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28601  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: June 2007 Gathering on: March 26, 2007, 09:22:03 AM
A Howl of Greeting:

The rhythm of the seasons is with us and its time for the "Summer Dog Brothers Gathering of the Pack". On behalf of the Council of Elders of the Dog  Brothers, Dog Brothers Inc. Martial Arts hereby cordially invites all people of good spirit to its "Dog Brothers Summer Gathering of the Pack" at 11:00 AM on Sunday, June 24, 2007 at the R-1 Gym in El Segundo to conclude when the fighters are done.

Many of you may remember our Gatherings held in the park in Hermosa Beach, which, although they were hosted at considerable expense, were always free to you our friends, our guests. However with a private facility involved we now need to charge admission of $15. We ask that you still consider yourselves to be our friends and our guests. In this context we ask that you respect our wishes in the matter of Video.

It is very simple:

NO VIDEO CAMERAS, NO DUAL PURPOSE CAMERAS (i.e. with both still photo and video capabilities). THIS MATTER IS OF IMPORTANCE TO US! And, if you see someone videoing, please don't let them abuse our hospitality-please let us know.

As always, you may take photographs for personal, non-commercial use PROVIDED you give us a complete set of the ones you take. Thanks to the increasing numbers of you who actually remember and bother to do this! It is very much appreciated!


The Magic Words:

The MAGIC WORDS: "No judges, no referees, no trophies. One rule only: Be friends at the end of the day. This means our goal is that no one spends the night in the hospital. Our goal is that everyone leaves with the IQ with which they came. No suing no one for no reason for nothing no how no way! Real Contact Stickfighting is Dangerous and only you are responsible for you. Protect yourself at all times. All copyright belongs to Dog Brothers Inc. CA law applies."

This matter of accepting the risk applies to those of you in the crowd too. For example, sticks, and fights for that matter, may go flying into the crowd. Parents should consider things like this in deciding whether a child is old enough to bring along and/or deciding on from where to observe the event. For example, sitting on the heavy bags ringing the fighting area is a really risky idea for a child (or adult for that matter). If a stick or a fight comes careening your way-get out of the way!

This matter of copyright is of particular importance with this Gathering. It is looks likely that Original Productions (who did the "Pilot" clip you see on our front page) will be recording the day as part of a one hour documentary that will appear on National Geographic!  OP will be at the door with some sort of legal release giving it permission to have you (fighters & audience members) appear in the documentary, not sue them, etc. OP also will be looking to interview some of the fighters for the documentary.

Assuming the deal with OP/Nat Geo comes together, the Gathering may be held in a warehouse owned by OP in the Burbank area.  I have seen it and it seems like a very promising location.  Director Dan Jackson will be working with me to assure that the fighting area is everything that it should be and seating and viewing conditions should be very good.

At this Gathering, we will continue starting the knife fights with a handshake and the knives undrawn. Again we encourage you to fight knife versus stick-- the stick versus electric knife fight last time was a great success and the electric knife will again be available. Stick vs. knife has been one of perennial questions of the FMA, so let's continue the research!

Remember that you may fight with weapons other than a stick if you can find someone willing to go against you. Please consider staff, double stick, and anything else. In order to more deeply explore certain variables, fighters may agree to "no grappling" rules. In staff fights, the fighters may wear wrestling type ear guards under the fencing masks.

There is no charge for fighters but FIGHTERS MUST PRE-REGISTER, even if they have fought before. WE WILL BE RUTHLESS ON THIS!  The Fighter's Registration form can be found on the website and must be filled out whether you have fought before or not. For all Fighter Registration matters, please contact Cindy at info@dogbrothers.com 310-540-6853. You are not registered until your name appears on the list of registered fighters on the website!!! 

As I write this (March 26th) we already have 22 fighters listed (from throught the US, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, Great Britain, Australia) which is the most we have ever had this far in advance.   With the probability of the Nat Geo documentary, as Gathering time approaches Cindy will be very busy.  We strongly suggest that you register as far in advance as possible.

"Higher Consciousness through Harder Contact"

Crafty Dog
Guiding Force of the Dog Brothers
Dog Brothers Inc. Martial Arts

310-543-7521 (Remember, please use 310-540-6853 for matters concering registration)

Craftydog@Dogbrothers.com
28602  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Poor Behavior Linked to Day Care on: March 26, 2007, 07:58:12 AM
By BENEDICT CAREY
Published: March 26, 2007
NY Times

A much-anticipated report from the largest and longest-running study of American child care has found that keeping a preschooler in a day care center for a year or more increased the likelihood that the child would become disruptive in class — and that the effect persisted through the sixth grade.


N.I.C.D. Study of Early Child Care (secc.rti.org)The effect was slight, and well within the normal range for healthy children, the researchers found. And as expected, parents’ guidance and their genes had by far the strongest influence on how children behaved.

But the finding held up regardless of the child’s sex or family income, and regardless of the quality of the day care center. With more than two million American preschoolers attending day care, the increased disruptiveness very likely contributes to the load on teachers who must manage large classrooms, the authors argue.

On the positive side, they also found that time spent in high-quality day care centers was correlated with higher vocabulary scores through elementary school.

The research, being reported today as part of the federally financed Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development, tracked more than 1,300 children in various arrangements, including staying home with a parent; being cared for by a nanny or a relative; or attending a large day care center. Once the subjects reached school, the study used teacher ratings of each child to assess behaviors like interrupting class, teasing and bullying.

The findings are certain to feed a long-running debate over day care, experts say.

“I have accused the study authors of doing everything they could to make this negative finding go away, but they couldn’t do it,” said Sharon Landesman Ramey, director of the Georgetown University Center on Health and Education. “They knew this would be disturbing news for parents, but at some point, if that’s what you’re finding, then you have to report it.”

The debate reached a high pitch in the late 1980s, during the so-called day care wars, when social scientists questioned whether it was better for mothers to work or stay home. Day care workers and their clients, mostly working parents, argued that it was the quality of the care that mattered, not the setting. But the new report affirms similar results from several smaller studies in the past decade suggesting that setting does matter.

“This study makes it clear that it is not just quality that matters,” said Jay Belsky, one of the study’s principal authors, who helped set off the debate in 1986 with a paper suggesting that nonparental child care could cause developmental problems. Dr. Belsky was then at Pennsylvania State University and has since moved to the University of London.

That the troublesome behaviors lasted through at least sixth grade, he said, should raise a broader question: “So what happens in classrooms, schools, playgrounds and communities when more and more children, at younger and younger ages, spend more and more time in centers, many that are indisputably of limited quality?”

Others experts were quick to question the results. The researchers could not randomly assign children to one kind of care or another; parents chose the kind of care that suited them. That meant there was no control group, so determining cause and effect was not possible. And some said that measures of day care quality left out important things.

The study did not take into account employee turnover, a reality in many day care centers that can have a negative effect on children, said Marci Young, deputy director of the Center for the Child Care Workforce, which represents day care workers. Most employees are “egregiously underpaid and have no benefits,” Ms. Young said, and when they leave for other work, “children experience this as a loss, and that does have an effect on them.”

The study, a $200 million project financed by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, recruited families in 10 cities from hospitals, after mothers gave birth. The researchers regularly contacted the mothers to find out where their children were being cared for, and visited those caregivers to see how attentive and how skilled they were with the youngsters.

In 2001, the authors reported that children who spent most of their day in care not provided by a parent were more likely to be disruptive in kindergarten. But this effect soon vanished for all but those children who spent a significant amount of time in day care centers.

Every year spent in such centers for at least 10 hours per week was associated with a 1 percent higher score on a standardized assessment of problem behaviors completed by teachers, said Dr. Margaret Burchinal, a co-author of the study and a psychologist at the University of North Carolina.

The Children’s Defense Fund estimates that 2.3 million American children under age 5 are in day care centers, many starting as toddlers and continuing until they enter kindergarten. Some 4.8 million are cared for by a relative or a nanny, and 3.3 million are at home with their parents.

The study was not designed to explain why time in day care could lead to more disruptive behavior later on. The authors and other experts argue that preschool peer groups probably influence children in different ways from one-on-one attention. In large groups of youngsters, disruption can be as contagious as silliness, studies have found, while children can be calmed by just the sight of their own mother.

“What the findings tell me is that we need to pay as much attention to children’s social and emotional development as we do to their cognitive, academic development, especially when they are together in groups,” said Ellen Galinsky, president of the Families and Work Institute, a nonprofit research group.

Loudell Robb, program director of the Rosemount Center in Washington, which cares for 147 children ages 5 and under at its main center and in homes, said she was not surprised that some children might have trouble making the transition from day care to school.

“At least our philosophy here is that children are given choices, to work alone or in a group, to move around,” Ms. Robb said. “By first or second grade, they’re expected to sit still for long periods, to form lines, not to talk to friends when they want to; their time is far more teacher-directed.”

And as parents in the thick of it know all too well, the stress of juggling chores, work and young children does not help. “It’s not an easy ride,” Ms. Robb said, “and you can see that here at drop-off time and in the evening when kids are picked up.”

The continuing research project began in 1991. The investigators have financing to follow the same children into high school, and are proposing to follow some into their 20s.

28603  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / For Many Palestinians, 'Return' is not a Goal on: March 26, 2007, 07:54:59 AM
For Many Palestinians, ‘Return’ Is Not a Goal
By HASSAN M. FATTAH
Published: March 26, 2007
NY Times

AMMAN, Jordan, March 22 — For nearly 60 years Nimr Abu Ghneim has waited, angrily but patiently, for the day he would return to the home he left in 1948.

Abdallah Zalatimo, a shop owner in Amman, Jordan, says of Palestinians who want to reclaim land, “What are we holding out for?”
A resident of a sprawling Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan, Mr. Abu Ghneim, like most Arabs, says there can be no peace with Israel until he and 700,000 other Palestinians are permitted back to the homes they left in the 1948 fighting that led to Israel’s creation.

But with the Arab League expected to focus later this week on the Palestinian-Israeli dispute, there is another, albeit quieter, approach being voiced, especially by younger and wealthier Palestinians: it may be neither possible nor desirable to go back.

“Every time people talk peace, you hear discussion of this subject,” said Hanin Abu Rub, 33, a Web content manager at a Jordanian Internet startup, Shoofeetv, who has been active in Palestinian politics. “But now it is a major part of the discussions we have. When people think, ‘Is it possible for us to go back?’ deep inside they now know they are not going back.”

Even having such a debate — rethinking a sacred principle — was once impossible. Now the discussion is centering on how to define the right of return in a new way. Some have come to see the issue as two separate demands: the acceptance, by Israel, that its creation caused the displacement and plight of the Palestinians; and the ability to move back to the lands they or their families left.

Almost no Palestinian questions the demand for Israel’s recognition of the right to return; many, however, now say returning is becoming less and less feasible.

The debate has been spurred again recently by plans to revive the so-called Arab Peace Initiative at the annual Arab League meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Wednesday and Thursday. The initiative, led by Saudi Arabia, offers Israel full recognition and permanent peace with the Arab states in return for Israel’s withdrawal to 1967 lines, the establishment of an independent Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital and a “just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194” of 1948.

Resolution 194 says, “Refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date,” and calls for them to be compensated if they choose not to return.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni have spoken of “positive” elements in the Saudi initiative, but they have expressed reservations about many parts, especially the issue of the refugees.

Israel says that Palestinians should have the right to return to a new Palestine, not to their original homes, especially considering that their numbers have exploded since the original 711,000 people fled in 1948. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees says it has 4.3 million registered Palestinian refugees.

But the prevailing Palestinian view is that the right of return is at the core of the dispute.

“The issue of the refugees is the Palestinian problem,” said Talat Abu Othman, chairman of the Jordanian chapter of the Committee to Protect the Right of Return, an independent Palestinian organization. “The rest, Jerusalem, the settlements and the Palestinian Authority are details. It is not about getting a few inches here or there, it is about the return itself. And even by demanding our return, we are walking away from some of our rights.”

For refugees in camps in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and the occupied territories, the right of return is both a symbol of their plight and a financial consideration.

“The Israelis were betting that the elders would die, and the youth would forget,” said Mr. Abu Ghneim, the refugee, as he sat flanked by several other Palestinian elders who have campaigned for the right of return. “But we are here and the young haven’t forgotten. Our right to return to our homes and lands can never be replaced, not with money or anything else.”

He worries, he said, that the Arab states will give in to Israeli demands to drop the issue altogether.

Most Palestinians who fled to Jordan were granted citizenship and today account for well over half of the country’s population. Palestinian refugees living elsewhere, however, have survived with few rights and no citizenship.

A few Palestinians in Jordan now propose a more negotiable stance that seeks recognition from the Israelis, but also offers terms for restitution.

The right of return “is my right, which I have inherited from my parents and grandparents,” said Maha Bseis, 39, a Palestinian whose family comes from Jerusalem. “But if I have the right, I will not return because I was born and grew up here.”

In 2003, the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in the West Bank city of Ramallah, in one of the most comprehensive surveys conducted on the subject, found that most Palestinians would be unlikely to move if they were granted the right of return.

“Once the Palestinian narrative is assured, then the tactical issue of where they will go becomes easy to approach,” said Khalil Shikaki, who directs the center. “Everybody wants the emotional question addressed; everybody is happy with the likely modalities.”

He added, “The novel aspect of the survey is, once we gave assurances about the right of return, the other issues became very resolvable,” meaning that many said they would take compensation and would not move.

For Abdallah Zalatimo, 41, the decision on where he will go was made long ago. Born in the United States while his father, a physician from a prominent Jerusalem family, was doing his specialization, Mr. Zalatimo returned to Amman in 1976, before attending college in the United States.

In the late 1980s he opened a business making Arabic sweets that has grown to include shops in several Arab countries with several million dollars in revenues.

“What right do I have to ask for awda when I am here and content?” Mr. Zalatimo said, using an Arabic word for return. “We’ve been accepting less and less every year. What are we holding out for?”

Mr. Zalatimo said the nearly singular focus of many Palestinian refugees on returning detracted from the daily hardships of Palestinian refugees living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, people who had far fewer options and whose conditions were far worse.

“I think the Palestinian cause today is about helping the Palestinians in the occupied territories to live a better life,” Mr. Zalatimo said. “My pressing issue is to solve the problems of the Palestinians that are living there.”


Suha Maayeh contributed reporting.
28604  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: What would you have done? on: March 25, 2007, 10:59:19 PM
A hearty woof to that!!!

Any practical suggestions for us civilians?
28605  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: March 25, 2007, 10:57:49 PM
Another piece on the idea that the sun is responsible for temperature changes:

http://www.junkscience.com/Greenhouse/Cosmic_rays_and_climate.html

Excerpt:

We know there are effects from land use change and we know we have added to atmospheric backscatter of solar radiation from particulates (sulfate aerosols, dust from agriculture...) but we are no longer certain of the net sign of anthropogenic temperature change.

The one thing we are reasonably sure of is that twiddling about with emissions of carbon dioxide will have no discernable effect on global mean temperature.

If you think the above is really quite significant in the "greenhouse debate" then you are right, which is probably why the mainstream media seem to have completely ignored it

 

Cosmic rays and Earth's climate

JunkScience.com
October, 2006

Summary: Almost ignored by the media the Royal Society has quietly published what may prove to be the most significant paper on Earth's climate in decades. Here we present background on the paper and explore some of its ramifications.

A most fascinating item was published online in "Proceedings of the Royal Society A", October 3rd., under the title: "Experimental Evidence for the role of Ions in Particle Nucleation under Atmospheric Conditions". Persons lacking access to the original publication and with a desperate need for the full paper can request a copy here although "all you need to know and were keen to ask" can be found in the media release and two publicly accessible files: Description of the SKY-experiment (38Kb .pdf, 3pp) and Background article on "Influence of Cosmic Rays on Earth's climate" (617Kb .pdf, 5pp). Update: these files are apparently no longer available from the original source but can be found here, here and here, respectively. End update.

