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29251  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Nuclear War? on: May 14, 2007, 10:07:29 PM
There may be a bit of weird formatting in this piece-- substituting "?" for other punctuation.

New York Times:
Atomic Agency Concludes Iran Is Stepping Up Nuclear Work
Published: May 14, 2007
VIENNA, May 14 ? Inspectors for the International Atomic Energy Agency have concluded that Iran appears to have solved most of its technological problems and is now beginning to enrich uranium on a far larger scale than before, according to the agency?s top officials.

The findings may change the calculus of diplomacy in Europe and in Washington, which aimed to force a suspension of Iran?s enrichment activities in large part to prevent it from learning how to produce weapons-grade material.

In a short-notice inspection of Iran?s operations in the main nuclear facility at Natanz on Sunday, conducted in advance of a report to the United Nations Security Council due early next week, the inspectors found that Iranian engineers were already using roughly 1,300 centrifuges and were producing fuel suitable for nuclear reactors, according to diplomats and nuclear experts here.

Until recently, the Iranians were having difficulty keeping the delicate centrifuges spinning at the tremendous speeds necessary to make nuclear fuel and were often running them empty or not at all.

Now, those roadblocks appear to have been surmounted. ?We believe they pretty much have the knowledge about how to enrich,? said Mohammed ElBaradei, the director general of the energy agency, who clashed with the Bush administration four years ago when he declared that there was no evidence that Iraq had resumed its nuclear program. ?From now on, it is simply a question of perfecting that knowledge. People will not like to hear it, but that?s a fact.?

It is unclear whether Iran can sustain its recent progress. Major setbacks are common in uranium enrichment, and experts say it is entirely possible that miscalculation, equipment failures or sabotage ? something the United States is believed to have attempted in the past ? could prevent the Iranian government from reaching its goal of producing fuel on what President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran boasts is ?an industrial scale.?

The material produced so far would have to undergo further enrichment before it could be transformed into bomb-grade material. To accomplish that, Iran would likely first have to evict the I.A.E.A. inspectors, as North Korea did four years ago.

Even then, it is unclear whether the Iranians have the technology to produce a weapon small enough to fit atop their missiles, a significant engineering challenge.

While the United Nations Security Council has passed a resolution demanding that Iran suspend all of its nuclear activities, and it has twice imposed sanctions for Tehran?s refusal to do so, some European nations, and particularly Russia, have questioned whether the demand for suspension still makes sense.

The logic of demanding suspension is that it would delay the day that Iran gained the knowledge to produce its own nuclear fuel ? what the Israelis used to refer to as ?the point of no return.? Those favoring unconditional engagement with Iran have argued that the current strategy is creating a stalemate that the Iranians are exploiting, allowing them to make technological leaps while the Security Council steps up sanctions.

The Bush administration, in contrast, has argued that it will never negotiate while the Iranians speed ever closer to a nuclear weapons capability, saying there has to be a standstill as long as talks proceed. In a telephone interview, R. Nicholas Burns, the undersecretary of state for policy, who is implementing the Iran strategy, said that while he has not heard about the I.A.E.A.?s newest findings, they would not affect American policy.

?We?re proceeding under the assumption that there is still time for diplomacy to work,? he said, although he added that if the Iranians did not agree to suspend production by the time the leaders of the Group of 8 industrial nations meet next month, ?we will move ahead toward a third set of sanctions.?

Mr. ElBaradei has always been skeptical of that strategy, telling European foreign ministers that he doubts the Iranians will fully suspend their nuclear activities and that a face-saving way must be found to resolve the impasse.

?Quite clearly, suspension is a requirement by the Security Council and I would hope the Iranians would listen to the world community,? he said. ?But from a proliferation perspective, the fact of the matter is that one of the purposes of suspension ? keeping them from getting the knowledge ? has been overtaken by events. The focus now should be to stop them from going to industrial scale production, to allow us to do a full-court-press inspection and to be sure they remain inside the treaty.?

The report to the Security Council next Monday is expected to say that since the Iranians stopped complying in February 2006 with an agreement on broad inspections by the agency around the country, the I.A.E.A.?s understanding of ?the scope and content? of Iran?s nuclear activities has deteriorated. I

Inspectors are concerned that Iran has declined to answer a series of questions, posed more than a year ago, about information the agency received from a Pakistani nuclear engineer, Abdul Qadeer Khan. Of particular interest is a document that shows how to design the collision of two nuclear spheres ? something suitable only for producing a weapon.

The inspection conducted on Sunday took place on two hours notice, a time period so short that it appears unlikely that the Iranians could have turned on their centrifuges to impress the inspectors. According to diplomats familiar with the inspectors’ report, in addition to 1,300 working centrifuges, another 300 were being tested and appeared ready to be fed raw nuclear fuel as soon as late this week, the diplomats said. Another 300 are under construction.

“They are at the stage where they are doing one cascade a week,” said one diplomat familiar with the analysis of Iran’s activities, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the information. A “cascade” has 164 centrifuges, and experts say that at this pace, Iran could have 3,000 centrifuges operating by June — enough to make one bomb’s worth of material every year. Tehran may, the diplomat said, be able to build an additional 5,000 centrifuges by the end of the year, for a total of 8,000.

The inspectors have tested the output and concluded that Iran is producing reactor-grade uranium, enriched to a little less than 5 percent purity. But that still worries American officials and experts here at the I.A.E.A. If Iran stores the uranium and later runs it through its centrifuges for another four or five months, it can raise the enrichment level to 90 percent — the level needed for a nuclear weapon.

In the arcane terminology of nuclear proliferation, that is known as a “breakout capability,” the ability to throw inspectors out of the country and then produce weapons-grade fuel, as North Korea did in 2003.

Some Bush administration officials and some nuclear experts here at the I.A.E.A. and elsewhere suspect that the Iranians may not be driving for a weapon but rather for that “breakout capability,” because that alone can serve as a nuclear deterrent. It would be a way for Iran to make clear that it could produce a bomb on short notice, without actually possessing one.

One senior European diplomat, who declined to speak for attribution, said Washington would now have to confront the question of whether it wants to keep Iran from producing any nuclear material or whether it wants to keep Tehran from gaining the ability to build a weapon on short notice.

“The key decision you have to make right now,” the diplomat said, “is that if you don’t want the breakout scenario, you would have to freeze the Iranian program at a laboratory scale. Because if you continue this stalemate, that will bring you, eventually, to a breakout capability.”

Those in the Bush administration who take a hard line on Iran make the opposite argument. They say that the only position that President Bush can take now, without appearing to be backing down, is to stick to the administration’s past argument that “not one centrifuge spins” in Iran. They argue for escalating sanctions and the threat that, if diplomacy fails, the United States could take out the nuclear facilities in a military strike.

But even inside the administration, many officials, particularly in the State Department and the Pentagon, argue that military action would prompt greater chaos in the Middle East and Iranian retribution against American forces in Iraq and possibly elsewhere. Moreover, they have argued that Iran’s enrichment facilities are still at an early enough stage that a military strike would not set the country’s program back very far. Such a strike, they argue, would only make sense once large facilities have been built.

Vice President Cheney, in an interview conducted with Fox News at the end of his trip to the Mideast, said today that Iran appears “to be determined to develop the capacity to enrich uranium in order to produce nuclear weapons.” But he issued no threats, saying simply “they ought to comply with the U.N. resolutions.”

He noted that President Bush personally made the decision to engage in talks with Iran, at the ambassadorial level, about Iran’s activities in Iraq. But those talks are supposed to specifically exclude the nuclear dispute.
29252  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Yoga on: May 14, 2007, 10:02:28 PM
Woof Baltic Dog:

I think you underestimate yoga a bit.  Certainly there are versions that are naught but pleasant relaxation (nothing wrong with that) AND there are versions which are quite vigorous and physically demanding.  Ever see Rickson Gracie"s yoga in the documentary "Choke"?  There is additional footage which did not make the documentary which I have seen which is also quite impressive.  I have seen the Machado brothers do similar yoga which also descends from Orlando Cani's "Gimnastica Natural".  I have some footage Carlos M. doing some of it in my house on 4th street some 10-12 years ago.  Also quite impressive.  Roger Machado has taken his "yoga jiu jitsu" to a high level.  Guro Inosanto has trained with him extensively in it and has blended in silat movements to his personal expression as well. 

I think if you were to see any of these men do their yoga you would adjust your opinion.

In my own thought process for myself I think in terms of ALIGNMENT and ELASTICITY more than "stretching". 

PS:  Don't let him fool you; CWS is a pretty bad ass mo-fo in his own right. 
29253  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Emergency Tips and Emergency Medicine on: May 14, 2007, 07:05:35 PM
Brought over from the SCE forum:

Honey Remedy Could Save Limbs
Brandon Keim  10.11.06 | 1:00 AM
When Jennifer Eddy first saw an ulcer on the left foot of her patient, an elderly diabetic man, it was pink and quarter-sized. Fourteen months later, drug-resistant bacteria had made it an unrecognizable black mess.

Doctors tried everything they knew -- and failed. After five hospitalizations, four surgeries and regimens of antibiotics, the man had lost two toes. Doctors wanted to remove his entire foot.

"He preferred death to amputation, and everybody agreed he was going to die if he didn't get an amputation," said Eddy, a professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

With standard techniques exhausted, Eddy turned to a treatment used by ancient Sumerian physicians, touted in the Talmud and praised by Hippocrates: honey. Eddy dressed the wounds in honey-soaked gauze. In just two weeks, her patient's ulcers started to heal. Pink flesh replaced black. A year later, he could walk again.

"I've used honey in a dozen cases since then," said Eddy. "I've yet to have one that didn't improve."

Eddy is one of many doctors to recently rediscover honey as medicine. Abandoned with the advent of antibiotics in the 1940s and subsequently disregarded as folk quackery, a growing set of clinical literature and dozens of glowing anecdotes now recommend it.

Most tantalizingly, honey seems capable of combating the growing scourge of drug-resistant wound infections, including group A streptococcus -- the infamous flesh-eating bug -- and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, which in its most severe forms also destroys flesh. These have become alarmingly more common in recent years, with MRSA alone now responsible for half of all skin infections treated in U.S. emergency rooms. So-called superbugs cause thousands of deaths and disfigurements every year, and public health officials are alarmed.

Though the practice is uncommon in the United States, honey is successfully used elsewhere on wounds and burns that are unresponsive to other treatments. Some of the most promising results come from Germany's Bonn University Children's Hospital, where doctors have used honey to treat wounds in 50 children whose normal healing processes were weakened by chemotherapy.

The children, said pediatric oncologist Arne Simon, fared consistently better than those with the usual applications of iodine, antibiotics and silver-coated dressings. The only adverse effects were pain in 2 percent of the children and one incidence of eczema. These risks, he said, compare favorably to iodine's possible thyroid effects and the unknowns of silver -- and honey is also cheaper.

"We're dealing with chronic wounds, and every intervention which heals a chronic wound is cost effective, because most of those patients have medical histories of months or years," he said.

While Eddy bought honey at a supermarket, Simon used Medihoney, one of several varieties made from species of Leptospermum flowers found in New Zealand and Australia.

Honey, formed when bees swallow, digest and regurgitate nectar, contains approximately 600 compounds, depending on the type of flower and bee. Leptospermum honeys are renowned for their efficacy and dominate the commercial market, though scientists aren't totally sure why they work.

"All honey is antibacterial, because the bees add an enzyme that makes hydrogen peroxide," said Peter Molan, director of the Honey Research Unit at the University of Waikato in New Zealand. "But we still haven't managed to identify the active components. All we know is (the honey) works on an extremely broad spectrum."

Attempts in the lab to induce a bacterial resistance to honey have failed, Molan and Simon said. Honey's complex attack, they said, might make adaptation impossible.

Two dozen German hospitals are experimenting with medical honeys, which are also used in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. In the United States, however, honey as an antibiotic is nearly unknown. American doctors remain skeptical because studies on honey come from abroad and some are imperfectly designed, Molan said.

In a review published this year, Molan collected positive results from more than 20 studies involving 2,000 people. Supported by extensive animal research, he said, the evidence should sway the medical community -- especially when faced by drug-resistant bacteria.

"In some, antibiotics won't work at all," he said. "People are dying from these infections."

Commercial medical honeys are available online in the United States, and one company has applied for Food and Drug Administration approval. In the meantime, more complete clinical research is imminent. The German hospitals are documenting their cases in a database built by Simon's team in Bonn, while Eddy is conducting the first double-blind study.

"The more we keep giving antibiotics, the more we breed these superbugs. Wounds end up being repositories for them," Eddy said. "By eradicating them, honey could do a great job for society and to improve public health."

1 This story was updated to clarify that there are a range of MRSA symptoms, of which the most severe is necroticizing fasciitis. 10.11.06 | 6:01 PM 
29254  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Humor/WTF on: May 14, 2007, 07:01:13 PM

A young farm lad from North Iowa goes off to college, but about 1/3
of the way through the semester, he has foolishly squandered away
all of the money his parents gave him.

Then he gets an idea. He calls his daddy. "Dad," he says, "you won't
believe the wonders that modern education is coming up with! Why,
they actually have a program here at Iowa State that will teach our
dog Ole Blue how to talk!"

"That's absolutely amazing," his father says. "How do I get him in
that program?"
"Just send him down here with $1,000" the boy says. "I'll get him
into the course." So, his father sends the dog and the $1,000. About
2/3 way through the semester, the money runs out. The boy calls his
father again.

"So how's Ole Blue doing, son," his father asks.
"Awesome, Dad, he's talking up a storm," he says, "but you just
won't believe this - they've had such good results with this program
that they 've implemented a new one to teach the animals how to

"READ," says his father, "No kidding! What do I have to do to get
him in that program?"
Just send $2,500, I'll get him in the class." His father sends the
The boy now has a problem. At the end of the year, his father will
find out that the dog can neither talk, nor read. So he shoots the

When he gets home at the end of the semester, his father is all excited.

"Where's Ole Blue? I just can't wait to see him talk and read

"Dad," the boy says, "I have some grim news. Yesterday morning,
just before we left to drive home, Ole Blue was in the living room
kicked back in the recliner, reading the Wall Street Journal, like he
usually does.
Then he turned to me and asked, 'So, is your daddy still messing'
around with that little redhead who lives in town?'
The father says, "I hope you SHOT that son of a bitch before he
talks to your Mother!"

"I sure did, Dad!"
"That's my boy!"
(The kid went on to be a successful lawyer.......)
29255  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Yoga on: May 14, 2007, 06:34:05 PM
Guro Inosanto recommended to me a yoga headstand as a way to help adjust to jet lag.
29256  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action on: May 14, 2007, 04:45:11 PM
Iraq: The Intense Search for Three Missing U.S. Soldiers
Thousands of U.S. troops backed by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and spy satellites searched the "Triangle of Death" just south of Baghdad, Iraq, on May 14 for three U.S. soldiers missing in action since insurgents attacked their patrol in the area May 12. The Islamic State of Iraq, an umbrella organization of jihadist insurgent groups, claimed responsibility for the attack on a jihadist Web site May 13, and said it has the soldiers in custody, though it provided no proof.

Although the capture of soldiers is a risk in any war -- indeed, Iraq's insurgents have captured U.S. soldiers in the past -- the U.S. strategy of deploying troops in smaller units increases the odds that enemy combatants will seize American soldiers.

The U.S. patrol, comprising two vehicles with a total of seven soldiers and one Iraqi interpreter, came under attack before dawn some 12 miles west of the town of Mahmudiyah, in the Triangle of Death. The patrol, from the 3rd Infantry Division, likely was out in the predawn hours to clear the road of any improvised explosive devices before the day's traffic began. U.S. troops responding to the attack found the bodies of five members of the unit, including the interpreter, at the scene.

In this case, the initial response to the attack would have come from similar patrols in the area, which would have rushed to the scene to provide reinforcements. At that time, the call would have gone out for the deployment of a quick reaction force, a unit of 10 to 15 soldiers, usually military police or cavalry, held in reserve at a forward operating base (FOB) for the purpose of responding to units in the field that come under attack. Once it is determined that soldiers are indeed missing, the report is sent from the field to the higher levels of command. In this case, the initial notification would have gone at least as high as the divisional command level.

The search for the missing soldiers is the current highest tactical priority for U.S. forces in Iraq -- and all available assets are being used to locate them. Some 4,000 U.S. soldiers have surged into the area where the patrol was ambushed, searching houses and vehicles and detaining suspicious individuals. In addition, UAVs are scouring the area, using video, infrared and other sensors to locate any signs of the soldiers or their captors. Coalition spokesman Army Maj. Gen. William Caldwell also said "national means" are being used in the search, meaning the government is using spy satellites capable of collecting all kinds of image, signal and multispectral intelligence. Because they are in a polar orbit and move quickly over the Earth's surface, the satellites can only scan the area for a brief time. The information they collect can be used to narrow the search area for the UAVs, which can loiter over the area longer and provide real-time information. Furthermore, Iraqi interpreters in U.S. employ, as well as local Iraqi sources, have begun collecting intelligence about the soldiers from relatives in the insurgency.

The risk of capture is high in any combat situation in which small units come into direct contact with one another. In recent months, however, the U.S. military has begun deploying troops to neighborhoods in smaller units, rather than sending them out in large convoys from FOBs. This further increases the odds that more U.S. troops will be captured.

In Iraq, U.S. solders are told to resist capture at all costs, and to attempt escape immediately. This is because they can expect no quarter from the enemy or any protection under the Geneva Conventions if captured. If the attackers captured the missing U.S. troops alive, the soldiers likely were wounded during the ambush or while attempting to fight off the attackers.

Although the United States will remain committed to finding the soldiers, the longer the search continues the more intensity it will lose. Should this effort drag on, other events in Iraq will require that units tasked with the hunt be redeployed to other areas. For the time being, however, the search is top priority.
29257  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Tulsa, OK - Dog Bros or similar training group? on: May 14, 2007, 03:26:47 PM
Woof Yar:

Glad to see you break your posting cherry  smiley  Please email me at with relevant information and names.

The Adventure continues,
Crafty Dog
29258  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Proposed mex-us-can currency called Amero on: May 14, 2007, 02:34:56 PM
Good breakdown Doug.


Note that the CFR is NOT calling for something to replace the Dollar.  I see zero interest on any players part in an "Amero". 

I do agree that powerful business forces are at work in Washington with powerful forces and dynamics there to create supra national obligations that genuinely threaten American freedom.

We see this for example in the efforts to impose gun control via international treaty, UN dictats etc.  We see this in the increasing tendency in our courts to cite laws and opinions of other countries.  Even justices in the Supreme Court are doing this!   We see this in the refusal of the Federal Government to defend our borders, especially the one with Mexico.
29259  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Matrimonial Relations on: May 14, 2007, 02:28:12 PM
Matrimonial Relations in Islam
29260  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 'America Alone' on: May 14, 2007, 09:18:35 AM
Canada's Cut-and-Run Crowd
May 14, 2007

The vote on a nonbinding resolution to bring the troops home had serious implications for Americans. But it didn't take place on Capitol Hill and it wasn't about Iraq.

This vote, taken last month, was held in Canada's House of Commons. Sponsored by the Liberal Party, the resolution called for the country to pull its soldiers out of Afghanistan in May 2009, when its NATO commitment expires. Though the ayes fell short of victory (134-150), it was only because the hard-left New Democratic Party, which wants the troops out now, refused to support it. Thus despite the loss, the resolution creates a lot of uncertainty about Canada's reliability in the struggle against radical Islam.

Canada is a founding member of NATO and has been the U.S.'s security partner in the North American Aerospace Defense Command (Norad) since 1958. Both NATO and Norad constitute a recognition that solidarity among Western societies plays a key role in the defense of our shared values and way of life.

Thus, when Canadian politicians start agitating to cut and run from the alliance in the middle of a war, it's a worrying development. One also has to ask whether a wavering Canada suggests a more widespread attitude among NATO members. Does the West have the fortitude to go the distance against this determined and lethal enemy?

Our neighbors to the North have been with us in the fight against al Qaeda since the first moments of the 9/11 attacks. On that day the top ranking officer on duty at Norad's command center in Colorado, which scrambled the jets that responded, was a Canadian. Canadian families opened their homes to thousands of stranded air travelers. In the weeks and months that followed there was no doubt about support from Ottawa.

The Liberal Party, led by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, didn't hesitate to commit the nation to the allied response. In 2002 Canada sent 800 troops into the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar and the country also made financial commitments. Between 2001 and 2011, Canada is slated to spend $1.2 billion in development assistance in Afghanistan, making it the single largest recipient of Canadian foreign aid.

Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin took the reins in December 2003 and Canada remained committed. In a Sept. 22, 2005 speech, Defense Minster Bill Graham praised the Canadian military's work in Afghanistan, noting that "this is not the time for Canada or the international community to abandon or even reduce our commitment to a country in which we have invested so much in human and financial resources over the past few years."

Despite all this, by the time Mr. Martin called an election for January 2006, Canadians had to face the fact that years of Liberal rule had gutted the military, and that their country's geopolitical relevance, once on a par with that of Australia, had seriously diminished. Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper won that election in part because he made restoring Canadian pride an issue. As if to seal his commitment to the effort, the new prime minister chose a visit to the troops in Afghanistan as his first trip abroad. "Your work," Mr. Harper told the soldiers, "is about more than just defending Canada's interest. It's also about demonstrating an international leadership role for our country. Not carping from the sidelines but taking a stand on the big issues that matter. You can't lead from the bleachers." Mr. Harper also led and won a vote, despite his party's minority status, to extend Canada's commitment in Afghanistan by two years, out to May 2009.

There are now 2,500 Canadian troops in Afghanistan and they are doing some of the heaviest lifting. Unlike many other NATO partners, which limit their troops' participation to the more pacified north, Canadian soldiers are fighting in the south alongside U.S., British and Afghan units. Last year Canada took command of NATO operations around Kandahar. Violence escalated again this spring as allied forces launched another offensive against the Taliban. This has coincided with an increase in Canadian casualties. Fifty-four Canadian soldiers have been killed since 2002 and nine of those died in a 10-day period in April, commencing on Easter Sunday.

We are now into the sixth year of this war and polls suggest the public is growing tired of it. Public weariness is not surprising, particularly since the enemy is tied up in the heroin trade and is empowered by civilians who make their living off the poppy crop and by robust demand in Europe. Just ask the Colombians how hard it is to fight the organized crime networks that traffic in prohibited -- and therefore high-value -- substances.

Slow progress is not the only thing working against public confidence. Recent charges that Afghan police abused detainees who were turned over to them by the Canadian military have also played a role and the left is having a field day, as if Canada has its very own "Abu Ghraib." The opposition senses a weakened Mr. Harper, and this explains why it is now attacking the very policy it designed -- despite the fact that holding up Canada's NATO commitments and helping secure and build an Afghan democracy were once noble Liberal goals.

