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28701  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: December 08, 2006, 01:44:26 AM
Reliability of this source is unknown. 


Spy Death Tied To American Hiroshima?
By Paul L. Williams, Ph.D. and Lee Boyland
Source - Family Security Matters

The death of Alexander Litvinenko by radiological poisoning points to the possibility that the former Soviet spy may have been involved with Islamic terrorists in the preparation of tactical nuclear weapons for use in the jihad against the United States and its NATO allies.

Litvenenko, a former KGB agent, died in London on November 23 after ingesting a microscopic amount of polonium-210. In a deathbed statement, Litvinenko blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin for the poisoning - - an accusation which the Kremlin has vehemently denied. The denial is fortified by the fact that polonium-210 is a very rare radiological substance that is man-made by bombarding Bismuth-209 with neutrons within a nuclear reactor.

It is expensive to produce and difficult to handle. When Russian officials resorted to nuclear poisoning in the past - - including the assassination of two Swiss intelligence officials who were engaged with Russia and South Africa in the nuclear black market - - they relied on such readily available radiological substances as cesium-137 in salt form. According to nuclear expert David Morgan, killing a spy or political dissident with a grain or two of polonium-210 is as ludicrous as shooting a rat with a howitzer.

Litvinenko, who was born an orthodox Christian, was a convert to Islam with close ties to the Chechen rebels. His last words consisted of his desire to be buried “according to Muslim tradition.”

In recent years, considerable attention has been paid to suitcase nukes that were developed by U.S. and Soviet forces during the Cold War. Reliable sources, including Hans Blix of the United Nation, have confirmed that bin Laden purchased several of these devises from the Chechen rebels in 1996. According to Sharif al-Masri and other al Qaeda operatives who have been taken into custody, several of these weapons have been forward deployed to the United States in preparation for al Qaeda’s next attack on American soil.

This brings us to the mysterious case of Litvinenko.

The neutron source or “triggers” of the suitcase nukes are composed of beryllium-9 and polonium-210. When these two elements are combined, the alpha particle is absorbed by the nucleus of the beryllium causing it to decay by emitting a neutron. Such “triggers” were a feature of early nuclear weapons in the U.S. and Soviet stockpiles.

Polonium-210 has a half-life of 138 days, necessitating the replacement of the triggers every six months. For this reason, the suitcase nukes are far from maintenance-free. In addition, the nuclear core of these devises emit a temperature in excess of one hundred degrees Fahrenheit - - further exposing the weapons to oxidation and rust. Small wonder that al Qaeda operatives including Adnan el-Shukrijumah, who are spearheading “the American Hiroshima” have received extensive training in nuclear technology.

Polonium-beryllium triggers are packaged in foil packs about the size of a package of sugar on a restaurant table. When the twin foil packages are crushed, the elements mix and the neutrons are emitted. A courier transporting nuclear triggers could have had a mishap causing the packages to rupture and a trail of contamination to occur.

Polonium-210 is a fine powder, easily aerosolized. Litvinenko could have inhaled the powder, or had a grain or two on his fingers when he ate the sushi.
28702  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Environmental issues on: December 07, 2006, 10:24:10 PM

You were doing really well until the last section.  grin

Starting this up again:

BUZ: My goal is stated above: to provide folks I respect a source for alternative information, among other things. As best I can tell, your goal is to shout me down or, failing that, tie me up in circular arguments, or failing that, convince Crafty I’m such a rotten fellow I should be shown the door.
MILT: I have no idea what you're talking about.  I haven't shouted you down, presented circular arguments, or ever complained to Crafty about you or anyone else.

does not qualify as "start(ing) with a clean slate."  PLEASE, EVERYONE (Milt, Buz and everyone) let it go and PROCEED FORWARD FROM HERE.   

Lets have that great conversation that is just begging to be had.

Hugs to everyone,
28703  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Wolves, Dogs and other canines on: December 07, 2006, 05:34:44 PM
ALDEN, N.Y. -- An elderly couple's dog helped save them from freezing to death during a surprise storm by digging a 20-foot tunnel through the snow.

The snowstorm fell in the Buffalo, N.Y., area in October. Eve Fertig, 81, and her husband, Norman, were taking care of injured birds in a wildlife sanctuary on their Alden property when it hit.

The storm intensified and the couple became trapped by falling trees and heavy snow.

"It just started piling up," Eve Fertig said. "I said, 'Norman, we can't stay here, we'll die.'"

The couple's 160-pound German shepherd-timber wolf mix, Shana, started digging under the trees and through the snow. She dug a 1-foot-wide tunnel 20 feet back to their home.

Shana then came back to Eve and Norman and barked. When the couple hesitated, Shana wouldn't give up. She grabbed Eve Fertig's jacket with her mouth. They all went through the tunnel.

"It was quite a distance," Eve Fertig said. "We get out and she pulls us out. We got on the back deck, got the back door open and we fell inside. And we laid there all night."

Shana, rescued as a neglected puppy from an apparent puppy mill operation, now has a hero's plaque and an honorary fire helmet from firefighters who later checked on the Fertigs.

Shana's hero award for bravery came from the group Citizens for Humane Animal Treatment.
28704  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: December 07, 2006, 05:30:51 PM

I'd like to see that when it comes out.
28705  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Environmental issues on: December 07, 2006, 04:10:56 PM

Dad here.  You are so close to actually having a great conversation that it would be a shame to allow the very human temptation to slip in witty zingers ruin things.

I would like to suggest simply taking a clean slate from here forward.

Daddy Dog


I appreciate your point about science is science, no matter who pays for it-- but for us less than fully educated civilians who lack the education to confidently break down stuff that frankly often goes right over our head with nary a look back, it can leave us with an uneasy feeling to see interested money behind the science.  I appreciate, and perhaps Milt underappreciates, that there is money behind the ethos of the Ecos too, but perhaps a moment of reflection will remind you that there are four functions: thinking; feeling; sensation; and intuition and each person has one as a dominant modality.  You are a thinker, which is only 10% of the population.  If I may, the trick for you is to identify the principle modality of non-thinkers and have techniques to effectively communicate with them.  Quick, which type is Milt?

Anyway, lets everyone start with a clean slate-- there is a good conversation to be had here.

28706  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: December 07, 2006, 12:10:17 PM

Link to :


an excerpt…What is Functional Medicine?
Functional medicine is a science-based field of health care that is grounded in the following principles:

Biochemical individuality describes the importance of individual variations in metabolic function that derive from genetic and environmental differences among individuals.
Patient-centered medicine emphasizes "patient care" rather than "disease care," following Sir William Osler’s admonition that "It is more important to know what patient has the disease than to know what disease the patient has."
Dynamic balance of internal and external factors.
Web-like interconnections of physiological factors – an abundance of research now supports the view that the human body functions as an orchestrated network of interconnected systems, rather than individual systems functioning autonomously and without effect on each other. For example, we now know that immunological dysfunctions can promote cardiovascular disease, that dietary imbalances can cause hormonal disturbances, and that environmental exposures can precipitate neurologic syndromes such as Parkinson’s disease.
Health as a positive vitality – not merely the absence of disease.
Promotion of organ reserve as the means to enhance health span.
Functional medicine is anchored by an examination of the core clinical imbalances that underlie various disease conditions. Those imbalances arise as environmental inputs such as diet, nutrients (including air and water), exercise, and trauma are processed by one’s body, mind, and spirit through a unique set of genetic predispositions, attitudes, and beliefs. The fundamental physiological processes include communication, both outside and inside the cell; bioenergetics, or the transformation of food into energy; replication, repair, and maintenance of structural integrity, from the cellular to the whole body level; elimination of waste; protection and defense; and transport and circulation. The core clinical imbalances that arise from malfunctions within this complex system include:

Hormonal and neurotransmitter imbalances
Oxidation-reduction imbalances and mitochondropathy
Detoxification and biotransformational imbalances
Immune imbalances
Inflammatory imbalances
Digestive, absorptive, and microbiological imbalances
Structural imbalances from cellular membrane function to the musculoskeletal system
Imbalances such as these are the precursors to the signs and symptoms by which we detect and label (diagnose) organ system disease. Improving balance – in the patient’s environmental inputs and in the body’s fundamental physiological processes – is the precursor to restoring health and it involves much more than treating the symptoms. Functional medicine is dedicated to improving the management of complex, chronic disease by intervening at multiple levels to address these core clinical imbalances and to restore each patient’s functionality and health. Functional medicine is not a unique and separate body of knowledge. It is grounded in scientific principles and information widely available in medicine today, combining research from various disciplines into highly detailed yet clinically relevant models of disease pathogenesis and effective clinical management.

Functional medicine emphasizes a definable and teachable process of integrating multiple knowledge bases within a pragmatic intellectual matrix that focuses on functionality at many levels, rather than a single treatment for a single diagnosis. Functional medicine uses the patient’s story as a key tool for integrating diagnosis, signs and symptoms, and evidence of clinical imbalances into a comprehensive approach to improve both the patient’s environmental inputs and his or her physiological function. It is a clinician’s discipline, and it directly addresses the need to transform the practice of primary care.
"What is Functional Medicine?" Click here to download a printer-friendly summary.
28707  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: December 07, 2006, 12:08:09 PM
Jewish World Review Dec. 1, 2006 / 10 Kislev, 5767

These terror busters mix motorcycles and swagger

By Ned Warwick

"No one messes with Yasam, especially the ones on the bikes," says an East Jerusalem Arab | (MCT)


ERUSALEM — What looms suddenly in your rearview mirror and is past you in a streak on the stone slip of a darkened street is crime-fighting Israeli-style: two men, dressed in black, bent low on a dark motorcycle, the one behind with his automatic rifle angled off his back, the bike darting quick as a bat.

A moment later up ahead, near the Ben Yehuda shopping area in the center of Jerusalem, a man is up against a wall, dressed in clothes that resemble what a Hasidic Jew would wear, but in a faintly raffish way that doesn't quite square with the sober probity of Hasidism. The backseat rider from the motorcycle is frisking him; the driver, still atop his bike, is reaching for the man's identification.

The man is eventually let go but not before he is closely questioned. He has just had his first, and he hopes his last, brush with the motorcycle unit of Yasam, an elite police unit.

In a city that has experienced war, terrorism, and its share of crime, the sight of these fast-moving patrols elicits little reaction. But for newcomers, the first impression is of something straight from a thriller or a gritty science-fiction tale.

Their low-slung KLE 550 motorcycles are powerful and highly maneuverable, the right specs for threading the clogged and narrow streets of this edgy city at high speed.

And speed was of the essence one night in the summer of 2002, when, at the height of the intifada, a Palestinian militant started firing automatic weapons at pedestrians on busy Jaffa Street. A two-man Yasam team, blocks away, heard the gunfire and raced to the scene.

Jumping off their bike, the officers confronted the gunman. Shots were exchanged as pedestrians flattened on the sidewalk; the gunman was killed.

Tzvika Hassia, the superintendent of the Jerusalem Yasam force, said 24 members of his 80-person unit "ride and fight from motorbikes and are meant to answer (to) special criminal or terrorist acts quickly, getting to where cars can't go." Israel is divided into six police districts, and each has a Yasam unit.

To even be considered for the Yasam unit, applicants must have served in one of Israel's military combat units and been highly rated. Given that Israel has had precious few days without conflict, that means nearly all have seen action.

Their dark clothes, their no-nonsense bikes, and a certain common swagger make them stand out in a country where many people wear uniforms and carry guns.

"In my opinion, they are awesome," said Ya'akov Brod, 24, a security guard for the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf coffeehouse on Jaffa Street near Zion Square. "They are like the best of the best. Although they are police - if you ask me - they are part of the army."

On the narrow, twisting streets of hilly Jerusalem, accidents on the bikes are unavoidable.

"At the speeds we go, there is no way to avoid them," said Alon Weinstein, 31, who joined Yasam 2 ½ years ago after serving in an army reconnaissance unit.

"You have to like motorcycles. You live your life on them," he said, grinning and cradling his M-16. "But this is the best place to be."

The men on each team rotate as the driver and the firepower on the back. They carry M-16s and 9mm handguns. While the units were created - beginning in Jerusalem - during the 1990s to deal with terrorism and then the intifada and the upsurge in suicide bombers, they are no less busy since the intifada gave out and the suicide attacks became rare, a police spokesman said.

While declining to give statistics, spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said, the units are still stopping militant Palestinians trying to commit terrorist acts. Much of the units' activity on that front takes place without publicity, he said.

In Arab East Jerusalem, feelings toward the Yasam unit are not as warm as those held elsewhere. In fact, none of the shopkeepers interviewed along Salah Eddin Street had a good word for the unit, calling it anti-Arab.

"No one messes with Yasam, especially the ones on the bikes," said Amr Sandouka, 25, who works in the family business selling electronics equipment. "They are rude, violent, and have a license to kill."

"It is shocking to hear those words," Rosenfeld said. "Yasam is the most advanced operational unit in the police that has stopped tens of terrorist attacks and hundreds of criminal acts."
28708  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pearl Harbor: December 7, 1941 on: December 07, 2006, 11:23:28 AM

A day to be remembered.

28709  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Islamic Countries: on: December 07, 2006, 09:56:49 AM
Somalia Town Threatens to Behead People Who Don't Pray 5 Times Daily

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

MOGADISHU, Somalia — Residents of a southern Somalia town who do not pray five times a day will be beheaded, an official said Wednesday, adding the edict will be implemented in three days.
Shops, tea houses and other public places in Bulo Burto, about 124 miles northeast of the capital, Mogadishu, should be closed during prayer time and no one should be on the streets, said Sheik Hussein Barre Rage, the chairman of the town's Islamic court. His court is part of a network backed by armed militiamen that has taken control of much of southern Somalia in recent months, bringing a strict interpretation of Islam that is alien to many Somalis.

Those who do not follow the prayer edict after three days have elapsed, "will definitely be beheaded according to Islamic law," Rage told The Associated Press by phone. "As Muslims we should practice Islam fully, not in part, and that is what our religion enjoins us to do."
He said the edict, which covered only Bulo Burto, was being announced over loudspeakers throughout the town.
Somalia's Islamic courts have made varying interpretations of Koranic law, some applying a more strict and radical version of Islam than others. Some of the courts have introduced public executions, floggings of convicts, bans on women swimming in Mogadishu's public beaches and on the sale and chewing of khat, a leafy stimulant consumed across the Horn of Africa and in the Middle East.

After complaints about the lack of consistency from residents in the capital, Mogadishu, the umbrella Council of Islamic Courts set up an appeals court with better educated judges in October.
28710  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The English Language on: December 07, 2006, 01:22:52 AM
Language Guardian
An online journal fights for clear, expressive English.

Thursday, December 7, 2006 12:01 a.m. EST

If there is a better losing cause than the fight against slovenly language, I am unaware of it. The first rule of language is change, but why, those of us who have signed up for the fight never cease wondering, does 80 or so percent of this change seem to be for the worse?

Why, for example, do we need the word "icon" to describe hugely successful performers in show business, sports and elsewhere? We began with "star," which was replaced with "superstar"; and when it was discovered that too many superstars were floating around, icon was called in. After icon is used up, we shall, no doubt, have to go straight to "god."

I am myself writing a little book on Fred Astaire for a series of books called American Icons. When I reported this to a witty friend, adding that "icon" was of course a vastly inflated word, itself part of the vocabulary of hype, he, without losing a stroke, replied: "Whaddya mean? What about Ike and Tina Turner?"

In recent years I have written brief essays attacking the overuse and dopey imprecision of the words "icon," "multitasking" and "focus." The success of my attacks can be measured by the vastly increased use over the years of all three words. Cleaning up the language is a herculean job; unlike Hercules' assignment of cleaning up the Augean Stables, here it must be done with the animals still in them. It's a full-time job.

A man who has taken it on is Robert Hartwell Fiske, who runs an online monthly journal called the Vocabula Review (, which, as Mr. Fiske writes, "battles nonstandard, careless English and embraces clear, expressive English," and hopes to encourage its readers to do likewise. Vocabula means "words" in Latin, and words are the name of Mr. Fiske's game. Read the Vocabula Review, and you will be convinced that the battle ought to be yours, too.