Also available are some pretty nice animations:

These animations illustrate the physical process which the theory about the cosmic connection to Earth's climate proposes: 1) A giant star explodes in a supernova explosion and emits cosmic rays, 2) cosmic rays enter Earth's atmosphere, 3) rays release free electrons which act a catalysts for the building blocks for cloud condensation nuclei, 4) on which water vapour condenses into clouds.

Uncompressed AVI-animation (97 MB) or Compressed AVI-animation (41 MB) Note: we found the animation files very slow to download so, if you can't get them we have local copies here for the uncompressed and here for the compressed version. Naturally we prefer you get them direct from the source.

Now, some will fail to read the linked or provided documents or simply fail to understand the significance of this work so let's expand on this somewhat.

Firstly, this new work is a severe blow to proponents of the enhanced greenhouse hypothesis and advocates of Anthropogenic Global Warming who have worked so hard to deny solar influence on global climate. Recall that we had this in September of this year:

<chuckle> Now they're turning down the sun: "Study acquits sun of climate change, blames humans" - "OSLO - The sun's energy output has barely varied over the past 1,000 years, raising chances that global warming has human rather than celestial causes, a study showed on Wednesday. Researchers from Germany, Switzerland and the United States found that the sun's brightness varied by only 0.07 percent over 11-year sunspot cycles, far too little to account for the rise in temperatures since the Industrial Revolution." (Reuters) | Changes in solar brightness too weak to explain global warming (NCAR/UCAR)

Such claims of solar variation insufficiency survive because indications of feedback mechanisms were supported only by historical records and statistical associations but were not empirically demonstrated (never mind that situation applies particularly to the enhanced greenhouse hypothesis, the simple fact is that hypothesis is currently politically correct and hence requires no evidentiary support). This situation has now changed because Svensmark and the team at the Danish National Space Center have experimentally demonstrated the very mechanism they proposed a decade ago.

How big a deal is this indirect cloud effect? Huge, actually. In just 5 years it was responsible for a 2% decrease in low clouds (the kind that reflect incoming solar radiation by day) which, in turn, equates to an increase in surface warming of 1.2 Wm-2 from incident radiation -- equivalent to some 85% of the IPCC's estimate for the effect of all carbon dioxide increase since the Industrial Revolution.

Significantly, the "Svensmark Effect" only operates in the lower troposphere because there is always more than sufficient ionization of the upper atmosphere to ensure no shortage of cloud nuclei. This is important since high, thin clouds do not reflect incoming sunlight and are a net warming influence while the reverse is true of low, bright clouds. The effect then directly influences cooling cloud cover.

Note that this is only part of the story since, as far as we are aware, no one has yet investigated a counterintuitive parallel effect -- condensation and precipitation will likely reduce the total lower atmospheric concentration of that ubiquitous greenhouse gas, water vapor, so increasing clear sky radiative cooling. It's true that clouds account for roughly one-fifth of the greenhouse effect but gaseous water vapor accounts for more than one-half of the total effect. Reduced condensation then would leave an increased proportion of gaseous water vapor with corresponding increase in clear sky greenhouse effect.

Of course, Svensmark et al are not alone in associating solar activity and cloudiness, see for example, Influence of Solar Activity on State of Wheat Market in Medieval England (Pustilnik, 2003), a seemingly radical hypothesis dating from British astronomer William Herschel, who suggested a link between sunspots and wheat prices in 1801.

So, now we know that the more active sun warms the planet directly with increased incident radiation and indirectly both by reducing low cloud and likely by elevating the proportion of gaseous water -- the most important greenhouse gas.

This is precisely the kind of feedback hypothesized for enhanced greenhouse except this now has a demonstrated physical mechanism and is of such importance we should walk through its function just to be clear.

Increased solar activity acts directly on the Earth with a small increase in radiation, a small heating effect and an associated increase in evaporation. This same increase in activity suppresses cosmic ray penetration of Earth's atmosphere, thus reducing available low cloud condensation nuclei. This sequence of events increases clear sky and incoming radiation while increasing the already dominant clear sky greenhouse effect from gaseous water vapor.

The reverse effect of a more quiescent sun reduces direct solar warming and, by permitting the penetration of cosmic rays, facilitates low cloud formation, which increases reflection of already reduced solar radiation, reduces clear sky, reduces evaporation and simultaneously reduces the availability of the most important greenhouse gas, water vapor, through condensation and precipitation.

Thus solar activity has associated positive feedback when more active and negative feedback when less active, dramatically magnifying Earth's thermal response to changes in solar activity and explaining how fractions of Wm-2 change in direct solar radiation translate to many Wm-2 effect between positive and negative phases of relative solar activity.

Good cloud data is in short supply and covers only the recent decades but we can derive cosmic ray intensity and deduce there has been a general reduction in cloud cover during the 20th Century. While we are hesitant to extrapolate from very short data series (always a dubious procedure) it is entirely plausible that reduction in low cloud over the period could conservatively be estimated to have increased heating at Earth's surface by 5-10 Wm-2, an amount more than sufficient to account for all the estimated warming over the period.

Additionally, the mechanism described by Svensmark et al explains observed drought response to the recently more active sun and the reduction in cloudiness, probably coupled with snowfield discoloration from dust, soot and other particulates goes a long way toward explaining a disproportionate Arctic response, one apparently lacking in the Antarctic where such pigments are in relatively short supply, leaving snowfield albedo relatively unchanged.

This puts anthropogenic emissions in an interesting light. Since solar effects, both direct and indirect, are more than sufficient to account for net estimated temperature change over the period of significant fossil fuel usage, have humans been warming or cooling the planet? We know there are effects from land use change and we know we have added to atmospheric backscatter of solar radiation from particulates (sulfate aerosols, dust from agriculture...) but we are no longer certain of the net sign of anthropogenic temperature change.

The one thing we are reasonably sure of is that twiddling about with emissions of carbon dioxide will have no discernable effect on global mean temperature.

If you think the above is really quite significant in the "greenhouse debate" then you are right, which is probably why the mainstream media seem to have completely ignored it. The hazards of excessive investment in the enhanced greenhouse hypothesis, we suppose.

Looks like there's nothing new under the sun after all.
28606  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We the Well-armed Sheeple on: March 25, 2007, 06:13:49 PM
Second post of the day:

(Manchester-WTNH) _ A chaotic scene at a Manchester auto parts shop Thursday night. Police say a man tried to thwart a theft by pulling out his gun, but he's now facing charges.

It happened around 7:00 at the Pep Boys on Spencer Street in the K-Mart mall.

Police say it started when someone went into the store to steal a generator.

"Guys have been stealing generators from us off the shelves," Pep boys worker Dave Sciaudone said. "We knew who they were, what their license plate was because they've been hitting all our stores. And my boss saw him grab a generator tonight, walk out the door and throw it into the truck. And he pulled his gun to stop him."

While the manager did have a permit for the gun, he was arrested.

"There's a line you can not cross when you're running through the parking lot chasing after a suspect brandishing a gun," Sgt. Christopher Cross said.

There was no evidence any shots were fired. The gunfire sounds people say they heard was likely backfire from the getaway truck.
"The truck was backfiring like crazy, so if there were shots I didn't hear anything like that. I heard backfiring a lot," Tracey Wilkerson of East Hartford said.

The manager, whose name was not available, may be charged with breech of peace and reckless endangerment.

"Right now my boss is in jail, but he didn't do anything," Sciaudone said.
Police are looking for an older model maroon Chevy truck that they believe was used by the thieves.
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1805494/posts
28607  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 'America Alone' on: March 25, 2007, 01:31:32 PM
POPE FEARS LOW EURO-BIRTH RATE: Europe appears to be "losing faith in its own future," Pope Benedict XVI said yesterday. Speaking on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, Benedict expressed concern about the "demographic profile" of Europe, where many are having fewer children.  He said the trends ''favor dangerous individualism.''

LBN
28608  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Islamic Countries: on: March 25, 2007, 01:11:13 PM
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

http://www.asianews.it/index.php?l=en&art=8773&size=A#


Quote:
IRAQ
Islamic groups impose tax on Christian “subjects”
Islamic militias in Baghdad and Mosul order Christians to pay the jizya, a poll tax which dates back to the period of the Ottoman Empire, which guaranteed non Muslims the right to practise their religion as well as Muslim protection; the groups are ordered “not to reveal their activities” to Iraqi authorities while all contributions are given in alms to the Mosques.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) – “Non Muslim subjects must pay a contribution to the jihad if they wish to be allowed to live and practise their faith in Iraq”. These orders are being imposed on the Christians of Mosul and Baghdad by Islamic militias. Besides these threats of extortion, thousands of non Muslims are also being forced to leave their homes by letters assigning their house to Muslim citizens. The initiative is part of the general campaign to Islamafy the entire country, which begun with the imposition of the veil on all women. The website Ankawa.com was the first to carry news of this latest development; the website has eye witness accounts of Iraqi refugees in Erbil, in the semi autonomous region of Kurdistan.

The fourth anniversary of the US military’s arrival in Baghdad, March 20th 2003, brings with it little improvement in the conditions of the ever decreasing Christian community. Bomb attacks, kidnappings and threats continue to mark the daily existence of those few who so far have not been able to leave. The latest sign of the increasingly worrying situation is news that the community is now being forced to pay the jizya, a “poll tax” requested from non Muslims according to the Koran, guaranteeing “protection” form the Islamic umma. The tax was once extracted by the Ottoman Empire until its collapse in 1918, but now Baghdad and Mosul’s Mosques have ordered it be put in place again, “without revealing it to authorities”.

According to local Christians it really is a contribution to the holy war, which – the jihad maintains - will also protect their community from external aggression. The monies collected are then given over to Mosques, but “without the knowledge of authorities”.

Other accounts tell of letters being left in gardens or the entrance to Christian homes, notifying the families that they must leave their dwellings because they have been assigned to others, whose names and surnames are listed in black and white in the letters. 

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

For three translations of sura 9 verse 29 below. See http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/009.qmt.html.

009.029
YUSUFALI: Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.
PICKTHAL: Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the Religion of Truth, until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low.
SHAKIR: Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Messenger have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection.

28609  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Man bites dog: Hindu Chief Justice on: March 25, 2007, 10:34:44 AM
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-hindu25mar25,1,3397867.story?coll=la-headlines-world

Pakistan gets its first Hindu chief justice
Judge Rana Bhagwandas is on panel that will hear charges against suspended top jurist Chaudhry.
By Henry Chu, Times Staff Writer
March 25, 2007


KARACHI, PAKISTAN — He is the first Hindu to preside over this Muslim nation's highest court. And he is now in the eye of a political hurricane engulfing Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

Judge Rana Bhagwandas, 64, was sworn in Saturday as acting chief justice of Pakistan's Supreme Court. Upon taking the oath in this southern port city, Bhagwandas was thrust into the controversy surrounding the removal of the man who had held the top job.

Musharraf suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry on March 9 on the basis of charges that he had abused his position. The move prompted street protests that caught the Pakistani leader off guard and triggered his most serious domestic crisis since he came to power in a coup nearly eight years ago.

Critics see Chaudhry's removal as a naked attempt to silence a judge who had embarrassed the government on several occasions, including by making a strong push to make Pakistan's powerful intelligence services subject to the rule of law. A police crackdown on lawyers and opposition politicians protesting Chaudhry's dismissal has fueled public anger at Musharraf, whose grip on power, analysts say, has been compromised as he prepares for national elections this year.

As the acting chief justice, Bhagwandas will head the panel of five senior jurists hearing the case against their colleague. Chaudhry, who was appointed by Musharraf in 2005, has called the charges a sham, and his supporters are demanding his reinstatement.

Bhagwandas, who joined the Supreme Court in 2000 after serving on the bench here in Sindh province, told reporters Saturday that the judges would "decide this case on merit, without any favor or ill will."

A member of Pakistan's tiny Hindu community, Bhagwandas has a master's degree in Islamic studies. He has been treated as something of a rock star since his return a few days ago from a visit to India. Cameras and reporters surround him wherever he goes.

He is not the first non-Muslim to preside over Pakistan's high court. In the 1960s, a Roman Catholic, A.R. Cornelius, served in the post for eight years.

But the appointment of a Hindu in a nation that was founded as a homeland for Muslims by breaking away from predominantly Hindu India, has stirred up consternation among hard-line religious parties. The Daily Times quoted an academic last week as saying Bhagwandas' elevation would be "against Islam."

Such voices appear to be in a very small minority. Many analysts and observers described Bhagwandas as an ethical judge who would act fairly.

Even a member of Chaudhry's legal defense team, which boycotted Saturday's swearing-in ceremony on the grounds that their client was still the rightful chief justice, praised Bhagwandas.

"No reasonable man can raise an objection," said attorney Tariq Mahmood. "He is a man of integrity."

No one is taking bets as to how the judges' council will rule on Chaudhry's case.

The suspended chief justice is popular among Pakistanis because of stands he has taken against powerful interests. Last year, he voided the privatization of the nation's largest steel mill, which critics said would line the already-deep pockets of a well-connected clique.

In recent months, Chaudhry has repeatedly ordered Pakistan's intelligence agencies to answer allegations that they are illegally holding dozens of people officially listed as missing.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
henry.chu@latimes.com
28610  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bernard Lewis Part Two on: March 25, 2007, 08:44:57 AM
The third case is that of a visitor. For long, the only purpose that was considered legitimate was to ransom captives. This was later expanded into diplomatic and commercial missions. With the advance of the European counterattack, there was a new issue in this ongoing debate. What is the position of a Muslim if his country is conquered by infidels? May he stay or must he leave?

We have some interesting documents from the late 15th century, when the reconquest of Spain was completed and Moroccan jurists were discussing this question. They asked if Muslims could stay. The general answer was no, it is not permissible. The question was asked: May they stay if the Christian government that takes over is tolerant? This proved to be a purely hypothetical question, of course. The answer was no; even then they may not stay, because the temptation to apostasy would be even greater. They must leave and hope that in God's good time they will be able to reconquer their homelands and restore the true faith.
This was the line taken by most jurists. There were some, at first a minority, later a more important group, who said it is permissible for Muslims to stay provided that certain conditions are met, mainly that they are allowed to practice their faith. This raises another question which I will come back to in a moment: what is meant by practicing their faith? Here I would remind you that we are dealing not only with a different religion but also with a different concept of what religion is about, referring especially to what Muslims call the shari`a, the holy law of Islam, covering a wide range of matters regarded as secular in the Christian world even during the medieval period, but certainly in what some call the post-Christian era of the Western world.

There are obviously now many attractions which draw Muslims to Europe including the opportunities offered, particularly in view of the growing economic impoverishment of much of the Muslim world, and the attractions of European welfare as well as employment. They also have freedom of expression and education which they lack at home. This is a great incentive to the terrorists who migrate. Terrorists have far greater freedom of preparation and operation in Europe--and to a degree also in America--than they do in most Islamic lands.

I would like to draw your attention to some other factors of importance in the situation at this moment. One is the new radicalism in the Islamic world, which comes in several kinds: Sunni, especially Wahhabi, and Iranian Shiite, dating from the Iranian revolution. Both of these are becoming enormously important factors. We have the strange paradox that the danger of Islamic radicalism or of radical terrorism is far greater in Europe and America than it is in the Middle East and North Africa, where they are much better at controlling their extremists than we are.

