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28751  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / D'Souza goes PC, part two on: February 26, 2007, 08:24:37 AM


Mr. D'Souza seeks "to understand [Muslims] as they understand themselves." His effort culminates in a chapter devoted to a defense of patriarchy. There he observes that the practices most offensive to modern Americans, such as arranged marriage and polygamy, are not distinctively Islamic. Rather, Mr. D'Souza explains, they are characteristic of patriarchal cultures such as those of ancient Israel. "More recently in America," Mr. D'Souza adds, "polygamy was permitted and practiced by the Mormons." Mr. D'Souza fails to note the traditional American condemnation of polygamy, in the words of the 1856 Republican platform, as a relic of barbarism; Utah was not admitted as a state until it prohibited polygamy. Mr. D'Souza seeks to mitigate our antipathy to polygamy with the observation that Islamic law limits polygamy to four wives and that it is conditioned on requirements so onerous that "its practice is quite rare in the Muslim world." Reliable data on the incidence of polygamy are not readily available and Mr. D'Souza cites no data whatsoever. It is at least worth noting in this context, even if Mr. D'Souza does not see fit to do so, that bin Laden is the issue of a polygamous marriage and is himself a polygamist. Bin Laden's father took numerous wives who collectively bestowed some fifty children on him.





Mr. D'Souza ignores secondary sources that contradict or fail to support his thesis, and he fares no better in his treatment of primary sources. Mr. D'Souza only briefly discusses bin Laden's pre-9/11 manifestos and does so in an extremely misleading manner. Foremost among them is bin Laden's 1996 "declaration of war" against the United States. The declaration obviously bears on Mr. D'Souza's thesis, but he never even cites the declaration by name: "Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places (expel the infidels from the Arab peninsula)." Bin Laden decries "the Zionist-Crusader alliance" and asserts that, with the American "occupation" of Saudi Arabia, Islam has suffered "the latest and greatest of" the aggressions committed against it in recent history. "It is the duty of every tribe in the Arabian peninsula to fight jihad," bin Laden announced, "and cleanse the land from these Crusader occupiers." According to Mr. D'Souza, bin Laden's grievance with the American occupation of Saudi Arabia "must be understood in a metaphorical sense. . . . What bin Laden objected to was America staying in the Middle East, importing with it the immoral ingredients of American values and culture." I think it's fair to say that the rambling 25-page text of the 1996 declaration belies Mr. D'Souza's reading of it.
The second of bin Laden's pre-9/11 manifestos is his 1998 declaration of holy war against the West and Israel. Again bin Laden complains of America "occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places." Again bin Laden refers to the "Crusader-Zionist alliance," alleging that more than one million Iraqis have been killed by Americans stationed in Saudi Arabia. Bin Laden then issues his "ruling to kill the Americans and their allies--civilians and military," proclaiming it the "individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy mosque [Mecca] from their grip." Mr. D'Souza does not devote more than a few words to bin Laden's 1998 manifesto specifically, though it is bin Laden's final pre-9/11 written declaration of war. Mr. D'Souza generally observes, "When bin Laden calls America a Crusader state, he means that America is on a vicious international campaign to impose its atheist system of government and its pagan values on Muslims."

According to Mr. D'Souza, bin Laden's war against the "Crusader" United States and his condemnation of the "Zionist" half of the "Zionist Crusader alliance" are not based on the religion of either, but rather their lack of it. "The context of bin Laden's arguments clearly shows that bin Laden is not speaking of a religious war between Islam and Christianity. . . . In the classical Muslim understanding, there is a fundamental distinction between Jews and Christians on the one hand and polytheists and atheists on the other." Mr. D'Souza suggests that bin Laden either thinks highly of Christians and Jews, consistent with Mr. D'Souza's understanding of traditional Islam, or maintains a discreet silence concerning his dissent from the tradition for fear of "alienat[ing] traditional Muslims." To paraphrase the Biblical verse, in Mr. D'Souza's book you shall not hear of jihad or rumors of jihad. The word does not appear in the index and the concept is not discussed in the book.

Mr. D'Souza places great stock in bin Laden's November 2002 "Letter to America." Mr. D'Souza cites it as cardinal evidence of bin Laden's hatred of "the cultural left." In the letter, bin Laden calls on Americans to "reject the immoral acts of fornication, homosexuality, intoxicants, gambling and trading with interest." For the purposes of argument we might concede that "fornication" and "homosexuality" can in some sense be laid at the feet of "the cultural left" and shoehorned into Mr. D'Souza's thesis. But alcohol, gambling and trading with interest cannot. Mr. D'Souza uses the passage to support his claim that bin Laden's quarrel with America does not derive primarily from foreign policy. He does not even pause to take note that the passage supports the proposition that Islam contributes more to the quarrel than does "the cultural left." Mr. D'Souza conveniently omits bin Laden's statement that "the first thing we are calling you to is Islam."

Mr. D'Souza is neither a historian nor a student of Islam. His research is neither broad nor deep. He refers in passing to interviews he conducted for the book, but he does not appear to have interviewed many scholars, journalists, or witnesses who have devoted themselves to the subjects that bear on his book's thesis.

"The Enemy at Home" is a strange book, both for what it says and for what it does not say on subjects that Mr. D'Souza must know conflict with its thesis. Mr. D'Souza says, for example, that he would rather go to a baseball game or have a drink with Michael Moore than with the grand mufti of Egypt (is this another lame stab at humor?), but that when it comes to "core beliefs," he feels closer to "the dignified fellow in the long robe and prayer beads than to the slovenly fellow with the baseball cap."

Having engaged in the effort to understand the Muslims as they understand themselves, in "The Enemy at Home" Mr. D'Souza generally does not seek to judge them by a standard above or beyond Islam. In this respect "The Enemy at Home" stands in contrast with Mr. D'Souza's first post-9/11 book, "What's So Great About America." In the earlier book, Mr. D'Souza first rehearsed many of the same themes that he explores in "The Enemy at Home." There he placed radical Islamists among the "blame America first" crowd. There Mr. D'Souza lauded the disentangling of the institutions of religion and government, "a separation that was achieved most completely in the United States." There he argued that Islamic fundamentalists don't just object to the excesses of American liberty, they object to liberty itself. There he noted that America could not appease the radical Islamists by staying out of their world because we live in an age when the flow of information is unstoppable. There he concluded that there was no alternative to facing their hostility. There he condemned the "coerced virtues" of the realm of Islam, because "compulsion cannot produce virtue." There he declared America to be, on balance, "an oasis of goodness in a desert of cynicism and barbarism." There he chose to cast his lot with his fellow citizens rather than with the grand mufti of Egypt.

If provocation is the standard by which "The Enemy at Home" is to be measured, the book is undoubtedly successful. It seems to me, however, that its cynicism exceeds its provocation.

Mr. Johnson writes at Power Line Blog This article appears in the March issue of The New Criterion.


28752  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / D'Souza goes PC on: February 26, 2007, 08:23:42 AM
D'Souza Goes Native
A onetime scourge of political correctness offers an ultra-PC view of Islam.
WSJ
BY SCOTT W. JOHNSON
Monday, February 26, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

Dinesh D'Souza was an early editor of the Dartmouth Review, the conservative student newspaper. He earned a reputation as an enfant terrible before he graduated from college. In his tenure at the Review, Mr. D'Souza brilliantly tormented the liberal college administration that presented him with the perfect target. Whatever his earlier attainments, he established himself as a writer of substance with his 1991 book "Illiberal Education: The Politics of Race and Sex on Campus," a critique of political correctness and multiculturalism. Intensely reported, the book was full of astute commentary and analysis. It justly won the applause of such knowledgeable observers as the eminent historian Eugene Genovese, who celebrated the book in a New Republic cover story.

In his subsequent career as an author and controversialist, Mr. D'Souza has followed the path he started down in "Illiberal Education." If he has sought to provoke, he has also sought to illuminate. Thus in his 1995 book, "The End of Racism: Principles for a Multiracial Society," Mr. D'Souza ably summarized a massive body of scholarship and literature. While there was much to disagree with in the book, he presented the evidence in such a way that an intelligent reader could both learn from him and form his own opinions.

"The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11"--Mr. D'Souza's new book--is something else entirely. The book works a strange metamorphosis. Whereas "Illiberal Education" and "The End of Racism" proved Mr. D'Souza a precocious commentator and gifted polemicist, the new book is crude and sophomoric. Worse than its sophomoric treatment of serious issues is its presentation of a blinkered and politically correct version of the Muslim world. It is a presentation that the young Mr. D'Souza would have scorned. It is as though, having arrived on the scene as Franz Kafka, he has turned himself into Gregor Samsa.

The subject of the book is the shooting war and the culture war. Mr. D'Souza frames the book on a thesis that, he acknowledges, "will seem startling at the outset." His thesis is an indictment that he levels in the second sentence of the book's introduction: "The cultural left in this country is responsible for causing 9/11." Mr. D'Souza does not reveal how, more than five years after the event, he alone among the thousands of commentators on 9/11 has tumbled to its root cause.

Mr. D'Souza identifies "the cultural left" that is responsible for 9/11 as "the left wing of the Democratic Party" and "a few Republicans, notably those who adopt a left-wing stance on foreign policy and social issues." As Mr. D'Souza himself proudly notes, he doesn't just hold a piece of paper in his hand and wave a list of names around. He actually names names, identifying the "leading figures" among the cultural left: Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy, Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer, George Soros, Bill Moyers and Noam Chomsky. He also names organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union, People for the American Way, and Planned Parenthood. (And to those named in the introduction he adds an extensive enemies' list in the last chapter of the book.)

The charge is serious, even if Mr. D'Souza's invocation of Joe McCarthy belies its seriousness. And the list is long. Does Mr. D'Souza prove his case? Although prosecutors are famously able to get grand juries to indict ham sandwiches, I don't think that Mr. D'Souza's indictment would make it out of a grand jury room. Mr. D'Souza simply lacks any evidence to sustain the charge connecting "the visceral rage," as Mr. D'Souza calls it, of the Muslims who carried out 9/11 to "the cultural left" that supposedly provoked it. Given the disparity between the seriousness of the charge and the thinness of the evidence, the book is a disgrace.





Mr. D'Souza acknowledges that he "is making a strong charge, one that no one has made before." One therefore expects that the book will bear the stamp of deep research to support its controversial thesis. On this count "The Enemy at Home" is a curious book. It purports to probe the deepest motives of Osama bin Laden and his followers. Yet the book lacks a bibliography and otherwise shows no evidence of familiarity with important accounts of the evolution of al Qaeda such as Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon's "Age of Sacred Terror" (2002), Richard Miniter's "Losing bin Laden" (2004) and, most recently, Lawrence Wright's "Looming Tower" (2006). Mr. D'Souza acknowledges the 9/11 Commission Report but does not mention its account (chapter two of the report) of the evolution of bin Laden's thought. Mr. D'Souza observes dismissively of the 9/11 Commission Report that "it does not tell us why [9/11] happened." None of these basic secondary sources support Mr. D'Souza's thesis. But a vision has been vouchsafed unto Mr. D'Souza.
Were Mr. D'Souza not a respected conservative commentator affiliated with one of the finest research institutes in the United States (the Hoover Institution), one could write his book off as unserious or worse. To be sure, as might be expected from a writer of Mr. D'Souza's caliber, parts of the book sparkle, such as Mr. D'Souza's exposition of the unholy alliance (in David Horowitz's words) between elements of the American left and radical Islam. Nevertheless, the book's insubstantial thesis and superficial research are not its only curiosities. In the four years he claims to have spent studying America and the West "through Muslim eyes," Mr. D'Souza appears to have gone native. Early in the book, for example, Mr. D'Souza writes: "No one can deny the horror of Palestinian and Chechen attacks on civilians, but these have to be measured against the state-sponsored terror on the other side: the bulldozing of Palestinian homes, the shooting of stone-throwing teenagers." I'm not sure that even State Department foreign service officers have yet gone quite as native as Mr. D'Souza.

Mr. D'Souza's reference to alleged "state-sponsored terror" by Israelis desperately seeking to defend themselves is of a piece with the blind eye he turns to the anti-Semitism that is ubiquitous in the Muslim world. Muslim anti-Semitism has turned "Mein Kampf" into a bestselling book, as Victor Davis Hanson has pointed out, under the title "Jihadi." Television in Muslim countries likewise features such rank anti-Semitic programming as the 41-part series based on "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion." Mr. D'Souza cannot even see bin Laden's anti-Semitism. "Yes," Mr. D'Souza asserts without any citation or support, "bin Laden opposes Israeli occupation because in his view it constitutes foreign rule over Muslims. But as bin Laden sees it, the deeper problem is a conspiracy on the part of Israel and America to take over the Muslim world." Mr. D'Souza omits any reference to the title of bin Laden's 1998 manifesto--"Declaration of the World Islamic Front for Jihad Against the Jews and the Crusaders." According to Mr. D'Souza, Muslim radicals "could repudiate the entire Islamic tradition and argue that Christians and Jews are no different from atheists and deserve the same treatment." Daniel Pearl didn't get much of an argument on the subject of his religion before he was murdered by radical Islamists, but they appear to have "repudiated the entire Islamic tradition" as Mr. D'Souza understands it. Mr. D'Souza appears to be unfamiliar with the sermons denouncing Jews as apes and monkeys that regularly issue from fundamentalist mosques.





Mr. D'Souza's portrait of the Muslim world verges on apologetics. He makes a gratuitous gibe at Jewish tradition in his discussion of the severity of Islamic justice: "Islam is notorious for the harshness of some its punishments, such as cutting off the arms and legs of thieves, flogging adulterers and executing drug dealers. In this respect, one may say, with only a hint of irony, that Muslims are in the Old Testament tradition."
One wonders if Mr. D'Souza is making a lame stab at humor with his concession that the "Western effort to understand the Islamic world is never more difficult than when Muslims do things like blow themselves up while flying planes into buildings--actions no sane Westerner would even contemplate." Mr. D'Souza holds himself out as one who has made the effort to understand Islam even in the face of 9/11. He issues pronouncements that suggest he is not a reliable guide either to Islam or to 9/11 as in the false antithesis he draws to dispel conservative misunderstanding: "This may come as news to some conservatives, but Wahhabi Islam is not a breeding ground of Islamic radicalism. It is a breeding ground of Islamic obedience." Mr. D'Souza does not address the authoritative accounts that connect Wahhabi Islam with Islamic radicalism or to the perpetrators of 9/11.

Mr. D'Souza's parenthetical comment on the Danish cartoon controversy is as inexplicable as his characterization of Wahhabi Islam: "If it is within the parameters of acceptable satire to blame Muhammad for the pathologies of radical Islam, why is it not within those same bounds to blame [Martin Luther] King for the pathologies of inner-city black America"? Mr. D'Souza condemns as "churlish and exaggerated" the view that, "since pious Muslims are the ones launching terrorist attacks against Europe and America, Islam is to blame and Islam is the problem," just as he does the view that Islam fosters "the fanatical mind-set that leads to terrorism." He does not stop to explain why.

Indeed, Mr. D'Souza stigmatizes such views as "Islamophobic." It is a judgment he expresses in the lexicon of the high church of political correctness that Mr. D'Souza mocked in a previous life. Getting in the spirit, he asserts that conservatives "have to cease blaming Islam for the behavior of radical Muslims." (We must instead learn to blame "the cultural left" for the behavior of radical Muslims.) Mr. D'Souza also advises that "it is time for conservatives to retire the tiresome invocation of Turkey as a model for Islamic society." Why? "What Atatürk did for Turkey was anomalous and, in all candor, ridiculous." Such candor! Of all the Muslim countries discussed in The Enemy at Home, Turkey is the only one that earns Mr. D'Souza's frank contempt.

