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28601  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: July 06, 2007, 06:14:26 AM
NY Times
GIs Forge Sunni Ties

BAQUBA, Iraq, June 30 — Capt. Ben Richards had been battling insurgents from Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia for three weeks when he received an unexpected visitor.

Former Insurgents Aid U.S. Soldiers Abu Ali walked into the Americans’ battle-scarred combat outpost with an unusual proposal: the community leader was worried about the insurgents, and wanted the soldiers’ help in taking them on.

The April 7 meeting was the beginning of a new alliance and, American commanders hope, a portent of what is to come in the bitterly contested Diyala Province.

Using his Iraqi partners to pick out the insurgents and uncover the bombs they had seeded along the cratered roads, Captain Richards’s soldiers soon apprehended more than 100 militants, including several low-level emirs. The Iraqis called themselves the Local Committee; Captain Richards dubbed them the Kit Carson scouts.

“It is the only way that we can keep Al Qaeda out,” said Captain Richards, who operates from a former Iraqi police station in the Buhritz sector of the city that still bears the sooty streaks from the day militants set it aflame last year.

The American military has struggled for more than four years to train and equip the Iraqi Army. But here the local Sunni residents, including a number of former insurgents from the 1920s Revolution Brigades, have emerged as a linchpin of the American strategy.

The new coalition reflects some hard-headed calculations on both sides. Eager for intelligence on their elusive foes, American officers have been willing to overlook the past of some of their newfound allies.

Many Sunnis, for their part, are less inclined to see the soldiers as occupiers now that it is clear that American troop reductions are all but inevitable, and they are more concerned with strengthening their ability to fend off threats from Sunni jihadists and Shiite militias. In a surprising twist, the jihadists — the Americans’ most ardent foes — made the new strategy possible. Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, a predominantly Iraqi organization with a small but significant foreign component, severely overplayed its hand, spawning resentment by many residents and other insurgent groups.

Imposing a severe version of Islamic law, the group installed its own clerics, established an Islamic court and banned the sale of cigarettes, which even this week were nowhere to be found in the humble shops in western Baquba to the consternation of patrolling Iraqi troops.

The fighters raised funds by kidnapping local Iraqis, found accommodations by evicting some residents from their homes and killed with abandon when anyone got in their way, residents say. A small group of bearded black-clad militants took down the Iraqi flag and raised the banner of their self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq.

“They used religion as a ploy to get in and exploit people’s passions,” said one member of the Kit Carson scouts, who gave his name as Haidar. “They were Iraqis and other Arabs from Syria, Afghanistan, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. They started kicking people out of their houses and getting ransom from rich people. They would shoot people in front of their houses to scare the others.”

Collaborations like the one with the scouts in Baquba are slowly beginning to emerge in other parts of Iraq. In Baquba they face some notable obstacles, primarily from the Shiite-dominated provincial and Baghdad ministries that are worried about American efforts to rally the Sunnis and institutionalize them as a security force.

But with Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s government showing scant progress toward political reconciliation and the American military eager to achieve a measure of stability before its elevated troop levels begin to shrink, American commanders appear determined to proceed with this more decentralized strategy — one that relies less on initiatives taken by Iraqi leaders in Baghdad and more on newly forged coalitions with local Iraqis.

A West Point graduate, Idaho native and former Mormon missionary who worked for two years with Chinese immigrants in Canada, Captain Richards commands Bronco Troop, First Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment. When the 31-year-old officer was first sent to Buhritz in mid-March as part of a battalion-size task force, he encountered a deeply entrenched foe who numbered in the thousands.

Page 2 of 2)

Many of the members of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia were ensconced in a sprawling palm grove-laden sanctuary south of Baquba and east of the Diyala River. The area, which is still under the group’s control, is still so replete with arms caches, insurgent leaders, fighters and their supporters that American soldiers have taken to calling it the Al Qaeda Fob, or forward operating base in American military jargon.

Former Insurgents Aid U.S. Soldiers The insurgents also had a firm grip on the city, the provincial capital of Diyala, which Abu Musab al-Zarqawi made the center of his self-styled Islamic caliphate before he was killed in an airstrike near Baquba last year. The key supply and communications lines between the insurgents’ rural staging area and the city ran through the Buhritz, making it vital ground for Al Qaeda.

The militants’ hold on the region was facilitated, senior American officers now acknowledge, by American commanders’ decision to draw down forces in the province in 2005 in the hopes of shifting most of the responsibility for securing the region onto the Iraqis. That strategy backfired when the Iraqi authorities appointed overly sectarian Shiite army and police regional commanders, alienating the largely Sunni population, and otherwise showed themselves unable to safeguard the area.

“Up until Captain Richards went in and met the 1920s guys, we fought,” recalled Lt. Col. Mo Goins, the commander of the First Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, which held the line in Baquba until reinforcements began to arrive in March. “That is what we did. Small arms. Mortars. I.E.D’s.”

Captain Richards’s soldiers arrived in Buhritz in mid-March as part of a battalion-sized operation. Unlike many earlier operations, the Americans showed up in force and did not quickly withdraw. The residents saw an opportunity to challenge Al Qaeda, and for a week, the two sides battled it out in the streets.

Initially, the Americans stood on the sidelines, concerned that they might be witnessing a turf fight among insurgents and militias. “We were not sure what was going on,” Captain Richards recalled. “We were not sure we could trust the people not to turn on us afterwards.”

But after the militants gained the upper hand and more than 1,000 residents began to flee on foot, the Americans moved to prevent the militants from establishing their control throughout the neighborhood. The soldiers called in an airstrike, which demolished a local militant headquarters.

The meeting between the residents and the Americans was Abu Ali’s initiative. The locals wanted ammunition to carry on their fight. Captain Richards had another proposal: the residents should tip off the Americans on which Iraqis belonged to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia and where they had buried their bombs.

At first, no more than a dozen of the several hundred Sunnis who were taking on the militants served as Kit Carson scouts, but they made a vital difference. Unlike Anbar Province, where the American military has formed similar alliances, Diyala lacks a cohesive tribal structure. Nor did another Sunni insurgent group, the 1920s Revolution Brigades, deliver fighters en masse.

Even so, some of the main obstacles that the Americans have faced in institutionalizing the arrangement with the scouts have come from the United States’ ostensible allies in the Iraqi government. According to Captain Richards, the provincial police chief, Maj. Gen. Ghanen al-Kureshi, repeatedly resisted efforts to hire the local Sunnis.

Captain Richards rejected a group of Shiite police recruits from Baghdad, fearing they might be penetrated by Shiite militias. Determined to get his scouts hired, he loaded 50 scouts and other residents on his Stryker vehicles and drove them to the provincial headquarters over the insurgent-threatened roads.

Today, the police number only 170, a fraction of the police force in adjoining areas. The small police force, made up of scouts and Sunni residents, was provided with only two trucks, seven radios and a paltry supply of ammunition that the Sunni residents have managed to supplement by buying ammunition on the black market from corrupt Interior Ministry officials in Baghdad. Another 150 scouts participate as unpaid monitors in a neighborhood watch program to guard key routes in and out of the area that Captain Richards oversees.

“The people in the community think that he is actively trying to prevent the Buhritz police from establishing themselves because the Shia government does not want a legitimate Sunni security force in Diyala Province,” Captain Richards said, referring to General Ghanen, the provincial police chief.

Colonel Goins had a more charitable view of the provincial chief’s actions, saying that he was coping with personnel and weapons shortages, as well as Interior Ministry guidance to build up the force in other areas. “Right now, his resources are extremely limited,” Colonel Goins said.

The new police and neighborhood watch monitors appear to work well with the local Iraqi Army unit and police officials. But a local Iraqi Army commander expressed doubts that the scouts, in uniform or not, amounted to a disciplined, military unit that could take and hold ground.

During a quick visit to two villages, Guam and Abu Faad, the Americans and their Iraqi allies tried to persuade welcoming but still wary residents that they needed to overcome their fears of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia and provide tips for their own security.

The American military is trying to expand the alliance into the western sector of the city, which a Stryker brigade recently wrested back from Qaeda militants. During the recent American assault in the western sector, soldiers from Blackhawk Company got a glimpse of an alliance the Americans hope to see. An Iraqi seemingly emerged from nowhere, announced himself as a member of the 1920s Revolution Brigades and warned the soldiers that insurgents could be found on the far side of a sand berm around the corner. The tip was accurate.

28602  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: July 06, 2007, 06:00:33 AM
Pakistan: After the Red Mosque Operation
July 05, 2007 18 57  GMT


Regardless of whether it ends by force, the security operation at the Red Mosque in the Pakistani capital will result in the militant Islamist cult losing control of the mosque. The end of the standoff could allow Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf some degree of a temporary reprieve from the ongoing political crisis in the country. However, the coming elections and the verdict in the case of suspended Pakistani Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry will return to center stage quickly, putting Musharraf's troubles back in the spotlight.


The security operation against the Islamist cult holed up in the Red Mosque in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad has entered its final stages. Since the standoff began July 3, the on-and-off heavy gunfire exchanges between security forces and the militants have resulted in some two dozen casualties. Authorities are trying to avoid storming the mosque/madrassa complex by getting the remaining militants and seminary students inside the facility to surrender.

Regardless of whether the standoff ends with a surrender, with security forces storming the complex or with a combination of the two, the defeat of the Red Mosque cult will give Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf some relief from his larger legal and political crisis. But this reprieve likely will be temporary, because the case of suspended Pakistani Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry and Pakistan's coming elections will once again take center stage.

Though the Musharraf government will gain some political capital from its ability to end the standoff with the Red Mosque cult, expectations will increase -- within the country and, more important, internationally -- for the Musharraf government to deal with the Taliban and al Qaeda militants and their allies using Pakistan to launch attacks in Afghanistan and elsewhere. This expectation will come from the perception that if the Musharraf government can successfully crack down on militants in one part of the country, it can reproduce those results in the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas, North-West Frontier Province and the Pashtun corridor in northwestern Balochistan. The Pakistani government's ability to actually crack down on Islamist militants had been in question up until now, but the Red Mosque situation has dispelled those doubts.

For now, Musharraf will be able to use the Red Mosque operation to impress upon the United States and the West that he must stay in power if the fight against Islamist radicalism and militancy is to continue. This could help counter any slide in Washington's support for his government. However, this support will not take care of the domestic situation, in which -- now more than ever -- Musharraf needs support from the main opposition party, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP). This situation could give Bhutto a certain element of leverage in her back-channel communications with Musharraf, allowing her to drive a harder bargain and potentially forcing Musharraf to make concessions.

Additionally, this unprecedented operation against a mosque likely will create more resentment among conservative and extremist circles, which could lead the mainstream Islamist coalition, the Muttahida Majilis-i-Amal (MMA), to lose some of its influence to more extremist elements.

Musharraf, who already is in negotiations with the PPP and the largest component party of the MMA -- the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam, led by Maulana Fazlur Rehman -- to help him get over the hurdle of his own re-election and the parliamentary polls, will now need the opposition parties' support not only to secure a second term but also to deal with the fallout from the Red Mosque operation, which could see increased militancy in the country.

Prior to the Red Mosque operation, Musharraf was already headed toward a situation in which he would at least be forced to share power. The operation could prevent him from losing power altogether -- which has been a prospect since early March, given the brewing crisis. That said, the continuing crisis and upcoming elections will put him in a position in which he cannot avoid giving up some of his power to the next civilian administration.
28603  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action on: July 06, 2007, 05:39:36 AM

Pilot rides helicopter out of Iraqi firefight

WASHINGTON — Giving up his seat to a wounded soldier, an Army officer strapped himself to the side of an Apache helicopter gunship that airlifted them out of a furious firefight in Iraq, the military said Monday.

The Army called it an "unusual casualty evacuation," but Chief Warrant Officer Allen Crist's selfless act goes way beyond heroism.

Realizing that Spc. Jeffrey Jamaleldine needed medical attention fast, Crist put the critically wounded man in his own spot on the Apache on Saturday.

Crist then rigged a harness to strap himself to the fuselage and crouched on the stubby left gun wing of the aircraft.

With Chief Warrant Officer Kevin Purtee, of Houston, at the controls and Crist hanging on for dear life, the Apache flew out of the battle zone. It kept low, about 200 feet, until it reached a field hospital, the military said.

Jamaleldine, 31, of Fort Smith, Ark., was later reported in stable condition.

Army officials could not immediately recall an Apache ever being used before for a medical evacuation — and certainly not with the co-pilot riding outside.

Crist and Purtee, from Company B, 1st Battalion, 149th Aviation Regiment, were part of a four-Apache team that came to help U.S. troops pinned down under heavy fire in Ramadi.
28604  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: July 06, 2007, 05:26:43 AM
Fort Worth police praise man who shot at Albertsons robber

FW: Suspect in crime at store left at hospital; 2 others sought in case
12:00 AM CDT on Thursday, July 5, 2007

By MARISSA ALANIS / The Dallas Morning News A Fort Worth man who only wanted to protect his wife stuck in an Albertsons store during a robbery is being hailed for his heroics by police.

The retired man may have shot one of the robbers early Wednesday at the store in the 3500 block of Sycamore School Road.

Three men armed with guns robbed the store shortly after midnight and stole wallets and purses belonging to customers, said Lt. Dean Sullivan, a Fort Worth police spokesman.

The man, whom police didn't identify because he is a witness, saw two of the men walking around nervously before they entered the store. The witness said he called 911 when one of the men pulled out a gun and fired as he walked into the store.

About 20 seconds later, the witness's wife tried to call him from her cellphone inside the store. But he never got to talk to her.

"I just heard her saying, 'There is nothing in my purse,' " he recalled. "And there was a 'pow.' The phone went dead."

The man, who has a concealed handgun license, sprang into action. He walked into the store with his .45-caliber pistol under his shirt.

"I really thought I'd find her in the store shopping and get her out the back door," he said. "That was my intention. ... I had no intention of confronting these armed bandits."

But in the store, one of the robbers pointed the gun at the man. The man then fired twice. The robber ran away, and it's unknown whether he returned fire, Lt. Sullivan said. Outside the store, the retired man fired again.

Lt. Sullivan said Rayshaun Johnson was possibly hit during the robbery. Mr. Johnson, 17, was injured on his backside and foot. He was dropped off in the parking lot of Huguley Memorial Medical Center in Fort Worth.

Lt. Sullivan said Mr. Johnson faces a charge of aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon once he's released from the hospital. Police continue to search for the other two robbers. Descriptions were unavailable.

The man said he does not feel like a hero.
"I don't feel good at all that there is an 18-year-old guy who's been injured and is going to go to some terrible place because it was a horrible mistake that somebody talked him into," he said. "I was worried about my wife. I just wanted to get her out of there."
28605  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: July 06, 2007, 04:13:14 AM

Respeto mucho al "Stratfor" pero en asuntos economicos en mi opinion su nivel es menos que en asuntos de geo-politica.  Aqui esta'n en favor en AUMENTANDO ingresos al gobierno Mexicano.  Admito abiertamente que en general mis perjuicios ven aumentando el papel del Estado.  La economia de Mexico ya causa que milliones y milliones de Mexicanos vengan aqui a los EU en violacion de nuestras leyes-- ?como puede ayudar eso dando aun mas dinero y por lo cual, potencia a las burocracias del gobierno?


Mexico: Taxes, Pemex and Calderon's Reforms

Mexico's Congress has begun reviewing President Felipe Calderon's fiscal reform plan. While Calderon and his allies carry enough political weight to pass his tax legislation despite the opposition's resistance, the president is seeking a consensus that could facilitate his future plans for reforming Mexico's energy sector.


Mexico's government finally is tackling the country's troubled tax system. President Felipe Calderon's fiscal reform plan is before Congress, with opposition parties readying their positions regarding the proposal. Tax reform is crucial if Mexico's government is to remain solvent, as oil revenues are projected to fall sharply. In addition, this legislative initiative must succeed for Calderon to gain sufficient momentum to tackle the more controversial challenge of energy reform.

Calderon's chances for success with this initiative are reasonably high, and the president will hope to use this success to generate momentum for his plans to reform state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex). Reforming Mexico's prized oil giant will be decidedly more difficult, since this will see the opposition's resistance to the tax reform proposal grow into a very public battle against the president's plans for Pemex.

At present, Mexico's tax system is a disaster. The country has one of the lowest tax rates in Latin America, collecting only about 10 percent of its gross domestic product. To put this in perspective, other major Latin American powers such as Chile and Brazil take in about twice that percentage. Rampant tax evasion exacerbates this problem.

Moreover, 40 percent of the government's revenues come directly from state oil company Pemex. But Pemex is declining rapidly. Its onshore fields are maturing, and Pemex lacks the technical capacity to explore its ample offshore reserves. Without major reform, the oil giant will weaken further, effectively bankrupting Mexico.

Calderon's reform proposal targets Mexico's biggest tax evader: the business sector. The plan proposes a 19 percent flat tax on all companies, along with taxes on large cash deposits to prevent smaller cash-based businesses from operating below the tax radar. In addition to closing tax loopholes, a flat tax also simplifies the highly complex tax code, making it harder for companies to avoid taxation.

The government has maintained that the majority of businesses the plan would affect are tax cheats. Since publicly opposing the plan would thus effectively mark a firm as a tax evader, the business community has responded to the plan with a deafening silence. The relative quiet is not surprising given that Latin American countries' tax rates average about 40 percent higher than Mexico's planned flat tax -- meaning Mexico would remain a relatively low-tax option for multinational firms with current or planned Latin American operations.

Though Calderon's plan calls for some serious revisions, it has been criticized by more conservative elements for not going far enough because it does not call for the addition of value-added tax (VAT) on food or medication. Calderon's decision to avoid VAT changes is decidedly pragmatic. Proposed and highly controversial additions to VAT killed the reform plans of former President Vicente Fox because of their effects on Mexico's lower-income population. Calderon's focus on relatively palatable reforms indicates he understands the art of policy compromise essential to actually getting legislation passed.

Approval is, of course, the chief obstacle Calderon faces. While the president's National Action Party (PAN) is poised to support his proposal, Calderon must also contend with Mexico's two other major parties, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD). The PAN has enjoyed an alliance with the PRI since the postelection row of 2006, while the PRD has maintained a staunch opposition to the ruling party. The layout of Congress is such that no one party can dominate, but the PAN and PRI's coalition -- collectively holding 66 percent of Senate seats to the PRD's 20 percent and 62 percent of lower house positions to the PRD's 25 percent -- effectively can shut out the PRD.

The PRI, Mexico's traditional ruling party and PAN's recent ally, already has noted that it does not intend to give Calderon carte blanche with the reform plan. There are indications, however, that PRI resistance to the plan is purely a political bargaining tool and that the party recognizes the need for reform and intends to support the plan in exchange for certain concessions. The PRI's primary concern is state-level issues, since it controls 17 state governments, more than the PRD and PAN combined. For the former ruling party, keeping a strong control on state politics -- by increasing budget control at the state level and directly transferring 3 percent of current VAT revenues to states -- is a priority. Calderon's proposal would have to be adjusted through negotiations to meet these demands.

Meanwhile, the PRD has a divided stance on Calderon's proposal. The more radical elements led by former presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador are demanding zero negotiation with Calderon. While Lopez Obrador lost the vast majority of his political force after his 2006 presidential loss and his so-called shadow government is disregarded by all but his most ardent followers, his opposition could lead more radical PRD legislators to vote against any version of the proposal. PRD moderates have indicated they are open to negotiation and dialogue in Congress, but there is little consensus within the party as to what changes the PRD plans to pursue. The PRD's chief complaint with Calderon's proposal regards the idea of a flat tax. The PRD contends that tax rates should be increased according to earnings in order to hit big business. Since the PRD caters to lower-income constituents, the notion of progressive taxation is far more appealing than a flat tax. Splits within the PRD are good news for Calderon, since a united PRD would provide the most significant opposition to his efforts.

The PRD's limited resistance to Calderon's current proposal is trifling compared to the resistance the president will face when he attempts to undertake an overhaul of Pemex. The PRD can be expected to mount a firm, united opposition to any such proposals. The oil giant is a matter of national pride and an object of sentiment for Mexicans, and even as it struggles, many Mexicans remain highly resistant to the notion of reforming the company by allowing foreign involvement -- regardless of how necessary such reform might be.

Calderon hopes that support for his tax plan will follow him into his Pemex plans. Getting PRD support for his tax plans could thus facilitate his Pemex plans, though he will proceed with his tax plans with or without PRD support. Ultimately, however, Calderon does not need PRD support to pass his legislation, since he can negotiate with the PRI and hammer out a deal that pleases the PRI and the PAN. Regardless of whether PRD supports his current tax proposal, Calderon's fight to change Pemex will be the most controversial and taxing agenda of his presidency.
28606  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: July 05, 2007, 08:55:52 AM

By James C. McKinley Jr.
Wednesday, July 4, 2007

MEXICO CITY: The Mexican government vigorously denied this week the
accusations of a Chinese-Mexican businessman who is wanted on drug charges
here but who asserts that $150 million found hidden in his mansion came from
members of President Felipe Calderón's party, including the secretary of

Zhenli Ye Gon, a naturalized Mexican citizen who owns a pharmaceutical
company, rocked the political world here recently by suggesting, through his
lawyer in New York, that the labor secretary, Javier Lozano Alarcón, had
threatened to kill him last year unless he agreed to hide duffel bags
stuffed with tens of millions of dollars in his house.

On Tuesday, Lozano Alarcón issued a statement calling the charges "false,
absurd, untrue, crooked and perverse." A spokesman for Calderón, speaking on
the condition of anonymity because the president had yet to make an official
statement, said Zhenli appeared to be making false charges as part of a
strategy to broker a deal with prosecutors here.

Mexico's attorney general, Eduardo Medina Mora, said in a televised
interview Monday that the idea that someone from Calderón's campaign or
cabinet would force Zhenli to hide money seemed "ridiculous and fantastic."