The opportunity to make Afghanistan Mr. Harper's Iraq must be tempting to the Liberals. But by following this line of thinking, the party is playing right into the hands of Islamic fundamentalists, who are eager not only to destroy Afghan democracy but more to the point, Canada's.

In his speech in Afghanistan, Mr. Harper reminded the troops that two dozen Canadians lost their lives in the World Trade Center. "Since that time, al Qaeda has singled out Canada as one of the countries targeted for terror," he warned.

Since then it also has become clear that wealthy Saudis are trying to sow radicalism among Canada's significant Muslim population by promoting fundamentalist teaching in local mosques. There has also been an attempt to assert Shariah law in Canada, and at least one significant terror plot has been broken up. None of this is unrelated to what's going on in Afghanistan, and withdrawing from the fight would not reduce the risks to Canada. On the contrary, a Canadian surrender in Afghanistan would be a victory for terrorists and would energize jihad recruitment in Canada. It's easy to see why ambitious Liberals are willing to play the antiwar card so as to return to power. It's harder to understand why the Canadian public would go along with it.

• Write to O'
29261  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Paul's girl (the Wolfowitz affair) on: May 14, 2007, 09:13:35 AM
Corruption Fighter
May 14, 2007

JAKARTA -- Fighting corruption is a hazardous mission. In poor and developing countries you can be assassinated, which happened to journalists Georgy Gongadze in Ukraine and Carlos Alberto Cardozo in Mozambique in 2000. Even in France there is danger, as magistrate Eva Joly discovered.

Ms. Joly prosecuted the state-owned Credit Lyonnais, which had incurred billions of dollars of losses through mismanagement; her seven-year investigation of the Elf Aquitaine oil company exposed corruption at the highest levels of business and political life. As a result she was subjected to intimidation and death threats and had to be constantly under police protection; her adversaries even produced a film portraying her as an unstable zealot. In 2002 the Norwegian government asked her to return to her native land, and promptly appointed her a special adviser in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Justice.

But Ms. Joly, whom I have been privileged to know, remains steadfast in her efforts against official corruption, and assists, where she can, other anti-corruption activists all over the world. She gathered international support for me when I was sentenced to one year of incarceration by an Indonesian court in 2004.

My crime was that of being the editor in chief of a newsweekly magazine that published a story about the possibility of arson in one of Indonesia's largest traditional markets. Instead of using our story as preliminary information to start an investigation, the police decided to investigate us -- and we ended up as defendants in a criminal defamation case. And it was during this difficult time that another friend, Paul Wolfowitz, wrote an op-ed in the New York Times about my case. He was then second in command at the Pentagon and a very busy man. Yet he came forward to help.

Now it is Mr. Wolfowitz who is having a very difficult time. As president of the World Bank, he is accused of secretly helping his girlfriend, Shaha Riza, get a hefty pay raise; some former high officials of the bank have demanded his resignation. I was shocked when I read the news. I have known Mr. Wolfowitz for more than two decades and I have never doubted his personal integrity. I have also known Ms. Riza for more than a decade. We share a passion: advocating for a more liberal and democratic interpretation of Islam than what is now prevalent in the Middle East. Since I have been covering news for more than a quarter century, my reporter instinct automatically went to work.

The material available to the public shows that Mr. Wolfowitz declared his special relationship with Ms. Riza to the bank's ethics committee when he first took his position and asked to be recused from matters relating to Ms. Riza, a longtime bank employee. The ethics committee denied this request and recommended that Mr. Wolfowitz have her leave the bank promptly and be compensated fairly. Mr. Wolfowitz followed this advice and, subsequently, the chairman of the ethics committee sent him two letters, thanking him for his action and acknowledging that the matter was considered closed.

Judging from all the documents that are available to the public, it seems to me it is the conduct of the ethics board, and not that of Mr. Wolfowitz, that should be investigated by an independent team. Perhaps headed by Eva Joly. This should be done promptly in order to save the World Bank from losing its effectiveness in its main goal of eradicating global poverty.

In fact, this crisis can turn out to be a great opportunity to show the world how to handle problems of conflict of interest in high places. This is a common problem among World Bank clients, the developing countries.

Poor countries usually lack skilled managers, and many of their competent managers are clustered in a few big families and, among those families' members, intermarriages are quite common. Hence conflicts of interests are much more prevalent, and a solution for handling this problem is greatly needed. The World Bank, which prides itself as being a knowledge bank, is well positioned to provide the answer. The question now is: Can the bank accept this challenge?

I am quite confident that Mr. Wolfowitz can, based on how he handled "odious debt" at the World Bank -- the situation in which loans are made with the knowledge that a big chunk of the money will probably be stolen. He did not give in to the pressure from the left to write off odious debt, and he did not give in to the pressure from the right in the opposite direction. His answer was to increase the corruption-prevention and asset-recovery capabilities of poor countries.

He has found many champions in this endeavor. Nuhu Ribadu, the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission of Nigeria, is one. Under his leadership, and with $5 million of assistance from the World Bank, his commission has been able to recover $5 billion worth of stolen assets, and to prevent further aid money from being corrupted. It is not by coincidence that Mr. Ribadu has publicly stated his support for Mr. Wolfowitz to remain the president of the World Bank.

Many critics of Mr. Wolfowitz's anti-corruption policy argue that suspending a loan is bad policy, even if there is indication of corruption, because poor people will suffer the most. But consider one of the most successful World Bank projects in my country: the Kecamatan Development Project (KDP), which has given more than $1.3 billion to millions of poor people in 35,000 subdistricts. The poor people decide by themselves, in a very democratic way, which project the money should be spent on. Not a single penny goes through government coffers and, therefore, nothing can be stolen by public officials. The project is done in a transparent way and is supervised by the whole community, and funding will be stopped by the bank if any misuse is detected. This threat of suspension as a collective punishment works very well.

For many poor people in Indonesia, this is the first time that any outsider has helped them in building public infrastructure in their area. It is such a successful program that many countries are now mimicking it. China, for instance, is planning to implement a similar project.

In Indonesia, it is widely believed that around 30% of foreign loans disbursed in the past were stolen. The World Bank has given $25 billion in loans to my country since 1968, which means almost $8 billion of these loans ended up in the wrong places. Imagine how much more effective the World Bank would be if its entire loan program was free from corruption.

Fortunately, some of the stolen money may still be recovered if countries like Indonesia can learn from the Nuhu Ribadu experience and are assisted by the bank. This is an exciting challenge and all the more reason to support the Wolfowitz presidency. I am writing this not just to support a friend in need, but to help save a great institution. Mr. Wolfowitz is on the right track and has the passion needed to succeed in the difficult task of changing the mistaken and deeply embedded paradigm at the World Bank.

Mr. Harymurti is the editor of the weekly newsmagazine and daily newspaper published by Tempo Interactive.
29262  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Care Economics on: May 14, 2007, 09:09:39 AM
Second post of the morning:

Customer Health Care
May 14, 2007; Page A17

It's Friday evening and you suspect that your child might have strep throat or a worsening ear infection. Do you bundle him up and wait half the night in an emergency room? Or do you suffer through the weekend and hope that you can get an appointment with your pediatrician on Monday -- taking time off your job to drive across town for another wait in the doctor's office?

Every parent has faced this dilemma. But now there are new options, courtesy of the competitive marketplace. You might instead be able to take a quick trip on Friday night to a RediClinic in the nearby Wal-Mart or a MinuteClinic at CVS, where you will be seen by a nurse practitioner within 15 minutes, most likely getting a prescription that you can have filled right there. Cost of the visit? Generally between $40 and $60.

These new retail health clinics are opening in big box stores and local pharmacies around the country to treat common maladies at prices lower than a typical doctor's visit and much lower than the emergency room. No appointment necessary. Open daytime, evenings and weekends. Most take insurance.

Who needs magazines and crowded waiting rooms?
Much like the response to Hurricane Katrina, private companies are far ahead of the government in answering Americans' needs, this time for more accessible and more affordable health care. Political leaders across the country seeking to expand government's role in health care should take note.

Thousands of free-standing primary care clinics have been operating for years in malls and main streets around the country, often staffed by physicians and many offering a broad range of health services. The retail health clinics are creating a new model with more limited services at lower prices and almost always staffed by nurses. The Convenient Care Association estimates there are about 325 of these retail clinics operating nationwide today. Seventy-six of them are in Wal-Marts in 12 states, but the company announced last month it will expand to 400 clinics by the end of the decade and 2,000 in five to seven years. They will be run by outside firms, including for-profit ventures like RediClinic as well as local and regional health plans and hospitals.

The industry is rapidly expanding. You can find a MinuteClinic in the CVS on the Strip in Las Vegas. But you also will find many locally-run clinics in pharmacies and food stores across America, such as the Express Clinic in Miami, MediMin in Phoenix, and Curaquick in Sioux City, whose motto is "Get well soon."

Prices vary for services from flu shots ($15-$30), to care for allergies, poison ivy and pink eye ($50-$60), and tests for cholesterol, diabetes and pregnancy (less than $50). Competition already is starting to drive prices down.

Of all patients who have visited the clinics, almost half went there for a vaccination, and one-third received treatment for ear infections, colds, strep throat, skin rashes or sinus infections. Ninety percent said they were satisfied with the care they received. The nurses staffing the clinics are under physician supervision and follow strict protocols to refer patients to physicians or emergency rooms if problems are more serious.

Internists and family doctors are watching. Some see the clinics as useful in providing efficient care for a limited number of uncomplicated ailments, freeing physicians and hospitals to deal with more complex cases. But others are worried about lost business, fragmentation of care, and the quality of care if the clinics miss something serious.

Rick Kellerman, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, concedes, "The retail clinics are sending physicians a message that our current model of care is not always easy to access." The threat of competition from the in-store clinics means some doctors are keeping their practices open later and on Saturdays and holding an hour open for same-day appointments. Competition works.

And competition also worked to force prescription drug prices down: When Wal-Mart announced last year that it was dropping the price of several hundred generic medicines to $4 for a month's supply, other pharmacies, from Target to corner drug stores, followed suit. Wal-Mart now says that a third of all prescriptions filled at its pharmacies are for the $4 generics, and 30% of them are filled by people without insurance.

Take note, Congress: The market is providing cheaper medicines, more affordable care -- and it is also helping the uninsured. A Harris Interactive poll conducted in March for The Wall Street Journal said that 22% of those visiting the clinics were uninsured. Wal-Mart says that half of its clinic visitors are uninsured.

Retail clinics are particularly attractive to 4.5 million people with Health Savings Accounts who have health insurance with higher deductibles and want an affordable option for some of their routine care.

And the clinics are working to solve another problem that is vexing Washington -- creation of electronic medical records. Most retail clinics create computerized patient records, with the goal of making the records accessible throughout the chain. The records also can be emailed to a hospital or to the patient's regular doctor -- or sent by fax if necessary.

Critics of engaging private competition in the health sector will argue that the vast majority of health-care dollars are spent on a relatively small percentage of patients with serious illness, especially those with multiple chronic conditions.

But even coordination of care for those with chronic illnesses lends itself to patient-friendly solutions. The City of Asheville, North Carolina, cut its costs in half for employees with diabetes by teaming up with local pharmacists who did routine exams and got patients to their doctors or hospitals more quickly when they needed intervention. Employees received their medicines for free if they kept appointments, and their health improved.

Because health care is largely regulated and licensed at the state level, some states are more friendly than others at having non-physicians deliver care. California requires that clinics be a medical corporation owned by a physician. In Arizona, each site must be licensed, but in most other states, a single license will serve multiple clinics. Illinois is considering legislation to limit the number of nurses a doctor could supervise to two and restrict the clinics' right to advertise.

This industry is in its infancy and will hardly register in our nation's $2 trillion-plus health care bill. But just as Nucor overturned the steelmaking industry with a faster-better-cheaper way of making low-end rebar, these limited service clinics could be the disruptive innovator in our health-care system. Package pricing for more complex treatments, like knee replacement surgery, may not be far behind.

Government can get in the way, of course, with protectionist policies that throw up more regulatory barriers to entry. But retail clinics could be just the beginning of consumer-friendly innovations, if Congress were to change tax policies in a way that would allow people to have more control over their health spending, as President Bush has proposed.

The linchpin is giving people the same tax benefits whether they get their health insurance at work or on their own, or buy coverage through groups like churches, labor unions and professional or trade associations. Allowing people to buy health insurance across state lines would inject another dose of healthy competition into the system.

With many congressional leaders hostile to free-market solutions, these policy changes are unlikely in the next two years. But as consumers get a taste of what consumer-friendly health care is like, they may well demand that the top-down, centralized health-care delivery of the 20th century give way to a system more in tune with the demands of 21st-century consumers seeking greater value and efficiency.

Ms. Turner is president of the Galen Institute
29263  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: FDA vs. last resort terminally ill patients on: May 14, 2007, 08:51:07 AM

Black Wednesday at the FDA
May 14, 2007

May 9, 2007, should be cited in the annals of cancer immunotherapy as Black Wednesday. Within an eight-hour period that day, the FDA succeeded in killing not one but two safe, promising therapies designed and developed to act by stimulating a patient's immune system against cancer. The FDA's hubris will affect the lives and possibly the life spans of cancer patients from nearly every demographic, from elderly men with prostate cancer to young children with the rarest of bone cancers.

The dream of stimulating a person's immune system to fight his cancer is older than the modern era of cancer chemotherapy. Over a hundred years ago, Dr. William Coley at Memorial Hospital in New York City experimented with bacterial agents that appeared to have properties in stimulating immune responses against sarcoma, a cancer of the muscles and bones. Advances ebbed during the era of chemotherapy in the mid-20th century, but over the last 25 years cancer immunotherapy has received much research focus and periodic support from the biotechnology industry.

Progress and investment, however, have been unsteady as tumor shrinkages following treatment never quite translated into "hard," clinically relevant outcomes such as prolongation of the survival of the patient. Still, this type of approach remains the Holy Grail of cancer treatment. One day current treatment approaches such as surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, which often kill most but not all of a cancer, could be made obsolete by a potent immune response that eradicates the cancer cells and provides subsequent protection against return and relapse.

Thus it was remarkable that in the last several months two different biotech companies, with products utilizing two completely different cancer immune approaches, came before the FDA's Advisory Committee Meeting for judgment. The first product, Provenge, made by the Dendreon company, is a cellular therapy that tackles prostate cancer. The results of the Provenge clinical trial in men with prostate cancer who had failed all other therapies appeared before the committee that advises on cell-based cancer products for the FDA Center for Biologics. This committee was comprised of immunology and oncology experts. The second product, Junovan, made by the IDM company, was tested in children with osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer that affects just 900 children per year. The results of the Junovan clinical trial appeared before a different committee -- one that judges protein cancer agents and was comprised solely of oncologists with no immunology experts.

Both the Provenge and Junovan clinical trials provided evidence that patients lived longer compared to control groups. But according to the FDA, these "survival advantages" that statisticians talk about had "issues." When the issues were discussed in the Provenge public meeting the majority of the committee (in a 13-4 vote) thought the issues, while relevant and important, were superseded by the solid immunology science behind the product.

However, those voting in the minority, very powerful members of the oncology community, launched an unprecedented PR campaign accusing those in the majority of incompetence and naiveté in matters relating to cancer products. The arrogance of this campaign overlooked the notion that survival data from immune-based products may be qualitatively different from, and may need to be judged by different criteria than, survival data from chemotherapy drugs.

But such intriguing academic discussions never had a chance to take root. Instead -- just a few weeks after the favorable ruling on Provenge -- the Junovan product came before the FDA's Advisory Committee for approval. Incredibly, the improvement in the survival rate of children with bone cancer who received Junovan was summarily dismissed as irrelevant by the committee. Why? The statistical data showing the odds of efficacy were 94% surety instead of the usual goal of 95% surety. This 1% difference was all the committee needed to justify a 12-2 "No" vote.

The Junovan meeting was chaired by the very physician who launched the PR campaign against Provenge. Unlike the meeting on Provenge, however, all discussion time on Junovan was spent kneeling before the altar of statistics -- not a single comment was made about the immunology science supporting the efficacy of Junovan. Remarkably, as the Junovan vote was taking place, the FDA folded under the pressure and announced that it would not abide by the favorable vote on Provenge. Instead, the FDA called for more testing that -- if the product is not killed outright by its maker Dendreon -- will take at least three years to complete.

In the span of eight hours, the dawn of a new era in cancer immunotherapy was driven back into the night. It will be years before we know the full impact of these decisions and how many cancer patients, young and old, have had their lives cut short as a result. For now, however, one thing is clear: While our lawmakers obsess over FDA "safety reforms," no one is holding this government agency accountable for its complicity in stalling therapies for life-threatening diseases.

Dr. Thornton, a former medical officer in the FDA Office of Oncology Products, volunteers as president of the Sarcoma Foundation of America.
29264  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / The First Amendment: Freedom of Speech, Religion, & Assembly on: May 14, 2007, 08:35:34 AM

The McCain-Feingold law makes me seething angry.  I am utterly baffled that the Supreme Court could have affirmed its constitutionality.

The camel has gotten his nose in the tent and now he seeks to stick his head in.

Cutting the Grass
Congressional Democrats prepare another assault on the First Amendment.

Monday, May 14, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

A recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows 6 in 10 Americans think the Democratic Congress "hasn't brought much change." Eager to change this impression, the Democrats are frantically trying to pass legislation before Memorial Day. First on the agenda is a bill restricting lobbying, which is heading for the House floor with lightning speed. The House Judiciary Committee is expected to pass it tomorrow, sending it to the full House for a final vote next Tuesday or Wednesday.

When a bill moves that quickly, you can bet an someone will try to make some last-minute mischief. Hardly anyone objects to the legislation's requirement that former lawmakers wait two years instead of one before lobbying Congress. Ditto with bans on lobbying by congressional spouses and restrictions on sitting members of Congress negotiating contracts with private entities for future employment.

But the legislation may be amended on the floor to restrict grassroots groups that encourage citizens to contact members of Congress. The amendment, pushed by Rep. Marty Meehan of Massachusetts, would require groups that organize such grassroots campaigns to register as "lobbyists" and file detailed quarterly reports on their donors and activities. The law would apply to any group that took in at least $100,000 in any given quarter for "paid communications campaigns" aimed at mobilizing the public.

The same groups that backed the McCain-Feingold law, limiting political speech in advance of an election, are behind this latest effort to curb political speech. Common Cause and Democracy 21 say special-interest entities hide behind current law to conceal the identities of their donors, whom they would have to reveal if they were lobbying Congress directly. "These Astroturf campaigns are just direct lobbying by another name," says Rep. Meehan, who is resigning from the House this summer and views his bill as his last hurrah in Congress.
But the First Amendment specifically prohibits Congress from abridging "the right of the people . . . to petition the Government for redress of grievances." The Supreme Court twice ruled in the 1950s that grassroots communication isn't "lobbying activity," and is fully protected by the First Amendment. Among the groups that believe the Meehan proposal would trample on the First Amendment are the National Right to Life Committee and the American Civil Liberties Union. The idea goes too far even for Sen. John McCain, who voted to strip a similar provision from a Senate lobbying reform bill last January.

The possible outcomes are disturbing. For example, Oprah Winfrey operates a website dedicated to urging people to contact Congress to demand intervention in Darfur. If her Web master took in over $100,000 in revenue from Ms. Winfrey and similar clients in a single quarter, he might be forced to make disclosures under the law.

"It's huge," Jay Sekulow of the conservative American Center for Law and Justice, told The Hill newspaper. "It's the most significant restriction on grassroots activity in recent history. I'd put it up there with the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act"--the formal name for McCain-Feingold.

McCain-Feingold itself is riddled with loopholes, producing a slew of unintended consequences. Its provisions allowing candidates who compete against wealthy opponents who spend their own money to accept larger-than-normal legal contributions in order to compete inexplicably don't apply to the race for president. That means Mitt Romney and John Edwards, both of whom are independently wealthy, have a clear advantage should they run low on cash and need to inject funds into their campaigns quickly.

"Judged by the most visible results on promises like getting big money out of politics or cleaning up politics, campaign finance reform has been, to put it mildly, a disappointment," admits Mark Schmitt, a supporter of such reforms who has written a thoughtful essay in the journal Democracy. He urges reformers to now focus on expanding the "range of choices and voices in the system" and to take seriously the worries of those who fear that McCain-Feingold's restrictions on "election communication" have the potential to squelch important political speech. The Supreme Court is set to rule next month on a case addressing precisely that issue, and Justice Samuel Alito may be more inclined to view McCain-Feingold skeptically than was Sandra Day O'Connor, who was part of a 5-4 majority upholding the law.
Given the checkered history of campaign finance reform, its frequent use by one side of a political debate to hobble opponents, and the prospect that courts may yet find portions of McCain-Feingold unconstitutional, it would be a travesty for a Congress desperate for a quick-fix legislative accomplishment to circumscribe the First Amendment with little debate and even less understanding of what the consequences will be.
29265  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Care Economics on: May 14, 2007, 08:31:33 AM


Illinois Tax Implosion
The political limits of "universal" health care.

Monday, May 14, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

"Universal" government health care has once again returned as a political cause, with many Democrats believing it's the key to White House victory in 2008. They might want to study last week's news from Illinois, where Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich's tax increase to finance health care became the political rout of the year.

The Democratic House in Springfield killed the proposal, 107-0, after Mr. Blagojevich came out against his own idea when it became clear he was going to be humiliated. Only a month earlier he had said he was prepared to wage "the fight of the century" in defense of his plan to impose a $7.6 billion "gross receipts tax" on Illinois businesses.

Easily re-elected in November, the Governor used every trick in the "progressive" political playbook to sell his proposal. Instead of a general tax increase, he claimed it would be "targeted" for universal health care and education. Instead of raising individual taxes, he aimed at business and even built in an exemption for smaller firms. "These corporate guys, they can't avoid this tax," declared the Governor, sounding one of the "populist" themes that liberal columnists are now recommending for national Democrats.

Mr. Blagojevich also pitched his plan as a moral imperative, unveiling it while standing in the Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago and saying it was necessary to force businesses to pay their "fair" share of the tax burden. He wanted to force most employers to offer health insurance or pay a 3% payroll tax. Liberal special interest groups--including the state AFL-CIO and the Illinois Education Association--initially supported him.

But a funny thing happened on this road to Canadian health care. The state's more rational Democrats revolted, arguing it would drive businesses out of Illinois. Chicago Mayor Richard Daley was an early opponent, and Democratic Lieutenant Governor Patrick Quinn was cool to it. House Speaker Michael Madigan very publicly withheld his support and last week came out against the tax hike.
As tax increases go, this was one of the worst. A "gross receipts tax" is popular with politicians because it applies to every dollar of company revenue, not merely on profits, or on final sales the way a retail sales tax does. But this means the tax tends to hit hardest those small and medium-sized businesses that have healthy sales volumes but narrow profit margins. The tax is a huge revenue-raiser but can also be a job killer.

