Dog Brothers Public Forum
Return To Homepage
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
May 28, 2015, 11:25:37 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Search:     Advanced search
Welcome to the Dog Brothers Public Forum.
86347 Posts in 2276 Topics by 1069 Members
Latest Member: ctelerant
* Home Help Search Login Register
  Show Posts
Pages: 1 ... 584 585 [586] 587 588 ... 666
29251  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam the religion on: July 15, 2007, 11:33:39 AM
Another installment from HotAir:’an-sura-2-“the-cow”-verses-222-286/
29252  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: July 15, 2007, 10:16:46 AM
The War About the War
By Herbert Meyer
Herbert E. Meyer served during the Reagan Administration as Special
Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence and Vice Chairman of the
CIA's National Intelligence Council.

The 9-11 attacks did more than start a war; they started a war about the
war. No sooner had the World Trade towers collapsed and the Pentagon burst
into flames than two perceptions of the threat began competing for the
public's support:

Perception One: We're at War

For the third time in history Islam - or, more precisely, its most radical
element - has launched a war whose objective is the destruction of Western
civilization. Our survival is at stake, and despite its imperfections we
believe that Western civilization is worth defending to the death. Moreover,
in the modern world - where a small number of people can so easily kill a
large number of people - we cannot just play defense; sooner or later that
strategy would bring another 9-11. This conflict really is a clash of
civilizations whose root cause is Islam's incompatibility with the modern
world. So we must fight with everything we've got against the terrorist
groups and against those governments on whose support they rely. If the Cold
War was "World War III," this is World War IV. We must win it, at whatever

Perception Two: We're Reaping What We've Sowed

There are quite a few people in the world who just don't like the United
States and some of our allies because of how we live and, more precisely,
because of the policies we pursue in the Mideast and elsewhere in the world.
Alas, a small percentage of these people express their opposition through
acts of violence. While we sometimes share their opinion of our values and
our policies, we cannot condone their methods. Our objective must be to
bring the level of political violence down to an acceptable level. The only
way to accomplish this will be to simultaneously adjust our values and our
policies while protecting ourselves from these intermittent acts of
violence; in doing so we must be careful never to allow the need for
security to override our civil liberties.

There is no middle ground between these two perceptions. Of course, you can
change a word here and there, or modify a phrase, but the result will be the
same. Either we're at war, or we've entered a period of history in which the
level of violence has risen to an unacceptable level. If we're at war, we're
in a military conflict that will end with either our victory or our defeat.
If we're in an era of unacceptable violence stemming from our values and our
policies, we are faced with a difficult but manageable political problem.

Splitting the Difference

Since the 9-11 attacks, President Bush has been trying to split the
difference. It's obvious that he, personally, subscribes to Perception One.
Just read his formal speeches about the conflict, such as those he's given
to Congress and at venues such as West Point. They are superb and often
brilliant analyses of what he calls the War on Terror. Yet he hasn't done
things that a president who truly believes that we're at war should have
done. For instance, in the aftermath of 9-11 he didn't ask Congress for a
declaration of war, didn't bring back the draft, and didn't put the US
economy on a wartime footing. A president at war would have taken out Iran's
government after overthrowing the Taliban in Afghanistan -- and then sent
500,000 troops into Iraq, rather than just enough troops to remove Saddam
Hussein but not enough to stabilize that country. And a president at war
would have long since disposed of Syria's murderous regime and helped the
Israelis wipe out Hezbollah.

Study history, and you quickly learn that oftentimes events and the
responses they generate look different a hundred years after they happen
than they look at the time. It may be that history will judge that President
Bush performed heroically, doing the very best that anyone could do given
the two incompatible perceptions about the conflict that have divided public
opinion and raised the level of partisanship in Washington to such a
poisonous level. Or, it may be that history will judge the President to have
been a failure because he responded to 9-11 as a politician rather than as a

Either way, it is the ongoing war about the war that accounts for where we
are today, nearly six years after the 9-11 attacks: We haven't lost, but we
aren't winning; fewer of us have been killed by terrorists than we had
feared would be killed, but we aren't safe.

While experts disagree about how "the war" is going, there isn't much
disagreement over how the war about the war is going: those who subscribe to
Perception Two are pulling ahead.

Here in the US, virtually every poll shows that a majority of Americans want
us "out of Iraq" sooner rather than later, and regardless of what's actually
happening on the ground in that country. Support for taking on Iran - that
is, for separating the Mullahs from the nukes through either a military
strike or by helping Iranians to overthrow them from within - is too low
even to measure. There isn't one candidate for president in either party
who's campaigning on a theme of "let's fight harder and win this thing
whatever it takes." Indeed, the most hawkish position is merely to stay the
course a while longer to give the current "surge" in Iraq a fair chance.
Moreover, just chat with friends and neighbors - at barbeques, at the
barbershop, over a cup of coffee - and you'll be hard-pressed to find a
solid minority, let alone a majority, in favor of fighting-to-win.

However it's phrased, just about everyone is looking for a way out short of

Overseas, public opinion is moving in the same direction. For example, in
Great Britain Tony Blair has stepped aside for Gordon Brown, who in the
midst of the recent terrorist attacks in London and Glasgow has ordered his
government to ban the phrase "war on terror" and to avoid publicly linking
the recent, mercifully failed attacks in London and Glasgow to any aspect of
Islam. The current leaders of Germany and France are less anti-American than
their predecessors, but no more willing to help us fight. Down under in
Australia John Howard - blessed be his name - is holding firm, but for a
combination of reasons may be approaching the end of his long tenure; none
of his likely replacements are nearly so robust. And the Israelis - who are
facing the triple-threat of Hamas, Hezbollah, and before too long a
nuclear-armed Iran - are going through one of their periodic bouts of
political paralysis.

A Second Attack

It's possible that something horrific will happen in the immediate future to
shift public support here in the US, and throughout the West, from the
second perception to the first. When asked by a young reporter what he
thought would have the greatest impact on his government's fate, British
Prime Minister Harold Macmillan responded cheerfully: "Events, dear boy,
events." One more 9-11-type attack - biological, chemical, or nuclear - that
takes out Houston, Berlin, Vancouver or Paris, and the leader of that
country will be overwhelmed by the furious public's demands to "turn the
creeps who did this, and the countries that helped them, into molten glass
and don't let's worry about collateral damage." (This will sound even better
in French or German.) Should the next big attack come here in the US, some
among us will blame the President but most won't. The public mood will be
not merely ferocious, but ugly; you won't want to walk down the street
wearing an "I gave to the ACLU" pin in your lapel.

Absent such an event in the near future, it's likely that over the next few
years the war will settle into a phase that proponents of Perception Two
will approve. Simply put, we will shift from offense to defense. The
Department of Homeland Security will become our government's lead agency,
and the Pentagon's role will be diminished. (Nothing will change at the
State Department - but then, nothing ever does.) Most people in the US, and
elsewhere in the West, will be relieved that "the war" is finally over.

To preserve the peace we will have to be more than willing to make the
occasional accommodation to Moslems. If they ask us to put more pressure on
the Israelis - well, we can easily do that. If Moslem checkout clerks at our
supermarkets don't want to touch pork - by all means let's have separate
checkout counters for customers who've bought those products. And now that
we think about it, "Happy Winter" will be as good a greeting, if not a
better one, than "Merry Christmas." Won't it?

Of course, there will be the occasional terrorist attack. Some, like the
recent ones in London and Glasgow, will fail. Others will succeed, but
guided by the mainstream media we will view them with the same detachment as
we would view a meteor shower that brought flaming rocks crashing randomly
into the Earth. Most will land harmlessly in fields, some will land on
houses and kill those few residents unlucky enough to be home at the time.
Once in a while, one will crash into a crowded shopping mall or, sadly, into
a school packed with children. These things happen - alas - and while it's
riveting to watch the latest disaster unfold on television there really
isn't much one can do about it. Life goes on.

In the long run, history always sorts things out.

If it turns out that Perception Two of the threat is valid, then over time
we will become accustomed to the level of casualties caused by the
terrorists. After all, more than 40,000 Americans are killed each year in
traffic accidents and we don't make a big political issue out of that, do
we? Our attitude toward death-by-terrorist-attack will be the same as our
attitude toward deaths on the highway: a tragedy for the victim and members
of the family, but nothing really to fuss over. And if Perception Two is
valid, it's even possible that the terrorist threat eventually will ease.
Can you even remember the last time anyone got bombed by the IRA?

But if those of us who subscribe to Perception One are correct, then it's
only a matter of time before something ghastly happens that will swing
public opinion throughout the West our way - and hard. Whether this will
happen in two years, or five, or in 15 years, is impossible to predict. All
we can know for certain is that if Western civilization really is under
attack from Islam, or from elements within Islam, then they will not give up
or be appeased. At some point they're going to go for the knockout punch.

Fighting, Finally, to Win

The pessimists among us will argue that by this time we'll be too far gone
to save; that years of merely playing defense and of making concessions to
the sensitivities of our enemy will have eroded our military power, and
sapped our will, to the point where de facto surrender will be the only

We optimists see things differently: For better or worse, it's part of the
American character to wait until the last possible moment - even to wait a
bit beyond the last possible moment - before kicking into high gear and
getting the job done. It's in our genes; just think of how many times you've
ground enamel off your teeth watching your own kid waste an entire weekend,
only to start writing a book report at 10:30 Sunday night that, when you
find it on the breakfast table Monday morning is by some miracle a minor

However horrific it may be, the knockout punch won't knock us out. Instead,
it will shift us from playing defense back to offense - and this time we
won't hold back. The president will ask Congress for a declaration of war
and he, or she, will get it. We'll bring back the draft, send our troops
into battle without one hand tied behind their backs by lawyers, and we
won't waste time and energy pussyfooting with the United Nations. And if
we've closed GITMO by this time - we'll reopen it and even double its size
because we're going to pack it. All of this will take longer to organize,
and cost more, than if we'd done it right in the aftermath of 9-11. That's
unfortunate, but that's the way we Americans tend to do things. And when we
do finally start fighting for real -- we'll win.
29253  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Question to Crafty and The Boys. "Dogs" on: July 15, 2007, 09:06:31 AM
Woof Max:

The dogs in my pictures with me are Akitas.  My first one was "Zapata" and was the model for the Akita in our logo, which was drawn by Shaggy Dog.

Crafty Dog
29254  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Communicating with the Muslim World on: July 15, 2007, 08:31:57 AM

What About Muslim Moderates
London does a better job than Washington reaching out to them.

Sunday, July 15, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Islamist terrorism has led the American and British governments in the past month to launch separate public-diplomacy programs aimed at engaging Muslims at home and abroad. A quick comparison shows the two initiatives are headed in opposite directions. At least the Brits have finally got it right.

The Bush administration is building bridges to well-funded and self-publicized organizations that claim to speak for all Muslims, even though some of those groups espouse views inimical to American values and interests. After years of pursuing similar strategies--while seeing home-based terrorists proliferate--the Blair-Brown government is now more discerning about which Muslims it will partner with. Stating that "lip service for peace" is no longer sufficient, the British are identifying and elevating those who are willing to take clear stands against terrorism and its supporting ideology.

Thus, in a major address at a two-day government conference early last month (titled "Islam and Muslims in the World Today"), then-Prime Minister Tony Blair, with Gordon Brown in attendance and hosting a reception, vowed to correct an imbalance. He stated that, in Britain's Muslim community, unrepresentative but well-funded groups are able to attract disproportionately large amounts of publicity, while moderate voices go unheard and unpublished.

Mr. Blair emphasized that Islam is not a "monolithic faith," but one made up of a "rich pattern of diversity." The principal purpose of the conference, Mr. Blair stressed, was to "let the authentic voices of Islam, in their various schools and manifestations, speak for themselves." He was as good as his word.
Invitations to participate in the assembly were extended to the less-publicized, moderate groups, such as the Sufi Muslim Council, the British Muslim Foundation and Minhaj-ul-Quran. Notably absent from the program was the Muslim Council of Britain, a group that claims to represent that nation's Muslims but is preoccupied with its self-described struggle against "Islamophobia"--a term it tries to use to shut down critical analysis of anything Islamic, whether legitimate or bigoted.

Also dropped from the speaking roster was the leading European Islamist Tariq Ramadan, who, while denied a visa by the United States, has been a fixture at official conferences on Muslims in Europe. The grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mr. Ramadan is fuzzy on where he stands on specific acts of terror--and he infamously evaded a challenge by Nicolas Sarkozy to denounce stoning.

Mr. Blair committed funds to improve the teaching of Islamic studies in British universities; announced a new effort to develop "minimum standards" for imams in Britain; and, most significantly, declared that henceforth the government would be giving "priority, in its support and funding decisions, to those leadership organizations actively working to tackle violent extremism." Routine but vague press releases against terrorism would no longer do.

A few days later, British backbone was demonstrated again with the knighting of novelist Salman Rushdie. Since 1989, when Iran's mullahs pronounced one of his works "blasphemous," Mr. Rushdie has lived under the shadow of a death threat, the first fatwa with universal jurisdiction against a Muslim living in the West. With the news that Britain would honor him, extremist Muslims rioted. But many Western Muslim reformers, increasingly threatened by death threats and murderous fatwas themselves, cheered the Brits. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a former Dutch parliamentarian who was born a Muslim in Somalia, wrote: "The queen has honored the freedom of conscience and creativity cherished in the West."

On the eve of his departure from office, Mr. Blair gave a television interview taking on those he once courted--British Islamists who have been quick to level charges of Islamophobia and oppression against Britain and the United States: "The reason we are finding it hard to win this battle [against terror] is that we're not actually fighting it properly. We're not actually standing up to these people and saying, 'It's not just your methods that are wrong, your ideas are absurd. Nobody is oppressing you. Your sense of grievance isn't justified.' . . . Some of what is written on this is loopy-loo in its extremism."

Contrast this with the Bush administration's new approach. On June 27, President Bush delivered his "Muslim Initiative" address at the Washington Islamic Center in tribute to the 50th anniversary of that organization's founding, by Saudi Arabia. Wahhabism is the state religion of Saudi Arabia, and its extremist ideology often flows with the kingdom's money. The Islamic Center is not an exception.

A few years ago when we were with Freedom House, concerned Muslims brought us Saudi educational material they collected from the Washington Islamic Center that instructed Muslims fundamentally to segregate themselves from other Americans. One such text stated: "To be dissociated from the infidels is to hate them for their religion, to leave them, never to rely on them for support, not to admire them, to be on one's guard against them, never to imitate them, and to always oppose them in every way according to Islamic law."

Though Mr. Bush's remarks were intended for all American Muslims, the administration left the invitation list to Washington Islamic Center's authorities. Predictably, they excluded the truly moderate, who are not Saudi-founded or funded: the Islamic Supreme Council of America, the American Islamic Congress, the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, the Center for Eurasian Policy, the Center for Islamic Pluralism, the Islam and Democracy Project, the Institute for Gulf Affairs, the Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia and many others.

These organizations are frequently shut out of U.S. government events and appointments on the basis that they are considered insignificant or "controversial" by the petro-dollar-funded groups. The administration makes a terrible mistake by making such Wahhabi-influenced institutions as the Washington Islamic Center the gate keepers for all American Muslims.

