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28751  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Venezuela Pol?tica on: November 28, 2006, 08:41:38 PM
Venezuela: Beyond the Presidential Election
Summary

Venezuelans will go to the polls Dec. 3 to decide between President Hugo Chavez and the more moderate opposition candidate, Manuel Rosales. Chavez, whose victory is almost assured, likely will use his next term to press for a national referendum on a constitutional amendment that would allow him to be re-elected indefinitely. The opposition, meanwhile, is using the election to build a solid domestic support base for future challenges to Chavez; it will also try to draw international attention by responding to Chavez's likely victory with post-election protests.

Analysis

Ahead of Venezuela's Dec. 3 presidential election, political tensions in the country have skyrocketed. Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans reportedly attended the Nov. 25 marches that closed the campaigns of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and opposition candidate Manuel Rosales. Most polls show Chavez leading by a wide margin; support for the opposition in Venezuela is difficult to gauge, but most estimates show that the opposition's support base is roughly 35 percent of the population. A commission of EU election observers could make vote manipulation difficult, but Chavez controls the government and the National Electoral Council, which he could use to influence the count in his favor. Regardless of the means of victory, Chavez is widely anticipated to win the election.

Chavez's expected victory will embolden him domestically. However, the opposition is well-financed and popular enough to ensure that, no matter the presidential election's outcome, political struggle in Venezuela will not end when the last ballot is counted.

If Chavez does win, this would be his last term in office under the current constitution. However, he has made it clear that he intends to pursue an amendment that would eliminate term limits, allowing him to be re-elected indefinitely. The amendment is planned for 2010 and would be put to a vote in a national referendum. Unless popular opinion shifts wildly, the amendment would likely pass -- or at least the government would say it had passed. Even if the amendment were to somehow fail, Chavez and his party would pick an analogous successor.

Venezuela's opposition movement is using the Dec. 3 election as an opportunity to gain enough momentum to be able to challenge Chavez in future elections. Rosales -- the current governor of Zulia and former governor of Maracaibo -- is a compromise candidate who represents a variety of interests. A popular politician who has never lost a race, Rosales' platform includes enhancing domestic security to deal with Venezuela's skyrocketing crime rate, fair distribution of oil profits to the poor and democratic reforms such as freedom of the press and judicial reform. Rosales' main critique of Chavez is that the jet-setting leader has committed too much of Venezuela's oil wealth to seeking a leadership role in the international community and too little to fulfilling the socialist goal of helping Venezuela's poor. Rosales also contends that the Chavez regime has corrupted the government and poses a challenge to democracy in Venezuela.

Rosales' supporters include many from the middle and upper classes, along with those who led a short-lived attempt to take control of the presidential palace in 2002. The United States was widely thought to be involved in that coup attempt, which was thwarted by Chavez supporters. After the attempt, the opposition attacked Chavez, launching a recall referendum and strikes. Both tactics failed; Chavez was overwhelmingly re-elected in the referendum, and the strikes prompted the government to take over the unions and replace their leaders. However, the Venezuelan opposition still receives funds from U.S. organizations such as the National Endowment for Democracy via democracy promotion programs in Venezuela -- most prominently from groups such as Sumate and the International Republican Institute, which Chavez's regime has accused of trying to undermine the government.

The opposition is so convinced that Chavez will win on Dec. 3 that it has already planned a post-election protest. Rafael Poleo, director of the Venezuelan newspaper El Nuevo Pais and a prominent opposition member, called on the Venezuelan people and military personnel to protest Dec. 4. Poleo advocated another "Orange Revolution" against the government -- a plea for peaceful but concerted resistance. A drawn-out sit-in protest -- like that of defeated Mexican presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and his followers -- is less likely than a short-term demonstration, given that such a protest would require significant international and domestic financial support. Though the opposition is relatively well-funded, it cannot compete with the government's purse. Additionally, Venezuelan police are more likely to use force than their Mexican counterparts and would be unlikely to tolerate drawn-out protests.

With high tensions among protesters, police and Chavez supporters, any sit-in would also be more violent than those held recently in Mexico. The opposition could likely easily promote clashes between Chavez supporters and Rosales supporters in order to create chaos in Caracas -- similar to the political, media and physical conflicts that followed the 2002 coup attempt. However, this time Chavez has firm control over the military, and Poleo's mostly rhetorical appeals to the military elite are not likely to loosen Chavez's grip. If Chavez supporters and opposition supporters clash, the military might intervene. The pro-opposition private media would take this opportunity to paint Chavez as a dictator and a monster, and the pro-Chavez state-run media would respond in kind. Chavez is prepared for a media onslaught and has threatened to shut down any television station that broadcasts calls for unrest.

In the long term, a Chavez victory on Dec. 3 will sideline the opposition. The leaders of the movement recognize that Chavez is in complete control of the government and have set their sights accordingly. During the course of this campaign, the opposition has managed to unify around a single candidate -- something it has never before been able to accomplish -- and is planning a reaction to Chavez's likely win with a pragmatic eye toward long-term goals: attracting international attention and building a solid base for future challenges to Chavez's government.

www.stratfor.com
28752  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: European matters on: November 28, 2006, 05:36:20 PM
If I have it right the Neo-Nazis are the ones in front of the doorway with bats, the marchers are "anti-facists" and the ones with guns are the police.  Is this right?
28753  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Free Speech vs. Islamic Fascism (formerly Buy DANISH!!!) on: November 28, 2006, 04:25:14 PM
Cartoons and Islamic Imperialism

by Daniel Pipes
New York Sun
February 7, 2006

The key issue at stake in the battle over the twelve Danish cartoons of the Muslim prophet Muhammad is this: Will the West stand up for its customs and mores, including freedom of speech, or will Muslims impose their way of life on the West? Ultimately, there is no compromise: Westerners will either retain their civilization, including the right to insult and blaspheme, or not.

More specifically, will Westerners accede to a double standard by which Muslims are free to insult Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism, while Muhammad, Islam, and Muslims enjoy immunity from insults? Muslims routinely publish cartoons far more offensive than the Danish ones . Are they entitled to dish it out while being insulated from similar indignities?


 Germany's Die Welt newspaper hinted at this issue in an editorial: "The protests from Muslims would be taken more seriously if they were less hypocritical. When Syrian television showed drama documentaries in prime time depicting rabbis as cannibals, the imams were quiet." Nor, by the way, have imams protested the stomping on the Christian cross embedded in the Danish flag.
The deeper issue here, however, is not Muslim hypocrisy but Islamic supremacism. The Danish editor who published the cartoons, Flemming Rose, explained that if Muslims insist "that I, as a non-Muslim, should submit to their taboos ... they're asking for my submission."
Precisely. Robert Spencer rightly called on the free world to stand "resolutely with Denmark." The informative Brussels Journal asserts, "We are all Danes now." Some governments get it:
Norway: "We will not apologize because in a country like Norway, which guarantees freedom of expression, we cannot apologize for what the newspapers print," Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg commented.
Germany: "Why should the German government apologize [for German papers publishing the cartoons]? This is an expression of press freedom," Interior Minister Wolfgang Schauble said.
France: "Political cartoons are by nature excessive. And I prefer an excess of caricature to an excess of censorship," Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy commented.
Other governments wrongly apologized:
Poland: "The bounds of properly conceived freedom of expression have been overstepped," Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz stated.
United Kingdom: "The republication of these cartoons has been unnecessary, it has been insensitive, it has been disrespectful and it has been wrong," Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said.
New Zealand: "Gratuitously offensive," is how Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton described the cartoons.
United States: "Inciting religious or ethnic hatred in this manner is not acceptable," a State Department press officer, Janelle Hironimus, said.
Strangely, as "Old Europe" finds its backbone, the Anglosphere quivers. So awful was the American government reaction, it won the endorsement of the country's leading Islamist organization, the Council on American-Islamic Relations. This should come as no great surprise, however, for Washington has a history of treating Islam preferentially. On two earlier occasions it also faltered in cases of insults concerning Muhammad.
In 1989, Salman Rushdie came under a death edict from Ayatollah Khomeini for satirizing Muhammad in his magical-realist novel, The Satanic Verses. Rather than stand up for the novelist's life, President George H.W. Bush equated The Satanic Verses and the death edict, calling both "offensive." The then secretary of state, James A. Baker III, termed the edict merely "regrettable."

Even worse, in 1997 when an Israeli woman distributed a poster of Muhammad as a pig, the American government shamefully abandoned its protection of free speech. On behalf of President Bill Clinton, State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns called the woman in question "either sick or ? evil" and stated that "She deserves to be put on trial for these outrageous attacks on Islam." The State Department endorses a criminal trial for protected speech? Stranger yet was the context of this outburst. As I noted at the time, having combed through weeks of State Department briefings, I "found nothing approaching this vituperative language in reference to the horrors that took place in Rwanda, where hundreds of thousands lost their lives. To the contrary, Mr. Burns was throughout cautious and diplomatic."

Western governments should take a crash course on Islamic law and the historically-abiding Muslim imperative to subjugate non-Muslim peoples. They might start by reading the forthcoming book by Efraim Karsh, Islamic Imperialism: A History (Yale).

Peoples who would stay free must stand unreservedly with Denmark.
_________
Additions:
The cartoon above was drawn by J.J. McCullough of www.filibustercartoons.com and is posted with permission.
For those who wish to "Buy Danish," a list of products to purchase can be found at End the Boycott.
_________
From www.danielpipes.org | Original article available at: www.danielpipes.org/article/3360
28754  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Dog Brothers Tribe on: November 28, 2006, 08:52:48 AM
Apparently we previously neglected to list

Renato Judalena is now "Dog Ren".

Welcome to the Tribe!

CD
28755  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: November 27, 2006, 08:34:05 PM
Here's Ralph Peters take on things.  Quijote, if you are not familiar with RP, he is a retired Army Colonel who worked intel matters in the mid-east.  He is regarded as a bold thinker, willing to take chances, and there is never any doubt what he thinks. grin
=============

The piece by Ralph Peters was linked from RealClearPolitics yesterday. I saved it, didn't keep link. Should be in recent archives of NY Post or RCP. But another interesting counter conventional wisdom point of view about Europe. (Which I find compelling since I thought this in the late '90's when the skinheads were firebombing Turkish slums in Germany back then.)

THE 'EURABIA' MYTH
By RALPH PETERS
November 26, 2006 -- A RASH of pop prophets tell us that Muslims in
Europe are reproducing so fast and European societies are so weak
and listless that, before you know it, the continent will become
"Eurabia," with all those topless gals on the Riviera wearing veils.
Well, maybe not.

The notion that continental Europeans, who are world-champion
haters, will let the impoverished Muslim immigrants they confine to
ghettos take over their societies and extend the caliphate from the
Amalfi Coast to Amsterdam has it exactly wrong.

The endangered species isn't the "peace loving" European lolling in
his or her welfare state, but the continent's Muslims immigrants -
and their multi-generation descendents - who were foolish enough to
imagine that Europeans would share their toys.
In fact, Muslims are hardly welcome to pick up the trash on Europe's
playgrounds.

Don't let Europe's current round of playing pacifist dress-up fool
you: This is the continent that perfected genocide and ethnic
cleansing, the happy-go-lucky slice of humanity that brought us such
recent hits as the Holocaust and Srebrenica.
THE historical patterns are clear: When Europeans feel sufficiently
threatened - even when the threat's concocted nonsense - they don't
just react, they over-react with stunning ferocity. One of their
more-humane (and frequently employed) techniques has been ethnic
cleansing.

And Europeans won't even need to re-write "The Protocols of the
Elders of Zion" with an Islamist theme - real Muslims zealots
provide Europe's bigots with all the propaganda they need. Al Qaeda
and its wannabe fans are the worst thing that could have happened to
Europe's Muslims. Europe hasn't broken free of its historical
addictions - we're going to see Europe's history reprised on meth.
The year 1492 wasn't just big for Columbus. It's also when Spain
expelled its culturally magnificent Jewish community en masse - to
be followed shortly by the Moors, Muslims who had been on the
Iberian Peninsula for more than 800 years.
Jews got the boot elsewhere in Europe, too - if they weren't just
killed on the spot. When Shakespeare wrote "The Merchant of Venice,"
it's a safe bet he'd never met a Jew. The Chosen People were
long-gone from Jolly Olde England.

From the French expulsion of the Huguenots right down to the last
century's massive ethnic cleansings, Europeans have never been shy
about showing "foreigners and subversives" the door.
And Europe's Muslims don't even have roots, by historical standards.
For the Europeans, they're just the detritus of colonial history.
When Europeans feel sufficiently provoked and threatened - a few
serious terrorist attacks could do it - Europe's Muslims will be
lucky just to be deported.
Sound impossible? Have the Europeans become too soft for that sort
of thing? Has narcotic socialism destroyed their ability to hate? Is
their atheism a prelude to total surrender to faith-intoxicated
Muslim jihadis?

The answer to all of the above questions is a booming "No!" The
Europeans have enjoyed a comfy ride for the last 60 years - but the
very fact that they don't want it to stop increases their rage and
sense of being besieged by Muslim minorities they've long refused to
assimilate (and which no longer want to assimilate).

WE don't need to gloss over the many Muslim acts of barbarism down
the centuries to recognize that the Europeans are just better at the
extermination process. From the massacre of all Muslims and Jews
(and quite a few Eastern Christians) when the Crusaders reached
Jerusalem in 1099 to the massacre of all the Jews in Buda (not yet
attached to Pest across the Danube) when the "liberating" Habsburg
armies retook the citadel at the end of the 17th century, Europeans
have just been better organized for genocide.

It's the difference between the messy Turkish execution of the
Armenian genocide and the industrial efficiency of the Holocaust.
Hey, when you love your work, you get good at it.
Far from enjoying the prospect of taking over Europe by having
babies, Europe's Muslims are living on borrowed time. When a third
of French voters have demonstrated their willingness to vote for
Jean-Marie Le Pen's National Front - a party that makes the Ku Klux
Klan seem like Human Rights Watch - all predictions of Europe going
gently into that good night are surreal.

I have no difficulty imagining a scenario in which U.S. Navy ships
are at anchor and U.S. Marines have gone ashore at Brest,
Bremerhaven or Bari to guarantee the safe evacuation of Europe's
Muslims. After all, we were the only ones to do anything about the
slaughter of Muslims in the Balkans. And even though we botched it,
our effort in Iraq was meant to give the Middle East's Muslims a
last chance to escape their self-inflicted misery.
AND we're lucky. The United States attracts the quality. American
Muslims have a higher income level than our national average. We
hear about the handful of rabble-rousers, but more of our fellow
Americans who happen to be Muslims are doctors, professors and
entrepreneurs.
And the American dream is still alive and well, thanks: Even the
newest taxi driver stumbling over his English grammar knows he can
truly become an American.

But European Muslims can't become French or Dutch or Italian or
German. Even if they qualify for a passport, they remain
second-class citizens. On a good day. And they're supposed to take
over the continent that's exported more death than any other?
All the copy-cat predictions of a Muslim takeover of Europe not only
ignore history and Europe's ineradicable viciousness, but do a
serious disservice by exacerbating fear and hatred. And when it
comes to hatred, trust me: The Europeans don't need our help.
The jobless and hopeless kids in the suburbs may burn a couple of
cars, but we'll always have Paris.
Ralph Peters' latest book is "Never Quit the Fight."
Home

NEW YORK POST is a registered trademark of NYP Holdings, Inc. NYPOST.COM,
__________________
28756  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: November 27, 2006, 06:42:58 PM
U.K.: The Puzzling Polonium-210 Attack
Former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, who died of radiation poisoning in a London hospital Nov. 23, was exposed to high levels of the polonium-210 isotope, according to British health authorities. Although radiation has been discussed in the past as a possible assassination weapon, very few, if any, incidents of its successful use have occurred -- until now. British authorities, who already are dealing with thousands of active terrorism investigations, must now confront the fact that someone in London has acquired polonium-210, and knows how to use it to kill.

Litvinenko was admitted to a London hospital Nov. 17, 16 days after falling ill following a meeting with an Italian academic at a London sushi restaurant. Medical personnel first suspected Litvinenko had been dosed with thallium, an element in rat poison, because he showed a classic symptom of thallium poisoning: hair loss. Scotland Yard then began investigating the incident as a deliberate act. Later, however, the British Health Protection Agency said tests had revealed high levels of polonium-210 in Litvinenko?s system.

Polonium, also known as radium F, was discovered in 1897 by Marie Curie and her husband, Pierre. It is an alpha emitter, meaning that although it is highly radioactive, it cannot penetrate human skin or a sheet of paper. Although the element is common in nature (it is found in such things as dirt and tobacco), it does not naturally occur in lethal concentrations. Only about 100 micrograms of the polonium-210 isotope can be found in one metric ton of dirt, for example. Once concentrated, however, it is lethal. Polonium-210 emits 5,000 times more alpha particles than radium, and an amount the size of the period at the end of this sentence would contain about 3,400 times the lethal dose. A dose like that which killed Litvinenko would probably have been manufactured at a nuclear facility.

Although polonium-210 can be made into crystallized or powdered form and then disseminated via a spray, that method would have endangered the attacker as well. More likely, Litvinenko ingested the polonium-210 either through food or drink. The radiation killed Litvinenko?s cells, eventually causing his organs to shut down.

According to a 2002 database produced by Stanford University?s Institute for International Studies, approximately 88 pounds of radioactive material, including weapons-usable uranium and plutonium, were removed without authorization from nuclear facilities in the former Soviet Union, although most of that material has been recovered. The International Atomic Energy Agency listed 827 confirmed incidents involving the trafficking of radioactive material reported by participating member states from January 1993 to December 2005. Of these, 224 incidents involved nuclear materials, 516 involved other radioactive materials (mainly radioactive sources), 26 involved both nuclear and other radioactive materials, 50 involved radioactively contaminated materials and 11 involved other materials. Sixteen of the nuclear material incidents involved highly enriched uranium or plutonium.

Polonium-210 is difficult to detect unless it is being specifically sought, thereby making the substance easy to smuggle. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is working on methods to detect the substance in water samples, but current methods are time-consuming and require an experienced analyst.

Litvinenko, an outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin?s government, accused Putin of personally ordering his assassination in the weeks following the poisoning. Russian dissidents in London also hold the Russian government responsible for the attack. A source in the London Metropolitan Police Counterterrorism Command cited by the United Kingdom's Daily Mirror suggested the polonium-210 could have been smuggled into the United Kingdom in a diplomatic pouch from a ?former Soviet Union embassy.? This method, which would have nearly eliminated the risk of the material?s discovery while in transit, reportedly was used to smuggle in the materials used to poison Bulgarian dissident poet Georgi Markov in London in 1978. Russian authorities have dismissed charges of Moscow?s involvement in the Litvinenko attack as "silly."

Litvinenko?s death, regardless of who is behind it, has raised the stakes for British security and counterterrorism officials. Scotland Yard has had more active terrorism investigations in 2006 than at any other time in its history, and must now attempt to track down the source of this attack. Meanwhile, if this was a covert operation by Russian intelligence, London's sizable Russian dissident community has reason to be quite concerned indeed.
www.stratfor.com
28757  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: November 27, 2006, 03:49:36 PM
A second post, this from the Asia Times, which brings a perspective serious Americans would do well to bring onto their radar screen.
===============

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/HK28Ak04.html

Page 1 of 3
The Saudis strike back at Iran
By M K Bhadrakumar

If ever the need arose to differentiate between brothers and friends, that was last week when Saudi King Abdullah bin-Abd al-Aziz al-Saud spoke of Iran as a "friend" of the Saudi state.

The king said this while receiving Iranian Ambassador Hossein Sadeqi during the latter's farewell call on the conclusion of an eventful two-year tour, which witnessed, arguably, a steady rise in the warmth and coziness of Saudi-Iranian relations.

The king praised the trend in the relations between the two countries in recent years, and stressed the importance of bolstering Saudi-Iranian relations "in all fields", adding that Saudi Arabia had "confidence" in Iran. But what stood out was Saudi Arabia's characterization of ties between the two most important countries of the Muslim world as being between "friends".

Nevertheless, Iran's sense of unease about the shadows falling on Saudi-Iranian ties and the potentially deleterious trust deficit developing between them over issues of regional stability and peace was apparent in its decision last week to keep out Saudi Arabia from the trilateral summit that Tehran proposed, involving the heads of states of Syria and Iraq. What has led to a chill in Saudi-Iranian relations is the eruption of vicious sectarian strife in Iraq, apart from the crisis unfolding in Lebanon.

Saudi Arabia has viewed with disquiet the rapid ascendancy of Iranian influence in Iraq since the US invasion. The reasons are several, but primarily the Shi'ite claim of political empowerment in the region haunts Riyadh, coupled with the prospect of Iran's seemingly unstoppable march as the premier regional power in the Persian Gulf region and the Middle East. The disquiet has turned into dismay as the incipient murmurs of a likely shift in the United States' strategy in Iraq have lately become audible, and given the likelihood of the shift involving a constructive engagement of the regimes in Tehran and Damascus by Washington.

Despite sustained Saudi (and Egyptian) efforts to carve out a niche of influence in the fragmented Iraqi political landscape, the desired results haven't been forthcoming. The latest Saudi attempt was the Mecca Document of October 20, endorsed by 29 Iraqi Sunni and Shi'ite senior clerics who assembled in the Muslim holy city of Mecca. They vowed to God in front of the blessed Kaaba "not to violate the sanctity of Muslim blood and to incriminate those who shed [it]".

But not only has the Mecca Document not arrested Shi'ite-Sunni hostilities within Iraq, the sectarian divide has since dramatically widened. Iran alleges that conspiracies pitting the Sunnis against Shi'ites are afoot. The powerful Speaker of the Iranian majlis (parliament), Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel, while visiting the eastern province of Sistan-Balochistan (bordering Pakistan's restive Balochistan province), said on Saturday, "Today the enemies wish to sow the seed of discord among Shi'ites and Sunnis and make them insult each other ... The enemies of Islam are attempting to disrupt Muslim vigilance, lay their hand on the wealth of Muslim lands and plunder their oil reserves. To achieve this goal, they are attempting to sow the seed of discord among Muslims."

Indeed, Western media have also reported that in recent months US and Israeli intelligence have been working together in equipping and training Kurdish, Azeri and Baloch tribesmen to undertake covert operations in Iran's northern and southeastern provinces. Tehran already visualizes that in Lebanon, too, in the latest confrontation, the battle lines will fast assume a Sunni-Shi'ite dimension.

The latent Saudi-Iranian rivalry is likely to play out in Lebanon. Unlike with the Iraq problem, there is a convergence of Saudi and US interests over Lebanon. Saudi commentators have been counseling Washington not to compartmentalize Iraq and Lebanon as separate issues.