Mr. Blagojevich tried to soften this impact by creating an exemption for business with annual revenues of less than $5 million. But even with that exemption, retailers would feel the squeeze from the higher cost of goods. And because the tax applies to all business transactions, it creates what economists call a "pyramiding" effect that has a damaging overall economic impact.

The Tax Foundation estimated that Mr. Blagojevich's proposal would have been the largest state tax hike in the last decade, as a share of state general fund revenue--at 27% nearly double the next closest, which was Nevada's 14% increase in 2004. In per capita terms, the tax hike would average about $550 per Illinois resident.

All of this piled on top of the $1.5 billion in new taxes and fees that the Governor imposed in his first term. State revenue has been rising at a respectable 5% annual pace, but spending is rising faster. Jonathan Williams of the Tax Foundation says the Governor's proposed budget this year calls for a 13.2% spending increase, which comes on top of a near double digit increase a year ago. The cumulative impact of this rising tax and spending burden has been to drive businesses out of the state.

"To describe every major CEO in Illinois as fat cats is a mistake," said Chicago Mayor Daley. "They don't have to be here. They can go to Wisconsin. They can go to Indiana. They can go to India. They can go to China. So if you want to beat up businesses, go beat 'em up, and when they leave, just wave to 'em and they're going to wave back to you." Even Jesse Jackson disowned the Governor's plan, noting that "We all want health care. But business closer is not good health."
One lesson here is that it is far easier to talk about "progressive" political causes than to pay for them without doing larger economic harm. In today's global economy, the margin for policy mistakes is smaller, even for individual states. Mr. Daley may appreciate this better than Mr. Blagojevich because he knows the consequences of bad policy will harm Chicago long after the Governor retires to private equity, or some other "fat cat" job.

As for national Democrats, Presidential candidate John Edwards has already proposed a huge tax increase to pay for national health care. At least he's honest about what such promises require, but we doubt it will help his Presidential prospects. Illinois Senator Barack Obama has been silent on his Governor's tax implosion, but someone should get him on the record. And Hillary Clinton, well, we can't wait to see how "universal" her promises will be.

29266  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: May 14, 2007, 08:12:14 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Examining Mullah Dadullah's Death

Afghan intelligence announced on Sunday that top Taliban military commander Mullah Dadullah was killed early Saturday during a battle with an Afghan-NATO force in Helmand province. The 40-year-old Taliban leader had emerged as the most important operational commander on which Mullah Mohammad Omar could rely in pressing ahead with the jihadist insurgency in the country. Under his leadership, the Pashtun jihadist movement adopted the tactic of suicide bombings, and he represented the faction close to al Qaeda.

Dadullah's killing is the first major success for Kabul and NATO against the Pashtun jihadists since the resurgence of the Taliban shortly after the ouster of their regime in 2001. Until now, fighters and low- to mid-level leaders had been killed; this is the first time a major Taliban figure has been eliminated. He is known to have been a member of the 10-man Taliban leadership council. His death also will have serious implications for al Qaeda's plans involving the Taliban.

Media reports based on information released by Afghan and NATO officials suggest Dadullah was killed during one of the many battles that have taken place between Taliban fighters and coalition troops in southern and eastern Afghanistan over the past several years. Given the operational security protocols of the Taliban and the stature of Dadullah, however, the official version does not add up. In other words, Afghan and NATO forces carried out the operation to take out Dadullah on the basis of specific human intelligence regarding his location. It is not likely a matter of coincidence nor is it probable that Afghan and NATO troops have been able to enhance their intelligence capabilities on the jihadists. This leaves only one possibility -- the involvement of a third party.

Given the close ties between the Taliban and the Pakistani state and society, it is highly likely that Islamabad is the source of the intelligence on Dadullah. It should be noted that after several years of tensions between Afghanistan and Pakistan, with Kabul claiming that Islamabad was backing the Taliban, the Pakistanis pledged to cooperate with the Afghans against the Taliban. This was relayed by President Gen. Pervez Musharraf to Afghan President Hamid Karzai at an April 30 meeting in Turkey, during which they agreed to share intelligence on militant groups.

Though the Musharraf government's decision to work with Kabul on containing the Taliban is fueled by its domestic concerns, Dadullah's death has certain implications for the domestic situation in Afghanistan. Though the insurgency will continue, it has been dealt a significant blow -- and the pace of the Taliban's advance has likely been dampened. More important, the vacuum created by Dadullah's death could trigger infighting between hard-liners linked to al Qaeda and more pragmatic elements.

The Taliban will be worried about how their organizational security net was penetrated and will be suspicious of many within their own ranks, which could lead to internal strife. Already those close to Omar and al Qaeda are concerned about the more pragmatic elements talking to the Karzai administration. There are signs that such elements, knowing Kabul would not strike a deal with them unless they parted ways with Omar and his allies, might have actually helped in the elimination of Dadullah; many within the movement actually did not approve of Dadullah's harsh policies.

Former Taliban Ambassador to Pakistan Abdus Salam Zaeef, who represented the Taliban in recent talks with Karzai, reacted to Dadullah's killing by saying it would lead to more fighting, and that talks are the only way to bring the violence to an end. Dadullah's killing also comes a few days after the upper house of the Afghan legislature approved a bill calling for direct talks with the Taliban and a halt to NATO operations against jihadists.

Though anti-jihadist operations will continue, negotiations involving Kabul and Islamabad geared toward further weakening those loyal to Omar and strengthening pragmatic leaders within the movement will become increasingly important in the months ahead.
29267  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: May 14, 2007, 08:03:39 AM

Radical Muslim paramilitary compound flourishes in upper New York state
By Paul L. Williams Ph.D., (author of THE DAY OF ISLAM)

With the able assistance of Douglas Hagmann, Bill Krayer and Michael Travis

Friday, May 11, 2007

Dr. Paul Williams at the entrance of Islamberg
Situated within a dense forest at the foothills of the Catskill Mountains on the outskirts of Hancock, New York, Islamberg is not an ideal place for a summer vacation unless, of course, you are an exponent of the Jihad or a fan of Osama bin Laden.

The 70 acre complex is surrounded with "No trespassing" signs; the rocky terrain is infested with rattlesnakes; and the woods are home to black bears, coyotes, wolves, and a few bobcats.

Muslim Lane
The entrance to the community is at the bottom of a very steep hill that is difficult to navigate even on a bright sunny day in May. The road, dubbed Muslim Lane, is unpaved and marred by deep crevices that have been created by torrential downpours. On a wintry day, few, save those with all terrain vehicles, could venture forth from the remote encampment.

A sentry post has been established at the base of the hill.

The sentry, at the time of this visit, is an African American dressed in Islamic garb - - a skull cap, a prayer shawl, and a loose fitting shalwat kameez. He instructs us to turn around and leave. "Our community is not open to visitors," he says.

Behind the sentry and across a small stream stand dozens of inhabitants of the compound - - the men wearing skull caps and loose fitting tunics, the women in full burqa. They appear ready to deal with any unauthorized intruders.

The hillside is blighted by rusty trailers that appear to be without power or running water and a number of outhouses. The scent of raw sewage is in the air.

The place is even off limits to the local undertaker who says that he has delivered bodies to the complex but has never been granted entrance. "They come and take the bodies from my hearse. They won't allow me to get past the sentry post. They say that they want to prepare the bodies for burial. But I never get the bodies back. I don't know what's going on there but I don't think it's legal."

On the other side of the hill where few dare to go is a tiny village replete with a make-shift learning center (dubbed the "International Quranic Open University"); a trailer converted into a Laundromat; a small, green community center; a small and rather squalid grocery store; a newly constructed majid; over forty clapboard homes; and scores of additional trailers.

It is home to hundreds - - all in Islamic attire, and all African-Americans. Most drive late model SUVs with license plates from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, and Tennessee. The locals say that some work as tollbooth operators for the New York State Thruway, while others are employed at a credit card processing center that maintains confidential financial records.

While buzzing with activity during the week, the place becomes a virtual hive on weekends. The guest includes arrivals from the inner cities of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania and, occasionally, white-robed dignitaries in Ray-Bans from the Middle East.

Venturing into the complex last summer, Douglas Hagmann, an intrepid investigator and director of the Northeast Intelligence Service, came upon a military training area at the eastern perimeter of the property. The area was equipped with ropes hanging from tall trees, wooden fences for scaling, a make-shift obstacle course, and a firing range. Hagmann said that the range appeared to have been in regular use.

Islamberg is not as benign as a Buddhist monastery or a Carmelite convent. Nearly every weekend, neighbors hear sounds of gunfire. Some, including a combat veteran of the Vietnam War, have heard the bang of small explosives. None of the neighbors wished to be identified for fear of "retaliation." "We don't even dare to slow down when we drive by," one resident said. "They own the mountain and they know it and there is nothing we can do about it but move, and we can't even do that. Who wants to buy a property near that?"

Islamberg's Grocery Store
Islamberg's Grocery Store
The complex serves to scare the bejeesus out of the local residents. "If you go there, you better wear body armor," a customer at the Circle E Diner in Hancock said. "They have armed guards and if they shoot you, nobody will find your body."

At Cousins, a watering hole in nearby Deposit, a barfly, who didn't wish to be identified, said: "The place is dangerous. You can hear gunfire up there. I can't understand why the FBI won't shut it down."

Islamberg is a branch of Muslims of the Americas Inc., a tax-exempt organization formed in 1980 by Pakistani cleric Sheikh Mubarak Ali Gilani, who refers to himself as "the sixth Sultan Ul Faqr," Gilani, has been directly linked by court documents to Jamaat ul-Fuqra or "community of the impoverished," an organization that seeks to "purify" Islam through violence.

Though primarily based in Lahore, Pakistan, Jamaat ul-Fuqra has operational headquarters in New York and openly recruits through various social service organizations in the U.S., including the prison system. Members live in hamaats or compounds, such as Islamberg, where they agree to abide by the laws of Jamaat ul-Fuqra, which are considered to be above local, state and federal authority. Additional hamaats have been established in Hyattsville, Maryland; Red House, Virginia; Falls Church, Virginia; Macon, Georgia; York, South Carolina; Dover, Tennessee; Buena Vista, Colorado; Talihina, Oklahoma; Tulane Country, California; Commerce, California; and Onalaska, Washington. Others are being built, including an expansive facility in Sherman, Pennsylvania.

Before becoming a citizen of Islamberg or any of the other Fuqra compounds, the recruits - - primarily inner city black men who became converts in prison - - are compelled to sign an oath that reads: "I shall always hear and obey, and whenever given the command, I shall readily fight for Allah's sake."

In the past, thousands of members of the U.S. branches of Jamaat ul-Fuqra traveled to Pakistan for paramilitary training, but encampments, such as Islamberg, are now capable of providing book-camp training so raw recruits are no longer required to travel abroad amidst the increased scrutiny of post 9/11.

Over the years, numerous members of Jamaat ul-Fuqra have been convicted in US courts of such crimes as conspiracy to commit murder, firebombing, gun smuggling, and workers' compensation fraud. Others remain leading suspects in criminal cases throughout the country, including ten unsolved assassinations and seventeen fire-bombings between 1979 and 1990.

The criminal charges against the group and the criminal convictions are not things of the past. In 2001, a resident of a California compound was charged with first-degree murder in the shooting of a sheriff's deputy; another was charged with gun-smuggling' and twenty-four members of the Red House community were convicted of firearms violations.

By 2004 federal investigators uncovered evidence that linked both the DC "sniper killer" John Allen Muhammed and "Shoe Bomber" Richard Reid to the group and reports surfaced that Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was captured and beheaded in the process of attempting to obtain an interview with Sheikh Gilani in Pakistan.

Even though Jamaat ul-Fuqra has been involved in terror attacks and sundry criminal activities, recruited thousands of members from federal and state penal systems, and appears to be operating paramilitary facilities for militant Muslims, it remains to be placed on the official US Terror Watch List. On the contrary, it continues to operate, flourish, and expand as a legitimate nonprofit, tax-deductible charity.


Paul Williams is the author of THE AL QAEDA CONNECTION and forthcoming THE DAY OF ISLAM. Lee Boyland is the author of THE RINGS OF ALLAH). Dr. Williams can be reached at:
29268  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Tippy-tappy drills-- threat or menace? on: May 13, 2007, 06:41:36 PM
Yes! And yes!

In Kali/FMA it is standard doctrine that locks usually require one or more good hits (often to the limb in question) first.
29269  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Philippines-Mexico on: May 13, 2007, 05:31:59 AM

A shared past

By Ambeth Ocampo
Last updated 02:08am (Mla time) 11/17/2006

Published on Page A15 of the November 17, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

IDEAS about Mexico differ from Filipino to Filipino and probably depend on the fast-food and television fare he indulges in. Those of my generation developed an idea of Mexico from childhood via television cartoons, so I learned about Mexican jumping beans and a mouse called Speedy Gonzalez, who taught what I originally thought was my first Mexican word: "Andale!'' In college, we were introduced to a place called Tia Maria that allegedly served Mexican food and margaritas that made our weekends happy. So you can see, my idea of Mexico was not properly informed.

Travel is meant to broaden our horizons. I thought I knew Mexico when our family was in the United States and decided to make a side trip to that hot and dusty border town called Tijuana. Tijuana reminded me of Divisoria in the armpit of Manila. My mother was upset when I refused to wear a grimy hat and poncho to pose for a souvenir photo beside a sad-looking burro. Again, that image of Mexico was not properly informed.

It is fortunate that a decade ago I stepped into the real Mexico, together with former Vice President Salvador Laurel and the newly appointed Instituto Cervantes Manila director Pepe Rodriguez, but then it was only an overnight stopover to break a long trip from Jakarta to Havana. Having seen the beach in Cancun where Ferdinand Marcos went skiing and realizing that Mexico was so different from what I had imagined it to be, I jumped ship on the way back to Manila and spent a few days in Mexico City. Ever since that first and brief visit, I have always dreamed of going back, not for holiday but for archival or museum research.

Fortunately, there is a conference in the National Museum that opened yesterday that brings together Filipino and Mexican historians in panels that are designed to help us rediscover our common past as a way of forging a common future. The seminar is open to the public, and we hope that this will be the first of many more to come, both in Manila and Mexico.

It is unfortunate that most Filipinos today do not know or remember that for a long time, the Philippines was actually ruled by Spain, not from Madrid but from Mexico. We also do not realize that some things we think of as part of the Spanish influence in our culture are actually of Mexican origin. We see this in language and, more importantly, plants that were exchanged between our countries during the famous Galleon Trade.

Food is one of the primary areas of mutual understanding. An encounter with the real Mexico will open Filipinos to a richer and more varied fare than the so-called Tex-Mex variety popularized in Manila by American food chains and products, like Taco Bell, Polo Loco, Nachos and Chili's. An assortment of chilis, sauces, sausages and even tamales in Mexican food provides not just familiar tastes, smells and flavors, but the realization of cultural exchange. Philippine mangoes are known and appreciated in Mexico as "mangas de Manila," while fruits, plants and vegetables that are so common in the Philippines and that we presumed to be indigenous, like avocado, corn and chocolate, are actually "immigrants" from Mexico. Some even retain their Aztec names: chayote, "kamote," "singcamas," and probably even "zapote." A number of the vegetables in the nursery rhyme "Bahay Kubo," which incidentally is not about a nipa hut but the vegetables around it, are actually from Mexico.

Cockfighting is believed to have been introduced in Mexico from the Philippines. But there is no doubt that the veneration of the Virgin of Guadalupe in the Philippines came from Mexico, and so we have two districts in Makati City called Guadalupe Viejo and Guadalupe Nuevo. The Black Nazarene venerated in Manila's Quiapo district is of Mexican origin and the miraculous black Virgin of Antipolo guided galleon voyages between the Philippines and Mexico, hence her Spanish name is Nuestra Señora de Paz y de Buen Viaje or Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage. Many Mexican cultural and historical influences have been assimilated seamlessly into everyday Philippine life and we now have to revisit them for better appreciation.

The Galleon Trade is but a footnote in our textbooks, and for some people, it is something that should be forgotten as part of a colonial past. But revisiting this part of our shared past with Mexico is not merely an exercise in academic history or antiquarian taste; it reminds us that long before the word "globalization" was even coined, the Galleon Trade was the first real global trade. While globalization is a contemporary term, history shows that it began 400 years ago when the world became smaller and the meeting between East and West was made possible through the Philippines and Mexico, Manila and Acapulco.

Revisiting the roots of our long cultural and historic ties with Mexico is a first step not just in knowing the past but, more importantly, a way to accept, explore and appreciate commonalities that form the basis for mutual understanding and friendship in the present and a platform to guide us toward a common future. I'm glad we have the elegant Mexican Ambassador Erendira Aracelia Paz Campos in Manila and the new Philippine Ambassador to Mexico Antonio M. Lagdameo to make both ends meet.

29270  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Help our troops/our cause: on: May 13, 2007, 05:13:54 AM
This from today's always suspect NY Times:

Fighting the Terror of Battles That Rage in Soldiers’ Heads
Published: May 13, 2007

COLORADO SPRINGS, May 8 — The nightmares that tormented Sgt. Walter Padilla after returning home from Iraq in 2004 prompted extensive treatment by Army doctors, an honorable discharge from the military and a cocktail of medication to dull his suffering.

Kevin Moloney for The New York Times
Specialist Alex Lotero said he was belittled when he sought help for anxiety attacks after serving in Iraq.
Still, Sergeant Padilla, 28, could not ward off memories of the people he had killed with a machine gun perched on his Bradley fighting vehicle. On April 1, according to the authorities and friends, he withdrew to the shadows of his Colorado Springs home, pressed the muzzle of his Glock pistol to his temple and squeezed the trigger.

Sergeant Padilla had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder at Fort Carson Army base here, where concerns over the treatment of returning soldiers struggling with the condition, compelled members of Congress last month to ask the Government Accountability Office to reassess the military’s mental health policies.

A letter signed by nine senators refers to “a number of upsetting allegations” at the base regarding a lack of treatment for soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder and the stigmatization of those with the condition. On Monday, some of those senators’ staff members will visit Fort Carson to meet with soldiers, families and commanders, the fourth time this year Congressional staff members have traveled to the base.

The Army, reeling from fallout over its poor handling of outpatient soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, dispatched Brig. Gen. Michael S. Tucker to Colorado to speak with the base’s leaders and soldiers on Tuesday.

General Tucker, the deputy commander of Walter Reed, commended Fort Carson for its treatment of post-traumatic stress and said he viewed the Congressional visits as a means of highlighting the base’s programs that deal with the condition, said an Army spokesman, Paul Boyce.

But Veterans for America, an advocacy group that has lobbied the Army and Congress on behalf of returning soldiers, said the Army must do better, particularly at Fort Carson, where soldiers with the stress disorder have spoken of being punished by their commanders.

The base has 17,500 soldiers assigned to it, and about 26,000 of its soldiers have been deployed to Iraq since the war began.

“Fort Carson is overwhelmed with men and women coming home from Iraq with psychological injuries from war, and there are unit commanders here who don’t understand these medical conditions,” said Steve Robinson, director of veterans affairs for the group.

Col. John Cho, the base’s chief medical officer, said Fort Carson had treated 1,703 soldiers for post-traumatic stress disorder, or P.T.S.D., since 2003. Colonel Cho disputed the assertion that problems at Fort Carson were widespread. “We’re never going to fully eliminate the stigma associated with P.T.S.D., but the leadership at Carson has been fully supportive of getting soldiers they help they need,” he said.

The Army reports seven suicides of active duty soldiers at Fort Carson since 2004 but says it does not know if any were linked to the disorder. Sergeant Padilla was not included among the seven because he died after being discharged.

Most recently, Staff Sgt. Mark Alan Waltz, who was being treated for post-traumatic stress, was found dead in his living room on April 30. An autopsy of Sergeant Waltz, 40, is pending, but his wife, Renea, believes her husband died from a reaction to the antidepressants he was taking for stress and painkillers prescribed for a back injury. Ms. Waltz is also convinced that the psychological wounds he carried from battle played a part in his death.

Ms. Waltz said her husband was reluctant to seek treatment after returning from Iraq in 2004 because he thought a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder would cost him his rank. She said the condition was eventually diagnosed and he was referred for treatment. Even then, she said, he was “picked out, scrutinized and messed with continually” by his commanding officers.

“It’s not right that our guys are going over to Iraq, doing their job, doing what they’re supposed to do, and they when they come back sick, they’re treated like garbage,” Ms. Waltz said.

Army officials at Fort Carson said Sergeant Waltz’s death was still under review and, citing privacy laws, would not comment further.

Mr. Robinson, of Veterans for America, said the group’s research indicated that since 2004, there had been at least six incidents in which Fort Carson soldiers with stress disorder have died, either from suicide or from accidents involving narcotics or medications.

(Page 2 of 2)

In addition, the veterans group is investigating some 30 cases of Fort Carson soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury or personality disorders who have complained of mistreatment.

One case involves Specialist Alex Lotero, who returned from Iraq late last year suffering from anxiety attacks and nightmares after dozens of combat missions, including one in which his convoy was struck by a roadside bomb.

Specialist Lotero, a thick-muscled 20-year-old from Miami, said his superiors treated his diagnosis disdainfully, showering him with obscenities and accusing him of insubordination when he missed training for doctors’ appointments.

“They belittled my condition,” he said. “They told me I was broke, that I didn’t have anything left.”

Specialist Lotero eventually checked himself into nearby Cedar Springs Hospital for a few days and is waiting for his medical discharge request to be processed. He points to his forearm, draped in a tattoo of a machine-gun wielding, Vietnam-era soldier. The soldier’s face is ghoulish, his body gaunt and rotting. “This is how I feel right now,” he said.

In an interview, Maj. Gen. Gale S. Pollock, the acting Army surgeon general, said Fort Carson had taken “the bull by the horns” in combating the stigma associated with post-traumatic stress disorder.

General Pollock said the Army was developing initiatives to lessen that stigma and cited examples of officers publicly seeking treatment for combat stress as a means of encouraging their soldiers to follow suit.

“We have to reinforce it again and again,” she said. “I talk with patients, and many of them have looked at me through cheerful eyes and said, ‘You mean I’m not crazy?’ ”

Lt. Col. Laurel Anderson, a psychiatric nurse in charge of behavioral health at Fort Carson’s soldier readiness center, said the number of soldiers referred for mental health screenings had risen from about 12 percent of those seen at the center to 25 percent over the past year.

Colonel Anderson said soldiers sometimes refused her referrals to psychiatrists. “They don’t want anyone to know,” she said.

This year, Colonel Anderson began training officers to de-stigmatize post-traumatic stress disorder within their units. Another training session, this one for noncommissioned officers, is scheduled for Monday.