"Evidently the man dedicated himself to the illicit importation of
pseudoephedrine, and this was sold to drug traffickers," the attorney
general said. "This money was the product of that activity."

He said the government had evidence that Zhenli, 44, had illegally imported
19 tons of pseudoephedrine, a decongestant, and intended to sell it to drug
dealers who use it to manufacture methamphetamine, a synthetic stimulant
known on the street as "ice."

Zhenli denied the charge in an interview with The Associated Press published
Saturday; the news agency said the interview was given in the New York
office of his lawyer, Ning Ye.

Zhenli said that various party officials had delivered money for him to
hide, but he did not provide their names.

The Mexican authorities began investigating Zhenli in December, after
discovering an illicit shipment of pseudoephedrine on a boat in the port of
Lázaro Cárdenas, prosecutors say. The chemical was being shipped to Unimed,
a pharmaceutical company Zhenli started in 1997, they said.

On March 15, federal agents raided his home in an affluent section of the
capital. There they found about $205 million and $22 million in other
currencies and traveler's checks. The money was stuffed in walls, suitcases
and closets. They also seized eight luxury cars and seven high-powered

At the time, Karen Tandy, the head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement
Administration, called the raid "the largest single drug-cash seizure the
world has every seen."

Zhenli, who was born in Shanghai and became a Mexican citizen in 2002, had
disappeared before the raid. Eleven other people, among them several of
Zhenli's relatives, have been arrested and charged with drug trafficking in
connection with the seizures.

Over the weekend, the Mexican government said Zhenli's lawyers had sent a
letter to the Mexican Embassy in Washington threatening to expose an alleged
link between the cash found at his house and Calderón's campaign unless
prosecutors made a deal beneficial to the accused businessman.

"These lawyers are unscrupulously and uselessly looking to blackmail the
Mexican government with absurd and untrue statements," the attorney
general's office said Sunday.

In the AP interview, Zhenli said the labor secretary, an important member of
Calderón's campaign last year, gave him about $150 million for safekeeping
in May 2006, during the heat of the electoral battle.

He also denied that the chemical he had imported was pseudoephedrine, saying
it was another chemical used in cough medicines.

Source Drudge
28607  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: July 05, 2007, 08:20:49 AM
 July 3, 2007 -- WE'RE not fighting a single war against terrorists. We're stuck in two. The past few days saw both conflicts hit the headlines. And we're still not serious about either one.
One war in this global struggle involves Sunni-Arab fanatics, exemplified by al Qaeda, who believe not only that the atrocities they commit will revive the caliphate - a romanticized religious empire - but that their merciless brand of Islam is destined to rule the world.

Our other fight is with Shia extremists, such as the god-gangsters wrecking Iran, Muqtada al-Sadr's thugs and Hezbollah. Their goals are regional (for now): They want to master the heart of the Middle East and gain hegemony over the world's oil supply.

In London, then in Glasgow, we saw attempts (blessedly incompetent ones - thanks, Allah!) to generate mass civilian casualties, challenge Britain's new government and strengthen the U.K.'s appeasement faction. The terrorists involved weren't the "wretched of the earth" beloved in left-wing mythology, but included at least two doctors, as well as other middle-class immigrants.

Behind all the jihadi nonsense, this was a revenge plot by madmen for imagined wrongs. Like all religious fanatics, the would-be murderers (burn, baby, burn) weren't really serving any god, but acting out their struggle with personal demons. It was classic Sunni terrorism - 9/11 re-invented by the Three Stooges.

In the Shia terror war, a U.S. military spokesman in Iraq yesterday finally admitted the serious role that Iran and its clients play in the bombing, kidnapping and cold-blooded murder of our troops. Back in March, our forces busted Ali Mussa Daqduq - a Hezbollah bomb, ambush and abduction expert - in Basra. He wasn't on vacation.

Media speculation holds that Iran, which funds and equips Hezbollah, called in some chips and forced Daqduq to take a leave of absence from Lebanon to help Tehran's al Quds commandos train Iraqi Shias to kill Americans more efficiently.

What's wrong is the notion that Daqduq was press-ganged. Shia terror also crosses borders, if still only regionally. The terrorists are "cross-leveling" expertise with enthusiasm, not reluctance.

Within both the Sunni and the Shia terror co-ops, we're seeing a level of collaboration that's utterly missing in the West. And the Iran-backed rise of Sunni Hamas makes it look as if they're increasingly willing to work across sectarian lines, if it helps them defeat Israel, the West and moderate Arab governments.

They'll get back to killing each other in good time. But right now they want to kill us. Meanwhile, we want to persuade them that we're nice guys.

The most effective action we ever launched against Sunni terror was the destruction of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. We took away the terrorists' safe-haven state, still the greatest loss suffered by Qaeda and Sunni fanaticism. Even if no Democratic presidential aspirant will admit it, al Qaeda has never recaptured the authority it lost.

Shia extremists have a safe-haven state, too: Iran. But the Bush administration ran out of steam when Iraq didn't turn into Iowa. Aware that Tehran's commandos were active in Iraq, supplying weapons, training and direct supervision of attacks that targeted Americans, we did nothing. An Iranian diplomatic passport turned out to be a better form of body armor than anything our troops wear.

Patience isn't a virtue when a hostile government's killing your soldiers. Our timidity only encouraged Iran, which has paid no serious penalties. Tehran has been given free rein not only in Iraq, but also in Lebanon and Gaza.

An invasion of Iran isn't the answer. But selective strikes against the infrastructure of the Revolutionary Guards (and the Quds Force in particular), as well as against Tehran's security services, are the minimum needed to get the regime's attention. Our Air Force's combat capabilities are distinctly under-utilized: It's time for 30 seconds over Tehran. Let's see if those F-22s really work.

Sanctions? Diplomacy? Tell it to the troops in Walter Reed. Or in Arlington.

Oh, I wish we could just buy every terrorist a pint of Ben & Jerry's and make him feel all mushy about surfer-girls in bikinis. But it ain't going to happen. If you want to win any war, you have to kill the enemy until he gives up trying to kill you. Instead, our response to terror is the equivalent of a lawsuit.

If military action isn't a perfect answer, appeasement is never the answer. Give in to terrorists' demands, and you'll only get more demands. Britain is paying for its reluctance to crack down hard on extremist mosques and hate speech - even though most British Muslims would be glad to be rid of the fanatics. Fair play doesn't work if the other side refuses to play fair.

Here at home, we face maddening calls to extend to captured terrorists the legal rights enjoyed by American citizens. Stop and think about that - really think about it. We're bleeding in multiple wars, and we want to send in the lawyers?

Perhaps the biggest lie told since 9/11 is that we must wage war according to our values. If we'd tried that in World War II, we'd still be fighting in the Philippines and struggling to reach the Rhine. In war, the point is to win. Nothing else matters. And you don't get credit for manners.

Our global position isn't eroding because we're stuck in Iraq or because Europeans are mad at us (they're always mad at us). We're losing ground because our leaders, Democrat and Republican, still don't believe we're at war. They live in perfect safety and don't really care if you or your children die, as long as you vote for them.

If roadside bombs were going off on Capitol Hill, we'd punish Iran ferociously and stop treating captured terrorists like white-collar crooks. But as long as the IEDs only kill and cripple our soldiers and Marines, neither political party gives a damn.

28608  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Money Meltdown on: July 05, 2007, 08:18:37 AM
July 5, 2007; Page A15

Interest rates are on the rise in the Eurozone, Great Britain and Japan, as well as in India and China. But the Federal Reserve has again elected to keep its target rate on hold despite repeated assertions that inflation risk is still its predominant concern. Are central banks abroad recognizing a threat that their American counterpart has yet to acknowledge?

The Fed seems to believe that inflation has something to do with "excessive" demand. Although it admits that inflation is already running at an unacceptable pace, the majority of its policy officials cling to the belief (or hope) that the U.S. economy is slowing down, alleviating the inflation threat. Both of these assumptions are inconsistent with historical evidence.

What's more, the recent rise in the euro and sterling relative to the dollar has obscured the fact that the world economy has embarked on another classic "run" on paper currencies that is driving inflation up everywhere. For several years now, as was the case in the 1970s, all the world's currencies have been depreciating relative to stable benchmarks such as gold. Since the end of 2001, these declines have ranged from 38% (in the case of the euro) to nearly 60% (in the case of the dollar).

Why then has the pace of consumer-price inflation to date been so much less noteworthy than the pace of currency depreciation against gold? The answer lies in the timing: Gold is a fast-moving leading indicator, whereas consumer-price indices are slow-moving indicators that lag far behind. We all learned in the period between 1975 and 1985 that consumer prices do eventually catch up. It is the size of the move in the gold price, rather than in the consumer price index, that is a true and timely indicator of the magnitude of the inflation problem.

In 1975, Yale economist Richard Cooper described the process that now appears to be driving world inflation as "a general loss of confidence in money, a psychological mood that can be transmitted across national boundaries . . . [that will] lead individuals to try to convert their assets into physical form: goods or housing or real estate."

But why does this phenomenon break out at some times and not at others? Why is it sometimes local and sometimes global? History provides the answer. Following World War II, rapidly rising prices began to be accepted as an inevitable -- even "normal" -- fact of life. But in reality, up to and including the 19th century, significant inflation had been the exception rather than the rule. And when it did occur it was usually local rather than global. In the U.S., for example, cumulative consumer-price inflation was zero from 1820 to 1913, just prior to World War I. In the United Kingdom, consumer prices were lower at the beginning of World War II than they had been in 1800. In England the prices of consumables rose at an average annual rate of less than 0.4% over the centuries-long run between 1210 and 1940.

Against this relatively stable background, inflation erupted when nations faced acute fiscal stress, particularly in times of all-out war. A government that lost a war of survival typically saw the value of its paper currency evaporate to zero. In the final stages of this process, hyperinflation and astronomical interest rates accompanied economic chaos. The defeated government either did not survive (such as the Confederacy in 1865) or had to be rescued from its currency crisis by the victors (as in Germany and Austria in 1923 and Germany and Japan after 1945). Even the winners of all-out wars, especially those that emerged seriously impoverished (such as Britain in 1945), resorted to currency devaluations and suffered high inflation as a result.

In all cases, inflation was related to the inability or unwillingness of the governing authorities to maintain a stable currency in times of war-related government spending and debt. Although we are not entirely at peace today, U.S. military activity is at nothing like the all-out scale from 1917-1918 or 1941-1945. So why are we having an inflation problem, and why is it global in scope? There are two culprits.

First, since 1971 no government had made an attempt to fix the gold value of its currency, and every political initiative that raises long-term government spending leaves the financial markets free to price currencies at a lower gold value. Depreciation of currencies relative to gold has become unpredictable, chronic and planet-wide.

Second, the massive increase in the public-sector share of the economy that occurred in World War II (and was reinvigorated in the late 1960s) has become permanent. In place of war-related debt, public finance is now saddled with long-range government spending commitments, including burgeoning debt in the form of unfunded liabilities associated with national pensions and health insurance. The popular notion that inflation is the way politicians reduce public debt without formally abrogating it is not far from the truth. In a nutshell, inflation is a manifestation of looming government insolvency.

This problem vastly overshadows the federal budget deficits with which Washington is obsessed. The military costs of the "war on terror" and the Iraq conflict are mere addenda to a mountain of obligations, which financial markets are warning that the federal government can only discharge by inflating away.

Not that the other world economies are in any better fiscal shape than America's. In fact, throughout the 20th century, the U.S. has been a sort of lender of last resort. If we had not been on the scene in 1923, who else could have underwritten a new and viable currency for Weimar Germany? Though in recent times our allies in North America and Europe have been less warlike than us, they long ago adopted much more generous social "safety nets" and thereby undermined their long-term solvency to an even greater degree than here.

Inflation was negative following the Civil War, when the price of gold fell back to its pre-war parity. Inflation was likewise low after World War I when the price of gold remained fixed. In contrast, inflation charged ahead after World War II as the market price of gold was permitted to rise. Broadly speaking, although a rise in the price of gold is a sufficient condition for consumer-price inflation, it is not entirely necessary. The shortages that occur in a widespread war (such as World War I) may be sufficient to push up the price level, despite price controls and adherence to the gold standard.

Inflation is not intrinsically global -- it is obvious that some countries experience more inflation than others. But currencies depreciating against gold across the board is a sign of world-wide inflation -- and it has begun to set off alarm bells in many major economic capitals. But in Washington, our own central bankers remain placidly confident that everything will turn out all right.

Unsustainable peacetime spending is a much slower process than the unsustainable war spending. Far from sudden death, currencies these days are facing death by a thousand cuts. The unfortunate result is that the current crisis of confidence in paper money goes largely undiagnosed by the bulk of economists and policy makers.

Mr. Ranson and Ms. Russell are principals of H. C. Wainwright & Co. Economics.
28609  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: July 05, 2007, 08:01:17 AM
Second post of the AM, this from the NYTimes.  Rog, does this one make sense to you?  I respect Kinsley for his intellectual integrity in writing it and he makes a point clearly that I had only vaguely intuited.
The Lying Game
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Published: July 5, 2007

WHEN the Republicans in Congress impeached President Bill Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky affair, they insisted that it wasn’t about sex, it was about lying. Of course that wasn’t true. Even at the height of their power-mad self-delusions (when Newt Gingrich was conducting his own affair with an aide while prosecuting the president), Republicans realized that to make lying an impeachable offense was opening a door no politician should eagerly walk through.

Of course it was really about sex. Nevertheless, those of us who thought impeachment was an outrageous abuse of power by the Republicans had to accept that Mr. Clinton had, clearly, lied. And our argument was this: Mr. Clinton made a mistake. He should not have lied. But he lied in answer to questions he should not have been asked. He should not have been put in a position where he had to choose: he could lie under oath, and be impeached or worse, or he could tell the truth, and embarrass himself and his family, and probably still be impeached or worse.

In short, he was caught in a “perjury trap.” Bill Clinton chose wrong — it all came out anyway — and he defeated impeachment, though you wouldn’t say he got away scot-free.

On Tuesday, President Bush commuted the sentence of I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, who was convicted of lying to investigators about the C.I.A. leak case. Mr. Libby will escape prison, but he won’t get away scot-free either. He faces a fine of $250,000 and two years of probation, and if he was thinking of cashing in big on K Street like so many of his administration colleagues, he had better think again.

Mr. Libby’s critics are not the people who criticized Mr. Clinton. And his defenders are not Mr. Clinton’s defenders. But the scripts are similar. The Libbyites believe that their man is being railroaded and shouldn’t have been prosecuted, let alone convicted, for his involvement in a campaign of leaks intended to discredit a critic of the administration, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson. Mr. Libby’s critics respond that this isn’t about leaking, it’s about lying.

But of course this really is about leaking. It’s the nefarious, though inept, campaign to sully Mr. Wilson that outrages critics of the administration. True, Mr. Libby was not the source for Robert Novak, whose column identifying Mr. Wilson’s wife as a C.I.A. operative started the whole business. And Mr. Libby’s most prominent leakee, Judith Miller, the former New York Times reporter who went to jail rather than reveal a source, didn’t actually write about the case. But Mr. Libby was part of the cabal that was conspiring to discredit Mr. Wilson and, more generally, to convince people that Iraq was strewn with nuclear weapons.

So when Mr. Libby was questioned by federal investigators pursuing the leaks, he too was caught in a perjury trap. He could either tell the truth, thereby implicating colleagues and very possibly himself, in leaking classified security information (the identity of Mr. Wilson’s wife), or he could lie. In either case he would be breaking the law or admitting to having done so, and in either case he could have gone to prison. Mr. Libby, like Mr. Clinton, made the wrong choice.

There is nothing wrong with a perjury trap, as long as both sides of the pincer are legitimate. The abuse comes when prosecutors induce a crime (lying under oath) by exploiting an action that is not a crime. The law about “outing” C.I.A. operatives is apparently vague enough that it isn’t clear whether Mr. Libby violated it. But let’s leave that aside. Exposing one of your country’s intelligence officers is a bad thing to do. If it isn’t against the law, it ought to be, right? Well, this is where the press comes in. At first many in the press supported appointing a special prosecutor to investigate.

The crime, if there was one, was leaking government secrets to journalists. If you were investigating that crime, where would you start? Yes, of course, by questioning journalists. The government leakers, if you found them, would be protected by the Fifth Amendment. You would need more and different evidence, and only journalists had it.

The special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, followed this commonsense logic straight into a First Amendment buzz saw. News organizations that insisted on the need to get to the bottom of the leak also insisted that no journalist should have to supply information to this investigation.

The leaks that The Times and other papers defended so ardently were not laboratory examples of press freedom at work. Quite the opposite: they were part of the nefarious campaign by the vice president’s office to discredit Mr. Wilson — itself part of the larger plot to convince the world that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, which was of course part of the plot to get us into the war in the first place. And it worked.

It takes two to leak. How can it be fair that one party to the leak doesn’t even have to testify about it, because leaks are so vital to the First Amendment, while the other party might go to prison for it? And if that is unfair, how is a perjury trap fair when it forces a leaker to choose between going to prison for the leak and going to prison for lying?

So as much as I dislike the war in Iraq, as much as I dislike President Bush, as much as I expect that I would dislike Mr. Libby if I ever met him, I feel that he should not have had to face a perjury trap: the choice between prison for lying, or prison for his role in a set of transactions that the press regards as not merely O.K. but sacrosanct. In fact, if journalists had a more reasonable view about this, the reporters whom Mr. Libby tried to peddle this story to would have said, “Look, outing C.I.A. agents is bad and we are not going to help you do it anonymously.” I bet that today, commuted sentence and all, Mr. Libby wishes they had done just that.

Michael Kinsley is a columnist for Time magazine.

28610  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: July 05, 2007, 07:54:43 AM
Tuesday, July 3, 2007 3:23 p.m. EDT

Clemency for Terrorists
In August 1999 President Clinton granted executive clemency to 16 members of FALN, the Puerto Rican terror group behind some 130 bombings, including one that killed four people at New York's Fraunces Tavern in 1975. Even the ultraliberal New York Times looked askance:

To be sure, an American President has an absolute power to pardon. But that does not relieve him of the obligation to defend any and every decision to intervene in the criminal justice system. Indeed, this President's rare use of the pardoning power makes it all the more important for him to reveal his reasoning. Of more than 3,000 applications for clemency filed since 1993, he has granted only 3. The suspicion is rampant that his motivation was a political effort to please the Puerto Rican community that is crucial to Mrs. Clinton's hopes in the coming Senate race from New York.

The House voted 311-41 for a nonbinding resolution "expressing the sense of Congress that the President should not have granted clemency to terrorists." All 41 of those voting "no" were Democrats, as were 71 of the 72 members who voted "present" (the other was a self-styled socialist who abjured formal membership in the party).

Nancy Pelosi, now speaker of the House, did not vote. But the Congressional Record reveals that was only because she showed up late;

Ms. PELOSI. Mr. Chairman, on the last vote, H. Con. Res. 180, I was detained in traffic while returning to the Capitol. Had I been present, I would have voted "no."

Pelosi was unwilling to criticize a president of her own party when he turned loose terrorists convicted of such crimes as seditious conspiracy, possession of unregistered firearms and interstate transportation of a stolen vehicle. Keep that in mind as you read her statement yesterday:

The President's commutation of Scooter Libby's prison sentence does not serve justice, condones criminal conduct, and is a betrayal of trust of the American people.

The President said he would hold accountable anyone involved in the Valerie Plame leak [sic] case. By his action today, the President shows his word is not to be believed. He has abandoned all sense of fairness when it comes to justice, he has failed to uphold the rule of law, and he has failed to hold his Administration accountable.

For our part, we're just happy that a good and patriotic man won't have to go to prison as a sacrifice to the Angry Left. Plame kerfuffle personage Matt Cooper makes a good point:

Why not just pardon the guy? Why leave him with the stigmata of a convicted felon and a $250,000 fine to add to his legal bills--even if they are taken care of by the generosity of so many of his friends. (By the way, can the Scooter defense fund now release the names of donors?) If Bush had the courage of his convictions, he would have been like Jack Nicholson in a A Few Good Men and admitted that he thought [Plame's blowhard husband, Joe] Wilson was a jerk and that he believed what happened afterwards was right. Instead, Bush vowed to take action against the leakers.

By the way, what about the real "leaker" of Plame's "identity," Richard Armitage? Is he ever going to face "justice"?

The Hobgoblin of Little Minds

"Nonviolent offenders should not be serving hard time in our prisons. They need to be diverted from our prison system."--Sen. Hillary Clinton, Democratic debate, June 28

"Today's decision is yet another example that this Administration simply considers itself above the law. . . . This commutation sends the clear signal that in this Administration, cronyism and ideology trump competence and justice."--Sen. Hillary Clinton, press release, July 2
28611  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Do Sunscreens have you covered? on: July 05, 2007, 07:49:55 AM
NY Times

AS the noon sun began to cook bathers in Long Beach, N.Y., last Sunday, members of the Sofferman family lounged on towels, each wearing a sun lotion chosen with the care usually given to picking out a new bathing suit.

Skip to next paragraph
Slide Show
What's Your S.P.F.?
The Value of Seals (July 5, 2007)
Denise Sofferman and Ilene Sofferman, sisters who both work in the apparel industry in Manhattan, had put on tanning oil, their bodies already golden brown. Denise’s daughter, Lauren Levy, 21, a student at the University of Pennsylvania, had protected her pale skin with a heavy-duty S.P.F. 50 product formulated for children. Ilene’s 9-year-old daughter, Alison, had received a head-to-toe coating of S.P.F. 30.

Two hours later, the daughters were sunburned, their backs as pink as watermelon.

“It says waterproof, but Lauren didn’t even go swimming,” said Denise Sofferman, reapplying sunscreen to her daughter.

