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28651  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MoreDBMA self defense on DVD / Marc on: March 25, 2007, 06:15:15 AM
Woof All:

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

The Adventure continues,
Guro Crafty
28652  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Snaggletooth Variations: on: March 25, 2007, 06:08:56 AM
Now that the box for "Grandfathers 2: Maestro Sonny Umpad" is finished, this is front and center.
28653  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: March 25, 2007, 12:11:03 AM
Nice, lucid presentation by a qualified LEO on "assault weapons"

28654  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Help our troops/our cause: on: March 24, 2007, 09:40:30 PM
And here is an example of hurting our troops and our cause-- this from this weekend's WSJ:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

28655  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Interest in a DBMA Class in Redondo Beach? on: March 24, 2007, 09:33:46 PM
I have no idea about Rigan's schedule.  I do know that the school has recently changed managers, which could explain the non-response-- maybe you should try again?  Or better yet, come on by and see for yourself.

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

RE, please email me directly at 310-543-7521 and tell me about yourself.
28656  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Grandfathers Speak Vol. 2: Sonny Umpad on: March 24, 2007, 09:30:37 PM
Pretty Kitty has finished the bar coding on the box (this has been the hold-up), we are taking pre-orders and shipping is expected by April 20.  Thanks to one and all for you patience.
28657  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Looking for Teachers, Schools, and Training Partners on: March 24, 2007, 09:28:39 PM
Exactly like the name of the thread says:


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

Thanks in advance 


"He Who Sheds His Blood With Me Today, Shall Always Be My Brother"
28658  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: March 24, 2007, 09:10:55 PM


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

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

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

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

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

“Force Science News calls the gun show loophole a ‘media myth’,” Waldron said, “and that’s what gun rights activists have been saying for years. It’s time for the IACP leadership to acknowledge that gun laws don’t stop criminals, that they only restrict the rights of law-abiding citizens, and that gun shows are not the ‘arms bazaars for criminals’ as they have been portrayed.”
28659  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Humor/WTF on: March 24, 2007, 01:23:37 PM

*LBN-COMMENTARY By Joe Queenan: In one of the most depressing pieces of news to come along in years, the organization that presides over high school sports in Washington State is considering a ban on booing at sporting events. That's right, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association is evaluating guidelines for fan behavior that would not only prohibit offensive chants but would also outlaw booing. The organization is contemplating this measure not just because of concern that fan negativity is discouraging people from taking jobs as referees and coaches, but because, in the words of Mike Colbrese, the association's executive director, the very concept of booing needs to be re-evaluated. "I don't know why people think it's acceptable to boo in the first place," Mr. Colbrese told The Seattle Post-Intelligencer earlier this month. "It's a pretty novel concept to me." As a native of Philadelphia, a municipality whose passion for booing is unrivaled, I greet this news with a mixture of revulsion and dread. Philadelphia, coyly nicknamed the City of Brotherly Love, has a place in the national mythology as a city whose fans once booed Santa Claus at a Philadelphia Eagles game, a city where locals sometimes boo unsatisfactory airplane landings. Philly fans are famous not only for heaping abuse on visiting players, but for displaying even greater viciousness toward the pathetic home team. The idea that these fans might one day be denied the right to bear their fangs at gridiron Iscariots (former Eagles who now play for the despised Dallas Cowboys) or shriek at overpaid, underachieving Phillies (in other words, the team's current left fielder) is too heartbreaking to contemplate.
28660  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: KALI TUDO (tm) Article on: March 24, 2007, 11:29:26 AM
Woof Tom et al:

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

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

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


28661  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: June 2007 Gathering on: March 24, 2007, 02:22:47 AM
Yes, and all is well with what you said.  Email me again please.
28662  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: June 2007 Gathering on: March 24, 2007, 12:19:12 AM
War Dog just called me to say he is fighting!  cool
28663  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: March 23, 2007, 11:58:18 PM
Second post of the evening:

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

While Iran has much to gain in Iraq, it is also concerned by the splintering away of the Basra-based Fadhila party from the ruling Shiite coalition, the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA). The fracturing of the Shiite alliance hampers Tehran's ability to do business in Iraq, and Iran suspects the British, who are based in Basra, may be behind Fadhila's parting with the UIA. Going after British forces represents a low-cost operation in that the Iranians are unlikely to face any serious reprisal. And while the Iranians eventually will release the 15 British personnel, they will only do so after ensuring Tehran's message has been relayed.
28664  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: March 23, 2007, 11:37:01 PM

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

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

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

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

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

These attacks and al-Libi's appeal are signs of desperation on the part of the jihadists in Iraq. Al Qaeda realizes its influence in the country is waning and is appealing to Iraqi and foreign jihadists to concentrate their efforts on the common enemy, rather than on one another. That al-Libi made an appeal that normally would have come from al-Zawahiri or Osama bin Laden suggests he is being groomed to take on a more important role in al Qaeda.
28665  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: March 23, 2007, 10:59:19 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Afghan Taliban and Talibanization of Pakistan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Therefore, Pakistan's efforts to block Taliban activity in its territory while it seeks to use the Pashtun jihadist movement to gain a foothold in Afghanistan are not going to work.
28666  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Care Economics on: March 23, 2007, 10:34:03 AM
Republican Rx
GOP alternatives to HillaryCare.

Friday, March 23, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

28667  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Geo Political matters on: March 23, 2007, 10:33:25 AM
I too find Rick's analysis quite strong.  I think he is correct.
28668  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor, Rick Neaton on: March 23, 2007, 12:09:13 AM

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

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

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

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

Thomas Friedman who has a higher opinion of himself than I do of him, recently suggested that Pelosi is useful to Bush and Petraeus in that she and her howling horde serve the purpose of allowing Petraeus to put the heat on getting factions to work together and produce results lest the Dems get the upper hand and force us into bellicus interruptus.
28669  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Nuclear War? on: March 22, 2007, 11:57:58 PM
Japan, U.S.: Defense Contingencies and the Nuclear Question

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Japanese move toward possession of nuclear weapons would in the end be quiet, following more the Israeli path than the North Korean or Indian path. Tokyo has little need or intent to carry out open tests of nuclear devices, barring a significant change in the regional security situation, but it does want to ensure its own security -- and have its own leverage in dealing with its neighbors. Though there is a long way between capability and possession, the debates in Tokyo are making quite an impression in the region, with China, South Korea and North Korea watching intently to see if Japan moves from talk to action.
28670  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / What would you have done? on: March 22, 2007, 11:34:04 PM
The video clip with the article is amazing.  A 250 pound off-duty cop stomps 115 woman bartender for cutting him off:
28671  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: March 22, 2007, 11:24:06 PM
What Ails Mainstream Journalism
By Alyssa A. Lappen | March 22, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

3 The short list includes the Qur'an (preferably in multiple translations), aHadith, (Sahih Muslim, Sahih al-Bukhari, and others) Ibn Ishaq's Sira (the oldest extant biography of Muhammed), The Laws of Islamic Governance (Muhammed Mawardi--d. 1058); Reliance of the Traveller: The Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law Umdat (Ahmad Ibn Lulu Ibn Al-Naqib--d. 1368); Tafsir al-Qur'an al-Azim (Ibn Khatir's Qur'anic commentary), and historical summaries including The Legacy of Islamic Jihad: Islamic Holy War and the Fate of Non-Muslims (Dr. Andrew Bostom, 2005, Prometheus); Why I am Not a Muslim (Ibn Warraq, 1995, Prometheus); The Dhimmi: Jews and Christians Under Islam (Bat Ye'or, Farleigh Dickenson University, 1985); The Decline and Fall of Eastern Christianity Under Islam: From Jihad to Dhimmitude 7th-20th Century (Bat Ye'or, 1996, Farleigh Dickenson University Press) Eurabia: The Euro Arab Axis (Bat Ye'or, Farleigh Dickenson University, 2005).
28672  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mil-blogs: Michael Yon and others (support our troops) on: March 22, 2007, 08:52:24 PM

An American General threatens to kick me out of Iraq. To find out why, please click here to read a brief dispatch "RUBS."

