DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Philippine Prison Conditions
on: February 03, 2007, 05:43:59 PM
Some of the stories we've heard about the development of various FMA systems refer to time someone spent in prison.
Philippine prison system a living hell reminiscent of 19th century by Cecil Morella
Fri Feb 2, 10:38 AM ET
MANILA (AFP) - Raymund Narag spent nearly seven years in Manila's notorious Quezon City jail for a crime he did not commit.
Three years after he was released from his living hell he published a book about his experience called "Freedom and Death: Inside the Jail."
Published in 2005 it painted a harrowing picture of a prison system more in tune with the 19th century than the modern age. Narag laid out in graphic detail the subhuman existence inmates were forced to endure: the stench, the overcrowding, the toilets that ran like rivers through the cells, disease and death.
Built in the 1950s Quezon City jail was only supposed to house 236 inmates. Today it is home to more than 3,000 packed in so tight that many inmates sleep standing up.
It is a scene repeated around the country in a prison system grossly undermanned, poorly funded and neglected by the country's economic planners. According to Chief Superintendent Antonio Cruz, head of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and the largest cog in a fragmented penal service, the system is near to breaking point.
"Overcrowding is our most pressing problem," he told AFP.
Cruz's bureau, which is an arm of the interior department, runs 1,100 prisons with a total cell area of just over 56,000 square metres (about 603,000 square feet) and a population at the end of 2006 of more than 60,000 inmates.
Most are awaiting trial while a small percentage are serving sentences for minor crimes like theft and illegal drug use. Another 200 prisons are run by the police forces of smaller provincial towns as Cruz's bureau with just 7,000 personnel, cannot cope. Ideally, he said, the system needs another 35,000 guards and support staff.
"The situation is not ideal," said Avelino Razon, deputy chief of the Philippines police. "This takes up a big complement of men and women from their principal police duties."
About 17,000 other inmates convicted of more serious crimes like murder, kidnapping and drug dealing are housed in slightly better facilities at the National Penitentiary compound in southern Manila.
The UN Standard of the Minimum Treatment of Prisoners, to which the Philippine government is a signatory, gives clear guidelines on how prisoners should be treated, including bedding and food, and states: "It is not desirable to have two prisoners in a cell or room."
In Quezon City jail a 30-square-metre cell with a holding capacity for 20 houses 180 to 200 inmates. Nearly a thousand Death Row inmates contributed to the overcrowding at the maximum security section of the National Penitentiary after Congress abolished the death penalty last year.
"Conditions are a bit better here," says inmate Rodolfo Fernandez. "Back at the provincial jail there would be 100 of us in a cell built for 40. Even the spaces beneath the beds were occupied."
Fernandez was jailed for life for swindling neighbours seeking work abroad of their life savings.
Still, of the 185 inmates at his new quarters, only 80 have beds while 105 use their own mats to sleep on the floor. Policing packed jails with a handful of men is "very difficult," Cruz said. The rotting jail facilities themselves "become a rich source for improvising deadly weapons" such as rusted iron bars. (!!!)
He said the bureau "has no jail facility for high-risk inmates nor maximum security cells."
The US State Department, in a human rights report on the Philippines two years ago, said the country's prison conditions were "rudimentary and sometimes harsh," were "overcrowded, lacked basic infrastructure, and provided prisoners with an inadequate diet."
It said the "slow judicial process exacerbated the problem of overcrowding. Some inmates took turns sleeping, and others slept on their feet."
The study also cited "widespread corruption" among guards as well as "reports that guards abused prisoners," including women who were "particularly vulnerable to sexual and physical assault by police and prison guards."
Cruz admits congestion exposes inmates to "diseases, contamination," and warns the problem will probably get worse before it gets better.
But he denies prisoners are physically or sexually abused.
He estimates the prison population will rise by about 13 percent a year over the next eight years mainly due to case overload within the undermanned judicial system, as well as higher bail bonds imposed on drugs offenders who make up 60 percent of the national prison population. Manila-based business consultant Peter Wallace said recently there are about a million cases pending for 1,470 judges across the country because a third of the country's courts are without a judge.
"For a salary of 20,000 pesos (about 409 dollars), there's little question as to why that's so," he said. Less than one percent of the national budget goes to the judiciary. With an annual budget of just 2.8 billion pesos (57 million dollars), "we don't have enough financial support to construct new jails," Cruz said. Realistically, he added, under these conditions, rehabilitation -- the fundamental objective of the penal system -- just does not take place.
"You just go back and forth in the system, committing the same offense. In the Manila city jail, for example, if we release 100 prisoners today, there will be another 300 (offenses) committed," he said.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Environmental issues
on: February 03, 2007, 07:19:03 AM
I put threads of this name on both the Politics and the S,C & H forums precisely to see what people would do
I see today's NY Times front page reports on a big study saying "There is no doubt!" and note the contrast with the seemingly most pertinent observation that Mars is heating up too-- so maybe we're not the cause after all.
The Adventure continues,
WHY AM I SKEPTICAL ABOUT MAN-MADE GLOBAL WARMING?
Neal Boortz blog
A 21-page report from something called the "Intergovernmental Panel On
Climate Change" has been released today...in Paris, no less...and as
expected, it's predictions are dire. According to the report: "Warming of
the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of
increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting
of snow and ice, and rising global mean sea level." Yeah right...we've heard
all this before.
But the biggest bombshell here is this one: no matter what we do, global
warming will not be reversed. It will go on for centuries, according to this
report. The sea levels will continue to rise as polar ice caps melt. So I
guess if Al Gore wins his Nobel Peace Prize, we'll still experience global
warming. So much for riding to work everyday in your hybrid car...it's not
doing a thing. The situation is futile, according to this report.
But really, it makes sense that the global warming crowd would come to this
conclusion. After all, global warming is a religion. The anti-capitalist
enviro-nazis don't ever want the problem to be solved. After all, if global
warming were to be solved tomorrow, what would they blame the United States
for? They'd have to find some other reason.
Sorry .. I'm still a skeptic. In no particular order here are just a few of
the reasons why I'm not buying this man-made global warming scare:
* The United Nations is anti-American and anti-Capitalist. In short .. I
don't trust them. Not a bit. The UN would eagerly engage in any enterprise
that would weaken capitalist economies around the world.
* Because after the fall of the Soviet Union and worldwide Communism many in
the anti-capitalist movement moved to the environmental movement to continue
pursuing their anti-free enterprise goals. Many of the loudest proponents of
man-made global warming today are confirmed anti-capitalists.
* Because the sun is warmer .. and all of these scientists don't seem to be
willing to credit a warmer sun with any of the blame for global warming.
* The polar ice caps on Mars are melting. How did our CO2 emissions get all
the way to Mars?
* It was warmer in the 1930s across the globe than it is right now.
* It wasn't all that long ago that these very same scientists were warning
us about "global cooling" and another approaching ice age?
* How much has the earth warmed up in the last 100 years? One degree. Now
* Because that famous "hockey stick" graph that purports to show a sudden
warming of the earth in the last few decades is a fraud. It ignored previous
warming periods ... left them off the graph altogether.
* The infamous Kyoto accords exempt some of the world's biggest CO2
polluters, including China and India.
* The Kyoto accords can easily be seen as nothing less than an attempt to
hamstring the world's dominant capitalist economies.
* Because many of these scientists who are sounding the global warming scare
depend on grant money for their livelihood, and they know the grant money
dries up when they stop preaching the global warming sermon.
* Because global warming "activists" and scientists seek to punish those who
have different viewpoints. If you are sure of your science you have no need
to shout down or seek to punish those who disagree.
* What happened to the Medieval Warm Period? In 1996 the United Nations
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a chart showing climatic
change over a period of 1000 years. This graph showed a Medieval warming
period in which global temperatures were higher than they are today. In 2001
the IPCC issued another 1000 year graph in which the Medieval warming period
was missing. Why?
* Why has one scientist promoting the cause of man-made global warming been
quoted as saying "we have to get rid of the medieval warming period?"
* Why is the ice cap on the Antarctic getting thicker if the earth is
* In the United State, the one country with the most accurate temperature
measuring and reporting records, temperatures have risen by 0.3 degrees
centigrade over the past 100 years. The UN estimate is twice that.
* There are about 160,000 glaciers around the world. Most have never been
visited or measured by man. The great majority of these glaciers are
growing, not melting.
* Side-looking radar interferometry shows that the ise mass in the West
Antarctic is growing at a rate of over 26 gigatons a year. This reverses a
melting trend that had persisted for the previous 6,000 years.
* Rising sea levels? The sea levels have been rising since the last ice age
ended. That was 12,000 years ago. Estimates are that in that time the sea
level has risen by over 300 feet. The rise in our sea levels has been going
on long before man started creating anything but natural CO2 emissions.
* Like Antarctica, the interior of Greenland is gaining ice mass.
* Over the past 3,000 years there have been five different extended periods
when the earth was measurably warmer than it is today.
* During the last 20 years -- a period of the highest carbon dioxide levels
-- global temperatures have actually decreased. That's right ... decreased.
* Why did a reporter from National Public Radio refuse to interview David
Deming, an associate professor at the University of Oklahoma studying global
warming, after his testimony to the Senate Environment and Public Works
Committee unless Deming would state that global warming was being caused by
* Why are global warming proponents insisting that the matter is settled and
that no further scientific research is needed? Why are they afraid of
* On July 24, 1974 Time Magazine published an article entitled "Another Ice
Age?" Here's the first paragraph:
"As they review the bizarre and unpredictable weather pattern of the past
several years, a growing number of scientists are beginning to suspect that
many seemingly contradictory meteorological fluctuations are actually part
of a global climatic upheaval. However widely the weather varies from place
to place and time to time, when meteorologists take an average of
temperatures around the globe they find that the atmosphere has been growing
gradually cooler for the past three decades. The trend shows no indication
of reversing. Climatological Cassandras are becoming increasingly
apprehensive, for the weather aberrations they are studying may be the
harbinger of another ice age."
Hey ... I could go on. There's much more where that came from. But I need to
get ready to go on the air. Just know that many of the strongest proponents
of this "man-made" global warming stuff are dedicated opponents to
capitalism and don't feel all that warm and fuzzy about the United States.http://boortz.com/nuze/index.html
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Internet and related technology
on: February 03, 2007, 06:18:07 AM
Viacom Tells YouTube: Hands Off
By GERALDINE FABRIKANT and SAUL HANSELL
Published: February 3, 2007
In a sign of the growing tension between old-line media and the new Internet behemoths, Viacom, the parent company of MTV and Comedy Central, demanded yesterday that YouTube, the video-sharing Web site owned by Google, remove more than 100,000 clips of its programming.
“The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central, a Viacom unit, is popular with young viewers, and clips from it appear frequently on YouTube.
Viacom, along with other major media companies, including the News Corporation and NBC Universal, has become increasingly frustrated with YouTube as it has amassed a vast library of copyrighted clips, placed on the site by its users.
While such companies regularly ask YouTube to remove their material, Viacom’s demand, which it disclosed in a statement circulated by e-mail, was the most militant and public move of its kind so far.
As it has with the similar request from other companies, Google removed the Viacom clips from the YouTube site yesterday.
The dispute underscored the tense dance that major media companies are doing with Google, which bought YouTube for $1.65 billion last October. Google hopes to strike deals that will give it the rights to mainstream programming and also wipe away its potential liability for any violations of copyright law by YouTube so far.
Despite intense negotiations in recent months, Google has not been able to announce any such deals with media companies. YouTube is supported by advertising, but in most cases it does not share that revenue with copyright holders.
Viacom is particularly unhappy because so many of its shows, like “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” a YouTube favorite, appeal to the young audiences who visit the site.
“We cannot continue to let them profit from our programming,” Philippe P. Dauman, Viacom’s chief executive, said in an interview. Mr. Dauman said that Viacom had been in discussions with Google for months, but that Google kept delaying and did not make what Viacom saw as a serious offer.
David Eun, a vice president for content partnerships at Google, said that his company had been “very serious” about the talks, but that the companies could not agree on financial terms. “We put in a lot of time to figure out what would be a mutually beneficial deal,” he said.
A Viacom spokesman said the company had repeatedly asked YouTube to filter out its programming automatically, but that Google had not responded.
“They choose not to filter out copyrighted content, “ said the spokesman, Carl D. Folta. He added that the company apparently had the technology to filter out pornography and hateful material, which is rarely seen on YouTube.
Chad Hurley, the co-founder and chief executive of YouTube, said the company was still working on its filtering technology. He said it had agreed to use it to identify and possibly remove copyrighted material from Warner Music, and it would discuss a similar arrangement with Viacom as part of a broader deal.
Mr. Folta said he found that stand unacceptable. “They are saying we will only protect your content if you do a deal with us — if not, we will steal it.”
Whether YouTube is stealing content by serving up clips of copyrighted programs is very much up for debate. Like most big Internet companies, Google says it is protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, so long as it removes material whenever a copyright owner requests it.
John G. Palfrey Jr. , the executive director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, said Google may well be able to use this defense, but “I don’t think the law is entirely clear.” And if Google loses, “the damages could get astronomically high,” he said.
Viacom’s move comes at a time when it and other media companies have contemplated creating a service to rival YouTube. There have been off-again-on-again negotiations among a variety of companies, including the News Corporation, NBC Universal and the Walt Disney Company.
Viacom’s cable networks, meanwhile, are increasingly putting clips from their programs on their own Web sites and selling advertising on them.
In the face of uncertainty, media companies have taken different approaches to YouTube. For the last year, NBC Universal has demanded that the site remove most clips of its material, other than a small set provided by NBC itself. Others, like CBS, have largely allowed their content to remain on YouTube. CBS has struck a deal to provide some clips to YouTube and share in the advertising revenue associated with it.
It was not clear yesterday how Viacom’s demand might affect the rest of the industry and whether other media companies would follow suit.
Andrew Butcher, a spokesman for the News Corporation, which owns the Fox television network and the social networking site MySpace, said his company supported Viacom’s move. “They’ve got every right to protect their content in whatever way they deem appropriate,” Mr. Butcher said. “So far we’ve been dealing with YouTube and others on a case-by-case basis.”
Reports have been circulating in the industry that Google had offered to pay $100 million a year for the use of Viacom’s programming.
Mr. Dauman of Viacom denied there had been a deal on the table. He said Viacom “never had any kind of an agreement with Google that it could say yes to,” adding: “There was not enough to be a detailed offer. They have shown no sense of urgency to enter into an agreement with anyone.”
Some analysts said the removal demand was simply a business tactic on Viacom’s part.
“This is a negotiating strategy to get paid, and I think both sides need a middle ground,” said Michael Nathanson, a media analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Company. “Both sides have clear needs in this negotiation. What they are arguing about is price.”
Viacom’s demand was “a risk worth taking,” Mr. Nathanson said. He and others pointed out that the music industry was once afraid to take a similarly aggressive stance when its product appeared on the Napster music-sharing service. “If content is available free and it is tolerated, it erodes your core business,” Mr. Nathanson said.
But others said the move could hurt Viacom if young YouTube users become angry when they upload clips to the site and realize that Viacom is insisting that they be removed. Yesterday, Google tried to position Viacom’s move as hostile toward YouTube users.
“The biggest feeling we have right now is regret that Viacom may miss out on the chance to interact with the YouTube community,” Mr. Eun said.
The effort to integrate old and new media has made some inroads. Just a few months ago, Viacom and Google were cozying up so successfully that Viacom struck a deal to have Google distribute clips from its shows on its Google Video service. The deal included an arrangement for the two companies to share revenue from adjacent advertising. Mr. Dauman characterized that deal yesterday as an “experiment.”
Richard Siklos contributed reporting.
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Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan
on: February 03, 2007, 06:12:17 AM
Afghan Town Is Overrun by Taliban
By CARLOTTA GALL and TAIMOOR SHAH
Published: February 3, 2007
KABUL, Afghanistan, Feb. 2 — Taliban militants overran the town of Musa Qala in southern Afghanistan just three months after NATO troops had withdrawn and handed over control to a tribal council, officials said Friday. The insurgents detained police officers and tribal elders, seized weapons and government equipment and bulldozed part of the district offices, according to residents.
An Afghan’s Path From U.S. Ally to Drug Suspect (February 2, 2007) Residents fled in fear that the Taliban’s arrival would precipitate further fighting with NATO forces, according to one family. A spokesman for the Interior Ministry in Kabul, Zemarai Bashary, confirmed the attack, which took place on Thursday night, and said the Taliban had disarmed the police stationed there.
A provincial governor, Asadullah Wafa, told Agence France-Presse on Friday that the Taliban had left the town again and that the district offices were now empty. In a statement, NATO said that although the situation remained unclear, the town elders were safe in their homes. A NATO security force was monitoring the situation and ready to support the government and the elders of Musa Qala, it said.
The attack ended a British-brokered experiment aimed at bringing some control over remote regions and keeping Taliban insurgents at bay. Under the plan, British troops agreed to withdraw from the town, leaving a tribal council in charge with a locally recruited police force, and Taliban forces agreed to withdraw to nearby villages.
American officials in Afghanistan had opposed the agreement because it left the broader district of Musa Qala, a poppy-growing region of Helmand Province, open to the Taliban. But the British commander in Helmand at the time defended it as a way to release his men from a pointless and occasionally bloody siege of the town. Residents had welcomed the deal, brokered in October, because it brought a temporary peace to the badly damaged town. But some had warned at the time that it was handing a victory to the Taliban.
A Taliban commander, Mullah Abdul Ghafoor, led the assault on the town Thursday in a rage, because his brother had been killed a few days before in a NATO airstrike, residents said. Leading a large group of armed men, he used a bulldozer to smash through the wall of the district office, said Abdul Razziq, a shopkeeper who said his family fled Musa Qala on Friday. Mullah Ghafoor ordered the elders to leave the compound, burned the government flag and hoisted the banner of the Taliban, Mr. Razziq said.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why
on: February 03, 2007, 04:21:41 AM
Second post of the night.
By RALPH PETERS
January 29, 2007 -- LIKE plenty of other Americans, I wish we could just be done with the Middle East. Unfortunately, the Middle East isn't done with us. And the situation is going to get considerably worse before it shows a hint of getting better.
Thanks to abysmal policy errors (many pre-dating the current administration), we've caught ourselves between two irreconcilable sides - Sunni and Shia Muslims - whose enmity dates back 13 centuries. And we're now taking fire from every direction.
Dreaming that all Iraqis could get along, we alienated potential friends and empowered deadly enemies. Short of Mongol-quality savagery, the traditional way to win in the Middle East has been to select an ally and stick with him - while avoiding the folly of trying to play honest broker.
The administration has begun to realize that it has to make some hard choices. Yet our leaders still believe they can have it both ways. The result may be bad hard choices.
At the strategic level, Washington is lining up regional allies - Sunni Arab states - to face off with Iran. But in Iraq, the administration continues to tilt toward Shia parties - hoping that Iran can be excluded from a decisive role in Baghdad. (Note that we've been fighting hard on Baghdad's Sunni-populated Haifa Street, but we're still avoiding a showdown in Sadr City.)
For their part, our Sunni Arab "allies" support the Sunni insurgents and dread the prospect of a Shia-dominated democratic government or a partition of Iraq.
And now, in the worst American tradition, we're in danger of grabbing at short-term gains at an exorbitant strategic price: Defaulting to our old habit of backing hard-line regimes, we've dropped all pressure on the Saudis and Egyptians to reform their political systems.
Want to recruit more terrorists for another 9/11? Give Sunni Arab regimes a renewed blank check to shut down all opposition.
True, Shia terrorists have attacked us in the Middle East. But the Sunni terrorists attack us globally - and on our own soil. Shia extremists think regionally, while Sunni fanatics have universal ambitions.
Yes, Iran is the immediate strategic problem - but it's a far more complex matter than the kiss-the-Saudis'-sandals crowd accepts. A violent rogue with a nuclear-weapons program, Iran backs terrorists in Iraq, Lebanon and Afghanistan.
Yet Iran also happens to be America's natural ally in the region.
We're in a race against time. The Iranian people have tried religious rule - now they're sick and tired of it. They want to move on. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's allies lost the last round of elections and the mullahs are getting nervous about his excesses. Iranians want change, but don't know how to get it - and we can't impose it.
Could the Khomeinist regime fall before apocalyptic ayatollahs get the bomb? There's no more pressing strategic question.
If we find it necessary to attack Iran's nuclear program, it's going to be a long and messy process. A thorough effort would kill a lot of Iranians - alienating even the most liberal-minded members of a highly nationalistic population.
Stopping the bad Iranians would cost us the good Iranians. There's no good solution.
The tragedy here is that Iran is farther along in its political development than our Arab "friends." The states to which we're inclined to turn may still have Sunni versions of the Khomeini revolution ahead of them.
Fundamentalist, anti-American regimes could hatch in exactly the baskets where we're tempted to park our strategic eggs.
If we line up with the Sunni Arab autocracies again, we lose Iran - and perhaps the entire region in the long run. But tolerating the rise of radical Shia power in the near-term threatens Israel, genocidal conflict in Iraq and beyond, and global economic pain.
In all-too-real a sense, backing either side, Sunni or Shia, is just betting on black or red at the roulette wheel - knowing that the house always wins in the end. And the house is the collapsed and vengeful civilization of the Middle East.
But we're locked in the casino; we have to make our bet. So here are the fundamental questions the administration has to ask itself before pushing the chips across the table:
* How do we defeat Iran's government without alienating the Iranian people?
* Do our long-term interests truly coincide with repressive Sunni Arab regimes?
* Are we once again in danger of starting a fight we lack the guts to finish? The administration's less-than-half-hearted military policy in Iraq and Israel's disastrous loss to Hezbollah last summer aren't encouraging models.
* By reinvigorating our "alliance" with Saudi Arabia and other repressive Sunni states, are we just setting ourselves up for another round of "let's you and him fight," with American blood defending Arab oil wealth? Are we still the Saudi royal family's whores?