From the Saudi perspective, any US-Iranian engagement in the region should not be limited to a US "exit strategy" in Iraq. The fear of a resurgent Iran is palpable. The London-based Al-Hayat newspaper recently compared Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad to Osama bin Laden as two renegades equally bent on destabilizing the region.

That is why Saudi diplomacy worked in tandem with the US to get a "global consensus" over the setting up of an international tribunal to look into the murder of former Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri. Saudi commentators heaved a sigh of relief when Moscow decided to delink from Syria's (and Iran's) dogged opposition to the tribunal. But what was extraordinary was that the Saudis publicly commended the "significant and remarkable cooperation" from China in making it clear to the Russians that China was "on the side of the US, France and Britain" in the United Nations Security Council negotiations over the decision to set up the tribunal.

A Saudi commentator boasted, "By doing so, China left Russia with the sole option of cooperating and not obstructing." Indeed, the People's Daily recently took note of Washington's realization of the need of a "new direction" in its Middle East policy - "a new
======
Page 2 of 3
The Saudis strike back at Iran
By M K Bhadrakumar
------

Middle East plan, which aims to unite moderate Arab countries who are concerned about the rise of Iran and rampant extremist forces, to form an anti-Iran and anti-extremist alliance" - though it doubted what a mere course correction could do in "extricating the US from the quagmire it created by itself in the Middle East".

The Saudi expectation is that the UN decision to set up the tribunal (which was promptly approved by the Lebanese cabinet of Saudi-backed Prime Minister Fouad Siniora on Friday, despite warnings from Hezbollah) signifies a development of historic proportions in redrawing political alignments in the Middle East.

From the Saudi point of view, the tribunal will inexorably lead to the unraveling of the Ba'athist regime in Damascus; the breakup of the Iranian-Syrian nexus in the region; the return of Syria to the mainstream Arab fold; the near-total isolation of Hezbollah within Lebanon, which in turn could pave the way for its eventual co-option (once it is cleansed of militancy and sanitized from Iranian influence); and the overall weakening of Iran's standing as the Shi'ite powerhouse in the region, especially in Iraq.

Equally, the Saudis are displaying in Lebanon their true grit as a US ally in the region. They are showing that in countering Iranian influence they are prepared to dig in, no matter what it takes. Riyadh has cast aside its proclivity to remain on the sidelines while the Iraq crisis matured in the critical 2003-05 period, which led to its disastrous isolation (and Egypt's).

Riyadh expects Washington to take note that Iran's rising regional influence can still be arrested. Significantly, US Vice President Dick Cheney lost no time arriving in Riyadh on Saturday for a hurried two-hour meeting with King Abdullah. During the meeting, to quote the Saudi Press Agency, the two sides discussed "the whole range of events and developments on the regional and international scenes ... the Palestinian problem and the situation in Iraq in particular".

The choice of Cheney to undertake such a sensitive mission at this point speaks something of the thought processes of President George W Bush regarding Iraq. It also speaks something about the importance of Cheney in the last two years of Bush's presidency. Three things must be said about Cheney's beliefs. First, he is steadfast in his belief that the Iraq war is still a "doable" job. Second, he consistently maintains that an Iraq settlement is inconceivable without a regime change in Iran.

Most important, Cheney believes that when it comes to Israel's security, US politicians are alike. Name them, they are all "friends of Israel" - Democratic presidential hopefuls Senators Hillary Clinton and Evan Bayh, Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean, and the incoming chairman of the House Committee on International Affairs, Democratic Congressman Tom Lantos.

Thus it is of immense consequence that Bush decided to give Cheney a chance to perform (rather than Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice) in the center stage of the Middle East's geopolitics at this crucial turning point. The United States' strategy in the Iraq war is under intense scrutiny, and the White House should soon receive the report of the Iraq Study Group (ISG) co-chaired by former secretary of state James Baker and former congressman Lee Hamilton.

Cheney's consultations in Riyadh mesh with what Seymour Hersh wrote in the current issue of The New Yorker: "Sources with direct knowledge of the [ISG] panel's proceedings have told me that the group, as of mid-November, had ruled out calling for an immediate and complete American withdrawal but would recommend focusing on the improved training of Iraqi forces and on redeploying American troops."

What does this portend for Tehran? Certainly, what is becoming clear is that it is small change for Iran, even if the ISG recommends that Syria and Iraq should be brought into a regional conference to help stabilize Iraq, and if Bush accepts such a recommendation.

The point is Iran is inherently at a disadvantage with regard to the Saudi stratagem. The specter of a Shi'ite crescent is a useful rallying cry for the beleaguered regimes in Riyadh (and Cairo and Amman), whereas for Tehran it is a huge embarrassment and a major obstacle. For Iran, Shi'ite empowerment is a means to an end. Iran considers its manifest destiny to be the leader of the Islamic world.

As Tehran sees it, it has been a long wait but Iraq and Syria are finally emerging as a new center of gravity in the Arab world. And Iran is in alliance with it. Also, Iran sees a historic opportunity in that almost 100 years after the Sykes-Picot agreement carved up the Middle East, the regional powers may finally be able to fill the power vacuum to ensure the US withdrawal from Iraq. The process is no doubt cataclysmic and, therefore, imperfect, stuttering and difficult. Iran nonetheless must pursue it to its optimal potential.

But the brusqueness with which Washington moved last week to stifle the Iranian initiative on the trilateral summit with Iraq and Syria also underscores what Tehran is up against. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani just couldn't emplane for Tehran on Saturday. The Americans clamped a curfew on Baghdad and simply shut down the city's airport.
======
Page 3 of 3
The Saudis strike back at Iran
By M K Bhadrakumar

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad also stayed in Damascus on Saturday instead of proceeding to Tehran. The Iranian initiative seems all but stillborn. Iran has since clarified that the tripartite summit would be "good" but no such meeting had been planned "of the kind reported by certain sections of the media".

Meanwhile, the Arab League's 10-member Iraq Committee came up with an announcement on Saturday that it would hold a foreign minister-level meeting in Cairo on December 5 with a view to finding a way to end the "cascades of blood in Iraq".

No doubt, neither Iran nor Syria is likely to take lying low the US attempt to isolate them in the region. As prominent Middle East commentator Rami Khouri put it, they are "unlikely to behave like Libya by caving into the pressure and unilaterally giving the US what it wants ... They will demand a high price for cooperating with the US and helping it leave Iraq."

Therefore, it remains to be seen whether an international process in the form of the tribunal over Lebanon was a judicious move after all. In a region where assassinations form part of the political culture (and often, as for Israel, constitute an instrument of state policy), the setting up of a tribunal over Lebanon smacks of cynicism. Besides, such processes often acquire a momentum of their own, and it may so happen that the tribunal over Lebanon may spin out of US control. In essence, the international tribunal is a "new form of neo-colonial behavior" (to quote Khouri), even if the US is acting in league with Britain and France, two veteran battle-scarred colonial powers in the region, and despite China and Russia having acquiesced for reasons of their own.

To be sure, Iran and Syria will resist with all their capacity. For the present, though, the Iranians find themselves somewhat in the same predicament as Banquo in William Shakespeare's play Macbeth when "through the fog and filthy air", the noble warrior heard the witches' prophesy, "Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none."

M K Bhadrakumar served as a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service for more than 29 years, with postings including ambassador to Uzbekistan (1995-98) and to Turkey (1998-2001).

(Copyright 2006 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)


 
   
28758  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: November 27, 2006, 03:38:02 PM
On 11/27/06, Marc Denny <craftydog@dogbrothers.com> wrote:

Geopolitical Diary: Twisting the Rubik's Cube

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Sunday that the United States is "trapped" in Iraq -- and that Iran is prepared to help to extricate it from the Iraqi "quagmire" provided that Washington changes its "bullying" behavior toward Tehran. Ahmadinejad's statements came the same day that a spokesman for Iraqi President Jalal Talabani confirmed he will travel to Tehran on Monday to discuss Iran's role in containing the violence in Iraq. Meanwhile, a top Kurdish member of the Iraqi National Assembly, Mahmoud Othman, said that while the Talabani's visit would be beneficial to Iraq, "a lot depends on the relations between the United States and Iran."

Talabani's trip to Tehran comes amid a flurry of diplomatic activity. Both the United States and Iran are having discussions with key players throughout the region, and it appears increasingly likely they will at some point meet with each other as well. U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney met with Saudi King Abdullah in Riyadh on Saturday -- likely taking the Saudis, a critical component in any U.S.-Iranian dealings, into confidence on what Washington intends to offer in exchange for Iran's cooperation in stabilizing Iraq. And Jordan will host a meeting between U.S. President George W. Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Nov. 29, and Egypt will host the foreign ministers of Iraq's neighboring states Dec. 5, as they explore possible ways to contain the violence in Iraq.

Both the Arabs and the Israelis -- for different reasons -- are worried about the implications of a potential U.S.-Iranian accommodation. Naturally, the Bush administration is in quite an awkward position. In order to allay Israeli concerns about Iran's nuclear weapons, Washington could agree to yield a significant degree of influence over Iraq to Tehran. Doing so, however, would be unacceptable to Washington's allies among the Arab Sunni states, as well as Turkey.

For its part, Ankara opposes the possibility of partition for Iraq -- as Prime Minister Marouf Bakheet said Saturday in a joint statement with Jordanian King Abdullah II.

The diplomatic activity and positioning throughout the region is an important component of the complex negotiations that are crucial to both U.S. and Iranian strategies concerning Iraq. But there is a conundrum. As each of these regional pieces falls into place, what Washington needs is for Tehran to use its influence among the Iraqi Shia to reach a deal with the Sunnis in that state. The Iranians have signaled that they are willing to do this, but for a price:

1) Security for the Iranian regime
2) Recognition of Iranian influence in Iraq
3) Acknowledgment of Iran's dominance in the Persian Gulf and the wider Middle East.

Given that price, it would appear that achieving stability within Iraq means destabilizing the regional balance of power. Merely by engaging Tehran in direct discussions, the United States would, in a de facto sense, be empowering Iran. And Washington could not very well walk away from the table without conceding to some of Iran's demands for influence. No matter how you cut the cards, the rise of Iran as a regional power is all but inseparable from any solution on Iraq. Washington will want to limit that power, using the fine print of any political negotiations, but success is far from assured -- and the precise status of Iran ultimately may not be the most important consideration. As the results of elections in Bahrain this weekend showed, the Shia of the region are already gathering strength.
www.stratfor.com
=====================

28759  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: November 27, 2006, 02:51:47 PM
I get this via the Wall Street Journal's "Opinion Journal" 5 days a week.  Lots of tasty tidbits for poliitical junkies every day.
----------

November 27, 2006

In today's Political Diary:

Third Party in a Coal Mine
Kingston of All Media
The German Way
Here Comes the Tax Hike (Quote of the Day I)
We Wuzn't Robbed! (Quote of the Day II)
New Zealand Pols Try to Live Up to their Names

Libertarians, Independents and Greens - the New Axis of Evil

Democrats were certainly the big winner from this month's midterm elections, but they shouldn't be too complacent. They won a plurality of votes but not a majority of votes. Both parties need to worry that third party and independent candidates are winning an increasing share of the vote and determining the outcome of more and more close races.

Political analyst Richard Winger has developed the approach of using the top office on each state's ballot to gauge the support of each party. Under his method, Democrats won 49% of the vote in the latest election, Republicans 46% and others 5%. In 36 states, the "top office" he looked at was a governor's race, in eleven states it was U.S. Senator and in the remaining three states without a major statewide contest it was the total vote for U.S. House.

The 5% figure was the second highest vote for alternative candidates at the top of the ballot since 1934, only slightly exceeded by the result in the last midterm election of 2002. This year Republicans would have kept control of the U.S. Senate if voters who backed Libertarian candidates in Montana and Missouri had voted for the GOP incumbents instead. "It's clear that a good way of charting public dissatisfaction with major parties is to see how much they lose market share to candidates everyone knows can't win, but people still want [to use] to send a message," says Larry Sabato, a political analyst at the University of Virginia.

Democrats still bitterly complain that Green Party candidate Ralph Nader cost them the 2000 election in Florida when his 94,000 votes vastly exceeded the 547 votes that Al Gore lost to George W. Bush by. If the new Democratic Congress doesn't deliver on its promises, liberals may be the ones experiencing a critical part of their base defecting to Green Party or other protest candidates next time.

-- John Fund

YouTube Insurgent

Georgia Republican Congressman Jack Kingston has always been one to embrace innovative approaches to politics. As head of the Republican Theme Team, he was one of the first members to start his own blog. He was also eager to sit down with comedian Stephen Colbert of Comedy Central for an interview and unlike some Members who've visited with Mr. Colbert, managed to emerge looking neither arrogant nor clueless.

After this month's GOP loss of Congress, Mr. Kingston decided to campaign for a vacant spot in the GOP leadership, namely the chairmanship of the House Republican Conference. As part of his unconventional effort, he posted a campaign message on YouTube.com, the ubiquitous bulletin board for video junkies. "Thank you very much for opening this," Mr. Kingston told viewers at the beginning of his video. "I'm doing this because so many of you guys haven't been returning my phone calls and anyhow it saves all of us a little time."

Mr. Kingston says the YouTube posting attracted a decent amount of attention and was a useful reminder to Members "that there are lots of fun ways to send a message." Though his high-tech campaigning didn't land him the conference job, he came much closer than expected, losing only narrowly to establishment favorite Rep. Adam Putnam of Florida. Expect to see Mr. Kingston keep honing his alternative media skills as he continues to convince his colleagues that the way to reach younger voters is to supplement traditional media efforts with something completely different.

-- John Fund

How Not To Fix Social Security

Germany just "fixed" its Social Security system and what's frightening is that the same flimsy plan is likely to be heralded here in the U.S.

Under the deal between the conservative Christian Democrats and the leftwing Social Democrats, the German system will be shored up by raising taxes and cutting benefits. How ingenious. William Shipman, a worldwide expert on government pension programs and a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, says under the plan, the payroll taxes paid by a German worker would rise from 19.5% of his income to 22% in 2030. His full retirement benefit would drop from 54% of pre-retirement income to 43% by 2030. The age at which he can begin collecting benefits would rise from 65 to 67.

Germany was the first nation to devise a Social Security system -- under Otto von Bismarck in 1889 -- and when Franklin Roosevelt signed into law our Social Security Act some 50 years later, he cited Germany as the model to emulate. We've been following the German lead ever since. Mr. Shipman calculates that the average young German worker can now expect a monthly benefit upon retirement that pays at best half of what he would have earned if he could have saved the money himself. Here in the U.S. Generation X and Y workers are already facing a similar lousy rate of return from Social Security -- a payoff that would get a lot worse if we go the German direction.

Whether Germany's younger voters will rebel against this kind of financial child abuse is not known yet, but America's kids would be wise to start paying attention. Mr. Bush and the Democrats are said to be planning a grand entitlement program overhaul, and the parameters sound suspiciously like the German fix. Congressional Democrats succeeded in shooting down Mr. Bush's reform proposal based on private savings last year but offered no plan of their own. Today we have a better sense of where Washington politicians are headed. Bottom line: The case for private accounts is stronger than ever especially if you are one of the tens of millions of workers in your mid-40s or younger who would end up paying more and getting less.

-- Stephen Moore

Quote of the Day I

"Judging from the hints flying around Washington, the administration sees how to bridge this divide [on Social Security]. Democrats may be allergic to personal Social Security accounts, but they are enthusiastic about other ideas for personal retirement accounts that just don't have 'Social Security' in the title.... [E]veryone would get the chance to contribute to an account and receive a government contribution as a match, with the most generous match going to low-income workers. To pay for this program, the government could prune the existing $150 billion patchwork of tax breaks for saving. This patchwork is extraordinarily, scandalously regressive: 90 percent of the tax breaks go to the richest 40 percent of taxpayers" -- Washington Post columnist Sebastian Mallaby.

Quote of the Day II

"Diebold, one of the biggest manufacturers of computerized voting machines was until recently headed by a CEO who happened to be a vocal supporter of President Bush. Writing in the New York Times in 2003, Paul Krugman sought to blow the lid off: 'You don't have to believe in a central conspiracy to worry that partisans will take advantage of an insecure, unverifiable voting system to manipulate election results... The credibility of U.S. democracy may be at stake.' That theme was rolled out again this election season on left-wing blogs and in the print media. There was even an HBO documentary, 'Hacking Democracy,' which emphasized the danger of Diebold disenfranchisement. But then, just as the paranoia reached its peak, a funny thing happened: The Democrats won on Election Day. As suddenly as they had blared to life, the alarm bells fell silent. The critics paused for a moment, then burst out in a new refrain: The people have spoken! The realignment is here! Democracy works! And so the Diebold villain has retreated to the shadows for the next two years, at least" -- from an editorial in National Review.

A Brash Exit

New Zealand's governing Labour Party now trails in the polls after winning election last year by only the narrowest of margins. But Prime Minister Helen Clark has little to worry about if the opposition National Party continues to self-destruct.

Despite a strong platform based on lower taxes and less government spending, the Nationals lost last year's election by 2% of the popular vote, for which many members blamed former central banker Don Brash, the Nats' leader. Mr. Brash's public gaffes were many: He excused himself after performing poorly in an debate with Ms. Clark by saying he took it easy because she's a woman; he attacked Labour for neglecting the sanctity of marriage, then admitted to one affair and refused to deny a second.

Mr. Brash, who was once nicknamed Mr. Magoo by his own chief of staff, had vowed to resign if his party lost and many members were growing tired of waiting for him to keep his promise. He finally quit last Thursday amid rumors of an impending revolt led by party finance spokesman John Key, who has now assumed the title of party boss.

Under Labour Finance Minister Roger Douglas in the 1980s, New Zealand arguably bested even Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan in shrinking the state, reducing subsidies and trade barriers, and encouraging market-based growth. But it's been a while since New Zealand was a policy pioneer. Polls today show the Nationals leading Labour by as much as 13%, but the next election isn't scheduled until 2008. Whether the conservative party's popular free-market agenda will prevail then may depend on whether it has found the key leader to match its brash ambitions.

-- Adrian Ho



28760  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Free Speech vs. Islamic Fascism (formerly Buy DANISH!!!) on: November 27, 2006, 02:47:05 PM
Second post of the day

A Muslim writes a "Islam is against terrorism" letter to the editor, is kicked out of his mosque, and is threatened with violence.

====================
Posted November 27, 2006 12:50 PM  Hide Post
http://www.tulsaworld.com/NewsStory.asp?ID=061029_Op_G4_Messa31453

Readers Forum: Message of Islam is not jihad, fatwahs
By JAMAL MIFTAH
10/29/2006


I moved to the United States in March 2003, with my four kids and wife from Pakistan bordering Afghanistan. There was a call by a local jihadi organization to fight the coalition forces in Afghanistan. One of my dearest friends, Mirza Kohistani, fell prey to that call and joined the group, despite my advice and that of his wife to him.

All the leaders of that organization returned safely after the fall of the Taliban empire, but they left behind the body of my friend and hundreds of other innocent people like him.

I am obliged to respond to Ayman al-Zawahri's recent video message, portraying himself as champion of Islam and others as liars.

My message to Ayman al-Zawahri and Muslims of the world: "Islam" means submission and is derived from a word meaning "peace." Islam, Christianity and Judaism have the same origin, the Prophet Abraham. The prophet of Islam has said that God has no mercy on someone who does not have mercy for others.

I ask that al-Zawahri look at his deeds and those of his master, Osama bin Laden, and other so-called Islamic jihadists.

Because of lack of knowledge of Islam, Muslim youth are misguided into believing by the so-called champions of the cause of Islam that the current spate of killings and barbarism, which has no equal in the recent civilized history, is jihad in the name of Islam. They are incited, in the name of Islam, to commit heinous crimes not pardonable by any religion and strictly forbidden in Islam.

Cowards like al-Zawahri and bin Laden are inciting the ignorant and innocent youths to commit suicide bombings to kill innocent civilians including children, women and the elderly, while they hide in spider holes and caves. They never send their own sons and daughters, born out of half a dozen of their wives, to get killed in the name of Islam. They are themselves hypo crites, cowards, thugs and liars. For 12 years they misappropriated aid received from the U.S. and the West to fight Russia. Now they are ensuring smooth flow of petro dollars from Arab countries in the name of jihad against the West.

Even mosques and Islamic institutions in the U.S. and around the world have become tools in their hands and are used for collecting funds for their criminal acts. Half of the funds collected go into the pockets of their local agents and the rest are sent to these thugs.

They are the reason for branding the peaceful religion of Islam as terrorism. The result, therefore, is in the form of Danish cartoons and remarks/reference by the Pope.

I appeal to the Muslim youth in particular and Muslims of the world in general to rise up and start jihad against the killers of humanity and help the civilized world to bring these culprits to justice and prove that Islam is not a religion of hatred and aggression.

I appeal to the Muslim clerics around the world that, rather than issuing empty fatwas condemning suicide bombing, they should issue a fatwa for the death of such scoundrels and barbarians who have taken more than 4,267 lives of innocent people in the name of Islam and have carried out more than 24 terrorist attacks on civilian installations throughout the world. This does not include the chilling number of deaths because of such activities in Iraq and Afghanistan, which is well over 250,000.

I appeal to al-Zawahri and his band of thugs to hand themselves over to justice and stop spreading evil and killing innocent humans around the world in the name of Islam. Their time is limited and Muslims of the world will soon rise against them to apprehend them and bring them to justice.


Jamal Miftah is a resident of Tulsa.

===============
Now see a news clip about the response from the leaders and some others in his in his mosque.

http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=23480_Why_We_Rarely_Hear_from_Moderate_Muslims&only


 
28761  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Free Speech vs. Islamic Fascism (formerly Buy DANISH!!!) on: November 27, 2006, 02:31:46 PM
Dissent Crushed
By Adam Brodsky
New York Post | November 20, 2006


Muslims are often accused of not speaking out sufficiently against terrorism. Nonie Darwish knows one reason why: Their fellow Muslims won't let them.
Darwish, who comes from Egypt and was born and raised a Muslim, was set to tell students at Brown University about the twisted hatred and radicalism she grew to despise in her own culture. A campus Jewish group, Hillel, had contacted her to speak there Thursday.

But the event was just called off.

Muslim students had complained that Darwish was "too controversial." They insisted she be denied a platform at Brown, and after contentious debate Hillel agreed.

Weird: No one had said boo about such Brown events as a patently anti-Israel "Palestinian Solidarity Week." But Hillel said her "offensive" statements about Islam "alarmed" the Muslim Student Association, and Hillel didn't want to upset its "beautiful relationship" with the Muslim community.