Mr. Fiske is the latest--and let us hope not the last--in a line of language guardians that goes back, in English, to Jonathan Swift and has been continued, closer to our time, by H.L. Mencken, H.W. Fowler, George Orwell, F.L. Lucas and Sir Ernest Gowers. About the decay of language, Mr. Fiske is earnest without being humorless, strict without being scornful, and elevated without being snobbish.
The third Sunday of every month, Mr. Fiske publishes a number of articles about "some aspect of the language and its effect on society." Running the operation out of his house in Rockport, Mass., he asks a $25 subscription fee from language lovers (renewing subscribers pay $15), of which--no great surprise here--there are all too few. The Vocabula Review had a high circulation figure of 1,400, but the number is now down to fewer than a thousand.

Mr. Fiske is on the job 24/7, a phrase I feel confident he would, rightly, loathe. Along with running his online magazine, he has produced three useful books--the Dictionary of Concise Writing, the Dimwit's Dictionary, and the Dictionary of Disagreeable English--and an anthology of pieces from the Vocabula Review called "Vocabula Bound."

Each issue of the Vocabula Review (of which there are now 87--one every month since September 1999) is a miscellany of articles on English as it is used in America ("Singular They: The Pronoun That Came In From the Cold"), controversies of the day such as the teaching of English to immigrants ("José, Can You See?"), and various columns and departments, among them Shibboleths, Bethumped With Words, Scarcely Used Words, Clues to Concise Writing, Grumbling About Grammar, and letters from some of the language fanatics who are among Mr. Fiske's subscribers.

I read the Vocabula Review for amusement and as a prophylactic against falling into sloppiness in my own writing. The Vocabula Review is run on the prescriptivist principle that there are correct and incorrect uses of words; the descriptivists hold that any language used by the majority is automatically acceptable English. "Whatever!" might be the descriptivists' motto; "Not in my house you don't" that of the prescriptivists.

The Vocabula Review, in fact, has two mottoes: "A society is generally as lax as its language" and "Well spoken is half sung." Mr. Fiske believes that honest language is elegant language. His online magazine is neither a forum for prescriptivism nor for his prejudices, but deals extensively with the endless oddities and richness of language.

Mr. Fiske's own characteristic tone is perhaps best caught in his Dimwit's Dictionary. In that 400-page work a vast body of words and phrases are shown up for the linguistic ciphers they are. He has established a number of categories for "Expressions That Dull Our Reason and Dim Our Insight." These included grammatical gimmicks, which are expressions (such as "whatever," "you had to be there") that are used by people who have lost their powers of description; ineffectual phrases ("the fact remains," "the thing about it is," "it is important to realize") used by people to delay coming to the point or for simple bewilderment; infantile phrases ("humongous," "gazillions," "everything's relative"), which show evidence of unformed reasoning; moribund metaphors ("window of opportunity") and insipid similes ("cool as a cucumber"); suspect superlatives ("an amazing person," "the best and the brightest"), which are just what the category suggests; torpid terms ("prioritize," "proactive," "significant other"), which are vapid and dreary; not to mention plebeian sentiments, overworked words, popular prescriptions, quack equations, and wretched redundancies.

Behind Mr. Fiske's continuing project is the idea that without careful language there can be no clear thought. Politicians, advertising copywriters, swindlers of differing styles and ambitions know this well and put it to their own devious uses. The rest of us too easily tend to forget this central truth. All words and phrases, to fall back on what I hope isn't a plebeian sentiment, are guilty until proved innocent.
Bad language is viral; it's in the atmosphere, and we all pick it up. Mr. Fiske diagnoses it and tells us, in the Vocabula Review and in his books, how to get well. His aim is a higher standard of linguistic health through the clear and precise use of language. A subscription to Vocabula Review is the intellectual equivalent of a monthly flu shot. A shame we cannot write the cost of his excellent service off to Blue Cross or Medicare.

Mr. Epstein is the author of "Alexis de Tocqueville: Democracy's Guide" (Atlas Books).
28711  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action on: December 07, 2006, 01:10:46 AM

By Kevin Cullen
THE BOSTON GLOBE December 5, 2006
It was a routine patrol, in the third week of June – if, in fact, there is such a thing as a routine patrol in Fallujah, in Iraq's Anbar province.

MICHELE McDONALD / The Boston Globe
Navy medic Greg Cinelli held Baby Mariam last month at Massachusetts General Hospital, where the Iraqi girl had successful surgery.
Chris Walsh, a Navy medic assigned to a Marines weapons company, was riding in a Humvee with three Marines, when a hidden bomb exploded in the dirt road just in front of them.

Even before the thick dust had settled, the Marines, and Walsh, were out of the vehicle, looking for the insurgents who had planted the remote-control device. The triggerman, as several who joined the pursuit vividly recall, was spotted first on a rooftop, then on the ground making his escape through the maze of ramshackle houses that line the road.

When Walsh and the Marines came to one doorway, M-4 rifles up and ready, a woman emerged from a room, holding an infant and saying, over and over again, “Baby. Baby sick.”

Walsh put his gun down and the woman put the baby down.

Walsh had seen bad things – as an EMT back home in St. Louis, and at war. But he told his comrades he had never seen anything like this: The child, just a few months old, looked as though her insides had been turned inside out.

Her name was Mariam, and she looked up at Walsh with dead eyes.

Suddenly, finding the bad guys became secondary. Walsh, the Marines recall, examined the child, pulled out a digital camera and took pictures to show the doctors back at base camp. As soon as Capt. Sean Donovan, a doctor assigned to the First Battalion 25th Marine Regiment out of Fort Devens in Ayer, Mass., saw them, he knew the baby had a rare condition in which the bladder develops outside the body. Donovan said she wouldn't live long without surgery of a kind she couldn't get in Iraq.
“Then,” Donovan recalls Walsh saying, “we've got to get her out of here, sir.”

The Boston Globe

Marine Lance Cpl. Corey Robbins (left) and Navy medics John Garran (center) and Greg Cinelli were reunited with Baby Mariam at Massachusetts General Hospital. A Marines weapons company found the ailing Iraqi girl in Fallujah.

It seemed a noble sentiment, if, in the middle of a war, a bit naive. But Walsh meant it. Saving Baby Mariam became his mission. At chow one night, he stood up and explained to the Marines in his platoon what he wanted to do. He said he'd need help. And one by one, the Marines put up their hands.

Mike Henderson, a Marine major from Maine, told Walsh and Donovan that his nephew was born with the same condition, called a bladder exstrophy, and that the boy had successful surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital. Donovan began using his computer, trying to find the appropriate medical care and a shortcut through the maddening military bureaucracy, a way to get the child out. The Rev. Marc Bishop, a Chelmsford, Mass., priest who is battalion chaplain, started e-mailing friends back home, looking for money and help.

Meanwhile, each week, under the cover of darkness, wearing night-vision goggles, Walsh and a dozen Marines made their way to the shanty where Mariam lived. They parked their Humvees a mile away and walked a different, circuitous route each time.

Staff Sgt. Edward Ewing, the platoon leader who devised and led the covert nocturnal visits, said Walsh's team followed a routine: Lance Cpl. Eric Valdepenas, a 21-year-old from Seekonk, Mass., and Cody Hill, a 23-year-old lance corporal from Oklahoma, hid outside Mariam's house, providing cover, along with some others; Cpl. Jared Shoemaker, 29, a police officer from Tulsa, accompanied Donovan and Walsh inside the house, where they tended to Mariam as best they could, trying to ward off an infection that could kill her.

“We're going to get her the help she needs,” Walsh would say, to a family that didn't speak English but somehow understood that the Americans, loathed as an occupying force by many in Fallujah, represented Mariam's only chance.

Over the summer, they made great strides. Bishop had struck gold with an e-mail to Christopher Anderson, one of his parishioners at St. Mary's Church in Chelmsford. Anderson, who is president of the Massachusetts High Technology Council, lined up 16 companies to pay to get the baby to Boston.

Donovan, meanwhile, had found Dr. Rafael Pieretti, a Venezuelan surgeon at Massachusetts General who is one of the few doctors in the United States who specialize in the condition. Pieretti and Massachusetts General offered their services free of charge.
But there it all stalled. There were some 5,000 Iraqi civilians seeking to leave the country for medical care, and Mariam, it seemed, would have to wait her turn.

On Labor Day, Sept. 4, Walsh and his team were on another routine patrol in another section of Fallujah, about a mile from Mariam's house. Ewing was in the lead vehicle and noticed some kids playing soccer off the side of the road. Then came the blast, which lifted the rear of Ewing's 5-ton Humvee off the road. But it was Walsh's Humvee just behind that took what the Marines call a belly shot: The bomb exploded directly under the vehicle.

The Boston Globe

Maureen Walsh (right), the mother of slain medic Chris Walsh, and nurse Katie Dinare visited Baby Mariam last month at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Ewing and some Marines rushed to the smoking wreckage. Medic Greg Cinelli tried to keep them away. They pushed their way past him, and Cinelli turned his attention to Hill, who had severe burns over more than half of his body. Hill was in shock but kept asking about the others.

“You made it out!” Cinelli told Hill. “They can, too!”

But Cinelli was just trying to give Hill the will to live. There was nothing he or anybody else could do for the others: Valdepenas, the youngest of eight children, who left the University of Massachusetts at Amherst when his unit got called to active duty, Shoemaker, with a wife back in Oklahoma, and Walsh, the author of the mission for Mariam, were dead.

With their seven-month rotation about to end, and 11 members of their battalion dead and 83 wounded, the Marines decided there was only one way to honor their dead brothers and that was to make sure the baby was saved.

E-mails from Fallujah shot all around the United States, detailing the risks that Walsh and the Marines had taken, the effort expended and the blood spilled. Suddenly, the red tape loosened, and in early October Mariam was flown to Boston. The surgery was successful, and she is doing well.

More than a month after Maureen Walsh buried her son, she stood in her living room in Kansas, reading a handwritten letter from Donovan.

“You need to know this about your son,” Donovan wrote.

She had not known about Mariam, had not known that her son spent months, surrounded by the chaos of war, trying to save her. And it was then, as she stood there, tears falling onto Donovan's letter, that Maureen Walsh knew she had to see the child, and hold her in her arms.
28712  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: December 07, 2006, 12:53:17 AM
A longtime aide to Jimmy Carter has resigned from the Carter Center think tank, calling the former president's new book on Israel and the Arabs one-sided and filled with errors.
Kenneth Stein, the Carter Center's first executive director and founder of its Middle East program, sent a letter that bluntly criticized the book to Carter and others.
Stein wrote that the book, "Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid," was replete with factual errors, material copied from other sources and "simply invented segments," according to an excerpt of the letter published by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Deanna Congileo, Carter's spokeswoman, said the former president stands by the book.

28713  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Energy issues, energy technology on: December 07, 2006, 12:51:42 AM
New oil production technology is tested
WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- A technology developed with U.S. Department of Energy funding has revived oil production in two abandoned oilfields on Osage Indian tribal land in Oklahoma.

Officials say the technology can potentially add billions of barrels of additional domestic oil production in declining fields.

The Department of Energy said production has jumped from zero to more than 100 barrels of oil daily in the two Osage County, Okla., fields, one of which is more than 100 years old.

That success suggests the method might be able to revitalize thousands of other seemingly depleted U.S. oilfields.

The new technology, initially proposed by Grand Resources Inc., an independent oil producer based in Tulsa, Okla., involves the use of horizontal well waterflooding.

Government officials said the United States has more than 218 billion barrels of by-passed conventional oil lying at shallow depths in tens of thousands of declining or depleted reservoirs. If the new technology could tap even 1-10th of that by-passed oil, officials say it would roughly double the nation's proved crude oil reserves.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International. All Rights Reserved
28714  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Lebanon on: December 07, 2006, 12:38:58 AM
The Syrian-Iranian Agenda for Lebanon

Opposition protests in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, entered their sixth day Dec. 6 as Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora continued to hold his ground against hundreds of thousands of demonstrators calling for his resignation. Hezbollah and its allies plan to continue with the sit-ins for the time being, but are looking at other options to meet their objective of toppling the government. Meanwhile, Syria and Iran are devising plans to determine who will be the next target for assassination in Lebanon.


Hundreds of thousands of protesters staged demonstrations in the heart of the Lebanese capital of Beirut for a sixth consecutive day Dec. 6. Most of the protesters belong to the pro-Syrian March 8 alliance composed primarily of youth supporters of Hezbollah, led by Hassan Nasrallah; the Amal movement, led by Shiite Speaker of the House Nabih Berri; and the Free Patriotic Movement, led by Maronite Christian leader Gen. Michel Aoun.

The demonstrations are one of the instruments the Hezbollah-led March 8 alliance is using in an effort to meet its wider objective of undermining the Lebanese government, which is dominated by the anti-Syrian bloc with Prime Minister Fouad Siniora at the helm. Protesters have spent the past six days chanting slogans -- "Down with the U.S. government in Lebanon" is a favorite -- and also studying, smoking hookahs, praying, dancing and sleeping in makeshift camps in the streets. While the demonstrations have had a paralyzing effect on the capital, negotiations have failed to progress and the Lebanese government has yet to cave in to the opposition's demands. Siniora is already under considerable pressure from Arab allies in the region, Europe and the United States not to allow Hezbollah to further consolidate its power and fortify Shiite influence in the region.

Hezbollah had made extensive plans to prevent the protests from turning violent by organizing security squads to break up any clashes along the Sunni-Shiite and Shiite-Druze border areas in and around Beirut. Though these Hezbollah control units have been busy breaking up street fights, violent clashes picked up steam in west Beirut between rival factions, leaving one Shiite demonstrator dead. Sources in the Amal movement's security apparatus have revealed that the clashes in the Qasqas area -- which straddles west Beirut and the southern suburbs where the Shiite protester died -- also spread to the nearby Al Shuhada cemetery. At the cemetery, fighting reportedly broke out between unidentified assailants from the Palestinian Shatila refugee camp and Hezbollah fighters. Four Hezbollah members and two unidentified men from the Shatila camp were killed, though police records made no reference to the deaths since they involved combatants and not civilians. These clashes arising out of the Palestinian camps are indicative of Syria's hand in the Beirut street fights to stoke sectarian violence and show the extent to which Lebanon has devolved into chaos without a strong Syrian security presence in the country.

The demonstrations also have dealt the Lebanese economy a serious blow, with estimates that the country will lose more than $30 million a day if the political crisis continues. To lessen the financial impact, Hezbollah organized the protests to begin on Friday, Dec. 1, after most of Beirut's residents received their paychecks and were off work for the weekend. The economic impact as well as the potential for violence to spread throughout the capital, however, have factored into Hezbollah's calculus in continuing these demonstrations. The Shiite militant and political movement is determined to show it is working in the interests of Lebanese citizens, and not only for its own Shiite sect -- as demonstrated by the strict rules given to protesters to wave only Lebanese national flags and refrain from violence. Particularly after the summer war with Israel, the group is already facing criticism for inviting the war onto Lebanese territory and harming Lebanese business interests.

Hezbollah is still in the process of deciding its next plan of action should the Siniora government fail to accede to the demands. Sources within Hezbollah claim the group's next move will be to have more parliament and civil service members resign and to block access to the Rafik al-Hariri International Airport by sending around 70,000 demonstrators to camp on the main highway. While the Lebanese army commander has made it clear that the airport will remain open and is off limits to the protesters, Hezbollah members believe the army will be unable to restrain a mob of 70,000 people.

Syria, meanwhile, has been looking at its own agenda for Lebanon. Following the assassination of Lebanese Ministry of Industry Pierre Gemayel, a Syrian security delegation made its way to Tehran to discuss at length the assassination of anti-Syrian and anti-Iranian Lebanese figures. To cover up Syria's suspected involvement in the spate of killings, Iran allegedly has suggested killing one or two second-tier Lebanese allies of Syria to confuse the ongoing investigation, led by Belgian prosecutor Serge Brammertz, who is due to release a report on the political assassinations in mid-December. The prime targets for assassination in this scenario include Najah Wakim, a Greek Orthodox, who is an outspoken supporter of Syria and fierce critic of slain former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, as well as Nasser Qandil, a Shi'i, who is associated with Berri's Amal movement. Both Qandil and Wakim are suspected of playing a role in the al-Hariri assassination, and their killings would give opposition forces an excuse to accuse the March 14 anti-Syrian alliance of the act.