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




This site is 100% reader supported. No advertisers, no bosses: Readers are the only Royalty here.
28673  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: March 22, 2007, 08:42:39 PM
SPIEGEL ONLINE - March 21, 2007, 04:16 PM

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

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

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

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

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

"The husband can beat his wife"

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further investigation

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

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

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

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

With reporting by Franziska Badenschier and Severin Weiland
28674  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Gay & Straight on: March 22, 2007, 06:32:03 PM
Sorry, this header got cut off:

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

By Bob Unruh
© 2007

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

28675  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Environmental issues on: March 22, 2007, 04:45:45 PM
While I certainly agree with you about Socialism/Communism, it reads to me here like they are actually dealing with factual specifics-- which I have seen referenced elsewhere by the way.  I know nothing about Hansen-- what can you tell us about him?
28676  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Environmental issues on: March 22, 2007, 03:39:05 PM

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

28677  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Interest in a DBMA Class in Redondo Beach? on: March 22, 2007, 03:25:22 PM
At the moment we are looking at a starting time of 1900 (i.e. 7 PM) and finishing 90 minutes later.   The class will be kept on the small side-- probably no more than 12.
28678  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: 10 man line-up, any advice? on: March 22, 2007, 03:23:43 PM
When doing lots of heavy sweating my suggestion is to make sure that your food and supplements (in that order by the way) are getting you the minerals you need, including trace minerals.  My layman's opinion is that organic foods tend to be distinctly superior in this regard (as well as others).
28679  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: March 22, 2007, 01:16:38 AM

Shaky Musharraf holds only the military card
By Syed Saleem Shahzad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Countdown to chaos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

28680  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / IBD: American Beslan? on: March 22, 2007, 01:15:16 AM
An American Beslan?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Parents should be outraged that Washington would continue to play politics with national security. Instead of using hearings to score partisan points, Congress would best serve constituents by using that power to investigate the terror threat to schools and how best to protect our children from attack.
28681  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: March 21, 2007, 07:35:33 PM
Mexico: The Cartel Responds to Calderon

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The cartels' tendencies to fight back and shift their operations will continue to manifest themselves as Calderon's anti-drug efforts proceed. But for all of Calderon's anti-cartel efforts in his short time in office, he has yet to encroach into the Sinaloa cartel's strongholds as effectively as he has other cartels' turf -- suggesting this game has much more room to play out.
28682  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / SPP: "Security and Prosperity Partnership"/United Nations on: March 21, 2007, 07:33:16 PM

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The working groups have produced a number of memorandums of understanding and trilateral declarations of agreement.
28683  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: March 21, 2007, 05:17:35 PM
Guy calls up a lawyer and says "I have two questions to ask, but only $500.  Can you help me out?"

"Sure!  What is your other question?"


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

A:  Chelsea.
28684  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: March 21, 2007, 05:15:40 PM

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

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


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

There are some nuances, which the author has missed and even a few inaccuracies. Hindu and Sikh Punjabis are the most outgoing and bold amongst Indians. Sikhism is a hinduism offshoot, where even in the same Hindu family it was common for one brother to become a sikh and the other remained hindu. Sikhs were the warriors historically speaking...that may explain their bold outgoing attitude. The reason for the lack of assimilation is characteristics of the religion/culture which Ballard talks about at the end of the article. Hindu Punjabi festivals are characterized by joy and energy ( e.g. Bhangra dance). Islam is a closed religion, where infidel is an everyday word. I am unaware of any celebratory muslim festival (music, dancing etc). Cousin marriage has nothing to do with it...
28685  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam the religion on: March 21, 2007, 11:28:44 AM

That bit by Abdo caught my attention too and Douglas Farah's point about the Muslim Brotherhood raises profoundly challenging questions-- they profess seeking Islamic domination via democracy.  What is the best response to that?

28686  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Geo Political matters on: March 21, 2007, 01:06:40 AM
Yet another fine read from

Geopolitics and the U.S. Spoiling Attack
By George Friedman

The United States has now spent four years fighting in Iraq. Those who planned the conflict never expected this outcome. Indeed, it could be argued that this outcome represents not only miscalculation but also a strategic defeat for the United States. The best that can be said about the war at the moment is that it is a strategic stalemate, which is an undesired outcome for the Americans. The worst that can be said is that the United States has failed to meet its strategic objectives and that failure represents defeat.

In considering the situation, our attention is drawn to a strange paradox that has been manifest in American foreign policy since World War II. On the one hand, the United States has consistently encountered strategic stalemate or defeat in particular politico-military operations. At those times, the outcomes have appeared to be disappointing if not catastrophic. Yet, over the same period of time, U.S. global power, on the whole, has surged. In spite of stalemate and defeat during the Cold War, the United States was more in 2000 than it had been in 1950.

Consider these examples from history:

Korea: Having defeated the North Korean army, U.S. forces were attacked by China. The result was a bloody stalemate, followed by a partition that essentially restored the status quo ante -- thus imposing an extended stalemate.

Cuba: After a pro-Soviet government was created well within the security cordon of the United States, Washington used overt and covert means to destroy the Castro regime. All attempts failed, and the Castro government remains in place nearly half a century later.

Vietnam: the United States fought an extended war in Vietnam, designed to contain the expansion of Communism in Indochina. The United States failed to achieve its objectives -- despite massive infusions of force -- and North Vietnam established hegemony over the region.

Iran: The U.S. containment policy required it to have a cordon of allies around the Soviet Union. Iran was a key link, blocking Soviet access to the Persian Gulf. The U.S. expulsion from Iran following the Islamic Revolution represented a major strategic reversal.

Iraq: In this context, Iraq appears to represent another strategic reversal -- with U.S. ambitions at least blocked, and possibly defeated, after a major investment of effort and prestige.

Look at it this way. On a pretty arbitrary scale -- between Korea (1950-53), Cuba (1960-63), Vietnam (1963-75), Iran (1979-1981) and Iraq (2003-present) -- the United States has spent about 27 of the last 55 years engaged in politico-military maneuvers that, at the very least, did not bring obvious success, and frequently brought disaster. Yet, in spite of these disasters, the long-term tendency of American power relative to the rest of the world has been favorable to the United States. This general paradox must be explained. And in the course of explanation, some understandings of the Iraq campaign, seen in a broader context, might emerge.

Schools of Thought

There are three general explanations for this paradox:

1. U.S. power does not rest on these politico-military involvements but derives from other factors, such as economic power. Therefore, the fact that the United States has consistently failed in major conflicts is an argument that these conflicts should not have been fought -- that they were not relevant to the emergence of American power. The U.S. preoccupation with politico-military conflict has been an exercise in the irrelevant that has slowed, but has not derailed, expansion of American power. Applying this logic, it would be argued that the Soviet Union would have collapsed anyway under its own weight -- as will the Islamic world -- and that U.S. interventions are pointless.

2. The United States has been extraordinarily fortunate that, despite its inability to use politico-military power effectively and its being drawn consistently into stalemate or defeat, exogenous forces have saved the United States from its own weakness. In the long run, this good fortune should not be viewed as strategy, but as disaster waiting to happen.

3. The wars mentioned previously were never as significant as they appeared to be -- public sentiment and government rhetoric notwithstanding. These conflicts drew on only a small fraction of potential U.S. power, and they always were seen as peripheral to fundamental national interests. The more important dimension of U.S. foreign policy was statecraft that shifted the burden of potential warfare from the United States to its allies. So, regardless of these examples, the core strategic issue for the United States was its alliances and ententes with states like Germany and China. Applying this logic, it follows that the wars themselves were -- practically speaking -- insignificant episodes, that stalemate and defeat were trivial and that, except for the domestic political obsession, none were of fundamental importance to the United States.

Put somewhat differently, there is the liberal view that the Soviet Union was not defeated by the United States in the Cold War, but that it collapsed itself, and the military conflicts of the Cold War were unnecessary. There is the conservative view that the United States won the Cold War in spite of a fundamental flaw in the American character -- an unwillingness to bear the burden of war -- and that this flaw ultimately will prove disastrous for the United States. Finally, there is the non-ideological, non-political view that the United States won the Cold War in spite of defeats and stalemates because these wars were never as important as either the liberals or conservatives made them out to be, however necessary they might have been seen to be at the time.

If we apply these analyses to Iraq, three schools of thought emerge. The first says that the Iraq war is unnecessary and even harmful in the context of the U.S.-jihadist confrontation -- and that, regardless of outcome, it should not be fought. The second says that the war is essential -- and that, while defeat or stalemate in this conflict perhaps would not be catastrophic to the United States, there is a possibility that it would be catastrophic. And at any rate, this argument continues, the United States' ongoing inability to impose its will in conflicts of this class ultimately will destroy it. Finally, there is the view that Iraq is simply a small piece of a bigger war and that the outcome of this particular conflict will not be decisive, although the war might be necessary. The heated rhetoric surrounding the Iraq conflict stems from the traditional American inability to hold things in perspective.

There is a reasonable case to be made for any of these three views. Any Stratfor reader knows that our sympathies gravitate toward the third view. However, that view makes no sense unless it is expanded. It must also take into consideration the view that the Soviet Union's fall was hardwired into history regardless of U.S. politico-military action, along with the notion that a consistent willingness to accept stalemate and defeat represents a significant threat to the United States in the long term.

Resource Commitments and Implications

Let's begin with something that is obviously true. When we consider Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, Iran and even Iraq, it is clear that the United States devoted only a tiny fraction of the military power it could have brought to bear if it wished. By this, we mean that in none of these cases was there a general American mobilization, at no point was U.S. industry converted to a wartime footing, at no point were nuclear weapons used to force enemy defeat. The proportion of force brought to bear, relative to capabilities demonstrated in conflicts such as World War II, was minimal.