Ilene Sofferman, smearing another coat of lotion on Alison’s pink face, read from the back of the sunscreen bottle. “They have all these different marketing terms —S.P.F., UVA, UVB, waterproof, sweat-resistant — but you have to figure out what they mean by trial and error,” she said.

After decades of warnings about the dangers of sun exposure, an increasing number of Americans are making sunscreen part of their skin-care routines. Americans bought 60 million units of sunscreen last year, a 13 percent increase compared with 2005, according to Information Resources Inc., which tracks cosmetics sales.

But the increased demand has spurred an explosion of lotions, sprays, pads and gels with such diverse marketing claims — All-day Protection! Ultra Sweatproof! Total Block! Continuous Protection! Ultra Sport! Instant Protection! Extra UVA Protection! — that the Soffermans are not alone in their confusion over how to choose the most effective sunscreen.

In the nearly 30 years since the Food and Drug Administration issued its first regulations for sunscreen as an over-the-counter drug intended to reduce sunburn risk, the science surrounding skin and cancer has expanded dramatically.

Critics have clamored for the F.D.A to update the rules, saying that the standards have not kept pace. At the same time, they complain, the agency has allowed manufacturers to make vague and improbable-sounding marketing claims, leaving consumers confused and, worse, misled about what to use and how to use it to protect themselves.

The pressure on the agency has been mounting in recent weeks. Last month, reports by Consumer Reports and by the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit group in Washington, found that a variety of popular sunscreens lacked sufficient broad protection against the sun’s harmful rays. And in May, Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut’s attorney general, sent a scathing petition to the F.D.A. saying that unclear sunscreen labels and inflated marketing put people at risk.

“Most sunscreens are deceptively and misleadingly labeled, most perniciously to give consumers a false sense of security,” Mr. Blumenthal said last week. “In my view, the F.D.A.’s failure to act is unconscionable and unjustifiable in any public sense.”

John Bailey, the executive vice president for science at the Cosmetics, Toiletry and Fragrance Association, an industry trade group, said that the directions on sunscreens adequately convey coverage. “These are very beneficial products which should be used to protect against the adverse effects of sunlight,” said Dr. Bailey, who has a Ph.D. in chemistry.

Nonetheless, the F.D.A. seems poised to address the labeling issue. Although it has been planning since 1999 to confirm new rules, Rita Chappelle, a spokeswoman for the F.D.A., said the agency expected to issue new sunscreen standards in the coming weeks. But until they are released, Ms. Chappelle said the agency would not answer questions about forthcoming regulations.

One fact about sunscreens is indisputable: They can impede sunburn and lower the incidence of at least one form of skin cancer in humans.

Dr. Allan C. Halpern, chief of dermatology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan, said that the regular use of sunscreen can inhibit squamous cell carcinoma, a cancer that kills 2,000 to 2,500 Americans a year.

In a study of about 1,600 residents of Nambour, Australia, volunteers who were given sunscreen to use every day for four and a half years had 40 percent fewer squamous cell cancers than a control group who maintained their normal skin-care routines. Even 10 years after the study concluded, the volunteers assigned to use sunscreen during the trial period had fewer cancers.

“It shows that using sun protection for almost five years gives you an intense, longer-term benefit against squamous cell carcinoma,” said Dr. Adèle C. Green, deputy director of the Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Brisbane, Australia, which ran the study.

Dr. Halpern said that sunscreen should also protect against melanoma, the deadliest skin cancer, and basal cell carcinoma, because the product can inhibit harmful ultraviolet rays that can contribute to the diseases.

Yet even after new F.D.A. labeling rules are published, it may take two years for the changes take effect.


Page 2 of 2)

Dr. James M. Spencer, a dermatologist in St. Petersburg, Fla., who specializes in skin cancer, said that he hopes the updated standards will clarify how much protection sunscreens provide, the dose needed to achieve significant protection, and the frequency with which a sunscreen should be reapplied.

Skip to next paragraph
Slide Show
What's Your S.P.F.?
The Value of Seals (July 5, 2007)
The F.D.A. in 1978 first proposed a system of labeling products with an S.P.F. or Sun Protection Factor, which measures how effective the product is in preventing burn caused by the sun’s ultraviolet B rays. UVB radiation can also be a factor in skin cancer.

Dr. Spencer said that an S.P.F. 15 product screens about 94 percent of UVB rays while an S.P.F. 30 product screens 97 percent. Manufacturers determine the S.P.F. by dividing how many minutes it takes lab volunteers to burn wearing a thick layer of the product by the minutes they take to burn without the product.

But people rarely get the level of S.P.F. listed because labels do not explain how much to use, said Dr. Vincent A. DeLeo, chairman of dermatology at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center in Manhattan.

“Sunscreen is tested at 2 milligrams per square centimeter of skin, which means you should be using two ounces each time to cover your whole body,” Dr. DeLeo said. “But for most people an eight-ounce bottle lasts the whole summer.”

People who apply S.P.F. 30 too sparingly, for example, may end up with only S.P.F. 3 to S.P.F. 10, according to the Web site of the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control,, which has comprehensive guidelines.

“The S.P.F. is a terrible system to guide consumers,” Dr. Spencer said. “Nobody is using sunscreen the way it is measured in a lab.” He said he hopes that the new standards will call for S.P.F. to be replaced with a system defining sun protection as high, medium or low.

Until then, Dr. Spencer said that people should use about a shot glass of sunscreen for the body and a teaspoon for the face to best achieve the S.P.F. protection listed on labels. It should be reapplied every few hours and immediately after swimming or sweating.

Dermatologists said that the agency is also likely to introduce a rating system for the sun’s ultraviolet A rays, which can contribute to cancer and skin aging. Many products already contain UVA screening agents, but under the current rules there is no rating for them.

Manufacturers are catching on that some consumers seek UVA protection. In print advertisements this month, Neutrogena and Banana Boat have been battling for UVA supremacy, including graphs in which each shows their product offering the highest coverage.

But Dr. David M. Pariser, the president-elect of the American Academy of Dermatology, said that without a standardized UVA rating system, consumers can’t be sure how much a sunscreen provides.

“Right now, we don’t know whether doubling the percentage of a UVA sunscreen ingredient doubles UVA protection or not,” Dr. Pariser said. “That is part of the muddled system we hope will be cleared up.”

Until then, Dr. Pariser said to choose sunscreens that contain ingredients known to filter UVA. These include Mexoryl SX, avobenzone, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. He also recommended a database at created by the Environmental Working Group that lists products with UVA protection.

Some doctors, along with Mr. Blumenthal of Connecticut, predicted that the new sunscreen rules would prohibit outsized marketing terms.

“ ‘All-day protection’ is just plain false since sunscreen has to be frequently reapplied,” Mr. Blumenthal said. “And ‘waterproof,’ which may be O.K. for an adult taking a quick dip in the pool but not for kids who are in and out of the water all day, is just plain deceptive.”

Dr. Green in Australia said the best way to prevent skin cancer is to stay out of the sun during peak hours and wear sun-protective clothing. But Dr. Halpern said you can’t keep Americans wrapped up.

“There is only a small subset of American society that is willing to wear long-sleeved shirts and wide-brimmed — defined as four inches wide — hats on a sunny day at the beach,” he said. “Until we can get that behavior, the next best thing is sunscreen. Put on two coats, so you won’t miss any spots.”
28612  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Boxing Thread on: July 05, 2007, 01:04:50 AM
Ali, Sugar Ray and Mike Tyson together on the Arsenio Hall show.
28613  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: July 04, 2007, 08:11:38 PM
"It's a perfectly valid response.  When you say Saudi Arabia is a "fabulously wealthy" country, you're only talking about a small group of people that's enjoying the wealth."

The point of your original comment seemed to be directed at the "investors", not the recipients of the investment.  My point was, and is, that the recipients of the investment have benefitted extraordinarily.  About SA's income distribution of wealth numbers I haven't a clue.  I am under the impression that most folks don't have to exert themselves very much.

"To the extent that any of this "international investment" would make Iraq a wealthier country, they didn't ask for it.  You're not stupid, so you know as well as I do that the Iraqis are not free to simply reject the investment if they choose."

OK, I'll bite.  Why can't they reject the investment if they choose?
28614  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: July 04, 2007, 10:54:47 AM
MD: I think what you are missing is that in practice stations simply avoided controversial subjects. 

ROG: Can you provide an example?

Tough to give and example of something that didn't happen  cheesy  More seriously now, the point is that, as comments here have already pointed out, the potential for hassles and disputes about who the other side is (often issues have far more than two sides) means that is that the suits who ran the networks just found it easier to avoid controversy altogether.

MD There are additional good reasons to oppose the FD, but for the moment I will point out that its logic was that of a time of limited bandwith.  In most markets, there were only 2-3 TV stations and AM radio, so a superficially plausible case could be made for the FD.  Today however we have the internet, Sat Radio and more.

ROG  Agreed, but specifically wrt broadcast media, along with the growth in the number of stations there's been a corresponding concentration of ownership of these media in fewer hands, which if anything has made the barrier to entry even higher than it was in 1949.  The barrier to entry for the internet is sufficiently low that no such balance requirement is necessary, but I think there remains a good case for enforcing this in broadcast media.

Which would only arbitrarily handicap broadcast media viz the internet, sat radio, cable TV, sat TV etc.  Back in law school, anti-trust law was an area of interest (indeed, my second summer of law school was in that division of the Federal Trade Commission) The issue I think you are misunderstanding is the definition of the market.  The market is not broadcast media, the market is the consumer's access to news and opinion.  With the internet, newspapers, sat radio, sat TV, cable TV, regular radio, etc, broadcast news simply does not have oligopolistic power.  NO ONE DOES.

Again, the FD is solution is search of a problem.

Or are the cowards in Congress thinking in terms of applying the FD to ALL media?!?  huh angry angry

28615  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: July 03, 2007, 11:10:56 PM
Move to strike your honor as non-responsive to the point being made.  tongue
28616  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Professor Max Pallen at the Gatherings on: July 03, 2007, 04:56:03 PM
Woof All:

I'm not sure of his proper title (Prof? GM? Guro?) but "Manong Max" has a certain ring to it and so I will go with that.  Manong Max graced us with segment at our DBMAA Camp and in a moment that epitomized "Walk as a Warrior for all your days" fought at the Gathering that same weekend. 

His performance was inspiriational and it included a diving roll to recapture a lost stick IIRC.  As mentioned one of his fights and his words immediately thereafter closes out our "Los Triques" DVD.

The Adventure continues,
Crafty Dog
28617  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: July 03, 2007, 04:44:54 PM
Ooh!  Ooh! May I guess? 

Is it the same folks who made Saudi Arabia fabulously wealthy?  cheesy
28618  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: July 4th on: July 03, 2007, 04:42:24 PM

Said with love, but may I suggest that in this thread it would be appropriate to "Give it a rest!"?

Thank you,
28619  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: July 4th on: July 03, 2007, 03:40:45 PM
Chills still run down my spine when I read this:

The Declaration of Independence

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

-- He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
-- He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
-- He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
-- He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
-- He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
-- He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
-- He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
-- He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
-- He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
-- He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.
-- He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
-- He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
-- He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
-- For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
-- For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
-- For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
-- For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
-- For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
-- For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
-- For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
-- For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
-- For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
-- He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
-- He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
-- He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
-- He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
-- He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
28620  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: July 03, 2007, 12:05:42 PM

Congressman Ron Paul wasn't invited to a Des Moines forum on Saturday of GOP presidential candidates sponsored by Iowans for Tax Relief and the Iowa Christian Alliance. No matter: The Texas Republican decided to hold his own gathering in the hall next door, in the same building as the exclusionary event. "They choose not to invite us to some of their parties, but we threw a bigger and happier party," Mr. Paul told 500 fans, an impressive turnout in Iowa and about equal the number of attendees at the GOP debate.

Mr. Paul's name is often excluded from campaign polls despite what appears to be widespread support from the techno-right. He's the only candidate listed among the top searches on, and often beats out Paris Hilton as the most talked about topic on the blogosphere. Rumors also suggest that when this quarter's fund-raising totals are announced, he may have pulled in $4 million -- a lot more than some bigger-name Republicans in the race.

In excluding Mr. Paul, Iowans for Tax Relief and the Iowa Christian Alliance excluded a candidate who shares many of their positions and who stirs up genuine thoughtful interest in audiences. But then the entire presidential effort of the two Iowa conservative groups hardly covered itself in glory. The organized debate was further diminished when Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Fred Thompson all declined to participate. All in all, Iowa is rapidly losing political significance, a development sped along by the decisions of puffed-up groups like the sponsors of Saturday's presidential forum.
Political Journal of the WSJ
28621  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: July 03, 2007, 09:20:39 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Hamas' Break Point

Hamas has arrested the spokesman for the Army of Islam, the group that is holding British Broadcasting Corp. correspondent Alan Johnston in Gaza, senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri said on Monday. The arrest comes exactly two weeks after Hamas publicly announced that it would free Johnston from his jihadist captors "using all means necessary."

Hamas' recent actions are part of its Gaza leadership's strategy to illustrate the group's political legitimacy in the wake of its June 15 takeover in Gaza. This also explains why Hamas recently killed off the infamous Mickey Mouse look-alike character that urged Palestinian children to kill Israelis in a children's TV show aired on a Hamas-owned station. After getting serious flack for using a Western Disney character to promote jihad, the producers at the station had the character beaten to death in the show's final episode by a character posing as an Israeli.

But these gestures alone are not enough to get the West to take Hamas seriously as a political player. Regardless of whether Hamas realizes it, the Gaza takeover has forced the group to make some serious decisions as to whether it can continue on its political path. Hamas' political evolution was first influenced by its predecessors of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which led a successful strategy of using grassroots work and social services to build up popular support. Hamas also closely watched as Hezbollah in Lebanon used its grassroots network to buy support, promote itself as a noncorrupt alternative and gradually integrate itself into the political system while maintaining its militant wing to defend its constituency against Israel. In essence, Hamas wanted to ensure the longevity of its militant arm by pursuing a political future.

At first, Hamas' political debut appeared to have gone better than the group's leaders had hoped. The group won (an unexpected) landslide victory in the March 2006 election that included sizable gains in the Fatah-dominated West Bank, in addition to Hamas strongholds in Gaza. At that time, Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and parts of the northern West Bank was in progress, which gave Hamas a strong political basis to claim that it was its armed campaign -- not Fatah's corruption and ineptitude -- that forced the Israelis to withdraw.

However, a successful evolution of a militant group into a political organization takes time. That way, the group can internally prepare itself as well as its constituency to make the necessary political concessions to achieve legitimacy and international recognition. So when Hamas was handed the reins of the government, and the West promptly cut off funds to the Palestinian National Authority, the group quickly realized it had more political responsibility than it was ready for or even willing to handle. Soon enough, a bloody factional struggle broke out between Hamas and Fatah over control of the security apparatus. The cutoff of funds combined with the number of people with guns on the streets not getting paid threw the Palestinian government into crisis mode. There were notable attempts to come up with a power-sharing agreement, such as the Saudi-brokered Mecca agreement, but the battle over the security forces broke the deal apart each time.

Things got messy enough that Hamas figured it could forcibly back Fatah into a corner through a major Gaza offensive. That way Hamas would be negotiating from a position of strength to force Fatah into giving in to its demands over the security forces in yet another power-sharing arrangement.

But Hamas overstepped, and Israel quickly saw an opportunity to keep the Palestinians further divided (and busy fighting each other). Hamas' Gaza takeover divided the Palestinian territories into de facto ministates, effectively precluding the need for Israel to even entertain having serious negotiations with the Palestinians. Hamas, locked into the Gaza Strip, now finds itself even more handicapped than before. Yet Fatah does not have the capability to impose its influence in the West Bank, much less Gaza, on its own. In other words the situation is untenable, and another Egyptian-led mediation effort will result in yet another doomed power-sharing agreement. The political stagnation in the territories will continue.

There is a larger issue in play, however. Faced with the blowback of the Gaza takeover, Hamas is now deliberating whether it is really worth going down the political road. Though Hamas has traditionally been the most disciplined and organized of Palestinian militant outfits, there is a serious rift within the group's Syrian-based exiled leadership and local Gaza-based leadership over whether Hamas can or should make political concessions, such as recognizing Israel, to make this plan work. But without these concessions, Israel and the West will not allow Hamas to function as a governing authority and will continue to withhold funds. The group simply does not have the economic means to sustain itself or its populace -- Gaza is essentially a refugee camp that is wholly dependent on foreign aid. This directly impacts Hamas because it will see a gradual loss of public support as the party is blamed for its hardship.

Whether Hamas decides to give up on the political agenda remains to be seen. This is an issue that will take time to deliberate within the group and will likely lead to greater internal fissures. It is important to note that there has never been a militant group comparable to Hamas in political and economic position that has tried the political experiment, failed, reverted back to militancy and did not severely fracture. Hamas will still have plenty of sponsors in the region to prop the group up, but regardless of whether Hamas realized it when the order was given to launch the Gaza offensive, the group looks to be facing a similar fate.
28622  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action on: July 03, 2007, 08:48:41 AM
Deadly Double Standards
July 3, 2007; Page A16

Lance Cpl. Justin Sharratt is a U.S. Marine who served in combat in Haditha, Iraq, and whose actions on the battlefield have made him the focus of an investigation. He is charged with committing three counts of unpremeditated murder on Nov. 19, 2005. Recently, I had the distinct honor of testifying for him at an Article 32 Hearing at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

I will not comment on the specifics of his case. But I will offer a few observations about how this country is judging its young warriors for decisions they make in the heat of battle and the effect that judgment may have on our ability to wage war. Lt. Col. Paul Yingling recently gained a lot of media attention for writing that "a private who loses a rifle suffers more consequence than a general who loses a war." Nowhere is that more true than in the administration of justice for decisions made on the battlefield.

The Defense Department's "rules of engagement" allow commanders to make decisions on how to conduct combat operations. They are given wide latitude up front to decide what level of force a specific mission calls for -- whether to conduct a very limited engagement, whether to call in an air strike or conduct other actions that may result in civilian casualties. Their decisions are often informed by whether they are dealing with known enemy combatants or high-value targets. Depending on the number of potential civilian casualties and the type of weapons systems employed, they can order a target to be bombed without fear of legal consequence (assistance payments, called solatia, made when civilians are injured or killed or property is damaged, are not admissions of legal liability or fault). These commanders often have minutes, hours and sometimes days to make decisions. And they're not under hostile fire.

Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in the middle of a deadly firefight, however, often have only a split second to make similar decisions against a determined, civilian-dressed enemy. And the immediate consequence of making the wrong decision can mean getting yourself or someone in your unit killed. It therefore is unconscionable to apply higher standards and expectations to a younger, less-experienced Marine than to a commander in an operations center far from the battlefield. This isn't to say commanders should face tighter legal standards, but rather a call for the same deference for a rifleman who learns only in hindsight that he may have killed civilians.

In civilian law-enforcement settings, the U.S. Supreme Court has consistently held that cops who exercise the use of deadly force in the line of duty can't be sued, still less prosecuted, for their actions so long as they acted reasonably under the circumstances. Bad results do not mean bad decisions. Police officers, unlike soldiers, are not forced to raise an affirmative defense of self-defense; rather, the government has the initial burden of proving that the police officer's actions were unreasonable. We should provide at least the same level of deference to our warriors making decisions in a combat zone that we do to cops patrolling the streets of America.

We should also protect our warriors from the caterwauling of those such as the Washington Post reporters who "broke" the Haditha story and from those in the military who are more concerned about maintaining an "appearance of propriety" than in killing our determined enemies. Neither the law nor decency allows for the willful killing of innocent civilians. There need to be, however, allowances for unintended and unfortunate consequences.

When it comes to applying the correct legal standard, those judging the actions of warriors in combat should recognize the tactical realities of an engagement. It may be legally and morally appropriate under certain circumstances to kill "unarmed" individuals, such as those actively acting as lookouts for the emplacement of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) or participating in the network of conspirators building such devices. In a recent Time magazine article a jihadist named Abdallah is quoted saying: "They are not going to defeat me with technology. If they want to get rid of IEDs, they have to kill me and everyone like me." Our young Marines are able and willing to make that happen, if only our leaders will display the moral courage to allow them to do so without fear of prosecution.

We have become our own worst enemy. Sadly, it is not the law that creates these restrictions, but rather an overly-restrictive interpretation of it by some commanders and their lawyers. Hopefully, the military will adopt a self-defense deadly-force policy akin to the FBI's, which reads in part that individual agents will not "be judged in the clear vision of 20-20 hindsight," but rather, based on how a reasonable person would act under situations that are "tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving." I can think of no circumstance more tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving than that faced by our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in the current counterinsurgency fight in Iraq.

Lt. Col. Bolgiano is the author of "Combat Self Defense: Saving America's Warriors from Risk-Averse Commanders and Their Lawyers" (Little White Wolf Books, 2007). His views do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Defense

28623  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: July 4th on: July 03, 2007, 08:45:06 AM
Second post of the morning:


'Wonderfully Spared'
July 3, 2007; Page A17

'You and I have been wonderfully spared," Thomas Jefferson wrote John Adams in 1812. "Of the signers of the Declaration of Independence I see now living not more than half a dozen on your side of the Potomak, and, on this side, myself alone." Jefferson and Adams were not merely signers of the Declaration. Both sat on the committee that drafted the document, and Jefferson wrote it. And while they later became bitter political opponents, they reconciled in their last years.

Adams, the Yankee lawyer, revolutionary, Founding Father and ex-president, was 77 in 1812; Jefferson, the Southern aristocrat, revolutionary, Founder and ex-president, was 69. Both were mentally acute but frail. Jefferson spent three to four hours a day on horseback and could scarcely walk, Adams walked three to four miles a day and could scarcely ride.