The Sunni kind is mainly Wahhabi and has benefited from the prestige and influence and power of the House of Saud as controllers of the holy places of Islam and of the annual pilgrimage, and the enormous oil wealth at their disposal. The Iranian revolution is something different. The term revolution is much used in the Middle East. It is virtually the only generally accepted title of legitimacy. But the Iranian revolution is a real revolution in the sense in which we use that term of the French or Russian revolutions. Like the French and Russian revolutions in their day, it has had an enormous impact in the whole area with which the Iranians share a common universe of discourse--that is to say, the Islamic world.

Let me turn to the question of assimilation, which is much discussed nowadays. How far is it possible for Muslim migrants who have settled in Europe, in North America, and elsewhere, to become part of those countries in which they settle, in the way that so many other waves of immigrants have done? I think there are several points which need to be made.

One of them is the basic differences in what precisely is meant by assimilation and acceptance. Here there is an immediate and obvious difference between the European and the American situations. For an immigrant to become an American means a change of political allegiance. For an immigrant to become a Frenchman or a German means a change of ethnic identity. Changing political allegiance is certainly very much easier and more practical than changing ethnic identity, either in one's own feelings or in one's measure of acceptance. England had it both ways. If you were naturalized, you became British but you did not become English.
I mentioned earlier the important difference in what one means by religion. For Muslims, it covers a whole range of different things--marriage, divorce, and inheritance are the most obvious examples. Since antiquity in the Western world, the Christian world, these have been secular matters. The distinction of church and state, spiritual and temporal, lay and ecclesiastical is a Christian distinction which has no place in Islamic history and therefore is difficult to explain to Muslims, even in the present day. Until very recently they did not even have a vocabulary to express it. They have one now.

What are the European responses to this situation? In Europe, as in the United States, a frequent response is what is variously known as multiculturalism and political correctness. In the Muslim world there are no such inhibitions. They are very conscious of their identity. They know who they are and what they are and what they want, a quality which we seem to have lost to a very large extent. This is a source of strength in the one, of weakness in the other.

A term sometimes used is constructive engagement. Let's talk to them, let's get together and see what we can do. Constructive engagement has a long tradition. When Saladin re-conquered Jerusalem and other places in the holy land, he allowed the Christian merchants from Europe to stay in the seaports. He apparently felt the need to justify this, and he wrote a letter to the caliph in Baghdad explaining his action. I would like to quote it to you. The merchants were useful since "there is not one among them that does not bring and sell us weapons of war, to their detriment and to our advantage." This continued during the Crusades. It continued after. It continued during the Ottoman advance into Europe, when they could always find European merchants willing to sell them weapons they needed and European bankers willing to finance their purchases. Constructive engagement has a long history.

One also finds a rather startling modern version of it. We have seen in our own day the extraordinary spectacle of a pope apologizing to the Muslims for the Crusades. I would not wish to defend the behavior of the Crusaders, which was in many respects atrocious. But let us have a little sense of proportion. We are now expected to believe that the Crusades were an unwarranted act of aggression against a peaceful Muslim world. Hardly. The first papal call for a crusade occurred in 846 C.E., when an Arab expedition from Sicily sailed up the Tiber and sacked St. Peter's in Rome. A synod in France issued an appeal to Christian sovereigns to rally against "the enemies of Christ," and the Pope, Leo IV, offered a heavenly reward to those who died fighting the Muslims. A century and a half and many battles later, in 1096, the Crusaders actually arrived in the Middle East. The Crusades were a late, limited, and unsuccessful imitation of the jihad--an attempt to recover by holy war what had been lost by holy war. It failed, and it was not followed up.

Here is another more recent example of multiculturalism. On October 8, 2002--I insist on giving the date because you may want to look it up--the then French prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, who I am told is a staunch Roman Catholic, was making a speech in the French National Assembly and talking about the situation in Iraq. Speaking of Saddam Hussein, he remarked that one of Saddam Hussein's heroes was his compatriot Saladin, who came from the same Iraqi town of Tikrit. In case the members of the Assembly were not aware of Saladin's identity, M. Raffarin explained to them that it was he who was able "to defeat the Crusaders and liberate Jerusalem." Yes. When a French prime minister describes Saladin's capture of Jerusalem from the largely French Crusaders as an act of liberation, this would seem to indicate a rather extreme case of realignment of loyalties.
I was told this, and I didn't believe it. So I checked it in the parliamentary record. When M. Raffarin used the word "liberate," a member--the name was not given--called out, "Libérer?" He just went straight on. That was the only interruption, and as far as I was aware there was no comment afterwards.

The Islamic radicals have even been able to find some allies in Europe. In describing them I shall have to use the terms left and right, terms which are becoming increasingly misleading. The seating arrangements in the first French National Assembly after the revolution are not the laws of nature, but we have become accustomed to using them. They are difficult when applied to the West nowadays. They are utter nonsense when applied to different brands of Islam. But as I say, they are what people use, so let us put it this way.
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They have a left-wing appeal to the anti-U.S. elements in Europe, for whom they have so-to-speak replaced the Soviets. They have a right-wing appeal to the anti-Jewish elements in Europe, replacing the Axis. They have been able to win considerable support under both headings. For some in Europe, their hatreds apparently outweigh their loyalties.

There is an interesting exception to that in Germany, where the Muslims are mostly Turkish. There they have often tended to equate themselves with the Jews, to see themselves as having succeeded the Jews as the victims of German racism and persecution. I remember a meeting in Berlin convened to discuss the new Muslim minorities in Europe. In the evening I was asked by a Muslim group of Turks to join them and hear what they had to say about it, which was very interesting. The phrase which sticks most vividly in my mind from one of them was, "In a thousand years they (the Germans) were unable to accept 400,000 Jews. What hope is there that they will accept two million Turks?" They used this very skillfully in playing on German feelings of guilt in order to inhibit any effective German measures to protect German identity, which I would say like others in Europe is becoming endangered.

My time is running out so I think I'll leave other points that I wanted to make. [Shouts to go on.] You don't mind a bit more?

I want to say something about the question of tolerance. You will recall that at the end of the first phase of the Christian reconquest, after Spain and Portugal and Sicily, Muslims--who by that time were very numerous in the reconquered lands--were given a choice: baptism, exile, or death. In the former Ottoman lands in southeastern Europe, the leaders of what you might call the reconquest were somewhat more tolerant but not a great deal more. Some Muslim minorities remained in some Balkan countries, with troubles still going on at the present day. If I say names like Kosovo or Bosnia, you will know what I am talking about.
Nevertheless, I mention this point because of the very sharp contrast with the treatment of Christians and other non-Muslims in the Islamic lands at that time. When Muslims came to Europe they had a certain expectation of tolerance, feeling that they were entitled to at least the degree of tolerance which they had accorded to non-Muslims in the great Muslim empires of the past. Both their expectations and their experience were very different.

Coming to European countries, they got both more and less than they had expected: More in the sense that they got in theory and often in practice equal political rights, equal access to the professions, all the benefits of the welfare state, freedom of expression, and so on and so forth.

But they also got significantly less than they had given in traditional Islamic states. In the Ottoman Empire and other states before that--I mention the Ottoman Empire as the most recent--the non-Muslim communities had separate organizations and ran their own affairs. They collected their own taxes and enforced their own laws. There were several Christian communities, each living under its own leadership, recognized by the state. These communities were running their own schools, their own education systems, administering their own laws in such matters as marriage, divorce, inheritance, and the like. The Jews did the same.
So you had a situation in which three men living in the same street could die and their estates would be distributed under three different legal systems if one happened to be Jewish, one Christian, and one Muslim. A Jew could be punished by a rabbinical court and jailed for violating the Sabbath or eating on Yom Kippur. A Christian could be arrested and imprisoned for taking a second wife. Bigamy is a Christian offense; it was not an Islamic or an Ottoman offense.

They do not have that degree of independence in their own social and legal life in the modern state. It is quite unrealistic for them to expect it, given the nature of the modern state, but that is not how they see it. They feel that they are entitled to receive what they gave. As one Muslim friend of mine in Europe put it, "We allowed you to practice monogamy, why should you not allow us to practice polygamy?"

Such questions--polygamy, in particular--raise important issues of a more practical nature. Isn't an immigrant who is permitted to come to France or Germany entitled to bring his family with him? But what exactly does his family consist of? They are increasingly demanding and getting permission to bring plural wives. The same is also applying more and more to welfare payments and so on. On the other hand, the enforcement of shari`a is a little more difficult. This has become an extremely sensitive issue.

Another extremely sensitive issue, closely related to this, is the position of women, which is of course very different between Christendom and Islam. This has indeed been one of the major differences between the two societies.

Where do we stand now? Is it third time lucky? It is not impossible. They have certain clear advantages. They have fervor and conviction, which in most Western countries are either weak or lacking. They are self-assured of the rightness of their cause, whereas we spend most of our time in self-denigration and self-abasement. They have loyalty and discipline, and perhaps most important of all, they have demography, the combination of natural increase and migration producing major population changes, which could lead within the foreseeable future to significant majorities in at least some European cities or even countries.

But we also have some advantages, the most important of which are knowledge and freedom. The appeal of genuine modern knowledge in a society which, in the more distant past, had a long record of scientific and scholarly achievement is obvious. They are keenly and painfully aware of their relative backwardness and welcome the opportunity to rectify it.

Less obvious but also powerful is the appeal of freedom. In the past, in the Islamic world the word freedom was not used in a political sense. Freedom was a legal concept. You were free if you were not a slave. The institution of slavery existed. Free meant not slave. Unlike the West, they did not use freedom and slavery as a metaphor for good and bad government, as we have done for a long time in the Western world. The terms they used to denote good and bad government are justice and injustice. A good government is a just government, one in which the Holy Law, including its limitations on sovereign authority, is strictly enforced. The Islamic tradition, in theory and, until the onset of modernization, to a large degree in practice, emphatically rejects despotic and arbitrary government. Living under justice is the nearest approach to what we would call freedom.

But the idea of freedom in its Western interpretation is making headway. It is becoming more and more understood, more and more appreciated and more and more desired. It is perhaps in the long run our best hope, perhaps even our only hope, of surviving this developing struggle. Thank you.
28611  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bernard Lewis: a serious read on: March 25, 2007, 08:43:39 AM
The 2007 Irving Kristol Lecture by Bernard LewisPosted: Tuesday, March 20, 2007SPEECHESAEI Annual Dinner, Irving Kristol Lecture (Washington) Publication Date: March 7, 2007
Lewis's Lecture

Thank you, Vice President and Mrs. Cheney, ladies and gentlemen. As you have been told, I have studied a number of languages, but I cannot find words in any of them adequate to express my feeling of gratitude for the honor and appreciation which I have been shown this evening. All I can say is thank you.

My topic this evening is Europe and Islam. But let me begin with a word of personal explanation. You are accustomed for the most part to hearing from people with direct practical involvement in military and intelligence matters. I cannot offer you that. My direct involvement with military and intelligence matters ended quite a long time ago--to be precise, on 31 August 1945, when I left His Majesty's Service and returned to the university to join with colleagues in trying to cope with a six-year backlog of battle-scarred undergraduates.

What I would like to try and offer you this evening is something of the lessons of history. Here I must begin with a second disavowal. It is sometimes forgotten that the content of history, the business of the historian, is the past, not the future. I remember being at an international meeting of historians in Rome during which a group of us were sitting and discussing the question: should historians attempt to predict the future? We batted this back and forth. This was in the days when the Soviet Union was still alive and well. One of our Soviet colleagues finally intervened and said, "In the Soviet Union, the most difficult task of the historian is to predict the past."

I do not intend to offer any predictions of the future in Europe or the Middle East, but one thing can legitimately be expected of the historian, and that is to identify trends and processes - to look at the trends in the past, at what is continuing in the present, and therefore to see the possibilities and choices which will face us in the future.

One other introductory word. A favorite theme of the historian, as I am sure you know, is periodization--dividing history into periods. Periodization is mostly a convenience of the historian for purposes of writing or teaching. Nevertheless, there are times in the long history of the human adventure when we have a real turning point, a major change--the end of an era, the beginning of a new era. I am becoming more and more convinced that we are in such an age at the present time--a change in history comparable with such events as the fall of Rome, the discovery of America, and the like. I will try to explain that.

Conventionally, the modern history of the Middle East begins at the end of the 18th century, when a small French expeditionary force commanded by a young general called Napoleon Bonaparte was able to conquer Egypt and rule it with impunity. It was a terrible shock that one of the heartlands of Islam could be invaded, occupied, and ruled with virtually no effective resistance.
The second shock came a few years later with the departure of the French, which was brought about not by the Egyptians nor by their suzerains, the Turks, but by a small squadron of the Royal Navy commanded by a young admiral called Horatio Nelson, who drove the French out and back to France.

This is of symbolic importance. That was, as I said, at the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century. From then onward, the heartlands of Islam were no longer wholly controlled by the rulers of Islam. They were under direct or indirect influence or control from outside.

The dominating forces in the Islamic world were now outside forces. What shaped their lives was Western influence. What gave them choices was Western rivalries. The political game that they could play--the only one that was open to them--was to try and profit from the rivalries between the outside powers, to try to use them against one another. We see that again and again in the course of the 19th and 20th and even into the beginning of the 21st century. We see, for example, in the First World War, the Second World War, and the Cold War, how Middle Eastern governments or leaders tried to play this game with varying degrees of success.

That game is now over. The era that was inaugurated by Napoleon and Nelson was terminated by Reagan and Gorbachev. The Middle East is no longer ruled or dominated by outside powers. These nations are having some difficulty adjusting to this new situation, to taking responsibility for their own actions and their consequences, and so on. But they are beginning to do so, and this change has been expressed with his usual clarity and eloquence by Osama bin Laden.

We see with the ending of the era of outside domination, the reemergence of certain older trends and deeper currents in Middle Eastern history, which had been submerged or at least obscured during the centuries of Western domination. Now they are coming back again. One of them I would call the internal struggles--ethnic, sectarian, regional--between different forces within the Middle East. These have of course continued, but were of less importance in the imperialist era. They are coming out again now and gaining force, as we see for example from the current clash between Sunni and Shia Islam--something without precedent for centuries.

The other thing more directly relevant to my theme this evening is the signs of a return among Muslims to what they perceive as the cosmic struggle for world domination between the two main faiths--Christianity and Islam. There are many religions in the world, but as far as I know there are only two that have claimed that their truths are not only universal--all religions claim that--but also exclusive; that they--the Christians in the one case, the Muslims in the other--are the fortunate recipients of God's final message to humanity, which it is their duty not to keep selfishly to themselves--like the Jews or the Hindus--but to bring to the rest of humanity, removing whatever obstacles there may be on the way. This self-perception, shared between Christendom and Islam, led to the long struggle that has been going on for more than fourteen centuries and which is now entering a new phase. In the Christian world, now at the beginning of the 21st century of its era, this triumphalist attitude no longer prevails, and is confined to a few minority groups. In the world of Islam, now in its early 15th century, triumphalism is still a significant force, and has found expression in new militant movements.

It is interesting that both sides for quite a long time refused to recognize this struggle. For example, both sides named each other by non-religious terms. The Christian world called the Muslims Moors, Saracens, Tartars, and Turks. Even a convert was said to have turned Turk. The Muslims for their part called the Christian world Romans, Franks, Slavs, and the like. It was only slowly and reluctantly that they began to give each other religious designations and then these were for the most part demeaning and inaccurate. In the West, it was customary to call Muslims Mohammadans, which they never called themselves, based on the totally false assumption that Muslims worship Muhammad in the way that Christians worship Christ. The Muslim term for Christians was Nazarene--nasrani--implying the local cult of a place called Nazareth.

The declaration of war begins at the very beginning of Islam. There are certain letters purported to have been written by the Prophet Muhammad to the Christian Byzantine emperor, the emperor of Persia, and various other rulers, saying, "I have now brought God's final message. Your time has passed. Your beliefs are superseded. Accept my mission and my faith or resign or submit--you are finished." The authenticity of these prophetic letters is doubted, but the message is clear and authentic in the sense that it does represent the long dominant view of the Islamic world.