A new Palestinian movement that has appeared in Beirut is expected to aid the Syrians in these assassinations. The group calls itself Harakat Fatah al-Islam, a splinter group of Fatah al-Intifada, which itself split from the Fatah movement in 1983. About 200 members of the new movement have entered Lebanon lately -- some 150 to the Badawi refugee camp near Tripoli and about 50 to the Burj al-Barajneh camp in the southern suburbs.

Evidently, the political assassinations in Beirut are far from over, and Hezbollah is feeling bold enough to escalate the demonstrations to cripple the Siniora government, leaving Lebanon in an all-too-familiar state of chaos. The opportunity for negotiations still exists, but plenty of AK-47s will be passed out to various sects in Beirut to prepare for a worst-case scenario.
28715  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Remember Count Dante?? on: December 07, 2006, 12:37:32 AM
28716  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Australia on: December 06, 2006, 06:54:57 PM
Boys expelled from Islamic school for urinating on Bible
12:29 PM December 6

The headmaster of a Melbourne Islamic College has condemned the behaviour of two boys expelled for allegedly urinating on a Bible.

The incident is alleged to have happened on a school camp last week.

Teachers at the East Preston College have petitioned the principal telling of their shock and dismay.

Principal Shaheem Doutie says the behaviour of the boys was unacceptable.

"Principal, teachers and the school community hereby condemn in the strongest possible terms the alleged desecration of the Bible by two of our students at a school camp," he said.

Mr Doutie has offered an unconditional apology to everyone affected.

"I hereby apologise to all staff, including Muslim and non-Muslim teachers, or any other person that was offended by this horrible act as conducted by some ignorant and clearly ill-informed students," he said.

Source: ABC
28717  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: December 06, 2006, 12:26:19 PM
From another forum

December 5, 2006

Belgium: Muslims Stone Jewish Children

A story I found in Expatica News caught my attention. It described how Jewish children, who were visiting Beringen, in Limburg province, Belgium, were set upon by "local residents of foreign origins." I tried to think which people "of foreign origins" would want to attack a group of Jewish schoolchildren.

Being of a suspicious mind, I Googled, and eventually found more information, care of Islam in Europe, backed up by reports in Dutch from and Eyes and in English from JTA News. Their attackers were, unsurprisingly, Muslim youths of Turkish origin. What is bizarre is why Expatica bothered to report the ethnicity of the victims, but not their assailants.
About 60 Jewish children had gone to stay at a youth hostel on an excursion on Thursday, November 30. They had come to visit the Beringen mines, which include the Vlaams mijnmuseum, a mine which had closed in 1992 but has been preserved, with a museum. Other former coal mines, such as the Charbonnages de Beringen (pictured) which closed in 1989 lie deserted in the area, as historical sites of interest.

The Jewish children had come from Antwerp, and were aged from 12 to 15 years, expecting a stay which would be an educational holiday. The children were Hasidic, and wore their traditional black attire and hats, with long sideburns. As soon as they reached the youth hostel where they were to stay, they came under attack from 10 Turkish Muslims, who pelted them with stones. Once the children had gone into the hostel, the Muslims continued to throw stones and concrete blocks, smashing windows of the building. The Muslims were shouting anti-semitic abuse. The children had to shelter from the missiles and flying glass in an inner corridor of the hostel.

The leaders of the school group called the police, but even after the arrival of police, the youths continues to throw stones and shout insults for about an hour. Once the aggression had subsided, the Muslims continued to stay in the vicinity of the hostel. As a result, police decided that they could not guarantee the schoolboys' safety, and escorted them to the highway for them to return to Antwerp.

Four adults and six youths under the age of 18 were arrested, and at the weekend they were brought before a district court. All were sentenced to 30 hours' of community service, and were ordered to pay compensation to the youth hostel. The commune (district authority) issued an apology to the schoolchildren. It may press charges once all information on the case is clarified.
Already, charges have been filed by centre against racism and for equal chances. Claude Marinower, a Jewish member of parliament, said he will "raise the issue with the ministers of justice and the interior."

Forum, an Antwerp-based Jewish group demanded "drastic measures to guarantee the safety of all youth throughout Belgium. A failure to do so would endanger our democracy."
28718  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Humor on: December 06, 2006, 01:25:09 AM
Apparently a true story:

Flatulence, not turbulence forces plane landing in Nashville

Flatulence brought 99 passengers on an American Airlines flight to an unscheduled visit to Nashville early Monday morning.

American Flight 1053, from Washington Reagan National Airport and bound for Dallas/Fort Worth, made an emergency landing here after passengers reported smelling struck matches, said Lynne Lowrance, a spokeswoman for the Nashville International Airport Authority.

The plane landed safely. The FBI, Transportation Safety Administration and airport authority responded to the emergency, Lowrance said.

The passengers and five crew members were brought off the plane, together with all the luggage, to go through security checks again. Bomb-sniffing dogs found spent matches.

The FBI questioned a passenger who admitted she struck the matches in an attempt to conceal body odor, Lowrance said. The woman lives near Dallas and has a medical condition.

The flight took off again, but the woman was not allowed back on the plane.

"American has banned her for a long time," Lowrance said.

She was not charged but could have been. While it is legal to bring as many as four books of paper safety matches onto an aircraft, it is illegal to strike a match in an airplane, Lowrance said.
28719  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Invitation to dialog to Muslims on: December 05, 2006, 12:04:55 PM
Earlier in this thread there was some squabbling over the meaning of Fascism.  Here's Mussolini's take on it:
(Hat tip to TB)
Excerpt Follows:
<" While I could quote from numerous political and intellectual leaders throughout the war and welfare century, I have chosen one who summed up the dominant political thoughts in the twentieth century. He was the founder of fascism, and he came to power in 1922 in Italy. In 1927, Benito Mussolini stated:

Fascism … believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of perpetual peace…. War alone brings up to its highest tension all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility upon the peoples who have the courage to meet it…. It may be expected that this will be a century of authority, a century of the Left, a century of Fascism. For the nineteenth century was a century of individualism…. [Liberalism always signifying individualism], it may be expected that this will be a century of collectivism, and hence the century of the State…. For Fascism, the growth of Empire, that is to say, the expansion of the nation, is the essential manifestation of vitality, and its opposite is a sign of decay and death. [2] 

Guiding Principles

Mussolini's statement bears closer study because it dramatically states some of the guiding principles of the twentieth century:

It states that perpetual peace is neither possible, nor even to be desired.
Instead of peace, war is to be desired because not only is war a noble activity, but it reveals the true courage of man; it unleashes creative energy and causes progress. Moreover, war is the prime mover to enhance and glorify the state. War is the principal method by which collectivists have achieved their goal of control by the few over the many. They actually seek to create or initiate wars for this purpose.
Individualism, the philosophy practiced in the nineteenth century, is to be abolished and, specifically, collectivism is to rule the twentieth century.
Fascism is recognized as a variation of other forms of collectivism, all being part of the Left, as opposed to individualism. It was not until the "Red Decade" of the 30s, and the appearance of Hitler, that leftist intellectuals and the media began to switch Fascism on the political spectrum to the Right so that the "good forms of collectivism," such as socialism, could oppose the "extremism on the Right" that they said was fascism.
The founder of fascism clearly realized that all of these collectivist ideas — i.e., socialism, fascism, and communism — belonged on the Left and were all opposed to individualism. Fascism is not an extreme form of individualism and is a part of the Left, or collectivism.">>
28720  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: December 05, 2006, 11:23:26 AM
MEXICO: The leader of Mexico's People's Popular Assembly of Oaxaca (APPO), Flavio Sosa, was arrested late Dec. 4 on charges of kidnapping, robbery, vandalism and irregular detentions, El Universal reported. The charges are related to the APPO's street blockades in Oaxaca. Sosa was arrested after arriving in Mexico City to re-establish negotiations with the federal government.
28721  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Dog Brothers Tribe on: December 05, 2006, 10:53:31 AM
Woof All:

I've been catching up with fellow Council of Elder, Lonely Dog in the aftermath of the Swiss Gathering.

A hearty woof of welcome to the Tribe to:

a) Simon Hehl of Switzerland.  He is now "Dog Simon"
b) Ludo Bachy of Belgium.  He is now "Dog Ludo"
c) Mick Colin of Belgium.  He is now "Dog Mick"

"Higher Consciousness through Harder Contact!"(c)
Crafty Dog
Guiding Force
28722  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: December 05, 2006, 10:46:15 AM
Tale Of Fibbing Imams

Posted 12/4/2006

Islam And Politics: As we first suspected, the six imams bounced from a US Airways flight misled the public about the incident and likely staged the whole thing as a scheme to weaken security.

Their actions undermine any good will and trust Muslim leaders have built since 9/11. And they call into question what we really know about these supposedly virtuous men we invite to the White House and other halls of power in gestures of tolerance.

Are they really moderate? Do they really mean it when they renounce terrorism? Do they really have America's best interests at heart?

The police report detailing the US Airways flap gives us serious pause. The imams acted more like provocateurs than victims. At the gate before boarding, they angrily cursed the U.S. Then they bowed to Mecca and prayed "very loud," chanting "Allah, Allah, Allah," according to the gate agent and another witness.

On the plane, they didn't take their assigned seats and instead fanned out to the front, middle and rear of the plane. One even "pretended to be blind" to gain access to another passenger's seat, according to a flight attendant.

Some ran back and forth speaking to each other in Arabic. Adding to suspicions, most of them asked for seat belt extensions even though they didn't need them — or even use them.

Yet the ringleader, Omar Shahin, claimed before the police report was released that they "did nothing" unusual. "It's obvious discrimination," he insisted.

When the story first broke, the imams denied they chanted "Allah." Yet, several witnesses in the police report say they did. The imams also claimed they were handcuffed and harassed by dogs. "Six imams. Six leaders in this country," Shahin complained. "Six scholars in handcuffs." But the police report puts the lie to both those claims, too.

Shahin also claimed that a local FBI agent pleaded with US Airways to sell the Saintly Six imams another plane ticket, telling airline reps that the government had "no problem" with the men. "Never happened," says an FBI spokesman in Minneapolis.

Shahin and his fellow imams, who were educated in Sudan and Saudi Arabia, says he and the imams are all moderates who love the U.S. and denounce terror. He doubts Muslims were responsible for 9/11.

"We have been asked by God and by the prophet Muhammad to respect all human life," he said. "The Quran is very clear, to save one life he saves all human life, and whoever kills one person he kills all humankind, and that is what Islam is all about."

But Shahin engages in more dissembling. He leaves out a key part of the verse (5:32) that condones killing those who murder fellow Muslims or spread "mischief in the land." Mischief is defined as "treason against Allah," and the very next verse calls for guilty infidels to be beheaded.

Shahin himself has ties to terrorism. He served (unknowingly, he now says) as an agent and fundraiser for a Hamas front. He ran a mosque in Tucson, Ariz., attended by several al-Qaida operatives including the hijacker who flew the plane into the Pentagon. And he now runs an imam federation that counts an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing among its trustees.

Shahin also teaches at an Islamic school fully accredited by an Egyptian university tied to the dangerous Muslim Brotherhood. The school's founder preaches sharia law. One of the imams kicked off the US Airways flight, an Egyptian native, praised sharia law, according to a passenger who sat next to him.

"He expressed views I consider to be extreme fundamentalist Muslim views," said the witness, a clergyman who has traveled to the Middle East. "He indicated that it was necessary to go to whatever measures necessary to obey all that's set out in the Quran."

But most disturbing, these imams aren't the fringe. Shahin's group, the North American Imams Federation, represents more than 150 mosque leaders across the country. It works in concert with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which wasted no time slamming US Airways for "stereotyping" Muslims and calling on Congress to pass legislation to outlaw passenger profiling.

Both CAIR and NAIF work closely with Rep.-elect Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the first Muslim member of Congress. Conveniently enough, he immediately stepped in on their behalf to pressure US Airways and the local airport to change security policies.

If it were an orchestrated stunt to create public sympathy and force airports to look the other way when groups of Muslim men fly, it's working. The Minneapolis airport plans to add a prayer room for Muslims, and Democrats plan to hold hearings on Muslim profiling. This could have a chilling effect on efforts to investigate terror suspects in the Muslim community.

Such hearings would only confer legitimacy on bogus complaints by Muslim leaders. We need to take a harder look at them, not airlines' security policies.
28723  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Particular Stocks on: December 04, 2006, 11:29:19 PM
Solid steady progress from the Spear Report's water play UU.

Looks like I timed well my entry into AQNT.
28724  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Google technology tilts an election in Bahrain on: December 04, 2006, 11:26:50 PM
Overhead view stirs up Bahrain
Despite a government attempt to block them, Google Earth images of estates belonging to the ruling family become the talk of the island nation.
By William Wallis, Financial Times
December 4, 2006

MANAMA, BAHRAIN — Since Bahrain's government blocked the Google Earth website this year over its intrusion into private homes and royal palaces, Googling their island kingdom has become a pastime for many Bahrainis.

The site allows Internet users to view satellite images of the world in varying degrees of detail. When Google updated its images of Bahrain to higher definition, cyber-activists seized on the view it gave of estates and private islands belonging to the ruling Khalifa family to highlight the inequity of land distribution in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom.

A senior government official told the Financial Times that Google Earth had allowed the public to pry into private homes and ogle people's yachts and swimming pools. But he acknowledged that the government's three-day attempt to block the site had proved counterproductive.

It gave instant publicity to Google Earth and contributed to growing sophistication among Bahrainis in circumventing Web censorship.


It also provided more ammunition to democracy activists in advance of the recent parliamentary elections, the second since King Hamad ibn Isa Khalifa began introducing limited political change in 2001.

About 60% of Bahrain's population is Shiite, but the country is ruled by the Sunni Khalifa family. The elections took place against a backdrop of rising sectarian tension and demands from the Shiites for a greater share of wealth and power.

Opposition activists claim that 80% of the island has been carved up between royals and other private landlords, while much of the rest of the population faces an acute housing shortage.

Mahmood Yousif, a businessman whose political chat and blog site Mahmood's Den is among Bahrain's most popular, says that in the tense run-up to the polls, few Bahrainis have not surfed over the contours of their kingdom, comparing vast royal palaces, marinas and golf courses with crowded Shiite villages nearby, where unemployment is rife and services meager.

For those with insufficient bandwidth to access Google Earth, a PDF file with dozens of downloaded images of royal estates has been circulated anonymously by e-mail. Yousif, among others, initially encouraged Web users to post images on photo-sharing websites.

Some of the palaces take up more space than three or four villages nearby and block access to the sea for fishermen. People knew this already. But they never saw it. All they saw were the surrounding walls, said Yousif, who is seen in Bahrain as the grandfather of its blogging community.

He and other activists believe creative use of the Internet — connectivity in Bahrain is among the highest in the Arab world — is forcing the country to confront awkward realities and will speed the march toward a more egalitarian society.

But loyalists find irreverent discussion of the royal family on the Web offensive and dangerous. Though some younger members of the royal family apparently saw the futility of blocking Google Earth and quickly reversed the move, others in government have waged a virtual battle with the nation's proliferating cyber-activists using technology as well as an arsenal of press censorship laws. As the election approached, at least 25 Bahraini sites deemed to be carrying subversive material were blocked.

Yousif believes most subscribers in Bahrain downloaded free software — partly thanks to technical advice on his site — and thus were able to mask their location and access censored sites. Echoing that, Najeel Rajab, the director of the banned Bahrain Center for Human Rights, said that since his organization's site was blocked three weeks ago, the number of visitors has tripled.