John Trumbull's "Declaration of Independence"
They would never see each other again. But from a modest farm in Quincy, Mass., and a plantation in Virginia they corresponded and reminisced about the days when they were "fellow laborers in the same cause, struggling for what is most valuable to man, his right of self-government."

It's easy now, in a nation awash with complaints about what our Founders did not do, what imperfect humans they seem to 21st century eyes, to overlook how startlingly bold their views and actions were in their own day and are, in fact, even today. Who else in 1776 declared, let alone thought it a self-evident truth, that all men were created equal, entitled to inalienable rights, or to any rights at all? How few declare these views today or, glibly declaring them, really intend to treat their countrymen or others as equal, entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

Certainly not America's 20th century enemies, the Nazis and communists; certainly not today's Islamic radicals, who consider infidels unworthy to live and the faithful bound by an ancient and brutal code of law. We are fortunate that the Founders of our nation were enlightened, generous, jealous of their rights and those of their countrymen, and prepared to risk everything to create a free republic.

Breaking with Britain was a risky and distressing venture; could the American colonies go it alone and survive in a world of great European powers? If not, what better empire than the British? It took a year of fighting before the Continental Congress and the states were prepared to declare independence. "We might have been a free and a great people together," Jefferson sighed.

But if we were angry at British treatment, we were also lucky that Britain was our mother country. The British taught us respect for the rights of individuals, for limited government, for the rule of law and how such values could be realized. "An Englishman is the unfittest person on earth to argue another Englishman into slavery," Edmund Burke insisted, pleading our cause before Parliament in March, 1775.

Scores of distinguished British officers refused commissions to fight against us. Some, who were willing, were reluctant to press their advantage over our literally rag-tag army. The British parliament wrangled day after day over the fitful progress of the war. And when it was over and, thanks to French assistance, we had won, Britain was careful in negotiating the peace treaty for fear we would fall under the influence and control of the French or the Spanish. We would fight against Britain again, but over the centuries the common heritage that connects our two peoples has brought us together as close allies.

We were lucky in our generals. Unlike the commanders of nearly all revolutionary armies before and since, George Washington resisted the temptation to seize power. After England's civil war between King Charles I and parliament, Oliver Cromwell, Parliament's leading general, evicted what remained of parliament and made himself "Lord Protector." The great expectations of the French Revolution ended when Napoleon Bonaparte staged a coup against the republican government and later crowned himself emperor.

Not only do victorious generals have a nasty habit of taking over, but once an army becomes entangled in politics it is extraordinarily difficult to remove it from public affairs. Numerous modern countries have tried to control their armies and failed.

Washington prevented a coup by his officers; and when the war was over, he bid a moving farewell to his men and staff before appearing before Congress to resign his commission: "Having now finished the work assigned to me, I retire from the great theatre of Action . . . and take my leave of all the employments of public life." Then he hurried off to spend Christmas with Martha and their family. Although it sounds sentimental, trite even, it happened that way.

In their correspondence, Adams wrote Jefferson that the future would "depend on the Union" and asked how that Union was to be preserved. "The Union is still to me an Object of as much Anxiety as ever Independence was," he confided.

He was right to worry. The union has always been difficult, from the first fears that the 13 separate states would behave as competing countries or bickering groups, through a brutal and painful civil war whose wounds have yet to entirely heal, to a vast, modern land whose residents, taking for granted the blessings bestowed upon them, are deeply divided and quick to vilify each other.

More tragically, some seem to enjoy vilifying America, everything it has been and stands for, seeking and finding fatal shortcomings. Adams and Jefferson were not blind to those shortcomings. "We think ourselves possessed or at least we boast that we are so of Liberty of conscience on all subjects and of the right of free inquiry and private judgment, in all cases and yet," Adams admitted, "how far are we from these exalted privileges in fact." Recent moments of real unity after 9/11, when members of Congress stood together on the steps of the Capitol and sang "God Bless America," have been fleeting.

In 1825 Jefferson wrote to congratulate Adams on the election of his son John Quincy to the presidency -- an election so close it was decided in the House of Representatives. "So deeply are the principles of order, and of obedience to law impressed on the minds of our citizens generally that I am persuaded there will be as immediate an acquiescence in the will of the majority," Jefferson assured him, "as if Mr. Adams had been the choice of every man." He closed: "Nights of rest to you and days of tranquility are the wishes I tender you with my affect[iona]te respects."

On July 4 the following year, as the nation celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, its two frail signers died within hours of each other. Their cause, "struggling for what is most valuable to man, his right of self-government," continues in the nation they launched, still fraught with aspirations and anxieties, flaws and divisions but, one hopes, with the ability to reconcile as they did, to work together for the joint venture.

Ms. Malcolm teaches legal history at George Mason University School of Law and is the author of several books, including "Stepchild of the Revolution: A Slave Child in Revolutionary America," forthcoming from Yale University Press.

28624  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: July 4th on: July 03, 2007, 08:29:40 AM
Escape From New York
Even Gen. Washington didn't win every battle.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

In 1776 Lt. Col. Thomas Knowlton seemed to be precisely the kind of military officer the American military needed to win the Revolution. He was a veteran of the French and Indian War two decades earlier. He proved to be a supreme leader of men in combat outside Boston. And he was tapped by Gen. George Washington to start a new elite military unit--Knowlton's Rangers--that was capable of operating behind enemy lines.

On Sept. 16, 1776, in a skirmish in northern Manhattan now known as the Battle of Harlem Heights, Knowlton was preparing a surprise attack against crack British troops when his unit's position was given away. Knowlton knew what was at stake. That summer the British had landed some 34,000 troops in Staten Island--an invasion about the size of the U.S. surge in Iraq over the last few months--and ferried them into what is now Brooklyn. Using diversionary tactics and a night march, the British outflanked Washington's army in late August, trapping it against the East River. The American Army and the Revolution might have been crushed on the spot.

Realizing his peril, Washington slipped his troops out of Brooklyn and across the East River into Manhattan in the dead of night and then retreated up the island into Harlem. In mid-September, with the British bearing down on him, Washington was desperate to escape from New York. Knowlton's forces had stumbled across advance British units, briefly retreated and then re-engaged as part of a larger military maneuver. When he lost the element of surprise, Knowlton might have opted to pull back. But he led an attack instead and was killed. Today he is remembered in an award handed out by the Military Intelligence Corps Association to those who distinguish themselves in the service of army intelligence.

It is often remarked that in deciding to rebel against the most powerful European empire in the world, the Founding Fathers risked losing everything. What is too often forgotten is that many of those who joined the rebellion did lose everything. About 40 miles north of where Col. Knowlton fell rest the remains of another often-forgotten skirmish of the Revolution. Inside what is now Bear Mountain State Park, not far from West Point, fortifications were built to stop the British from gaining control of the Hudson River and with it the ability to split New England and eastern New York from the rest of the country, which might have allowed the British to pacify less rebellious Southern states.
American soldiers had stretched a large chain across the Hudson, built fortifications and waited. A year after Washington was driven from New York City, the British launched an ambitious campaign. Gen. John Burgoyne was dispatched to move south from Canada and link up with other British forces, some of whom would sail up the Hudson. In October 1777, the king's army arrived in the Hudson Valley, assaulted the fortifications and, with a final bayonet charge, defeated the Americans. They then broke the chain.

Those who defended the redoubt that still stands today held off waves of British soldiers before finally being defeated. And their gallantry wasn't in vain. By forcing the British to take the valley by force, the Americans set in motion a series of events that would help win the war. Burgoyne didn't receive the support he needed and ended up, after dragging his forces through miles of wilderness to the outskirts of Albany, defeated at Saratoga, N.Y. He surrendered his army of some 6,000 men, a stunning defeat for the British that convinced the French to enter the war.

Today it seems that every soldier killed in action and every minor skirmish involving American troops is front-page news. But 231 years after the Declaration of Independence was ratified by the Continental Congress, we seem to have lost sight of the everyday heroics and sacrifices that made this republic possible. The Revolutionary War took eight years to win, with many defeats and setbacks along the way. We owe those who stuck with it and made those sacrifices more than we know.

Mr. Miniter is assistant editor of His column appears Tuesdays.
28625  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: July 03, 2007, 08:20:02 AM
NY Times

Expressing frustration with the lack of a federal immigration law overhaul, Gov. Janet Napolitano of Arizona signed a bill yesterday providing what are thought to be the toughest state sanctions in the country against employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants.

Ms. Napolitano, a Democrat, called the bill flawed and suggested that the Arizona Legislature reconvene to repair problems with it, but she nevertheless moved forward “because Congress has failed miserably,” she wrote in a statement.

The bill requires employers to verify the legal status of their employees. If they fail to do so, they risk having their business licenses suspended. A second offense could result in the “business death penalty,” a permanent revocation of the state business license, effectively preventing a business from operating in the state.

Ms. Napolitano said she was concerned, among other problems, that under the law hospitals and nursing homes could end up shuttered because of hiring one illegal immigrant. She also said the bill did not provide enough money for the state attorney general to investigate complaints.

Although federal law already makes it a crime to hire illegal workers, supporters of the Arizona bill have said enforcement is lax.

Ms. Napolitano sent a letter to Senator Harry Reid, Democrat of Arizona and the majority leader, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, saying Congressional inaction on immigration was forcing states to act.

Ms. Napolitano’s decision had been anxiously awaited in Arizona, the state where more people cross illegally into the United States than any other.

Last year, Ms. Napolitano vetoed an employer-sanctions bill, saying that its language was flawed and that it would not achieve its goals.
28626  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia on: July 03, 2007, 08:18:17 AM
NY Times
Published: July 3, 2007

KENNEBUNKPORT, Me., July 2 — Announcing that he was “here to play,” President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia said Monday that after two days of meetings with President Bush, he was ready to expand on his proposal for a shared missile-defense system with the United States, a step he said would take American-Russian relations to “an entirely new level” of cooperation.

Video: News Conference With Bush and PutinBut the system he described would be mostly under Russian control and built on Russian terms. And, even as Mr. Putin portrayed the proposal as a compromise, it represented a continued rejection of an American plan to base a missile-defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland, which Mr. Bush says is necessary to combat potential new threats from nations seeking nuclear weapons, like Iran.

Mr. Putin sees that system as a potential threat to Russia, and he proposed that his alternative system be developed jointly by the NATO-Russia Council, a cooperative formed in 2002.

The proposal surprised the Americans and seemed likely to lead to still more haggling after a set of meetings here that had been portrayed mostly as an attempt to smooth over differences both sides consider to be the most daunting since Mr. Bush took office.

Mr. Putin’s new plan would continue to include a site in Azerbaijan that he proposed last month as an alternative to the American system and that the Americans have described as insufficient. But Mr. Putin said he was prepared to modernize the Azerbaijan radar and include another early-detection system in southern Russia, along with information-sharing sites in Moscow and Brussels.

“In this case, there would be no need to place any more facilities in Europe — I mean, these facilities in Czech Republic and the missile base in Poland,” Mr. Putin said as he and Mr. Bush fielded questions after their meetings.

American and NATO officials have said that the Azerbaijan site is less useful than those selected for Poland and the Czech Republic because it is too close to Iran to intercept missiles fired from there.

Mr. Bush indicated that Mr. Putin’s new plan did not at first glance satisfy his concerns. “I think it’s innovative, I think it’s strategic,” Mr. Bush said. “But as I told Vladimir, I think that the Czech Republic and Poland need to be an integral part of the system.”

Speaking later, Stephen J. Hadley, the national security adviser, said Mr. Putin’s new proposal was a good sign that he was willing to work with the United States and NATO to create a missile-defense system.

Mr. Bush had never before met as president with a foreign leader here at Walker’s Point, the serene seaside vacation property of his parents.

The location was a reminder of the presidency of Mr. Bush’s father, during which the cold war ended and Russia and the United States heralded a new era of cooperation. Mr. Putin’s discussion of a strategic defense partnership would have been unimaginable at the start of the senior Bush’s term.

But the subtext of disagreement about the system was a reminder of the new complications between the United States and Russia as they continue to jockey for global position. So, too, were jabs by Mr. Putin at Mr. Bush for questions about the intelligence leading up to the Iraq war, and the issue of torture, raised recently by the CNN host Larry King, among others, while interviewing George J. Tenet, the former C.I.A. director.

“If you remember how Larry King tortured the former C.I.A. director, you would also understand that there are some other problems and issues, as well, in this world,” Mr. Putin said in a reflection of his reported frustration with what he views as American lecturing on democracy. “We have common problems.”

Mr. Bush and Mr. Putin initially approached reporters with an air of stiff determination that dissipated when they discussed their morning fishing trip, during which Mr. Putin caught a striped bass — Mr. Bush and his father caught no fish in three outings this visit.

The leaders did not announce any breakthroughs on independence for Kosovo, though Mr. Hadley said the United States and Russia would announce this week that they had finalized the details of a pact on sharing nuclear materials that they agreed on last year.

They also did not announce any agreement on new sanctions against Iran for its uranium enrichment program, with Mr. Bush saying he and Mr. Putin agreed that they needed to send a forceful message together, but with Mr. Putin pointing to possible new signs of Iranian cooperation with international inspectors.

But neither side expected Mr. Bush and Mr. Putin to announce any big breakthroughs. The radar proposal, however, did come as a surprise to the Americans, who were caught off guard last month when Mr. Putin first announced his Azerbaijan plan.

Late Sunday night, Mr. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, said there would be no surprise announcements from Kennebunkport.

Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, a private research group in Washington, called the new proposal “a minor modification” of that earlier plan, saying it appeared to have similar shortcomings.

But other experts said it was still a positive sign that Mr. Putin was engaged and looking for alternatives. “We’re beyond the point where Putin shows up and says, ‘Over my dead body,’ ” said Julianne Smith, a Europe expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

The Americans said the whole point of inviting Mr. Putin here was to bring the leaders together in a way that would discourage that sort of loggerheads from either side. And in that respect both sides said the trip went well.

Chatting with reporters, the first President Bush said Mr. Putin rode around on a Segway standing vehicle — which Mr. Bush once famously fell off here — and that the Bushes gave it to him as a gift.

Then there was the fishing. Though Mr. Putin showed up his hosts, he was gracious: “That was a team effort, and we let it go to the captain,” he said, later correcting himself to say they threw the fish back.

Nicholas Kulish contributed reporting from New York.
28627  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Thank allah for bad jihadi driving and poorly built bombs..... on: July 03, 2007, 08:13:46 AM
A second post from the NY Times:

Published: July 3, 2007

NEWCASTLE-UNDER-LYME, England, July 2 — Mohammed Asha, the Jordanian-trained doctor who has been arrested, though not charged, in the terrorism plots in the Britain last week, was proud of his career accomplishments but fretful about his welcome in English society, friends and acquaintances in Jordan and Britain said Monday.

Medical Workers Emerge as Focus in British Inquiry (July 3, 2007) In this town in the English Midlands where Dr. Asha settled, Simon Plant, 34, recalled in an interview that when Dr. Asha and his wife were interested in renting a modest red brick three-bedroom house last year on a cul-de-sac named Sunningdale Grove, Dr. Asha had a pressing question on his mind. “He seemed very concerned about racism in the area,” Mr. Plant said.

Mr. Plant said that it soon became apparent to him that Dr. Asha’s wife, who was arrested with him on the nearby M6 highway late on Saturday, had experienced racism in the community where the family had lived in Shrewsbury in Shropshire. “It was weighing on him,” he said.

Mr. Plant remembered telling the doctor that race was not an issue in his community, where Dr. Asha, his wife and young son moved in August of last year, renting the Plant home for about $1,000 per month.

He said that the Ashas were model tenants, but that Dr. Asha, a Palestinian with Jordanian citizenship, had something of a condescending manner. “He got a slight attitude,” said Mr. Plant, an elevator engineer. “He had a sense of self-importance about being a doctor. You could definitely feel it.”

It was widely reported Monday that a second doctor was also arrested in the case.

Dr. Asha, 26, whose specialty is neurosurgery, recently started work at the North Staffordshire Hospital in Stoke-on-Trent. According to the General Medical Council in Britain, Mohammed Jamil Abdelqader Asha completed his medical studies in Jordan in 2004. His limited registration allowed him to work for the National Health Service under supervision. Until last July, he worked as a doctor at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and the Princess Royal Hospital, both in Telford.

Neighbors said the family was insular, but in the last few weeks two men who appeared to be of Middle Eastern descent had started staying with the Ashas at the house.

Chris Shaw, a postal worker who delivered mail to the Asha family, said he was struck that over the last three months or so, Dr. Asha started receiving more packages and certified mail than usual.

“He would just sign for it and go back inside the house without saying much,” Mr. Shaw recalled. He added that Dr. Asha seemed bright, educated, courteous and European in his style of dress.

Not far from the Sunningdale Grove house on Monday, law enforcement authorities were searching a second home in Newcastle under-Lyme on Priam Close. Authorities initially searched the residence on Saturday night.

Mr. Plant said Dr. Asha often dressed in traditional Muslim attire, as did his wife, who would retreat upstairs whenever Mr. Plant came to tend to a maintenance problem.

Others recalled that Dr. Asha alternated between wearing Muslim garb and Western clothing, like white dress shirts and suit pants.

Dr. Asha and his wife, who wore a hijab to cover her head, stood out in a closely knit community that does not have much of a Muslim population.

As for the home where the family lived for nearly a year — where medical books were scattered about — authorities were stripping the inside paneling and tearing up the drains as part of their investigation. No evidence has emerged publicly against Dr. Asha and no details have been released as to what his role in any plot was presumed to be. A person close to the investigation said Mrs. Asha seemed peripheral to any plot.

In the Middle East, his life seemed set for a different trajectory. “He was brilliant, a genius,” said Dr. Azmi Mufazhal, who taught him immunology during his third year, and who got to know him over three years as assistant dean of the Jordan University Medical School. “He would know his subject so well that his questioning often sounded like an interrogation.”

He was so focused on his work that Dr. Mahafzal said he once encouraged his student to drop the books and go out and have fun.

Dr. Asha was born in Saudi Arabia. In 1991, his family moved to Amman, Jordan, where his father said he thought his children had a chance at a better education. In Amman, they lived in a squalid neighborhood where Islamists own the streets.

Mohammed Asha was interested in science from a young age and was an aggressive competitor. Teachers and friends said that in school, Dr. Asha would stop at nothing to get to the top.

He married Marwa Younis after medical school at 23, and they moved to England where he studied on a British government fellowship.

In an interview on Monday at his home in Amman, Jamil Asha, 55, Dr. Asha’s father, dismissed as preposterous the idea that his son could be a terrorist. He insisted that his son had been accused of exactly the opposite of what he had aspired to: saving lives and helping people. “He couldn’t be further from any of this,” Mr. Asha said.

Mr. Asha said he talked to his son almost weekly and last spoke to him on Thursday when he called his parents to discuss a planned trip home. He sounded happy, his father said.

Mohammed Asha, they said, was religious but not extremist. Unlike many other medical students at the school, he had no political affiliation and rarely took part in political rallies on campus, Dr. Mufazhal said. Instead, he eschewed politics for his studies and family life.

But he also had something of a temper, and rarely took criticism well, a trait that some teachers worried would get him into trouble some day. He was articulate and frank, some said, but thin-skinned.

None of that, however, would make him a militant, they insisted. “He’s not the kind of guy who would risk his future like that,” Dr. Mufazhal said. “He had one ambition, which was to be a distinguished physician.”

Serge F. Kovaleski reported from Newcastle-Under-Lyme, and Hassan M. Fattah from Amman, Jordan.
28628  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Thank allah for bad jihadi driving and poorly built bombs..... on: July 03, 2007, 08:09:32 AM
Today's NY Times:

LONDON, Tuesday, July 3 — British police officials investigating the failed car bombings in London and Glasgow focused Monday on suspects in the medical profession, including a doctor from Jordan, another from Iraq, and medical workers or students. As many as five of the seven people arrested so far in Britain appear to have such links.

Skip to next paragraph
Timeline: Car Bomb Plots

A Surgeon’s Trajectory Takes an Unlikely Swerve (July 3, 2007)
Security Is Tightened Across London and at All British Airports (July 3, 2007) The inquiry also spread to Australia, where the Australian attorney general, Philip Ruddock, said Tuesday that the police in Brisbane had arrested a foreign resident of the country who had been employed there at a hospital.

The seeming connection to medical personnel troubled many Britons used to seeing the profession as a bastion of trustworthiness and benevolence. Many of the staff at the state-run National Health Service hospitals are foreigners. For the public, moreover, the number of health professionals under arrest offered a baffling departure from images of home-grown Islamic terrorists, many with family roots in Pakistan, implicated in previous conspiracies.

The police now are investigating whether the same people were behind the attack in Glasgow and the attempted attack in London, a senior Western official said Monday. They had already described the events as linked in the way they were planned and carried out.

Three people were arrested Monday, including the hospital worker in Australia and two other people at a residential facility attached to the Royal Alexandra Hospital close to Glasgow that has become central to the investigation.

British news reports, relatives and a person close to the investigation identified two of the detained medical doctors as Mohammed Asha, from Jordan, and Bilal Abdullah, from Iraq. A 26-year-old man arrested in Liverpool over the weekend may also have been either a medical student or a doctor, a person close to the investigation said.

Dr. Asha, 26, was arrested late Saturday when police officers in unmarked cars boxed in his car on the M6 highway in northwestern England and forced it to a halt. He was accompanied by his wife, who was also arrested. Contrary to earlier reports identifying him as an Iranian Kurd, Dr. Asha was said by a Jordanian official to be a Jordanian of Palestinian descent.

Dr. Abdullah was seen in amateur recordings as being arrested and led away by the police after two men tried to ram a Jeep Cherokee into the entrance of Glasgow’s airport on Saturday afternoon. British medical records said he qualified in Baghdad in 2004 and had been licensed to practice in British hospitals as a doctor under supervision since August 2006.

