, The Washington Post, aggressively pursued the story from the summer of 1972 until Nixon’s resignation. The episode has been seen as one of journalism’s finest moments. It may have been, but that cannot be concluded until we consider Deep Throat more carefully.

Deep Throat Reconsidered
Mark Felt was deputy associate director of the FBI (No. 3 in bureau hierarchy) in May 1972, when longtime FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover died. Upon Hoover’s death, Felt was second to Clyde Tolson, the longtime deputy and close friend to Hoover who by then was in failing health himself. Days after Hoover’s death, Tolson left the bureau.

Felt expected to be named Hoover’s successor, but Nixon passed him over, appointing L. Patrick Gray instead. In selecting Gray, Nixon was reaching outside the FBI for the first time in the 48 years since Hoover had taken over. But while Gray was formally acting director, the Senate never confirmed him, and as an outsider, he never really took effective control of the FBI. In a practical sense, Felt was in operational control of the FBI from the break-in at the Watergate in August 1972 until June 1973.

Nixon’s motives in appointing Gray certainly involved increasing his control of the FBI, but several presidents before him had wanted this, too, including John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. Both of these presidents wanted Hoover gone for the same reason they were afraid to remove him: He knew too much. In Washington, as in every capital, knowing the weaknesses of powerful people is itself power — and Hoover made it a point to know the weaknesses of everyone. He also made it a point to be useful to the powerful, increasing his overall value and his knowledge of the vulnerabilities of the powerful.

Hoover’s death achieved what Kennedy and Johnson couldn’t do. Nixon had no intention of allowing the FBI to continue as a self-enclosed organization outside the control of the presidency and everyone else. Thus, the idea that Mark Felt, a man completely loyal to Hoover and his legacy, would be selected to succeed Hoover is in retrospect the most unlikely outcome imaginable.

Felt saw Gray’s selection as an unwelcome politicization of the FBI (by placing it under direct presidential control), an assault on the traditions created by Hoover and an insult to his memory, and a massive personal disappointment. Felt was thus a disgruntled employee at the highest level. He was also a senior official in an organization that traditionally had protected its interests in predictable ways. (By then formally the No. 2 figure in FBI, Felt effectively controlled the agency given Gray’s inexperience and outsider status.) The FBI identified its enemies, then used its vast knowledge of its enemies’ wrongdoings in press leaks designed to be as devastating as possible. While carefully hiding the source of the information, it then watched the victim — who was usually guilty as sin — crumble. Felt, who himself was later convicted and pardoned for illegal wiretaps and break-ins, was not nearly as appalled by Nixon’s crimes as by Nixon’s decision to pass him over as head of the FBI. He merely set Hoover’s playbook in motion.

Woodward and Bernstein were on the city desk of The Washington Post at the time. They were young (29 and 28), inexperienced and hungry. We do not know why Felt decided to use them as his conduit for leaks, but we would guess he sought these three characteristics — as well as a newspaper with sufficient gravitas to gain notice. Felt obviously knew the two had been assigned to a local burglary, and he decided to leak what he knew to lead them where he wanted them to go. He used his knowledge to guide, and therefore control, their investigation.

Systematic Spying on the President
And now we come to the major point. For Felt to have been able to guide and control the young reporters’ investigation, he needed to know a great deal of what the White House had done, going back quite far. He could not possibly have known all this simply through his personal investigations. His knowledge covered too many people, too many operations, and too much money in too many places simply to have been the product of one of his side hobbies. The only way Felt could have the knowledge he did was if the FBI had been systematically spying on the White House, on the Committee to Re-elect the President and on all of the other elements involved in Watergate. Felt was not simply feeding information to Woodward and Bernstein; he was using the intelligence product emanating from a section of the FBI to shape The Washington Post’s coverage.

Instead of passing what he knew to professional prosecutors at the Justice Department — or if he did not trust them, to the House Judiciary Committee charged with investigating presidential wrongdoing — Felt chose to leak the information to The Washington Post. He bet, or knew, that Post editor Ben Bradlee would allow Woodward and Bernstein to play the role Felt had selected for them. Woodward, Bernstein and Bradlee all knew who Deep Throat was. They worked with the operational head of the FBI to destroy Nixon, and then protected Felt and the FBI until Felt came forward.