The actual substance of Mr. Bush's mosque speech--particularly good on religious freedom--was overshadowed by the announcement of its single initiative: America is to send an envoy to the Organization of Islamic Conference. Based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the OIC was created explicitly to promote hostility to Israel, and its meetings largely consist of ritualistic Israel-bashing. At one last year, Iran's president called for the "elimination of the Zionist regime." It has no mechanism for discussing the human rights of its member states, and thus has never spoken out against Sudan's genocide of Darfuri Muslims. It is advancing an effort to universalize Islamic blasphemy laws, which are applied as often against speech critical of the governments of OIC member states as against profanities. Last month the OIC council of foreign ministers termed Islamophobia "the worst form of terrorism." Currently no Western power holds either member or observer status at the OIC.

The Bush administration is now actively considering whether its public diplomacy should reach out to Muslim Brotherhood groups. While such groups may pay lip service to peace, they do not denounce terror by Hamas, a Brotherhood offshoot. It keeps as its motto: "Allah is our objective, the Prophet is our leader, the Koran is our law, jihad is our way, dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope." By choosing those whose definition of terror does not include the murder of Jews, honor killings and lethal fatwas against Muslim dissidents and reformers, the U.S. government makes them look strong--particularly in the shame-and-honor culture of the Middle East--and strengthens their hand against the real moderates and reformers.
Great Britain, as we have been reminded recently, has much work ahead in defeating Muslim terror, as well as in overcoming the misguided form of multiculturalism of its recent past. Not all of Britain's measures will be right for America, with our First Amendment. But the British Labour Party socialists appear to have done one major thing right that this American Republican administration has not: Reach out to Muslim leaders who are demonstrably moderate and share our values, even though they may not have petrodollar-funded publicity machines.

While we don't have a Queen to dub knights, Americans do have distinct way of honoring our heroes. Mr. President, confer the Medal of Freedom on one of our own outstanding Muslim-American citizens. For a selection of honorees, look at who was not invited to your recent speech. If Islamists charge "Islamophobia," repeat after Tony: "Loopy loo. Loopy loo."

Mr. Woolsey, co-chair of the Committee on the Present Danger, was Director of Central Intelligence 1993-1995. Ms. Shea is the director of the Center for Religious Freedom of the Hudson Institute.

29255  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Freedom of religion... on: July 15, 2007, 07:12:39 AM
From another forum:

Somewhere along the way, the Federal Courts and the Supreme Court have misinterpreted the U. S. Constitution. How could fifty States be wrong?
THIS IS VERY INTERESTING! Be sure to read the last two paragraphs. America's founders did not intend for there to be a separation of God and state, as shown by the fact that all 50 states acknowledge God in their state constitutions:

Alabama 1901, Preamble. We the people of the State of Alabama, invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish the following Constitution ...

Alaska 1956, Preamble. We, the people of Alaska, grateful to God and to those who founded our nation and pioneered this great land ....

Arizona 1911, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Arizona, grateful to Almighty God for our liberties, do ordain this Constitution...

Arkansas 1874, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Arkansas, grateful to Almighty God for the privilege of choosing our own form of government...

California 1879, Preamble. We, the People of the State of California, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom .....

Colorado 1876, Preamble. We, the people of Colorado, with profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of Universe.

Connecticut 1818, Preamble. The People of Connecticut, acknowledging with gratitude the good Providence of God in permitting them to enjoy ...

Delaware 1897, Preamble. Through Divine Goodness all men have, by nature, the rights of worshipping and serving their Creator according to the dictates of their consciences ...

Florida 1885, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Florida, grateful to Almighty God for our constitutional liberty establish this Constitution...

Georgia 1777, Preamble. We, the people of Georgia, relying upon protection and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish this Constitution...

Hawaii 1959, Preamble. We, the people of Hawaii, Grateful for Divine Guidance .. establish this Constitution.

Idaho 1889, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Idaho, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, to secure its blessings ...

Illinois 1870, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Illinois, grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy and looking to Him for a blessing on our endeavors.

Indiana 1851, Preamble. We, the People of the State of Indiana, grateful to Almighty God for the free exercise of the right to chose our form of government.

Iowa 1857, Preamble. We, the People of the State of Iowa, grateful to the Supreme Being for the blessings hitherto enjoyed, and feeling our dependence on Him for a continuation of these blessings . establish this Constitution.

Kansas 1859, Preamble. We, the people of Kansas, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious privileges . establish this Constitution.

Kentucky 1891, Preamble. We, the people of the Commonwealth of Kentucky grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties...

Louisiana 1921, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Louisiana, grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties we enjoy.

Maine 1820, Preamble. We the People of Maine .. acknowledging with grateful hearts the goodness of the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe in affording us an opportunity ... and imploring His aid and direction.

Maryland 1776, Preamble. We, the people of the state of Maryland, grateful to Almighty God or our civil and religious liberty...

Massachusetts 1780, Preamble. We...the people of Massachusetts, acknowledging with grateful hearts, the goodness of the Great Legislator of the Universe ... in the course of His Providence, an opportunity ..and devoutly imploring His direction ..

Michigan 1908, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Michigan, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of freedom ... establish this Constitution.

Minnesota 1857, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Minnesota, grateful to God for our civil and religious liberty, and desiring to perpetuate its blessings.

Mississippi 1890, Preamble. We, the people of Mississippi in convention assembled, grateful to Almighty God, and invoking His blessing on our work.

Missouri 1845, Preamble. We, the people of Missouri, with profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, and grateful for His goodness ...

Montana 1889, Preamble. We, the people of Montana, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of liberty. establish this Constitution ...

Nebraska 1875, Preamble. We, the people, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom .. establish this Constitution ..

Nevada 1864, Preamble. We the people of the State of Nevada, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom establish this Constitution...

New Hampshire 1792, PartI. Art. I. Sec. V. Every individual has a natural and unalienable right to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience.

New Jersey 1844, Preamble. We, the people of the State of New Jersey, grateful to Almighty God for civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing on our endeavors ...

New Mexico 1911, Preamble. We, the People of New Mexico, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of liberty .

New York 1846, Preamble. We, the people of the State of New York, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, in order to secure its blessings.

North Carolina 1868, Preamble. We the people of the State of North Carolina grateful to Almighty God, the Sovereign Ruler of Nations, for our civil, political, and religious liberties, and acknowledging our dependence upon Him for the continuance of those ...

North Dakota 1889, Preamble. We, the people of North Dakota, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, do ordain...

Ohio 1852, Preamble. We the people of the state of Ohio, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, to secure its blessings and to promote our common ....

Oklahoma 1907, Preamble. Invoking the guidance of Almighty God, in order to secure and perpetuate the blessings of liberty ... establish this ..

Oregon 1857, Bill of Rights, ArticleI. Section 2. All men shall be secure in the Natural right, to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their consciences..

Pennsylvania 1776, Preamble. We, the people of Pennsylvania, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, and humbly invoking His guidance.

Rhode Island 1842, Preamble. We the People of the State of Rhode Island grateful to Almighty God for the civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing...

South Carolina, 1778, Preamble. We, the people of he State of South Carolina, grateful to God for our liberties, do ordain and establish this Constitution.

South Dakota 1889, Preamble. We, the people of South Dakota, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious liberties ... establish this

Tennessee 1796, Art. XI. III. That all men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their conscience...

Texas 1845, Preamble. We the People of the Republic of Texas, acknowledging, with gratitude, the grace and beneficence of God.

Utah 1896, Preamble. Grateful to Almighty God for life and liberty, we establish this Constitution ....

Vermont 1777, Preamble. Whereas all government ought to ... enable the individuals who compose it to enjoy their natural rights, and other blessings which the Author of Existence has bestowed on man...

Virginia 1776, Bill of Rights, XVI ... Religion, or the Duty which we owe our Creator ... can be directed only by Reason ... and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian Forbearance, Love and Charity towards each other ..

Washington 1889, Preamble. We the People of the State of Washington, grateful! to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe for our liberties, do ordain this Constitution .....

West Virginia 1872, Preamble. Since through Divine Providence we enjoy the blessings of civil, political and religious liberty, we, the people of West Virginia .. reaffirm our faith in and constant reliance upon God...

Wisconsin 1848, Preamble. We, the people of Wisconsin, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, domestic tranquility ..

Wyoming 1890, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Wyoming, grateful to God for our civil, political, and religious liberties ... establish this Constitution...

After reviewing acknowledgments of God from all 50 state constitutions, one is faced with the prospect that maybe, just maybe, the ACLU and the out-of-control Federal Courts are wrong!


Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Article I Section 3: All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences; and no preference shall ever be given by law to any religious establishments or modes of worship.

Section 4. No person who acknowledges the being of a God and a future state of rewards and punishments shall, on account
of his religious sentiments, be disqualified to hold any office or place of trust or profit under this Commonwealth


Rhode Island Constution Article I Section 3: Freedom of religion. -- Whereas Almighty God hath created the mind free; and all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burdens, or by civil incapacitations, tend to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness; and whereas a principal object of our venerable ancestors, in their migration to this country and their settlement of this state, was, as they expressed it, to hold forth a lively experiment that a flourishing civil state may stand and be best maintained with full liberty in religious concernments; we, therefore, declare that no person shall be compelled to frequent or to support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatever, except in fulfillment of such person's voluntary contract; nor enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in body or goods; nor disqualified from holding any office; nor otherwise suffer on account of such person's religious belief; and that every person shall be free to worship God according to the dictates of such person's conscience, and to profess and by argument to maintain such person's opinion in matters of religion; and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect the civil capacity of any person.


Commonwealth of Virginia Article I Section 16. Free exercise of religion; no establishment of religion.

That religion or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and, therefore, all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other. No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but all men shall be free to profess and by argument to maintain their opinions in matters of religion, and the same shall in nowise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities. And the General Assembly shall not prescribe any religious test whatever, or confer any peculiar privileges or advantages on any sect or denomination, or pass any law requiring or authorizing any religious society, or the people of any district within this Commonwealth, to levy on themselves or others, any tax for the erection or repair of any house of public worship, or for the support of any church or ministry; but it shall be left free to every person to select his religious instructor, and to make for his support such private contract as he shall please.
Ohio Constitution;

§ 1.07 Rights of conscience; education; the necessity of religion and knowledge (1851)

All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own conscience. No person shall be compelled to attend, erect, or support any place of worship, or maintain any form of worship, against his consent; and no preference shall be given, by law, to any religious society; nor shall any interference with the rights of conscience be permitted. No religious test shall be required, as a qualification for office, nor shall any person be incompetent to be a witness on account of his religious belief; but nothing herein shall be construed to dispense with oaths and affirmations. Religion, morality, and knowledge, however, being essential to good government, it shall be the duty of the general assembly to pass suitable laws to protect every religious denomination in the peaceable enjoyment of its own mode of public worship, and to encourage schools and the means of instruction.

Thomas Jefferson's letter referring to separation of Church and State:

And please note the exclusion of the name "Jesus Christ" from the document and instead the use of Almighty God.

"Jefferson drafted the following measure, but it was Madison who skillfully secured its adoption by the Virginia legislature in 1786. It is still part of modern Virginia's constitution, and it has not only been copied by other states but was also the basis for the Religion Clauses in the Constitution's Bill of Rights. Both men considered this bill one of the great achievements of their lives, and Jefferson directed that on his tombstone he should not be remembered as president of the United States or for any of the other high offices he held, but as the author of the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, and as the founder of the University of Virginia."

Whereas Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as it was in his Almighty power to do; that the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavouring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world, and through all time; that to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical; that even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion, is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor, whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness, and is withdrawing from the ministry those temporary rewards, which proceeding from an approbation of their personal conduct, are an additional incitement to earnest and unremitting labours for the instruction of mankind; that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry; that therefore the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which in common with his fellow-citizens he has a natural right; that it tends only to corrupt the principles of that religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess and conform to it; that though indeed these are criminal who do not withstand such temptation, yet neither are those innocent who lay the bait in their way; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion, and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency, is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty, because he being of course judge of that tendency will make his opinions the rule of judgment, and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own; that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government, for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order; and finally, that truth is great and will prevail if left to herself, that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them:

Be it enacted by the General Assembly, That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.
And though we well know that this assembly elected by the people for the ordinary purposes of legislation only, have no power to restrain the acts of succeeding assemblies, constituted with powers equal to our own, and that therefore to declare this act to be irrevocable would be of no effect in law; yet we are free to declare, and do declare, that the rights hereby asserted are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present, or to narrow its operation, such act shall be an infringement of natural right."

Jefferson in commenting on the act clearly states that the term "Almighty God" DOES NOT include "Jesus Christ" because in doing so would exclude Jews, Muslims, and Hindus. Thus, you contention that the use of the word "God" as Trinitarian finds no basis in history. And also note that "denomination" here means different religion. Jefferson stated:

"Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting "Jesus Christ," so that it would read "A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;" the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination."

-Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography, in reference to the Virginia Act for Religious Freedom
29256  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Heroic action in NYC on: July 15, 2007, 07:02:55 AM


Officers Herman Yan, 26 (top), and Russel Timoshenko, 23, approach a stolen SUV on Rogers Avenue — parking their car next to a trash can so Timoshenko has cover if he is fired at. But the perps would wait until he was past the can before shooting.

July 11, 2007 -- Cool-headed cop Herman Yan went into autopilot - and followed his NYPD training to the letter - as he ignored the bullets raining down on him and fired back at the gunmen who had brutally shot his partner twice in the face, police experts said yesterday.
Supercop Yan, bleeding profusely after he was struck by a bullet in the arm and reeling after taking a slug in his bulletproof vest, showed no fear as he faced down the thugs who had gravely wounded his partner, Russel Timoshenko, just seconds before.
Three seconds after Timoshenko fell to the ground, exclusive surveillance footage clearly shows the 26-year-old Yan backing down the street as he fires at the stolen BMW X5 that he and Timoshenko had pulled over on Rogers Avenue just after 2:15 a.m.
With nothing to shelter him from the gunfire, Yan is seen on the tape ducking and weaving, trying to keep his body small so it would not be struck by the fusillade, said several experts who reviewed the video for The Post.
"It's all about cover and concealment. He had no cover in front of him, so he did everything he could to keep his body a small moving target," said retired NYPD Detective Mike Charles.
As the perpetrators keep shooting at him, Yan sizes up the situation, and determines that his best move is to get back to the radio car.
All the while, his thoughts are obviously on getting to his partner to try to save his life, said Charles.
Seconds pass before he is seen calmly radioing for assistance - calling in the key details that would help authorities quickly identify two suspects.
The brave officer even refuses to give in to his injuries as he tries to make his way to his partner to check on Timoshenko's condition. In one frame, Yan is seen falling to the ground, clutching his bleeding arm - but before his body touches the asphalt, he jumps back to his feet and continues to head toward his partner.

Yan, released from Kings County Hospital yesterday, said of his gravely ill partner, "I believe in miracles.
"I hope he recovers fully. I will recover fully and be back on the street again. I hope the same thing happens to him."
Yan, his right arm in a sling, added, "I feel fine."
Asked about the bulletproof vest credited with saving his life, Yan said, "Always put it on."
Detective Charles, who spent 20 years on the force and now trains police forces overseas, said, "Everything [Yan] did was perfect and absolutely heroic.

