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29051  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: September 27, 2007, 07:21:07 AM
Although most of this piece is about NK, I post it here because a goodly part of this piece concerns events that have been covered in this thread:


Geopolitical Diary: A Softened U.S. Stance Toward North Korea?

The six-party talks over North Korea's nuclear program are ramping up again in Beijing amid seemingly contradictory signals from the United States.

On one hand, North Korea was implicated in nuclear proliferation, through a series of leaks (intentional or otherwise) to U.S. and Israeli press outlets, after a Sept. 6 Israeli airstrike in Syria that was reportedly aimed at a facility hosting North Korean missile or nuclear technology and workers. On the other hand, U.S. representative to the six-party talks Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill is offering an upbeat assessment of progress on dismantling North Korea's nuclear facilities following a pre-meeting session with North Korean envoy Kim Kye Gwan on the eve of the six-party talks.

Meanwhile, U.S. President George W. Bush used his address at the U.N. General Assembly to label North Korea a "brutal regime," and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice separately suggested that North Korea might be removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism even before the question of kidnapped Japanese citizens is resolved.

The six-party talks are, in and of themselves, not necessary to solve the North Korean nuclear issue. The nuclear crisis -- or interminable bureaucratic discussion punctuated by moments of excitement -- has been going on for more than a decade. At its most basic level, it represents an attempt by North Korea, a nation squeezed between U.S.-backed South Korea and an at-best-ambiguous China to the north, to break free from the international isolation left over from the collapse of its Cold-War life-support system, all on its own terms. And the main focus of North Korean attention is the United States.

Interestingly, despite the rising speculation about North Korean proliferation to Syria, Washington does not appear to be taking too hard a line against Pyongyang leading up to this round of talks, aside from Bush's requisite lumping of North Korea in with the likes of Belarus, Syria and Iran. And Pyongyang does not appear to be taking steps that would indicate it is all that concerned about the circulating accusations or the attendant consequences for such actions one would normally expect from the United States.

Rather, it seems the earliest hints that came out after the Israeli airstrike on Syria might be the most accurate: that Pyongyang -- in private bilateral negotiations with Washington -- handed over its buyers list, including the lot numbers and details of what it sold to whom and when, and that the Israelis launched a strike on Syria following the U.S. disclosure of a small piece of that information to Tel Aviv. In return, North Korea has been promised removal from the U.S. State Sponsors of Terrorism list, in addition to other incentives (perhaps including progress on normalization talks) as part of overall bilateral negotiations.

The mystery and obfuscation following the Israeli strike against Syria, then, allows Washington and North Korea to both play like they don't know what is going on, with neither losing face. Israel leaks that it was in possession of the information and shared it with the United States, not the other way around. (This also makes up for the obvious intelligence failure on the part of the Israelis, if they truly had to wait for North Korea to tell them where the offending material was hiding). North Korea calls Washington a hypocrite for helping Israel develop nuclear weapons and quickly meets with the Syrians, feigning ignorance and claiming conspiracy.

And remarkably, amid what might be proof positive of both Syrian attempts to acquire nuclear weapons and North Korean proliferation of nuclear material, there is no slowing of the six-party process, or of Washington's negotiations with Pyongyang.

If that is the case, then two things will come out of this week's six-party talks. First, there will be clear movement on North Korea's commitment to dismantle the aging Yongbyon nuclear facility, as well as on Washington's assurances of economic aid and removing Pyongyang from international blacklists. But this is window dressing.

More important will be the panic in China (if not also in South Korea, Japan and Russia) as it sees the United States and North Korea reshaping their relationship in spite of the other regional interests. This could strip Beijing of much of its negotiating leverage with Washington on other issues, leave Seoul off-balance as it tries to pursue its own path with regard to the upcoming inter-Korean summit and keep the outlying parties -- Moscow and Tokyo -- unsure of just what the United States will do next, or how that will affect Japan's attempts to take charge of shaping Northeast Asia and Russia's efforts to reassert itself in the region.
29052  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers: on: September 27, 2007, 07:12:00 AM

"No political truth is certainly of greater intrinsic value, or is
stamped with the authority of more enlightened patrons of liberty
than that on which the objection is founded. The accumulation of
all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same
hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary,
self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very
definition of tyranny."

-- James Madison (Federalist No. 48, 1 February 1788)

Reference: Madison, Federalist No. 47.
29053  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politically (In)correct on: September 27, 2007, 12:12:25 AM
And what an impression of the American mindset this man will take away from the experience!!!
29054  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Indianapolis pinged? on: September 26, 2007, 02:44:55 PM

From today's Indy Star:

Inactive explosives found at airport

By Meagan Ingerson
September 26, 2007

A suspicious item found in a security checkpoint at Indianapolis International Airport this morning caused a concourse of the airport to be closed for about an hour, delaying several flights, according to a report from the Indianapolis Airport Police.
An unidentified passenger reported the suspicious package, which appeared to be an improvised explosive device, after finding the item in a stack of gray plastic trays used to send personal belongings through the X-ray machine, the report stated.
Police shut down the checkpoint and adjoining concourse D from 5:10 to 6:20 a.m. A perimeter was set up and a bomb squad from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department rendered the device safe.

The suspected bomb appears to be a simulated explosive device, the report stated. The device included a battery, wires, a switch, and a plastic bag containing a modeling-clay-like substance labeled as a semtex imitation. Semtex is a plastic explosive often used in terrorist attacks.

According to the report, a second plastic bag also contained a fake explosive consisting of a small amount of a liquid labeled helix and a powder-filled tube. The bag was marked with a label from manufacturer S.E.T.D. Law Enforcement Training Center in Stamford, N.Y., the report stated.

Police called the manufacturer and were told that the company did manufacture the simulated helix but did not make the semtex imitation.

The origin of the simulated device is unknown. The incident is still under investigation by airport police.

Several East Coast-bound flights for United and U.S. Airways were delayed as a result of the closure, airport spokeswoman Susan Sullivan said. No flights were cancelled.

29055  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Thom Beers Interview WJFK RADIO Sept. 07 on: September 26, 2007, 02:40:56 PM
29056  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: September 26, 2007, 01:55:53 PM
Political Journal WSJ

Maybe Liberals Should Find a Radio Host Named 'Laura'

Liberals in Congress have signaled they would like nothing better than to revive the New Deal-era Fairness Doctrine -- which would hobble talk radio by mandating a balanced presentation of all views -- should Democrats win both the White House and Congress next year.

They have a simple motivation. Liberal talk radio just can't seem to make it in the marketplace. Maybe it's because National Public Radio, which is taxpayer-subsidized, leans left enough to satisfy liberal listeners' ideological sweet tooth. Maybe the talk radio audience is skewed to the self-employed who drive much of the day or to conservative retirees. Or maybe it's because liberal arguments presented in their full-throated glory just don't sell in a center-right country.

Air America, the liberal talk radio network that debuted in 2004, is in perpetual trouble and has seen Al Franken, its big star, flee for the relative security of a U.S. Senate campaign. Or take the talk radio network started last year by feminists Jane Fonda and Gloria Steinem. The GreenStone radio network offered cutting-edge liberal thinking pitched to a female audience -- and flopped completely. By the time the network's two sugar-mommas pulled the plug late last month, GreenStone had signed up only eight affiliates, all in medium-sized or small markets. The network's staff say they are distressed to find that talk radio continues to be dominated by conservative and male voices.

They need to think again. Female talk radio personalities are doing quite well, thank you. Laura Ingraham's blend of conservative politics and pop culture attracts over five million listeners a week. Laura Schlessinger has almost eight million listeners for her mix of personal advice and stern conservative moral messages. Both have significant female audiences, proving that the message and not the medium is the problem with liberalism's inability to connect with mass audiences on radio.
29057  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 26, 2007, 01:38:13 PM
Cocky - or Cuckoo?

Rudy Giuliani had such a good September -- from a triumphal tour of London to plaudits for his hard-nosed response to the anti-Iraq War ad -- that it's astonishing how quickly his campaign has run onto the shoulder of the road.

First came last week's bizarre cell-phone incident in which the former New York mayor took a call from his wife, Judith, in the middle of his nationally televised speech to the National Rifle Association. Team Giuliani tried to spin the incident as a light-hearted and "spontaneous" moment that humanized their man, but it quickly developed that Rudy has pulled the same stunt in many other states, demonstrating rudeness to his audiences and raising questions about his campaign's self-discipline.

Then, in an interview with the Associated Press, he refused to rule out raising taxes to offset a Social Security deficit. "I am opposed to tax increases, but I would look at whatever proposal they came up with and try to figure out how we can come up with a bipartisan way to do it,'' Mr. Giuliani said. That very approach has been tried many times before -- most notably by the Greenspan Commission in 1983 -- and always the resultant higher payroll taxes have far outweighed any modest reforms imposed on future Social Security obligations.

Mr. Giuliani's stance may explain why he has refused to sign the "no new taxes" pledge made famous by Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform. But he should realize that since almost every Republican in both the House and Senate has signed it, the maneuvering room for a GOP president to push for tax increases is quite limited. In the meantime, look for the next round of GOP primary debates to become more contentious as candidates who signed the Norquist pledge -- Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee -- line up against those, such as John McCain and Mr. Giuliani, who have not. Fred Thompson, the newest entrant in the GOP field, hasn't made clear what his position will be.

political journal WSJ
29058  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Communicating with the Muslim World on: September 26, 2007, 01:28:29 PM
Wednesday, Sep. 26, 2007
My Dinner with Ahmadinejad

By Richard Stengel

The invitation was on creamy stationery with fancy calligraphy: The Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran "requests the pleasure" of my company to dine with H.E. Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The dinner is at the Intercontinental Hotel — with names carefully written out at all the place settings around a rectangular table. There are about 50 of us, academics and journalists mostly. There's Brian Williams across the room, and Christiane Amanpour a few seats down. And at a little after 8pm, on a day when he has already addressed the U.N., the evening after his confrontation at Columbia, a bowing and smiling Mahmoud Admadinejad glides into the room.
This is now an annual ritual for the President of Iran. Every year, during the U.N. General Assembly in New York, he plots out a media campaign that — in its shrewdness, relentlessness, and quest for attention — would rival Angelina Jolie on a movie junket. And like any international figure, Mr. Ahmadinejad hones his performance for multiple audiences: in this case, the journalists and academics who can filter his speech and ideas for a wider American audience.
The format of the evening is curious. In his calm and fluent voice — "dear friends," he calls us — he requests that we not ask questions, but make statements, so that he can react to them in a form of dialogue. The academics are not shy. They make statements not only about the need for dialogue and reconciliation, but castigate the Iranian government for chilling press freedoms and for arresting Iranian-American scholars who were only trying to foster better relations between America and Iran. Throughout, Ahmadinejad is courtly, preternaturally calm, and fiercely articulate.
After an hour, he is ready to respond. He does so first with a half-hour ode to the relationship between man and God that might have been dictated by the Persian poet Rumi. "I believe that Almighty God created the universe for mankind. Man is God's most important creation and it is through him that we appreciate the beauties of the universe. God has sent man here on a mission." That mission, he says, is to pursue love, justice, kindness and dignity. In fact, he repeats those works so often that it begins to sound like a mantra: Love. Justice. Kindness. Dignity. He speaks with the quiet zeal of a not-very-flamboyant televangelist. "The pursuit of justice through love and kindness and human dignity can end all conflicts on earth," he says. "Inshallah."
When it comes time for him to address the comments, he does so by citing each speaker by name — 23 in all, he notes. In contrast with what he calls the lack of respect and dignity accorded to him at Columbia — where, he says, he found it odd that an academic institution which prizes tolerance would treat him without any — he addresses each person carefully and patiently. Some highlights:
- Iran has not violated any of the rules of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ahmadinejad says. He has proposed a multilateral uranium enrichment program with different nations, and can't understand why no one has taken up his offer.
- The US and Iran can play a positive role together in Iraq. "If the US withdraws from Iraq, good things will happen," he says. "I believe that the Iraqi people can rule themselves."
- In the Middle East, Ahmadinejad says the world must allow the Palestinians to decide their future for themselves: "That is the human solution to sixty years of instability." He refers to Israel only as "the Zionist regime" and does not mention the Holocaust.
- Ahmadinejad claims there are thirty newspapers published in Iran that are opposed to his government, citing that as evidence of press freedom in Iran.
- In answer to a question about how he viewed Hitler's legacy, he says, "I view Hitler's role as extremely negative, a despicably dark face."
- He notes that Americans don't understand Iranian history, saying that the movie 300 — with which he seems intimately familiar — was a "complete distortion of Iranian history." Iran, he says, has never invaded anyone in its history.
Finally, in response to a question about whether war with Iran was growing more likely, he says, "Mr. Bush is interested in harming Iran. But I believe there are wise politicians in America who will prevent such a war. We hate war. We would not welcome it. But we are prepared for every scenario. Yet I don't think war will happen."
With that, Ahmadinejad says he has an early morning appointment the next day, and that he welcomes greater dialogue like this evening. And then, still composed, and with the same slightly mysterious smile that never leaves his face all evening, he bows deeply and heads upstairs.
29059  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: September 26, 2007, 10:36:29 AM
The biz of MMA marches on:  Kimbo vs. Tank
29060  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: September 26, 2007, 10:16:11 AM
Aha!  Here are the reasons against!


“Time was, Ronald Reagan’s 600-ship Navy gave us freedom of the seas. But if Joe Biden and the Senate have their way, we’ll need the permission of 21 judges in Hamburg. On Thursday, presidential wannabe Biden will chair hearings intended to lead to the ratification of the quarter-century-old Law of the Sea treaty (LOST), a document that would severely restrict our ability to use oceans to defend ourselves and would turn over control of 70% of the world’s surface to a U.N. bureaucracy. Supporters say we must be a signatory to guarantee our share of the resources to be found under the world’s oceans and to avoid situations like the race to claim the sea bed under the Arctic between Russia, Canada and other states. But experience suggests a Law of the Sea tribunal won’t protect interests we should be protecting ourselves. LOST would create an International Seabed Authority (ISA) with the power to regulate and tax things like seabed mining, fishing rights and deep-sea oil exploration. The ISA would decide who gets access to the sea’s resources, and the companies granted these rights would pay a royalty to the ISA. When he refused to sign ISA in 1982, President Reagan rightly decided the U.S. shouldn’t be a part of this global resource grab and redistribution of wealth. It’s in the area of national security that LOST is most dangerous. The [Bush] administration cites military support for the treaty because of its uniform limit on territorial waters and its establishment of ‘rules of the road’ for littoral waters. But current international law already protects nonaggressive passage of military ships. When Reagan vetoed the treaty, the U.S. Navy had 594 warships. We could protect our own right of passage. Today the fleet has withered to 276 vessels. Is that why we need the treaty? The answer is to build more warships. Our access to the seas should be guaranteed by the Navy and not a U.N. bureaucracy.” —Investor’s Business Daily
29061  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: September 26, 2007, 08:30:46 AM
I can't remember why, but when this Treaty first came up for confirmation years ago I was against it.

I have mixed feelings about Co-author James Baker, but George Shultz is someone who I've respected greatly over the years.


Why the 'Law of the Sea'
Is a Good Deal
September 26, 2007; Page A21

The Convention of the Law of the Sea is back. It will be the subject of Senate hearings this week. If the U.S. finally becomes party to this treaty, it will be a boon for our national security and our economic interests. U.S. accession will codify our maritime rights and give us new tools to advance national interests.

The convention's primary functions are to define maritime zones, preserve freedom of navigation, allocate resource rights, establish certainty necessary for various businesses that depend on the sea and protect the marine environment. Flaws in the deep-seabed mining chapter that prevented President Reagan from supporting the convention were fixed in 1994. Both President Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have supported accession. Yet, the U.S. remains one of the few major countries not party to the convention.

Our participation would increase our ability to wage the war on terror. The convention assures maximum maritime naval and air mobility, which is essential for our military forces to operate effectively. It provides the stability and framework for our forces, weapons and materials to be deployed without hindrance -- ensuring our ability to navigate past critical choke points throughout the world.

Some say it's good enough to protect our navigational interests through customary law. If that approach fails, then we can employ the threat of force or the use of it. However, because customary law is vague, it does not provide a strong foundation for critical national security rights. Meanwhile, the use of force can be risky and costly. Joining the convention would put our vital rights on a firmer legal basis, gaining legal certainty and legitimacy as we operate in the world's largest international zone.

This is why the U.S. military has been a strong advocate of joining the Law of the Sea Convention. This point was reinforced in a recent letter sent by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Sen. Joe Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, calling on the Senate to support U.S. accession because "t furthers our National Security Strategy, strengthens the coalition, and supports the President's Proliferation Security Initiative."

The convention also provides substantial economic benefits to the United States. It accords coastal states the right to declare an Exclusive Economic Zone -- an area where they have exclusive rights to explore and exploit, and the responsibility to conserve and manage, living and non-living resources extending 200 nautical miles seaward from their shoreline. Our nation's EEZ is larger than that of any country in the world -- covering an area greater than the landmass of the lower 48 states. This zone can be extended beyond 200 nautical miles if certain geological criteria are met. This has potentially significant economic benefits to the U.S. where its continental shelves may be as broad as 600 miles, such as off Alaska, an area containing vast natural resources.

Further, as the world's pre-eminent maritime power with one of the longest coastlines, the U.S. has more to gain and to lose than any other country in terms of how the convention's terms are interpreted and applied.

Accession would increase our influence by allowing us to nominate experts for the technical bodies that apply the convention's terms, address proposals to amend the convention from within (rather than from the sidelines), and increase our credibility as a leader in international ocean policy.