In our view, Nixon was as guilty as sin of more things than were ever proven. Nevertheless, there is another side to this story. The FBI was carrying out espionage against the president of the United States, not for any later prosecution of Nixon for a specific crime (the spying had to have been going on well before the break-in), but to increase the FBI’s control over Nixon. Woodward, Bernstein and above all, Bradlee, knew what was going on. Woodward and Bernstein might have been young and naive, but Bradlee was an old Washington hand who knew exactly who Felt was, knew the FBI playbook and understood that Felt could not have played the role he did without a focused FBI operation against the president. Bradlee knew perfectly well that Woodward and Bernstein were not breaking the story, but were having it spoon-fed to them by a master. He knew that the president of the United States, guilty or not, was being destroyed by Hoover’s jilted heir.

This was enormously important news. The Washington Post decided not to report it. The story of Deep Throat was well-known, but what lurked behind the identity of Deep Throat was not. This was not a lone whistle-blower being protected by a courageous news organization; rather, it was a news organization being used by the FBI against the president, and a news organization that knew perfectly well that it was being used against the president. Protecting Deep Throat concealed not only an individual, but also the story of the FBI’s role in destroying Nixon.

Again, Nixon’s guilt is not in question. And the argument can be made that given John Mitchell’s control of the Justice Department, Felt thought that going through channels was impossible (although the FBI was more intimidating to Mitchell than the other way around). But the fact remains that Deep Throat was the heir apparent to Hoover — a man not averse to breaking the law in covert operations — and Deep Throat clearly was drawing on broader resources in the FBI, resources that had to have been in place before Hoover’s death and continued operating afterward.

Burying a Story to Get a Story
Until Felt came forward in 2005, not only were these things unknown, but The Washington Post was protecting them. Admittedly, the Post was in a difficult position. Without Felt’s help, it would not have gotten the story. But the terms Felt set required that a huge piece of the story not be told. The Washington Post created a morality play about an out-of-control government brought to heel by two young, enterprising journalists and a courageous newspaper. That simply wasn’t what happened. Instead, it was about the FBI using The Washington Post to leak information to destroy the president, and The Washington Post willingly serving as the conduit for that information while withholding an essential dimension of the story by concealing Deep Throat’s identity.

Journalists have celebrated the Post’s role in bringing down the president for a generation. Even after the revelation of Deep Throat’s identity in 2005, there was no serious soul-searching on the omission from the historical record. Without understanding the role played by Felt and the FBI in bringing Nixon down, Watergate cannot be understood completely. Woodward, Bernstein and Bradlee were willingly used by Felt to destroy Nixon. The three acknowledged a secret source, but they did not reveal that the secret source was in operational control of the FBI. They did not reveal that the FBI was passing on the fruits of surveillance of the White House. They did not reveal the genesis of the fall of Nixon. They accepted the accolades while withholding an extraordinarily important fact, elevating their own role in the episode while distorting the actual dynamic of Nixon’s fall.

Absent any widespread reconsideration of the Post’s actions during Watergate in the three years since Felt’s identity became known, the press in Washington continues to serve as a conduit for leaks of secret information. They publish this information while protecting the leakers, and therefore the leakers’ motives. Rather than being a venue for the neutral reporting of events, journalism thus becomes the arena in which political power plays are executed. What appears to be enterprising journalism is in fact a symbiotic relationship between journalists and government factions. It may be the best path journalists have for acquiring secrets, but it creates a very partial record of events — especially since the origin of a leak frequently is much more important to the public than the leak itself.

The Felt experience is part of an ongoing story in which journalists’ guarantees of anonymity to sources allow leakers to control the news process. Protecting Deep Throat’s identity kept us from understanding the full dynamic of Watergate. We did not know that Deep Throat was running the FBI, we did not know the FBI was conducting surveillance on the White House, and we did not know that the Watergate scandal emerged not by dint of enterprising journalism, but because Felt had selected Woodward and Bernstein as his vehicle to bring Nixon down. And we did not know that the editor of The Washington Post allowed this to happen. We had a profoundly defective picture of the situation, as defective as the idea that Bob Woodward looks like Robert Redford.