If there were fundamental issues at stake involving national security, the United States did not act as though that was the case. What is most remarkable about these conflicts was the extreme restraint shown -- both in committing forces and in employing available forces. The conservative critique of U.S. foreign policy revolves around the tendency of the American leadership and public to recoil at the idea of extended conflict. But this recoil is not a response to extended war. Rather, by severely limiting the force available from the outset, the United States has, unintentionally, designed its wars to be extended. From this derives the conservative view that the United States engages in warfare without intending victory.

In each of these cases, the behavior of the United States implied that there were important national security issues at stake, but measured in terms of the resources provided, these national security issues were not of the first order. The United States certainly has shown an ability to mount full-bore politico-military operations in the past: In World War II, it provided sufficient resources to invade Europe and the Japanese empire simultaneously. But in all of the cases we have cited, the United States provided limited resources -- and in some cases, only covert or political resources. Clearly, it was prepared on some level to accept stalemate and defeat.

Even in cases where the enemy was engaged fully, the United States limited its commitment of resources. In Vietnam, for example, the defeat of North Vietnam and regime change were explicitly ruled out. The United States had as its explicit goal a stalemate, in which both South and North Vietnam survived as independent states. In Korea, the United States shifted to a stalemate strategy after the Chinese intervention. So too in Cuba after the Cuban missile crisis; and in Iran, the United States accepted defeat in an apparently critical arena without attempting a major intervention. In each instance, the mark of U.S. intervention was limited exposure -- even at the cost of stalemate or defeat.

In other words, the United States consistently has entered into conflicts in which its level of commitment was extremely limited, in which either victory was not the strategic goal or the mission eventually was redefined to accept stalemate, and in which even defeat was deemed preferable to a level of effort that might avert it. Public discussion on all sides was apoplectic both during these conflicts and afterward, yet American global power was not materially affected in the long run.

The Spoiling Attack

This appears to make no sense until we introduce a military concept into the analysis: the spoiling attack. The spoiling attack is an offensive operation; however, its goal is not to defeat the enemy but to disrupt enemy offensives -- to, in effect, prevent a defeat by the enemy. The success of the spoiling attack is not measured in term of enemy capitulation, but the degree to which it has forestalled successful enemy operations.

The concept of a spoiling attack is intimately bound up with the principle of economy of force. Military power, like all power, is finite. It must be husbanded. Even in a war in which no resources are spared, some operations do not justify a significant expenditure. Some attacks are always designed to succeed by failing. More precisely, the resources devoted to those operations are sufficient to disrupt enemy plans, to delay an enemy offensive, or to create an opportunity for political disruption of the enemy, rather than to defeat the enemy. For those tasked with carrying out the spoiling attack, it appears that they are being wasted in a hopeless effort. For those with a broader strategic or geopolitical perspective, it appears to be the proper application of the "economy of force" principle.

If we consider the examples cited above and apply the twin concepts of the spoiling attack and economy of force, then the conversion of American defeats into increased U.S. global power no longer appears quite as paradoxical. In Korea, spoiling Communist goals created breathing space elsewhere for the United States, and increased tension levels between China and Russia. A stalemate achieved outcomes as satisfactory to Washington as taking North Korea would have been. In Cuba, containing Fidel Castro was, relative to cost, as useful as destroying him. What he did in Cuba itself was less important to Washington than that he should not be an effective player in Latin America. In Vietnam, frustrating the North's strategic goals for a decade allowed the Sino-Soviet dispute to ripen, thus opening the door for Sino-U.S. entente even before the war ended. The U.S. interest in Iran, of course, rested with its utility as a buffer to the Soviets. Being ousted from Iran mattered only if the Iranians capitulated to the Soviets. Absent that, Iran's internal politics were of little interest to the United States.

If we apply the twin concepts to Iraq, it is possible to understand the reasons behind the size of the force deployed (which, while significant, still is limited relative to the full range of options brought to bear in World War II) and the obvious willingness of the Bush administration to court military disaster. The invasion four years ago has led to the Sunnis and Shia turning against each other in direct conflict. Therefore, it could be argued that just as the United States won the Cold War by exploiting the Sino-Soviet split and allying with Mao Zedong, so too the path to defeating the jihadists is not a main attack, but a spoiling attack that turns Sunnis and Shia against each other. This was certainly not the intent of the Bush administration in planning the 2003 invasion; it has become, nevertheless, an unintended and significant outcome.

Moreover, it is far from clear whether U.S. policymakers through history have been aware of this dimension in their operations. In considering Korea, Cuba, Vietnam and Iran, it is never clear that the Truman, Kennedy, Johnson/Nixon or Carter/Reagan administrations purposely set out to implement a spoiling attack. The fog of political rhetoric and the bureaucratized nature of the U.S. foreign policy apparatus make it difficult to speak of U.S. "strategy" as such. Every deputy assistant secretary of something-or-other confuses his little piece of things with the whole, and the American culture demonizes and deifies without clarifying.

However, there is a deep structure in U.S. foreign policy that becomes visible. The incongruities of stalemate and defeat on the one side and growing U.S. power on the other must be reconciled. The liberal and conservative arguments explain things only partially. But the idea that the United States rarely fights to win can be explained. It is not because of a lack of moral fiber, as conservatives would argue; nor a random and needless belligerence, as liberals would argue. Rather, it is the application of the principle of spoiling operations -- using limited resources not in order to defeat the enemy but to disrupt and confuse enemy operations.

As with the invisible hand in economics, businessmen pursue immediate ends without necessarily being aware of how they contribute to the wealth of nations. So too, politicians pursue immediate ends without necessarily being aware of how they contribute to national power. Some are clearer in their thinking than others, perhaps, or possibly all presidents are crystal-clear on what they are doing in these matters. We do not dine with the great.

But there is an underlying order to U.S. foreign policy that makes the apparent chaos of policymaking understandable and rational.
28687  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Dutch giving up on multi-culturalism? on: March 21, 2007, 12:33:52 AM
Lessons for Britain as Fearful Dutch Turn Their Backs on Multi-Cultural Society

David Paul – The Sunday Express December 20, 2004

Beside a giant Christmas tree in Amsterdam's Dam Square last night a Rastafarian was cheerfully selling lumps of cannabis to passers-by.

A few hundred yards away dozens of almost naked girls from all around the world were standing in floodlit shop windows selling their bodies to any man with £30 in his wallet.

Drugs and sex openly on sale are familiar scenes to anyone who has visited Amsterdam, whose residents have long adhered to the maxim "Leven en laten leven" or "Live and let live".

But beneath the surface, Dutch society, hailed for many years as a model of liberalism and racial tolerance, is in crisis.

And there are some disturbing lessons for Britain in the alarming breakdown in the social order of a European nation just a one-hour flight from London or Manchester.

Rising religious and ethnic violence has erupted across Holland, with attacks on immigrants and revenge attacks by them in response.

In just one week last month, more than 20 mosques, churches, Islamic and Christian schools were either petrol bombed or vandalised.

Half a dozen Dutch politicians accused of being "enemies of Islam" have received death threats. Two are deemed to be in such danger they are living in police safe houses.

The Speaker of the Dutch parliament, Jozias van Aartsen, said: "Holy war has come to the Netherlands."

Holland's educated, white middle class fear for the future, despite having an income per head that is higher than in any major country in Europe, and they are leaving their homeland in droves.

Last year, more people left The Netherlands than arrived as migrants or asylum seekers, for the first time since the end of the Second World War. In the first six months of this year, the net loss to Holland's population was 13,313 people.

Those leaving are engineers, nurses, computer experts, lawyers, accountants and businessmen.

They have had enough of the multiculturalism of Holland and are heading for the wide open - and, though few will publicly admit it, almost exclusively white-populated - lands of Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Just last month, Dutch immigration and integration minister Rita Verdonk, who is one of those to have received a death threat, admitted: "We were naive in thinking people would exist in society together." The chairman of the independent MigrationWatch UK pressure group , Sir Andrew Green, believes the Dutch "white flight" phenomenon may already have also begun in Britain, but because we have more space, people here still have the option to settle in different areas of the country, rather than move abroad.

"There is clear evidence from a recent survey by the London School of Economics that people are moving out of London at the rate of 100,000 a year, and people are leaving other city centres, " said Sir Andrew.

"It could be that this is a pattern similar to that developing in Holland.

We need more research into the reasons for these very significant movements."

The Office of National Statistics last month predicted a population boom in many areas of Britain, caused by immigrants. Numbers living in London and the South-east are forecast to swell by 15 per cent, to about 30million by 2028. The population of East Anglia will rise the most - by 16.8 per cent - with a 16.5 per cent increase in the South-west.

"Immigration now accounts for 85 per cent of our population growth, " Sir Andrew said. "These figures confirm there will be still further pressure on the south of England. London and the South are already twice as crowded as Holland, the most crowded country in continental Europe."

Home Office officials are monitoring the situation in Holland closely, while scores of British MPs have visited the Netherlands in recent months to see for themselves what has happened.

The wave of anti-Islamic violence in Holland is also being watched nervously in Germany, which is home to more than three million Muslims, most of them Turkish. Former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, caused outrage last month by saying that allowing the Turks who arrived in Germany as "gastarbeiter" or guest workers, to prop up the economy in the 1960s, had been a mistake.