Plus, Brown's women's center backed out of co-sponsoring the event, even though it shares Darwish's concerns about the treatment of women. Reportedly, part of the problem was that Darwish had no plans to condemn Israel for shooting Arab women used by terrorists as human shields, or for insufficiently protecting Israeli Arab wives from their husbands.

In plugging their ears to Darwish, Brown's Muslim students proved her very point: Muslims who attempt constructive self-criticism are quickly and soundly squelched - by other Muslims.

"Speaking out for human rights, women's rights, equality or even peace with Israel is a taboo that can have serious consequences" in the Arab world, Darwish says. In part to drive home that point, she wrote a book, just out. Its title says it all: "Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror."

Darwish argues that her own community - in the Middle East and in America - is hostile to criticism, even from Muslims. After 9/11, she says, many in Egypt refused to believe that Muslims were responsible. Instead, they blamed "the Zionist conspiracy."

From her childhood in the '50s, she's seen seething animosity toward Jews, Israel, America and non-believers generally pervert her culture. "I asked myself, as a Muslim Arab child, was I ever taught peace? The answer is no. We learned just the opposite: honor and pride can only come from jihad and martyrdom."

In elementary schools in Gaza, where she lived until age 8, Darwish learned "vengeance and retaliation. Peace," she says, "was considered a sign of defeat and weakness."

An event in 1996 inflamed her longstanding frustration with her community. Her brother suffered a stroke while in Gaza, and his Egyptian friends and relatives all agreed: To save his life, he needed to go to Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem, not to Cairo. Even though they had spent their lives demeaning Israelis - and boasting of Arab supremacy.

Hadassah saved her brother's life; understandably, her appreciation for Jews and Israelis grew. Today Darwish preaches not only the almost embarrassing lengths to which Jews go to seek dialogue and peace, but also their cultural, political, scientific and economic contributions.

Such notions from anyone in the Arab Muslim world are indeed rare. But Darwish isn't just anyone: Her father was killed by Israelis. Yet she doesn't blame the Jewish state - for her father was Lt. Col. Mustafa Hafaz, an Egyptian who headed one of the modern world's first terrorist groups, the anti-Israel fedayeen in Gaza.

Hafaz's terrorists killed hundreds, maybe thousands, of Israelis in cross-border attacks. Of course the Israelis fought back. Darwish realized that Egyptian ruler Gamal Abdul Nasser, who controlled Gaza, had sent her father to a certain death.

Hafaz became a shahid - a martyr for jihad - and that bought Darwish's family great status. She'd rather have had her father alive.

Darwish's message is invaluable for our age. Too few Arabs and Muslims share her desire for peace with Israel, equality and cultural reform; too few speak - in their living rooms or mosques - about the need to root out radicals from among them. When one Muslim voice does raise such sentiments, it deserves to be heard. Too bad the young Muslims (and their Jewish enablers) at Brown won't hear it.

And if those values can't be espoused in America - land of tolerance and free speech - well, what hope is there for meaningful cultural change?
28762  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Dog Brothers Tribe on: November 26, 2006, 05:46:37 PM
On behalf of the Council of Elders:

The Tribe grew quite a bit on Sunday.? Frankly I don't come close to remembering all the ascensions that took place and at the time told people to remind me at info@dogbrothers.com should they not see their names appear.

These I do remember:

Gints Klimanis is now "Baltic Dog"
Mike de Lio is now "Scrappy Dog"

Greg Brown is now "C-name to be decided later"
Milt Tinkoff is now "C-Devil Dog"
Rog Tinkoff is now "C-Space Dog"
Dave Rothburg is now "C-Stray Dog"
Richard Estepa is now "C-Seeing Eye Dog"

Ryan Gruhn is now "Dog Ryan"
Richard Estepa is now "Dog Richard"
Tim Ferguson is now "Dog Tim"
D.A. is now "Dog DA"
Mo Estepa is now "Dog Mo"
Tony Caruso is now "Dog Tony"

several others

To the new members of the Tribe, a hearty woof of congratulations and likewise to the newly ascended.

"Higher consciousness through harder contact" (c)
Crafty Dog
Guiding Force of the Dog Brothers
28763  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: November 26, 2006, 05:04:48 PM
Let me know what you think of the Steyn book when it arrives and you read it  smiley
28764  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Gay Parents on: November 26, 2006, 11:30:00 AM
Gay couple awaits adoption ruling from U.S. court
The Seattle men's quest for their child's birth certificate in Oklahoma highlights how states' rules conflict.
By Nicholas Riccardi, Times Staff Writer
November 26, 2006




denver ? It was a note from the Oklahoma Health Department that started the chain of events that would propel Ed Swaya and Gregory Hampel into a federal court here.

The two men, partners for 13 years, had arranged through courts in their home state of Washington to adopt their daughter, Vivian, whose Oklahoma mother had agreed to give the baby to the two men when she was born in 2002.

When the couple asked Oklahoma to issue her birth certificate, the state sent a form with spaces for the names of the mother and father. Swaya and Hampel crossed out the categories and marked themselves as "parent #1" and "parent #2."

The state didn't accept it, and sent back the form. The couple then listed Hampel as the father and Swaya as the mother. Oklahoma rejected it, writing: "We could not establish maternity for Mr. Swaya."

Nonetheless, Oklahoma's attorney general warned that the state would have to honor the legal adoption order from Washington state.

The Legislature stepped in, passing a bill prohibiting the state from acknowledging adoptions by same-sex couples from other jurisdictions, setting the stage for a legal battle that some gay rights activists fear could become increasingly common as states seek to curtail the abilities of same-sex couples to adopt children.

Battles over such adoptions date back almost 30 years, to the Florida campaign led by singer Anita Bryant that sought and achieved that state's ban on adoption by gays in 1977. But, as with same-sex marriage, the legal situation involving adoption by gays remains fragmented across the country.

A handful of states, including Utah and Mississippi, have banned such adoptions over the years, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Other states, including California, permit such adoptions.

Courts have dealt with these bans in conflicting ways. In December 2004, a federal judge in Little Rock, Ark., struck down the state's ban on gay foster parenting and adoptions. Weeks later, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of a ruling upholding Florida's ban.

Same-sex adoptions became an issue in the governor's race in Arkansas this year, where both candidates called for reinstating the state's ban. The American Academy of Pediatrics says 16 other states discussed constitutional amendments to ban gay adoption this year.

Chris Stovall, senior legal counsel at the Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative public interest legal group, said legal issues surrounding adoption by same-sex couples were similar to those surrounding same-sex marriage. "These things are connected," he said. "Men and women do have different roles and contribute in different ways to the upbringing of a child."

Ken Upton, the attorney who sued Oklahoma for Swaya, Hampel and two other same-sex couples, also sees a similarity to the issue of same-sex marriage. "Foster care and adoption are what we see as battlegrounds in the conservative states," said Upton, a senior staff attorney for Lambda Legal, a gay rights group. "That's the next frontier for people trying to attack gay people."

Each side cites studies to bolster its stand. Opponents of gay adoption say research has shown that children thrive when they have parents of each gender. Gay rights groups say the same is true of children raised by same-sex couples, and they note that many of the largest family medicine groups, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Assn., say homosexual parenting does not have harmful effects on children.

Oklahoma already prohibited same-sex couples from adopting children when Swaya and Hampel learned through an adoption agency of a pregnant 19-year-old woman in Oklahoma City who planned to put her baby up for adoption. The couple wanted an open adoption, in which the birth mother would remain a part of their child's life. The two men flew to Oklahoma for the birth, met her family and returned to Seattle with their new daughter.

But because of the law passed in response to their quest for Vivian's birth certificate, Swaya and Hampel say, they cannot return to Oklahoma for their daughter to get to know her grandfather or other birth relatives. (They have in the past flown the birth mother to Seattle.)

"This is hurting my daughter and keeping families apart," Swaya, 37, a marriage and family counselor, said.

Swaya and Hampel sued Oklahoma, joined by two lesbian couples who adopted children in other states and then moved to Oklahoma to find those adoptions unrecognized. One couple, Lucy and Jennifer Doel, adopted their 6-year-old daughter in California in 2002. In the court case, the two cited an incident in which their daughter had to be rushed to the hospital in an ambulance and medical personnel said only the birth mother could accompany her.

Oklahoma officials could not be reached for comment last week, but in court papers they argued that their state had the right to set its own policy on adoptions by same-sex couples. They argued that the purpose of the law was "to halt the erosion of the mainstream definition of the family unit and provide the possibility for the optimal environment for the child's development in a home with a male parent and a female parent."

In May, a federal judge in Oklahoma found that the law did "little if anything to promote the traditional family unit" and attempted "to penalize the plaintiff children for the acts of their parents."

The law "in essence tells one of the adult plaintiffs, 'You are no longer the parent of your child,' " added U.S. District Court Judge Robin J. Cauthron.

On Nov. 17, the state argued before the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver that Cauthron's decision should be overturned. It could be several months before a ruling is issued.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
nicholas.riccardi@latimes.com
28765  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: November 26, 2006, 11:27:27 AM
IMHO the Eurabia theory cannot simply be wished away-- there does seem to be rational basis for it.  Yes it does make things harder for bringing Muslims into the mainstream-- just as ignoring certain realities does not make them go away.  Its a tough problem.

Anyway, here's this Quijote, which complements some of the points you are making.
=========

U.S. tour offers visitors lessons on tolerance
Eastern Europeans meet with community leaders in L.A. and across the nation as part of a program to foster ethnic relations at home.
By Teresa Watanabe, Times Staff Writer
November 26, 2006


If you think ethnic conflict is bad in Los Angeles, listen to the stories of recent visitors Aleksandar Milovanovic, Edin Colic and Gjylnaze Syla.

Milovanovic, a Serbian Christian, said Albanian Muslims expelled him from his land, decapitated his uncle and burned his family homes. Syla, a member of the Kosovo parliament in Serbia, said mobs burned her family homes and expelled her sister. Colic of Bosnia-Herzegovina said he went without sufficient food, healthcare, schooling and electricity for three years while Serbian military forces surrounded his native Sarajevo.

Having survived the terrors of ethnic cleansing, war and raging hatred as the former Yugoslavia broke up in the 1990s, the three Eastern Europeans came to Los Angeles recently to learn how this city manages its dizzying ethnic diversity and promotes pluralism and tolerance.

Among the lessons learned: Dialogue makes a difference. Networking among ethnic community groups to promote common interests is vital. And ducking the problems makes them worse."What I found out is that you have your problems here, but the U.S. addresses them," Syla said. "You see it. You face it. That's what makes America great. Europe is much slower to react."

The 10-day visit to a total of seven cities, co-sponsored by the American Jewish Committee, included meetings with city officials, Hollywood players, religious leaders and community activists from Latino, Asian American, black, gay and Jewish groups.

The committee's Rabbi Andy Baker said he began organizing the "Promoting Tolerance in Central and Eastern Europe" program in 1992 in collaboration with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation of Germany to help the region's developing democracies learn from U.S. experiences with diversity.

Jewish communities, which had suffered repression under the region's Communist rule, were beginning to see what Baker called populist anti-Semitism after the end of the Cold War. New press freedoms, for instance, opened the door to the republication of Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf" and other biased publications, Baker said.

"Freedom didn't suddenly bring understanding and appreciation of ethnic relations, as we saw in the former Yugoslavia," Baker said. "The challenge for us was what could we take from our experiences in America to benefit what was going on in these societies."

The program's 18 participants visited Capitol Hill and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.; toured Little Italy and the Jewish Lower East Side in New York City; and explored Olvera Street and Chinatown in Los Angeles. They also visited the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles and experienced Shabbat at the homes of local families.

Several participants, most of them young political leaders, said their meetings with ethnic and charitable organizations left some of the deepest impressions. In Washington, for instance, the group discussed race and ethnic issues with representatives from the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute, Japanese American Citizens League and the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People.

At the Skirball Center, a panel about Hollywood's effect on pluralism was a "big hit," according to Steve Addison, the American Jewish Committee's director of international relations in Los Angeles.

Vic Bulluck, executive director of the NAACP's Hollywood office, said he outlined how his organization serves as a watchdog over media portrayals of African Americans and works with other ethnic groups to push minority hiring.

And at the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center, Chief Executive Lorri L. Jean described the organization's successful legal fight more than three decades ago to win nonprofit status, which the federal government had denied, and its collaborative work with other groups to protest bias against immigrants, ethnic minorities and others.

To Julia Leferman, a National Liberal Party of Romania member, the dynamic role of U.S. nonprofit and community organizations in promoting tolerance was particularly instructive. In Romania, where the government officially recognizes 18 minority groups, people depend on the state to solve their problems, she said. She wondered aloud if the nation's Gypsies, formally known as Romas, might become more integrated into society with stronger networking among private minority organizations.

"In Romania, people depend on the state to solve their problems, including minorities," she said. "Here, communities are working together to better promote their interests without necessarily relying on the federal and state governments."

Milovanovic, a legal assistant at the Democratic Party of Serbia's Education Center, said he was impressed by discussions about common values and beliefs between Muslim and Jewish youth in Chicago.

"This is something we could do between Serbians and Albanians," he said. "We have so many common issues: unemployment, the pain we share on both sides. "It would require a lot of energy and strength to do this," he added, "but if we don't deal with it we'll be in constant danger of another cycle of violence."

And Colic, a political science student and Liberal Democratic party board member of Bosnia-Herzegovina, said he gained hope for the future between Bosnians and Serbs after seeing how the Jewish committee and German foundation had paired up to produce the tolerance program. He also was inspired by the educational power of the Holocaust Memorial, he said.

"We definitely need something like that so we can teach the next generation of kids what people can do to people ? so they can learn from the mistakes of their parents," he said. "I don't think it will happen soon, though, because everything is still fresh."

28766  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam the religion on: November 26, 2006, 11:21:51 AM
I wasn't sure where to put this interesting piece, so here it is:
============

Islam's unlikely soul mate -- the pope
Both bemoaning the West's secularism, Benedict XIV and Mideast Muslims have a shot at true dialogue.
By John L. Allen Jr., JOHN L. ALLEN JR. is the Vatican correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter and author of "The Rise of Benedict XVI."
November 26, 2006


Can jihad be redeemed? That is, can the religious and moral sense of purpose that often fuels Islamic extremism be leavened with a commitment to reason and peace, and can it be done without opening the door to gradual secularization? It's the

$64,000 question facing Islam, and it is, for the most part, one that only Muslims can answer.

One could make the case, however, that if anyone in the West can help, it's Pope Benedict XVI, despite the firestorm unleashed by his Sept. 12 comments on Islam. Benedict is the lone figure of global standing in the West who speaks from within the same thought-world that many Muslims sympathetic to the jihadists inhabit.

Benedict XVI will visit Turkey this week, his first trip to a majority Muslim state. And given the furor following his quotation of a 14th century Byzantine emperor that Muhammad brought "things only evil and inhuman," the pope will certainly have the Islamic world's attention. Much may ride on what he does with it.

A detour into the recent history of Islamic thought illustrates the potential for common ground.

Egyptian poet and essayist Sayyid Qutb, hanged by Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1966, is the father of modern Islamic radicalism. He spent 1948-50 in the United States attending Wilson Teachers College, the Colorado State College of Education (today the University of Northern Colorado) and Stanford University as part of an exchange program. Based on that experience, Qutb penned his famous tract, "The America I Have Seen," which still exercises a profound effect in shaping Muslim perceptions of American culture.

The work amounted to a ferocious attack on what Qutb called "the American man," depicted as obsessed with technology but virtually a barbarian in the realm of spirituality and human values. American society, for Qutb, was "rotten and ill" to its very core.

He wrote: "This great America: What is it worth in the scale of human values? And what does it add to the moral account of humanity? And, by the journey's end, what will its contribution be? I fear that a balance may not exist between America's material greatness and the quality of its people. And I fear that the wheel of life will have turned and the book of life will have closed and America will have added nothing, or next to nothing, to the account of morals that distinguishes man from object, and indeed, mankind from animals."

A particular zone of disgust for Qutb was what he saw as the sexual licentiousness of American culture (and this, bear in mind, was the early 1950s). He wrote that a society in which "immoral teachings and poisonous intentions are rampant" and in which sex is considered "outside the sphere of morality" is one in which "the humanity of man can hardly find a place to develop." Qutb said that "providing full opportunities for the development and perfection of human characteristics requires strong safeguards for the peace and stability of the family."

In general, Qutb's writing simmers with an outrage and extremism that no one would associate with the Old World, cerebral style of Joseph Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI. Yet for anyone familiar with Ratzinger's cultural criticism over the years, there is nevertheless something strikingly familiar in Qutb's polemic ? not so much with regard to America as with the West in general. What both figures share is a conviction that the West's cult of technology has produced a deep spiritual and moral crisis.

In his 1990 book, "In the Beginning," on the doctrine of creation, Ratzinger wrote of Western society: "The good and the moral no longer count, it seems, but only what one can do. The measure of a human being is what he can do, and not what he is, not what is good or bad. What he can do, he may do?. And that means that he is destroying himself and the world?. [The question] 'What can we do?' will be false and pernicious while we refrain from asking, 'Who are we?' The question of being and the question of our hopes are inseparable."

Ratzinger has even linked this argument to the question of birth control, saying that contraception is merely a mechanical solution to an ethical and cultural problem. In his 1997 book, "Salt of the Earth," he said: "One of our great perils [is] that we want to master the human condition with technology, that we have forgotten that there are primordial human problems that are not susceptible to technological solutions, but that demand a certain lifestyle and certain life decisions." Benedict XVI would thus find in Qutb a version ? admittedly in a sometimes irrational form ? of his own critique of the West.

This is the most compelling reason why Benedict's repeated insistence that he wants a "frank and sincere" dialogue with Islam is more than lip service. Fundamentally, the clash of cultures Benedict sees in the world today is not between Islam and the West but between belief and unbelief ? between a culture that grounds itself in God and religious belief and a culture that lives etsi Deus non daretur, "as if God does not exist." In that struggle, Benedict has long said, Muslims are natural allies.

Recently, for example, the Vatican vigorously protested a gay pride march in Jerusalem, arguing that such an event is "offensive to the great majority of Jews, Muslims and Christians." It's a classic example of an issue around which Benedict believes engagement with Muslims is possible.

Yet Benedict is also well aware that Islamic radicalism tends to discredit religious commitment in any form by associating it with violence and fanaticism. Hence, when Benedict presses Muslims to reject terrorism and to embrace religious liberty, he believes himself to be doing so not as a xenophobe or a crusader but as a friend of Islam, pressing it to realize the best version of itself.

That, no doubt, will be part of the argument he tries to make in Turkey.

If they could set aside their prejudices, at least some of the spiritual sons and daughters of Sayyid Qutb might well recognize a potential ally in Joseph Ratzinger ? and therein lies perhaps the last, best hope for Muslim-Christian dialogue under Benedict XVI.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
28767  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: November 26, 2006, 09:27:48 AM
Quijote:

The Thomas principle you cite has considerable merit of course.  Of course the flip side is sticking one's head in the sand or up one's butt when there really is a problem has its own drawbacks.  These are challenging times we live in.

I am reminded of mathematician Nash's prisoner's dilema game theory here and subsequent evolutions thereof.  In Nash's original thought experiement, the players play one time.  Do they choose win-win or zero sum?  Subsequent theoreticians of these things then researched what happens when the same players play each other repeatedly.  It turns out that the best strategy is "tit for tat"  i.e. I treat you as you treat me.  In an environment where the cultural context tends to assume win-win, then the first time the game is played, people tend to choose win-win.  Conversely, someone who plays win-win repeatedly in a zero sum environment tends to get fcuked.

For good people used to win-win mindset, the Thomas thereom you site seems self-evident.  But to repeatedly apply it with those who live by zero sum presents some real survival questions.

Marc

PS:  I would also add to the mix the economic policies that IIRC the French call "dirigiste" meaing a government directed quais-socialist economy.  IMHO these policies, such as extreme job security laws, high unemployment benefits, high mandated benefits, etc tend to be very destructive of job creation.  If I have my facts right, unemployment rates in countries such as France and Germany are over 10%, more than double that of the US.  (IIRC you are German, yet live in Switzerland (which is not part of the EU) because of the lack of job opportunity?)  In an environment lacking opportunity, exclusionary attitudes on the part of some are hard to avoid.
(A plausible case can be made that a part of the Paristinean Infitifada has much of its roots in these economics.)  Conversely, here in the US where job creation is much higher and unemployment much lower, Muslims are much better integrated.  Coincidence?  I suspect not.
28768  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Panantukan & Kali Tudo on: November 26, 2006, 09:06:39 AM
Keith:

I found the relevant thread on FMA & Boxing on page 10 at http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=206.0


Jeff:

You may find the following thread of interest:  http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=384.0

TAC!
28769  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Panantukan & Kali Tudo on: November 26, 2006, 08:56:17 AM
Woof Keith et al:

You wrote:

"Panantukan is my favorite aspect of the FMA's.  I love the way that the FMA empty-hand material is grafted so effectively onto a western boxing base."

Actually IMHO it goes the other way around-- boxing is an off-shoot of Panatukan.  (I suggest you go back and find the subtantial thread on this question-- I think you will find it well worth your time)  As a teacher my sense of things is that if someone installs boxing first there is a real risk that they will never truly operate in Panantukan mode.  My preference is to establish double stick first and then simply fight EH with those movements.  Equally valid are knife based Panantukan movements, the double stick movements are simply my personal preference alathough of course I do use some of the knife based movements.

"I recently purchased and have worked thru the Kali Tudo videos and was impressed with the content.  I'm looking to more installments in this series!"

Tail wags for the kind words-- and yes there are more installments in the pipeline  grin

"Having also seen and worked on the stick material, I know that the Dog Brother approach to some extent is to take the "traditional" drills and training methods and put them into the crucible of the fight and see what shakes out.   I've been impressed with the training drills that are presented on the stick videos that are obviously a "been there and done that" summary of what works.   So my question is this......How much of the Panantukan material has been found to hold up in a real fighting situation in the dog brother experience?   What has not been found to be reliably effective?"

Although some of my students have moments where they apply KT in the context of a DB fight, to be precise the basis for DB KT has been in my own EH sparring and in that of my students, especially Lonely Dog, DBMA Lakan Guro Jeff Brown (who has lots of other credentials as well) and C-DB Greg Brown (who currently is thinking about what name he wants).  My own experience has principally been at the R1 Gym and the code there quite properly excludes video cameras, so there is no footage of my research.  That said, IMHO Panatukan has considerable merit.