Mr. D'Souza seeks to "refute the notion that radical Islam can be understood as the latest incarnation of totalitarian movements the West has seen before, such as the Nazis and the communists." Mr. D'Souza draws the following distinctions. There is no intellectual lineage between the Western totalitarian movements and radical Islam. Moreover, "there is not even a similarity" between fascism and contemporary Islamic fundamentalism. Islamic radicalism has produced true believers "who are willing to give their lives to destroy America and the West," while Nazism and communism did not. Finally, the totalitarian movements were atheistic, but "the distinguishing feature of Islamic radicalism is Islamic." Eureka!

Compared with his discovery that the distinguishing feature of Islamic radicalism is Islamic, his assertion that the totalitarian movements of the 20th century lacked true believers comes as a surprise. When Auden referred to Hitler as a "psychopathic god" and Richard Crossman titled his famous anthology of essays on disillusionment with Communism "The God That Failed," well, they lacked the benefit of Mr. D'Souza's insight. Will somebody get this man a copy of "Darkness at Noon"?

28753  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: February 26, 2007, 08:15:53 AM
An Upside-Down World
The British far left makes common cause with Muslim reactionaries.

BY NICK COHEN
Sunday, February 25, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST
WSJ

LONDON--The other day Ken Livingstone, the mayor of my hometown of London, organized a conference on Islam and the West. It was a carefully rigged affair in which handpicked speaker after handpicked speaker stood up and announced that the democracies were to blame for the tidal wave of murder sweeping the world. To provide a spurious air of balance, the organizers invited a few people who dissented from the line of the Muslim Brotherhood and its British allies. Agnès Poirier, a French feminist, was one of them, but she pulled out because although there were no special facilities for Christians, Hindus and Jews, Mr. Livingstone had provided separate prayer rooms for Muslim men and Muslim women.

She wanted to know: Does Ken Livingstone's idea of multiculturalism acknowledge and condone segregation? It clearly does, but what made this vignette of ethnic politics in a European city worth noting is that commentators for the BBC and nearly every newspaper here describe Mr. Livingstone as one of the most left-wing politicians in British public life. Hardly any of them notice the weirdness of an apparent socialist pandering to a reactionary strain of Islam, pushing its arguments and accepting its dictates.

Mr. Livingstone's not alone. After suicide bombers massacred Londoners on July 7, 2005, leftish rather than conservative papers held British foreign policy responsible for the slaughters on the transport network. ("Blair's Bombs," ran the headline in my own leftish New Statesman.) In any university, you are more likely to hear campaigns for the rights of Muslim women derided by postmodernists than by crusty conservative dons. Our Stop the War coalition is an alliance of the white far left and the Islamist far right, and George Galloway, its leader, and the first allegedly "far left" member to be elected to the British Parliament in 50 years, is an admirer of Saddam Hussein and Hezbollah.

I could go on with specific examples, but the crucial point is the pervasive European attitude to the Iraq catastrophe. As al Qaeda, the Baathists and Shiite Islamists slaughter thousands, there is virtually no sense that their successes are our defeats. Iraqi socialists and trade unionists I know are close to despair. They turn for support to Europe, the home of liberalism, feminism and socialism, and find that rich democrats, liberals and feminists won't help them or even acknowledge their existence.





There were plenty of leftish people in the 20th century who excused communism, but they could at least say that communism was a left-wing idea. Now overwhelmingly and everywhere you find people who scream their heads off about the smallest sexist or racist remark, yet refuse to confront ultra-reactionary movements that explicitly reject every principle they profess to hold.
Why is the world upside down? In part, it is a measure of President Bush's failure that anti-Americanism has swept out of the intelligentsia and become mainstream in Britain. A country that was once the most pro-American in Western Europe now derides Tony Blair for sticking with the Atlantic alliance. But if Iraq has pummeled Mr. Blair's reputation, it has also shone a very harsh light on the British and European left. No one noticed it when the Berlin Wall came down, but the death of socialism gave people who called themselves "left wing" a paradoxical advantage. They no longer had a practical program they needed to defend and could go along with ultra-right movements that would once have been taboo. In moments of crisis, otherwise sane liberals will turn to these movements and be reassured by the professed leftism of the protest organizers that they are not making a nonsense of their beliefs.

If, that is, they have strong beliefs to abandon. In Europe and North America extreme versions of multiculturalism and identity politics have left a poisonous legacy. Far too many liberal-minded people think that is somehow culturally imperialist to criticize reactionary movements and ideas--as long as they aren't European or American reactionary movements. This delusion is everywhere. Until very recently our Labour government was allowing its dealings with Britain's Muslim minority to be controlled by an unelected group, the Muslim Council of Britain, which stood for everything social democrats were against. In their desperate attempts to ingratiate themselves, ministers gave its leader a knighthood--even though he had said that "death was too good" for Salman Rushdie, who happens to be a British citizen as well as a great novelist.

Beyond the contortions and betrayals of liberal and leftish thinking lies a simple emotion that I don't believe Americans take account of: an insidious fear that has produced the ideal conditions for appeasement. Radical Islam does worry Europeans but we are trying to prevent an explosion by going along with Islamist victimhood. We blame ourselves for the Islamist rage, in the hope that our admission of guilt will pacify our enemies. We are scared, but not scared enough to take a stand.





I hope conservative American readers come to Britain. But if you do, expect to find an upside-down world. People who call themselves liberals or leftists will argue with you, and when they have finished you may experience the strange realization that they have become far more reactionary than you have ever been.
Mr. Cohen, a columnist for the Observer and The New Statesman, is the author of "What's Left?: How Liberals Lost Their Way" (Fourth Estate, 2007).


WSJ
28754  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Legal issues on: February 26, 2007, 08:09:35 AM

GLOBAL VIEW

Who Needs Jacques Bauer?
The Napoleonic Code is more conducive to counterterrorism than the U.S. Constitution.

BY BRET STEPHENS
Sunday, February 25, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

Twenty-nine defendants went on trial earlier this month in a Spanish courtroom for complicity in the March 11, 2004 Madrid train bombings that killed 191 commuters and injured another 1,800. Among the accused: Jamal Zougam, a 33-year-old Moroccan immigrant who once ran a cell-phone business. In June 2001, Spanish police raided Mr. Zougam's apartment, where they found jihadist literature and the telephone numbers of suspected terrorists. But the Spaniards judged the evidence insufficient to arrest or even wiretap him. Today, the Moroccan is believed to have furnished the cellphones through which the train bombs were detonated.

In raiding Mr. Zougam's apartment, the Spanish were acting on a request from French investigative magistrate and counterterrorism supremo Jean-Louis Bruguiere. Earlier, Mr. Bruguiere had also warned the Canadian government about a suspicious Algerian asylum-seeker named Ahmed Ressam, but the Canadians took no real action. On Dec. 14, 1999 Mr. Ressam--a k a the Millennium Bomber--was arrested by U.S. customs agents as he attempted to cross the border at Port Angeles, Wash., with nitroglycerin and timing devices concealed in his spare tire.

It would be reassuring to believe that somewhere in the ranks of the FBI or CIA America has a Jean-Louis Bruguiere of its own. But we probably don't, and not because we lack for domestic talent, investigative prowess, foreign connections, the will to fight terrorism or the forensic genius of a Gallic nose. What we lack is a system of laws that allows a man like Mr. Bruguiere to operate the way he does. Unless we're willing to trade in the Constitution for the Code Napoleon, we are not likely to get it.





Consider the powers granted to Mr. Bruguiere and his colleagues. Warrantless wiretaps? Not a problem under French law, as long as the Interior Ministry approves. Court-issued search warrants based on probable cause? Not needed to conduct a search. Hearsay evidence? Admissible in court. Habeas corpus? Suspects can be held and questioned by authorities for up to 96 hours without judicial supervision or the notification of third parties. Profiling? French officials commonly boast of having a "spy in every mosque." A wall of separation between intelligence and law enforcement agencies? France's domestic and foreign intelligence bureaus work hand-in-glove. Bail? Authorities can detain suspects in "investigative" detentions for up to a year. Mr. Bruguiere once held 138 suspects on terrorism-related charges. The courts eventually cleared 51 of the suspects--some of whom had spent four years in preventive detention--at their 1998 trial.
In the U.S., Mr. Bruguiere's activities would amount to one long and tangled violation of the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments to the Constitution. And that's not counting the immense legal superstructures that successive Supreme Courts have built over and around the Bill of Rights. In France, however, Mr. Bruguiere, though not without his critics, is a folk hero, equally at home with governments of the left and right. The main point in his favor is that whatever it is he's doing, it works.

"Every single attempt to bomb France since 1995 has been stopped before execution," notes a former Interior Ministry senior official. "The French policy has been [to] make sure no terrorist hits at home. We know perfectly well that foreign-policy triangulation is not sufficient for that, [even if] it helps us go down a notch or two in the order of priority [jihadist] targets. So we've complemented our anti-U.S. foreign policy with ruthless domestic measures."

That's something that U.S. civil libertarians, who frequently argue that the Bush administration should follow the "European model" of treating terrorism as a law-enforcement issue instead of a military one, might usefully keep in mind. As lawyers David Rivkin and Lee Casey argue in the forthcoming issue of The National Interest, "the [Napoleonic] Civil Law system offers considerable advantages to the state in combating terrorism--especially in terms of investigative tools and a level of secrecy--that are simply unavailable in the ordinary Common Law criminal prosecution and trial, at least as governed by the United States Constitution."





Again, review the contrasts between American and European practices. Except in limited circumstances, the U.S. does not allow pretrial detentions. But according to figures compiled by the U.S. State Department, 38% of individuals held in Italian prisons in 2005 were awaiting trial or the outcome of an appeal, while Spanish law allows for pre-trial detentions that can last as long as four years for terrorism suspects. In the U.S., the Posse Comitatus Act forbids the use of the military in law-enforcement work, and paramilitary units are relatively rare. By contrast, most European countries deploy huge paramilitary forces: Italy's Carabinieri; France's Gendarmerie Nationale; Spain's Guardia Civil.
Even Britain, which shares America's common law traditions, has been forced by Irish and now Islamist terrorism to resort to administrative detentions, trials without jury (the famous Diplock courts) and ubiquitous public surveillance. Wiretapping is authorized by the Home Secretary--that is, a member of the government--rather than an independent judge. In the early days of the Northern Irish "troubles," the government of Edward Heath placed some 2,000 suspects, without charge, in internment camps. Ironically, it was the decision to treat terrorists as ordinary criminals that led to the famous hunger strikes of Bobby Sands and his IRA crew.

All this calls into question the seriousness, if not the sincerity, of European complaints that under the Bush administration the U.S. has become a serial human-rights violator. Europeans have every right to be proud of civil servants like Mr. Bruguiere and a legal tradition that in many ways has been remarkably successful against terrorism. But that is not the American way, nor can it be if we intend to be true to a constitutional order of checks and balances, judicial review and a high respect for the rights of the accused. When President Bush declared a war on terror after 9/11, it was because he had no other realistic legal alternative. And when the rest of us make invidious comparisons between Europe and America, we should keep our fundamental differences in mind. There is no European 82nd Airborne, and there is no American Jean-Louis Bruguiere.

Mr. Stephens is a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board. His column appears in the Journal Tuesdays.
28755  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / North on Moscow-Tehran Ties on: February 25, 2007, 11:16:04 PM
Moscow-Tehran Ties
Thursday , February 22, 2007

By Lt. Col. Oliver North
Washington, D.C. — “The lion and the bear are hunting the eagle.” That's how a refugee from Tehran's reigning ayatollahs put it when he called me this week about recent developments in his homeland. The lion to which my friend referred was on the coat of arms of nearly every Persian king for more than a thousand years. The bear, of course, is imperial Russia. And we're the bird.

It's an apt metaphor. Vladimir Putin, Moscow's current czar, is behaving like a bear awakened from hibernation — hungry and territorial. His recent words condemning U.S. foreign policy are mirrored by actions — both overt and covert — aimed at undermining U.S. national security. While eschewing animal symbols on their green, white and red flag, the Islamic radicals running Iran's theocracy act like lions on the prowl — dangerous to any prey. And while the simile is unlikely in nature — the lions and bears in my friend's parable have certainly teamed up to hunt the eagle. The only trouble with the allegory is that the United States is acting more like an ostrich than an eagle. A few examples:

Last week Mr. Putin told European leaders gathered in Munich "the United States has overstepped its national borders in every way." He claimed that the U.S. is forcing weaker nations to “acquire weapons of mass destruction" and defended Moscow's recent sale of $700 million worth of TOR-M1 anti-aircraft batteries to Iran. And in an effort to sound less like a bear and more like a Democrat running for the U.S. presidency, he declared that “wars, local and regional conflicts, have only grown in number" and charged America with taking "unilateral, illegitimate actions" in Iraq and elsewhere that "have not managed to resolve any problems, but made them worse."

This week, General Nikolai Solovtsov, commander of Russia's strategic missile forces, warned the U.S. against installing anti-ballistic missile (ABM) defenses in Eastern Europe. Construction is scheduled to begin on an ABM interceptor site in Poland and a radar array in the Czech Republic later this year. Both are components of a U.S.-NATO defense system to shield against a nuclear attack. In a clear-cut effort to intimidate the Czechs and the Poles to reconsider their participation, General Solovtsov suggested that Russia may abrogate the 1987 Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and observed that “[Russia's] strategic missile forces will be capable of targeting these facilities.”

While Moscow was busy dusting off its Cold War nuclear attack plans, Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency — the United Nation's toothless “nuclear watchdog” — told the U.N. Security Council that Iran has increased production of weapons-grade uranium and decreased cooperation with the IAEA. ElBaradei told the Financial Times that Iran would be able to enrich uranium on an industrial scale within six months, having now developed the technology to do so.

The phrase “industrial scale” is diplo-speak for “sufficient to build nuclear weapons.” U.S. and British intelligence agencies believe that much of the technology being used by Iranian engineers to construct 3,000 gas centrifuges to enrich uranium is being obtained from Moscow. In response to this frightening report, Russia's ambassador to the U.N. once again threatened to veto any resolution tightening sanctions on Tehran.

For their part, the lions in Iran have clearly stated their perspective on nuclear arms. In December 2001, Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani publicly announced that a nuclear exchange “would not leave any thing in Israel but the same thing would just produce [minor] damages in the Muslim world." Last week, after rejecting an offer for multi-party talks on stopping the production of fissile nuclear material, Iran's mercurial President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused the U.S. of pursuing false peace initiatives while secretly plotting with Israel to "hit Islamic countries," presumably with nuclear weapons.

But Moscow and Tehran aren't just cooperating on weapons of mass destruction. Last week, U.S. and allied officials in Baghdad presented irrefutable evidence that Iran has been supplying advanced weaponry to anti-coalition forces and killing Americans — charges Mr. Ahmadinejad describes as "excuses to prolong the stay" of U.S. forces in Iraq.

On Wednesday, Iraqi terrorists downed another U.S. helicopter — the eighth in the last five weeks. A U.S. commander on the ground told me that “nearly new SA-14 and SA-16 man-portable surface-to-air missiles are now being used against us” in Iraq. Source of the weapons: Russia — sold to Iran and slipped across the porous border for delivery to Iranian supported terror cells operating inside Iraq. That's cooperation between the bear and the lion, indeed.