If our troops do wind up dying to save the House of Saud yet again, we need to recognize that we, not they, are in the power seat. We should demand that they really open the oil taps to bankrupt Iran (and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez), and that they publicly recognize Israel's right to exist.
We're paying a terrible price - and may pay yet a higher one - for the bipartisan failure of one administration after another (and of successive Congresses) to pursue a serious alternative-energy program. Now we're stuck in the kill zone.
There's no easy fix and there are no solid answers to our problems in the Middle East. The region's future has never been so unpredictable and could evolve in a number of startling ways - not all of them bad.
Only one thing is certain: A return to yesteryear's destructive policies and faulty alliances won't solve our long-term problems.
Iraq? That's the easy one.
Ralph Peters' latest book is "Never Quit The Fight."
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why
on: February 03, 2007, 03:12:37 AM
Pipe's speech defining the war as not a clash of civilizations, but of Radical Islam vs Civilization.
Radical Islam vs. Civilization
By Daniel Pipes
FrontPageMagazine.com | February 1, 2007
Text of a talk presented by Daniel Pipes on January 20, 2007, in London in a debate with the mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, as transcribed by the 910 Group with the help of others. The original posting of the video can be seen at YouTube; for a single clip version, see the posting at the Global Defense Group. For accounts of the debate, see the bibliography at “My Debate with London Mayor Ken Livingstone.”
Thank you so much. I’d like to begin by thanking Mayor Livingstone for his kind invitation to join you today and I thank the Greater London Authority for the hard work it put into what is obviously a successful event. I am delighted by the interest that you, the audience, has shown. And I’m grateful to my supporters who have come from four different countries to be with me today.
The Mayor is an optimistic man. I’m generally invited to bring along some gloom, and I will, true to form, provide some for you. [audience laughter]
Let me start with my position on the question of world civilization or clash of civilizations. One: I am for world civilization, and I reject the ‘clash of civilization’ argument. Two: The problem is not so much a clash of civilizations, but a clash of civilization and barbarism.
I’d like to begin by looking at Samuel Huntington’s idea. He argued that cultural differences, in his 1993 article, are paramount. “The fundamental source of conflict … will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural.” And in all he finds seven or eight set civilizations, namely, “Western, Confucian, Japanese, Islamic, Hindu, Slavic-Orthodox, Latin American and possibly African.”
My response is that civilization is useful as a cultural concept but not as a political one. There are three problems with seeing civilizations as actors in the way that Huntington suggests. It can’t account for tensions within a single civilization, it can’t account for agreement across civilizations, and it doesn’t account for change over time. Let me give you three quick examples. I’ll take them from the area that I have studied, which is the Muslim world.
First, it cannot account for Muslim-on-Muslim violence, of which there is a great deal: We have the civil war in Lebanon, the Iraq-Iran war, the Islamist insurgency in Algeria, the Sunnis vs. Shi‘is in Iraq at present, the near civil war in the Palestinian Authority, the Sudanese government against the people of Darfur. This cannot be accounted for in civilizational terms.
Second, it ignores the agreement across civilizations. I’d like to take a UK-based example, namely the edict of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989 against Salman Rushdie, who at that time was living in London. It appeared, at first glance, to be a question of Muslims on one side and Westerners on the other. Muslims were burning The Satanic Verses novel, there was violence in India, etc. But a closer look showed that in fact it was quite something different, it was far more complex. There were plenty of Westerners who were against Rushdie and plenty of Muslims who supported him.
Let me give you just a couple of quotes. The foreign secretary of Britain at that time, Sir Geoffrey Howe, said “the British government, the British people do not have any affection for Rushdie’s book.” On the other hand, the Egyptian foreign minister said “Khomeini had no right to sentence Rushdie to death.” And another Egyptian minister said “Khomeini is a dog, no, that is too good for him, he is a pig.” [audience laughter]
Third point, Huntington in his analysis can’t account for change over time. And I can best illustrate this by giving you a quote from his 1993 article, He said “The economic issues between the United States and Europe are no less serious than those between the United States and Japan, but they do not have the same political salience and emotional intensity because the differences between American culture and European culture are so much less than those between American civilization and Japanese civilization.”
Well that was true enough in 1993, but it sounds pretty silly in 2007 where there are virtually no tensions between the United States and Japan and I’m sure you are aware there are tensions between the United States and Europe. The vituperation is far more severe across the Atlantic than the Pacific.
What Huntington did was to take an incident of the moment and turn them into something civilizational and it didn’t work. In short the clash of civilization idea fails, it does not fit the facts, it is not a good way to understand the world.
What about then a world civilization? Can it exist? If one defines it as Huntington does, as a culture, basically then, no, it can’t. As he puts it, correctly, “for the relevant future there will be no universal civilization but instead a world of different civilizations, each of which will have to learn to coexist with the others.” I don’t think there is anyone who would dispute that.
But yes, there can be a world civilization if one defines it differently. Civilization can be the opposite of barbarism. And civilization in this sense has a long history. In the Bible, there is a passage, “And ye shall… proclaim liberty throughout all the lands and unto all the inhabitants thereof.” In the Koran, “you are the best community ever raised among mankind, you advocate righteousness and forbid evil, and believe in God.” The American byword is ‘the pursuit of happiness’, the French is “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité “ Winston Churchill in 1898, writing about the Sudan, said that civilization is “sympathetic, merciful, tolerant, ready to discuss or argue, eager to avoid violence, to submit to law, to effect compromise.”
So the question is, can this state of being, of being civilized, can it exist on a world level?
It can, in so far as those who are civilized confront those who are not civilized. The world civilization exists of civilized elements in every culture banding together to protect ethics, liberty and mutual respect. The real clash is between them and the barbarians.
Now what do I mean by barbarians? I do not mean people who are of lower economic stature. What I mean by barbarians – and I think all of us mean by barbarians in the past two centuries – are ideological barbarians. This is what emerged in the French revolution in the late 18th century. And the great examples of ideological barbarism are fascism and Marxist Leninism – they, in their course of their histories have killed tens of millions of people.
But today it’s a third, a third totalitarian movement, a third barbarian movement, namely that of radical Islam. It is an extremist utopian version of Islam. I am not speaking of Islam the religion, I am speaking of a very unusual and modern reading of Islam. It has inflicted misery (as I mentioned Algeria and Darfur, before), there is suicide terrorism, tyrannical and brutal governments, there is the oppression of women, and non-Muslims.
It threatens the whole world:. Morocco, Turkey, Palestinian Authority, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, you name it, Afghanistan, Tunisia, and not just the traditional Muslim world, but also Russia, France, Sweden, and I dare say, the United Kingdom.
The great question of our time is how to prevent this movement, akin to fascism and communism, from growing stronger.
Now, I believe the mayor and I agree on the need to withstand this menace, but we disagree on the means of how to do it. He looks to multiculturalism, and I to winning the war. He wants everyone to get along; I want to defeat a terrible enemy.
The mayor defines multiculturalism as “the right to pursue different cultural values subject only to the restriction that they should not interfere with the similar right for others.” And he argues, as you just heard, that it works, that London is a successful city. I won’t dispute his specifics, but I do see the multicultural impulse creating disaster by ignoring a dangerous and growing presence of radical Islam in London.
One evocative sign of this danger is that citizens in your country have become a threat for the rest of the world. In 2003, Home Secretary David Blunkett presented a dossier to a Special Immigration Appeals Commission in which he “admits that Britain was a safe haven for supporters of worldwide terrorism” and in which he said Britain remains a “significant base’” for supporting terrorism.
Indeed, British-based terrorists have carried out operations in at least fifteen countries. Going from east to west, they include Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kenya, Tanzania, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iraq, Jordan, Israel, Algeria, Morocco, Russia, France, Spain, and the United States. I’ll give you one example, from the United States: it was Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, who I am primarily thinking of, but there is also the [End of clip #3; Start of clip #4] British involvement in 9/11 and in the Millennium Plot that did not take place in Los Angeles.
In frustration, Egypt’s President Husni Mubarak publicly denounced the UK for “protecting killers.” After the August 10th thwarted Heathrow airline mega-plot, of a few months ago, two American authors argued in The New Republic, that from an American point of view, “it can now be argued that the biggest threat to U.S. security emanates not from Iran or Iraq or Afghanistan—but rather from Great Britain.”
And I believe this is the tip of the iceberg. I believe it refutes Mr. Livingstone’s opposing view - that there isn’t a problem. This is the problem, the problem is radical Islam, also known as fundamentalist Islam, political Islam, Islamism. It is not, again, Islam the religion, it is radical Islam, the ideology.
Let us focus on three aspects of it. The essence of radical Islam is the complete adherence to the Shari’a, to the law of Islam. And it is extending the Shari‘a into areas that never existed before.
Second, it is based very deeply on a clash of civilizations ideology. It divides the world into two parts, the moral and the immoral, the good and the bad. Here is one quote from a British-based Islamist by the name of Abdullah el-Faisal, who was convicted and is now in jail. “There are two religions in the world today - the right one and the wrong one. Islam versus the rest of the world.” You don’t get a more basic clash-of-civilization orientation than that. There is a hatred of the outside world, of the non-Muslim world, and the West in particular. There is the intent to reject as much as possible of outside influence.
The third feature is that this is totalitarian in nature. It turns Islam from a personal faith into an ideology, into an ism. It is the transformation of a personal faith into a system for ordering power and wealth. Radical Islam derives from Islam but is an anti-modern, millenarian, misanthropic, misogynist, anti-Christian, anti-Semitic, triumphalist, jihadistic, terroristic, and suicidal version of it. It is Islamic-flavored totalitarianism.
Like fascism and communism, radical Islam is a compelling way of seeing the world in a way that can absorb an intelligent person – to show him or her a whole new way of seeing life. It is radically utopian and takes the mundane qualities of everyday life and turns them into something grand and glistening.
There is an attempt to take over states. There is the use of the state for coercive purposes, and an attempt to dominate all of life, every aspect of it. It is an aggression against neighbors, and finally it is a cosmic confrontation with the West. As Tony Blair put it in August of 2006, “We are fighting a war, but not just against terrorism but about how the world should govern itself in the early 21st century, about global values.”
Now how does one respond to this?
The mayor is a man of the Left, and I am a classical liberal. We can agree that neither of us personally wishes to be subjected to the Shari‘a. I will assume, you [looking at Ken Livingstone] will correct me if I am wrong [short sporadic applause] that neither of us want this as part of our personal life.
But our views diverge sharply as to how to respond to this phenomenon. Those of my political outlook are alarmed by Islamism’s advances in the West. Much of the Left approaches the topic in a far more relaxed fashion.
Why this difference? Why generally is the right alarmed, and the left much more sanguine? There are many differences, there are many reasons, but I’d like to focus on two.
One is a sense of shared opponents between the Islamists and those on the left. George Galloway explained in 2005, “the progressive movement around the world and the Muslims have the same enemies,” which he then went on to indicate were Israel, the United States, and Great Britain.
And if you listen to the words that are spoken about, say the United States, you can see that this is in fact the case. Howard Pinter has described America as “a country run by a bunch of criminal lunatics.” [big applause and shouts] And Osama Bin Laden [stops … ] I’ll do what I can to get an applause line. [laughter] And, get ready for this one: Osama Bin Laden called the United States, “unjust, criminal, and tyrannical.” [applause]
Noam Chomsky termed America “a leading terrorist state”. And Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, a leading Pakistani political leader, called it the “biggest terrorist state.” [scattered applause]
Such common ground makes it tempting for those on the Left to make common cause with Islamists, and the symbol of this would be the [huge, anti-war in Iraq] demonstrations in Hyde Park, on the 16th of February 2003, called by a coalition of leftist and Islamist organizations.
At other times, the Left feels a kinship with Islamist attacks on the West, forgiving, understanding why these would happen. A couple of notorious quotes make this point. The German composer, Karlheinz Stockhausen termed the 9/11 attacks “the greatest work of art for the whole cosmos,” while American novelist Norman Mailer, commented that “the people who did this were brilliant.”
Such attitudes tempt the Left not to take seriously the Islamist threat to the West. With John Kerry, a former aspirant to the [U.S.] presidency, they dismiss terrorism as a mere “nuisance.”
That is one reason; the bonds between the two camps. The second is that on the Left one finds a tendency to focus on terrorism – not on Islamism, not on radical Islam. Terrorism is blamed on such problems as Western colonialism of the past century, Western “neo-imperialism” of the present day, Western policies—particularly in places like Iraq and the Palestinian Authority – or from unemployment, poverty, desperation.
I would contend that it actually results in an aggressive ideology. I respect the role of ideas, and I believe that not to respect, to dismiss them, to pay them no attention, is to patronize, and to possibly even to be racist. There is no way to appease this ideology. It is serious, there is no amount of money that can solve it, there is no change of foreign policy that make it can go away.
I would argue to you, ladies and gentlemen, it must be fought and must be defeated as in 1945 and 1991, [applause] as the German and the Soviet threats were defeated. Our goal must be, in this case, the emergence of Islam that is modern, moderate, democratic, humane, liberal, and good neighborly and that it is respectful of women, homosexuals, atheists, whoever else – one that grants non-Muslims equal rights with Muslims.
In conclusion, Mr. Mayor, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, on the Left or on the Right, I think you will agree with me on the importance of working together to attain such an Islam. I suggest that this can be achieved not via the get-along multiculturalism that you propose, but by standing firm with our civilized allies around the globe, especially with liberal voices in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with Iranian dissidents, and with reformers in Afghanistan.
I also propose standing with their counterparts in the west, with such individuals as Ayaan Hirsi Ali [applause], … formerly a Dutch legislator and now in exile in the United States; with Irshad Manji, the Canadian author; [applause] with Wafa Sultan, the Syrian in exile in the United States who made her phenomenal appearance on Al-Jazeera. Individuals like Magdi Allam, an Egyptian who is now a leading Italian journalist; Naser Khader, a parliamentarian in Denmark; Salim Mansur, a professor and author in Canada, and Irfan Al-Alawi, here in Britain. [applause]
Conversely, if we do not stand with these individuals, but instead if we stand with those who would torment them, with the Islamists, with, I might say, someone like Yusuf al- Qaradawi [applause] we are then standing with those who justify suicide bombings, who defend the most oppressive forms of Islamic practice, who espouse the clash of civilizations [notion that] we ourselves reject.
To the extent that we all work together, against the barbarism of radical Islam, a world civilization does indeed exist – one that transcends skin colour, poverty, geography, politics, and religion.
I hope that you and I Mr. Mayor can agree here and now to cooperate on such a program.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere
on: February 03, 2007, 02:08:46 AM
CAIR and the UC-Irvine MSA
On January 31, Dr. Daniel Pipes gave a speech on the topic of "The Threat to Israel's Existence" at the University of California - Irvine (USA) campus.http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/725http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/015079.phphttp://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=24260_Video-_Muslim_Students_Disrupt_Daniel_Pipes_Speech_at_UC_Irvine#comments
According to published sources, the local Islamic barbarians of the "Muslim Student Union" disrupted Pipes lecture by standing up, chanting, and filing out. Among the words used by these cheap Islamic thugs; "It's just a matter of time before the State of Israel will be wiped off the face of the map," "Takbir," and "Allahu Akbar".
These are the sort of people that the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) supports and has in mind when they demand free speech rights.but CAIR is strangely silent to free speech rights when it involves a speaker giving a speech on a topic that does not meet with CAIR approval. This is a weird position for a so-called "civil rights" group.
Once again, we see the tactics used by Islamic thugs in their attempts to define what can or cannot be said on today's university campus. The Islamic thugs dress up like their terrorist brethren in Palestine, disrupt peaceful assemblies with threatening speech, and generally behave like the cheap delinquents that they really are. In the names of "tolerance" and "diversity", university officials refuse to step in and take action to reign in these groups that use infantile measures to advance their hateful agenda.
Like Palestinian terrorists who hide behind Muslim children and women.Muslim Student Union thugs hide behind the skirts of democracy and abuse free speech rights to advance a hateful agenda; an agenda that will result in death or subjugation for every non-Muslim if it is implemented.
, , ,
Note: Hadia Mubarak, current CAIR National board member, is a past president of the Muslim Students Association (MSA) National. Don't expect CAIR to condemn the actions of the MSA at UC-Irvine.
DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: La experiencia del combate real con palos
on: February 02, 2007, 07:48:38 PM
Guau Mauricio y todos:
Mis felicitaciones a ti y tu gente por un dia mu bueno. No te precupan por la falla actual de otros grupos. Sigamos en nuestro camino y la participacion de otros grupos tendra' lugar cuando este'n listos. ?Posiblemente la primera cosa es invitarles a observar?
!Cuentame de las luchas de 2 contra 2!
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Spike TV, the Dog Brothers Gathering Webisodes; National Geographic
on: February 02, 2007, 07:42:37 PM
Conversations concerning the June '07 Gathering with OP/Nat Geo have begun well, and should they come to fruition, OP will be providing a most excellent warehouse in the San Fernando Valley which they have used for various TV shows.
Today spoke with Spike concerning the Nov. 07 Gathering. Possible location under discussion: The original park in Hermosa Beach. This would be tres cool
The Adventure continues,
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Nature
on: February 02, 2007, 07:13:40 PM
Britain's Top Woman Paraglider Attacked by Eagles Mid-Flight
Friday, February 02, 2007
By Bernard Lagan
Britain’s top woman paraglider told today how she cheated death after two huge Australian eagles attacked her 8,200 feet above the Outback.
Nicky Moss, 38, said she thought “Why me?” when the eagles came screeching out of the sky and began shredding the wing of her paraglider over New South Wales this week. She spun out of control and into a terrifying freefall for 1600 feet when one of the eagles became entangled in the lines suspending her beneath the glider’s wing, causing it to collapse and sending them diving toward earth before it managed to free it itself.
The wedge-tailed eagles are Australia’s largest bird of prey and are among the world’s biggest eagles. They swoop upon sheep and have wing spans of more than 7 1/2 feet.
Ms Moss, who was training with the British team for the World Paragliding Championships, to be held in Australia, said the first she knew of the eagles was when she heard a screeching sound from behind. Until then she had been soaring on air currents above the border area of New South Wales and Queensland.
“I looked around and couldn’t see anything, and then the next moment the top surface of my wing deformed as an eagle flew straight into the top of me. It quite possibly ripped the canopy and then wheeled around and continued to have other goes for quite a long period of time,” Ms Moss said.
“Another eagle actually came in and joined it. It was a pair of them. I was getting bombarded by wedge-tailed eagles. They tore my glider. There were quite big rips in it from their talons. At one point one of them dived at me from behind and actually hit me on the back of the head and flew through the lines of my glider and got all tangled up. It collapsed the glider completely. So we were plummeting for 500 meters (1600 feet), probably something like that, before the eagle got himself out,” she said.
Ms Moss said that she considered deploying her emergency parachute but decided that the eagles might also attack and damage that, leaving her with no back-up. She regained control of her paraglider after the eagle escaped from her control lines. But the birds continued to attack her.
“I screamed at the eagles quite a bit. I just had to carry on flying. I got out of the skies as quickly as I could by doing some maneuvers, and about 300 feet from the ground the eagles left me alone. I landed quite easily and safely in a paddock.”
Her dramatic brush with the eagles was seen from the ground by other competitors.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Particular Stocks
on: February 02, 2007, 03:14:29 PM
KVH Industries receives 5-year sole-source contract from U.S. Military
7:31 AM EST February 1, 2007
Co announces that it has received a sole-source contract from the U.S. Army Tank and Automotive Command for the purchase of KVH's T.A.C.N.A.V vehicle navigation systems for use on U.S. Army combat vehicles. The contract is potentially worth $11.5 mln over five yrs.
I'm under water at the moment on this one, but at the moment look to ride it out.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Support our troops
on: February 02, 2007, 03:05:25 PM
We highly recommend the work of courageous front line work of Michael Yon in Iraq. If you search for Truth, he should be a regular source for you. We give money to support his workt, and hope that you will too. To learn about who he is we recommend a thorough surf through his website.
This thread is to connect you with what he is doing.
Michael, green light to post whatever you want.
The Adventure continues,
Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny
Greetings from Iraq:
When I arrived in Mosul a few weeks ago, they were getting about 1 car bomb per week. Now it’s up to about 1 per day. The fighting is intensifying here, and that’s the bad news. There is some good news, however: Iraqi Security Forces, though taking losses, are thoroughly punishing the enemy here. Just a few days ago, the enemy launched a large and well-planned attack on a police station. In late 2004 or 2005, such an attack would have been devastating – and was. But this time, when the enemy demanded the Iraq Police surrender, the police responded with gunfire. Lots of it. After several hours of fighting, the enemy fled in front of their blood trails.
I'll be writing about that incident in an upcoming dispatch. Meanwhile, a new dispatch is available at: “The Hands of God.” http://www.michaelyon-online.com/wp/the-hands-of-god.htm
In addition to the audio file of a conversation between American soldiers and Iraqi villagers, after a homicide bomber attack, it also includes links to several previous dispatches. To get a better context for the new reports out of Mosul, readers might want to read Gates of Fire and Battle for Mosul IV.
Thank you for supporting this site. Many have asked for a mailing address to use as an alternative to the paypal system. It is included below my signature.
P O Box 416
Westport Pt MA 02791
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran
on: February 02, 2007, 10:19:34 AM
Second post of the morning:
Looks like Iran is seeking to counter Israel via the Hamas/Palestinians as well as Hezbollah in Lebanon.
PALESTINIAN NATIONAL AUTHORITY: Fatah security forces apprehended seven Iranian weapons experts at the Islamic University in Gaza City. This is the first report of Iranians aiding Palestinians inside the Palestinian territories. An eighth Iranian committed suicide during the raid. The captured Iranians are said to be intelligence and chemical specialists, and one is a senior military officer, sources close to Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Internet and related technology
on: February 02, 2007, 08:58:29 AM
The Coming Exaflood
By BRET SWANSON
January 20, 2007; Page A11
Today there is much praise for YouTube, MySpace, blogs and all the other democratic digital technologies that are allowing you and me to transform media and commerce. But these infant Internet applications are at risk, thanks to the regulatory implications of "network neutrality." Proponents of this concept -- including Democratic Reps. John Dingell and John Conyers, and Sen. Daniel Inouye, who have ascended to key committee chairs -- are obsessed with divvying up the existing network, but oblivious to the need to build more capacity.