I suspect where the doubt originates for many people is that they have not hit people with sticks or knives with its movements, so when sparring EH they lack a certain understanding of application.  Thus efforts to apply it become "graftings" onto different idiomatic movements i.e. western boxing.


"On the Kali Tudo DVDs I didn't see limb destructions discussed.   Seems to me that this would be one aspect that would show up pretty well and really help the cage fighter.   After all, its very acceptable to pound a guy's quad with round kicks to reduce his mobility and kicking ability....why not pound a guy's biceps with elbow strikes to reduce his ability to punch?"

As you correctly note, many points are not addressed in our KT DVD.   I chose to emphasize footwork first-- which for most people requires quite a bit of focus in its own right.    Also, I wanted to communicate effectively with the MMA audience as well, and felt that putting in things such as destructions on top of the footwork would dilute the focus.  Limb destructions DO appear in DBMA's KT, but perhaps in a different way than you may be expecting wink

"Anyway....I realize that I have managed to write a rather rambling post."   

Not at all!

"The main thing I am interested is seeing discussed is the relationship between "traditional" Panantukan and the Kali Tudo approach to empty-hand fighting.   Thanks!"

Although there are/were good grappling methods in some of the FMA, my sense of things is that the modern MMA fighter takes grappling to a different level and that this requires adaptation on the part of Panantukan.  Modern MMA is full of people who drift shot under high line responses to strikes for single leg takedowns, double leg takedowns, fireman's carry throws, etc.  Against someone skillfully versed in such skills, to go for a noogie (venerable ancient term of my youth long ago in New York City) of the bicep may have a risky cost/benefit ratio.

Does this help?

TAC,
Guro Crafty

Keith
28770  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: What it takes to make a student on: November 26, 2006, 07:58:03 AM
Page 7 of 9)

Toll and Levin are influenced by the writings of a psychology professor from the University of Pennsylvania named Martin Seligman, the author of a series of books about positive psychology. Seligman, one of the first modern psychologists to study happiness, promotes a technique he calls learned optimism, and Toll and Levin consider it an essential part of the attitude they are trying to instill in their students. Last year, a graduate student of Seligman?s named Angela Duckworth published with Seligman a research paper that demonstrated a guiding principle of these charter schools: in many situations, attitude is just as important as ability. Duckworth studied 164 eighth-grade students in Philadelphia, tracking each child?s I.Q. as well as his or her score on a test that measured self-discipline and then correlating those two numbers with the student?s G.P.A. Surprisingly, she found that the self-discipline scores were a more accurate predictor of G.P.A. than the I.Q. scores by a factor of two. Duckworth?s paper connects with a new wave of research being done around the country showing that ?noncognitive? abilities like self-control, adaptability, patience and openness ? the kinds of qualities that middle-class parents pass on to their children every day, in all kinds of subtle and indirect ways ? have a huge and measurable impact on a child?s future success.


Levin considers Duckworth?s work an indication of the practical side of the ?character? education he and Toll and Atkins are engaged in: they want their students to be well behaved and hard-working and respectful because it?s a good way to live but also because the evidence is clear that people who act that way get higher marks in school and better jobs after school. To Toll, a solid character is a basic building block of her students? education. ?I think we have to teach work ethic in the same way we have to teach adding fractions with unlike denominators,? she told me. ?But once children have got the work ethic and the commitment to others and to education down, it?s actually pretty easy to teach them. ?


The schools that Toll, Atkins, Levin and Feinberg run are not racially integrated. Most of the 70 or so schools that make up their three networks have only one or two white children enrolled, or none at all. Although as charter schools, their admission is open through a lottery to any student in the cities they serve, their clear purpose is to educate poor black and Hispanic children. The guiding principle for the four school leaders, all of whom are white, is an unexpected twist on the ?separate but equal? standard: they assert that for these students, an ?equal? education is not good enough. Students who enter middle school significantly behind grade level don?t need the same good education that most American middle-class students receive; they need a better education, because they need to catch up. Toll, especially, is preoccupied with the achievement gap: her schools? stated mission is to close the gap entirely. ?The promise in America is that if you work hard, if you make good decisions, that you?ll be able to be successful,? Toll explained to me. ?And given the current state of public education in a lot of our communities, that promise is just not true. There?s not a level playing field.? In Toll?s own career, in fact, the goal of achieving equality came first, and the tool of education came later. When she was at Yale Law School, her plan was to become a civil rights lawyer, but she concluded that she could have more of an impact on the nation?s inequities by founding a charter school.

The methods these educators use seem to work: students at their schools consistently score well on statewide standardized tests. At North Star this year, 93 percent of eighth-grade students were proficient in language arts, compared with 83 percent of students in New Jersey as a whole; in math, 77 percent were proficient, compared with 71 percent of students in the state as a whole. At Amistad, proficiency scores for the sixth grade over the last few years range between the mid-30s and mid-40s, only a bit better than the averages for New Haven; by the eighth grade, they are in the 60s, 70s and 80s ? in every case exceeding Connecticut?s average (itself one of the highest in the country). At KIPP?s Bronx academy, the sixth, seventh and eighth grades had proficiency rates at least 12 percentage points above the state average on this year?s statewide tests. And when the scores are compared with the scores of the specific high-poverty cities or neighborhoods where the schools are located ? in Newark, New Haven or the Bronx ? it isn?t even close: 86 percent of eighth-grade students at KIPP Academy scored at grade level in math this year, compared with 16 percent of students in the South Bronx.

The leaders of this informal network are now wrestling with an unintended consequence of their schools? positive results and high profiles: their incoming students are sometimes too good. At some schools, students arrive scoring better than typical children in their neighborhoods, presumably because the school?s reputation is attracting more-engaged parents with better-prepared kids to its admission lottery. Even though almost every student at the KIPP Academy in the Bronx, for example, is from a low-income family, and all but a few are either black or Hispanic, and most enter below grade level, they are still a step above other kids in the neighborhood; on their math tests in the fourth grade (the year before they arrived at KIPP), KIPP students in the Bronx scored well above the average for the district, and on their fourth-grade reading tests they often scored above the average for the entire city.

=======

In most schools, well-prepared incoming students would be seen as good news. But at these charter schools, they can be a mixed blessing. Although the schools have demonstrated an impressive and consistent ability to turn below-average poor minority students into above-average students, another part of their mission is to show that even the most academically challenged students can succeed using their methods. But if not enough of those students are attending their schools, it?s hard to make that point. North Star?s leaders say this problem doesn?t apply to them: the school?s fifth-grade students come in with scores that are no higher than the Newark average. At KIPP, Levin and other officials I talked to say that their schools do what they can to recruit applicants who are representative of the neighborhoods they serve, but they also say that once a class is chosen (and at all the charter schools, it is chosen by random lottery), their job is to educate those children to the best of their ability. Dacia Toll is more focused on the issue; she says that she and her principals make a special effort to recruit students from particularly blighted neighborhoods and housing projects in New Haven and Brooklyn and told me that it would ?absolutely be a cause for concern? if Amistad seemed to be attracting students who were better-prepared than average.



The most persistent critic of KIPP?s record has been Richard Rothstein, a former education columnist for The New York Times who is now a lecturer at Teachers College. He has asserted that KIPP?s model cannot be replicated on a wide scale and argues that the elevated incoming scores at the Bronx school make it mostly irrelevant to the national debate over the achievement gap. Although Rothstein acknowledges that KIPP?s students are chosen by lottery, he contends in his book ?Class and Schools? that they are ?not typical lower-class students.? The very fact that their parents would bother to enroll them in the lottery sets them apart from other inner-city children, he says, adding that there is ?no evidence? that KIPP?s strategy ?would be as successful for students whose parents are not motivated to choose such a school.?

In some ways, the debate seems a trivial one ? KIPP is clearly doing a great job of educating its students; do the incoming scores at a single school really matter? But in fact, KIPP, along with Uncommon Schools and Achievement First, is now at the center of a heated political debate over just how much schools can accomplish, and that has brought with it a new level of public scrutiny. Beginning in the late 1990s, KIPP, Amistad and North Star were embraced by advocates from the right who believed in the whole menu of conservative positions on education: school choice, vouchers, merit pay for teachers. In 2001, the Heritage Foundation profiled the KIPP schools in a book called ?No Excuses: Lessons From 21 High-Performing, High-Poverty Schools,? which set out to disprove ?the perennial claims of the education establishment that poor children are uneducable.? Two years later, Abigail and Stephan Thernstrom, the well-known conservative writers about race, borrowed the Heritage Foundation?s title (which was itself borrowed from a slogan popular at KIPP and other schools) for their own book on education, ?No Excuses: Closing the Racial Gap in Learning?; the book used the success of Amistad, North Star and, especially, KIPP to highlight the failings of the public-school system in serving poor children. If KIPP can successfully educate these kids, the Thernstroms asked, why can?t every school?

The Thernstroms argue that if we can just fix the schools where poor children are educated, it will become much easier to solve all the other problems of poverty. The opposing argument, which Rothstein and others have made, is that the problems of poor minority kids are simply too great to be overcome by any school, no matter how effective. He points to the work of Hart and Risley and Lareau and argues that the achievement gap can be significantly diminished only by correcting, or at least addressing, the deep inequities that divide the races and the classes.

==========

Page 9 of 9)



Levin and Toll sometimes seem surprised by the political company they are now keeping ? and by the opponents they have attracted. ?I?m a total liberal!? Toll said, a little defensively, when I asked her recently about this political divide. Many charter advocates claim that the views of Democratic politicians on charter schools are clouded by the fact that they depend for both money and votes on the nation?s teachers? unions, which are skeptical of charter schools and in some states have taken steps to block them from expanding. In Connecticut, the state teachers? union this year lobbied against a legislative change to allow for the expansion of Amistad Academy (it later passed), and the union?s lawyers filed a Freedom of Information Act request that required Amistad to turn over all of its employment and pay records. The union?s chief lobbyist told reporters in April that the state?s charter law was intended only ?to create incubators of innovation. It was never to create a charter-school system.? Amistad was acceptable as a small experiment, in other words, but there was no reason to let it grow.

Even if schools like KIPP are allowed to expand to meet the demand in the educational marketplace ? all of them have long waiting lists ? it is hard to imagine that, alone, they will be able to make much of a dent in the problem of the achievement gap; there are, after all, millions of poor and minority public-school students who aren?t getting the education they need either at home or in the classroom. What these charter schools demonstrate, though, is the effort that would be required to provide those students with that education.
Toll put it this way: ?We want to change the conversation from ?You can?t educate these kids? to ?You can only educate these kids if. ...? ? And to a great extent, she and the other principals have done so. The message inherent in the success of their schools is that if poor students are going to catch up, they will require not the same education that middle-class children receive but one that is considerably better; they need more time in class than middle-class students, better-trained teachers and a curriculum that prepares them psychologically and emotionally, as well as intellectually, for the challenges ahead of them.

Right now, of course, they are not getting more than middle-class students; they are getting less. For instance, nationwide, the best and most experienced teachers are allowed to choose where they teach. And since most state contracts offer teachers no bonus or incentive for teaching in a school with a high population of needy children, the best teachers tend to go where they are needed the least. A study that the Education Trust issued in June used data from Illinois to demonstrate the point. Illinois measures the quality of its teachers and divides their scores into four quartiles, and those numbers show glaring racial inequities. In majority-white schools, bad teachers are rare: just 11 percent of the teachers are in the lowest quartile. But in schools with practically no white students, 88 percent of the teachers are in the worst quartile. The same disturbing pattern holds true in terms of poverty. At schools where more than 90 percent of the students are poor ? where excellent teachers are needed the most ? just 1 percent of teachers are in the highest quartile.


Government spending on education does not tend to compensate for these inequities; in fact, it often makes them worse. Goodwin Liu, a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley, has compiled persuasive evidence for what he calls the country?s ?education apartheid.? In states with more poor children, spending per pupil is lower. In Mississippi, for instance, it is $5,391 a year; in Connecticut, it is $9,588. Most education financing comes from state and local governments, but the federal supplement for poor children, Title 1, is ?regressive,? Liu points out, because it is tied to the amount each state spends. So the federal government gives Arkansas $964 to help educate each poor child in the state, and it gives Massachusetts $2,048 for each poor child there.

Without making a much more serious commitment to the education of poor and minority students, it is hard to see how the federal government will be able to deliver on the promise contained in No Child Left Behind. The law made states responsible for turning their poorest children into accomplished scholars in a little more than a decade ? a national undertaking on the order of a moon landing ? but provided them with little assistance or even direction as to how they might accomplish that goal. And recently, many advocates have begun to argue that the Education Department has quietly given up on No Child Left Behind.

The most malignant element of the original law was that it required all states to achieve proficiency but then allowed each state to define proficiency for itself. It took state governments a couple of years to realize just what that meant, but now they have caught on ? and many of them are engaged in an ignoble competition to see which state can demand the least of its students. At the head of this pack right now is Mississippi, which has declared 89 percent of its fourth-grade students to be proficient readers, the highest percentage in the nation, while in fact, the National Assessment of Educational Progress shows that only 18 percent of Mississippi fourth graders know how to read at an appropriate level ? the second-lowest score of any state. In the past year, Arizona, Maryland, Ohio, North Dakota and Idaho all followed Mississippi?s lead and slashed their standards in order to allow themselves to label uneducated students educated. The federal government has permitted these maneuvers, and after several years of tough talk about enforcing the law?s standards, the Education Department has in the past year begun cutting one deal after another with states that want to redefine ?success? for their schools. (When I spoke to Spellings this month, she said she would ?appeal to the better angels of governors and state policy makers? to keep their standards in line with national benchmarks.)

The absence of any robust federal effort to improve high-poverty schools undercuts and distorts the debate over the responsibility for their problems. It is true, as the Thernstroms write in their book, that ?dysfunctional families and poverty are no excuse for widespread, chronic educational failure.? But while those factors are not an excuse, they?re certainly an explanation; as researchers like Lareau and Brooks-Gunn have made clear, poverty and dysfunction are enormous disadvantages for any child to overcome. When Levin and Feinberg began using the slogan ?No Excuses? in the mid-1990s, they intended it to motivate their students and teachers, to remind them that within the context of a KIPP school, there would always be a way to achieve success. But when the conservative education movement adopted ?No Excuses? as a slogan, the phrase was used much more broadly: if that rural Arkansas public school isn?t achieving the success of a KIPP school, those responsible for its underachievement must simply be making excuses. The slogan came to suggest that what is going wrong in the schools is simply some sort of failure of will ? that teachers don?t want to work hard, or don?t believe in their students, or are succumbing to what the president calls ?the soft bigotry of low expectations? ? while the reality is that even the best, most motivated educator, given just six hours a day and 10 months a year and nothing more than the typical resources provided to a public-school teacher, would find it near impossible to educate an average classroom of poor minority students up to the level of their middle-class peers.

The evidence is now overwhelming that if you take an average low-income child and put him into an average American public school, he will almost certainly come out poorly educated. What the small but growing number of successful schools demonstrate is that the public-school system accomplishes that result because we have built it that way. We could also decide to create a different system, one that educates most (if not all) poor minority students to high levels of achievement. It is not yet entirely clear what that system might look like ? it might include not only KIPP-like structures and practices but also high-quality early-childhood education, as well as incentives to bring the best teachers to the worst schools ? but what is clear is that it is within reach.

Although the failure of No Child Left Behind now seems more likely than not, it is not too late for it to succeed. We know now, in a way that we did not when the law was passed, what it would take to make it work. And if the law does, in the end, fail ? if in 2014 only 20 or 30 or 40 percent of the country?s poor and minority students are proficient, then we will need to accept that its failure was not an accident and was not inevitable, but was the outcome we chose.

========
28771  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: What it takes to make a student on: November 26, 2006, 07:57:15 AM
Page 4 of 9)

In her book ?Unequal Childhoods,? published in 2003, Lareau described the costs and benefits of each approach and concluded that the natural-growth method had many advantages. Concerted cultivation, she wrote, ?places intense labor demands on busy parents. ... Middle-class children argue with their parents, complain about their parents? incompetence and disparage parents? decisions.? Working-class and poor children, by contrast, ?learn how to be members of informal peer groups. They learn how to manage their own time. They learn how to strategize.? But outside the family unit, Lareau wrote, the advantages of ?natural growth? disappear. In public life, the qualities that middle-class children develop are consistently valued over the ones that poor and working-class children develop. Middle-class children become used to adults taking their concerns seriously, and so they grow up with a sense of entitlement, which gives them a confidence, in the classroom and elsewhere, that less-wealthy children lack. The cultural differences translate into a distinct advantage for middle-class children in school, on standardized achievement tests and, later in life, in the workplace.


Taken together, the conclusions of these researchers can be a little unsettling. Their work seems to reduce a child?s upbringing, which to a parent can feel something like magic, to a simple algorithm: give a child X, and you get Y. Their work also suggests that the disadvantages that poverty imposes on children aren?t primarily about material goods. True, every poor child would benefit from having more books in his home and more nutritious food to eat (and money certainly makes it easier to carry out a program of concerted cultivation). But the real advantages that middle-class children gain come from more elusive processes: the language that their parents use, the attitudes toward life that they convey. However you measure child-rearing, middle-class parents tend to do it differently than poor parents ? and the path they follow in turn tends to give their children an array of advantages. As Lareau points out, kids from poor families might be nicer, they might be happier, they might be more polite ? but in countless ways, the manner in which they are raised puts them at a disadvantage in the measures that count in contemporary American society.


What would it take to overcome these disadvantages? Does poverty itself need to be eradicated, or can its effects on children somehow be counteracted? Can the culture of child-rearing be changed in poor neighborhoods, and if so, is that a project that government or community organizations have the ability, or the right, to take on? Is it enough simply to educate poor children in the same way that middle-class children are educated? And can any school, on its own, really provide an education to poor minority students that would allow them to achieve the same results as middle-class students?

There is, in fact, evidence emerging that some schools are succeeding at the difficult task of educating poor minority students to high levels of achievement. But there is still great disagreement about just how many schools are pulling this off and what those successful schools mean for the rest of the American education system. One well-publicized evaluation of those questions has come from the Education Trust, a policy group in Washington that has issued a series of reports making the case that there are plenty of what they call ?high flying? schools, which they define as high-poverty or high-minority schools whose students score in the top third of all schools in their state. The group?s landmark report, published in December 2001, identified 1,320 ?high flying? schools nationwide that were both high-poverty and high minority. This was a big number, and it had a powerful effect on the debate over the achievement gap. The pessimists ? those who believed that the disadvantages of poverty were all but impossible to overcome in public schools ? were dealt a serious blow. If the report?s figures held up, it meant that high achievement for poor minority kids was not some one-in-a-million occurrence; it was happening all the time, all around us.

But in the years since the report?s release, its conclusions have been challenged by scholars and analysts who have argued that the Education Trust made it too easy to be included on their list. To be counted as a high-flier, a school needed to receive a high score in only one subject in one grade in one year. If your school had a good fourth-grade reading score, it was on the list, even if all its other scores were mediocre. To many researchers, that was an unconvincing standard of academic success. Douglas Harris, a professor of education and economics at Florida State University, pored over Education Trust?s data, trying to ascertain how many of the high-flying schools were able to register consistently good numbers. When he tightened the definition of success to include only schools that had high scores in two subjects in two different grades over two different years, Harris could find only 23 high-poverty, high-minority schools in the Education Trust?s database, a long way down from 1,320.



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That number isn?t exhaustive; Harris says he has no doubt that there are some great schools that slipped through his data sieve. But his results still point to a very different story than the one the original report told. Education Trust officials intended their data to refute the idea that family background is the leading cause of student performance. But on closer examination, their data largely confirm that idea, demonstrating clearly that the best predictors of a school?s achievement scores are the race and wealth of its student body. A public school that enrolls mostly well-off white kids has a 1 in 4 chance of earning consistently high test scores, Harris found; a school with mostly poor minority kids has a 1 in 300 chance.



Despite those long odds, the last decade ? and especially the last few years ? have seen the creation of dozens, even hundreds, of schools across the country dedicated to precisely that mission: delivering consistently high results with a population that generally achieves consistently low results. The schools that have taken on this mission most aggressively tend to be charter schools ? the publicly financed, privately run institutions that make up one of the most controversial educational experiments of our time. Because charters exist outside the control of public-school boards and are generally not required to adhere to union contracts with their teachers, they have attracted significant opposition, and their opponents are able to point to plenty of evidence that the charter project has failed. Early charter advocates claimed the schools would raise test scores across the board, and that hasn?t happened; nationally, scores for charter-school students are the same as or lower than scores for public-school students. But by another measure, charter schools have succeeded: by allowing educators to experiment in ways that they generally can?t inside public-school systems, they have led to the creation of a small but growing corps of schools with new and ambitious methods for educating students facing real academic challenges.

In the early years of the charter-school movement, every school was an island, trying out its own mad or brilliant educational theory. But as charter-school proponents have studied the successes and learned from the mistakes of their predecessors, patterns, even a consensus, have begun to emerge. The schools that are achieving the most impressive results with poor and minority students tend to follow three practices. First, they require many more hours of class time than a typical public school. The school day starts early, at 8 a.m. or before, and often continues until after 4 p.m. These schools offer additional tutoring after school as well as classes on Saturday mornings, and summer vacation usually lasts only about a month. The schools try to leaven those long hours with music classes, foreign languages, trips and sports, but they spend a whole lot of time going over the basics: reading and math.

Second, they treat classroom instruction and lesson planning as much as a science as an art. Explicit goals are set for each year, month and day of each class, and principals have considerable authority to redirect and even remove teachers who aren?t meeting those goals. The schools? leaders believe in frequent testing, which, they say, lets them measure what is working and what isn?t, and they use test results to make adjustments to the curriculum as they go. Teachers are trained and retrained, frequently observed and assessed by their principals and superintendents. There is an emphasis on results but also on ?team building? and cooperation and creativity, and the schools seem, to an outsider at least, like genuinely rewarding places to work, despite the long hours. They tend to attract young, enthusiastic teachers, including many alumni of Teach for America, the program that recruits graduates from top universities to work for two years in inner-city public schools.

Third, they make a conscious effort to guide the behavior, and even the values, of their students by teaching what they call character. Using slogans, motivational posters, incentives, encouragements and punishments, the schools direct students in everything from the principles of teamwork and the importance of an optimistic outlook to the nuts and bolts of how to sit in class, where to direct their eyes when a teacher is talking and even how to nod appropriately.