Meanwhile, there is no “Eagle-Eye” on this burgeoning Moscow-Tehran nexus of evil. Our mainstream media remains fixated on the never-ending Anna Nicole Smith soap opera. The State Department is furiously cranking out press releases on how Condi is going to convene yet another “Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process.” And the navel-gazers in Congress busy themselves by doing all things possible to damage the commander-in-chief — regardless of the consequences to our troops in harm's way.

Those who think none of this matters should consider the comments of Iran's “Supreme Spiritual Guide.” After meeting this week with Syrian President Bashar Assad, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — the leading “Lion” in Tehran — said that "the position of [President George W.] Bush is so weak that even members of his own party criticize him." It's time for the Eagle to pull his head out of the sand.
28756  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Tippy-tappy drills-- threat or menace? on: February 25, 2007, 12:06:00 PM
Woof Maija:

WOOF!

I like very much the insight and articulation of the Eyes-- what they scan for and what they see-- very good!  What you describe for us is Snake Range.  In the context of RCSFg (as versus blade) we speak of Protecting our Head, Hands, and Knees; Hiding our Intention;  and Masking our Initiation.

yip!
CD
28757  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Crime Statistics on: February 25, 2007, 11:29:10 AM
CW:

By the way, , , Forgive me please a moment of shameless marketing, but the question you raise is directly addressed in the joint triple DVD that Gabe and I did:  "Die Less Often:  Intro to the Interface of Gun, Knife, and Empty Hand".    To flesh out the answer of my previous post, that brisk movement would be in what we call a "Kali Fence" structure from which one can pre-empt, intercept, or react.  The "Dogcatcher" is a low diagnostic quasi default reaction technique.

Yip!
CD
28758  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Venezuela Pol?tica on: February 25, 2007, 08:13:06 AM
Venezuela Spending on Arms Soars to World’s Top Ranks
NY Times
By SIMON ROMERO
Published: February 25, 2007

CARACAS, Venezuela, Feb. 24 — Venezuela’s arms spending has climbed to more than $4 billion in the past two years, transforming the nation into Latin America’s largest weapons buyer and placing it ahead of other major purchasers in international arms markets like Pakistan and Iran.

Venezuelan military and government officials here say the arms acquisitions, which include dozens of fighter jets and attack helicopters and 100,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles, are needed to circumvent a ban by the United States on sales of American weapons to the country.

They also argue that Venezuela must strengthen its defenses to counter potential military aggression from the United States.

“The United States has tried to paralyze our air power,” Gen. Alberto Muller Rojas, a member of President Hugo Chávez’s general staff, said in an interview, citing a recent effort by the Bush administration to prevent Venezuela from acquiring replacement parts for American F-16s bought in the 1980s. “We are feeling threatened and like any sovereign nation we are taking steps to strengthen our territorial defense,” he said.

This retooling of Venezuela’s military strategy, which includes creation of a large civilian reserve force and military assistance to regional allies like Bolivia, has been part of a steadily deteriorating political relationship with the United States.

The Bush administration has repeatedly denied that it has any plans to attack Venezuela, one of the largest sources of oil for the United States. But distrust of such statements persists here after the administration tacitly supported a coup that briefly removed Mr. Chávez from office in 2002.

Venezuela’s escalation of arms spending, up 12.5 percent in 2006, has brought harsh criticism from the Bush administration, which says the buildup is a potentially destabilizing problem in South America and is far more than what would be needed for domestic defense alone.

The spending has also touched off a fierce debate domestically about whether the country needs to be spending billions of dollars on imported weapons when poverty and a surging homicide rate remain glaring problems. Meanwhile, concern has increased among Venezuela’s neighbors that its arms purchases could upend regional power balances or lead to a new illicit trade in arms across Venezuela’s porous borders.

José Sarney, the former Brazilian president and a leading senator, caused a stir this week when he was quoted in the newspaper O Globo as describing Venezuela’s form of government as “military populism” and “a return to the 1950s,” when Venezuela was governed by the army strongman Marcos Pérez Jiménez.

“Venezuela is buying arms that are not a threat to the United States but which unbalance forces within the continent,” Mr. Sarney said. “We cannot let Venezuela become a military power.”

Still, officials in the administration of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil have been hesitant to publicly criticize Venezuela’s arms purchases.

The issue remains delicate after the Brazilian company Embraer lost a deal to sell military aircraft to Venezuela because the planes included American technology.

After turning unsuccessfully to Brazil and Spain for military aircraft, Venezuela has become one of the largest customers of Russia’s arms industry.

Since 2005, Venezuela has signed contracts with Russia for 24 Sukhoi fighter jets, 50 transport and attack helicopters, and 100,000 assault rifles. Venezuela also has plans to open Latin America’s first Kalashnikov factory, to produce the Russian-designed rifles in the city of Maracay.

A report in January by the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency pegged Venezuela’s arms purchases in the past two years at $4.3 billion, ahead of Pakistan’s $3 billion and Iran’s $1.7 billion in that period.

In a statement before the House Intelligence Committee, Lt. Gen. Michael D. Maples, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, called attention to Mr. Chávez’s “agenda to neutralize U.S. influence throughout the hemisphere,” contrasting Mr. Chávez with the “reformist left” exemplified by President Michelle Bachelet of Chile.

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

Beyond Russia, Venezuela is also considering a venture with Iran, its closest ally outside Latin America, to build a remotely piloted patrol aircraft. Gen. Raúl Isaías Baduel, the Venezuelan defense minister, recently told reporters that the project to build 20 of the aircraft could be used to bolster border surveillance and combat environmental destruction in Venezuela. Venezuela is also strengthening military ties with Cuba, sending officers and soldiers there for training.

Supporters of the arms buildup contend that under Mr. Chávez, who has been in power for eight years, Venezuela has spent proportionately less on its military in relation to the size of its economy than the United States or than other South American countries like Chile and Colombia.

In 2004, the last year for which comparative data were immediately available and before Venezuela’s arms buildup intensified, overall defense spending by Venezuela, including arms contracts, was about $1.3 billion and accounted for about 1.4 percent of gross domestic product, compared with 4 percent in the United States and 3.8 percent in Colombia, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which tracks military spending.

Doubts persist as to how powerful Venezuela’s armed forces have become in a regional context, even as they acquire new weapons. Military experts here say pilots in the air force still need training to start flying their new Russian fighters. And in terms of troop strength, Venezuela’s 34,000-soldier active-duty army still lags behind the armies of Argentina and Brazil, with about 41,400 and 200,000 members respectively, according to GlobalSecurity.org, a Web site that compiles data on military topics.

Pro-Chávez analysts also say the president is less adventurous in relation to military policy outside Venezuela than predecessors like Luis Herrera Campíns, who supported Argentina in the Falklands War in 1982 to detract attention from a decline in oil revenue and climbing inflation.

But critics of the arms purchases say they are being made with little participation from or discussion with the National Assembly, which recently allowed Mr. Chávez to govern by decree for 18 months.

Ricardo Sucre, a political scientist at the Central University of Venezuela, said that the lack of transparency of the weapons contracts had heightened concern that Mr. Chávez could be arming parts of the army, the new civilian reserve and partisans like the Frente Francisco de Miranda, a pro-Chávez political group, that would be loyal to him in the event of fractures within the armed forces.

General Muller Rojas, the president’s military adviser, said concern about the arms purchases was overblown, pointing to reports that Venezuela was considering an acquisition of nine diesel-powered submarines from Russia for about $3 billion.

He said the navy had “aspirations” for more submarines, but that no “concrete plan” for such a large contract had been developed.

“We simply have an interest in maintaining peace and stability,” General Muller Rojas said, describing the Caribbean as a crucial to its military influence. “We have no intent of using the Venezuelan armed forces to repress human rights.”
28759  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: February 25, 2007, 08:06:24 AM
NY Times (so read with care)
Iraq Rebel Cleric Reins In Militia; Motives at Issue


By DAMIEN CAVE
Published: February 25, 2007
BAGHDAD, Feb. 24 — Moktada al-Sadr, the radical Shiite cleric and founder of the Mahdi Army militia, discovered recently that two of his commanders had created DVDs of their men killing Sunnis in Baghdad. Documents suggested that they had received money from Iran.


So he suspended them and stripped them of power, said two Mahdi leaders in Sadr City, the heart of Mr. Sadr’s support here in the capital.

But did he do so as part of his cooperation with the new security plan for Baghdad, which aims to quell the sectarian violence tormenting the city? Because his men had been disloyal, taking orders from Iran, whose support he values but whose control he fights? Or was it just for show — the act of an image-conscious leader who grasped the risk of graphic videos and wanted to stave off direct American action against him?

Mr. Sadr has been the great destabilizer in Iraq since 2003, wielding power on the streets and in the ruling Shiite bloc, thwarting the Americans and playing out at least a temporary alliance with Iran.

With the new security plan for Iraq under way, every question about Mr. Sadr’s motives touches on a different facet of Iraq’s complicated struggle.

He now finds himself under pressure from several sources. One is his popular Shiite base, which demands protection from devastating Sunni attacks. Another is Iran, with which he has had long but difficult ties. Then there are renegade factions of his own militia that resent his move into the political mainstream.

Finally, the Americans, who have accused Iran of supplying Shiite militias, including Mr. Sadr’s, with an especially deadly roadside bomb known as an explosively formed projectile, or E.F.P, which has killed an increasing number of American soldiers.

It is not clear whether the Americans will move directly against him. The United States has demanded that the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki act forcefully against the Mahdi Army; Mr. Maliki, however, owes much of his political strength in the ruling Shiite coalition to Mr. Sadr’s backing.

For now, American and Iraqi officials say Mr. Sadr seems to be cooperating with the effort to pacify Baghdad, ordering his men not to fight even as American armored vehicles roll into Mahdi strongholds in eastern Baghdad. He seems to be cleaning house of fighters who could taint him by association with Iran or with death squad killings. His aides say he has called for a sectarian truce. “Moktada al-Sadr said to protect your clerics, protect your shrines and cooperate with the government,” said Hazim al-Araji, head of the Sadr office in western Baghdad. “So no actions have been taken.”

In perhaps his boldest move yet, Mr. Sadr has assisted the joint Iraqi-American campaign against parts of his militia, signaling whom to arrest and telling others to flee, said two Mahdi commanders and a Shiite politician in Baghdad. On his own, they said, Mr. Sadr has “frozen” more than 40 commanders, including about 20 with links to Iran.

The moves are part of an organizational overhaul, the Sadr aides said. Though Mr. Sadr’s whereabouts are unknown — the Americans say he is in Iran, which his aides and Iran dispute — a new Mahdi general for all of Baghdad has been appointed for the first time, they said. Mr. Sadr has also selected new commanders for east and west Baghdad.

Some of the Sadr aides and commanders who described Mr. Sadr’s recent moves during separate interviews in Najaf and Baghdad refused to give their names, saying they had not been authorized to speak and feared reprisals from current or former members of the militia.

They said the cleric allowed the arrests of members of his own militia, or suspended them himself, because evidence showed that they had not obeyed his orders and because he wanted to show Iran, American officials and his militia that he was a strong leader who must be respected and feared.

“He wants to prove to the people that he has full control of his militia,” said a 47-year-old Mahdi commander from Sadr City who referred to himself as Jabar Abdul al-Hahdi. “He wants to show he’s in charge.”

Mr. Sadr’s conflicted relationship with Iran mirrors Iraq’s. Each country’s majority Shiites revere the other’s clerics and visit the other’s religious shrines. But they speak different languages, are dominated by different ethnic groups, and fought each other in a long war in the 1980s.

Mr. Sadr’s father, Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, became one of Iraq’s most popular Shiite clerics largely because he set himself up as the rebel alternative to Iran’s religious leadership, focusing on poor, oppressed Iraqis, not just theological debate. His mix of social and religious resistance led Saddam Hussein to order his assassination in 1999.

Moktada al-Sadr rose to prominence after the American invasion in 2003 with anti-American speeches and echoes of his father’s populism. But he was young, not yet 30, and less educated than his clerical rivals. So even as he railed against Iranian meddling, he sought money and support from Iran’s top clerics, meeting with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme religious leader, in June 2003. It was a dramatic reversal from family tradition.

Less than a year later, he led a revolt against American troops in Najaf, and again Iran played the role of patron. On the 11th day of the revolt, with Mr. Sadr under siege, an Iranian delegation arrived in Iraq to mediate. The Iranians were joined by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s most revered Shiite cleric, who called for Shiite unity and calm.

Mr. Sadr eventually agreed to stop fighting and join the political process. The Americans let him.

His popularity rose with the speed of a pop star’s, and the Mahdi Army grew like a fan club, from a few hundred young men to thousands — including some who proved hard to control.

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

Page 2 of 2)



Since then, according to some Shiite officials, Iran has funneled support to his organization. What it receives, how much and how consistently, remain a mystery, but some Shiite leaders say Mr. Sadr collects less from Iran than does a rival Shiite party: the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, which was founded in Iran by Iraqi exiles in 1984.


Iran generally supports many groups simultaneously, including some Sunni ones, so that it can benefit from any eventuality, said Sami al-Askari, a Shiite member of Parliament who works closely with Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki.

“Iran intervenes in many ways, with many methods,” Mr. Askari said.

In the case of the Mahdi Army, he said, Iran has recognized its diffuse nature, sprinkling support at high and low levels. Some support comes through ties to Hezbollah, the Shiite militia in Lebanon that also receives Iranian support. Beirut now has a Sadr office, and Mahdi commanders say they have been sending fighters to Hezbollah at least since last summer, when Hezbollah battled Israel.

Iran also provides institutional assistance to Iraq, mainly to the Health Ministry, which is run by Mr. Sadr’s political bloc. Three days after bombs killed more than 140 people in Sadr City last fall, for example, 50 Iraqi ambulances carried some of the wounded to the Iranian border. They were transferred to Iranian ambulances and taken to Iranian hospitals, with much of the cost covered by organizations in Iran.

Qasim Allawi, a spokesman for the Health Ministry who described the process, said another 25 wounded men and women from the recent Sadriya market bombing in Baghdad were to head to Iran any day.

Iran’s more potent forms of aid are direct — and some goes not to Mr. Sadr, but to underlings.

“Sometimes the aid comes for the leadership, and they get to decide where it goes,” Mr. Askari said. “Sometimes it goes to the local leadership, and this encourages them to rebel.”

“Iran puts Moktada al-Sadr between two pressing sides,” he said. “On one hand, they are helping him and they have the ability to take that away. At the same time, they’re undermining him by helping people below him.”

According to Sadr aides and Mahdi commanders, Mr. Sadr’s recent purges aim to put Iran on notice that he is in charge and independent. They said he also wanted to remind members of his militia that he would use every available tool, including Iraqi and American troops, to maintain control of the militia, the source of any political power he wields.

The goal is a top-down, tightly managed operation.

“We’re going to end the decentralized system that we had before,” said one of the aides in Najaf.

If Mr. Sadr consolidates power over his unruly militia, he could be held more responsible for the actions of its members. Until now, American and Iraqi efforts against the Mahdi Army have focused on so-called rogue elements.

The 30 members of Parliament associated with the Sadr bloc have not been arrested, keeping Mr. Sadr’s legitimate influence intact. At the same time, American, Iraqi and British officials are engaged in classified negotiations with his envoys over how to address the Mahdi Army and its Sadr City stronghold, the neighborhood named for Mr. Sadr’s father.

When asked about the talks, Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, the top military spokesman in Iraq, said the meetings represented a reasonable and appropriate attempt to avoid unnecessary bloodshed.