"Look at the way he tries to get low [in the footage during the shooting]. This officer has been shot, but he has no thought for his pain. He is thinking of the threat, his partner and calling in for help."
The brave officer's actions allowed Timoshenko to be carried into a police car just a minute and a half after he was shot. He was taken to the Kings County Hospital, where he is now fighting for his life.
From the moment the two officers pulled over the SUV, they followed their training to a T, said Charles and other experts.
Timoshenko gets out of the police car in line with trash can, making sure he can quickly duck for cover if someone opens fire.
Both officers put their right hands to their guns and walk toward the vehicle at the same pace in a straight line, the procedure whenever a cop pulls over a car.
But the officers face immediate danger when they arrive at the vehicle and see that the windows are tinted, blocking their view of any potential gunmen in the car.
"One of the most dangerous situations in policing is car stops, but officers become even more vulnerable when it's 2:30 in the morning and the vehicle has tinted windows," Charles said. The video shows that Timoshenko was by the rear quarter panel of the SUV- before he could get a clear view of the gunman - when he's shot and falls. etser__additional_reporting_lorena_mongelli__murra y_weiss_and_larry_celona.htm
29257  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: 360 Miles to Enlightenment on: July 15, 2007, 06:32:53 AM
I am impressed.
29258  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: July 15, 2007, 06:15:22 AM
Richard Viguerie goes after Fred Thompson as a phony conservative:

Extensive interview with Ron Paul
29259  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Anti-semitism & Jews on: July 15, 2007, 06:01:37 AM
Yeah, terrible of us, , , rolleyes cheesy

Going back to some basics here:

Concentration Camps #1







29260  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / CAIR vs. Anti-CAIR on: July 14, 2007, 06:23:04 PM
CAIR vs Anti-CAIR litigation discussed by Anti-CAIR's attorney.  Excellent discussion:

On the other hand, in fairness one must note this CAIR denunciation of Holocaust denial:

The bit about "people of the book" IMO is diningenuous, and I utterly doubt the sincerity of it all given the group's track record, but still in fairness it must be noted.
29261  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A Jewish Founding Father on: July 14, 2007, 05:24:28 PM
I didn't know this:
29262  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Suzanne Spezzano: Majadpahit Silat on: July 14, 2007, 12:23:05 PM
By the way, one of Suzanne's silat teachers is Tony Felix:
29263  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Suzanne Spezzano: Majadpahit Silat on: July 13, 2007, 09:19:49 PM
From her husband John:

Hey everyone,
Suzanne's outstanding instructional Silat DVD is finally ready for order.  Here's a link to the promo clip on You Tube.  CHECK IT OUT!!!
Please contact her to order the DVD at
Thanks for your interest!!

I have seen Suzanne teach this material at the Inosanto Academy and think the material excellent.  Like much silat, it asks much of the practitioner and is not for everyone.  I will be buying it for me because I think the material to be outstanding for moving well on and striking well from the ground in a way that can be quite "outside the box".  What I saw had a wonderful "silat yoga" quality and I am thinking that the DVD will contain this material.  I will review here once I get my copy.

Crafty Dog
29264  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues on: July 13, 2007, 10:04:01 AM
The camera doesn't lie, right? Wel-l-l-l-l-l-l........

Force Science News #76
July 13, 2007


Brief, dark, and grainy, the video image is a punch to the gut.

A California sheriff's deputy trying to detain a subject who's on the ground after a high-speed chase says to him, "Get up! Get up!" The man says, "Ok, I'm gonna get up," and starts to rise. Without another word, the deputy shoots him, 3 times in quick succession.

With millions of others, you probably became a vicarious eye-witness when the scene was telecast over and over world-wide. Be honest. The man complied with an officer's command, and the shooting was not an unintentional discharge. Didn't it look like a slam-dunk case of egregious abuse of force?

Late last month [6/28/07], after less than 4 hours' deliberation following a trial that lasted over a month, a jury acquitted the deputy, Ivory Webb Jr., of attempted voluntary manslaughter and firearms assault. The charges could have sent him to prison for 18 years. For people who knew nothing more about the case than what they'd seen on TV or the Internet, the verdict seemed a puzzlement, if not an outrageous miscarriage of justice.

But jurors said the tale of the video took on a whole different flavor when considered in context with circumstances that were little known publicly until Webb's trial.

Dr. Bill Lewinski, executive director of the Force Science Research Center at Minnesota State University-Mankato, was part of the defense team. He was brought into the case "to explain the human factors behind the shooting," based on his expertise as a behavioral scientist and on FSRC's unique studies of lethal-force dynamics.

In a recent interview with Force Science News, Lewinski reprised his courtroom testimony and his insider's knowledge of the pressure-cooker confrontation that embroiled Ivory Webb and resulted in his becoming the first LEO ever charged criminally for an on-duty shooting in the history of San Bernardino County.

"It was important to paint a picture of what happened from Webb's perspective," Lewinski says. "The video was so vivid, so seemingly clear-cut, that people didn't properly factor in what led up to the shooting."

The Players. Ivory Webb was 46 years old at the time of the shooting, a former college football player (Rose Bowl '82), the son of a retired California police chief, and a veteran of nearly 10 years with the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department. Most of his career had been spent as a jail officer. Although he'd been on the street for over 4 years, "he had never been the primary officer on a felony vehicle stop," Lewinski says. "He performed pretty much as a backup officer."

The subjects he confronted at the shooting scene were Luis Escobedo, 22, who had a rap sheet from previous run-ins with police and would later be arrested for CCW, and Elio Carrion, 21, an Air Force senior airman and security officer.

The Chase. On the last weekend night in January, 2006, Luis Escobedo and Elio Carrion were at a late-night barbeque in Montclair, east of Los Angeles, celebrating Carrion's recent return from a 6-month stint in Iraq. They'd been "heavily" consuming beer and tequila when they decided to take a fellow partygoer's Corvette for a spin. Both had blood alcohol levels of more than double the state's legal limit.

Escobedo took the wheel (although he had no driver's license) and on a "lightly trafficked industrial road" near some railroad tracks, he opened up the sleek muscle car to see how fast it would go. Soon they passed a San Bernardino deputy who gave pursuit but couldn't keep up.

Webb, returning to patrol from another call, heard radio traffic about the chase and moments later saw the Corvette "coming directly at me. If I hadn't swerved into the other lane, they would have smashed right into me."

Webb barreled after them and soon was driving over 100 mph to keep up. The Corvette screeched around a corner, caromed off curbs, and at one point "spun around and came directly at me a second time." Before colliding, it suddenly smoked into a U-turn and wove wildly from one side of the street to another, then crashed into a cinder block wall facing opposing traffic and "hung up there." The chase had ended in the municipality of Chino.

When Webb pulled up, the vehicle was shaking as the occupants tried to force the doors open, he said. The trunk lid had popped up from the impact, blocking the view from behind. He nosed in slightly toward the right rear of the Corvette and stepped out of his patrol car.

The Confrontation. "Considering that they'd played chicken with him twice and had shown no regard for human safety with their reckless speeding, Webb reasonably assessed the car's occupants as really dangerous," Lewinski says. "He had his full uniform on, his overheads were flashing, and he had his gun and flashlight out, so there was no mistaking his authority.

"Carrion began to exit the vehicle and took a step in the direction of Webb's patrol car. Webb ordered him to show his hands clearly. Carrion didn't. Webb ordered him to get down. Carrion didn't. Inside the vehicle, Escobedo kept reaching his hands into areas Webb could not see." The deputy's commands to both subjects were repeated in a stream, with no compliance. In his frustration and concern, Webb ratcheted up his language with liberal infusions of profanity.

At trial a retired LASD lieutenant testified as a tactical expert for the prosecution and condemned Webb for not remaining "calm and assertive," as officers are trained to do. But Lewinski took Webb's words out of the context of antiseptic Monday morning quarterbacking and put them in the context of his on-the-spot fears.

The chase had led the deputy into an unfamiliar section of Chino and, essentially, "he was lost," Lewinski says. He knew the street he was on but in the blur of the pursuit he'd had a hard time tracking the cross streets. Several times he named the nearest intersection incorrectly when radioing for help. Deputies trying to reach him sometimes cited directions and their own locations erroneously, too.

The two suspects could overhear the radio jabber. "Webb knew that they knew his back up couldn't find him and that he was all alone with two drunken young men who were not complying with any of his orders," Lewinski says.

The pair was physically separated, so Webb constantly had to shift his focus and his flashlight from one to the other to keep tabs on their actions. And they kept trying verbally to intimidate him, Lewinski explains. "Carrion at one point told the deputy, 'I've spent more time than you in the fuckin' police, in the fuckin' military.'

"Webb recognized all this from his jail experience as a common tactic among gangbangers: separate, keep up a barrage of chatter to distract, then attack. Webb ordered them to shut up, but they didn't."

At a point when Carrion had gotten within his reactionary gap, Webb kicked him to take him to the ground. (The prosecution's expert would claim later that police are not trained to kick suspects because it puts them off-balance. But Lewinski points out that in fact kicks and leg strikes are common staples in contemporary defensive tactics.) On the ground, Carrion was propped up on his arms, "controlled to some degree" but not proned out like Webb wanted.

The grinding crash of the speeding Corvette against the wall and the flashing lights and all the yelling that followed had alerted a used car salesman living across the street that something worth filming was going down. He grabbed his Sony digital zoom camera and started recording after Carrion climbed out of the car.

This man, a Cuban refugee, was wanted on old felony warrants for aggravated assault in Florida. His past would surface after his sensational footage saturated the airwaves.

But for now, his camera was about to capture what photographers call "the money shot."

The Shooting. When the video was first reviewed and broadcast, the figures of Webb and Carrion could be grossly seen on the darkened street, the deputy with his gun out standing over the semi-grounded suspect. But subtleties were hard to distinguish. The audio track, too, was tough to make out, although what could be heard sounded discouragingly incriminating.
Carrion: We're here on your side. We mean you no harm.
Webb: OK, get up! (inaudible) Get up!
Carrion: OK, I'm just gonna get up.

Carrion starts to move up. Three shots ring out from Webb's .45. Carrion is hit in the left shoulder, the left thigh, and the left ribs. He's critically wounded but survives.

The digital recording was "enhanced" by an FBI laboratory to reveal more visual detail. Through ultra-sophisticated technology of David Notowitz, a video expert engaged by Webb's attorneys, it was then enhanced even further, to the point that images were recovered from a section of the recording that seemingly had been completely whited out by the amateur cameraman ineptly fiddling with the controls.

Webb had experienced difficulty articulating precisely what happened just before he started shooting. In Lewinski's opinion, he suffered memory problems that are not uncommon after high-intensity officer-involved shootings. "But when the enhanced footage was slowed down and time coded so we could study the action fragment by fragment, I became convinced he was reacting instinctively to a legitimate perceived threat."

As Carrion braces on his hands, resistant to going fully to the ground, he first can be seen jabbing a hand up toward Webb's gun. The weapon is well within his grasp, but he quickly lowers his hand without attempting a grab.

Then the video confirms that he twice reaches his hand inside his black Raiders jacket. Carrion would claim on the witness stand that he was just pointing to his chest. "But the enhanced image shows his hand buried in the jacket up to the knuckles," Lewinski says. "It was definitely inside."

Less than a second later, Webb jerks his gun barrel up slightly as if motioning with it as he commands, "Get up! Get up!"

"He's talking to the hand, focusing on it," Lewinski says. "What I sincerely believe he was thinking was, 'Get your hand up,' meaning get it away from where you may have a weapon hidden and out where I can see it. But the words came out different than his thought.

"Some of our studies have shown that when officers feel they are in control of a situation, they tend to give clear and relevant commands. But when they feel out of control, their commands often deteriorate. For Ivory Webb, that was an enormously stressful situation and there was nothing he felt in control of.

"Under stress and time compression, people commonly experience slips between thought and speech." En Route to the trial, for example, Lewinski asked a harried airline ticket agent for directions to a travelers' lounge. "Down there," she said-and pointed up. Even the prosecutor while cross-examining Lewinski misspoke in referencing something, and apologized for it. "It's easy to do, isn't it?" Lewinski softly replied.

Lewinski cited a case of an officer who, facing a suspect with a knife, repeatedly shouted "Show me your hands!" even though both hands were visible. The officer was trying to say "Drop the knife" but "resorted to familiar commands from his training under stress," Lewinski explained.

In the uncertain and rapidly evolving circumstances on the street in Chino, Carrion reaching into his jacket had "extremely threatening implications," Lewinski says. "He turned out not to be armed, but Webb couldn't know that. For the first time in the encounter, Carrion obeyed the command he heard. He began to rise up and a little forward, like starting to lunge. Webb had already made the decision to fire, thinking his life was in jeopardy, and pulled the trigger."

A tactics expert who volunteered for the defense, Sgt. Kenton Ferrin of Inglewood (CA) PD, said he would have shot under the same circumstances. Webb "thought he was going to die," Ferrin testified.

The prosecutor's expert, however, asserted that each of Webb's shots was a deliberate decision, bolstering the contention that the deputy in effect had committed a cold, calculating execution. But Lewinski pointed out that the time-coded video enhancement showed there was just 6/10 of a second between each round. He explained that FSRC's time-and-motion studies had proven that in that tight sequencing, with both the officer and the subject moving slightly, there's no possibility of conscious decision-making prompting each shot. "At that point, after the first round, it was just an instinctive process."

"The purpose of Dr. Lewinski's testimony," says Webb's attorney Michael Schwartz of the Santa Monica law firm Silver, Hadden, Silver, Wexler and Levine, "was to help the jury see that behavior the prosecution considered grounds for suspicion and criminal action could, in fact, be understood as common human behavior in circumstances of extreme stress."

The Outcome. The first poll inside the jury room was 11 for acquittal, 1 for conviction. The dissenter soon changed his mind. When the verdict was announced, Ivory Webb burst into tears and praised God.

That was just the first of the legal challenges he faces. Elio Carrion and his family have asked federal authorities to bring criminal charges against Webb, and a civil suit has of course been filed.

Meanwhile, with cell phone cameras and camcorders proliferating, a profusion of controversial police actions seems destined in days ahead to be seen and judged by millions who understand little about them.

After the Webb verdict, a reporter for the Associated Press interviewed Eugene O'Donnell, a former cop and prosecutor who now teaches police studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City.

"Videos are drenched with caveats," O'Donnell cautioned. "One thing we've learned about videos is that there are often missing pieces."


The Force Science News is provided by The Force Science Research Center, a non-profit institution based at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Subscriptions are free and sent via e-mail. To register for your free, direct-delivery subscription, please visit and click on the registration button.

(c) 2007: Force Science Research Center,
29265  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: July 13, 2007, 08:37:16 AM
VDH is always a good read GM.