To understand, let's take a step back. In 1999, Yahoo acquired Broadcast.com for $5 billion. Broadcast.com had little revenue, and although its intent was to stream sports and entertainment video to consumers over the Internet, two-thirds of its sales at the time came from hosting corporate video conferences. Yahoo absorbed the start-up -- and little more was heard of Broadcast.com or Yahoo's video ambitions.
Seven years later, Google acquired YouTube for $1.65 billion. Like Broadcast.com, YouTube so far has not enjoyed large revenues. But it is streaming massive amounts of video to all corners of the globe. The difference: Broadcast.com failed because there were almost no broadband connections to homes and businesses. Today, we have hundreds of millions of links world-wide capable of transmitting passable video clips.
Why did that come about? At the Telecosm conference last October, Stanford professor Larry Lessig asserted that the previous federal Internet policy of open access neutrality was the chief enabler of success on the net. "ecause of that neutrality," Mr. Lessig insisted, "the explosion of innovation and the applications and content layer happened. Now . . . the legal basis supporting net neutrality has been erased by the FCC."
In fact, Mr. Lessig has it backward. Broadcast.com failed precisely because the FCC's "neutral" telecom price controls and sharing mandates effectively prohibited investments in broadband networks and crashed thousands of Silicon Valley business plans and dot-com dreams. Hoping to create "competition" out of thin air, the Clinton-Gore FCC forced telecom providers to lease their wires and switches at below-market rates. By guaranteeing a negative rate of return on infrastructure investments, the FCC destroyed incentives to build new broadband networks -- the kind that might have allowed Broadcast.com to flourish.
By 2000, the U.S. had fewer than five million consumer "broadband" links, averaging 500 kilobits per second. Over the past two years, the reverse has been true. As the FCC has relaxed or eliminated regulations, broadband investment and download speeds have surged -- we now enjoy almost 50 million broadband links, averaging some three megabits per second. Internet video succeeded in the form of YouTube. But that "explosion of innovation" at the "applications and content layer" was not feasible without tens of billions of dollars of optics, chips and disks deployed around the world. YouTube at the edge cannot happen without bandwidth in the core.
Messrs. Lessig, Dingell and Conyers, and Google, now want to repeat all the investment-killing mistakes of the late 1990s, in the form of new legislation and FCC regulation to ensure "net neutrality." This ignores the experience of the recent past -- and worse, the needs of the future.
Think of this. Each year the original content on the world's radio, cable and broadcast television channels adds up to about 75 petabytes of data -- or, 10 to the 15th power. If current estimates are correct, the two-year-old YouTube streams that much data in about three months. But a shift to high-definition video clips by YouTube users would flood the Internet with enough data to more than double the traffic of the entire cybersphere. And YouTube is just one company with one application that is itself only in its infancy. Given the growth of video cameras around the world, we could soon produce five exabytes of amateur video annually. Upgrades to high-definition will in time increase that number by another order of magnitude to some 50 exabytes or more, or 10 times the Internet's current yearly traffic.
We will increasingly share these videos with the world. And even if we do not share them, we will back them up at remote data storage facilities. I just began using a service called Mozy that each night at 3 a.m. automatically scans and backs up the gigabytes worth of documents and photos on my PCs. My home computers are now mirrored at a data center in Utah. One way or another, these videos will thus traverse the net at least once, and possibly, in the case of a YouTube hit, hundreds of thousands of times.
There's more. Advances in digital medical imaging will soon slice your brain 1,024 ways with resolution of less than half a millimeter and produce multigigabyte files. A technician puts your anatomy on a DVD and you send your body onto the Internet for analysis by a radiologist in Mumbai. You skip doctor visits, stay home and have him come to you with a remote video diagnosis. Add another 10 exabytes or more of Internet data traffic. Then there's what George Gilder calls the "global sensorium," the coming network of digital surveillance cameras, RFID tags and other sensors, sprawling across every home, highway, hybrid, high-rise, high-school, etc. All this data will be collected, analyzed and transmitted. Oh, and how about video conferencing? Each year we generate some 20 exabytes of data via telephone. As these audio conversations gradually shift to video, putting further severe strains on the network, we could multiply the 20 exabytes by a factor of 100 or more.
Today's networks are not remotely prepared to handle this exaflood.
Wall Street will finance new telco and cable fiber optic projects, but only with some reasonable hope of a profit. And that is what net neutrality could squelch. Google, for example, has guaranteed $900 million in advertising revenue to MySpace and paid Dell $1 billion to install Google search boxes on its computers; YouTube partnered with Verizon Wireless; MySpace signed its own content deal with Cingular. But these kinds of preferential partnerships, where content and conduit are integrated to varying degrees -- and which are ubiquitous in almost every industry -- could be outlawed under net neutrality.
Ironically, the condition that net neutrality seeks to ban -- discrimination or favoritism of content on the Internet -- is only necessary in narrowband networks. When resources are scarce, the highest bidder can exclude the others. But with real broadband networks, capacity is abundant and discrimination unnecessary. Net neutrality's rules, price controls and litigation would prevent broadband networks from being built, limit the amount of available bandwidth and thus encourage the zero-sum discrimination supposedly deplored.
Without many tens of billions of dollars worth of new fiber optic networks, thousands of new business plans in communications, medicine, education, security, remote sensing, computing, the military and every mundane task that could soon move to the Internet will be frustrated. All the innovations on the edge will die. Only an explosion of risky network investment and new network technology can accommodate these millions of ideas.
Mr. Swanson is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, and contributing editor at the Gilder Technology Report.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Amir Taheri
on: February 02, 2007, 08:42:01 AM
Between State and Revolution
By AMIR TAHERI
February 2, 2007; Page A19
"Mizanan, ya na?" (Will they hit or not?) In Tehran these days, this question is the talk of the town. The "they" is seldom spelled out. Yet everyone knows that it refers to the United States.
The question is wreaking havoc on Iran's fragile economy by fomenting an atmosphere of uncertainty even before the sanctions imposed by the U.N. Security Council start to bite. Many in Tehran expect the Security Council to decree even tougher sanctions in March when the ultimatum for the Islamic Republic to halt its uranium enrichment program will end.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
The Khomeinist leadership is divided over the reality of the threat, and over ways of dealing with it. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claims that the U.S. is in no position to do much damage, and counts on the new Democratic majority in Washington -- he calls them "the wise people" -- to restrain George W. Bush.
The bulk of the Khomeinist leadership, including the "Supreme Guide" Ali Khamenei, however, take the threat seriously and are preparing public opinion for a climb-down by the Islamic Republic. The American naval build-up in the Persian Gulf, the new U.S. offensive against Iran's agents and armed clients in Iraq, Tehran's failure to seize power in Beirut through its Hezbollah proxy, and plummeting oil prices are all cited by Ayatollah Khamenei's entourage as reasons why a climb-down might be necessary.
Sometime in the next few weeks, Iran is likely to offer a "compromise formula" under which it would suspend its enrichment program, as demanded by the Security Council, in exchange for a suspension of sanctions. This will be accompanied by noises from Tehran about readiness to help the U.S. in Iraq, plus possible concessions in Lebanon and over the Palestine-Israel issue.
The expected climb-down is sure to bring back the Baker-Hamilton "realists" with fresh calls for offering the mullahs a seat at the high table. It would also prompt the guilt-ridden "idealists," who blame the U.S. for whatever goes wrong in the world, to urge "Bush the warmonger" to engage the Islamic Republic in a constructive dialogue, whatever that might mean. The French and the Russians would applaud the mullahs and urge the Americans to be "reasonable."
So, what should the Bush administration do when, and if, the mullahs unveil their compromise formula? First is to see the mullahs' move as deja vu all over again. Each time the mullahs are in trouble they become the essence of sweet reasonableness. They deploy their traditional tactics of taqiyah (obfuscation), kitman (dissimulation) and ehtiat (caution) to confuse the "infidels" and divide their ranks. The Iranian leadership did this in the early days of the Khomeinist revolution in 1979 by persuading the clueless Jimmy Carter that the ayatollah was the only force capable of preventing Iran from falling into communist hands. In 1984 and '85, they seduced the Reagan administration with an offer of releasing the American hostages in Beirut in exchange for the secret U.S. arms deliveries Iran needed to stop the Iraqi advance. In 1987 they stopped their attacks on Kuwaiti oil tankers in the Persian Gulf after an American task force sunk the Revolutionary Guard's navy in a 10-hour battle.
In 1988, fear of an even bigger U.S. military attack persuaded Ayatollah Khomeini to "drink the cup of poison" by agreeing to end his eight-year war with Iraq. In 1998, the mullahs offered a "grand bargain" to the Clinton administration as a means of averting U.S. retaliation for the Iranian-sponsored killing of 19 American soldiers in an attack in Khobar, Saudi Arabia.
The second point to bear in mind is that a suspension of uranium enrichment will cost the Islamic Republic nothing. Iran does not have any nuclear power plants, and thus does not need enriched uranium anyway. Even if the country does not have secret parallel nuclear facilities, it could always resume weapons-making activities once it is no longer under pressure.
Successive U.S. administrations have assumed that the problem with the Khomeinist regime lies in its behavior, which they hoped to modify through traditional carrot-and-stick diplomacy. The problem with the regime, however, is its nature, its totalitarian ambitions and messianic claims. Being an enemy of the U.S., indeed of all democracies, is in its political DNA. A scorpion stings because it is programmed by nature to do so. A regime that is the enemy of its own people cannot be a friend of others.
The threat that Khomeinism poses to stability in the Middle East and, beyond it, to international peace, will not be removed until Iran once again becomes a normal nation-state with the interests and ambitions of normal nation-states.
For more than a quarter of a century, Iran has suffered from an affliction faced by most countries that experience revolution. The conflict between state and revolution makes the development and practice of moderate domestic and foreign policies difficult, if not impossible. Leading a revolution is like riding a bicycle: One keeps going for as long as one continues to pedal, regardless of the destination. To stop pedaling means to fall.
As a nation-state, Iran may be a rival and competitor for other nations. But it would not be an existential threat. As a revolution, however, Iran can, indeed must, be such a threat not only to its neighbors but also to a world that it regards as "the handiwork of Jews and Crusaders."
The Khomeinist revolution has not succeeded in destroying the plurimillennial idea of Iran as a nation-state. But each time the Khomeinist revolution found itself on the defensive, the Western powers, including the U.S., helped it restore its legitimacy and regain its breath. The same illusions that produced the détente, which arguably prolonged the life of the Soviet Union, have also helped the Khomeinist revolution survive long after its sell-by date.
Today, Iran is once again facing the schizophrenia imposed on it through the conflict between state and revolution. A majority of Iranians, including many in the ruling elite, wish Iran to re-emerge as a nation-state.
The U.S. has no interest in helping the Khomeinist revolution escape the consequences of its misdeeds. This does not mean that there should be no diplomatic contact with Tehran or that pressure should be exerted for the sake of it. Nor does it mean that military action, "to hit or not to hit," is the only question worth pondering with regard to the Islamic Republic.
No one should be duped by a tactical retreat in Tehran or a temporary modification of the regime's behavior. What is needed is a change in the nature of the regime. The chances of setting such change in motion have never been as good, and the current showdown should be used to communicate a clear message: As a nation-state, Iran can and will be a friend. As a revolution, it would always remain a foe.
Mr. Taheri is author of "L'Irak: Le Dessous Des Cartes" (Editions Complexe, 2002).
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics
on: February 02, 2007, 08:33:40 AM
Senator Feingold's Sin
The backseat generals are exposed.
BY KIMBERLEY A. STRASSEL
Friday, February 2, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST
The Senate is teeming with courageous souls these days, most of them Republicans who have taken that brave step of following the opinion polls and abandoning their president in a time of war. Meanwhile, one of the few senators showing some backbone in the Iraq debate is being shunned as the skunk at the war critics' party.
Sen. Russ Feingold held a hearing this week on Congress's constitutional power to shut off funds for the Iraq war, and followed it up a day later with legislation that would do just that. The Wisconsin pacifist might not understand the importance of winning in Iraq--or the cost of losing--but at least there's an element of principle to his actions. He's opposed the war from the start and his proposal to cut off money after six months would certainly end it. It also happens to be Congress's one legitimate means of stopping a war.
Mr. Feingold's reward for honesty was to preside over what might have been the least-attended hearing so far in the Iraq debate. And those of his Senate colleagues who did bother to show up looked like they couldn't wait to hit an exit door. "If Congress doesn't stop this war, it's not because it doesn't have the power. It's because it doesn't have the will," declared Mr. Feingold. Ted Kennedy--one of two Democrats who put in an appearance--could be seen shifting uncomfortably in his seat.
That's because Sen. Feingold is coming uncomfortably close to unmasking the political charade playing on the Senate stage. Critics of President Bush want an unhappy public to see them taking action on the war. So we have the Biden-Warner compromise resolution condemning the plan to increase the forces. There is also talk of capping troops, of requiring redeployments to Afghanistan, of benchmarks and progress reports.
All these proposals have one overriding thing in common: While they may hurt the war effort, none are significant enough for Congress to take responsibility when Iraq is irrevocably lost. This is President Bush's war, and his critics won't take any step that puts them on the hook as well. Sen. Feingold's sin is to suggest that Congress do something more than play politics.
It's a delicate high-wire act, made more complex by the opponents' need to reassure the public that their actions, which will surely encourage the enemy and deflate troop morale, won't, in fact, encourage the enemy or deflate troop morale. This has led to the spectacle of the Senate one day unanimously voting to confirm Gen. David Petraeus, and the next taking up resolutions that would kneecap his plan for success. John Warner and Chuck Hagel are all for the troops, just not for letting them win. Very courageous indeed.
Meanwhile, back in the distasteful department, Sen. Feingold's hearing also drew attention (darn him!) to the other pachyderm in the room: the Constitution. The Senate next week may well pass a resolution that criticizes the Iraq troop buildup, yet notably it will be "nonbinding." Should the president ignore it--which he will have the legal and moral right to do--pressure will increase for Congress to take real steps to micromanage the war, say with a troop ceiling.
But as constitutional scholars testified at the hearing, Congress (even one worried about its political backside) does not have an unfettered right to be commander in chief. The Founders specifically chose not to give Congress the right to "make" war, worried that this term might allow legislators to conduct military engagements. Instead, Congress was restricted to "declaring" war, which is what it did when it authorized President Bush to invade Iraq. Another constitutional power is to end war, by refusing to appropriate money. But "in the conduct of war, in the conduct of foreign affairs, the president is in fact the decider," said University of Virginia professor Robert Turner.
It is thus dawning on senators that any plans for tinkering with Iraq might not prove so easy. Mr. Feingold largely focused on the question of cutting off funds, but the three or four other war opponents present were eager to coax the assembled witnesses into giving them constitutional cover for other actions.
Sen. Dick Durbin floated the latest brainstorm: Since Congress's authorization of the Iraq war was premised on finding WMD and deposing Saddam Hussein--and since we never found WMD and Saddam is now gone--doesn't Congress have the constitutional right to revisit the war authorization? Even the liberal scholars, who'd been picked for their willingness to testify that Congress can do whatever it wants, looked peaky at the idea. That included onetime assistant-attorney general Walter Dellinger, who felt so strongly about executive power in the 1990s that he advised President Clinton to invade Haiti without congressional authority, but today believes the Republican in the Oval Office is getting away with too much.
The pesky Constitution is a new hitch for the war critics, whose strategy was to briefly act as backseat generals, get the headlines, and then wait for President Bush to take the fall. Instead, Sen. Arlen Specter was gauche enough at the Feingold hearing to worry out loud that Congress was setting down a path that may lead to a "confrontation" between the two branches.
He might well worry. If one thing has defined the Bush years, it has been the president's willingness to exert his executive authority in defense of America. He's done it with detainees, with wiretaps, with military commissions. And he fervently believes success in Iraq is crucial to American security. In any thorny debate over just how much authority Congress has to interfere, it's a good bet Mr. Bush's own legal team will be pointing out the strong constitutional case that only the president has the right to decide where and how to deploy troops, as well as noting the peril of ceding any of that authority to 535 mini-me commanders in Congress.
What happens then? What happens if President Bush ignores Congress's attempt to direct the war? A few in the Democratic Party would love for an excuse to commence impeachment proceedings, but the rest understand that's political suicide. Then there's court. If liberals were unhappy about the Supremes deciding the 2000 election, imagine the theater of nine black robes deciding the outcome of the Iraq war.
Whatever comes, Congress is to blame. For a month the Senate has been trying to wrestle control of Iraq from the president, but undercover, and in a way that that avoids accountability. Sen. Feingold shone a light under that rock this week, and now the hard questions begin.
Ms. Strassel is a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board, based in Washington. Her column appears Fridays.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education/Parenting
on: February 02, 2007, 08:27:24 AM
"DDD" -- I will be using this term! With the influences that surround my children, it is sometimes hard to be a good father in this regard precisely because I am at variance with the larger cultural environment.
Changing subjects, here's this contrary to common perception piece from today's WSJ:
$34.06 an Hour
That's how much the average public school teachers makes. Is that "underpaid"?
BY JAY P. GREENE AND MARCUS A. WINTERS
Friday, February 2, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST
Who, on average, is better paid--public school teachers or architects? How about teachers or economists? You might be surprised to learn that public school teachers are better paid than these and many other professionals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, public school teachers earned $34.06 per hour in 2005, 36% more than the hourly wage of the average white-collar worker and 11% more than the average professional specialty or technical worker.
In the popular imagination, however, public school teachers are underpaid. "Salaries are too low. We all know that," noted First Lady Laura Bush, expressing the consensus view. "We need to figure out a way to pay teachers more." Indeed, our efforts to hire more teachers and raise their salaries account for the bulk of public school spending increases over the last four decades. During that time per-pupil spending, adjusted for inflation, has more than doubled; overall we now annually spend more than $500 billion on public education.
The perception that we underpay teachers is likely to play a significant role in the debate to reauthorize No Child Left Behind. The new Democratic majority intends to push for greater education funding, much of which would likely to go toward increasing teacher compensation. It would be beneficial if the debate focused on the actual salaries teachers are already paid.
It would also be beneficial if the debate touched on the correlation between teacher pay and actual results. To wit, higher teacher pay seems to have no effect on raising student achievement. Metropolitan areas with higher teacher pay do not graduate a higher percentage of their students than areas with lower teacher pay.
In fact, the urban areas with the highest teacher pay are famous for their abysmal outcomes. Metro Detroit leads the nation, paying its public school teachers, on average, $47.28 per hour. That's 61% more than the average white-collar worker in the Detroit area and 36% more than the average professional worker. In metro New York, public school teachers make $45.79 per hour, 20% more than the average professional worker in that area. And in Los Angeles teachers earn $44.03 per hour, 23% higher than other professionals in the area.
Evidence suggests that the way we pay teachers is more important than simply what they take home. Currently salaries are determined almost entirely by seniority--the number of years in the classroom--and the number of advanced degrees accumulated. Neither has much to do with student improvement.
There is evidence that providing bonuses to teachers who improve the performance of their students does raise academic proficiency. With our colleagues at the University of Arkansas we found that a Little Rock program providing bonuses to teachers based on student gains on standardized tests substantially increased math proficiency. Researchers at the University of Florida recently found similar results in a nationwide evaluation.
Of course, public school teacher earnings look less impressive when viewed on an annual basis than on an hourly basis. This is because teachers tend to work fewer hours per year, with breaks during the summer, winter and spring. But comparing earnings on an annual basis would be inappropriate when teachers work significantly fewer hours than do other workers. Teachers can use that time to be with family, to engage in activities that they enjoy, or to earn additional money from other employment. That time off is worth money and cannot simply be ignored when comparing earnings. The appropriate way to compare earnings in this circumstance is to focus on hourly rates.
Moreover, the earnings data reported here, which are taken directly from the National Compensation Survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, do not include retirement and health benefits, which tend to be quite generous for public school teachers relative to other workers. Nor do they include the nonmonetary benefit of greater job security due to the tenure that most public school teachers enjoy.
Educators sometimes object that hourly earnings calculations do not capture the additional hours they work outside of school, but this objection is not very compelling. First, the National Compensation Survey is designed to capture all hours actually worked. And teachers are hardly the only wage earners who take work home with them.
The fact is that teachers are better paid than most other professionals. What matters is the way that we pay public school teachers, not the amount. The next time politicians call for tax increases to address the problem of terribly underpaid public school teachers, they might be reminded of these facts.
Mr. Greene holds the endowed chair of education reform at the University of Arkansas and is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, where Mr. Winters is a senior research associate. Their report, "How Much Are Public School Teachers Paid?," was released this week.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Epidemics: Bird Flu, TB, etc
on: February 02, 2007, 08:02:55 AM
Closings and Cancellations Top Advice on Flu Outbreak
By DONALD G. McNEIL Jr.
Published: February 2, 2007
ATLANTA, Feb. 1 — In the event of a severe flu outbreak, schools should close for up to three months, ballgames and movies should be canceled, and working hours should be staggered so subways and buses are less crowded, the federal government said Thursday in issuing new pandemic flu guidelines to states and cities.
This Is Only a Drill Health officials acknowledged that such measures would greatly disrupt public life, but argued that they would provide the time needed to produce vaccines and would save lives because flu viruses attack in waves lasting about two months.
“We have to be prepared for a Category 5 pandemic,” said Dr. Martin S. Cetron, director of global migration and quarantine for the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in releasing the guidelines. “It’s not easy. The only thing that’s harder is facing the consequences. That will be intolerable.”
Officials are, for the first time, modeling the new guidelines on the five levels of hurricanes.