“Anytime you can find a political solution instead of a military solution,” he said, “it’s always better.”

But can Mr. Sadr deliver what the Americans want? Are his efforts adequate? Some American military officers remain skeptical.

“You know what their intent is,” said Maj. Kevin Hosier, an intelligence officer with the Third Stryker Brigade Combat Team, as his unit prepared for sweeps through predominantly Shiite areas near Sadr City this month. “They want Baghdad. They want to make Baghdad a Shia city.”

Peter Harling, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group, a research organization, who wrote a thorough profile of Mr. Sadr last summer, said the impact of the Mahdi purges and command restructuring would likely be short-lived.

“He has been excommunicating some of his key commanders, that’s a fact, but he has just put them in the corner,” Mr. Harling said, relying on interviews with several Mahdi commanders cited in his July profile. “Many of them, after Sadr really accused them in the harshest terms, actually came back in the movement and carried on with their careers. All this is kind of temporary.”

According to Mr. Harling, Mr. Sadr has little choice but to trim at the edges of his organization. His hold on power remains tenuous, dependent on a loose association of clients all over the country who he knows could turn on him at any moment.

“He remains in a strong position as a leader only as long as he is useful to all these smaller leaders,” Mr. Harling said. “He rules by consensus.”

Vali Nasr, a professor of national security affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School and author of “The Shia Revival,” says Mr. Sadr should be viewed as a politician who was trying to preserve his power. Poor Shiites have made him an Iraqi celebrity, a national symbol whose bearded visage graces everything from wristwatches to alarm clocks and large posters. Above all else, he will be loyal to them, Mr. Nasr said.

“Since the Samarra bombing last year, Moktada has received a lot of pressure to be tougher on the Sunnis,” he said, referring to the explosion in the northern city of Samarra last February that destroyed one of Shiite Islam’s holiest shrines. “He’s found that the tougher he’s been, the more his popularity has gone up.”

In the long run, Mr. Nasr said, “he’s not very concerned with what the Americans think of him. What matters to him is what the Shiites think.”

Reporting was contributed by Hosham Hussein, Richard A. Oppel Jr., Ali Adeeb, Khalid al-Ansary and Wisam A. Habeeb, in Baghdad, and an Iraqi employee of The New York Times in Najaf.
28760  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Tippy-tappy drills-- threat or menace? on: February 25, 2007, 07:50:27 AM
Woof All:

Karsk's ruminations on flow during TT drills and coming into harmony with the opponent reminded me of something I wrote some years ago:

BEGIN
The Days Before A Fight by Guro Crafty
 
The days before the fight are always a powerful crucible. I have a non-martial art teacher who when someone seeks to leave a situation that makes them uncomfortable says, "Whatever you do, keep on being here in this moment." I may not have the quote exactly right, but I hope I have the gist of it.

Scientist Konrad Lorenz's book "Behind the Mirror" addresses the evolutionary biology of consciousness. There is a passage in the book wherein he describes how a cat at play will seamlessly string together unrelated behaviors/movements from stalking prey, fighting a rival, bluffing a predator, courtship, killing prey etc. He then points out that the instant that the cat is stressed (e.g. the appearance of a rival) this ability disappears.

Many martial arts discuss how there are different mindsets/qualities with which one can defend/fight. Often the names are a bit poetic; Fire, Water, Wind, Rock, Earth, etc. but the point is made that the more realized the fighter is, the better his ability to fluidly shift between them. In the intense adrenal state of a fight, this can be a very good trick to actually do, yet as Lorenz's point about the cat makes clear, the state of Play is the state where this happens best. ("What Is Play?" in evolutionary biological terms is an interesting question in its own right.) Thus, the best fight is where the fight is play. Thus in Dog Brothers Martial Arts we say

"Do not have a Way as you Play. Fight the Way you Play. Let your Fight be Play" (c)

The Learning that takes place in the adrenal state is some of the deepest and highest that there is. (The adrenal state of course can be triggered by many things, not only immediate physical danger; criticism by loved ones, humiliation, etc etc.) The greater the adrenal state, the profounder the Learning. The greater the state of Play, the better the result. The more that one can move in both directions simultaneously, the better. "The greater the dichotomy, the profounder the transformation. Higher consciousness through harder contact." (c)

Woof!
Guro Crafty
http://dogbrothers.com/article_info.php?articles_id=7
END

The mental fluidity referred to in this piece also refers to ranges and the various skill sets developed in TT drills.  I suspect some people are disappointed by fighting not looking like TT drills-- I am reminded by Hot Dog (the Jester of the Hermosa Clan of the DBs) faux belligerent riff about "Don't make me hu-bud you!"  OF COURSE fighting does not look like the drills!  The idea is that the drills produce good results in the fluidity of the fight.  In our DVD "DB Gathering of the Pack"  there is a very nice staff fight between two good men, but as I comment in the voice over, one has a very clear advantage and he is the one of the two who had sombrada training.  With excellent fighting spirit and understanding and closing skills, this man simply lights up the other man every time the fight comes to media range with superior skills with his weapon.  THIS is what good sombrada training is intended to produce!  Paraphrasing what Cranewing noted above, doing sombrada well as most people do it does not develop fighting spirit, nor does it teach closing soundly to media against a 250 pound man swinging a staff at you, but if you do have fighting spirit and understanding and you have the ability to close to media THEN the skills cultivated in sombrada manifest.

TAC,
CD
28761  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Crime Statistics on: February 25, 2007, 07:26:24 AM
Start moving briskly as necessary to keep distance, possibly while verbalizing "Keep your distance" or something like that.  If he keeps coming you know you have a problem.
28762  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Tippy-tappy drills-- threat or menace? on: February 24, 2007, 08:36:40 PM
Woof Maija:

Thank you for sharing a very nice tidbit.

TAC,
CD

28763  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Unity of spirit on: February 24, 2007, 08:33:46 PM
Woof Jeff:

Tail wags for your very kind words.

What we have here I attribute to three things:  First, we seek truth.  Second, "Friends at the end of the day".  Third, my Pretty Kitty, DBMA's VP in Charge of Reality.

The Adventure continues,
Crafty Dog
28764  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Thailand on: February 24, 2007, 08:22:14 PM
http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/thais-sense-of-self-th...ullpage#contentSwap1

Thais' sense of self threatened by insurgency

Tom Allard National Security Editor
February 24, 2007

Brutality … a man carries a bar girl injured in a bombing in Yala province last Sunday.
Photo: AFP

BEHEADINGS, mutilated Buddhist monks, assassinations of secular teachers, mass-casualty attacks - the Islamist insurgency raging in Thailand's south is getting more barbaric and effective with each passing month.

That is the assessment of terrorism analysts and Thai Government advisers after a spate of co-ordinated and deadly bombings this week, and warnings of more to come, including in Bangkok.

Even more worrying is the possibility of attacks on tourist resorts where Westerners, including thousands of Australians, flock.

"The brutality is amazing," said Zachary Abuza, a US terrorism expert who specialises in a conflict that has simmered for decades. "For the previous generation, these acts would have been considered unseemly. No one would have done things like hacking apart monks, blowing them up when they are collecting their alms, targeting women and children."

Thailand's Islamic minority, centred on four provinces abutting Malaysia, has long complained of mistreatment. But the ferocity of the insurgency has stunned the Government, with more than 2000 people killed since 2004.

There have been about 30 beheadings, and 60 more botched attempts. More than 60 teachers have died, along with hundreds of bystanders, police and soldiers.

"This is new to the Thai people," said Panitan Wattanayagorn, an academic who advises the Prime Minister, Surayud Chulanont. "It's been quite a shock. Thais are learning about cultural differences. They assumed everyone was Thai, had the Thai national identity. Apparently, not so."

The bombs are becoming larger and more sophisticated, and the ideology underpinning the attacks more virulent.

Dr Abuza said: "It's more Islamist than it's ever been … [but] they want separate communities, from private Islamic schools to their own courts. They are convincing women not to go to hospital to give birth."

The insurgency has received scant attention in the West, which is puzzling given the scale of the violence and Thailand's popularity as a tourist destination.

For Thailand's military-backed government, deposing Thaksin Shinawatra in September was justified, at least in part, by his inability to come to grips with the insurgency. It was Mr Thaksin who reacted with indifference when mosques were attacked and when 78 unarmed protesters died of asphyxiation in the back of army trucks. This infuriated Thai Muslims and prompted a surge of recruits.

However, a public apology, the dropping of charges against protesters, even a willingness to introduce a degree of Islamic law in the region have failed to gain the Government any kudos.

The Thai authorities do not even know who their enemy is, Dr Abuza says. The insurgents operate in largely autonomous cells, never stating their goals or accepting responsibility for attacks.

Jemaah Islamiah and other al-Qaeda-affiliated groups have been in contact with the insurgency - the JI leader Hambali was arrested in Thailand - but the consensus is that it remains self-directed.

Nevertheless, it has adopted many techniques of the global jihadist movement, from simultaneous bomb attacks, to the emphasis on civilian targets. Like Jemaah Islamiah, it also abhors the West, in particular the nightclubs, bars and others "dens of sin" that are so common in Bangkok and the tourist towns.

Tourism operators, who are enjoying a revival in business following the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, are terrified, Professor Panitan said. Muslims in Phuket "watch anyone who comes up from the south very closely. It's worked to date, but how long will it hold?" Dr Abuza says information from Phuket's Muslim minority led to the arrests of a group of suspected insurgents in November.

For now, Dr Abuza believes the insurgents will stay away from tourist centres. "It would be easy enough [to attack tourists]. But I don't think they have to yet, because they are winning. The change of strategy comes when you are losing.

"If they were backed into a corner, I don't think they would hesitate for a second."
28765  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politically (In)correct on: February 24, 2007, 11:54:04 AM
Well, because I didn't see anything from Buzwardo supporting censorship-- indeed the opening sentence of his posted piece was "Remember when the Right had a near-monopoly on censorship?"

Hamas & Hezbollah go quite a bit further than your replacement of "anti-semitism" with "politically incorrect".  They want to wipe out the Jews of Israel-- which sounds rather anti-semitic to me.

Also, you interject a separate albeit related point when you talk about defunding the KKK-- we are talking here about free speech.

Lastly, I reject the inflation of homosexuality to the same status as race.  I reject the notion that it is/should be a thought crime to disapprove of homosexuality. 

28766  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Tippy-tappy drills-- threat or menace? on: February 24, 2007, 08:55:28 AM
Woof All:

All:  I hope I don't embarass Maija, but she can be seen in our promo clip for "The Grandfathers Speak Vol 2: Maestro Sonny Umpad".  I was very impressed by her movement and bilateralism when she performed for Maestro Sonny when I was up in Oakland.

Using her point about ranges as a starting point:

In DBMA we have 7 Ranges:

Snake: Pre-contact
Weapon Range:  Where the fighters' bubbles collide.  This range's importance varies according to the weapons involved. With small knives, it is not important but with staffs it is.
Largo:  Known to all here
Medio: Known to all here
Corto: Known to all here
Clinch:  Self-explanatory
Ground: Self-explanatory

In ritual fighting, the fight usually starts in Snake Range and a lot of people experience a lot of cognitive dissonance right away.  They may have lots of experience training medio and corto range drills, but when confronted by someone moving around and whizzing a stick or two at them they realize they have absolutely no idea how to get to where they have skills without getting clocked.

Around this point some of them begin muttering about tippy tappy drills, when the real issue IMHO is that they lack the science of entering and striking and/or the science of entering and closing.  In DBMA this is where we use the concept of the Triangle from the Third Dimension, Attacking Blocks, Snaggletooth Variations, Los Triques and Dos Triques, etc.  These are the portals into the dimension where the skills cultivated in medio and corto range isolation drills are expressed.  From the little I've seen of Maestro Sonny this is where he used the pendulum step-- Maija?

Cranewings point is sound, people may do the medio and corto training without understanding but the answer for me is to supply the missing understanding, not delete the medio and corto training.

TAC,
CD

28767  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Translation of AQ strategy book on: February 24, 2007, 07:43:03 AM
http://www.ctc.usma.edu/naji.asp

Translation of Major al-Qaeda Book that Outlines Its Plan for Defeating U.S. and Its Allies

The genre of “strategic studies”—the name given by jihadi ideologues to their books and articles on the strengths and weakness of the jihadi movement and those of its enemies—had, until recently, been neglected by Western governments and analysts involved with counterterrorism. In 2004, Hegghammer and Lia called attention to the genre (which they dubbed “jihadi strategic studies”) and usefully commented on its features (Hegghammer and Lia, SCT, 2004). More recently, Brachman and McCants demonstrated how this genre can be used to identify and exploit the weaknesses of the jihadi movement (Brachman and McCants, SCT, 2006—a draft is available online). Despite this growing attention, a full translation of one of these books has not been publicly available.

One reason for the neglect of works in this genre is that they are written in Arabic and they are often quite lengthy. Moreover, they are much more difficult to translate than the usual diatribes by Bin Ladin and other prominent jihadi leaders. Unlike the latter, which are meant for popular consumption, jihadi strategic texts require translators to have a familiarity with Western strategic studies (from which they draw heavily), medieval Islamic history and theology, and contemporary developments in the jihadi movement. The reward for overcoming these obstacles is immeasurable—these works are brilliant (if diabolical) studies of global insurgency written by its most intellectually-gifted participants. While it is still an open question as to whether these texts guide the actions of foot soldiers, they are certainly read by the jihadi intelligentsia and they remain the best source for understanding the nature of the jihadi movement.

In recognition of their value, the Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard commissioned William McCants in 2005 to translate one of the most recent and significant of these works, Abu Bakr Naji’s Management of Savagery (some of its salient features are summarized in the Brachman and McCants article cited above). The Olin Institute, in collaboration with West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center, is making this translation available online for free. Writing as a high-level insider, Naji explains how al-Qaeda plans to defeat the U.S. and its allies in the Middle East, establish sanctuaries for Jihadis, correct organizational problems, and create better propaganda. It is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the strategic thinking of al-Qaeda’s leadership and the future of the jihadi movement.

Download "Stealing al-Qa`ida's Playbook"

The translation is available at the Olin Institute website (www.wcfia.harvard.edu/olin/) and the Combating Terrorism Center website (www.ctc.usma.edu).
28768  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East War on: February 24, 2007, 07:27:33 AM

NY Times 2/23/07

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, Feb. 22 - As fears grow over the escalating
confrontation between Iran and the West, Arab states across the Persian Gulf
have begun a rare show of muscle flexing, publicly advertising a shopping
spree for new weapons and openly discussing their security concerns.


Iran Expanding Nuclear Effort, Agency Reports (February 23, 2007)

Typically secretive, the gulf nations have long planned upgrades to their
armed forces, but now are speaking openly about them. American military
officials say the countries, normally prone to squabbling, have also
increased their military cooperation and opened lines of communication to
the American military here.

Patriot missile batteries capable of striking down ballistic missiles have
been readied in several gulf countries, including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and
Qatar, analysts say, and increasingly, the states have sought to emphasize
their unanimity against Iran's nuclear ambitions.

"There has always been an acknowledgment of the threat in the region, but
the volume of the debate has now risen," said one United Arab Emirates
official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized
to speak on the subject. "Now the message is there's a dialogue going on
with Iran, but that doesn't mean I don't intend to defend myself."

The Persian Gulf monarchies and sheikdoms, mostly small and vulnerable, have
long relied on the United States to protect them. The United States Fifth
Fleet is based in Bahrain; the United States Central Command is based in
nearby Qatar; and the Navy has long relied on docking facilities in the
United Arab Emirates, which has one of the region's deepest water ports at
Jebel Ali.