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The schools are, in the end, a counterintuitive combination of touchy-feely idealism and intense discipline. Their guiding philosophy is in many ways a reflection of the findings of scholars like Lareau and Hart and Risley ? like those academics, these school leaders see childhood as a series of inputs and outputs. When students enroll in one of these schools (usually in fifth or sixth grade), they are often two or more grade levels behind. Usually they have missed out on many of the millions of everyday intellectual and emotional stimuli that their better-off peers have been exposed to since birth. They are, educationally speaking, in deep trouble. The schools reject the notion that all that these struggling students need are high expectations; they do need those, of course, but they also need specific types and amounts of instruction, both in academics and attitude, to compensate for everything they did not receive in their first decade of life.



It is still too early in the history of this nascent movement to say which schools are going to turn out to be the most successful with this new approach to the education of poor children. But so far, the most influential schools are the ones run by KIPP, or the Knowledge Is Power Program. KIPP?s founders, David Levin and Michael Feinberg, met in 1992, when they were young college graduates enrolled in Teach for America, working in inner-city public schools in Houston. They struggled at first as teachers but were determined to figure out how to motivate and educate their students. Each night they would compare notes on what worked in the classroom ? songs, games, chants, rewards ? and, before long, both of them became expert classroom instructors.

In the fall of 1994, Levin and Feinberg started a middle school in Houston, teaching just 50 students, and they named it KIPP. A year later, Levin moved to New York and started the second KIPP school, in the South Bronx. As the KIPP schools grew, Levin and Feinberg adhered to a few basic principles: their mission was to educate low-income and minority students. They would emphasize measurable results. And they would promise to do whatever it took to help their students succeed. They offered an extended day and an extended year that provided KIPP students with about 60 percent more time in school than most public-school students. They set clear and strict rules of conduct: their two principles of behavior were ?Work Hard? and ?Be Nice,? and all the other rules flowed out of those. At the beginning of each year, parents and students signed a pledge ? unenforceable but generally taken seriously ? committing to certain standards of hard work and behavior. Teachers gave students their cellphone numbers so students could call them at night for homework help.

The methods raised students? test scores, and the schools began to attract the attention of the media and of philanthropists. A ?60 Minutes? report on the schools in 1999 led to a $15 million grant from Doris and Donald Fisher, the founders of the Gap, and Feinberg and Levin began gradually to expand KIPP into a national network. Two years ago, they received $8 million from the Gates Foundation to create up to eight KIPP high schools. There are now 52 KIPP schools across the country, almost all middle schools, and together they are educating 12,000 children. The network is run on a franchise model; each school?s principal has considerable autonomy, while quality control is exercised from the home office in San Francisco. Feinberg is the superintendent of KIPP?s eight schools in Houston, and Levin is the superintendent of the four New York City schools.

KIPP is part of a loose coalition with two other networks of charter schools based in and around New York City. One is Achievement First, which grew out of the success of Amistad Academy, a charter school in New Haven that was founded in 1999. Achievement First now runs six schools in New Haven and Brooklyn. The other network is Uncommon Schools, which was started by a founder of North Star Academy in Newark along with principals from three acclaimed charter schools in Massachusetts; it now includes seven schools in Rochester, Newark and Brooklyn. The connections among the three networks are mostly informal, based on the friendships that bind Levin to Norman Atkins, the former journalist who founded North Star, and to Dacia Toll, the Rhodes scholar and Yale Law graduate who started Amistad with Doug McCurry, a former teacher. Toll and Atkins visited Levin at the Bronx KIPP Academy when they were setting up their original schools and studied the methods he was using; they later sent their principals to the leadership academy that Levin and Feinberg opened in 2000, and they have continued to model many of their practices on KIPP?s. Now the schools are beginning to formalize their ties. As they each expand their charters to include high schools, Levin, Toll and Atkins are working on a plan to bring students from all three networks together under one roof.


Students at both KIPP and Achievement First schools follow a system for classroom behavior invented by Levin and Feinberg called Slant, which instructs them to sit up, listen, ask questions, nod and track the speaker with their eyes. When I visited KIPP Academy last month, I was standing with Levin at the front of a music class of about 60 students, listening to him talk, when he suddenly interrupted himself and pointed at me. ?Do you notice what he?s doing right now?? he asked the class.

They all called out at once, ?Nodding!?

Levin?s contention is that Americans of a certain background learn these methods for taking in information early on and employ them instinctively. KIPP students, he says, need to be taught the methods explicitly. And so it is a little unnerving to stand at the front of a KIPP class; every eye is on you. When a student speaks, every head swivels to watch her. To anyone raised in the principles of progressive education, the uniformity and discipline in KIPP classrooms can be off-putting. But the kids I spoke to said they use the Slant method not because they fear they will be punished otherwise but because it works: it helps them to learn. (They may also like the feeling of having their classmates? undivided attention when they ask or answer a question.) When Levin asked the music class to demonstrate the opposite of Slanting ? ?Give us the normal school look,? he said ? the students, in unison, all started goofing off, staring into space and slouching. Middle-class Americans know intuitively that ?good behavior? is mostly a game with established rules; the KIPP students seemed to be experiencing the pleasure of being let in on a joke.

Still, Levin says that the innovations a visitor to a KIPP school might notice first ? the Slanting and the walls festooned with slogans and mottos (?Team Always Beats Individual,? ?All of Us Will Learn?) and the orderly rows of students walking in the hallways ? are not the only things contributing to the schools? success. Equally important, he says, are less visible practices: clear and coherent goals for each class; teachers who work 15 to 16 hours a day; careful lesson planning; and a decade?s worth of techniques, tricks, games and chants designed to help vast amounts of information penetrate poorly educated brains very quickly.

28772  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / What it takes to make a student on: November 26, 2006, 07:56:17 AM
What It Takes to Make a Student
Today's NY Times
By PAUL TOUGH
Published: November 26, 2006
On the morning of Oct. 5, President Bush and his education secretary, Margaret Spellings, paid a visit, along with camera crews from CNN and Fox News, to Friendship-Woodridge Elementary and Middle Campus, a charter public school in Washington. The president dropped in on two classrooms, where he asked the students, almost all of whom were African-American and poor, if they were planning to go to college. Every hand went up. ?See, that?s a good sign,? the president told the students when they assembled later in the gym. ?Going to college is an important goal for the future of the United States of America.? He singled out one student, a black eighth grader named Asia Goode, who came to Woodridge four years earlier reading ?well below grade level.? But things had changed for Asia, according to the president. ?Her teachers stayed after school to tutor her, and she caught up,? he said. ?Asia is now an honors student. She loves reading, and she sings in the school choir.?


KIPP's mission is to give students like these fifth to eighth graders in the South Bronx an even better education than their white middle-class counterparts.


MOTTOS MATTER But coherent goals, clear lesson plans and teachers willing to put in 15-hour days matter even more at KIPP schools.

Bush?s Woodridge trip came in the middle of a tough midterm election campaign, and there was certainly some short-term political calculation in being photographed among smiling black faces. But this was more than a photo opportunity. The president had come to Woodridge to talk about the most ambitious piece of domestic legislation his administration had enacted after almost six years in office: No Child Left Behind. The controversial education law, which established a series of standards for schools and states to meet and a variety of penalties for falling short, is up for reauthorization next year in front of a potentially hostile Congress, and for the law to win approval again, the White House will have to convince Americans that it is working ? and also convince them of exactly what, in this case, ?working? really means.

When the law took effect, at the beginning of 2002, official Washington was preoccupied with foreign affairs, and many people in government, and many outside it too, including the educators most affected by the legislation, seemed slow to take notice of its most revolutionary provision: a pledge to eliminate, in just 12 years, the achievement gap between black and white students, and the one between poor and middle-class students. By 2014, the president vowed, African-American, Hispanic and poor children, all of whom were at the time scoring well below their white counterparts and those in the middle class on standardized tests, would not only catch up with the rest of the nation; they would also reach 100 percent proficiency in both math and reading. It was a startling commitment, and it made the promise in the law?s title a literal one: the federal government would not allow a single American child to be educated to less than that high standard.

It was this element of the law that the president had come to Woodridge to talk about. ?There?s an achievement gap in America that?s not good for the future of this country,? he told the crowd. ?Some kids can read at grade level, and some can?t. And that?s unsatisfactory.?

But there was good news, the president concluded: ?I?m proud to report the achievement gap between white kids and minority students is closing, for the good of the United States.?

This contention ? that the achievement gap is on its way to the dustbin of history ? is one that Bush and Spellings have expressed frequently in the past year. And the gap better be closing: the law is coming up on its fifth anniversary. In just seven more years, if the promise of No Child Left Behind is going to be kept, the performances of white and black students have to be indistinguishable.

But despite the glowing reports from the White House and the Education Department, the most recent iteration of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the test of fourth- and eighth-grade students commonly referred to as the nation?s report card, is not reassuring. In 2002, when No Child Left Behind went into effect, 13 percent of the nation?s black eighth-grade students were ?proficient? in reading, the assessment?s standard measure of grade-level competence. By 2005 (the latest data), that number had dropped to 12 percent. (Reading proficiency among white eighth-grade students dropped to 39 percent, from 41 percent.) The gap between economic classes isn?t disappearing, either: in 2002, 17 percent of poor eighth-grade students (measured by eligibility for free or reduced-price school lunches) were proficient in reading; in 2005, that number fell to 15 percent.

The most promising indications in the national test could be found in the fourth-grade math results, in which the percentage of poor students at the proficient level jumped to 19 percent in 2005, from 8 percent in 2000; for black students, the number jumped to 13 percent, from 5 percent. This was a significant increase, but it was still far short of the proficiency figure for white students, which rose to 47 percent in 2005, and it was a long way from 100 percent.

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In the first few years of this decade, two parallel debates about the achievement gap have emerged. The first is about causes; the second is about cures. The first has been taking place in academia, among economists and anthropologists and sociologists who are trying to figure out exactly where the gap comes from, why it exists and why it persists. The second is happening among and around a loose coalition of schools, all of them quite new, all established with the goal of wiping out the achievement gap altogether.


MODEL BEHAVIOR Kids like Niya Henry, a second grader at an Achievement First charter school in Brooklyn, learn a system for conduct -- to nod while listening to the teacher, for example -- along with reading and math.



The two debates seem barely to overlap ? the principals don?t pay much attention to the research papers being published in scholarly journals, and the academics have yet to study closely what is going on in these schools. Examined together, though, they provide a complete and nuanced picture, sometimes disheartening, sometimes hopeful, of what the president and his education officials are up against as they strive to keep the promise they have made. The academics have demonstrated just how deeply pervasive and ingrained are the intellectual and academic disadvantages that poor and minority students must overcome to compete with their white and middle-class peers. The divisions between black and white and rich and poor begin almost at birth, and they are reinforced every day of a child?s life. And yet the schools provide evidence that the president is, in his most basic understanding of the problem, entirely right: the achievement gap can be overcome, in a convincing way, for large numbers of poor and minority students, not in generations but in years. What he and others seem not to have apprehended quite yet is the magnitude of the effort that will be required for that change to take place.

But the evidence is becoming difficult to ignore: when educators do succeed at educating poor minority students up to national standards of proficiency, they invariably use methods that are radically different and more intensive than those employed in most American public schools. So as the No Child Left Behind law comes up for reauthorization next year, Americans are facing an increasingly stark choice: is the nation really committed to guaranteeing that all of the country?s students will succeed to the same high level? And if so, how hard are we willing to work, and what resources are we willing to commit, to achieve that goal?


In the years after World War II, and especially after the civil rights reforms of the 1960s, black Americans? standardized-test scores improved steadily and significantly, compared with those of whites. But at some point in the late 1980s, after decades of progress, the narrowing of the gap stalled, and between 1988 and 1994 black reading scores actually fell by a sizable amount on the national assessment. What had appeared to be an inexorable advance toward equality had run out of steam, and African-American schoolchildren seemed to be stuck well behind their white peers.

The issue was complicated by the fact that there are really two overlapping test-score gaps: the one between black children and white children, and the one between poor children and better-off children. Given that those categories tend to overlap ? black children are three times as likely to grow up in poverty as white children ? many people wondered whether focusing on race was in fact a useful approach. Why not just concentrate on correcting the academic disadvantages of poor people? Solve those, and the black-white gap will solve itself.

There had, in fact, been evidence for a long time that poor children fell behind rich and middle-class children early, and stayed behind. But researchers had been unable to isolate the reasons for the divergence. Did rich parents have better genes? Did they value education more? Was it that rich parents bought more books and educational toys for their children? Was it because they were more likely to stay married than poor parents? Or was it that rich children ate more nutritious food? Moved less often? Watched less TV? Got more sleep? Without being able to identify the important factors and eliminate the irrelevant ones, there was no way even to begin to find a strategy to shrink the gap.

Researchers began peering deep into American homes, studying up close the interactions between parents and children. The first scholars to emerge with a specific culprit in hand were Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley, child psychologists at the University of Kansas, who in 1995 published the results of an intensive research project on language acquisition. Ten years earlier, they recruited 42 families with newborn children in Kansas City, and for the following three years they visited each family once a month, recording absolutely everything that occurred between the child and the parent or parents. The researchers then transcribed each encounter and analyzed each child?s language development and each parent?s communication style. They found, first, that vocabulary growth differed sharply by class and that the gap between the classes opened early. By age 3, children whose parents were professionals had vocabularies of about 1,100 words, and children whose parents were on welfare had vocabularies of about 525 words. The children?s I.Q.?s correlated closely to their vocabularies. The average I.Q. among the professional children was 117, and the welfare children had an average I.Q. of 79.



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When Hart and Risley then addressed the question of just what caused those variations, the answer they arrived at was startling. By comparing the vocabulary scores with their observations of each child?s home life, they were able to conclude that the size of each child?s vocabulary correlated most closely to one simple factor: the number of words the parents spoke to the child. That varied greatly across the homes they visited, and again, it varied by class. In the professional homes, parents directed an average of 487 ?utterances? ? anything from a one-word command to a full soliloquy ? to their children each hour. In welfare homes, the children heard 178 utterances per hour.



What should the government be doing to ensure a quality education for all children?
What?s more, the kinds of words and statements that children heard varied by class. The most basic difference was in the number of ?discouragements? a child heard ? prohibitions and words of disapproval ? compared with the number of encouragements, or words of praise and approval. By age 3, the average child of a professional heard about 500,000 encouragements and 80,000 discouragements. For the welfare children, the situation was reversed: they heard, on average, about 75,000 encouragements and 200,000 discouragements. Hart and Risley found that as the number of words a child heard increased, the complexity of that language increased as well. As conversation moved beyond simple instructions, it blossomed into discussions of the past and future, of feelings, of abstractions, of the way one thing causes another ? all of which stimulated intellectual development.

Hart and Risley showed that language exposure in early childhood correlated strongly with I.Q. and academic success later on in a child?s life. Hearing fewer words, and a lot of prohibitions and discouragements, had a negative effect on I.Q.; hearing lots of words, and more affirmations and complex sentences, had a positive effect on I.Q. The professional parents were giving their children an advantage with every word they spoke, and the advantage just kept building up.

In the years since Hart and Risley published their findings, social scientists have examined other elements of the parent-child relationship, and while their methods have varied, their conclusions all point to big class differences in children?s intellectual growth. Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, a professor at Teachers College, has overseen hundreds of interviews of parents and collected thousands of hours of videotape of parents and children, and she and her research team have graded each one on a variety of scales. Their conclusion: Children from more well-off homes tend to experience parental attitudes that are more sensitive, more encouraging, less intrusive and less detached ? all of which, they found, serves to increase I.Q. and school-readiness. They analyzed the data to see if there was something else going on in middle-class homes that could account for the advantage but found that while wealth does matter, child-rearing style matters more.

Martha Farah, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, has built on Brooks-Gunn?s work, using the tools of neuroscience to calculate exactly which skills poorer children lack and which parental behaviors affect the development of those skills. She has found, for instance, that the ?parental nurturance? that middle-class parents, on average, are more likely to provide stimulates the brain?s medial temporal lobe, which in turn aids the development of memory skills.

Another researcher, an anthropologist named Annette Lareau, has investigated the same question from a cultural perspective. Over the course of several years, Lareau and her research assistants observed a variety of families from different class backgrounds, basically moving in to each home for three weeks of intensive scrutiny. Lareau found that the middle-class families she studied all followed a similar strategy, which she labeled concerted cultivation. The parents in these families engaged their children in conversations as equals, treating them like apprentice adults and encouraging them to ask questions, challenge assumptions and negotiate rules. They planned and scheduled countless activities to enhance their children?s development ? piano lessons, soccer games, trips to the museum.

The working-class and poor families Lareau studied did things differently. In fact, they raised their children the way most parents, even middle-class parents, did a generation or two ago. They allowed their children much more freedom to fill in their afternoons and weekends as they chose ? playing outside with cousins, inventing games, riding bikes with friends ? but much less freedom to talk back, question authority or haggle over rules and consequences. Children were instructed to defer to adults and treat them with respect. This strategy Lareau named accomplishment of natural growth.
28773  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ballot Problems Persist on: November 26, 2006, 07:32:30 AM
It is a rare event when I vote Democrat, but I did so for Debra Bowen for CA Sec'y of State precisely because of her concerns on this issue which the Rep. simply did not share, as well as for her good reputation as a serious, hardworking member of the legislature.
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From todays's NY Times:


After six years of technological research, more than $4 billion spent by Washington on new machinery and a widespread overhaul of the nation?s voting system, this month?s midterm election revealed that the country is still far from able to ensure that every vote counts.

Tens of thousands of voters, scattered across more than 25 states, encountered serious problems at the polls, including failures in sophisticated new voting machines and confusion over new identification rules, according to interviews with election experts and officials.

In many places, the difficulties led to shortages of substitute paper ballots and long lines that caused many voters to leave without casting ballots. Still, an association of top state election officials concluded that for the most part, voting went as smoothly as expected.

Over the last three weeks, attention has been focused on a few close races affected by voting problems, including those in Florida and Ohio where counting dragged on for days. But because most of this year?s races were not close, election experts say voting problems may actually have been wider than initially estimated, with many malfunctions simply overlooked.

That oversight may not be possible in the presidential election of 2008, when turnout will be higher and every vote will matter in what experts say will probably be a close race.

Voting experts say it is impossible to say how many votes were not counted that should have been. But in Florida alone, the discrepancies reported across Sarasota County and three others amount to more than 60,000 votes. In Colorado, as many as 20,000 people gave up trying to vote, election officials say, as new online systems for verifying voter registrations crashed repeatedly. And in Arkansas, election officials tallied votes three times in one county, and each time the number of ballots cast changed by more than 30,000.

?If the success of an election is to be measured according to whether each voter?s voice is heard, then we would have to conclude that this past election was not entirely a success,? said Doug Chapin, director of Electionline.org, a nonpartisan election group that plans to release a report Wednesday with a state-by-state assessment of voting. ?In places where the margin of victory was bigger than the margin of error, we looked away from the problems, but in 2008 we might not have that luxury.?

Accusations of missing ballots and vote stuffing were not uncommon with mechanical voting machines. But election experts say that with electronic voting machines, the potential consequences of misdeeds or errors are of a greater magnitude. A single software error can affect thousands of votes, especially with machines that keep no paper record.

There were a few signs of progress this month. Several states that faced computer difficulties in the primaries fixed the kinks by Election Day and were better stocked with backup paper ballots. Fears that more stringent identification laws in Indiana and Arizona would create confusion at the polls did not pan out.

And though recent test runs of new computerized voter registration rolls in Indiana and Missouri revealed large numbers of errors, on Election Day reports of problems with the databases were few and isolated. The National Association of Secretaries of States, which represents top election officials from across the country, has said Nov. 7 was generally ?a good day.?

But some of the biggest states have not been able to overcome problems with new technology or rules and the lightly trained poll workers who must oversee them. In Ohio, thousands of voters were turned away or forced to file provisional ballots by poll workers puzzled by voter-identification rules. In Pennsylvania, the machines crashed or refused to start, producing many reports of vote-flipping, which means that voters press the button for one candidate but a different candidate?s name appears on the screen.

Perhaps most notoriously, officials in Sarasota County say nearly 18,000 votes may never have been recorded by electronic machines in a Congressional race, even though many voters said they tried to vote.

The recent problems will probably help propel legislation that has stalled for months in Congress mandating that electronic voting machines have a paper trail to better enable recounts. Less clear, experts say, is whether anything will be done to address concerns about the lack of technicians to troubleshoot machines, polling places with too few machines and poorly trained workers, and a system run by partisan election officials who may decide conflicts based on politics rather than policy.

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?These types of low-tech problems threaten to disenfranchise just as many people, if not more, but they tend to get less attention,? said Tova Wang, an elections expert with the Century Foundation, a nonpartisan research group in New York. ?We still have a long way to go toward fixing the biggest problems with our election system.?

Election workers and experts say the advances in technology have simply overwhelmed many of the people trying to run things on the ground. At a hearing in Denver last week, one focus was on how hard it has become for the poll workers, often retirees getting paid $100 for a 14-hour day, and what it would take to attract younger people who are perhaps more savvy about computers.

?It used to be that you would come in, set up the machines, make a cup of coffee and say hello to your neighbors,? said Sigrid Freese, who has worked at Denver polling places for more than 20 years. Now, she said, the job is complicated and stressful, and ?I know a lot of people who said, ?Never again.? ?

After widespread confusion and controversy caused by the hanging chads of the 2000 presidential election, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act in 2002 to help states phase out old-fashioned lever and punch-card machines and to introduce electronic voting equipment. But with malfunctions reported from a handful of states in the primaries earlier this year, many voting experts and state officials feared that the new technology might have only swapped old problems for newer, more complicated ones.

On Election Day, two voting-rights groups, Common Cause and the Election Protection Coalition, fielded nearly 40,000 telephone calls on two national hot lines from voters? reporting of problems or seeking information, and both groups are due to release their findings within the next two weeks. An initial review of their data, along with interviews with officials and experts, reveals that Florida, Maryland, Ohio and Pennsylvania were among the states with the most calls reporting trouble, including long lines, names missing from voter registration rolls, poll worker confusion and computer failures.

In a few places, the difficulties started as soon as voters walked up to the sign-in tables.

In Ohio, even a congressman, Steve Chabot, a Republican, was turned away from his polling place because the address listed on his driver?s license was different than his home address. Mr. Chabot was able to vote only after he returned with a utility bill. The state?s top election official had to fax a midday notice to all precincts that such minor discrepancies were acceptable.

In Denver, the culprit was a new electronic poll book, which workers had to consult through laptop computers. The system was supposed to verify each voter?s name in less than a minute. But it started slowing at 7 a.m. and eventually had to be turned off and rebooted, after taking up to 20 minutes to find each name.

As a result, voters waited in line for two to three hours. Liz Prescott, a computer industry executive, said she twice tried to vote but was deterred by the lines. ?I?m just flabbergasted that this system at all levels failed,? Ms. Prescott said.