As we speak, international deliberations for rights to energy- and mineral-rich areas in the Arctic beyond the traditional 200-mile EEZ are proceeding without U.S. input. Just recently, Russia placed its flag on the North Pole's ocean floor. While seen as largely symbolic, the part of the Arctic Ocean claimed by Russia could hold oil and gas deposits equal to about 20% of the world's current oil and gas reserves. If the U.S. was party to the treaty, we would strengthen our capacity to influence deliberations and negotiations involving other nations' attempts to extend their continental boundaries.

As a non-party, however, the U.S. has limited options for disputing claims such as these and is stymied from taking full advantage of resources that could be under U.S. jurisdiction. Similarly, lack of participation in the convention is jeopardizing economic opportunities associated with commercial deep-sea mining operations in international waters beyond exclusive economic zones -- opportunities currently being pursued by Canadian, Australian and German firms.

The continuing delay of U.S. accession to the convention compromises our nation's authority to exercise its sovereign interests, jeopardizes its national and economic security, and limits its leadership role in international ocean policy.

Given President Bush's public statement of support for the convention, the support of prior presidents and their administrations and the strong, bipartisan and diverse support it has from all major U.S. ocean industries, the environmental community and national security experts, it is clearly time for the Senate to act by supporting accession to the Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Messrs. Baker and Shultz are former secretaries of state.
29062  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 26, 2007, 08:21:22 AM
This from the WSJ!

Calling Rudy
For Mr. Giuliani, it's more than his wife that's on the line.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Most Americans understand it takes an extra chromosome to run for President, but there are some limits on odd behavior. Which makes us wonder what Rudy Giuliani was thinking last Friday when he accepted, and even flaunted, a phone call from his wife Judith in the middle of his speech to the National Rifle Association.

This was no emergency call. His cell phone rang in his pocket during his speech, which is itself unusual; most public officials turn theirs off during events, if only out of courtesy for the audience. Mr. Giuliani went on to answer it and carry on a routine "love you" and "have a safe trip" exchange with Mrs. Giuliani while the crowd (and those of us watching on C-Span) wondered what in the world that was all about.

His campaign aides spun the episode as a "candid and spontaneous moment" illustrative of the couple's affection. We might believe that if we hadn't heard stories of similar behavior by Mr. Giuliani as he has campaigned around the country. During one event in Oklahoma, we're told he took two calls, at least one from his wife, and chatted for several minutes as the audience waited. That episode followed Mr. Giuliani's eye-popping disclosure earlier this year that, if he's elected, his wife would sit in on Cabinet meetings. He later downplayed that possibility.

Mr. Giuliani has run an impressive campaign so far, especially on the issues. He has a record of accomplishment in New York, and he projects the kind of executive competence that many Americans want in a President. The rap on his candidacy, however, is that his personal history and behavior are simply too strange for someone who wants to sit in the Oval Office. Voters will decide whether that's true, but if nothing else Mr. Giuliani ought to be aware of this vulnerability and do nothing to compound it.

"That was just weird," one NRA audience member told the New York Post about the phone interruption. Mr. Giuliani doesn't need more weird.

29063  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Anti-semitism & Jews on: September 26, 2007, 08:16:35 AM
The following was sent to me without URL.  Anyone know anything about this?


Rabbi Marvin Tokayer   
In the mountainous area of northwest China, west of the Min River, near the border of Tibet, in Szechuan lives an ancient people called by the Chinese, Chiang or Chiang-Min, who numbers about 250 thousand people.
The language of the Chiang tribe had been forgotten and they had also lost their ancient script. Today they speak Chinese and two other languages, one that originates from Tibet and the other is a slang which is called Chiaring.

The area which they live is famous for its rare animals and plants including the Panda bear. The Chiang people live in villages similar to fortresses which are generally built on hilltops. In the past they were a great people who ruled the provincial territories from Kansu in the north to Liyunan in the south.

Historical maps during the Han dynasty (3rd century BCE - 3rd century CE) show that this tribe the Chiang spread to the northwest part of China. They themselves see themselves as immigrants from the west who reached this area after a journey of three years three months. The Chinese treated them as Barbarians and they related to the Chinese as idol worshipers.

Hate and enmity existed between the Chinese and this tribe for a long time. They lived independently until the middle of the 18th century when they became part of the general population to earn more freedom. The religious pressure from the Chinese, the spread of Christianity, and the influence of intermarriage caused the Chiang tribe to generally and greatly give up their special monotheistic way of life.

However it is still possible even today to learn about the past traditions of the Chiang tribe through their customs and their faith which they still keep. This tribe had been living a special Israeli way of life for 2300 years.

According to their tradition, the Chiang tribe is the descendant of Abraham and their forefather had 12 sons. Those among them who did not take Chinese wives after their victory in war still look Semitic.

The character traits of this people are integrity, love of neighbor, mutual aid, generosity, modesty, shyness, gratitude, and stubbornness. They also have a fear of heaven or respect for God.

They believe in one God whom they call Abachi meaning the father of heaven, or Mabichu, the spirit of heaven, or also Tian, heaven. As a result of Chinese influences they all call Him God of the mountains as the mountains are the central place for worship of God.

Their concept of God is that of an all powerful God who watches over the entire world, judges the world fairly, rewards the righteous, and punishes the wicked. This God gives them the opportunity to do repentance and to gain atonement for their actions. In times of trouble, they call God Yah-weh.

They also believe in spirits and demons and they are forbidden to worship them, but this is probably a Chinese influence. In the past they had written scrolls of parchment and also books but today they only have oral traditions. They themselves do not understand the prayers that they recite every week.

The Custom of Sacrifice Among the Chiang Tribe

The Chiang tribe lives a very special way of life based on the offering of animal sacrifices which seems to have been seen among the Ten Tribes of Israel. It is forbidden to worship statues or foreign gods and anyone who offers a sacrifice to another god faces the death penalty.

This worship is performed in two ways. It is public sacrifice on platforms erected on mountain tops on which they build altars of stone which may not be fashioned with tools and on which they offer special sacrifices.

They also have domestic of personal sacrifices on domestic altars built on flat surfaces on the roofs of their houses. There is an atmosphere of holy worship in all these sacrifices. They are performed by priests whose priesthood is passed down through inheritance from father to son. This was the same in ancient Israel.

These priests wear clean white clothes and perform the sacrifices in a state of purity as the priests in ancient Israel did (1 Samuel 15:27). I recall that Japanese Shinto priests also wear clean white clothes at holy events.

The priest of the Chiang tribe wears a special head turban. The priest is ordained in a special ceremony in which sacrifices are also offered. Unmarried men may not be a priest, which was the same in ancient Israel (Leviticus 21:7, 13).

The Chiang tribe does not have statues of images but they do have two symbols of holiness. A clean white sheet of paper and a piece of natural white stone. These symbolize absolute purity and perhaps the written parchment which they had in the past. Before one worships God, you must become holy and purify yourself.

It is perhaps because of the Assyrian influence of the past that they try to build their altars next to trees or branches. The altar itself is built of earth which is molded into stones which are then laid one on top of the other without being cut of fashioned by any tool of metal. It is important to remember that in the Torah, the ancient altar could not be made of cut stones (Exodus 20:25), since the sword or whatever tool to be used to cut the stone was also an instrument of war and harm.

The main part of the service is performed at night perhaps to conceal it from other Chinese or because of the special effect of the silence and the tranquility of night. This was also ancient Israeli tradition. It is interesting that the important rituals of Japanese Shinto religion are also performed at night.

Before the offering of sacrifices, one is required to wash one's self and one's clothing and to dress in clean garments. Sacrificial animals themselves must be washed and purified. There is a special place for purification and washing. The elders and priest place their hands on the head of the sacrifice which is to be slaughtered then offer their prayers.

Strangers are forbidden to approach the place of worship. The priest of the Chiang tribe perform the service solemnly. "Unclean ones" are also forbidden to approach the service (Leviticus 21:17-23). These were the same in ancient Israel.

The purpose of the sacrifice is a type of atonement and to bring God's blessings upon those offering the sacrifice. The sacrifice has the purpose of taking away sin and blood must be sprinkled on the corners of the altar to be granted atonement and to have one's prayers accepted.

Prayer Words of the Chiang Tribe

One of the prayers pronounced by the priest of the Chiang tribe in China includes the following prayer:
"Priest of God, You are the Priest of the generations who are witnesses to the fact that our sacrifice is pure and has not been changed by us, but has been performed in the same manner since ancient times. We hereby fulfill our vows. We have not eaten impure foods for three days and we have not been in impure places. We have gathered in the holy place, the bundles of grass for the sprinkling of the blood are in their places and we have brought the sacrifices and have lowered the rope on the bundles of grass for the sprinkling of the blood."

Following the prayer many of the organs of the animal are burnt with the meat in the fire and the priest receives the shoulder, the chest, the legs, and also the skin, and the meat is divided among the worshipers. At the time of the sacrifice 12 flags are placed around the altar in order to teach that they originate from a father who had 12 sons. This system of sacrifices is very similar to the sacrifices brought in ancient Israel at the time of the dispersion of the Lost Tribes.

Among the ceremonies that the Chiang tribe has include the sprinkling of blood on the doorpost to insure the safekeeping of the house, and the laws of levirate marriage which was an Israeli custom as I mentioned earlier. It is considered shameful for a woman to leave her hair uncovered and therefore, they wear white scarves. Mixed dancing of men and women does not take place. And they have a custom of closing all forests for 50 years after which they have a special ceremony to mark their opening. This is like a custom in ancient Israel.

The the Chiang tribe also has a purification of the earth as well as a ceremony with a white scroll or parchment. They show great love for parchment and take care to make sure that it remains unblemished. They also practice trances for witchcraft and to expel demons and this may be a Chinese influence.

The Chiang tribe has a new year feast, a feast of feast, and a feast of thanksgiving, but circumcision is not performed. But after the 7th day or at the eve of the 40th day of the child's life, a white rooster is slaughtered in the child's honor and he is given a name.

29064  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: September 26, 2007, 08:05:24 AM
NY Slimes:

Published: September 26, 2007

RIVERSIDE, N.J., Sept. 25 — A little more than a year ago, the Township Committee in this faded factory town became the first municipality in New Jersey to enact legislation penalizing anyone who employed or rented to an illegal immigrant.

Angelina Guedes has owned a hair and nail salon in Riverside, N.J., for two years. It was nearly empty on a recent afternoon.
Within months, hundreds, if not thousands, of recent immigrants from Brazil and other Latin American countries had fled. The noise, crowding and traffic that had accompanied their arrival over the past decade abated.

The law had worked. Perhaps, some said, too well.

With the departure of so many people, the local economy suffered. Hair salons, restaurants and corner shops that catered to the immigrants saw business plummet; several closed. Once-boarded-up storefronts downtown were boarded up again.

Meanwhile, the town was hit with two lawsuits challenging the law. Legal bills began to pile up, straining the town’s already tight budget. Suddenly, many people — including some who originally favored the law — started having second thoughts.

So last week, the town rescinded the ordinance, joining a small but growing list of municipalities nationwide that have begun rethinking such laws as their legal and economic consequences have become clearer.

“I don’t think people knew there would be such an economic burden,” said Mayor George Conard, who voted for the original ordinance. “A lot of people did not look three years out.”

In the past two years, more than 30 towns nationwide have enacted laws intended to address problems attributed to illegal immigration, from overcrowded housing and schools to overextended police forces. Most of those laws, like Riverside’s, called for fines and even jail sentences for people who knowingly rented apartments to illegal immigrants or who gave them jobs.

In some places, business owners have objected to crackdowns that have driven away immigrant customers. And in many, ordinances have come under legal assault by immigration groups and the American Civil Liberties Union.

In June, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against a housing ordinance in Farmers Branch, Tex., that would have imposed fines against landlords who rented to illegal immigrants. In July, the city of Valley Park, Mo., repealed a similar ordinance, after an earlier version was struck down by a state judge and a revision brought new challenges. A week later, a federal judge struck down ordinances in Hazleton, Pa., the first town to enact laws barring illegal immigrants from working or renting homes there.

Muzaffar A. Chishti, director of the New York office of the Migration Policy Institute, a nonprofit group, said Riverside’s decision to repeal its law — which was never enforced — was clearly influenced by the Hazleton ruling, and he predicted that other towns would follow suit.

“People in many towns are now weighing the social, economic and legal costs of pursuing these ordinances,” he said.

Indeed, Riverside, a town of 8,000 nestled across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, has already spent $82,000 defending its ordinance, and it risked having to pay the plaintiffs’ legal fees if it lost in court. The legal battle forced the town to delay road paving projects, the purchase of a dump truck and repairs to town hall, officials said. But while Riverside’s about-face may repair its budget, it may take years to mend the emotional scars that formed when the ordinance “put us on the national map in a bad way,” Mr. Conard said.

Rival advocacy groups in the immigration debate turned this otherwise sleepy town into a litmus test for their causes. As the television cameras rolled, Riverside was branded, in turns, a racist enclave and a town fighting for American values.

Some residents who backed the ban last year were reluctant to discuss their stance now, though they uniformly blamed outsiders for misrepresenting their motives. By and large, they said the ordinance was a success because it drove out illegal immigrants, even if it hurt the town’s economy.

“It changed the face of Riverside a little bit,” said Charles Hilton, the former mayor who pushed for the ordinance. (He was voted out of office last fall but said it was not because he had supported the law.)

“The business district is fairly vacant now, but it’s not the legitimate businesses that are gone,” he said. “It’s all the ones that were supporting the illegal immigrants, or, as I like to call them, the criminal aliens.”


Towns Rethink Laws Against Illegal Immigrants
Published: September 26, 2007
(Page 2 of 2)

Many businesses that remain are having a hard time. Angelina Guedes, a Brazilian-born beautician, opened A Touch From Brazil, a hair and nail salon, on Scott Street two years ago to cater to the immigrant population. At one point, she had 10 workers.

Business quickly dried up after the law against illegal immigrants. Last week, on what would usually be a busy Thursday afternoon, Ms. Guedes ate a salad and gave a friend a manicure, while the five black stylist chairs sat empty.

“Now I only have myself,” said Ms. Guedes, 41, speaking a mixture of Spanish and Portuguese. “They all left. I also want to leave but it’s not possible because no one wants to buy my business.”

Numerous storefronts on Scott Street are boarded up or are empty, with For Sale by Owner signs in the windows. Business is down by half at Luis Ordonez’s River Dance Music Store, which sells Western Union wire transfers, cellphones and perfume. Next door, his restaurant, the Scott Street Family Cafe, which has a multiethnic menu in English, Spanish and Portuguese, was empty at lunchtime.

“I came here looking for an opportunity to open a business and I found it, and the people also needed the service,” said Mr. Ordonez, who is from Ecuador. “It was crowded and everybody was trying to do their best to support their families.”

Some have adapted better than others. Bruce Behmke opened the R & B Laundromat in 2003 after he saw immigrants hauling trash bags full of clothing to a laundry a mile away. Sales took off at his small shop, where want ads in Portuguese are pinned to a corkboard and copies of the Brazilian Voice sit near the door.

When sales plummeted last year, Mr. Behmke started a wash-and-fold delivery service for young professionals.

“It became a ghost town here,” he said.

Immigration is not new to Riverside. Once a summer resort for Philadelphians, the town became a magnet a century ago for European immigrants drawn to its factories, including the Philadelphia Watch Case Company, whose empty hulk still looms over town. Until the 1930s, the minutes of the school board meetings were recorded in German and English.

“There’s always got to be some scapegoats,” said Regina Collinsgru, who runs The Positive Press, a local newspaper, and whose husband was among a wave of Portuguese immigrants who came here in the 1960s. “The Germans were first, there were problems when the Italians came, then the Polish came. That’s the nature of a lot of small towns.”

Immigrants from Latin America began arriving around 2000. The majority were Brazilians attracted not only by construction jobs in the booming housing market but also by the presence of Portuguese-speaking businesses in town. Between 2000 and 2006, local business owners and officials estimate, more than 3,000 immigrants arrived. There are no authoritative figures about the number of immigrants who were — or were not — in the country legally.

Like those waves of earlier immigrants, the Brazilians and Latinos triggered conflicting reactions. Some shopkeepers loved the extra dollars spent on Scott and Pavilion Streets, the modest thoroughfares that anchor downtown. Yet some residents steered clear of stores where Portuguese and Spanish were plainly the language of choice. A few contractors benefited from the new pool of cheap labor. Others begrudged being undercut by rivals who hired undocumented workers.

On the town’s leafy side streets, some residents admired the pluck of newcomers who often worked six days a week, and a few even took up Capoeira, the Brazilian martial art. Yet many neighbors loathed the white vans with out-of-state plates and ladders on top parked in spots they had long considered their own. The Brazilian flags that flew at several houses rankled more than a few longtime residents.

It is unclear whether the Brazilian and Latino immigrants who left will now return to Riverside. With the housing market slowing, there may be little reason to come back. But if they do, some residents say they may spark new tensions.

Mr. Hilton, the former mayor, said some of the illegal immigrants have already begun filtering back into town. “It’s not the Wild West like it was,” he said, “but it may return to that.”
29065  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: September 26, 2007, 07:57:52 AM
From today's NY Times:

Iran’s Media Assail President’s Treatment

Published: September 26, 2007
TEHRAN, Sept. 25 — Iranian state television on Tuesday sharply criticized the way President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had been treated during his Columbia University talk and asserted that he had triumphed over his adversarial hosts, whom it described as Zionist Jews.

Commentary, interviews and video broadcast in Iran of Mr. Ahmadinejad’s appearance at Columbia on Monday depicted a resolute leader who overcame an ambush of personal insults to present his views on topics like the Holocaust, Israel, the Palestinians and nuclear weapons, views that were described as having been well received by the audience.