The inquiry spread to Australia because the suspect there had been a roommate of one of the detainees in Britain, an Australian official who spoke on condition of anonymity said. Mr. Ruddock, speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, declined to identify the nationality of the 27-year-old man they arrested, but said he had been seized at the request of the British authorities. The suspect had not been on a watch-list, officials who spoke at the news conference said.

The man was arrested at the international airport at Brisbane as he tried to board a flight late Monday with a one-way ticket, Mr. Ruddock said. He was working at the Gold Coast Hospital in Queensland, Mr. Ruddock added.

There were strong indications on Monday that the Scottish police had been on the trail of two of the attackers on Saturday before they rammed the Jeep Cherokee into the entrance doors of Glasgow airport, setting the car alight. Investigators had used both cellphone and highly sophisticated closed circuit television technology on Britain’s highways to trace the men, according to several accounts, including one by a Western law enforcement official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Law enforcement officials in the United States and Britain said Monday that intelligence agencies investigating the failed attacks had so far discovered no direct link to personnel of Al Qaeda or training camps.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Sunday that “the nature of the threat that we are dealing with is Al Qaeda and people who are related to Al Qaeda.”

But a British security official who spoke on condition of anonymity under government rules said that Mr. Brown, in office for only days, was probably “describing the ideology” of Islamic fundamentalism and that it was “far too early” to speak of a direct link to Qaeda personnel.

A senior Western law enforcement official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there was “no indication of any outside direction” and “no connection with the United States whatsoever.

“Nothing from phone contacts, nor any other way,” he added. “There has never been any connection of any kind in the U.S.”

Page 2 of 2)

The conspiracy to detonate cars laden with gasoline and gas canisters seemed markedly different in its tactics from some recent terrorism plots in Britain — notably the July 7, 2005, suicide bombing attacks on London’s transportation system — drawing on disaffected young British Muslims, often of Pakistani descent, using homemade explosives.

A British security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the latest attackers may have been forced to rely on a crude and ultimately ineffective cocktail of gas canisters and gasoline because of government and police efforts to curb sales of potentially explosive substances like fertilizer and hydrogen peroxide.

The attack in Glasgow followed the discovery of two cars laden with gasoline, gas canisters and nails in London on Friday.

A senior Western law enforcement official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said British investigators had been greatly helped by closed circuit television cameras on Britain’s highways that pick up details of every license plate.

As soon as the police had noted the license plate numbers from the cars in central London and from the Jeep that crashed in Glasgow, computers quickly traced the cars’ movements over the past several days.

(MD: This is an extraordinary level of surveilance of which the UK govt is now capable.  Apparently it worked to the good here, but deeply troubling implications remain.)

In addition, evidence emerged on Monday that call records of a cellphone found in one of the abandoned Mercedes sedans in London had led investigators to a house near Glasgow used by at least one of the suspected airport attackers. The discovery was made before the attack.

Daniel Gardiner, who owns the rental agency that leased the house, said the police had contacted his agency early Saturday to ask about the London car bombs. The attack on Glasgow airport took place at around 3:15 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.

In an interview on Monday, Mr. Gardiner said the police had contacted a colleague because his agency’s phone number had appeared on a cellphone found inside one car.

Mr. Gardiner said he was not much help because he was unable to recall when or why his agency had called the number. And he said his office had no record of such a call.

After the airport attack, Mr. Gardiner said, the police contacted him again, asking if he had done business with any of the people in custody. Mr. Gardiner said he confirmed having rented a house at 6 Neuk Crescent in the village of Houston to one suspect in the airport attack.

The leasing agent refused to identify his former client.

The link to hospitals and the medical profession has taken several unexplained twists.

On Monday afternoon, bomb disposal crews detonated at least one car they suspected might be carrying explosives at a doctor’s dormitory outside the Royal Alexandra Hospital, in Paisley, a suburb of Glasgow. One of the men who attacked Glasgow Airport on Saturday is being treated for severe burns at the same hospital.

Although the involvement of foreign medical professionals seemed to be a departure from what is publicly known about the terrorist threat facing Britain, a British security official said law enforcement agencies had in fact monitored other cases involving threats drawing together people of several nationalities.

In Scotland, the Strathclyde police said the arrests Monday of the two men, ages 25 and 28, that occurred in the residential hostel at the Royal Alexandra Hospital followed a night of “intensive police operations.”

British officials said investigators were assessing whether they had rounded up the cell involved in the attack and attempted attack, while one Western official said the British authorities were “pretty confident” that they had rounded up the people behind the plot.

28629  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: July 03, 2007, 07:56:50 AM
From today's NY Times-- what are the implications here?

BAGHDAD, July 2 — Agents of Iran helped plan a January raid in Shiite holy city of Karbala in Iraq in which five American soldiers were killed by Islamic militants, an American military spokesman said Monday. The charge was the most specific allegation of Iranian involvement in an attack that killed American troops, at a time of rising tensions with Iran over its role in Iraq and its nuclear program.

Brig. Gen. Kevin J. Bergner, the military spokesman here, said an elite unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, a force under the control of Iran’s most powerful religious leaders, had used veterans of the Lebanese Islamic militia group Hezbollah as a “proxy” to train, arm and plan attacks by an array of Shiite militant cells in Iraq.
One high-ranking Hezbollah commander from Lebanon was captured in Basra in March, and after weeks of pretending that he could not hear or speak, he gave American interrogators details of the Iranian role, the general said.

Earlier briefings by the American command on accusations about an Iranian role focused on technical analyses of arms said to have been supplied by Iran to Shiite militias in Iraq, including explosively formed penetrators, an exceptionally lethal form of bomb responsible for killing 170 American soldiers as of February and a substantial number since.

But some critics said the evidence was circumstantial and charged that the Americans appeared to be offering a new rationale for maintaining or increasing the military commitment in Iraq.

The briefings on Monday shifted the focus from the weapons to what General Bergner described as a network of secret militant cells armed, financed and directed by the Iranians. He said the information was drawn from interrogations of three men captured in a raid in Basra on May 20, and from documents found with them.

He identified the three men by name and said one was a Lebanese Hezbollah agent and two were Iraqi Shiites working as agents for the Quds Force, the elite Iranian unit. He did not present transcripts of the interrogations or the seized documents for inspection. The general said the captured men had been deeply involved in organizing Iranian-backed militia cells, including the one that killed the Americans.

It was the first time that the United States had charged that Iranian officials had helped plan operations against American troops in Iraq and had advance knowledge of a specific attack that led to the death of American soldiers. In effect, the United States is charging that Iran has been engaged in a proxy war against American, British and Iraqi forces here in an effort to shore up Iranian Shiite militant allies in Iraq and to raise the cost of the American military presence here.

General Bergner, seemingly keen to avoid a renewal of the criticism that the American command has used the allegations of Iranian interference here to lend momentum to the Bush administration’s war policy, declined to draw any broader political implications, although he did say that American intelligence indicated that “the senior leadership in Iran is aware of this activity.”

A statement by the Iranian Foreign Ministry rejected the American claims, describing them as “fabricated and ridiculous.”

Much of the briefing centered on the captured Hezbollah agent, known to the American command as “Hamid the Mute” because Hamid was part of the false name he gave after his capture and because of the weeks he spent after his capture pretending that he could not speak or hear. The man, identified as Ali Musa Daqduq, was said by General Bergner to be a Lebanese citizen with a 24-year history in Hezbollah, the Shiite militant group based in southern Lebanon.

General Bergner said Mr. Daqduq had previously commanded a Hezbollah special operations unit and “coordinated protection” for Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s leader. The general said Mr. Daqduq had been sent by Hezbollah to Iran in 2005 with orders to work with the Quds Force, an elite unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, to train “Iraqi extremists.”

In the past year, the general said, Mr. Daqduq made four trips to Iraq, to report on the training and operations of underground militia cells, and to organize them in ways that mirrored Hezbollah’s structure.

“He also helped the Quds Force in training Iraqis inside Iran,” the general said, taking groups of 20 to 60 Iraqis at a time to three camps in the vicinity of Tehran and instructing them in the use of shaped charges, mortars, rockets and “intelligence, sniper and kidnapping operations.”

Page 2 of 2)

The general said the cells had been responsible for much violence. “I think the reality of this is that they’re killing American forces, they’re killing Iraqis, they’re killing Iraqi security forces, and they are disrupting the stability in Iraq,” he said.

Another senior American official said Mr. Daqduq had pretended to be unable to hear or speak, probably to disguise his Lebanese-accented Arabic. Later, the official said, he admitted in notes to his interrogators that he could hear. Finally, he passed a note saying that he could speak but that he would not do so until May 1. Presumably, the temporary silence was intended to give others a chance to get away. On that day, the official said, “he did talk, and he’s been quite talkative ever since.”
The official said the shift had been achieved without harming Mr. Daqduq. “We don’t torture,” the official said. “We follow scrupulously the interrogation techniques in the Army’s new field manual, which forbids torture, and has the force of law.”

The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Mohammad Hosseini Ali Hosseini, said the American attempt to blame the Quds Force for instigating violence in Iraq was part of a wider pattern of baseless allegations. “It has been four and a half years that U.S. officials have sought to cover up the dreadful situation in Iraq, which is a result of their mistakes and wrong strategies, by denigration and blaming others,” he said.

When the Karbala attack was carried out on Jan. 20, American and Iraqi officials said it had been meticulously planned. The attackers carried forged identity cards, wore American-style uniforms and drove vehicles of a kind used by Americans here. One American was killed at the start of the raid, and the other Americans were captured, then shot to death and dumped beside the road.

Some officials speculated at the time that the goal of the raid might have been to exchange the Americans for Iranian officials American forces had seized in Iraq and identified as members of the Quds Force, not diplomats as the Iranians claimed. General Bergner said the evidence of Iranian involvement in the Karbala killings came from interrogations of Qais Khazali, an Iraqi Shiite who oversaw operations of the Iranian-supported cells in Iraq that were under the direction of Mr. Daqduq, and who was seized in the same raid, along with another militant, Laith Khazali, his brother.

Along with the three men, the Americans also seized a 22-page document they had on the Karbala attack, General Bergner said. That document, he said, showed that the Quds Force had gathered detailed information on the activities of American soldiers in Karbala, including shift changes and the defenses at the site where they were seized. The general said other information about attacks by the Iranian-supported groups came from Mr. Daqduq’s personal journal and other documents.

“Both Ali Musa Daqduq and Qais Khazali state that senior leadership within the Quds Force knew of and supported planning for the eventual Karbala attack that killed five coalition soldiers,” General Bergner said.

American officials said one reason for holding the briefing nearly 15 weeks after capturing the three Quds Force agents was that Shiite officials in Baghdad, reluctant to inflame relations with Iran’s ruling Shiite clergy, had resisted having the case against Iran made so publicly. At the same time, a senior American official said, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki and other Shiites in the government seemed to have been shaken by the evidence of “the nefarious and lethal” Iranian role the American command had uncovered.

General Bergner said much of the Iranian activity had centered on ties with groups linked to the Mahdi Army, a Shiite militia in Iraq that has mounted countless attacks on Americans and has killed thousands of Iraqi Sunnis. The Shiite cleric who founded the Mahdi Army, Moktada al-Sadr, has longstanding ties with Iran and spent months there this year, apparently fearful of arrest, American commanders have said.

The American command has long said that much of the worst violence by Mahdi Army groups appears to have been carried out by “rogue” groups that Mr. Sadr does not control. General Bergner said the groups under the Quds Force seemed to be in that category.

Another high-ranking American official said that Iranian financing for the Tehran-linked militias — said by General Bergner to amount to $750,000 to $3 million a month — had long been channeled through Mr. Sadr, and that American intelligence was not clear on whether some or all the money was still to him.

“One of the big questions is, ‘Who controls the secret cells, if anyone does?’ ” the official said. “The fact is, it’s hard to tell where the militias end and the secret cells begin. There is a pre-existing relationship between Sadr and the Iranians, but I think the answer is that some of them are out of control.”

28630  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: New All.. on: July 03, 2007, 07:40:07 AM
Woof Steven:

Apologies for not responding to you earlier-- with our Gathering last week and its aftermath this week, we are just starting to catch up on many things.

Anyway, your kind words mean a lot to us and put a wag in our tail.

Crafty Dog
28631  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: July 03, 2007, 02:18:11 AM
I very vaguely remember the Red Lion case from law school.

I think what you are missing is that in practice stations simply avoided controversial subjects. 

There are additional good reasons to oppose the FD, but for the moment I will point out that its logic was that of a time of limited bandwith.  In most markets, there were only 2-3 TV stations and AM radio, so a superficially plausible case could be made for the FD.  Today however we have the internet, Sat Radio and more.  Like so many regulations undertaken by the State, the FD is a solution in search of a problem.

28632  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sanctions on: July 02, 2007, 10:17:33 PM
Today's WSJ:

Making Iran Feel the Pain
July 2, 2007

The international community, led by the U.S. and the U.K., is now developing and debating new economic sanctions against Iran. This third round will be pivotal -- either by significantly increasing the cost to Iran of continuing to engage in illicit and dangerous activities, or by showing the regime that it can outlast whatever symbolic measures are levied against it without fear of being bled financially.

The first two rounds of targeted and graduated sanctions have failed to change Iran's nuclear calculus. Iran's chief nuclear negotiator continues to meet with senior EU officials, most likely to buy time, while Tehran refuses to accede to demands that it freeze its uranium enrichment program.

U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1737 and 1747, passed last December and March respectively, signaled seriousness about using financial measures against Iran. The first declared an international consensus to sanction Iran, and the second to target banks. In particular, Russian and Chinese support for these resolutions shocked Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Iran saw first-hand the weak U.N. pressure on Saddam Hussein and expected no worse treatment. Mr. Ahmadinejad reportedly predicted that neither Moscow nor Beijing would sign off on these resolutions. Their passage made the country's professional classes, which are proud of Iran's integration in the international system, feel the sting of diplomatic and economic isolation.

The most effective U.N. sanction was against Bank Sepah. Iran's fourth-largest and one of the most important financial institutions was shut out of the international financial system. But the package of measures was noteworthy less for the list of specific individuals and entities sanctioned than for starting a graduated process intended to force the regime to stop its illicit conduct.

For graduated sanctions to be effective, however, each deadline that passes without a change in Iran's behavior must be followed by another, more severe round of sanctions. To date, sanctions have had a primarily psychological impact, producing discontent within the powerful merchant (bazaari) classes and civil servants. Now the teeth must come out. Failure to follow up with tougher sanctions would undermine whatever progress sanctions have had to date.

* * *
So this third round is the moment of truth. The danger is that today's diplomacy produces only more symbolic measures, watered down by multilateral negotiations whose goal is international consensus.

To avoid such failure, this round should fill the gaps left open by the first two U.N. resolutions. Specifically, it can target additional Iranian banks, and focus on companies controlled by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, especially those involved in the oil and gas sectors.

The next resolution must also close loopholes like the lack of a mandatory travel ban on designated Iranian officials. It should include a two-way arms embargo banning not only the export of arms from Iran but also the importation of arms to Iran. And it should create a U.N. monitoring team, preferably based in Dubai, to ensure member states comply with the U.N. sanctions regime. It should also add to the U.N. list the 23 Iranian persons and entities subjected to asset forfeiture abroad by the EU but not the U.N. Another useful tool would be to require strict inspections of all Iranian ships and aircraft to prevent violations of the arms ban or the import of banned or dual-use goods intended for Iran's nuclear program.

U.N. sanctions freezing the overseas assets of Bank Sepah were the first significant step toward isolating Iran from the international financial system. Sepah had facilitated the Iranian-North Korean missile procurement business and tried to conceal its role in these transactions.

Several additional Iranian banks are likely candidates to have their funds frozen overseas and slapped with a ban on doing business with them:

• Bank Melli was implicated in the December 2005 U.S. government fine of Dutch bank ABN Amro for violating the Iran/Libya Sanctions Act. Investigators found that Bank Melli used ABN Amro's Dubai office to conceal its role in illegal (under U.S. law) bank transfers to Iran.
• Bank Saderat was shut out of the U.S. financial system last September for its role in financing terrorism, including the transfer of tens of millions of dollars through branches in Europe to Lebanon's Hezbollah and EU-designated Palestinian terrorist groups like Hamas.
• U.S. Treasury officials have also cited the Central Bank of Iran as one of the state-owned banks that ask financial institutions to conceal their involvement in facilitating missile procurement, nuclear programs and terror financing.

Beyond banks, the next sanctions resolution must target the massive military-industrial complex controlled by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, an elite paramilitary force. Considered the foundation of President Ahmadinejad's political powerbase, the Guards are also deeply involved in the country's proliferation activities. It also maintains a special branch -- the Qods Force -- responsible for arming, training and supporting terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas and insurgents attacking Coalition and Iraqi forces in Iraq.

The Revolutionary Guards are primarily self-funded, with annual revenues from its businesses empire estimated at $1 billion and expected to rise to $1.5-$2 billion with new projects awarded since Mr. Ahmadinejad came to power. According to the U.S. State Department, the Guards are "taking on an increasingly influential role in Iran's economy, with IRGC-affiliated companies winning important government contracts." Freezing the assets of industries controlled by them, like the behemoth engineering firm Khatam ol-Anbia, would resonate with the merchant class that is already critical of the Guards' exclusive access to no-bid contracts.

Moreover, while the prospect of directly sanctioning Iran's oil industry makes the crude markets jittery, the reality is that international economic sanctions will ultimately only be successful if they impact Iran's lucrative oil and gas industries. Going after Khatam ol-Anbia, which was recently awarded a $2.09 billion contract by the Iranian government to develop parts of the South Pars natural gas field and a $1.3 billion contract to build parts of a pipeline, would be a strong shot across the bow of the Iranian oil industry. Such contracts would be put in jeopardy by U.N. sanctions, since no international company could legally do business with a company like Khatam ol-Anbia.

Referring to the unanimously passed sanctions resolutions, President Ahmadinejad recently warned the international community "not to play with the lion's tail." But Iran, unlike North Korea, is well integrated into the world economy and vulnerable to economic sanctions that shut the regime out of the international financial system. Iran can survive a pesky, symbolic sanctions regime like a lion swatting flies with its tail. The regime couldn't easily ignore sanctions with real teeth.

Mr. Levitt, a senior fellow and director of the Stein Program on Terrorism, Intelligence and Policy at the Washington Institute, is former deputy assistant secretary for intelligence and analysis at the U.S. Treasury Department. He is author of "Hamas: Politics, Charity and Terrorism in the Service of Jihad" (Yale University Press, 2006).
28633  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: July 02, 2007, 10:09:18 PM

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July 2, 2007; Page A14

Americans who travel to Mexico are warned not to drink the water. Too bad Mexicans who spend time in Washington at the International Monetary Fund don't get similar advice about the ideological Kool-Aid served there. It might keep them from ingesting bad attitudes about taxes and growth and transporting them back home.

Such musings are hard to resist when pondering the fiscal reform recently proposed by President Felipe Calderón's Minister of Hacienda (Treasury), Agustin Carstens. Mr. Carstens is an extremely able Chicago-trained economist and a renowned negotiator in Mexican politics. Unfortunately, he also spent three years (2003-2006) at the IMF and if this reform -- long on creative ways to make businesses pay more taxes and short on pro-growth incentives -- is any guide, he has more than sipped from its fountain of economic "wisdom."

Americas columnist Mary Anastasia O'Grady says Mexico's tax law doesn't stimulate development.
Let's concede that there is a fundamental divide in development economics today between those who believe that a simple, low, flat tax is the best way to promote prosperity and those who think governments can and should engineer fairness through a progressive tax code. The former view focuses on growth, the latter view -- championed by the IMF -- on socializing the fruits of the productive sector of the economy.

A dozen or so countries have chosen the flat tax with stunning economic success. Ireland, once poor and backward, adopted a flat corporate rate and became the Celtic Tiger. Russia triumphed over a seemingly irreversible culture of tax evasion with a single, low corporate rate and has experienced a sharp increase in revenues. Many Eastern European countries, impoverished by decades of communism, have gone one step further to adopt a true flat tax which covers individuals.

But IMF theology still holds most Latin American policy makers in thrall. It preaches that fiscal balance is sacred and if politicians won't cut spending, then they should raise taxes. The productive sector of the economy -- which includes anyone with money -- must cough up the revenue that bureaucrats and politicians need. Perhaps the most damaging aspect of this dogma is its rejection of "dynamic scoring," or in layman's terms, the positive effects on revenues when simplicity and low rates produce higher levels of economic activity, compliance and investment. In clinging to a static analysis, policy makers are forever forced to go after the private sector with increasing zeal. This frightens capital and is no way to promote growth. Regrettably, Mexico's young Calderón government looks like it is about to fall into this trap.

The proposed reform, which will be debated in Congress this summer, includes policy changes in the areas of federalism and public spending. But it is the tax component that is especially troubling. What is toted as a "single corporate rate," will be, in effect, an alternative minimum tax on consumption administered alongside the old corporate income tax.

The Mexican tax system, like the U.S. tax code, is a mess -- complex and unjust and burdensome to comply with. Rates were brought down during the government of Vicente Fox, who was president from 2000-2006, but the code is rife with loopholes and there are high levels of evasion. In a November report, the Economist Intelligence Unit described the system as "convoluted" and said that "large companies regularly complain that they are disproportionately burdened by the tax system because the authorities find it easier to track their activities than those of smaller firms." The report also noted that the "informal sector, which skirts all tax obligations, is massive and grows larger every year."

Mexico says that it collects taxes equivalent to only about 12% of gross domestic product and that with oil revenues dropping in future years, it will need to get more money from the private sector to avoid fiscal imbalances. It is this thinking that has produced the proposal for a new "single rate" AMT, a young Frankenstein to walk alongside the current monster tax system.