The United States, too, has begun a significant expansion of forces in the
gulf, with a second United States aircraft carrier battle group led by the
John C. Stennis now in the Persian Gulf and with minesweeping ships.

The expansion has helped calm fears among gulf governments that the United
States could pull out of the region in the future, even as it has raised
concerns about a potential American confrontation with Iran, accidental or
intentional.

As tensions with Iran rise, many gulf countries have come to see themselves
as the likely first targets of an Iranian attack. Some have grown more
concerned that the United States may be overstretched militarily, many
analysts say, while almost all the monarchies, flush with cash as a result
of high oil prices, have sought to build a military deterrent of their own.

"The message is first, 'U.S., stay involved here,' and second, 'Iran, we
will maintain a technological edge no matter what,' " said Emile el-Hokayem,
research fellow at the Henry L. Stimson Center, a research center based in
Washington. "They are trying to reinforce the credibility of the threat of
force."

Military officials from throughout the region descended this week on the
Idex military trade fair, a semiannual event that has become the region's
largest arms market, drawing nearly 900 weapons makers from around the
world. They came ready to update their military capacities and air and naval
defenses. They also came armed with a veiled message of resolve.

"We believe there is a need for power to protect peace, and strong people
with the capability to respond are the real protectors of peace," said Sheik
Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the president of the United Arab Emirates and
ruler of the emirate of Abu Dhabi, at the exposition. "That is why we are
keen to maintain the efficiency of our armed forces."

The Persian Gulf has been a lucrative market for arms. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait
and Oman spend up to 10 percent of their gross domestic product on the
military, amounting to nearly $21 billion, $4 billion and $2.7 billion,
respectively, estimates John Kenkel, senior director of Jane's Strategic
Advisory Services.

If they follow through on the deals announced recently, it is estimated that
countries like the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman and Saudi Arabia will
spend up to $60 billion this year. The biggest buyer in 2006, according to
the defense industry journal Defense News, was Saudi Arabia, which has
agreed to buy 72 Eurofighter Typhoon combat jets for $11 billion. It also
has a $400 million deal to upgrade 12 Apache AH-64A helicopters to the
Longbow standard. The kingdom also reportedly plans to acquire cruise
missiles, attack helicopters and tanks, all for a total of $50 billion.

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



Arab States, Wary of Iran, Add to Their Arsenals but Still Lean on the U.S.




Published: February 23, 2007
(Page 2 of 2)



Kuwait reportedly bought 24 Apache Longbow helicopters, while the United
Arab Emirates has continued to take delivery of 80 F-16 Block 60 fighters,
with plans to buy air tankers, missile defense batteries and airborne early
warning systems. Bahrain ordered nine UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters in an
estimated $252 million deal, while Oman reportedly bought 30 antitank rocket
launchers in a $48 million purchase and is planning a naval overhaul.


"It is a message to enemies that 'We are taking defense seriously,' " Mr.
Kenkel said, emphasizing that the new arms were for deterrence.

"If the U.S. ever does pull back, these countries in the gulf have realized,
they may have to fend for themselves," Mr. Kenkel said. "As the Boy Scouts
say, always be prepared."

The most marked change is in the public nature of the acquisitions, which
previously would have been kept secret, many analysts here said, itself a
form of deterrence.

"They have been doing these kinds of purchases since the '90s," said Marwan
Lahoud, chief executive of the European missile maker MBDA. "What has
changed is they are stating it publicly. The other side is making
pronouncements so they have to as well," he said, speaking of Iran's recent
announcements about its weapons capacity.

Senior United States military officials say gulf countries have become more
nervous as Iran has conducted naval maneuvers, especially near the Straits
of Hormuz, the main artery through which two-fifths of the world's oil
reaches markets.

"A year ago you could have characterized the interaction with the Iranians
as professional," said Vice Adm. Patrick Walsh, departing commander of the
Fifth Fleet. "What's different today has been the number and amount of
exercises and the proximity of those exercises to the Straits of Hormuz
themselves."

The exercises were among the reasons for the expansion of Navy forces in the
region, he said, but have also raised alarm about the potential for
accidents to lead to an unintended war.

Admiral Walsh said that American warships remained in international waters,
and that Iranian and American ships kept close watch on one another. Some
critics of the Bush administration have alleged that the increased military
presence in the gulf risks igniting a conflict.

Admiral Walsh said the increased American presence was aimed at o reassuring
gulf states that the United States remained committed to their security, but
also welcomed their efforts to build deterrence.

"We have found that we need to be physically present to prevent such armed
behavior," he said of the Iranian maneuvers. "We're mindful we're not giving
up any water, but also being careful not to take a provocative stance."
28769  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: February 24, 2007, 06:48:10 AM


From Daniel Pipes http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/679#meeting

Dear Reader:

A further decision is due in the controversy over taxi drivers at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport who refuse to transport passengers visibly carrying alcohol. The Metropolitan Airports Commission, which has jurisdiction over the drivers, invites the public's opinion; and I urge your involvement.

MAC has sent a notice (which I have posted in full on my website, at http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/679#meeting) that recounts developments since its decision in October 2006 to deny requests by drivers to distinguish between Shar'i-compliant and -noncompliant taxis. MAC writes:

For the past several months, the Metropolitan Airports Commission has worked with airport taxi industry representatives and with leaders from the Muslim American Society and the Somali Justice Advocacy League. The goal was to find a solution acceptable to everyone and transparent to the customer seeking airport taxi service. Unfortunately, those discussions have not resulted in a workable, voluntary, consensus-based solution. As a result, the Airports Commission is proposing stricter penalties for refusal of service: a 30-day suspension of a driver's airport taxi license for the first instance, and license revocation for a second instance.

Bravo to MAC. It is important that the drivers be sent a strong signal that they must obey the regulations. Were they allowed to boycott travelers with alcohol, I pointed out in "Don't Bring That Booze into My Taxi," that would intrude Islamic law "into a mundane commercial transaction in Minnesota" and could lead to the transport system as a whole being divided "between those Islamically observant and those not so."

I appealed to readers in October to urge MAC to impose penalties on those who insist on imposing Shar'i norms in Minnesota and to send a message that this practice is unacceptable. The barrage of e-mails and phone calls had the hoped-for effect. According to airport spokesman Patrick Hogan back then, "we've heard from Australia and England. It's really touched a nerve among a lot of people. The backlash, frankly, has been overwhelming. People are overwhelmingly against any kind of cultural accommodation."

Again now, I appeal to all those opposed to application of the Shari'a in the United States to make their views heard in Minnesota. You can do this in either of two ways.

In writing: MAC is asking for "input from the public" through Friday, March 2, 2007, before it makes a decision on the proposed increase in penalties. Written comments should be addressed to:

Landside Operations Department
Metropolitan Airports Commission
MSP International Airport/Lindbergh Terminal
4300 Glumack Drive
Suite LT-3129B
Saint Paul, MN 55111-3010.

In person: For those living in the Twin Cities area, MAC will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, February 27, 2007, at 2 p.m., to solicit testimony from the public via verbal or written testimony. The location will be at:

Ramada Mall of America (formerly, the Thunderbird Hotel)
2300 East American Boulevard
Bloomington, Minnesota

I thank you in advance.

Yours sincerely,

Daniel Pipes


28770  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politically (In)correct on: February 23, 2007, 08:03:53 PM
Does this mean you support banning t-shirts supporting Hamas and Hezbollah because of their known anti-semitism?
28771  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Chimps arm themselves-Article on: February 23, 2007, 07:53:59 PM
Thank you. 

May I ask you to post it here please? http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=1191.0
28772  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Multiple player situations on: February 23, 2007, 05:35:36 PM
His final comments seem to indicate that he is still working on this lesson.  No doubt Life will offer it to him again.
28773  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Are there Knights? on: February 23, 2007, 08:54:47 AM
I remember this documentary-- absolutely awesome!  Do you have its name?

I agree that we now see a lot of political commentary seeking to use wildlife biology, but I think that will take us a bit astray from the topic of this thread.

How about posting on this on the Science, Culture etc forum at http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=1169.0
or even start a thread on "Politics mingling in the science of nature" or something like that.

28774  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Stratfor: Russia's Great Power Strategy on: February 23, 2007, 08:40:11 AM
Doesn't sound like the Russians can be counted on to help our efforts to stop Iran from going nuclear , , ,

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

stratfor.com
Geopolitical Diary: Syria's Russian Connection

The Israeli daily Haaretz reported Thursday that Syria is strengthening its army "in an unprecedented way" and massing troops near the border with Israel along the Golan Heights. Syrian lawmaker Mohammed Hasbah denied the report, saying Syria has not redeployed its troops to the front lines but is prepared for any situation. Hasbah warned that Israel would "pay a heavy price" if it should "decide to do something stupid."

This heated war of words between Israel and Syria likely was sparked by the Israelis catching wind of a Russian arms transfer to Damascus; Haaretz also reported that Syria is close to sealing a deal with Russia to procure thousands of advanced anti-tank missiles.

Russia currently sees a prime opportunity to return to its Cold War policies in the Middle East. From the mid-1950s to the fall of the Soviet empire, Moscow's principal clients in the Arab world included Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Algeria and Yemen. Supplying these regional allies with military assistance and training under long-term loan arrangements that were unlikely to be paid back -- or even, in some cases, for free -- bought the Soviet Union leverage against the United States in the region. Eventually, Moscow's financial constraints caught up with its geopolitical ambitions, and military expenditures in the Middle East dropped low on its list of priorities.

Now, with the United States trapped in a thorny standoff with Iran over the future of Iraq, Russia has a chance to edge itself back into the sandbox. Moscow once again is trying to make friends in the region, with a particular focus on the two countries with the greatest ability to aggravate Washington and undermine U.S. policies: Iran and Syria.

While there have been some rumors about shipments of modern Russian air defense equipment to Syria, many reports are unconfirmed and are, at best, being debated in defense establishment circles. Of major concern is the S-300 long-range air defense system, considered to be among the most capable air defense asset in the world. The latest version of this system, the S-300PMU2, is unlikely to be in Syrian hands -- but the mere discussion of such a sale would be enough to put Israeli and U.S. policymakers on edge.

That said, there are plenty of other Russian military goodies that could be used to add some muscle to Syria's air defense. The summer 2006 conflict between Israel and Hezbollah was a major gut check for the Syrian defense establishment. As Israel Defense Forces (IDF) engaged Syria's militant proxy in Lebanon, the Syrian regime had little choice but to play nice and stay out of the fray for fear of a devastating strike by the Israeli air force (IAF) -- which used two F-16s to buzz Syrian President Bashar al Assad's Latakia palace in June 2006. The relative ease with which the IAF penetrated Syrian airspace -- without fearing a response -- reinforced the need for Syria to improve on its Soviet-era air defense capabilities. Syria knows that the denial of airspace to Israel or the United States is a key strategic priority.

A likely Russian sale of upgraded SA-9 and SA-13 Strela surface-to-air missiles to Syria would fit into this strategy. New acquisitions and deployment of Iranian-built Chinese C-802 anti-ship missiles also are rumored to be under way. The Syrian navy has badly decayed in the last 10 years, and the acquisition of significant quantities of these missiles would be a serious improvement.

But while it makes perfect sense that Syria is taking advantage of the regional dynamic to rebuild its military capabilities, the Syrian regime is not looking for a fight with Israel. Rather, the acquisitions are meant to signal to Israel and the United States that the cost of engaging Syria militarily would be too high. Damascus would much rather work through its militant proxies as it remains focused on re-establishing itself in Lebanon.

Hezbollah, meanwhile, is busily evading U.N. troops in southern Lebanon and rebuilding its own military capabilities -- with Iranian and Syrian assistance -- in preparation for round two of the summer's conflict with Israel. Recent Syrian imports of AT-14 Kornet-E and AT-13 Metis-M anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) likely are making their way into Hezbollah arsenals in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. Hezbollah employed these advanced missiles against Israeli tanks during the 2006 conflict, when it successfully delayed an IDF advance near the Saluki River. The guerrilla tactics Hezbollah used against Israeli armor were not lost on Syria, which almost certainly will be deploying any new ATGMs it acquires near the Israeli border -- except for the ones that slip across the Lebanese border to Hezbollah.

Sources in Lebanon also say Hezbollah fighters in the Bekaa have been sighted at least twice carrying what appear to be SA-18s. The SA-18 is a shoulder-launched, infrared-guided missile akin to the U.S. FIM-92A Stinger (which was used to great effect against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan). While it will not stop the IAF, it will be especially useful in the Bekaa against low-flying close-air-support sorties and IDF helicopters.

Hezbollah has an interest in demonstrating that it possesses these weapons in order to dissuade Israel from launching commando raids against its forces in their Bekaa stronghold. After the 2006 summer conflict, Israel knows it will have little chance of crippling Hezbollah's militant arm unless it thrusts into the Bekaa; but the transfer of these weapons from Syria will make such an offensive more costly.

A concerted effort by Russia and Iran is clearly under way to exploit the U.S. position in the region and upset the regional balance in their favor -- which falls directly in line with Syrian interests. As long as Russia can take advantage of this geopolitical opening, it can stir up enough regional cyclones to make money for the Russian defense establishment, and more important, win back influence to barter with the United States. In the end, lesser powers like Syria stand to gain a great deal.
28775  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: February 23, 2007, 08:30:43 AM
What to do about Iran's nuke program is a vexing question.  This op-ed piece from today's NY Times by a seemingly qualified academic addresses that question.  I've inserted some questions and comments into the pice.
===============

What Scares Iran’s Mullahs?
By ABBAS MILANI
Published: February 23, 2007
Stanford, Calif.

IRAN has once again defied the United Nations by proceeding with enrichment activities, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported yesterday. And yet, simultaneously, Iranian officials have been sending a very different message — one that has gone largely unremarked but merits close attention.

MD:  Why does the piece not mention that not only has Iran "proceeded", but has actually accelerated the process?

After a meeting with the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the leader’s chief foreign policy adviser, Ali Akbar Velayati, declared last week that suspending uranium enrichment is not a red line for the regime — in other words, the mullahs might be ready to agree to some kind of a suspension. Another powerful insider, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, said much the same thing in a different setting, while a third high-ranking official acknowledged that the Islamic Republic is seriously considering a proposal by President Vladimir Putin of Russia to suspend enrichment at least long enough to start serious negotiations with the United Nations.

MD: One hopes that this is the case, but we must also realize that the past several years are littered with analogous hints-- which turned out to be stalls for Iran's continuation and now acceleration of its nuke program.

There have also been indications that the Iranians are willing to accept a compromise plan presented by Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency. That plan calls for the suspension of all major enrichment activities but allows the regime to save face by keeping a handful of centrifuges in operation.

MD: "Indications"?  Again, we've seen this before, many times.

The mullahs are keen on damage control on another front as well. After his meeting with Ayatollah Khamenei, Mr. Velayati announced that the Holocaust is a fact of history and chastised those who question its reality. Ali Larijani, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, also declared the Holocaust a “historical matter” to be discussed by scholars (and not, he implied, by ignorant politicians). In short, there is a new willingness among the Iranian political elite to avoid the rhetoric of confrontation and to negotiate.

MD:  Yet they are accelerating their nuclear program.