Category 1 assumes that 90,000 Americans would die, Glen J. Nowak, a spokesman for the disease centers, said. (About 36,000 Americans die of flu in an average year.) Category 5, which assumes 1.8 million dead, is the equivalent of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. That flu killed about 2 percent of those infected; the H5N1 flu now circulating in Asia has killed more than 50 percent of those infected but is not easily transmitted.
The new guidelines advocate having sick people and their families — even apparently healthy members — stay home for 7 to 10 days. They advise against closing state borders or airports because crucial deliveries, including food, would stop.
The report urges communities to think about ways to continue services like transportation and meal service to particularly vulnerable groups like the elderly and those who live alone.
The guidelines are only advisory, since the authority for measures like school closings rests with state and city officials, but many local officials have asked for guidance, Dr. Cetron said. The federal government has taken primary responsibility for developing and stockpiling vaccines and antiviral drugs, as well as masks and some other supplies.
The new guidelines are partly based on a recent study of how 44 cities fared in the 1918 epidemic conducted jointly by the disease centers and the University of Michigan’s medical school. Historians and epidemiologists pored over hospital records and newspaper clippings, trying to determine what factors contributed to the varying impact.
A few small towns escaped the epidemic entirely by cutting off all contact with the outside, but most cities took less drastic measures. Those included isolating the sick and quarantining homes and rooming houses; closing schools, churches, bars and other gathering places; canceling parades, ballgames and other public events; staggering factory hours; discouraging use of public transport; and encouraging use of face masks.
The most effective approach seemed to be moving early and quickly. “No matter how you set up the model,” Dr. Howard Markel, a leader of the study, said, “the cities that acted earlier and with more layered protective measures fared better.”
Any pandemic is expected to move faster than a new vaccine can be produced; current experimental H5N1 vaccines are in short supply and are based on strains isolated in 2004 or 2005. Although the government is creating a $4 billion stockpile of the vaccine Tamiflu, it is useful only when taken within the first 48 hours, and Tamiflu-resistant strains of the flu have already been found in Vietnam and in Egypt.
“No one’s arguing that by closing all the schools you’re going to prevent the spread,” Dr. Markel added. “But if you can cut cases by 10 or 20 or 30 percent and it’s your family that’s spared, that’s a big deal.”
School closings can be controversial, and picking the right moment is hard because it must be done before cases soar.
Several public health experts praised the guidelines, though there were objections to some aspects.
Dr. Michael T. Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said he saw no point in worrying about exactly when to close schools, because his experience in meningitis outbreaks convinced him that anxious parents would keep children at home anyway.
“I don’t think we’ll have to pull that trigger,” Dr. Osterholm said. “The hard part is going to be unpulling it. How do the principals know when schools should open again?”
Other experts said that children out of school often behaved in ways that still put them at risk. Youngsters are sent to day care centers, and teenagers gather in malls or at one another’s houses.
“We’ll be facing the same problem, but without the teaching,” said Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. “They might as well be in class.”
Dr. Cetron said that caring for children in groups of six or fewer would cut the risks of transmission. He also said that parents would keep many children from gathering.
“My kids aren’t going to be going to the mall,” he said.
The historian John M. Barry, author of “The Great Influenza” (Viking Adult, 2004), questioned an idea underpinning the study’s conclusions. There is evidence, Mr. Barry said, that some cities with low rates of sickness and death in 1918, including St. Louis and Cincinnati, were first hit by a milder spring wave of the virus. That would have, in effect, inoculated their citizens against the more severe fall wave, and might have been more important than their public health measures.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Football concussions, a story
on: February 02, 2007, 07:55:40 AM
By ALAN SCHWARZ
Published: February 2, 2007
Ted Johnson helped the New England Patriots win three of the past five Super Bowls before retiring in 2005. Now, he says, he forgets people’s names, misses appointments and, because of an addiction to amphetamines, can become so terrified of the outside world that he locks himself alone inside his Boston apartment in bed with the blinds drawn for days at a time.
Ted Johnson says that his behavior has become so erratic that “I can’t even let myself have a job right now. I don’t trust myself.”
“There’s something wrong with me,” said Mr. Johnson, 34, who spent 10 years in the National Football League as the Patriots’ middle linebacker. “There’s something wrong with my brain. And I know when it started.”
Mr. Johnson’s decline began, he said, in August 2002, with a concussion he sustained in a preseason game against the New York Giants. He sustained another four days later during a practice, after Patriots Coach Bill Belichick went against the recommendation of the team’s trainer, Johnson said, and submitted him to regular on-field contact.
Mr. Belichick and the Patriots’ head trainer at the time, Jim Whalen — each of whom remain in those positions — declined to comment on Mr. Johnson’s medical experience with the team or his allegations regarding their actions.
Following his two concussions in August 2002, Mr. Johnson sat out the next two preseason games on the recommendation of a neurologist. After returning to play, Mr. Johnson sustained more concussions of varying severity over the next three seasons, each of them exacerbating the next, according to Mr. Johnson’s current neurologist, Dr. Robert Cantu.
Dr. Cantu said that he was convinced Mr. Johnson’s cognitive impairment and depression “are related to his previous head injuries, as they are all rather classic postconcussion symptoms.” He added, “They are most likely permanent.”
Asked for a prognosis of Mr. Johnson’s future, Dr. Cantu, the chief of neurosurgery and director of sports medicine at Emerson Hospital in Concord, Mass., said: “Ted already shows the mild cognitive impairment that is characteristic of early Alzheimer’s disease. The majority of those symptoms relentlessly progress over time. It could be that at the time he’s in his 50s, he could have severe Alzheimer’s symptoms.”
Mr. Johnson is among a growing number of former players and their relatives who are questioning whether their serious health issues are related to injuries they sustained and the treatment they received as players. Mr. Johnson said he decided to go public with his story after reading in The New York Times two weeks ago about Andre Waters, the former Philadelphia Eagles player who committed suicide last November and was later determined to have had significant brain damage caused by football-related concussions.
Mr. Johnson said he was not suicidal, but that the depression and cognitive problems he had developed since 2002 had worsened to the point that he now takes Adderall, a prescription amphetamine, at two to three times the dosage authorized by his doctors, who have been unaware of this abuse.
When he runs out of these pills, Mr. Johnson said, he shuts himself inside his downtown apartment for days and communicates with no one until a new prescription becomes available. He said he was coming forward with his story so that his friends and family might better understand his situation, and also so that the National Football League might improve its handling of concussions.
While the league’s guidelines regarding head injuries have been strengthened over the past decade, the N.F.L.’s record of allowing half of players who sustain concussions to return to the same game remains a subject of medical debate.
“I am afraid of somebody else being the next Andre Waters,” said Mr. Johnson, who spent two weeks in February at a psychiatric hospital outside Boston with, he said, no appreciable results. “People are going to question me: ‘Are you a whistleblower, what are you doing this for?’ You can call it whatever you want about what happened to me. I didn’t know the long-term ramifications. You can say that my coach didn’t know the long-term, or else he wouldn’t have done it. It is going to be hard for me to believe that my trainer didn’t know the long-term ramifications, but I am doing this to protect the players from themselves.”
The N.F.L. spokesman Greg Aiello said that the league had no knowledge of Johnson’s specific situation. Regarding the subject of player concussions in general, he said, “We are very concerned about the issue of concussions, and we are going to continue to look hard at it and do everything possible to protect the health of our players.”
At a news conference yesterday in Miami, where the Super Bowl will be held Sunday, Gene Upshaw, the executive director of the National Football League Players Association, spoke in general terms about concussions in the N.F.L. “If a coach or anyone else is saying, ‘You don’t have a concussion, you get back in there,’ you don’t have to go, and you shouldn’t go,” Upshaw said, not speaking about the Johnson case specifically. “You know how you feel. That’s what we tried to do throughout the years, is take the coach out of the decision-making. It’s the medical people that have to decide.”
Mr. Johnson, who has a 2-year-old daughter and a 1-year-old son, is currently in divorce proceedings with his wife, Jackie, a situation that he admitted was compounding his depression.
He was arrested in July on domestic assault-and-battery charges, which were later dropped because his wife declined to testify. Mr. Johnson said that his concussive symptoms and drug addiction not only precipitated his marriage’s decline but began several years before it, specifically that preseason of 2002.
According to Patriots medical records that Mr. Johnson shared with The Times, the only notable concussion in his career to that point happened when he played at the University of Colorado in 1993. Against the Giants on Aug. 10, 2002, those records indicate, he sustained a “head injury” — the word concussion was not used — and despite the clearing of symptoms after several minutes on the sideline, he did not return to the game.
Mr. Johnson said that four days later, when full-contact practice resumed, Mr. Whalen issued him a red jersey, the standard signal to all other players that he was not supposed to be hit in any way. About an hour into the practice, Mr. Johnson said, before a set of high-impact running drills, an assistant trainer came out on the field with a standard blue jersey. When he asked for an explanation, Mr. Johnson said, the assistant told him that he was following Mr. Whalen’s instructions.
Mr. Johnson, whose relationship with Mr. Belichick had already been strained by a contract dispute, said he interpreted the scene as Mr. Belichick’s testing his desire to play, and that he might be cut and lose his $1.1 million salary — N.F.L. contracts are not guaranteed — if he did not follow orders.
“I’m sitting there going, ‘God, do I put this thing on?’ ” Mr. Johnson said. “I put the blue on. I was scared for my job.”
Regarding the intimidation he felt at that moment, Mr. Johnson added, “This kind of thing happens all the time in football. That day it was Bill Belichick and Ted Johnson. But it happens all the time.”
Several Patriots teammates said they did not recall this incident but invariably testified to the believability of Mr. Johnson, the team captain in 1998 and 2003. Said one former teammate, who insisted on anonymity because he still plays with the Patriots under Mr. Belichick, “If Ted tells you something’s going on, something’s going on.”
Mr. Johnson said that the first play called after he put the blue jersey on, known as “ace-ice,” called for one act from him, the middle linebacker: to sprint four yards headlong into the onrushing blocking back. After that collision, Mr. Johnson said, a warm sensation overtook his body, he saw stars, and he felt disoriented as the other players appeared to be moving in slow motion. He never lost consciousness, though, and after several seconds regained his composure and continued to practice “in a bit of a fog” while trying to avoid contact. He said he did not mention anything to anyone until after practice, when he angrily approached Mr. Whalen, the head trainer.
“I said, ‘Just so you know, I got another concussion,’ ” Johnson said. “You could see the blood, like, leave his face. And he was like, ‘All right, all right, well, we’re going to get you in to see a neurologist.’ ”
Dr. Lee H. Schwamm, the neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital who examined Mr. Johnson, concluded in a memo on Aug. 19, 2002, that Mr. Johnson had sustained a second concussion in that practice. Dr. Schwamm also wrote that, after speaking with Mr. Whalen, that Mr. Whalen “was on the sidelines when he sustained the concussion during the game and assessed him frequently at the sideline,” and that “he has kept Mr. Johnson out of contact since that time.”
Mr. Johnson said that the next day he spoke with Mr. Belichick about the incident but that they only glossed over it.
“He was vaguely acknowledging that he was aware of what happened,” Mr. Johnson said, “and he wanted to just kind of let me know that he knew.”
Mr. Johnson missed the next two preseason games, played in the final one, and then, believing he was still going to be left off the active roster for the opening game against Pittsburgh, angrily left camp for two days before returning and meeting with Mr. Belichick and confronting him privately about the blue-jersey incident.
“It’s as clear as a bell — ‘I had to see if you could play,’ ” Mr. Johnson recalled Mr. Belichick saying. Minutes later, Mr. Johnson said, Mr. Belichick admitted he had made a mistake by making him wear the blue jersey. “It was a real kind of admittance, but it was only him and I in the room,” Mr. Johnson said.
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Mr. Johnson sat out the season opener but played the following Sunday against the New York Jets, a game in which Mr. Johnson said he could not remember line formations and was caught out of position because he could not concentrate. After sitting out the next game against Kansas City, Mr. Johnson played against San Diego and had the same problem.
He learned how to manage the disorientation and played the rest of the season but said that, “from that point on, I was getting a lot of these, what I call mini-concussions.”
Mr. Johnson added that he did not report these to his trainer or coaches for fear he would be seen as weak.
This continued through the 2003 season, Mr. Johnson said, as he noticed himself feeling increasingly more unfocused, irritable and depressed. Teammates noticed as well, said Willie McGinest, a fellow linebacker who now plays for the Cleveland Browns.
“He was always an upbeat, positive guy,” Mr. McGinest said. “After the last few concussions, you could tell he was off at times.”
Playing poorly, Mr. Johnson lost his starting job.
In the week before the 2004 Super Bowl, Mr. Johnson said, a friend who supplied amphetamines to several major league baseball pitchers gave him some Adderall pills to cure his lethargy and increase his concentration. “It was the best I had felt in the longest time,” Mr. Johnson said. “The old Ted was back.”
After playing only sparingly in that Super Bowl, Mr. Johnson began taking larger and larger doses before and throughout the 2004 season, when he regained his starting position at middle linebacker and helped the Patriots win their second consecutive Super Bowl.
The better mood did not last long, he said. The minor concussions — euphemized as “dings” in N.F.L. lingo — that he regularly sustained in practice and in games hurt more than the Adderall could help. The thought of violently tackling a player, he said, “made me physically ill.”
“For the first time in my life,” he said, “I was scared of going out there and putting my head in there.”
Mr. Johnson retired before the 2005 season and briefly worked as a football analyst for WBZ-TV in Boston. But he said his malaise and cognitive problems were only getting worse, and in his attempt to regain some sort of balance, he wound up taking large amounts of antidepressants along with increasing amounts of Adderall, creating a dangerous up-and-down cycle that he realized required professional attention. Last February, he spent two weeks at McLean Hospital, a psychiatric institution in suburban Belmont, Mass.
Mr. Johnson said he felt no better after that experience, and he quickly resumed the Adderall abuse that continues today. He has moved out of his former house during his divorce proceedings and lives in a two-bedroom apartment downtown, which after three months contains dozens of half-open moving boxes.
“Welcome to the glamorous life of a former N.F.L. player,” he said. A half-hour later, he stepped into his Range Rover and drove to his local CVS to pick up another bottle of Adderall. The 72 pills of 30 milligrams each are supposed to last nine days, but he knows he will blow through them in four or five.
One of his most maddening frustrations, Mr. Johnson said, is that no tests — from M.R.I.’s to other scans of his brain — have confirmed his condition, causing some people in his life to suspect that he is wallowing in retirement blues. “That’s ridiculous,” he said, “because I always treated football as a steppingstone for the rest of my life. I used to have incredible drive and ambition. I want to get my M.B.A. But I can’t even let myself have a job right now. I don’t trust myself.”
Dr. Cantu, his neurosurgeon, said he was convinced that Mr. Johnson’s condition was primarily caused by successive concussions sustained over short periods of time. He said that M.R.I.’s of Mr. Johnson’s brain were clear, but that “the vast majority of individuals with postconcussion syndrome, including depression, cognitive impairment, all the symptoms that Ted has, have normal M.R.I.’s.”
The most conclusive method to assess this type of brain damage, Dr. Cantu said, was to examine parts of the brain microscopically for tears and tangles, but such a test is done almost exclusively post-mortem. It was this type of examination that was conducted by a neuropathologist at the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Bennet Omalu, on the brain of Mr. Waters after his suicide, revealing a condition that Dr. Omalu described as that of an 85-year-old with Alzheimer’s disease.
“The type of changes that Andre Waters reportedly had most likely Ted has as well,” Dr. Cantu said.
Experts in the field of athletic head trauma have grown increasingly confident through studies and anecdotal evidence that repeated concussions, particularly those sustained only days apart, are particularly dangerous. Dr. David Hovda, a professor of neurosurgery and director of the Brain Injury Research Center at U.C.L.A., said, “Repeated concussions — it doesn’t matter the severity — have affects that are more than additive, and that last longer.”
Sitting in his apartment this week, Mr. Johnson said that he had not considered a lawsuit against Mr. Belichick, any Patriots personnel or the N.F.L. He said that his sole motivation was to raise awareness of the dangers that football players can face regarding concussions.
Asked who was to blame for his condition — Mr. Belichick, Mr. Whalen, himself or the entire culture of the N.F.L. — Mr. Johnson thought for 30 seconds and said he could not decide.
Several hours later, he was riding in an elevator up to a consultation with Dr. Cantu. As the door opened on the seventh floor, a middle-aged man walked out and smiled warmly at Mr. Johnson. “We missed you this year,” he said.
“Thanks, man,” Mr. Johnson said with a grin and a nod. Later, Mr. Johnson said something else went through his troubled mind at that moment.
“I miss me, too,” he said.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors
on: February 02, 2007, 07:35:37 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Israeli Covert Operations in Iran
French President Jacques Chirac started quite the uproar with his apparent faux pas made public on Thursday in which he downplayed the Iranian nuclear threat. Chirac says he thought he was speaking off the record when, during an interview with The New York Times, International Herald Tribune and Le Nouvel Observateur, he said an Iranian nuclear weapon would not be much of a threat because "Tehran would be razed to the ground" if it ever tried to deploy such a device.
Chirac's comments (which were quickly retracted) directly undermine the West's stance on Iran -- and they do not reflect the official French position, which was summed up Thursday in a statement from the Elysee Palace that read "France, with the international community, cannot accept the prospect of Iran with a nuclear weapon."
But despite the commotion, Chirac's statements are not all that far off the mark. It might be tempting to write off the Iranians or North Koreans as "axis of evil" regimes that are just crazy enough to cook off a nuke, but Tehran -- like all rational actors -- knows the implications and the utility of a nuclear program. A nuclear-capable Iran would primarily use its nuclear program, not to turn Israel into a radioactive wasteland, but for deterrent value to safeguard the clerical regime from possible U.S or Israeli intervention. Israel, however, does not care to gamble on the rationality of the Iranian regime, and does not intend to see an Iranian nuclear weapons program come to fruition.
The Israelis, therefore, have their own ways of dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat. A pre-emptive Israeli military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities is unlikely in the near future for a number of reasons that we have discussed before, including the time Israel still has before Iran reaches a technologically critical stage in its nuclear development, the strategically dispersed nature of Iran's nuclear sites and the tenuous U.S. position in Iraq. An offensive strike on Iran would still leave wide open the issue of a resolution in Iraq, which would further constrain the U.S. military position in the region.
But while the time for overt military action is likely still in the distance, Israeli covert action against Iran appears to be gaining steam.
The death of a high-level Iranian nuclear scientist, Ardeshir Hassanpour, was announced by Radio Farda and Iranian state television Jan. 25 -- a week after his death occurred. The Radio Farda report implicitly related the cause for Hassanpour's death to exposure to radioactive rays, though the details were murky. Stratfor sources close to Israeli intelligence have revealed, however, that Hassanpour was in fact a Mossad target.
Hassanpour is believed to have been one of Iran's most prized nuclear scientists. Some reports claim he was named the best scientist in the military field in Iran in 2003, that he directed and founded the center for nuclear electromagnetic studies since 2005 and that he co-founded the Nuclear Technology Center in Isfahan, where Iran's uranium-conversion facilities are located.
Decapitating a hostile nuclear program by taking out key human assets is a tactic that has proven its effectiveness over the years, particularly in the case of Iraq. In the months leading up to the 1981 Israeli airstrike on Iraq's Osirak reactor -- which was believed to be on the verge of producing plutonium for a weapons program -- at least three Iraqi nuclear scientists died under mysterious circumstances.
Yahya al-Meshad, a key figure in Iraq's nuclear program, traveled to Paris in 1980 to test fuel for the reactor; he was soon stabbed to death and was discovered by a hotel maid in his room the next morning. A prostitute who went by the name Marie Express reportedly saw the scientist the night before he died. She was then killed in a hit-and-run accident by an unknown driver who got away. After al-Meshad's death, two more Iraqi scientists were killed separately -- both by poisoning -- and a number of workers at Osirak began receiving threatening letters from a shadowy organization called the Committee to Safeguard the Islamic Revolution -- likely a Mossad front to enhance the workers' paranoia and hinder Saddam Hussein's nuclear ambitions.
Mossad's latest covert assassination campaign falls in line with Israel's psychological warfare strategy to undermine Iran's confidence in pursuing its nuclear agenda. The longer the Iranians are forced to second-guess Israel's intent to launch a pre-emptive strike, the more pliable Iran becomes in negotiating with the United States toward a political agreement on Iraq.
Tehran wants, ideally, to secure a Shiite buffer zone in Iraq while also reaching the point of no return in its nuclear program; but the Iranian regime must move carefully on the nuclear issue to avoid inviting airstrikes on its soil. Israel and the United States are betting for now that Iran's concerns over Iraq will override its pursuit of nuclear power -- which, however, leaves Tehran in a prime position to use the nuclear controversy as a major bargaining tool in extracting concessions from the United States over Iraq. But things do not always go as planned, and Israel appears to be setting the stage for Plan B.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race
on: February 01, 2007, 06:39:15 PM
By FRED BARNES
February 1, 2007; Page A17
Senator Hillary Clinton is waging two presidential campaigns at once. She is running for the Democratic presidential nomination while keeping a sharp eye on the general election campaign against the Republican presidential nominee, whoever that turns out to be. Mrs. Clinton wants to run as a centrist, not a liberal, in the general election. But there's a problem. She is being tugged to the left in the nomination fight, forced to take positions that may jeopardize her chances later against the Republican candidate.
Her opponents in the Democratic primaries next year don't have this problem. They are unabashed liberals who have done nothing to place themselves near the ideological center of American politics. Mrs. Clinton, however, spent her first term as senator from New York downplaying her image as a staunch liberal. Instead, she has sought with some success to fashion a reputation as a centrist on some several key issues, particularly national security. And while doing so, she became the undisputed frontrunner for the 2008 Democratic nomination. She became electable.
A glance at the breakdown of red and blue states in the 2004 presidential race shows how little it would take for her to win the general election. If she holds the states won by Democrat John Kerry, she would need to add only one populous red state or two smaller ones. And there are numerous Republican states that have drifted toward the Democrats since 2004 -- Ohio, Colorado, Iowa, Montana, Nevada, Arizona and Virginia, just to name a few.