The present Chancellor, Gerhard Schroder, has recently adopted a much tougher line on his country's immigrants, warning they must integrate better into German society.

But in the sleepy Dutch town of Alphen Aan Den Rijn, employment office worker Ibolya Fransen is not particularly interested in the debate about European states and multiculturalism. She just doesn't like having two mosques near her home.

"In some places 'white flight' is happening, " said Ibolya, a 35-year-old mother of two. "I don't live in an ethnic neighbourhood, but when you go to our big cities you think to yourself 'Where am I? I am the only person who speaks Dutch'.

"In Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague or Utrecht, there are places where immigration is out of hand.

They recreate their own country

They have their own shops, their own schools, their own places of worship.

"In my town, we have a population of 70,000, but we already have two mosques. In five years time it will be three or four. They will take over."

The facts back up Ibolya's argument to some extent. Dutch Government experts believe that by 2010 Rotterdam, Amsterdam, The Hague and Utrecht will have Muslim majorities.

Holland has a population of 16.2million, of which almost one in five is of foreign origin. White Dutch children are already the minority in four Dutch cities.

Fearful for their safety and convinced there is a better life to be had away from Holland, Ibolya, her oil engineer husband Marc, 37, and their two daughters Kinga, five, and eightmonth-old Odett, are emigrating to Alberta, Canada, in May next year.

Experts from the Buysse Immigration Consultancy are helping the Fransens to move abroad.

Last month the Buysse website had 13,000 inquiries from Dutch people seeking information on how to leave their country for good.

"I have seen what has happened to a civilised country like ours, and I think I will be happier somewhere else, " said Ibolya.

"If people in England believe they have the same problem, they should do the same as us.

"There is a growing intolerance of immigrants in Holland. It's a shame - the good ones will suffer because of the bad ones.

"The perception in Holland is that the immigrants are responsible for the increased violence."

The events of one Tuesday morning early last month convinced Ibolya she is right to quit her homeland.

Dutch artist and TV personality Theo Van Gogh, great-grandnephew of the painter Vincent Van Gogh, was cycling to work through the centre of Amsterdam when a Muslim extremist shot him eight times. As Van Gogh pleaded for his life, his attacker tried to chop off his head with a knife. The murder had seemingly been provoked by a film Mr Van Gogh had made, highlighting the treatment of women under Islam.

IBOLYA said: "After Van Gogh was murdered there were revenge attacks on mosques and Muslim schools. It has developed into a hate campaign.

"I don't want my daughters to end up in the middle of this fight.

The killers are attacking people in the streets, people are on the streets with knives and guns."

Van Gogh's murder followed the May 2002 assassination of Holland's firebrand homosexual politician Pim Fortuyn.

He was shot by a left-wing activist after denouncing the Netherlands' 30-year "experiment" with multiculturalism as a "disastrous error".

Mr Fortuyn launched a mass movement he said was to defend Holland's tolerant way of life from the radical Muslim clerics based in his country, who are often subsidised by Dutch taxpayers. He was killed just nine days before an election that might well have seen him become Prime Minister.

"When Pim Fortuyn was shot everyone said it was just a one off, " Ibolya said. "Now it's happening more and more. These Muslim extremists want their 15 minutes of fame. We've already got Dutch MPs living in hiding - this is crazy."

Ibolya is excited about the future she believes her family will enjoy 6,000 miles away from Holland.

"When you go to live in Canada as an immigrant you become part of the rest of the population there, " she said.

"But in Holland and elsewhere in Europe there is an Us and Them mentality. I think this is happening in England and Germany as well.

"People say we are turning our back on our country of birth, but we can't change things on our own.

The Netherlands has too many people and not enough space."
28688  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: March 20, 2007, 08:46:18 PM
How about a joke instead?

Man suggests anal sex to his wife.  Vociferously she turns him down. 

"Why not? After all, we're married"

"You wouldn't want to have a lawyer, would you?!?"
28689  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science on: March 20, 2007, 10:48:32 AM
Who Needs Nukes
Why the U.S. and other Western powers need to modernize their arsenals.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

The problem with nuclear weapons today can be summed up as follows: They are going out of fashion where they are needed most and coming into fashion where they are needed least.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair eked out what is likely to be the last significant legislative victory of his government on Thursday when parliament approved funds, over the objections of 88 Labour MPs, to begin design work on the next generation of ballistic missile nuclear submarines. Whether the subs and their missiles will actually be built remains a question for a future parliament to answer.

At nearly the same time, the Bush administration awarded a contract to the Lawrence Livermore Lab to design something called the Reliable Replacement Warhead--basically a retinkered version of the previously tested but never-deployed W89 warhead--to replace the current mainstays of the U.S. arsenal, particularly the 100-kiloton W76. But with Democrats in control of Congress, the RRW will surely face funding hurdles of its own. The New York Times has already chimed in with an editorial denouncing RRW as a make-work scheme for nuclear scientists based on the supposedly bogus rationale of " 'aging' warheads."

Too bad the Times didn't rely on its own fine reporting of the issue: "As warheads age," noted the paper's William J. Broad in a 2005 exposé, "the risk of internal rusting, material degradation, corrosion, decay and the embrittling of critical parts increases." Too bad, too, that British anti-nuclear activists fail to consider the dire consequences for their collective poodledom should they relinquish their independent deterrent.
Still, these ironies are of small account and at least the left maintains its scruples. No similar scruples inhibit the nuclear ambitions of other nations. Russia is fielding a new land-based missile called the Topol-M and building a new generation of ballistic-missile submarines. The Chinese are upgrading their land- and sea-based nuclear forces with multiple warheads and solid-fuel propulsion technology. Pakistan last month successfully tested its Shaheen-II ballistic missile, capable of lifting a nuclear payload to a range of 1,250 miles. Iran is reportedly within months of developing an industrial-scale uranium enrichment capacity of about 3,000 centrifuges, which in turn puts it on track to acquire a bomb's worth of fissile uranium by the end of 2008. The progress of North Korean arms is well known.

Why are the world's responsible powers in such doubt about the necessity of nuclear deterrence when the irresponsible are seeking as never before to enlarge or improve their store of weapons? One answer was offered in these pages in January by former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who noted that the 1970 Non-Proliferation Treaty committed non-nuclear powers not to develop weapons in exchange for a promise by the nuclear powers to "reduce and eventually abolish their arsenals." "If this reciprocity is not observed," he wrote, "then the entire structure of the treaty will collapse."

As a matter of rhetoric, Mr. Gorbachev is surely right, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would be clever to press the point when he makes an appearance before the U.N. Security Council later this month. As a matter of reality, the argument is wrong on facts and dangerously solipsistic: Messrs. Kim and Ahmadinejad have better reasons to seek nuclear weapons than pique at American (or British) "hypocrisy." As it is, both Russia and the U.S. have reduced their arsenals from Cold War peaks by as much as 80%--much of the reduction being achieved by the current administration--yet that has done little to incent rogue actors not to seek their own weapons of mass destruction.

A more serious objection to the American and British modernization plans is that they offer no realistic security against terrorism. Suppose al Qaeda detonates a nuclear bomb in Times Square. Suppose that the weapon was stolen from an old Soviet depot, meaning no "return address" for purposes of retaliation. Suppose, also, that al Qaeda threatens to detonate five other bombs if the U.S. does not meet a list of its demands. What use would deterrence be then? Against whom would we retaliate, and where?

This scenario does not invalidate the need for a nuclear deterrent: There would still be conventional opponents to deter, and it's odd that the people who tell us we can "contain" a nuclear Iran are often the same ones who insist we can forgo the means of containment. But the question of what to do after a nuclear 9/11 is something to which not enough thought has been given. We urgently need a nuclear doctrine--and the weapons to go with it--for the terrorist age. The RRW, which simply prolongs a Cold War nuclear posture through the year 2050, amounts to a partial solution at best.

What would a sensible deterrence strategy look like? "Even nihilists have something they hold dear that can be threatened with deterrence," says Max Singer, a collaborator of the great Cold War theorist Herman Kahn. "You need to know what it is, communicate it and be serious about it."

Would it hinder Islamist terrorists if the U.S.'s declared policy in the event of a nuclear 9/11 was the immediate destruction of Mecca, Medina and the Iranian religious center of Qom? Would our deterrent be more or less effective if we deployed a range of weapons, such as the maligned "bunker buster," the use of which a potential adversary might think us capable? How would the deployment of a comprehensive anti-ballistic missile shield alter the composition of a credible deterrent? Does it make sense to adhere to the NPT regime when that regime is clearly broken?
One needn't have answers to these questions to know it requires something more than pat moralizing about the terribleness of nuclear weapons or declaring the whole matter "unthinkable." Nothing is unthinkable. But whether the unthinkable remains the undoable depends entirely on our willingness to think clearly about it, and to act on our conclusions.