There are some in the government who are still living in the age of the telex, when you could very easily put controls on communications. But these Orwellian policing methods do not have a place in this modern age, Yousif said.
28725  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Deipnosophist on: December 04, 2006, 03:03:52 PM
An outstanding call on NUE by David.  His post today assesses ISIS.
28726  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: December 04, 2006, 02:43:18 PM

Here's the meat of the article, starting about halfway through:

Don't get me wrong, I like a Friars' Club Roast as much as the next guy and I'm sure Jim Baker kibitzing with John Kerry was the hottest ticket in town. But doesn't it strike you as just a tiny bit parochial? Aside from Senator Kerry, I wonder whether the commission thought to hear from anyone such as Goh Chok Tong, the former prime minister of Singapore. A couple of years back, on a visit to Washington just as the Democrat-media headless-chicken quagmire-frenzy was getting into gear, he summed it up beautifully:

''The key issue is no longer WMD or even the role of the U.N. The central issue is America's credibility and will to prevail.''

As I write in my new book, Singaporean Cabinet ministers apparently understand that more clearly than U.S. senators, congressmen and former secretaries of state. Or, as one Baker Commission grandee told the New York Times, ''We had to move the national debate from whether to stay the course to how do we start down the path out.''

An ''exit strategy'' on those terms is the path out not just from Iraq but from a lot of other places, too -- including Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Venezuela, Russia, China, the South Sandwich Islands. For America would be revealed to the world as a fraud: a hyperpower that's all hype and no power -- or, at any rate, no will. According to the New York Sun, ''An expert adviser to the Baker-Hamilton commission expects the 10-person panel to recommend that the Bush administration pressure Israel to make concessions in a gambit to entice Syria and Iran to a regional conference . . .''

On the face of it, this sounds an admirably hard-headed confirmation of James Baker's most celebrated soundbite on the Middle East ''peace process'': ''F - - k the Jews. They didn't vote for us anyway.'' His recommendations seem intended to f - - k the Jews well and truly by making them the designated fall guys for Iraq. But hang on: If Israel could be forced into giving up the Golan Heights and other land (as some fantasists suggest) in order to persuade the Syrians and Iranians to ease up on killing coalition forces in Iraq, our enemies would have learned an important lesson: The best way to weaken Israel is to kill Americans. I'm all for Bakerite cynicism, but this would seem to f - - k not just the Jews but the Americans, too.

It would, furthermore, be a particularly contemptible confirmation of a line I heard Bernard Lewis, our greatest Middle Eastern scholar, use the other day -- that ''America is harmless as an enemy and treacherous as a friend.'' To punish your friends as a means of rewarding your enemies for killing your forces would seem to be an almost ludicrously parodic illustration of that dictum. In the end, America would be punishing itself. The world would understand that Vietnam is not the exception but the rule.

It has been strange to see my pals on the right approach Iraq as a matter of inventory and personnel. Many call for more troops to be sent to Baghdad, others say the U.S. armed forces overall are too small and overstretched. Look, America is responsible for 40 percent of the planet's military spending: It spends more money on its armed forces than the next 43 biggest militaries combined, from China, Britain and France all the way down the military-spending hit parade to Montenegro and Angola. Yet it's not big enough to see off an insurgency confined to a 30-mile radius of a desert capital?

It's not the planes, the tanks, the men, the body armor. It's the political will. You can have the best car in town, but it won't go anywhere if you don't put your foot on the pedal. Three years ago, when it was obvious Syria and Iran were violating Iraq's borders with impunity, we should have done what the British did in the so-called ''Confrontation'' with Indonesia 40 years ago when they were faced with Jakarta doing to the newly independent state of Malaysia exactly what Damascus and Tehran are doing to Iraq. British, Aussie and Malaysian forces sent troops on low-key, lethally effective raids into Indonesia, keeping the enemy on the defensive and winning the war with barely a word making the papers. If the strategic purpose in invading Iraq was to create a regional domino effect, then playing defense in the Sunni Triangle for three years makes no sense. We should never have wound up hunkered down in the Green Zone. If there has to be a Green Zone, it should be on the Syrian side of the border.

Perhaps the Baker Commission's proposals will prove not to be as empty and risible as those leaked. But, if they are, the president should pay them no heed. A bipartisan sellout -- the Republicans cut and the Democrats run -- would be an awesome self-humiliation of the United States. And once the rest of the world figures it out, it'll be America that's the Green Zone.

© Mark Steyn, 2006 
28727  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Movies on: December 04, 2006, 09:20:56 AM
A friend strongly recommends this movie:

Tribeca Review: Beyond the Call
Posted Apr 21st 2006 1:00PM by Christopher Campbell
Filed under: Action & Adventure, Documentary, Foreign Language, Tribeca, Theatrical Reviews

Another good title for Beyond the Call would be The Santa Claus 3, if only it didn't sound too similar to a very different movie scheduled for release later this year. Nonetheless, Beyond the Call is a perfeclty fine name for Adrian Belic's extraordinary documentary about three old men -- occasionally with white beards -- traveling the world with presents. Unlike Santa, they don't travel just once a year and they don't cover all of the earth in one mission. Also, instead of toys, they give out food, medical supplies, clothing and blankets. Sometimes, though, they bring something like a solar-powered oven, which certainly looks like a big toy.

Meet Ed Artis, Jim Laws and Walt Ratterman, aka Knightsbridge, a three-man humanitarian organization that provides aid to needy people, one impoverished country at a time. In the Tribeca Film Festival guide, the film's synopsis describes them as "part Mother Teresa and part Indiana Jones," which earned a few rolled eyes from the Cinematical staff at first. Well, wouldn't you know their interpretation is spot-on? Sure, they don't recover artifacts or fight Nazis, but their role is just as much adventurous as it is altruistic.

One of the big questions that went through my head first was, "Where does the money come from?" Some of the materials are donated, and the guys receive an 80-90% discount on medical supplies, but the expense of each trip appears to be high; at one point they pay for truckloads of food out of a pouch filled with wads of $100-bills. Later they hand $2,000 cash to an Afghan school that can't pay its teachers. The documentary isn't completely clear about how this cardiologist, construction company owner, and retired mortgage banker can work so rarely at home and devote so much time and money abroad, except to point out that while others are saving up for a boat or for retirement, they save up for the next mission. It is probably that simple, and of course, it doesn't really matter how they're able to do it -- they do it.

Beyond the Call shows them doing it throughout Afghanistan, where they planned to go even before 9/11; in the southern Philippines, where they help the U.S. military acquire medical equiptment for cheap; it shows them trying to do it on the Burmese border of Thailand. They claim to have no fear of death, because, as Artis puts it, a spreadsheet of his life comes out far more positive than negative. Artis admits one fear, however: being kidnapped; the idea of someone telling his wife, "We've got him," is the worst-case scenario he can think of. Although Knightsbridge travels through a lot of dangerous territory, Belic doesn't capture anything too intense (see Shadow of Afghanistan for that kind of film), which is okay. It is hard enough viewing the people already affected by war and poverty.

Beyond the Call is an extremely inspiring film that is also hilarious, exciting and heartwrenching. Not only are the three men unbelievably good willed, they are enjoyable characters filled with loveable quirks and wonderful stories to tell. I'd say someone should give them a reality show -- the film will leave you craving more -- except I respect that this is probably all the attention they could want or need.

28728  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 'America Alone' on: December 04, 2006, 09:17:51 AM
I agree with TB on the importance and power of the suffocating state.

Recent events in France such as the young elite school types successfully protesting the proposed law allowing companies to fire new employees more freely is but one example.   France is a country that throughout the Cold War had, IIRC, 20-something percent of its population consistently vote Communist!  The pro-union attitude is not pro-people or pro-growth, it is exclusionary in order to confer benefit that would not be attained freely.  The cost is to the excluded-- in this case the Paristineans.

PS:  Welcome aboard TB!  Delighted to have you hear with us! 
28729  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Pope's Engagement with Islam and other religions on: December 04, 2006, 01:11:57 AM

It seems to me that the Pope is on to something quite important with his discussion of God and Reason and his discussion of the principal of reciprocity.


Western Civ 101
Pope Benedict's seminar on fundamentals.

Friday, December 1, 2006 12:01 a.m. EST

It is somehow appropriate that amid the confusions of the U.S. involvement with the sectarians of Iraq, Pope Benedict XVI, fresh from his own "engagement" with contemporary Islam at Regensburg, should come to Turkey, which has sought membership in the European Union for 20 years. The theologian Michael Novak said recently of Benedict, "His role is to represent Western civilization." I'd say Benedict is more than up to the task. What remains to discover is whether Western civilization is still up to it.

We have been in this spot before, and won.

When Stalin famously asked how many divisions the pope had, he assumed that the brute force of military power would be everywhere decisive. That belief led to a four-decade standoff between the Soviets' tank armies and NATO. Finally in the 1980s, John Paul II, the Polish pope, gave intellectual hope and heft to anticommunist dissidents. Ronald Reagan and his allies prevailed over Europe's marching pacifists and installed Pershing missile batteries in Europe. By decade's end, the long Cold War with communism was dissipating. The pope's engagement mattered.

One may assume that in some Himalayan redoubt, history's latest homicidal utopians, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, believe that coupling their ideology to Islamic suicide bombers--in New York, London or Baghdad--is more than a match for the will of a morally diminished West. Are they wrong?

Benedict XVI has written with force about a morally diminished Europe. So like his predecessor, this pope decided to engage in the greatest military and intellectual battle of our age.
We all know how a few months ago at the University of Regensburg, Benedict made himself a central player in the post-9/11 era by quoting the 14th-century Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus. Not much noted at the time was Benedict's second quotation from Manuel II: "God is not pleased by blood, and not acting reasonably [emphasis added] is contrary to God's nature." Benedict's lecture at Regensburg mentioned "reason" and "rationality" repeatedly. He went so far as to claim that the "rapprochement" between Biblical faith and Greek philosophical inquiry (reason) was "of decisive importance" for world history. "This convergence," said Benedict, "created Europe and remains the foundation of what can rightly be called Europe."

Very simply, he is talking about and defending what we call "the West"--both the place and the classically liberal idea, which radical Islam wants to blow up. Just as John Paul championed the jailed or hiding dissidents behind the Iron Curtain, Benedict is seeking similar protections for persecuted Christian minorities--indeed all minorities--across the Islamic world. Starting in Turkey.

Arriving in Ankara, the pope immediately raised two ideas from the wellsprings of the West. He said on his first day that a just society requires freedom of religion and on behalf of Turkey's tiny Catholic community, he raised the issue of property rights.

One might say the pope's counteroffensive--in the Islamic world and in the West--is overdue. One might also say his chances of winning are a long shot. Benedict's appeals to Europe to rediscover strength inside its religious tradition comes at a difficult moment. He admitted as much in a book-length interview 10 years ago ("Salt of the Earth: The Church at the End of the Millennium"). It is Islamic belief, Cardinal Ratzinger said, that "the Western countries are no longer capable of preaching a message of morality, but have only know-how to offer the world. The Christian religion has abdicated."
Militant Islam is on the march, literally, with enormous moral self-confidence. By contrast the West, as Wilfred M. McClay, an historian at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, aptly described it recently, is in "an era of post-modern moral insouciance." With others, Benedict argues that this moral insouciance is the West's greatest vulnerability. This, too, ought to be part of "homeland security."

Every nation in Europe has a birth rate below replacement, opting for material well-being over the (relative) sacrifice of raising two or more children. (Of all industrialized nations, only the U.S. birth rate exceeds replacement.) Against this trend, Benedict has thrown what he's got: the traditional Western notion of finding strength in the union of reason and religious faith.

It has become a hard sell. If the Vatican opposes abortion or stem-cell research, the West's intellectual elites deem it unfit to participate in any imaginable public forum. In the U.S., Christian evangelicals are feared by many as a threat equal to Islamic extremists, and unfit to participate in our politics. The hottest "religion" subject in the West now is atheism in the person of Richard Dawkins, author of "The God Delusion," who, Time magazine wrote this month, is "riding the crest of an atheist literary wave." Our obsessions seem to be off-subject.

I think the pope is right that the West is engaged in a decisive intellectual competition with the ideas of radical Islam. This won't end with the battle for Baghdad. Will scientific agnosticism defend the West against militant Islam? With what? In Europe, its intellectuals can barely mount an argued defense against internal threats. Externally, as in Afghanistan, they won't even fight.
Benedict XVI's evident intention is to engage the Islamic world, particularly its religious and political leaders, in an intense and long discussion of the religious, political and legal rights of their resident minorities, in other words, the Western tradition. The implications of this effort are obvious for achieving an acceptable modus vivendi with global Islam.

How many divisions does this pope have? Good question. At the moment, I'd say, not as many as the last time.

Mr. Henninger is deputy editor of The Wall Street Journal's editorial page. His column appears Fridays in the Journal and on
28730  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: December 04, 2006, 12:57:12 AM
I'm less than fully persuaded by the end-game that results from his specific suggestions, but some pertinent points are made by former world chess champ.

Chessboard Endgame
Obsessed with Iraq, we've lost sight of the rest of the world.

Saturday, December 2, 2006 12:01 a.m. EST

For the past few years, the dictators and terrorists have been gaining ground, and with good reason. The deepening catastrophe in Iraq has distracted the world's sole superpower from its true goals, and weakened the U.S. politically as well as militarily. With new congressional leadership threatening to make the same mistake--failing to see Iraq as only one piece of a greater puzzle--it is time to return to the basics of strategic planning.

Thirty years as a chess player ingrained in me the importance of never losing sight of the big picture. Paying too much attention to one area of the chessboard can quickly lead to the collapse of your entire position. America and its allies are so focused on Iraq they are ceding territory all over the map. Even the vague goals of President Bush's ambiguous war on terror have been pushed aside by the crisis in Baghdad.

The U.S. must refocus and recognize the failure of its post-9/11 foreign policy. Pre-emptive strikes and deposing dictators may or may not have been a good plan, but at least it was a plan. However, if you attack Iraq, the potential to go after Iran and Syria must also be on the table. Instead, the U.S. finds itself supervising a civil war while helplessly making concessions elsewhere.

This dire situation is a result of the only thing worse than a failed strategy: the inability to recognize, or to admit, that a strategy has failed. Since the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, North Korea has tested a nuclear weapon. Iran is openly boasting of its uranium enrichment program while pouring money into Hezbollah and Hamas. A resurgent Taliban is on the rise in Afghanistan. Nearly off the radar, Somalia is becoming an al Qaeda haven. Worst of all is the answer to the question that ties all of these burning fuses together: No, we are not safer now than we were before.
The seeds for this situation were sown in the one real success the West has had. The attack on the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan went so well that the U.S. and its allies did not appreciate all the reasons for the success. Almost every player on the world stage benefited from the attack on Afghanistan. The rout of the Sunni Taliban delighted Iran. Russia and China have no love for religious extremism near their borders. India was happy to see the U.S. launch a direct attack on Muslim terrorists.

Only Pakistan was put under uncomfortable pressure, although even there, Pervez Musharraf has been able to play both sides well enough to appear to be an essential ally to the West, while terrorists and weapons cross his borders freely. Gen. Musharraf has perfected the formula of holding himself up as the last defense against the extremists in order to gain immunity for his dictatorship. Not only was there a confluence of world opinion aided by sympathy for the U.S. after 9/11, but the proverbial bad guys were undoubtedly bad, and we knew where they were. As subsequent events have shown, effectively bombing terrorists is a rare opportunity.

Learning from our defeats is obvious, but too often we fail to appreciate the reasons for our successes; we take them for granted. The U.S. charged into Iraq without appreciating the far greater difficulty of the postwar task there, and how it would be complicated by the increasingly hostile global opinion of America's military adventures.

America's role as "bad cop" has been a flop on the global stage. Without the American presence in Iraq as a target and scapegoat, Iraqis would be forced to make the hard political decisions they are currently avoiding. We won't know if Iraq can stand on its own until the U.S. forces leave. Meanwhile, South Korea and China refuse to take action on North Korea while accusing the U.S. of provocative behavior. How quickly would their attitudes change if the U.S. pulled its troops out of the Korean Peninsula? Or if Japan--not to mention Taiwan--announced nuclear weapon plans?

From Caracas to Moscow to Pyongyang, everyone follows their own agenda while ignoring President Bush and the U.N. Here in Russia, for example, Vladimir Putin gets Mr. Bush's endorsement for membership to the World Trade Organization while selling advanced air defense missile systems to Iran and imposing sanctions on Georgia, itself a WTO member. WTO membership is not going to benefit ordinary Russians, but it will provide more cover for Mr. Putin and his gang of oligarchs to continue to loot the country and launder the money abroad with no resistance from a distracted, discredited and enfeebled West.