“In the end, who was the winner?” asked one television commentator, leaving the answer to a quote from John R. Bolton, a former American ambassador to the United Nations and an outspoken Iran critic, who said Mr. Ahmadinejad was the “big winner” for being able to talk at the university.

The evening news showed scenes of the large crowd that Mr. Ahmadinejad’s talk had drawn inside and outside the university. “Mr. Ahmadinejad was the center of the world news for the past few days,” said the reporter.

“Some media even called on students to boycott the speech,” the reporter added, saying that instead Mr. Ahmadinejad got a warm welcome.

The program repeated scenes that showed the audience cheering Mr. Ahmadinejad, suggesting that a lot of the audience was made up of his supporters. “I saw even Jewish students who walked out of the talk saying Mr. Ahmadinejad was very convincing,” a woman wearing a head scarf told the program in English.

It also pointed out that the president of Columbia, Lee C. Bollinger, had made insulting remarks, without elaborating on them. Mr. Bollinger had said that Mr. Ahmadinejad exhibited “all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator,” and that he was “brazenly provocative or astonishingly uneducated.”

The television broadcasts also showed video of the audience booing Mr. Ahmadinejad when he said there were no homosexuals in Iran. It added that a protest was orchestrated by a Zionist lobby that had brought schoolchildren.

Mohsen Rezai, a former head of the Revolutionary Guards, denounced on the state-run news channel the inhospitable treatment of Mr. Ahmadinejad. “He is the president of a country,” he said. “It is shocking that a country that claims to be civilized treats him that way.”

In an interview with the Aftab Web site, Ali Ahmadi, a member of Parliament, also spoke harshly about Mr. Ahmadinejad’s treatment, and criticized those in the Iranian government who had advised him to appear at the university.

“New York is the headquarters of Zionist Jews, and they have control over Columbia University,” he said. “It seems that our diplomacy apparatus had not given complete information to the president.”
29066  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Islamismo radical y España on: September 26, 2007, 07:56:27 AM
!Mas por favor!
29067  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Music on: September 26, 2007, 07:32:41 AM
This is an extemely important question that you raise.  May I suggest/ask that you do so in the Technology or Libertarian threads?
29068  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers: on: September 26, 2007, 07:28:50 AM

"We have therefore to resolve to conquer or die: Our won Country's
Honor, all call upon us for vigorous and manly exertion, and if we
now shamefully fail, we shall become infamous to the whole world.
Let us therefore rely upon the goodness of the Cause, and the
aid of the supreme Being, in whose hands Victory is, to animate
and encourage us to great and noble Actions. "

-- George Washington (General Orders, 2 July 1776)

Reference: George Washington: A Collection, W.B. Allen, ed. (71)
29069  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: September 2007 Euro Gathering on: September 26, 2007, 01:34:10 AM
I leave on Thursday night.  Looking forward to this!  cool
29070  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: September 26, 2007, 01:24:41 AM
What's Columbia afraid of? An ROTC cadet walking back to his dorm at Princeton. September 25, 2007 -- THE Iranian president's welcome to Columbia - following a self-serving whine by the university's president - reflected brainless activism, not academic freedom.
It was the professoriate imitating Hollywood's embrace of terrorists.

We hear a great deal about the dumbing down of students, but the real problem has been the dumbing down of the teaching class.

Yes, there's been a media fuss over President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's propaganda opportunity. But that just makes the faculty-lounge "heroes" feel even more self-righteous. Anyway, post-modern professors seek publicity, not knowledge.

And we give it to the weasels.

Meanwhile, Columbia denies our military's ROTC programs the chance to recruit and teach on campus - ostensibly because of the Congress-approved "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. Of course, it's just a cultural issue when Ahmadinejad executes homosexuals (although, according to him, there aren't any in Iran).

The ban on ROTC isn't really about gay rights, though. The professors and student-activists behind it believe they're punishing the wicked, wicked Pentagon. Well, let me break the truth to Professor Bunkum: The military doesn't need Ivy League recruits. We're doing just fine without them, thanks.

The victims of the ban are students - who are denied one of the greatest career opportunities our country has to offer. Certainly, not every weenie scribbling a master's thesis on "Cold War-era gender oppression in Archie comics" is meant for a military career. But for the right student the chance to serve would be, literally, the chance of a lifetime.

For the sake of argument, let's set aside all talk of the rewards of serving a higher cause. Selfishly, a military career is an incredible chance for the right individual. My military friends and I can attest that no one ever retired from the Army thinking, Gee, I wish I'd spent my life selling time-shares in Orlando.

The richness of a career in uniform came home to me again a few weeks ago, when I had dinner with a just-retired Army buddy, Col. Tom Wilhem. We were celebrating: He'd recently bought his family their first it's-really-ours home near Ft. Leavenworth, Kan. (Worst of all, from the counter-culture perspective, Tom's family is intact, loving and happy.)

In his three decades of service, Tom had ridden ponies across the steppes and slept in Mongol yurts. He'd bow-hunted big game around the world, convinced the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders to entertain his troops in the Yugoslav ruins - and been chased through the mountains by a Russian helicopter gunship.

As we sat and reminisced, we hooted over the adventures of our other comrades - friends closer than any to be made in the civilian world. We recalled being the first Americans ever to touch remote spots of the globe. Between the two of us, we'd seen a hundred countries, watched multiple wars and helped shape national policies behind the scenes.

We'd stood on different sides of the Khyber Pass and gone on secret counter-drug operations, wandered through the African bush, penetrated fundamentalist-run refugee camps and survived more crises than Lindsay Lohan. Tom rode his antique motorcycle through tribal gun-battles. I'd dodged cobras while jogging in the Golden Triangle.

Talking with Tom conjured the scene in "Blade Runner" when the android played by Rutger Hauer drags Harrison Ford back up to the roof and, before expiring, tries to communicate the wonders he's seen: exploding galaxies and the death of worlds.

Tom and I may not have seen galaxies disintegrate, but we did see empires collapse, humanity torn asunder and the human condition far removed from the shopping mall. Along the way, we encountered realms of beauty far beyond any tourist's itinerary.

Graduates of Columbia will never know what they missed. My pals and I laugh about identity-crisis adults who pay to go on Outward Bound trips. The Army paid us to go.

Meanwhile, the punk egotism poisoning Ivy League faculties prevents even those students who wouldn't measure up to military standards from learning about the richness of the United States beyond the Peter Pan world of the campus. Ahmadinejad may be a Holocaust-denier, but Columbia's faculty denies our nation's history, determined to cast America as the villain.

The profs don't just despise our military - they despise you.

Well, the Army will go on, whether or not young men and women from Columbia, Harvard or Yale sign up to serve. But, thanks to hypocritical professors who want to "protect" them (are students enrolled at Columbia unable to think for themselves?), the Ivy grads will miss a chance to count something other than extra-marital affairs as great adventures.

Back in the 1960s, higher education stopped being about the students and became a theater for the Freudian insecurities of PhDs. In the '70s, their hysterics led to numerous campuses booting out ROTC programs.

The price paid by our military? We now have the best motivated, most professional and best educated armed forces in our history.

The result for the students? President Ahmadinejad - Israel-hater, religious fanatic and sponsor of terror - commands the stage at Columbia, where our veterans are unwelcome.

Who really loses?

Ralph Peters' memoir of his adventure travels in uniform, "Looking for Trouble" is due out next year.

29071  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politically (In)correct on: September 25, 2007, 09:52:21 PM
 rolleyes rolleyes rolleyes

Why I Have A Little Crush on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
by sallykohn
Sun Sep 23, 2007 at 05:50:02 AM PDT

I know I'm a Jewish lesbian and he'd probably have me killed. But still, the guy speaks some blunt truths about the Bush Administration that make me swoon...
sallykohn's diary :: ::

Okay, I admit it. Part of it is that he just looks cuddly. Possibly cuddly enough to turn me straight. I think he kind of looks like Kermit the Frog. Sort of. With smaller eyes. But that’s not all…

I want to be very clear. There are certainly many things about Ahmadinejad that I abhor — locking up dissidents, executing of gay folks, denying the fact of the Holocaust, potentially adding another dangerous nuclear power to the world and, in general, stifling democracy. Even still, I can’t help but be turned on by his frank rhetoric calling out the horrors of the Bush Administration and, for that matter, generations of US foreign policy preceding.

...Monday, when Ahmadinejad speaks at Columbia University in New York, I’ll be listening. Maybe with a bottle of wine and some soft music playing in the background. If I can get past the fact that, as a Jewish lesbian, he’d probably have me killed, I’ll try to listen for some truth.
29072  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Humor/WTF on: September 25, 2007, 05:33:36 PM
Bad Day

I rear ended a car this morning...

I knew It was going to be a really bad day.

The driver got out of the other car and he was a dwarf!

He looked up at me and said, 'I am not Happy'.

I said, 'Well then, which one are you?'

That's when the fight started!!!
29073  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Crafty Dog ? on: September 25, 2007, 05:14:44 PM
Woof Max:

Call me at 310-543-7521 so we can schedule our time.

Please make your deposit at:

The Adventure continues!
29074  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sunni vs. Shia Part Two on: September 25, 2007, 04:09:13 PM
Move toward 'big-tent Islam'

Besides the efforts to encourage dialogue, there's another phenomenon that could help ward off sectarian friction here: the inexorable force of assimilation.

At a time when rising numbers of American Protestants are attending non-denominational community churches and referring to themselves simply as Christians rather than Baptists, Methodists or Lutherans, a similar thing is happening among Muslims in the USA.

"It's a whole new era," says Patel. "The bulk of the American Muslim community is overwhelmingly young, under age 40. And they are experiencing a huge momentum toward 'big-tent Islam.' "

"We don't want to be defined by the classifications of history and the Middle East. The Quran is our authority," says Salim Al-Marayati, executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council. Al-Marayati, a Shiite married to a Sunni, expects to see 10,000 Muslims of all sects celebrate the Eid with the Islamic Center of Southern California next month in Los Angeles.

He calls himself "Sushi," the popular term for a combination of Sunni and Shiite. Once the glib nickname for the children of intermarried couples, it has become shorthand for Muslims who blur sectarian lines.

All that mixing and melding comes to life at the Islamic Society gathering's annual bazaar and the matrimonial meet-up events — the Islamic equivalent of speed dating for singles whose religion bans Western-style dating.

The five-acre bazaar at a convention center in Rosemont, outside Chicago, is a cacophony of blaring music and kaleidoscopic colors, with booths featuring honey, saris, music, travel, bank services, real estate, silver, shampoo, funeral services — and ideas, as well.

There were Sunni and Shiite book stands, promotions for online education programs, and booths for major Muslim political and social groups. Several federal agencies had stands just aisles away from where entrepreneurs hawked T-shirts emblazoned with slogans such as "Frisk Me, I'm Muslim."

At the adjacent Hyatt Hotel grand ballroom, a more familiar form of unity is the focus: marriage.

At each of two "matrimonial events," 200 women, ages 18 and up, were seated at 40 tables, with an empty seat between each woman so 200 men could rotate around the room, chatting with each woman for a few minutes before jumping to the next chair.

Zipping from chair to chair in the ballroom, "I don't think I even had time to ask a girl whether she was Sunni or Shia," says Faizan Arshad, a 24-year-old medical student in Chicago who's discussing a future with a woman he met that day. "To split hairs about sect did not seem the best use of my time," he says in a later e-mail.

Arshad is typical, says Patel, author of Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim. Patel, a Shiite, is married to a Sunni and says they want their "Sushi" child to grow up "fluent in all the multiple rituals and practices of Islam."

Or perhaps Patel's child will be more like Sarah Soliman, 17, of Cincinnati, daughter of Egyptian-born Sunni parents and a conference organizer for the Islamic Society's teen wing, Muslim Youth of North America.

"I didn't know until I was in middle school that there were any differences among us," Sarah says, "and I still don't get the split."
29075  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: September 25, 2007, 04:07:16 PM
Sunni-vs-Shite in US?


Today's USA TODAY had an article on a subject that I've never seen addressed before, possible conflict between US Sunni's and Shite's.

Tension between Sunnis, Shiites emerging in USA

By Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY

When Muslim journalist S. Hussain Zaidi toured the USA recently, he was stunned by what he saw: Shiite and Sunni Muslims, whose conflicts have fueled the war in Iraq and tension in the Middle East and beyond, were praying together in U.S. mosques.

"It is something we never see at home," says Zaidi, of India. "They want to kill each other everywhere except in the USA."

For years, Sunnis and Shiites in this country have worked together to build mosques, support charities, register voters and hold massive feasts for Eid al-Fitr (on Oct. 13 this year in the USA), the celebration at the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

Now there are small signs of tension emerging in America's Muslim community that are raising concerns among many of its leaders. They worry that the bitter divisions that have caused so much bloodshed abroad are beginning to have an impact here. Such concerns are rising at a time when the USA's Muslim community has grown from less than 1 million in 1990 to nearly 2.5 million today, with two of three Muslims born overseas, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center.

"You have people who recently arrived from other places where things may have gotten out of hand," says Sheik Hamza Yusuf, the U.S.-born co-founder of the nation's first Muslim seminary, the Zaytuna Institute, in Berkeley, Calif. "It takes just one deranged person with a cousin back home who died in a suicide bombing to create trouble here."

Several recent incidents pointing to rising tension among Sunnis and Shiites here have led Muslim leaders to call on their followers to reach out to those in other sects. None of the incidents has been violent. But Yusuf and other leaders worry that these could be signs of increasingly cool relations between Sunnis and Shiites here or undermine other Americans' views of a religion that has been under particular scrutiny since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Among the incidents:

•Shiite mosques and businesses in the Detroit area were vandalized in January, and a Shiite restaurant owner said he'd received a threatening call mentioning his sect.

Authorities have yet to identify the vandals. But some Shiite Muslims told local news media they believe Sunnis were behind the broken windows and graffiti because Shiites had celebrated publicly when former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, a Sunni, was executed in December by Iraq's Shiite-led government.

•On several Muslim websites in recent months, Sunnis and Shiites from Seattle to Manhattan have traded accusations that they have been rebuffed from worshiping at each other's mosques.

Meanwhile, a small Sunni group known as the Islamic Thinkers Society, which has branded Shiites as heretics and is known for distributing provocative leaflets in New York's Times Square, has gone online to urge its followers to "avoid" contact with a range of Islamic studies scholars and theologians, several at U.S. colleges.

•Muslim Student Associations on a few campuses, such as Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., and the University of Michigan at Dearborn, have disagreed so vehemently over which sect could lead prayers that students sometimes have refused to pray together.

The factionalism on those campuses has cooled recently, but many observers worry it could return. They say it's partly a reflection of the rising numbers of Muslim students. "If you have nine Muslims in one MSA, they have to get along," says Muslim sociologist Eboo Patel, 31, of Chicago. "If you have 90, there's enough to break into splinter groups."
Other Muslim activists, scholars and imams, who lead the important Friday communal prayers in the nation's 1,000 mosques, agree that the episodes partly reflect their community's growth and diversity in America.
They fear such incidents could fuel "Islamophobia" — their term for irrational prejudice against anyone Islamic.

"The sad reality is that there are extremists" who selectively misuse Islamic teachings to justify their violence, says Ingrid Mattson, a professor of Islamic Studies at Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Conn., and the president of the USA's largest Muslim civic and social group, the Islamic Society of North America.

At the society's annual Labor Day weekend gathering — an event in suburban Chicago that was part academic seminar, part community rally and part reunion for more than 30,000 families — Mattson's keynote speech urged Muslims to "look beyond the seventh-century tribal society into which Islam was first revealed."

A split over succession

Sunnis and Shiites share belief in the five pillars of Islam — submission to God, daily prayer, fasting, charity and a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in any able Muslim's life. But they split over Islam's spiritual leadership.
The schism dates to the death of the prophet Mohammed in A.D. 632. Shiites believe that a relative, Ali ibn Abi Talib, had been named successor and that his son Ali, assassinated in 661, and grandson Hussein inherited the rightful imam's miraculous knowledge and powers.

Sunnis, however, believed the Muslim community should elect its leader based on scholarly merit, not heredity. They chose Abu Bakr, a companion of the prophet, instead.

By 680, the sects were at war. Hussein was killed at the battle of Karbala in modern-day Iraq that year, and to this day, Shiites mourn him and other martyred imams.

Since then, like Christians who waged religious wars across Europe for centuries over how to interpret the Bible or baptize a believer, Muslim sects and the legal schools within them have developed differing views on faith and practice, each certain that salvation is at stake.
Among the world's estimated 1.4 billion Muslims, about 85% are Sunni and about 15% are Shiite.

For all the conflicts among Muslims abroad, those in America historically not only have gotten along, but assimilated to the point that their sects have become secondary. In a 2006 survey of 1,000 Muslim registered voters, about 12% identified themselves as Shiite, 36% said they were Sunni, and 40% called themselves "just a Muslim," according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

"America gives people the unique opportunity to leave cultural, historical baggage behind," CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper says. "We can serve as a model to the world of an Islam that is clear, calm, articulate, forthright and civil."

Even so, it's an opportunity a few Muslims in the USA refuse.
"I've seen people fight over how close their toes can be when they kneel in prayer. It's got to stop," says Imam Mohamed Magid of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS), which has seven mosques in the Washington, D.C., area.

ADAMS is primarily Sunni, but Magid has his own way of quelling sectarianism.

"We teach all the scholars and traditions, and we invite Shia and Sunni imams to lead prayers," says the Sudanese-born Magid. "We don't have to fight."