The Army is also considering sending a unit to Fort Carson and other bases to help soldiers navigate the administrative tangle of medical treatment. But Sergeant Padilla’s death showed that even when a soldier feels comfortable enough to seek treatment, that may not be enough.

Friends and family say Sergeant Padilla complained that antidepressants and painkillers were no substitute for talking with someone who understood what it was like to kill.

“He told me that the doctors weren’t helping him,” said his mother, Carmen Sierra, in a telephone interview from her home in Puerto Rico. “He told me that they couldn’t understand him, that he was still having those nightmares.”

A few months ago, Sergeant Padilla told his girlfriend, Mia Sagahon, that maybe it was time he start speaking with a doctor again. He never did.

29271  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: May 13, 2007, 05:06:47 AM
Today's NY Slimes:


Bill Clinton’s connections, and his endless supply of chits, only begin to capture his singular role in his wife’s presidential candidacy, advisers and friends of the couple say. He is the master strategist behind the scenes; the consigliere to the head of “the family,” as some Clinton aides refer to her operation; and a fund-raising machine who is steadily pulling in $100,000 or more at receptions.

So far, his roles have unfolded in private as he provides ideas to his wife and makes sure she paces herself, and as he acts as something of a field general with donors, instructing them on how to talk up Mrs. Clinton. Eventually, though, he will go public in a big way: Clinton advisers can already imagine a point in 2008 when Mr. Clinton has his own campaign plane, press corps and schedule of events in crucial states while Mrs. Clinton is barnstorming in others.

He is also galvanizing new support. At a recent gathering at Morgan Stanley, organized by Roger C. Altman, a Clinton Treasury Department official who now advises Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Clinton fielded questions for an hour from 60 major new donors about issues like her positions on Iraq and the impact of the compressed 2008 primary schedule. Mr. Clinton also recently filmed a five-minute video, which is being sent to new and old allies, narrating her biography and lavishing praise on her.

“He is the great security blanket for her campaign: Democrats listen to him with intensity, and he can assure her and her staff that he can get her message out,” said Jerry Lundergan, chairman of the Kentucky Democratic Party, who recently played host to Mr. Clinton at a four-hour fund-raiser for the campaign.

But for all the value Mr. Clinton adds to the campaign, there is internal recognition of the potential pitfalls of his involvement. Early on, the Clintons concluded that the former president would not participate in staff conference calls, nor would he call Mrs. Clinton’s aides directly, advisers say. Instead, he would circulate his advice through Mrs. Clinton; Mark Penn, her chief strategist; and a couple of others. The idea has been to keep the lines of authority clear, and also to avoid the messiness and leaks that marked his White House.

Indeed, Democrats close to Mrs. Clinton remain keenly aware of his foibles and blind spots. In private, these allies are blunt: He has disappointed her before, most painfully with Monica Lewinsky and the impeachment. He can be undisciplined, and his love for the cut and thrust of politics could unleash that side, especially if he believes her campaign is in trouble.

“When you’re dealing with the Clintons in ’08, you essentially have two candidates — her and him — and he’s going to have to have a Boy Scout report card given his history,” said Douglas Brinkley, the presidential historian, who is not affiliated with any campaign. “He can definitely help her, but that also means he can hurt her.”

That concern was crystallized by a question that arose at the Republican presidential debate this month: “Would it be good for America to have Bill Clinton back living in the White House?” The question underscored the sheer oddity of the Clintonian package deal redux.

Friends say the couple has learned from the mistakes of his 1992 race and has avoided again promoting a two-for-one bargain (which, in her camp’s view, cut against the tradition of voting based on a candidate’s merits alone). Campaign advisers also say that Mr. Clinton is simply too busy with his charitable work to be a full-time candidate spouse at his wife’s side.

At the same time, the advisers say, Mr. Clinton and the campaign view 2008 as a chance to get right what they saw as a mistake in 2000, when Vice President Al Gore shied away from deploying Mr. Clinton.

For example, two friends said Mr. Clinton had told them a victory for Mrs. Clinton in Arkansas in the general election was a personal mission of his. (Mr. Gore lost Arkansas in 2000, as Senator John Kerry did in 2004.) And he is cashing in chits for her that Mr. Gore, post-impeachment, never asked him to do. In March, for instance, Mr. Lundergan opened his home in Kentucky to Mr. Clinton for a fund-raiser as a favor after the couple helped raise money for the state party in 2005 and 2006. (Mr. Clinton carried Kentucky in 1992 and 1996, while Mr. Gore and Mr. Kerry did not.)

Mrs. Clinton’s campaign is not a do-over of Gore 2000 for Mr. Clinton, their advisers say, but the couple did decide early on that Mrs. Clinton would treat her husband and his administration’s record as assets, rather than distance herself from him in the interest of standing in her own light.


Page 2 of 2)

“We don’t want to make the Al Gore mistake — trying to separate Hillary from the president, or not sending the president out because you think he’s not well liked or because he might be a better speaker than Hillary,” one senior campaign adviser said, who spoke about internal campaign strategy on the condition of anonymity. “Voters would think we were acting phony.”

For now, Mr. Clinton is purposely staying out of the spotlight because he believes it is important for voters to get to know Mrs. Clinton better, friends of the couple say. He believes that the American public will like her the more they see her — “warm up to her” is the phrase that several friends attributed to Mr. Clinton.

“He’s not just sitting in Chappaqua watching the game on TV and calling everybody in the campaign with advice,” said Melanne Verveer, a close friend and adviser of Mrs. Clinton. “He brings enormous strength and assets but is in a very secondary role.”

Yet he continues to adjust to that new role.

“He’s grappling with it a bit now, how he properly plays the role of subordinate,” said a former senior aide to Mr. Clinton who still speaks with him regularly. “His foundation work gives him real focus. And he wants this for her, so badly. He feels he owes it to her on so many levels, for bringing her to Arkansas in the early ’70s and upending her career and everything since.”

The Clintons mostly talk about strategy, not campaign management, advisers say. He receives polling data from Mr. Penn, who was his pollster in 1996, and the two men speak regularly. He sometimes looks over drafts of Mrs. Clinton’s major speeches, and he gives her feedback on her performances.

When need be, she also knows how to cut him off. In preparation for a Senate debate, she more or less ordered him out of the room when he began coaching too much, Democrats close to the Clintons say. During a policy discussion awhile back about New York issues, when Mr. Clinton began to pontificate, she told him that he did not exactly know what he was talking about and to hush up.

Advisers say his advice to her can be boiled down to a few broad themes. He urges her to remember that the biggest person gets elected (in other words, the one who rises above political pettiness) and that the most optimistic candidate wins. He has encouraged her to talk about average people who work hard and play by the rules, classic Clintonian language. And she has, using those phrases and other themes in talking, for example, about regular Americans who are “invisible” to the Bush administration. (Advisers say Mr. Clinton did not devise the invisible line.)

He has also favored town hall forums as better venues for her than formal policy speeches, where she can seem cold and stentorian. And he has advised her to walk beyond the podiums with a microphone on her lapel.

In the campaign’s current plan, Mr. Clinton will not appear regularly at large public events for Mrs. Clinton until the fall, though the timing largely depends on how well she is doing, advisers say. He is adding more income-generating speeches than usual to his personal schedule now, so he has more free time in the fall and in 2008 to campaign for her, advisers add. Still, they note that Mr. Penn has not mapped out which states Mr. Clinton would visit during a general election campaign, if Mrs. Clinton wins the nomination, but that both men see Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana and Virginia as Republican-leaning states that Mrs. Clinton might contend in.

Instead, Mr. Clinton is raising $100,000 to $200,000 a night at a steady stream of fund-raisers. He had two last Tuesday, in Greenwich, Conn., and in a New York City suburb, and he is expected to attend more than a dozen more through the end of June, probably raising millions of dollars from his political network.

This spring, for instance, as Mrs. Clinton prepared to raise money in Philadelphia, no one was better positioned to provide a lucrative entree than the city’s former mayor, Edward G. Rendell, now the governor of Pennsylvania. Yet Mr. Rendell, a Democrat, was on the sidelines of his party’s presidential primary race.

Then the phone rang.

“It was President Clinton asking if I’d help, and I told him I’d give the go-ahead to a lot of my fund-raisers to join in her event,” said Mr. Rendell, who has not endorsed a candidate. “Philadelphia owes a great deal to his presidency, and we’re good friends. It was an easy call for me to take, and it was an easy call for me to make.”
29272  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Attacks on the Army on: May 13, 2007, 04:45:37 AM
Mexican Drug Cartels: Targeting the Military
May 11, 2007 18 24  GMT

Suspected drug cartel enforcers killed two state police officers May 11 as the officers patrolled the town of Villahermosa in Mexico's Tabasco state. The attack occurred two days after a Mexican sailor was gunned down in the Pacific resort town of Ixtapa. Although attacks against police officers and their chiefs are becoming quite common in Mexico -- a response to President Felipe Calderon's efforts to crack down on the country's drug syndicates -- the cartels now are upping the stakes by targeting the Mexican military.

To some degree or another, the military always has been part of government efforts to stem the flow of drugs through Mexico and reduce the violence associated with cartel wars. Military personnel, however, historically have not been prime cartel targets. That appears to be changing as the cartels better infiltrate the military, learning who they can bribe, who they can intimidate and who they can eliminate when cooperation is not forthcoming.

In some cases, military units are being attacked when they enter cartel territory or interfere with the flow of drugs from South America to markets in the United States, though it also appears that individual officers are being targeted. In Ixtapa, the sailor -- the bodyguard of a navy commander -- died after suspected cartel members attacked a vehicle carrying several Mexican navy personnel. It is unclear what prompted the shooting, though the sailors and/or their commander could have been either on the side of Calderon's anti-cartel efforts or cooperating with a rival cartel.

Seven attacks against police and security forces in April resulted in the deaths of at least eight police officers, including the commander of the Durango state anti-organized crime unit and Guerrero state Police Chief Ernesto Gutierrez Moreno, who was shot to death while eating dinner with his wife and son at a restaurant in the capital, Chilpancingo. During the first week of May, three state or city police chiefs were killed, while a firefight between a Mexican army unit and suspected drug smugglers left five soldiers dead near Caracuaro, in Michoacan state.

On May 8, suspected cartel enforcers killed Eduardo Vidaurri Esquivel, a police detective in Monterrey, the capital of Nuevo Leon state. Vidaurri reportedly was the 19th police official to be killed in Nuevo Leon in 2007. A day later, in Guerrero state, gunmen disguised as members of the Federal Investigative Agency shot and killed Artemio Mejia Chavez, public security director in Chilpancingo, while he was on his way to the gym. In that attack, the gunmen acted friendly as they pulled up to Mejia's truck in several vehicles, then opened fire when Mejia went to greet them. The attack against the sailor in Ixtapa, also in Guerrero state, occurred later that night.

As the cartels find weaknesses in the military -- and make inroads into the system through bribery and intimidation -- soldiers and sailors will find themselves at as great a risk of attack as Mexican police. Military units that try to interfere with the movement of drugs through Mexico, and thus the cartels' revenues, will be attacked.

29273  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: May 13, 2007, 04:29:56 AM

Iraq: Transforming Iran's Shiite Proxy, Assisting the United States

Iran's main Iraqi Shiite proxy announced May 11 it is about to undergo a process of "Iraqization." The move is part of Tehran's detailed offer to assist the United States in stabilizing Iraq. A fresh power-sharing agreement likely will emerge out of this process -- one that will lead to an increase in the Sunni share of the Iraqi political pie, but could upset the Kurds.


Officials from Iraq's largest and most pro-Iranian Shiite party, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), on May 11 said the group will make significant changes to its platform. These include seeking greater guidance from the country's top cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. This is a symbolic shift from SCIRI's current platform, under which the group primarily seeks guidance from the Velayat-e-Faqih, led by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Iran.

Following the conclusion of a two-day meeting in Baghdad, an unnamed senior SCIRI official described the move as the "Iraqization" of the country's Shiite Islamist groups. The official added that "significant decisions" pertaining to domestic, regional and international issues were agreed upon during the meeting and will be announced May 12. Among the changes to the group will be changing its name to Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council -- removing the word "revolution" because of the negative connotations it entails, such as the Iranian connection. "There will be a change in two aspects -- the structure of the group and also in its political language, taking into consideration the political facts on the ground," another official said.

Given SCIRI's close alignment with Iran, this move likely has Iran's blessings, and does not represent a real split between SCIRI and its patrons in Tehran. In fact, these details very likely were finalized during Iranian national security chief Ali Larijani's April 30-May 2 visit to Iraq, during which he met with al-Sistani on May 1. Through this overhaul of SCIRI, Tehran and its main Iraqi Shiite proxy are trying to placate the Iraqi Sunnis, who have been clamoring that they have begun the purge of transnational jihadist allies and are worried about the attachment of the Iraqi Shia to Iran. The move to repackage SCIRI will likely be instrumental in steps toward a fresh power-sharing agreement. This will involve the Sunnis acquiring a larger stake in the political system, as is obvious from Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi's May 10 remarks that he is encouraged by recent developments -- just a few days after he threatened to pull out of the government.

But such a fresh social contract will not necessarily lead to security and stability in Iraq -- at least not any time soon. This is mainly because the move to reshape SCIRI is just one part of a much more detailed Iranian offer to work with the United States to stabilize Iraq. For example, though Abbas Araghchi, Iran's deputy foreign minister for legal and international affairs, says he has been misquoted, he has not denied saying Tehran is willing to assist Washington achieve an "honorable" exit from Iraq. It is this U.S.-Iranian cooperation that has the Iraqi Sunnis and their allies among the Arab states (especially Saudi Arabia) worried that even after making concessions to the Sunnis, Iraq will be dominated by Shia -- and, by extension, Iran.

According to the May 5 issue of the Saudi-owned Arabic daily Al Hayat, during the May 4 international meeting on Iraq in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki put forward a preliminary proposal on how to put Iraq back together. In this proposal, the Iranians for the first time offered to use their influence to rein in Shiite militia activity, a key Sunni demand. But in return, the Iranians have demanded that once the Iraqi military takes over security from U.S. forces, it should not be given any weapons affording it offensive capabilities -- an issue noted with great alarm in the May 10 issue of Al Hayat.

The Iranians also are in favor of constitutional amendments that would increase the Sunni share in government to as much as 40 percent while retaining 60 percent for the Shia. Furthermore, Tehran has expressed its willingness to hold fresh parliamentary elections. In other words, it has signaled a willingness to go beyond a mere Cabinet reshuffle, agreeing to alterations to the Iraqi state's current structure in order to accommodate the Sunnis -- which likely will upset the Kurdish side of the triangular ethno-sectarian arrangement.

Here again, the Iranians are motivated by their own interests. It is true that the current Iraqi state based on the constitution ratified Oct. 15, 2005, and the subsequent Dec. 15, 2005, elections did not produce the desired results from the Bush administration's viewpoint. And the outcome of the vote and the government did not jibe with Iranian expectations either. Iran knew it could bargain for more, hence it did not settle for the June 2006 deal under which Iraq's security ministries were finalized.

Another key aspect on which the Iranians are prepared to compromise is the future of the Baathists. This a sticking point for the Sunnis because the elements of the former regime constitute a significant portion of the Sunni insurgency and are the teeth of the Sunni community. Tehran is willing to allow a review of the de-Baathification law, but does not want to see a Baathist assume the premiership.

Here, Baathist does not just mean a Sunni political figure, because former President Saddam Hussein's ousted regime had no shortage of Shiite officials, and the Iranians remember how the Iraqi Shia fought against the Iranian army during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. Moreover, by using the word Baathist, the Iranians are saying they do not want any Shi'i to emerge as prime minister who is not a pro-Iranian Islamist because the Shiite south is replete with such individuals. This would explain the attempts at a SCIRI makeover.

In essence, the Iranians are prepared to make all these concessions to satisfy the Sunnis, and more important the United States, because the Iranians also relayed at Sharm el-Sheikh that it is in their interest to see a planned U.S. exit from Iraq as opposed to a rush job. Tehran knows that an abrupt U.S. departure from Iraq could spoil its gains there because Iran would be left to clean up the mess afterward.
29274  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Unorganized Militia on: May 13, 2007, 04:00:34 AM

Franconia Police Officer Fatally Shot; Suspect Also Killed

Officials Say Officer Was Shot Four Times

POSTED: 3:48 pm EDT May 12, 2007
UPDATED: 5:31 pm EDT May 12, 2007
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FRANCONIA, N.H. -- A Franconia police officer was shot and killed during a routine motor vehicle stop on Friday.
The state attorney general's office says Cpl. Bruce McKay, 48, was shot four times and run over by the suspect's car on Route 116 in Franconia. McKay was a 12-year veteran of the Franconia Police Department.

The state attorney general's office says the incident began Friday night when McKay attempted to pull over Liko Kenney on Route 116. Kenney took off, leading McKay on a brief pursuit.
Investigators say when McKay stopped Kenney a second time a mile up the road, he used pepper spray to subdue him. According to police, that's when Kenney shot the officer four times and the proceeded to run the officer over with his car.

State Attorney General Kelly Attorney said a passer-by, Gregory Floyd, 49, witnessed the incident and rushed to the officer's aid. Investigators say Floyd grabbed McKay's gun and ordered Kenney to drop his weapon. According to Senior Assistant Attorney General Jeff Strelzin, Floyd fatally shot Kenney when he tried to reload his gun.
Ayotte said the state has decided Floyd's actions were justified and he will not be facing any charges.

According to police, there was a previous incident involving McKay and Kenney. Back in 2003, Kenney was convicted of simple assault and resisting arrest for an incident involving McKay.
Family members said Kenney was ski champion Bode Miller's cousin.

Back in September 2005, McKay pulled Bode Miller over on Route 116 for going 83 mph in a 40 mph zone.
As of Saturday afternoon, Miller did not return any calls to comment about the incident.

Friday night, Gov. John Lynch ordered all flags be lowered to half staff. He also visited with first responders in Franconia on Saturday who spent the night investigating McKay's death.
He said, "My thoughts and prayers, and those of my wife, Susan, are with the family of the New Hampshire police officer killed this evening while serving the people of our state."
The last police officer killed in the line of duty was Manchester Officer Michael Briggs, who was shot and killed in October 2006.
29275  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Yoga on: May 13, 2007, 03:53:53 AM
I too hope this thread will get some traction.

I know what you mean about women who do yoga smiley 0==8

GM Gyi is quite good at yoga and has solo practice and partner assisted practice with stick (a taste of which you now have) and with the staff-- which is a favorite of mine.

The sphinx position is an essential part of my alignment practice.  It is outstanding for releasing the psoas and related muscles, something which in my opinion is extraordinarily important.  My understanding of the position I learned from Sara Petitt, a yoga teacher of Guro Inosanto (I am quite proud to say that I introduced the two of them).  Squeeze the ankles and knees, draw up into the perineum, thrust hips into the mat, pull with the forearms, heart chakra foward, etc.  A variation upon which I have stumbled is, with all the aforementioned details in place, to bring the heels towards the butt (SLOWLY or cramping can result).  The idea is to put the hamstring/glutes in a postion of peak contraction, thus triggering peak release for the hip flexors.
29276  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: May 12, 2007, 09:49:29 PM
In Defense of the Constitution

News & Analysis
013/07  May 12, 2007

CAIR: Partners With the Jihadist "Fort Dix Six"?   

The recent arrest of the "Fort Dix Six" has shocked (shocked!) the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), North America's premier defender of Islamist terrorism in North America.  CAIR, the only Muslim organization in North America certified by Allah to determine just who is and who is not a "True Muslim", is apparently upset that the Fort Dix Six, without permission from CAIR's Saudi taskmasters, dared to invoke Islam as justification for the planned attack on Fort Dix:

CAIR sent a statement to the press asking:   

"Media outlets and public officials refrain from linking (the Fort Dix) case to the faith of Islam."

One problem with CAIR's request is that the suspected terrorists weren't let in on CAIR's game plan.  Eljvir Duka, one of the six, was heard in an FBI recording saying: 

"In the end, when it comes to defending your religion, when someone attacks your religion, your way of life, then you go jihad."

"Jihad"?  What faith is most closely related to this concept?  Christians?  Jews?  Maybe the Buddhists?  How about the Hindu's? No, could it be that CAIR is upset because, once again, Muslim terrorists have "gone Jihad" and violated CAIR's copyright on the word?

Of course, far be it to let FACTS get in the way of CAIR's well Saudi-Oiled spin machine which put out a carefully crafted response to the arrests:

".it seems clear that a potentially deadly attack has been averted.we applaud the FBI for its efforts and repeat the American Muslim community's condemnation and repudiation of all those who would plan or carry out acts of terror while falsely claiming their actions have religious justification."

"FALSELY claiming their actions have religious justification?"

While it comes as a surprise to CAIR, 99.9% of North Americans, including non-CAIR-approved Muslims, realize that Islamic justification is not only a fact, but that it is a deadly fact that has not only murdered in the past, but that does so on a daily basis.with the blessings of CAIR's perverted version of "Allah".

CAIR's noxious propaganda falls flat on its face with the Fort Dix Six.  Investor's Business Daily details some of the charges in the FBI affidavit:

"It records the men saying they were willing to die killing infidels in the name of Allah. One asks who'll take care of his family. Not to worry, another responds, "Allah will take care of your wife and kids." They watched speeches by Osama bin Laden calling for
jihad, videos of jihadi attacks, and videotaped messages from two of the 9/11 "martyrs".

The mother of one accused, Fatem Shnewer said her son,  Mohamad Ibrahim Shnewer was targeted by the FBI, "because he's religious."

CAIR, once again, is trying doubly hard to cover up a huge, glaring fact: when some Muslims, like the Fort Dix Six, feel as if their religion is "under attack" they turn to violence as a remedy.

The larger question is why would some Muslims living in America, where the median income of Muslims is over $50,000 a year, freedom of expression, the right to peacefully assemble.the right to religious freedoms is guaranteed to all citizens, want to kill fellow Americans?  Just where did the Fort Dix Six get the idea that Islam in under attack in America?

One possibility is CAIR.  At every opportunity, since its inception, CAIR has set forth the imagery and perception that "Islam is under attack" in the United States of America.

CAIR has gone after numerous radio talk show hosts for daring to speak frankly about Islamic terrorism. They even launched a campaign called "Hate Hurts America" to stop these radio hosts. CAIR's effort was:

".based on the premise that the increasing attacks on Islam by talk-show hosts harm the United States by creating a downward spiral of interfaith mistrust and hostility."

When the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development was shut down for channeling funds to Hamas, CAIR asserted that freezing HLF assets could give the perception that ".there has been a shift from a war on terrorism to an attack on Islam."