But Mrs. Clinton's ability to pick up one or two of these red states depends on her maintaining credibility as a centrist on key issues. That is a difficult task. Given the pressure from her party's liberal base and from her Democratic opponents for the presidential nomination, it's now very much in doubt whether she can accomplish it. She's already becoming more liberal than it's safe to be in a presidential election in a nation with an enduring center-right majority.
As surprising as this may sound, Mrs. Clinton starts her campaign as the Democratic candidate furthest to the right. The only two Democrats who might have gotten to her right -- Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana and former Gov. Mark Warner of Virginia -- dropped out of the race. So she faces competition from a phalanx of liberals, two of whom -- Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois and former Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards -- are formidable opponents.
In her six years in the Senate, Mrs. Clinton has gone a good ways toward achieving the threshold requirement for a female candidate for president: making herself believable as a commander in chief. She did this by spending long hours at Senate Armed Services Committee hearings, forging a supportive relationship with Donald Rumsfeld, and voting in 2002 to authorize the invasion of Iraq.
She became conversant on defense issues. At a breakfast with reporters in late 2003, I asked her if there had been good reason to believe, as President Bush did, that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. "The intelligence from Bush 1 to Clinton to Bush 2 was consistent," she said, in concluding Saddam had chemical and biological weapons and was developing nuclear weapons.
Mrs. Clinton had done her own "due diligence," she went on, by attending classified briefings on Capitol Hill and at the White House and the Pentagon, and also by consulting national security officials from the Clinton administration whom she trusted. All agreed Saddam had WMD. Now, an investigation was needed on how everyone had been "so misled," Mrs. Clinton said. But she declined to endorse the theory of Sen. Edward Kennedy that the existence of WMD was a "fraud" cooked up by Mr. Bush to justify the war in Iraq.
It was a strong answer and I was impressed. Mrs. Clinton further burnished her credentials as a serious person on national security affairs by refusing once the war turned unpopular to repudiate her vote, as Mr. Edwards had. (Mr. Obama, as a state legislator, had opposed the war from the outset.) She criticized the conduct of the postwar occupation and suggested there might never have been a vote to go to war had it been known Saddam had no WMD. But this was the standard sort of second-guessing by a senator, Democrat or Republican.
Then came January 2007 and two events: the sudden effort by Democrats to compel Mr. Bush to bring the Iraq war to an end and the just-as-sudden acceleration of the presidential race. Mrs. Clinton joined the stampede to cast the president and the war in the most pessimistic light. She dramatically escalated her criticism.
First, after a trip to Iraq, she called for a cap on American troops in Iraq at the current level of 137,000, thus no "surge" in the number of troops. At a Senate hearing a few days later, Mrs. Clinton lectured Gen. David Petraeus, the new Iraq commander, on the appropriate counterinsurgency strategy in Baghdad; she asked the general, the Army's foremost expert on counterinsurgency, no questions. Then during her first campaign trip to Iowa, she demanded Mr. Bush "extricate our country" from Iraq before he leaves office.
It was as if all the pressure had gotten to Mrs. Clinton and she'd forgotten her need to remain resolute on national security. Rather than acting like a potential president, she acted like a bickering senator. She put the reputation she'd earned for seriousness on national security at risk. That the Iraq war was unpopular in 2006 and early 2007 probably won't help her in 2008, when Mr. Bush is stepping down.
The question now is whether Mrs. Clinton will stand up to the political pressure to move left on other issues. In 2005, she boldly reached out to pro-lifers, calling abortion "a sad, even tragic choice to many, many women." She said both sides in the abortion debate should seek "common ground." Will she repeat that when she and the other Democrats appear before groups like Naral Pro-Choice America?
And on health care, Mrs. Clinton insists she's learned from her painful experience of authoring a failed national plan in 1993 that relied heavily on government mandates. Lobbyists for health-care groups say she speaks approvingly now of injecting free-market incentives into the system. But will she advocate them as part of a centrist health-care initiative in the Democratic primaries?
Presidential campaigns are unfair to liberals. The American electorate prefers presidents to be centrists (Bill Clinton, the elder George Bush) or conservatives (Ronald Reagan, the younger George Bush). Voters usually opt for a presidential candidate who is tough-minded, rather than wavering or vulnerable to fleeting passions, on one issue above all, national security. Hillary Clinton was well on her way to becoming such a candidate. Until now.
Mr. Barnes, executive editor of the Weekly Standard, is the author of "Rebel-in-Chief" (Crown Forum, 2006).
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Open Letter from Crafty Dog
on: February 01, 2007, 12:09:50 PM
A Howl of Greeting to All:
It has been brought to me attention that there has been concern by some
people about my mingling of politics and martial arts on the Public Forum.
For me, it was logical to do so. With the attack by the Islamo-Fascists on
911, Dog Brother Martial Arts' mission statement of "Walk as a Warrior for
all your days" naturally connected with the idea of the heroes of Flight 93
on 911. In short, as behooves a free people, the idea is that "We the
people" step forward in our own behalf-- just as envisioned by our Founding
Fathers in the Second Amendment of our Constitution and in Section 311 of
Title 10 of the US Code.
As I see it, our homeland is under attack. This attack did not begin on 911. It did not
finish with the attack of 911. 911 was simply one step in a progression--
the next step of which may include nuclear contamination. (Even on 911 the
risk was there: What would have happened had the Islamo Fascists had flown
Flight 93 into the nuclear reactor at Three Mile Island and left
Pennsylvania glowing for several hundred years?)
THIS is the context in which I began including politics on the General
Where I rather blithely have missed the point however was in my failure to
appreciate that some people on the Public Forum were worried that
participation in Dog Brothers Martial Arts meant agreement, or would be
taken by others to mean agreement with my distinctive politics.
Certainly this has not been my intention!
I am well aware that intelligent people of good faith can and do come to
different conclusions about how to best go about responding to the
challenges and dangers of our time!
So, please allow me to be perfectly clear: Dog Brothers Martial Arts is for
anyone of any political or religious persuasion that accepts Respect,
Reciprocity and Reason as the basis of human interaction. When we come
together to train, it is as if we are part of the Olympics.
To accentuate this principle, we have re-organized the public forum so as to
put Politics in its own Forum. The Spanish language forum continues as
before, but the previous General Forum has now been divided into three
· Martial Arts and related matters:
· Science, Culture & Humanities
· Politics & Religion:
Whichever forum(s) you go to, we promise you high-IQ, informed, passionate, and lively reading.
The Adventure continues,
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran
on: February 01, 2007, 10:36:14 AM
Second post of the morning:
The Washington Times www.washingtontimes.com
'Global war curriculum' seen in Iran's schools
By Gareth Harding
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Published January 30, 2007
BRUSSELS -- The Iranian education system is preparing its students for a global war against the West in the name of Islam, according to an independent study of 115 textbooks and teachers guides released today.
With Tehran accused of seeking to develop a nuclear weapons arsenal and the United States dispatching a second aircraft carrier to the Gulf, the report by the Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace highlights the uphill task Washington faces trying to persuade Iranian youth to distance themselves from the hard-line Islamist regime.
The study, which claims to be the first of its kind, catalogs how pupils as young as 9 are conditioned to take part in a global jihad against such "infidel oppressors" as Israel and the United States.
"Hate indoctrination is a professed goal of Iranian textbooks," said the report's author, Arnon Groiss, a Princeton- and Harvard-educated journalist who also has written critical studies of the Israeli, Palestinian, Syrian, Saudi and Egyptian education systems.
According to Mr. Groiss, Iranian pupils learn from an early age that the Islamic republic is in mortal combat with Western powers bent on its destruction.
One 11th-grade textbook, quoting former spiritual leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, refers to the United States and its allies as "the World Devourers" and says that if they "wish to stand against our religion, we will stand against their whole world and will not cease until the annihilation of all of them."
Students are drilled for battle from age 12, when they are obliged to take defense-readiness classes, according to the study by the Israel-based nongovernmental organization. Some also are drafted into the Revolutionary Guard and other elite combat units, where they are taught how to handle shoulder-propelled rocket launchers, the study says.
Through stories, poems, wills and exercises, martyrdom is glorified as a means of defending the Islamic republic and attaining eternal happiness, the report says. A Grade 10 textbook on "defense readiness" boasts that during the eight-year war with Iraq in the 1980s, half a million students were sent to the front and "36,000 martyrs ... were offered to the Islamic Revolution."
Describing Iran's school system as a "global war curriculum," Mr. Groiss said the emphasis on military training from such a young age instilled a "siege mentality" among many students.
"It is a form of child abuse to install such notions in children's minds," he told journalists at a briefing in the European Parliament in Brussels.
Israel, which Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad repeatedly has said should be "wiped off the map," is not recognized in atlases and is portrayed as a danger to Islamic states.
"Another problem [faced by Muslim countries] is the regime that occupies Jerusalem, which has been created in this area ... for America and other aggressive powers, with the aim of taking over the Muslim lands," says a geography textbook for Grade 11 students that is quoted in the study.
Anti-Semitism is also rife, according to the report, which analyzed textbooks published before Mr. Ahmadinejad came to power in 2005. In one cartoon for third-graders, the inhabitants of a clean and tidy town discover a trail of garbage left by a ghoulish creature with the Star of David on his right arm. The contaminator is chased out of town and the mess cleaned up after him.
The United States, which is commonly referred to as the "Great Satan" and the "Arch-Oppressor Worldwide," fares little better.
"America is known as an imperialist country, which embarks on military intervention wherever it sees that its interests are in danger," says a sociology textbook for Grade 11 students, according to the study.
"It does not refrain from massacring people, from burying alive the soldiers of the opposite side and from using mass destruction weapons."
Speaking at the release of the report today, the vice chairman of the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee, Geoffrey Van Orden, said: "Young people are being indoctrinated in hatred and intolerance to other religions and cultures. This is not only very disturbing in terms of the education and upbringing of those young people, but in terms of international stability."
The Iranian Embassy in Brussels was asked to respond to the claims in the report but failed to comment.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran
on: February 01, 2007, 08:14:43 AM
Iran, U.S.: Working Toward a Solution?
An Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said Jan. 28 that Tehran had received messages from U.S. officials aimed at resolving the ongoing crisis between Washington and Tehran. Though Washington has kept quiet on the issue, the Iranians are likely following a strategy to lock the United States down in back-channel negotiations over Iraq.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Seyed Mohammad Ali Hosseini said at a weekly press conference in Tehran on Jan. 28 that Iran is pondering a message received from certain U.S. officials and politicians. Hosseini was intentionally vague on the details of the letter, only saying that the contents "will be divulged in due time," and that the names of the U.S. officials who had sent the message could not yet be revealed. The United States has not officially commented on the issue, although a spokesman from the U.S. National Security Council told Stratfor that the White House has nothing that would confirm that U.S. officials have sent a message to Iran.
Stratfor has discussed at length the logic behind U.S. President George W. Bush's troop surge strategy for Iraq. The United States is moving forward with a plan to bolster its negotiating position in relation to Iran. This plan involves reversing the expectations that the United States is left with no option but to admit defeat and withdraw its forces, and keeping the Iranians second-guessing about any U.S. and Israeli plans to take military action against Iran.
In the public sphere, the Bush administration will maintain a hard-line stance against Iran and make clear that U.S. forces will counter the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force's operations in Iraq by conducting raids and arresting Iranian officials involved in aggravating the Iraq insurgency. The troop surge has already been effective to some extent in bringing rebel Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr to the negotiating table. In spite of considerable restraint from Russia and China, the United States will also make a push in the U.N. Security Council to enforce sanctions against Iran for its insistence on pressing forward with uranium enrichment.
Behind the scenes, however, the United States is likely revitalizing back-channel talks with Tehran to work toward a diplomatic resolution on Iraq. The Bush administration typically communicates with Iran via unofficial channels to maintain plausible deniability and to check Iranian moves to exploit Washington's call for talks. With Iran facing potential troubles of its own should Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei pass away, Washington is hoping this two-pronged approach will hasten negotiations and allow Bush to claim progress in Iraq by November.
By publicizing the alleged letter from U.S. officials, Iran is ensuring that Washington follows through with any commitments it makes in back-channel talks on Iraq. U.S. diplomatic agencies have been quiet on the issue thus far, raising the slight possibility that Hosseini's statement is part of an Iranian disinformation campaign. While the United States is in the midst of trying to strengthen its hand in Iraq by taking a tougher stance against Tehran, the Iranian government can inject distrust and uncertainty among the Sunni Arab states that fear Tehran and Washington could strike a deal on Iraq that would leave the Shia in a prime position to project influence into the heart of the Sunni Arab world.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Help our troops/our cause:
on: February 01, 2007, 08:11:17 AM
December 21, 2006
Does The Next Generation Value The Sacrifice Of War?
By Jack Valenti
There is a piece of sadness that the election failed to debate. It is the lamentable detachment by the young among us to freedom's history.
The press has reported that Clint Eastwood's Flags of Our Fathers, his masterly recreation of courage and fidelity to duty and country exhibited by young Marines in the bloodiest battle of World War II, has gone largely unattended by the youngsters of this day.
Watching this movie, watching ordinary young men performing extraordinary feats of heroism, broke my heart. They put to hazard their own lives not to win medals, but because their country was in danger. Why, then, a casual indifference to this story by so many young people? Maybe it's because we have been so benumbed by war, particularly this Iraq war, and because so few youngsters have worn a uniform. A movie about a battle a half a century ago carries no umbilical connection to them. That's understandable. But it ought not to be.
Perhaps some parents might want to do what I did years ago. When my son was about 14, I took him to Omaha Beach and the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in France. We stood on the bluff above the beach in the same spot where Nazi troops had dug in. They had poured rifle, mortar and machine gunfire onto the U.S. troops clambering out of their landing crafts. They cut them down on the sand and in the water that seemed to still run red with the blood flowing so wantonly on that invasion day, June 6, 1944.
My son was struck with how close it was from the bluff to the beach. I said, "John it was very close, but remember those young boys never turned back, not one of them. They never turned back. They kept coming."
Then we walked a short distance to the American Cemetery. It is on land a grateful France granted to the United States for use in perpetuity. The Stars and Stripes flies over this cathedral of the dead. We turned our gaze to the grave markers, row upon row upon row, as far as the eye could see. There, I told my son, were buried 9,387 young men, many of whom were in between the ages of 18 and their early 20s, "just a few years older than you are right now," I said.
We walked among the markers laid out in serried ranks. I asked my son to read the inscriptions on those grave markers, the bland finalities of a young warrior's life — name, rank, outfit and the day he died — lives ended before they could be lived.
Finally, I stopped and looked full face at my son. "John, I want you to know why I brought you here." He looked puzzled. I said, "I wanted you to understand that these boys, who never knew you, nonetheless gave you the greatest gift one human can give another. They gave you the gift of freedom. They bought and paid for that gift in blood and bravery. They made it possible for you and millions like you to never have to test your own courage to see how you would react when the dagger is at the nation's belly and death stares you right in the face. You owe them a debt you will never be able to repay."
My son seemed genuinely moved. We never spoke about this again until one day years later, he phoned me. "Dad, last night I saw Saving Private Ryan. You were right. They never turned back, not a one. They kept coming." His voice trembled as he spoke.
Somehow, my own voice cracked a bit with gratitude. My son remembered. May God grant that every boy and girl in this free and loving land never forget the gift of young boys so long ago, a gift given to generations of Americans who were yet to be born.
Jack Valenti flew 51 combat missions in World War II as a pilot commander of a B-25 twin-engine attack bomber with the 12th Air Force in Europe. He also is former chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America.
Office of Intelligence (IN-20)
U.S. Dept of Energy
Phone: (202) 586-5871
Fax: (202) 586-0342
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq
on: February 01, 2007, 07:47:53 AM
0018 GMT -- IRAQ -- Iraq has halted all flights to and from Syria for at least two weeks and closed a border crossing with Iran in preparation for a new security crackdown aimed at halting violence in Baghdad and the surrounding areas, The Associated Press reported Feb. 1, citing an unnamed parliament member and an airport official.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why
on: February 01, 2007, 07:30:52 AM
Newt Gingrich is someone on whom I keep my eye.
January 30, 2007
The Threat of a Nuclear Iran
By Newt Gingrich
(Note: The following are remarks delivered by Newt Gingrich at the 7th Herzliya Conference in Israel last week.)
Israel is facing the greatest danger for its survival since the 1967 victory. Israel maintained its dominance since 1967 even after the 1973 failure. In 1984 I wrote that WMD and terrorism would pose a threat for US national security. If two or three cities are destroyed because of terrorism both the US and Israel's democracy will be eroded and both will become greater dictatorial societies.
Three nuclear weapons constitute a second Holocaust. Enemies are explicit in their desire to destroy us. We are sleepwalking through this as if diplomatic engagement will create a fiesta where we will all love one another. The terrorist threats are larger and more formidable than the political system in Israel or the US can cope with. We need a grand strategy similar to the Kenan telegram which formed US policy for the duration of the Cold War, and the 68 plan developed by Nitze in 1950.
We lack the language and goals to address the new environment along with the speed and intensity to counter the contemporary threats. If we have no strategy we will need to be intellectually honest to consider the next step once two cities have been destroyed. My grandchildren are in greater danger than I was throughout the Cold War. What stages are you in Israel going to take if tomorrow morning Jerusalem, Haifa and Tel Aviv would be destroyed? Similarly the US needs to consider what policies it would advance if in twenty four hours, Atlanta, Boston and San Francisco were destroyed. These threats will become even more imminent in two or five years time.
Science is spreading rapidly and thus enemies have greater capabilities to break out. China's satellites are indicative of this.
The US should have as an explicit goal, regime change in Iran, as its constitution makes them a revolutionary regime. In 2006 even the Department of State which seeks to deny the nature of reality, noted that Iran is a leading sponsor of terror. What I need is something that will be similar to Reagan's Replacement strategy in Iran. The current unrest in Iran will facilitate this.
The US, Israel and the West have not developed technologies to command urban spaces similar to the sophisticated technologies applied to air and sea-power. Urban technologies have not developed extensively since the 1940's, unlike that of air and sea. Similarly intelligence capabilities must be advanced and sufficiently integrated to contribute to bettering our urban capabilities.
It is important for Israel to discriminate between those who are willing to live with us and those that are not. Those who are not willing to live with one another will either die or live in prison. We should take our enemies at their word. Ahmadinajed is most explicit regarding his intentions as is Hamas when speaking to the New York Times. To those who are willing to live with us, we need to arouse, organize, defend and enrich them.
A Palestinian state with Hamas at its helm will seek to destroy Israel. In conflict one side wins and another loses. If I have to choose between surviving and being killed, I will choose to kill the enemy and to survive. Peace comes as a result for victory and not as a substitute for victory. The number one requirement for long-term peace is the growth of organizations for peace. This would include a Lebanese government willing to take over Southern Lebanon from Hezbollah, an Iraqi government that would be willing to take over factions. The US and Israel have both underestimated this challenge intellectually, as it will take a long period of time with tremendous investment of resources to achieve this desirable end.
The Department of Homeland Security should conduct two nuclear exercises and one biological exercise in major cities such as Philadelphia or Dallas to determine how many causalities would occur and whether hospitals could accommodate the casualties. Last year in Long Beach, California an exercise was conducted to measure the potential effects of the ramifications of a nuclear weapon being set off.
From 1947-1950, while there was an under funding of defense, there was a simultaneous coming to terms intellectually with the threat of Communism. To those that advance a withdraw of troops in Iraq; the onus is on them to explicate the consequences of defeat. In 1979 the US looked weak in the Middle East with the hostage crises and embassies coming under attack. I have been told that there are not enough marine detachments to protect embassies for when they potentially will be under the threat of attack. It is not the Bush doctrine that is at stake, but our very lives. Thus national security should be advanced rather than mere utopianism.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc)
on: February 01, 2007, 07:17:09 AM
Ex-Players Dealing With Not-So-Glamorous Health Issues
By CLIFTON BROWN
Published: February 1, 2007
MIAMI, Jan. 31 - Bob Brudzinski turned 52 on Jan. 1, and he considers
himself lucky for a man who played 13 seasons as a linebacker with the Los
Angeles Rams and the Miami Dolphins. Sometimes, his memory fails him. But he
sees former teammates the same age in far worse shape.
Skip to next paragraph
Bob Galbraith/Associated Press
Reggie White, a Hall of Fame defensive lineman, died at 43 after having
"I see guys that I've played with that are depressed; as a matter of fact,
guys from college also," said Brudzinski, sitting in a doctor's office about
20 miles from Dolphin Stadium, site of Super Bowl XLI. "It's sad. I don't
think they had information back then. If they did, I think they wanted to
keep it away from us.
"I can't say the owners and coaches didn't care. They wanted to see how
tough you are. Anybody can play not injured. They wanted to see if you can
play injured. There were a lot of injections and stuff like that.
"And the other thing is, you didn't want to sit out a game, because there's
always somebody behind you who can take your spot. I never thought about
concussions, never thought about blowing my knee out. The one thing I really
wish is that I could remember more. We used our head too much, in the wrong
As concern grows among former N.F.L. players about the impact of football on
health, the medical community is working to gather more information. The
Living Heart Foundation, the National Football League Players Association
and the Baptist Hospital of Miami are sponsoring the third annual Super Bowl
Health Screening Program, to examine current and retired players for
cardiovascular disease and obstructive sleep apnea. Dozens of former N.F.L.
players filed through the office of Dr. Arthur Agatston on Wednesday, being
checked for sleep apnea, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and
Retired players have reason to be concerned about their long-term health. A
neuropathologist recently determined that Andre Waters, a former Eagles
safety who committed suicide in November at age 44, sustained brain damage
from playing football that led to his depression and death. Last month, a
United States Court of Appeals upheld a 2005 trial court ruling that the
Hall of Fame center Mike Webster sustained brain damage from playing
professional football, mostly for the Steelers.