We might not know what works, but we have many fine examples of what doesn't work, and we cannot continue to ignore them. As the world's sole superpower, the U.S. has become a lightening rod. Any intervention causes resentment, and even many traditional allies oppose U.S. plans almost out of hand. America's overly proactive foreign policy has also allowed other nations to avoid responsibility for their own safety, and to avoid making the tough decisions that come with that responsibility.

At the same time, the U.N. has become a perfect example of a broken institution. When leaders are afraid to take real action they go to the U.N., where they know nothing tangible will be achieved. Resolutions are routinely ignored without consequences and, in fact, are openly flouted. Hezbollah proudly waved weapons as the Israeli army left Lebanon, and the kidnapped Israeli soldiers have yet to be released.

So what then, to do? "Mission accomplished" jokes aside, the original goals in Iraq--deposing Saddam Hussein and holding elections--have been achieved. Nation-building was never on the agenda, and it should not be added now. All the allied troops in the world aren't going to stop the Iraqi people from continuing their civil war if this is their choice. As long as Muslim leaders in Iraq and elsewhere are unwilling to confront their own radical elements, outsiders will be spectators in the line of fire.
As for stability, if allied troops leave Iraq: What stability? I won't say things can't get worse--if we've learned anything, it's that things in the Middle East can always get worse; but at least the current deadly dynamic would be changed. And with change there is always hope for improvement. Without change, we are expecting a different result from the same behavior, something once defined as insanity.

Mr. Kasparov, a former world chess champion, is chairman of the United Civil Front in Russia.
28731  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: December 03, 2006, 04:51:20 PM
In contrast to the preceding , , , Not quite sure what to make of this one:

 By Ted Oberg
(11/29/06 - KTRK/KATY, TX) - There's an awful lot of exciting news when you round the corner on Baker Road. One of two big yellow signs announces a new neighbor is coming soon.

Also on

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K.I.A., that's the Katy Islamic Association, plan to build a mosque here.

"It's not an appropriate place to have a mosque or church," said resident Barbara Simpson.

It isn't going over real well.

"As a house of worship, they shouldn't be disturbing the peace and tranquility of 15 homes," said resident John Wetmore.

Neighbors tell us they're concerned about traffic and drainage and a little fear of the unknown. Some of the homeowners even offered to buy the land back for more than a million dollars. The K.I.A. doesn't seem very interested in the offers.

"We're not going anywhere," said Katy Islamic Association member Alvi Muzfar.

So it seems the community at the end of Baker Road has a pretty good fight. But this fight has gone much farther than many between two neighbors. You see in these fights, sometimes neighbors throw mud at one another. In this instance, they're wallowing in it.

Craig Baker owns pigs. He's the guy behind the second big yellow sign on Baker Road. That's the one announcing Friday night pig races.

"What does it matter, I can do whatever I want with my land right," asked landowner Craig Baker.

Sure can. But aren't pigs on the property line racing on a Friday night a little offensive to a Muslim neighbor?

"The meat of a pig is prohibited in the religion of Islam," said Katy Islamic Association member Youssof Allam. "It's looked upon as a dirty creature."

Yeah, there's that and also that Friday night is a Muslim holy day.

"That is definitely a slap in the face," said Allam..

Now before you go thinking Craig Baker is unfair, or full of hate, or somehow racist, hear him out.

Baker has long roots here. His family named the road and when the new neighbors moved in, he tells us, they asked him to move out.

"Basically that I should package up my family and my business and find a place elsewhere," said Baker. "That's ridiculous, they just bought the place one week prior and he's telling me I should think about leaving."
That new owners deny they ever said anything like that, but Baker isn't budging.

Baker admits the pigs are a message he is not leaving.

The 11-acre property is sandwiched between a pricey subdivision and Craig Baker's business.

K.I.A. eventually plans to build a mosque, a gym and a school there. There's no date for the groundbreaking ceremonies, or the first pig race.
(Copyright © 2006, KTRK-TV)
28732  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fire Hydrant: Howls from Crafty Dog, Rules of the Road, etc on: December 03, 2006, 04:11:03 PM

If you would like to promote something, please check in with me and wait for an answer first.

Thank you,
28733  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / FBI uses cell phones as bugs on: December 03, 2006, 12:55:41 PM
FBI taps cell phone mic as eavesdropping tool
Agency used novel surveillance technique on alleged Mafioso: activating his cell phone's microphone and then just listening.
By Declan McCullagh and Anne Broache
Staff Writer, CNET

Published: December 1, 2006, 2:20 PM PST
Last modified: December 1, 2006, 6:35 PM PST
update The FBI appears to have begun using a novel form of electronic surveillance in criminal investigations: remotely activating a mobile phone's microphone and using it to eavesdrop on nearby conversations.

The technique is called a "roving bug," and was approved by top U.S. Department of Justice officials for use against members of a New York organized crime family who were wary of conventional surveillance techniques such as tailing a suspect or wiretapping him.

Bottom line:
While it appears this is the first use of the "roving bug" technique, it has been discussed in security circles for years.

Nextel cell phones owned by two alleged mobsters, John Ardito and his attorney Peter Peluso, were used by the FBI to listen in on nearby conversations. The FBI views Ardito as one of the most powerful men in the Genovese family, a major part of the national Mafia.

The surveillance technique came to light in an opinion published this week by U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan. He ruled that the "roving bug" was legal because federal wiretapping law is broad enough to permit eavesdropping even of conversations that take place near a suspect's cell phone.

Kaplan's opinion said that the eavesdropping technique "functioned whether the phone was powered on or off." Some handsets can't be fully powered down without removing the battery; for instance, some Nokia models will wake up when turned off if an alarm is set.

While the Genovese crime family prosecution appears to be the first time a remote-eavesdropping mechanism has been used in a criminal case, the technique has been discussed in security circles for years.

The U.S. Commerce Department's security office warns that "a cellular telephone can be turned into a microphone and transmitter for the purpose of listening to conversations in the vicinity of the phone." An article in the Financial Times last year said mobile providers can "remotely install a piece of software on to any handset, without the owner's knowledge, which will activate the microphone even when its owner is not making a call."

Nextel and Samsung handsets and the Motorola Razr are especially vulnerable to software downloads that activate their microphones, said James Atkinson, a counter-surveillance consultant who has worked closely with government agencies. "They can be remotely accessed and made to transmit room audio all the time," he said. "You can do that without having physical access to the phone."

Because modern handsets are miniature computers, downloaded software could modify the usual interface that always displays when a call is in progress. The spyware could then place a call to the FBI and activate the microphone--all without the owner knowing it happened. (The FBI declined to comment on Friday.)

"If a phone has in fact been modified to act as a bug, the only way to counteract that is to either have a bugsweeper follow you around 24-7, which is not practical, or to peel the battery off the phone," Atkinson said. Security-conscious corporate executives routinely remove the batteries from their cell phones, he added.

FBI's physical bugs discovered
The FBI's Joint Organized Crime Task Force, which includes members of the New York police department, had little luck with conventional surveillance of the Genovese family. They did have a confidential source who reported the suspects met at restaurants including Brunello Trattoria in New Rochelle, N.Y., which the FBI then bugged.

But in July 2003, Ardito and his crew discovered bugs in three restaurants, and the FBI quietly removed the rest. Conversations recounted in FBI affidavits show the men were also highly suspicious of being tailed by police and avoided conversations on cell phones whenever possible.

That led the FBI to resort to "roving bugs," first of Ardito's Nextel handset and then of Peluso's. U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones approved them in a series of orders in 2003 and 2004, and said she expected to "be advised of the locations" of the suspects when their conversations were recorded.

Details of how the Nextel bugs worked are sketchy. Court documents, including an affidavit (p1) and (p2) prepared by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Kolodner in September 2003, refer to them as a "listening device placed in the cellular telephone." That phrase could refer to software or hardware.

One private investigator interviewed by CNET, Skipp Porteous of Sherlock Investigations in New York, said he believed the FBI planted a physical bug somewhere in the Nextel handset and did not remotely activate the microphone.

"They had to have physical possession of the phone to do it," Porteous said. "There are several ways that they could have gotten physical possession. Then they monitored the bug from fairly near by."

But other experts thought microphone activation is the more likely scenario, mostly because the battery in a tiny bug would not have lasted a year and because court documents say the bug works anywhere "within the United States"--in other words, outside the range of a nearby FBI agent armed with a radio receiver.

In addition, a paranoid Mafioso likely would be suspicious of any ploy to get him to hand over a cell phone so a bug could be planted. And Kolodner's affidavit seeking a court order lists Ardito's phone number, his 15-digit International Mobile Subscriber Identifier, and lists Nextel Communications as the service provider, all of which would be unnecessary if a physical bug were being planted.

A BBC article from 2004 reported that intelligence agencies routinely employ the remote-activiation method. "A mobile sitting on the desk of a politician or businessman can act as a powerful, undetectable bug," the article said, "enabling them to be activated at a later date to pick up sounds even when the receiver is down."

For its part, Nextel said through spokesman Travis Sowders: "We're not aware of this investigation, and we weren't asked to participate."

Other mobile providers were reluctant to talk about this kind of surveillance. Verizon Wireless said only that it "works closely with law enforcement and public safety officials. When presented with legally authorized orders, we assist law enforcement in every way possible."

A Motorola representative said that "your best source in this case would be the FBI itself." Cingular, T-Mobile, and the CTIA trade association did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Mobsters: The surveillance vanguard
This isn't the first time the federal government has pushed at the limits of electronic surveillance when investigating reputed mobsters.

In one case involving Nicodemo S. Scarfo, the alleged mastermind of a loan shark operation in New Jersey, the FBI found itself thwarted when Scarfo used Pretty Good Privacy software (PGP) to encode confidential business data.

So with a judge's approval, FBI agents repeatedly snuck into Scarfo's business to plant a keystroke logger and monitor its output.

Like Ardito's lawyers, Scarfo's defense attorneys argued that the then-novel technique was not legal and that the information gleaned through it could not be used. Also like Ardito, Scarfo's lawyers lost when a judge ruled in January 2002 that the evidence was admissible.

This week, Judge Kaplan in the southern district of New York concluded that the "roving bugs" were legally permitted to capture hundreds of hours of conversations because the FBI had obtained a court order and alternatives probably wouldn't work.

The FBI's "applications made a sufficient case for electronic surveillance," Kaplan wrote. "They indicated that alternative methods of investigation either had failed or were unlikely to produce results, in part because the subjects deliberately avoided government surveillance."

Bill Stollhans, president of the Private Investigators Association of Virginia, said such a technique would be legally reserved for police armed with court orders, not private investigators.

There is "no law that would allow me as a private investigator to use that type of technique," he said. "That is exclusively for law enforcement. It is not allowable or not legal in the private sector. No client of mine can ask me to overhear telephone or strictly oral conversations."

Surreptitious activation of built-in microphones by the FBI has been done before. A 2003 lawsuit revealed that the FBI was able to surreptitiously turn on the built-in microphones in automotive systems like General Motors' OnStar to snoop on passengers' conversations.

When FBI agents remotely activated the system and were listening in, passengers in the vehicle could not tell that their conversations were being monitored.

Malicious hackers have followed suit. A report last year said Spanish authorities had detained a man who write a Trojan horse that secretly activated a computer's video camera and forwarded him the recordings.
28734  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Part Three on: December 03, 2006, 12:46:50 PM
(Page 7 of 10)

There was never a tipping point — “never a moment when two people who never knew each other could begin discussing something,” as Clay Shirky, a professor at New York University who was hired to consult on the project, explained to me. For the intelligence agencies to benefit from “social software,” he said, they need to persuade thousands of employees to begin blogging and creating wikis all at once. And that requires a cultural sea change: persuading analysts, who for years have survived by holding their cards tightly to their chests, to begin openly showing their hands online.

Is it possible to reconcile the needs of secrecy with such a radically open model for sharing? Certainly, there would be merit in a system that lets analysts quickly locate like-minded colleagues around the world to brainstorm new ideas about how the Iraqi insurgency will evolve. But the intelligence agencies also engage in covert operations that ferret out truly incendiary secrets: the locations of Iranian nuclear facilities, say, or the name of a Qaeda leader in Pakistan. Is this the sort of information that is safe to share widely in an online network?

Many in the intelligence agencies suspect not. Indeed, they often refuse to input sensitive intel into their own private, secure databases; they do not trust even their own colleagues, inside their own agencies, to keep their secrets safe. When the F.B.I. unveiled an automated case-support system in 1995, agents were supposed to begin entering all information from their continuing cases into it, so that other F.B.I. agents could benefit from the collected pool of tips. But many agents didn’t. They worried that a hard-won source might be accidentally exposed by an F.B.I. agent halfway across the country. Worse, what would happen if a hacker or criminal found access to the system?

These are legitimate concerns. After the F.B.I. agent Robert Hanssen was arrested for selling the identities of undercover agents to Russia, it turned out he had found their names by trawling through records on the case-support system. As a result, many F.B.I. agents opted to keep their records on paper instead of trusting the database — even, occasionally, storing files in shoeboxes shoved under their desks. “When you have a source, you go to extraordinary lengths to protect their identities,” I. C. Smith, a 25-year veteran of the bureau, told me. “So agents never trusted the system, and rightly so.”

Worse, data errors that allow information to leak can often go undetected. Five years ago, Zalmai Azmi — currently the chief information officer of the F.B.I. — was working at the Department of Justice on a data-sharing project with an intelligence agency. He requested data that the agency was supposed to have scrubbed clean of all classified info. Yet when it arrived, it contained secret information. What had gone wrong? The agency had passed it through filters that removed any document marked “secret” — but many documents were stamped “SECRET,” in uppercase, and the filter didn’t catch the difference. The next time Azmi requested documents, he found yet more secret documents inadvertently leaked. This time it was because the documents had “S E C R E T” typed with a space between each letter, and the filter wasn’t programmed to catch that either.

A spy blogosphere, even carefully secured against intruders, might be fundamentally incompatible with the goal of keeping secrets. And the converse is also true: blogs and wikis are unlikely to thrive in an environment where people are guarded about sharing information. Social software doesn’t work if people aren’t social.

Virtually all proponents of improved spy sharing are aware of this friction, and they have few answers. Meyerrose has already strained at boundaries that make other spies deeply uneasy. During the summer, he set up a completely open chat board on the Internet and invited anyone interested to participate in a two-week-long discussion of how to improve the spy agencies’ policies for acquiring new technology.

The chat room was unencrypted and unsecured, so anyone could drop in and read the postings or mouth off. That way, Meyerrose figured, he’d be more likely to get drop-ins by engineers from small, scrappy start-up software firms who might have brilliant ideas but no other way to get an audience with intelligence chiefs. The chat room provoked howls of outrage. “People were like, ‘Hold it, can’t the Chinese and North Koreans listen in?’ ” Meyerrose told me. “And, sure, they could. But we weren’t going to be discussing state secrets. And the benefits of openness outweigh the risks.”


Page 8 of 10)

For something like Intellipedia, though, which trafficks in genuinely serious intelligence, hard decisions had to be made about what risks were acceptable. Fingar says that deeply sensitive intel would never be allowed onto Intellipedia — particularly if it was operational information about a mission, like a planned raid on a terrorist compound. Indeed, Meyerrose’s office is building three completely separate versions of Intellipedia for each of the three levels of secrecy: Top Secret, Secret and Unclassified. Each will be placed on a data network configured so that only people with the correct level of clearance can see them — and these networks are tightly controlled, so sensitive information typed into the Top Secret Intellipedia cannot accidentally leak into the Unclassified one.

But will this make the Intellipedia less useful? There are a few million government employees who could look at the relatively unsecret Intellipedia. In contrast, only a few thousand intelligence officials qualify for a Top Secret clearance, and thus will be allowed into the elite version. This presents a secrecy paradox. The Unclassified Intellipedia will have the biggest readership and thus will grow the most rapidly; but if it’s devoid of truly sensitive secrets, will it be of any use?