July 13, 2007
Deserting Petraeus

By Charles Krauthammer

"The key to turning [Anbar] around was the shift in allegiance by tribal sheiks. But the sheiks turned only after a prolonged offensive by American and Iraqi forces, starting in November, that put al-Qaeda groups on the run."
-- The New York Times, July 8
Finally, after four terribly long years, we know what works. Or what can work. A year ago, a confidential Marine intelligence report declared Anbar province (which comprises about a third of Iraq's territory) lost to al-Qaeda. Now, in what the Times's John Burns calls an " astonishing success," the tribal sheiks have joined our side and committed large numbers of fighters that, in concert with American and Iraqi forces, have largely driven out al-Qaeda and turned its former stronghold of Ramadi into one of most secure cities in Iraq.
It began with a U.S.-led offensive that killed or wounded more than 200 enemy fighters and captured 600. Most important was the follow-up. Not a retreat back to American bases but the setting up of small posts within the population that, together with the Iraqi national and tribal forces, have brought relative stability to Anbar.
The same has started happening in many of the Sunni areas around Baghdad, including Diyala province -- just a year ago considered as lost as Anbar -- where, for example, the Sunni insurgent 1920 Revolution Brigades has turned against al-Qaeda and joined the fight on the side of U.S. and Iraqi government forces.
We don't yet know if this strategy will work in mixed Sunni-Shiite neighborhoods. Nor can we be certain that this cooperation between essentially Sunni tribal forces and an essentially Shiite central government can endure. But what cannot be said -- although it is now heard daily in Washington -- is that the surge, which is shorthand for Gen. David Petraeus's new counterinsurgency strategy, has failed. The tragedy is that, just as a working strategy has been found, some Republicans in the Senate have lost heart and want to pull the plug.
It is understandable that Sens. Lugar, Voinovich, Domenici, Snowe and Warner may no longer trust President Bush's judgment when he tells them to wait until Petraeus reports in September. What is not understandable is the vote of no confidence they are passing on Petraeus. These are the same senators who sent him back to Iraq by an 81 to 0 vote to institute his new counterinsurgency strategy.
A month ago, Petraeus was asked whether we could still win in Iraq. The general, who had recently attended two memorial services for soldiers lost under his command, replied that if he thought he could not succeed he would not be risking the life of a single soldier.
Just this week, Petraeus said that the one thing he needs more than anything else is time. To cut off Petraeus's plan just as it is beginning -- the last surge troops arrived only last month -- on the assumption that we cannot succeed is to declare Petraeus either deluded or dishonorable. Deluded in that, as the best-positioned American in Baghdad, he still believes we can succeed. Or dishonorable in pretending to believe in victory and sending soldiers to die in what he really knows is an already failed strategy.
That's the logic of the wobbly Republicans' position. But rather than lay it on Petraeus, they prefer to lay it on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and point out his government's inability to meet the required political "benchmarks." As a longtime critic of the Maliki government, I agree that it has proved itself incapable of passing laws important for long-term national reconciliation.
But first comes the short term. And right now we have the chance to continue to isolate al-Qaeda and, province by province, deny it the Sunni sea in which it swims. A year ago, it appeared that the only way to win back the Sunnis and neutralize the extremists was with great national compacts about oil and power sharing. But Anbar has unexpectedly shown that even without these constitutional settlements, the insurgency can be neutralized and al-Qaeda defeated at the local and provincial levels with a new and robust counterinsurgency strategy.
The costs are heartbreakingly high -- increased American casualties as the enemy is engaged and spectacular suicide bombings designed to terrify Iraqis and demoralize Americans. But the stakes are extremely high as well.
In the long run, agreements on oil, federalism and de-Baathification are crucial for stabilizing Iraq. But their absence at this moment is not a reason to give up in despair, now that we finally have a counterinsurgency strategy in place that is showing success against the one enemy -- al-Qaeda -- that both critics and supporters of the war maintain must be fought everywhere and at all cost.

None of that surprises me. I knew Ramadi was winnable last November. I posted this on another thread at that time.

Excerpts from a long report:

Nobody pretends the Iraqi Army will ever approach the U.S. military in its willingness and ability to fight; but in fairness, how many armies do? Further, it's not as if the anti-Iraqi forces' abilities will ever approach those of the Viet Cong. It's considered remarkable when the enemy is so much as able to coordinate an attack, rather than just tossing a bunch of untrained men at an objective. The Iraqi Army units in Ramadi are capable of defending themselves and going on the attack with just a couple of American advisers. That's real progress. Unfortunately, these units are almost exclusively Shiite at the enlisted level, with Sunni officers, which is not ideal for this Sunni region. But still they have the ability to speak with and relate to Iraqis of any sectarian persuasion better than Americans ever will.

Historically, successful counterinsurgency efforts have involved pacifying areas by plopping small garrisons with interlocking communications into enemy territory and sending out patrols to gather information and engage the enemy. Perhaps the most famous example of such garrison use was that of King Edward I of England (yes, the guy who had Braveheart drawn and quartered), who used castles to consolidate his hold on a conquered but restive Wales. More recently U.S. Army Special Forces established Civilian Irregular Defense Group camps in South Vietnam, manned primarily by indigenous tribes or South Vietnamese with a core of Special Forces soldiers. Such camps are considered one of the most effective strategies of that war. Certainly they were far more useful than the "search and destroy" missions sent out from huge base camps.
The military refers to COP use as "the inkblot strategy." One dot spreads into a bigger spot. Further, the troops are practically forced to work with the locals. That means building up networks of indigenous people who know the terrain, culture, and other people better than any forces – even one from the same country but another province – ever could. This also allows for more direct contact between the leader of the military force and the local leadership. All of this creates a force multiplier. Since the Bush administration appears unlikely to increase troop strength significantly, this ability to make better use of troops without weakening the forward operating bases from which they're drawn is vital.
Another value of the Ramadi COPs over the FOBs and Camp Ramadi is that we're fighting an enemy that relies primarily on roadway bombs – whether IEDS, vehicle-borne IEDs, or suicide-vehicle borne IEDs (driven vehicles) – to inflict casualties and damage, with the potential for greatly restricting movement. But missions from COPs are inherently short-range; you're always almost there. That's less road to be on and hence fewer explosives and ambushes to worry about. Even COPs operating at half strength have no chance of being overrun both because of the inability of the enemy to fight skillfully or mass in large numbers and because of the multilayered defenses.

View from Anvil showing its excellent clear-kill zones. The short-looking tubes are HESCO baskets connected to form an impregnable wall.

An observer atop COP Anvil takes aim.
Sapp showed me the impact of the Combat Operation Post system in Ramadi (Fallujah also has some) on a map. The foreign fighters who come into this area do so along the main highway from the Syrian border to the west. It's a mini-Ho Chi Minh Trail, so to speak. From this road the terrorists used to fan out in the area where the COPs have been inserted. "In the last four months, we've kept pushing them right around here," Sapp indicated, with his finger moving in a counter-clockwise pattern. "Initially we wouldn't go anywhere in this area with anything less than a platoon and sometimes even armor," he said. "But now I allow them to enter with just squads." The only part of the fan still remaining abuts the Euphrates. "We give the terrorists a place to focus here," Sapp says of that last slice. "This gives them somewhere to go and I'd rather they go there where my men can deal with them than have them setting up IEDs thickly throughout the area they used to control."
At Anvil almost all missions are on foot and off the trails. That's part of the beauty of the COP system; you can go almost anywhere you need to on foot without alerting enemy sentinels – which are probably nothing more than some guy paid a few bucks a night to keep watch. The night I was there we set off to grab some of bin Laden's buddies.

Put it all together – the Forward Observation Bases, new Combat Operation Posts, new Observation Posts, tribal cooperation, ever more Iraqi army and police, better intelligence, and public works projects. There's no "stay the course" strategy here; the course changes as necessary and it's continually changed for the better. I believe we are winning the Battle of Ramadi. And if the enemy can be beaten here, he can be beaten anywhere.
29266  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WW3 on: July 13, 2007, 07:51:36 AM
Geopolitical Diary: The Reality of Al Qaeda's Resurgence

A leak from the U.S. defense community revealed a document titled "Al Qaeda better positioned to strike the West" on Thursday, touching off a firestorm of debate within the United States over the status of the war on terror. According to the leak, al Qaeda is "considerably operationally stronger than a year ago," has "regrouped to an extent not seen since 2001" and is "showing greater and greater ability to plan attacks in Europe and the United States."

Stratfor cannot analyze the contents of the report because we have not read it; so far, no one has felt it necessary to commit a felony by leaking this specific document to us. But the general thrust of the document, that al Qaeda has regenerated, is clear. Many of Stratfor's readers have noted that this position clashes with our recently clarified assessment that, while al Qaeda remains dangerous, the group's day in the sun is over.

The first and most important question to ask when looking at this leaked report, then, is which al Qaeda is being discussed. Evolution and misuse of terminology means there are now two.

The first is the al Qaeda that carried out the 9/11 attacks. This group deeply understands how intelligence agencies work, and therefore how to avoid them. After the 9/11 attacks, however, this group's security protocols forced it to go underground, pushing itself deeper into the cave each time it thought one of its assets or plans had been compromised. The result was a steady degradation of capabilities, with its attacks proving less and less significant. Stratfor now estimates that, while this al Qaeda -- which we often refer to as the apex leadership, or al Qaeda prime -- still exists and is still dangerous, it is no longer a strategic threat to the United States. Its members can carry out attacks, but not ones of the grandeur and horror of 9/11, or even of the Madrid bombings, that achieve the group's goal of forcing policy changes on Western governments.

The second al Qaeda is a result of the apex leadership's isolation. It represents a range of largely disconnected Islamist militants who either have been inspired by the real al Qaeda or who seek to use the name to bolster their credibility. While many of these groups are rather amateurish, others are deadly efficient. It is best to think of them as al Qaeda franchises. However, these franchises lack the security policy or vision of their predecessor, and they do not constitute a strategic threat.

The difference between a strategic and a tactical threat is the core distinction, and one that should not be trivialized. There are hundreds of militant groups in the world that pose tactical threats, and many of them are indeed affiliated with al Qaeda in some way. As a bombmaker or expert marksman, a single person possesses the skills to kill many people, but that does not make that individual a strategic threat to the United States.

Posing a strategic threat requires the ability to carry out operations in a foreign land, raise and transfer funds, recruit and relocate people, train and hide promising agents, a multitude of reconnaissance and technical skills, and -- most important -- the ability to do all this while avoiding detection before striking at a target of national importance. Yes, an attack against a local mall or a regional airport would be a calamity, but it would not be the sort of strategic attack against national targets that reshapes Western geopolitics as 9/11 did.

Charging that al Qaeda is as strong now as it was in 2001 simply seems a bridge too far. Prior to 9/11, al Qaeda was running multiple operations across multiple regions simultaneously. Its agents were traveling the globe regularly and operating very much in the open financially. Their vision of resurrecting the caliphate was a large and difficult one. Achieving that vision required mobilizing the Muslim masses, and this required spectacular attacks.

A spectacular attack is what they carried out -- once. Since then, all the apex leadership has done is issue a seemingly endless string of empty threats, and consequently its credibility is in tatters. No one doubts al Qaeda's desire to strike at the United States as hard and as often as possible, but the lack of activity indicates its capabilities simply do not measure up.

And even if al Qaeda did not have a goal that required regular attacks, we would still doubt the veracity of this report. If an intelligence agency has penetrated an organization sufficiently to be aware of its full capabilities, the last thing the agency would want to disclose is this success. The agency would keep its intelligence secret until it had neutralized the militants. Shouting to the world that it knows what the militants are up to tells the militants they have been penetrated and starts them on the process of going underground and sealing the leak.

Which, of course, raises the question: What is this report actually seeking to accomplish? That depends on who commissioned the report in the first place, and -- considering the size of the U.S. intelligence community -- it could well mean just about anything. A partial list of justifications could include:
an effort to pressure Pakistan into cracking down on al Qaeda for fear that the group is just about ready to launch another attack,

an effort by the U.S. administration to regenerate its political fortunes by reconsolidating national security conservatives under its wing,

a plea for more funding for this or that branch of U.S. security forces,

a general warning to force any militants currently planning attacks to pull back and reassess -- in essence, an effort by intelligence services to disrupt any cells they have been unable to penetrate,

or even an effort by one branch of the government to discredit the efforts of another.
But regardless of which memos are floating around in Washington these days, al Qaeda prime is not feeling all that confident of late. In his most recent taped release (al Qaeda's attacks have sputtered but its multimedia arm is booming), deputy al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri calls on Muslims everywhere to focus their efforts on the jihad in Afghanistan. He does not focus on Iraq, where the fires burn bright, or on Pakistan, where the apex leadership resides.

It appears the Pakistani government is on the verge of finally moving in force against al Qaeda in the country, and a looming U.S.-Iranian rapprochement is making the position of foreign jihadists in Iraq increasingly tenuous. That leaves the movement with only the mountains of Afghanistan for shelter. After all, there is no spot on the globe farther away from what the West might consider friendly shores.
29267  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Question for a friend on Joining the DB when there is no DB on: July 13, 2007, 07:08:31 AM
Woof Max:


Joining the DBMAA:

Does this help?

29268  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Canada on: July 13, 2007, 06:59:07 AM

Global Market Brief: Canada's Arctic Potential
Following up on part of a major campaign promise, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on July 9 announced formal plans to construct up to eight Polar Class 5 Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships -- armed icebreakers -- and establish a deepwater port from which they will operate in the Far North. His speech was rife with words such as "sovereignty" and "national identity," and emphasized Canada's territorial claims in the Arctic. Not only are higher energy prices making more extreme forms of oil and natural gas extraction in the Arctic more attractive, but the receding summer ice pack also is opening up a world of possibilities -- literally.

Global warming has begun changing the geography of the Canadian North. And, given Ottawa's current status in terms of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the slew of Canadian islands extending far into the Arctic, there is little doubt that Canada will reap substantial benefits from the increasing accessibility of the North. Under UNCLOS, countries have full rights to the minerals within their exclusive economic zones of 200 nautical miles. Special considerations for long continental shelves can extend those rights even farther. In the Arctic, these shelves extend for hundreds of miles, which means that, with the exception of a small disputed area on the U.S. border, the vast bulk of the resources under the Arctic in the Western Hemisphere belong to Canada.


Long-disputed claims in the Arctic are beginning to take on new relevance. The dispute between Denmark and Canada over Hans Island -- a hunk of rocks smaller than New York's Central Park -- began to heat up (in a Canadian/Danish kind of way -- flags were planted and pastry imports were threatened) in 2004, and the U.S.-Canadian spat over a sliver of a wedge of floor in the Beaufort Sea has continued. Though the area of the latter is small by Alaskan standards, it could hold huge oil and natural gas deposits.

But the renewed interest in the Arctic runs deeper than revived territorial disputes. As the ice pack slowly recedes northward, more of Canada's North -- and beyond -- becomes accessible, altering how energy is not only developed but also delivered to market.

The $7 billion, 750-mile-long Mackenzie Valley natural gas pipeline project, which would ship natural gas southward from the Far North, has already run into a four-year delay, and costs have more than doubled. But if the northern coasts of the Yukon and the Northwest Territories become accessible by water year-round for big liquefied natural gas ships, the pipeline (and its royalties to governments and First Nations) will become completely unnecessary.

Furthermore, as the ice pack continues to recede each year, it opens up more and more potential deposits to year-round offshore drilling without the need for massively costly hardened ice-proof rigs like those in the water off Sakhalin Island.

Given the resources already being exploited at the extreme edge of the ice pack -- the experience of Prudhoe Bay and the promise of Sakhalin -- one can only guess what might lie farther north. But rest assured, there are companies that will find out. And the stage will be set for even more hotly contested battles over the ownership of the North Pole itself.


Oil and natural gas promise huge payoffs (and, despite some current small-scale disputes and the potential for larger ones, Canada will no doubt see its share of the wealth), but a more significant shift is possible: a true opening of the fabled Northwest Passage that could greatly change the face of business. But resource rights along the seafloor and territorial waters on the surface of the sea are governed differently under UNCLOS -- though, in Canada's case, they will be equally contested. While Canada might push the argument that the potential shipping lane (should it open) is within its territorial waters (using the straight baseline method outlined in UNCLOS, which in this case gives the most favorable outcome for Canada), the United States and others will make strong cases that it is an international strait connecting the Pacific and Atlantic -- the trump card in the treaty that would qualify the strait as international waters.