A little later we have hard evidence--and I mean hard in the most literal sense--inscriptions. Many of you, I should think, have been to Jerusalem. You have probably visited that remarkable building, the Dome of the Rock. It is very significant. It is built on a place sacred to the Judeo-Christian tradition. Its architectural style is that of the earliest Christian churches. It dates from the end of the 7th century and was built by one of the early caliphs, the oldest Muslim religious building outside Arabia. What is significant is the message in the inscriptions inside the Dome: "He is God, He is one, He has no companion, He does not beget, He is not begotten." (cf. Qur'an, IX, 31-3; CXII, 1-3) This is clearly a direct challenge to certain central principles of the Christian faith.
Interestingly, they put the same thing on a new gold coinage. Until then, striking gold coins had been an exclusive Roman privilege. The Islamic caliph for the first time struck gold coins, breaching the immemorial privilege of Rome, and putting the same inscription on them. As I said, a challenge.
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The Muslim attack on Christendom and the resulting conflict, which arose more from their resemblances than from their differences, has gone through three phases. The first dates from the very beginning of Islam, when the new faith spilled out of the Arabian Peninsula, where it was born, into the Middle East and beyond. It was then that they conquered Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and North Africa--all at that time part of the Christian world--and went beyond into Europe, conquering a sizable part of southwestern Europe, including Spain, Portugal, and southern Italy, all of which became part of the Islamic world, and even crossing the Pyrenees into France and occupying for a while parts of France.

After a long and bitter struggle, the Christians managed to retake part but not all of the territory they had lost. They succeeded in Europe, and in a sense Europe was defined by the limits of that success. They failed to retake North Africa or the Middle East, which were lost to Christendom. Notably, they failed to recapture the Holy Land, in the series of campaigns known as the Crusades.

That was not the end of the matter. In the meantime the Islamic world, having failed the first time, was bracing for the second attack, this time conducted not by Arabs and Moors but by Turks and Tartars. In the mid-thirteenth century the Mongol conquerors of Russia were converted to Islam. The Turks, who had already conquered Anatolia, advanced into Europe and in 1453 they captured the ancient Christian citadel of Constantinople. They conquered a large part of the Balkans, and for a while ruled half of Hungary. Twice they reached as far as Vienna, to which they laid siege in 1529 and again in 1683. Barbary corsairs from North Africa--well-known to historians of the United States--were raiding Western Europe. They went to Iceland--the uttermost limit--and to several places in Western Europe, including notably a raid on Baltimore (the original one, in Ireland) in 1631. In a contemporary document, we have a list of 107 captives who were taken from Baltimore to Algiers, including a man called Cheney.

Again, Europe counterattacked, this time more successfully and more rapidly. They succeeded in recovering Russia and the Balkan Peninsula, and in advancing further into the Islamic lands, chasing their former rulers whence they had come. For this phase of European counterattack, a new term was invented: imperialism. When the peoples of Asia and Africa invaded Europe, this was not imperialism. When Europe attacked Asia and Africa, it was.

This European counterattack began a new phase which brought the European attack into the very heart of the Middle East. In our  own time, we have seen the end of the resulting domination.

Osama bin Laden, in some very interesting proclamations and declarations, has this to say about the war in Afghanistan which, you will remember, led to the defeat and retreat of the Red Army and the collapse of the Soviet Union. We tend to see that as a Western victory, more specifically an American victory, in the Cold War against the Soviets. For Osama bin Laden, it was nothing of the kind. It is a Muslim victory in a jihad. If one looks at what happened in Afghanistan and what followed, this is, I think one must say, a not implausible interpretation.

As Osama bin Laden saw it, Islam had reached the ultimate humiliation in this long struggle after World War I, when the last of the great Muslim empires--the Ottoman Empire--was broken up and most of its territories divided between the victorious allies; when the caliphate was suppressed and abolished, and the last caliph driven into exile. This seemed to be the lowest point in Muslim history. From there they went upwards.

In his perception, the millennial struggle between the true believers and the unbelievers had gone through successive phases, in which the latter were led by the various imperial European powers that had succeeded the Romans in the leadership of the world of the infidels--the Christian Byzantine Empire, the Holy Roman Empire, the British and French and Russian empires. In this final phase, he says, the world of the infidels was divided and disputed between two rival superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union. In his perception, the Muslims have met, defeated, and destroyed the more dangerous and the more deadly of the two infidel superpowers. Dealing with the soft, pampered and effeminate Americans would be an easy matter.

This belief was confirmed in the 1990s when we saw one attack after another on American bases and installations with virtually no effective response of any kind--only angry words and expensive missiles dispatched to remote and uninhabited places. The lessons of Vietnam and Beirut were confirmed by Mogadishu. "Hit them, and they'll run." This was the perceived sequence leading up to 9/11. That attack was clearly intended to be the completion of the first sequence and the beginning of the new one, taking the war into the heart of the enemy camp.

In the eyes of a fanatical and resolute minority of Muslims, the third wave of attack on Europe has clearly begun. We should not delude ourselves as to what it is and what it means. This time it is taking different forms and two in particular: terror and migration.
The subject of terror has been frequently discussed and in great detail, and I do not need to say very much about that now. What I do want to talk about is the other aspect of more particular relevance to Europe, and that is the question of migration.
In earlier times, it was inconceivable that a Muslim would voluntarily move to a non-Muslim country. The jurists discuss this subject at great length in the textbooks and manuals of shari`a, but in a different form: is it permissible for a Muslim to live in or even visit a non-Muslim country? And if so, if he does, what must he do? Generally speaking, this was considered under certain specific headings.

A captive or a prisoner of war obviously has no choice, but he must preserve his faith and get home as soon as possible.
The second case is that of an unbeliever in the land of the unbelievers who sees the light and embraces the true faith--in other words, becomes a Muslim. He must leave as soon as possible and go to a Muslim country.
28612  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: March 25, 2007, 07:37:37 AM
As some of you may know, the six imans who deliberately created an incident to get themselves thrown off a plane are now suing various people/institutions/compaines including the citizens who reported their strange behavior. 

Little Green Footballs blog is reporting one US Muslim group with the integrity to stand by these citizens:
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Saturday, March 24, 2007
Legal Aid Offered to CAIR Targets
People from across the board are outraged at the Council on American Islamic Relations’ announced plan to file lawsuits against US Airways passengers who reported the six non-flying imams. Now the American Islamic Forum for Democracy has offered to pay for the legal defense of any “John Doe” passengers who end up being sued by CAIR.

A U.S. Islamic group is offering to pay to defend “John Does” being sued by six imams who were removed from a plane in Minneapolis for suspicious behavior.

The suit arose from an incident last November in which passengers and crew reported the men aboard a US Airways plane were disruptive, did not take assigned seats, loudly criticized the war in Iraq and shouted about al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden. They were removed from the flight, interrogated and later released.

They have since filed a lawsuit alleging discrimination by the airline, the airport authority and the “John Does” who reported them, The Washington Times reported Wednesday.

However, M. Zuhdi Jasser, director of American Islamic Forum for Democracy, told the Times his group will raise money for the unnamed peoples’ defense. He said anti-Muslim “backlash will be even greater when Americans see Islamists trying to punish innocent passengers reporting fears.”

Minnesota law firm Faegre & Benson LLP is also offering to represent the passengers for free, the report said.

The AIFD is an example of a legitimate (if unfortunately rather small) Muslim group that deserves the label “moderate.”

Here’s another Minneapolis attorney who’s offering to defend any passengers sued by CAIR: Attorney to defend passengers in Imam suit.
28613  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: March 25, 2007, 06:53:28 AM
Today's NY Times:

UNITED NATIONS, March 24 — The United Nations Security Council unanimously agreed Saturday to impose new, more stringent sanctions to press Iran to suspend uranium enrichment and rejoin negotiations over its nuclear program.

All 15 members of the Security Council adopted the sanctions, Resolution 1747, which focus on constraining Iranian arms exports, the state-owned Bank Sepah — already under Treasury Department sanctions — and the Revolutionary Guard Corps, an elite military organization separate from the nation’s conventional armed forces.

No surprises were in the resolution, which modestly strengthens largely financial sanctions adopted in December in a first, limited resolution. Senior American officials hailed the new resolution as a significant international rebuke to Iran, and they predicted that the new resolution’s prohibitions on dealings with 15 individuals and 13 organizations would leave Tehran more isolated.

The Iranian representative to the session denounced the action as unlawful and unjustifiable — and vowed it would have no impact on what Tehran describes as a peaceful nuclear energy program.

The Council acted after months of increasing tensions between the United States and Iran, not only over its nuclear program, concerns that many Western and Middle Eastern countries share. The United States in recent weeks has publicly accused Iran of supplying new and powerful explosives to insurgents in Iraq.

And the Council voted one day after naval forces under the command of Revolutionary Guards seized eight British sailors and seven British marines in waters off the coast of Iraq.

In order to assure a unanimous vote that would symbolize united world opinion against Iran’s nuclear ambitions, lengthy negotiations continued through Friday on a series of amendments from three of the Security Council’s nonpermanent members, South Africa, Indonesia and Qatar. Their votes were seen as particularly important, because South Africa is a leader of the nonaligned movement, Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim nation and Qatar is a Gulf neighbor of Iran.

The Security Council representatives of those three nations each expressed deep concerns about the final language of the sanctions resolution, but eventually cast yes votes.

The sanctions package approved Saturday, American officials said, was devised to do more than simply punish Iran for its nuclear program, as was the more limited goal of the sanctions vote in December. The new language was written to rein in what they see as Tehran’s ambitions to become the dominant military power in the Persian Gulf and across the broader Middle East.

“We are trying to force a change in the actions and behavior of the Iranian government,” said R. Nicholas Burns, under secretary of state for political affairs. “And so the sanctions are immediately focused on the nuclear weapons research program, but we also are trying to limit the ability of Iran to be a disruptive and violent factor in Middle East politics.”

The resolution calls for freezing the overseas assets of the 15 Iranian citizens and 13 organizations, some involved in the nation’s nuclear programs and missile development efforts and some associated with the Revolutionary Guard.

That corps and a subordinate military unit, the Quds Force, are not directly involved in Iran’s nuclear program. But the United States and Israel say they have supplied small arms and rockets to Hezbollah and Hamas, labeled by the State Department as terrorist organizations.

American intelligence officers also say they have indications that the guard is linked to new and more powerful improvised explosives planted by insurgent groups in Iraq against American and coalition forces there. “If we can begin to limit the Quds Force, which has been supplying enhanced explosive technology to Iraq that has been used to kill our soldiers, that is a significant step for us,” Mr. Burns said in a telephone interview after the vote.

The new resolution prohibits the sale or transfer of Iranian weapons to any nation or organization, and calls on the nations of the world to “exercise vigilance and restraint” in exporting weapons to Iran. The measure invokes Chapter 7, Article 41, of the United Nations charter, rendering most of the provisions mandatory, but excluding military action to enforce them.

The sanction on Iran’s fourth-largest bank was written to halt its use as a conduit for money supporting Iran’s nuclear program.
=============

(Page 2 of 2)

One decidedly weaker sanctions category in the new resolution calls on, but does not require, nations and international organizations not to enter into new commitments for export credits, grants or loans to Iran except in the case of humanitarian or development projects.

The measure asks the International Atomic Energy Agency to report back within 60 days on whether Iran has suspended its efforts at enriching uranium. If it says Iran has not, further sanctions may be considered. If the agency says Iran has complied, sanctions will be suspended.

The Iranian seat at the horseshoe-shaped table was filled by Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki. The seat had been reserved for Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but on Friday Iranian officials ignited an exchange of recriminations, saying that the president’s trip had been scuttled by tardy action from the United States government in issuing the visas.

In reply, a State Department spokesman, Tom Casey, said the United States Embassy in Bern, Switzerland, which handles visas for Iranians, had issued all of the required documents by early Friday and in ample time for the visit. It was not possible to independently verify either position.

After the vote, the Iranian foreign minister made a long and defiant rebuttal to the Security Council, dismissing the sanctions as “unlawful, unnecessary and unjustifiable” and said they would have no effect.

“Iran does not seek confrontation nor does it want anything beyond its inalienable rights,” Mr. Mottaki said. “I can assure you that pressure and intimidation will not change Iranian policy.”

He said that suspension of the Iranian nuclear program “is neither an option nor a solution,” and that it was “a gross violation” of the United Nations charter to use sanctions in an effort to halt what he contended was a peaceful nuclear energy program.

The resolution included amended language that stressed the importance of a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East — without reference to Israel, a close American ally widely believed to have nuclear weapons — and emphasized the importance of the role played by the International Atomic Energy Agency in nonproliferation efforts and safeguarding nuclear materials.

28614  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: db in australia ? on: March 25, 2007, 06:28:05 AM
Woof All: 

Just a quick yip to let you know that I am mentally revisiting this idea.  I am wondering if the costs of bringing the familiy along will be implausible for us and at the moment now lean towards making the trip shorter and by myself due to the absence of my family.

Would those thinking of hosting me please confer with each other and put together a plausible itinerary for such a trip and email me about it?

TAC,
CD
28615  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Spike TV, the Dog Brothers Gathering Webisodes; National Geographic on: March 25, 2007, 06:22:36 AM
OP has a serious offer on the table for our consideration.
28616  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: What would you have done? on: March 25, 2007, 06:20:43 AM
A post on our DBMA Association forum indicaties that apparently it was generally known in the bar that this guy was a LEO, so the question becomes "What would you have done against this drunken off-duty and presumably armed LEO?"
28617  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MoreDBMA self defense on DVD / Marc on: March 25, 2007, 06:15:15 AM
Woof All:

"Die Less Often 2: Bringing a Gun to a Knife Fight" is currently being edited.  This summer we will be shooting "Kali Tudo 2".  Also in the works are "Short Impact Weapons" and "Empty Hand vs. Stick, Stick vs. Empty Hand".

The Adventure continues,
Guro Crafty
28618  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Snaggletooth Variations: on: March 25, 2007, 06:08:56 AM
Now that the box for "Grandfathers 2: Maestro Sonny Umpad" is finished, this is front and center.
28619  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: March 25, 2007, 12:11:03 AM
Nice, lucid presentation by a qualified LEO on "assault weapons"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysf8x477c30&mode=related&search=

28620  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Help our troops/our cause: on: March 24, 2007, 09:40:30 PM
And here is an example of hurting our troops and our cause-- this from this weekend's WSJ:
===============

'A Triumph for Pelosi'
March 24, 2007
That's how the Associated Press described yesterday's vote by the House to demand a U.S. retreat from Iraq, and in the perverse calculus of Capitol Hill we suppose it was. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has demonstrated she can pile on enough pork to bribe enough Democrats to cobble together a bare, partisan majority to "send a message" that has no chance of becoming law. Congratulations.

"Today is an historic day," Ms. Pelosi said on the House floor. "The new Congress will vote to end the war in Iraq." But of course the bill does nothing of the sort. If she truly wanted to end the war, the Speaker and her fellow Democrats could simply have used their power of the purse to refuse to fund it. But that would have meant taking some responsibility for what happens in Iraq, which is the last thing Democrats want to do. So they have passed a bill that funds the war while claiming it ends the war.

The bill's "benchmarks" and deadlines certainly have nothing to do with achieving victory in Iraq, or assisting General David Petraeus's campaign to secure Baghdad. They are all about the war inside the Democratic Caucus. On the one hand, they appease the antiwar left by pretending to declare the war illegal if certain goals aren't met by Iraqis or U.S. forces. But on the other, they allow "moderates" from swing districts to claim they are nonetheless "supporting the troops." Acts of Congress don't get much more cynical than that.