Fingar says yes, for an interesting reason: top-secret information is becoming less useful than it used to be. “The intelligence business was initially, if not inherently, about secrets — running risks and expending a lot of money to acquire secrets,” he said, with the idea that “if you limit how many people see it, it will be more secure, and you will be able to get more of it. But that’s now appropriate for a small and shrinking percentage of information.” The time is past for analysts to act like “monastic scholars in a cave someplace,” he added, laboring for weeks or months in isolation to produce a report.

Fingar says that more value can be generated by analysts sharing bits of “open source” information — the nonclassified material in the broad world, like foreign newspapers, newsletters and blogs. It used to be that on-the-ground spies were the only ones who knew what was going on in a foreign country. But now the average citizen sitting in her living room can peer into the debates, news and lives of people in Iran. “If you want to know what the terrorists’ long-term plans are, the best thing is to read their propaganda — the stuff out there on the Internet,” the W.M.D. analyst told me. “I mean, it’s not secret. They’re telling us.”

Fingar and Andrus and other intelligence thinkers do not play down the importance of covert ops or high-tech satellite surveillance in intercepting specific jihadist plots. But in a world that is awash in information, it is possible, they say, that the meaning of intelligence is shifting. Beat cops in Indiana might be as likely to uncover evidence of a terror plot as undercover C.I.A. agents in Pakistan. Fiery sermons printed on pamphlets in the U.K. might be the most valuable tool in figuring out who’s raising money for a possible future London bombing. The most valuable spy system is one that can quickly assemble disparate pieces that are already lying around — information gathered by doctors, aid workers, police officers or security guards at corporations.

The premise of spy-blogging is that a million connected amateurs will always be smarter than a few experts collected in an elite star chamber; that Wikipedia will always move more quickly than the Encyclopaedia Britannica; that the country’s thousand-odd political bloggers will always spot news trends more quickly than slow-moving journalists in the mainstream media. Yet one of the most successful new terrorism-busting spy organizations since 9/11 does in fact function like a star chamber. The National Counterterrorism Center was established by Congress in 2004 and charged with spotting the most important terrorism threats as they emerge. The counterterrorism center is made up of representatives from every intelligence agency — C.I.A., F.B.I., N.S.A. and others — who work together under one roof. Each analyst has access to details particular to his or her agency, and they simply share information face to face. The analysts check their personal networks for the most dire daily threats and bring them to the group. In three meetings a day, the officials assess all the intel that has risen to their attention — and they jointly decide what the nation’s most serious threats are. “We call it carbon-based integration,” said William Spalding, the center’s chief information officer.


(Page 9 of 10)

When I raised the idea of collaborative tools like blogs and wikis, Spalding and Russ Travers, one of the center’s deputy directors, were skeptical. The whole reason the center works, they said, is that experts have a top-down view that is essential to picking the important information out of the surrounding chatter. The grass roots, they’ve found, are good at collecting threats but not necessarily at analyzing them. If a lot of low-level analysts are pointing to the same inaccurate posting, that doesn’t make it any less wrong.“

The key is to have very smart people culling” the daily tips, Travers told me. In October, for example, nervous rumors that a football stadium in the United States would be subject to a nuclear attack flooded the National Counterterrorism Center; analysts there immediately suspected it was spurious. “The terrorist problem has the worst signal-to-noise ratio,” Travers said. Without the knowledge that comes from long experience, he added, a fledgling analyst or spy cannot know what is important or not. The counterterrorism center, he said, should decide which threats warrant attention. “That’s our job,” he said.

The Spying 2.0 vision has thus created a curious culture battle in intelligence circles. Many of the officials at the very top, like Fingar, Meyerrose and their colleagues at the office of the director of national intelligence, are intrigued by the potential of a freewheeling, smart-mobbing intelligence community. The newest, youngest analysts are in favor of it, too. The resistance comes from the “iron majors” — career officers who occupy the enormous middle bureaucracy of the spy agencies. They might find the idea of an empowered grass roots to be foolhardy; they might also worry that it threatens their turf.

And the critics might turn out to be right. As Clay Shirky of N.Y.U. points out, most wikis and blogs flop. A wiki might never reach a critical mass of contributors and remain anemic until eventually everyone drifts away; many bloggers never attract any attention and, discouraged, eventually stop posting. Wikipedia passed the critical-mass plateau a year ago, but it is a rarity. “The normal case for social software is failure,” Shirky said. And because Intellipedia is now a high-profile experiment with many skeptics, its failure could permanently doom these sorts of collaborative spy endeavors.

There is also the practical question of running a huge civil-service agency where you have to assess the performance of your staff. It might be difficult to measure contributions to a wiki; if a brilliant piece of analysis emerges from the mob, who gets credit for it? “A C.I.A. officer’s career is advanced by producing reports,” notes David Weinberger, a fellow at the Harvard Berkman Center for the Internet and Society, who consulted briefly with the C.I.A. on its social software. “His ability is judged by those reports. And that gets in the way of developing knowledge socially, where it becomes very difficult to know who added or revised what.”

In addition, civil libertarians are alarmed by the idea of spies casually passing sensitive information around from one agency to another. “I don’t want the N.S.A. passing on information about innocent Americans to local cops in San Diego,” Weinberger said. “Those laws exist for good reasons.”

In many ways, the new generation of Web-savvy spies frames the same troubling questions as the Patriot Act, which sought to break down the barriers preventing military spy agencies from conducting operations inside the United States, on American citizens, and then sharing that information with domestic groups. On a sheerly practical level, it makes sense to get rid of all barriers: why not let the N.S.A. wiretap American conversations? Vice President Cheney has argued forcefully that these historical barriers between agencies hobble the American military and intelligence forces; the Patriot Act was designed in part to eliminate them. Terrorist groups like Al Qaeda heed no such boundaries, which is precisely why they can move so quickly and nimbly.


Page 10 of 10)

Then again, there’s a limit to how much the United States ought to emulate Al Qaeda’s modus operandi. “The problems the spies face are serious; I sympathize with that,” Shirky told me. “But they shouldn’t be wiping up every bit of information about every American citizen.” The Pentagon’s infamous Total Information Awareness program, which came to light in 2002, was intended to scoop up information on citizens from a variety of sources — commercial purchase databases, government records — and mine it for suggestive terrorism connections. But to many Americans, this sort of dot-connecting activity seemed like an outrageous violation of privacy, and soon after it was exposed, the program was killed. James X. Dempsey, director of the Center for Democracy and Technology, maintains that the laws on spying and privacy need new clarity. The historic morass of legislation, including the Patriot Act, has become too confusing, he says; both spies and the public are unsure what walls exist. While Dempsey agrees that agencies should probably be allowed to swap more information than they currently do, he says that revamped rules must also respect privacy — “otherwise, we’ll keep on producing programs that violate people’s sense of what’s right, and they’ll keep getting shut down.”

For all the complaints about hardware, the challenges are only in part about technology. They are also about political will and institutional culture — and whether the spy agencies can be persuaded to change. Some former intelligence officials have expressed skepticism about whether Meyerrose and Fingar and their national-intelligence colleagues have the clout and power to persuade the agencies to adopt this new paradigm. Though D.N.I. officials say they have direct procurement authority over technology for all the agencies, there’s no evidence yet that Meyerrose will be able to make a serious impact on the eight spy agencies in the Department of Defense, which has its own annual $38 billion intelligence budget — the lion’s share of all the money the government spends on spying. When I spoke to Wilson P. Dizard III, a writer with Government Computer News who has covered federal technology issues for two decades, he said, “You have all these little barons at N.S.A. and C.I.A. and whatever, and a lot of people think they’re not going to do what the D.N.I. says, if push comes to shove.”
Today’s spies exist in an age of constant information exchange, in which everyday citizens swap news, dial up satellite pictures of their houses and collaborate on distant Web sites with strangers. As John Arquilla told me, if the spies do not join the rest of the world, they risk growing to resemble the rigid, unchanging bureaucracy that they once confronted during the cold war. “Fifteen years ago we were fighting the Soviet Union,” he said. “Who knew it would be replicated today in the intelligence community?”

28735  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Part Two on: December 03, 2006, 12:45:41 PM
Page 4 of 10)

Andrus argued that the real power of the Internet comes from the boom in self-publishing: everyday people surging online to impart their thoughts and views. He was particularly intrigued by Wikipedia, the “reader-authored” encyclopedia, where anyone can edit an entry or create a new one without seeking permission from Wikipedia’s owners. This open-door policy, as Andrus noted, allows Wikipedia to cover new subjects quickly. The day of the London terrorist bombings, Andrus visited Wikipedia and noticed that barely minutes after the attacks, someone had posted a page describing them. Over the next hour, other contributors — some physically in London, with access to on-the-spot details — began adding more information and correcting inaccurate news reports. “You could just sit there and hit refresh, refresh, refresh, and get a sort of ticker-tape experience,” Andrus told me. What most impressed Andrus was Wikipedia’s self-governing nature. No central editor decreed what subjects would be covered. Individuals simply wrote pages on subjects that interested them — and then like-minded readers would add new facts or fix errors. Blogs, Andrus noted, had the same effect: they leveraged the wisdom of the crowd. When a blogger finds an interesting tidbit of news, he posts a link to it, along with a bit of commentary. Then other bloggers find that link and, if they agree it’s an interesting news item, post their own links pointing to it. This produces a cascade effect. Whatever the first blogger pointed toward can quickly amass so many links pointing in its direction that it rockets to worldwide notoriety in a matter of hours.

Spies, Andrus theorized, could take advantage of these rapid, self-organizing effects. If analysts and agents were encouraged to post personal blogs and wikis on Intelink — linking to their favorite analyst reports or the news bulletins they considered important — then mob intelligence would take over. In the traditional cold-war spy bureaucracy, an analyst’s report lived or died by the whims of the hierarchy. If he was in the right place on the totem pole, his report on Soviet missiles could be pushed up higher; if a supervisor chose to ignore it, the report essentially vanished. Blogs and wikis, in contrast, work democratically. Pieces of intel would receive attention merely because other analysts found them interesting. This grass-roots process, Andrus argued, suited the modern intelligence challenge of sifting through thousands of disparate clues: if a fact or observation struck a chord with enough analysts, it would snowball into popularity, no matter what their supervisors thought.

A profusion of spy blogs and wikis would have another, perhaps even more beneficial impact. It would drastically improve the search engines of Intelink. In a paper that won an honorable mention in the Galileo Awards, Matthew Burton — the young former D.I.A. analyst — made this case. He pointed out that the best Internet search engines, including Google, all use “link analysis” to measure the authority of documents. When you type the search “Afghanistan” into Google, it finds every page that includes that word. Then it ranks the pages in part by how many links point to the page — based on the idea that if many bloggers and sites have linked to a page, it must be more useful than others. To do its job well, Google relies on the links that millions of individuals post online every day.

This, Burton pointed out, is precisely the problem with Intelink. It has no links, no social information to help sort out which intel is significant and which isn’t. When an analyst’s report is posted online, it does not include links to other reports, even ones it cites. There’s no easy way for agents to link to a report or post a comment about it. Searching Intelink thus resembles searching the Internet before blogs and Google came along — a lot of disconnected information, hard to sort through. If spies were encouraged to blog on Intelink, Burton reasoned, their profuse linking could mend that situation. “


Page 5 of 10)

Imagine having tools that could spot emerging patterns for you and guide you to documents that might be the missing pieces of evidence you’re looking for,” Burton wrote in his Galileo paper. “Analytical puzzles, like terror plots, are often too piecemeal for individual brains to put together. Having our documents aware of each other would be like hooking several brains up in a line, so that each one knows what the others know, making the puzzle much easier to solve.”

With Andrus and Burton’s vision in mind, you can almost imagine how 9/11 might have played out differently. In Phoenix, the F.B.I. agent Kenneth Williams might have blogged his memo noting that Al Qaeda members were engaging in flight-training activity. The agents observing a Qaeda planning conference in Malaysia could have mentioned the attendance of a Saudi named Khalid al-Midhar; another agent might have added that he held a multi-entry American visa. The F.B.I. agents who snared Zacarias Moussaoui in Minnesota might have written about their arrest of a flight student with violent tendencies. Other agents and analysts who were regular readers of these blogs would have found the material interesting, linked to it, pointed out connections or perhaps entered snippets of it into a wiki page discussing this new trend of young men from the Middle East enrolling in pilot training.

As those four original clues collected more links pointing toward them, they would have amassed more and more authority in the Intelink search engine. Any analysts doing searches for “Moussaoui” or “Al Qaeda” or even “flight training” would have found them. Indeed, the original agents would have been considerably more likely to learn of one another’s existence and perhaps to piece together the topography of the 9/11 plot. No one was able to prevent 9/11 because nobody connected the dots. But in a system like this, as Andrus’s theory goes, the dots are inexorably drawn together. “Once the intelligence community has a robust and mature wiki and blog knowledge-sharing Web space,” Andrus concluded in his essay, “the nature of intelligence will change forever.”

At first glance, the idea might seem slightly crazy. Outfit the C.I.A. and the F.B.I. with blogs and wikis? In the civilian world, after all, these online tools have not always amassed the most stellar reputations. There are many valuable blogs and wikis, of course, but they are vastly outnumbered by ones that exist to compile useless ephemera, celebrity gossip and flatly unverifiable assertions. Nonetheless, Andrus’s ideas struck a chord with many very senior members of the office of the director of national intelligence. This fall, I met with two of them: Thomas Fingar, the patrician head of analysis for the D.N.I., and Mike Wertheimer, his chief technology officer, whose badge clip sports a button that reads “geek.” If it is Meyerrose’s job to coax spy hardware to cooperate, it is Fingar’s job to do the same for analysts.

Fingar and Wertheimer are now testing whether a wiki could indeed help analysts do their job. In the fall of 2005, they joined forces with C.I.A. wiki experts to build a prototype of something called Intellipedia, a wiki that any intelligence employee with classified clearance could read and contribute to. To kick-start the content, C.I.A. analysts seeded it with hundreds of articles from nonclassified documents like the C.I.A. World Fact Book. In April, they sent out e-mail to other analysts inviting them to contribute, and sat back to see what happened.

By this fall, more than 3,600 members of the intelligence services had contributed a total of 28,000 pages. Chris Rasmussen, a 31-year-old “knowledge management” engineer at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, spends part of every day writing or editing pages. Rasmussen is part of the younger generation in the intelligence establishment that is completely comfortable online; he regularly logs into a sprawling, 50-person chat room with other Intellipedians, and he also blogs about his daily work for all other spies to read. He told me the usefulness of Intellipedia proved itself just a couple of months ago, when a small two-seater plane crashed into a Manhattan building. An analyst created a page within 20 minutes, and over the next two hours it was edited 80 times by employees of nine different spy agencies, as news trickled out. Together, they rapidly concluded the crash was not a terrorist act. “In the intelligence community, there are so many ‘Stay off the grass’ signs,” Rasmussen said. “But here, you’re free to do what you want, and it works.”


(Page 6 of 10)

By the late summer, Fingar decided the Intellipedia experiment was sufficiently successful that he would embark on an even more high-profile project: using Intellipedia to produce a “national intelligence estimate” for Nigeria. An N.I.E. is an authoritative snapshot of what the intelligence community thinks about a particular state — and a guide for foreign and military policy. Nigeria, Fingar said, is a complex country, with issues ranging from energy to Islamic radicalism to polio outbreaks to a coming election. Intellipedia’s Nigeria page will harness the smarts of the dozen or so analysts who specialize in the country. But it will also, Fingar hopes, attract contributions from other intelligence employees who have expertise Fingar isn’t yet aware of — an analyst who served in the Peace Corps in Nigeria, or a staff member who has recently traveled there. In the traditional method of producing an intelligence estimate, Fingar said, he would call every agency and ask to borrow their Africa expert for a week or two of meetings. “And they’d say: ‘Well, I only got one guy who can spell Nigeria, and he’s traveling. So you lose.’ ” In contrast, a wiki will “change the rules of who can play,” Fingar said, since far-flung analysts and agents around the world could contribute, day or night.