Whatever the ultimate legal status of the Northwest Passage, Canada will have effective control either way. Even before Ottawa's eventual acquisition of as many as eight armed icebreakers -- which will be far and away the largest fleet of such ships in the world -- it will be Canadian icebreakers patrolling the waters of the North. And a more direct route over the North Pole will only open up if the ice of the Arctic Ocean gets close to melting completely.

This is all, of course, 20 years down the road. Today, there are only the first indications -- a receding ice pack, rising energy prices and massive amounts of global maritime shipping. A small window each summer for crude carriers and container ships to make one headlong rush through the Arctic Ocean will hardly be worth the risk, much less worth altering the patterns of global shipping.

But if these trends continue unabated, exploration will certainly expand in the North. Spearheaded in all likelihood by energy interests, explorers will begin to chart and mark the most significant channels, expanding the navigability of the passage. If a reasonable assurance of safety can be made and shipping companies push hard enough, insurers could begin to take their bets. If those early bets pay off, the 21st century will experience one of those true rarities of history: a meaningful shift in global geography.

This will come at a cost -- any meaningful channel will mature amid treaties and compromises. Bad weather, poor visibility for much of the year and ice flow will all inject a certain amount of risk into the equation. But the prospect of cutting as much as 5,000 miles from transoceanic crossings from Europe to the U.S. West Coast is compelling and would fundamentally shift the center of balance of global shipping. The result -- pulling massive amounts of shipping traffic from Panama (and, to a lesser extent, the Suez Canal) -- could free the maritime world from the minor tyranny of the beam and draft restrictions, respectively, of Panamax and Suezmax shipbuilding standards. (Of course, exploration could reveal a new maritime design constraint -- a Canadamax tyranny. If anything, higher standards are needed for shipping hulls that are more likely to encounter ice.)

All that can be certain for now is a wealth of possibility -- and that the Canadian Coast Guard might soon have something to guard.
29269  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: July 13, 2007, 06:57:03 AM

Pakistan: Al Qaeda After the Red Mosque

The Red Mosque operation in Pakistan has created both a major opportunity and a serious challenge for al Qaeda prime. The standoff, which ended bloodily, has generated a significant degree of resentment among many Pakistanis, something al Qaeda can be expected to exploit. But the post-Red Mosque operation atmosphere also represents a major security threat to al Qaeda's apex leadership -- which is hiding out in northwestern Pakistan -- explaining the remarks from al Qaeda's No. 2 in his latest communique.


Deputy al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri's most recent taped message, which addresses the Red Mosque standoff in Pakistan's capital, contains very telling insights about the situation facing the apex leadership of the transnational jihadist organization, despite being issued before Pakistani security forces overran the mosque/madrassa complex. Now that the mosque operation has ended, having whipped up a great degree of anti-government sentiment, al-Zawahiri can be expected to release a follow-up tape to try to exploit the situation. But even in this initial tape, which was made some time after Red Mosque cult leader Maulana Abdul Aziz was arrested while trying to escape from the facility wearing female robes, al-Zawahiri demonstrates an awareness of the threat to al Qaeda that lies ahead.

As far back as June 2005, we identified that al Qaeda's clandestine global headquarters had relocated to the area comprising the districts of Dir, Malakand and Swat in Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) following the ouster of the Taliban regime in neighboring Afghanistan. Being based in Pakistan meant al Qaeda could not go too far in staging attacks in country for fear of attracting unwanted attention. It therefore tried to ensure that jihadist activity in the country did not become a security liability for the apex leadership.

Clearly, a great deal of militant activity within Pakistan is not commissioned by al-Zawahiri, but rather is the handiwork of domestic jihadist actors. Despite several attacks against Western and Pakistani government targets since Islamabad joined the U.S. war against jihadism, the government of Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf refrained from engaging in major action against the Islamist militancy. The Red Mosque crisis, however, forced the Pakistanis to change their attitude. Not only did the government decided to engage in an unprecedented assault against a mosque, but in a July 12 address to the nation Musharraf also announced plans to go after militant groups all over the NWFP and the adjacent tribal badlands.

We forecasted this move, predicting it could prove devastating for al Qaeda prime. Al-Zawahiri is well aware of the potential for such an outcome, which explains his remarks urging Pakistanis to focus on jihadist activity in Afghanistan as opposed to the situation in Pakistan -- which, from al Qaeda's point of view, is hopeless. Al-Zawahiri said, "Muslims of Pakistan ... you must now back the mujahideen in Afghanistan with your persons, wealth, opinion and expertise, because the jihad in Afghanistan is the door to salvation for Afghanistan, Pakistan and the rest of the region. Die honorably in the fields of jihad."

The call to focus on Afghanistan makes sense given the strategic and tactical situation al Qaeda faces. Pakistan has thus far provided the leadership sanctuary, but at the cost of significantly diminishing al Qaeda's operational capability. Furthermore, despite the significant radical Islamist presence within Pakistan, the country poses significant structural impediments to al Qaeda's objectives.

What al Qaeda really needs is the anarchy Afghanistan offers, presenting conditions conducive not only to the group's survival but also to a revival of its operational capabilities. Al Qaeda calculates that, given U.S. problems in Iraq and the disarray among NATO member states, the United States eventually will force the West yet again to abandon Afghanistan. The jihadists would then be able to use Afghanistan again for their purposes. The West is not going to leave Afghanistan anytime soon, but al Qaeda prime, which faces only bad options, will pursue the best one.

Although al Qaeda would love to exploit the anti-government sentiments that have arisen among Pakistanis in the wake of the storming of the Red Mosque, the group probably is bracing for what Stratfor has identified as the beginning of a long-term struggle between the Pakistani state and the jihadist Frankenstein it created over an extended period. While the struggle against the jihadists will be a long engagement, the founders of al Qaeda could get caught in the cross-fire between Islamabad and its former proxies in the not-too-distant future.
29270  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: US sliding down the Laffer Curve on: July 13, 2007, 06:35:20 AM
We're Number One, Alas
July 13, 2007; Page A12
Some good news on the tax cutting front: Last week lawmakers approved an 8.9 percentage point reduction in the corporate income tax rate. Too bad the tax cutters are Germans, not Americans.

There's a trend here. At least 25 developed nations have adopted Reaganite corporate income tax rate cuts since 2001. The U.S. is conspicuously not one of them. Vietnam has recently announced it is cutting its corporate rate to 25% from 28%. Singapore has approved a corporate tax cut to 18% from 20% to compete with low-tax Hong Kong's rate of 17.5%, and Northern Ireland is making a bid to slash its corporate tax rate to 12.5% to keep pace with the same low rate in the prosperous Republic of Ireland. Even in France, of all places, new President Nicolas Sarkozy has proposed reducing the corporate tax rate to 25% from 34.4%.

What do politicians in these countries understand that the U.S. Congress doesn't? Perhaps they've read "International Competitiveness for Dummies." In each of the countries that have cut corporate tax rates this year, the motivation has been the same -- to boost the nation's attractiveness as a location for international investment. Germany's overall rate will fall to 29.8% by 2008 from 38.7%. Remarkably, at the start of this decade Germany's corporate tax rate was 52%.

All of which means that the U.S. now has the unflattering distinction of having the developed world's highest corporate tax rate of 39.3% (35% federal plus a state average of 4.3%), according to the Tax Foundation. While Ronald Reagan led the "wave of corporate income tax rate reduction" in the 1980s, the Tax Foundation says, "the U.S. is lagging behind this time."

Foreign leaders are also learning another lesson: Lower corporate tax rates with fewer loopholes can lead to more, not less, tax revenue from business. The nearby chart shows the Laffer Curve effect from business taxation. Tax receipts tend to fall below their optimum potential when corporate tax rates are so high that they lead to the creation of loopholes and the incentive to move income to countries with a lower tax rate. Ireland is the classic case of a nation on the "correct side" of this curve. It has a 12.5% corporate rate, nearly the lowest in the world, and yet collects 3.6% of GDP in corporate revenues, well above the international average.

The U.S., by contrast, with its near 40% rate has been averaging less than 2.5% of GDP in corporate receipts. Kevin Hassett, an economist at the American Enterprise Institute who has studied the impact of corporate taxes, says the U.S. "appears to be a nation on the wrong side of the Laffer Curve: We could collect more revenues with a lower corporate tax rate."

If only the tax writers in Washington would heed this advice. Congress is moving in the reverse direction, threatening to raise the tax rate on corporate dividends, which is another tax on business income. There's also movement in the Senate to raise taxes on the foreign-source income of U.S. companies. The effect would be to raise the marginal tax rate for companies that base their corporate headquarters abroad.

But one reason those countries chose to move to the Cayman Islands and elsewhere is because of the high U.S. corporate tax rate. The Laffer Curve analysis indicates that these corporate tax increases are likely to raise little if any additional revenue, because companies will have a new incentive to move even more of their operations out of the reach of the IRS.

For all the talk of "tax equity," this is also a recipe for further inequality by driving more capital offshore. Research from Mr. Hassett and others has shown that high corporate tax rates reduce the rate of increase in manufacturing wages (See our editorial, "The Wages of Growth," Dec. 26, 2006.). For that matter, most economists understand that corporations don't ultimately pay any taxes. They merely serve as a collection agent, passing along the cost of those taxes in some combination of lower returns for shareholders, higher prices for customers, or lower compensation for employees. In other words, America's high corporate tax rates are an indirect, but still damaging, tax on average American workers.

One immediate policy remedy would be to cut the 35% U.S. federal corporate tax rate to the industrial nation average of 29%. That's probably too sensible for a Congress gripped by a desire to soak the rich and punish business, but a Democrat who picked up the idea could turn the tax tables on Republicans in 2008. Meantime, as the U.S. fails to act, the rest of the world is looking more attractive all the time.

29271  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: July 13, 2007, 06:33:22 AM
The Surge Is Working
July 13, 2007; Page A13


For nearly three-and-a-half years, the two most dangerous enemies of the American mission in Iraq -- and of the majority of Iraqis who want to build a stable democracy -- had been growing in terms of their capacity to inflict damage. This despite the losses they suffered in battles with Iraqi and American security forces.

Moqtada al-Sadr, on the one hand, grew from a small annoyance as a gang leader in Najaf in April 2003 to become the leader of a monstrous militia that, with the spark al Qaeda provided by bombing the Askari shrine in Samarra, created the sectarian bloodbath we witnessed throughout 2006.

On the other side, al Qaeda's network in Iraq grew from a few dozen infiltrators, supported by disgruntled locals, to an entity that was until recently bragging about establishing Islamic rule on the soil of at least two Iraqi provinces east and west of Baghdad.

And so this country was going through the worst times ever as we moved towards the end of 2006. Iraq was being torn apart by these two terror networks and Iraq was said to be on the verge of "civil war," if it wasn't actually there already.

But the situation looks quite different now.

Last year's crisis made Washington and Baghdad realize that urgent measures needed to be taken to stop the deterioration, and ultimately reverse it. So Washington decided to send in thousands of additional troops. And Baghdad agreed to move its lazy bones and mobilize more Iraqi troops to the capital and coordinate a joint crackdown with the American forces on all outlaw groups, Sunni and Shiite alike.

The big question these days is, did it actually work? Even partially?

First I think we need to remember that states and their traditional armies need to be judged by different metrics than gangs and terror organizations. The latter don't need to win the majority of their battles with American and Iraqi forces. The strength of terrorists and militias is simply their ability to subjugate the civilian populace with fear.

Here is exactly where the American surge and Iraqi plan have proven effective in Baghdad.

The combined use of security walls, the heavy security-force presence in the streets, and an overwhelming number of checkpoints have highly restricted the movement of terrorists and militias inside Baghdad and led to separation. Not a separation of ordinary Sunnis from ordinary Shiites but a separation of both Sunni and Shiite terrorists from their respective priority targets, i.e., civilians of the other sect.

With their movement restricted and their ability to perform operations reduced, they had to look for other targets that are easier to reach. After all, when the goal is to defeat America in Iraq and undermine the democratic political process any target is a good target.

Just look at the difference between the aftermath of the first Samarra bombing in February of 2006 and that of the second bombing in June of 2007. Days after the 2006 bombing more than a hundred Sunni mosques were hit in retaliatory attacks, and thousands of Sunnis were executed by militias in the months that followed. This time only four or five mosques were attacked, none of them in Baghdad proper that I know of.

Sadr's militias have moved the main battlefield south to cities like Samawah, Nasiriyah and Diwaniyah where there's no American surge of troops, and from which many Iraqi troops were recalled to serve in Baghdad. But over there, too, the Iraqi security forces and local administrations did not show the weakness that Sadr was hoping to see. As a result, Sadr's representatives have been forced to accept "truces."

I know this may make things sound as if Sadr has the upper hand, that he can force a truce on the state. But the fact that is missing from news reports is that, with each new eruption of clashes, Sadr's position becomes weaker as tribes and local administrations join forces to confront his outlaw militias.

Al Qaeda hasn't been any luckier than Sadr, and the tide began to turn even before the surge was announced. The change came from the most unlikely city and unlikely people, Ramadi and its Sunni tribes.

In Baghdad the results have been just as spectacular so far. The district where al Qaeda claimed to have established its Islamic emirate is exactly where al Qaeda is losing big now, and at the hands of its former allies who have turned on al Qaeda and are slowly reaching out to the government.

While al Qaeda and Sadr are by no means finished off militarily, what has changed is that both of them are fighting their former public base of support. That course can't lead them to success in fomenting the sectarian war they had bet their money on.

It would be unrealistic to expect political progress to take place along the same timeline as this military progress. The obvious reason is that Iraqi politics tend to be affected by developments on the battlefield. Anyone familiar with the basics of negotiations should understand this.

First things first. Let's allow our troops to finish their job. And when that is done nation-building will follow, and that's where diplomats and politicians will have to do the fighting in their own way while American soldiers can finally enjoy a well-deserved rest.

Backing off now is not an option. The light at the end of the tunnel faded for a whole dark year, but we can see it again now and it's getting brighter. It's our duty to keep walking towards it.

Mr. Fadhil co-writes a blog,, from Baghdad.
29272  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / In Poland, a Jewish revival on: July 13, 2007, 05:59:34 AM
NY Times

Published: July 12, 2007
KRAKOW, Poland — There is a curious thing happening in this old country, scarred by Nazi death camps, raked by pogroms and blanketed by numbing Soviet sterility: Jewish culture is beginning to flourish again.

“Jewish style” restaurants are serving up platters of pirogis, klezmer bands are playing plaintive Oriental melodies, derelict synagogues are gradually being restored. Every June, a festival of Jewish culture here draws thousands of people to sing Jewish songs and dance Jewish dances. The only thing missing, really, are Jews.

“It’s a way to pay homage to the people who lived here, who contributed so much to Polish culture,” said Janusz Makuch, founder and director of the annual festival and himself the son of a Catholic family.

Jewish communities are gradually reawakening across Eastern Europe as Jewish schools introduce a new generation to rituals and beliefs suppressed by the Nazis and then by Communism. At summer camps, thousands of Jewish teenagers from across the former Soviet bloc gather for crash courses in Jewish culture, celebrating Passover, Hanukkah and Purim — all in July.

Even in Poland, there are now two Jewish schools, synagogues in several major cities and at least four rabbis.

But with relatively few Jews, Jewish culture in Poland is being embraced and promoted by the young and the fashionable.

Before Hitler’s horror, Poland had the largest Jewish population in Europe, about 3.5 million souls. One in 10 Poles was Jewish.

More than three million Polish Jews died in the Holocaust. Postwar pogroms and a 1968 anti-Jewish purge forced out most of those who survived.