This is not to say the vote won't do considerable harm. It will be noted by our enemies in Iraq and will encourage them to inflict more casualties to further sour American support. It will make it harder for Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to disarm Shiite militias, who can point to the vote and say the Americans will soon be leaving. And most disgraceful, it will send a message to U.S. troops that they can fight on -- albeit without much chance of success and without Congressional support.

The lengths that Democratic leaders had to go to win their "triumph" betrayed its cynicism. To get her narrow majority of 218 votes, Ms. Pelosi and Appropriations Chairman David Obey had to load it up like a farm bill: $74 million for peanut storage, $25 million for spinach growers, $283 million for dairy farmers -- all told, some $20 billion in vote-buying earmarks of the kind Democrats campaigned against last year.

Even at that price, they could win over a mere two Republicans: antiwar Members Wayne Gilchrest of Maryland and Walter Jones of North Carolina. We hope GOP primary voters note those votes well. Given how the war hurt so many Republicans last November, this GOP solidarity is notable and a credit to the minority leadership.

President Bush was quick to denounce the vote yesterday, promising a veto. And we hope he keeps it up. By bowing to their antiwar left, Democrats are once again showing that they can't be trusted on national security. The President should drive that message home until Congress gives him a clean war bill that gives our troops the money to fight our enemies without having to take orders from MoveOn.org.

28621  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Interest in a DBMA Class in Redondo Beach? on: March 24, 2007, 09:33:46 PM
I have no idea about Rigan's schedule.  I do know that the school has recently changed managers, which could explain the non-response-- maybe you should try again?  Or better yet, come on by and see for yourself.

Sparring will be up to the class, and will be completely voluntary with no one being called a kitty if they do not spar.

RE, please email me directly at 310-543-7521 and tell me about yourself.
28622  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Grandfathers Speak Vol. 2: Sonny Umpad on: March 24, 2007, 09:30:37 PM
Pretty Kitty has finished the bar coding on the box (this has been the hold-up), we are taking pre-orders and shipping is expected by April 20.  Thanks to one and all for you patience.
28623  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Looking for Teachers, Schools, and Training Partners on: March 24, 2007, 09:28:39 PM
Exactly like the name of the thread says:

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

I'm relocating to Lemoore, California no later than June 15th, 2007.  Anyone in or near Lemoore that is currently training with focus on DB's material or that is interested in getting together to train, please reply here, PM or e-mail me. 

Thanks in advance 

V/R,
Dean
www.emperado.com/kajupit

"He Who Sheds His Blood With Me Today, Shall Always Be My Brother"
28624  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: March 24, 2007, 09:10:55 PM
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

PRESS IGNORES FBI STUDY SAYING GUN LAWS IGNORED BY COP KILLERS


BELLEVUE, WA – For more than two months, a damning report on a five-year study by the Federal Bureau of Investigation about how cop-killing criminals ignore gun laws and where they get their guns has languished in the shadows, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms revealed today.

“The public has a right to know the contents of this report, which was revealed to the International Association of Chiefs of Police last year,” said CCRKBA Executive Director Joe Waldron. “According to the Force Science News, research focused on 40 incidents involving assaults or deadly attacks on police officers, in which all but one of the guns involved had been obtained illegally, and none were obtained from gun shows.”

The study is called “Violent Encounters: A Study of Felonious Assaults on Our Nation’s Law Enforcement Officers.” Waldron called it a “smoking gun” in terms of revelations about the sources of crime guns. Anti-gun politicians and police chiefs do not want the public to know as they campaign against the so-called “gun show loophole,” he said.

The newsletter quotes Ed Davis, who told the IACP that none of these criminals who attacked police officers was “hindered by any law – federal, sate or local – that has ever been established to prevent gun ownership. They just laughed at gun laws.” The Force Science News is published by the Force Science Research Center, a non-profit institution based at Minnesota State University in Mankato. The newsletter also stated, “In contrast to media myth, none of the firearms in the study was obtained from gun shows.”

“This is a devastating revelation,” Waldron said, “and while Mr. Davis should be applauded for telling the IACP that criminals ignore gun laws, we’re wondering why the IACP has been quiet about this, and why the mainstream press never reported this, and probably never will.

“Force Science News calls the gun show loophole a ‘media myth’,” Waldron said, “and that’s what gun rights activists have been saying for years. It’s time for the IACP leadership to acknowledge that gun laws don’t stop criminals, that they only restrict the rights of law-abiding citizens, and that gun shows are not the ‘arms bazaars for criminals’ as they have been portrayed.”

http://www.ccrkba.org/pub/rkba/press...ce.science.htm
28625  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Humor/WTF on: March 24, 2007, 01:23:37 PM
 





*LBN-COMMENTARY By Joe Queenan: In one of the most depressing pieces of news to come along in years, the organization that presides over high school sports in Washington State is considering a ban on booing at sporting events. That's right, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association is evaluating guidelines for fan behavior that would not only prohibit offensive chants but would also outlaw booing. The organization is contemplating this measure not just because of concern that fan negativity is discouraging people from taking jobs as referees and coaches, but because, in the words of Mike Colbrese, the association's executive director, the very concept of booing needs to be re-evaluated. "I don't know why people think it's acceptable to boo in the first place," Mr. Colbrese told The Seattle Post-Intelligencer earlier this month. "It's a pretty novel concept to me." As a native of Philadelphia, a municipality whose passion for booing is unrivaled, I greet this news with a mixture of revulsion and dread. Philadelphia, coyly nicknamed the City of Brotherly Love, has a place in the national mythology as a city whose fans once booed Santa Claus at a Philadelphia Eagles game, a city where locals sometimes boo unsatisfactory airplane landings. Philly fans are famous not only for heaping abuse on visiting players, but for displaying even greater viciousness toward the pathetic home team. The idea that these fans might one day be denied the right to bear their fangs at gridiron Iscariots (former Eagles who now play for the despised Dallas Cowboys) or shriek at overpaid, underachieving Phillies (in other words, the team's current left fielder) is too heartbreaking to contemplate.
 
LBN
28626  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: KALI TUDO (tm) Article on: March 24, 2007, 11:29:26 AM
Woof Tom et al:

Small story:  Some years ago I was rolling with some young buck who was thrashing me and just wasn't getting my requests for a less hyper roll.   After my serious knee injury of many years ago I lost most of my patience with people who are reckless with the health of my body so when he came flying hard past my guard (again  angry ) I shielded with a silat spike.  He impaled himself on it with his ribs and was rolling in pain.  "Oh, I'm so sorry."  He was done for the day and I didn't see him for several months.  When he next came in I asked where he had been and he told me that he had cracked his rib that day.  I expressed my regrets-- "What bad luck!  You were passing me so hard that I just covered up like this" I said as I indicated a boxing like cover that really was a silat spike.  Burt Richardson happened to be there that day and we exchanged a look wherein I confirmed what he suspected.

The Dracula move I show on the KT DVD I've done in active play on a man who was a lineman in the NFL for several years.

The split gunteengs don't work so well for me, but I certainly attack the limbs with considerable consistency in my play.

TAC,
CD


28627  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: June 2007 Gathering on: March 24, 2007, 02:22:47 AM
Yes, and all is well with what you said.  Email me again please.
28628  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: June 2007 Gathering on: March 24, 2007, 12:19:12 AM
War Dog just called me to say he is fighting!  cool
28629  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: March 23, 2007, 11:58:18 PM
Second post of the evening:

Iran, Iraq: Tehran's Power Play on the Water
Summary

Iranian forces reportedly operating in Iraqi waters captured 15 sailors and members of the British marines on March 23 in the Persian Gulf. This incident comes as the U.N. Security Council is preparing to vote on a new resolution imposing additional sanctions on Iran for refusing to halt its controversial nuclear activities -- meaning it likely represents an Iranian attempt to underscore its resolve in the face of mounting international pressure. It also could complicate U.S.-Iranian negotiations on Iraq.

Analysis

Iranian forces reportedly operating in Iraqi waters captured 15 sailors and British marines on March 23. The British personnel reportedly had completed a successful inspection of a merchant ship around 10:30 a.m. local time when they and their two boats were surrounded and escorted by Iranian vessels into Iranian territorial waters.

The capture comes as the U.N. Security Council prepares to vote on a new resolution imposing sanctions on Iran for refusing to halt its controversial nuclear activities -- meaning it probably represents an Iranian attempt to underscore its resolve in the face of mounting international pressure. The incident also could complicate U.S.-Iranian negotiations on Iraq.

By capturing the British personnel, the Iranians are likely signaling that they are not about to be intimidated by the impending resolution the U.N. Security Council regarding Tehran's nuclear activities. The international body will vote March 24 on the resolution, which would slap additional sanctions on Iran, and is expected to pass.

The precise location of the incident remains unclear, though some reports indicate it may have taken place on the Shatt al Arab, a narrow waterway that empties into the Persian Gulf. The HMS Cornwall, the British navy frigate from which the British marines operated, would most likely have been too far away to intervene if the inspection actually took place in the waterway.






The Shatt al Arab lies between Iraq and Iran; its boundaries are often disputed by both countries. During the operation, the Cornwall would have been keeping tabs on every vessel in the vicinity. At the first sign of trouble, it would have sought to aid the boarding party. The Cornwall would have not been able to intervene in the narrow, shallow waters of the Shatt al Arab, however. Similarly, its Sea King helicopter would not have been able to do much more than observe as the Iranians escorted the British boats to Iranian territory.

This incident is similar to one in June 2004, when the Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in the Shatt al Arab seized eight British personnel and three British patrol boats being delivered to Iraqi forces. Iran claimed the boats were operating on its side of the waterway. The British personnel were released after four days, but Iran confiscated the patrol boats.

The capture of the British soldiers comes within days of the latest Iranian naval exercises in the Persian Gulf. It also comes as concerns mount in Tehran regarding U.S. moves to separate the nuclear and Iraq issues, leaving Tehran's unable to use the nuclear controversy as a bargaining chip in talks on Iraq. This, combined with concerns over developments in Iraq affecting Tehran's Iraqi Shiite allies likely pressed the clerical regime to escalate matters. Iran is also concerned that the United States is supplying Saudi Arabia with state-of-the-art naval military equipment. Meanwhile, the Arab states of the Persian Gulf said March 20 that they are planning to build two oil pipelines bypassing the Strait of Hormuz, thus depriving Iran of a chokehold on global oil shipments.

The Iranians have tried to demonstrate their ability to interdict traffic in the Persian Gulf. Just March 23, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said his country would use all its power to strike back at states threatening Iran. His remarks referred not just to physical attacks on Iran, but to efforts to isolate Iran politically and economically, too.

Most tellingly, former Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani's Friday sermon said that while the West can slap on additional sanctions, Iran will stand its ground. Rafsanjani, the No. 2 man in the Iranian government, generally has advised Tehran to exercise caution on both the nuclear and the Iraqi fronts. He also warned Washington that "In case the Americans enter a new scene, they will create a basic problem for themselves, for our country and for the entire region and I am confident that after some time following a tyrannical act, they will start analyzing and thinking as to where they have made a mistake."

Rafsanjani's hardened posture suggests Tehran wants to maintain its ability to exploit the nuclear card and block the U.S. move to separate the Iraqi and nuclear issues. While there has been first contact in terms of official and public dialogue between Washington and Tehran, it will be a long time before the two sides move toward some sort of accommodation on the issue, something which also explains Rafsanjani's tougher tone.

While Iran has much to gain in Iraq, it is also concerned by the splintering away of the Basra-based Fadhila party from the ruling Shiite coalition, the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA). The fracturing of the Shiite alliance hampers Tehran's ability to do business in Iraq, and Iran suspects the British, who are based in Basra, may be behind Fadhila's parting with the UIA. Going after British forces represents a low-cost operation in that the Iranians are unlikely to face any serious reprisal. And while the Iranians eventually will release the 15 British personnel, they will only do so after ensuring Tehran's message has been relayed.

stratfor.com
28630  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: March 23, 2007, 11:37:01 PM
stratfor.com

Iraq: Al Qaeda's Desperate Moves
In a new video posted March 22 on the Internet, al Qaeda leader Abu Yahia al-Libi called for an end to the schisms between Iraqi Sunni Islamist insurgents and jihadists in Iraq, and for Iraq's Sunnis to reject any Saudi involvement in the conflict. The release is a clear effort by the jihadist network to mend fences with the Sunni insurgents. Significantly, it also demonstrates an al Qaeda attempt to raise al-Libi's public profile in preparation for him to assume a greater role among the network's next generation of leaders.

This release, by al Qaeda's As-Sahab media branch, marks the ninth time al-Libi has appeared in an al Qaeda video statement since February 2006. Only al Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri has appeared in more new videos, with a total of 12 over the same time period. The charismatic al-Libi, who has strong jihadist credentials, would indeed be a good choice to take on a more prominent role in al Qaeda. As an accomplished preacher, he has eulogized fallen jihadist leaders and called on jihadists to attack such prominent targets as the White House. In addition, he is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, and was one of four prominent al Qaeda fighters who escaped U.S. custody while imprisoned at Bagram Air Base in July 2005.

In his latest statement, al-Libi specifically called on militant groups Ansar al-Sunnah Army, the Islamic Army in Iraq and the Army of the Mujahideen to put aside their differences with the other Sunni insurgent groups in the country. This call for unity comes amid open conflict between Sunni tribes and al Qaeda in Iraq, as demonstrated by the March 23 attack against the Sunni deputy prime minister in Baghdad and the attacks against civilians involving chlorine gas in predominantly Sunni Anbar province.

Al Qaeda, which is facing a significant threat from Iraq's Sunni nationalist and Islamist militant groups, is trying to achieve three goals: First, to maintain its parallel power structure in the Sunni areas; second, to emerge as the vanguard of the Sunni resistance to the United States and the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government at a time when Sunni political leaders are cutting deals; and finally, to embarrass the Iraqi Islamist militant groups by arguing that they are not following true Islamic teachings.

The latest attack against a moderate Sunni -- likely carried out by the jihadists -- clearly suggests these transnational elements are attempting to discourage Sunni leaders from following a moderate path and cooperating with the Iraqi government, or from accepting help from Saudi Arabia. Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Salam Zikam Ali al-Zubaie was wounded in the suicide bombing attack, which occurred during Friday prayers at a hall near Baghdad's Foreign Ministry. A week earlier, suspected jihadist insurgents detonated three vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices packed with chlorine west of Baghdad in Anbar province, including one near a prayer hall used by a Sunni cleric who had spoken out against al Qaeda.

These attacks and al-Libi's appeal are signs of desperation on the part of the jihadists in Iraq. Al Qaeda realizes its influence in the country is waning and is appealing to Iraqi and foreign jihadists to concentrate their efforts on the common enemy, rather than on one another. That al-Libi made an appeal that normally would have come from al-Zawahiri or Osama bin Laden suggests he is being groomed to take on a more important role in al Qaeda.
28631  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: March 23, 2007, 10:59:19 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Afghan Taliban and Talibanization of Pakistan

Pakistani Taliban commanders on Thursday tried to negotiate a cease-fire between Pashtun fighters linked to tribal maliks and Uzbek militants linked to al Qaeda. The negotiations come after several days of fighting in the country's northwestern tribal badlands, which has killed at least 135 people. The fighting, which began March 19 after former militant commander Mullah Nazir, who Islamabad says is now on its side, ordered fighters loyal to Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan leader Tahir Yuldashev to disarm. The jirga overseeing the negotiations includes Pakistani Taliban commander Baitullah Mahsud (wanted in connection with a wave of jihadist attacks across the country) and Sirajuddin Haqqani (the son of senior Afghan Taliban leader Jalaluddin Haqqani).