There are three ways to analyze this turn. Advocates of an American invasion of Iran say that last month’s strengthening of the American armada in the Persian Gulf has frightened the Iranian regime. What diplomacy could not do for years, a few destroyers did in less than a month. These advocates encourage more of the same, hoping either that the mullahs will accept defeat in the face of an imminent attack, or that a Gulf of Tonkin incident will lead to a full attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

MD:  One might also add that President Bush's surge shows a President willing to buck the tide of the current panic "stampede of the weak horses"  in the US Congress.  Also, it is not a few destroyers, if I have it correctly it is an additional aircraft carrier group and the elevation of an Admiral to head the US military for the region.  One might expect an academic of the credentials of the author of this piece to know, and mention these things.

A second camp attacks the build-up of the armada as dangerous saber-rattling at best, and at worst as camouflage for already settled plans to attack Iran’s nuclear sites. Such an attack, they say, might provide a much-needed feather for President Bush’s empty cap at a time when his Middle East policy has manifestly failed. According to this camp, what changed the minds of Iranian officials was only the United Nations resolution threatening economic sanctions, and the possibility of other resolutions and more serious sanctions.

Both camps are partly right and yet dangerously wrong. There is a third way of looking at the facts.

The mullahs have historically shown an unfailing ability to smell out and, when pragmatic, succumb to credible power in their foes. Indeed, the presence of the American ships has helped encourage them to negotiate. But no less clear is the fact that the mullahs’ attitude change began in late December, when the United Nations Security Council finally passed a resolution against the regime in Tehran.

MD:  Here the author elevates the "indications" and hints of the Iranian government to the "fact" rolleyes of a "attitude change".  Again, the fact reported yesterday is that Iran has accelerated its program.

The passage of the resolution hastened the demise of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s confrontational approach to the West. And the falling price of oil, leading to declining revenues for the regime, magnified the resolution’s economic impact. Top leaders of the Islamic Republic, from Ayatollah Khamenei to Mr. Rafsanjani, have made it clear that they consider sanctions a serious threat — more serious, according to Mr. Rafsanjani, than the possibility of an invasion.

MD:  This may well be.

In other words, what the unilateral and increasingly quixotic American embargo could not do in more than a decade, a limited United Nations resolution has accomplished in less than a month. And the resolution succeeded because few things frighten the mullahs more than the prospect of confronting a united front made up of the European Union, Russia, China and the United States. The resolution was a manifestation of just such a united front.

MD What an *sshole.  Quixotic?  angry  Maybe only the US had the testicles to take a principles stand and not allow those more interested in doing business with Iran than stopping apocalyptic religious nuts from getting nukes.  Maybe jack diddly would have been done but for the sustained insistence of the US/Bush Administration that the world/UN take its head out of its collective *ss and do something about this.  Look at how hard the US had to work to get the EU, Russia (especially Russia who just sold Iran an anti-aircraft missile system on top of its continuin nuclear plant support !  angry ) and China (who gets a lot of oil from Iran) to back even the half-hearted economic embargo that was passed.  And notice that the author softens the workd "embargo" into a "resolution".

While the combination of credible force, reduced oil prices and a United Nations resolution has worked to create the most favorable conditions yet for a negotiated solution to the nuclear crisis, any unilateral American attack on Iran is sure to backfire. It will break the international coalition against the Islamic Republic’s nuclear adventurism; it will allow China, Russia and even some countries in Europe to legitimately side with the mullahs; it will lead to higher oil prices and an increase in Iranian government revenues; and finally, it will help revive the waning power of the warmongers in Tehran.

MD:  Only if it fails-- which well it might.  The Bush Administration has not inspired confidence in its ability to pull such an attack.

Those convinced that only the combination of credible might and diplomatic pressure will work worry rightly that the Bush administration, frustrated by its failures in Iraq and goaded by hawks in Washington, will do to Iran what it did to Iraq. In confronting Saddam Hussein and the threat of his weapons of mass destruction, the Bush administration insisted that amassing an armada in the Persian Gulf was necessary to frighten Mr. Hussein into submission. But once the armada was in place, they used it to carry out a long-ago planned invasion of Iraq.

MD:  WTF?  Hillary, Edwards, Kerry et al voted to enable the President to go to war hoping that this would suffice to make SH back down but he didn't.  Apparently encouraged by the French and the Russians telling him that they would tie us up in the UN, he decided to pretend that he had WMD because of his fear of Iran and because of the regional prestige that the belief he had them brought.  The whole point is that SH was not frightened into coughing up weapons that he had previously admitted possessing-- and, at that point WHAT DO YOU DO?

Today, many worry that the plans for an invasion of Iran, too, were made long ago, and that the armada is there to make possible either another Gulf of Tonkin resolution or an Iranian act of provocation against American forces, which could then serve as an excuse for an attack on Iran.

MD:  Well, to be precise the plans were made-- as they should have been-- but what the author means is that the DECISION has been made.  Again, one cannot bluff about these things.  One does need to go in knowing what one will do if the saber wrattling does not work.

War and peace with Iran are both possible today. With prudence, backed by power but guided by the wisdom to recognize the new signals coming from Tehran, the United States can today achieve a principled solution to the nuclear crisis. Congress, vigilant American citizens and a resolute policy from America’s European allies can ensure that this principled peace is given a chance.

MD:  I agree that both war and peace are possible.  I hope that this time the "indications" coming from some players on the Iranian side are not yet another smokescreen.  I agree that attacking Iran is very difficult and that if not well done by a tired and overstretched military (and yes, President Bush deserves firm criticism for his failures in this regard) that things will get worse-- but this author does not confront the key question.  Without the perceived will to use the power, the US will not be able to get Iran to back off its long and determined plan to acquire nuclear bombs, build missiles that can carry them to Europe and someday the US.   Indeed, with his "Gulf of Tonkin" rhetoric the author adds to our domestic clamor that persuades the Iranian government of exactly the contrary.

Abbas Milani is the director of Iranian studies at Stanford and a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.

MD:  Good thing he's not responsible for making real decisions.
28776  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Zang! on: February 23, 2007, 01:36:56 AM
The following is a case of open mouth, insert foot:
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Luke AFB Fly Over
A WAKE UP CALL FROM LUKE AFB, AZ:

A certain lieutenant colonel at Luke AFB deserves a big pat on the back.

Apparently, an individual who lives somewhere near Luke AFB wrote the local paper complaining about a group of F-16s that disturbed his/her day at the mall.   When that individual read the response from a Luke AFB officer, it must have stung quite a bit.

The complaint:

"Question of the day for Luke Air Force Base: Whom do we thank for the morning air show?   Last Wednesday, at precisely 9:11 a.m., a tight
formation of four F-16 jets made a low pass over Arrowhead Mall,
continuing west over Bell Road at approximately 500 feet.   Imagine our
good fortune!   Do the Tom Cruise-wannabes feel we need this wake-up call, or were they trying to impress the cashiers at Mervyns'
early-bird special?   Any response would be appreciated."

The response:

Regarding "A wake-up call from Luke's jets" (Letters, Thursday): On
June 15, at precisely 9:12 a.m., a perfectly timed four-ship flyby of F-16s from the 63rd Fighter Squadron at Luke Air Force Base flew over the grave of Capt. Jeremy Fresques. Capt. Fresques was an Air Force officer who was previously stationed at Luke Air Force Base and was killed in Iraq on May 30, Memorial Day.   At 9 a.m. on June 15, his family and friends gathered at Sunland Memorial Park in Sun City to mourn the loss of a husband, son and friend.

Based on the letter writer's recount of the flyby, and because of the
jet noise, I'm sure you didn't hear the 21-gun salute, the playing of
taps, or my words to the widow and parents of Capt. Fresques as I gave them their son's flag on behalf of the President of the United States and
all those veterans and servicemen and women who understand the
sacrifices they have endured.  A four -ship flyby is a display of respect
the Air Force pays to those who give their lives in defense of freedom.
We are professional aviators and take our jobs seriously, and on June
15 what the letter writer witnessed was four officers lining up to pay
their ultimate respects.  The letter writer asks, "Whom do we thank for
the morning air show?"   The 56th Fighter Wing will call for you, and
forward your thanks to the widow and parents of Capt. Fresques, and
thank them for you, for it was in their honor that my pilots flew the
most honorable formation of their lives.

Lt. Col. Scott Pleus
CO 63rd Fighter Squadron
Luke Air Force Base, Ar
28777  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: February 22, 2007, 11:34:43 PM
Sorry, no URL on this, but it seems to have enough info to be traceable.

By the way, 12.5%= one out of eight people.

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

Sun, February 18, 2007
Disturbing reality buried
Fear of causing offence and wilful blindness will only end the day innocent Canadians die
By LICIA CORBELLA


In the news business, it's called burying the lead.
It means you missed the most important or interesting part of a story and led with something less significant.
On Feb. 13, the CBC published and aired the results of an Environics poll, which on their website was billed as "Glad to be Canadian, Muslims say."
Apparently "more than 80% of Canada's roughly 700,000 Muslims are broadly satisfied with their lives here."
That's a nice and cuddly kind of story, but hardly surprising. I've been to Afghanistan -- where many of Canada's latest Muslim population comes from -- and even the upper-middle class in Afghanistan live in difficult conditions. I stayed in Kabul's only five-star hotel in December 2003 where hot water was available one-to-two hours a day, electricity was sporadic and my lovely room was utterly freezing.
Poor and middle-class Afghans -- the vast majority -- have no running water, no heat, no electricity and most are totally illiterate to boot.
They are handsome hospitable people -- and extremely resourceful -- but Canada's homeless shelters would look like luxury to your average Afghan refugee. But I digress.

Waaaay down in the online CBC story about this poll is the news that when "asked about the arrests last summer of the 18 Muslim men and boys who were allegedly plotting terrorist attacks in southern Ontario, 73% of Muslim respondents said these attacks were not at all justified." That portion of the poll ended there. No more details. Why? The Environics website made no mention about this portion of the poll either.
However, on CBC's The National television program on the same day, this part of the poll was fleshed-out and the results are alarming.
Fully 12% of Muslim Canadians polled by Environics said the alleged terrorist plot -- that included kidnapping and beheading the prime minister and blowing up Parliament and the CBC -- was justified.
Predictably, the CBC managed to find a talking head -- in this case York University sociology professor Haideh Moghissi -- who dismissed this disturbing revelation.
"It's really negligible that 12 percent feel that the attacks would be justified," said Moghissi. "I don't think it even warrants attention."
Clearly, other news agencies and those who put the poll results on the CBC website agree with Moghissi.
But just how "negligible" is 12% of 700,000 people.
Well, if Moghissi knew arithmetic like she knows denial, she'd know if this poll is accurate, 84,000 Canadian Muslims think it's justifiable to behead our democratically elected prime minister and blow up the very symbol and centre of our democracy!
The Environics poll interviewed 500 Canadian Muslims and 2,045 members of the general population between Nov. 30 and Jan. 5 and is said to be accurate within 4.4 percentage points with regard to the Muslim respondents and 2.2 points with the larger sample group 19 times out of 20.
So, let's err on the side of caution here. Let's subtract the margin of error -- 4.4% -- from 12%. That comes to 7.6%, so let's say, just to be really non-alarmist, we round that down to 7%. That still means 49,000 Canadian Muslims believe conducting a terrorist attack on their own country -- Canada -- is justified.
Is it just me, or does this not strike anyone else as the opposite of "negligible?"
Isn't this significant news?
Considering this poll was published on the same day it was learned al-Qaida -- the Islamic terrorist organization behind the 9/11 attacks -- was urging its followers to target all oilfields, including Canada's, should wake complacent Canadians up.
"We should strike petroleum interests in all areas which supply the United States and not only in the Middle East, because the target is to stop its imports or decrease it by all means," it states.
That threat was made on an al-Qaida online magazine called Sawt al-Jihad (Voice of Holy War) and was discovered by a U.S. non-profit group that monitors militant websites called Search for International Terrorist Entities (SITE).
In other words, the Environics poll indicates anywhere between 49,000 to 84,000 Muslim Canadians likely would view attacks on our oilsands development justifiable, and if that's the case, it's safe to assume some portion of those tens of thousands of people might be prone to carrying out such an attack.
We already know calls to martyrdom and jihad have been made from Canadian mosques, including one in B.C. and the one in Ontario the 18 alleged wanna-be beheaders attended. It's safe to assume there are more.
But, hey, this is Canada, where in the interest of political correctness and fear of offending, the lead on these kinds of stories gets buried and our heads remain planted where there is no illumination and therefore, no truth. That wilful blindness will likely only end the day innocent Canadians get buried instead of just leads by those who justify terror on their fellow citizens and country.
28778  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: February 22, 2007, 11:05:13 PM
Sorry I don't have the URL for this, and yes it is argumentative.  That said, it will be very interesting to see how this plays out.

28779  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Other fronts on the clash between cultures on: February 22, 2007, 09:34:42 PM
WAZIRISTANISATION OF SOUTHERN THAILAND - INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM MONITOR---PAPER NO. 196

By B. Raman

The Thai counter-terrorism agencies have not yet been able to arrest the inexorable Waziristanisation of the four Muslim-majority provinces of Southern Thailand. Targeted attacks with small arms and ammunition on individuals with extreme cruelty, multiple explosions with minimum casualties and attacks on places considered anti-Islam such as places of entertainment continue to be reported almost every day. The individuals targeted are not only Buddhists, but also public servants, including Muslims, viewed as collaborators of the Government. The ground situation resembles partly that in the  the Waziristan area of the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan and partly that in Bangladesh. There are no similarities with the ground situation in the rest of South-East Asia.

2. The targeted attacks with extreme cruelty on individuals viewed as collaborators of the Government and the attacks on places such as Karoke bars viewed as symbols of non-Islamic decadence call to mind what has been happening in South and North Waziristan almost every day. Very often, the Pakistani authorities have no clue as to who is behind the continuing violence in the Waziristan area. Al Qaeda, the Neo Taliban, the local Taliban, tribal militant groups of various hues, followers of individual tribal leaders, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Chechens from Russia and  the Uighurs from the Xinjiang region of China have all been blamed on different occasions by the Pakistani authorities with no conclusive evidence. Unidentifiable jihadi forces orchestrated by an invisible command and control have been keeping the security forces at bay. So too in Southern Thailand.

3. At least in Waziristan some individual leaders and the organisations to which they belong have been identified---such as Baitullah Mehsud and Abdullah Mehsud of the local Taliban, Tohir Yuldashev of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Ayman al-Zawahiri of Al Qaeda and Jalaluddin Haqqani of the Neo Taliban. They are as invisible as the jihadi leaders in Southern Thailand, but they are at least audible. They keep disseminating audio messages, issuing statements, talking to the media over satellite phones etc. In Waziristan, human intelligence is as scanty as in Southern Thailand, but technical intelligence has been forthcoming from the US agencies operating in the area.

4. In Southern Thailand, the jihadi leaders are neither visible nor audible. No recorded messages, no statements, no TECHINT intercepts, no HUMINT derived either from sources or during the interrogation of arrested suspects. There are hardly any arrests----not even accidental. Counter-terrorism agencies often get a lucky break in the form of suspects accidentally intercepted and detained, failed attacks due to human error on the part of the terrorists or malfunctioning of their improvised explosive devices. One hears of hardly any such lucky-break in Southern Thailand. There is evidently no satisfactory data-base which could enable analysts to quantify the threat and assess the results of the counter-terrorism efforts.

5. There are two major differences from Waziristan, though.An increasing number of terrorist strikes in the Waziristan area are by suicide bombers. Suicide bombers are yet to make their appearance in Southern Thailand. Suicide bombers are normally used to kill high-profile targets and for mass casualty terrorism. The second major difference is that in Waziristan there is evidence of complicity of some serving and retired officers of the Pakistan army and intelligence with the jihadis. There is so far no evidence of such complicity in Southern Thailand.