Finding the truth of events containing secrets is always difficult, as we know all too well. There is no simple solution to this quandary. In intelligence, we dream of the well-placed source who will reveal important things to us. But we also are aware that the information provided is only the beginning of the story. The rest of the story involves the source’s motivation, and frequently that motivation is more important than the information provided. Understanding a source’s motivation is essential both to good intelligence and to journalism. In this case, keeping secret the source kept an entire — and critical — dimension of Watergate hidden for a generation. Whatever crimes Nixon committed, the FBI had spied on the president and leaked what it knew to The Washington Post in order to destroy him. The editor of The Washington Post knew that, as did Woodward and Bernstein. We do not begrudge them their prizes and accolades, but it would have been useful to know who handed them the story. In many ways, that story is as interesting as the one about all the president’s men.
28641  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Citizens defend themselves/others. on: December 22, 2008, 12:20:14 AM
"Perhaps I was not clear, or perhaps not precise, or, simply we got off topic."

No.  As I have had to make clear with increasing bluntness, in support of your position you made an overly broad statement.  Getting called on it is not "getting off topic".

"My original point was civil liability and how the recent CA Court ruling may affect "good samaritans"."

Actually that is not a "point"-- it is the subject of the conversation at the moment.

"I acknowledge that the LAPD stopped using chokeholds (only) and has raised the threshold when a carotid
hold is permitted." 

There, that wasn't so hard now was it?

, , ,

"Given the recent Supreme Court ruling, I think a layman (non professional) using a gun or a knife or applying a chokehold or even a carotid hold may and often probably will be subject to civil liability if done so on behalf of another, i.e. being a good samaritan.  It depends upon the circumstances, but given the Court ruling the burden
of proof seems to have shifted."

My reading is not that the burden of proof has shifted but that a qualified immunity has been read narrowly.

"I suggest "Do the right thing" is paramount; but think once, maybe twice before acting, however being a non professional, one's interpretation of the "right thing" may be different than a qualified police officer.  It seems to me unless there is utterly no choice, better to abstain and if appropriate call the police.  Physically interceding, even though you think it's the "right thing to do" in a non life threatening situation may severely cost you."

A question of one's values and how one feels looking in the mirror I suppose.

"And while noble to interfere the CA Supreme Court seems to have said that if you don't do it 100% correctly, the burden of proof is on you and you may/will be liable."

Umm, , , NO.  The CA Supreme Court has NOT imposed a standard of absolute liability, nor even one of strict liability.  As best as I can tell from this non-legal news report, the standard is one of reasonableness under the circumstances.  This is a question for the trier of the facts, be it a judge or a jury.  As I previously noted, but apparently has not been noted here:

QUOTEIf I read the CA case correctly the question presented means that for the purpose of the question presented the court must assume the allegations to be true.  In this case the allegations are that the defendant got hyper and a bit hysterical and by so doing left the plaintiff crippled.  Did the law protect (i.e. did the law confer immunity for) this behavior?  Was the defendant within the class protected by the law? END QUOTE 

The court held it did not.  It has not held the defendant liable, it simply has said that given the facts ALLEGED, the defendant is subject to suit.

"And yet the CA Supreme Court said she is liable since she did intervene."

No, it held she is subject to suit.  Whether she is liable will be determined at trial.

"  , , ,  if a non trained medical (law enforcement) individual takes "good samaritan" action that causes injury or loss of life
that good samaritan is now open to civil suit"

At last your formulation is essentially correct!

"and in CA may now most likely will be found personally liable."

Most likely?  What is the basis for this assertion?

JDN, apart from your initial avoidance of acknowledging a simple point of logic simply and fairly made, my annoyance here comes from your having stepped on a pet peeve of mine- which is people giving legal conclusions based upon , , , what I'm not sure.   Our legal system is hostile enough to the values that most of us here share without our whipping ourselves into a panic based upon something other than what was actually held by the court.