He says he was heartened when 10,000 people at the Islamic Society event cheered for a new Muslim Code of Honor, pledging Sunni and Shiite respect and cooperation.

The code, drafted by the Muslim Public Affairs Council, a civil rights group, initially was circulated in Southern California after the Detroit vandalism incidents. It moved quickly to Michigan and then to the leadership of several major U.S. and Canadian Muslim political, social and religious groups.

In June, a half-dozen groups launched an "American Muslim Iraq Peace Initiative" intended to build harmony and make clear that "America cannot be a scene of conflict," says Nihad Awad, executive director of CAIR.
29076  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: September 25, 2007, 04:03:55 PM
Wisconsin Circuit Court Sides With Gun Owners


9/24/07 - Today, the 31st Circuit Court of Milwaukee County ruled that the Concealed Carry Weapons (CCW) statute was unconstitutional as applied to a particular defendant -- in this case, a pizza delivery driver who carried a gun for self-defense on the job, after being robbed repeatedly in a high crime area.

Andres Vegas is a pizza delivery driver and has been robbed and mugged while attempting to deliver a pizza on four different occasions. The first time was in March of 2005. The second time was July 14, 2006, when Vegas was attacked and threatened at gunpoint. Vegas, armed with a firearm, exercised his constitutional right of self-defense and shot one of the assailants. Vegas was not charged with the crime of carrying concealed and was ruled as acting in self defense. Not only was his firearm confiscated at the time of arrest, but it was never returned. He was subsequently told by the prosecuting District Attorney that if he were to use a firearm in self-defense again he would be prosecuted.

On September 13, 2006, an unarmed Vegas -- acting under the orders of the District Attorney to avoid prosecution -- was robbed, beaten, and sprayed with pepper spray by three assailants. Consequently Vegas went out and purchased another firearm. On January 4, 2007, Vegas was again attempting to deliver a pizza when two men approached him and pointed a gun in his face. This time, he responded by again exercising his right to self-defense and shot his assailant in the hip. Vegas then secured his assailant' s firearm along with his, placed them both on the roof of his car, dialed 911, and waited for the police to arrive. The DA determined that he acted in self defense, but he was subsequently charged with CCW for the moments before he was assaulted and defended.

Even though this charge was brought forward by the DA's office, the court has ruled in favor of Vegas, saying:

“Defendant Vegas has demonstrated the requisite extraordinary circumstances that warrant his concealed weapon…Vegas legally purchased his firearm for the purpose of security and protection. There is a strong inference that Vegas' concealed firearm has saved his life during these violent assaults…Vegas has a substantial interest in being secure and protecting himself by carrying a concealed weapon.”

“This Court is not convinced that there are any reasonable alternatives that would have secured Vegas' safety. Vegas' concealed weapon has most likely saved his life on several occasions; this the State cannot ignore. The State has conceded that Vegas did not have an unlawful purpose for concealing a weapon. Given the totality of the circumstances, this Court is satisfied that the Defendant has affirmatively answered the two-prong analysis as outlined in Hamdan and Fisher and thus grants the Defendant's motion to dismiss.”

This is a giant step forward in the battle for Right-to-Carry in Wisconsin. This court ruling will likely lead to future citizens exercising their right to self-defense by carrying concealed firearms. Unfortunately this will likely lead to subsequent prosecutions, but this circuit court ruling will become a perfect example of law-abiding citizens' need for concealed firearms for protection against crime, especially in high crime areas such as Milwaukee.
29077  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East War on: September 25, 2007, 04:00:36 PM
Israel, Syria and the Glaring Secret
By George Friedman

What happened in the Middle East on Sept. 6?

The first reports came from the Syrians, who said their air defenses fired at an Israeli warplane that had penetrated Syrian airspace and dropped some ordnance on the country's North. The plane then fled toward the Mediterranean at supersonic speeds, the Syrians said, noting that sonic booms had been heard.

A Syrian delegation was meeting Turkish officials about the same time, and the Turks announced that two Israeli fuel tanks had been dropped inside of Turkish territory, one in Gaziantep province and the other in Hatay province. That would mean the aircraft did come under some sort of fire and dropped fuel tanks to increase speed and maneuverability. It also would mean the plane was flying close to Turkish territory or over Turkish territory, at the northwestern tip of Syria.

The Israelis said nothing. It appeared at first glance that an Israeli reconnaissance flight had attracted Syrian attention and got out of there fast, though even that was puzzling. The Israelis monitor Syria carefully, but they have close relations with the Turkish military, which also watches Syria carefully. We would assume they have intelligence-sharing programs and that reconnaissance in this area could have been done by the Turks or, more likely, by Israeli reconnaissance satellites. Yet, an Israeli reconnaissance flight seemed like the only coherent explanation.

What was most striking from the beginning was the relative silence on all sides. The Israelis remained mum, not even bothering to leak a misleading but plausible story. The Syrians, after threatening to take the issue to the U.N. Security Council, have been less vociferous than one would expect. The United States had nothing official to say, but U.S. sources leaked a series of incompatible explanations. The Turks, after requesting an explanation for the fuel tanks, dropped the matter.

The leaks, which seemed to be coming from the Americans, raised the scope of the operation from a reconnaissance to something more. It was U.S. sources who said up to eight aircraft were involved in the operation. Early on, a leak originating in the United States implied that there might have been Israeli commandos involved as well. U.S. leaks also mentioned that a shipment of cement had been delivered to Syria from North Korea a few days before the incident and implied that this shipment might have contained nuclear equipment of some sort that was the real target of the attack. All three countries were silent officially on the intent of the attack, but the Americans were filling in some blanks with unofficial hints.

The media also were filled with a range of contradictory speculation. One story said this was a dry run for an Israeli air attack against Iran. Another said the Israelis were demonstrating their ability -- and hence the U.S. ability -- to neutralize Syrian air defenses as a signal to Iran that it, too, is vulnerable. Some stories also claimed that new missiles, not nuclear materials, were being shipped to Syria. There were many other explanations, but these were either pure speculation or were deliberately being fed to the media in order to confuse the issue.

Officials finally started to go public last week. Israeli opposition leader and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was consulted in advance and supported Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's action in Syria. U.S. President George W. Bush went out of his way -- commenting directly and through his press secretary -- to make it understood that he also knew a raid had been carried out, but had absolutely nothing to say about it. That drew attention to two things. First, the United States knew what was going on. Second, the United States was going to keep the secret -- and the secret was an important one. Between Netanyahu and Bush, the reconnaissance theory was dead. An important operation occurred Sept. 6. It remains absolutely unclear what it was about.

Another leak appeared via the Sunday Times, this time with enough granularity to consider it a genuine leak. According to that report, the operation was carried out by Israeli commandos supported by Israeli aircraft, under the direct management of Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak. It had been planned since June, just after Barak took office, and had been approved by the United States after some hesitation. The target was in fact nuclear "material" provided by North Korea, according to that leak.

All of this makes perfect sense, save one thing. Why the secrecy? If the Syrians have nuclear facilities, the Israelis should be delighted to make it public. Frankly, so should the United States, since the Bush administration has always argued that nuclear proliferation to rogue states, including Syria, is one of the key problems in the world. The Syrians should be spinning the story like crazy as well, denying the nuclear program but screaming about unprovoked Israeli-U.S. aggression. The silence from one or two parties makes sense. The silence from all parties makes little sense.

Looked at differently, Israel and the United States both have gone out of their way to draw attention to the fact that a highly significant military operation took place in Northern Syria, and compounded the attention by making no attempt to provide a plausible cover story. They have done everything possible to draw attention to the affair without revealing what the affair was about. Israel and the United States have a lot of ways to minimize the importance of the operation. By the way they have handled it, however, each has chosen to maximize its importance.

Whoever they are keeping the secret from, it is not the Syrians. They know precisely what was attacked and why. The secret is not being kept from the Iranians either. The Syrians talk to them all the time. It is hard to imagine any government of importance and involvement that has not been briefed by someone. And by now, the public perception has been shaped as well. So, why the dramatic secrecy designed to draw everyone's attention to the secret and the leaks that seem to explain it?

Let us assume that the Sunday Times report is correct. According to the Times, Barak focused on the material as soon as he became defense minister in June. That would mean the material had reached Syria prior to that date. Obviously, the material was not a bomb, or Israel would not have waited until September to act. So it was, at most, some precursor nuclear material or equipment.

However, an intervening event occurred this summer that should be factored in here. North Korea publicly shifted its position on its nuclear program, agreeing to abandon it and allow inspections of its facilities. It also was asked to provide information on the countries it sold any nuclear technology to, though North Korea has publicly denied any proliferation. This was, in the context of the six-party negotiations surrounding North Korea, a major breakthrough.

Any agreement with North Korea is, by definition, unstable. North Korea many times has backed off of agreements that seemed cast in stone. In particular, North Korea wants to be seen as a significant power and treated with all due respect. It does not intend to be treated as an outlaw nation subject to interrogation and accusations. Its self-image is an important part of its domestic strategy and, internally, it can position its shift in its nuclear stance as North Korea making a strategic deal with other major powers. If North Korea is pressed publicly, its willingness to implement its agreements can very quickly erode. That is not something the United States and other powers want to see happen.

Whether the Israelis found out about the material through their own intelligence sources or North Korea provided a list of recipients of nuclear technology to the United States is unclear. The Israelis have made every effort to make it appear that they knew about this independently. They also have tried to make it appear that they notified the United States, rather than the other way around. But whether the intelligence came from North Korea or was obtained independently, Washington wants to be very careful in its handling of Pyongyang right now.

The result is the glaring secrecy of the last few weeks. Certainly, Israel and the United States wanted it known that Syria had nuclear material, and that it was attacked. This served as a warning to other recipients of North Korean nuclear technology -- most especially Iran. At the same time, the United States did not want to publicly embarrass North Korea, out of fear that the North Koreans would simply chuck the disarmament talks. Moreover, Damascus had no interest in publicizing that it had thoughts of a nuclear program, so it quieted down.

We should note that if this theory is true, and the United States and Israel discovered the existence of a Syrian nuclear program only from North Korean information, this would represent one of the most massive intelligence failures imaginable by both Israel and the United States. Essentially, it would mean that, unless this was the first shipment of material to Syria, Israel and the United States failed to detect a Syrian nuclear program on their own. That is possible, but not likely.

It is a neat theory. It might even be a true theory. But it has problems. The biggest problem is why Syria would be trying to obtain nuclear technology. Sandwiched between Israel and Turkey -- a country that has not had great relations with Syria in the past -- and constantly watched by the United States, the probability of it developing a nuclear capability undetected is infinitesimal, and the probability of Israel not taking it out is nonexistent. Moreover, Syria is not Iran. It is poorer, has less scientific and other resources and lacks the capability to mount a decadelong development effort. Syria actually plays a fairly conservative game, taking its risks in Lebanese politics and allowing jihadists to transit through the country on their way to Iraq. Trying to take on Israel or the United States in a nuclear gambit is not the Syrians' style. But certainly they were caught doing something, or they would be screaming to high heaven.

There has been persistent discussion of nuclear material in Syria, which, if we took the words seriously, would tend to indicate that something radioactive, such as enriched uranium or plutonium, was present. If what was delivered was not equipment but radioactive material, the threat might not have been a Syrian nuclear program, but some sort of radioactive device -- a dirty bomb -- that might be handed off to Hezbollah. The head of Israel's military intelligence was quoted as saying something about the attack having re-established Israel's deterrence power after its failures in the 2006 conflict with Hezbollah. Perhaps the problem was that the material was being transferred from North Korea to Syria on its way to Lebanon, possibly to use against Israel.

That would explain Syria's relative silence. Concern that the deal with North Korea will fall apart might keep the United States quiet. But a Syrian transfer of such material to Hezbollah normally would set Israel to raging at the Syrians. The Americans might have kept quiet, but the Israelis would have leaked much earlier than this. Israel would want to use the threat as a tool in its public relations war.

Another reason for the silence could be psychological warfare against Iran. The speculation above might be true in some variant, but by remaining ominously silent, the Israelis and Americans might be trying to shake Iran's nerve, by demonstrating their intelligence capability, their special operations ability and the reach of their air power. With the Israelis having carried out this attack, this very visible secrecy might be designed to make Iran wonder whether it is next, and from what direction an attack might come.

Normally such international game-playing would not interest us. The propensity of governments to create secrets out of the obvious is one of the more tedious aspects of international relations. But this secret is not obvious, and it is not trivial. Though it is true that something is finally being leaked three weeks after the attack, what is being leaked is neither complete nor reliable. It seems to make sense, but you really have to work hard at it.

At a time when the United States is signaling hostile intentions toward Iran, the events in Syria need to be understood, and the fact that they remain opaque is revealing. The secrecy is designed to make a lot of people nervous. Interestingly, the Israelis threw a change-up pitch the week after the attack, signaling once again that they wanted to open talks with the Syrians -- a move the Syrians quickly rebuffed.

When events get so strange that interpretation is a challenge, it usually indicates it was intended that way, that the events are significant and that they could point to further instability. We do not know whether that is true, but Israel and the United States have certainly worked hard to create a riddle wrapped in a mystery.

29078  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: September 25, 2007, 11:20:57 AM
As reported in Iran:

IRI President addresses students at Colombia University
New York, Sept 25, IRNA
Ahmadinejad-Colombia Varsity-Address
Despite entire US media objections, negative propagation and hue and cry in recent days over IRI President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's scheduled address at Colombia University, he gave his lecture and answered students questions here on Monday afternoon.
On second day of his entry in New York, and amid standing ovation of the audience that had attended the hall where the Iranian President was to give his lecture as of early hours of the day, Ahmadinejad said that Iran is not going to attack any country in the world.
Before President Ahamadinejad's address, Colombia University Chancellor in a brief address told the audience that they would have the chance to hear Iran's stands as the Iranian President would put them forth.
He said that the Iranians are a peace loving nation, they hate war, and all types of aggression.
Referring to the technological achievements of the Iranian nation in the course of recent years, the president considered them as a sign for the Iranians' resolute will for achieving sustainable development and rapid advancement.
The audience on repeated occasion applauded Ahmadinejad when he touched on international crises.
At the end of his address President Ahmadinejad answered the students' questions on such issues as Israel, Palestine, Iran's nuclear program, the status of women in Iran and a number of other matters.
29079  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Current Events: Philippines on: September 25, 2007, 10:38:54 AM
Philippine Fly-Over
September 25, 2007

CLARK FIELD, Philippines -- The economic potential of the Philippines -- and all the reasons it has yet to live up to that potential -- come sharply into focus as soon as a visitor lands. Literally. With Manila's current major international air terminal, some 50 miles to the city's south, already too congested for serious expansion, the battle over the future of the Philippines' next premier international air gateway has become a microcosm of all that the country could be, and all that's holding it back.

Still widely known as "Clark Field," the old name from its days as an American military airbase, the airport-in-waiting is now officially the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport, in honor of the former Philippine president and father of current President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. And Ms. Arroyo has been playing the crucial, and often conflicted, role in determining the airport's future.

Clark and its surrounding community in the province of Pampanga have never been rich. In its heyday during the Cold War, Clark Air Base bustled with energy as a major U.S. listening post and home of the 13th U.S. Air Force. But in June 1991, the U.S. Air Force, under fierce attack from nationalist forces in the Philippine Senate, finally flew out, leaving Clark covered in the volcanic ashes spewed out by nearby Mt. Pinatubo. Clark immediately fell upon hard times. Looters stripped the base clean, down to the toilet lids.

Things began to change in January 2006, when Ms. Arroyo -- responding to complaints from the Pampanga business community that too many regulations from Manila were holding back Clark's potential -- signed an executive order unilaterally proclaiming open skies. The move unleashed the forces of economic liberalization at Clark by allowing foreign airlines to fly in hundreds of thousands of tourists from Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia and as far away as Dubai. It also opened the door to all the trade that could be conducted via the cargo holds of those planes. The formerly sleepy Clark, which processed fewer than 50,000 passengers three years ago, took off, bringing in nearly 500,000 last year. And prices are dropping. Singapore's Tiger Airways has been offering flights from Macau to Clark for $9.99.

The benefits aren't so much trickling into the local economy as pouring. More than 50,000 Filipinos now work here, some 10,000 more than were employed when the Americans ran the place. More jobs are coming as foreign companies find it easier and cheaper to move people and goods in and out.

Texas Instruments is putting in a billion-dollar semiconductor plant. The United Parcel Service has made Clark a regional hub. Yokohama Tire Philippines is making a $100 million expansion, and is exporting tires from Clark all around the world. Shoemart, the big Philippine retail giant, has moved in, as has Jollibee's, the Philippine answer to McDonald's (which also serves the nearby community). Other foreign and Philippine entrepreneurs are opening up more businesses to cater to the workers and tourists: hotels, restaurants and so on.

But the growth remains fragile, and will come to a halt if Ms. Arroyo's government insists upon bringing Clark's passenger traffic back to a trickle. Which, alarmingly, is just what the government has tried to do. In August 2006, just eight months after the initial liberalization, Ms. Arroyo bowed to pressures from domestic protectionist cronies -- the most well-known of whom is billionaire Lucio Tan, the owner of Philippine Airlines -- and issued a revised executive order aimed at slowing down the foreign airline traffic. While the numbers for arriving passengers were still up some 35% in the first quarter of this year, it is clear that Clark's ambitions to become the Philippines' premier gateway have been seriously threatened.

Citing "the continued uncertainty regarding the regulatory situation at Clark," Tiger Airways announced on March 23 that it would be reducing its flight frequency from Singapore to Clark to nine weekly flights from 14. As Clark spokesman Arnel San Pedro told me, local business leaders are outraged that the national government would "refuse to prosper because of the subservience of some greedy people to the personal interests of 'Manila's Imperial Dragons.'"