Mr. Stephens is a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board. His column appears in the Journal Tuesdays.
28690  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: March 20, 2007, 10:21:45 AM
Lawyer too-- in the year 1982 rolleyes  As I like to joke, I went from one form of aggression to another.
28691  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Diner Owner kills would-be robber on: March 20, 2007, 10:17:23 AM

Diner Owner Tells All After Killing Would-Be Robber

POSTED: 10:41 am EST March 9, 2007
A Philadelphia diner owner told all after he shot and killed a would-be robber and wounded another one on Thursday afternoon.

Jason Lee, 45, owner of Sunrise Breakfast in West Oak Lane, said he was not a hero, just a man trying to protect himself and those around him.

On Thursday morning, he shot and killed 20-year-old Cornell Toombs after he and 24-year-old Gary Williams pointed a gun at a diner employee, authorities said. The men demanded cash and threatened to open fire during the attempted robbery, Lee explained.

As the owner's wife stepped to action and started opening the cash drawer because the cashier was shaking too badly to do it, the store owner grabbed his registered gun and prepared himself for the worst.

One of the robbers fired at Lee, but missed. Lee shot Toombs in the head and pumped two bullets into Williams -- one in the face and another in the back, according to police.

Williams was listed in critical but stable condition on Friday morning, authorities said.

This wasn't the first time Lee was targeted. He was robbed twice in two others stores he owned. One of those times, he shot and killed a robber.

After shots were fired in his store on Thursday, a nearby witness grabbed his daughter's cell phone and captured the aftermath on the device's video recorder.
28692  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / La Guerra en Iraq on: March 20, 2007, 08:25:11 AM

Un sitio en espanol.  Acabo de comenzar leerlo y parece muy interesante:

28693  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Evolutionary biology/psychology on: March 20, 2007, 08:14:20 AM
Scientist Finds the Beginnings of Morality in Primate Behavior
 Illustration by Edel Rodriguez based on source material from Frans de Waal
Social OrderChimpanzees have a sense of social structure and rules of behavior, most of which involve the hierarchy of a group, in which some animals rank higher than others. Social living demands a number of qualities that may be precursors of morality. More 

Published: March 20, 2007

Some animals are surprisingly sensitive to the plight of others. Chimpanzees, who cannot swim, have drowned in zoo moats trying to save others. Given the chance to get food by pulling a chain that would also deliver an electric shock to a companion, rhesus monkeys will starve themselves for several days.

The Beginnings of Morality? Biologists argue that these and other social behaviors are the precursors of human morality. They further believe that if morality grew out of behavioral rules shaped by evolution, it is for biologists, not philosophers or theologians, to say what these rules are.

Moral philosophers do not take very seriously the biologists’ bid to annex their subject, but they find much of interest in what the biologists say and have started an academic conversation with them.

The original call to battle was sounded by the biologist Edward O. Wilson more than 30 years ago, when he suggested in his 1975 book “Sociobiology” that “the time has come for ethics to be removed temporarily from the hands of the philosophers and biologicized.” He may have jumped the gun about the time having come, but in the intervening decades biologists have made considerable progress.

Last year Marc Hauser, an evolutionary biologist at Harvard, proposed in his book “Moral Minds” that the brain has a genetically shaped mechanism for acquiring moral rules, a universal moral grammar similar to the neural machinery for learning language. In another recent book, “Primates and Philosophers,” the primatologist Frans de Waal defends against philosopher critics his view that the roots of morality can be seen in the social behavior of monkeys and apes.

Dr. de Waal, who is director of the Living Links Center at Emory University, argues that all social animals have had to constrain or alter their behavior in various ways for group living to be worthwhile. These constraints, evident in monkeys and even more so in chimpanzees, are part of human inheritance, too, and in his view form the set of behaviors from which human morality has been shaped.

Many philosophers find it hard to think of animals as moral beings, and indeed Dr. de Waal does not contend that even chimpanzees possess morality. But he argues that human morality would be impossible without certain emotional building blocks that are clearly at work in chimp and monkey societies.

Dr. de Waal’s views are based on years of observing nonhuman primates, starting with work on aggression in the 1960s. He noticed then that after fights between two combatants, other chimpanzees would console the loser. But he was waylaid in battles with psychologists over imputing emotional states to animals, and it took him 20 years to come back to the subject.

He found that consolation was universal among the great apes but generally absent from monkeys — among macaques, mothers will not even reassure an injured infant. To console another, Dr. de Waal argues, requires empathy and a level of self-awareness that only apes and humans seem to possess. And consideration of empathy quickly led him to explore the conditions for morality.

Though human morality may end in notions of rights and justice and fine ethical distinctions, it begins, Dr. de Waal says, in concern for others and the understanding of social rules as to how they should be treated. At this lower level, primatologists have shown, there is what they consider to be a sizable overlap between the behavior of people and other social primates.

Social living requires empathy, which is especially evident in chimpanzees, as well as ways of bringing internal hostilities to an end. Every species of ape and monkey has its own protocol for reconciliation after fights, Dr. de Waal has found. If two males fail to make up, female chimpanzees will often bring the rivals together, as if sensing that discord makes their community worse off and more vulnerable to attack by neighbors. Or they will head off a fight by taking stones out of the males’ hands.

Dr. de Waal believes that these actions are undertaken for the greater good of the community, as distinct from person-to-person relationships, and are a significant precursor of morality in human societies.

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Macaques and chimpanzees have a sense of social order and rules of expected behavior, mostly to do with the hierarchical natures of their societies, in which each member knows its own place. Young rhesus monkeys learn quickly how to behave, and occasionally get a finger or toe bitten off as punishment. Other primates also have a sense of reciprocity and fairness. They remember who did them favors and who did them wrong. Chimps are more likely to share food with those who have groomed them. Capuchin monkeys show their displeasure if given a smaller reward than a partner receives for performing the same task, like a piece of cucumber instead of a grape.

The Beginnings of Morality? These four kinds of behavior — empathy, the ability to learn and follow social rules, reciprocity and peacemaking — are the basis of sociality.

Dr. de Waal sees human morality as having grown out of primate sociality, but with two extra levels of sophistication. People enforce their society’s moral codes much more rigorously with rewards, punishments and reputation building. They also apply a degree of judgment and reason, for which there are no parallels in animals.

Religion can be seen as another special ingredient of human societies, though one that emerged thousands of years after morality, in Dr. de Waal’s view. There are clear precursors of morality in nonhuman primates, but no precursors of religion. So it seems reasonable to assume that as humans evolved away from chimps, morality emerged first, followed by religion. “I look at religions as recent additions,” he said. “Their function may have to do with social life, and enforcement of rules and giving a narrative to them, which is what religions really do.”

As Dr. de Waal sees it, human morality may be severely limited by having evolved as a way of banding together against adversaries, with moral restraints being observed only toward the in group, not toward outsiders. “The profound irony is that our noblest achievement — morality — has evolutionary ties to our basest behavior — warfare,” he writes. “The sense of community required by the former was provided by the latter.”

Dr. de Waal has faced down many critics in evolutionary biology and psychology in developing his views. The evolutionary biologist George Williams dismissed morality as merely an accidental byproduct of evolution, and psychologists objected to attributing any emotional state to animals. Dr. de Waal convinced his colleagues over many years that the ban on inferring emotional states was an unreasonable restriction, given the expected evolutionary continuity between humans and other primates.

His latest audience is moral philosophers, many of whom are interested in his work and that of other biologists. “In departments of philosophy, an increasing number of people are influenced by what they have to say,” said Gilbert Harman, a Princeton University philosopher.

Dr. Philip Kitcher, a philosopher at Columbia University, likes Dr. de Waal’s empirical approach. “I have no doubt there are patterns of behavior we share with our primate relatives that are relevant to our ethical decisions,” he said. “Philosophers have always been beguiled by the dream of a system of ethics which is complete and finished, like mathematics. I don’t think it’s like that at all.”

But human ethics are considerably more complicated than the sympathy Dr. de Waal has described in chimps. “Sympathy is the raw material out of which a more complicated set of ethics may get fashioned,” he said. “In the actual world, we are confronted with different people who might be targets of our sympathy. And the business of ethics is deciding who to help and why and when.”

Many philosophers believe that conscious reasoning plays a large part in governing human ethical behavior and are therefore unwilling to let everything proceed from emotions, like sympathy, which may be evident in chimpanzees. The impartial element of morality comes from a capacity to reason, writes Peter Singer, a moral philosopher at Princeton, in “Primates and Philosophers.” He says, “Reason is like an escalator — once we step on it, we cannot get off until we have gone where it takes us.”

That was the view of Immanuel Kant, Dr. Singer noted, who believed morality must be based on reason, whereas the Scottish philosopher David Hume, followed by Dr. de Waal, argued that moral judgments proceed from the emotions.

But biologists like Dr. de Waal believe reason is generally brought to bear only after a moral decision has been reached. They argue that morality evolved at a time when people lived in small foraging societies and often had to make instant life-or-death decisions, with no time for conscious evaluation of moral choices. The reasoning came afterward as a post hoc justification. “Human behavior derives above all from fast, automated, emotional judgments, and only secondarily from slower conscious processes,” Dr. de Waal writes.