Anti-CAIR revealed in court documents that CAIR was consistently banging the drum of Muslim oppression, discrimination, and victimization by Islamophobic Americans and an oppressive government. By painting American Muslims and Islam as being "under attack" in America, CAIR was, and is, intentionally playing a dangerous game:

The evidence will show that under Moslem law, "attacks against Islam" must be countered with violence. CAIR's intentional and repeated use of the "attack" imagery is, therefore a potential call to violence."

By warning the press not to equate the Fort Dix Six actions with religion, CAIR is trying to deflect the fact that it has been Islamist organizations like CAIR who have been fanning the flames for jihad in America, pushing the propaganda of "Islamophobia", and insisting that Muslims in America are treated unjustly and in huge numbers - as Nihad Awad recently asserted during a meeting at the Adams Center where he said:

"There were 196 cases reported by the Justice Department for Muslims in civil rights cases. There were over 1,008 cases reported by the Jewish faith. We need to do a much better job not only in recognizing our civil rights but also in reporting it to the government.  [It] is very critical and very important. ... We really feel our community is more targeted.  Fifty-four percent -- this is one of CAIR's surveys -- 54 percent of all Muslims surveyed said they had been subject to discrimination. Fifty-four percent, which if you put numbers down, we're talking about tens of thousands of cases, not dozens, as is reported in the Justice Department's annual report."

What Awad fails to mention is that it would be far more surprising if the survey showed less than 50% discrimination, considering the kinds of Muslims that associate with CAIR.

Dr. M.Zuhdi Jasser of the American Islamic Forum For Democracy makes it clear that CAIR and other radical, political Muslim groups like CAIR are a clear and present danger to America:

"Muslim organizations should understand that only Muslims hold the keys to the way to overwhelm and counter the ideology which fuels these radicals.  Muslim organizations should be clamoring to expose and infiltrate the ideology and sources which drove these traitors to sprout their radical cell.  We need an Islamic vaccine (the separation of spiritual Islam from political Islam) to the virus which afflicted these men.   Until Muslim anti-Islamists can defeat Islamism (political Islam) as an ideology, we will not make any headway at preventing the germination of the next cell.   We will only be left waiting, praying, for the FBI to help us, yet again, dodge the next bullet."

CAIR refutes all facts that "real" Muslims would commit violence in the name of the Islamic religion - even while CAIR insists that America is growing into a horrible place to be a Muslim.  So horrible in fact, that CAIR Officer and convert Ismail Royer, an original employee of CAIR, decided to wage Jihad  - while working for CAIR - by aiding and abetting terrorists:

CAIR's response to Royer's terrorist activities was that Royer was not an employee at the time.a lie exposed by Anti-CAIR.

Anti-CAIR unfortunately predicts more such plots by Muslims in America such as the Fort Dix Six as a result of CAIR's relentless propaganda on behalf of radical Islam.  Could radical Imam's and Islamist groups like CAIR be largely responsible for the Muslim terrorist attacks?  Is it possible that CAIR aids and abets Islamic terrorism by both failing to condemn Muslim terrorists and apologizing for them at the same time?

Is "Islam under attack" in America? 

No, it isn't; in our opinion, nothing CAIR says can change this fact that is making CAIR so uncomfortable.CAIR needs Americans to attack Islam, to burn down Mosque's, to attack peaceful Muslims and their customs in order to foment civil discourse that would further the Islamist agenda of world domination under the disgusting Wahhabi cult of Islam. 

The fact remains: there is no country on the planet more welcoming, understanding, and sympathetic to Islam than the United States.and CAIR knows this to be true.  No where on earth will Muslims find their civil rights better protected than here in America.and this is something that even CAIR, with all its oily millions, cannot change if we are willing to stand up to them.

Let's not allow CAIR to destroy Islam in America.

Andrew Whitehead


Effective immediately, Anti-CAIR will no longer use the term "ACAIR" to describe our group.  We use "Anti-Council on American-Islamic Relations" as our full name and "Anti-CAIR" as an abbreviation.  We ask anyone referencing our group to use these terms.

Subscribers are warned that the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) may contact your employer if CAIR believes you are using a work address to receive any material that CAIR believes may be offensive.  CAIR has been known to shame employers into firing employees CAIR finds disagreeable.  For that reason, we strongly suggest that corporate e-mail users NOT use a corporate e-mail account/address when communicating with ACAIR or CAIR.  We make every reasonable effort to protect our mailing list, but we cannot guarantee confidentiality. ACAIR does not share, loan, sell, rent or otherwise publicize our mailing list.  We respect your privacy!

All persons are invited to submit tips and leads.  ACAIR will acknowledge receipt of all tips/leads, but we will NOT acknowledge the source of ANY tip or lead in our Press Releases or on our web site. Exceptions are made for leading media personalities at the discretion of ACAIR and only on request of the person(s) submitting the tip or lead.

29277  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: May 12, 2007, 09:45:51 PM
Thank you Robert.

Here's this:

AFPA [American Fitness Professionals & Associates] May 2007 Health & Fitness Newsletter vol. 12 no. 5
A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done.
- Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890 - 1969)


Table of Contents:
Plant Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids Beneficial to Bone Health
Red Meat Linked to Heart Disease in Women with Diabetes
Fiber Lowers Breast Cancer Risk
Cancer-Related Hormones Associated with Protein and Dairy Consumption
Broccoli Compound Helps Destroy Breast Cancer Cells
Simple Fat Change Radically Improves Mental and Physical Health
Who Would Have Thought This Fat Could Improve Your Bones?


Plant Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids Beneficial to Bone Health
A study at Pennsylvania State University showed that omega-3 fatty acids from plant sources (for example, walnuts and flaxseed) promote bone formation and inhibit bone loss. A randomized crossover study looked at 23 adult participants on three different diets with varying ratios of omega-6 to omega-3 acids. The group with the lowest omega-6-to-omega-3 ratio had significantly lower levels of a biomarker for bone loss compared with the other two groups. Experts often emphasize the ratio (with a smaller ratio being ideal) of omega-6 to omega-3 and not the total consumption of omega-3. Consumption of walnuts and flaxseed has also shown a beneficial effect on risk of cardiovascular disease.
Griel AE, Kris-Etherton PM, Hilpert KF, et al. An increase in dietary n-3 fatty acids decreases a marker of bone resorption in humans. Nutr J. January 16, 2007;6:2.


Red Meat Linked to Heart Disease in Women with Diabetes
A new study finds increased iron intake and red meat consumption add additional risk for heart disease among women with type 2 diabetes. Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health studied 6,161 women with type 2 diabetes from the Nurses' Health Study. Women with the highest intake of heme iron (iron found mainly in red meats, poultry, and fish) had a 50 percent greater risk of coronary heart disease than those with the lowest intake. Red meat in particular was associated with an increased risk. Adults with diabetes are already at least twice as likely as others to have heart disease or a stroke.
Qi L, VanDam RM, Rexrode K, Hu FB. Heme iron from diet as a risk factor for coronary heart disease in women with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2007;30:101-106.


Fiber Lowers Breast Cancer Risk
A follow-up of the U.K. Women's Cohort Study involving more than 35,000 women found that pre-menopausal women who ate 30 grams of fiber a day had half the risk of breast cancer compared with those who ate less than 20 grams per day. In addition, high protein consumption and low vitamin C intake were associated with increased breast cancer risk among pre-menopausal women. Researchers suspect that since estrogen levels are higher in pre-menopausal women, dietary fiber earlier in life may be more important for regulating female hormones and lowering breast cancer risk. Fiber helps the body remove excess hormones, carcinogens, and toxic compounds. Fiber is not present in animal products, but is found in virtually all plant foods: whole grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruit.
Cade JE, Burley VJ, Greenwood DC. Dietary fibre and risk of breast cancer in the UK Women's Cohort Study. Int J Epidemiology. Advance Access published on January 24, 2007


Cancer-Related Hormones Associated with Protein and Dairy Consumption
A study recently published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that elevated insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) levels were positively associated with the consumption of protein (mainly from animal sources), milk, cheese, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, and vitamins B2 and B6. The study examined 2,109 women from eight European countries who had been subjects in a previous breast cancer study (the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition). Inverse relationships were found between IGF-I levels and the intake of vegetables and beta-carotene (found in orange-colored fruits and vegetables as well as dark leafy greens). Previous evidence has revealed that elevated IGF-I levels are associated with a variety of cancers, including colorectal, prostate, and premenopausal breast cancer.
Norat T, Dossus L, Rinaldi S, et al. Diet, serum insulin-like growth factor-1 and IGF-binding protein-3 in European women. Eur J Clin Nutr. January 2007; 61:91-98.


Broccoli Compound Helps Destroy Breast Cancer Cells
New research suggests that a specific compound in cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, etc.) may be especially helpful in inhibiting breast cancer development. Researchers at the University of Leicester looked at the effect of indole-3-carbinol (I3C) on four different types of breast cancer cells. Previous studies have shown that foods rich in indoles may help to kill breast cancer cells by diminishing the expression of the epidermal growth factor receptor, which protects cancer cells. This study found that I3C helped to reduce these receptors in three of the four types of breast cancer cells. Consuming cruciferous vegetables daily may significantly lower breast cancer risk and increase survival.
Moiseeva EP, Heukers R, Manson MM. EGFR and Src are involved in indole-3-carbinol-induced death and cell cycle arrest of human breast cancer cells. Carcinogenesis 2007. Feb;28:435-45


Simple Fat Change Radically Improves Mental and Physical Health
A new study adds to the evidence suggesting that the imbalance of fatty acids in the typical American diet could be associated with a sharp increase in heart disease and depression over the course of the last century.
The more omega-6 fats people had in their blood compared with omega-3 fats, the more likely they were to suffer from depression, and the more likely they were to have higher blood levels of inflammation-promoting compounds.
Inflammation-promoting compounds, such as tumor necrosis factor alpha and interleukin-6, have been linked to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis and other ailments.
Omega-3 fats are found in foods such as fish, flax seed oil and walnuts. Omega-6 fats are found in refined vegetable oils, which in modern times are used in many products ranging from margarine to baked goods to snack foods.
The amount of omega-6 fats in the Western diet increased greatly when refined vegetable oils became part of the diet in the early 20th century.
Psychosomatic Medicine March 30, 2007
Reuters April 17, 2007


Who Would Have Thought This Fat Could Improve Your Bones?
A study about the role fatty acids play in building the bone mineral density of young men found that concentrations of omega-3 fats were associated with positive bone mineral densities.
Researchers evaluated the bone health (hip, spine and body) and measured the concentrations of fatty acids in 78 teenage men over an eight-year span. In addition to the other benefits, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) was linked to better total bone densities, particularly in the spine, as well as positive changes in the spine for men between the ages of 16 and 22.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition March 2007; 85(3): 803-807 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition March 2007; 85(3): 647-648

29278  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Review of Brave, New War on: May 12, 2007, 08:14:20 PM


Review of Brave New War
By William S. Lind
[The views expressed in this article are those of Mr. Lind, writing in his personal capacity. They do not reflect the opinions or policy positions of the Free Congress Foundation, its officers, board or employees, or those of Kettle Creek Corporation.]
While the White House and the Pentagon continue their long vacation in Wolkenkuckucksheim, in the real world the literature on Fourth Generation war continues to grow. An important addition is John Robb’s new book, Brave New War: The Next Stage of Terrorism and the End of Globalization. As the title implies, this book dares to question the inevitability of the globalist future decreed by the internationalist elites, a one-world superstate where life is reduced to an administered satisfying of “wants.” Robb perceives, rightly, that the Brave New War of the Fourth Generation will put an end to the Brave New World.
Following a useful and well-written introduction to Fourth Generation war, Brave New War offers four observations of strategic importance. The first is that the “global gorillas” of 4GW will use “systems disruption” to inflict massive damage on states at little cost to themselves. Modern states depend on the functioning of numerous overlaid networks – fuel pipelines, electric grids, etc. – which have critical linkages that are subject to attack. Robb writes:
To global guerillas, the point of greatest emphasis is the systempunkt. It is a point in the system … that will collapse the target system if it is destroyed. Within an infrastructure system, this collapse takes the form of disrupted flows that result in financial loss or supply shortages. Within a market, the result is a destabilization of the psychology of the marketplace that will introduce severe inefficiencies and chaos.
Our problem is that the global guerillas we see in the long tail of this global insurgency are quickly learning how to detect and attack systempunkts.
Here, I think John Robb’s Air Force background may mislead him to an extent. Air Forces have long believed that the bombing of critical nodes in an enemy’s military, communications or economic systems can win wars; American air raids on German ball-bearing plants in World War II are a famous example. In reality, it seldom works because the enemy’s re-routing, redundancy and repair capabilities enable him to work around the destruction. Robb is right that such destruction can increase costs, but wartime psychology can absorb higher costs. War trumps peacetime balance-sheets.
Robb’s second strategic observation I think is wholly correct: 4GW forces gain enormous strength from operating on an open-source basis. Anyone can play, a shared vision replaces top-down control, and methods evolve rapidly through lateral communication.
A great description of the dynamics of OSW (Open Source Warfare) is a bazaar. People are trading, haggling, copying and sharing. To an outsider it can look chaotic. It’s so different from the quiet intensity and strict order of the cathedral-like Pentagon. This dynamic may be why Arab groups were some of the first guerilla movements to pick up on this new method and apply it to warfare.
The combination of post-modern open source warfare and pre-modern, non-state primary loyalties leads to the third observation, that 4GW turns globalization against itself.
My conclusion is that globalization is quickly layering new skill sets on ancient mind-sets. Warriors, in our current context of global guerillas, are not merely lazy and monosyllabic primitives. They are wired, educated, and globally mobile. They build complex supply chains, benefit from global money flows, travel globally, innovate with technology and attack shrewdly.
Finally, Robb correctly finds the antidote to 4GW not in Soviet-style state structures such as the Department of Homeland Security but in de-centralization. What Robb calls “dynamic decentralized resilience” means that, in concrete terms, security is again to be found close to home. Local police departments, local sources of energy such as roof top solar arrays – I would add local farms that use sustainable agricultural practices – are the key to dealing with system perturbations. To the extent we depend on large, globalist, centralized networks, we are insecure. Robb foresees that as state structures fail,
Members of the middle class will (take) matters into their own hands by forming suburban collectives to share the costs of security --- as they do now with education – and shore up delivery of critical services. These “armored suburbs” will deploy and maintain backup generators and communications links; they will be patrolled by civilian police auxiliaries that have received corporate training and boost their own state-of-the-art emergency response systems.
If this all sounds a bit like what happened as the Roman Empire fell, it should. The empire in this case is not America or even the West, but the state system and the force that produced the state, the modern age. Modernity shot itself in the head in 1914. How much longer ought we expect the body to live?
29279  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sent to me by an officer friend on: May 12, 2007, 01:07:38 PM

Soldiers in Iraq do the State Department's job.
Missing in Action
by Lawrence F. Kaplan   
Only at TNR Online | Post date 02.20.07    Discuss this article (26) 
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 world away, the Senate was bracing for a solemn debate over whether to debate the war in Iraq. But, in Iraq the place, the soldiers of the Tenth Mountain Division's Second Brigade Combat Team (2-10 Mtn.) had a slightly more pressing concern. The sectarian mix in 2-10 Mtn.'s area of operations--which runs from the Shia-dominated city of Mahmudiyah south of Baghdad to the Sunni areas bordering Anbar Province to the west--offers a microcosm of Iraq and all of its problems. Not the least of these is that, until recently, Mahmudiyah's mayor--a plump Shia who favors Western attire and socialist literature--refused to talk to the Sunni sheiks who lord over the city's western outskirts. 2-10 Mtn.'s Captain Palmer Phillips, a young company commander who doubles as a liaison to the sheiks, had spent the better part of a month arranging for the mayor to visit with his Sunni counterparts. "Then the sheiks got upset," Phillips recounts, "and chaos ensued."

The mayor, too, had second thoughts about the meeting, informing the U.S. battalion commander in Mahmudiyah that he had other plans. The officer replied that his boss, 2-10 Mtn. commander Colonel Michael Kershaw, would be displeased. To bolster the point, Kershaw rolled up behind the mayor on the highway, and had his soldiers escort the mayor directly to the sheiks. The meeting proved to be a modest success. But what really made it notable was, first, that it happened at all and, second, the occupation of the men who arranged it--all of them soldiers, none of them diplomats.
Tribal diplomacy is very much the business of civilian agencies that operate, or ought to operate, in Iraq. In the five months that 2-10 Mtn. has been maneuvering in and around Mahmudiyah, however, diplomatic officials from the nearest provincial reconstruction team (PRT)--housed in Baghdad's Green Zone--have shown up once. Which is more than in some places. In a counterinsurgency whose main thrust ought to be nonmilitary, the full force and expertise of the U.S. government is nowhere to be seen in Iraq. Were the combined resources of the State Department, the Justice Department, and other government agencies actually brought to bear in this war, things in Iraq might have turned out much differently. Instead, we have in Iraq an answer to the old question: What if they threw a war and nobody came?


he spectacle of young Army captains cajoling and corralling sheiks three times their age is an everyday staple in Iraq. Over the years, I've watched the same scene unfold at mosques and homes in Baghdad, Mosul, Ramadi, Tall Afar, and Sinjar. Typically, it unfolds well. The sheiks and the captains often develop close friendships (at a memorial service a couple of months ago for Captain Travis Patriquin--a young officer-cum-tribal diplomat in Ramadi--nearly every sheik in the city turned up). Tribal leaders know that, despite their age, their U.S. interlocutors can generate funds, infrastructure projects, bureaucratic shortcuts, firepower, and just about anything else. They know, too, that their own government cannot procure any of these things. For their part, the young American officers tend to be skilled professionals, well-versed in the techniques of warfare and much else besides.

But they are, first and last, military professionals. Few of the officers engaged in tribal diplomacy have the benefit of any formal training; most aren't even civil affairs officers. The best ones rely on their wits, but not every young officer boasts the wits of a Phillips or a Patriquin. Hence, the logic of the civilian-led PRTs--unveiled in 2005 to, in the words of a State Department cable, "assist Iraq's provincial government with developing a transparent and sustained capability to govern ... promoting political and economic development, and providing the provincial administration necessary to meet the basic needs of the population." That the PRTs have accomplished none of these things owes something to former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who initially objected to the military's role on the teams. But the Pentagon long ago reversed course--to the point that the Army now supplies most of the manpower for the PRTs. Persuading their civilian counterparts to show up is another matter.
Six months after they were unveiled, the PRTs had attracted all of twelve job applicants from the State Department, according to The Washington Post, and only one of those was qualified. Despite a flurry of memos pleading for recruits, guarantees of salary and career boosts, and a consensus about the importance of the teams that ran from the Iraq Study Group down to platoon leaders in Iraq, civilian agencies have declined to revive the Vietnam-era practice of compulsory war-zone assignments. According to The New York Times, federal employees have flatly refused requests that they go to Iraq. Others have been swayed by inducements yet have demanded that they be posted in the Green Zone. Outside Baghdad, "attracting civilians to serve at the PRTs in austere and dangerous locations has proved even more difficult," in the words of a report by the Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.

o understand what a pitiful contribution civilian agencies have made in Iraq, just consider the prototype the PRTs were meant to replicate, the Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support (CORDS) program in Vietnam. With the same mandate assigned the PRTs in Iraq, CORDS director Robert Komer (the president's special assistant for pacification, a title that came with ambassadorial rank) dispatched nearly 8,000 civilian and military advisers to fan out across South Vietnam's provinces. Extrapolating from U.S. Census Bureau abstracts, one of every 25 State Department/USAID employees was deployed to Vietnam as part of CORDS, versus roughly one out of every 300 today in the Iraqi PRTs. According to its program reports from the era, USAID alone had nearly 2,000 of its civilian employees working in South Vietnam, where they served 12-18 month tours. Until recently, civilian agencies couldn't muster a fraction of that to serve 3-6 month tours in Iraq. Relative to the size of the Iraqi and Vietnamese populations, the U.S. government sent more than twenty times as many civilian federal employees to assist in the reconstruction of Vietnam as it fields today in Iraq.

The hallmarks of the civilian contribution to the CORDS program were, in the words of a U.S. Army Center for Military History study, "aggressive leadership, bureaucratic skill, real and perceived Presidential interest, and a degree of cooperation and tolerance that was remarkable among disparate U.S. foreign policy agencies." The hallmarks of the PRT program have been exactly the reverse. Nor, contrary to Condoleezza Rice's recent assertion that that the State Department was "ready to strengthen, indeed to 'surge,' our civilian efforts," has this latest commitment been matched by anything more than the usual disconnect between empty words and actual deeds. No sooner, indeed, had Rice issued the pledge than she reversed herself, telling congress that more than 40 percent of the State Department posts to be created as part of the surge would have to be staffed by military personnel. Never mind the government's well-chronicled failure to mobilize the public for war. The government can't even mobilize itself.
Lawrence F. Kaplan is a senior editor at The New Republic.
29280  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Spike TV, the Dog Brothers Gathering Webisodes; National Geographic on: May 11, 2007, 10:32:25 PM
Cool. Thank you.
29281  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Communicating with the Muslim World on: May 11, 2007, 05:10:22 PM
Although I suppose it would be accurate to call this piece propaganda, but we need to remember that this hatred is part of the landscape in the Muslim world and has been since before modern Israel.

29282  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Communicating with the Muslim World on: May 11, 2007, 12:31:40 PM

I will be posting more about this point, but it seems to me that we need to have a thread dedicated to how to communicate with the Muslim world.

I begin with a piece from the WSJ.


Boos for Al-Hurra
May 11, 2007; Page A10
We've been watching the debate over Al-Hurra, the U.S.-funded Middle East TV channel that has lately developed a reputation as a friendly forum for terrorists and Islamic radicals. A bipartisan group of Congressmen has called for Al-Hurra's news director, former CNN producer Larry Register, to resign -- and it's time he and his supervisors gave taxpayers some answers.

With an annual budget over $70 million, Al-Hurra is part of the long arm of America's public diplomacy in the Middle East. The network was established to provide a credible source of information in the region, in a market dominated by Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya. The goal was to help start a discussion about freedom and democracy. Instead, the network seems to have aligned itself with everyone else in pandering to the so-called Arab street.

The shift began when Mr. Register took over last November. As journalist Joel Mowbray has detailed in these pages, Al-Hurra has made a practice in Mr. Register's tenure of friendly coverage of camera-ready extremists from al Qaeda, Hamas and other terrorist groups. Most famously, the network gave more than 60 minutes of airtime to Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah, who informed viewers that Hezbollah was "facing a strategic and historic victory." Under Mr. Register, Holocaust denial panels became "Holocaust existence panels." People like al Qaeda operative Muhammed Hanja received airtime to celebrate America's "defeat" on September 11.

Mr. Register's defense has been, in essence, that if Al-Hurra doesn't run anti-American content, no one will watch. He seems to have misunderstood his assignment: Al-Hurra is not meant to compete with Al-Jazeera but to offer an alternative view of the Middle East from those of either its dictators or jihadis.