Here's how it works: Businesses calculate their taxes under the old system, with its top marginal rate of 28% and the slew of deductions and exemptions that apply under the current tax law. They then calculate their taxes under the "single rate," which is 19% on revenues minus inputs and capital expenses. Labor is not deductible but there is a credit earned for low-wage labor. The tax paid is the higher of the two.

The idea here is that through the subsidizing of low-wage labor, more low-paying jobs will materialize. Meanwhile, businesses won't be able to use an army of accountants to take advantage of exemptions and whittle tax payments down to nothing. They are now going to be hit with a 19% AMT. For those companies, this is a tax increase and the government hopes revenues will rise.

On one level it is hard not to cheer on Mr. Carstens. Closing the loopholes is a noble goal, and there is no doubt that had he tried to eliminate them through a rewrite of the code, Mexico's powerful special interests would have crushed the attempt. To give the minister his due, his is an effort to get around that problem, and there are those who would argue that, given Mexican politics, this is best that can be accomplished at this time.

Yet it is worth asking whether this is what Mexicans are being offered because the IMF's view of the world now prevails inside Hacienda. Though the reform does away with the 2% asset tax, it does nothing to simplify the code so as to encourage compliance. Instead it adds the AMT consumption-tax calculation, further complicating the filing process. There is no rate cut, which is key to both broadening the base and attracting investment to boost growth. It is also biased against skilled labor, which ends up being taxed twice. There will be plenty of jobs for basket weavers in Chiapas but companies that use skilled labor will now have an incentive to replace people with machines, which they can write off. And since businesses often react to tax increases by voting with their feet or making other adjustments, there is a distinct possibility that the tax increase won't even generate the revenue promised.

The bean counters at the IMF are going to love this reform, but coming from a president that promised to unleash the animal spirits of an entrepreneurial nation, it is a colossal disappointment. If this is the best that the self-proclaimed jobs president can do in the early years of his tenure, get ready for six more years of mediocre growth.

• Write to O'
28634  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: July 02, 2007, 10:03:55 PM
Voting Rights Turnabout
A victory for disfranchised Mississippi voters--and they happen to be white.

Monday, July 2, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Last week a federal district judge found direct evidence that the political machine in Noxubee County, Miss., had discriminated against voters with the intent to infringe their rights and that "these abuses have been racially motivated."

Among the abuses catalogued by Judge Tom Lee were the paying of notaries public to visit voters and illegally mark their absentee ballots, manipulation of the registration rolls, importation of illegal candidates to run for county office, and publication of a list of voters, classified by race, who might have their ballots challenged. The judge criticized state political officials for being "remiss" in addressing the abuses. The U.S. Justice Department, which sued Noxubee officials under the Voting Rights Act, has called conditions there "the most extreme case of racial exclusion seen by the [department's] Voting Section in decades."

Explosive stuff, so why haven't you heard about it? Because the Noxubee case doesn't fit the media stereotype for voting rights abuses. The local political machine is run by Ike Brown, a twice-convicted felon. Mr. Brown is black, and the voters who were discriminated against were white.

Judge Lee concluded that Mr. Brown retained his power "by whatever means were necessary." According to the judge, Mr. Brown believed that "blacks, being the majority race in Noxubee County, should hold all elected offices, to the exclusion of whites." (Whites are 30% of the county's 12,500 people, but only two of the 26 elected county officials.) Judge Lee also criticized top officials of the state Democratic Party for "failing to take action to rectify [Mr. Brown's] abuses."

Last month a memorial service was held in Philadelphia, Miss., about 50 miles southwest of Noxubee, for three civil rights workers who were murdered while trying to register black voters during the "Freedom Summer" of 1964. Their deaths helped spur Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which swept away poll taxes and other impediments to black voting. Ever since then, a consistent media story line has been built around fears that the South's racist past will return to squash black political aspirations.
But the reality isn't so simple. While voter suppression by whites still goes on and must be curbed, so too does incompetence by election officials that calls into question the validity of elections, along with outright voter fraud. The right to vote includes the right not to have one's vote diluted by someone who shouldn't be voting, votes twice or doesn't even exist. Yet mild measures to increase the integrity of the ballot box, such as photo ID laws or efforts to better police absentee ballots are routinely attacked as attempts to restore Jim Crow voting procedures.

Just look at the coverage of the Justice Department's botched removal of seven U.S. attorneys. Congressional Democrats have gone into overdrive to prove the Justice Department canned them for their failure to pursue voter fraud cases, which it felt should be given a higher priority. The confirmation hearing for Hans von Spakovsky, a sitting member of the Federal Election Commission, has drawn bitter opposition because some former Justice Department officials make strained claims he pushed for laws requiring voters to show a photo ID as a means to suppress black voter turnout. He is also accused of derailing two investigations into possible voter discrimination and causing enforcement of voting rights cases to plummet. In fact, the Bush administration filed 35 voting rights cases in its first five years, as opposed to only 25 by the Clinton administration in its last five years.

Critics of the Bush Justice Department bitterly complain that its priorities have shifted away from traditional voting rights enforcement and have questioned if Justice should be filing "reverse discrimination" voting rights cases like Noxubee. Joseph Rich, the chief of Justice's voting section until he resigned in 2005 to join the liberal Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, has said he thinks the Noxubee case had merit but wonders if it was "really a question of priority" for a department with limited resources. "The Civil Rights Division's core mission is to fight racial discrimination," Mr. Rich told "That doesn't seem to be happening in this administration."

In reality, what the old civil rights establishment seems to be most upset about is a shift of priorities. They note the Bush administration has so far only filed two complaints on behalf of black voters, compared with eight filed by the Clinton administration during its last six years. Liberals note that of the voting rights cases the Bush administration has filed so far, seven have been on behalf of Hispanics. But Hispanics are now the largest minority in the country, and it's hardly surprising that more cases would arise involving a population that includes many new citizens unfamiliar with how to combat voter discrimination.

Judge Lee's ruling shows that there was extensive evidence of voter fraud in Noxubee County. More than 20% of the county's ballots were routinely cast by absentee voters, despite requirements that everyone have a valid excuse to obtain one. A major reason for their proliferation was that Mr. Brown, in his capacity as head of the Noxubee County Democratic Executive Committee, would pay notaries public to complete absentee ballots for voters, sometimes without their knowledge or consent. According to Judge Lee, Mr. Brown and his allies then "put in place a nearly all black force of poll workers and managers, over whom they had effective influence and control, and who, under Brown's direction, ignored or rejected proper challenges to the ballots of black voters."
During the 2003 primary election, witnesses testified that Mr. Brown personally left the local sheriff's office (where he had set up shop across the hall from where ballots were counted) to tell poll workers to "count every vote, count them every one right now." Kevin Jones, the incumbent superintendent of education, who is black, confirmed that Mr. Brown told poll workers to count the votes and that they complied.

Mr. Brown also went through the absentee ballots in other precincts the night before the Aug. 26, 2003, runoff and put Post-it notes on some ballots with instructions indicating they should be rejected. Judge Lee found that "witnesses who saw the yellow stickers maintained that every sticker seen was on the ballot of a white voter."

The boss left nothing to chance. Witnesses testified that on the day of the runoff, as voters cast ballots in person at polling stations, poll workers walked up unsolicited to black voters "taking their ballots and marking them without consulting the voters." Terry Grassaree, the chief deputy sheriff for the county, threatened Samuel Heard, a candidate for sheriff against Mr. Grassaree's boss, that "I'll put your ass in jail" after Mr. Heard complained about illegal distribution of campaign literature at the polls.

Mr. Brown sounded like Huey Long when he explained his actions. "This isn't Mississippi state law you're dealing with," he told Libby Abrams, a poll watcher for Mr. Heard, Ms. Abrams testified. "This is Ike Brown's law." When Ms. Abrams responded that she planned to have four poll watchers on hand as votes were counted, Mr. Brown told her "Fine, fine, have as many as you want. I'll send the police on around to arrest you."
Mr. Brown also published a list of 174 names of voters he claimed were illegally voting in Democratic primaries while they intended to support Republicans in the fall election, and suggested he would challenge them. He said he planned a crusade to "root out disloyal Democratic elected officials and voters," including Larry Tate, a black county supervisor who had angered Boss Brown by supporting Sen. Thad Cochran and Rep. Chip Pickering, both Republicans.

The defense Mr. Brown mounted against all these charges was that he had acted legally and was motivated solely by a desire to elect Democrats. He called the Justice Department's lawsuit an example of "persecuting the victim" and noted the irony that after the white establishment had oppressed blacks for 135 years federal officials had the "preposterous" effrontery to challenge blacks who had achieved political control of Noxubee County only a dozen years ago.

Judge Lee had none of it. "If the same facts were presented to the court on behalf of the rights of black voters, this court would find that [the Voting Rights Act] was violated," he wrote. As part of his ruling, he gave lawyers on both sides 30 days to file briefs in the civil matter laying out how they will end the election abuses. Defendants who violate his order could face contempt of court and fines.

It's unclear how much Mr. Brown plans to comply. He isn't returning phone calls from reporters. He may not be intimidated by the prospect of fines, having served time in federal prison a decade ago for tax fraud. Last year he refused to sign a consent decree in which county officials promised not to harass or intimidate white voters, fill out absentee ballots for voters, or coach them.

Mr. Brown also contends that Judge Lee's order may be moot because of last month's ruling by another federal judge in a lawsuit filed by state Democratic Party officials. They, like Mr. Brown, were upset by Republicans voting in the Democratic primary under Mississippi's open primary law. "They come over and vote in the Democratic primary and it's for the white candidates and then in the general election they run and vote for Republicans," complained Ellis Turnage, the attorney for the Democratic Party. The Democrats asserted that state law guarantees them the "freedom not to associate" with interlopers in their primary.
District Judge Allen Pepper, a Clinton appointee recommended by Sen. Trent Lott, agreed, but he handed the Democrats a Pyrrhic victory by ordering the state to create closed primaries--but also to require photo ID at the polls. Democrats who have long used incendiary rhetoric to block approval of a photo ID law are howling.

The irony of their complaint wasn't lost on Marty Wiseman, director of the Stennis Institute of Government at Mississippi State University. He noted that "Democrats, many of whom fought long and hard during the bad old days to open up Mississippi's closed political system, are attempting to make their own case for 'freedom not to associate.' " Secretary of State Eric Clark, a Democrat, said his party made a "serious mistake" in filing the lawsuit. "I believe in opening doors to voting and not in closing doors," he said.

But should Judge Pepper's order stand, it may have the salutary effect of finally cleaning up Mississippi's election records, which the Greenwood Commonwealth, the largest newspaper in the Delta, notes "still has people on the rolls from the 1960s who haven't voted in decades, yet federal rules make it almost impossible to purge their names." That is an invitation to voter fraud and manipulation à la Ike Brown.

Despite abundant evidence that protective measures such as photo ID and tighter controls on absentee ballots aren't designed to suppress voter turnout, the civil rights establishment continues to resist against any effort to improve ballot integrity. Yet as former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young has noted, showing ID is a daily fact of life in America now, and getting such IDs in the hands of poor people would help them enter the mainstream of American life. A poll by the Wall Street Journal and NBC News last year found Americans backing a photo ID law by 80% to 7%, with two-thirds support among both blacks and Hispanics.

At the conclusion of his ruling in the Noxubee case, Judge Lee cited the ruling of the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Welch v. McKenzie, a 1985 case in which the court held that "the right to vote includes the right to have one's ballot counted. This includes the right to not have one's ballot diluted by the casting of illegal ballots or weighting of one ballot more than another."
Half century ago the issues involved were literally black and white. Now they are murkier and more nuanced. Not all villains in voting rights cases are white. I've interviewed Democratic candidates from St. Louis to Detroit to Newark who acknowledge that many of our voting systems are so underfunded and sloppy as to invite either rampant incompetence or outright fraud. The Justice Department's victory in Noxubee County isn't a win for one race over another, it's a signal that some rethinking of old stereotypes is in order.

28635  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: July 02, 2007, 09:37:24 PM

TURKEY/U.S.: Turkey will not seek U.S. permission to invade Iraq should it consider its national security at risk, Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said in an interview with Today's Zaman. Gul added it is the responsibility of the United States to rein in the Kurdistan Workers' Party in Iraq. Turkey will not seek to delay its national elections even if it does get drawn into a war, Gul said.

28636  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: July 02, 2007, 09:36:22 PM
PAKISTAN: Pakistani students of the madrassa affiliated with Islamabad's Red Mosque are fortifying their positions using barbed wire and have closed down a road adjacent to the mosque facility, GEO News reported. They are reportedly using walkie-talkies to coordinate their preparations for a possible operation. Authorities have asked residents in the vicinity to relocate for a few days, and the Environment Ministry building and a girls' school have also been asked to close in anticipation of the operation.

PAKISTAN: Pakistan's Supreme Court suspended the law license of Chaudhry Akhtar Ali, a government lawyer representing President Gen. Pervez Musharraf in his case against the country's dismissed chief justice. The court also asked the Intelligence Bureau to make sure the Supreme Court and its judges' residences are free of electronic bugging devices, barred intelligence agency personnel from entering the Supreme Court or high court offices or seeking any documents from the courts, and ordered court officials not to surrender any documents to intelligence agency workers.
28637  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: July 02, 2007, 03:38:59 PM
Political Journal of the WSJ:

Goon Squad

The Democratic Party oak has grown, in part, from Acorn, a feisty, union-backed activist group that last year registered 600,000 low-income and minority voters and helped propel Democrats to victory in several states. Today, in recognition of Acorn's power, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Dennis Kucinich are attending the group's presidential forum in Philadelphia.

You'd think Acorn's shadowy methods, which last year led four of its Kansas City, Mo. workers to be indicted and plead guilty to submitting false voter registrations, would give Democratic candidates pause. But instead the Senate Judiciary Committee has gone into overdrive to hold oversight hearings questioning the Bush Justice Department's decision to file the indictments just before the 2004 election.

Regardless of the timing of Justice's decision, something is clearly rotten with Acorn. Prosecutors in King County, Washington (Seattle) may soon charge Acorn workers in another voter registration scandal in 2006. The group also engaged in questionable practices during the state's disputed 2004 governor's race, which was finally awarded to the Democrat by just 139 votes -- far fewer than the number of votes proven to have been cast illegally.

Dan Donohoe, a spokesman for King County's prosecutor, said a decision on an indictment should come this month. "We're dealing with possible criminal charges with regard to fraudulent registrations," he told McClatchy Newspapers. Several Acorn employees apparently filled out multiple registration forms in similar handwriting. After suspicions were raised, King County elections workers sampled 400 of the Acorn registrations. According to McClatchy: "Only two had valid phone numbers, and in both cases the people reached by phone had not done the registrations, elections staffers said."

The case has even prompted mild-mannered Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed to urge action. Last October, he contacted the King County Prosecutor by email and called attention to the voter-registration violations: "Many cases, like this, have been referred to Prosecutors and ignored. I'd appreciate it if you would have your office go after this. We need to show that we're tough on voter fraud. Right?" The next day, Mr. Reed sent another email to the state's elections director pressing his case: "We need some good examples of being touch (sic) on voter fraud to help regain some confidence and trust in the system."

For his part, Acorn leader Wade Rathke dismisses criticism of his group's activities as "major league political harassment . . . crazy words." Today, he will be lining up his troops as Hillary Clinton gives marching orders on how the left can win the 2008 election. Here's hoping that someone keeps an eye on Acorn as it prepares yet another blitzkrieg electoral effort next year.

-- John Fund


Mitt Romney finds himself engaged in crisis management over a previous episode of crisis management. As described last week in a Boston Globe profile, Mr. Romney demonstrated his leadership skills by placing Seamus, the family dog, in a cage and strapping it to the roof of the Romney station wagon for a 1983 family vacation to Ontario. When Seamus committed a mishap that dribbled down over the car windows, Mr. Romney calmly paused and hosed the car down before proceeding with the trip, according to the Globe's account.

At a campaign stop in Pittsburgh last Thursday, Mr. Romney tackled the swelling controversy head-on, telling an audience that Seamus "enjoyed" riding atop the car and "scrambled up there every time we went on trips." He added: "PETA is not happy that my dog likes fresh air."

PETA, otherwise known as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, had accused the former Massachusetts governor of dog "torture." Bloggers also have latched onto the story. Time magazine's Ana Marie Cox adjudicates: "The details of the event are more than unseemly -- they may, in fact, be illegal."

Mr. Romney's campaign probably will not mind the media preoccupation with Seamus if it causes reporters to overlook his forthcoming fundraising results. The campaign quietly told supporters last week to expect his second-quarter numbers to show a decline when released in the next few days. Mr. Romney whupped the Republican field during the first quarter, but attributed the latest drop to more days spent on the campaign trail in the second-quarter. He also let supporters know he had dipped into his own riches to write another multi-million-dollar check to his own campaign. That howl you're hearing from Romney headquarters may have more to do with the polls and cost of campaigning than with media fascination with Seamus-gate.

-- Taylor Buley

Adios, Amigos

This past weekend, every major Democratic candidate attended a gathering sponsored by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials for a Democratic presidential candidate forum. And the Republican forum? Cancelled. Only Rep. Duncan Hunter of California agreed to show.

The move is one of many recent Republican maneuverings to distance themselves from an appearance of having a weak stance on the immigration issue. Blame the techo-populists of talk radio and the blogosphere who sunk the Senate's immigration bill. Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, for example, recently voted to kill the bill that they themselves had co-authored.

"The Republican candidates have blown off Hispanics in Florida," noted state Rep. Juan Zapata, a Republican who helped bring the NALEO event to the state. Added state Rep. Julio Robaina, also a Republican: "I'm somewhat offended because this is about Hispanics, not about politics."

True, NALEO may be a predominantly pro-big government organization, but Republican Hispanophobia is a major miscalculation. The event is the nation's largest gathering of Hispanic elected officials, local party representatives and event organizers. Not to mention it was held at the all-American venue of Walt Disney World. Meanwhile, the GOP abandoned the field to a parade of Democratic hopefuls, including Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards, who decried the idea of a border fence ("crazy!" said Mr. Edwards) -- and implied at every opportunity that the GOP was simply anti-Hispanic.

John Bueno, NALEO's outgoing president, told National Public Radio: "Latino voters are getting smarter, they're getting more organized and there's going to be repercussions, I think, coming form the Latino voters for elected officials that are not listening to them."

-- Taylor Buley

Quote of the Day

"[An] epic moment in Democratic politics came May 21 when Florida Republican Gov. Charlie Crist signed legislation moving the Sunshine State's presidential primary to next Jan. 29.... Florida has put virtually all Democrats not named Hillary in a difficult spot. Because the Democratic vote in Florida is concentrated in just four major media markets (Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Orlando and Tampa-St. Petersburg), a full-scale primary campaign in the state can be waged for as little as $7 million, which is less than Howard Dean spent on the 2004 Iowa caucuses. But it will be difficult for any Democrat to compete with Clinton in Florida -- even Barack Obama, who may be able to outspend her -- because of her strengths among older and Jewish voters, two demographic groups that tend to vote heavily in Florida primaries" -- Walter Shapiro, Washington bureau chief for
28638  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Palo Canario on: July 01, 2007, 05:45:51 PM
Alfonso Acosta interviene en lo siguiente:

!Si hija ha crecido mucho!
28639  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Can someone direct me to "How To Join" on: July 01, 2007, 05:30:50 PM
NO!!!  grin

Fencing mask.
Street hockey gloves or less
cup recommended
Elbow and kn fee pads recommended, but may not have hard bubbles (e.g. not of the skateboarding type) Wrestling type are ideal.

That's it.

Guro C.
28640  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: World Trade Center Tower 7 on: July 01, 2007, 08:01:27 AM
Dog Brian:

First, I want to thank you for your excellent internet composure.

Second, I would like to say that we share many of the same concerns about the trajectory of our country.

Third, and this is said with love, IMO unfotunately you have mingled some profoundly unsound and inaccurate fringe nonsense into your thinking.

The Adventure continues,
28641  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mil-blogs: Michael Yon and others (support our troops) on: July 01, 2007, 07:57:19 AM
The latest from MY.  As always, a must read.
28642  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: June 30, 2007, 11:34:20 PM

Buchanan and Gheen.  Gheen makes some good points including about the Prez's Constitutional duty to enforce the laws.
28643  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cheney part two on: June 30, 2007, 11:08:15 PM
According to Mora, Waxman returned from the meeting with the message that his draft was "unacceptable to the vice president's office." Another defense official, who made notes of Waxman's report, said Cheney's lawyer ridiculed the vagueness of the Geneva ban on "outrages upon personal dignity," saying it would leave U.S. troops timid in the face of unpredictable legal risk. When Waxman replied that the official White House policy was far more opaque, according to the report, Addington accused him of trying to replace the president's decision with his own.

"The impact of that meeting is that Directive 2310 died," Mora said.

'Total Indifference to Public Opinion'
Over the next 12 months, Congress and the Supreme Court imposed many of the restrictions that Cheney had squelched.

"The irony with the Cheney crowd pushing the envelope on presidential power is that the president has now ended up with lesser powers than he would have had if they had made less extravagant, monarchical claims," said Bruce Fein, an associate deputy attorney general under President Ronald Reagan.

Flanigan, a founding member of that crowd, said he still believes that Addington and Yoo were right in their "application of generally accepted constitutional principles." But he acknowledged that many battles ended badly. "The Supreme Court," Flanigan said, "decided to change the rules."

Even so, Cheney's losses were not always as they appeared.

On Oct. 5, 2005, the Senate voted 90 to 9 in favor of McCain's Detainee Treatment Act, which included the Geneva language [Read the bill]. It was, by any measure, a rebuke to Cheney. Bush signed the bill into law. "Well, I don't win all the arguments," Cheney told the Wall Street Journal.