28642  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: December 21, 2008, 05:16:05 PM
9 Headless Bodies Located in Southern Mexico
Sunday, December 21, 2008,2933,470710,00.html

ACAPULCO, Mexico —  Authorities found the decapitated bodies of nine men in the southern state of Guerrero on Sunday, and some of the victims have been identified as soldiers.  State Public Safety Secretary Juan Salinas Altes said the bodies were found on a major boulevard in the state capital, Chilpancingo, just a few hundred yards from where the state governor was scheduled to participate in a traditional religious procession later in the day.  Salinas Altes said experts are still trying to identify the bodies, but he said a still-undetermined number of them are soldiers. An army base is located nearby.

Mexico has been hit by a rising wave of drug-fueled violence, and officials estimate that more than 5,300 people have died in organized-crime-related slayings so far in 2008.  Mexican drug cartels have increasingly taken to chopping the heads off their victims, who include rival traffickers or lawmen. On Aug. 28, a dozen decapitated bodies were found outside Merida, the capital of Yucatan state.

Two other severed heads were found on the same boulevard in Chilpancingo on Dec. 7 alongside a sign reading: "Soldiers who are supposedly fighting crime, and they turn out to be kidnappers. This is going to happen to you."

Scores of police and soldiers have been killed since President Felipe Calderon launched an offensive against the cartels in late 2006. While Mexican criminal gangs once appeared to steer clear of confrontations with the army, they now often openly attacking soldiers.

In May 2007, gunmen linked to a drug gang killed five soldiers in an ambush in the neighboring state of Michoacan.

Also Sunday, federal police reported they had captured three suspected cartel hit men in the border city of Tijuana. The suspects allegedly had six assault rifles and about 3,500 rounds of ammunition at the home where they were caught.

28643  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Vehicles, driving skills, crime, related issues on: December 21, 2008, 05:10:45 PM
A lot of self-defense issues arise in the context of vehicles.  This thread is for discussing such things.  I kick things off with a skills related post pasting something posted by GM on the P&R forum:


Insert Quote

Slalom 36-42 Mph

The Slalom drill allows the student to learn and practice many skills however the most important of these lessons would be to experience the lateral forces acting on the car. By forcing the student to keep there speed stable we are isolating the steering wheel. As the speed increases more and more steering input needs to be used. When the student becomes comfortable and proficient with controlling the forces produced by a certain speed the instructor will increase the speed by just two miles an hour. This does not feel like much of an increase, but remember small increases of speed act greatly on forces applied to the vehicle. This rule is especially true when reaching the vehicle's maximum limitations. A proficient driver who understands vehicle dynamics will be able to use a higher percentage of the vehicles capabilities.

This does not imply higher speeds, since potential accidents need to be avoided at all speeds. Notice the top speed in our slalom videos only reaches 40 MPH. 42 MPH. is impossible for even the best driver in the world. Successfully completing our 60-foot slalom with a police package Crown Vic. would be an act that defies the laws of physics.

As you look at the following video pics take notice to the small speed increases and the dramatic differences in the forces acting on the car. (All speeds and reactions based on maximum limit .85G 's Police Package Crown Vic) At 36 MPH you will hear a slide tire squeal and see moderate lateral weight transfer. At 38 MPH that tire squeal will become much more apparent as the added force causes the tires to begin to lose adhesion. At 40 MPH the vehicle will actually be on the edge of control. As the vehicle starts to lose control (sliding sideways) an aggressive and fast reacting driver will be able to regain control. At 42 MPH it is not possible to for the best driver in the world to negotiate the 60' slalom in our .85 G Crown Vics.
28644  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: December 21, 2008, 05:07:48 PM
Fascinating stuff.  As I think about it a bit, it seems to me that driving skills and related issues would be a good thread for the Martial Arts forum.
28645  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Amazing what some testicular will can accomplish on: December 21, 2008, 11:25:39 AM

Chinese ship uses Molotov cocktails to fight off Somali pirates
The crew of a Chinese ship used water cannon, Molotov cocktails and beer bottles to fight off an attack by Somali pirates.
By Our Foreign Staff
Last Updated: 1:40PM GMT 20 Dec 2008

Previous1 of 2 Images

The crew of the Zhenhua 4 held off the pirates using molotov cocktails and water cannon Photo: AP

 The Somali pirates were armed with rocket-propelled grenades Photo: AP

The captain of the Zhenhua 4 told how his well-prepared crew held off the pirates - who were armed with rocket-propelled grenades - when the ship was boarded by pirates on Tuesday in the Gulf of Aden.