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However much we may celebrate rationality, emotions are our compass, probably because they have been shaped by evolution, in Dr. de Waal’s view. For example, he says: “People object to moral solutions that involve hands-on harm to one another. This may be because hands-on violence has been subject to natural selection whereas utilitarian deliberations have not.”

The Beginnings of Morality? Philosophers have another reason biologists cannot, in their view, reach to the heart of morality, and that is that biological analyses cannot cross the gap between “is” and “ought,” between the description of some behavior and the issue of why it is right or wrong. “You can identify some value we hold, and tell an evolutionary story about why we hold it, but there is always that radically different question of whether we ought to hold it,” said Sharon Street, a moral philosopher at New York University. “That’s not to discount the importance of what biologists are doing, but it does show why centuries of moral philosophy are incredibly relevant, too.”

Biologists are allowed an even smaller piece of the action by Jesse Prinz, a philosopher at the University of North Carolina. He believes morality developed after human evolution was finished and that moral sentiments are shaped by culture, not genetics. “It would be a fallacy to assume a single true morality could be identified by what we do instinctively, rather than by what we ought to do,” he said. “One of the principles that might guide a single true morality might be recognition of equal dignity for all human beings, and that seems to be unprecedented in the animal world.”

Dr. de Waal does not accept the philosophers’ view that biologists cannot step from “is” to “ought.” “I’m not sure how realistic the distinction is,” he said. “Animals do have ‘oughts.’ If a juvenile is in a fight, the mother must get up and defend her. Or in food sharing, animals do put pressure on each other, which is the first kind of ‘ought’ situation.”

Dr. de Waal’s definition of morality is more down to earth than Dr. Prinz’s. Morality, he writes, is “a sense of right and wrong that is born out of groupwide systems of conflict management based on shared values.” The building blocks of morality are not nice or good behaviors but rather mental and social capacities for constructing societies “in which shared values constrain individual behavior through a system of approval and disapproval.” By this definition chimpanzees in his view do possess some of the behavioral capacities built in our moral systems.

“Morality is as firmly grounded in neurobiology as anything else we do or are,” Dr. de Waal wrote in his 1996 book “Good Natured.” Biologists ignored this possibility for many years, believing that because natural selection was cruel and pitiless it could only produce people with the same qualities. But this is a fallacy, in Dr. de Waal’s view. Natural selection favors organisms that survive and reproduce, by whatever means. And it has provided people, he writes in “Primates and Philosophers,” with “a compass for life’s choices that takes the interests of the entire community into account, which is the essence of human morality.”

28694  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / McCain and immigration on: March 20, 2007, 08:08:22 AM
Published: March 20, 2007
DES MOINES, March 17 — Immigration, an issue that has divided Republicans in Washington, is reverberating across the party’s presidential campaign field, causing particular complications for Senator John McCain of Arizona.

The topic came up repeatedly in recent campaign swings through Iowa by Mr. McCain and Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, another Republican who, like Mr. McCain, supports giving some illegal immigrants a path to citizenship, a position that puts them at odds with many other conservatives. Both candidates faced intensive questioning from voters on the issue, which has become more prominent in the state as immigrants are playing a larger and increasingly visible role in the economy and society.

“Immigration is probably a more powerful issue here than almost anyplace that I’ve been,” Mr. McCain said after a stop in Cedar Falls.

As he left Iowa, Mr. McCain said he was reconsidering his views on how the immigration law might be changed. He said he was open to legislation that would require people who came to the United States illegally to return home before applying for citizenship, a measure proposed by Representative Mike Pence, Republican of Indiana. Mr. McCain has previously favored legislation that would allow most illegal immigrants to become citizens without leaving the country.

Beyond whatever influence it has as the state whose caucuses kick off the presidential nominating contest, Iowa has become something of a laboratory for the politics of immigration. Not only is it a place where industries like meatpacking rely heavily on immigrant workers and where a once relatively homogenous population is confronting an influx of Hispanic residents, but the presidential candidates who are criss-crossing the state are also providing forums for Iowans to express their views and influence national policy.

On Saturday morning in Des Moines, Mr. Brownback stood for 30 minutes at a breakfast with Republicans as question after question — without exception — was directed at an immigration system that Iowans denounced as failing. “These people are stealing from us,” said Larry Smith, a factory owner from Truro and a member of the central committee of the state Republican Party.

Finally, Mr. Brownback, with a slight smile, inquired, “Any other topics that people want to talk about?”

“What are you going to do with illegal immigrants who come here and become criminals?” demanded Jodi Wohlenhaus, a Republican homemaker who lives outside Des Moines.

The debate on the campaign trail is both reflecting and feeding the politics of the issue in Washington. President Bush and the two parties in Congress have been engaged in a three-way negotiation that has pitted demands from many conservatives to concentrate first on improving border security against Mr. Bush’s call, backed by many Democrats, for a guest worker program that could include a right for some illegal workers to eventually get legal status.

The issue has become much more complicated as the presidential campaign has gotten under way, exposing the Republicans in particular to voters who are angry about what they see as porous borders, growing demands from immigrants on the social welfare and education systems and job losses that they link at least in part to a low-wage labor force coming over the border.

Mr. McCain, for example, appeared to distance himself from Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat with whom he formed an alliance last year on an immigration bill that stalled in Congress.

“What I’ve tried to point out is we couldn’t pass the legislation,” Mr. McCain said. “So we have to change the legislation so it can pass. And I’ve been working with Senator Kennedy, but we’ve also been working with additional senators, additional House members.”

Mr. McCain focused instead on the proposal by Mr. Pence, a conservative. “Pence has this touchback proposal,” Mr. McCain said at a news conference. “I said hey, let’s consider that if that’s a way we can get some stuff.”

Mr. McCain’s aides said his identification with Mr. Kennedy accounted for much of his political problem on the issue with conservatives. One of his rivals for the nomination, former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, has taken to attacking what he calls the McCain-Kennedy bill.

Mr. McCain has found himself particularly identified with this battle in no small part because he is from a border state that is deeply divided over immigration. The issue is not likely to recede, regardless of the outcome of the debate in Washington: The Republican field of presidential candidates includes Representative Tom Tancredo, a Colorado Republican who has based his campaign on an anti-immigration message and who will almost certainly participate in Republican presidential debates starting this spring.

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In a speech to conservatives in Washington two weeks ago, Mr. Romney said: “The current system is a virtual concrete wall against those who have skill and education, but it’s a wide open walk across the border for those that have neither. And McCain-Kennedy isn’t the answer.”

Mr. Romney did not always take that position. He was quoted in The Boston Globe in November 2005 describing Mr. McCain’s immigration initiatives as “reasonable proposals,” though he stopped short of endorsing them, the newspaper said.

A third major Republican contender, Rudolph W. Giuliani, former mayor of New York, has supported measures similar to the one Mr. McCain is pressing. Mr. Giuliani has yet to campaign in Iowa and has not been pressed on his views on immigration; he is scheduled to spend a week in Iowa at the beginning of April.

Mr. McCain’s aides said they were confident that he could overcome concerns among Iowa voters if he pointed to the enforcement mechanisms he supports, arguing that only about one-third of Republican primary voters have strong-line views on immigration. “How are we dealing with it?” said John Weaver, a senior adviser to Mr. McCain. “We’re facing it head-on. John’s position — and the president’s position — is widely supported by a vast majority of primary and caucus voters.”

Republicans have a tougher view than the general population on whether illegal immigrants should be deported, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll conducted this month. In that poll, 49 percent of Republican respondents said illegal immigrants who had lived in the United States for at least two years should be given a chance to keep their jobs and eventually apply for citizenship; 45 percent said they should be deported immediately. By contrast, among the general electorate, 59 percent said they should be allowed to apply for legal status, compared with 36 percent who said they should be deported.

The poll found that 31 percent of Republicans said immigration into the United States should be kept at its current level, 14 percent said it should be increased and a majority, 51 percent, said immigration should be decreased. Those figures were similar to the finding among the general population.

Other Republicans said they thought Mr. McCain’s identification with the push for easing immigration laws could prove to be among his greatest vulnerabilities. “Senator McCain will be hurt badly if he continues to support a bill like last time,” said Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama. “I think he’ll have a hard time defending that piece of legislation. I think it would be important for him to demonstrate that his position on immigration is not defined by the bill that he introduced last time.”

Nowhere does that appear to be more the case than here, a state crucial to Mr. McCain’s hopes of winning his party’s nomination. A front-page article in The Des Moines Register after the first day of Mr. McCain’s bus trip here focused on his defending his efforts on changing immigration laws.

Mr. Smith, the Republican Party central committee member, said Mr. McCain’s views on immigration had eliminated him as a contender in the view of many state Republicans.

“I have a hard time appreciating McCain’s position at all on this issue,” Mr. Smith said. “I feel he’s been extremely weak.”