Yet Intellipedia also courts the many dangers of wikis — including the possibility of error. What’s to stop analysts from posting assertions that turn out to be false? Fingar admits this will undoubtedly happen. But if there are enough people looking at an entry, he says, there will always be someone to catch any grave mistakes. Rasmussen notes that though there is often strong disagreement and debate on Intellipedia, it has not yet succumbed to the sort of vandalism that often plagues Wikipedia pages, including the posting of outright lies. This is partly because, unlike with Wikipedia, Intellipedia contributors are not anonymous. Whatever an analyst writes on Intellipedia can be traced to him. “If you demonstrate you’ve got something to contribute, hey, the expectation is you’re a valued member,” Fingar said. “You demonstrate you’re an idiot, that becomes known, too.”

While the C.I.A. and Fingar’s office set up their wiki, Meyerrose’s office was dabbling in the other half of Andrus’s equation. In July, his staff decided to create a test blog to collect intelligence. It would focus on spotting and predicting possible avian-flu outbreaks and function as part of a larger portal on the subject to collect information from hundreds of sources around the world, inside and outside of the intelligence agencies. Avian flu, Meyerrose reasoned, is a national-security problem uniquely suited to an online-community effort, because information about the danger is found all over the world. An agent in Southeast Asia might be the first to hear news of dangerous farming practices; a medical expert in Chicago could write a crucial paper on transmission that was never noticed by analysts.

In August, one of Meyerrose’s assistants sat me down to show me a very brief glimpse of the results. In the months that it has been operational, the portal has amassed 38,000 “active” participants, though not everyone posts information. In one corner was the active-discussion area — the group blog where the participants could post their latest thoughts about avian flu and others could reply and debate. I noticed a posting, written by a university academic, on whether the H5N1 virus could actually be transmitted to humans, which had provoked a dozen comments. “See, these people would never have been talking before, and we certainly wouldn’t have heard about it if they did,” the assistant said. By September, the site had become so loaded with information and discussion that Rear Adm. Arthur Lawrence, a top official in the health department, told Meyerrose it had become the government’s most crucial resource on avian flu.

The blog seemed like an awfully modest thing to me. But Meyerrose insists that the future of spying will be revolutionized as much by these small-bore projects as by billion-dollar high-tech systems. Indeed, he says that overly ambitious projects often result in expensive disasters, the way the F.B.I.’s $170 million attempt to overhaul its case-handling software died in 2005 after the software became so complex that the F.B.I. despaired of ever fixing the bugs and shelved it. In contrast, the blog software took only a day or two to get running. “We need to think big, start small and scale fast,” Meyerrose said.

Moving quickly, in fact, is crucial to building up the sort of critical mass necessary to make blogs and wikis succeed. Back in 2003, a Department of Defense agency decided to train its analysts in the use of blog software, in hopes that they would begin posting about their work, read one another’s blogs and engage in productive conversations. But the agency’s officials trained only small groups of perhaps five analysts a month. After they finished their training, those analysts would go online, excited, and start their blogs. But they’d quickly realize no one else was reading their posts aside from the four other people they’d gone through the training with. They’d get bored and quit blogging, just as the next trainees came online.
28736  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: December 03, 2006, 12:44:13 PM
Today's NY Times:

When Matthew Burton arrived at the Defense Intelligence Agency in January 2003, he was excited about getting to his computer. Burton, who was then 22, had long been interested in international relations: he had studied Russian politics and interned at the U.S. consulate in Ukraine, helping to speed refugee applications of politically persecuted Ukrainians. But he was also a big high-tech geek fluent in Web-page engineering, and he spent hours every day chatting online with friends and updating his own blog. When he was hired by the D.I.A., he told me recently, his mind boggled at the futuristic, secret spy technology he would get to play with: search engines that can read minds, he figured. Desktop video conferencing with colleagues around the world. If the everyday Internet was so awesome, just imagine how much better the spy tools would be.

But when he got to his cubicle, his high-tech dreams collapsed. “The reality,” he later wrote ruefully, “was a colossal letdown.”
The spy agencies were saddled with technology that might have seemed cutting edge in 1995. When he went onto Intelink — the spy agencies’ secure internal computer network — the search engines were a pale shadow of Google, flooding him with thousands of useless results. If Burton wanted to find an expert to answer a question, the personnel directories were of no help. Worse, instant messaging with colleagues, his favorite way to hack out a problem, was impossible: every three-letter agency — from the Central Intelligence Agency to the National Security Agency to army commands — used different discussion groups and chat applications that couldn’t connect to one another. In a community of secret agents supposedly devoted to quickly amassing information, nobody had even a simple blog — that ubiquitous tool for broadly distributing your thoughts.

Something had gone horribly awry, Burton realized. Theoretically, the intelligence world ought to revolve around information sharing. If F.B.I. agents discover that Al Qaeda fund-raising is going on in Brooklyn, C.I.A. agents in Europe ought to be able to know that instantly. The Internet flourished under the credo that information wants to be free; the agencies, however, had created their online networks specifically to keep secrets safe, locked away so only a few could see them. This control over the flow of information, as the 9/11 Commission noted in its final report, was a crucial reason American intelligence agencies failed to prevent those attacks. All the clues were there — Al Qaeda associates studying aviation in Arizona, the flight student Zacarias Moussaoui arrested in Minnesota, surveillance of a Qaeda plotting session in Malaysia — but none of the agents knew about the existence of the other evidence. The report concluded that the agencies failed to “connect the dots.”

By way of contrast, every night when Burton went home, he was reminded of how good the everyday Internet had become at connecting dots. “Web 2.0” technologies that encourage people to share information — blogs, photo-posting sites like Flickr or the reader-generated encyclopedia Wikipedia — often made it easier to collaborate with others. When the Orange Revolution erupted in Ukraine in late 2004, Burton went to Technorati, a search engine that scours the “blogosphere,” to find the most authoritative blog postings on the subject. Within minutes, he had found sites with insightful commentary from American expatriates who were talking to locals in Kiev and on-the-fly debates among political analysts over what it meant. Because he and his fellow spies were stuck with outdated technology, they had no comparable way to cooperate — to find colleagues with common interests and brainstorm online.

Burton, who has since left the D.I.A., is not alone in his concern. Indeed, throughout the intelligence community, spies are beginning to wonder why their technology has fallen so far behind — and talk among themselves about how to catch up. Some of the country’s most senior intelligence thinkers have joined the discussion, and surprisingly, many of them believe the answer may lie in the interactive tools the world’s teenagers are using to pass around YouTube videos and bicker online about their favorite bands. Billions of dollars’ worth of ultrasecret data networks couldn’t help spies piece together the clues to the worst terrorist plot ever. So perhaps, they argue, it’ s time to try something radically different. Could blogs and wikis prevent the next 9/11?

The job of an analyst used to be much more stable — even sedate. In the ’70s and ’80s, during the cold war, an intelligence analyst would show up for work at the C.I.A.’s headquarters in Langley, Va., or at the National Security Agency compound in Fort Meade, Md., and face a mess of paper. All day long, tips, memos and reports from field agents would arrive: cables from a covert-ops spy in Moscow describing a secret Soviet meeting, or perhaps fresh pictures of a missile silo. An analyst’s job was to take these raw pieces of intelligence and find patterns in the noise. In a crisis, his superiors might need a quick explanation of current events to pass on to their agency heads or to Congress. But mostly he was expected to perform long-term “strategic analysis” — to detect entirely new threats that were still forming.

And during the cold war, threats formed slowly. The Soviet Union was a ponderous bureaucracy that moved at the glacial speed of the five-year plan. Analysts studied the emergence of new tanks and missiles, pieces of hardware that took years to develop. One year, an analyst might report that the keel for a Soviet nuclear submarine had been laid; a few years later, a follow-up report would describe the submarine’s completion; even more years later, a final report would detail the sea trials. Writing reports was thus a leisurely affair, taking weeks or months; thousands of copies were printed up and distributed via interoffice mail. If an analyst’s report impressed his superiors, they’d pass it on to their superiors, and they to theirs — until, if the analyst was very lucky, it landed eventually in the president’s inner circle. But this sort of career achievement was rare. Of the thousands of analyst reports produced each year, the majority sat quietly gathering dust on agency shelves, unread by anyone.


Published: December 3, 2006
(Page 2 of 10)

Analysts also did not worry about anything other than their corners of the world. Russia experts focused on Russia, Nicaragua ones on Nicaragua. Even after the cold war ended, the major spy agencies divided up the world: the F.B.I. analyzed domestic crime, the C.I.A. collected intelligence internationally and military spy agencies, like the National Security Agency and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, evaluated threats to the national defense. If an analyst requested information from another agency, that request traveled through elaborate formal channels. The walls between the agencies were partly a matter of law. The charters of the C.I.A. and the defense intelligence agencies prohibited them from spying on American citizens, under the logic that the intrusive tactics needed to investigate foreign threats would violate constitutional rights if applied at home. The F.B.I. even had an internal separation: agents investigating terrorist activity would not share information with those investigating crimes, worried that secrets gleaned from tailing Al Qaeda operatives might wind up publicly exposed in a criminal trial.


Then on Sept. 12, 2001, analysts showed up at their desks and faced a radically altered job. Islamist terrorists, as 9/11 proved, behaved utterly unlike the Soviet Union. They were rapid-moving, transnational and cellular. A corner-store burglar in L.A. might turn out to be a Qaeda sympathizer raising money for a plot being organized overseas. An imam in suburban Detroit could be recruiting local youths to send to the Sudan for paramilitary training. Al Qaeda operatives organized their plots in a hivelike fashion, with collaborators from Afghanistan to London using e-mail, instant messaging and Yahoo groups; rarely did a single mastermind run the show. To disrupt these new plots, some intelligence officials concluded, American agents and analysts would need to cooperate just as fluidly — trading tips quickly among agents and agencies. Following the usual chain of command could be fatal. “To fight a network like Al Qaeda, you need to behave like a network,” John Arquilla, the influential professor of defense at the Naval Postgraduate School, told me.

It was a fine vision. But analysts were saddled with technology that was designed in the cold war. They now at least had computers, and intelligence arrived as electronic messages instead of paper memos. But their computers still communicated almost exclusively with people inside their agencies. When the intelligence services were computerized in the ’90s, they had digitally replicated their cold-war divisions — each one building a multimillion-dollar system that allowed the agency to share information internally but not readily with anyone outside.

The computer systems were designed to be “air gapped.” The F.B.I. terminals were connected to one another — but not to the computers at any other agency, and vice versa. Messages written on the C.I.A.’s network (which they still quaintly called “cables”) were purely internal. To get a message to the F.B.I. required a special communication called a “telegraphic dissemination.” Each agency had databases to amass intelligence, but because of the air gap, other agencies could not easily search them. The divisions were partly because of turf battles and partly because of legal restrictions — but they were also technological. Mike Scheuer, an adviser to the C.I.A.’s bin Laden unit until 2004, told me he had been frustrated by the inability of the systems to interpenetrate. “About 80 percent of C.I.A.-F.B.I. difficulties came from the fact that we couldn’t communicate with one another,” he said. Scheuer told me he would often send a document electronically to the F.B.I., then call to make sure the agents got it. “And they’d say, ‘We can’t find it, can you fax it?’ And then we’d call, and they’d say, ‘Well, the system said it came in, but we still can’t find it — so could you courier it over?’ ” “

These systems have served us very well for five decades,” Dale Meyerrose told me when I spoke with him recently. But now, he said, they’re getting in the way. “The 16 intelligence organizations of the U.S. are without peer. They are the best in the world. The trick is, are they collectively the best?”


Page 3 of 10)

Last year, Meyerrose, a retired Air Force major general, was named the chief information officer — the head computer guy, as it were — for the office of the director of national intelligence. Established by Congress in 2004, the D.N.I.’s office has a controversial mandate: it is supposed to report threats to the president and persuade the intelligence agencies to cooperate more closely. Both tasks were formerly the role of the C.I.A. director, but since the C.I.A. director had no budgetary power over the other agencies, they rarely heeded his calls to pass along their secrets. So the new elevated position of national-intelligence director was created; ever since, it has been filled by John Negroponte. Last December, Negroponte hired Meyerrose and gave him the daunting task of developing mechanisms to allow the various agencies’ aging and incompatible systems to swap data. Right away, Meyerrose ordered some sweeping changes. In the past, each agency chose its own outside contractor to build customized software — creating proprietary systems, each of which stored data in totally different file formats. From now on, Meyerrose said, each agency would have to build new systems using cheaper, off-the-shelf software so they all would be compatible. But bureaucratic obstacles were just a part of the problem Meyerrose faced. He was also up against something deeper in the DNA of the intelligence services. “We’ve had this ‘need to know’ culture for years,” Meyerrose said. “Well, we need to move to a ‘need to share’ philosophy.”

There was already one digital pipeline that joined the agencies (though it had its own limitations): Intelink, which connects most offices in each intelligence agency. It was created in 1994 after C.I.A. officials saw how the Web was rapidly transforming the way private-sector companies shared information. Intelink allows any agency to publish a Web page, or put a document or a database online, secure in the knowledge that while other agents and analysts can access it, the outside world cannot.

So why hasn’t Intelink given young analysts instant access to all secrets from every agency? Because each agency’s databases, and the messages flowing through their internal pipelines, are not automatically put onto Intelink. Agency supervisors must actively decide what data they will publish on the network — and their levels of openness vary. Some departments have created slick, professional sites packed full of daily alerts and searchable collections of their reports going back years. Others have put up little more than a “splash page” announcing they exist. Operational information — like details of a current covert action — is rarely posted, usually because supervisors fear that a leak could jeopardize a delicate mission.

Nonetheless, Intelink has grown to the point that it contains thousands of agency sites and several hundred databases. Analysts at the various agencies generate 50,000 official reports a year, many of which are posted to the network. The volume of material online is such that analysts now face a new problem: data overload. Even if they suspect good information might exist on Intelink, it is often impossible to find it. The system is poorly indexed, and its internal search tools perform like the pre-Google search engines of the ’90s.“

One of my daily searches is for words like ‘Afghanistan’ or ‘Taliban,’ ” I was told by one young military analyst who specializes in threats from weapons of mass destruction. (He requested anonymity because he isn’t authorized to speak to reporters.) “So I’m looking for reports from field agents saying stuff like, ‘I’m out here, and here’s what I saw,’ ” he continued. “But I get to my desk and I’ve got, like, thousands a day — mountains of information, and no way to organize it.”

Adding to the information glut, there’s an increasingly large amount of data to read outside of Intelink. Intelligence analysts are finding it more important to keep up with “open source” information — nonclassified material published in full public view, like newspapers, jihadist blogs and discussion boards in foreign countries. This adds ever more calories to the daily info diet. The W.M.D. analyst I spoke to regularly reads the blog of Juan Cole, a University of Michigan professor known for omnivorous linking to, and acerbic analysis of, news from the Middle East. “He’s not someone spies would normally pay attention to, but now he’s out there — and he’s a subject-matter expert, right?” the analyst said.

Intelligence hoarding presented one set of problems, but pouring it into a common ocean, Meyerrose realized soon after moving into his office, is not the answer either. “Intelligence is about looking for needles in haystacks, and we can’t just keep putting more hay on the stack,” he said. What the agencies needed was a way to take the thousands of disparate, unorganized pieces of intel they generate every day and somehow divine which are the most important.

Intelligence heads wanted to try to find some new answers to this problem. So the C.I.A. set up a competition, later taken over by the D.N.I., called the Galileo Awards: any employee at any intelligence agency could submit an essay describing a new idea to improve information sharing, and the best ones would win a prize. The first essay selected was by Calvin Andrus, chief technology officer of the Center for Mission Innovation at the C.I.A. In his essay, “The Wiki and the Blog: Toward a Complex Adaptive Intelligence Community,” Andrus posed a deceptively simple question: How did the Internet become so useful in helping people find information?

28737  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Economics on: December 03, 2006, 08:45:11 AM

Milton Friedman's "Free to Choose"!
28738  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: December 03, 2006, 08:38:52 AM
  Posted December 02, 2006 06:43 AM  Hide Post

THE FAKING IMAMS -- Pajamas Media Exclusive: Police Report, Passenger Reveals That Flying Imams Were Up to No Good

PJM in Seattle
December 1, 2006 5:58 PM
The Now Notorious Flying Imams Claim Their Only Crime Was “Flying While Muslim,” But Our Exclusive Reporting Reveals They Are Trying to Sweep Their Real Motives Under Their Prayer Rugs

Area Muslims pray near the ticketing area of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, Friday, Dec. 1.