According to a 2003 study published in The New England Journal of Medicine,
14 percent of N.F.L. players had obstructive sleep apnea, a disease that
impairs breathing and is known to affect large, muscular individuals like
football linemen more often than people of average size. Reggie White, a
Hall of Fame defensive lineman, died at 43 in 2004 after having cardiac
arrhythmia, but he also had sleep apnea, which may have contributed to his
With more football linemen weighing much more than 300 pounds, doctors said
they expected sleep apnea to become more prevalent .
"The primary treatment for sleep apnea is to lose weight, and they can't,"
said Dr. Allan Levy, an associate team physician with the Giants, who is
assisting with this week's screening. "There's no such thing as a 225-pound
offensive lineman. We try to make certain that they understand that they've
got to come down in weight when they retire. All of my offensive lineman
from the Giants' two Super Bowl wins have all lost at least 50 pounds. They're
all in excellent health. You see some of the other guys, and they're just
huge. They've got all kinds of problems.
"The problem with sleep apnea is in the neck. A 17½-inch neck is usually
where the problem begins. When they sleep, the muscles relax in the body.
Now the weight of their neck clasps down on their airway. They stop
breathing. They momentarily wake up, then the cycle starts over again, and
they never get into deep sleep. They develop heart disease and hypertension.
Sleep apnea is a killer. One of the kids that played for us, we did a sleep
study on, had 440 awakenings during the night."
The most common treatment for sleep apnea involves wearing a mask that
supplies a stream of air through the nose during sleep. But some retired
players have ailments that are far more debilitating. Tom Nowatzke, the
president of the N.F.L. Alumni Detroit chapter, said more should be done by
the league and the players union to help retired players with disabilities
related to football.
"I get $843 a month, but some guys are only getting $300, $400 a month
because of when they played," said Nowatzke, a 64-year-old former running
back who scored a touchdown for the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl V.
"Four hundred dollars a month won't pay for a car payment these days, not to
mention doctor bills and medicine, and stuff that's not covered. I'm very
fortunate to be as healthy as I am at my age. I'm going to see people this
weekend who have trouble walking, and they're eight or nine years younger
than I am."
Nowatzke said he hoped that more players would stop to think how they may
feel when they turn 60 and consider the health of players who have come
"Not many do," Nowatzke said. "Guys who played in the '30s, '40s, '50s
probably died before they turned 70. Now guys are living to be 75 or 80. So
it becomes a bigger problem."
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race
on: February 01, 2007, 06:39:36 AM
Dick Morris on the upcoming elections:
Although Barack Obama is an “exciting phenomenon,” he is the equivalent of “political stem cells: You can make him into any tissue you want.”
“It is in the national interest that, if there is a Democratic president, that it not be Hillary.”
“The Republican field is like the New York Yankees: They’ve got a pitching rotation of really great names who are 45 years old and who probably won Cy Young Awards when they were younger. But they’ll have a sore arm by the World Series and will end up on the [disabled list]. Republicans need to look to the minor leagues.”
He laid out the political future: “Hillary will be the next president, and she’ll be the worst president we’ve ever seen.” No matter what happens, the situation in Iraq will “assure that the GOP gets massacred in 2008 congressional elections.” In 2010, the Republicans will take back the Congress — “Hillary will give Republicans the same gift she gave them in 1994” — and they’ll win the presidency in 2012, but thanks to demographic shifts favoring Democrats (namely the rising Hispanic and African-American populations), “that will be the last Republican president we’ll ever see.”
From today's NY Slimes:
Biden Unwraps His Bid for ’08 With an Oops!
By ADAM NAGOURNEY
Published: February 1, 2007
WASHINGTON, Jan. 31 — In an era of meticulous political choreography, the staging of the kickoff for this presidential candidacy could hardly have gone worse.
Stephen Crowley/The New York Times
Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., head of the Foreign Relations Committee, who Wednesday announced his Democratic presidential candidacy.
Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, who announced his candidacy on Wednesday with the hope that he could ride his foreign policy expertise into contention for the Democratic nomination, instead spent the day struggling to explain his description of Senator Barack Obama, the Illinois Democrat running for president, as “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.”
The remark, published Wednesday in The New York Observer, left Mr. Biden’s campaign struggling to survive its first hours and injected race more directly into the presidential contest. The day ended, appropriately enough for the way politics is practiced now, with Mr. Biden explaining himself to Jon Stewart on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show.”
Earlier, in a decidedly nonpresidential afternoon conference call with reporters that had been intended to announce his candidacy, Mr. Biden, speaking over loud echoes and a blaring television set, said that he had been “quoted accurately.” He volunteered that he had called Mr. Obama to express regret that his remarks had been taken “out of context,” and that Mr. Obama had assured him he had nothing to explain.
“Barack Obama is probably the most exciting candidate that the Democratic or Republican party has produced at least since I’ve been around,” he said, adding: “Call Senator Obama. He knew what I meant by it. The idea was very straightforward and simple. This guy is something brand new that nobody has seen before.”
Asked about Mr. Biden’s comments, Mr. Obama said in an interview, “I didn’t take it personally and I don’t think he intended to offend.” Mr. Obama, who serves with Mr. Biden on the Foreign Relations Committee, added, “But the way he constructed the statement was probably a little unfortunate.”
But later in the day, with Mr. Biden coming under fire from some black leaders, Mr. Obama issued a statement that approached a condemnation. “I didn’t take Senator Biden’s comments personally, but obviously they were historically inaccurate,” he said. “African-American presidential candidates like Jesse Jackson, Shirley Chisholm, Carol Moseley Braun and Al Sharpton gave a voice to many important issues through their campaigns, and no one would call them inarticulate.”
For Mr. Biden, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, it was an inauspicious beginning to his first presidential campaign since 1988, when he dropped out after acknowledging using without attribution portions of a speech from a British politician. By the end of the day on Wednesday, Democrats were asking only half-jokingly whether Mr. Biden might be remembered for having the shortest-lived presidential campaign in the history of the Republic.
Shortly after 6 p.m., Mr. Biden issued a written statement. “I deeply regret any offense my remark in the New York Observer might have caused anyone,” he said. “That was not my intent and I expressed that to Senator Obama.”
Under questioning from reporters at his announcement conference call, Mr. Biden was pressed on what he meant in his description of Mr. Obama, particularly in his use of the word clean.
“He understood exactly what I meant,” Mr. Biden said. “And I have no doubt that Jesse Jackson and every other black leader — Al Sharpton and the rest — will know exactly what I meant.”
When he was asked, again, what he meant, Mr. Biden — known in Washington for his long-winded ways and his love of the microphone and the spotlight — bristled as he struggled over the squawk of feedback and echoes.
“I’m not going to repeat everything I just said,” he said. “There is a vote that starts at 2:30, it takes 11 minutes to get to the floor. I can take one more question but not on the subject I have already spoken to.”
And after taking one more question, Mr. Biden did something entirely out of character: He announced he was done talking.
Mr. Biden’s assurances notwithstanding, both Mr. Jackson and Mr. Sharpton — African-Americans who have run for president — said they had no idea what Mr. Biden meant. And both suggested they felt at least a little offended by the remarks.
Mr. Jackson described Mr. Biden’s remarks to the Observer, which also included critical statements about the Iraq positions of two of his Democratic opponents — Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and former Senator John Edwards of North Carolina — as “blabbering bluster.”
A wounded note to his voice, Mr. Jackson pointed out that he had run against Mr. Biden for the 1988 Democratic nomination, and had lasted far longer and drawn more votes than did Mr. Biden. Mr. Biden was forced out in September 1987.
“I am not sure what he means — ask him to explain what he meant,” Mr. Jackson said. “I don’t know whether it was an attempt to diminish what I had done in ’88, or to say Barack is all style and no substance.”
Mr. Sharpton said that when Mr. Biden called him to apologize, Mr. Sharpton started off the conversation reassuring Mr. Biden about his hygienic practices. “I told him I take a bath every day,” Mr. Sharpton said.
No stranger to electoral intrigue, Mr. Sharpton was quick to offer a political motive: That Mr. Biden was drawing distinctions between Mr. Obama and African-American leaders like Mr. Sharpton and Mr. Jackson, to “discredit Mr. Obama with his base.”
At the very least, Mr. Biden’s remarks obscured a campaign roll-out in which he said that Mr. Bush had “dug America into a very big hole” with the war in Iraq and that the nation would need a leader experienced in foreign policy to take over during dangerous times. More than that, it seemed sure to harden Mr. Biden’s image in political circles as politically undisciplined, an image he had been working scrupulously to change in what has emerged as a long-term political rehabilitation project for him.
In his conference call, Mr. Biden quoted his mother in trying to explain what he meant about Mr. Obama. “My mother has an expression: Clean as a whistle and sharp as a tack,” Mr. Biden said, showering more praise on one of his biggest opponents for the nomination.
On Comedy Central, he told Mr. Stewart: “What got me in trouble was using the world clean. I should have said fresh. What I meant was he’s got new ideas.”
Mr. Biden’s comments also focused new attention on remarks he made about Indians last year, when he said, “you cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I’m not joking.”
Before he went on television, Mr. Biden found himself sharing a stage with Mr. Obama at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Iraq, where he was noticeably solicitous to his new presidential rival as members of the committee questioned Henry Kissinger, the former secretary of state. Mr. Biden chastised Senator John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat, to keep his comments short (“just one minute, Senator, or we will have everybody else”).
But he could not have been more accommodating to Mr. Obama as the senator from Illinois began wrapping up: “I know I’m out of time.”
Mr. Biden would have none of that. “That’s O.K.,” he told Mr. Obama. “You’re making a very salient point.”
Jeff Zeleny and Helene Cooper contributed reporting from Washington, and Conrad Mulcahy from New York.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: What is "Democracy"?
on: January 31, 2007, 11:24:18 PM
I'll take a stab at a two random of pieces of this:
1) The United States of America is a REPUBLIC i.e. rights exiost independent of majority vote.
2) Yes Hamas was elected. This maby be a good thing because
a) for Israel negotiating with the PLO was a joke because the PLO had no ability to deliver Hamas's consent to anything it
b) unlike when it was a "non-state actor" Hamas is now responsible for its actions. Witness the pressure that has been
brought to bear by the discontinuance of subidies to the Palestinian govt because it is headed by Hamas.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / USS Stennis' deployment
on: January 31, 2007, 08:33:04 PM
U.S. Navy: What the USS John C. Stennis' Deployment Does Not Mean
January 31, 2007 23 28 GMT
The Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis departed San Diego on Jan. 20 after joining up with its carrier air wing in preparation for its deployment in the Persian Gulf. The timing of the deployment has led to speculation that the United States is putting the carrier and its strike group in the Gulf with the USS Eisenhower, which is currently deployed to the region, in order to increase pressure on Iran. However, this deployment is business as usual for the U.S. Navy as it moves the strike group in to support various military operations in the Middle East.
The aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis left San Diego on Jan. 20 for its scheduled cruise in the Persian Gulf in support of the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Horn of Africa. This deployment has received attention from the media, which say the deployment is meant to increase pressure on Iran. However, the Nimitz-class, nuclear-powered Stennis' main purpose will be to replace the USS Eisenhower when it concludes its cruise in April 2007. The Stennis' deployment is nothing unusual.
The process culminating in the Stennis' deployment to the Middle East began when the carrier arrived in its home port of Bremerton, Wash., on Jan. 8, 2005. Soon after that, she went into dry-docked planned incremental availability (DPIA), an 11-month overhaul and recertification process at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. Usually after completing a cruise, a U.S. aircraft carrier will return to its homeport and restart the maintenance and operations cycles. In the Stennis' case, however, it went into DPIA before restarting the operations cycle.
(click to enlarge)
After the DPIA was complete in December 2005, the Stennis underwent three months of routine sea trials in the East Pacific, followed by an inspection survey in April to certify the carrier's suitability for operations. Since the inspection's completion in May, the Stennis has been on a typical operations cycle for the U.S. Navy's nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.
The length of any operation or cruise is limited not by the ship, but by the crew's endurance. The high tempo of operations on a carrier takes a toll on the crew; cruises end when the crew has been deployed for six months with continuous 24-hour operations. When the cruise ends, the ship is checked over and any necessary repairs and refitting will be done. This gives the crew the chance to go on leave before returning to the ship at port and working routine maintenance, attending training schools or being reassigned. During this period, follow-on exercises and sustainment training will keep the carrier employable for an 18-month period until it is actually deployed. This is what the USS Ronald Reagan is doing from its home base of San Diego.
The carrier will then take part in several two- to three-week exercises that allow the crew to practice mission areas and integrate skill sets, essentially maintaining their qualifications. Before being deployed again, the carrier typically goes through a composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX) followed by a joint task force exercise (JTFEX). The JTFEX serves primarily as a method of validation and can be cut short or eliminated if the carrier is rushed into deployment. The Stennis completed its COMPTUEX in mid-October 2006 and its JTFEX in the following month. During these exercises, the carrier's air wing is assigned and its personnel participate in training and certification for carrier operation in preparation for deployment.
Normally, a carrier is deployed for six months and then in home port for 18 months, during which it participates in any number of short operations. The one notable exception to this standard occurred when U.S. President Jimmy Carter kept the USS Nimitz on deployment for 11 months straight, going from one hot spot to another.
For decades, a U.S. carrier has generally been on station in the Persian Gulf or the 5th Fleet area of operations. In 2003 the Navy adopted the Fleet Response Plan (FRP), which favors having multiple carriers in a general state of readiness instead of maintaining a single carrier in the Gulf. Though six-month deployments to the Middle East are still common -- and require a great deal of planning and preparation -- the FRP has changed the carrier fleet's overall readiness posture. The FRP was designed to make the Navy more responsive to Washington's maritime needs. And with the massive strike capability a carrier air wing brings to bear, a carrier deployment is often more of a political weapon than a military one.
The FRP calls for six carriers out of the total fleet of 12 to be "surge capable" -- able to be under way in 30 days or fewer, with a follow-on surge of two more carriers within 90 days -- at any time. Thus, instead of using the deployment date to schedule training, proficiency training begins as soon as a carrier emerges from its maintenance cycles. Less than six months after coming out of dry dock -- and as soon as three months in an emergency -- a carrier should be employable, or surge ready.
However, in the case of the 5th Fleet's current operations, developments in Somalia and the Eisenhower's shift in that direction are reminders of the military purpose of the current carrier rotations through the Gulf -- continued support of operations in Iraq, including regular close air support sorties, and potential support for African Union peacekeeping operations in Somalia.
The Stennis will likely arrive in the Persian Gulf region in mid- to late February. This will give it about a two-month overlap with the Eisenhower which, since its arrival in the region in late October, has been moving between the Gulf, the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean.
The Stennis' deployment to the Persian Gulf has been scheduled for months, so its movement there is not in response to anything Iran has recently done. The timing just happens to coincide with the recent U.S. decision to increase its force in Iraq and with statements from U.S. diplomats about increasing pressure on Tehran.
If the United States does decide to surge its naval capacity in the region and intensify its military pressure on Iran, the Eisenhower could remain in the Gulf past April. Meanwhile, the USS Harry S. Truman, which recently finished a round of flight deck certifications in the Atlantic in preparation for its 2007 deployment, could deploy as early as April. This could put the Truman in the Persian Gulf with the Stennis and the Eisenhower, should it stay over, placing three U.S. carrier strike groups in the region.
Even if the Eisenhower returns and the Truman moves into the region, the United States would demonstrate its ability to maintain two carriers in one place for an extended period of time. However, if this potential surge goes beyond three carrier strike groups, the USS Nimitz and the USS Roosevelt -- like the Reagan -- are at stages in their operational cycles at which they could be deployed on relatively short notice if needed.
The United States could have six carriers deployed to the Persian Gulf relatively quickly if it wanted to. If that were to occur, Tehran would certainly have reason to be concerned. In times of heightened geopolitical tension, the normal rotation of one carrier to replace another can set observers off. This is certainly not the first time; only a few months ago, similar speculation followed the Eisenhower across the Atlantic as it sailed to replace the USS Enterprise. However, the Stennis' movement into the Persian Gulf is not abnormal.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
on: January 31, 2007, 07:31:22 PM
The Nightmare of Being a Saudi Woman
Abeer Mishkhas, email@example.com
HERE WE go again and this time, it is official. A woman in Saudi Arabia has no right to choose her husband; she is forced to marry whomever her family chooses and, what is most shocking of all, a Saudi woman can be divorced from her husband against her will if that is the wish of her family. Add to this all the “normal” limitations in her life which if we start listing them, we’ll fall into a vicious cycle of repetition. But repetition or not, a serious crime is taking place in front of us and just because we have gotten used to hearing about it does not make it any less serious.
All our anger and frustration aside, the latest news concerning the much-written about Fatima is very unsettling. She is the woman who was happily married to a husband whom her father approved of; after his death, however, her half-brothers decided she should divorce Mansour since, in their eyes, he was not her social equal. And they set about going to the court and divorcing the couple even though Fatima and Mansour were happily married with two children. The court has ruled in favor of the half-brothers so the couple is now “legally” divorced. There is nothing in Islam or its laws that allows such a thing to happen but nonetheless, the court has issued its verdict.
Now Fatima is facing being forced into her brothers’ custody who are threatning to revive the accusation of “khulwa”, or being alone with Mansour, for which they were originally arrested. She now has to face being given over to her brothers, being charged for being alone with her husband (as the court ruled that they are divorced), and having to live with the feeling that her life has been taken away from her unjustifiably and by force.
Fatima no doubt feels that her life has been taken completely, unjustly and unjustifiably away from her. To take things a step further, we are facing a situation which could become the nightmare of every woman in Saudi Arabia. A woman is not secure in her marriage; she is at the mercy of her brother, or half-brother or any male relative who can tear her life apart and get a court to support the action. The question is clear: Where and when will this madness stop? One of my colleagues pointed out something that is definitely not encouraging — the verdict in this particular case was handed down very swiftly and very clearly. There are thousands of other cases involving husbands and wives in which a verdict is sorely needed but which has been delayed by maneuverings and machinations. Many women in Saudi Arabia are waiting for a verdict that will free them from an abusive husband, father or male relative; far too many of them have been refused justice since their sufferings have been deemed to be unimportant. The men continue their abuse and the women suffer. Other women have had their children taken away from them as there are no laws granting them visitation rights, let alone the right to take care of their children. Other women are beaten up and forced to go back to their abusers and still the courts do not intervene in the name of justice. In none of these cases has it been recognized that women have rights and that they are being threatened on a daily basis.
To look at the whole story, Fatima’s case also proves that men can also be caught in the same web. Her husband is as much a victim as she is, and maybe his case will widen the issue and make it more of a human rights case than one involving only a mere woman.
Fatima’s verdict was announced on the day I learned about a case that made me explode with questions and exclamations. Here are the details: A young Saudi woman living in the UK went to a hospital with injuries and it turned out that she had been beaten by her husband. The woman doctor at the hospital was very sympathetic and supportive and listened carefully to the details of the assault; she did not hide her anger or disgust at the man who did this. She then alerted the social services and also reported the matter to the police. The police began investigating and used the woman’s own statement. No one told her, “We can’t believe you because you don’t have proof” which had happened to her previously in the Kingdom. The police sent a team to arrest the husband and the woman was absolutely incredulous. “I can’t believe that they are listening to me, believing what I said and actually acting,” she exclaimed.
Her amazement increased with each passing day with calls from social services and the police, checking to see that she was living comfortably and that her children were all right and offering any help that she needed. All of this support occurred at the same time she began to get threats from her husband’s family in Saudi Arabia. You see, she had dared to complain. His family has threatened to take her children away from her as soon as she returns to Saudi Arabia. And guess what? They can do exactly that if they feel like it. Not because they have a right to but because as a woman, she cannot demand her rights in the Kingdom. If she returns, she faces a long humiliating process — probably coupled with social ostracism and disgrace — and the final result is by no means guaranteed.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / blackfive.net
on: January 31, 2007, 07:24:44 PM
I've got permission to go hot with this. This is typical of what I've been hearing.
It's a manifesto of sorts from a Staff Sergeant in the fight in Afghanistan. He had an experience recently while on mid-tour leave to see his wife and baby boy that was the last straw:
Things that I am tired of in this war:
I am tired of Democrats saying they are patriotic and then insulting my commander in chief and the way he goes about his job.
I am tired of Democrats who tell me they support me, the soldier on the ground, and then tell me the best plan to win this war is with a “phased redeployment” (liberal-speak for retreat) out of the combat zone to someplace like Okinawa.
I am tired of the Democrats whining for months on T.V., in the New York Times, and in the House and Senate that we need more troops to win the war in Iraq, and then when my Commander in Chief plans to do just that, they say that is the wrong plan, it won’t work, and we need a “new direction.”
I am tired of every Battalion Sergeant Major and Command Sergeant Major I see over here being more concerned about whether or not I am wearing my uniform in the “spot on,” most garrison-like manner; instead of asking me whether or not I am getting the equipment I need to win the fight, the support I need from my chain of command, or if the chow tastes good.
I am tired of junior and senior officers continually doubting the technical expertise of junior enlisted soldiers who are trained far better to do the jobs they are trained for than these officers believe.
I am tired of senior officers and commanders who fight this war with more of an eye on the media than on the enemy, who desperately needs killing.
I am tired of the decisions of Sergeants and Privates made in the heat of battle being scrutinized by lawyers who were not there and will never really know the state of mind of the young soldiers who were there and what is asked of them in order to survive.
I am tired of CNN claiming that they are showing “news,” with videotape sent to them by terrorists, of my comrades being shot at by snipers, but refusing to show what happens when we build a school, pave a road, hand out food and water to children, or open a water treatment plant.
I am tired of following the enemy with drones that have cameras, and then dropping bombs that sometimes kill civilians; because we could do a better job of killing the right people by sending a man with a high powered rifle instead.
I am tired of the thousands of people in the rear who claim that they are working hard to support me when I see them with their mochas and their PX Bags walking down the street, in the middle of the day, nowhere near their workspaces.