Probably about 70 percent of the world’s European Jews, or Ashkenazi, can trace their ancestry to Poland — thanks to a 14th-century king, Casimir III, the Great, who drew Jewish settlers from across Europe with his vow to protect them as “people of the king.” But there are only 10,000 self-described Jews living today in this country of 39 million.

More than the people disappeared. The food, the music, the dance, the literature, the theater, the painting, the architecture — in short, the culture — of Jewish life in Poland disappeared, too. Poland’s cultural fabric lost some of its richest hues.

“Imagine what it would mean for the culture of New York if all Spanish-speaking New Yorkers disappeared,” said Ann Kirschner, whose book, “Sala’s Gift,” recounts her mother’s survival through five years in Nazi labor camps.

Sometime in the 1970s, as a generation born under Communism came of age, people began to look back with longing to the days when Poland was less gray, less monocultural. They found inspiration in the period between the world wars, which was the Poland of the Jews.

“You cannot have genocide and then have people live as if everything is normal,” said Konstanty Gebert, founder of a Polish-Jewish monthly, Midrasz. “It’s like when you lose a limb. Poland is suffering from Jewish phantom pain.”

Interest in Jewish culture became an identifying factor for people unhappy with the status quo and looking for ways to rebel, whether against the government or their parents. “The word ‘Jew’ still cuts conversation at the dinner table,” Mr. Gebert said. “People freeze.”

The revival of Jewish culture is, in its way, a progressive counterpoint to a conservative nationalist strain in Polish politics that still espouses anti-Semitic views. Some people see it as a generation’s effort to rise above the country’s dark past in order to convincingly condemn it.

“We’re trying to give muscle to our moral right to judge history,” said Mr. Makuch, the festival organizer.

Mr. Makuch was 14 when an elderly man in his hometown, Pulawy, told him that before the war half of the town was Jewish. “It was the first time I had ever heard the word ‘Jew,’ ” Mr. Makuch recalled.

He became a self-described meshugeneh, Yiddish for “crazy person,” fascinated with all things Jewish. When he moved to Krakow to study, he spent his free time with the city’s dwindling Jewish community. There were about 300 Jews, compared with a prewar population of about 70,000. There are even fewer today.


Page 2 of 2)

While few Jews have returned to the city, Jewish culture has, largely because of Mr. Makuch. In 1988, together with Krzysztof Gierat, he organized the city’s first Festival of Jewish Culture, a one-day affair in a theater that held only 100 people. In 1994, it became an annual event. There are now smaller festivals in Warsaw, Wroclaw and Tarnow.

In Poland, a Jewish Revival Thrives — Minus Jews The Krakow festival has helped revitalize the city’s old Jewish quarter, Kazimierz, which deteriorated after the end of the war.

Today, quaint carved wooden figurines of orthodox Jews and miniature brass menorahs are sold in the district’s curio shops and souvenir stands. Klezmer bands play in its restaurants, though few of the musicians are Jewish.

Along one short street, faux 1930s Jewish merchant signs hang above the storefronts in an attempt to recreate the feel of the neighborhood before the war. Many Jews are offended by the commercialization of their culture in a country almost universally associated with its near annihilation. Others argue that there is something deeper taking place in Poland as the country heals from the double wounds of Nazi and Communist domination.

“There is commercialism, but that is foam on the surface,” Mr. Gebert said. “This is one of the deepest ethical transformations that our country is undergoing. This is Poland rediscovering its Jewish soul.”

This year, the festival had almost 200 events, including concerts and lectures and workshops in everything from Hebrew calligraphy to cooking. More than 20,000 people attended, few of whom were Jewish.

At a drumming workshop in Jozef Dietl primary school, Shlomo Bar, from Israel, led an elderly woman, a young boy in a Pokémon T-shirt and shorts, a young man in dreadlocks and two dozen other, mostly non-Jewish participants in a class on Sephardic rhythms.

Outside, Witek Ngo The, born in Krakow to Vietnamese immigrants, worked as a festival volunteer, directing visitors to other workshops in nearby schools.

In one, Benzion Miller, wearing a black yarmulke, white T-shirt, black suspenders and pants, taught 40 people Hasidic songs, a wood-and-silver crucifix high on the wall behind him.

Half of the festival’s $800,000 budget comes from the national and local governments. The rest is contributed by private donors, primarily from the United States, including the Philadelphia-based Friends of the Krakow Jewish Culture Festival.

Tad Taube, a businessman whose Taube Foundation for Jewish Life and Culture is one of the festival’s biggest donors, was born in Krakow and left shortly before the war.

Together with other donors, Mr. Taube’s foundation has spent more than $10 million to help revive Jewish culture in Poland. He attended the recent groundbreaking for a Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw, another effort he has supported.

Like many people involved in the resurgence of Jewish culture in Poland, Mr. Taube said he believed that it was not only important for Poland, but for Jews around the world.

Chris Schwarz, founder and director of Krakow’s Galicia Jewish Museum, agreed, saying, “Rather than coming here just to mourn, we should come with a great sense of dignity, a great sense of pride for what our ancestors accomplished.”

For others, the celebration of Jewish culture in a city just an hour away from Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp where a million Jews died, is a triumph of history.

“The fact that you can walk around Krakow with a lanyard around your neck that reads ‘Jewish Culture Festival’ is an extraordinary thing,” Ms. Kirschner said.

29273  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mil-blogs: Michael Yon and others (support our troops) on: July 12, 2007, 08:50:28 PM
Second post of the day

Iraq Report: Al Qaeda in the Northern Villages

As Operations Phantom Thunder pushes forward in Baghdad and the Belts, U.S. and Iraqi forces attacked and killed an al Qaeda team attempting to take control of a rural Kurdish village in Diyala. Meanwhile, with critics claiming the U.S. is too al Qaeda focused in its operations, Iraqi and U.S. forces put a significant dent in the Mahdi Army over the past several days.
As Operations Arrowhead Ripper proceeds in the provincial capital of Baqubah and the surrounding areas, al Qaeda in Iraq has been pushed into the farmlands north of the city. Last weekend, al Qaeda struck with suicide attacks at Kurdish cities along the Iranian border, and in a Kurdish village in neighboring Salahadin province, with devastating effects. Almost 200 civilians were killed and hundreds more wounded.
Al Qaeda is pushing into villages where it did not have a presence in the recent past. Yesterday, reports of an al Qaeda assault on the small Shiite village of Sherween slashed across the wires. The AP reported that when al Qaeda in Iraq moved on Sherween, there were no security forces present to stop them. Residents of the town fought back; "25 militants and 18 residents were killed and 40 people wounded in the fighting," a resident of a neighboring town reported. He also stated that al Qaeda was winning.
While the AP report lamented the failure of the Iraqi and U.S. security forces to respond, a joint U.S. and Iraqi task force was quickly assembled and moved in on Sherween early today. "The operation began early Tuesday morning with close air support engaging three river crossings and one bridge with eight 2,000-pound bombs and 14 500-pound bombs. The locations are used by al-Qaida to conduct their attacks and were engaged to prevent their escape," Multinational Forces Iraq reported. "The people of Sherween played a vital role in this operation as they fought side-by-side [with] the ISF to help them capture and kill known terrorists." The attack resulted in "20 al-Qaida terrorists killed, 20 detained, and two weapons caches and 12 improvised explosive devices discovered."
Also north of Baqubah, U.S. and Iraqi security forces found an al Qaeda safe house, which contained a possible torture room. "Inside, the patrol found medical supplies, medical equipment and al-Qaida related propaganda," Multinational Forces Iraq reported. "Also inside the building was a room with indicators that it had been used as a place of torture, such as blood on the walls and blacked out windows."
As U.S. and Iraq forces move forward with securing Baqubah and the outlying regions, the attacks such at those in Sherween are expected to increase. Al Qaeda is working the seams in Diyala, and the rural farmlands and the Hamrin mountain chain are ideal locations for al Qaeda and allied insurgent groups to fall back upon.

Northern Babil
Operations Marne Torch in the Arab Jabour region and Commando Eagle in the Mahmudiyah region continue largely under the radar. A tip from an Iraqi led to the capture of south Baghdad’s most wanted terrorist, along with seven of his associates. The captured man led an al Qaeda terror and intimidation network and was responsible "for shooting down an AH-64 helicopter in April 2006, the abductions of two Soldiers in June 2006, and complex attacks on patrol bases and terrorist acts against both Coalition Forces and Iraqi civilians."
In Arab Jabour, 13 insurgents were detained and several weapons caches were found. In Jisr Diyala, three insurgents were killed after attacking U.S. forces who were attempting to provide medical assistance to Iraqi citizens.
The Green Zone, or International Zone, came under a relatively heavy mortar attack on Tuesday. Upwards of 20 mortars hit inside the Green zone, killing three and wounding 18. Mortars have been launched from inside Sadr City by "rogue" elements of the Mahdi Army. While attacks on the Green Zone have been relatively ineffective militarily, they provide for breathless news reporting.
U.S. forces continue to establish a presence inside Baghdad's worst neighborhood. The Army built a combat outpost in the Ameriya neighborhood in western Baghdad. Ameriya has been the scene of a local uprising against al Qaeda in Iraq by residents and Sunni insurgent groups. Clearing operations in the Rashid district resulted in the discovery of two small caches containing mortars and rockets.
The North
Al Qaeda and allied insurgent groups are pressing hard in Salahadin and Ninewa province as operations are underway in Baghdad, the Belts and Diyala. The mayor of Samarra was reported to have been assassinated in his home on Tuesday, according to Voices of Iraq. He took office in May and was tasked with working to rebuild the al Askaria mosque, which was destroyed by al Qaeda in 2006 and attacked again this June. Iraqi police captured a cell leader of a mortar and sniper network in the city on July 9. In Mosul, the Iraqi Army found a roadside bomb factory that produced IEDs made to look like sections of curb.
Al Qaeda
Coalition and Iraqi commandos continue to strike at al Qaeda's command network and senior operatives nationwide. In Tuesday's raids, 17 operatives were captured in Mosul, Baghdad, Taji, and northern Babil province. Wednesday's raids resulted in two al Qaeda operatives killed and 20 captured in Mosul, Baghdad, Samarra, and Taji.
Mahdi Army and the Iranian Special Groups
While some commentators are claiming military leaders are only focused on the al Qaeda threat at the exclusion of all other insurgent groups, U.S. and Iraqi security forces continue to devote resources towards dismantling the Mahdi Army and the Iranian-backed "Special Groups."
On July 9, U.S. forces killed eight members of a "criminal militia" inside Sadr City. Iraqi Special Operations Forces captured "twelve insurgents linked to a rogue Jaysh al-Mahdi militia [Mahdi Army]" during two operations in Baghdad on July 8. One of the Mahdi cells was responsible for conducting explosively formed penetrator attacks on U.S. forces. Today, Coalition forces captured a "Secret Cell terrorist ... affiliated with the Jaysh al-Mahdi affiliated Special Groups." Multinational Forces Iraq has been increasingly linking the Mahdi Army and the Iranian Special Groups in its press releases.
29274  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mil-blogs: Michael Yon and others (support our troops) on: July 12, 2007, 04:03:57 PM

Greetings from Baqubah,
Another quiet day has unfolded here.  Tonight, Thursday 12 June, I will do a live radio interview with Hugh Hewitt at 7PM EST.
Also, a new dispatch is published: Al Qaeda on the Run
Very Respectfully,
29275  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: July 12, 2007, 03:22:46 PM

BAHRAIN/IRAN: Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmad al-Khalifa summoned Iran's charge d'affaires to answer questions about Tehran's official position on an editorial written by Hussain Shariatmadari, managing editor of Iranian daily newspaper Kayhan, in which Shariatmadari calls Bahrain an Iranian province, The Media Line reported. Shariatmadari, who is also an adviser to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran, wrote that Bahrain was separated from Iran under an illegal agreement between the United States, the United Kingdom and the Shah of Iran.
29276  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Care Economics on: July 12, 2007, 08:40:16 AM
Do-It-Yourself Tort Reform
July 12, 2007; Page A15

What do you call a surgeon who wears a suit? A defendant. It's an old joke, but at any given moment in the U.S., approximately 60,000 medical malpractice suits are being tried, many involving multiple physician-defendants. That's roughly 10% of the physician population. And once a physician experiences the legal system, it can scar him permanently.

It's not hard to see why. Though the medical tort system is designed to deter unsafe practices and to make negligently injured patients whole, it does neither. Nor does it prevent a high frequency of frivolous lawsuits.

In response, doctors and medical associations have sought relief from lawsuits for years by trying to get tort reform passed at the state and federal levels. Such reforms have solved some problems, but often at the expense of exacerbating others.

For example, while some states have enacted reforms which limit certain types of damages to plaintiffs, this has done little to stem the tide of frivolous law suits. In California -- the tort reform poster child -- an obstetrician will pay $30,000 to $50,000 annually in liability premiums, as compared to the $170,000 obstetricians might pay in certain areas of New York. Yet doctors are actually sued more often in California than in other states, in part because tort lawyers have sought to compensate for decreased payments by pursuing a greater number of claims.

Another tort reform "success story" is Louisiana. The state's dominant malpractice insurer recently reported it spent more money on defending claims than on settlements and judgments. Why? Because Louisiana mandates the use of a screening panel before a lawsuit is filed. Annually, for every three physicians, one claim is made to the panel (a claim frequency that is among the highest in the country). The winner, usually the physician, is forced to pay the cost of the panel. So, the winner does not really win. He just loses less.

In 2002, we launched Medical Justice, a membership-based organization designed to complement tort reform and to head off frivolous lawsuits. Medical Justice pays the bills and provides the services to file countersuits against all proponents of meritless lawsuits.

Our service has two principal components. First, we look at the quality of so-called expert-witness testimony. Behind every frivolous lawsuit there is an "expert" -- usually a physician skilled in testifying before juries and often compensated to the tune of $10,000 dollars a day. Put bluntly, many of these "experts" are frauds, as this newspaper has repeatedly shown in cases regarding asbestosis and silicosis claims.

In a recent case we dealt with, an expert witness detailed how a urologist had botched a vasectomy, even though routine postoperative sperm counts were, as expected, zero. Nonetheless, the patient's wife became pregnant.

A lawsuit gathered momentum based on an expert supporting the least likely hypothesis: surgical error. To almost no one's surprise, a paternity test performed many months later solved this elementary mystery, and the case was dropped. But the urologist took little comfort in being exonerated. Too little. Too Late.

Medical Justice deals with the problem of frivolous or dishonest expert witness testimony by relying on the 2001 case, Austin v. American Association of Neurological Surgeons. There, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the right of medical specialty societies to police their own members. Many of these societies have panels to review the quality of med-mal testimony. If an expert's testimony is contrary to what a majority or respectable minority in the field would state, that record may translate into an ethical violation, potentially leading to discipline or even expulsion. Such discipline diminishes an expert's credibility in future cases.

Medical Justice's second tool is a patient-physician contract. That contract states that in a legitimate dispute, both sides will utilize only those experts who belong to such societies and who strictly follow their code of ethics. This limits the list to reputable and accountable physician experts, thus precluding the use of hired guns or medical "witnesses having other rational explanations" -- better known by their acronym.

By using contract law to define and enforce reasonable rules, the courtroom becomes less dramatic and more truthful. Virtually all of our patients have been comfortable signing this contract and participating in this process.

Does it work? Yes. After five years of collecting data, we know that Medical Justice plan members are sued at a rate of under just 2% a year. The average doctor is sued at a rate of 8%-12% per year. And the company is top heavy with physicians in "high-risk" specialties.