SEE ALSO: The first public publication of the official police report on the incident including handwritten statements from witnesses. Download file — PDF 3.8 Mgb

PLUS: The letter from US Airways passenger “Pauline” to U.S. Airways: Download file PDF 68K

[Bloggers are invited to examine these documents and provide theories for what happened. Please notify Pajamas Media. — Editors]

By Richard Miniter, PJM Washington Editor

The case of U.S. Airways flight 300 gets stranger by the minute. When six traveling Muslim clerics were asked to deplane last week, it looked like another civil rights controversy against post-9-11 airport security.

Now new information is emerging that suggests it was all a stunt designed to weaken security….

Yesterday I spoke with a passenger on that flight, who asked that she be only identified as “Pauline.” A copy of airport police report, which I also obtained, supports Pauline’s account - and includes shocking revelations of its own. In addition, U.S. Airways spokeswoman Andrea Rader also confirmed much of what Pauline revealed…..

The passenger, who asked that she only be identified as “Pauline,” said she is afraid to give her full name or hometown. She is spending the night at “another location” because she does not feel safe at home. She credits reports that one imam is apparently linked to Hamas. “It is scary because these men could be dangerous.”

Pauline said she never wanted media attention. She wrote an email to U.S. Airways and cc:ed her daughter, who unexpectedly emailed it to her friends. As the letter took on an internet life of its own, it made its way to the inbox of a retired CNN executive producer. Then, to her dismay, the feeding frenzy began.

Pauline revealed to the Pajamas Media that the six imams were doing things far more suspicious than praying - an Arabic-speaking passenger heard them repeatedly invoke “bin Laden,” and “terrorism,” a gate attendant told the captain that she did not want to fly with them, and that bomb-sniffing dogs were brought aboard. Other Muslim passengers were left undisturbed and later joined in a round of applause for the U.S. Airways crew. “It wasn’t that they were Muslim. It was all of the suspicious things they did,” Pauline said.

Here is her story, along with corroborating quotes from the U.S. Airways spokeswoman Andrea Rader and the official report, another Pajamas Media Exclusive.

Sitting in Minneapolis-St. Paul’s Airport Gate C9, she noticed one of the imams immediately. “He was pacing nervously, talking in Arabic,” she said.

She quickly noticed the others. “They didn’t look like holy men to me. They looked like guys heading out of town for a Vikings game.”

Pauline said she did not see or hear the imams pray at the gate (she was at dinner in a nearby airport eatery), but heard about the pre-flight prayers from other passengers hours later.

As the plane boarded, she said, no one refused to fly. The public prayers and Arabic phone call did not trigger any alarms - so much for the p.c. allegations that people were disturbed by Muslim prayers.

But a note from a passenger about suspicious movements of the imams got the crew’s attention. A copy of the passenger’s note appears in the police report.

To Pauline everything seemed normal. Then the captain - in classic laconic pilot-style - announced there had been a “mix up in our paperwork” and that the flight would be delayed.

In reality, the air crew was waiting for the FBI and local police to arrive.

Ninety minutes after the flight’s scheduled 5:15 p.m. departure, the captain announced yet another delay. Still, Pauline said, there was no sense of alarm.

Still, it seemed like just another annoying development, typical when flying the friendly skies.

The situation in cockpit was far more intense, according to a U.S. Airways spokeswoman and police reports.

Contrary to press accounts that a single note from a passenger triggered the imams’ removal, Captain John Howard Wood was weighing multiple factors - factors that have largely been ignored by the press.

Another passenger, not the note writer, was an Arabic speaker sitting near two of the imams in the plane’s tail. That passenger pulled a flight attendant aside, and in a whisper, translated what the men were saying. They were invoking “bin Laden” and condemning America for “killing Saddam,” according to police reports.

Meanwhile an imam seated in first class asked for a seat-belt extension, even though according to both an on-duty flight attendant and another deadheading flight attendant, he looked too thin to need one. Hours later, when the passengers were being evacuated, the seat-belt extension was found on the floor near the imam’s seat, police reports confirm. The U.S. Airways spokeswoman Andrea Rader said she did not dispute the report, but said the airline’s internal investigation cannot yet account for the seat-belt extension request or its subsequent use.

A seat-belt extension can easily be used as a weapon, by wrapping the open-end of the belt around your fist and swinging the heavy metal buckle.

Still, it seemed like just another annoying development, typical when flying the friendly skies. Days after the incident, the imam would claim that the steward helped him attach the device. Pauline said he is lying. Hours later, when the police was being evacuated, the steward asked Pauline to hand him the seat-belt extension, which the imam did not attach, but placed on the floor. “I know he is lying,” Pauline said, “I had it [seat belt extension] in my hand.”

A passenger in the third row of first class, Pauline said, told a member of the crew: “I don’t have a good feeling about this guy,” about the imam who wanted the seat-belt extension.

A married couple one row behind first-class, tried to strike up a conversation with the imam seated near them. He refused to talk or even look at the woman in the eye, according to Pauline. Instead, he stood up and moved to join the other imams in the back of the plane. Why would he leave the luxury end of the aircraft? Pauline wondered. The account of the married couple does not appear in the police report.

Finally, a gate attendant told the captain she thought the imams were acting suspiciously, according to police reports.

So the captain apparently made his decision to delay the flight based on many complaints, not one. And he consulted a federal air marshal, a U.S. Airways ground security coordinator and the airline’s security office in Phoenix. All thought the imams were acting suspiciously, Rader told me.

Other factors were also considered: All six imams had boarded together, with the first-class passengers - even though only one of them had a first-class ticket. Three had one-way tickets. Between the six men, only one had checked a bag.

And, Pauline said, they spread out just like the 9-11 hijackers. Two sat in first, two in the middle, and two back in the economy section. Pauline’s account is confirmed by the police report. The airline spokeswoman added that some seemed to be sitting in seats not assigned to them.

One thing that no one seemed to consider at the time, perhaps due to lack of familiarity with Islamic practice, is that the men prayed both at the gate and on the plane. Observant Muslims pray only once at sundown, not twice.

“It was almost as if they were intentionally trying to get kicked off the flight,” Pauline said.

A lone plain clothes FBI agent boarded the plane and briefly spoke to the imams. Later, uniformed police escorted them off.

Some press reports said the men were led off in handcuffs, which Pauline disputes. “I saw them. They were not handcuffed.”

Later, each imam was individually brought back on the aircraft to reclaim his belongings. They were still not handcuffed. They may have been handcuffed later.

At this point, the passengers became alarmed. “How do we know they got all their stuff off?” Pauline heard one man ask.

While the imams were soon released, Pauline is fuming: “We are the victims of these people. They need to be more sensitive to us. They were totally insensitive to us and then accused us of being insensitive to them. I mean, we were a lot more inconvenienced than them.”

The plane was delayed for some three and one-half hours.

Bomb-sniffing dogs were used to sweep the plane and every passenger was re-screened, the airline spokeswoman confirmed. Another detail omitted from press reports.

The reaction of the remaining passengers has also gone unreported. “We applauded and cheered for the crew,” she said.

“I think it was either a foiled attempt to take over the plane or it was a publicity stunt to accuse us of being insensitive,” Pauline said. “It had to be to intimidate U.S. Airways to ease up on security.”

So far, U.S. Airways refuses to be intimidated, even though the feds have launched an investigation. “We are absolutely backing this crew,” Rader said.

Tucked away in the police report is this little gem: one of the imams had complained to a passenger that some nations did not follow shariah law and his job in Bakersfield, Calif. was a cover for “representing Muslims here in the U.S.”

So what are the imams really up to? Something more than praying it seems.


By Beila Rabinowitz and William A. Mayer

December 1, 2006 - San Francisco, CA - - The November 20 action by 6 Imams on a U.S. Airways flight was a pre-conceived exercise in cultural jihad.

The Muslim preachers had just returned from the North American Imam Federation conference and were merely putting into practice the media manipulation techniques which they had studied and discussed at the 2 day event.

It is no coincidence that the event took place in Minneapolis where Muslim voters had just elected Keith Ellison, a Wahhabist Muslim [who, incidentally is insisting on taking the oath of office by swearing on the Quran rather than the Bible].

The Minneapolis/St. Paul airport was also the site of a controversy that we reported on in September [Muslim Taxi Drivers At Minneapolis International Airport Subjecting Fares To Sharia] when Muslim taxi drivers, working with radical Islamist groups refused to transport passengers whom they believed to be carrying alcohol. A follow-up piece [Are Minneapolis Taxi Fares Going To Support Al-Qaeda?] explored the ties to terror that exist among the mostly Somali immigrant taxi drivers.

The imam's actions were the culminating event in a carefully executed plan that was preceded by a series of smaller incidents in which Muslims tested the tolerance level of the airlines and passengers by wearing T shirts to the airport reading "I am not a Terrorist." As part of this ramp-up in provocation, an Islamist activist goaded airport security personnel into preventing him from entering a plane because he was wearing a T shirt emblazoned with possibly threatening Arabic text.

Following this same template, the imams intentionally pushed all the right buttons to arouse the suspicions of airport security, Federal air marshals and passengers alike.

Specifically, some of the Imams had one way tickets and checked no baggage, they had prayed loudly and very publicly before entering the plane, shouting Allahu Akhbar ["God is great," an Arabic chant often used by terrorists as a war cry] they refused to take their assigned seats instead occupying seats strategically chosen to control all entrances and exits of the airliner. Passengers overheard them making anti-American remarks, statements strongly against the war in Iraq and mentions of al-Qaeda and bin-Laden. Two of the Imams demanded seat belt extenders [which could be used as weapons] when neither of them were overweight and thus realistically in need of making their seat belts longer. When confronted for their bizarre behavior and asked to voluntarily leave the plane for questioning, they refused and were then forcibly removed.

Their actions were thus consistent with either a terrorist probe - a dry run - or the real thing, the prelude to a hijacking attempt.

It is extremely troubling to consider the degree to which these supposedly holy men were familiar with the intricacies of the airline terror MO especially their request for heavy buckled seat belt extenders, which were placed on the floor alongside the imam's seats - supposedly ready for action - and their desire to be able to control entry and exit from the aircraft.

One explanation for the imam's apparent first hand knowledge of terrorist methodology might be due to the acumen of Omar Shahin who has a long history of involvement with terrorists and terror fundraising activities as Imam of the Islamic Center of Tucson which is linked to Hamas and al-Qaeda. The former director of Shahin's mosque, Wael Hamza Julaidan was the co-founder of al-Qaeda and current board member, Mir Ramatullah who also worked with Shahin sits on the ICT board today. Shahin has admitted that he supported bin-Laden "in the past." In addition, Hani Hanjour, the pilot of the airliner that was crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11 attended this same Tucson mosque.

Shahin's familiarity with incipient hijackers is personal; he defended two Muslim college students who had been removed from an America West flight for attempting to storm the cockpit in what the FBI believes was a dry run for 9/11. One of the students had trained in Afghanistan and the other was a material witness in the 9/11 investigations.

Shahin was also a representative for the Hamas terror financing faux charity "Kind Hearts" which was shut down after an investigation by the U.S. Treasury Department.

Given the above realities it's obvious that the imams designed this incident, set it in motion and then managed the public relations aspect of it intending to create a sense of anti-Muslim victimhood, with lawyer/spokesmen and press releases ready even before they had to be wrestled from the plane.

Doubtless this group was emboldened by the Ellison election which they view as an important step on the journey towards eventual Islamization of the United States.

The imams see this whole event as an experiment in how far they might be able to manipulate the media. Any criticism of their actions is framed as religious discrimination and bigotry so it's not surprising in the least that Ellison has injected [he was a speaker at the NAIF conference after all] himself into this controversy, demanding high level meetings with the Minneapolis airport managers as well as US Airways.

The goal of all of this is of course to batter the airlines and security into submission through fears of financial liability for "discrimination" against Muslims.

The six Imams operated straight out of the handbook prepared for the NAIF Imam conference which described how Imams should handle the media.

"Islam is now almost constantly on the news, and Imams must be capable of dealing effectively with the media. Good communication skills encompass being able to respond to media inquires , fielding questions from journalists, addressing information about Islam and the media, generating positive story ideals, and writing letters to the editor when necessary. Communication should not be limited to responding to misconceptions, but Imams should also take advantage of opportunities to highlight activities in local mosques and the contribution of Muslims to local communities."
In this same document NAIF counseled extremely aggressive and thoroughly coordinated media manipulation:

"In this regard NAIF intends to select a number of Imams to be in charge of this task of responding to the media. Each Imam will be responsible for one or more specific week(s) of the year. Given the unfortunate state of the world. it is likely that during each week there will be an opportunity to condemn extremism and violence. The Imam in charge of this week would write a short message, perhaps 50 to 100 to 200 or 300 words , responding to the specific event released in the news during their week. Then this message would be sent via e-mail to all the Imams on NAIF mailing list seeking their approval or disapproval of the event that occurred. Aftwards, an official statement representing NAIF's stance condemning violence and extremism could be issued.. NAIF would then phone the editorial page editor or the city page editor of the local newspaper or the local broadcast station to post Imam's official statements, NAIF would tell this editor that his newspaper or broadcasting statement will have sole and exclusive right (sic) to print or broadcast the message within the next 24 hours. Afterwards the message will be sent to the national media."
Access entire NAIF conference handbook, in .pdf file format here.

In our opinion, by their actions these imams were waging psychological terrorism - cultural jihad - on America and therefore this event has to be considered a political act designed to degrade airport security by linking reasonable precautions with anti-Muslim bigotry.

The question remains as to whether U.S. Airways will hold their ground and refuse to succumb to this radical Muslim pressure.

We suggest that the U.S. Airways and Minneapolis/St. Paul airport refuse to meet with the imam's representatives, including Congressman elect Keith Ellison who sees the potential in this created controversy as payback for his Muslim constituents and a first test of how he can use his newly acquired Congressional clout to promote the radical Islamist agenda.

We further suggest that the Department of Justice investigate this incident as a conspiracy intended to destroy reasonable and prudent airport security measures, thus enabling future airline based terrorist activities.

©1999-2006 Beila Rabinowitz, William A. Mayer/
28739  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: December 03, 2006, 08:31:36 AM
Franchising Jihad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

J. Peter Pham is director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University. Michael I. Krauss is professor of law at George Mason University School of Law. Both are adjunct fellows of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.
28740  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Islamo-fascismo en Latino America on: December 03, 2006, 08:29:46 AM
Hola Todos:

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


Franchising Jihad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

J. Peter Pham is director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University. Michael I. Krauss is professor of law at George Mason University School of Law. Both are adjunct fellows of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.
28741  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: December 02, 2006, 09:31:12 PM
Weird shoes for Plantar Fascitis
28742  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: December 02, 2006, 09:11:55 PM

The police report on the Six Imans taken off the plane.  Note the original complaint was made by an Arab speaker who listened in on their conversation.  Although the report does not say so (PC reasons?  Security reasons?) given how few non-Arab Americans speak Arabic, the probability is that the complainant was Arab/Arab-American/Muslim?-- which given the concerns of many about where the loyalties of Arab Americans/Mulims lie, is worth noting.
28743  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: December 02, 2006, 01:13:18 PM
Note that the "handcuffing" never happened!

The flying imams: What didn't happen

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

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

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

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


Also, here's this:

Marshals decry imams' charges

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

28744  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: December 02, 2006, 10:23:50 AM
Today's NY Times

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

28745  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Environmental issues on: December 02, 2006, 01:41:26 AM
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintains a nationwide network of 27 libraries that provide critical scientific information on human health and environmental protection, not only to EPA scientists, but also to other researchers and the general public.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Phone: 510-644-3164                     Fax  510 644-2164
E-mail:           Web:

28746  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science on: December 02, 2006, 01:32:40 AM
A B-1 Bomber lands wheels up.
28747  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: db in australia ? on: December 01, 2006, 07:56:23 PM
Woof Porn Star Dog:

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

Guro Crafty

PS:  How go things with you?  Come post on the Ass'n forum!
28748  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: December 01, 2006, 05:58:06 PM
Lo presente me lo mando' Mauricio. !Gracias!


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