Ms. Arroyo's reversal was especially galling because Mr. Tan -- the archetypal "imperial dragon" -- is such a terrible well from which to draw economic advice. He first got really rich in the 1970s, thanks to various tax breaks and favors bestowed by former Philippine strongman Ferdinand Marcos. Understandably, the Chinese-born tycoon takes a dim view of cuttthroat market-oriented competition from foreign-run budget airlines. His critics revile him as the personification of what's wrong with the Philippine economy.

But Mr. Tan's current ally in the presidential palace, Ms. Arroyo, is more forgiving. In 2002, the president honored him for his "lifetime" of achievements in "helping build the nation." Numerous press reports from Manila have it that Mr. Tan has been among Ms. Arroyo's most generous sources of campaign financing; presidential press secretary Ignacio Bunye declines comment.

Now Ms. Arroyo is being pressed by a deeply concerned Clark business community that believes that Mr. Tan's influence upon the Arroyo administration is pulling the economic ladder out from under them. The airport's energetic chief executive, Victor Jose Luciano, made an impassioned presentation last month to Ms. Arroyo and her cabinet urging the president to issue a third executive order undoing the damage she created with her second one back in August 2006.

Ms. Arroyo holds a doctorate in economics, so she presumably understands that her first instincts to open the Philippine skies were the right ones. Her method may be problematic, though. When she moved to slow down the Philippines' open skies prospects last year, Ms. Arroyo's public rationale was that instead of unilateral liberalization, the Philippines would negotiate with foreign governments for increased access to their airports in return. Indeed, the Arroyo administration has recently concluded negotiating a major expansion of passenger landings for flights between the Philippines and South Korea.

But behind the scenes, Mr. Tan seems to dominate the process. A leaked copy of the Aug. 9, 2007, minutes of the Philippine government's official air negotiating panel shows that nine of the 23 members aren't government officials, but work for Mr. Tan's PAL and two other Tan-owned airline and cargo operations. Cebu Pacific, another domestic carrier that is following Mr. Tan's anti-open skies lead, has another two seats.

Since in practice the Philippine airline negotiating body seeks unanimous consent to schedule negotiations with foreign airlines, Mr. Tan effectively has veto power -- and last month's minutes make clear that PAL sees "no immediate need" for urgency in scheduling many more air talks. Supporters of open skies report that the last air talks the Philippine government held with Macau were in 2001, that similar negotiations with Hong Kong last occurred in 1996, and in 1995 for Malaysia and Thailand.

From PAL's perspective, why hurry? Philippine airline industry sources who ask not to be identified report that Mr. Tan's airline has found a wonderful way to profit from current restrictions. When passenger quotas assigned by the Philippine authorities to, say, Macau, or Hong Kong, or Dubai, have been filled, the Philippine government has given expanded entitlements to fly more passengers to PAL, which turns around and "rents" those entitlements to foreign carriers. While the details of such deals remain confidential, credible industry insiders report that Dubai is paying PAL at least $1 million a year in passenger rents. Not that this money is "free," of course: The foreign carriers pass the extra expense on to fliers -- many of whom are hard-pressed Philippine overseas workers -- in the form of pricier tickets. Mr. Tan, who declined persistent requests to be interviewed for this column, is turning a profit for PAL without flying his own airplanes.

The question now is whether Ms. Arroyo will be able to summon the political courage to stop him from doing it. She might reflect on some history. When the airport's namesake, her father -- an economic reformer -- was elected in 1961, the Philippines boasted the second-largest economy in Asia, second only to Japan. When Ferdinand Marcos won election four years later, he went on to help enrich his cronies while crippling the economy with an array of protectionist schemes. With a stroke of her presidential pen, Ms. Arroyo could not only re-open Philippine skies to economic development, she could also prove that "Philippine prosperity" doesn't have to be an oxymoron.

Mr. Rushford is editor of The Rushford Report, an online journal that follows the politics of international trade and diplomacy.

29080  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East War on: September 25, 2007, 10:34:03 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Setting the U.S. Stage for Iranian Talks

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Monday that she sees no signs of talks with Iran on the issue of Iraq. Specifically, she said the Bush administration will "leave that channel open," though probably not "pursue it imminently."

Iranian-U.S. talks about Iraq's future are always touchy. Beyond the simple fact that Tehran and Washington do not exactly trust each other, the room for compromise between them is not exactly cavernous. The United States wants an Iraq that can hold its own against Iran and wield the threat of a renewed Sunni government fully armed and ready to repeat the 1980-1988 war. Iran wants an Iraq that is incapable of attacking and can threaten the United States with the unleashed fury of Iranian-aligned Shiite militias. Neither can make its dream come about without the other's acquiescence, but both have the ability to impose unilaterally the other's nightmare.

Negotiations are indeed what are on order. One effect -- indeed, the primary rationale -- of the Bush administration's decision to maintain as strong of a troop presence in Iraq as possible is to convince the Iranians that U.S. forces are not going anywhere -- not just now, but well into the term of the next U.S. president. Iran has a tendency to misjudge U.S. decision-makers, and now it is faced with a U.S. occupation in Iraq that will last, at bare minimum, another two years. Tehran might have been convinced a month ago that a U.S. departure was inevitable; now it cannot be so sure. The logic of talks to prevent Iran's worst-case scenario from occurring makes sense.

But not just yet. The United States first wants to set the stage. France is warning of war, Israel is (allegedly) bombing Syria, Germany is bullying sanctions, the Dutch are speaking of moral obligations to resist the Iranian nuclear program, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's attempt to turn a Sept. 24 speech at Columbia University into propaganda massively backfired. The international environment has deteriorated sharply in the past three years from Tehran's viewpoint -- with the worst developments reserved for the past few weeks. The U.S. State Department even confirmed Monday that it had invited none other than Iran's only ally, Syria, to an international conference on the future of the Palestinian territories. Syria has been on the U.S. no-talk list for years (ever since Damascus ordered the assassination of a former Lebanese prime minister).

The goal is simple: to make Iran feel isolated, make Iran fear that its foes are on the verge of using military force, make Iran feel like talks with the United States are the least-bad option. It is not an illogical strategy, albeit one laden with risks. It assumes that Iran will ultimately find it useful to not just speak with the Americans, but actively cooperate with them on security issues of extreme national importance. After all, Iraq is too far gone for either the United States or Iran to fashion it into some semblance of normality alone.
29081  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / The Legacy of Little Rock on: September 25, 2007, 09:37:14 AM
The Legacy of Little Rock
September 25, 2007; Page A19

Fifty years ago today, riot-trained troops from the 101st Airborne Division escorted nine black students through the doors of Central High School in Little Rock. Just 48 hours earlier, President Eisenhower deployed -- in a single day -- 1,000 troops to restore order and to reassert federal authority in Arkansas's capital city.

Gov. Orval Faubus of Arkansas complains about President Eisenhower's use of federal troops to enforce integration in Little Rock, September 1957.
For weeks the entire nation had watched on television as a mob of angry white adults gathered each morning to prevent the nine black students from integrating Central High. It would come to be remembered as one of the ugliest and meanest white mobs of the entire civil rights era. And because of television -- then still a very new medium -- the horrible images of people galvanized by ferocious racial hatred were seared into the national consciousness.

Finally, Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus succumbed to a kind of madness, if not to a perverse politics of racial hatred, and withdrew the National Guard from Central High, effectively turning the school over to the raging mob. The nine courageous black students, who had suffered so much to integrate the school, were withdrawn for their own protection. So, for a time, the authority of the mob prevailed over all governmental authority -- local, state and federal. And this was the provocation that pushed a reluctant President Eisenhower to deploy federal troops.

On this 50th anniversary of Eisenhower's troop deployment, the significance of the Little Rock crisis -- its place in history -- is much clearer. I believe it was the beginning of a profoundly different America.

For one thing, it foreshadowed the end of white supremacy as a legitimate authority. The Little Rock crisis was a conflict between two ideas of authority that had always been in tension in American life. The authority behind the Little Rock Nine came from that constellation of principles that define the American democracy -- the idea of individual rights, equality under the law and so on. But in America another authority had always been in play -- the atavistic authority of white supremacy, the idea that no less a power than God had chosen the white race to be ascendant over all other races. This was the authority behind the white mob in Little Rock. In taunting those nine black students, this mob was protecting a "divine right" against the ridiculous democratic notion that all men were created equal.

But the mob lost in Little Rock. Eisenhower enforced democratic authority over white supremacy. He made the point that these two authorities could no longer pretend to coexist in the public schools of even a Southern city. In this way the Little Rock crisis joined black Americans to a world-wide movement. The Mau Maus viciously fought this same nemesis in Kenya, Gandhi peacefully fought it in India, and the very first terrorist bombers fought it in Algeria. But in Little Rock the American government, overcoming two centuries of equivocation, broke off from white supremacy and took up the cause of black revolutionaries -- and so administered white entitlement a decisive defeat.

But the deeper historical importance of the Little Rock crisis follows from the simple fact that it was televised. It was, in fact, the first time that this still fledgling medium was able to make America into a community by rendering up a riveting real-life drama for the country to watch. Compelling personalities emerged, like the despicable and erratic Gov. Faubus, who kept flaunting federal authority like a little potentate. There was Eisenhower himself, whose grandfatherly patience with Faubus seemed to belie a sympathy with this racist's need to hold on to a fading authority. And there was the daily gauntlet that the black students were made to walk -- innocence face to face with evil. And, finally, there was great suspense. How would it all end? Would there by a military clash, another little civil war between North and South?

So Americans watched by the millions and, in this watching, saw something that would change the country fundamentally. Everyday for weeks they saw white people so consumed with racial hatred that they looked bestial and subhuman. When white racism was a confident power, it could look like propriety itself, like good manners. But here, in its insecurity, it was grotesque and shocking. Worse, it was there for the entire world to see, and so it broke through the national denial. The Little Rock crisis revealed the evil at the core of segregation, and it launched the stigmatization of white Americans as racists that persists to this day. After Little Rock whites stood permanently accused. They would have to prove a negative -- that they were not racist -- in order to claim decency. And this need to forever beg one's innocence is the very essence of white guilt.

Of course, it was the special genius of the civil rights leaders of that era to elicit displays of white evil by confronting whites with black innocence -- often children and teenagers, neatly dressed and scrupulously groomed, aspiring only to what all humans aspire to, a decent education or the right to eat at a lunch counter. Still, these leaders couldn't elicit what wasn't there. White evil was there. And the greatest significance of the Little Rock crisis was that it put on display a distinct white moral inferiority.

This introduced a new accountability into white American life. Americans had always thought themselves a great people -- more solidly grounded in the morality of fairness than any other people. Moreover, it was Western culture that had evolved the kind of moral system that made Little Rock look so evil. But, in the end, all this meant was that the good citizens of Little Rock should have known better. Evil was evil. And, after Little Rock, white America began to become accountable for its racial evil.

But Americans have not been particularly good at integrating this kind of accountability. We are a nation with a powerful investment in the idea of our own fundamental innocence. Our can-do optimism and ingenuity are based on the faith that we are a decent, open, and generous people. This is our identity. And when we shame ourselves, as in Little Rock, there is an impulse to get busy; to do something big that redeems the shame and proves that its implications about us are false. This is, of course, a form of denial. In our busyness we may dissociate from the shame, but this is no proof that we have integrated its meaning.

For the most part, this is how white America came to handle its new accountability in the civil rights era. The country got busy self-consciously redeeming itself. Redemption would be our big, ingenious achievement. If freedom and opportunity and wealth had always been the special mandates of American life, suddenly redemption was added to the list. And, as the civil rights movement worked its way through many more Little Rocks, as a movement for women's equality burst forth, and as the Vietnam War came to be held against America, the idea of American evil expanded and, thus, redemption became more and more entrenched as a national mandate.

By the mid 1960s this mandate had already given us a new illiberal liberalism -- a busybody, interventionist liberalism that was more bent on erecting an American redemption than ensuring freedom. The Great Society wanted to make America look like a country in which Little Rock could never have happened. It failed because it was a venture in denial rather than in realistic social transformation. And today's "diversity" will fail because it, too, is only a denial -- a kitsch that gives us an image of an America shorn of Little Rocks.

But on this 50th anniversary of the Little Rock crisis, it is important to remember that this evil did happen in America, and that no engineered redemption can make us innocent again. And we might also remember that it is better to be chastened than innocent. Innocents don't learn from their sins; the chastened are informed by them.

Mr. Steele, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford, is the author of "White Guilt" (HarperCollins, 2006).

29082  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Ninjas rob store on: September 25, 2007, 09:05:44 AM
29083  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politically (In)correct on: September 25, 2007, 08:49:39 AM
Demon Rummy
September 25, 2007
A premier U.S. university invites a controversial international figure to speak on campus. The faculty is outraged. "Speaking truth to power," the professors denounce the legitimacy conferred on a murderous tyrant. That is what largely did not happen yesterday after Columbia welcomed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Morningside Heights. That is, however, what is now happening at Stanford, and the man the faculty views as a tyrant is -- Donald Rumsfeld.

While Columbia President Lee Bollinger opines about "the powers of dialogue and reason," the Stanford faculty has mobilized against the appointment of the former Defense Secretary to a fellowship at the Hoover Institution, a conservative research center affiliated with the Palo Alto university. Mr. Rumsfeld will join a study group exploring terror and ideology in the post-9/11 world.

Mr. Rumsfeld's experience in these matters can't be denied. And though his politics may differ from the professoriate's, this would seem to make his "perspective" more valuable to a university dedicated to the exchange of ideas -- especially one, as its motto has it, where "the wind of freedom blows."

Something else altogether is blowing now. A group of self-described faculty "instigators" calls Mr. Rumsfeld "fundamentally incompatible with the ethical values of truthfulness, tolerance, [and] disinterested enquiry." Their petition has garnered more than 3,000 professor, student and alumni signatures.

English professor Robert Polhemus drafted an unofficial platform for the faculty opposition that calls the Hoover appointment "contemptible" and argues that Mr. Rumsfeld lacks "intellectual and academic experience and/or some measure of achievement." The psychologist Philip Zimbardo tolerantly noted, "They can have any fascist they want there [at Hoover], and they do."

So in the interests of "robust debate," a school is obliged to provide a public forum to the leader of a repressive terrorist regime. But the mere presence of an American with more than three decades of public service -- most recently dedicated to combating such regimes -- is beyond the pale? Stanford's only saving grace so far is that its administration isn't bending to this faculty intimidation.

All ideas are not created equal, and the beliefs of Messrs. Rumsfeld and Ahmadinejad are certainly not. Rather, these two case studies into the academic mindset contrast priorities. They confirm, if more confirmation were needed, that the modern academy's commitment to "intellectual freedom" too often fails to distinguish between those who defend freedom and those who would squash it.

29084  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: September 25, 2007, 08:47:13 AM

Moving right along, here's this from the WSJ:

Other People's Politics
In defense of the New York Times.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Two bastions of liberalism are discovering the nasty side of campaign finance reform now that it has landed in their own backyards.

On Sunday, a spokeswoman for the New York Times admitted it had "made a mistake" when it charged the radical group a special discounted rate for an ad accusing General David Petraeus of betrayal in advance of his Congressional testimony. Meanwhile, DailyKos's Markos Moulitsas Zuniga has faced a Federal Election Commission inquiry into advertising sales at his blog, which has become a force in pushing the Democratic Party to the left on various issues--among them, campaign finance reform.

DailyKos holds forth regularly that "our democracy is in danger" from money in politics and loudly supports McCain-Feingold and other campaign and media restrictions. The New York Times position on campaign finance reform is that it "has not gone far enough," and that more should be done to control donors and prevent changes that would "open the spigots to corporate and special-interest money."

Of course, it's always other people's influence that's a threat to democracy. DailyKos's misadventure was resolved with a Federal Election Commission ruling that allowed it (quite properly) to escape the rules it wants foisted on everybody else. And we certainly defend the Times's right to sign advertising contracts at whatever price it wants to charge--without the FEC combing through its books in search of rate discrepancies.

Unfortunately, the Times's passion for regulating everyone else's speech has now boomeranged, with politicians calling for an investigation into its favor to MoveOn. This is getting to be a bad Times habit: Recall its campaign for a special counsel to investigate media leaks that turned into a probe of its own sources and led to judicial rulings that limited press freedom.
House Oversight and Government Reform Ranking Member Tom Davis (R., Va.) wants hearings on whether the MoveOn discount represented a contribution in violation of campaign finance laws, and whether those laws are actually enforceable. Mr. Davis is indulging in some partisan opportunism here, and we wish instead that he was explaining that the problem is not that these organizations slipped through some campaign finance net. The problem is the net.

The DailyKos argues that it qualifies for the "commentary" exception under McCain-Feingold, while the Times would presumably qualify under the newspaper exception. Anyone who reads either one quickly figures out that they are both stalwart supporters of the Democratic Party and liberal causes. This is their right, but it's hard to see why their political speech deserves any more special legal protection than that of Big Labor or the NRA. As for the Times's ad discount, we also don't see why it shouldn't be as protected as the paper's inevitable endorsement next year of Hillary Clinton for President. Won't that be an "in-kind" political contribution worth at least a few thousand dollars?

The FEC deserves a pat on the back for backing away from media content oversight. But the real solution here is for the Supreme Court to rediscover its First Amendment principles and strike down campaign finance restrictions. As long as McCain-Feingold is on the books, regulators will be running around damming up leaks wherever they imagine they've found them. Sooner or later they'll come after the press, as maybe the Times and other left-wingers are beginning to figure out.
29085  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Help our troops/our cause: on: September 25, 2007, 08:44:08 AM

New York Times

September 24, 2007
Soldiers Describe Baiting of Insurgents


Under a program developed by a Defense Department warfare unit, Army snipers have begun using a new method to kill Iraqis suspected of being insurgents, planting fake weapons and bomb-making material as bait and then killing anyone who picks up them up, according to testimony presented in a military court.