6.  The Thai jihadis seem content for the time being with attacking low profile targets such as teachers, Buddhist monks, junior public servants etc. They continue to avoid mass casualty terrorism like the jihadis in Bangladesh. Multiple explosions with minimum public casualties have been a defining characteristic of the Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen (JUM) of Bangladesh. Demonstrating its presence and reach with widespread multiple explosions with calibrated low-level lethality in order not to antagonise public opinion is the JUM's modus operandi. So too in Southern Thailand.

7. The Thai jihadis seem to be graduating to spectacular economic terrorism, which would cause serious economic damage with minimum human casualties as illustrated by their latest arson attack on a major rubber godown of Southland Rubber Co's branch in Yala town on February 21,2007. Attacks on tourist spots cause large human casualties as one saw in Bali twice, Mombasa and other places. Hence, their avoidance of attacks on tourism spots. Attacks on foreign targets bring international pressure and strengthen international intelligence co-operation. Hence avoidance of attacks on foreign targets so far.

8. Considerable intelligence and thinking have gone into the planning of  the jihad in southern Thailand. It is a low intensity conflict with low-intensity, but continuous bleeding. Counter-terrorism operations in Southern Thailand are like fighting an invisible enemy in the dark. One can neither fight effectively nor talk productively.  The Government's expression of regrets for past deaths of jihadi cadres and innocent civilians and its readiness for a dialogue have remained unreciprocated. Malaysia's offer of co-operation with the Thai authorities is unlikely to make a difference to the situation unless it co-operates through intelligence sharing..

9. When the terrorists are not known and they are not prepared to talk, one has to start talking to the community from which the jihadis have arisen. This is where police-community relations count. They seem to hardly exist in Southern Thailand. Apart from strengthening the intelligence capability and physical security, building up effective police-community relations has to be an important component of the counter-terrorism strategy. The Government has to encourage local non-Governmental initiatives to make  the police and the community interact with each other. Announcement of very handsome rewards for actionable intelligence and a safe channel for communicating such intelligence which will safeguard the anonymity and life of the source is another important requirement.

10. The Government has two options: Either remain in a state of helplessness on the ground that the identities of the jihadi leaders are not known and they are not willing to talk; or find new ways of coming out of the present darkness. The first option would mean more and more bleeding. With some imagination and luck, the second option could produce results. There appears to be no third option.

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: itschen36@gmail.com)
28780  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Multiple player situations on: February 22, 2007, 08:19:26 PM
Fascinating story of a pro MMA fighter against several people in Bali:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOQLg7Kc8So
28781  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Venezuela Pol?tica on: February 22, 2007, 07:30:33 PM
Venezuela: A Foray into Punitive Diplomacy
Summary

Tensions between Costa Rica and Venezuela escalated following an announcement Feb. 21 by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez that a Venezuelan-owned aluminum plant in Costa Rica will be closed. Though Chavez maintains that the motives behind the move are not political, his announcement follows recent criticism of Venezuela by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias. Chavez has successfully relied on oil diplomacy to gain alliances, but closure of the plant indicates he also has punitive measures planned for his critics.

Analysis

The announced closure of an aluminum plant in Costa Rica has ignited a diplomatic row between Costa Rica and Venezuela. The plant, located in Puntarenas province, is owned by Venezuelan state company Alunasa, which was a Costa Rican enterprise acquired by Venezuela in 1990. The plant produces 9,000 tons of aluminum each year and exports to many countries, including the United States, Mexico and Canada.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez confirmed late Feb. 21 that he is calling for the closure of the plant for "geopolitical, technical and economic" reasons, strongly denying that the move is in retaliation against Costa Rica over diplomatic tensions between the nations (no date was given for the closure). Chavez contends that the plant will be more economically profitable in a new location. Though this location has not been specified, the plant likely will be re-established in a state allied with Chavez, such as Ecuador or Bolivia.

Costa Rica has rejected Chavez's rationale; a government minister noted that moving the factory will cost at least $25 million and result in two years of downtime before operations can resume at the present level. In addition, given the plant's 25-year history in Costa Rica, the closure spells serious economic trouble for Puntarenas province. According to government estimates, at least 20 percent of the local population will be impacted by the closure.

But economic reasons are not Chavez's true motivation. Instead, he is angered by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias' recent criticism of Venezuela, in which Arias called Chavez's regime a "democratic dictatorship" and criticized Chavez's newly endowed special powers under the Enabling Law. Chavez responded publicly to Arias' statements, accusing the Central American leader of pandering for U.S. favor.

Chavez's idea of diplomacy revolves around oil, as is shown by his world tours and bilateral accords in 2006. Costa Rica was on his list of allies under the Petrocaribe Accord, in which Venezuela agreed to provide affordable crude to several Caribbean and Central American countries regardless of market fluctuations.

Chavez sees Costa Rica's public criticism of Venezuela as a de facto violation of his oil-induced friendship. Costa Rica is hardly the first nation to be critical of Venezuela. Brazil, Argentina and Mexico all have challenged Chavez's economic and political agendas. Faced with these regional giants, however, Chavez has been relatively powerless. He is taking punitive action against Costa Rica -- a geopolitical adversary too weak to challenge him -- simply because he can.

The closure of the Costa Rican plant is one of Chavez's first forays into punitive diplomacy, and it is not likely to be his last. The move could indicate a shift in his method of dealing with dissent -- but only if the dissenter is less powerful than he. The smaller nations of the Caribbean and Central America -- almost all of which fall under the Petrocaribe deal -- are in this vulnerable category.
28782  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Humor/WTF on: February 22, 2007, 04:18:21 PM
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070221/...aA0VWDCsJH2ocA
Porn DVD screams prompt sword 'rescue'

Wed Feb 21, 12:53 PM ET


OCONOMOWOC, Wis. - A man says he broke into an apartment with a cavalry sword because he thought he heard a woman being raped, but the sound actually was from a pornographic movie his upstairs neighbor was watching.
ADVERTISEMENT
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"Now I feel stupid," said James Van Iveren, who has been charged in the case. "This really is nothing, nothing but a mistake."
According to a criminal complaint, the neighbor told police that Van Iveren pounded on the door and kicked it open without warning Feb. 12, damaging the frame and lock.
"Where is she?" Van Iveren demanded, thrusting the sword at the neighbor, the complaint said. "Where is she?"
The neighbor told police Van Iveren became increasingly aggressive as he repeated the question, insisting that he had heard a woman being raped. The complaint said that, with the sword pointed at him, the neighbor led Van Iveren throughout the apartment, opening closet doors to prove he was alone.
The neighbor later played for police the part of the DVD he believed Van Iveren heard downstairs.
Van Iveren, 39, of Oconomowoc, was charged with criminal trespass, criminal damage and disorderly conduct, all while using a dangerous weapon, and is due in court March 5. Together, the misdemeanor counts carry a maximum sentence of 33 months in jail.
Van Iveren said Tuesday that he heard a woman "screaming for help," grabbed the sword, bounded up the stairs, kicked in the apartment door and confronted the man who lived there.
"I intended to hold it behind my back and knock. But I froze and instead, what happened happened," he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Contesting his neighbor's account, Van Iveren said he didn't look anywhere in the apartment except the front room, and that he never threatened the neighbor with the sword.
"I had the sword extended. But that was all," he said.
Van Iveren, who lives with his mother in the downstairs apartment, said he did not call police when he heard the noises because he does not have a telephone. He said he barely knew the upstairs tenant.
Police seized Van Iveren's sword, which he said was a family heirloom.
28783  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / R1 Open Session on: February 22, 2007, 04:15:59 PM
Sunday March 4th, 2007

3x3 minute rounds
Headgear, gloves, cup, mouthpiece
Win by KO, TKO or Submission

Fighters wanted, contact
r1gundo@yahoo.com or 310-322-5552
Provide the following info:
Age, weight, school, instructor, years training

All fighters must pre-register.

Gym fee for spectators
28784  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Unorganized Militia on: February 22, 2007, 04:12:38 PM
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Police: U.S. seniors fight off muggers, killing one




SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) -- A tour group of U.S. senior citizens fought off a band of muggers in eastern Costa Rica, sending two of the assailants fleeing and killing a third, police said Thursday.

One of the tourists -- a retired U.S. serviceman whom officials estimated was in his 70s -- allegedly put Warner Segura in a headlock and broke his clavicle after the 20-year-old and two other men armed with a knife and gun held up their tour bus Wednesday, said Luis Hernandez, the police chief of Limon, 80 miles east of San Jose.

The Americans had arrived in Limon on the Carnival Cruise Lines ship Carnival Liberty.

"It was a group of 12 senior citizens from the United States who were going to spend a few hours in the area, but their tour bus entered a dangerous sector known as Cieneguita", Hernandez said.

The tourists drove Segura to the local Red Cross branch, but he was declared dead, Hernandez said. He declined to give the names or hometowns of the tourists.
The Red Cross also treated one of the tourists for an anxiety attack, Hernandez said.

Costa Rican authorities said they did not plan to file charges against the tourists, who left on their cruise ship after the incident.

"They were in their right to defend themselves after being held up," Hernandez said.

Hernandez said Segura had previous charges against him for assaults.


http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/americ...rss_topstories
28785  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Knife vs. Gun on: February 22, 2007, 04:04:24 PM
Woof All:

Just a quick yip as a bit of a teaser:  The seminar Gabe Suarez and I just gave this past January was very much about the themes of this thread-- and yes there will be a DVD, the working title of which is "DLO 2:  Bringing a Gun to a Knife fight".

TAC,
CD
28786  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Peru on: February 22, 2007, 02:57:33 PM
U.S./PERU: U.S. Rep. John Murtha challenged the pending free trade agreement (FTA) between the United States and Peru on Feb. 21, calling it a threat to national security. Murtha says the FTA would allow Dubai Ports World (DPW) -- which is invested in Peru -- to invest in the United States. Although the FTA has been challenged in Congress on the grounds that it does not protect labor interests, the DPW issue is new. The FTA text does allow the United States to bar any investment on national security grounds, but Murtha argues that DPW could sue the United States for such action, potentially costing U.S. taxpayers legal fees. It is not clear that DPW would want to invest in the United States; the company has faced major political obstacles to its partnership with the U.S. port management. Murtha is making a barely veiled attempt to oppose the U.S./Peru FTA in the name of DPW, an established bogeyman.

stratfor.com

-----------

Para mi, Murtha es un gran hijo de , , , muchos padres.  Lo mas probable aqui es que el este' usando el DPW asunto para esconder que Murtha este' comprado por algun negocio que busca prevenir la competencia que ese acuerdo va a facilitar.
28787  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Particular Stocks on: February 22, 2007, 02:37:05 PM
KVHI has been scaring me a bit of late and been scraping along a support line, so today was a nice day.  Here's this from yesterday:

KVH Joins Lazydays in Providing Satellite TV to RV Owners
7:30 AM EST February 21, 2007
KVH Industries, Inc., (Nasdaq: KVHI) announced today that Lazydays RV SuperCenter(R), the nation's number one RV dealership, has joined KVH's nationwide independent RV dealer network. Lazydays will offer KVH's premier line of TracVision(R) mobile satellite television antennas, and the TracNet(TM) mobile Internet system. Offering satellite TV systems to customers directly through leading independent RV dealers like Lazydays is a key element in KVH's commitment to enhancing its national RV dealer network and providing its customers with the best sales, installation, and after sale support available in the RV marketplace.

"We are thrilled to be joining forces with Lazydays to bring live satellite TV and HDTV programming to RV customers," said Ian Palmer, KVH's executive vice president for satellite sales. "We believe that independent dealerships offer the greatest value to our customers in terms of sales, quality installation, support, and customer satisfaction. Lazydays RV SuperCenter has earned its place as the nation's largest single-point dealership due to its professionalism, commitment to customer satisfaction, and its outstanding facilities and staff. They will provide KVH customers with outstanding service in selecting the right equipment, installation, and after-sale support. We look forward to building on this valued relationship and, in doing so, benefit KVH, Lazydays, and most of all, our mutual customers."

Lazydays is now offering its customers KVH's award-winning TracVision satellite TV product family, including the in-motion TracVision R5, the stationary, automatic TracVision R4, and the premier TracVision R6 in-motion satellite TV system. These all-digital, HDTV-ready systems allow RV passengers throughout North America to enjoy more than 300 channels of digital programming and commercial-free music via the DIRECTV(R), DISH Network(TM), and ExpressVu services. Lazydays will also offer KVH's TracNet 100 Mobile Internet system, which provides mobile high-speed Internet access via the TV screens of the RV as well as through an integrated WiFi network that turns the RV into a rolling hot spot.

"Our priority is to offer our customers the best experience possible at all times, whether it's the quality of the accessories they choose, the installation and service, or the entertainment options available," said Bob Grady, director of parts and service for Lazydays. "KVH shares our commitment to superior quality and the TracVision satellite TV systems are a great match for our mission and our customers' expectations."

About Lazydays

Lazydays RV SuperCenter (lazydays.com), founded in 1976, is the largest single-site RV dealership in the world. Located on 126 acres outside Tampa, Florida, Lazydays has an 86,600 sq. ft. main building, 273 service bays, 300 RV campsites and more than 1,200 RVs on display. This national RV destination will host more than one million visitors and serve more than 300,000 meals this year alone.

About KVH Industries, Inc.

Middletown, RI-based KVH Industries, Inc., is a leading provider of in-motion satellite TV and communication systems, having designed, manufactured, and sold more than 100,000 mobile satellite antennas for applications on boats, RVs, trucks, buses, and automobiles. Winner of the prestigious General Motors Innovative Design Award, CES Innovation Award, 22 National Marine Electronics Association "Best Product" awards, and a finalist for the Automotive News PACE Award, KVH's mission is to connect mobile customers with the same digital television entertainment, communications, and Internet services that they enjoy in their home and offices.
28788  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: February 22, 2007, 08:14:48 AM
http://www.nbc5.com/news/11075310/detail.html?dl=headlineclick

Two Chicago-Area Men Arrested In Ohio Terrorism Case

POSTED: 4:14 pm CST February 21, 2007
UPDATED: 7:55 pm CST February 21, 2007


Two cousins were arrested Wednesday on federal charges of conspiring to wage holy war against Americans overseas, including U.S. military forces in Iraq.



Zubair A. Ahmed, 27, of suburban North Chicago, and Khaleel Ahmed, 26, of Chicago, were accused along with three other men who already had been under indictment on charges of plotting acts of terrorism against Americans overseas.

The fresh indictment returned by a grand jury in Cleveland added the two Chicago-area men to the roster of defendants and brought additional charges against the three other men.

The cousins, both American citizens, appeared briefly in Chicago before U.S. Magistrate Judge Geraldine Soat Brown, who ordered them sent to Ohio for arraignment. Prosecutors asked her to order them held in custody and sent to Ohio as federal prisoners. Defense attorneys asked for bond.

A hearing on whether to permit bond was set for 2:30 p.m. Monday.

Defense attorneys Gerald Collins and Brian Sieve said they had just met the two defendants, knew little about them and had no comment on the case.

The indictment claims that, between June 2004 and February 2006, the cousins and the other three men -- Mohammad Zaki Amawi, 27, and Marwan Othman El-Hindi, 42, both formerly of Toledo, and Wassim I. Mazloum, 22, formerly of Sylvania, Ohio -- conspired to "kill or maim persons in locations outside of the United States, to including U.S. armed forces personnel serving in Iraq."