I am tired of Code Pink, Daily Kos, Al-Jazzera, CNN, Reuters, the Associated Press, ABC, NBC, CBS, the ACLU, and CAIR thinking that they somehow get to have a vote in how we blast, shoot and kill these animals who would seek to subdue us and destroy us.
I am tired of people like Meredith Vieria from NBC asking oxygen thieves like Senator Chuck Hagel questions like “Senator, at this point, do you think we are fighting and dying for nothing?” Meredith might not get it, but soldiers do know the difference between fighting and dying for something and fighting and dying for nothing.
I am tired of hearing multiple stories from both combat theaters about snipers begging to do their jobs while commanders worry about how the media might portray the possible casualties and what might happen to their career.
I am tired of hearing that the Battalion Tactical Operations Center got a new plasma screen monitor for daily briefings, but rifle scope rings for sniper rifles, extra magazines, and necessary field gear were disapproved by the unit supply system.
I am tired of out of touch general officers, senators, congressmen and defense officials who think that giving me some more heavy body armor to wear is helping me stay alive. Speed is life in combat and wearing 55 to 90 pounds of gear for 12 to 20 hours a day puts me at a great tactical disadvantage to the idiot, mindless terrorist who is wearing no armor at all and carrying an AK-47 and a pistol.
I am tired of soldiers who are stationed in places like Kuwait and who are well away from any actual combat getting Hostile Fire/Imminent Danger Pay and the Combat Zone Tax Exclusion when they live on a base that has a McDonald’s, a Pizza Hut, a Subway, a Baskin Robbins, an internet café, 2 coffee shops and street lights.
I am tired of senior officers and commanders who take it out and "measure" every time they want to have a piece of the action with their helicopters or their artillery; instead of putting their egos aside and using their equipment to support the grunt on the ground.
I am tired of senior officers and commanders who are too afraid for their careers to tell the truth about what they need to win this war to their bosses so that the soldiers can get on with kicking the ass of these animals.
I am tired of Rules of Engagement being made by JAG lawyers and not Combat Commanders. We are not playing Hopscotch over here. There is no 2nd place trophy either. I think that if the enemy knew some rough treatment and some deprivation was at hand for them, instead of prayer rugs, special diets and free Korans; this might help get their terrorist minds “right.”
I am tired of seeing Active Duty Army and Marine units being extended past their original redeployment dates, when there are National Guard Units that have yet to deploy to a combat zone in the last 40 years.
I am tired of hearing soldiers who are stationed in safe places talk about how hard their life is.
I am tired of seeing Infantry Soldiers conducting what amounts to “SWAT” raids and performing the US Army’s version of “CSI Iraq” and doing things like filling out forms for evidence when they could be better used to hunt and kill the enemy.
I am tired of senior officers and commanders who look first in their planning for how many casualties we might take, instead of how many enemy casualties we might inflict.
I am tired of begging to be turned loose so that this war can be over.
Those of us who fight this war want to win it and go home to their families. Prolonging it with attempts to do things like collect “evidence” or present whiz bang briefings on a new plasma screen TV is wasteful and ultimately, dulls the edge of our Infantry soldiers who are trained to kill people and break things, not necessarily in that order.
We are not in Iraq and Afghanistan to build nations. We are there to kill our enemies. We make the work of the State Department easier by the results we achieve.
It is only possible to defeat an enemy who kills indiscriminately by utterly destroying him. He cannot be made to yield or surrender. He will fight to the death by the hundreds to kill only one or two of us.
And so far, all of our “games” have been “away games,” and I don’t know about the ignorant, treasonous Democrats and the completely insane radical leftists and their thoughts on the matter, but I would like to keep our road game schedule.
So let’s get it done. Until the fight is won and there is no more fight left.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters
on: January 31, 2007, 04:05:25 PM
U.S. Border Patrol: Illegal Immigrant Border Arrests Drop
Updated: January 3rd, 2007 09:46 AM EDT
There has been a big drop in arrests along the border in the last few months, NBC 7/39 reported Wednesday. The U.S. Border Patrol said arrests of illegal immigrants dropped by more than a third since National Guard troops have been helping. From July through November, 150,000 fewer people were arrested, a 4 percent decline from the same period last year. A migration expert said the biggest reason for the decrease immigrants' fear of being confronted by U.S. soldiers while trying to cross.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Adrenal Training
on: January 31, 2007, 04:02:01 PM
BTW, the author of this piece wrote a nice review of our DLO DVD
Tactical Survival Contributor
If someone could give you a gift that would improve your chances of survival in a violent confrontation, would you take it? If the tradeoff was that, in order to make use of this gift, you would have to understand it and use it properly, would you take the time to do so?
The gift that you've already been given and have in your possession is the fight or flight reflex, more accurately called the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) reaction.
You see, already hardwired into man is a survival system that prepares us to overcome life-threatening situations. The tradeoff is that you need to understand the mental, physical and psychological changes that take place when the SNS is activated.
Take for instance, the experiences of Major Bob Johnson, related to authors Mike Durant and Steve Hartov in the new book The Night Stalkers, as he piloted a Blackhawk helicopter during the invasion of Grenada:
He had never imagined anything like this. Not here, not today. And the phenomenon that overtook his body and his mind wasn't something he could ever have prepared for. It was total sensory overload, and combined with a flood of adrenaline surging through his blood, his fine motor skills went all to hell...this was no schoolboy hero fantasy. This was the O.K. Corral, times ten.
Man's survival mechanisms have evolved over time to increase our chance of winning a life and death struggle. Without these amazing structures and changes, we would have never made it out of the Stone Age, but rather would have become fossilized saber tooth tiger dung.
Without getting into a scientific explanation of what goes on in the brain to initiate an SNS response, let's just say that various "triggers" can make this happen. In terms of threats against you, the closer, more spontaneous, more unexpected and faster developing the threat, the more chance you may kick into an SNS response. The result is that you may not be able to think the same, move the same, hear as well, or see as wide a visual field, and more. As your body prepares itself for battle, stress hormones will be released into your system to fuel your body.
Training and the SNS
How can we incorporate an understanding of the SNS into our training so that it improves our survival? First of all, we must try to understand how stress affects us, what changes may take place in the body. We can anticipate that those changes will take place on the street when we attempt to use those skills.
Next as recommended by noted survival authority Bruce Siddle, we must understand that our ability to complete fine and complex motor skills is affected by stress. We should therefore train in skills that we will be able to complete and that will be enhanced to some degree by stress. The bulk of our survival strategy should be based around gross motor skills or those skills that incorporate large muscle masses and will be strengthened by SNS.
We should then work at honing those skills through training. Repetition is the mother of all skills and develops competence. Competence breeds confidence, and the more confident in your skills you are, the less you will be affected by stress.
Finally we should engage in dynamic training scenarios. Can training cause an SNS response? PPCT Management Systems Inc. engaged in a study utilizing a Prism shooting trailer. After participants had gone through their scenarios, blood was drawn and tested for the presence of stress chemicals. According to preliminary findings,
Readings from the heart rate monitors indicated fluctuations in all study participants. Participants began with an average baseline heart rate of 82.46 BPM and then attained an average peak rate of 133.94 BPM, with some peaking as high as 175BPM. The average heart rate increase was 65% during the event and then decreased an average of 67.65% afterward. Preliminary blood test results also indicate corresponding changes in the stress hormones cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine, again confirming that survival stress was induced and with consistent reliability. The increase in cortisol levels averaged 18.15% across the board, with peak levels increasing as much as 206.41%. Epinephrine levels climbed an average of 131.83% and norepinephrine an average of 66.26%.
--(Bruce Siddle, Kevin Siddle; PPCT; 2006)
What does all this mean? That dynamic training causes the same type of changes in the body as actual combat (though to a lesser degree), and by engaging in this type of training after you've laid a foundation of proper skill, you will enhance your survival.
On the Street
Listen to researchers from the FBI as noted in the excellent new book, Violent Encounters (U.S. Dept. of Justice; 2006).
It is extremely difficult to control one's biological, psychological, and emotional reactions to life and death circumstances. But it is even more difficult to do so without adequate, realistic, and prior training--along with proper mental and physical preparation. Training often determines which persons survive and which ones suffer injury or death. Training that is realistic, repetitive, understandable, and believable potentially reduces the nonadaptive effects of evolution. In preparing for a highly-charged emotional event, effective and realistic training can reduce its intensity (levels of arousal), allowing higher cognitive functioning to prevail.
Take the gift you've been given, understand its strengths and limitations. Train diligently and realistically in skills that work on the street and engage in dynamic scenario based training to "pressure test" those skills and introduce yourself to the SNS response. This mix combined with a stout warrior's heart and spirit will enable you to win. And in the end after an incident, when you're brushing the dust off your uniform, you can say, "That was just like training!"
Advanced Tactical Concepts
Sharpening the Warrior's Edge, by Bruce Siddle (at Amazon.com)
On Combat, by LTC Dave Grossman (U.S. Army, Retired) (at Amazon.com)
The Night Stalkers, by Michael J. Durant and Steven Hartov (at Amazon.com)
Kevin Davis is a full-time officer assigned to the training bureau where he specializes in use of force, firearms and tactical training. With over 23 years in law enforcement, his previous experience includes patrol, corrections, narcotics and he is a former team leader and lead instructor for his agency's SWAT team, with over 500 callouts in tactical operations.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq
on: January 31, 2007, 10:37:01 AM
Second post of the day:
Geopolitical Diary: Deciphering the An Najaf Battle
An Iraqi Shiite messianic group the government has labeled a cult, and which Baghdad says fought with U.S. and Iraqi troops over the weekend near An Najaf, has issued a statement saying it was not engaged in the battle that resulted in the deaths of 250 militants and the cult's leader. Cult spokesman Abdul Imam Jaabar said the cult is peaceful, denying that it has ties to the "Soldiers of Heaven," which the Iraqi government said plotted to kill senior Shiite clerics. Jabbar said cult leader Imam Ahmed al-Hassan al-Yamani is a civil engineer who founded the group in 1999 after proclaiming he had met the messiah-like figure Mahdi, who declared him his grandson; Jabbar says al-Hassan quickly gained a following in southern Iraq of around 5,000 people.
This denial has triggered great speculation about the government's version of what actually happened. An Iraqi Defense Ministry spokesman said at least 263 Shiite fighters were killed, 502 arrested and another 210 people injured. Iraqi government officials say security forces launched the operation against the cult, which consists of fanatical Shiite and al Qaeda-linked Sunni militants, to prevent it from executing a plot to assassinate senior Shiite clerics. According to an understanding among Shiite Muslims, killing clerics is supposed to hasten the coming of Mahdi. When Iraqi forces were overwhelmed with the cult's firepower they had to call in U.S. ground support.
Not only is this perhaps the most bizarre incident in almost four years of incessant violence that has ravaged the country, the government's version of what allegedly transpired raises more questions than provides answers.
How could a cult evolve into such a major threat without getting noticed?
If this was an obscure cult, why were government forces unable to deal with it on their own?
From where did the group acquire such a large cache of weaponry?
Given the deep sectarian differences, how can extremist Shia and jihadists both be part of the group?
Why would a Shiite religious group risk alienation by engaging in the murder of the clerical hierarchy, especially during the holy month of Muharram?
These and other such questions indicate the government is withholding a lot of information. However, Stratfor has received some information that provides insight into the circumstances leading up to the battle.
We are told the al-Hawatim tribe wanted to organize its own Karbala procession during Ashurah but that a rival group with considerable influence prevented it from doing so. A number of tribesmen were killed at a checkpoint operated by this influential group, including a senior tribal sheikh. The tribe then launched a retaliatory attack that led to the battle. The fact that a large number of those arrested are women and children lends some credence to the report that the fighting was related to Ashurah ceremonies.
Given the emotionally charged atmosphere during the Muharram ceremonies commemorating the martyrdom of the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed and several other members of his family, why did this battle fail to disrupt the gatherings in An Najaf? Moreover, how was the violence contained?
Such a major battle could only be contained if it did not in fact occur in An Najaf. This raises doubts about the claims of a plot to kill senior clerics, which would require that the group be based inside the city. Additionally, a large force is not usually sent to carry out assassinations.
The report about a dispute over holding a procession suggests the group in question was engaged in a local power struggle. The Shiite establishment made up of the country's largest Shiite group, the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq, and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Dawa Party, faces opposition from several groups at the provincial and district level in the Shiite south -- such as from the al-Sadrite Bloc, al-Fadhila and other smaller factions.
Regardless of its identity, the group in question likely wanted to use the occasion of Muharram to gain control over certain areas in the south. The government got wind of its plans and decided to pre-empt it. This would also explain the implausible official version, which was designed to justify the killing of fellow Shia during the holy month.
Reality notwithstanding, what is clear is that this incident proves what we have been saying about the Shiite community -- it is the most internally divided of the country's three major ethno-sectarian communities. The intra-Shiite divisions go far beyond the usual suspects -- a situation that bodes ill for the surge strategy of the Bush administration.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Tasers
on: January 31, 2007, 10:32:01 AM
Officers Serving Warrant Use Taser Gun On Man http://www.thekansascitychannel.com/...01/detail.html
POSTED: 8:01 pm CST January 17, 2007
UPDATED: 8:09 pm CST January 17, 2007
KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Two Wyandotte County officers used a stun gun on a psychiatric patient holding a sword, and the incident was caught on tape, KMBC's Peggy Breit reported Wednesday.
Sheriff's deputies went to the man's apartment to take him to a state mental hospital, but when they arrived, he had barricaded himself inside a bathroom.
The incident was caught on tape by a camera mounted within the Taser gun; it records both audio and video. "There are a lot of unknown factors when you go to places, and therefore we need to utilize technology available, such as the Taser equipped with the camera," Wyandotte County Jail Administrator Randall Henderson said.
The video showed the man holding a kind of dagger, and the officers repeatedly told him to drop the weapon. The man didn't drop it, and the officers used the stun gun. The man didn't fall to the ground until he'd been shocked three times.
Once the man was calm, the officers transported him to the hospital without further incident.
"Here's a prime example if the Taser's utilized appropriately, that we can accomplish the task at hand and everyone will fell like the job was well done," Henderson said.
Heres another link to Taser International if the other link doesn't work.http://www.taser.com/realtaserstories/index.html
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race
on: January 31, 2007, 09:31:51 AM
Biden Unbound: Lays Into
Clinton, Obama, Edwards
Loquacious Senator, Democratic Candidate on Hillary: 'Four of 10 Is the Max
You Can Get?' Edwards 'Doesn't Know What He's Talking About'
NEW YORK OBSERVER
By: Jason Horowitz
Senator Joseph Biden doesn't think highly of the Iraq policies of some of
the other Democrats who are running for President.
To hear him tell it, Hillary Clinton's position is calibrated, confusing and
"a very bad idea." John Edwards doesn't know what he's talking about and is
pushing a recipe for Armageddon in the Middle East. Barack Obama is offering
charming but insubstantial fluff. And all of them are playing politics.
"Let me put it this way," Mr. Biden said. "You didn't hear any one of them
get in this debate at all until they announced for President."
Mr. Biden, who ran an ill-fated campaign for President in 1988, is a man who
believes his time has finally come, announcing this week that he was filing
papers to make his 2008 Presidential bid official. Although he admits to a
tendency to "bloviate," he thinks that an aggressive advocate with rough
edges might be just what the party needs right now. "Democrats nominated the
perfect blow-dried candidates in 2000 and 2004," he said, "and they couldn't
Though Mr. Biden, 64, has never achieved his national ambitions, he has in
recent years emerged as one of the party's go-to experts on foreign policy.
In the past week, he has spearheaded the Democratic pushback against the
President's plan to increase troop levels in Iraq, opposing the move with a
non-binding resolution that his party has rallied around.
On a recent weekday afternoon, he was discussing his rivals over a bowl of
tomato soup in the corner of a diner in Delaware, about a 15-minute drive
from his Senate office. He wore a red cardigan and blue shirt, periodically
raising his raspy voice over the sound of loudspeakers summoning customers
to pick up their sandwiches. He had showed up carrying a Mead notebook
filled with handwritten talking points, but once he'd gotten started, he
closed the book and pushed it aside.
The subject he prefers to talk about these days-particularly when
contrasting himself with his prospective Presidential rivals-is Iraq.
Addressing Mrs. Clinton's latest proposal to cap American troops and to
threaten Iraqi leaders with cuts in funding, Mr. Biden lowered his voice and
leaned in close over the table.
"From the part of Hillary's proposal, the part that really baffles me is,
'We're going to teach the Iraqis a lesson.' We're not going to equip them?
O.K. Cap our troops and withdraw support from the Iraqis? That's a real good
The result of Mrs. Clinton's position on Iraq, Mr. Biden says, would be
"nothing but disaster."
Most early polls show Mrs. Clinton as the party's clear front-runner. Mr.
Biden, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is firmly in
the thick of a pack of third-tier candidates. Still, he thinks that at such
a precarious point in the nation's history, voters are seeking someone with
his level of experience to take the helm.
"Are they going to turn to Hillary Clinton?" Biden asked, lowering his voice
to a hush to explain why Mrs. Clinton won't win the election.
"Everyone in the world knows her," he said. "Her husband has used every
single legitimate tool in his behalf to lock people in, shut people down.
Legitimate. And she can't break out of 30 percent for a choice for
Democrats? Where do you want to be? Do you want to be in a place where 100
percent of the Democrats know you? They've looked at you for the last three
years. And four out of 10 is the max you can get?"
Mr. Biden is equally skeptical-albeit in a slightly more backhanded
way-about Mr. Obama. "I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American
who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy," he said. "I
mean, that's a storybook, man."
But-and the "but" was clearly inevitable-he doubts whether American voters
are going to elect "a one-term, a guy who has served for four years in the
Senate," and added: "I don't recall hearing a word from Barack about a plan
or a tactic."
(After the interview with Mr. Biden and shortly before press time, Mr. Obama
proposed legislation that would require all American combat brigades to be
withdrawn from Iraq by the end of March 2008.)
Mr. Biden seemed to reserve a special scorn for Mr. Edwards, who suffered
from a perceived lack of depth in foreign policy in the Presidential
election of 2004.
"I don't think John Edwards knows what the heck he is talking about," Mr.
Biden said, when asked about Mr. Edwards' advocacy of the immediate
withdrawal of about 40,000 American troops from Iraq.
"John Edwards wants you and all the Democrats to think, 'I want us out of
there,' but when you come back and you say, 'O.K., John'"-here, the word
"John" became an accusatory, mocking refrain-"'what about the chaos that
will ensue? Do we have any interest, John, left in the region?' Well, John
will have to answer yes or no. If he says yes, what are they? What are those
interests, John? How do you protect those interests, John, if you are
completely withdrawn? Are you withdrawn from the region, John? Are you
withdrawn from Iraq, John? In what period? So all this stuff is like so much
Fluffernutter out there. So for me, what I think you have to do is have a
strategic notion. And they may have it-they are just smart enough not to
The targets of Mr. Biden's criticism, whether out of shock, indifference or
a calculation that it would be unwise in this case to meet fire with fire,
declined to respond in kind.
Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton wrote in an e-mail: "Senator Obama
opposed the Iraq War from Day 1 and has articulated clear principles in how
to address the tragic mistakes President Bush has made there." And as for
rest-including Mr. Biden's use of the words "articulate" and "nice-looking"
to describe the Senator from Illinois-the spokesman said, "Senator Biden's
words speak for themselves." The press offices for Mrs. Clinton and Mr.
Edwards declined to say anything at all.
By contrast with what Mr. Biden describes alternately as his opponents'
caution and their detachment from reality, the Senator from Delaware has for
months been pushing a comprehensive plan to split Iraq into autonomous
Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish ethnic regions that is controversial, to say the
Under the plan, local policing and laws will be the responsibility of
regional authorities. Most of the American troops would be withdrawn, with
small numbers remaining to help with anti-terrorism operations. The ensuing
chaos from ethnic migrations within Iraq would be contained with the help of
political pressure created by a conference of Iraq's neighbors.
But the idea of an American endorsement of Iraqi federation along those
lines has drawn criticism from just about every ideological corner of the
foreign-policy establishment. Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, another potential
2008 candidate who played a major role in negotiating the peace talks that
ended the war in Bosnia, said in a recent interview that the Biden plan
would have people in mixed cities like Baghdad "fleeing for their lives."
Richard Perle, one of the chief architects of the war in Iraq, who resigned
from his advisory position at the Pentagon in 2003 after a
conflict-of-interest scandal, called the idea "harebrained." And perhaps
most notably, the original author of the partition plan, former Council on
Foreign Relations president Leslie Gelb, has suggested that spiraling chaos
on the ground in Iraq may have already rendered it unworkable.
Mr. Biden counters their criticism by insisting that Iraq has already
fractured along ethnic lines, and that the only pragmatic approach at this
point is to police the process in a way that could prevent a wider civil war
and, eventually, lead to a sort of stability.
"You have to give them breathing room," he said.
The Iraq he envisions has three ethnically homogenous enclaves, with a
central government responsible for securing the country's international
borders and distributing oil revenues.
He'd put the Shiite majority in the south, limiting their geographic control
but keeping them from being drawn into a wider Sunni-Shiite conflict.
He'd move the Sunni majority into the oil-poor Anbar province in the West,
but they would be guaranteed a cut of oil revenues worth billions of
dollars. Mr. Biden's hope is that the oil money and relative calm would
drain the loyal Baathist insurgency of support while simultaneously making
the province less amenable to Al Qaeda provocateurs.
"The argument that you make with Sunni tribal leaders is, 'You are not going
to get back to the point where you run the show,'" said Mr. Biden. They will
have to be made to understand that "you get a much bigger piece of the pie
by giving up a little of the pie."
He'd keep the Kurds up in the north, where they already enjoy a measure of
de facto autonomy, but would seek guarantees that they would not take it
upon themselves to purge Sunni residents from the mixed city of Kirkuk, or
to lay exclusive claim to the enormous oil resources in that region, or to
secede from Iraq by forming an independent Kurdistan.