The existence of the classified “baiting program,” as it has come to be known, was disclosed as part of defense lawyers’ efforts to respond to murder charges the Army pressed this summer against three members of a Ranger sniper team. Each soldier is accused of killing an unarmed Iraqi in three separate incidents between April and June near Iskandariya.

In sworn statements, soldiers testifying for the defense have said the sniper team was employing a baiting program developed by the Pentagon’s Asymmetrical Warfare Group, which met with and gave equipment to Ranger sniper teams in Iraq in January.

The Washington Post first described the baiting program in an article Monday.

An Army spokesman, Paul Boyce, said on Monday that the Army does not discuss specific methods for “targeting enemy combatants” publicly, and that no classified program authorizes the use of “drop weapons” to make a killing appear justified.

The court martial of one of the accused soldiers, Spec. Jorge Sandoval Jr., is scheduled to begin in Baghdad on Wednesday. The two other soldiers facing premeditated murder charges are Staff Sgt. Michael Hensley, the sniper team squad leader, and Sgt. Evan Vela. All three are part of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, based at Fort Richardson, Alaska.

None of the three soldiers deny that they killed the three Iraqis they are charged with murdering. Through their lawyers and in court documents, the soldiers argue that the killings were legal and authorized by their superiors. A transcript of the hearing was provided by a member of an accused soldier’s family.

Snipers are among the most specialized of soldiers, using camouflage clothing and makeup to infiltrate enemy locations and high-powered rifles and scopes to stalk and kill enemy fighters. The three snipers accused of murder had for months ventured into some of the most dangerous areas of Iraq, said lawyers for Sgt. Vela.

“Snipers are special people who are trained to shoot in a detached fashion, not to see their targets as human beings,” said James D. Culp, one of Sgt. Vela’s lawyers. “Snipers have split-seconds to take shots, and he had a split second to decide whether to shoot.”

After visiting the sniper unit in Iraq, members of the Asymmetrical Warfare Group gave soldiers ammunition boxes containing so-called “drop items” like bullets, plastic explosives and bomb detonation chords to use to target Iraqis involved in insurgent activity, according to Capt. Matthew P. Didier, a sniper platoon leader who gave sworn testimony in the accused soldiers’ court hearings.
29086  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / John Adams on: September 25, 2007, 08:39:02 AM
"Let the pulpit resound with the doctrine and sentiments of
religious liberty. Let us hear of the dignity of man's nature,
and the noble rank he holds among the works of God... Let it
be known that British liberties are not the grants of princes
and parliaments."

-- John Adams (Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law, 1765)

Reference: The Most Nearly Perfect Solution, Guinness, 3-26;
and John Adams and the Spirit of Liberty, Thompson, 54.
29087  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: September 24, 2007, 11:50:32 PM
Thank you.

Anyone want to hazard a guess as to how far Houston Alexander, who dramatically left Jardine KTFO, will go?

Edited to Add:  Erik Paulson IS FIGHTING!  cool cool cool
29088  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: September 24, 2007, 11:39:19 PM
In Defense of the Constitution

News & Analysis
016/07  September 24, 2007

CAIR Calls for Profiling of Muslims in the United States.
On September 20, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Washington DC based Islamic terrorism supporting group, issued a press release titled "CAIR Welcomes TSA Policy Change on Islamic Scarf".
From the article:
"Following discussions with community leaders of several faiths, including a representative of CAIR's Dallas-Fort Worth chapter, TSA officials have accepted a proposed modification to the August 4 policy. According to the updated policy, Muslim women who wear a head cover that is attached to the contour of the head, with no space between the scarf and the head, should not be subjected to a secondary screening. That style of cover is worn by the majority of Muslim women who wear scarves."
In a radical departure from past positions, CAIR is now calling on government agents to profile order to provide them special rights denied to non-Muslims.

Additionally, CAIR has signaled its Islamist terrorist masters that Muslim women are now America's newest privileged protected class and that they are now the perfect venue to smuggle unauthorized items aboard American airliners.

What could be the possible results of this latest appeasement of radical Islam?
-  A piece of sharpened carbon fiber, form-fitted to the head and covered with a scarf.
-  A plastic letter-opener secreted in the folds.
-  Any number of items, such as malleable plastic explosives, that could be formed to the contours of the head.
Let's not forget that there was time when the idea that an airliner could be taken over with a box cutter was laughable.
After 9-11, is anyone laughing?
Leaving aside the obvious security implications of this new policy, what about the rights of other travelers? 
For instance:
-  How will Mennonites, Jews, and other faiths that wear head-coverings react to the idea that they are to be subjected to searches that Muslims are excused from?
-  The first amendment to the Constitution demands that all faiths be treated equally under the law; how does this square with government employees giving preferential treatment to Muslims?
-  How will the airport inspectors determine someone is a Muslim?  (Will they ask?  Will Muslim travelers be provided a Muslim-only ID card?  Will there be Muslim-only lines at the airport?  We already have Muslim-only foot baths at some airports, is it really a stretch to call for Muslim-only lines?)  Will they...dare we say it.."profile" Muslims?

The bottom line: CAIR is approving of the TSA PROFILING Muslim women!
How much more appeasement are we going to stand for before we realize that radical Islam is not only making us second-class citizens in our own country, but that we are tripping all over ourselves to help them do it?
CAIR and their terrorist masters must certainly see this turn of events as nothing more than another example of Americans surrendering to the fist of radical Islam.
29089  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: September 24, 2007, 09:01:57 PM
And here's some more on the same subject:

Special Dispatch Series - No. 1357
November 15, 2006 No.1357

Qods (Jerusalem) Day in Iran: ‘The Nation of Muslims Must Prepare for the Great War So As to Completely Wipe Out the Zionist Regime and to Remove This Cancerous Growth’

On the occasion of Qods (Jerusalem) Day, which was observed this year in Iran on October 20, 2006, several conservative Iranian newspapers published editorials praising the resistance against Israel and urging Israel's destruction. [1]

The editorials, which appeared in the conservative dailies Resalat and Kayhan, reflected Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Qods Day speech, in which he said: "The existence of this regime [i.e. Israel] has been based on military threat, on military strength, and on its myth of invincibility. Today, by the grace of God, this myth has been shattered, with the help of the believers in Palestine, and thanks to the self-sacrifice and the belief of the Hizbullah commanders. Today, the Zionists do not feel safe, not even in their homes, [or] anywhere in the world."


The articles in Resalat and Kayhan said thatthe recent Lebanon war was only the first battle on the way to the elimination of Israel, and expressed the hope that the war will serve as a catalyst for an extensive Islamic uprising against Israel.

The following are excerpts from the two articles:

Kayhan: "Hizbullah Destroyed at Least Half of Israel in The Lebanon War... Now Only Half the Path [To Its Destruction] Remains"
On October 19, 2006, the conservative daily Kayhan, which is close to Iran's Supreme Leader 'Ali Khamenei, published an article on the occasion of Qods (Jerusalem) Day: [2] "...This year was a decisive one for Palestine and the Islamic Middle East region. Those opposed to the liberation of Jerusalem, Palestine, and the Middle East linked arms and sought to publicly topple the free foundations of sacred Jerusalem. America, Europe, Russia, many of the heads of Arab regimes in the region, and the Zionists all collaborated in this process, assuming that by means of a series of operations they would dry up the heart of the freedom of Jerusalem, in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Iran, and that by means of a terrible blow against these four countries they would close this dossier forever.

"On this basis [U.S. Secretary of State] Condoleezza Rice came to the Middle East in the first days of the Lebanon war and said: 'The new Middle East is like a newborn, and therefore we must suffer its birth pangs.' Then she clearly declared [the need] to eradicate the Lebanese Hizbullah. [But] the axis of the West, the East, and the Zionists against Hizbullah ended in its defeat and in a reversal in the balance [of power].

"Hizbullah stood fast in Israel's 33-day war against Lebanon, and proved that the destruction of Israel was easier [work] than some of the Arab governments think - [namely,] that the destruction of Israel is impossible. The 33-day war proved that the intelligence-security capability of Israel is not so great as to be immeasurable and that it is possible to triumph over the Israeli Air Force - which had been considered the element that brought about the victory of the Israeli regime over the Arabs in the five previous wars - and this is said without disregarding its range of technological capabilities.

"When the air force of the Zionist Regime, together with its warships, besieged the shores of Lebanon - from the port of Tripoli in the north to the port of Tyre in the south - it retreated after Hizbullah's blow to the advanced Saar 5 warship at a distance of 12 miles from the coast of Beirut... thus it was proven that, by means of an offensive operation that need not be equal to Israel's moves, it is possible to neutralize the Zionist navy.

"With the downing of one of the Tel Aviv regime's advanced night-flight helicopters at the height of the war... it became clear to all that the Zionist regime's air force, despite 33 successive days of bombing, had not managed to deliver serious harm to the capability of Hizbullah's command and missiles. It was proven that it is possible to damage the Israeli Air Force from a distance...

"The 33-day war ended without any of the goals that had been declared by the Zionist government and the commanders of its military being attained - and this was the first time that Israel was forced to accept its complete downfall...

"In the 33-day war, the Lebanese Hizbullah destroyed at least 50% of Israel [and therefore] half the path to the liberation of Jerusalem equals 33 days. Now, only (at most) 50% of the path [to Israel's destruction] remains. This remaining 50% is easier than the 50% that was already accomplished. Now, in the face of the degree of fear and lack of confidence that has been deeply implanted in [all] parts of the Zionist regime, the Muslim peoples of the region, and particularly the four Arab countries neighboring Palestine [i.e. Israel] - Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon - are full of hope and confidence, and they have no doubt, that they will be able to very quickly overcome the Zionist regime...

"According to this description, just as in one 33-day war more than 50% of Israel was destroyed, and the hope of its supporters for the continued life of this regime was broken, it is likely that in the next battle, the second half will also collapse.

"On that day... Jordan will not be able to prevent the Jordanian Islamists from operating through the long Jordan-Palestine border, and the millions of Egyptian Islamists... will not let the Sinai-Israel border remain quiet, and the Syrian Golan Heights will not remain as a [mere] observer of the battle. That day is not so far off."
Resalat: "The Great War is Ahead of Us, [And Will Break Out] Perhaps Tomorrow, or in Another Few Days, or in a Few Months, or Even in a Few Years... Israel Must Collapse"
In an October 22, 2006 editorial titled "Preparations for the Great War," the conservative daily Resalat wrote: [3] "...The Qods Day marches in the month of Ramadan this year were held at a time when the takeover by the global arrogance [the U.S.] was shattered with Israel's defeat by the Lebanese Hizbullah.

"For the first time in the 60 years of its disgraceful life, the Zionist regime - the West's beloved in the Middle East - tasted the taste of defeat, and the citizens of this regime trembled at the menace of Hizbullah's missiles. There can be no doubt at all that the silence of the parents of this illegal creature [i.e. Israel] is temporary, and that they [i.e. the West] will not be willing to sit quietly before their wounded child and [just] worry at its misfortune.

"The Zionist regime and its supporters are, without doubt, preparing for the great war, in order to settle this conflict in one fell swoop. They will not be willing to relinquish the occupied lands of Ghajar and the Shab'a Farms - this in order to keep Lebanon's wound open. This regime's military movements in the north of occupied Palestine, the unconditional military and economic aid it receives from America, and [Israel's] effort to imitate Europe in the military arena [in] missile and satellite [technology] - all attest to this regime's preparedness for renewed war against Hizbullah.

"This sense of danger on the part of the supporters of the counterfeit Israeli regime is not limited to the Islamic resistance in Lebanon [i.e. Hizbullah]. On the contrary; the American plan of [U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza] Rice, which is titled 'Conditions for Neutralizing the Aspiration for Growth in the Islamic World and Coordination with the Arab Governments in the Region in Order to Contain the Shi'ites,' attests to the West's preparations for a wide confrontation with the Middle East's [Islamic] awakening movement in the third millennium. This is, of course, the first time in [the history of] America-Zionist relations that Washington has turned to the heads [of the Arab states] after an Israeli defeat, and asked them to unite and help it [i.e. Israel], in order to compensate for the losses in the war...

"In any event, we must be alert. Sights and rumors can tell us about the movements of this regime [i.e. Israel] in the coming months. Hizbullah was the undisputed victor of the 33-day war against Israel, but as the honorable Supreme Leader [Ali Khamenei] said at Friday prayers in Tehran: 'The defeated in this event are not, and will not remain, passive. The process is not over [yet]. They are busy with operations and efforts aimed at stopping the results of this disappointment and defeat [they suffered], because the blow that landed upon them was a hard one...'

"The Muslim peoples in the region must stop this conspiracy before it happens. The people's unprecedented participation in Qods [Jerusalem] Day this year attests to the continuation of the path of resistance against the Zionist regime... But on the first front of the resistance, that is, the Hizbullah [front], maintaining control over the 'Iron Triangle' [4] region and declaring it a closed military area can prevent the weakening of the forces of the Islamic resistance. In any event, America's effort is to turn UNIFIL's role into one of confrontation with and weakening of Hizbullah - but doubtless this deception will be neutralized by the alertness of [Hizbullah Secretary-General] Hassan Nasrallah.

"It must not be forgotten that the great war is ahead of us, [and it will break out] perhaps tomorrow, or in another few days, or in a few months, or even in a few years. The nation of Muslims must prepare for the great war, so as to completely wipe out the Zionist regime, and remove this cancerous growth. Like the Imam [Ayatollah] Khomeini said: 'Israel must collapse."


[1] Qods (Jerusalem) Day is observed yearly in Iran on the last Friday of Ramadan, in accordance with the orders of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. It marks Iran's aspiration for the liberation of all Palestine.

[2] Kayhan (Iran), October 19, 2006.

[3] Resalat (Iran), October 22, 2006.

[4] The Iron Triangle is a term for the area around the city of Tyre in Lebanon that Hizbullah used as its main launching pad for Katyushas aimed at Israel during the July-August 2006 Lebanon war.
29090  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: September 24, 2007, 09:00:31 PM

Just How Far Did They Go, Those Words Against Israel?

Published: June 11, 2006

EVER since he spoke at an anti-Zionism conference in Tehran last October, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran has been known for one statement above all. As translated by news agencies at the time, it was that Israel "should be wiped off the map." Iran's nuclear program and sponsorship of militant Muslim groups are rarely mentioned without reference to the infamous map remark.

Here, for example, is R. Nicholas Burns, the under secretary of state for political affairs, recently: "Given the radical nature of Iran under Ahmadinejad and its stated wish to wipe Israel off the map of the world, it is entirely unconvincing that we could or should live with a nuclear Iran."

But is that what Mr. Ahmadinejad said? And if so, was it a threat of war? For months, a debate among Iran specialists over both questions has been intensifying. It starts as a dispute over translating Persian but quickly turns on whether the United States (with help from Israel) is doing to Iran what some believe it did to Iraq — building a case for military action predicated on a faulty premise.

"Ahmadinejad did not say he was going to wipe Israel off the map because no such idiom exists in Persian," remarked Juan Cole, a Middle East specialist at the University of Michigan and critic of American policy who has argued that the Iranian president was misquoted. "He did say he hoped its regime, i.e., a Jewish-Zionist state occupying Jerusalem, would collapse." Since Iran has not "attacked another country aggressively for over a century," he said in an e-mail exchange, "I smell the whiff of war propaganda."

Jonathan Steele, a columnist for the left-leaning Guardian newspaper in London, recently laid out the case this way: "The Iranian president was quoting an ancient statement by Iran's first Islamist leader, the late Ayatollah Khomeini, that 'this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time,' just as the Shah's regime in Iran had vanished. He was not making a military threat. He was calling for an end to the occupation of Jerusalem at some point in the future. The 'page of time' phrase suggests he did not expect it to happen soon."

Mr. Steele added that neither Khomeini nor Mr. Ahmadinejad suggested that Israel's "vanishing" was imminent or that Iran would be involved in bringing it about. "But the propaganda damage was done," he wrote, "and Western hawks bracket the Iranian president with Hitler as though he wants to exterminate Jews."

If Mr. Steele and Mr. Cole are right, not one word of the quotation — Israel should be wiped off the map — is accurate.

But translators in Tehran who work for the president's office and the foreign ministry disagree with them. All official translations of Mr. Ahmadinejad's statement, including a description of it on his Web site (, refer to wiping Israel away. Sohrab Mahdavi, one of Iran's most prominent translators, and Siamak Namazi, managing director of a Tehran consulting firm, who is bilingual, both say "wipe off" or "wipe away" is more accurate than "vanish" because the Persian verb is active and transitive.

The second translation issue concerns the word "map." Khomeini's words were abstract: "Sahneh roozgar." Sahneh means scene or stage, and roozgar means time. The phrase was widely interpreted as "map," and for years, no one objected. In October, when Mr. Ahmadinejad quoted Khomeini, he actually misquoted him, saying not "Sahneh roozgar" but "Safheh roozgar," meaning pages of time or history. No one noticed the change, and news agencies used the word "map" again.

Ahmad Zeidabadi, a professor of political science in Tehran whose specialty is Iran-Israel relations, explained: "It seems that in the early days of the revolution the word 'map' was used because it appeared to be the best meaningful translation for what he said. The words 'sahneh roozgar' are metaphorical and do not refer to anything specific. Maybe it was interpreted as 'book of countries,' and the closest thing to that was a map. Since then, we have often heard 'Israel bayad az naghshe jographya mahv gardad' — Israel must be wiped off the geographical map. Hard-liners have used it in their speeches."