Further, when meritless cases are filed against plan members, generally they're dropped quickly. In Ohio for example, most "intent to sue" letters historically evolved into lawsuits. When a Medical Justice plan member receives an "intent to sue" letter, the plaintiff's attorney is notified that the defendant has the will and the funds to countersue. The result is that only 20% of the letters mature into bona fide lawsuits.

Finally, the system works because we back our words with deeds by taking action against proponents of frivolous suits. In a sense, Medical Justice has created a contract-based "loser-pays" paradigm. We have helped over a thousand physicians who are tired of being victimized by a system that doesn't prevent collateral damage.

None of this is to say that we don't have a real and sizable problem in this country with patients who are negligently injured, or who die on account of preventable medical errors in the course of their medical treatment. But we can't begin to adequately address the problem of patient safety until we clear the dockets and cut the costs which are wasted on meritless claims and the much larger derivative costs of defensive medicine.

Our legislators have tried and been unable to solve these larger problems. Micromanaging tort reform has proven to be little more than a game of legal whack-a-mole. It's time we give private initiatives a chance to work.

Dr. Segal, a neurosurgeon, is the founder and CEO of Medical Justice Services. Mr. Sacopulos is its general counsel.

29277  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Training to much? on: July 11, 2007, 11:55:12 PM
I have read that OJ is very high glycemic and that we are better off eating oranges to slow down the absorbtion rate.
29278  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Some Jun07 Gathering Pics on: July 11, 2007, 09:37:16 PM
For those who haven't noticed, on the front page we now have a flash program with quite a few pictures  cool
29279  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Training to much? on: July 11, 2007, 09:36:27 PM
Excellent point!

I would add the importace of getting one's minerals, including trace minerals, which often become depleted with heavy sweating.
29280  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Care Economics on: July 11, 2007, 06:54:54 PM
TRIPping Up Property Rights
July 11, 2007

After years of campaigning, activists have narrowed the debate about health care in poor countries to a single premise: Patents drive up the cost of medicines, so patents are bad. Today this fallacy will gain a degree of institutional legitimacy as the European Parliament debates ways to undermine global intellectual property rules.

A handful of MEPs propose that the EU encourage governments in poor countries to issue "compulsory licenses" for patented medicines, revoking the patents and attendant rights -- such as collecting royalties -- that had been granted to a drug maker. The lawmakers also want the EU to exclude intellectual property rights (IPR) clauses from any future trade agreements signed with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries. Such a move would not only harm European pharmaceutical firms, but distract attention from the real causes of ill health in poor countries.

Thailand got this ball rolling. The interim military government there recently issued a number of compulsory licenses, citing flexibilities in the World Trade Organization's Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights agreement, or TRIPS. The junta claimed that the prices of these drugs made it impossible to provide universal access to medicines for the Thai people.

The political brouhaha that followed took all eyes off the thing that mattered most: the state of the Thai health-care system, which was suffering from hospital closures and staffing shortages. Without hospitals and doctors, cheap drugs will do little good.

The problem with the Thai health system isn't money; vast amounts of aid are already on offer. The problem is bad governance and corruption. For example, the Global Fund awarded Thailand $133 million to manufacture its locally produced HIV/AIDS therapy, called GPO-VIR. Four years later, the money was withdrawn because the state drug maker failed to meet international standards.

Others have trodden this road. From 1972 India weakened its IP laws in hopes of driving down medicine prices. It certainly made some drugs less expensive, but it hasn't made Indians any healthier. Access to even basic medicines in India remains unacceptably low. Children go without routine vaccinations. Simple generic anti-infectives are out of reach of the majority of the rural poor.

This goes right to the heart of the medicine-access debate for Africa, too. In 2006, the director of the World Health Organization's HIV Division, Kevin De Cock, said "it is very obvious that the elephant in the room is not the current price of drugs. The real obstacle is the fragility of the health systems. You have health infrastructure that is dilapidated, and supply chains that don't exist."

If African health-care systems are to improve in a sustainable way, it is vital for their economies to grow. Today's European Parliament debate falls short here as well. MEPs are being urged not only to scrap IPR commitments from trade agreements with poor countries but, in some cases, to scrap free-trade agreements altogether.

That would be counterproductive in two obvious ways. First, tearing up these deals would undermine one of the best chances for economic growth these regions have. Second, IPR are a crucial guarantee that patients in poor countries will get high-quality, effective medicines. Many generic-drug manufacturers in countries with weak IP rights -- particularly India -- are reluctant to invest the money needed to bring their factories to international standards. Drugs that do not meet these stringent standards are likely to encourage mutated, drug-resistant strains of disease, which is particularly damaging for malaria or HIV/AIDS patients.

Emasculating TRIPS might allow the MEPs to stick it to Big Pharma, but it takes energy away from the things that really matter: infrastructure, doctors, nurses. Unless poor nations get these, we will still be having this debate in four decades' time.

Mr. van Gelder is network director, and Mr. Stevens health program director, at International Policy Network.
29281  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: July 11, 2007, 06:49:03 PM
What Iranians Really Think
July 11, 2007; Page A14

Keen observers of Iran have insisted for years that the Iranian people are pro-Western, indeed pro-American, while opposed to the largely unelected clerical regime that rules them. For the first time, Terror Free Tomorrow's unprecedented nationwide poll of Iran offers indisputable empirical proof that these commentators are dead-on in their assessment of the "Iranian street."

Discontent with the current system of government, the economy and isolation from the West is widespread throughout Iran. In this context, nuclear weapons are the lowest priority for the Iranian people. The overwhelming popular will to live in a country open to the West and the U.S., with greater economic opportunity, is a powerful plea from every region and segment of society. Iranians also speak with one voice in rejecting the current autocratic rule of their supreme leader and in courageously asking for democracy instead.

Iranian students: A new survey shows their fellow citizens want democracy too.
These are among the significant findings of the first uncensored public opinion survey of Iran since President Ahmadinejad took office. The survey was conducted in Farsi by telephone from June 5 to June 18, 2007, with 1,000 interviews covering all 30 provinces of Iran (and a margin of error of 3.1%). The last poll to ask similar controversial questions was conducted in September 2003 by Abbas Abdi inside Iran. He was imprisoned as a result.

Developing nuclear weapons was seen as a very important priority by only 29% of Iranians. By contrast, 88% of Iranians considered improving the Iranian economy a very important priority. 80% of Iranians favor Iran offering full international nuclear inspections and a guarantee not to develop or possess nuclear weapons in return for outside aid.

Moreover, close to 70% of Iranians also favor normal relations and trade with the U.S. Indeed, in exchange for normal relations, a majority of Iranians even favor recognizing Israel and Palestine as independent states, ending Iranian support for any armed groups inside Iraq, and giving full transparency by Iran to the U.S. to ensure there are no Iranian endeavors to develop nuclear weapons.

Yet the most significant finding of our survey for the future of Iran's present rulers is the opposition to their current system of government. Some 61% of Iranians were willing to tell our pollsters -- over the phone no less -- that they oppose the current Iranian system of government, in which the supreme leader rules according to religious principles and cannot be chosen or replaced by direct vote of the people. More telling, over 79% of Iranians support a democratic system instead, in which the supreme leader, along with all leaders, can be chosen and replaced by a free and direct vote of the people. Only 11% of Iranians said they would strongly oppose having a political system in which all of their leaders, including the supreme leader, are chosen by popular election.

Iranians across all demographic groups oppose the unelected rule of the supreme leader in favor of electing all their leaders. While these views run stronger in Tehran, they are also held across all provinces of Iran, and in both urban and rural areas.

Terror Free Tomorrow's path-breaking survey of Iran demonstrates that the Iranian people are the best ally of the U.S. and the West against the government in Tehran. The considerable challenge is how to support the Iranian people while also achieving important U.S. goals, such as preventing the Iranian government from developing a nuclear arsenal.

There are no easy answers. The U.S., with France, Germany, Britain and the international community, however, should not spurn the clear will of Iranians. The implicit bet Iranians seem to want the world to make is to engage Iran now, and place the burden squarely on Iran's rulers to reject an offer that would clearly improve the life of the Iranian people themselves.

This does not mean that the U.S., Europe and the international community should abandon current sanctions or indeed fail to strengthen future sanctions against the regime. Yet since military options for responding to Iran entail even greater unknowable risks, and sanctions alone so far have proved inadequate, a strategy that also recognizes the consensus of the people of Iran themselves may realistically offer the best hope for all.

Mr. Ballen is president of Terror Free Tomorrow.

29282  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: July 11, 2007, 06:44:29 PM
Al Qaeda Cell in the U.S. Or On Its Way, According to New Intel
 Share July 10, 2007 6:30 PM

Brian Ross Reports:

 Senior U.S. intelligence officials tell ABC News new intelligence suggests
a small al Qaeda cell is on its way to the United States, or may already be

The White House has convened an urgent multi-agency meeting for Thursday
afternoon to deal with the new threat.

  a.. Blotter Secret Document: U.S. Fears Terror 'Spectacular' Planned
  b.. Blotter Al Qaeda No. 2 Makes More Threats Against the U.K.
  c.. Click Here to Check Out Brian Ross Investigative Photos
Top intelligence and law enforcement officials have been told to assemble in
the Situation Room to report on:

--what steps can be taken to minimize or counter the threat,

--and what steps are being taken to harden security for government buildings
and personnel.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told the Chicago Tribune
editorial board on Tuesday he had "a gut feeling" that an attack was coming.

"We do worry about whether they are rebuilding their capabilities," Chertoff
said. "We strike at them; we degrade them; but they rebuild."

"It suggests they have information that the cell or cells coming this
direction want to attack a government facility," Brad Garrett, a former FBI
agent and ABC News consultant, said.

Law enforcement officials say the recent failed attacks in London have
provided important new clues about possible tactics.

Click Here for Full Blotter Coverage.

And officials say the London attackers' use of the Internet left important
clues that are being used to decode other e-mails that had initially been
deemed unimportant but are now taking on new significance.

A senior administration official said the level of concern of a new terror
attack is now higher than it has been in some time, and the meeting this
week in the situation room is one of a number that have been convened in
light of the new intelligence and what happened in London.


"World News" closer between Charles Gibson and Brian Ross:

Charles Gibson: The obvious question, Brian, is how hard and how specific is
the intelligence?

Brian Ross: Not hard, but good. It's being taken very seriously, in
connection with increased chatter, e-mail traffic back and forth, the
attacks in London, and a general concern, as Secretary Chertoff said today,
that summer seems to be a time that al Qaeda likes to attack.

Charles Gibson: And there's been a bunch of tapes that have been coming from
al Qaeda lately.

Brian Ross: In fact, Zawahri put out his eighth tape today and says he had
easy access to the Internet, and he threatened new attacks against London.

Charles Gibson: Once was the day when this intelligence came in, they would
raise the level of concern going to a different color.

Brian Ross: The concern, now, by doing that and not telling Americans what
they can do, where the attack is coming, serves no useful purpose.


White House response:

After the attempted terrorist attacks in the U.K., the U.S. government
convened meetings to discuss the situation -- that is what citizens should
expect. There is no credible evidence of an imminent threat, however, and
counter-terrorism officials regularly meet -- that is not unusual. We are
taking all threats seriously and working to ensure we can keep the
terrorists from striking at innocent people.
29283  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / If Saddam were still in power on: July 11, 2007, 06:42:48 PM
What We Pre-Empted
Today's world would be far worse if Saddam were still in power.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Given the problems and U.S. casualties in Iraq, polls show a large majority of the American people believe the invasion of Iraq was a mistake. Yet if we imagine what the world would look like today if Saddam Hussein had not been deposed, it seems clear that almost no outcome in Iraq would be as adverse to the interests of the United States as today's world with Saddam still in power.

It is important to recall that Saddam had thrown the U.N. weapons inspectors out of Iraq in 1998, and allowed them to return in 2002 only because of the credible threat of a U.S. attack. In addition, the sanctions regime was collapsing--Saddam had learned how to extract billions of dollars for weapons out of the humanitarian exceptions to those sanctions--and our European friends, and perhaps U.N. officials themselves, were complicit in this. Under these circumstances, Saddam could not have been "contained" or rendered harmless, and Iraq could not have been indefinitely subject to U.N. inspections. At some point, Saddam would have been able to throw out the inspectors again, with no further action by the U.N. It was clear that the U.N. itself would do nothing to enforce its own resolutions.

We also know from the reports of the weapons inspectors that Saddam and his scientists were working to develop nuclear weapons, work that certainly would have continued if Saddam had remained in place. Saddam had already demonstrated that he would use chemical weapons, and there is no reason in logic that he wouldn't also restore his chemical weapons stocks once the inspectors had left. He had the largest army in the region, and had shown a determination to use it for expanding his control beyond Iraq. It's not far-fetched, therefore, to consider what economists call a counterfactual--what things would look like today if the U.S. had not invaded Iraq.

First, U.S. troops would still be in Saudi Arabia. Our troops were there because of the Saudis' fear of an Iraqi attack. We should recall that one of the principal reasons Osama bin Laden cited for attacking us--not only on 9/11, but for many years before--was that U.S. troops were supposedly defiling the Muslim holy places in Saudi Arabia. As absurd as this seems to us, it apparently resonated with the Mohamed Attas of this world. With Saddam still in power, American arms would be necessary to protect Saudi Arabia, and our presence there would still be a continuing irritant among militants and a source of al Qaeda-inspired terrorist attacks against the United States around the world.
Imagine, also, trying to persuade Iran to abandon the development of nuclear weapons when Iraq--which had attacked Iran--was actively engaged in doing exactly that. We hope now to change Iran's course through economic sanctions--a difficult prospect to be sure--but that would be a hopeless quest if its leaders and population believed they needed nuclear weapons to deter Iraq. Once it became clear that Iran would develop nuclear weapons, many Sunni Arab nations would want a nuclear deterrent, and Israel's position would be hideously complicated.

Then there are Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Palestinian territories. Before Saddam was deposed by the U.S. invasion, he was bidding for leadership of the Arab world in its opposition to Israel and U.S. policy in the Mideast. We can now see the resources he would have brought to bear in that effort. Saddam was a Sunni leader of a Shiite country. As he watched the Islamic world becoming more fundamentalist, he too became more overtly religious. Undoubtedly, he saw himself as the new Nasser, the one person who could unite the Arab and perhaps the Islamic world against the West and Israel. If he had remained in power, he would now be contesting with Iran for sponsorship of Hezbollah and Hamas. With these two regional powers competing in their militancy against Israel, there would be little chance of a Mideast peace any time soon. Gaza, now under Hamas control, would become a protectorate of Iraq, and the effectiveness of the West's financial boycott would have been nullified.

Saddam's interest in driving the U.S. out of the Middle East would be coincident with those of al Qaeda and he would have the weapons of mass destruction that al Qaeda has been seeking. We could never be sure that if we opposed Saddam--say, in another Iraqi invasion of Kuwait--he would not make weapons of mass destruction available to al Qaeda.

In short, it would be difficult to construct a scenario in which the ultimate outcome of events in Iraq today would be as negative for the United States as a world in which Saddam remained in control of Iraq. So, while we are justifiably dismayed about what is happening today in Iraq, we should not allow this to obscure the central point--that the world is a better and safer place because Saddam is out of power. Looked at this way, we have already achieved a lot; what remains now--as the president and John McCain have said--is to steady ourselves and see it through.
Mr. Wallison is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute; he was White House counsel in the Reagan administration.
29284  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: July 11, 2007, 06:28:21 PM
Moving Forward in Iraq
The "surge" is working. Will Washington allow the current progress to continue?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

In Washington perception is often mistaken for reality. And as Congress prepares for a fresh debate on Iraq, the perception many members have is that the new strategy has already failed.