Mr. Biden said he has made the argument to Kurdish leaders over the course
of his seven trips to Iraq as follows: "You will be eaten alive by the Turks
and the Iranians, they will attack you, there will be an all-out war."
The clear implication is that the United States, not for the first time,
would be unable to protect them. "I don't see how we could," he said.
Mr. Biden disagrees with foreign leaders like Britain's Tony Blair and
Pakistan's Pervez Musharraf, who say that the key to fixing Iraq's problems
is solving the dispute between Israel and Palestinians.
"They are wrong, because I think it is a veiled way to do what the Europeans
and the Arabists have always wanted to do, which is back Israel into a
corner," he said. "They still blame Israel."
Mr. Biden says that support for his Iraq plan is growing. The influential
New York Senator Chuck Schumer has declared at various times that he
supports the plan-albeit in an uncharacteristically quiet manner-as has
Michael O'Hanlon, a prominent Iraq policy expert at the Brookings
But their support, for Mr. Biden, is almost an afterthought. If one thing is
clear about him, it is that he doesn't mind being alone.
"They may be politically right, and I may be politically wrong," he said.
"But I believe I am substantively right, and their substantive approaches
are not very deep and will not get us where I want to go."http://www.observer.com/printpage.asp?iid=14092&ic=News+Story+1
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues
on: January 31, 2007, 09:28:06 AM
EARTH IN THE BALANCE
Don't Believe the Hype
Al Gore is wrong. There's no "consensus" on global warming.
BY RICHARD S. LINDZEN
Sunday, July 2, 2006 12:01 a.m.
According to Al Gore's new film "An Inconvenient Truth," we're in for "a
planetary emergency": melting ice sheets, huge increases in sea levels, more
and stronger hurricanes, and invasions of tropical disease, among other
cataclysms--unless we change the way we live now.
Bill Clinton has become the latest evangelist for Mr. Gore's gospel,
proclaiming that current weather events show that he and Mr. Gore were right
about global warming, and we are all suffering the consequences of President
Bush's obtuseness on the matter. And why not? Mr. Gore assures us that "the
debate in the scientific community is over."
That statement, which Mr. Gore made in an interview with George
Stephanopoulos on ABC, ought to have been followed by an asterisk. What
exactly is this debate that Mr. Gore is referring to? Is there really a
scientific community that is debating all these issues and then somehow
agreeing in unison? Far from such a thing being over, it has never been
clear to me what this "debate" actually is in the first place.
The media rarely help, of course. When Newsweek featured global warming in a
1988 issue, it was claimed that all scientists agreed. Periodically
thereafter it was revealed that although there had been lingering doubts
beforehand, now all scientists did indeed agree. Even Mr. Gore qualified his
statement on ABC only a few minutes after he made it, clarifying things in
an important way. When Mr. Stephanopoulos confronted Mr. Gore with the fact
that the best estimates of rising sea levels are far less dire than he
suggests in his movie, Mr. Gore defended his claims by noting that
scientists "don't have any models that give them a high level of confidence"
one way or the other and went on to claim--in his defense--that scientists
"don't know. . . . They just don't know."
So, presumably, those scientists do not belong to the "consensus." Yet their
research is forced, whether the evidence supports it or not, into Mr. Gore's
preferred global-warming template--namely, shrill alarmism. To believe it
requires that one ignore the truly inconvenient facts. To take the issue of
rising sea levels, these include: that the Arctic was as warm or warmer in
1940; that icebergs have been known since time immemorial; that the evidence
so far suggests that the Greenland ice sheet is actually growing on average.
A likely result of all this is increased pressure pushing ice off the
coastal perimeter of that country, which is depicted so ominously in Mr.
Gore's movie. In the absence of factual context, these images are perhaps
dire or alarming.
They are less so otherwise. Alpine glaciers have been retreating since the
early 19th century, and were advancing for several centuries before that.
Since about 1970, many of the glaciers have stopped retreating and some are
now advancing again. And, frankly, we don't know why.
The other elements of the global-warming scare scenario are predicated on
similar oversights. Malaria, claimed as a byproduct of warming, was once
common in Michigan and Siberia and remains common in Siberia--mosquitoes
don't require tropical warmth. Hurricanes, too, vary on multidecadal time
scales; sea-surface temperature is likely to be an important factor. This
temperature, itself, varies on multidecadal time scales. However, questions
concerning the origin of the relevant sea-surface temperatures and the
nature of trends in hurricane intensity are being hotly argued within the
Even among those arguing, there is general agreement that we can't attribute
any particular hurricane to global warming. To be sure, there is one
exception, Greg Holland of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in
Boulder, Colo., who argues that it must be global warming because he can't
think of anything else. While arguments like these, based on lassitude, are
becoming rather common in climate assessments, such claims, given the
primitive state of weather and climate science, are hardly compelling.
A general characteristic of Mr. Gore's approach is to assiduously ignore the
fact that the earth and its climate are dynamic; they are always changing
even without any external forcing. To treat all change as something to fear
is bad enough; to do so in order to exploit that fear is much worse.
Regardless, these items are clearly not issues over which debate is
ended--at least not in terms of the actual science.
A clearer claim as to what debate has ended is provided by the environmental
journalist Gregg Easterbrook. He concludes that the scientific community now
agrees that significant warming is occurring, and that there is clear
evidence of human influences on the climate system. This is still a most
peculiar claim. At some level, it has never been widely contested. Most of
the climate community has agreed since 1988 that global mean temperatures
have increased on the order of one degree Fahrenheit over the past century,
having risen significantly from about 1919 to 1940, decreased between 1940
and the early '70s, increased again until the '90s, and remaining
essentially flat since 1998.
There is also little disagreement that levels of carbon dioxide in the
atmosphere have risen from about 280 parts per million by volume in the 19th
century to about 387 ppmv today. Finally, there has been no question
whatever that carbon dioxide is an infrared absorber (i.e., a greenhouse
gas--albeit a minor one), and its increase should theoretically contribute
to warming. Indeed, if all else were kept equal, the increase in carbon
dioxide should have led to somewhat more warming than has been observed,
assuming that the small observed increase was in fact due to increasing
carbon dioxide rather than a natural fluctuation in the climate system.
Although no cause for alarm rests on this issue, there has been an intense
effort to claim that the theoretically expected contribution from additional
carbon dioxide has actually been detected.
Given that we do not understand the natural internal variability of climate
change, this task is currently impossible. Nevertheless there has been a
persistent effort to suggest otherwise, and with surprising impact. Thus,
although the conflicted state of the affair was accurately presented in the
1996 text of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the infamous
"summary for policy makers" reported ambiguously that "The balance of
evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate." This
sufficed as the smoking gun for Kyoto.
The next IPCC report again described the problems surrounding what has
become known as the attribution issue: that is, to explain what mechanisms
are responsible for observed changes in climate. Some deployed the lassitude
argument--e.g., we can't think of an alternative--to support human
attribution. But the "summary for policy makers" claimed in a manner largely
unrelated to the actual text of the report that "In the light of new
evidence and taking into account the remaining uncertainties, most of the
observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the
increase in greenhouse gas concentrations."
In a similar vein, the National Academy of Sciences issued a brief (15-page)
report responding to questions from the White House. It again enumerated the
difficulties with attribution, but again the report was preceded by a front
end that ambiguously claimed that "The changes observed over the last
several decades are likely mostly due to human activities, but we cannot
rule out that some significant part of these changes is also a reflection of
natural variability." This was sufficient for CNN's Michelle Mitchell to
presciently declare that the report represented a "unanimous decision that
global warming is real, is getting worse and is due to man. There is no
wiggle room." Well, no.
More recently, a study in the journal Science by the social scientist Nancy
Oreskes claimed that a search of the ISI Web of Knowledge Database for the
years 1993 to 2003 under the key words "global climate change" produced 928
articles, all of whose abstracts supported what she referred to as the
consensus view. A British social scientist, Benny Peiser, checked her
procedure and found that only 913 of the 928 articles had abstracts at all,
and that only 13 of the remaining 913 explicitly endorsed the so-called
consensus view. Several actually opposed it.
Even more recently, the Climate Change Science Program, the Bush
administration's coordinating agency for global-warming research, declared
it had found "clear evidence of human influences on the climate system."
This, for Mr. Easterbrook, meant: "Case closed." What exactly was this
evidence? The models imply that greenhouse warming should impact atmospheric
temperatures more than surface temperatures, and yet satellite data showed
no warming in the atmosphere since 1979. The report showed that selective
corrections to the atmospheric data could lead to some warming, thus
reducing the conflict between observations and models descriptions of what
greenhouse warming should look like. That, to me, means the case is still
very much open.
So what, then, is one to make of this alleged debate? I would suggest at
least three points.
First, nonscientists generally do not want to bother with understanding the
science. Claims of consensus relieve policy types, environmental advocates
and politicians of any need to do so. Such claims also serve to intimidate
the public and even scientists--especially those outside the area of climate
Secondly, given that the question of human attribution largely
cannot be resolved, its use in promoting visions of disaster constitutes
nothing so much as a bait-and-switch scam. That is an inauspicious beginning
to what Mr. Gore claims is not a political issue but a "moral" crusade.
Lastly, there is a clear attempt to establish truth not by scientific
methods but by perpetual repetition. An earlier attempt at this was
accompanied by tragedy. Perhaps Marx was right. This time around we may have
farce--if we're lucky.
Mr. Lindzen is the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT.http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110008597
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq
on: January 30, 2007, 11:54:04 PM
If this is right then , , ,
The American Iraq
By FOUAD AJAMI
January 30, 2007; Page A17
So this government in Baghdad, fighting for its life, has not mastered
even the grim science of the gallows, and has no knowledge of the "drop
charts" used for hangings around the world. The Tikritis had been much
better at this sort of thing. They had all the time in the world to perfect
the skills and techniques of terror; they had done it against the background
of relative indifference by outside powers. And they had the indulgence of
the neighboring Arabs who gave their warrant to all that played out in Iraq
under the Tikriti despotism.
Pity those men now hunkered down in Baghdad as they walk a fine, thin
line between the yearning for justice and retribution in their land, and the
scrutiny of the outside world. In the annals of Arab history, the Shia have
been strangers to power, rebels and dissidents and men on the run hunted
down by official power. Now the ground has shifted in Baghdad, and an Arab
world steeped in tyranny reproaches a Shia-led government sitting atop a
volcano. America's "regional diplomacy" -- the name for our earnest but
futile entreaties to the Arab rulers -- will not reconcile the Arab regimes
to the rise of the Shia outcasts.
In the fullness of time, the Arab order of power will have to come to
a grudging acceptance of the order sure to take hold in Baghdad. This is a
region that respects the prerogatives of power. It had once resisted the
coming to power of the Alawites in Syria and then learned to accommodate
that "heretical" minority sect and its conquest of Damascus; the Shia path
in Iraq will follow that trajectory, and its justice is infinitely greater
for it is the ascendancy of a demographic majority, through the weight of
numbers and the ballot box. Of all Arab lands, Iraq is the most checkered, a
frontier country at the crossroads of Arabia, Turkey and Persia. The Sunni
Arabs in Iraq and beyond have never accepted the diversity of that land. The
"Arabism" of the place was synonymous with their own primacy. Now a
binational state in all but name (Arab and Kurdish) has come into being in
Iraq, and the Shia underclass have stepped forth and staked a claim
commensurate with the weight of their numbers. The Sunni Arabs have recoiled
from this change in their fortunes. They have all but "Persianized" the Shia
of Iraq, branded them as a fifth column of the state next door. Contemporary
Islamism has sharpened this feud, for to the Sunni Islamists the Shia are
heretics at odds with the forbidding strictures of the Islamists' fanatical
variant of the faith.
Baghdad, a city founded by the Abbasid Caliph al-Mansour in 762, was
sacked by the Mongols in 1258: The invaders put it to the sword, and dumped
its books and libraries in the Tigris. In the (Sunni) legend, a Shia
minister by the name of Ibn Alqami had opened the gates of the city to the
invaders. History never relents here. In a commentary that followed the
execution of Saddam, a Palestinian commentator in the West Bank city of
Jenin wrote in a pan-Arab daily in London that a descendant of Ibn Alqami
(read Nouri al-Maliki) had put to death a descendant of al-Mansour.
These kinds of atavisms cannot be conciliated. The truth of Iraq will
assert itself on the ground, but the age of Sunni monopoly on power has
passed. One of Iraq's most respected scholar-diplomats, Hassan al-Alawi, has
put the matter in stark terms. It is proper, he said, to speak of an
"American Iraq" as one does of a Sumerian, a Babylonian, an Abbasid, an
Ottoman, and then a British Iraq. Where Iraq in the age of the Pax
Britannica rested on an "Anglo-Sunni" regime, this new Iraq, in the time of
the Americans, is by the logic of things an American-Shia regime. The
militant preachers railing against the fall of Baghdad to an alliance of the
"American crusaders" and the "Shia heretics" are the bearers of a dark, but
intensely felt conviction. We should not be apologetic, in Arab lands
seething with bigotry and rage, about our expedition into Iraq. We shouldn't
fall for Arab rulers who tell us that they would have had the ability to
call off the furies had we had in place a "process" for resolving the claims
of the Palestinians, and had we been able to "deliver" Israel. Those furies
have a life of their own: In truth, they are aided and abetted by these same
rulers in the hope of tranquilizing their own domains and buying off the
embittered in their midst.
The Sunni Arab regimes, it has to be noted, are not of one mind on
Iraq. Curiously, the Arab state most likely to make peace with the new
reality of Iraq is Saudi Arabia; those most hostile are the Jordanians, the
Egyptians and the Palestinians. The Saudi monarch, King Abdullah, has read
the wind with accuracy; he has a Shia minority in his domain, in the
oil-bearing lands of the Eastern Province, and he seems eager to cap the
Wahhabi volcano in the Najdi heartland of his kingdom. There is pragmatism
in that realm, and the place lives by its own coin. In contrast, Jordan and
Egypt present the odd spectacle of countries heavily invested in an
anti-Shia drive but with no Shia citizenry in their midst. The two regimes
derive a good measure of their revenues from "strategic rent" -- the aid of
foreign powers, the subsidies of Pax Americana to be exact. The threat of
Shiism is a good, and lucrative, scarecrow for the rulers in Cairo and
Amman. The promise of standing sentry in defense of the Sunni order is what
these two regimes have to offer both America and the oil states.
The Palestinians, weaker in the scale of power and with troubles of
their own, are in the end of little consequence to the strategic alignment
in the region. But to the extent that their "street" and their pundits
matter, they can be counted upon to view the rise of this new Iraq with
reserve and outright hostility. For six decades, the Palestinians have had a
virtual monopoly on pan-Arab sentiments, and the Arabic-speaking world
indulged them. Iraq -- its wounds, and the promise of its power and
resources -- has been a direct challenge to the Palestinians and to their
conception of their place in the Arab scheme of things. A seam is stitched
in Palestinian society between its Muslim majority and its minority
Christian communities. Palestinians have little by way of exposure to the
Shia. To the bitter end, the Palestinian street remained enamored of Saddam
Hussein. Iraq's Shia majority has returned the favor, and has come to view
the Palestinians and their cause with considerable suspicion.
For our part, the Pax Americana has not been at peace with the Shia
genie it had called forth. We did not know the Shia to begin with; we saw
them through the prism of our experience with Iran. Moqtada al-Sadr in
Baghdad and Hassan Nasrallah in Beirut: This was the face of the new Shiism
and we were spooked by it. And we were susceptible as well to the
representations made to us by Arab rulers about the dangers of radical
This was odd: We had been in the midst of a searing battle with al
Qaeda and the Taliban, zealous Sunni movements, but we were still giving
credence to the Arab warnings about the threat of Shiism. Nor were the Shia
who would finally claim power in Iraq possessed of an appreciable
understanding of American ways. Nouri al-Maliki speaks not a word of
English; with years of exile in Syria behind him, he was at considerable
disadvantage in dealing with the American presence in his country. He and
the political class around him lacked the traffic with American diplomacy
that had seasoned their counterparts in Cairo, Amman and the Arabian
Peninsula. Without that intimacy, they had been given to premonitions that
America could yet strike a bargain, at their expense, with the Sunni order
We held aloft the banner of democracy, but in recent months our faith
in democracy's possibilities in Iraq has appeared to erode, and this
unnerves the Shia political class. President Bush's setback in the
congressional elections gave the Iraqis legitimate cause for concern: Prime
Minister Maliki himself wondered aloud whether this was the beginning of a
general American retreat in Iraq. And there was that brief moment when it
seemed as though the "realists" of the James Baker variety were in the midst
of a restoration. The Shia (and the Kurds) needed no deep literacy in
strategic matters to read the mind of Mr. Baker. His brand of realism was
anathema to people who tell their history in metaphors of justice and
betrayal. He was a known entity in Iraq; he had been the steward of American
foreign policy when America walked away, in 1991, from the Kurdish and Shia
rebellions it had called for. The political class in Baghdad couldn't have
known that the Baker-Hamilton recommendations would die on the vine, and
that President Bush would pay these recommendations scant attention. The
American position was not transparent, and there were in the air rumors of
retrenchment, and thus legitimate Iraqi fears that the American presence in
Baghdad could be bartered away in some accommodation with the powers in
These fears were to be allayed, but not put to rest, by the military
"surge" that President Bush announced in recent days. More than a military
endeavor, the surge can be seen as a declaration by the president that
deliverance would be sought in Baghdad, and not in deals with the rogues
(Syria and Iran) or with the Sunni Arab states. Prime Minister Maliki and
the coalition that sustains his government could not know for certain if
this was the proverbial "extra mile" before casting them adrift, or the sure
promise that this president would stay with them for the remainder of his
time in office.
But there can be no denying that with the surge the landscape has
altered in Baghdad, and that Mr. Bush is invested in the Maliki government
as never before. Mr. Maliki's predecessor -- a man who belongs to the same
political party and hails from the same traditional Shia political class --
was forced out of office by an American veto and Mr. Maliki could be
forgiven his suspicion that the Americans might try this again. It was known
that he had never taken to the American envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, and that he
fully understood that American officials would rather have other Shia
contenders in his post -- our old standby Ayad Allawi, the current vice
president Adel Abdul Mahdi, both more worldly men at ease with American
ways. So if this is America's extra mile in Baghdad, it has to be traversed
with a political leader whose abilities and intentions have been repeatedly
called into question by American officials.
This marriage of convenience may be the best that can be hoped for.
Mr. Maliki will not do America's bidding, and we should be grateful for his
displays of independence. He straddles the fence between the things we want
him to do -- disarming the militias, walking away from Moqtada al-Sadr --
and the requirements of political survival. We have been waiting for the
Iraqis to assume responsibility for their own affairs and we should not be
disconcerted when they take us at our word. The messages put out by American
officials now and then, that Mr. Maliki is living on borrowed time, and the
administered leaks of warnings he has been given by President Bush, serve
only to undermine whatever goals we seek in Baghdad.
With Saddam's execution, this prime minister has made himself a power
in the vast Shia mainstream. Having removed Ibrahim Jaafari from office last
year, the American regency is doomed to live with Mr. Maliki, for a policy
that attempts to unseat him is sure to strip Iraqis of any sense that they
are sovereign in their own country. He cannot be granted a blank check, but
no small measure of America's success in Iraq now depends on him. If he is
to fall, the deed must be an affair of the Iraqis, and of the broad Shia
coalition to be exact. He may now to able to strike at renegade elements of
the Mahdi Army, for that movement that once answered to Moqtada al-Sadr and
carried his banners has splintered into gangs led by bandit warlords. In our
concern with Moqtada al-Sadr and the Mahdi Army, we ought to understand the
reluctance of Mr. Maliki's ruling coalition to take on the Shia militias.
The terror inflicted on the Shia -- an unrelenting affair of the last three
years -- makes it extremely difficult for a Shia-led government to disarm
men who pose as defenders of a community still under brutal siege.
Boldness and despair may have come together to carry forward this new
drive in Baghdad. Fear of failure often concentrates the mind, and President
Bush's policy could yet find its target right as the skeptics have written
off this whole project in Baghdad. Iraq has had its way of meting out
disappointments at every turn, but the tide of events appears to be working
in the president's favor.
There is a "balance of terror" today between the Sunni and Shia
protagonists. More and more Sunni Arabs know that their old dominion is
lost, and that they had better take the offer on the table -- a share of the
oil revenues, the promise that the constitution could be amended and
reviewed, access to political power and spoils in return for reining in the
violence and banishing the Arab jihadists. The Shia, too, may have to come
to a time of reckoning. Their old tormentor was sent to the gallows, and a
kinsman of theirs did the deed with the seal of the state. From the poor
Shia slums of Baghdad, young avengers answered the Sunni campaign of terror
with brutal terror of their own. The old notion -- once dear to the Sunnis,
and to the Shia a nagging source of fear and shame -- that the Sunnis of
Iraq were a martial race while the Shia were marked for lamentations and
political quiescence has been broken for good.
The country has been fought over, and a verdict can already be
discerned -- rough balance between its erstwhile Sunni rulers and its Shia
inheritors, and a special, autonomous life for the Kurds. Against all dire
expectations, the all-important question of the distribution of oil wealth
appears close to a resolution. The design for sharing the bounty is a
"federal" one that strikes a balance between central government and regional
claimants. The nightmare of the Sunni Arabs that they would be left stranded
in regions of sand and gravel has been averted.
This is the country midwifed by American power. We were never meant to
stay there long. Iraq will never approximate the expectations we projected
onto it in more innocent times. But we should be able to grant it the gift
of acceptance, and yet another dose of patience as it works its way out of
its current torments. It is said that much of the war's nobility has drained
out of it, and that we now fight not to lose, and to keep intact our larger
position in the oil lands of the Arabian Peninsula and the Persian Gulf.
This may not be the stuff of glory, but it has power and legitimacy all its
Mr. Ajami is a 2006 recipient of the Bradley Prize, teaches at Johns
Hopkins and is author of "The Foreigner's Gift: The Americans, the Arabs,
and the Iraqis in Iraq" (Free Press, 2006).