The final translation issue is Mr. Ahmadinejad's use of "occupying regime of Jerusalem" rather than "Israel."

To some analysts, this means he is calling for regime change, not war, and therefore it need not be regarded as a call for military action. Professor Cole, for example, says: "I am entirely aware that Ahmadinejad is hostile to Israel. The question is whether his intentions and capabilities would lead to a military attack, and whether therefore pre-emptive warfare is prescribed. I am saying no, and the boring philology is part of the reason for the no."

But to others, "occupying regime" signals more than opposition to a certain government; the phrase indicates the depth of the Iranian president's rejection of a Jewish state in the Middle East because he refuses even to utter the name Israel. He has said that the Palestinian issue "does not lend itself to a partial territorial solution" and has called Israel "a stain" on Islam that must be erased. By contrast, Mr. Ahmadinejad's predecessor, Mohammad Khatami, said that if the Palestinians accepted Israel's existence, Iran would go along.

When combined with Iran's longstanding support for Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah of Lebanon, two groups that have killed numerous Israelis, and Mr. Ahmadinejad's refusal to acknowledge the Holocaust, it is hard to argue that, from Israel's point of view, Mr. Ahmadinejad poses no threat. Still, it is true that he has never specifically threatened war against Israel.

So did Iran's president call for Israel to be wiped off the map? It certainly seems so. Did that amount to a call for war? That remains an open question.

Nazila Fathi contributed reporting from Tehran for this article.

29091  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: September 24, 2007, 08:58:12 PM
Mexico Security Memo: Sept. 24, 2007
September 24, 2007 20 20  GMT

Failing to Meet the Objective

The more than 1,000 federal agents who were sent the week of Sept. 9 to Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state, began winding down their operation this past week and pulling out of the city. When the operation began, a top federal official said the aim was to make important arrests in the city -- which meant federal authorities had their sights set on high-ranking members of the Gulf cartel. It is not surprising that the operation ended with few arrests and some of the agents reportedly retreating out of fear for their lives.

A Sept. 11 attack against agents in Monterrey demonstrated that federal forces would face a violent response if they confronted the cartel. Consequently, the only arrests reported during the operation were of members of small criminal kidnapping gangs -- not the big fish police were after. In addition, a group of approximately 200 agents left Monterrey late Sept. 18 and headed for Reynosa, Tamaulipas state; various media reported that the agents' safety was the primary reason for their departure. Despite the police's failure to meet the objective of the Monterrey mission, the heightened security presence did result in a decrease in drug-related killings, which had been on the rise.

The Monterrey operation illustrates the challenges facing federal police forces engaged in counternarcotics operations. The cartels are better armed than police and have sources in every important agency, causing law enforcement to take a defensive rather than offensive stance in their operations. However, police have shown themselves to be fairly effective at quelling other kinds of violence when deployed in large numbers to a specific location. But the cartels understand that such large-scale deployments are temporary and, when possible, will wait to carry out an assassination instead of risking being detected by a passing police patrol.

EPR Graffiti?

Security at Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) facilities was increased in Chihuahua state this past week after officials discovered graffiti from the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR) on pipelines near the city of Casas Grandes. Security also was increased in Ciudad Juarez and other cities along the U.S. border. The spray-painted messages were similar to those found near blast sites on the pipelines attacked in July and August in other states. The graffiti suggests EPR is not confined geographically, though it is doubtful the group is planning a Pemex attack in Chihuahua since authorities have been alerted to its presence. EPR has not taken credit for the spray painting, which could have been perpetrated as a hoax by pranksters.

Violence on the U.S. Side

Cartel violence this past week was not limited to Mexico. On Sept. 19, a city councilman from Ciudad Acuna, Coahuila state, was found shot to death at his home just across the U.S. border in Del Rio, Texas. The victim, an outspoken critic of organized crime and the Zetas, had been shot five times in the head in his garage. Public criticism of the cartels would be enough to draw the attention of cartel hit men, though the councilman was also a retired officer of the now-defunct Federal Judicial Police, an agency that was disbanded because of rampant corruption. There have been no suggestions that the victim himself was corrupt, but simply serving in such an agency would have put him in contact will all kinds of unsavory individuals. Nevertheless, the incident highlights how Mexican-style targeted killings are spreading north across the border.

Sept. 17
Sinaloa state police discovered the dismembered body of an unidentified victim two blocks from the government palace in Culiacan. Several body parts were found in a cooler near the body.

The body of a woman with a single gunshot wound in the back of the head was discovered along a highway in Guanajuato state.

Authorities in Costa Rica, Sinaloa state, found the body of a man who had been shot once in the head at close range.

A woman in Saltillo, Coahuila state, returned home to find three family members dead, including one who had been suffocated by a plastic bag taped over his head.

Mexico City officials arrested members of a kidnapping ring led by a former agent of the Federal Investigative Agency.

Sept. 18
Hidalgo state officials reported finding the body of a woman dumped in a ditch near Tulancingo. She had been shot at least seven times.

Sept. 19
Gunmen on motorcycles killed the Hidalgo state public security secretary as he rode in a vehicle with a driver near Huasca de Ocampo. The driver was wounded in the attack.

Two people died in Caborca, Sonora state, when the vehicle they were riding in was attacked by gunmen, who fired more than 40 shots.

The decomposing remains of an unidentified individual were discovered in La Ermita, Guanajuato state. The victim had been shot once in the back of the head.

Michoacan state officials reported the drug-related shooting deaths of four people in Tocumbo, Tacambaro and Apatzingan.

A city councilman from Ciudad Acuna, Coahuila state, was found shot to death in his garage just across the U.S. border in Del Rio, Texas. The councilman, a former federal police officer and an outspoken critic of the Zetas, had been shot five times in the head.

Sept. 20
Authorities at an airport in Cali, Colombia, detained two Mexican citizens with more than $4 million hidden in suitcases. The Mexicans had traveled from Mexico City to Panama before arriving in Colombia.

Police in Tijuana, Baja California state, discovered the body of a man who had been shot three times.

Sept. 22
The former mayor of Canelas, Durango state, was wounded by gunfire during an attack on his vehicle.

The body of a man was found in the trunk of a car in an industrial part of Hidalgo state.

Sept. 23
A man's body was discovered near a university in Aguascalientes, Aguascalientes state. He had been shot once in the back of the head.
29092  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: September 24, 2007, 05:24:45 PM
Agreed that the suit has the potential to be very interesting.  I have a supply of popcorn (organic of course) on hand and suspect none of the parties will come out of it looking very good grin
29093  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Protección civil familiar y personal on: September 24, 2007, 01:51:06 PM

Me alegra ver este nuevo hilo tan bien comenzado.  !Espero que hayan mucha participacion!

Aqui' en Los Angeles nosotros tambien tenemos mucho riesgo de terremotos fuertes, y posibilidades de ataques teroristas tambien.

Tenemos en casa (pues en el garaje) un generador de ecectricidad que usa gasolina y aproximadamente 60 litros de gasolina.  Eso nos permitara' continuar usando la refrigeradora, computadoras, luzes basicas etc.  Tambien tenemos aprox. 200 litros de agua; una variedad de luzes de mano de pilas, luzes de mano quimicos, comida en latas, comida seca etc que no requiere concinarse, etc. Es importante saber donde y como apagar el gas en evento de terremoto.

Y para que nadie te quite tus cosas en evento de desorden civil, es imporatante tener armas y balas , , , y los huevos para usarlas.

29094  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Politica-Economia en Latino America on: September 24, 2007, 01:40:43 PM
Lo siento que este articulo del Wall Street Journal sea en ingles:

Beware of Venezuelans Bearing Gifts
September 24, 2007; Page A18

When Argentine customs officials caught a Venezuelan businessman trying to smuggle almost $800,000 in cash into the country last month, they parted him from his loot but allowed him to leave the country. He flew to Uruguay and then to Florida where, as someone who also holds an American passport, he has a home.

The mystery of where the money came from and where it was going has not been solved. But thanks to investigative reporting by the Argentine daily La Nación, we now know that there was good reason for Guido Alejandro Antonini Wilson to think he could just walk off that plane with a bag of money. As it turns out, the Argentine government of President Nestór Kirchner has a policy of allowing Venezuelans tied to the government in Caracas to come and go freely at Buenos Aires' Aeroparque airport, with no scrutiny of their baggage whatsoever.

This revelation has raised serious questions about Argentine sovereignty and about the relationship Mr. Kirchner has established with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. More to the point, Argentines now want to know whether unchecked Venezuelan traffic through the country is what's behind the acceleration of Mr. Chávez's Bolivarian Revolution in Argentina, as it was in Bolivia. They also want to know if the money was destined for the political campaign of Mr. Kirchner's wife, Cristina Fernández Kirchner, who is the Peronist candidate in next month's presidential elections.

The Argentine government appeared happy to get rid of Mr. Antonini in the early morning hours of Aug. 4 when the money was discovered. With him out of the country, it apparently believed the whole thing could be easily swept under the rug. But then a local cable TV station reported the incident. Soon the wider Argentine media picked up the story and the public learned that the Venezuelan bagman had arrived on a charter flight from Caracas with two Argentine government officials and three executives of the Venezuelan state-owned oil company, PdVSA. This sparked a political firestorm for the Kirchners. Now Argentina wants Washington to extradite Mr. Antonini. That process could take up to a year.

In the meantime, the presidential race is heating up and the first couple is claiming to know nothing about what Mr. Antonini was up to. For a while that seemed at least plausible. But as details have emerged about the circumstances at Aeroparque, the government's umbrage at the suggestion that it could have been complicit in the matter is looking downright theatrical.

Mr. Chávez's influence has been rising in Argentina for some years now, in part because Mr. Kirchner has much in common ideologically with the Venezuelan. Like Mr. Chávez, Mr. Kirchner has surrounded himself with former left-wing terrorists and their sympathizers and has made anti-Americanism a central theme in his policy agenda. Mr. Kirchner is also a practical man and after Argentina was branded a deadbeat for its 2001 debt moratorium, the Chávez offer to play international banker and buy up government bonds was an offer he couldn't refuse. Now the Antonini affair has exposed another facet of the Chávez-Kirchner alliance: open access to Argentina for Chávez foot soldiers.

La Nación reported on Aug. 18 that PdVSA flights receive "preferential treatment" when they arrive in Argentina. The planes drop their passengers in the military zone at Aeroparque where they clear Customs and Immigration. But according to the paper, that zone has one special feature that makes it relevant to the suitcase scandal: "there are no scanners to examine baggage."

The plane Mr. Antonini was on, which was hired by the Argentine state-owned energy company Enarsa, seems to have parked at the wrong terminal. That's why he got nabbed. La Nación also reports that sources familiar with airport activity say that in the past few months at least eight PdVSA flights have landed at the military zone in Aeroparque and that at least one PdVSA plane lands there every month. Given what was found on Mr. Antonini it is reasonable to ponder what these flights might be carrying. As La Nación has pointed out, one of the organizers of the anti-American rally in Buenos Aires when George W. Bush went to Uruguay in March admitted that the event was paid for by Venezuela. But how the money got to Argentina is still not known.

Quite apart from money, there is also the question of revolutionary personnel coming and going. Citgo, the Venezuelan gasoline company that operates in the U.S. but has no business in Argentina or Bolivia, has a U.S. registered plane that has landed more than once in Aeroparque. The same plane, in July 2006, was used for an official visit to a presidential summit in Cordoba, Argentina. "But," according to La Nación, "in that moment, it was operating as the transportation for the Cuban delegation." In fact, the paper says "these planes are used for both government and business purposes and it is difficult to know the nationality of the passengers because they fly Venezuelans, Cubans and Bolivians."

The highest ranking Argentine official on Mr. Antonini's flight was Claudio Uberti, the director of highway concessions. La Nación says that Mr. Uberti flew out of Argentina 27 times in the past 12 months and six of those trips were to Venezuela. The paper reports that he went more frequently than that to Venezuela but sometimes flew from Bolivia. When he arrived home on charter flights, he repeatedly used the military zone at Aeroparque. "If that had happened this time, Mr. Antonini wouldn't be famous," writes La Nación reporter Daniel Gallo. For his part, Mr. Antonini reportedly entered Argentina 12 times in the past year.

According to Mr. Gallo, "the PdVSA flights are peculiar in that their passengers, supposedly high-ranking Venezuelan representatives, do not appear on the registers or meeting agendas of Argentine officials, as they should by law. Neither [Planning] Minister Julio De Vido nor Mr. Uberti report meetings with PdVSA that would have required the trips by such visitors."

It may take a good long time to figure out just where Mr. Antonini was going with his stash. Speculation ranges from laundering money to paying a bribe to funding political activity. But in a sense it doesn't really matter. What has been revealed since Aug. 4 is that Mr. Kirchner has sacrificed Argentine national security in order to satisfy Mr. Chávez. That can't be good for the stability of the Southern Cone.

Write to O'
29095  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: September 24, 2007, 01:35:37 PM

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Surveillance Showdown
September 24, 2007

Would any sane country purposefully limit its ability to spy on enemy communications in time of war? That is the question Congress must answer as it takes up reform of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) this week. Privacy activists, civil libertarians and congressional Democrats argue that both foreign and domestic eavesdropping must be subject to judicial scrutiny and oversight, even if this means drastically reducing the amount of foreign intelligence information available to the government, without ever acknowledging the costs involved. It is time the American people had an open and honest debate on the relative importance of privacy and security.

FISA, of course, is the law regulating the government's interception of "electronic communications" for foreign intelligence purposes. Earlier this year the special FISA court narrowed dramatically the National Security Agency's (NSA) ability to collect overseas intelligence under the law, so Congress passed a six-month amendment before its August recess to allow current surveillance programs to continue. That amendment should be made permanent.

When FISA was enacted in 1978, most of this foreign intelligence collection was accomplished by NSA satellites and "listening posts" located outside of the United States. That enabled that agency to acquire, without any judicial involvement, vast quantities of global communications. The fact that foreign targets contacted Americans was of no legal consequence. Even the strongest congressional proponents of FISA's regulation of surveillance activities recognized that intelligence gathering was a key executive function, and the U.S. needed as much foreign intelligence as possible. This bipartisan consensus -- that FISA compliance should not impede foreign intelligence collection -- was all the more notable coming amidst the congressional reaction to Watergate and at a time when the Cold War threats to national security, while formidable, did not require real-time surveillance of numerous nonstate actors.

Today, primarily because of the communications technology revolution, much of the same foreign intelligence information, focused on non-U.S. persons overseas, passes along U.S.-based fiber optics systems. Unfortunately, much of the Democratic congressional leadership says this new world requires more stringent regulation than in the past because of the risk to the privacy of innocent Americans. But this problem is one inherent in all surveillance schemes whether they're overseen by courts or not.

All suspects, whether garden-variety criminals or terrorists, whether surveilled with or without a warrant, invariably contact numerous innocents. Requiring the government to obtain a judicial order for all overseas surveillance whenever an American's communications might be intercepted will not solve this problem.

The government does utilize a series of "minimization" procedures governing how foreign intelligence information is handled to prevent its inappropriate use or disclosure. As explained by CIA Director Michael Hayden in 2006, referring to the post-Sept. 11 terrorist surveillance program before it was subjected to FISA: "if the U.S. person information isn't relevant [without foreign intelligence value], the data is suppressed." The fact that senior U.S. government officials (unlike their counterparts in other countries) do not routinely have access to the unredacted surveillance-generated information about American citizens, and that the system is operated largely by career civil servants, provides an additional layer of privacy protection.

Warrantless surveillance is also constitutional. The Fourth Amendment prohibits only "unreasonable" searches and seizures. Although today's privacy advocates routinely claim that warrantless searches are inherently unreasonable, that position is insupportable. The Supreme Court has repeatedly approved numerous warrantless searches, balancing the government's interests against the relevant privacy expectations. Thus drivers can be subjected to sobriety checkpoints and international travelers are liable to search at the border.

The key in such cases has generally been the presence or absence of a "reasonable expectation of privacy." If there is no reasonable expectation of privacy associated with a particular location or activity, then a warrantless search is not unreasonable. Whether Americans have a reasonable expectation that their international communications -- which may be routed through any number of foreign countries and are routinely subject to capture by foreign intelligence services -- will not be incidentally intercepted by the U.S. government is debatable. But foreign nationals communicating abroad have no reasonable expectation of privacy vis-à-vis the NSA simply because their conversations are electronically transmitted through American switching stations.

On the other side of the scale, of course, is the government's obligation to protect the American people. Because the U.S. faces a dispersed, shadowy, and ideologically committed enemy -- in circumstances where defectors are rare and the CIA's ability to penetrate the hostile networks is extremely limited -- the most proactive electronic surveillance operations are essential. Requiring judicial orders for the collection of foreign intelligence anytime an innocent American's communications may also be intercepted would cripple U.S. intelligence gathering. Obtaining orders against many foreign targets about which comparatively little may be known, including their true identities or the precise modalities of their involvement with jihadist entities, would be impossible.

The privacy advocates claim that surveilling without traditional warrants, albeit still with substantial judicial involvement, "purely" foreign-to-foreign communications is enough. But many of the NSA's most valuable overseas targets routinely contact Americans. Moreover, if the Democratic-leadership authored FISA reform -- which requires judicial involvement once a foreign surveillance target reaches a certain number of communications with the U.S. -- were to pass, every foreign terrorist and spymaster would communicate with the U.S. enough to be enrolled in the warrant-driven surveillance program. As a result, the only people overseas who could still be surveilled warrantlessly would be the ones with the least intelligence value.