“When I go county to county visiting 29 counties in my area, I believe almost without exception that immigration is that issue that puts fire in their eyes,” he said. “They just really are livid that we have allowed this to happen to the point it has.”

Mr. Brownback was reminded of that throughout the day on Saturday, including during his march in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade up Locust Avenue in Des Moines. “We need to build a fence,” Mike Clark, 38, a pig farmer, told Mr. Brownback as he walked alongside him. “We need to get them stopped.”

Mr. McCain’s suggestion that he might be open to Mr. Pence’s legislation requiring most workers to return home risks alienating business, a powerful constituency in the Republican Party.

“The business community has always been skeptical about any requirement to make workers leave the U.S. to obtain legal status,” said Laura Reiff, of the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition, which represents service industries. “We haven’t ruled a Pence-like touchback completely out of the question, but it would need to be an efficient, functional process.”

28695  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action on: March 20, 2007, 08:03:59 AM
I admit to feeling considerable anger with President Bush over his failure to up the size of the military several years ago.  In political terms he easily could have done so during the 2004 Presidential campaign when Sen. Kerry was calling for an increase of 40,000 IIRC.    Now, three years later, the increase he finally is asking for will be much harder to achieve and the hardship on the troops has been considerable.

The following is from the today's NY Times, always a suspect source, but the gist of the piece does not contradict my impressions from elsewhere.

FORT POLK, La., March 14 — For decades, the Army has kept a brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division on round-the-clock alert, poised to respond to a crisis anywhere in 18 to 72 hours.

Deployments, Brigade By Brigade Today, the so-called ready brigade is no longer so ready. Its soldiers are not fully trained, much of its equipment is elsewhere, and for the past two weeks the unit has been far from the cargo aircraft it would need in an emergency.

Instead of waiting on standby, the First Brigade of the 82nd Airborne is deep in the swampy backwoods of this vast Army training installation, preparing to go to Iraq. Army officials concede that the unit is not capable of getting at least an initial force of several hundred to a war zone within 18 hours, a standard once considered inviolate.

The declining readiness of the brigade is just one measure of the toll that four years in Iraq — and more than five years in Afghanistan — have taken on the United States military. Since President Bush ordered reinforcements to Iraq and Afghanistan in January, roughly half of the Army’s 43 active-duty combat brigades are now deployed overseas, Army officials said. A brigade has about 3,500 soldiers.

Pentagon officials worry that among the just over 20 Army brigades left in the United States or at Army bases in Europe and Asia, none has enough equipment and manpower to be sent quickly into combat, except for an armored unit stationed permanently in South Korea, several senior Army officers said.

“We are fully committed right now,” said Col. Charles Hardy of the Forces Command, which oversees Army training and equipping of troops to be sent overseas. “If we had a fully trained-up brigade, hell, it’d be the next one to deploy.”

The 82nd recently canceled its annual Memorial Day parade because most of its 17,000 soldiers are overseas. When the First Brigade, which got the rotating assignment as the ready brigade in December, leaves for Iraq over the summer, the 101st Airborne Division, at Fort Campbell, Ky., will take over responsibility for the ready brigade. But its soldiers are preparing to go to Iraq this year as well.

[Gen. Richard Cody, the Army vice chief of staff, told Congress in testimony on March 15 that with the demands of Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army does not have the time or the resources to prepare for most of the other missions it could potentially face.]

Military officials say that the United States, which has more than two million personnel in active and reserve armed forces, has a combat-tested force that could still emerge victorious if another major conflict arose. But the response would be slower, with more casualties, and would have to rely heavily on the Navy and Air Force, they said.

Despite tensions with Iran and North Korea, another crisis requiring troops does not appear imminent.

If ground forces were needed urgently, Army commanders said they could draw units quickly from Iraq and send them wherever they might be needed, rather than relying solely on the ready brigade to provide a fast reaction force.

The Pentagon can also draw on 28 combat brigades in the reserves, several of which the military is making plans to mobilize later this year or early next to relieve some of the strain. But those units face even deeper problems than the active duty brigades because of equipment and training shortfalls.

Altogether, Army officials said 23 brigades, including one National Guard brigade, are now deployed overseas. Once the reinforcements called for by the White House are in place, 17 Army combat brigades will be in Iraq and two in Afghanistan, Army officials said, along with four more deployed in various locations, including as peacekeepers in the Sinai desert.

In effect, the Army has become a “just in time” organization: every combat brigade that finishes training is sent back to Iraq or Afghanistan almost immediately. Equipment vital for protecting troops, like armored vehicles, roadside bomb jammers and night vision goggles, is rushed to Iraq as quickly as it is made, officials say.

The 2007 Pentagon budget includes $17.1 billion to reset Army equipment, with a separate fund of $13.9 billion in emergency funds to replace or repair gear damaged in combat. Even so, units at home preparing to deploy are facing equipment shortages and have all but given up preparing for anything other than their next tour in Iraq or Afghanistan.

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[“We do have shortages in the nondeployed forces,” General Cody conceded in his unusually candid testimony to Congress. There were not enough vehicles, radios and night vision gear, and there are “spot shortages” in weapons, he said, noting that those units constituted the nation’s strategic reserve.]

Deployments, Brigade By Brigade Later this year, the Army will probably be forced to send its first brigades back to Iraq with less than a year at home resting and training, senior Pentagon officials said. Another alternative, they said, would be to lengthen the tours in Iraq to 18 months from a year.

Army officials said no soldiers were sent overseas without adequate training and equipment. And they point to continued strong recruiting and retention numbers as proof that morale remains high.

But after insisting for years that one year at home is a minimum amount of time necessary to prepare a unit to conduct counterinsurgency operations, commanders now say that, by speeding up equipment overhauls and compressing training, they can do the job in 10 months or less.

Over time, the shortened training schedules will inevitably begin to affect the performance of troops in the field, some officers said.

Senior Pentagon officials worry about those deepening strains. Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sent a secret report to Congress last month that upgraded from “moderate” to “significant” the risk of failing in its mission that the military faces this year in carrying out tasks in Iraq, Afghanistan and any other hot spots that might emerge.

[“We have the best counterinsurgency army in the world, but they’re not trained for full-spectrum operations,” General Cody said in his testimony.]

The Marines, which are also heavily engaged in Iraq, are facing similar strains.

Fort Polk is one of the last stops many combat units make before deploying to Iraq. During the cold war, the installation trained soldiers to fight the Soviets in Europe. The 82nd, based in Fort Bragg, N. C., used to parachute into Louisiana to keep its airborne skills sharp, but that tradition has been abandoned.

Now, even though the terrain bears little resemblance to Iraq’s desertlike conditions, the emphasis is solely on preparing infantry units to handle the chaotic sectarian conflict and random violence they are likely to encounter there.

Within the 82nd’s current First Brigade, about 4 soldiers in 10 have done previous tours in Iraq, making preparations to go back easier, said Col. Charles Flynn, the brigade commander. Last week, the brigade was spread out throughout the wooded training area at Fort Polk, in an exercise that featured simulations of the kind of Iraqi villages and roadside bomb attacks that many soldiers had actually experienced in previous deployments.

But almost all are in new jobs. Lt. Col. Michael Iacobucci, now a battalion commander, had served as a battalion executive officer in the 82nd when it was in Iraq in 2003. After coming home, Colonel Iacobucci, who is from Albany, had moved with his family to Australia as part of a three-year military exchange program.

He rejoined the 82nd in August, eager to go back to Iraq, he said while driving in a Humvee through the mock Iraqi villages. Before units were actually preparing to go into combat, their performance at Fort Polk would be graded only when the two-week exercise was over, said Lt. Col. Arthur Kandarian, a trainer. Now, the lessons are frequently spelled out as they happen, to get soldiers ready faster.

“It was treated as more of a test, and it was a closed-book test,” he explained. “Now it’s a coaching situation because we’re in a war.”

Training is being compressed at almost every stage, Army officers said. Soldiers who before 2003 spent months in specialized courses and on firing ranges now take compressed classes taught by so-called mobile training teams and hone their weapons proficiency on simulators, Army officers said.

“The biggest problem I’m seeing is unfamiliarity with equipment,” said Capt. Christian Durham, an instructor at Fort Polk, who sees all the units that rotate through before heading to Iraq.

Meanwhile, the Army is struggling just to keep up with current troop demands. The five additional combat brigades ordered by President Bush in January will raise the total American force level in Iraq to 160,000 troops, including combat and support troops, by June. That has forced the Army to take steps to supply troops faster to maintain the higher force levels.

Two Army brigades, one at Fort Riley, Kan., and another at Ft. Hood, Tex., that were not scheduled to return to the combat rotation until 2008 were ordered in December to speed up preparations so they will be ready to deploy by October, said Lt. Col. Christian Kubik, a spokesman for the First Infantry Division.

The Pentagon also informed the 172nd Stryker Brigade, which returned in December from a 16-month tour in Iraq, that it had to be ready for possible deployment between October and December, according to Maj. Michael Blankartz, a brigade spokesman.