Meanwhile, Pakistani Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao said the battles between tribesmen and foreign militants underscore the government's success in establishing a policy for the "betterment of tribal people," and in persuading such people to drive-out foreign militants.

That the Pakistanis have been able to turn some tribal Pashtuns against transnational jihadists is a significant development. The fact that the Taliban are now trying to mediate between the maliks allied to the government and the jihadists shows that they are worried, which means Islamabad might have had a considerable degree of success in its efforts to drive a wedge between the guests and their hosts. But it remains to be seen whether this is a single event in a limited area of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), or whether it will spread across the tribal region.

The Taliban's efforts to end the fighting also indicate their own vulnerability. Since they rely on foreign jihadists in their cause, they cannot afford to see the destruction of these allies; they also need to manage their ties to the maliks. The Taliban know that some of the maliks have turned against the foreign jihadists and that these tribal leaders could turn against them as well -- the Pakistani Taliban have even challenged the tribal leadership in FATA.

The Talibanization of Pakistan's Pashtun areas is a much bigger problem for Islamabad, and not just because of issues that deal with domestic political stability. Pakistan needs to figure out how it can continue to use the Afghan Taliban as an instrument in gaining influence in Kabul without Talibanizing its own territory.

The problem for Islamabad is that the Pashtuns are the only ethnic group that Pakistan can use to gain influence in Kabul. What is even more problematic is that, among the Pashtuns, the Taliban is the most powerful movement. This means the Taliban are the only force that can aid the Pakistanis in securing their geopolitical objectives in Afghanistan.

But the Taliban are a bad option because of their ideology and because the same Pashtun ethnic medium that Pakistan is using to gain influence in Afghanistan is the one the Taliban are using to gain influence among Pakistani Pashtuns.

This explains why the Pakistanis are more concerned about the Taliban in FATA than the Taliban waging the insurgency in Afghanistan, and hence make a distinction between the two. But the reality is not as simple as Islamabad would like to believe. The Taliban cannot be easily bifurcated along nationalistic lines because of both ethnic and ideological reasons. Ethnically both are Pashtuns, and ideologically they both adhere to the same transnational jihadist cause. Though they have different areas of operation, they cooperate.

Therefore, Pakistan's efforts to block Taliban activity in its territory while it seeks to use the Pashtun jihadist movement to gain a foothold in Afghanistan are not going to work.

stratfor.com
28632  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Care Economics on: March 23, 2007, 10:34:03 AM
Republican Rx
GOP alternatives to HillaryCare.

BY KIMBERLEY A. STRASSEL
Friday, March 23, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

It's been mostly doom-and-gloom days for Republicans--a lost majority, Iraq, U.S. attorneys, soul-searching over just what happened to the party of Reagan. So it's worth noting a new intellectual debate that's rumbling to life in the party wings, one that could signal whether the GOP is capable of rediscovering its free-market principles.

That debate is about the future of health-care reform, and it got some momentum this week when Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn released a big-ideas blueprint for restructuring the entire health-care system--the tax code, Medicare, tort liability, insurance laws--along free-market lines. Dr. Coburn's plan builds on the White House's own bold proposal in January to revamp tax laws so as to put consumers back in control of their health-care decisions. Both plans are about fundamental, bottom-up health-care reforms, cast in the language of markets, consumers and individual control.

They're also the polar opposite of the health-care "reforms" that won GOP Govs. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mitt Romney media huzzahs this past year, and have thus captivated no small few in the Republican party. The state plans are heavy on regulation, wrapped in red tape, and happy for taxes, though much of the bad has been squeezed behind a few fig leaves of market reform. This is mini-me Republicanism, but it has also allowed its creators to boast that they are offering "universal coverage"--a phrase that polls fabulously.





Which side wins? Who knows. But what is clear is that the scrap has come at a crucial moment. Americans are howling for relief for spiraling health-care costs and companies are drowning in doctor bills. Yet until recently, Democrats have been alone in offering a comprehensive answer to the problem: government-run health care. These liberals never offer details about the extraordinary costs, the miserable service, the wait lines, the Walter-Reed-like facilities, but then again, they don't have to. They have an easy-to-describe "plan," which is more than can be said of the other party.
This has led to some glumness in conservatives ranks, and a feeling that the debate has already been lost. That pessimism helps explain the Schwarzenegger and Romney programs, both of which ape the left's mantra of "universal coverage." Yet all that underestimates just how much intellectual progress conservatives have made since 1993 and the HillaryCare debate, when they were forced to start thinking seriously about health issues.

Conservative health-care guru John Goodman remembers going to Washington in the early 1990s to get Republicans interested in individual health savings accounts, and "only about five guys would even meet with me," he recalls. Now, HSAs "are a religion" among the right, he notes, and Republicans used their last years in the majority to significantly expand access to these accounts. In the past 15 years, the GOP has also planted the roots of Medicare reform, looked at interstate trade in health insurance, and got behind competitive Medicare reforms in their states.

The recent White House and Senate proposals are meant to package these ideas into a more unified, free-market whole. Mr. Coburn, like the White House, would remove the subsidy corporations get for health care, and instead give the money to individuals--putting them in charge of their health expenditures. It would expand HSAs, and allow consumers to buy insurance from any state, thereby avoiding costly regulations. It would modernize Medicare, allowing workers to invest their payroll taxes into a savings account and control their care in their retirement years. It would free up the states to inject Medicaid with new flexibility and competition.

There's plenty of big ideas in these new proposals over which conservatives can argue. Do they get behind tax rebates (à la Coburn) or tax deductibility (à la President Bush)? Do you leave medical liability to the states, or intervene with federal legislation to set up state "health courts"? Or do they write all this off as too hard a political sell, and run for the Schwarzenegger "universal coverage" cover?

The important thing is that debate equals education, which equals understanding, which equals precisely what the GOP needs right now. The Heritage Foundation's Mike Franc says Republicans are still too preoccupied with health-care small-ball--which procedures should be covered by Medicare, how much should generics cost--to get their heads around the broader subject. "This is still outside their intellectual comfort zone, and Republicans never do well in that situation," he says. "But to win this debate--the defining issue of the next 40 or 50 years--they're going to have to address it forcefully, head-on, and with every bit of their intellectual firepower."

You'd have thought the right would have figured this out by now, given its success at reframing other policy issues. When Republicans railed about welfare queens, they were viewed as the heartless party. When they turned the debate into one about the vicious cycle of dependency and poverty that welfare causes, they captured voters' imagination--they captured even Bill Clinton's imagination--and pushed through entitlement reform. Today, even the left agrees welfare-recipients should work.

Americans similarly tuned out the GOP's gripes about federal education spending, and reasonably so. All parents knew was that their kids were failing, and that Democrats were warning that fewer dollars would make things worse. Only when the GOP reframed the debate, and explained that this was a question of competition, of accountability, of greater parental choice, did they tap into long-held American ideals. Flowering charter schools and vouchers are one result. Ted Kennedy's admission that standards matter is another.





Those on the free-market side are starting to understand the need for a new language, especially if they are to coax more nervous elements of their party into embracing radical change. When President Bush unveiled his health-care tax overhaul in the State of the Union, he stressed that health-care decisions needed to be made by "patients and doctors," not government or insurance companies. Mr. Coburn's bill summary is littered with the words "choice," "empowerment," "competition," "flexibility," "control"--which is not only an honest assessment of what his proposal would provide, but one with which Americans can identify.
With Democrats running the show, Republicans now have the quality time to hash through this debate, and if they're smart, that'll be a priority. The left is so confident it owns the health-care issue, and so bereft of creative ideas, it risks squandering its advantage--just as the GOP lost its own credibility on fiscal restraint. But first, Republicans need to figure out what they believe.

Ms. Strassel is a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board, based in Washington. Her column appears Fridays.

28633  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Geo Political matters on: March 23, 2007, 10:33:25 AM
I too find Rick's analysis quite strong.  I think he is correct.
28634  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor, Rick Neaton on: March 23, 2007, 12:09:13 AM
Doug:

I agree about Stratfor and recently became a Lifetime Subscriber.  I had been "grandfathered" at a early subscriber rate for the longest time-- which was rather gracious of them-- but was given to understand that it would be coming to an end.  So when a really good price for a LS was offered, I took it.  A tidy chunk of change it was, but given the quality of their work for some years now I decided to take the chance.  I think in a few years I will be feeling pretty smug about my decision.

I remember the discussions we had on OP in which Rick Neaton figured so prominently.  I've been trying to lure him here, so far with no luck.  I always found him to be:

1) a remarkably well-informed man about the middle east, not only in the recent past but across the flow of decades and
2) quite thoughtful and insightful about it all.

(We exchange emails from time to time, mostly on the stock market.  He still follows the Gilder thing, and thinks LNOP is going to be a big one.  On this basis alone I have taken a position in LNOP.)

Thomas Friedman who has a higher opinion of himself than I do of him, recently suggested that Pelosi is useful to Bush and Petraeus in that she and her howling horde serve the purpose of allowing Petraeus to put the heat on getting factions to work together and produce results lest the Dems get the upper hand and force us into bellicus interruptus.
28635  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Nuclear War? on: March 22, 2007, 11:57:58 PM
Japan, U.S.: Defense Contingencies and the Nuclear Question
Summary

Japan and the United States are developing a joint operation plan for the Japanese Self-Defense Forces and U.S. forces to deal with contingencies. While the two sides discuss defense cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region, Tokyo is preparing to question Washington on just how Japan fits under the U.S. nuclear umbrella, and how that umbrella actually works. Among Japan's strategic planners, there is an evolving reassessment of Japan's defensive posture -- and the country's stance on nuclear weapons.

Analysis

Japan is reassessing its defense policies and security relationships, enhancing ties with Australia and the United States and expanding the role of the Self-Defense Forces. Tokyo also is working with Washington to draw up a Japanese-U.S. operational plan for military contingencies to smooth the coordination of military assets. As part of this overall review, Japan's Ministry of Defense is preparing to ask Washington for clarification of just how Japan falls under the U.S. nuclear umbrella, and how that umbrella actually operates.

Over the past decade, Tokyo has undertaken a major overhaul of its defense posture and evolved a very liberal interpretation of its pacifist constitution to adjust to the changing security situation in the post-Cold War world. Walls between the police and Ground Self-Defense Force or between the Coast Guard and the Maritime Self-Defense Force have fallen. Moreover, Tokyo has improved interoperability within the overall Self-Defense Forces substantially and it has launched a spy-satellite program. Japan's defense development and procurement also has been nothing if not robust, and has included the addition of in-air refueling capabilities, joining U.S. missile-defense systems, bringing additional Aegis destroyers on line, and even funding and developing a large helicopter destroyer just shy of an entry-level aircraft carrier, complete with a full-length flight deck capable of handling the vertical or short takeoff or landing variant of the Joint Strike Fighter.

During that conventional reassessment, Tokyo also has started looking at the nuclear issue. As the only nation ever attacked with nuclear weapons, Japan has long held the view that it of all countries should never pursue nuclear weapons. But slowly, that view has evolved, and over time, discussion of the nuclear issue has moved from the realm of the taboo to more open debate. Former and current Japanese officials, including Foreign Minister Taro Aso, Liberal Democratic Party Policy Research Council Chairman Shoichi Nakagawa, Institute for International Policy Studies Chairman and former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone and former Japanese Defense Agency Chief Fukushiro Nukaga, have called for Japan to at least study the nuclear issue.

A recent series of articles in the right-leaning Yomiuri Shimbun also has addressed the nuclear issue from a very frank point of view, raising the question of whether, in the event of a potential nuclear confrontation with North Korea, Washington would risk its own security to protect Japan. Unmentioned, but certainly understood, were similar concerns with China.

U.S. strategic doctrine will always place U.S. interests above Japanese interests. Although Japan has developed a robust conventional defense force since losing most of its military infrastructure in and after World War II, Japan finds itself surrounded by nuclear nations: China, North Korea, Russia and the United States. Yet Japan must rely on the United States to counter any potential nuclear threat, limiting Tokyo's strategic independence.

The North Korean nuclear test in October 2006 gave Japan the public justification to re-address its nuclear status more actively, particularly in light of North Korea's missile capability. Japan has the technology for nuclear weapons, and its H2 rocket gives it a strong start on any ballistic missile program. And though it lacks the political will at present to pursue nuclear weapons, this appears to be shifting as well. What appears clear, though, is that Japanese strategic planners view the island nation's nuclear deficiency as a potential risk, and are not too confident in U.S. assurances that everything is taken care of. At a minimum, Japan wants more information and input on the mechanics of a U.S. nuclear umbrella (where are the submarines, for example, or what is the decision-making process for shifting to nuclear weapons) -- something Washington will be unlikely to provide.





Japan feels particularly vulnerable to its nuclear-armed neighbors given its very dense population centers. A recent simulation showed between 2 million and 5 million deaths if a single, 15-kiloton nuclear device were detonated over Tokyo. Few countries feel confident relying on another country for their security, particularly when -- like Japan -- they are a major economic power sitting in the middle of a potentially volatile region. Washington's decision to use diplomacy and economics with North Korea after Pyongyang's nuclear test only added to Japan's insecurities regarding Washington's reliability as a defender of Japan.

A Japanese move toward possession of nuclear weapons would in the end be quiet, following more the Israeli path than the North Korean or Indian path. Tokyo has little need or intent to carry out open tests of nuclear devices, barring a significant change in the regional security situation, but it does want to ensure its own security -- and have its own leverage in dealing with its neighbors. Though there is a long way between capability and possession, the debates in Tokyo are making quite an impression in the region, with China, South Korea and North Korea watching intently to see if Japan moves from talk to action.

stratfor.com
28636  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / What would you have done? on: March 22, 2007, 11:34:04 PM
The video clip with the article is amazing.  A 250 pound off-duty cop stomps 115 woman bartender for cutting him off:

http://cbs5.com/topstories/topstories_story_080175527.html
28637  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: March 22, 2007, 11:24:06 PM
What Ails Mainstream Journalism
By Alyssa A. Lappen
FrontPageMagazine.com | March 22, 2007

Why do otherwise thorough reporters lose their professional skepticism when covering the Middle East and Islam? This peculiar journalistic phenomenon has puzzled me since I began covering the Middle East and Islam, in lieu of the investigative financial reporting work I had done for most of my career. Indeed, it largely motivated my personal professional shift.


An informal conversation with a part-time journalism professor recently gave me important clues. Our professional dialogue was private; therefore, it would be a gross violation of trust to identify this person in any way, excepting to note that the professor lived and reported from the Middle East for a time and now teaches how to cover current-day religious affairs and relations at a major university.



The professor's classes often cover reporting on the Islamic community in the U.S. today. Therefore, I was keenly interested to determine the professor's familiarity with sacred and historical texts that motivate modern Islamic activity and dogma.



In financial reporting, it goes without saying that one cannot write a major investigative piece on a corporation, industry or economic issue without first reading a great deal. For public companies, this requires extensive review of all Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings--recent annual reports (10-Ks, or F-20s for foreign firms), quarterlies (10-Qs), and changes to business strategy (8-K) or ownership (13-D). A good sleuth also consults the filings of major competitors and customers, in addition to interviewing as many of them as possible.



Only after laying this groundwork will the thorough reporter contact executives at the subject corporation.



A similar procedure--research first, interviews later--applies to private companies. Before 1995, Fidelity Investor chairman Edward C. Johnson III (Ned Johnson) rarely if ever spoke to reporters. Therefore before requesting an interview, I read everything available on the giant money management firm--and talked to more than 140 industry analysts, consultants, competitors, former and then-current Fidelity employees, and so on. The resulting September 1995 Institutional Investor cover story was subsequently emulated by Fortune, The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, among others.