But Al-Hurra is not alone in its failures. VOA and Radio Farda in Iran also stray into broadcasts that wax critical on U.S. policies. Here's betting those outlets see more scrutiny in coming days, and there's plenty of people besides Mr. Register to question -- starting with the Broadcasting Board of Governors that is charged with the network's oversight.

The BBG failed to investigate Mr. Register's change of journalism-marketing strategy when criticism began to emerge. After Mr. Mowbray's original article in March, Joaquin Blaya, chairman of the Board's Middle East Committee, wrote us a letter dismissing the criticism. Mr. Blaya was more accommodating in a second letter that we ran May 9 -- perhaps because he's feeling heat from Capitol Hill.

He certainly hasn't felt any heat from Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes, who sits on the board and has also preferred to see no evil. Ms. Hughes has conceded that the Nasrallah interview was "a violation of our policy." But in a speech to the Board of Governors and Freedom House last week, she missed an opportunity to clarify what is expected of Al-Hurra in return for taxpayer support. On Wednesday, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Mr. Register is doing "a very good job."

Al-Hurra (which means "the free one") can be a useful tool in the battle of ideas that is crucial to the war on Islamic extremism. But if it and its sister broadcasts are merely going to provide one more outlet for anti-U.S. propaganda, who needs them? Dissidents in Soviet Russia and its satellites once looked to Radio Free Europe and VOA as sources of truth they weren't getting from local media. Nobody thinks the Cold War would have ended sooner if they had offered more airtime to the Kremlin.
29283  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Help our troops/our cause: on: May 11, 2007, 12:27:39 PM
Security Deposit
Want to support the war on terror? Pull out your checkbook.

Friday, May 11, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

WEST POINT, N.Y.--On a stormy night here a couple of weeks ago, a group of men and women gathered at the U.S. Military Academy to discuss the future of national security. Nothing unusual about that. The group included military brass, naturally, and a few scholars. But it also included--how to put this?--some rich people.

No, this wasn't a top-secret meeting of Halliburton executives. It was a conference called "National Security Studies and Military History: How Philanthropists Can Make a Difference." The point of the evening, sponsored by the Philanthropy Roundtable, wasn't to learn how to profit from government largess, Halliburton-style, but the other way around: to discuss how the government--or at least the Pentagon and its mission--might be helped by the efforts of America's philanthropic citizens.

As it happens, there is a long tradition of the private sector bolstering national security. Hayim Solomon, an 18th-century New York City merchant, invested $350,000 in government securities to pay for Gen. George Washington's Yorktown campaign. During World War II, Henry Ford transformed his factories to manufacture B-24 bombers. These days, no one is suggesting that private donors sponsor, say, the troop surge in Ramadi, Iraq, but as Mark Smith, the conference's director, told me later, such help makes perfect sense: "It is really the American way for the private sector to roll up their sleeves and get engaged."

But where to begin? Stephen Rosen, a professor at Harvard and a conference participant, believes that people in the national-security areas of government are focused too much on day-to-day "crisis management." They don't stop to think about the next decade or two. That is where philanthropists can step in, by sponsoring researchers who might think about--and write about and talk about--the long-term challenges we face: our relationship with, say the Islamic world, the use of nuclear weapons and the behavior of China. It is true that any number of scholars spend time thinking about the larger geopolitical dimensions of these questions and the diplomatic options for resolving them. But few devote themselves to the actual military issues involved.

It is futile to expect universities to produce such people, at least so the conference participants believed. "A number of subjects subsumed under the subject of national security are looked down on or ignored by academia," said Josiah Bunting, a retired officer and the president of the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation. In his keynote address, he contrasted the meager study of military history on university campuses with the shelves of Barnes & Noble, which are "groaning" under the weight of books on military subjects.

Mr. Bunting traces the current situation to the 1990s, with the retirement or death of the last college professors who served in World War II. "There was a much larger receptivity in that group toward military and strategic studies than in the generation that followed them." To revive that area of inquiry, Mr. Bunting recommends that patrons give money to a particular professorship or program that has a limited lifetime. Permanent endowments are likely to be misdirected.
Another possible focus for philanthropy is the Combating Terrorism Center, based at West Point itself. Started in February 2003, the center is headed by a military officer but most of the people who work there--about 20 in all--are civilians, specializing in everything from bioterrorism to intelligence-gathering. As Mr. Smith explains, the center can "serve as a bridge between the military and the academic community." It can, for example, thanks to its high security clearance, "take documents that Special Operations has and translate them."

Walter P. Stern, one of the conference participants, told me that he was interested in giving money to the center. "The resources are there in the private sector for this sort of thing." But aren't the resources there in the public sector as well? Yes and no. The Defense Department can spend millions of dollars on strategic studies, but the National Security Council and other agencies in the White House are more likely to rely on reports coming in from outside scholars and analysts.

I asked one senior administration official who knew about the conference just how he would like to see philanthropists direct their money. He offered a short list, beginning with strategies for "the war of ideas in the war on terror." He wants some positive suggestions, though. "I could find you 30 critiques of the way we're conducting the war of ideas."

Ms. Riley is The Wall Street Journal's deputy Taste editor.
29284  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Christianity on: May 11, 2007, 12:24:30 PM


Christianity Without Salvation
The legacy of the "Social Gospel"--100 years later.

Friday, May 11, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Within a few years of its publication in 1907, "Christianity and the Social Crisis" swept through America's Protestant churches like a nor'easter, selling more than 50,000 copies to ministers and laypeople alike. In an age of social upheaval, Walter Rauschenbusch's jeremiad was meant to rouse the church from its pietistic slumber. "If society continues to disintegrate and decay, the Church will be carried down with it," he warned. "If the Church can rally such moral forces that injustice will be overcome . . . it will itself rise to higher liberty and life."

The summons found many converts. Reflecting on the mood a few decades later, preacher Harry Emerson Fosdick gushed with nostalgia: It "struck home so poignantly," he said, that it "ushered in a new era in Christian thought and action." The era of Rauschenbusch is far from over: His "Social Gospel" message continues to inspire activists and theologians of all stripes. The question now, though, is whether its influence is a desirable thing--or a distraction of the Christian church from its deepest objectives.

Many praise the reform efforts stirred in part by Rauschenbusch's appeal: the founding of settlement houses, literacy campaigns, help for refugees, and food and health care for the destitute. Politically, Rauschenbusch's book helped along Teddy Roosevelt's progressive agenda, notably his antitrust crusades. Social-gospel activists would later hail the creation of Social Security under the New Deal.

Surely there is much in the tradition for which to be grateful. Yet even a brisk reading of Rauschenbusch's work suggests crippling weaknesses, at least from the standpoint of faith. We're told that the larger social message of Jesus' teaching--especially his concern for the poor--was sidelined by the cultural assumptions of his followers. The culprits: the doctrine of sin and the "crude and misleading" idea of a coming apocalypse. Generations of believers wrongly came to regard earthly life as a snare and turned inward for personal salvation. "Such a conception of present life and future destiny," Rauschenbusch wrote chidingly, "offered no motive for an ennobling transformation of the present life."

Distorted ideas about heaven and hell have spawned great mischief in the name of Christianity, of course. Rauschenbusch must have seen plenty of it during a decade of ministry in New York City's "Hell's Kitchen" neighborhood. Indeed, the Christianity of his youth looked unfit to cope with the "industrial crises" of his day. Nevertheless, he seemed blithely unaware of others provoked by the very conceptions of sin and salvation he so despised--men such as William Wilberforce, John Wesley, John Jay, Lyman Beecher and William Booth--to champion reform efforts of all kinds.

Rauschenbusch's clever narrative of a faith held hostage was itself a captive of its cultural setting. It's no accident that phrases such as the "laws of social development," "scientific comprehension of society" and the "evolution of social institutions" litter his text. He presents not so much the teachings of Jesus, Paul and the Apostles as the dogmas of Darwin, Marx and Herbert Spencer. Richard Niebuhr called this "cultural Christianity," i.e., re-imagining the gospel according to secular nostrums about the march of human progress.

As such, Rauschenbusch's gospel had little need of a Savior. It merely displaced the problem of evil--the supreme tragedy of the human soul in rebellion against God--with the challenge of social iniquities. The Kingdom of Heaven would come soon enough, if only we put our hands to the plow.

Perhaps this earth-bound emphasis explains the social gospel's naïve embrace of morally dubious causes, including eugenics and abortion. We underwrite modern social programs with similar illusions about human nature. Thus drug "maintenance" programs, to take but one example, leave the scourge of addiction largely untouched because they do not address its moral and spiritual causes.

The centennial edition of "Christianity and the Social Crisis"--just published by HarperSanFrancisco--includes essays from various liberal and progressive admirers. Tony Campolo, a left-leaning evangelical, praises Rauschenbusch's "holistic gospel" for offering both eternal life and dramatic changes in the social order. Stanley Hauerwas calls him "an evangelist of the Kingdom of God." Jim Wallis likewise lauds Rauschenbusch's "Christian social ethic" as an "eloquent and necessary corrective" to privatized faith.
It is hard to see, though, how Rauschenbusch's theology could be called Christian in any meaningful sense of the term. It required no repentance or atonement and carried no fear of judgment or bracing hope of eternal life. He famously denied the doctrine of Christ's Second Coming--with its promise of perfect justice and enduring mercy. The result was a flattened view of the human condition. "It is not possible honestly to confess that Jesus is the Christ of culture," Niehbur wrote in "Christ and Culture" (1951), "unless one can confess much more than this."

The Christian confession of faith, by itself, offers no guarantee that either individuals or societies will be transformed. But, for believers, not even the smallest steps forward can be taken without it.

Mr. Loconte is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and editor of "The End of Illusions: Religious Leaders Confront Hitler's Gathering Storm."

29285  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Race, religion, ethnic origin on: May 11, 2007, 11:26:06 AM
Boys on the Bus
A black school-bus driver lost her job "because she used the 'n-word' in front of a black student," the Des Moines Register reports:

Anita Anderson, 48, of Des Moines was fired two days after the incident on her bus. According to state records, Anderson was driving students from Monroe Elementary School when a boy became disruptive and belligerent.

Anderson testified at a state hearing on her request for unemployment benefits: "I kept asking him to sit down. And he kept on and on. He said he was going to bust me in my face."

After she told the boy he should not speak to her that way, Anderson muttered under her breath, she said.

"I was talking to myself," she testified. "I was driving, and I said the word. You know, the 'n-word.' But I wasn't talking to the student; I was just talking to myself."

Anderson testified that a girl behind her overheard the remark and told others on the bus. That prompted another outburst from the boy who had threatened her.

"That little boy kept saying, 'Oh, when we get to the bus stop my mom and dad is going to beat you down. Oh, we're going to bust you in your face,' " Anderson testified.

When she finished her route and returned to the bus garage, she was told that the student's mother had complained that the epithet was directed at her son.

There's no excuse for what Anderson said, and she said at an unemployment hearing that she regretted the remark:

"I just couldn't even explain to you how sorrowful I am that the word came out of my mouth," she said. "I'm a Christian. . . . I'm also an African American. I know how whites or Caucasians or different people perceive that word."

But the real question is, what are the authorities doing about the boy who repeatedly threatened a bus driver? Did his mother discipline him for his misconduct, and if not, why does she still have custody?

Opinion Journsl of the WSJ
29286  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: May 11, 2007, 06:12:45 AM
Posted because of who writes it.  From today's NY Times Op Ed page:

Give the Arab Peace Initiative a Chance
Published: May 11, 2007

ALMOST a year has passed since Israel’s bombardment of Lebanon, time enough to draw lessons from the conflict and reflect on its consequences.

Last week, Israel’s Winograd Commission published an interim report scrutinizing Israel’s conduct during what it called the country’s most recent military “campaign.” But the report failed to draw the most essential lesson from the July war and the wars that preceded it: military action does not give the people of Israel security. On the contrary, it compromises it. The only way for the people of Israel and the Arab world to achieve stability and security is through a comprehensive peace settlement to the overarching Arab-Israeli conflict.

It is in this vein that participants in the March Arab League summit in Riyadh called again for a peace proposal originally put forward at a similar gathering in Beirut in 2002. The Arab Peace Initiative, as it is called, was introduced by Saudi Arabia and endorsed by all the Arab countries. It offers Israel full recognition by the 22 members of the Arab League in exchange for an Israeli withdrawal to its pre-1967 borders, thus allowing the Palestinians to create a viable independent state on what is only 22 percent of historic Palestine.

This is a high price but one the Arabs are willing to pay, as it is the only realistic path to peace that conforms to all United Nations Security Council and General Assembly resolutions addressing the conflict, and ensures the right of return of the Palestinian people. The Arab states are not seeking to wipe Israel off the map. Rather, we are seeking the legitimate goals of an armistice, secure borders and the ability of all of the region’s people to live in peace and security.

Last summer’s war was only the latest eruption of violence in this enduring conflict, and hindered prospects for peace rather than creating opportunities for it. The Winograd interim report criticized the Israeli government’s war goals as being unclear and unachievable, yet the Israeli Army came dangerously close to achieving the stated goal of its chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz: to “turn Lebanon’s clock back 20 years.”

The report made no mention of the sheer damage inflicted. Lebanon’s airports, bridges and power plants were systematically ravaged. Villages were destroyed, and more than an eighth of its population displaced. The bombardment caused an estimated $7 billion in damage and economic losses while leaving behind 1.2 million cluster bomblets that continue to kill and maim innocent people.

Most important, the war took the lives of more than 1,200 Lebanese citizens, the vast majority of them civilians. This epitomizes the protracted injustice Arabs feel as a result of Israel’s record of destruction of their lives and livelihood, its oppression of the Palestinian people and its continued illegal occupation of Arab lands. The July war proved that militarism and revenge are not the answer to instability; compromise and diplomacy are.

This should be the impetus for Israel to seek a comprehensive solution based on the Arab Peace Initiative. The Winograd Commission’s failure to discuss the war’s implications for peace prospects leads one to wonder whether Israel would rather allow this conflict to fester as long as it is under relatively controlled conditions. Its goal should be regional peace and security, which can be realized only through a just resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. The inevitable alternative is increased extremism, intolerance and destruction.

Like the Israelis, the Arab people have legitimate security concerns, as evidenced by what Lebanon endured last summer. So often we have seen parties to the conflict use force in the name of self-defense and security, only to further aggravate the situation and compromise the very security they seek. These escalations also occur because there has never been full compliance with international law. Thus, illegal occupations, over-flights, detentions, house demolitions, humiliating checkpoints, attacks and counterattacks continue to heighten the anger and despair. Perpetuating hostility and distrust in this manner goes against the tide of confidence-building this region needs to foster stability. The conflict has persisted for so long, generating so many tangled consequences, that diplomacy remains the only option.

Because of its unique role in the world, the United States has a responsibility to display leadership and courage in helping the two sides achieve a just and lasting peace. The people of the Middle East aspire simply to live in freedom and dignity, without constant threats of violence, occupation and war. This is achievable if we demonstrate political will and learn the harsh lessons from the past. Leading these peace efforts is not only an American responsibility, it is in the United States’ interests: peace in the Middle East would offer a gateway to reconciliation with the Muslim world during these times of increased divisiveness and radicalism.

The Winograd Commission tried to draw conclusions about the Israeli political and military leadership from their actions during the July war. The correct lesson is that the only path to long-lasting peace is itself peaceful. With the support of the United States and its partners in the Quartet on the Middle East — the European Union, the United Nations and Russia — we hope to use the Arab Peace Initiative as the foundation to finally bring about a comprehensive peace to our troubled region. Only then will the people of the Middle East be able to finally realize their shared goal of living in freedom with security and lasting peace.

Fuad Siniora is the prime minister of Lebanon.
29287  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pressed by Police, Even Innocent Confess in Japan on: May 11, 2007, 05:58:06 AM

Published: May 11, 2007
NY Times

SHIBUSHI, Japan — The suspects in a vote-buying case in this small town in western Japan were subjected to repeated interrogations and, in several instances, months of pretrial detention. The police ordered one woman to shout her confession out a window and forced one man to stomp on the names of his loved ones.

Shibushi was rocked by an inquiry into allegations of vote buying.
In all, 13 men and women, ranging in age from their early 50s to mid-70s, were arrested and indicted. Six buckled and confessed to an elaborate scheme of buying votes with liquor, cash and catered parties. One man died during the trial — from the stress, the others said — and another tried to kill himself.

But all were acquitted this year in a local district court, which found that their confessions had been entirely fabricated. The presiding judge said the defendants had “made confessions in despair while going through marathon questioning.”

The Japanese authorities have long relied on confessions to take suspects to court, instead of building cases based on solid evidence. Human rights groups have criticized the practice for leading to abuses of due process and convictions of innocent people.

But in recent months developments in this case and two others have shown just how far the authorities will go in securing confessions. Calls for reforms in the criminal justice system have increased, even as Japan is to adopt a jury-style system in 2009 and is considering allowing victims and their relatives to question defendants in court.

In Saga Prefecture in March, a high court upheld the acquittal of a man who said he had been coerced into confessing to killing three women in the late 1980s. The court found that there was no evidence against the man other than the confession, which had been extracted from him after 17 days of interrogations that went on more than 10 hours a day.

In Toyama Prefecture the police acknowledged early this year that a taxi driver who had served almost three years in prison for rape and attempted rape in 2002 was innocent, after they found the real culprit. The driver said he had been browbeaten into affixing his fingerprint to a confession drawn up by the police after three days of interrogation.

“I Just Didn’t Do It,” a new documentary by Masayuki Suo, the director of “Shall We Dance?” has also raised popular awareness of coerced confessions. The documentary is based on the real-life story of a young man who was falsely accused of groping a teenage girl on the Tokyo subway and imprisoned for 14 months. It portrays how the authorities extract confessions, whether the accused are guilty or not.

“Traditionally in Japan, confessions have been known as the king of evidence,” said Kenzo Akiyama, a lawyer who is a former judge. “Especially if it’s a big case, even if the accused hasn’t done anything, the authorities will seek a confession through psychological torture.”

The law allows the police to detain suspects for up to 23 days without an indictment. Suspects have almost no contact with the outside world and are subject to constant interrogation, a practice that has long drawn criticism from organizations like the United Nations Human Rights Committee and Amnesty International.

Suspects are strongly pressed to plead guilty, on the premise that confession is the first step toward rehabilitation.

The conviction rate in Japanese criminal cases — 99.8 percent — cannot be compared directly with that of the United States, because there is no plea bargaining in Japan and prosecutors bring only those cases they are confident of winning. But experts say that in court, where acquittals are considered harmful to the careers of prosecutors and judges alike, there is a presumption of guilt.

In Tokyo, the National Police Agency acknowledged mistakes in the vote-buying case here in Shibushi but defended the system. “We do not think that this is the kind of thing that happens all the time,” said Yasuhiro Shirakawa of the agency’s Criminal Investigation Bureau.

“It is not only about confessions,” he added. “We always inspect whether there is corroborating evidence and whether what the suspects said is true or not.”

In Shibushi, the authorities have gone unpunished, as have those in the two other cases. In a written reply, the police said they had followed the law in their investigation but seriously took the verdict to heart.

It remains unclear what set off the investigation in 2003 of the campaign of a local politician, Shinichi Nakayama, who was elected for the first time to the local assembly that year, beating the protégé of a longtime power broker.


Page 2 of 2)

The police started by accusing Sachio Kawabata — whose wife, Junko, is the assemblyman’s cousin — of giving cases of beer to a construction company in return for votes. Mr. Kawabata said he had given the beer because the company had sent guests to an inn that he owned.

Pressed by Police Mr. Kawabata soon found himself enduring nearly 15 hours of interrogation a day. Locked in a tiny room with an inspector who shouted and threatened, he refused to confess.

So on the third day, Mr. Kawabata recalled, the inspector scribbled the names of his family members on three pieces of paper. He added messages — “Grandpa, please hurry up and become an honest grandpa,” and “I don’t remember raising you to be this kind of person” — and told Mr. Kawabata to repent.

Drawing no confession after an hour, the inspector grabbed Mr. Kawabata by the ankles and made him trample on the pieces of paper.

“I was shocked,” recalled Mr. Kawabata, 61, who was hospitalized for two weeks from the stress of the interrogation. “Man, I thought, how far will the police go?”

Mr. Kawabata, who was never indicted, recently won a $5,000 judgment for mental anguish. Trampling the pieces of paper, it turned out, had its roots in a local feudal practice of ferreting out suspected Christians by forcing them to stomp on a cross.

The police then moved on to more potent alcohol. According to the trial’s verdict and interviews with 17 people interrogated by the authorities, the police concocted a description of events according to which the assemblyman spent $17,000 to buy votes with shochu, a popular distilled spirit, and gifts of cash.

One of the first to confess was Ichiko Fujimoto, 53, a former employee of the assemblyman. After a couple of days of interrogation she broke down and admitted not only to distributing shochu and cash to her neighbors, but also to giving four parties at her home to gather support for the assemblyman.

“It’s because they kept saying, ‘Confess, just confess,’ ” Ms. Fujimoto said in an interview at her home. “They wouldn’t listen to anything I said.”

Everything in her confession was made up, a court concluded. But it was enough for the police to start extracting confessions from others for supposedly receiving shochu and money at the parties. One neighbor, Toshihiro Futokoro, 58, began despairing on the third day of interrogation, even though he had yet to be formally arrested and was allowed to go home after each day’s questioning.

“They kept saying that everybody’s confessing, that there was nothing that I could do, no matter how hard I tried,” Mr. Futokoro said, adding, “I thought that nothing I said would ever convince them.”

At the end of the third day, Mr. Futokoro tried to kill himself by jumping into a river but was pulled out by a man out fishing. He then confessed.

Another man, Kunio Yamashita, 76, succumbed after a week of interrogation. The police told him that he was the lone holdout and that he could go home if he confessed. “I hadn’t done anything, but I confessed, and I told them I’d admit to whatever they said,” said Mr. Yamashita, who eventually spent three months in jail.

A woman, Eiko Hamano, 65, confessed after the police threatened to arrest her unless she cooperated. “They said that my grandson would be bullied at school, that my child would be fired from his company, that my whole family would suffer forever,” she recalled.

On the fourth day, feeling so sick that she could barely walk, Ms. Hamano confessed to accepting money. To prove that she had spent the money, the police told her to find a receipt for an $85 purchase, she said.

But when she presented the police an $85 receipt for adult diapers she had bought for her mother, they told her she was now confessing to having received $170 instead and needed a receipt for that amount. Luckily, she had just bought a sink for that amount.

“Now I can laugh about it,” said Ms. Hamano, who refused an order by the police to shout a confession out of a window. “But it was serious back then.”