John Gaydeski, Denver?s election director, acknowledged that the system had not been tested properly before the election.

In Arkansas, Florida and Pennsylvania, the questions were about the voting machines themselves. In addition to the Sarasota issue, which may have been caused by a software problem, there were similar problems in the Florida counties of Charlotte, Lee and Sumter. In those counties, said Barbara Burt, vice president and director for election reform at Common Cause, more than 40,000 voters who used touch-screen machines seemed not to have chosen a candidate in the attorney general?s race. But since one candidate won by 250,000 votes, the anomaly has been generally overlooked.

On election night in Arkansas, officials discovered that erroneous results had been tallied in Benton County. After retabulating the votes, they announced that the total number of ballots cast had jumped to 79,331 from 47,134, which meant a turnout of more than 100 percent in some precincts. After a third tallying, the total dropped to 48,681.

In Pennsylvania, computer problems forced polling places in Lancaster and Lebanon Counties to stay open late. In Westmoreland County, a programming error in at least 800 machines caused long lines.

Mary Beth Kuznik, a poll worker in that county, said she had to reset every machine after each voter, or more than 500 times, because the machines kept trying to shut down.

Howard Shaub, the elections board chairman in Lancaster County, counseled patience. ?We used those old lever machines for 20, 30 years,? Mr. Shaub said. ?We just have to have better quality control and the new machines will work fine.?

But Ms. Kuznik said one man refused to vote on the electronic machines and demanded a provisional ballot. ?At least my vote will be on a piece of paper,? Ms. Kuznik recalled his saying.


28774  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: A Post From Our Piazza member on: November 26, 2006, 07:01:33 AM
We have been having a tremendous problem with spambots.  After the one episode where our registered members got sent some nasty porn, my wife has been quite vigilant.  If she has inadvertently culled some real people, please let her know.  I will bring this thread to her attention.
28775  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 'America Alone' on: November 26, 2006, 01:21:17 AM
1) Much stricter immigration laws, rigorously enforced How? Big walls? More border control agents? Incentives to home countries to keep their emmigrants home? Deportation? Quotas? For all the recent talk on border security, we seem to not be making any progress.

MD:  All the more reason to get cracking.  The Peggy Noonan's piece in the new "Immigration" thread nearby I think makes some excellent points.

2) It's reasonable to not fund jihadist clerics who preach hatred in the mosques. I'm guessing a good portion of their money is not going through Bank of America or Credit Suisse. How about a thorough investigation into all mosques sources of funding? How about making mosque members accepted members of the community and not marginalizing them?

MD:  "MAKING mosque members accepted" ?!?  Care to flesh this out a bit?  As written it seems rather coercive.

3) If I was moving to Germany, i'd study the language, laws and culture in great detail to make sure i'd be able to function when I arrived.
So would I, but what of those who don't have the resources/time/wherewithall to learn English before their arrival?  What about cases of defection? Perhaps we should follow the example of New Zealand and only allow skilled migrants or individuals in highly specialized fields?

MD:  The problem is not that they arrive not speaking the host language, the problem is that many of them seem to not wish to learn. 

Getting to the heart of the matter, the problem is that Islam is not just another idea about the Creator.  It seeks sharia-- a theocratic state that does not give equal respect to other religions, that does not believe in free speech,  and other fundamental American values.  Because it seeks theocracy, Islam is also a political ideology.  The question I am asking myself as I search for understanding is why our immigration policies should not treat it similarly to the way communism was treated during the Cold War.

4) Intermarriage is a powerful intergenerational tool of integration. True, but unfortunately cultural custom often trumps all. In many countries and cultures (including some parts of our own), it is forbidden to marry outside of your religion, caste, race, etc. How do we break through these cultural barriers?

MD:  My understanding is that the US is doing a far better job of accepting Muslims into our society than Europe, but with 911 things are in a state of flux.  With millions of Muslims in America, many of them with language skills desperately needed by our government, my understanding is that very few have come forward.

5) When in Rome, do as the Romans do Easier said than done. Some friends of mine returned recently from Seatlle,Washington. After a long two years of silence, their neighbors finally had a conversation with them before they moved. Why the long delay? The simple fact that they were from California. Now, imagine moving into suburban Iowa with your Pashtun bride and three kids. I'm gonna guess that doing as the Romans is going to take some work.

MD:  Exactly so.  But if the attitude is that "I am a Muslim who happens to be in America and as a Muslim I seek a Muslim society ruled by sharia (i.e. overturning our First Amendment)" instead of "How wonderful to come to the land of opportunity, let me learn the language and ways of my new home, let me raise my children to be Americans" then there is a real problem.

Viable integration into a society takes serious commitment from both sides. I think we need to re-evaluate our own track record on immigration/integration/cultural reform before we can start acting like we have the solutions to other countries ills.

MD:  Until 911 America and its Muslims were doing pretty well.  Since then its hard to see through the smoke.
28776  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: European matters on: November 26, 2006, 01:02:08 AM

Friday, November 24, 2006
zaman.com


 Fear of terrorism, which has seized Europe after the Sept. 11, Madrid and London attacks, has put more pressure on Muslims, who are now being treated as ?potential terrorists.?
Following statements in Britain that more than 600 Muslims were being monitored, Germany announced that 32,000 German Muslims were under surveillance.
Chair of the Bavaria Office for Protection of the Constitution, Wolfgang Weber stated that 32,000 out of 2,300,000 German Muslims were being monitored. Speaking at a panel in Munich, Weber, claiming that they were watching everybody who endangered the German democratic order, classified those who were monitored into three groups: 1) Those who wanted to establish an Islamic state based on Shariah law without resorting to violence, such as National Vision; 2) Those who collected donations for the violent groups, such as Hamas and Hezbollah; 3) Jihadist groups, such as al-Qaeda, and Ansar al-Islam. Weber asserted that Germany has become a venue where terrorists finalize their preparations.
Weber, who also responded with hesitancy to the proposal to establish dialogue with Muslim associations, noted that dialogue attempts should be conducted with the utmost care. Hep Monatzeder, Deputy Chair of Munich Municipality on Relations with Muslim, criticized Weber?s isolationist approach. Noting that the intelligence reports were based on assumptions, not on evidence and facts, Monatzeder stated: ?The inclusion of the name of an association in those reports does not mean all of its members pose danger. Muslim associations carry out a wide range of activities; we are unable to isolate those who benefit from those. We should continue dialogue.?
Speaking at the panel, Chair of Muslim Council Memduh Kapicibasi, who stressed that they felt offended by the connection made between Islam and terrorism, proposed the use of the notion ?religion-motivated violence.?
Media exaggerates the danger
Speaking to Zaman, Wolfgang Weber, Chair of the Bavaria Office for Protection of the Constitution, said that the terrorism threat had been exaggerated by the media. Noting that the point of view and the degree of exaggeration varied according to the channel and newspaper, Weber said they mostly focused on Islamic radicalism and extreme right wing groups, and further confessed that they had intelligence agents inside the Muslim associations.
Number of Mosques Rising, Churches Declining A recently conducted research in Germany revealed that the number of mosques was increasing, while the number of churches was declining. According to the study by Central Islamic Archive Institute, the number of mosques has risen from 141 to 159 since 2004, while 128 were under construction. Likewise, the number of Muslims has increased from 56,000 to nearly one million since the early 1980s.
28777  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Immigration issues on: November 25, 2006, 01:04:37 AM
Peggy Noonan, as usual, in fine form:
===============================

What Grandma Would Say
We don't need to solve the immigration problem forever. We need to solve it now.

Friday, November 24, 2006 12:01 a.m. EST

It is July 10, 1858, a Saturday evening, and Lincoln is speaking in Chicago. The night before his opponent in their race for the U.S. Senate, Stephen Douglas, had referred to him graciously in his big speech, and invited him to take a good seat. Lincoln seized the opportunity and invited Douglas's audience to hear him the next night.

And so here he was, speaking, as usual, text and subtext, on slavery. But near the end, he turned to who populates America. Half or more of his audience, he suggested, could trace their personal ancestry back to the founding generation, "those iron men" who were "our fathers and grandfathers." Remembering their creation of the United States, thinking of "how it was done and who did it," has civic benefits. It leaves Americans feeling "more attached to one another, and more firmly bound to the country we inhabit."

What of those who could not trace their bloodlines back to the Revolution? The immigrants of Europe are "not descendents at all," Lincoln said, and "cannot carry themselves back into that glorious epoch and make themselves feel that they are part of us."

"But" he then said.

"But when they look through that old Declaration of Independence they find that those old men say that 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.' " And that "moral sentiment" connects groups and generations and tells America's immigrants "that they have a right to claim it as though they were blood of the blood, and flesh of the flesh of the men who wrote that Declaration. And so they are."

"And so they are." With those four words he told the anti-immigrant Know Nothings that new Americans have an equal place. He was saying: Take That, haters of the Catholic Church, spoofers of foreign ways, nonsympathizers with the beset, bedraggled and be-brogued.





I love those words by Lincoln, and believe them. But it continues to amaze that 148 years after he said them, who populates America is still a matter of urgent argument.
Much of course has changed. Immigration in Lincoln's day was open and legal. Now it is open in effect because overwhelmingly illegal in practice. If you want to come across the border, you can, essentially, come. You make the decision about what is best for you; America does not make the decision as to what is best for it. Both Congress and the White House, our official deciders, will likely do in the next session what they did in the last: spend a lot of time trying to confuse people into thinking they're closing the borders without actually closing them. There will be talk again of fences, partial fences, fencelike entities and virtual fences. While they dither and mislead, towns and cities will continue to attempt to make their own immigration policy.

You know the facts. Immigrants are here in huge numbers, unlawfully, in the age of terror. They swell the cost of local life--emergency rooms, schools--which has an impact on local taxes. There are towns and cities that feel, and are, overwhelmed. And no one will help them.

The essential reason, I think, is that America's elites don't want America's borders closed. Businesses want low-wage workers; intellectuals are wed to global visions of cross-border prosperity; politicians want Hispanic loyalty and the Hispanic vote. It's not convenient for any of them to close the borders. If Americans on the ground are enduring difficulties over this, it's . . . too bad. This is further eroding America's already eroding faith in its institutions.

I think there are two unremarked elements of the debate that are now contributing to the government's inability or refusal to come up with a solution.

The problem is not partisanship. It is not polarization, not really. Sentiments on this of all issues in the nation of immigrants are and would be complicated, nuanced. The problem is doctrinaire-ness. Even as both parties have become less philosophical, less tied to their animating philosophies, they have become more doctrinaire. The people who should be solving the immigration problem are holding fiercely to abstractions--to big-think economic theory, to emanations of penumbras in the law--instead of facing a crucial, concrete and immediate challenge.

The second element is definitiveness. Our political figures say they have to concentrate on an overall, long-term, comprehensive answer to the immigration problem. So they huff and puff about the long-term implications of this move or that, and in the end they do nothing.

They are like people in a burning house who sit around discussing the long-term efficacy of various kinds of water hoses while the house burns down around them.

More and more our leaders forget the common sense of grandma. In most everyone's family there was a grandma who used to sit quietly in the corner and say nothing. Then someone would ask her opinion just to be polite, and she'd say something so wise, so commonsensical, it stopped everyone in their tracks. And you realized that she was smart, that she'd lived a life and seen things.
In the case of illegal immigration in America I think grandma would say, "Stop it. Build a wall. But put doors in the wall so when the problem is over, you can open the doors."

America has, since 1980, experienced the biggest wave of immigrants since the great wave of 1880-1920. And we have never stopped to absorb it. We have never stopped to digest what we've eaten. Is it any wonder we have indigestion?

We don't really have to solve the problem forever. We just have to solve it now. One wonders why we don't stop illegal immigration, now. Absorb, settle down, ease pressures--for now. Why not be empirical, and find out what's true? Some say stopping illegal immigration will lead to an increase in wages for low-income workers. This is to be desired. Let's find out if it happens.

And why not give the latest waves of immigrants time to become Americans? Time to absorb our meaning and history and traditions. Isn't that the way to help them feel "more attached" and "more firmly bound to the country we inhabit"?

I'm not sure we need more globalism, but I feel certain we need more grandmaism. A happy Thanksgiving to all, old and new.

Ms. Noonan is a contributing editor of The Wall Street Journal and author of "John Paul the Great: Remembering a Spiritual Father" (Penguin, 2005), which you can order from the OpinionJournal bookstore. Her column appears Fridays on OpinionJournal.com.

28778  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: November 25, 2006, 12:58:25 AM
 
   
 November 25, 2006
1:54am EST
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
Iraq's new reality demands new debate on U.S. role
USA TODAY | Aug 4, 2006

Bush blames Iraq violence on Saddam's divisive 'legacy'
AFP | Mar 29, 2006

The Freedom Crusade Revisited
The National Interest | Dec 1, 2005

Weapon of Mass Destruction: The Murderous Reign of Saddam Hussein
filmcritic.com | Oct 28, 2005

Ottoman massacre of Armenians remembered across Europe
AFP | Apr 24, 2005

Living Politics: What to Make of the 'New' Middle East
Newsweek | Mar 2, 2005
   
 
 
 
 

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WONDER LAND

A Doctrine Worth Saving
Stomping Bush may impose a steep price.

BY DANIEL HENNINGER
Friday, November 24, 2006 12:01 a.m. EST

Thanksgiving is unavoidably bound up with the political life of this country. Each year the day before Thanksgiving this page publishes as its lead editorial a segment from the Plymouth Colony records of Nathaniel Morton based on the account of Governor William Bradford. The diary entry makes plain the world that spread before the Pilgrims in 1620--woods and thickets with a "wild and savage hew." My eye this year is drawn to its final line, describing a look backward that day across an ocean, "a gulph to separate them from all the civil parts of the world."

Over the next three centuries, the Pilgrims' ancestors and others fought and bled to improve the "civil" world they fled. The Revolutionary War took nearly 4,500 lives. The Civil War, a half-million lives. The combined dead in World War I was more than 116,000, and World War II's U.S. battle deaths to defeat Germany and Japan were close to 300,000. After all that, the United States became the foremost part of "the civil part of the world."





In the mid-1990s, I was talking to a politically sophisticated European lady about Europe's lack of military response to Milosevic's ethnic cleansing of the non-Serbs in Yugoslavia. She said, persuasively I thought, "You must understand how much bloody death has happened across our continent the past century. We have simply been worn out by it." In the event, the U.S. went in to stop another 20th-century genocide on the soil of that civil part of the world.
Her remark has come back to me in recent weeks, watching the paroxysm of antipathy toward the Iraq war and its progenitors. It would be one thing to say it is simply opposition to and dissent from an unpopular war and an unpopular president. But this has gone beyond that. The rhetoric is emotional and vituperative. I have seen audiences greet speakers denouncing Iraq as a "disaster" and "failure" with bursts of applause.

It is getting harder to distinguish between animosity toward George Bush and animosity toward the entire American enterprise beyond the nation's borders. As Norman Podhoretz delineated in the September issue of Commentary, columns and articles in journals of foreign policy are equating the tsunami of negativity rolling over Iraq with repudiation of the Bush Doctrine in toto.

One might have expected most of the disagreement to center on the doctrine's assertion of a right to pre-emptive attack. Instead, Iraq's troubles have been conflated with a general repudiation of the U.S.'s ability to abet democratic aspiration elsewhere in the world.

It is certainly possible that the Iraq effort will, in some obvious sense, "fail." Henry Kissinger now says "victory," defined as an Iraqi government gaining political control over the entire country, is not possible. But we might want to think some before we toss out the infant Bush Doctrine with the Iraqi bathwater.

As stated, the doctrine's strategy is "to help make the world not just safer but better." Some conservatives have denounced the "better world" part as utopian overstretch. Beyond that, the document lists as its goals the aspirations of human dignity, strengthening alliances to "defeat" terrorism, working with others to defuse regional conflicts, promoting global growth through free markets and trade and "opening societies and building the infrastructure of democracy."

It is mainly the latter--the notion of the U.S. building the "infrastructure of democracy" that now, because of the "failure" in Iraq, attracts opposition across the political spectrum--from John Kerry to George Will and on out to neoconservatives confessing loss of faith in the Bush team to the unforgiving ear of Vanity Fair.

No doubt each of these has declared unfealty to the Bush effort for more or less honorable reasons. But someone ought to step back and consider the cumulative political effect of what of late has turned into an unrestrained gang-stomping of the sort normally seen at Miami-Florida International football games. We are ensuring that no future president, of either party, will project military power anytime soon short of retaliation for a nuclear attack. Every potential presidential candidate, including John McCain, has to be looking at the Bush administration's experience and concluding there is simply no political upside in doing so. We are backing the country's political mind into the long-term parking lot of isolationism, something fervently wished for at opposite ends of the U.S. political spectrum.

The specialists in the foreign-policy community will argue that a new administration can "adjust" policy to changed events and new challenges. That sells short the power of the anti-Bush wave (itself underestimated for three years by the Bushies). This is a new force. Powerful technologies--the Web, TV and (still) newspaper front pages--combine to amplify ancient human barbarities every day from the Sunni Triangle. The opinions of mere pundits acquire exponential authority, a scary thought. Baghdad has become the blood-soaked, psychological equal of the Somme or Gettysburg. The sense grows daily among the American public that helping "them" is hopeless and "we" should pull back to our shores.





Like the Europeans, we may talk ourselves into a weariness with the world and its various, unremitting violences. No genocide will occur on American soil, but the same information tide that bathes us in Baghdad's horrors ensure that Darfur's genocide will come too near not to notice. Too bad for them, or any aspiring democrats under the thumb of Russia, China, Nigeria, Venezuela or Islam's highly mobile anti-democrats. We've got ours. Let them get theirs.
Does this overstate the buildup of anti-Bush, anti-Iraq sentiment? Will U.S. policy, in the hands of ideologically frictionless bureaucracies, slide forward? Maybe. But even the realists and cynics might concede there has been some benefit, perhaps going back as far as Plymouth Rock, in having one nation standing for the conceit, or even the ideal, that men elsewhere with democratic aspirations could at least count on us for active support. This is the core idea in the Bush Doctrine. If its critics don't start making some distinctions, they may discover that profligacy of opinion in our time carries a very steep price.

Mr. Henninger is deputy editor of The Wall Street Journal's editorial page. His column appears Fridays in the Journal and on OpinionJournal.com.

 
28779  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Muslims, Nazis, and far right hate groups echo anti-semitisim on: November 25, 2006, 12:00:51 AM
This post is not a perfect fit for this thread, but rather than start another thread here it is:

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


November 24, 2006, 5:00 a.m.

Throw the Jew Joke Down the Well
Borat gets anti-Semitism wrong.

By Charles Krauthammer


Borat is many things: a sidesplitting triumph of slapstick and scatology, a
runaway moneymaker and budding franchise, the worst thing to happen to
Kazakhstan since the Mongol hordes, and, as columnist David Brooks astutely
points out, a supreme display of elite snobbery reveling in the humiliation
of the hoaxed hillbilly.

But it is one thing more, something Brooks alluded to in passing but which
requires at least one elaboration: an unintentionally revealing
demonstration of the unfortunate attitude of many liberal Jews toward
working-class American Christians, especially evangelicals.

You know the shtick. Borat goes around America making anti-Semitic remarks
in order to elicit a nodding anti-Semitic response. And with enough liquor
and cajoling, he succeeds. In the most notorious such scene (on Da Ali G
Show where the character was born), Borat sings "Throw the Jew Down the
Well" in an Arizona bar as the local rubes join in.

Sacha Baron Cohen, the creator of Borat, revealed his purpose for doing that
in a rare out-of-character interview he granted Rolling Stone in part to
counter charges that he was promoting anti-Semitism. On the face of it, this
would be odd, given that Cohen is himself a Sabbath-observing Jew. His
defense is that he is using Borat's anti-Semitism as a "tool" to expose it
in others. And that his Arizona bar stunt revealed, if not anti-Semitism,
then "indifference" to anti-Semitism. And that, he maintains, was the path
to the Holocaust.

Whoaaaa. Does he really believe such rubbish? Can a man that smart
(Cambridge, investment banker and now brilliant filmmaker) really believe
that indifference to anti-Semitism and the road to the Holocaust are to be
found in a country and western bar in Tucson?

Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world.

With anti-Semitism re-emerging in Europe and rampant in the Islamic world;
with Iran acquiring the ultimate weapon of genocide and proclaiming its
intention to wipe out the world's largest Jewish community (Israel); with
America and, in particular, its Christian evangelicals the only remaining
Gentile constituency anywhere willing to defend that besieged Jewish outpost
- is the American heartland really the locus of anti-Semitism? Is this the
one place to go to find it?

In Venezuela, Hugo Chavez says that the "descendents of the same ones that
crucified Christ" have "taken possession of all the wealth in the world."
Just this month, Tehran hosted an international festival of Holocaust
cartoons featuring enough hooked noses and horns to give Goebbels a
posthumous smile. Throughout the Islamic world, newspapers and television,
schoolbooks and sermons are filled with the most vile anti-Semitism.

Baron Cohen could easily have found what he seeks closer to home. He is,
after all, from Europe where synagogues are torched and cemeteries
desecrated in a revival of anti-Semitism - not "indifference" to but active
- unseen since the Holocaust. Where a Jew is singled out for torture and
death by French-African thugs. Where a leading Norwegian intellectual - et
tu, Norway? - mocks "God's Chosen People" ("We laugh at this people's
capriciousness and weep at its misdeeds") and calls for the destruction of
Israel, the "state founded ... on the ruins of an archaic national and
warlike religion."

Yet amid this gathering darkness, an alarming number of liberal Jews are
seized with the notion that the real threat lurks deep in the hearts of
American Protestants, most specifically Southern evangelicals. Some fear
that their children are going to be converted; others, that below the
surface lies a pogrom waiting to happen; still others, that the evangelicals
will take power in Washington and enact their own sharia law.

This is all quite crazy. America is the most welcoming, religiously
tolerant, philo-Semitic country in the world. No nation since Cyrus the
Great's Persia has done more for the Jews. And its reward is to be exposed
as latently anti-Semitic by an itinerant Jew looking for laughs and, he
solemnly assures us, for the path to the Holocaust?

Look. Harry Truman used to tell derisive Jewish jokes. Richard Nixon said
nasty things about Jews in government and elsewhere. Who cares? Truman and
Nixon were the two greatest friends of the Jews in the entire postwar
period: Truman secured them a refuge in the state of Israel and Nixon saved
it from extinction during the Yom Kippur War.

It is very hard to be a Jew today, particularly in Baron Cohen's Europe,
where Jew-baiting is once again becoming acceptable. But it is a sign of the
disorientation of a distressed and confused people that we should find it so
difficult to distinguish our friends from our enemies.