Likewise, for a May 1989 Forbes report on the world's largest private textile firm, Milliken & Co., which had never previously been profiled, before asking the secretive magnate Roger Milliken for an interview, I spent six weeks filling more than 12 notebooks with every shred of data I could gather from every available source. The late Senator Strom Thurmond, then 86, for example, sent me to Florida U.S. Representatives Sam Gibbons, who, in turn, described Milliken as “a protectionist hog, H-O-G.” And former President Richard M. Nixon replied to an interview request in writing.



Of course, not all my financial stories required so many advance interviews, but a large number did. This point is not boastful. Indeed, without intensive advance work, interviewing hard-to-get, controversial, evasive or famous sources would be wasted opportunities or completely fruitless.



Such exhaustive reportage has often helped to expose corporate, Wall Street or other financial corruption. Similarly, investigative journalists have similarly raked corrupt politicians over the coals.



But when it comes to interviewing Muslim community or religious leaders, mainstream reporters are little inclined to submit them to tough or probing questions. Frequently, the U.S. media present leaders of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Muslim American Society (MAS), Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), or Muslim Brotherhood (MB) as “civil rights” activists, “soft-spoken,” regular guys to be taken at face value, “moderate,” “really respected,” and so on.



Corporate executives caught contradicting themselves--lying, in a word--are forced out, one way or another. Such was the case for former Radio Shack CEO David J. Edmondson in 2006, former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling, former Tyco CEO L. Dennis Kozlowski, and an endless list of others. Given the recent prevalence of American corporate corruption, in fact, legislators and securities regulators responded with a host of new rules.



On political religious matters, though, reporters don't even check readily available records to verify the claimed moderation of these men and groups. Otherwise, they undoubtedly would quickly find that these organizations are actually all radical--supporting violence and terrorism--and that the supposed men of reason have usually said terribly immoderate things. But unlike the immoderate quotations and deeds of Democrats or Republicans, lesser Muslim radicals than Osama bin Laden or Ayman Al-Zawahiri go largely unnoticed in mainstream broadcasts and reports.



The question is, why don't reporters routinely check on these subjects, as when covering any other public figure?



Consider the above-noted journalism professor, teaching undergraduate college courses on how to cover modern religious communities, especially U.S. Muslim communities. This professor (with financial reporting experience no less) seemed both predisposed to believe the statements of most Muslims and completely oblivious to the inherent journalistic problem with that.



Moreover, lacking familiarity with the Islamic practice of hiding the truth (taqiyya, or kitman)--it would be easy to misapprehend the importance of substantiating and corroborating everything--even “unquestionable” religious precepts.



Probably for this reason, the professor lauded the condemnation of the September 11 attacks by the world's preeminent Islamic university, Cairo's al-Azhar. The teacher had never heard of its author, the respected Islamic scholar Muhammed Sayyid al-Tantawi--and was astonished to learn that Tantawi's Ph.D. thesis, Banu Isra’il fi al-Qur’an wa al-Sunna (The Children of Israel in the Qur’an and the Sunna), consists entirely of Jew-hatred based on sacred Islamic texts.1



The professor, who speaks no Arabic, Farsi or Turkish, evidenced similar naiveté in suggesting that I read Good Muslim, Bad Muslim, by Columbia University's “moderate” Mahmoud Mamdani--although Mamdani, likewise, is no moderate. In the March 2007 London Review of Books, he blasts New Yorkers protesting Sudan's jihad genocide, which prefers to parallel with Iraq's “insurgency and counter insurgency.” And in 2005, Mamdani sounded like Osama bin Laden, when he blamed the U.S. for creating violent political Islam during the Cold War. That year, in Foreign Affairs, Mamdani also falsely equated jihadis and neoconservatives.



The inadequate skepticism of the journalism professor seems representative of attitudes among the vast majority of Western mainstream journalists covering this area. The acceleration of excessive credulity screams from this oxymoron--“The Moderate Muslim Brotherhood”--which Foreign Affairs recently ran instead of a headline on an equally unbalanced “report.”



Another source of gullibility crystallized as the professor admitted almost total ignorance of the Qur'an, Hadith (reputed sayings and deeds of Muhammed), Sira (Muhammed's biography), or such other critical Islamic texts as Al-Akham As-Sultaniyyah (The Laws of Islamic Governance) by Ali ibn Muhammed Mawardi (d. 1058); Reliance of the Traveller: The Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law Umdat by Ahmad Ibn Lulu Ibn Al-Naqib (d. 1368); or translations of any portion of Ibn Khatir's massive Qur'anic commentary, Tafsir al-Qur'an al-Azim.



Consider the supreme irony, given how Americans cherish freedom of speech, in contrast to the severe restrictions placed on it by Islam.



Slander, according to al-Naqib, “means to mention anything concerning a person that he would dislike, whether about his body, religion, everyday life, self, disposition, property, son, father, wife, servant, turban, garment, gait, movements, smiling, dissoluteness, frowning, cheerfulness, or anything else connected with him.”2 According to the latter definition, even the truth can be slanderous if its subject doesn't like it.



Lacking familiarity with these texts before interviewing a devout Muslim on religion or political Islam is akin to a financial journalist profiling a Fortune 500 CEO without reading his annual or quarterly reports, talking to any competitors, without even a rudimentary understanding of Securities and Exchange Commission regulations. The CEO could have stolen and stashed a million shares of stock somewhere, and the reporter would be clueless.



But unacquainted with most important Islamic religious texts and laws, this professor insisted that only Saudi Arabia's strict Wahhabi sect of Sunni Islam is responsible for current Islamic terrorism and incitement to jihad--and that the original texts are devoid of radicalism.



In one regard, however, the professor should be greatly lauded--for requesting a “short list” of Islamic histories and important foundational Islamic texts, and promising to read and consider them all.3



If every reporter covering Islam similarly committed to read (or at least consult) Islamic texts and history (with special attention to skeptics) the general ability to pose pertinent and challenging questions would rise exponentially along with understanding how radical Muslims, parading as moderates, have thus far generally deceived them.



NOTES:



1 Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, Banu Isra’il fi al-Qur’an wa al-Sunna [The Children of Israel in the Qur’an and the Sunna], Zahraa’ lil-I`laam al-`Arabi, Cairo. 1986-1987, third printing, 1407/1987, p. 9, pp. 107-126, 129-146, translated to English (forthcoming) in Dr. Andrew G. Bostom, The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism: from Sacred Texts to Solemn History (2007, Prometheus).

2 Ahmad Ibn Lulu Ibn Al-Naqib (d. 1368), Reliance of the Traveller: The Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law Umdat, translated by Nuh Ha Mim Keller, 1991 and 1994, Amana Publications (revised ed., 1994), p. 730.

3 The short list includes the Qur'an (preferably in multiple translations), aHadith, (Sahih Muslim, Sahih al-Bukhari, and others) Ibn Ishaq's Sira (the oldest extant biography of Muhammed), The Laws of Islamic Governance (Muhammed Mawardi--d. 1058); Reliance of the Traveller: The Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law Umdat (Ahmad Ibn Lulu Ibn Al-Naqib--d. 1368); Tafsir al-Qur'an al-Azim (Ibn Khatir's Qur'anic commentary), and historical summaries including The Legacy of Islamic Jihad: Islamic Holy War and the Fate of Non-Muslims (Dr. Andrew Bostom, 2005, Prometheus); Why I am Not a Muslim (Ibn Warraq, 1995, Prometheus); The Dhimmi: Jews and Christians Under Islam (Bat Ye'or, Farleigh Dickenson University, 1985); The Decline and Fall of Eastern Christianity Under Islam: From Jihad to Dhimmitude 7th-20th Century (Bat Ye'or, 1996, Farleigh Dickenson University Press) Eurabia: The Euro Arab Axis (Bat Ye'or, Farleigh Dickenson University, 2005).
28638  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mil-blogs: Michael Yon and others (support our troops) on: March 22, 2007, 08:52:24 PM
Greetings,

An American General threatens to kick me out of Iraq. To find out why, please click here to read a brief dispatch "RUBS."
http://www.michaelyon-online.com/wp/rubs.htm

I'll keep giving the good, bad and the ugly for as long as possible.

Respectfully,

Michael

Baghdad

This site is 100% reader supported. No advertisers, no bosses: Readers are the only Royalty here.
 
28639  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: March 22, 2007, 08:42:39 PM
SPIEGEL ONLINE - March 21, 2007, 04:16 PM
URL: http://www.spiegel.de/international/0,1518,473017,00.html

JUSTIFYING MARITAL VIOLENCE
A German Judge Cites Koran in Divorce Case
By Veit Medick and Anna Reimann

He beat her and threatened her with murder. But because husband and wife were both from Morocco, a German divorce court judge saw no cause for alarm. It's a religion thing, she argued.


AFP
The Koran seems to have become the basis for a court decision in Frankfurt.
The case seems simply too strange to be true. A 26-year-old mother of two wanted to free herself from what had become a miserable and abusive marriage. The police had even been called to their apartment to separate the two -- both of Moroccan origin -- after her husband got violent in May 2006. The husband was forced to move out, but the terror continued: Even after they separated, the spurned husband threatened to kill his wife.

A quick divorce seemed to be the only solution -- the 26-year-old was unwilling to wait the year between separation and divorce mandated by German law. She hoped that as soon as they were no longer married, her husband would leave her alone. Her lawyer, Barbara Becker-Rojczyk agreed and she filed for immediate divorce with a Frankfurt court last October. They both felt that the domestic violence and death threats easily fulfilled the "hardship" criteria necessary for such an accelerated split.

In January, though, a letter arrived from the judge adjudicating the case. The judge rejected the application for a speedy divorce by referring to a passage in the Koran that some have controversially interpreted to mean that a husband can beat his wife. It's a supposed right which is the subject of intense debate among Muslim scholars and clerics alike."The exercise of the right to castigate does not fulfill the hardship criteria as defined by Paragraph 1565 (of German federal law)," the daily Frankfurter Rundschau quoted the judge's letter as saying. It must be taken into account, the judge argued, that both man and wife have Moroccan backgrounds.

"The husband can beat his wife"

"The right to castigate means for me: the husband can beat his wife," Becker-Rojczyk said, interpreting the judge's verdict.

In an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE, Becker-Rojczyk said the judge indicated to her that it makes no sense to insist on an accelerated divorce. The judge's advice? Wait for the year-long waiting period to elapse.

The fax from the Frankfurt court granting the conflict of interest claim.

The lawyer and her client were shocked. Immediately, they filed a claim alleging that the judge should have recused herself due to a conflict of interest. They felt that, because of the point of view presented by the judge, she was unable to reach an objective verdict. In the reply sent to Becker-Rojczyk, the judge expressly referred to a Koran verse -- or sura -- which indicates that a man's honor is injured when his wife behaves in an unchaste manner. "Apparently the judge deems it unchaste when my client adapts a Western lifestyle," Becker-Rojczyk said.

On Tuesday evening, Becker-Rojczyk expressed amazement that the judge was still on the bench, given that the controversial verdict was handed down weeks ago. Becker-Rojczyk had elected to go public with the case to attract attention to the judge's conduct. It seems to have worked. On Wednesday, after the Tuesday evening publication of the story on SPIEGEL ONLINE, the attorney received a fax from the Frankfurt court granting the conflict of interest claim and excusing the judge from the case.

Still, it is unlikely that the case will be heard again before the mandated year of separation expires in May. But the judge who heard the case may have to face further consequences for her decision. On Wednesday, numerous politicians in Berlin voiced their horror at the verdict -- and demanded disciplinary action against the judge.

Further investigation

"In my opinion, this is a case of extreme violation of the rule of law that can't be solved with a mere conflict of interest ruling," Social Democrat parliamentarian Dieter Wiefelspütz told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "There have to be further consequences. This is a case for judicial supervision -- this case needs to be further investigated."

The deputy floor leader for the Christian Democrats, Wolfgang Bosbach, agreed. "This is a sad example of how the conception of the law from another legal and cultural environment is taken as the basis for our own notion of law," he said on Wednesday.

This isn't the first time that German courts have used cultural background to inform their verdicts. Christa Stolle of the women's rights organization Terre des Femmes said that in cases of marital violence, there have been a number of cases where the perpetrator's culture of origin has been considered as a mitigating circumstance -- although such verdicts have become seldom in recent years.

But there remains quite a bit of work to do. "In my work educating sexist and short-sighted Muslim men," asked Michaela Sulaika Kaiser of the Network for Muslim Women, "do I now have to convince German courts that women are also people on the same level with men and that they, like any other human, have the right to be protected from physical and psychological violence?"

With reporting by Franziska Badenschier and Severin Weiland
28640  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Gay & Straight on: March 22, 2007, 06:32:03 PM
Sorry, this header got cut off:

District gags 14-year-olds after 'gay' indoctrination
'Confidentiality' promise requires students 'not to tell their parents'
Posted: March 13, 2007
10:39 p.m. Eastern

By Bob Unruh
© 2007 WorldNetDaily.com

I wouldn't rate WorldNetDaily particularly highly on accuracy, but do think that they are above making things up.  Anyway, based upon previous conversatiions I would have thought the judge's logic right up your alley.  Where am I/is he wrong?

Marc
28641  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Environmental issues on: March 22, 2007, 04:45:45 PM
While I certainly agree with you about Socialism/Communism, it reads to me here like they are actually dealing with factual specifics-- which I have seen referenced elsewhere by the way.  I know nothing about Hansen-- what can you tell us about him?
28642  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Environmental issues on: March 22, 2007, 03:39:05 PM
Rog:

Very interesting!  I look forward to Buz's reply.  Similarly I look forward to your reply to his 10 part post on the Science etc forum in response to your request for a discussion on the merits.   wink

Marc
28643  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Interest in a DBMA Class in Redondo Beach? on: March 22, 2007, 03:25:22 PM
At the moment we are looking at a starting time of 1900 (i.e. 7 PM) and finishing 90 minutes later.   The class will be kept on the small side-- probably no more than 12.
28644  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: 10 man line-up, any advice? on: March 22, 2007, 03:23:43 PM
When doing lots of heavy sweating my suggestion is to make sure that your food and supplements (in that order by the way) are getting you the minerals you need, including trace minerals.  My layman's opinion is that organic foods tend to be distinctly superior in this regard (as well as others).
28645  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: March 22, 2007, 01:16:38 AM

Shaky Musharraf holds only the military card
By Syed Saleem Shahzad

KARACHI - As Pakistan's judiciary crisis deepens and a political storm escalates as daily developments spin the situation into new dimensions, maintenance of public order is uppermost in the minds of those in the corridors of power at military headquarters in Rawalpindi.

Should they leave the maintenance of public order to the civilian administration and the police, who have already failed to control violent protests over the "reference" of Chief Justice Iftikhar



Chaudhary for alleged abuse of power to the Judicial Council, given that further mishandling could easily be exploited by opposition politicians?

Even bigger questions are, what options would be left for President General Pervez Musharraf if military or paramilitary forces are used to confront the mobs, and where would this leave the army? Musharraf, who is also chief of army staff, will seek re-election in presidential polls this year.

While these questions are being pondered, the Judicial Council hearing on the Chaudhary reference has been deferred from March 21 to April 3, giving the authorities some breathing space.

Despite the deferment, the pace of developments is so rapid that anything could happen in the interim. Qazi Hussain Ahmed, president of the six-party opposition religious alliance Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal, has already announced that protests will continue. On Monday seven judges from Sindh and Punjab quit their posts and on Tuesday two more judges tendered their resignations.

The deferment also provides opposition political parties with an opportunity to mobilize their members to take advantage of the snowballing anti-Musharraf campaign.

Such developments leave plenty of potential for more mob violence, and many expect that the next hearing on April 3 will bring out the protesters in numbers not seen during the previous two hearings.