Others never confessed, including the assemblyman, Mr. Nakayama, 61, who spent 395 days in jail, and his wife, Shigeko, 58, who spent 273 days.

The village postmaster, Tomeko Nagayama, 77, spent 186 days behind bars. She was held alone in a windowless cell that she was forced to clean every night after enduring a full day of interrogation.

The police said her refusal to confess was harming her family, she said. Her husband was sick and could not live alone; her daughter had to quit her job to take over the duties at the post office.

But Ms. Nagayama, a former schoolteacher, never once considered confessing.

“I felt I’d rather die,” she said. “This kind of thing just shouldn’t be tolerated in this world.”

29288  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: ESKRIMA COALITION TOURNAMENT July 14th 2007 on: May 10, 2007, 09:55:24 PM
Thank you very much!
29289  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: May 10, 2007, 10:31:13 AM
The Terrorists Next Door?
Plot Suspects Lived Quietly in Suburb

By Anthony Faiola and Dale Russakoff
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, May 10, 2007; A01

CHERRY HILL, N.J., May 9 -- From the front porch of her two-story home on Mimosa Drive, Susan DeFrancesco looked out on the neighborhood she calls "a little United Nations." Pointing from one house to the next, she said: "They're Asian; that family's from Poland. They're from Canada. She's from India. "

Living among those varied families for the past seven years were the Dukas, a three-generational clan of ethnic Albanians. Their Muslim religious garb, repeated minor run-ins with the law, and a brood of up to 20 children, grandchildren and other relatives made them unusual, but hardly unwelcome.

"You don't want to single out a family because of where they're from or what they believe," DeFrancesco said.

On Tuesday morning, it suddenly looked different when three of the Duka brothers -- young, bearded men in their 20s who had spent most of their lives in New Jersey -- were among the six men indicted in an alleged terrorist plot to attack nearby Fort Dix with assault weapons.

For this bedroom community in the shadow of the Philadelphia skyline, they would become the accused jihadists next door -- their arrest immediately shattering assumptions both here and beyond about who Islamic militants are.

Experts have warned that the next big terrorist threat will come from homegrown extremists, unaffiliated with al Qaeda but harboring resentments fostered by materials easily available from the Internet. In fact, the few who have shown themselves thus far prove that there is no stereotype.

Most of the men arrested Tuesday were European rather than Middle Eastern. They hail from one of the most pro-American and secular parts of the Muslim world -- the ethnic Albanian regions of Macedonia, where gratitude for U.S. assistance in Kosovo during the 1990s still runs high.
They live in a garden-variety subdivision like those on the outskirts of cities from Washington, D.C., to Seattle -- once-homogeneous communities now quickly becoming ethnically and racially mixed. Their children play soccer and video games with the neighbors' kids; they hawked their roofing business at Friday prayers.

Had they not offered up an alleged jihadist video to be duplicated at a nearby Circuit City, they might never have been spotted.
That is precisely what has shaken this tree-lined suburb, where residents and leaders have prided themselves on tolerance and unity in the face of significant demographic shifts. Only last Sunday, leaders from the Islamic, Jewish and Roman Catholic faiths united with Mayor Bernie Platt on a empty patch of land in a moving groundbreaking ceremony for the community's first mosque.

Farhat Biviji, 54, a founding member of the soon-to-be-built Anjuman-I-Fakhri Mosque in Cherry Hill, said: "My heart sank when we heard of these horrible men who claimed to be Muslims. They are testing us all. Testing our ability to retain that tolerance. I pray that they have not damaged the goodwill of our community."

Perhaps they already have.

As a reporter approached the Duka house on Wednesday evening, two young mothers across the street yelled out, "Don't go over there and talk to them -- you don't know what they'll do."

Then Zurata Duka, the mother of the three arrested brothers, proclaimed their innocence, asking why neighbors now run from her.

"My sons got caught saying nothing -- there is no proof, no words from them in that affidavit, only the other three," she said. Wearing a headscarf and long robe, she threw her arms out, gesturing at her sons' pickup truck. "Look, it's their roofing truck. They're hard workers. If they were really terrorists, would they take that tape to Circuit City?"

A teenager who declined to give his name but said he was their younger brother declared: "I'm with my brothers 24-7. They never talked like terrorists."

In their daily lives, according to dozens of interviews with neighbors, authorities and acquaintances, the six arrested men largely blended into the cultural patchwork of southern New Jersey, a region emblematic of the changing face of suburban America.

In the Cherry Hill School District, children now speak 62 native languages, compared with 53 in 1998. White children made up 92 percent of the school district in 1980 -- compared with 76 percent today.

Within 10 miles of Cherry Hill, two mosques have sprung up over the past 15 years. One is the South Jersey Islamic Center in Palmyra, about 11 miles northwest of Cherry Hill, where the Duka brothers -- whose brother-in-law, Mohamad Ibrahim Shmewer, was also arrested Tuesday -- regularly worshiped on Friday evenings.

U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie said in an interview that it was inside the South Jersey Islamic Center that the Duka brothers met and recruited Serdar Tatar, 23, a Turkish-born legal U.S. resident raised in the south Jersey area.

Members of the mosque remember the Dukas differently. The eldest brother, Dritan, 28, was described as a friendly, outgoing man who would use the center to drum up customers for his roofing business, often telling jokes and heartily slapping backs. But as ethnic Albanians in a mosque dominated by Pakistani and Arabs, many of whom did not speak fluent English, conversations with the Dukas were often cursory.

"How are we supposed to know what they are thinking? The brothers came to the mosque for Friday prayers, but did not seem overly religious or interested in Muslim teachings," said a 41-year-old Tunisian butcher and regular worshiper at the mosque who requested anonymity.
"The oldest brother was a funny guy, a joker. But he was not North African or Pakistani, and the language barriers often force us to talk among our own ethnic groups. But they certainly did not seem like people who hated this country."

The Dukas were living in America illegally, having entered two decades ago on now-expired visas. In almost every way, they were products of typical U.S. suburban life. Shain, 26, and Eljvir, 24, attended Cherry Hill West High School and often played soccer in their front yard.

They were also no strangers to the police. Tatar and the Dukas were habitual offenders, stopped dozens of times a year for speeding, illegal passing and driving without a license. Dritan Duka pleaded guilty in 2000 to possession of drug paraphernalia and Shain Duka to possession of marijuana -- low-level charges that at the time did not trigger immigration background checks.

Only one brother had a driver's license, and only briefly. But they drove anyway and were ticketed regularly by Cherry Hill police -- including four citations in one five-week period for Dritan Duka. The three had their driving privileges suspended -- meaning they could not even apply for a license -- 54 times in less than a decade. William Kushina, a Cherry Hill Police Department spokesman, said the department could do nothing about serial unlicensed driving except continue to issue tickets and suspend privileges. "You can't physically restrain a person from driving," he said.

The six men are scheduled for a bail hearing on Friday. But for Cherry Hill, the question is whether the town will sustain the tolerance that is a hallmark of community pride.

Mike Levine, 38, who lives two doors from the Dukas, said they were good neighbors: They gave him vegetables from their garden and were unfailingly pleasant.

"They were your everyday Muslims," he said. "The kids would be out front playing soccer. They seemed hardworking. I would have believed they were aliens before I'd think they were terrorists."

"Now some people on the block are feeling guilty we didn't pick up on something," he continued. "I don't want to worry what the people next door are doing behind closed doors. I don't want to think like that, but maybe now I have to."
29290  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: May 10, 2007, 07:26:12 AM
Two interesting reads on investment theory:

Few and Far Between: Black Swans and the Impossibility of Prediction
29291  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: May 10, 2007, 06:37:24 AM

MEXICO: Michoacan Gov. Larazo Cardena Batel said in an interview with Excelsior that the Mexican army is the only force able to fight drug trafficking in Mexico. Batel cited a May 7 shootout, which involved soldiers killing four suspected drug smugglers in Apatzingan, Michoacan, as an example of the army's ability to combat criminal organizations. Batel also said violent organized crimes in the state have decreased as a result of military presence.
29292  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Vegan on: May 10, 2007, 06:34:38 AM

Vegan couple gets life over baby's death Malnourished baby was fed soy milk and apple juice, weighed 3 1/2 pounds
The Associated Press
Updated: 2:55 p.m. ET May 9, 2007

ATLANTA - A vegan couple were sentenced Wednesday to life in prison for the death of their malnourished 6-week-old baby boy, who was fed a diet largely consisting of soy milk and apple juice.

Superior Court Judge L.A. McConnell imposed the mandatory sentences on Jade Sanders, 27, and Lamont Thomas, 31. Their son, Crown Shakur, weighed just 3 1/2 pounds when he died of starvation on April 25, 2004.
The couple were found guilty May 2 of malice murder, felony murder, involuntary manslaughter and cruelty to children. A jury deliberated about seven hours before returning the guilty verdicts.

Defense lawyers said the first-time parents did the best they could while adhering to the lifestyle of vegans, who typically use no animal products. They said Sanders and Thomas did not realize the baby, who was born at home, was in danger until minutes before he died.

But prosecutors said the couple intentionally neglected their child and refused to take him to the doctor even as the baby’s body wasted away.
“No matter how many times they want to say, ‘We’re vegans, we’re vegetarians,’ that’s not the issue in this case,” said prosecutor Chuck Boring. “The child died because he was not fed. Period.”

Although the life sentences were automatic, Sanders and Thomas begged for leniency before sentencing. Sanders urged the judge to look past his “perception” of the couple.

“I loved my son — and I did not starve him,” she said.
When the judge told the defendants they could ask for a new trial, Thomas hung his head low.

“I’m dying every day in there,” he said, “and that could take three years.”

"A DEFICIENCY IN JUST ONE nutrient--vitamin B12--can halt the development of a baby's brain. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently reported two cases of severe BI2 deficiency in toddlers who were breast-fed by vegan mothers. Vegans practice a strict form of vegetarianism, cutting all meat from their diet, as well as eggs, dairy and other animal by-products. The vitamin occurs naturally only in animal products and helps maintain nerve and blood cells.
The two mothers ( shocked ) who both lived in Georgia, were themselves deficient in B12. Although both morns said they intermittently took vitamin supplements, the deficiency caused developmental delays in the children, who were 15 months old and two and a half years old at the time of the study. Both had about half the language and motor skills of average kids their age. The rate of B12 deficiency in the general population is unknown, according to the CDC."

29293  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: June 2007 Gathering on: May 09, 2007, 06:19:54 PM
Woof All:

We are up to 40 registered fighters! cool grin cool
29294  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: ESKRIMA COALITION TOURNAMENT July 14th 2007 on: May 09, 2007, 06:10:14 PM
Traditionally there is a dinner for the fighters/Tribe.   When we have the deal settled with OP/NG we will work when and where the dinner will be and let everyone know.
29295  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Spike TV, the Dog Brothers Gathering Webisodes; National Geographic on: May 09, 2007, 06:06:22 PM
Waiting for test results can fcuk with one's mind  sad shocked huh angry tongue embarassed cry undecided grin

I trust all with be well. 

Did we say 90 second rounds?  evil  For you, no problem.  grin
29296  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: ESKRIMA COALITION TOURNAMENT July 14th 2007 on: May 09, 2007, 05:07:13 PM
I would LOVE to have my own copy of that!!!
29297  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Islamo-fascismo en Latino America on: May 09, 2007, 11:49:27 AM
Segundo post del dia:

Tehran Goes Latin
By Joseph Contreras
Newsweek International
Feb. 5, 2007 issue - When Iran's firebrand president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,
chose to visit three Latin American capitals earlier this month, there's
little doubt he meant his trip to irritate the Great Satan to the north.
Sure enough, it had just that effect; "Iran's track record does not suggest
it wishes to play a constructive role in the hemisphere," said Eric Watnik,
a U.S. State Department spokesman. But U.S. officials are worried about more
than just Tehran's diplomacy these days. They fear that Iran might one day
help its terrorist proxy, Hizbullah, set up shop throughout the United
States' backyard. Indeed, Latin America could be emerging as a quiet new
front in the war on terror. So far, however, most regional governments
remain unmoved by Washington's requests that they clamp down, and the
controversy could further damage some already fragile relationships.

The lawless tri-border region, where Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay meet,
has long been a suspected locus for Hizbullah fund-raising, although the
State Department continues to rate the threat of terror strikes as low in
most of these countries. Last month U.S. Treasury officials issued a
statement describing in detail how an established Hizbullah network, based
in Ciudad del Este in eastern Paraguay, has sent millions of dollars to the
terrorist group over the past two years. The report also fingered nine
Lebanese men-most of whom hold Paraguayan or Brazilian passports-it claimed
were running the operation.

Latin America is home to between 3 million and 6 million Muslims, many of
whose forefathers came from Syria and Lebanon in the 19th century. They
settled largely in Brazil (which now has more than 1.5 million Muslims),
Argentina (which has 700,000), Venezuela and Colombia. The region is no
stranger to terror operations allegedly bearing Tehran's stamp.. In
November, an Argentine judge issued arrest warrants for Iran's ex-president,
Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, and eight of his associates for complicity in
the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85
people. An Argentine prosecutor has traced the planning for that operation
to a 1993 meeting in the Iranian city of Mashhad. But Iran has denied the
charges and said it would ignore any extradition requests from the
government of President Néstor Kirchner. The case has yet to produce a
single conviction and remains a sore point with Kirchner, who two weeks ago
abruptly canceled plans to attend the Inauguration of Ecuador's new
president, Rafael Correa, when he learned that Ahmadinejad would be there.

Sources in U.S. military intelligence have also identified Islamic radicals
in the Brazilian cities of São Paulo and Curitiba, the Colombian town of
Maicao, the Dutch Antilles island of Curaçao and the Chilean free port of
Iquique, where one of Hizbullah's fund-raisers traveled frequently to raise
cash. The mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, spent some
time in Brazil in 1995, and another Qaeda operative named Adnan G.
al-Shukrijumah visited Panama in 2001 while traveling on a passport issued
by Trinidad and Tobago. Dozens of missionaries belonging to a
Pakistani-based Islamic organization called Jamaat al-Tabligh are dispatched
to the region each year in search of converts. "The bottom line is that
there are Islamic radical groups throughout Latin America and the Caribbean
and not just in the tri-border area," says a U.S. military intelligence
official, who asked not to be named for security reasons. "Latin America is
still an area where it's easy for people to move in and out of, and there
are communities in which terrorists can hide." Now Iran's increased outreach
may be making matters worse, say diplomats. Jaime Daremblum, a former Costa
Rican ambassador to the United States, called Iran's new activism "a very
explosive cocktail that's being mixed."

The State Department has credited Panama, El Salvador, Trinidad and Tobago,
Jamaica and Mexico with stepping up their antiterror activities. Yet to
Washington's dismay, other local governments seem less willing to address
the threat. The Brazilian Foreign Ministry responded to Washington's charges
last month by stating that Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay had found no
evidence to corroborate the U.S. allegations about terrorist financing
activity in the tri-border area. Brasília went on to complain that
"unilateral declarations that point arbitrarily to the triple border cause
undue damage to the region." Some regional governments have adopted a
see-no-evil attitude, treating Hizbullah fund-raising, for example, as
innocent cases of Arab immigrants' sending cash remittances back home. "It's
difficult sometimes to get these countries to talk about the presence of
terrorist organizations within their borders," says Patrick O'Brien,
assistant Treasury secretary for terrorist financing. "But Hizbullah is a
global organization, and we certainly think [their Latin operatives] are
major figures in [this] activity."

      Juan Mabromata / AFP-Getty Images
      Muslims protested at the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires last summer

If some local governments appear reluctant to crack down on Iranian-backed
groups or sever ties with Tehran, it may be because Ahmadinejad has worked
hard to make himself an attractive friend. On his recent tour of the region,
he promised to open an embassy in Managua, build dams and housing, and
improve Nicaragua's drinking-water supplies. Meanwhile, Venezuela's
President Hugo Chávez has worked closely with Iran inside OPEC to boost oil
prices and has defended Ahmadinejad's nuclear ambitions. During the Iranian
president's latest visit to Caracas, Chávez announced that a $2 billion
investment fund previously established by the two countries would be used to
"liberate" other nations from what he called "the imperialist yoke."

It's no surprise, then, that U.S. concerns keep growing. The United States'
porous border with Mexico has long loomed as a tempting entry route for
terrorists, and Latin America itself has until recently been what one expert
calls a virtual "blind spot" in Washington's war against terror.
"Law-enforcement officials are very concerned about [South America's]
becoming a transit point [for terrorists], and [governments in the region]
have yet to demonstrate in any serious fashion their counterterrorism
capacity," says Magnus Ranstorp, a specialist in militant Islamic movements
at the Swedish National Defense College. "If I were a terrorist today, I'd
be hiding out in South America." If Washington's claims are right, some
Islamic radicals have done just that, and with an expanding Iranian presence
in the region, others may soon follow in their footsteps.

© 2007 Newsweek, Inc.

Al-Qaida said to recruit in Latin America
Region on alert amid growing evidence of terrorist presence

Updated: 3:46 a.m. PT Aug 22, 2004
MONTERREY, Mexico - Governments throughout Mexico and Central America are on
alert as evidence grows that al-Qaida members are traveling in the region
and looking for recruits to carry out attacks in Latin America - the
potential last frontier for international terrorism.

The territory could be a perfect staging ground for Osama bin Laden's
militants, with homegrown rebel groups, drug and people smugglers, and
corrupt governments. U.S. officials have long feared al-Qaida could launch
an attack from south of the border, and they have been paying closer
attention as the number of terrorism-related incidents has increased since
last year.

The strongest possible al-Qaida link is Adnan G. El Shukrijumah, a
29-year-old Saudi pilot suspected of being a terrorist cell leader. The FBI
issued a border-wide alert earlier this month for Shukrijumah, saying he may
try to cross into Arizona or Texas.

In June, Honduran officials said Shukrijumah was spotted earlier this year
at an Internet cafe in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. Panamanian
officials say the pilot and alleged bombmaker passed through their country
before the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft in May singled out Shukrijumah as one of
seven especially dangerous al-Qaida-linked terrorist figures wanted by the
government, which fears a new al-Qaida attack. A $5 million reward is posted
for information leading to his capture.

'The alert has been sounded'
Mexican and U.S. border officials have been on extra alert, checking foreign
passports and arresting any illegal migrants. In a sign of a growing Mexican
crackdown, eight people from Armenia, Iran and Iraq were arrested Thursday
in Mexicali on charges they may have entered Mexico with false documents,
although they did not appear to have any terrorist ties.

Jose Luis Santiago Vasconcelos, Mexico's top anti-crime prosecutor, said
Mexican officials have no evidence that Shukrijumah - or any other al-Qaida
operatives - are in Mexico. But Mexican authorities are investigating and
keeping a close eye on the airports and borders.

"The alert has been sounded," Vasconcelos told The Associated Press last

In Central America, Honduran Security Minister Oscar Alvarez said officials
have uncovered evidence that terrorists, likely from al-Qaida, may be trying
to recruit Hondurans to carry out attacks in Central America. He did not
offer details.

El Salvador authorities last week reinforced security at the country's
international airport and along the borders after purported al-Qaida threats
appeared on the Internet against their country for supporting the U.S.-led
coalition in Iraq. President Tony Saca, undeterred, is sending the country's
third peacekeeping unit - 380 troops - to Iraq.

Terrorists have struck in Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the
United States. Latin America could be next, analysts say, especially as it
becomes harder to operate elsewhere.

"If there is a crackdown, they are going to pick up shop and move," said
Matt Levitt, a terrorism analyst and senior fellow at the Washington

Officials worry the Panama Canal could be a likely target. In 2003, boats
making more than 13,000 trips through the waterway carried about 188 million
tons of cargo.

Earlier this month, the United States and seven Latin American countries -
including Argentina, Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Peru
and Panama - carried out a weeklong anti-terror exercise aimed at protecting
the canal.

In South America, U.S. officials have long suspected Paraguay's border with
Brazil and Argentina as an area for Islamic terrorist fund-raising. Much of
the focus has fallen on the Muslim community that sprouted during the 1970s,
and authorities believe as much as $100 million a year flows out of the
region, with large portions diverted to Islamic militants linked to
Hezbollah and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

But Mexico remains a concern for U.S.
The more immediate concern is Mexico, which shares a porous, 2,000-mile
border with the United States and is the home to widespread organized crime.

In December, Mexican officials canceled two Aeromexico flights from Mexico
City to Los Angeles, and a third was forced to turn around after takeoff
because of terrorism concerns.

At the time, the United States, Canada and Interpol told Mexico that
officials suspected terrorists might be using Mexican soil to plan an
attack, Vasconcelos said.

Concerns increased this summer about whether Mexico was doing enough to
screen international visitors after a 48-year-old South African woman
arrived in Mexico with a passport that was missing several pages and then
waded across the Rio Grande into Texas.

Farida Goolam Mahamed Ahmed was arrested July 19 while trying to board a
flight in McAllen, Texas. She pleaded innocent Friday to immigration
violations and was under investigation for links to terrorist activities or
groups. Court testimony indicated she traveled from Johannesburg on July 8,
via Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to London, then to Mexico City on or about
July 14. The countries she traveled through do not require South Africans to
have visas.

Mexican officials said Ahmed was not stopped upon entering Mexico because
her name did not appear on any international terrorist watch-lists.

Mexican officials say they are closely scrutinizing visa requests from the
Middle East and have heightened surveillance at the nation's largest
airports since Sept. 11.

"The requirements for a visa for people from the Middle East have not
changed, but all requests are being checked more thoroughly," said Mauricio
Juarez, a spokesman with Mexico's Migration Institute.

The country is a popular U.S. entry point for people trying to sneak into
the United States, and the majority - 46 percent - of all people arrested on
immigration violations in Mexico come from Brazil. The rest are largely from
the Americas, China or Singapore.

It has become nearly impossible for people from Muslim countries to get
visas to come to Mexico since the Sept. 11 attacks.

Fayesa Amin, a 37-year-old Pakistani, started the process to get a Mexican
visa two months before she was to attend a wedding in Mexico. The Mexican
consulate in Karachi asked her to fill out several forms and to turn in
copies of her credit card and bank statements for a full year.

Amin, who runs three beauty salons in Pakistan, said Mexican authorities
told her a visa had been approved and it could be picked up in London. But
Mexican officials there said her visa was being held in Ankara, Turkey. In
the end, she ended up spending her holiday stranded in London.

"I knew it would be hard to get to that part of the world and that
everything had become more difficult," Amin said in a telephone interview
from Islamabad. "But I didn't realize how hard it could be."