The ordeal of the multinational crew of 30 men ended with the arrival of military helicopters and a warship despatched by the task force fighting the piracy menace in the region.

“Seven of the nine pirates landed on our ship, all with weapons,” said the captain, Peng Weiyuan, speaking to China Central Television.

“Our crew, who had been well trained and prepared, used water cannon, self-made incendiary bombs [Molotov cocktails or petrol bombs], beer bottles and anything else that could be used to battle with them. Thirty minutes later, the pirates gestured to us for a ceasefire. Then the helicopter from the joint fleet came to help us.”

The ship was one of four vessels seized by pirates on Tuesday, the same day the United Nations Security Council took a strong stand against the attacks and authorised countries to pursue the gunmen on to Somali soil.  Rampant piracy off the coast of Somalia this year has earned gunmen millions of dollars in ransoms, forced up the cost of shipping insurance costs and caused international alarm.

The Global Times newspaper, a tabloid run by the Communist Party’s People’s Daily, said on Thursday that two destroyers and a large-sized depot ship would set sail for the region after Christmas to defend Chinese shipping. The first tour of duty would be for three months, it said.

According to Andrew Mwangura of the East African Seafarers Assistance programme, there have been 124 incidents of piracy off Somali this year and some 60 successful hijacks. Nearly 400 people and 19 ships are being held along the coast, including a Saudi supertanker with two million barrels of oil and a Ukrainian cargo ship carrying 33 tanks.
28646  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Ummm , , , exactly so on: December 21, 2008, 11:20:18 AM
"As I did a search, I found "choke hold" often used interchangeably with control holds, carotid holds, and other holds including "stopping the blood flow".   Further, I think most laymen will use the term interchangeably."

Ummm, , , this IS my point.  You used a term which covered bar-arm windpipe holds AND carotid holds, whereas it was only the bar-arm hold which was abandoned as a technique.

"Between 1975 and 1982, 16 men died after the application of choke holds by officers with the Los Angeles Police Department. According to the LAPD's reports, five of the men had bar-arm holds placed on them, which cuts off air passage.
Nine of the deaths occurred after officers used the carotid artery hold, and in two of the cases, there was some uncertainty about which hold was used."

Not quite the way I remember the data, but I could be wrong.  I do remember that this hit the papers shortly after I arrived in LA.  The police chief, Darryl Gates, had just responded to a reporter's question about why a disproportionate number of the dead in the bar-arm choke cases were black by saying something like "Maybe they (blacks) don't respond to the technique like normal people."  
shocked    New and naive to the ways of LA, I assumed that the black mayor and former police chief Tom Bradley would can hit butt PDQ, bu such was not the case.

"The carotid hold -- it's a terrible idea, physically and medically," said Los Angeles civil rights attorney Michael R. Mitchell, who sought an injunction against the city of Los Angeles to bar the use of the control holds in the 1970s and 1980s."

Well, like most of us here, I have a reasonably good idea of what it is and what it does, and IMHO the man is an ass looking to make a contingency fee.

Mitchell argued the case when it went before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1983. One count alleged that police officers "regularly and routinely" applied choke holds in situations where they are not threatened by the use of deadly force, and that numerous persons had been injured or killed as a result of the application of the carotid hold and other choke holds."

The allegations of this contingency attorney mean very little  evil

"While the court did not side with Mitchell,"

an occasional moment of sanity strikes!

"the LAPD saw fit to raise the threshold for use, allowing the carotid hold only when there is an immediate threat of serious bodily injury or death."

Which agrees with the point that I have been making here-- your original statement that the "LAPD stopped doing chokeholds due to "problems"" was overbroad.
28647  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tithing on: December 21, 2008, 10:39:24 AM
Bleeding Heart Tightwads
Published: December 20, 2008

This holiday season is a time to examine who’s been naughty and who’s been nice, but I’m unhappy with my findings. The problem is this: We liberals are personally stingy.

Liberals show tremendous compassion in pushing for generous government spending to help the neediest people at home and abroad. Yet when it comes to individual contributions to charitable causes, liberals are cheapskates.