Yet he and Addington found a roundabout path to the exceptions they sought for the CIA, as allies in Congress made little-noticed adjustments to the bill.

The final measure confined only the Defense Department to the list of interrogation techniques specified in a new Army field manual. No techniques were specified for CIA officers, who were forbidden only in general terms to employ "cruel" or "inhuman" methods. Crucially, the new law said those words would be interpreted in light of U.S. constitutional law. That made a big difference to Cheney.

The Supreme Court has defined cruelty as an act that "shocks the conscience" under the circumstances. Addington suggested, according to another government lawyer, that harsh methods would be far less shocking under circumstances involving a mass-casualty terrorist threat. Cheney may have alluded to that advice in an interview with ABC's "Nightline" on Dec. 18, 2005, saying that "what shocks the conscience" is to some extent "in the eye of the beholder."

Eager to put detainee scandals behind them, Bush's advisers spent days composing a statement in which the president would declare support for the veto-proof bill on detainee treatment. Hours before Bush signed it into law on Dec. 30, 2005, Cheney's lawyer intercepted the accompanying statement "and just literally takes his red pen all the way through it," according to an official with firsthand knowledge.

Addington substituted a single sentence. Bush, he wrote, would interpret the law "in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President to supervise the unitary executive branch and as Commander in Chief."

Cheney's office had used that technique often. Like his boss, Addington disdained what he called "interagency treaties," one official said. He had no qualms about discarding language "agreed between Cabinet secretaries," the official said.

Top officials from the CIA, and the Justice, State and Defense departments unanimously opposed the substitution, according to two officials. John B. Bellinger III, the ranking national security lawyer at the White House, warned that Congress would view Addington's statement as a "stick in the eye" after weeks of consensus-building by national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley.

None of that mattered. With Cheney's weight behind it, White House counsel Harriet E. Miers sent Addington's version to Bush for his signature.

"The only person in Washington who cares less about his public image than David Addington is Dick Cheney," said a former White House ally. "What both of them miss is that ..... in times of war, a prerequisite for success is people having confidence in their leadership. This is the great failure of the administration -- a complete and total indifference to public opinion."

'Almost Everything' Cheney Wanted
On June 29, 2006, the Supreme Court struck its sharpest blow to the house that Cheney built, ruling 5 to 3 that the president had no lawful power to try alleged terrorists in military commissions [Read the opinion]. The tribunal order that Cheney brought to Bush's private dining room, and the game plan Cheney's lawyer wrote to defend it, fetched condemnation on disparate legal grounds. The majority relied, as Addington's critics foresaw, on Justice Kennedy's vote.

Not only did the court leave the president beholden to Congress for the authority to charge and punish terrorists, but it rejected a claim of implicit legislative consent that Bush was using elsewhere to justify electronic surveillance without a warrant. And not only did it find that Geneva's Common Article 3 protects "unlawful enemy combatants," but it also said that those protections -- including humane treatment and the right to a trial by "a regularly constituted court" -- were enforceable by federal judges in the United States.

The court's decision, in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, was widely seen as a calamity for Cheney's war plan against al-Qaeda. As the Bush administration formed its response, the vice president's position appeared to decline further still.

White House strategists agreed that they had to submit legislation to undo the damage of the Hamdan case. Cheney and Addington, according to a former official with firsthand knowledge, favored a one-page bill. Their proposal would simply have stated that the Geneva Conventions confer no right of access to U.S. courts, stripped U.S. courts of jurisdiction over foreign nationals declared to be enemy combatants and affirmed the president's authority to create military commissions exactly as he had already done. Bush chose to spend the fall of 2006 negotiating a much more complex bill that became the Military Commissions Act.

The White House proposal, said Joshua B. Bolten, the chief of staff, "did not come out exactly as the vice president would have wanted."

In another reversal for Cheney, Bush acknowledged publicly on Sept. 6 that the CIA maintained secret prisons overseas for senior al-Qaeda detainees, a subject on which he had held his silence since The Post disclosed them late in 2005. The president announced that he had emptied the "black sites" and transferred their prisoners to Guantanamo Bay to be tried.

The same week, almost exactly a year after the vice president's office shelved Waxman's Pentagon plan, Waxman's successor dusted it off. DOD Directive 2310.01E, the Department of Defense Detainee Program, included the verbatim text of Geneva's Common Article 3 and described it, as Waxman had, as "a minimum standard for the care and treatment of all detainees." [Read the directive] The new Army field manual, published with the directive, said that interrogators were forbidden to employ a long list of techniques that had been used against suspected terrorists since Sept. 11, 2001 -- including stripping, hooding, inflicting pain and forcing the performance of sex acts.

For all the apparent setbacks, close observers said, Cheney has preserved his top-priority tools in the "war on terror." After a private meeting with Cheney, one of them said, Bush decided not to promise that there would be no more black sites -- and seven months later, the White House acknowledged that secret detention had resumed.

The Military Commissions Act, passed by strong majorities of the Senate and House on Sept. 28 and 29, 2006, gave "the office of the vice president almost everything it wanted," said Yoo, who maintained his contact with Addington after returning to a tenured position at Berkeley.

The new law withstood its first Supreme Court challenge on April 2. It exempts CIA case officers and other government employees from prosecution for past war crimes or torture. Once again, an apparently technical provision held great importance to Cheney and his allies.

Without repealing the War Crimes Act, which imposes criminal penalties for grave breaches of Geneva's humane-treatment standards, Congress said the president, not the Supreme Court, has final authority to decide what the standards mean -- and whether they even apply.

'I'd Like to Close Guantanamo'
Air Force Two touched down in Sydney this past Feb. 24. Cheney had come to discuss Iraq. Prime Minister John Howard brought the conversation around to an Australian citizen who had unexpectedly become a political threat.

Under pressure at home, Howard said he told Cheney that there must be a trial "with no further delay" for David Hicks, 31, who was beginning his sixth year at the U.S. naval prison at Guantanamo Bay. Five days later, Hicks was indicted as a war criminal. On March 26, he pleaded guilty to providing "material support" for terrorism.

At every stage since his capture, as he changed taxis at the Afghan-Pakistan border, Hicks had crossed a legal landscape that Cheney did more than anyone to reshape. He was Detainee 002 at Guantanamo Bay, arriving on opening day at an asserted no man's land beyond the reach of sovereign law. Interrogators questioned him under guidelines that gave legal cover to the infliction of pain and fear -- and, according to an affidavit filed by British lawyer Steven Grosz, Hicks was subjected to beatings, sodomy with a foreign object, sensory deprivation, disorienting drugs and prolonged shackling in painful positions.

Enlarge PhotoAnkle cuffs are seen locked to the floor of an interrogation room at Guantanamo Bay. The new legal framework for interrogations was designed to leave room for cruelty. More Cheney photos...The U.S. government denied those claims, and before accepting Hicks's guilty plea it required him to affirm that he had "never been illegally treated." But the tribunal's rules, written under principles Cheney advanced, would have allowed the Australian's conviction with evidence obtained entirely by "cruel, inhuman or degrading" techniques.

Shortly after Cheney returned from Australia, the Hicks case died with a whimper. The U.S. government abruptly shifted its stance in plea negotiations, dropping the sentence it offered from 20 years in prison to nine months if Hicks would say that he was guilty.

Only the dramatic shift to lenience, said Joshua Dratel, one of three defense lawyers, resolved the case in time to return Hicks to Australia before Howard faces reelection late this year. The deal, negotiated without the knowledge of the chief prosecutor, Air Force Col. Morris Davis, was supervised by Susan J. Crawford, the convening authority over military commissions. Crawford received her three previous government jobs from then-Defense Secretary Cheney -- she was appointed as his special adviser, Pentagon inspector general and then judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.

Yet the tactical retreat on Hicks, according to Bush administration officials, diverted attention from the continuity of U.S. policy on detainees.

A year after Bush announced at a news conference that "I'd like to close Guantanamo," the camp remains open and has been expanded. Senior officials said Cheney, with few allies left, has turned back strong efforts -- by Rice, England, new Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and former Bush speechwriter Mike Gerson, among others -- to give the president what he said he wants.

Cheney and his aides "didn't circumvent the process," one participant said. "They were just very effective in using it."

'This is a Dangerous World'
More than a year after Congress passed McCain-sponsored restrictions on the questioning of suspected terrorists, the Bush administration is still debating how far the CIA's interrogators may go in their effort to break down resistant detainees. Two officials said the vice president has deadlocked the debate.

Bush said last September that he would "work with" Congress to review "an alternative set of procedures" for "tough" -- but, he said, lawful -- interrogation. He did not promise to submit legislation or to report particulars to any oversight committee, and he has not done so.

Two questions remain, officials said. One involves techniques to be authorized now. The other is whether any technique should be explicitly forbidden.

According to participants in the debate, the vice president stands by the view that Bush need not honor any of the new judicial and legislative restrictions. His lawyer, they said, has recently restated Cheney's argument that when courts and Congress "purport to" limit the commander in chief's warmaking authority, he has the constitutional prerogative to disregard them.

If Cheney advocates a return to waterboarding, they said, they have not heard him say so. But his office has fought fiercely against an executive order or CIA directive that would make the technique illegal.

"That's just the vice president," said Gerson, the former speechwriter, referring to Cheney's October remark that "a dunk in the water" for terrorists -- a radio interviewer's term -- is "a no-brainer for me."

Gerson added: "It's principled. He's deeply conscious that this is a dangerous world, and he wants this president and future presidents to be able to deal with that. He feels very strongly about these things, and it's his great virtue and his weakness."

Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.
28644  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cheney on: June 30, 2007, 11:07:13 PM
Pushing the Envelope on Presidential Power
Web Q&A:
» Reporter Barton Gellman, was online on Monday, June 25, to answer readers' questions about the Cheney series. Read the Q&A transcript.

By Barton Gellman and Jo Becker
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, June 25, 2007

Shortly after the first accused terrorists reached the U.S. naval prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on Jan. 11, 2002, a delegation from CIA headquarters arrived in the Situation Room. The agency presented a delicate problem to White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales, a man with next to no experience on the subject. Vice President Cheney's lawyer, who had a great deal of experience, sat nearby.

The meeting marked "the first time that the issue of interrogations comes up" among top-ranking White House officials, recalled John C. Yoo, who represented the Justice Department. "The CIA guys said, 'We're going to have some real difficulties getting actionable intelligence from detainees'" if interrogators confined themselves to treatment allowed by the Geneva Conventions.

From that moment, well before previous accounts have suggested, Cheney turned his attention to the practical business of crushing a captive's will to resist. The vice president's office played a central role in shattering limits on coercion of prisoners in U.S. custody, commissioning and defending legal opinions that the Bush administration has since portrayed as the initiatives, months later, of lower-ranking officials.

Enlarge PhotoThe vice president's office pushed a policy of robust interrogation that made its way to the U.S. naval prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, above, and Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. More Cheney photos...Cheney and his allies, according to more than two dozen current and former officials, pioneered a novel distinction between forbidden "torture" and permitted use of "cruel, inhuman or degrading" methods of questioning. They did not originate every idea to rewrite or reinterpret the law, but fresh accounts from participants show that they translated muscular theories, from Yoo and others, into the operational language of government.

A backlash beginning in 2004, after reports of abuse leaked out of Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison and Guantanamo Bay, brought what appeared to be sharp reversals in courts and Congress -- for Cheney's claims of executive supremacy and for his unyielding defense of what he called "robust interrogation."

But a more careful look at the results suggests that Cheney won far more than he lost. Many of the harsh measures he championed, and some of the broadest principles undergirding them, have survived intact but out of public view.

Presidential Power
Dick Cheney's views on executive supremacy -- like many of his core beliefs about foreign policy and defense -- have held remarkably steady over the years. More »The vice president's unseen victories attest to traits that are often ascribed to him but are hard to demonstrate from the public record: thoroughgoing secrecy, persistence of focus, tactical flexibility in service of fixed aims and close knowledge of the power map of government. On critical decisions for more than six years, Cheney has often controlled the pivot points -- tipping the outcome when he could, engineering stalemate when he could not and reopening debates that rivals thought were resolved.

"Once he's taken a position, I think that's it," said James A. Baker III, who has shared a hunting tent with Cheney more than once and worked with him under three presidents. "He has been pretty damn good at accumulating power, extraordinarily effective and adept at exercising power."

'At Any Time and in Any Place'
David S. Addington, Cheney's general counsel, set the new legal agenda in a blunt memorandum shortly after the CIA delegation returned to Langley. Geneva's "strict limits on questioning of enemy prisoners," he wrote on Jan. 25, 2002, hobbled efforts "to quickly obtain information from captured terrorists."

No longer was the vice president focused on procedural rights, such as access to lawyers and courts. The subject now was more elemental: How much suffering could U.S. personnel inflict on an enemy to make him talk? Cheney's lawyer feared that future prosecutors, with motives "difficult to predict," might bring criminal charges against interrogators or Bush administration officials.

Geneva rules forbade not only torture but also, in equally categorical terms, the use of "violence," "cruel treatment" or "humiliating and degrading treatment" against a detainee "at any time and in any place whatsoever." The War Crimes Act of 1996 made any grave breach of those restrictions a U.S. felony [Read the act]. The best defense against such a charge, Addington wrote, would combine a broad presidential directive for humane treatment, in general, with an assertion of unrestricted authority to make exceptions.

The vice president's counsel proposed that President Bush issue a carefully ambiguous directive. Detainees would be treated "humanely and, to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity, in a manner consistent with the principles of" the Geneva Conventions. When Bush issued his public decision two weeks later, on Feb. 7, 2002, he adopted Addington's formula -- with all its room for maneuver -- verbatim.

In a radio interview last fall, Cheney said, "We don't torture." What he did not acknowledge, according to Alberto J. Mora, who served then as the Bush-appointed Navy general counsel, was that the new legal framework was designed specifically to avoid a ban on cruelty. In international law, Mora said, cruelty is defined as "the imposition of severe physical or mental pain or suffering." He added: "Torture is an extreme version of cruelty."

How extreme? Yoo was summoned again to the White House in the early spring of 2002. This time the question was urgent. The CIA had captured Abu Zubaida, then believed to be a top al-Qaeda operative, on March 28, 2002. Case officers wanted to know "what the legal limits of interrogation are," Yoo said.

This previously unreported meeting sheds light on the origins of one of the Bush administration's most controversial claims. The Justice Department delivered a classified opinion on Aug. 1, 2002, stating that the U.S. law against torture "prohibits only the worst forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" and therefore permits many others. [Read the opinion] Distributed under the signature of Assistant Attorney General Jay S. Bybee, the opinion also narrowed the definition of "torture" to mean only suffering "equivalent in intensity" to the pain of "organ failure ..... or even death."

When news accounts unearthed that opinion nearly two years later, the White House repudiated its contents. Some officials described it as hypothetical, without disclosing that the opinion was written in response to specific questions from the CIA. Administration officials attributed authorship to Yoo, a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley who had come to serve in the Office of Legal Counsel.

But the "torture memo," as it became widely known, was not Yoo's work alone. In an interview, Yoo said that Addington, as well as Gonzales and deputy White House counsel Timothy E. Flanigan, contributed to the analysis.

The vice president's lawyer advocated what was considered the memo's most radical claim: that the president may authorize any interrogation method, even if it crosses the line into torture. U.S. and treaty laws forbidding any person to "commit torture," that passage stated, "do not apply" to the commander in chief, because Congress "may no more regulate the President's ability to detain and interrogate enemy combatants than it may regulate his ability to direct troop movements on the battlefield."

That same day, Aug. 1, 2002, Yoo signed off on a second secret opinion, the contents of which have never been made public. According to a source with direct knowledge, that opinion approved as lawful a long list of interrogation techniques proposed by the CIA -- including waterboarding, a form of near-drowning that the U.S. government has prosecuted as a war crime since at least 1901. The opinion drew the line against one request: threatening to bury a prisoner alive.

Yoo said for the first time in an interview that he verbally warned lawyers for the president, Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld that it would be a risky policy to permit military interrogators to use the harshest techniques, because the armed services, vastly larger than the CIA, could overuse the tools or exceed the limits. "I always thought that only the CIA should do this, but people at the White House and at DOD felt differently," Yoo said. The migration of those techniques from the CIA to the military, and from Guantanamo Bay to Abu Ghraib, aroused worldwide condemnation when abuse by U.S. troops was exposed.

Through is spokeswoman, Tasia Scolinos, Gonzales declined a request for an interview about his time in the White House counsel's office and his interactions with Cheney. The vice president's spokeswoman, Lea Anne McBride, declined to comment on Yoo's recollection.

Enlarge PhotoCheney and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice confer in February 2002, around the time that detainee interrogation limits were being discussed. Rice wouldn't learn about the 'torture memo' until June 2004. More Cheney photos...On June 8, 2004, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell learned of the two-year-old torture memo for the first time from an article in The Washington Post [Read the article]. According to a former White House official with firsthand knowledge, they confronted Gonzales together in his office.

Rice "very angrily said there would be no more secret opinions on international and national security law," the official said, adding that she threatened to take the matter to the president if Gonzales kept them out of the loop again. Powell remarked admiringly, as they emerged, that Rice dressed down the president's lawyer "in full Nurse Ratched mode," a reference to the head nurse of the mental hospital in the 1975 film "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."

Neither of them took their objections to Cheney, the official said, a much more dangerous course.

'His Client, the Vice President'
In the summer and fall of 2002, some of the Bush administration's leading lawyers began to warn that Cheney and his Pentagon allies had set the government on a path for defeat in court. As the judicial branch took up challenges to the president's assertion of wartime power, Justice Department lawyers increasingly found themselves defending what they believed to be losing positions -- directed by the vice president and his staff. One of the uneasy lawyers was Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson , a conservative stalwart whose wife, Barbara, had died on Sept. 11, 2001 when the hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. Olson shared Cheney's robust view of executive authority, but his job was to win cases. Two that particularly worried him involved U.S. citizens -- Jose Padilla and Yaser Esam Hamdi -- who had been declared enemy combatants and denied access to lawyers.

Federal courts, Olson argued, would not go along with that. But the CIA and military interrogators opposed any outside contact, fearing relief from the isolation and dependence that they relied upon to break the will of suspected terrorists.

Flanigan said that Addington's personal views leaned more toward Olson than against him, but that Addington beat back the proposal to grant detainees access to lawyers, "because that was the position of his client, the vice president."

Decision time came in a heated meeting in Gonzales's corner office on the West Wing's second floor, according to four officials with direct knowledge, none of whom agreed to be quoted by name about confidential legal deliberations. Olson was backed by associate White House counsel Bradford A. Berenson , a former law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.

Berenson told colleagues that the court's swing voter would never accept absolute presidential discretion to declare a U.S. citizen an enemy and lock him up without giving him an opportunity to be represented and heard. Another former Kennedy clerk, White House lawyer Brett Kavanaugh, had made the same argument earlier.

Addington accused Berenson of surrendering executive power on a fool's prophecy about an inscrutable court. Berenson accused Addington of "know-nothingness."

Gonzales listened quietly as the Justice Department and his own staff lined up against Addington. Then he decided in favor of Cheney's lawyer.

John D. Ashcroft, who was attorney general at the time, declined to discuss details of the dispute but said the vice president's views "carried a great deal of weight. He was the E.F. Hutton in the room. When he talked, everybody would listen." Cheney, he said, "compelled people to think carefully about whatever he mentioned."

When a U.S. District Court ruled several months later that Padilla had a right to counsel, Cheney's office insisted on sending Olson's deputy, Paul Clement, on what Justice Department lawyers called "a suicide mission": to tell Judge Michael B. Mukasey that he had erred so grossly that he should retract his decision. Mukasey derided the government's "pinched legalism" and added acidly that his order was "not a suggestion or request."

Cheney's strategy fared worse in the Supreme Court, where two cases arrived for oral argument alongside Padilla's on April 28, 2004.

For months, Olson and his Justice Department colleagues had pleaded for modest shifts that would shore up the government's position. Hamdi, the American, had languished in a Navy brig for two and a half years with out a hearing or a lawyer. Shafiq Rasul, a British citizen at Guantanamo Bay, had been held even longer. Olson could make Cheney's argument that courts had no jurisdiction, but he wanted to "show them that you at least have some system of due process in place" to ensure against wrongful detention, according to a senior Justice Department official who closely followed the debates.

Addington, the vice president's counsel fought and won again. He argued that any declaration of binding rules would restrict the freedom of future presidents and open the door to further lawsuits. On June 28, 2004, the Supreme Court ruled 8 to 1 in the Hamdi case that detainees must have a lawyer and an opportunity to challenge their status as enemy combatants before a "neutral decision maker." The Rasul decision, the same day, held 6 to 3 that Guantanamo Bay is not beyond the reach of federal law.

Eleven days later, Olson stepped down as solicitor general. His deputy succeeded him. What came next was a reminder that it does not pay to cross swords with the vice president.

Ashcroft, with support from Gonzales, proposed a lawyer named Patrick Philbin for deputy solicitor general. Philbin was among the authors of the post-Sept. 11 legal revolution, devising arguments to defend Cheney's military commissions and the denial of habeas corpus rights at Guantanamo Bay. But he had tangled with the vice president's office now and then, objecting to the private legal channel between Addington and Yoo and raising questions about domestic surveillance by the National Security Agency.

Cheney's lawyer passed word that Philbin was an unsatisfactory choice. The attorney general and White House counsel abandoned their candidate.

"OVP plays hardball," said a high-ranking former official who followed the episode, referring to the office of the vice president. "No one would defend Philbin."

'Administration Policy'
Rumsfeld, Cheney's longtime friend and mentor, gathered his senior subordinates at the Pentagon in the summer of 2005. He warned them to steer clear of Senate Republicans John McCain, John W. Warner and Lindsay O. Graham, who were drafting a bill to govern the handling of terrorism suspects.