(c) 2006, The Washington Post Writers Group


http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=MGJiYzJmY2U3MmNhMDNmNzZmNDZjZmNmOTI2ZDcxMWY=
28780  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: November 24, 2006, 02:55:05 PM
Today's NY Slimes:



For years, Roger Barnett has holstered a pistol to his hip, tucked an assault rifle in his truck and set out over the scrub brush on his thousands of acres of ranchland near the Mexican border in southeastern Arizona to hunt.

Skip to next paragraph
 
The New York Times

Hunt illegal immigrants, that is, often chronicled in the news.

?They?re flooding across, invading the place,? Mr. Barnett told the ABC program ?Nightline? this spring. ?They?re going to bring their families, their wives, and they?re going to bring their kids. We don?t need them.?

But now, after boasting of having captured 12,000 illegal crossers on land he owns or leases from the state and emerging as one of the earliest and most prominent of the self-appointed border watchers, Mr. Barnett finds himself the prey.

Immigrant rights groups have filed lawsuits, accusing him of harassing and unlawfully imprisoning people he has confronted on his ranch near Douglas. One suit pending in federal court accuses him, his wife and his brother of pointing guns at 16 illegal immigrants they intercepted, threatening them with dogs and kicking one woman in the group.

Another suit, accusing Mr. Barnett of threatening two Mexican-American hunters and three young children with an assault rifle and insulting them with racial epithets, ended Wednesday night in Bisbee with a jury awarding the hunters $98,750 in damages.

The court actions are the latest example of attempts by immigrant rights groups to curb armed border-monitoring groups by going after their money, if not their guns. They have won civil judgments in Texas, and this year two illegal Salvadoran immigrants who had been held against their will took possession of a 70-acre ranch in southern Arizona after winning a case last year.

The Salvadorans had accused the property owner, Casey Nethercott, a former leader of the Ranch Rescue group, of menacing them with a gun in 2003. Mr. Nethercott was convicted of illegal gun possession; the Salvadorans plan to sell the property, their lawyer has said.

But Mr. Barnett, known for dressing in military garb and caps with insignia resembling the United States Border Patrol?s, represents a special prize to the immigrant rights groups. He is ubiquitous on Web sites, mailings and brochures put out by groups monitoring the Mexican border and, with family members, was an inspiration for efforts like the Minutemen civilian border patrols.

?The Barnetts, probably more than any people in this country, are responsible for the vigilante movement as it now exists,? said Mark Potok, legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks the groups. ?They were the recipients of so much press coverage and they kept boasting, and it was out of those boasts that the modern vigilante movement sprang up.?

Jesus Romo Vejar, the lawyer for the hunting party, said their court victory Wednesday would serve notice that mistreating immigrants would not pass unpunished. Although the hunters were not in the United States illegally, they contended that Mr. Barnett?s treatment of them reflected his attitude and practices toward Latinos crossing his land, no matter what their legal status.

?We have really, truly breached their defense,? Mr. Vejar said, ?and this opens up the Barnetts to other attorneys to come in and sue him whenever he does some wrong with people.?

Mr. Vejar said he would ask the state attorney general and the county attorney, who had cited a lack of evidence in declining to prosecute Mr. Barnett, to take another look at the case. He also said he would ask the state to revoke Mr. Barnett?s leases on its land.

Mr. Barnett had denied threatening anyone. He left the courtroom after the verdict without commenting, and his lawyer, John Kelliher, would not comment either.

In a brief interview during a court break last week, Mr. Barnett denied harming anyone and said that the legal action would not deter his efforts. He said that the number of illegal immigrants crossing his land had declined recently but that he thought it was only a temporary trend.

?For your children, for our future, that?s why we need to stop them,? Mr. Barnett said. ?If we don?t step in for your children, I don?t know who is expected to step in.?

Mr. Barnett prevailed in a suit in the summer when a jury ruled against a fellow rancher who had sued, accusing him of trespassing on his property as he pursued immigrants. Another suit last year was dropped when the plaintiff, who had returned to Mexico, decided not to return to press the case.



===========



Page 2 of 2)



Still, the threat of liability has discouraged ranchers from allowing the more militant civilian patrol groups on their land, and accusations of abuse seem to be on the wane, said Jennifer Allen of the Border Action Network, an immigrant rights group.

Skip to next paragraph
 
Michael Mally for The New York Times
Ronald Morales, right, his daughter Angelique Venese and others won a civil suit against Roger Barnett. They said he detained them illegally then pointed a rifle at them after running them off.

 
Jeffry Scott/Arizona Daily Star
Roger Barnett owns or leases 22,000 acres near the border.

But David H. Urias, a lawyer with the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund who is representing the 16 immigrants suing Mr. Barnett, said fewer complaints did not necessarily mean less activity. Immigrants from Mexico are returned to their country often within hours and often under the impression that their deportation ? and chance to try to return again ? will go quicker without their complaints.

?It took us months to find these 16 people,? Mr. Urias said.

People who tend ranches on the border said that even if they did not agree with Mr. Barnett?s tactics they sympathized with his rationale, and that putting him out of business would not resolve the problems they believe the crossers cause.

?The illegals think they have carte blanche on his ranch,? said Al Garza, the executive director of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps in Arizona, a civilian patrol group that, Mr. Garza says, does not detain illegal immigrants but calls in their movements to the Border Patrol. ?The man has had it.?

Mr. Barnett, a retired Cochise County sheriff?s deputy and the owner of a towing business, acquired his ranch in the mid-1990s, buying or leasing from the state more than 22,000 acres.

Almost from the start he took up a campaign against the people crossing the border from Mexico, sometimes detaining large groups and radioing for the Border Patrol to pick them up.

Chuy Rodriguez, a spokesman for the agency?s Tucson office, said the Border Patrol maintained no formal relationship with Mr. Barnett or other civilian groups. Agency commanders, concerned about potential altercations, have warned the groups not to take the law into their hands.

?If they see something, we ask them to call us, like we would ask of any citizen,? Mr. Rodriguez said.

Mr. Barnett?s lawyers have suggested he has acted out of a right to protect his property.

?A lease holder doesn?t have the right to protect his cattle?? Mr. Kelliher asked one of the men in the hunting party, Arturo Morales, at the trial.

?I guess so, maybe,? Mr. Morales replied.

Mr. Barnett has had several encounters with local law enforcement officials over detaining illegal immigrants, some of whom complained that he pointed guns at them. The local authorities have declined to prosecute him, citing a lack of evidence or ambiguity about whether he had violated any laws.

A few years ago, however, the Border Action Network and its allied groups began collecting testimony from illegal immigrants and others who had had confrontations with Mr. Barnett.

They included the hunters, who sued Mr. Barnett for unlawful detention, emotional distress and other claims, and sought at least $200,000. Ronald Morales; his father, Arturo; Ronald Morales?s two daughters, ages 9 and 11; and an 11-year-old friend said Mr. Barnett, his brother Donald and his wife, Barbara, confronted them Oct. 30, 2004.

Ronald Morales testified that Mr. Barnett used expletives and ethnically derogatory remarks as he sought to kick them off state-owned property he leases. Then, Mr. Morales said, Mr. Barnett pulled an AR-15 assault rifle from his truck and pointed it at them as they drove off, traumatizing the girls.

Mr. Kelliher conceded that there was a heated confrontation. But he denied that Mr. Barnett used slurs and said Ronald Morales was as much an instigator. He said Morales family members had previously trespassed on Mr. Barnett?s land and knew that Mr. Barnett required written permission to hunt there.

Even as the trial proceeded, the Border Patrol reported a 45 percent drop in arrests in the Douglas area in the last year. The agency credits scores of new agents, the National Guard deployment there this summer and improved technology in detecting crossers.

But Ms. Allen of the Border Action Network and other immigrant rights supporters suspect that people are simply crossing elsewhere
28781  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: European matters on: November 24, 2006, 02:50:38 PM
Following up on the Danish cartoon provacateurs (sp?) :
================

"Sex in the Park"
By Henrik Bering
The Weekly Standard | November 24, 2006

(Copenhagen) - You have to hand it to them: Few men in recent history have been more successful in creating mayhem than the small group of Denmark-based imams who turned the appearance of cartoons of Muhammad in a Danish newspaper into a world event. In a recent Egyptian opinion poll of nations seen as most hostile, Denmark registered third, right behind the United States and Israel, an impressive score for a small Nordic country that is normally known for its pacifism and humanitarian efforts.

Pretending to be on a mission to create understanding and dialogue, the imams set out from Denmark for the Middle East last December, where they spread false rumors of the Koran being burned on the streets of Copenhagen and otherwise did their best to incite violence against their host nation, resulting in attacks on embassies, trade boycotts, and flag burnings. They were later caught on hidden camera by a French documentary filmmaker, bragging about their exploits.

Not ones to rest on their laurels, this band of bearded brothers have continued to enjoy great success at getting their names into the headlines; their activities have been followed with particular interest by the Jyllands-Posten, the paper that originally published the cartoons and has had to live under a strict security regimen ever since. As always, there is an element of Monty Pythonesque farce in these imams posturing as holy warriors while being welfare-state spongers, and constantly tripping up in their own lies. Farce, that is, if it were not so deadly serious.

First a bit of good news: As reported in the Jyllands-Posten, Sheikh Raed Hlayhel, who has been in Denmark since 2000 and was the prime instigator behind the cartoon protest, recently announced that he had had it with Denmark and was leaving to settle down in his hometown of Tripoli in Lebanon. "And I am not coming back," he fumed, as if depriving the country of some tremendous cultural asset.

As a commentator noted, Hlayhel has not exactly been a model of successful integration. Having received his religious training in Medina in Saudi Arabia--where he imbibed pure, unadulterated Wahhabism--Hlayhel applied for asylum in Denmark and was at first denied. But as his young son suffers from spina bifida, and the Danish authorities felt the boy could not get the proper treatment in Lebanon, he was allowed in on humanitarian grounds.

Hlayhel thus did not have Danish citizenship and did not speak a word of Danish. But in Denmark's fundamentalist parallel society, Arabic will do just fine, especially when you preach jihad. The center of Hlayhel's activities was the Grimh?jvej mosque in the small town of Brabrand in Jutland, which has been closely monitored by Danish intelligence.

Among the users of the mosque were Slimane Hadj Abderrahmane, the so-called Guant?namo Dane--a holy warrior of Danish/Algerian parentage who was caught by American troops in Afghanistan--and Abu Rached, who has been identified by Spanish prosecutors as one of al Qaeda's main operatives in Europe.

What prompted Hlayhel's decision to pull up his tent pegs? He lost his lawsuit against the Jyllands-Posten for having printed the cartoons. And in matters like these, family considerations are clearly secondary. About his invalid son, who was receiving free care from the Danish national health system, Hlayhel stated, "His Muslim identity is more important than his treatment. I think all Muslims should live in a Muslim country. Farewell Denmark."

But before the Danes get too relieved, intelligence experts cited in the Jyllands-Posten warned that the sheikh can still make mischief from the Middle East. In his last prayer in Denmark, Hlayhel denounced the pope, warned against repetitions of the cartoons, and threatened retaliation: "We are people who love death and will sacrifice ourselves before Allah's feet. Do not repeat the tragedy, or else it will become a tragedy for you and the whole world."


Meanwhile, Hlayhel's fellow demagogue Ahmed Abu Laban, a Palestinian refugee who came to Denmark in 1984 and who is also not a Danish citizen, has written a book about the traveling imams' achievements entitled The Jyllands-Posten Crisis, which has come out so far only in Arabic and has been published in the Egyptian newspaper Al-Masri al-Youm.

Laban rails against a new group in Denmark called the Democratic Muslims, which was created in the wake of the cartoon crisis and whose leader, Naser Khader, he describes as "a rat" and "an apostate." This, according to a scholar cited in the Jyllands-Posten, amounts to a death threat, as in the fundamentalist view apostasy is a capital crime. Democratic Muslims are further characterized in the book as "such nice people, clean shaven, very clever, who are ready to have sex in the park, whenever they feel like it." The phrase "sex in the park" is common Arab code for homosexuality, which in sharia law also merits a death sentence.

Laban's name has been linked to Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind cleric who in 1993 was behind the first bombing of the World Trade Center; to Ayman al-Zawahiri, one of the planners of 9/11; and to Mohammed al-Fizazi, who was responsible for the 2003 Casablanca bombing. Laban at one point also claimed knowledge of an imminent terror operation on Danish soil.

His purpose with the book is to strengthen his own claims to leadership in the highly competitive world of extremist imams. Laban has also threatened in the past to leave Denmark, but, alas, thought better of it.

Downy bearded youth was also represented in the traveling cartoon road show in the person of 28-year-old Ahmed Akkari, who makes up for his tiny stature and squeaky voice with his great persistence. Akkari was born in Lebanon but has obtained Danish citizenship and is fluent in Danish. Among his political prognostications is that the leader of the Democratic Muslims would be blown up, should he ever become a government minister.

Most Danes were of the impression that Akkari had left the country last year to settle with his girlfriend in Lebanon, as he, too, felt insufficiently appreciated in Denmark. But lo and behold, when Denmark arranged for an evacuation of 5,000 people during this summer's war in Lebanon, who was among the rescued but Akkari, his girlfriend, and his little daughter. The Jyllands-Posten carried a telling photograph from the rescue operation with Akkari seen against the Danish flag gently wafting in the breeze--the very flag that he and his friends had caused to be burned all over the Middle East.

Predictably, Akkari found fault with the caliber of the Danish rescue mission. In the Extra Bladet, a Danish tabloid, he stated indignantly, "You should write about the horrible plane the Danish Foreign Ministry first wanted to send us home in. It was Jordanian and so old that it was life threatening."

In letters to the editor, Danes wondered the obvious: Why would a man who has so much to complain about want to return? They were also astounded by the number of Danish resident aliens found in Lebanon during the evacuation. There were calls to investigate how many were actually living in Lebanon while claiming unemployment benefits in Denmark. Predictably, the Danish liberal press deemed such questions crass and insensitive towards people who had been so massively traumatized by Israeli bombardments, but the issue will be debated in parliament in December.

Finally, the Danes have learned that Abu Bashar, a Syrian cleric living in the regional capital of Odense and working as a prison chaplain, has been fired after complaints from inmates at Nyborg State Prison that he was inciting hatred of Denmark, and after his statement in an article in the Fyens Stiftstidende that "Denmark is the next terror target."

Bashar's claim to fame stems from the cartoon crisis, when he showed a photograph of a man in a pig's mask on BBC television, and afterwards slipped it in among the material being presented by the touring imams in the Middle East, though it had nothing to do with the cartoons. It turned out to be a photo of a French comedian in a pig-calling contest. Bashar later claimed that he was misinterpreted and that the photo had been sent to him anonymously, showing how Muslims were insulted in Denmark. His forked tongue has severely damaged his credibility here.

To no one's surprise, Bashar claimed that his firing from his prison job was political. However, as a man who did not hold grudges, he was willing to forget the incident, if he could have his job back part-time, with disability pay. His knee was troubling him something awful. Sorry, no go.

The question remains why the Danish government puts up with these scoundrels and does not simply boot them out. France has rid itself of more than 20 extremist imams, as has Germany, while Spain and Italy each have deported four, and Holland three. Denmark so far has kicked none out. Surely, enough is enough.
28782  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mexico-US matters on: November 24, 2006, 02:39:46 PM
Today's NY Slimes:
--------------------------------------

Today's NY Slimes:



For years, Roger Barnett has holstered a pistol to his hip, tucked an assault rifle in his truck and set out over the scrub brush on his thousands of acres of ranchland near the Mexican border in southeastern Arizona to hunt.

Skip to next paragraph
 
The New York Times

Hunt illegal immigrants, that is, often chronicled in the news.

?They?re flooding across, invading the place,? Mr. Barnett told the ABC program ?Nightline? this spring. ?They?re going to bring their families, their wives, and they?re going to bring their kids. We don?t need them.?

But now, after boasting of having captured 12,000 illegal crossers on land he owns or leases from the state and emerging as one of the earliest and most prominent of the self-appointed border watchers, Mr. Barnett finds himself the prey.

Immigrant rights groups have filed lawsuits, accusing him of harassing and unlawfully imprisoning people he has confronted on his ranch near Douglas. One suit pending in federal court accuses him, his wife and his brother of pointing guns at 16 illegal immigrants they intercepted, threatening them with dogs and kicking one woman in the group.

Another suit, accusing Mr. Barnett of threatening two Mexican-American hunters and three young children with an assault rifle and insulting them with racial epithets, ended Wednesday night in Bisbee with a jury awarding the hunters $98,750 in damages.

The court actions are the latest example of attempts by immigrant rights groups to curb armed border-monitoring groups by going after their money, if not their guns. They have won civil judgments in Texas, and this year two illegal Salvadoran immigrants who had been held against their will took possession of a 70-acre ranch in southern Arizona after winning a case last year.

The Salvadorans had accused the property owner, Casey Nethercott, a former leader of the Ranch Rescue group, of menacing them with a gun in 2003. Mr. Nethercott was convicted of illegal gun possession; the Salvadorans plan to sell the property, their lawyer has said.

But Mr. Barnett, known for dressing in military garb and caps with insignia resembling the United States Border Patrol?s, represents a special prize to the immigrant rights groups. He is ubiquitous on Web sites, mailings and brochures put out by groups monitoring the Mexican border and, with family members, was an inspiration for efforts like the Minutemen civilian border patrols.

?The Barnetts, probably more than any people in this country, are responsible for the vigilante movement as it now exists,? said Mark Potok, legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks the groups. ?They were the recipients of so much press coverage and they kept boasting, and it was out of those boasts that the modern vigilante movement sprang up.?

Jesus Romo Vejar, the lawyer for the hunting party, said their court victory Wednesday would serve notice that mistreating immigrants would not pass unpunished. Although the hunters were not in the United States illegally, they contended that Mr. Barnett?s treatment of them reflected his attitude and practices toward Latinos crossing his land, no matter what their legal status.

?We have really, truly breached their defense,? Mr. Vejar said, ?and this opens up the Barnetts to other attorneys to come in and sue him whenever he does some wrong with people.?

Mr. Vejar said he would ask the state attorney general and the county attorney, who had cited a lack of evidence in declining to prosecute Mr. Barnett, to take another look at the case. He also said he would ask the state to revoke Mr. Barnett?s leases on its land.

Mr. Barnett had denied threatening anyone. He left the courtroom after the verdict without commenting, and his lawyer, John Kelliher, would not comment either.

In a brief interview during a court break last week, Mr. Barnett denied harming anyone and said that the legal action would not deter his efforts. He said that the number of illegal immigrants crossing his land had declined recently but that he thought it was only a temporary trend.

?For your children, for our future, that?s why we need to stop them,? Mr. Barnett said. ?If we don?t step in for your children, I don?t know who is expected to step in.?

Mr. Barnett prevailed in a suit in the summer when a jury ruled against a fellow rancher who had sued, accusing him of trespassing on his property as he pursued immigrants. Another suit last year was dropped when the plaintiff, who had returned to Mexico, decided not to return to press the case.



===========



Page 2 of 2)



Still, the threat of liability has discouraged ranchers from allowing the more militant civilian patrol groups on their land, and accusations of abuse seem to be on the wane, said Jennifer Allen of the Border Action Network, an immigrant rights group.

Skip to next paragraph
 
Michael Mally for The New York Times
Ronald Morales, right, his daughter Angelique Venese and others won a civil suit against Roger Barnett. They said he detained them illegally then pointed a rifle at them after running them off.

 
Jeffry Scott/Arizona Daily Star
Roger Barnett owns or leases 22,000 acres near the border.

But David H. Urias, a lawyer with the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund who is representing the 16 immigrants suing Mr. Barnett, said fewer complaints did not necessarily mean less activity. Immigrants from Mexico are returned to their country often within hours and often under the impression that their deportation ? and chance to try to return again ? will go quicker without their complaints.

?It took us months to find these 16 people,? Mr. Urias said.

People who tend ranches on the border said that even if they did not agree with Mr. Barnett?s tactics they sympathized with his rationale, and that putting him out of business would not resolve the problems they believe the crossers cause.

?The illegals think they have carte blanche on his ranch,? said Al Garza, the executive director of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps in Arizona, a civilian patrol group that, Mr. Garza says, does not detain illegal immigrants but calls in their movements to the Border Patrol. ?The man has had it.?

Mr. Barnett, a retired Cochise County sheriff?s deputy and the owner of a towing business, acquired his ranch in the mid-1990s, buying or leasing from the state more than 22,000 acres.

Almost from the start he took up a campaign against the people crossing the border from Mexico, sometimes detaining large groups and radioing for the Border Patrol to pick them up.

Chuy Rodriguez, a spokesman for the agency?s Tucson office, said the Border Patrol maintained no formal relationship with Mr. Barnett or other civilian groups. Agency commanders, concerned about potential altercations, have warned the groups not to take the law into their hands.

?If they see something, we ask them to call us, like we would ask of any citizen,? Mr. Rodriguez said.

Mr. Barnett?s lawyers have suggested he has acted out of a right to protect his property.

?A lease holder doesn?t have the right to protect his cattle?? Mr. Kelliher asked one of the men in the hunting party, Arturo Morales, at the trial.

?I guess so, maybe,? Mr. Morales replied.

Mr. Barnett has had several encounters with local law enforcement officials over detaining illegal immigrants, some of whom complained that he pointed guns at them. The local authorities have declined to prosecute him, citing a lack of evidence or ambiguity about whether he had violated any laws.

A few years ago, however, the Border Action Network and its allied groups began collecting testimony from illegal immigrants and others who had had confrontations with Mr. Barnett.

They included the hunters, who sued Mr. Barnett for unlawful detention, emotional distress and other claims, and sought at least $200,000. Ronald Morales; his father, Arturo; Ronald Morales?s two daughters, ages 9 and 11; and an 11-year-old friend said Mr. Barnett, his brother Donald and his wife, Barbara, confronted them Oct. 30, 2004.

Ronald Morales testified that Mr. Barnett used expletives and ethnically derogatory remarks as he sought to kick them off state-owned property he leases. Then, Mr. Morales said, Mr. Barnett pulled an AR-15 assault rifle from his truck and pointed it at them as they drove off, traumatizing the girls.

Mr. Kelliher conceded that there was a heated confrontation. But he denied that Mr. Barnett used slurs and said Ronald Morales was as much an instigator. He said Morales family members had previously trespassed on Mr. Barnett?s land and knew that Mr. Barnett required written permission to hunt there.