Nevertheless, Musharraf has dismissed the idea of declaring an emergency or deploying the army, despite the fact that all armed-forces intelligence agencies have reported the failure of the civilian administration and the police to handle the protests. The agencies say that probably the only way to contain the protests would be the deployment in sizable numbers of paramilitary forces such as the Pakistan Rangers.

The crisis is being compounded by other developments. According to latest reports, the Pakistani Taliban have seized control of settled areas such as Tank in North West Frontier Province, and the leader of the Awami National Party, Isfandyar Wali, revealed on television that the Taliban now control Frontier Region (FR) Kohat, just 15 kilometers from the provincial capital, Peshawar. "I am constantly saying that Taliban are very rapidly getting powerful in the North West Frontier Province, but nobody is listening to me," said Wali.

FR Kohat is hardly three hours from the national capital, Islamabad, and such a development will undoubtedly bolster the anti-Musharraf forces. As it is, Islamabad itself is home to many Taliban who have been preparing for Musharraf's ouster.

The police are also coming under increasing fire at a time when any missteps could touch off a wildfire of rioting. After failing to contain the protests in Islamabad and Lahore last Friday, they became embroiled in fresh controversy when they received an instruction to "fix" a senior journalist from a national newspaper. The instruction came at an individual level from an intelligence agency, under pressure from the minister for law, Wasi Zafar, whose elder brother was previously director general of internal security in the Inter-Services Intelligence agency.

Zafar had previously abused a journalist on a Voice of America talk show, and a local TV channel repeatedly broadcast a recording of the program. As soon as the police received the "advice" from the intelligence agency, they entered the offices of the largest media group of the country and ransacked them. Fortunately, the journalist was not present at the time and escaped being "fixed".

Thereupon, the government banned many talk shows that discussed Musharraf's action against the chief justice. In the ensuing media havoc, some TV channels announced the ban and at the same time openly defied it. Musharraf then personally appeared on TV and apologized to the nation and the media for the mishandling of the situation.

Countdown to chaos

This is the first judicial crisis of its kind in Pakistan's history. It began with the chief justice being referred by Musharraf to the Judicial Council, on the advice of Pakistan's Military Intelligence (MI).

MI is responsible for counterinsurgency operations in Balochistan, where Chief Justice Chaudhary comes from. Chaudhary had incurred the military's wrath by ruling in some cases in favor of those who were defined as "insurgents" by the military apparatus. He had also taken up the issue of people who had gone "missing" in the "war on terror".

The military establishment had misgivings about the whole modus operandi of the court. But getting rid of Chaudhary is doing nothing to help their cause. Rana Bhagwandas, the new acting chief justice who will preside over the Judicial Council, is a Hindu. He is well known for his integrity and professionalism, and could prove to be a sharp thorn in Islamabad's flesh.

Weakening the case against Chaudhary, all those named as "victims" in the reference against him have denied that they have any complaint against the chief justice. And retired justice Fakharuddin G Ibrahim, who was named as government counsel, refused to appear on behalf of the government and instead appeared on TV to appeal to the nation to stand against the high-handedness of the government.

The crisis has thus severely eroded the credibility of the Musharraf government, and when the dust settles, both he and the military will find themselves on shaky ground.

Compounding the situation are regional developments. The Taliban are about to launch an offensive in Afghanistan, and a US attack on Iran is not out of the question. These events could propel stronger Iraqi resistance to the US-led occupation there, and set shock waves in motion from Pakistan to Israel. As a major US ally in a region where anti-US forces are calling the shots, any weakening of the Pakistani leadership would have far-reaching ramifications.

It would seem that the military card is the only one Musharraf has left to play. He is truly between the proverbial rock and hard place.
Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online's Pakistan Bureau Chief. He can be reached at saleem_shahzad2002@yahoo.com.

 
28646  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / IBD: American Beslan? on: March 22, 2007, 01:15:16 AM
An American Beslan?

By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Tuesday, March 20, 2007 4:20 PM PT

Homeland Security: As Democrats hold more silly hearings to embarrass Republicans, the FBI is warning local police to be alert for Muslim extremists hijacking school buses. Reality check, please.

We wonder if any of the grandstanding politicians on Capitol Hill are thinking in terms of one of these nuts driving a fertilizer-filled yellow bus up to a government building — or, easier yet, a school. Of course not. They're too busy swooning over Valerie Plame to even notice we're still under threat from the Islamic terrorists they say we shouldn't be spying on.

The FBI and Homeland Security Department last week sent out a bulletin to law enforcement across the country warning that Muslims with "ties to extremist groups" are signing up to be school bus drivers. They also noted "recent suspicious activity" by foreigners who drive school buses or are licensed to drive them.

Recent events come on top of several other school bus-related incidents involving Mideast men that raise suspicion of terror activity.

They include last year's surprise boarding of a school bus in Florida by two Saudi men dressed in trench coats. Authorities suspect they were making a dry run to see how easy it would be to hijack or blow up a school bus filled with American children.

Previously, an Arab man from Detroit was caught trying to obtain a job as a school bus driver in New York using fake Social Security documents.

Authorities fear the school massacre that took place in Beslan, Russia, in 2004 may be a dress rehearsal for what al-Qaida plans to do here. Chechen terrorists tied to al-Qaida seized a building in Beslan on the first day of school and slaughtered 338, including 172 kids.

Three years later, schools and local police in this country are still unprepared to deal with such an assault. Most don't have response plans for handling a single active shooter, let alone a cell of trained terrorists.

Yet terror cells secreted inside America may be planning to use buses as a Trojan horse to infiltrate school campuses and murder students and teachers. Floor plans for schools in Virginia, Texas and New Jersey have been recovered from terrorist hands in Iraq. Videotapes confiscated in Afghanistan show al-Qaida terrorists practicing the takeover of a school.

Simultaneous attacks on schools in multiple states would follow Osama bin Laden's goal of crippling the U.S. economy. If multiple schools were hit, parents would drop out of the work force en masse to protect their children.

A prolonged labor disruption would cost businesses billions of dollars in lost revenue.

It's a grim picture. But don't think for a moment that al-Qaida is above targeting school children. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed said in his Gitmo confession that while he may not like killing kids, they're fair game in jihad. He claims U.S. forces bombed and killed the children of bin Laden's top deputy, Ayman Zawahiri, and arrested and "abused" his own children.

These people have nothing better to do than sit around and think of ways to kill us and our most precious resource, our children. They have many helpers placed inside U.S. cities who canvass targets and perform other logistics for such attacks. And these people will stop at nothing to pull them off. They're just waiting for the right time, when our guard is down.

Are we witnessing with Muslim men trying to obtain bus licenses what some alert (but ignored) agents witnessed before 9/11 when they noticed a number of Muslim men training to obtain pilot's licenses? Are schools and children the target of the next wave of terror attacks?

Parents should be outraged that Washington would continue to play politics with national security. Instead of using hearings to score partisan points, Congress would best serve constituents by using that power to investigate the terror threat to schools and how best to protect our children from attack.
28647  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: March 21, 2007, 07:35:33 PM
Mexico: The Cartel Responds to Calderon
Summary

Mexican President Felipe Calderon sent federal troops into the southern state of Tabasco on March 17, opening up the latest front in a crackdown on drug cartels Calderon initiated shortly after taking office in December 2006. Coming after recent intimidation efforts by criminal gangs operating in the area, the redeployment is part of a systematic effort to squeeze cartels -- and increases the likelihood of retaliatory violence.

Analysis

Mexican troops searched houses and manned roadblocks in the southern state of Tabasco on March 19 after Mexican president Felipe Calderon dispatched more than 300 members of the Federal Preventive Police (PFP), as well as army units, to Villahermosa, the Gulf Coast state's capital, March 17.

The deployment followed a spate of violence in the area attributed to drug cartels. Since then, the former chief of state police and four of his current or former subordinates, including three police commanders, were detained on suspicion of collaborating with drug cartels and of trying to assassinate the current state chief of police, who was wounded in the attempt.

The escalation in violence began after retired Gen. Francisco Fernandez assumed office as the state's police chief Jan. 1. Fernandez, who has led anti-drug units in the states of Chihuahua, Durango and Sinaloa, aggressively combated drug traffickers and was investigating police ties to trafficking organizations. Two months into his tenure, gunmen fired more than 150 shots at Fernandez's Suburban shortly after he left a Villahermosa hotel, killing his chauffer. On March 15, a severed head was found in the parking lot of the Tabasco state security offices in Villahermosa. Hours later, the headless body of an alleged police informant was found across Tabasco's southern state line with Chiapas.

Police are not organized criminal gangs' sole targets. A reporter for the newspaper Tabasco Hoy disappeared Jan. 20 after naming alleged local drug traffickers in an article. Other journalists in the state also have received threatening phone calls and notes.

Following these incidents, Calderon deployed federal troops, who took over the state police headquarters, seized weapons from the police and searched the complex for evidence of police complicity in the assassination attempt. Federal police also arrested Fernandez's predecessor, Juan Cano Torres, in the town of Centla and raided his ranches, where authorities allege cartel assassins were allowed to hide out.

The seizure of weapons from police was similar to a January operation in the northwestern Mexican city of Tijuana, where federal police disarmed 3,000 police for several weeks while they investigated whether the weapons were tied to criminal acts. This and other operations initiated by Calderon since he took office Dec. 1, 2006, have involved approximately 30,000 federal forces in states such as Michoacan, Guerrero and Tamaulipas. They have effectively pressured the cartels, but also have caused them to shift trafficking operations in search of areas under less scrutiny.

The increase in cartel activity in Tabasco appears to be the result of pressure on Gulf cartel operations elsewhere in the country. The Gulf cartel and its enforcement arm, Los Zetas, operate on Mexico's Gulf Coast from Tabasco and Veracruz states up to the outskirts of the Tamaulipas city of Matamoros on the U.S. border. Los Zetas have deposited severed heads in public areas as an intimidation tactic outside of this territory, notably in Michoacan state and the city of Acapulco in Guerrero state. Another of Los Zetas' calling cards is replacing the letter "S" with a "Z" in threat notes, a scare tactic now in use against Tabasco journalists.

Both the Gulf cartel and Sinaloa cartel-affiliated organizations use Michoacan and Guerrero to import drugs from South America before they are transported through Mexico to the U.S. border. Recent federal anti-drug operations have targeted both of these states. Calderon's latest initiatives, combined with U.S. efforts in the Gulf of Mexico, likely prompted the Gulf Cartel to expand their use of areas like Tabasco as transit corridors.

Drug cartels in Mexico have shown a proclivity to respond violently to law enforcement operations and the flexibility to shift operations when they come under government pressure. New fronts in the efforts to combat drug cartels will continue to emerge as cartels seek the path of least resistance. These organizations are too well-equipped and ruthless to brook much interference, however, meaning conflict will escalate whenever they are pushed into a corner.

The cartels' tendencies to fight back and shift their operations will continue to manifest themselves as Calderon's anti-drug efforts proceed. But for all of Calderon's anti-cartel efforts in his short time in office, he has yet to encroach into the Sinaloa cartel's strongholds as effectively as he has other cartels' turf -- suggesting this game has much more room to play out.
28648  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / SPP: "Security and Prosperity Partnership"/United Nations on: March 21, 2007, 07:33:16 PM
All:

IMHO this subject bears very careful scrutiny.  Certainly there are areas where coordination with our neighbors, Mexico and Canada, is to the benefit of all three of us.  The very real danger though is that there are forces in our government which seek to transcend the limitations of our Constitution (e.g. neutering gun rights via the UN) and our sovereignty (e.g. as the bureaucrats of the EU in Brussels seek to do throughout Europe-- e.g. trying to tell the Irish that they should raise taxes to the higher levels of elsewhere or imposing the unlimited entry of undesired groups of people.

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


'Working groups led by DHS should now [be] driven by a single agenda: the SPP'
© 2007 WorldNetDaily.com

A memo signed by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff implements a controversial program condemned by critics as a precursor to a European Union-style partnership with Mexico and Canada.

The document shows the Security and Prosperity Partnership, or SPP, is being directed at the highest level of the Bush administration, says the public interest group Judicial Watch, which obtained it and other documents through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The Sept. 22, 2005, memo describes the agencies within the Department of Homeland Security responsible for executing the security agenda of the SPP.

Titled "Implementation Memorandum for the (SPP)," the document says the SPP "has, in addition to identifying a number of new action items, comprehensively rolled up most of our existing homeland security-related policy initiatives with Canada and Mexico, and ongoing action and reporting in the various U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Mexico working groups led by DHS should now be driven by a single agenda: the SPP."

"These new records prove the Security and Prosperity Partnership is being directed by officials at the very highest levels of the United States government," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

Fitton said Americans "should know that the SPP is a core policy initiative for many agencies in our government, including the Department of Homeland Security."

The records obtained by Judicial Watch also contain an information paper describing 10 "Prosperity Pillar Working Groups" and the organization of the "U.S.-Mexico Critical Infrastructure Protection Work Group."

Judicial Watch said that unlike previous records produced by other federal agencies, the DHS records are heavily redacted, blocking out names of the U.S., Mexican and Canadian government officials carrying out the partnership's agenda across all three countries.

The DHS also released a 10-page chart listing 36 "SPP Security High-Level Working Groups" that include the "Mexico-U.S. Repatriation Technical WG," the "Mexico-U.S. Intelligence and Information Sharing WG," and the "Canada-U.S. Cross Border Crime Forum."

In October, as WND reported, about 1,000 documents obtained in a FOIA request to the SPP showed bureaucrats from agencies throughout the Bush administration meeting regularly with their counterparts in the Canadian and Mexican governments to engage in a broad rewriting of U.S. administrative law and regulations.

WND first reported the SPP activity last summer, showing the Bush administration had launched extensive working-group activity to implement a trilateral agreement with Mexico and Canada.

The groups, working under the North American Free Trade Agreement office in the Department of Commerce, are to implement an agreement signed by President Bush, then-Mexican President Vicente Fox and then-Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin in Waco, Texas, March 23, 2005.

The trilateral agreement, signed as a joint declaration not submitted to Congress for review, led to the creation of the SPP.

An SPP report to the heads of state of the U.S., Mexico and Canada, -- released June 27, 2005 -- lists some 20 different working groups spanning a wide variety of issues ranging from e-commerce, to aviation policy, to borders and immigration, involving the activity of multiple U.S. government agencies.

The working groups have produced a number of memorandums of understanding and trilateral declarations of agreement.
28649  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: March 21, 2007, 05:17:35 PM
Guy calls up a lawyer and says "I have two questions to ask, but only $500.  Can you help me out?"

"Sure!  What is your other question?"

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

Q:  What do you get when you cross a crooked lawyer and a slimy politician?


A:  Chelsea.
28650  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: March 21, 2007, 05:15:40 PM
Buz:

Rare to find a piece with something genuinely fresh to add to the conversation-- good find!  It reminds me of the piece I saw-- I don't remember where, it might even be here on this forum-- saying that the issue was not Islam, but Arabic tribalism.

Apart from intellectual curiousity, what are the practical implications of this piece?  Do any solutions come to mind?

Marc

PS:  A friend from India whose comments have always impressed me as thoughtful and well-informed writes:

There are some nuances, which the author has missed and even a few inaccuracies. Hindu and Sikh Punjabis are the most outgoing and bold amongst Indians. Sikhism is a hinduism offshoot, where even in the same Hindu family it was common for one brother to become a sikh and the other remained hindu. Sikhs were the warriors historically speaking...that may explain their bold outgoing attitude. The reason for the lack of assimilation is characteristics of the religion/culture which Ballard talks about at the end of the article. Hindu Punjabi festivals are characterized by joy and energy ( e.g. Bhangra dance). Islam is a closed religion, where infidel is an everyday word. I am unaware of any celebratory muslim festival (music, dancing etc). Cousin marriage has nothing to do with it...
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