The privacy advocates also criticize the NSA's efforts to collect vast quantities of information, claiming that more targeted, individual-specific surveillance is both more privacy-friendly and better protects America's safety. However, unlike the Cold War-era -- when the NSA was focused largely on a few state entities, and had a pretty good idea of who the targets were -- today targeted surveillance alone is not enough. Thousands of individuals participate in various ways in jihadist activities, and even more individuals possess valuable information about them. All of them seek to blend into society, benefiting from the anonymity of modern life and ease of travel and communications. Because their behavior differs in subtle ways from the conduct of law-abiding citizens around them, NSA-led broad surveillance, backed up by various pattern-recognition programs, can identify the right targets.

Indeed, privacy advocates seek to ban the NSA's overseas-focused broad surveillance programs -- and require warrants whenever overseas targets have a number of contacts with the U.S. -- precisely to decrease dramatically the total number of foreigners tracked by the NSA. Their logic is unimpeachable -- the fewer foreign targets are reached by the NSA, the fewer innocent Americans would be caught up in the surveillance net. But this fervent commitment to protecting the privacy of Americans from all intrusions comes at a very high cost; for the first time in history, the U.S. is asked to collect less intelligence about the enemy while prosecuting a war.

Those who want to subject all government surveillance activities to a warrant requirement should honestly acknowledge that this approach would dramatically shrink the stream of foreign intelligence available.

Let's be clear here: Privacy is an important value. American society cannot afford, however, to elevate privacy concerns beyond all other considerations. Being suspicious about governmental power is consistent with our constitutional values -- the Framers certainly were so inclined -- but being paranoid about one's own government is not.

Messrs. Rivkin and Casey served in the U.S. Justice Department under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

29096  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: September 24, 2007, 01:17:56 PM
Its the LA Slimes and the reporter's name appears to be Iranian (we have a lot of Iranians in LA-- many came here when the Shah fell) so read the following interesting piece with that in mind:

Trials tested Muslim's faith in America
Osama Awadallah credits help from Americans, including Jews, for his acquittal on perjury charges tied to his acquaintance with two 9/11 hijackers.
By H.G. Reza, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
September 23, 2007

Managing a furniture store is not what Osama Awadallah had his sights on during college. But selling couches and dressers will do until an offer to develop computer information systems comes along.

His job opportunities are limited, he said, because of the notoriety from his friendship with two 9/11 hijackers. He was one of the hundreds of Muslim men jailed as material witnesses in the 9/11 investigation. After testifying before the grand jury, he was indicted on charges of perjury, and the experience caused him to question the American ideal of equal justice and democracy. At his first trial he was just one juror away from conviction and deportation. But his faith in this country was restored at the second trial when he was found not guilty in 2006.

"When I came to the United States I had these dreams about this beautiful country," Awadallah said in a recent interview. He came in 1999 as a student. "But after 9/11, I thought I was not in America. I was scared. Then I saw the goodness of the American people who believe in justice."

Sporting wire-rim glasses that blend into his round face, Awadallah tenses upon meeting strangers. The bushy beard he wore as a sign of his devotion to Islam has been cropped short, a compromise to help him get a foot in the corporate door.

Jogging and workouts have buffed up the scrawny frame he had when he was arrested in 2001.

Awadallah, 27, said his family elders did not want him to be interviewed for this article. "My family wants people to forget about me. At the same time, I want to make Americans aware of what's going on in their country. I don't think they understand their rights."

He met a reporter at the La Mesa condo of Mimi Pollack, a friend and teacher at Grossmont College in El Cajon, and was more than two hours late. After a tepid apology, he offered a brusque explanation that he is more careful now about whom he talks to because he "stopped trusting people" after his arrest.

Minutes later he began to relax and the furrowed brow was replaced by a warm grin. "Americans are great in their understanding," he said, gesturing toward Pollack.

His friendship with Pollack has endured even though she turned over to the FBI evidence that led to the two perjury counts lodged against him. Still, she believed in his innocence and was his most vocal advocate.

Despite his acquittal, Awadallah said he is still looked at with suspicion.

"There are non-Muslims who still think I had something to do with the attacks and Muslims who think I got my freedom because I'm working for the government. I can't control what people think. All I can do is move on."

Moving on means he wants to become a U.S. citizen, marry and "live like any American." Finding a woman to marry is a milepost in an American journey that for a while was like "a bad movie that turned real," he said.

He reached an important goal last year when he graduated from San Diego State with a business degree. His long-term goal is to become a doctor.

"I want to prove that I can be a good American citizen, but I can't get a job in my field because with a name like Osama, [employers] research me," he said. "They Google my name and get thousands of hits" about his trials and association with Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar, who were among the hijackers who crashed American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon.

He was a casual acquaintance of the two terrorists in 2000. He met them at the mosque in La Mesa and worked for about a month with Alhazmi at a service station. The FBI found his old telephone number in Alhazmi's car, which was parked at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C., and detained him as a material witness on Sept. 21, 2001.

Authorities took him to New York City to testify before a federal grand jury. He was indicted on two counts of perjury because under questioning he said he could not remember Almihdhar's first name, though there was proof he knew it.

Awadallah had written a report about his summer for Pollack's class on English as a second language, and she gave the essay to the FBI. "One of the quietest people I have ever met is Nawaf and Khalid," he had written. He blames the contradiction in his testimony on his poor English and fear and confusion after being kept awake all night by guards.

Defense attorney Randall B. Hamud said Awadallah appeared at his bail hearing before then-federal Judge Michael Mukasey, now President Bush's nominee for attorney general, after being detained as a material witness. Bail was denied, and Hamud said he complained to Mukasey that jailers had beaten Awadallah.

"He looked at Osama and said, 'Your client looks fine to me. You can file a lawsuit if you want to,' " according to Hamud.

U.S. District Judge Shira A. Scheindlin later wrote that "many of Awadallah's allegations about his treatment during the weeks of incarceration are uncontested" and noted that government officials acknowledged he had multiple bruises on his body and a cut on his left hand.


Trials tested Muslim's faith in America
September 23 2007

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Awadallah said his ties to Alhazmi and Almihdhar "will fade with time," and the two hijackers "have been judged by God." The attacks were not sanctioned by Islam, he said, and there is no excuse for killing 3,000 innocent people.

Born in Venezuela, Awadallah is a Jordanian citizen of Palestinian descent. He said his family lost its property when Israel was established in 1948. Pollack described him as an "in-your-face Muslim" who engaged in passionate debates about Islam and Israel's treatment of Palestinians before his arrest.

He was also "very conflicted" about Jews, Hamud said.

Though he still criticizes Israel, Awadallah now discusses the volatile issues of the Middle East in "calmer, rational and mature" discussions, Pollack said.

If walls separate Jews and Muslims in America, they can be breached, Awadallah said.

"In America it is possible for people to work together. My case proves that," he said. "Maybe one day people will work together in Israel and there will be justice for Palestinians."

As is Pollack, many people who helped clear Awadallah were Jewish, including his three New York lawyers, several jurors, and Scheindlin, who presided over the case. She dismissed the charges against Awadallah in a 60-page opinion that said jailing him solely as a material witness was unlawful. An appeals court reinstated the charges.

Awadallah said he saw the irony of Jews' helping him.

"People like [juror] David Lipschultz knew there was justice to be served," he said. Lipschultz, a nurse, was the lone holdout for acquittal at Awadallah's first trial. "Civil rights isn't just something you read about in history," Lipschultz said in an interview.

Awadallah said his unsettling experience also had an upside; it broadened his contact with non-Muslims. Before his arrest, his life revolved mostly around mosque and school, where he kept to himself.

"The best people who treat foreigners well are Americans. So many nice people have helped me with my English, showing me places and going out together," he said. America "is still a home for freedom. I have no thoughts whatsoever that this is not a good country for Muslims."

29097  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East War on: September 24, 2007, 12:22:45 PM
Geopolitical Diary: Iran Fright Month

Newsweek reports in this week's edition that U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney recently was considering asking Israel to launch a missile strike against the Iranian nuclear facility at Natanz. Its purpose would be to provoke an Iranian counter-strike against Israel, which would give the United States an excuse to launch its own airstrikes against Iran. Newsweek cited two unidentified sources as saying that Cheney's former Middle East adviser, David Wurmser, had told this to others a few months ago. Wurmser's wife denied the story.

So we have two unidentified (of course) sources, citing a conversation months ago between an aide and an unnamed group of people, claiming that Cheney was considering asking the Israelis to attack Natanz. Cheney is nothing if not Machiavellian. Still, there are a few unanswered questions in this story. For example, why it would be easier for the United States to attack Iran after it retaliated against a pre-emptive attack from Israel? A lot of people would say that Israel got what it deserved for attacking Iran. Or, if the United States wanted to attack Iran, why not just attack it? In fact, the whole story is wacky, since the last thing that Washington wants to appear to be doing is attacking Iran on behalf of Israel. If the United States is going to attack Iran, it will sit much better with the Saudis, Jordanians and Egyptians if the attack is not done to avenge Israel.

Of course, the point of the story might be that Cheney came up with the idea so that the Israelis would start the war, creating an upswell of pro-Israeli feeling in the United States and forcing President George W. Bush into attacking Iran against his will. Or perhaps Bush and Cheney thought of this together as a way to force the Democrats to demand an attack on Iran, since Bush would never do something Congress disapproved of.

It's quite a story. The mere fact that it doesn't make a lot of sense should not detract from is elegance. Newsweek can't be wrong, because the story doesn't say that Cheney asked the Israelis to attack, only that he was thinking about it. It comes down to what "thinking" about something means. We're sure that Cheney has a lot of strange thoughts. But then so do we -- we just try not to tell them to people since they might tell their friends. Perhaps Cheney just isn't secretive enough.

Our constant amazement at the media aside -- we're much too small to be one of the media -- this piece might be part of Iran Fright Month. The Bush administration has tried very hard to convince Tehran that an air attack against Iran is a very real possibility. The administration has leaked a wide range of stories about a range of options against Iran. The goal of threatening Iran (as opposed to simply attacking Iran) is political -- to get Iran to shift its policies in Iraq. We've heard some indication of senior Iranian officials expressing concern that an attack could come, so it might be having an impact. But thus far, there is no sign of a shift in the Iranian position.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is in New York for the U.N. General Assembly meeting, said in an interview with CBS, "It's wrong to think that Iran and the U.S. are walking toward war. Who says so? Why should we go to war? There is no war in the offing." He also reiterated that Iran does not want a nuclear weapon, pointing out, "If it was useful, it would have prevented the downfall of the Soviet Union. If it was useful, it would have resolved the problem the Americans have in Iraq."

There is actually a kind of logic to that -- but then Iranian presidents visiting New York always appear controlled, reasonable and pleasant. We have consistently taken the view that the Iranians are using the threat of nuclear weapons as a bargaining tool rather than expecting to complete a device, so we tend to believe him. His problem is that we may be the only ones who do. The Bush administration is going out of its way to intimidate Iran, and the United States is not a trivial force. We doubt that this signals a shift in Iran's policy, but at least Ahmadinejad's response makes more sense than Newsweek's story.
29098  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: September 24, 2007, 11:44:56 AM
Although the NY Times is always a source to be read with alertness for distortions, I found the following piece very interesting.

TEHRAN — When Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was first elected president, he said Iran had more important issues to worry about than how women dress. He even called for allowing women into soccer games, a revolutionary idea for revolutionary Iran.

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New York Grudgingly Opens the Door (September 24, 2007)
Times Topics:
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
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Vahid Salemi/Associated Press
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, surrounded by Iranian officials, reading the Koran Sunday before leaving Tehran.
Today, Iran is experiencing the most severe crackdown on social behavior and dress in years, and women are often barred from smoking in public, let alone attending a stadium event.

Since his inauguration two years ago, Mr. Ahmadinejad has grabbed headlines around the world, and in Iran, for outrageous statements that often have no more likelihood of being put into practice than his plan for women to attend soccer games. He has generated controversy in New York in recent days by asking to visit ground zero — a request that was denied — and his scheduled appearance at Columbia University has drawn protests.

But it is because of his provocative remarks, like denying the Holocaust and calling for Israel to be wiped off the map, that the United States and Europe have never known quite how to handle him. In demonizing Mr. Ahmadinejad, the West has served him well, elevating his status at home and in the region at a time when he is increasingly isolated politically because of his go-it-alone style and ineffective economic policies, according to Iranian politicians, officials and political experts.

Political analysts here say they are surprised at the degree to which the West focuses on their president, saying that it reflects a general misunderstanding of their system.

Unlike in the United States, in Iran the president is not the head of state nor the commander in chief. That status is held by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, whose role combines civil and religious authority. At the moment, this president’s power comes from two sources, they say: the unqualified support of the supreme leader, and the international condemnation he manages to generate when he speaks up.

“The United States pays too much attention to Ahmadinejad,” said an Iranian political scientist who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. “He is not that consequential.”

That is not to say that Mr. Ahmadinejad is insignificant. He controls the mechanics of civil government, much the way a prime minister does in a state like Egypt, where the real power rests with the president. He manages the budget and has put like-minded people in positions around the country, from provincial governors to prosecutors. His base of support is the Basiji militia and elements of the Revolutionary Guards.

But Mr. Ahmadinejad has not shown the same political acumen at home as he has in riling the West. Two of his ministers have quit, criticizing his stewardship of the state. The head of the central bank resigned. The chief judge criticized him for his management of the government. His promise to root out corruption and redistribute oil wealth has run up against entrenched interests.

Even a small bloc of members of Parliament that once aligned with Mr. Ahmadinejad has largely given up, officials said. “Maybe it comes as a surprise to you that I voted for him,” said Emad Afrough, a conservative member of Parliament. “I liked the slogans demanding justice.”

But he added: “You cannot govern the country on a personal basis. You have to use public knowledge and consultation.”

Rather than focusing so much attention on the president, the West needs to learn that in Iran, what matters is ideology — Islamic revolutionary ideology, according to politicians and political analysts here. Nearly 30 years after the shah fell in a popular revolt, Iran’s supreme leader also holds title of guardian of the revolution.

Mr. Ahmadinejad’s power stems not from his office per se, but from the refusal of his patron, Ayatollah Khamenei, and some hard-line leaders, to move beyond Iran’s revolutionary identity, which makes full relations with the West impossible. There are plenty of conservatives and hard-liners who take a more pragmatic view, wanting to retain “revolutionary values” while integrating Iran with the world, at least economically. But they are not driving the agenda these days, and while that could change, it will not be the president who makes that call.

“Iran has never been interested in reaching an accommodation with the United States,” the Iranian political scientist said. “It cannot reach an accommodation as long as it retains the current structure.”

Another important factor restricts Mr. Ahmadinejad’s hand: while ideology defines the state, the revolution has allowed a particular class to grow wealthy and powerful.

When Mr. Ahmadinejad was first elected, it appeared that Iran’s hard-liners had a monopoly on all the levers of power. But today it is clear that Mr. Ahmadinejad is not a hard-liner in the traditional sense. His talk of economic justice and a redistribution of wealth, for example, ran into a wall of existing vested interests, including powerful clergy members and military leaders.

“Ahmadinejad is a phenomenon,” said Mohammad Ali Abtahi, a former vice president under the more moderate administration of Mohammad Khatami. “On a religious level he is much more of a hard-liner than the traditional hard-liners. But on a political level, he does not have the support of the hard-liners.”

In the long run, political analysts here say, a desire to preserve those vested interests will drive Iran’s agenda. That means that the allegiance of the political elite is to the system, not a particular president. If this president were ever perceived as outlasting his usefulness, he would probably take his place in history beside other presidents who failed to change the orientation of the system.

Iranians will go to the polls in less than two years to select a president. There are so many pressures on the electoral system here, few people expect an honest race. The Guardian Council, for example, controlled by hard-liners, must approve all candidates.

But whether Mr. Ahmadinejad wins or loses, there is no sense here in Iran that the outcome will have any impact on the fundamentals of Iran’s relations with the world or the government’s relation to its own society.

“The situation will get worse and worse,” said Saeed Leylaz, an economist and former government official. “We are moving to a point where no internal force can change things.”

29099  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 24, 2007, 11:20:46 AM
“There has been a void in the Republican presidential race. The GOP candidates have spoken about immigration, taxes, social issues, and the war in Iraq. Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, and John McCain have also spoken frequently about Ronald Reagan in order to position themselves as the political heirs to the great president. The candidates, however, have overlooked a central idea that animated Reagan’s view of government. That was federalism, the constitutional principle that the federal government’s responsibilities are ‘few and defined’ as James Madison put it. That’s why I’m pleased that Fred Thompson has thrown his hat into the ring. Thompson has been talking and writing about his belief in federalism. In a recent speech, he argued that ‘centralized government is not the solution to all our problems...[T]his was among the great insights of 1787, and it is just as vital in 2007.’ Thompson rightly argues that the abandonment of federalism has caused a range of pathologies including a lack of government accountability, the squelching of policy diversity between the states, and the overburdening of federal policymakers with local matters when they should be focusing on national-security issues.” —Chris Edwards
29100  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The more things change , , , on: September 24, 2007, 11:17:58 AM
“The mania for giving the Government power to meddle with the private affairs of cities or citizens is likely to cause endless trouble, through the rivalry of schools and creeds that are anxious to obtain official recognition, and there is great danger that our people will lose our independence of thought and action which is the cause of much of our greatness, and sink into the helplessness of the Frenchman or German who expects his government to feed him when hungry, clothe him when naked, to prescribe when his child may be born and when he may die, and, in time, to regulate every act of humanity from the cradle to the tomb, including the manner in which he may seek future admission to paradise.” —Mark Twain
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