Even as the trial proceeded, the Border Patrol reported a 45 percent drop in arrests in the Douglas area in the last year. The agency credits scores of new agents, the National Guard deployment there this summer and improved technology in detecting crossers.

But Ms. Allen of the Border Action Network and other immigrant rights supporters suspect that people are simply crossing elsewhere.
28783  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: November 24, 2006, 02:11:42 PM
ROCKETS TO IRAN: Russia has begun deliveries of the Tor-M1 air defence rocket system to Iran, Russian news agencies quoted military industry sources as saying, in the latest sign of a Russian-US rift over Iran. "Deliveries of the Tor-M1 have begun. The first systems have already been delivered to Tehran," ITAR-TASS quoted an unnamed, high-ranking source as saying Friday.
Levine Breaking News 11/24/06
28784  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Islamic Countries: on: November 24, 2006, 09:19:37 AM

Canadian Press
Published: Friday, November 24, 2006 ISTANBUL, Turkey (AP) - Two Turkish men who converted to Christianity went on trial Thursday for allegedly insulting "Turkishness," and of inciting religious hatred against Islam, the Anatolia news agency reported.


The trial opened just days before a visit to Turkey by Roman Catholic Pope Benedict, during which the pontiff was expected to discuss improved religious rights for the country's tiny Christian minority who complain of discrimination.
Hakan Tastan, 37, and Turan Topal, 46, are accused of making the insults and of inciting hate while allegedly trying to convert other Turks to Christianity.
The men were charged under Turkey's notorious Article 301, which has been used to bring charges against dozens of intellectuals - including Nobel prize-winning author Orhan Pamuk.
The law has widely been condemned for severely limiting free expression and European officials have demanded that Turkey change the law as part of its bid to join the European Union.
Prosecutors accused the two of allegedly telling possible converts that Islam was "a primitive and fabricated" religion and that Turks would remain "barbarians" as long they remained Muslims, Anatolia reported.
The prosecutors also accused them of speaking out against the country's compulsory military service, and compiling databases on possible converts.
Tastan and Topal, who could face up to nine years in prison, denied the accusations in court.
"I am a Turk, I am a Turkish citizen. I don't accept the accusations of insulting 'Turkishness,' " Anatolia quoted Tastan as telling the court. "I am a Christian, that's true. I explain the Bible ... to people who want to learn. I am innocent."
"I am a Turk, I am a Turkish citizen, it is impossible for me to insult 'Turkishness,"' echoed Topal, according to Anatolia.

? The Canadian Press 2006
28785  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: November 24, 2006, 08:58:30 AM
A Profiling In Courage
INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY

Posted 11/22/2006

Homeland Security: Kudos to US Airways. Risking fines and a boycott, it did the right thing this week by removing a group of Muslim men from a flight to protect its crew and passengers.

By most accounts, the six bearded men were behaving suspiciously at a time when airports were on high alert for sky terror during the holidays. "There were a number of things that gave the flight crew pause," an airline spokesman said. According to witnesses and police reports, the men:

? Made anti-American statements.

? Made a scene of praying and chanting "Allah."

? Asked for seat-belt extensions even though a flight attendant thought they didn't need them.

? Refused requests by the pilot to disembark for more screening.

Also, three of the men had only one-way tickets and no checked baggage.

Police had to forcibly remove the men from the flight, whereupon they were taken into custody. A search found no weapons or explosives, and they were released to continue on their journey.

Within hours, the men enlisted a Muslim-rights group to make a stink in the press, insisting they were merely imams returning home from an Islamic conference in Minneapolis. They say they were "harassed" because of their faith.

But were they victims or provocateurs?

All six claim to be Americans, so clearly they were aware of heightened security. Surely they knew that groups of Muslim men flying together while praying to Allah fit the modus operandi of the 9/11 hijackers and would make a pilot nervous. Throw in anti-U.S. remarks and odd demands about seat belts, and they might as well have yelled, "Bomb!"

Yet they chose to make a spectacle. Why? Turns out among those attending their conference was Rep.-elect Keith Ellison, D-Minn., who will be the first Muslim sworn into Congress (with his hand on the Quran). Two days earlier, Ellison, an African-American convert who wants to criminalize Muslim profiling, spoke at a fundraiser for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Muslim-rights group that wasted no time condemning US Airways for "prejudice and ignorance."

CAIR wants congressional hearings to investigate other incidents of "flying while Muslim." Incoming Judiciary Chairman John Con-yers, D-Mich., has already drafted a resolution, borrowing from CAIR rhetoric, that gives Muslims special civil-rights protections.

While it's not immediately clear whether the incident was a stunt to help give the new Democratic majority cover to criminalize airport profiling, it wouldn't be the first time Muslim passengers have tried to prove "Islamophobia" ? or test nerves and security.

Two years ago a dozen Syrian men caused panic aboard a Northwest Airlines flight by passing bags to each other as they used the lavatory. As the plane prepared to land, they rushed to the back and front of the plane speaking in Arabic.

Then there's the case of Muhammed al-Qudhaieen and Hamdan al-Shalawi, two Arizona college students removed from an America West flight after twice trying to open the cockpit. The FBI suspected it was a dry run for the 9/11 hijackings, according to the 9/11 Commission Report. One of the students had traveled to Afghanistan. Another became a material witness in the 9/11 investigation.

Even so, the pair filed racial-profiling suits against America West, now part of US Airways. Defending them was none other than the leader of the six imams kicked off the US Airways flight this week.

Turns out the students attended the Tucson, Ariz., mosque of Sheikh Omar Shahin, a Jordan native. Shahin has been the protesters' public face, even returning to the US Airways ticket counter at the Minneapolis airport to scold agents before the cameras.

In an Arizona Republic interview after 9/11, he acknowledged once supporting Osama bin Laden through his mosque in Tucson. FBI investigators believe bin Laden set up a base in Tucson.

Hani Hanjour, who piloted the plane that hit the Pentagon, attended the Tucson mosque along with bin Laden's onetime personal secretary, according to the 9/11 Commission Report. Bin Laden's ex-logistics chief was president of the mosque before Shahin took over.

"These people don't continue to come back to Arizona because they like the sunshine or they like the state," said FBI agent Kenneth Williams. "Something was established there, and it's been there for a long time." And Shahin appears to be in the middle of it.

CAIR asserts the imams are peace-loving patriots. "It's inappropriate to treat religious leaders that way," a spokesman said.

Yeah, they all wear halos. Omar Abdul-Rahman, a blind sheikh, is serving a life term for plotting to blow up several New York landmarks. Imam Ali al-Timimi, a native Washingtonian, is also behind bars for soliciting local Muslims to kill fellow Americans. Imams in New York were recently busted for buying shoulder-fired missiles. Another in Lodi, Calif., planned an al-Qaida terror camp there.

We could go on and on. Imams or not, US Airways did right by its customers. Shahin is calling on Muslims to boycott the airline; that might actually work in its favor. US Airways has been flooded with calls from Americans saying it just became the safest airline.

 
28786  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 'America Alone' on: November 24, 2006, 08:56:55 AM
I don't want to clutter up responses to GM's interesting posts (which might have fit more logically in one or more of the other threads  wink ) but I would like to take a quick moment to say that Quijote makes a fair point when he says that one of the causes (and it is only one of several) of the Paristineans intifada is that the French block their entry into society-- IMHO this is done through French economic policies which create tremendous barriers to the creation of new businesses and employment in order to protect big unions and other vested interests.  The purpose of these policies is not anti-Muslim, but they do add heavily to the unemployment of the Paristineans. 



28787  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: FMA Footwork for Context-Based Gunfighting on: November 24, 2006, 08:42:28 AM
Please forgive my arrogance, this is exactly why I have set up the Kali Fence as I have and why Gabe has integrated it into his teaching-- it predisposes the body to react correctly.
28788  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science on: November 23, 2006, 07:49:56 AM
Top Marine: Troops under too much strain


November 22, 2006
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The new Marine Corps commandant said Wednesday that the longer than anticipated pace of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan is putting an unacceptable strain on his troops.
Gen. James Conway said the service is unable to meet its goal of giving Marines twice as much time at home as in a war zone.
He said unless the demand on the corps eases, he may have to propose increasing the size of the force.
The Marine Corps is the smallest of the Pentagon's military services. The Coast Guard, which is even smaller, is part of the Department of Homeland Security.
Currently there are 180,000 Marines on active duty and about 40,000 in the active reserves. Marine units serve seven-month deployments in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Conway, who led Marine units into Iraq in 2003 and served on the Pentagon's joint staff, said his troops should get 14 months of relief before they are sent back.
Typically, however, they get only seven or eight months home before being returned to combat, he said.
Assuming the Marines' top job little more than a week ago, Conway told reporters at a Pentagon roundtable discussion that he sees two ways to alleviate stress on troops.
"One is reducing the requirement [of a set deployment time]. The other is potentially growing the force for what we call the long war," Conway said.
Some units are serving their fourth tours in Iraq, and the strain on their families has raised concern that Marines will start leaving the service when their enlistments are up.
"There is stress on the individual Marines that is increasing, and there is stress on the institution to do what we are required to do, pretty much by law, for the nation," he was quoted by The Associated Press as saying.
The current rotation of troops to Iraq is also limiting training, he said.
"We're not sending battalions like we used to for the mountain warfare training, the jungle training," he told reporters. "We're not doing combined arms exercises that we used to do for the far maneuver-type activities we have to be prepared to do."
Conway said he doesn't know whether an expected adjustment in strategy in Iraq will result in the need for more Marines, so he's holding off on making any formal recommendations.
Copyright 2006 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.
__________________
28789  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Particular Stocks on: November 23, 2006, 07:16:42 AM
http://eutrapelia.blogspot.com/

New suggestions from David Gordon.  Highly recommended.
28790  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Surviving PMS on: November 23, 2006, 07:14:51 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCwKbUVyHLY
28791  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: November 23, 2006, 07:07:29 AM
Lamento tantos hilos en ingles en un foro supuestamente para espanol.  ?Habra' alguien quien puede ayudarnos con informes desde Mexico?
------------------------------

Mexican Report Cites Leaders for ?Dirty War?
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By JAMES C. McKINLEY Jr.
Published: November 23, 2006
MEXICO CITY, Nov. 22 ? Just before leaving office, the administration of President Vicente Fox has quietly put out a voluminous report that for the first time states unequivocally that past governments carried out a covert campaign of murder and torture against dissidents and guerrillas from the late 1960s through the early 1980s.

The 800-page report is the first acceptance of responsibility by the government for what is known here as the ?dirty war,? in which the police and the army are believed to have executed more than 700 people without trial, in many cases after torture. It also represents the fulfillment of Mr. Fox?s vow when elected in 2000 to expose the truth about an ugly chapter in Mexico?s history.

?The Mexican government has never officially accepted responsibility for these crimes,? said Kate Doyle, the director of the Mexico project of the National Security Archive, a private research group at George Washington University.

Ms. Doyle and other human rights experts said, though, that the special prosecutor who issued the report, Ignacio Carrillo Prieto, had not succeeded in prosecuting the officials responsible for the crimes it describes in such detail, notably former President Luis Echeverr?a.

Instead of being announced at a public event, as is often the case, the report was posted on the Internet late Friday night. Some human rights experts say that the way the report was released suggests that Mr. Fox?s enthusiasm for ferreting out the sins of past governments has waned since he took office.

The report relies on secret military and government documents that Mr. Fox ordered declassified. It contains lengthy chapters on the killings of student protesters in Mexico City in 1968 and 1971, as well as a brutal counterinsurgency operation in the state of Guerrero, where military officers destroyed entire villages suspected of helping the rebel leader Lucio Caba?as and tortured their inhabitants.

The report offers considerable detail, including the names of military officers responsible for various atrocities, from the razing of villages to the killing of student protesters.

It does not include orders signed by three presidents authorizing the crimes. Still, the document trail makes clear that the abuses were not the work of renegade officers, but an official government policy.

The events occurred during the administrations of Gustavo D?az Ordaz, Jos? L?pez Portillo and Mr. Echeverr?a. The federal security department kept the presidents informed about many aspects of the covert operations. Genocide charges against Mr. Echeverr?a, the only one still living, were thrown out in July by a judge who ruled that a statute of limitations had run out.

?At the end of this investigation,? the report says, ?it has been proved that the authoritarian regime, at the highest levels of command, impeded, criminalized and fought various parts of the population that organized itself to demand greater democratic participation.?

The authors of the report, which was assembled by 27 researchers, go on to state that ?the battle the regime waged against these groups ? organized among student movements and popular insurgencies ? was outside the law? and employed ?massacres, forced disappearances, systematic torture and genocide, in an attempt to destroy the part of society it considered its ideological enemy.?

28792  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Islamic Countries: on: November 23, 2006, 07:04:31 AM
Rape case has Saudis asking questions about legal system
Woman who says she was raped faces punishment
By DONNA ABU-NASR
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
AL-AWWAMIYA, Saudi Arabia -- When the young woman went to the police a few months ago to report that she was gang-raped by seven men, she never imagined that the judge would punish her -- and that she would be sentenced to more lashes than one of her rapists received.
The story of the Girl of Qatif, as the alleged rape victim has been called by the media here, has triggered a rare debate about Saudi Arabia's legal system, in which judges have wide discretion in punishing a criminal, rules of evidence are shaky and sometimes no defense lawyers are present.
The result, critics say, are sentences left to the whim of judges. These include one in which a group of men got heavier sentences for harassing women than the men in the Girl of Qatif rape case or three men who were convicted of raping a boy. In another, a woman was ordered to divorce her husband against her will based on a demand by her relatives.
In the case of the Girl of Qatif, she was sentenced to 90 lashes for being alone in a car with a man to whom she was not married -- a crime in this strictly segregated country -- at the time that she was allegedly attacked and raped by a group of other men.
In the sleepy, Shiite village of al-Awwamiya on the outskirts of the eastern city of Qatif, the 19-year-old is struggling to forget the spring night that changed her life. An Associated Press reporter met her in a face-to-face interview. She spoke on condition of anonymity.
Her hands tremble, her dark brown eyes are lifeless. Her sleep is interrupted by a replay of the events, which she describes in a whisper.
That night, she said, she had left home to retrieve her picture from a male high school student she used to know. She had just been married -- but had not moved in with her husband -- and did not want her picture to remain with the student.
While the woman was in the car with the student, she said, two men intercepted them, got into the vehicle and drove the couple to a secluded area where the two were separated. She said she was raped by seven men, three of whom also allegedly raped her friend.
In a trial that ended this month -- in which the prosecutor asked for the death penalty for the seven men -- four of the men received one to five years in prison plus 80 to 1,000 lashes, the woman said. Three others are awaiting sentencing. Neither the defendants nor the plaintiffs retained lawyers, as is common here.

"The big shock came when the judge sentenced me and the man to 90 lashes each," the woman said.
The sentences have yet to be carried out, but the punishments ordered have caused an uproar.
Justice in Saudi Arabia is administered by a system of religious courts according to the kingdom's strict interpretation of Islamic law, or Sharia. Judges -- who are appointed by the king on the recommendation of the Supreme Judicial Council -- have complete discretion to set sentences, except in cases where Sharia outlines a punishment.
Saudis are urging the Justice Ministry to clarify the logic behind some rulings. In one recent case, three men convicted of raping a 12-year-old boy received sentences of one to two years in prison and 300 lashes each. In contrast, another judge sentenced at least four men to six to 12 years imprisonment for fondling women in a tunnel in Riyadh.
Saleh al-Shehy, a columnist for Al-Watan, asked Justice Minister Abdullah Al-Sheik to explain why the boy's rapists got a lighter sentence than the men in last year's sexual harassment case.
"I won't ask you my brother, the minister, if you find the ruling satisfactory or not," wrote al-Shehy. "I will ask you, 'Do you think it satisfies God?' "
28793  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Cuchillo en el metro en Espana on: November 23, 2006, 06:53:19 AM
Para los quienes leen ingles, hay descripciones mas completas en
http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=1063.0
28794  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Spike TV, the Dog Brothers Gathering Webisodes; National Geographic on: November 22, 2006, 06:50:23 PM
Woof All:

Just a quick Spike deal Sit Rep:  Due to a last minute inability of Spike and the R1 Gym to come to terms, Spike did not shoot the DB Gathering on 11/19 as they and we intended.  Spike and DBIMA are looking to make it happen in another location.  If anyone has some possibilities please post here or email me via info@dogbrothers.com

Thanks
CD
28795  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: SEMINAR Die Less Often: Interface of Gun, Knife and Emtpy Hand on: November 22, 2006, 06:45:39 PM
This one is steadily filling up its fixed number of spaces folks.
28796  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Panantukan & Kali Tudo on: November 22, 2006, 06:44:43 PM
Tom:

"To add to that question. When at Gaje's camp in PI, you trained with a Panantukan/Suntukan instructor. How did his material vary from the Lucky Lucaylucay material that Guru Inosanto teaches (also from LaCoste, Villabraille, etc).?"

To be precise, the training with Manong Kalimba (sp?) was at GT Gaje's home in Bacolod.  GT recently informed me that he had passed away and cleared me to share what I was shown.  A bit of my footage with him may appear in the upcoming  DBMA "Kali Tudo 2: Striking and Clinch".  Poor lineage historian that I am, I am unable to break down clearly the different feeder systems of Inosanto Blend EH.   Much was familiar to me, but there were some very interesting differences too.

"My feeling is that MMA gunteens end up like Rodney King's Crazy Monkey with elbow destructions primarily. Someone who has seen Vinnie Giordano's DVD's from the Thai General on Muay Boran said that these positions (CM), are common in empty hand Thai. Rodney just got the okay to teach the methods of his older Thai instructor while in Thailand. Very interesting."

Completely consistent with, or better yet, a good example of, Guro Inosanto's concept of the common thread of the arts of the Majapahit Empire.

I agree that elbow destructions are one of the first applications of Panantukan.

Keith: 

I will get to your questions later.

TAC,
CD
28797  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Science vs. God on: November 22, 2006, 06:33:21 PM
Jerry:

I posted what I had-- sorry for the poor sourcing.

Anyway, as I posted nearby in the OPer thread, I'm hoping that you guys will get over your bashfulness and start kicking some things off.

Marc
28798  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: A Post From Our Piazza member on: November 22, 2006, 06:31:02 PM
Folks:

At the moment all the threads except two have been begun by me.  Please feel free to get some things going.

Marc
28799  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: November 22, 2006, 05:22:30 PM
Here's a different take on things:
========

November 22, 2006
How Violent Is Iraq?

I've written previously on the level of violence in Iraq, comparing it to
murder rates in other times and places and to death rates that have been
experienced in actual civil wars. See here and here, for example. My
impression has been that violence in Iraq has skyrocketed since July, when I
found that the murder rate in Iraq was 140 per 100,000 (the usual way in
which murder rates are expressed). I was surprised, therefore, to learn this
morning that rate of violence has increased only slightly:

The United Nations said Wednesday that 3,709 Iraqi civilians were killed in
October, the highest monthly toll since the March 2003 U.S. invasion and
another sign of the severity of Iraq's sectarian bloodbath.
That compares to an estimated 3,500 killed in July. If 3,709 people were
murdered in October, that translates to a rate of 171 per 100,000. That is a
high rate of violent death. But, for purposes of comparison, the murder rate
in Washington, D.C. in 1991 was 80 per 100,000. So the rate of violence in
Iraq today is just over double the rate in the District during the first
Bush administration. I don't recall anyone describing conditions in
Washington in the early 90s as a "bloodbath."

I wrote in June that based on the data at that time, the murder rate in Iraq
outside of Baghdad is about the same as American cities like Chicago,
Philadelphia and Milwaukee. With the current numbers, it looks like that
would still be true.

A consensus seems to have developed that Iraq is a disaster because of
out-of-control sectarian violence. That consensus is driving proposals to
change our policy in Iraq, perhaps in the direction of a pull-out that could
lead to truly cataclysmic violence. So I think it makes sense to step back
and get a more realistic picture of the level of what is happening in Iraq:
violent? Yes. A disaster comparable to a civil war? No.

Posted by John at 11:31 AM

http://powerlineblog.com/archives/015994.php
28800  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: November 22, 2006, 09:35:19 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Russia Cooperates, For Now

Russia appeared to make some conciliatory moves toward the United States on Tuesday. Russian President Vladimir Putin directed Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to coordinate with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in drafting a U.N. Security Council (UNSC) resolution on Iran and its nuclear program. Lavrov also implored Iran to answer all of the questions posed by the International Atomic Energy Agency, while criticizing Tehran for failing to address international concerns over its nuclear ambitions. He further expressed Moscow's concern at Iran's refusal to accept the package of incentives offered by Russia, the United States, China, the United Kingdom, France and Germany.

This cooperative tone from the Russian foreign policy contingent is a marked reversal, and seems to be the product of the two meetings last week between Putin and U.S. President George W. Bush. Bush has helped to facilitate Russia's entrance into the World Trade Organization (WTO), and it appears that the bargain is paying off. However, this is Russia -- nothing is that simple.

The most help on Iran that the Bush administration can hope for from Russia is Moscow's abstention from vetoing a sanctions resolution in the UNSC. Russia has submitted amendments to the existing draft, demanding that any imposed sanctions not be punitive and that Iran be allowed to retain its civilian nuclear program. In light of the newfound spirit of cooperation between Moscow and Washington, any final resolution is thus likely to contain language of compromise on those matters.

However, there is only so far Russia will go toward the U.S. position. Moscow will protect its geopolitical interests at all costs, including abandoning the ever-closer prospect of WTO membership if the Kremlin deems that necessary. Russia is aggressively seeking to secure its own interests, whether it be through using energy as an arm of its foreign policy, jockeying for influence in Middle Eastern affairs, or targeting its own former operatives in exile. The Kremlin's goal is to distract Washington as much as possible, in order to prevent the United States from paying too much attention to Russia's internal affairs and its near abroad.

The overarching tensions between the two Cold War adversaries jeopardize any real consensus on Iran or any other issue. While Bush's breakfast diplomacy appears to be paying off so far, Russia's helpful streak will continue only as long as it is advantageous (or at least not detrimental) to Russian political and economic interests.

Certainly, Washington can -- and might -- do more to coerce Moscow's cooperation. Russia's WTO membership could still be jeopardized by Georgia, which has rescinded its signature from their bilateral agreement. Tbilisi could come to compromise on its position, however, with a little incentive from Washington.

Russia and the United States will take measured steps toward each other, always retaining the option to reverse course if their interests evolve to require it. Although Tuesday's statements suggest a degree of compromise between Moscow and Washington, they do not signal a lasting strategic consensus -- merely a tactical, and temporary, bout of cooperation.

stratfor.com
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