The conspiracy allegedly included finding fresh recruits to commit terrorist acts and seeking out sites for training in firearms, hand-to-hand combat and the use of explosives. The men also allegedly agreed to raise funds for "jihad training" and download Internet information on improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

"They were perhaps not as intimately involved as the original three individuals from Toledo," said Bill Edwards of the U.S. Attorney's Office. "But, they did get involved, they knew one of the original individuals, Mr. El-Hindi."

A shadowy figure was described in the indictment only as the Trainer, a U.S. citizen with a military background. The indictment said the two cousins met with the trainer in July 2004 and discussed sniper tactics, counter-surveillance techniques and the use of heavy machine guns.

The three Ohio men, currently in federal custody, were charged in the original indictment with conspiring to provide material support to terrorists. Amawi was also charged with verbally threatening the president of the United States and unlawful distribution of a video concerning suicide bomber vests.

"They certainly knew exactly what was going on," Edwards said. "They talked to 'The Trainer' about being trained in 50-caliber machine guns. Mr. El-Hindi informed The Trainer that the two Ahmeds had attempted at one point to travel to Afghanistan or Iraq."

Wednesday's indictment charged Amawi with distributing information about explosive chemicals downloaded from the Internet and charged El-Hindi with distributing information about explosives and making false statements to officials.

The five men face a maximum penalty of life in prison if convicted of conspiring to kill Americans overseas, according to federal prosecutors.

Meanwhile, prosecutors in Cleveland said a separate indictment was returned charging Bilal Mazloum, 22, of Sylvania, Ohio, brother of Wassim I. Mazloum, with making a false statement to federal agents.

In addition, El-Hindi and Ashraf Zaim, 39, of Ottawa Hills, Ohio, are charged in a separate, seven-count indictment with conspiring to commit theft of public funds, making false statements and wire fraud in connection with a $40,000 federal grant they obtained to operate clinics for low-income taxpayers.
28789  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Islamic Countries: on: February 22, 2007, 07:58:00 AM
Egyptian Court Sentences Blogger Charged With Insulting Islam to 4 Years in Prison

Thursday , February 22, 2007

ALEXANDRIA, Egypt —
An Egyptian blogger was convicted of insulting Islam and President Hosni Mubarak and sentenced to four years in prison on Thursday in Egypt's first prosecution of a blogger.
Abdel Kareem Nabil, a 22-year-old former student at Egypt's Al-Azhar University, an Islamic institution, had pleaded innocent to all charges, and human rights groups had called for his release.
Nabil, who used the blogger name Kareem Amer, had sharply criticized Al-Azhar on his Web log, calling it "the university of terrorism" and accusing it of suppressing free thought. He also often criticized Mubarak's regime on the blog.
In one post, he said Al-Azhar University "stuffs its students' brains and turns them into human beasts ... teaching them that there is not place for differences in this life."
He was a vocal critic of conservative Muslims and in other posts described Mubarak's regime as a "symbol of dictatorship."
The university threw him out last year and pressed prosecutors to put him on trial.
The judge issued the verdict in a brief, five-minute session in a court in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria. He sentenced Nabil to three years in prison for insulting Islam and inciting sedition and another year for insulting Mubarak. Nabil had faced a possible maximum sentence of up to nine years in prison.
Nabil, wearing a gray T-shirt and sitting in the defendants pen, gave no reaction and his face remained still as the verdict was read. He was immediately taken from the pen and put in a prison truck and did not comment to reporters.
Egypt arrested a number of bloggers last year, most of them for connections to Egypt's pro-democracy reform movement. Nabil was arrested in November, and while other bloggers were freed, Nabil was put on trial — a sign of the sensitivity of his writings on religion.
Hafiz Abou Saada, head of the Egyptian Human Rights Organization, described the verdict as "very tough"
"This is a strong message to all bloggers who are put under strong surveillance that the punishment will very strong," he told the Associated Press.
Two U.S. congressmen also expressed deep concern about the arrest of Nabil — who also goes by the blogger name of Kareem Amer — and called for the charges to be dropped.
"The Egyptian government's arrest of Mr. Amer simply for displeasure over writings on the personal Web log raises serious concern about the level of respect for freedoms in Egypt," Reps. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., and Barney Frank, D-Mass., wrote to U.S. Ambassador Nabil Fahmy.
The Bush administration has not commented on Nabil's trial, despite its past criticism of the arrests of Egyptian rights activists.
__________________
28790  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: February 21, 2007, 07:26:25 PM
A Real Outing
The Los Angeles Times boasts that it has identified three CIA pilots who are facing kidnapping charges in Germany over a 2003 counterterrorism operation there:

The names they used were all aliases, but The Times confirmed their real identities from government databases and visited their homes this month after a German court in January ordered the arrest of the three "ghost pilots" and 10 other alleged members of the CIA's special renditions unit on charges of kidnapping and causing serious bodily harm to Khaled Masri, a German citizen of Lebanese descent, three years ago.

None of the pilots responded to repeated requests for comment left with family members and on their home telephones. The Times is not publishing their real names because they have been charged only under their aliases.

But it does offer plenty of details about them:

In real life, the chief pilot is 52, drives a Toyota Previa minivan and keeps a collection of model trains in a glass display case near a large bubbling aquarium in his living room. Federal aviation records show he is rated to fly seven kinds of aircraft as long as he wears his glasses. . . .

His copilot, who used the alias Fain, is a bearded man of 35 who lives with his father and two dogs in a separate subdivision. . . .

The third pilot, who used the alias Bird, is 46, drives a Ford Explorer and has a 17-foot aluminum fishing boat. Certified as a flight instructor, he keeps plastic models of his favorite planes mounted by the fireplace in his living room in a house that backs onto a private golf course here [in a town of 13,000 the Times identifies in its dateline].

Remember all the outrage when Robert Novak "outed" Valerie Plame, who apparently worked a desk job at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va.? Here the L.A. Times is publishing extensive personal details on three men who have actually done dangerous work defending the country. Where's the outrage?

WSJ
28791  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Tippy-tappy drills-- threat or menace? on: February 21, 2007, 07:13:23 PM
Woof Maija:

The term "tippy tappy drills" is intended by its original users to be critical of many of the drills found in the FMA-- kind of like the term "Dead Patterns" is used by some of these individuals.  And just as we in DBMA proudly use the term "Dead Patterns" for things that we do, so too we absorb the usage of the name "tippy tapping drills".  Examples would be sombrada, hubud-lubud, knife tapping, and things of that sort.  These can be fixed patterns or interactive, with fixed stance or not.

 Some say that these drills were made up to amuse American students and that in the Philippines such drilling was far less important than here in the US.  Some say that these drills promote bad habits as well as good ones.  Some say that these drills are useless, etc.

Does this help?
28792  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Survival issues outside the home on: February 21, 2007, 05:33:31 PM
All:

This thread is intended to be a companion thread to the Survival-- hunkering down in the home thread.  The idea is to enable the conversation in each to be more focused.

I'll begin this thread with:

In the eco-system in which I find myself, many plausible disaster scenarios could lead to the fellow members of my species also seeking gasoline making it very difficult and/or time-consuming to get gasoline.

Therefor I am interested in the advantages and disadvantages of buying a diesel pick up truck (my current truck is 17 years old and smells of 17 years of sweat  tongue ) and putting it through a conversion for about $800 that would enable it to ALSO run on

a) bio-diesel, which is eco-friendly and already available at some stations here in CA, and, more importantly

b) bio fuel e.g. soybean oil or the like.

My thought with the latter is that I could safely store quite a bit of soybean oil at the house and in the event of sustained non-availability of gasoline be good to go for quite some time.

Similarly, in an "Escape from LA" kind of scenario that I could throw 100 gallons (or whatever) in the back of the truck and be good to go for quite a ways-- again, without the safety issues of storing gasoline.

Does anyone know anything about this?

Marc

PS:  This also keeps money out of the pockets of the mad mullahs et al of Iran and the rest of the mideast as well as makes for a cleaner environment.

28793  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: February 21, 2007, 01:22:23 PM
CLINTON VOWS TO END U.S. ‘ARROGANCE’ AS PRESIDENT: Hillary Rodham Clinton vowed yesterday to change the United States so it’s no longer an “arrogant power” that alienates the world. “When I’m president, I’m going to send a message to the world that America is back - we’re not the arrogant power that we’ve been acting like for the last six years,” Sen. Clinton said during her first campaign stop in the Sunshine State.
28794  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 'America Alone' on: February 21, 2007, 12:31:09 PM

I suppose I could post this on the Afg-Pak thread, but it seems like a pretty good example of "America Alone".

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

ITALY: The Italian Senate voted against a measure to keep Italy's approximately 1,900 soldiers in Afghanistan. Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema had said the government should resign if the bill failed to pass, since it was a crucial test of the government's unity.

stratfor.com
28795  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Survivalist, Prepper/prepping issues on: February 21, 2007, 11:43:15 AM
All:

On the nearby "Epidemics" thread, SB Mig has a good post today that, inter alia, brings up the survivalist issues that could arise during a epidemic such as having to hunker down in one's home for an extended stretch.

As an Angeleno, such questions have been on my radar screen for a while due to the plethora of possibilities for pandemonium in the greater Los Angeles region-- earthquake, brushfire, terrorism, mass breakdown of social order (think of the Rodney King riots), shut off of water to LA etc.   An epidemic is simply one more SHTF scenario for us.  Being snowed in might be one for other parts of the country.

Anyway, this thread is for asking questions and sharing tips about being able to hunker down at home for an extended stretch.

I'll kick things off:

We have a large generator.  At a hardware store it probably would have cost over $800 but at Costco we were able to get it for under $400.  We have 15 gallons of gasoline.  We start up the generator about twice a year to make sure all is well.

I am looking into solar packs for cell phones and lap top computers

We have somewhere between 25 and 50 gallons of water.

I am not clear on how many days of food that does not require cooking that we have-- but I should be.

The house has suitable levels of firepower for social disorder as well.

TAC,
Marc

PS:  I see SB Mig has just added this to his post:  http://www.slate.com/id/2148772/sidebar/2149226/ent/2148778/
It looks very useful-- thanks SB!
28796  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Inspirational thoughts on: February 21, 2007, 11:29:41 AM
Woof All:

Sometimes we run across something that helps us center ourselves.  This thread is for sharing such things-- and yes, feel free to run the risk of being a bit corny.

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

 
God's Coffee

A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to
visit their old university professor. Conversation soon turned into
complaints about stress in work and life.

Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and
returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups - porcelain,
plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite ---
telling them to help themselves to the coffee.

When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said:
"If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups were taken up,
leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to
want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems
and stress.

Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In most
cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we
drink.

What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you
consciously went for the best cups... And then you began eyeing each other's cups.

Now consider this: Life is the coffee; the jobs, money and position in
society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain Life, and
the type of cup we have does not define, nor change the quality of Life we
live.

Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the
coffee God has provided us."God brews the coffee, not the cups.........
Enjoy your coffee!

"The happiest people don't have the best of everything. They just make
the best of everything they have."

Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest
to God.
28797  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Geo Political matters on: February 21, 2007, 11:24:49 AM
Woof Buzwardo:

Good to have you with us again!

That was a quality read-- I have been spreading it forward from here.

Marc
28798  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: February 21, 2007, 11:23:29 AM
stratfor.com

Geopolitical Diary: Chemical Strikes -- the Beginning of a Trend?

A chlorine-filled truck exploded outside a restaurant at a rest stop near Taji, north of Baghdad, on Tuesday. This is the second incident involving chlorine gas in only a few weeks. In Ar Ramadi, Iraq, a tank of chlorine in a garbage truck exploded Jan. 30; however, the chemical aspect of the attack went largely unnoticed because no casualties were attributed to the chlorine.

Details of Tuesday's explosion remain unclear. Iraqi authorities are speculating that the vehicle was a tanker truck rigged with explosives. They also are questioning whether it was in fact chlorine gas or combustible fuel that was used in an attempt to boost a conventional explosive. It was initially thought that it was a tanker truck filled with liquefied natural gas. The bombers could have made the same mistake.

Regardless of what was actually used, the deaths from the attack are surprisingly low. Bulk chlorine is a target of militants worldwide. It seems this attack was poorly executed, since the device probably exploded prematurely. Though it is easy to attach an explosive charge to a tanker truck, it is not easy to rupture the tank in order to maximize dispersal without burning up the chemical agent that needs to be dispersed.

That said, chlorine gas is not a weapon of mass destruction capable of taking out an entire city. Even with the most modern chemical weapon delivery systems, chlorine gas is incapable of inflicting massive casualties. These incidents are not in any way indicative of a new technical capability, merely of a new tactic. The only technical capability these attacks have demonstrated is that of placing chlorine tanks and explosives in close proximity -- and this has not been done with skill. There are several reasons the most recent attack could have failed; there perhaps were too many explosives, an insufficient concentration or quantity of chlorine and it might have occurred in a sparsely populated area.

However, a trend is starting to emerge that will only be reinforced by a psychological and human toll that insurgent operational planners will not overlook -- some 150 injuries associated with chlorine gas exposure, including respiratory irritation and vomiting, and five fatalities. And improvements in the techniques of employing even these improvised devices could nevertheless send casualty tolls much higher.

However, though chemical weapons will certainly undermine an already crumbling domestic U.S. support base, U.S. forces were not the primary target in either Tuesday's or the Jan. 30 incident.

Hardened U.S. troops are ill at ease even about chemical strikes they are trained to deal with. But such strikes are even more terrifying to Iraqi civilians with no training or equipment. If the fear of being blown up at the market turns into a fear of being subjected to a chemical attack, a new degree of hostility toward the Sunni insurgency could develop.

Meanwhile, U.S. troops could be increasingly spotted with gas masks on their left hips. With the sanitation situation as poor as it is in Iraq, chlorine will continue to be necessary, although some precautions could be taken to better protect large shipments. Ultimately, this has not yet become a meaningful opposition to the U.S. surge and it has certainly not indicated a new technical skills set. Nevertheless, the psychological impact of chemical weapons use in Iraq should not be underestimated.
28799  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Tippy-tappy drills-- threat or menace? on: February 21, 2007, 11:19:24 AM
Woof All:

On the DBMA Association Forum, in the context of a larger discussion, one of our members commented:

"The mentality gained from doing many of the middle range knife tapping drills seems to emphasize standing and exchanging at middle range until the opponent is down and out.   This is risky business at best."

So, I'd like to put up for discussion the merit or lack thereof and drawbacks of what are sometimes sarcastically called "tippy-tappy drills".

Fasten your seat belts, this could get lively cheesy

TAC,
CD
28800  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Wali Songo Silat with Pendekar Steve Benitez on: February 20, 2007, 10:29:06 PM
Woof All:

Highly impressive Wali Songo man Tony Felix is on the DBMA Board of Advisors.  This is his teacher. 

Crafty Dog

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

PENCAK SILAT
SEMINAR

Direct from London, Pendekar Steven Benitez of Walisongo Pencak Silat returns to Los Angeles for a one-time workshop on Pukulan (striking).

A well-rounded martial art from Indonesia, Walisongo Silat is renowned for its supreme physical conditioning, explosive yet fluid ground movement, and rapid-fire striking.

Don’t miss this rare opportunity to train Pencak Silat with Pendekar Benitez in your home town!

When: Sunday March 4
    12 noon – 4PM

  Where: Rey Diogo BJJ
8733 Venice Blvd
LA, 90034

How much: $75 cash
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