Arthur Brooks, the author of a book on donors to charity, “Who Really Cares,” cites data that households headed by conservatives give 30 percent more to charity than households headed by liberals. A study by Google found an even greater disproportion: average annual contributions reported by conservatives were almost double those of liberals.

Other research has reached similar conclusions. The “generosity index” from the Catalogue for Philanthropy typically finds that red states are the most likely to give to nonprofits, while Northeastern states are least likely to do so.

The upshot is that Democrats, who speak passionately about the hungry and homeless, personally fork over less money to charity than Republicans — the ones who try to cut health insurance for children.

“When I started doing research on charity,” Mr. Brooks wrote, “I expected to find that political liberals — who, I believed, genuinely cared more about others than conservatives did — would turn out to be the most privately charitable people. So when my early findings led me to the opposite conclusion, I assumed I had made some sort of technical error. I re-ran analyses. I got new data. Nothing worked. In the end, I had no option but to change my views.”

Something similar is true internationally. European countries seem to show more compassion than America in providing safety nets for the poor, and they give far more humanitarian foreign aid per capita than the United States does. But as individuals, Europeans are far less charitable than Americans.

Americans give sums to charity equivalent to 1.67 percent of G.N.P., according to a terrific new book, “Philanthrocapitalism,” by Matthew Bishop and Michael Green. The British are second, with 0.73 percent, while the stingiest people on the list are the French, at 0.14 percent.

(Looking away from politics, there’s evidence that one of the most generous groups in America is gays. Researchers believe that is because they are less likely to have rapacious heirs pushing to keep wealth in the family.)

When liberals see the data on giving, they tend to protest that conservatives look good only because they shower dollars on churches — that a fair amount of that money isn’t helping the poor, but simply constructing lavish spires.

It’s true that religion is the essential reason conservatives give more, and religious liberals are as generous as religious conservatives. Among the stingiest of the stingy are secular conservatives.

According to Google’s figures, if donations to all religious organizations are excluded, liberals give slightly more to charity than conservatives do. But Mr. Brooks says that if measuring by the percentage of income given, conservatives are more generous than liberals even to secular causes.

In any case, if conservative donations often end up building extravagant churches, liberal donations frequently sustain art museums, symphonies, schools and universities that cater to the well-off. (It’s great to support the arts and education, but they’re not the same as charity for the needy. And some research suggests that donations to education actually increase inequality because they go mostly to elite institutions attended by the wealthy.)

Conservatives also appear to be more generous than liberals in nonfinancial ways. People in red states are considerably more likely to volunteer for good causes, and conservatives give blood more often. If liberals and moderates gave blood as often as conservatives, Mr. Brooks said, the American blood supply would increase by 45 percent.

So, you’ve guessed it! This column is a transparent attempt this holiday season to shame liberals into being more charitable. Since I often scold Republicans for being callous in their policies toward the needy, it seems only fair to reproach Democrats for being cheap in their private donations. What I want for Christmas is a healthy competition between left and right to see who actually does more for the neediest.

Of course, given the economic pinch these days, charity isn’t on the top of anyone’s agenda. Yet the financial ability to contribute to charity, and the willingness to do so, are strikingly unrelated. Amazingly, the working poor, who have the least resources, somehow manage to be more generous as a percentage of income than the middle class.

So, even in tough times, there are ways to help. Come on liberals, redeem yourselves, and put your wallets where your hearts are.
28648  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Power of Word on: December 21, 2008, 12:47:48 AM

That touched me.  Thank you.

28649  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Citizens defend themselves/others. on: December 20, 2008, 01:25:19 PM
@ JDN:

My comments were in response to your overly broad/imprecise statement:
"Choke holds are tricky.  LAPD stopped doing it due to "problems"; and the City paid out millions."