© 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be
published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

29298  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Islamo-fascismo en Latino America on: May 09, 2007, 11:48:01 AM
Hezbollah builds a Western base
From inside South America's Tri-border area, Iran-linked militia targets
By Pablo Gato and Robert Windrem
NBC News
Updated: 2 hours, 36 minutes ago
CIUDAD DEL ESTE, Paraguay - The Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia has taken
root in South America, fostering a well-financed force of Islamist radicals
boiling with hatred for the United States and ready to die to prove it,
according to militia members, U.S. officials and police agencies across the

From its Western base in a remote region divided by the borders of Paraguay,
Brazil and Argentina known as the Tri-border, or the Triple Frontier,
Hezbollah has mined the frustrations of many Muslims among about 25,000 Arab
residents whose families immigrated mainly from Lebanon in two waves, after
the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and after the 1985 Lebanese civil war.

An investigation by Telemundo and NBC News has uncovered details of an
extensive smuggling network run by Hezbollah, a Shiite Muslim group founded
in Lebanon in 1982 that the United States has labeled an international
terrorist organization. The operation funnels large sums of money to militia
leaders in the Middle East and finances training camps, propaganda
operations and bomb attacks in South America, according to U.S. and South
American officials.

U.S. officials fear that poorly patrolled borders and rampant corruption in
the Tri-border region could make it easy for Hezbollah terrorists to
infiltrate the southern U.S. border. From the largely lawless region, it is
easy for potential terrorists, without detection, to book passage to the
United States through Brazil and then Mexico simply by posing as tourists.

They are men like Mustafa Khalil Meri, a young Arab Muslim whom Telemundo
interviewed in Ciudad del Este, Paraguay's second-largest city and the
center of the Tri-border region. There is nothing particularly distinctive
about him, but beneath the everyday T-shirt he wears beats the heart of a
devoted Hezbollah militiaman.

"If he attacks Iran, in two minutes Bush is dead," Meri said. "We are
Muslims. I am Hezbollah. We are Muslims, and we will defend our countries at
any time they are attacked

Hezbollah builds a Western base
From inside South America's Tri-border area, Iran-linked militia targets

By Pablo Gato and Robert Windrem
NBC News
Updated: 2 hours, 36 minutes ago
CIUDAD DEL ESTE, Paraguay - The Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia has taken
root in South America, fostering a well-financed force of Islamist radicals
boiling with hatred for the United States and ready to die to prove it,
according to militia members, U.S. officials and police agencies across the

From its Western base in a remote region divided by the borders of Paraguay,
Brazil and Argentina known as the Tri-border, or the Triple Frontier,
Hezbollah has mined the frustrations of many Muslims among about 25,000 Arab
residents whose families immigrated mainly from Lebanon in two waves, after
the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and after the 1985 Lebanese civil war.

An investigation by Telemundo and NBC News has uncovered details of an
extensive smuggling network run by Hezbollah, a Shiite Muslim group founded
in Lebanon in 1982 that the United States has labeled an international
terrorist organization. The operation funnels large sums of money to militia
leaders in the Middle East and finances training camps, propaganda
operations and bomb attacks in South America, according to U.S. and South
American officials.
U.S. officials fear that poorly patrolled borders and rampant corruption in
the Tri-border region could make it easy for Hezbollah terrorists to
infiltrate the southern U.S. border. From the largely lawless region, it is
easy for potential terrorists, without detection, to book passage to the
United States through Brazil and then Mexico simply by posing as tourists.

They are men like Mustafa Khalil Meri, a young Arab Muslim whom Telemundo
interviewed in Ciudad del Este, Paraguay's second-largest city and the
center of the Tri-border region. There is nothing particularly distinctive
about him, but beneath the everyday T-shirt he wears beats the heart of a
devoted Hezbollah militiaman.

"If he attacks Iran, in two minutes Bush is dead," Meri said. "We are
Muslims. I am Hezbollah. We are Muslims, and we will defend our countries at
any time they are attacked


Straight shot to the U.S.
U.S. and South American officials warn that Meri's is more than a rhetorical

It is surprisingly easy to move across borders in the Triple Frontier, where
motorbikes are permitted to cross without documents. A smuggler can bike
from Paraguay into Brazil and return without ever being asked for a
passport, and it is not much harder for cars and trucks.

The implications of such lawlessness could be dire, U.S. and Paraguayan
officials said. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, chairman of the House
Intelligence Committee, said Hezbollah militiamen would raise no suspicions
because they have Latin American passports, speak Spanish and look like
Hispanic tourists.

The CIA singles out the Mexican border as an especially inviting target for
Hezbollah operatives. "Many alien smuggling networks that facilitate the
movement of non-Mexicans have established links to Muslim communities in
Mexico," its Counter Terrorism Center said in a 2004 threat paper.

"Non-Mexicans often are more difficult to intercept because they typically
pay high-end smugglers a large sum of money to efficiently assist them
across the border, rather than haphazardly traverse it on their own."

Deadly legacy of a lawless frontier
Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Tri-border has become a
top-level, if little-publicized, concern for Washington, particularly as
tension mounts with Iran, Hezbollah's main sponsor. Paraguayan government
officials told Telemundo that CIA operatives and agents of Israel's Mossad
security force were known to be in the region seeking to neutralize what
they believe could be an imminent threat.

But long before that, U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies
regarded the region as a "free zone for significant criminal activity,
including people who are organized to commit acts of terrorism," Louis
Freeh, then the director of the FBI, said in 1998.

Edward Luttwak, a counterterrorism expert with the Pentagon's National
Security Study Group, described the Tri-border as the most important base
for Hezbollah outside Lebanon itself, home to "a community of dangerous
fanatics that send their money for financial support to Hezbollah."

"People kill with that, and they have planned terrorist attacks from there,"
said Luttwak, who has been a terrorism consultant to the CIA and the
National Security Council. "The northern region of Argentina, the eastern
region of Paraguay and even Brazil are large terrains, and they have an
organized training and recruitment camp for terrorists."

"Our experience is that if you see one roach, there are a lot more," said
Frank Urbancic, principal deputy director of the State Department's
counterterrorism office, who has spent most of his career in the Middle

A mother lode of money
Operating out of the Tri-border, Hezbollah is accused of killing more than
100 people in attacks in nearby Buenos Aires, Argentina, during the early
1990s in operations personally masterminded by Hezbollah's military
commander, Imad Mugniyah.

Mugniyah is on the most-wanted terrorist lists of both the FBI and the
European Union, and he is believed to work frequently out of Ciudad del

For President Bush and the U.S.-led "war on terror," the flourishing of
Hezbollah in the Western Hemisphere demonstrates the worrying worldwide
reach of Islamist radicalism. In the Tri-border, Hezbollah and other radical
anti-U.S. groups have found a lucrative base from which to finance many of
their operations.

Smuggling has long been the lifeblood of the Tri-border, accounting for $2
billion to $3 billion in the region, according to congressional officials.
Several U.S. agencies said that Arab merchants were involved in smuggling
cigarettes and livestock to avoid taxes, as well as cocaine and marijuana
through the border with Brazil on their way to Europe. Some of the proceeds
are sent to Hezbollah, they said.

Many Arabs in the Tri-border openly acknowledge that they send money to
Hezbollah to help their families, and the man in charge of the local mosque
in Ciudad del Este, who asked not to be identified by name, declared that
Shiite Muslim mosques had "an obligation to finance it."

But the U.S. government maintains that the money ends up stained with blood
when it goes through Hezbollah, which is blamed for the bombings of the U.S.
Embassy and the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, in the 1980s, as well as
the kidnappings of Americans, two of whom were tortured and killed.

Patrick M. O'Brien, the assistant secretary of the Treasury in charge of
fighting terrorist financing, acknowledged flatly that "we are worried."

"Hezbollah has penetrated the area, and part of that smuggling money is used
to finance terrorist attacks," he said.


In Paraguay, looking the other way
The biggest obstacle in the U.S. campaign to counter Hezbollah close to home
is Paraguay, whose "judicial system remains severely hampered by a lack of
strong anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism legislation," the State
Department said in a "Patterns of Global Terrorism" report.

Since 2004, a draft bill to strengthen money laundering laws has been
stalled in the Paraguayan legislature, and the government of President
Nicanor Duarte has introduced no draft legislation of its own.

Hampering reform efforts is an endemic reluctance in Paraguay to acknowledge
the problem.

Interior Minister Rogelio Benitez Vargas, who supervises the national
police, claimed that Hezbollah-linked smuggling was a relic of the 1980s.
Today, he said, the Triple Frontier is a safe and regulated "commercial

But authorities from the U.S. State and Treasury departments to Interpol to
the front-line Paraguayan police agencies all paint a different picture.
Eduardo Arce, secretary of the Paraguayan Union of Journalists, said the
government was widely considered to be under the control of drug traffickers
and smugglers.

Without interference, thousands of people cross the River Parana every day
from Paraguay to Brazil over the Bridge of Friendship loaded with products
on which they pay no taxes. As police look the other way, he said, some
smugglers cross the border 10 to 20 times a day. Earlier this year,
Telemundo cameras were present as smugglers in Ciudad del Este loaded trucks
headed for Brazil. They could have been laden with drugs or weapons, but no
authorities ever checked.

Direct link to Iran alleged
José Adasco knows better than most why Hezbollah has the region in a grip of

In 1992 and 1994, terrorists believed to be linked to Hezbollah carried out
two attacks against Jewish targets in Buenos Aires, the Argentine capital.
In the first, a car bomb exploded at the Israeli Embassy, killing 29 people.
Two years later, a suicide bomber attacked the Argentine Israelite Mutual
Association, a Jewish community center, killing 85 more.

Adasco, who represents the Jewish association, has never been able to forget
that day and the friends he lost.

"Really, to see the knocked-down building, [to hear] the screams, the cries,
people running - it was total chaos. Chaos, chaos. It is inexpressible," he

An investigation by Interpol and the FBI found not only Hezbollah's
involvement, but Iran's, as well. The Argentine prosecutor's office said the
Iranian president at the time, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, ordered the
attack to retaliate against Argentina for suspending nuclear cooperation
with Iran.

A warrant for Rafsanjani's arrest remains outstanding, and the prosecutor's
office continues its investigation 13 years later.

Hezbollah tells its story
Alberto Nisman, the Argentine district attorney leading the investigation,
said the connection between the Hezbollah attack and the Tri-border is
unquestionable. Among other things, he said, the suicide bomber passed
through the area to receive instructions.

In the intervening years, Hezbollah has spread throughout Latin America.

On their Web page, local Hezbollah militants in Venezuela call their fight
against the United States a "holy war" and post photographs of would-be
suicide terrorists with masks and bombs. There are also Web sites for
Hezbollah in Chile, El Salvador, Argentina and most other Latin American

"The Paraguayan justice [ministry] and the national police have found
propaganda materials for Hezbollah" across the hemisphere, said Augusto
Anibal Lima of Paraguay's Tri-border Police.

And it is not only propaganda. In October, homemade bombs were left in front
of the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela, which is next to a school.

Police arrested a student carrying Hezbollah propaganda in Spanish. One of
the pamphlets showed a picture of children and said, "Combat is our highest
expression of love and the only way to offer a healthy and uncorrupted

Caracas police were able to detonate the bombs safely. Police Commissioner
Wilfredo Borras said they appeared to be "explosive devices made to make
noise and publicity" - very different from what would be used if the United
States attacked Iran.

"In [the] United States, there are many Arabs - in Canada, too," said Meri,
the Hezbollah member who spoke with Telemundo. "If one bomb [strikes] Iran,
one bomb, [Bush] will see the world burning.

"... If an order arrives, all the Arabs that are here, in other parts in the
world, all will go to take bombs, bombs for everybody if he bombs Iran."

Pablo Gato is a correspondent for Telemundo. Robert Windrem is an
investigative producer for NBC News.
29299  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WW3 on: May 09, 2007, 09:19:17 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Cheney in a Sandstorm

U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney left Tuesday for a trip to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Jordan. The Cheney trip comes on the heels of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's visit to Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt, where she attended a regional security conference on Iraq and interacted with the Syrian and Iranian foreign ministers.

Rice's meet-and-greets at Sharm el-Sheikh were all about putting a fresh, conciliatory face on the Bush administration in dealing with the Iranian and Syrian pariahs of the Middle East. By engaging the Syrians and Iranians in high-level talks, albeit brief ones, Washington took a small step toward bringing its back-channel negotiations over Iraq into the public realm. The forum allowed Rice to demonstrate a willingness by the United States to deal openly with Iraq's Sunni and Shiite neighbors in bringing stability -- and an eventual U.S. exit strategy -- to Iraq.

Cheney's visit to the region, however, has a starkly different purpose. Whereas Rice played the role of the engaging diplomat, Cheney will be playing the role of enforcer.

Cheney is notably visiting the main Sunni powerhouses of the region -- Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, Cairo and Amman. By intently focusing his trip on Washington's Arab allies, Cheney is sending a clear message to Tehran that the U.S. government is not about to allow Iran to sweep into Iraq and upset the regional balance by spreading Shiite influence into the heart of the Arab world. The Sunni Arab states are very concerned that any deal the United States makes with Iran would end up compromising the historical upper hand that the Sunnis have long maintained in containing their Shiite rivals.

Moreover, the Sunni powers are worried that the continuing sectarian conflict in Iraq will eventually spread beyond the country's borders and threaten political interests at home. Saudi King Abdullah expressed his exasperation at the U.S. lack of progress in Iraq quite bluntly at the Arab League summit in March, when he labeled the U.S. troop presence in Iraq as an "illegitimate foreign occupation." Though King Abdullah lambasted the United States in his speech, the reality of the situation is that Riyadh, as well as the other Sunni states, are not exactly keen on the idea of a U.S. troop withdrawal leaving a power vacuum in Iraq for the Iranians to fill. King Abdullah has doubtless given serious thought to a scenario down the line in which Iranian troops are sitting on the Iraqi-Saudi border within spitting distance of Saudi Arabia's prized oil fields.

In light of these concerns, Cheney will be delivering two very important messages to these Sunni governments. The first message will involve a number of reassurances that the United States is still a reliable ally to its Sunni friends in the region, and is not about to let Iraq transform into an Iranian satellite state. Cheney can pacify the Arab states by assuring them that U.S. troops are not on the verge of pulling out of Iraq (particularly as the Pentagon announced on Tuesday that it has earmarked 35,000 more troops for deployments there this year) -- but he will also tell these Arab leaders very bluntly that, with less than two years to go under the Bush administration and with a presidential race in which "withdrawal" has become practically every candidate's buzzword, he cannot promise U.S. troops will stay in Iraq for the long haul.

And this brings us to the second message that we expect Cheney to deliver. As we have outlined in depth in previous analyses, the United States is working toward a negotiated settlement on Iraq with the main power players in the region, most notably Iran and Saudi Arabia. For such a settlement to materialize, sectarian violence in Iraq must be brought down to manageable levels for the government in Baghdad to function. However, this strategy rests on faulty assumptions that Tehran and Riyadh have the leverage in Iraq to rein in the Sunni and Shiite militants responsible for the majority of the bloodshed. In other words, the United States cannot move forward in stabilizing Iraq until it knows who in Iraq it is dealing with -- and who can actually be dealt with in the first place.

This is where Iraq's Sunni neighbors come in.

Not coincidentally, Cheney is traveling to countries that house the Arab world's most sophisticated intelligence services. What Cheney is looking for is a commitment by Riyadh, Amman, Abu Dhabi and Cairo to step up and coalesce an Iraqi Sunni platform that can deliver in negotiations with Iraq's Shiite and Kurdish factions. These Arab states have the connections, the money and the coercive tools to bring the Sunni nationalist insurgents in line and close Iraq's doors to the foreign jihadists. Or so the United States would like to assume.

Whether the Sunni Arab powers will take action, or be successful in their efforts, depends on how seriously these states are considering the thought of U.S. troops withdrawing. U.S. President George W. Bush is in a very tricky position right now. By pursuing a surge strategy in Iraq, he is signaling to the Iranians that Washington has no intent to draw down its military presence in the region -- and that therefore it would be in the Persian ayatollahs' best interest to deal now, rather than wait out the administration. On the other hand, Bush also has to convince the Arab states that they had better start moving now to unite the Iraqi Sunni front, otherwise they will be dealing with the Iranians on their own in a couple of years.

Cheney has his work cut out for him during this trip -- getting the Sunni Arab powers to comply with Bush's strategy for Iraq is a bulls-eye that only the sharpest diplomatic marksman could hope to hit. We wonder whether, this time around, Cheney has improved his aim.
29300  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Classic Book About America’s Indians Gains a Few Flourishes as a Film on: May 09, 2007, 09:03:28 AM

LOS ANGELES, May 8 — When the historian Dee Brown published “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” in 1971, it became an instant sensation. In an age of rebellion, this nonfiction book told the epic tale of the displacement and decline of the American Indian not from the perspective of the winners, but from that of the Indians.

But the fact that Mr. Brown’s work has been translated into 17 languages and has sold five million copies around the world was not enough to convince HBO that a film version would draw a sizable mainstream audience. When the channel broadcasts its two-hour adaptation of the book, beginning Memorial Day weekend, at its center will be a new character: a man who was part Sioux, was educated at an Ivy League college and married a white woman.

“Everyone felt very strongly that we needed a white character or a part-white, part-Indian character to carry a contemporary white audience through this project,” Daniel Giat, the writer who adapted the book for HBO Films, told a group of television writers earlier this year.

The added character is based on a real person: Charles Eastman, part Sioux and descended from a long line of Santee chiefs but who was sent away by his father to boarding school and then held up as a model of the potential assimilation of 19th-century Native Americans. But the film fictionalizes significant portions of his life. In the HBO version he dodges bullets at the Battle of Little Bighorn. In reality he was far away, in grade school in Nebraska.

Fictionalizing history has long been standard in Hollywood. But rarely do filmmakers directly hitch their historically inaccurate projects to revered works of nonfiction. Dick Wolf, an executive producer of the film who is best known for the “Law & Order” television franchise, defended the fabrications.

“This was not an attempt to do the Ken Burns version of the Indian experience,” Mr. Wolf said in an interview. “It is a dramatization, and we needed a protagonist.”

(The chief executive of HBO, Chris Albrecht, announced yesterday that he was taking a leave of absence after being charged with assaulting a girlfriend in a Las Vegas parking lot early on Sunday.)

At the time it was published, Mr. Brown’s epic, subtitled “An Indian History of the American West,” struck a chord in a country embroiled in a divisive war in Vietnam and still shuddering from the American military’s massacre in the village of My Lai. Segregation was dying hard in the South, and the American Indian Movement was ascending.

The story is a relentless tragedy, tracing the history of American Indian nations from 1860, shortly after the first new states extended into the “permanent Indian frontier,” through 1890 and the massacre at Wounded Knee, in what is now South Dakota. It became a blockbuster best seller and helped shape the way the history of the American Indians has been interpreted ever since.

For decades the book eluded attempts to turn it into a film, partly because of Mr. Brown’s distrust of Hollywood. At least two attempts by potential moviemakers to adapt the book failed. When the current producers optioned the book five years ago, Mr. Brown was in the last years of his life and, according to his grandson, did not believe anything would come of the project. (Mr. Brown died in 2002 at 94.)

Tom Thayer, the executive producer who originated the project, said the HBO team wrestled for months with how to boil down a book that spans 30 years and dozens of tribes into a 130-minute film.

“The book is basically an editorialized textbook,” Mr. Thayer said. “It doesn’t have a single narrative; it’s anthropological and episodic.” Therefore, he added, “we felt that to tell a story of that size, the Eastman character would be a great hand-holder for the audience.”

Many literary critics, and millions of readers, however, had little trouble following Mr. Brown’s story. Writing in The New York Times Book Review in March 1971, N. Scott Momaday, a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, emphasized that the book was a story, “a whole narrative of singular integrity and precise continuity; that is what makes the book so hard to put aside, even when one has come to the end.”

The film largely restricts itself to the late 1880s, the time of the Ghost Dance, a messianic movement that swept through the Plains Indian tribes. Within that period it weaves together three strands: the story of Sitting Bull, the legendary chief of the Sioux, who fought against Custer’s forces at Little Bighorn in 1876; that of Henry L. Dawes, the Massachusetts senator who pushed into law a plan to allocate portions of Indian land to individual tribe members; and Eastman, who was taken from his tribe by his father and attended Dartmouth and then Boston University School of Medicine.

It is in the last two stories that the film begins to bend history.

“Eastman was the most well-known, well-educated Indian at the beginning of the 20th century,” said Raymond Wilson, a professor of history at Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kan., who wrote what is considered to be the definitive biography of Eastman. “When I heard they were doing the film,” he said, “I joked with a couple of people that I hoped they didn’t have Charles Eastman shaking hands with Sitting Bull at Pine Ridge.

(Page 2 of 2)

Not quite, but almost. The film’s climactic scene has Eastman watching as Sitting Bull addresses a group of Sioux in Pine Ridge at a meeting of which Dawes is the chairman. Sitting Bull tells them not to accept the government land allotments. In fact, the chief lived 200 miles away at the Standing Rock agency, and the meeting never happened.

As for placing Eastman at the Battle of Little Bighorn, Mr. Giat, the screenwriter, defends that choice by noting that some members of Eastman’s tribe were there.

The film also shows Eastman courting Elaine Goodale, a Massachusetts poet and teacher who oversaw schools for Indians in the Dakota territory, over a period of years, beginning while he was in college. In fact, Eastman met her when he arrived at Pine Ridge less than two months before the Wounded Knee massacre. Nor was Goodale anywhere near the reservation in 1883 when Sitting Bull arrived, as shown in the film; she was in Virginia.

HBO executives said they saw no problem with the inconsistencies. “When we look at historical accuracy, we look at history as it plays in the service of a narrative,” said Sam Martin, a vice president at HBO Films in charge of production on the project. HBO has at times gone the opposite route; last year it publicized the pains it took to ensure the factual accuracy of its Emmy-winning miniseries “Elizabeth I.”

To its credit, HBO’s version of “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” does not glamorize Sitting Bull, but rather portrays him as he was: an egotistical, often brutal leader whose pride endangered members of his tribe as they suffered through famine, drought and disease.

Some people who have seen advance screenings of the HBO version have praised it. “This is the first time I’ve seen a film so accurately portray the impact of federal policy on our people,” said Jacqueline Johnson, the executive director of the National Congress of American Indians, which is cooperating with HBO on educational projects featuring the film. “You see the beginning of issues and policies whose effects we are still dealing with today.”

But others are dismayed. Nicolas Proctor, Mr. Brown’s grandson and one of three people who oversees his estate, as well as an associate professor of history at Simpson College in Iowa, said that as a historian he was “always kind of shocked that history is not moving enough, is not evocative enough and rich enough to keep people from having to get in there and start monkeying around with it.” He said that the estate had no control over the film’s content.

Mr. Proctor said his grandfather wouldn’t necessarily be surprised by HBO’s tinkering. “I don’t think he ever thought anything historically accurate would come out of any film version,” he said. Still, before this, “nobody had ever before gone and gutted it and turned it into a love story.”

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