"Rumsfeld made clear, emphatically, that the vice president had the lead on this issue," said a former Pentagon official with direct knowledge.

Enlarge PhotoDefense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, a longtime Cheney mentor, tours Abu Ghraib in May 2004. In 2005, he made it clear that Cheney 'has the lead on this issue,' said a Pentagon official, referring to the treatment of detainees More Cheney photos...Though his fingerprints were not apparent, Cheney had already staked out a categorical position for the president. It came in a last-minute insert to a "statement of administration policy" by the Office of Management and Budget, where Nancy Dorn, Cheney's former chief of legislative affairs, was deputy director. Without normal staff clearance, according to two Bush administration officials, the vice president's lawyer added a paragraph -- just before publication on July 21, 2005 -- to the OMB's authoritative guidance on the 2006 defense spending bill [Read the document].

"The Administration strongly opposes" any amendment to "regulate the detention, treatment or trial of terrorists captured in the war on terror," the statement said. Before most Bush administration officials even became aware that the subject was under White House review, Addington wrote that "the President's senior advisers would recommend that he veto" any such bill.

Among those taken unawares was Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon R. England. More than a year had passed since Bush expressed "deep disgust" over the abuse photographed at Abu Ghraib, and England told aides it was past time to issue clear rules for U.S. troops.

In late August 2005, England called a meeting of nearly three dozen Pentagon officials, including the vice chief and top uniformed lawyer for each military branch. Matthew Waxman, the deputy assistant secretary for detainee affairs, set the agenda.

Waxman said that the president's broadly stated order of Feb. 7, 2002 -- which called for humane treatment, "subject to military necessity" -- had left U.S. forces unsure about how to behave. The Defense Department, he said, should clarify its bedrock legal requirements with a directive incorporating the language of Geneva's Common Article 3 [Read Common Article 3]. That was exactly the language -- prohibiting cruel, violent, humiliating and degrading treatment -- that Cheney had spent three years expunging from U.S. policy.

"Every vice chief came out strongly in favor, as did every JAG," or judge advocate general, recalled Mora, who was Navy general counsel at the time.

William J. Haynes II, a close friend of Addington's who served as Rumsfeld's general counsel, was one of two holdouts in the room. The other was Stephen A. Cambone, Rumsfeld's undersecretary for intelligence.  Waxman, believing his opponents isolated, circulated a draft of DOD Directive 2310. Within a few days, Addington and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Cheney's chief of staff, invited Waxman for a visit.
28645  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: June 30, 2007, 06:36:22 AM
Mary Anastasia O'Grady del Wall Street Journal habla en ingles del politica fiscal de Calderon:
28646  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: June 30, 2007, 06:18:21 AM
Of Tax Cuts and Terror
New York's former mayor makes his case to be Reagan's heir.

Saturday, June 30, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

"I think the American people in November 2008 are going to select the person they think is strongest to defend America against Islamic terrorism. And it is not going to focus on--as some of the media wants it--just Iraq. I think Americans are smarter than that."

Thus did Rudy Giuliani summarize the rationale for his presidential campaign at a meeting this week with the editorial board of the Journal. Next year's election will be about national security, not about Iraq narrowly defined.

In an hour-long conversation in our offices in lower Manhattan, the former New York City mayor sat facing away from the view of Ground Zero below, but 9/11 was very much in the front of his mind. A few minutes into the interview, he paused midsentence, gestured over his shoulder and looked down at his hands. "Coming down here just fills me with memories," he offered. "I can't come here without thinking about what happened that day."

Mr. Giuliani has been accused of playing the 9/11 card for political gain, and he did not shy from discussing his role after the terrorist attacks on that day and its effect on his worldview. But he defied the caricature of a man who intends to beat the 9/11 drum all the way to the White House.

His views on foreign and domestic policy were cogent and delivered with the take-it-or-leave-it confidence that is as refreshing to his backers as it is infuriating to his opponents, both now and when he was mayor. "Leadership," he told us, "is first figuring out what's right, and then explaining it to people, as opposed to first having people explain to you what's right, and then just saying what they want to hear."

Mr. Giuliani is often referred to as a "moderate" Republican, which is true if it means simply that he doesn't follow the party line on certain issues, such as abortion. But there is very little else about him that qualifies for the label. "I am," he told us, "by all objective measures the most fiscally conservative candidate in the race." On domestic policy, he says he wants to shrink the government's share of the economy and increase the private sector's. Tax rates "should be lower" and our health-care system ought to be "move[d] away from the paternalistic model" that we have now.

This is not big-government conservatism. George W. Bush, he tells us, "was not good on spending," although he adds that Congress wasn't very good on spending, either. "I think that it's one of the primary reasons [the Republicans] lost Congress in 2006."

When it comes to the war on terror, "defending America" means "remaining on offense." More particularly, it means "using the Patriot Act, electronic surveillance and interrogation techniques that are legal but aggressive." Of Guantanamo Bay, he says, "I don't think we should close Guantanamo."

These, then, are the talking points. But in order to discover whether there was more to his national-security credentials than merely being "America's mayor" on 9/11, we pressed him on how a President Giuliani would handle a current foreign-policy crisis such as Iran. His answer revealed a discursive style that was on display throughout the meeting, and which can only be demonstrated by quoting from his reply at some length.
He started by explaining how he understands the problem, before getting around to how it ought to be handled: "Well, I think that if we've learned any lessons from the history of the 20th century, one of the lessons we should learn is [to] stop trying to psychoanalyze people and take them at their word.

"If we had taken Hitler at his word, Stalin at his word, I think we would have made much sounder decisions and saved a lot more lives. I don't know why we have to think that [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad doesn't mean what he says. Therefore, the more cautious, prudent way to react to it is, he means what he says.

"The second thing is . . . we shouldn't be surprised that he's emerged in Iran. Iran has been like that since the Ayatollah took over. So, they are an irresponsible regime."

With that by way of preamble, he answered the question: "America's approach should begin with the clear statement that we will not allow him to become a nuclear power. And everybody should know that, including your allies, that that's not a solution American will tolerate, because it would be too dangerous for us to put nuclear weapons in the hands of people who say the things he says and have done the things they've done."

OK, but it's one thing to say we will "not allow" a nuclear Iran, it's another to be prepared to do something about it. Does not allowing him to become a nuclear power include taking military action against Iran, if necessary? The answer comes quickly: "Whatever is necessary."

So, what are the odds that we can avoid military confrontation with Iran over its nuclear program? "It all depends on their evaluation of the American president. If they think that they have an American president that's going to be ambiguous and worry about this stuff--kind of a John Kerry type who is going to worry what Europe thinks--they're going to be more likely to take advantage of it."

Call it peace through strength. "If," on the other hand, "they believe that an American president will utilize any steps necessary to stop them from becoming nuclear, there is a much better chance that the sanctions will work, because you have leverage--and in a strange way, I think that a much better chance the sanctions will work because our allies, or semi-allies [like Russia and China], will have an incentive for making them work, because they don't want that [military action] to happen."

Asked whether he thinks the Bush administration is doing enough to address the Iranian situation, he says he "probably would prefer somewhat stronger language. What I really want to know is what's the bottom line--and I don't know the answer to that." He argues that, in this case, making the administration's bottom line public and explicit would help bring the Iranians around because they could no longer delude themselves that they might get away with going nuclear without paying a high price.

So much for Iran. How does Mr. Giuliani rate the current administration's handling of Iraq? "The plan for how to stabilize Iraq certainly wasn't a good one. And then there wasn't a quick enough reaction to the facts on the ground that showed you that it wasn't a good one. So I kind of look at that as, if you come into office and it's still there, you've got to try to straighten it out and you have to try to learn from it in the future." He's not a cut-and-run man, in other words.

The current fashion in Iraq war criticism is to say that America can't make any headway unless the Iraqis come to a political accommodation with each other, so America should step aside until that is accomplished. Mr. Giuliani looks at it through the lens of his time as mayor, and believes that America has to provide security before anything like a functioning society or government can emerge.

"Maybe having been a mayor I can see some of this better. By that I mean, if you've got to create a democracy, democracy is only a theory that doesn't mean very much when people live in fear. I used to say that about crime in New York, that the most important civil right is being safe. . . . It doesn't matter if you have other civil rights if you can't go out at night. . . . So if you're going to create an election in Iraq when the infrastructure of that society has crumbled--which means people can't go to work, people can't go out, more people are being killed than used to be the case, right in front of you--then democracy is a theory down the road, but your life has disintegrated. I don't think we saw our responsibility clearly enough at the beginning to keep up the infrastructure of Iraq."

It's too soon to ask any candidate what they would do about Iraq if elected--we know too little about what the state of play will be in January 2009. But when asked what his response is to those Republicans who are concerned that continuing to support the war will cost them seats in the Senate in November 2008, his answer is concise: "I'd tell them that getting this right is much more important than winning Senate seats."

On the home front, it's no surprise that Mr. Giuliani, a law-enforcement man for decades, believes we need the Patriot Act, the NSA wiretapping program and the rest of the war-fighting architecture that has been built up under President Bush. But when you dig a little deeper, Mr. Giuliani, a public servant nearly all of his adult life, sounds a lot more like the CEO president that George Bush was billed as than Mr. Bush has proved to be. He seems to think less in terms of "initiatives" than in terms of quantification, analysis and information. "I'd want an evaluation about how accurate are we [in identifying threats]. Are we 70%, 80%, 90% accurate? Can we sit down, and do we have on paper the leading groups? Do we have the primary actors? Are we evaluating whether our intelligence is improving? How effective are we being in finding them?"
This focus on methods carries more weight coming from Mr. Giuliani because of the results he achieved using it to bring down crime in New York City. Identify the problem, quantify it, isolate it and fight it. He admits that, as a private citizen, he doesn't have enough information about how much of this we're doing right now. But it's illustrative of his way of thinking about problems that what he thinks we need are metrics by which to measure all these things.

Likewise on government reform. He announced in a speech earlier this week that he would plan to replace only half of the 300,000 civil servants due to retire over the next decade. In his visit to the Journal's offices, he said he'd like to see every government agency try to identify ways to be more efficient every year. "You task them with--sort of like [former GE CEO] Jack Welch's approach, to always get rid of the bottom 10%--you task them every year to find 5%, 10% in savings, or 15% or 20% .  . . It's to save money, but it's also a discipline that has them going to their agency and figure out what is not efficient--what isn't working. We haven't done that since Reagan."

Mr. Giuliani likes to quantify. In place of a platform, he has 12 "commitments," which he has printed up on a card (they are also on his campaign Web site). He freely admits that, political reality being what it is, he would consider it a victory to "achieve seven or eight of them."

Mr. Giuliani invoked Ronald Reagan's name repeatedly, and always as a model. There is an element of political calculation in that--Mr. Giuliani is trying to reassure the so-called cultural conservatives that if they liked Reagan, they'll love Rudy. But can he overcome the perception that he's a culturally liberal, pro-choice New Yorker who's to the left of his own party on a number of issues? He says that his differences with the party on cultural issues are "sometimes exaggerated for political purposes."

On Roe v. Wade, he says, astutely, "I don't answer that because I wouldn't want a judge to have to answer that. I don't consider it a litmus test." But he may give the pro-life crowd jitters when he adds, "I think a conservative strict constructionist judge could come to either conclusion." He suggests that the real test should be intellectual honesty, and to that end he cites D.C. Circuit Appeals Court Judge Larry Silberman's recent opinion on the Second Amendment, affirming a constitutional right to bear arms. This is a nice piece of political turnabout--to respond to a question about his stance on abortion by citing favorably the most important pro-gun-rights decision in recent history.

To return to the subject at hand, we ask him who on the Supreme Court now meets his standards for intellectual honesty. "[Samuel] Alito, [John] Roberts--I would have appointed either one of them," he offers. He's said as much before. But he continues: "[Antonin] Scalia clearly does [meet the standard], and [Clarence] Thomas. I would have appointed any one of the four of them."

Speaking of justice, Mr. Giuliani has been more circumspect than some of his rivals on whether he would pardon I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. And he repeated again that he wouldn't pardon Mr. Libby "right now." On the other hand, Mr. Giuliani advanced a pretty good argument that he should never have been tried. "Perjury has to be material--it has to relate to what you're investigating," he offered. "If someone goes in front of a grand jury and tells a lie about an insignificant fact, it's a lie but it isn't perjury. There's all kinds of lying that isn't criminal . . . If the investigation is about a non-crime, when you know who did it, how could anything be material to it?" That sounds an awful lot like an argument for a pardon, even if Mr. Giuliani seems to think the time may not be right.
There's no denying that Mr. Giuliani's campaign is built around the war on terror--or, as he prefers to call it, "the terrorists' war on us." He views the 2008 election as a turning point in the conflict, and, naturally, thinks he's the man to steer things in the right direction.

"I think that the president we elect in 2008 will determine how long it takes to prevail against the terrorists," Mr. Giuliani says. "If you select somebody that is going to go back on defense, it's going to take a much longer time and there are going to be more casualties. If you select a president that's going to remain on offense, and even improve on it, it isn't going to be easy, but it's going to mean less casualties, faster." It's not an easy or comforting message, but Mr. Giuliani is not in the comforting business. Whether it's a message the country wants to hear is something the voters will let us know.

Mr. Carney is a member of the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal. A full transcript of the interview is available here.
28647  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iran out of Gas on: June 30, 2007, 06:04:24 AM
A bit of a different take on the situation in Iran from an investment newsletter:

by John Mauldin
June 29, 2007   
In this issue:
Iran Out of Gas
When an Enemy Is Self-Destructing, Stand Aside
, , ,

Iran Out of Gas

But before we touch on the credit world, I want to briefly look at a development in the oil markets which I find intriguing. Dr. Woody Brock, in a recent paper on oil prices, wrote a rather interesting sentence, to wit, that Iran would not have net oil to export in 2014. I found that rather remarkable. Woody is very serious and sober-minded even for an economist, not given to rash analysis, but this was certainly a new idea to me. I knew they were importing most of their gasoline, as they do not have a great deal of refining capacity. As it turns out, there is much more to the story.

I have said for years that I expect Iran to be the new friend of the US sometime next decade, as the regime is not popular and the country is growing younger. (Think China, once an implacable enemy.) I thought that the impetus would be the lack of freedom and knowledge of how the world is better off coming from the internet, but it turns out that it may be a desire for more freedom combined with economic problems which help bring about regime change, much as in Russia last century.

How could a country with the third (or second, depending on which source you quote) largest oil reserves in the world not be churning out ever more black gold? The answer, as it almost always is for such problems, turns out to be governmental and not economic in nature. Let's start out with a few facts.

Oil provides more than 70% of the revenues of the government of Iran. The rise in oil prices has been a bonanza for the regime, allowing them to subsidize all sorts of welfare programs at home and mischief abroad. And one of the chief subsidies is gasoline prices.

Gasoline costs about $.34 cents a gallon in Iran, or 9 cents a liter. You can fill up your Honda Civic for $4.49. In the US it costs almost $40 (The price has risen since the chart below was made). In neighboring Turkey it costs almost $95. Look at the two charts below from the recent Foreign Policy Magazine. Notice that Iran is spending 38% of its national budget (almost 15% of GDP!) on gasoline subsidies!

Chart two:

And this situation is likely to get worse. Let's look at a rather remarkable peer-reviewed study done for the National Academy of Sciences by Roger Stern of Johns Hopkins University late last year. Stern's analysis is somewhat political, in that he is critical of current US Iranian policy, but this is just one of several studies which show the same thing (

"A more probable scenario is that, absent some change in Irani policy ... [we will see] exports declining to zero by 2014-2015. Energy subsidies, hostility to foreign investment, and inefficiencies of its state-planned economy underlie Iran's problem, which has no relation to 'peak oil.' "

Iran earns about $50 billion a year in oil exports. The decline is estimated at 10-12% annually. In less than five years, exports could be halved and then disappear by 2015, predicted Stern.

Of course, you can go to a dozen web sites, mostly Iranian, which demonstrate that Iranian production will be double (or pick a number) by that time. The problem is, they all assume rather large sums of investment in the Iranian oil fields. Two projects which are "counted on" to be producing oil in 2008 have yet to be funded or started, as negotiations have broken down. Iran seems incapable of getting a deal actually done with a willing partner.

Part of this is a caused by the Iranian constitution, which does not allow for foreign ownership of oil reserves or fields. Instead, they try to negotiate to pay for investing in oil production. Called a buyback, any investment in an oil field is turned into sovereign Iranian government debt with a return of 15-17%. This is a very unpopular program at home, coming under much criticism from local government officials. Any deal that gets close to getting done comes under attack from lawmakers as being too good for foreign investors, so nothing is getting done.

Why not just fund the development themselves? They could, but the mullahs have elected to spend the money now rather than make investments which will not produce revenues for 4-6 years or more. They are investing around half the money needed just to maintain production, around $3 billion a year.

Let's look at a quote from Mohammed Hadi Nejad-Hosseinian, Iran's deputy oil minister for international affairs: "If the government does not control the consumption of oil products in Iran ... and at the same time, if the projects for increasing the capacity of the oil and protection of the oil wells will not happen, within 10 years, there will not be any oil for export." That's from their guy, not a Western academic.

When an Enemy is Self-Destructing, Stand Aside

Iran produced over 6 billion barrels of oil before the revolution in 1979. They now produce around 4 billion barrels a year. They are currently producing about 5% below their quota, which shows they are at their limits under current capacity. And production at their old fields is waning. The world recovery rate is about 35% from oil fields. Iran's is an abnormally low 24-27%. Normally, you pump natural gas back into an aging field (called reinjection) in order to get higher yields. Iran has enormous reserves of natural gas. Seems like there should be a solution.

However, if the National Iranian Oil Company (NOIC) sells it natural gas outside of Iran, it turns a profit. If it sells it in the country, then it can only get the lower, dramatically subsidized price. Guess which it chooses. Even so, internal natural gas demand is growing by 9% a year.

Not surprisingly, at 34 cents a gallon gasoline demand is rising 10% a year. This week, the government moved to ration supplies to about 22 gallons a month, which does not go far in the large cars preferred by younger Iranians. There have been riots, with people chanting "Death to Ahmadinejad." They take their right to plenty of cheap gas seriously. There is also widespread smuggling. Ten barrels of gasoline (easily hauled in a pickup) taken into Turkey yields about $3,000 in profit in a country with about that much GDP per person. Let's end with this section from Stern:

"Our survey suggests that Iran's petroleum sector is unlikely to attract investment sufficient to maintain oil exports. Maintaining exports would require foreign investment to increase when it appears to be declining. Other factors contributing to export decline are also intensifying. Demand growth for subsidized petroleum compounds from an ever-larger base. Growth rates for gasoline (11-12%), gas (9%), and electric power (7-8%) are especially problematic. Oil recovery rates have declined, and, with no remedy in sight for the gas reinjection shortage, this decline may accelerate.

"Depletion rates have increased, and, if investment does not increase, depletion will accelerate. If the regime actually proceeds with LNG exports, oil export decline will accelerate for lack of reinjection gas. In summary, the regime has been incapable of maximizing profit, minimizing cost, or constraining explosive demand for subsidized petroleum products. These failures have very substantial economic consequences.

"Despite mismanagement, the Islamic Republic's real oil revenues are nearly their highest ever as rising price compensates for stagnant energy production and declining oil exports. Despite high price, however, population growth has resulted in a 44% decline of real oil revenue per capita since the 1980 price peak. Moreover, virtually all revenue growth has been applied to pet projects, loss-making industries, etc. If price were to decline, political power sustained by the quadrupling of government spending since 1999 may not be sustainable. Yet we found no evidence that Iran plans fiscal retrenchment or any scheme to sustain oil investment.

"Rather, the government promises 'to put oil revenues on every table,' as if monopoly rents were not already the entree. Backing this promise is a welfare state built on the Soviet model widely understood as a formula for long-run economic suicide. This includes the 5-year plans, misallocation of resources, loss-making state enterprises, subsidized consumption, corruption, and oil export dependence that doomed the Soviet experiment. Therefore, the regime's ability to contend with the export decline we project seems limited."

Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of mullahs. If gasoline subsidies are 40% of the national budget now, what will they be in 7 years at a growth of 10% a year? Can rationing work? No, but it can slow the economy.

Stern concludes that Iran may need nuclear power as their energy supply is dwindling. I find this conclusion rather preposterous, since if they wanted more energy, all they would have to do is allow foreign investment or invest more of their own money in their own fields. If the developed world will simply apply firm sanctions, Iran will have to reconsider its nuclear program, as their ability to finance mischief will erode as the mullahs divert their resources to domestic needs in order to maintain their dwindling popularity.

The cost of their current policies cannot be lost on the youth and educated people of the country. There is almost 14% unemployment among college graduates. Iran looks to me like Russia did in 1988. They were in the process of self-destruction, although few recognized it at the time. Iran is a matter of time. 
28648  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: June 30, 2007, 05:54:18 AM

When possible please lets remember to use existing threads instead of starting a new one.

28649  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: June 30, 2007, 01:08:31 AM
The problem is that no one would agree on what is "fair".  The problem is the government imposing speech.

" I'm not sure how the "market" in the most liberal area of the country somehow decided that more than 60% of it's AM talk radio should consist of hard core right-wing shows."

That's the mystery of it all grin  That you (or I) do not understand it is irrelevant.  To think that we can is what Hayek called "the fatal conceit".

In this case you don't know how what is unfair and unbalanced would be decided; you don't who would decide it; and you don't know who gets to choose who gets represent the other side-- or even that there will only be two sides!-- and you want to put the government in charge anyway.


28650  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Nature on: June 29, 2007, 08:46:52 PM
The June 25th entry on David Gordon's blog has an awesome clip of a tiger ambushing an elephant with human riders.
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