Normally, a brigade is given half a year to overhaul its equipment, but the Alaska brigade, now part of the 25th Infantry Division, has only four months, he said. The timetable for preparing its troops is even more accelerated.

Roughly two-thirds of the brigade’s 3,300 soldiers are rotating to other units around the Army, as is customary after a deployment, Major Blankartz said. Their replacements are not scheduled to arrive until July and August, he said, leaving only one or two months before the Army wants the brigade prepared.

28696  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: March 20, 2007, 07:55:08 AM
Russia's shift on this is a most welcome development.

The matter of the anti-aircraft missiles that they have sent/will send? seems to have fallen off the radar screen.  Does anyone know the current status of this matter?


Russia Gives Iran Ultimatum on Enrichment
Published: March 20, 2007

PARIS, March 19 — Russia has informed Iran that it will withhold nuclear fuel for Iran’s nearly completed Bushehr power plant unless Iran suspends its uranium enrichment as demanded by the United Nations Security Council, European, American and Iranian officials say.

The ultimatum was delivered in Moscow last week by Igor S. Ivanov, the secretary of the Russian National Security Council, to Ali Hosseini Tash, Iran’s deputy chief nuclear negotiator, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because a confidential diplomatic exchange between two governments was involved.

For years, President Bush has been pressing President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to cut off help to Iran on the nuclear power plant that Russia is building at Bushehr, in southern Iran. But Mr. Putin has resisted. The project is Tehran’s first serious effort to produce nuclear energy and has been very profitable for Russia.

Recently, however, Moscow and Tehran have been engaged in a public argument about whether Iran has paid its bills, which may explain Russia’s apparent shift. But the ultimatum may also reflect an increasing displeasure and frustration on Moscow’s part with Iran over its refusal to stop enriching uranium at its vast facility at Natanz.

“We’re not sure what mix of commercial and political motives are at play here,” one senior Bush administration official said in Washington. “But clearly the Russians and the Iranians are getting on each other’s nerves — and that’s not all bad.”

A senior European official said: “We consider this a very important decision by the Russians. It shows that our disagreements with the Russians about the dangers of Iran’s nuclear program are tactical. Fundamentally, the Russians don’t want a nuclear Iran.”

At a time of growing tensions between Washington and Moscow, American officials are welcoming Russian support on the situation with Iran as a sign that there are still areas in which the two powers can cooperate.

Russia has been deeply reluctant to ratchet up sanctions against Iran in the Security Council, which is expected to vote on a new set of penalties against the country within the next week.

But American officials have been trying to create a commercial incentive for Russia to put pressure on Iran. One proposal the Bush administration has endorsed since late 2005 envisions having the Russians enrich Iran’s uranium in Russia. That creates the prospect of tens or hundreds of millions of dollars in business for Russia, and a way to ensure that Iran receives only uranium enriched for use in power reactors, instead of for use in weapons.

Iran has rejected those proposals, saying it has the right to enrich uranium on its own territory.

The Russian Atomic Energy Agency, or Rosatom, is eager to become a major player in the global nuclear energy market. As Security Council action against Iran has gained momentum and Iran’s isolation increases, involvement with the Bushehr project may detract from Rosatom’s reputation.

In a flurry of public comments in the past month, Russian officials acknowledged that Russia was delaying the delivery of fuel to the reactor in the Iranian port city of Bushehr. It blamed the decision on the failure of Iran to pay what it owes on the project, not on concerns about nuclear proliferation.

But last month, Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov informed some European officials that Russia had made a political decision not to deliver the fuel, adding that Russia would state publicly that the sole reason was financial, European officials said.

And then last week, a senior Iranian official confirmed in an interview that Mr. Ivanov had threatened Iran with an ultimatum: The fuel would be delivered only after Iran’s enrichment of uranium at Natanz was frozen.

Members of the Security Council are moving toward a vote this week on a draft resolution imposing further sanctions on Iran for its defiance of demands that it suspend enrichment activities and return to negotiations over its nuclear program.

The resolution focuses on the country’s arms exports, a leading Iranian bank and the elite Revolutionary Guards military force. It will reduce Iran’s access to foreign currency and isolate the bank, Bank Sepah, from international financing.

The United States State Department has granted visas to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran and a retinue of 38 aides and security staff so that he can address the Security Council meeting.

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Throughout the negotiations, the Russians tried to water down the resolution, a reflection of both their desire to avoid a backlash in Iran and their strong skepticism about the effectiveness of sanctions.

The pending resolution follows a similar one passed in December that required four months of negotiations, in large part because of Russia’s resistance. Russia’s support came only after an initial proposal, which would have imposed curbs on Bushehr, was dropped.

Russian officials have gone out of their way to not publicly link the Bushehr project and the crisis over Iran’s decision to forge ahead with producing enriched uranium, which, depending on the level of enrichment, can be used to produce electricity or make weapons.

In remarks on Sunday, for example, Mr. Ivanov said there should be no linkage between discussions on Iran’s nuclear program and the Bushehr plant. “It is a separate issue,” he told a conference of Russia’s Foreign and Defense Policies Council. He added, “All the work being done is under strict control of the International Atomic Energy Agency,” the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog agency based in Vienna.

He also cautioned against using possible nuclear sanctions for other purposes, saying, “We oppose attempts to use this issue as an instrument of pressure or interference in Iran’s internal affairs.”

But Mr. Ivanov also called on Iran to resolve outstanding questions with the agency about its nuclear program and to stop enriching uranium. The Russians have been pressing Iran to take some sort of pause in its uranium enrichment that might allow the Security Council sanction process to halt and bring Iran back to the negotiating table.

“The clock must be stopped; Iran must freeze uranium enrichment,” Mr. Ivanov said. “The U.N. Security Council will then take a break, too, and the parties would gather at the negotiating table.”

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, has also called for a “pause,” noting that even a brief suspension of enrichment would be enough to get the United States to the negotiating table with Iran under an offer that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made in May.

The Bushehr nuclear project has a long history. For more than a decade, Russia has been working under a $1 billion contract to complete the plant, which began with Germany during the time of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. After the 1979 revolution, the project was halted; then the site was bombed by Iraq during its eight-year war with Iran. When Iran decided to complete the facility after the war ended, Germany, under pressure from the United States, refused to finish it, or even provide Moscow with the original blueprints.

The project — already eight years behind schedule — is now almost complete. Last year, Russia agreed to ship low-enriched fuel to the plant by March 2007 and start it in September, with electricity generation to start by November.

But in mid-February, Russia said Iran had not made the last two $25 million monthly payments after insisting that it be allowed to pay in euros instead of dollars. Russian officials cited a delay in the delivery of safety equipment from an unspecified third country as another reason for the decision.

Iranian officials denied that payments had been delayed. “Iran has had no delay whatsoever in making payments for the Bushehr nuclear power plant,” Mohammad Saeedi, deputy head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, was quoted by Iran’s state-run news agency IRNA as saying after the Russian claim.

“We would be crazy at this late date to endanger the project by not paying,” the official said. “There is no financial problem. The Russians want to use this issue as a bargaining chip.”

28697  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: March 20, 2007, 02:18:06 AM
Born and raised a New York City Jew , , , and now look at me  evil grin
28698  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dog Brothers East Cost Seminar featuring Guro Marc “Crafty Dog” Denny on: March 20, 2007, 01:49:28 AM
Woof All:

Over on the DBMA Association forum Dog Ryan shared a clip of his drumming-- he's very good!  Apparently he played professionally for some years and so to provide music for the training he will be providing a djembe drum for me to back him on his.  This could be amusing , , ,  cheesy

The Adventure continues,
Guro Crafty
28699  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Seminar in Manassas VA on March 17 and 18 on: March 20, 2007, 01:46:41 AM
On Sunday we did Kali Tudo and went in depth into the Dog Catcher.

I had a fine time-- which includes good conversation at lunch and dinner.  They must have had a good time too--we are now looking to schedule the next seminar in October.

28700  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: June 2007 Gathering on: March 20, 2007, 01:45:01 AM
In Dog Brothers lore, we speak of the founding of the Dog Brothers in Ramblas Park in San Clemente in 1988 (The Rumble in Ramblas).  With one or two exceptions, everyone there fought about 7 fights a day for three consecutive days.  On day one, it was hard sparring.  By day three it was hard fighting.  One fighter who showed up on the third day was definitely at a disadvantage.  Salty has spoken of the importance of having a period where one does a lot of fighting and getting to the point where it seems normal. 

Amongst the many things I have always admired about Top Dog was the number of fights he could take in a day.  Back in 2001 in his seventh fight of the day he fought a very formidable man who had had only one easy fight.

Salty Dog too was capable of a very high number of fights in one day.  He and Top Dog would go at it in Santa Fe NM or Long Beach CA for consecutive days.  Very impressive.

For me, 4-5 was a good number, but this often dropped to 3 when Top and Salty were on sabbatical for several years and not only did I have to guide the Gathering (e.g. this group was feeling testy with that group, someone was sneaking videos, etc) but I was Ringmaster, coaching my students and fighting as the "name" fighter for the DBs.
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