28650  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Pacquiao on: December 20, 2008, 07:58:55 AM
The Filipino whose fists stop wars
"Don't tell God you have a big problem. Tell your problem you have a big God,” champ tells fans.
The boxing world is in shock after the legendary Mexican Oscar de la Hoya was sent into retirement by Filipino Manny Pacquiao on December 6 in Las Vegas.
Manny Pacquiao is undoubtedly the Philippines’ most popular sports icon. He’s a simple guy of extraordinary grit. Glorious in his bouts, he remains humble with his feet firmly planted on the ground. In his most recent match, which kept millions of Filipinos all over the world glued to their radios or TV screens, he emerged as the winner against the much touted “golden boy” Oscar de la Joya in an eight-round TKO decision.

The good-natured Pacquiao shows his mettle even inside the ring. Recah Trinidad, a Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) columnist, wrote: “How Pacquiao lent boxing a warm human touch was no coincidence. In fact, Pacquiao would later bare that he often took pity on the helpless De La Hoya. After cornering and shaking up De La Hoya, Pacquiao would often stall in his offensive. Of course, this was not out of a sudden attack of compassion and humility.”

Pacquiao’s matches are surely a diversion to many people, not just Filipinos. His bouts relieve the stress of a faltering economy and provide national entertainment on a humdrum weekend. They have even led to truces among warring camps and a drop in crime rate, even as rebels and thieves are kept off the streets to catch a glimpse of his exciting matches. Apparently Eid Kabalu, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front civil-military affairs chief, has been known to say, “If Manny fights every day, guns will always be silent.”

The 29-year-old Pacquiao is an interesting character. In the tough world of boxing, you see this man publicly acknowledging that among his weapons are absolute faith in God and prayer. He hangs a rosary around his neck just before a match, and he’s not shy about it. As soon as he steps into the boxing ring, he kneels in deep prayer in one corner. Meanwhile, thousands of kilometers away in General Santos City, he’s supported by a pious mother who spends hours praying before an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Santo Nino (Holy Child Jesus) for the success of her son. After each victorious bout, an assistant immediately hops into the ring to hang once more the same holy rosary around Manny’s neck.

Returning to the Philippines after his victorious dream match, he went to the popular Black Nazarene Church in Manila. In a blog posted by Izah Morales in the PDI, she recalled: “After priest gave his final blessings, Pacquiao was asked to give a message to the people. During his message, Pacquiao thanked the people and attributed his success to God. He talked about the criticisms he got from some sportswriters before his bout with Oscar de la Hoya. But he said he did not lose hope as he kept his faith in God.

“Pacquiao told the crowd, ‘Don't tell God that [you] have a big problem. ut tell your problem [that you] have a big God.’”

It said that a boxer’s motto is “It’s better to give than to receive.” But Pacquaio goes beyond that quip. It was reported that before his “dream match” with de la Joya, he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars for tickets to be distributed among his friends and supporters. For him, it was a way of giving back. Some labeled it as superstition. But Pacquiao has that penchant for sharing his blessings with others. At the end of his match he was quoted saying, “I’m just happy that I made a lot of people happy.”

Pacquiao was tempted to venture into politics last year when he ran for a seat in Congress. He was soundly defeated, much to the delight of his fans, who wanted him to stay in the ring.

A recent PDI editorial warned Pacquiao against pursuing further political ambitions: “Pacquiao's achievements have been fully his own, as far as boxing is concerned. His becoming a sports hero has led not only to riches, but also has won him the incomparable affections of an entire nation. That success and that affection are his because of how he unites a nation otherwise divided and discouraged by politics.

“No one can doubt that Pacquiao is looking for a career that will not just give meaning to his life after boxing, but which will also allow him to help others as so many have helped him rise from rags to riches through sports. The question is not whether he can or should try to be a force for public good, but whether the public good is served by his entering politics.

“His dogged determination, his dedication to his sport, his discipline and his ability to improve himself, all the while maintaining a sunny disposition and picking no quarrels with people outside the boxing ring, suggest to us that the greatest good for the greatest number lies in Pacquiao staying out of the political arena. He is a political force by sheer force of being who he is-the man who unites-and staying that way.”

The good-tempered, level-headed Pacquiao is no Mike Tyson. He is unlikely to end up like many other boxers: broke, cheated, disgraced or punch-drunk. But he should stay out of politics. The punches thrown in political shadow boxing are more vicious than any he will ever face in the ring.

Zen Udani is Assistant Professor of Management at the University of Macau.
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