This isn't an accurate reflection of what is happening on the ground, as I saw during my visit to Iraq in May. Reports from the field show that remarkable progress is being made. Violence in Baghdad and Anbar Province is down dramatically, grassroots political movements have begun in the Sunni Arab community, and American and Iraqi forces are clearing al Qaeda fighters and Shiite militias out of long-established bases around the country.

This is remarkable because the military operation that is making these changes possible only began in full strength on June 15. To say that the surge is failing is absurd. Instead Congress should be asking this question: Can the current progress continue?


From 2004 to 2006, al Qaeda established safe havens, transport routes, vehicle-bomb factories and training camps in the rural areas surrounding Baghdad, where U.S. forces had little or no footprint. Al Qaeda used these bases to conduct bombings in Baghdad, to displace Shia and Sunni from local towns by sparking sectarian killings, and to force Iraqis to comply with the group's interpretation of Islamic law. Shiite death squads roamed freely around Baghdad and the countryside. The number of execution-style killings rose monthly after the Samarra mosque bombing of February 2006, reaching a high in December 2006. Iranian special operations groups moved weapons across the borders and into Iraq along major highways and rivers. U.S. forces, engaged primarily in training Iraqis, did little to disrupt this movement.
Today, Iraq is a different place from what it was six months ago. U.S. and Iraqi forces began their counterinsurgency campaign in Baghdad in February. They moved into the neighborhoods and worked side-by-side with Baghdadis. As a result, sectarian violence is down. The counterinsurgency strategy has dramatically decreased Shiite death squad activity in the capital. Furthermore, U.S. and Iraqi special forces have removed many rogue militia leaders and Iranian advisers from Sadr City and other locations, reducing the power of militias.

As a consequence, execution-style killings, the hallmark of Shiite militias, have fallen to the lowest level in a year; some Iranian- and militia-backed mortar teams firing on the Green Zone have been destroyed. Equally important, U.S. and Iraqi forces have restricted al Qaeda's bases to ever smaller areas of the city, so that reinforcements cannot flow easily from one neighborhood to another.

Many in Washington say the Baghdad Security Plan has just pushed the enemy to other locations in Iraq. Though some of the enemy certainly left Baghdad when the security plan began, this metaphor is inaccurate. The enemy has long been located outside of Baghdad and was causing violence from suburban bases. What has changed is the disposition of U.S. forces, which are now actively working to expel the enemy from its safe havens rather than ignoring them.

To accomplish this, Gens. David Petraeus and Raymond Odierno have encircled Baghdad with a double cordon of U.S. and Iraqi forces. They have been preparing the cordons patiently since February, as the new "surge" units arrived. The surge was completed only in mid-June, and the first phase of the large-scale operations it was intended to support began only on June 15. Since then, U.S. forces have begun blocking major road, river, and transportation route around Baghdad. They are also deployed in critical neighborhoods around outskirts and the interior of the city.

On June 15, Gens. Petraeus and Odierno launched a major offensive against al Qaeda strongholds all around Baghdad. "Phantom Thunder" is the largest operation in Iraq since 2003, and a milestone in the counterinsurgency strategy. For the first time, U.S. forces are working systematically throughout central Iraq to secure Baghdad by clearing its rural "belts" and its interior, so that the enemy cannot move from one safe haven to another. Together, the operations in Baghdad and the "belts" are increasing security in and around the capital.

U.S. and Iraqi forces are thereby attacking enemy strongholds and cutting supply routes all around the city, along which fighters and weapons moved freely in 2006. Coordinated operations south and east of Baghdad are at last interdicting the supply of weapons moving along the Tigris River to the capital. U.S. and Iraqi forces are operating east of Baghdad for the first time in years, disrupting al Qaeda's movement between bases on the Tigris and in Sadr City, a frequent target of its car bombs. North of Baghdad, U.S. forces recently cleared al Qaeda from the city of Baqubah, from which terrorists flowed into Baghdad. They are clearing al Qaeda's car bomb factories from Karmah, northwest of Baghdad, and its sanctuaries toward Lake Tharthar. These operations are supported by counterinsurgency operations west of the capital, from Fallujah to Abu Ghraib. U.S. forces are now, for the first time, fighting the enemy in the entire ring of cities and villages around Baghdad.


This is the Baghdad Security Plan, and its mission is to secure the people of Baghdad. Even so, commanders are not ignoring the outlying areas of Iraq. U.S. forces have killed or captured many important al Qaeda leaders in Mosul recently, and destroyed safe havens throughout northern Iraq. Troops are conducting counterinsurgency operations in Bayji, north of Tikrit. And Iraqi forces have "stepped up" to secure some southern cities. The Eighth Iraqi Army Division has been fighting Shiite militias in Diwaniyah, an important city halfway between Basrah and Baghdad. As commanders stabilize central Iraq, they will undoubtedly conduct successive operations in outlying regions to follow up on their successes and make them lasting.
The larger aim of the new strategy is creating an opportunity for Iraq's leaders to negotiate a political settlement. These negotiations are underway. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is attempting to form a political coalition with Amar al-Hakim and Kurdish political leaders, but excluding Moqtada al-Sadr, and has invited Sunnis to participate. He has confronted Moqtada al-Sadr for promoting illegal militia activity, and has apparently prompted this so-called Iraqi nationalist to leave for Iran for the second time since January.

Provincial and local government is growing stronger. Local and tribal leaders in Anbar, Diyala, Salah ad-Din, North Babil and even Baghdad have agreed to fight insurgents and terrorists as U.S. forces have moved in to secure the population alongside their Iraqi partners. As a result, the number of Iraqis recruited for the police forces, in particular, has risen exponentially since 2006.

This is war, and the enemy is reacting. The enemy uses suicide bombs, car bombs and brutal executions to break our will and that of our Iraqi allies. American casualties often increase as troops move into areas that the enemy has fortified; these casualties will start to fall again once the enemy positions are destroyed. Al Qaeda will manage to get some car and truck bombs through, particularly in areas well-removed from the capital and its belts.

But we should not allow individual atrocities to obscure the larger picture. A new campaign has just begun, it is already yielding important results, and its effects are increasing daily. Demands for withdrawal are no longer demands to pull out of a deteriorating situation with little hope; they are now demands to end a new approach to this conflict that shows every sign of succeeding.

Ms. Kagan, an affiliate of Harvard's John M. Olin Institute of Strategic Studies, is executive director of the Institute for the Study of War in Washington.
29285  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: July 11, 2007, 05:53:06 PM
"A man who was engulfed in flames after allegedly crashing a Jeep Cherokee loaded with gas cylinders into Glasgow's airport is unlikely to survive his severe burns, a doctor who treated him said Tuesday," the Associated Press reports from Edinburgh, Scotland:

"The prognosis is not good, and he is not likely to survive," a member of the medical team that treated him at the Royal Alexandra Hospital near Glasgow said on condition of anonymity because details about patients are not to be made public.

Apparently the only details about patients that are not to be made public are the names of doctors who make details about patients public.

Political Journal, WSJ
29286  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: July 11, 2007, 05:49:17 PM
Canada ranks fifth worldwide when it comes to marijuana usage, but ranks first among industrialized nations, according to the 2007 World Drug Report.

About 16.8 percent of Canadians ages 15 to 64 light up, compared to 12.6 percent of Americans in the same age bracket, according to the report. Canada’s usage is about four times the worldwide average of 3.8 percent, while the United States' usage is about three times the average.

Marijuana, or cannabis, remains the most commonly used drug in the world with almost 160 million people ages 15 to 64 using it in 2005, said the report, which was put out by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Usage is down slightly from 162 million, according to last year’s World Drug Report, which reviewed data from 2004.

The majority of it is grown in the Americas (46 percent), followed by Africa (26 percent). Canada’s usage trails behind Papua New Guinea and Micronesia at 29 percent each, Ghana at 21.5 percent, and Zambia at 17.7 percent. Among European nations, Cyprus topped the list at 14.1 percent, followed by Italy and Spain, both at 11.2 percent.

Doctors: Pot Triggers Psychotic Symptoms Study: Marijuana Damages Brain Report: Pot Getting Stronger Although Canada is a top five user of marijuana, its use among high school students in Ontario declined 19 percent between 2003 and 2005. Cannabis use amongst 12th graders in the U.S. declined 18 percent between 1997 and 2006, and is 38 percent lower than it was at its peak in 1979, the report said.

Cocaine Use Twice as High for U.S. Students

Canada may have cornered the North American market on marijuana use, but U.S. teens are twice as likely to use cocaine as teens in the rest of the world, according to the report.

About 4.8 percent of U.S. 10th graders have used cocaine compared to an average of 2.35 percent of 15 and 16-year-olds in South America countries and an average of 2.4 percent of similarly aged students in European nations.

Overall, Spain had the highest percentage of cocaine users between the ages of 15 and 64 at 3 percent, followed by the U.S. at 2.8 percent, England at 2.4 percent and Canada at 2.3 percent,2933,288846,00.html
29287  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action on: July 11, 2007, 04:55:19 PM
Will Murtha Apologize?
"An investigating officer has recommended dismissing murder charges against a Marine accused in the slayings of three Iraqi men in a squad action that killed 24 civilians in Haditha, according to a report released Tuesday," the Associated Press reports:

The government's theory that Lance Cpl. Justin L. Sharratt had executed the three men was "incredible" and relied on contradictory statements by Iraqis, Lt. Col. Paul Ware said in the report, released by Sharratt's defense attorneys.

"To believe the government version of facts is to disregard clear and convincing evidence to the contrary, and sets a dangerous precedent that, in my opinion, may encourage others to bear false witness against Marines as a tactic to erode public support of the Marine Corps and mission in Iraq," Ware wrote.

This was the incident in which Rep. John Murtha accused the Marines of killing Iraqis "in cold blood"--a charge, as we noted in May 2006, that was self-contradictory. In November ScrippsNews reported that Cpl. Sharratt's parents were "enraged" with Murtha, who is their congressman. Perhaps it's time for him to apologize.

Political Journal, WSJ
29288  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Training to much? on: July 11, 2007, 03:27:56 PM
Quite possible you have no idea how much I recognize all of that.

Perhaps this will help:  Think in terms of "active rest".   Frolic a bit in the swimming pool Do NOT turn it into a workout of doing laps!  cheesy  Use it to relax and open your breathing, your ribcage, your heart chakra.  For example, I like doing yoga positions that I can't really do on the ground underwater for as long as I can hold my breath.   Then later in the day a deep stretch.  Sex before bed and you should sleep very well.
29289  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues on: July 11, 2007, 12:11:53 PM
Cover: Myths, realities & the importance of spotting it early
By Mike Rayburn
Adjunct Instructor, Smith & Wesson Academy
If an officer is able to reach cover during a shooting situation and use it effectively, then the chances of that officer surviving the incident are greatly increased. Given this fact, it only makes sense that we should be locating — and when necessary using — cover whenever possible. Unfortunately, that is easier said than done.
The biggest problem with trying to use cover is that in many cases, there is no cover available to the officer. [In fact, in the "Cover" section of the Force Science News article, New study: We're getting better prepared to win on the street and in court, it's reported that only 15% of officers polled in a new study on officer-involved shootings had the luxury of using cover. The rest were caught unprotected and even if they tried to move to cover, they didn’t have time to reach it before the shooting was over.] We work in close proximity to the people we deal with on a daily basis. Whether we’re making a field interview contact, handling a domestic, handcuffing an arrested person, or just generally dealing with the public, we have to get in close to these people to interact with them. This is true whether this interaction results in some type of enforcement action or not.

When was the last time you asked the operator of a motor vehicle for his driver’s license from 21 feet away? Or how about trying to handcuff someone from 10 feet away? I know it sounds silly, but I’m trying to make a point. We deal in close proximity to people on a daily, almost routine, basis. It’s that word “routine” that tends to bite us in the nether regions. We tend to forget about looking for cover during the contact should things suddenly go bad and we need it.

This brings me to the second biggest problem with cover. Most officers don’t think about it until it’s too late. The time to start thinking about cover and how you’re going to move to it is not when a gunfight erupts. The time to think about cover is always…to constantly have it in the back of your head. No matter where you are or what you’re doing, you should always have a sense of what cover is available to you and how you can move to it.

Once you’ve determined the cover available to you, you have to decide whether you’re going to be able to move to it quickly under stress should a shooting occur. A concrete wall across the street is good, but a big tree three steps away from you is better. If there isn’t cover available, which unfortunately is the case in a lot of officer-involved shootings, then at the very least, you should move. Movement in a gunfight is essential.
If you’re behind cover, stay there and use it effectively. Remember, a large percentage of officers who do this survive shooting incidents. So if you’ve got cover and you’re using it, the odds are in your favor.

Another aspect to consider when talking about cover is visualization -- planting a mental image in your head as to where that cover is located and how you’re going to move to it quickly and with sure footing. This will better prepare you to act quickly if things suddenly go bad. If you don’t have that image pre-planted in your brain, it’s not going to come to you when you’re suddenly under fire. Your brain will be too occupied with processing everything else going on to think about what is—and isn’t—cover and how to move to it.

A simple way to demonstrate this fact is to set up a training scenario where an officer has to walk past simulated cover placed off to the side during an approach to a “subject”. The cover should be placed such that the officer must move backwards and laterally to reach it once he is within close proximity of this subject.
Now have the officer walk up to the “subject” with his or her handgun holstered and as he gets to within a yard or two of the mock person, yell “fire!”

If the officer didn’t already make a mental note of where that cover was, he or she will turn their head and look for it as they’re shooting and moving backwards. No problem, right? WRONG! Do you really think that during a firefight, with someone shooting at you from three to six feet away, you’re going to be able to take your eyes off the shooter to look around for cover?

Now have that same officer go through the course again, but this time have him make sure to mentally note the cover and where it’s located before the drill begins. If he does this, you’ll see him move flawlessly to it, without ever taking his eyes off of the target. It’s as simple as that. Just a quick mental note.

This is so simple that you can practice this mental imagery in the comfort of your own home. Stand directly in front of your television set. (Do this when the kids aren’t home so you don’t have to listen to the complaints.) Now without looking, move back to your sofa without tripping over the coffee table, while keeping your eyes fixed on the television set. Easy right?

Now have someone move the coffee table to one side or the other. If you don’t make a mental note of where that coffee table is, you’re going to trip over it as you try to move back to the sofa.

It’s the same thing on the street. If you don’t make a mental note of where that cover is, you will not be able to move to it smoothly and flawlessly while keeping your eyes on the threat.

One last thing about looking for cover: the first place you should look for it is on your strong side. Why? Because for most of us, this will be the side you automatically (dare I say “instinctively”) move to under stress. To prove this, run a force-on-force scenario.

Have the bad guy suited up in his protective gear with a rubber knife. Have the officer stand approximately 10-12 feet, (the average distance in an edged weapon attack), away from the bad guy with his Simunitions or Air Soft gun in his holster. Tell the officer that he or she is required to move laterally, (because moving backwards is too slow and awkward) to one side or the other and fire some rounds into the charging assailant.
Now, without warning, have the suited up aggressor run at the officer. You’ll see for yourself that well over 99% of the time officers will move to their strong side. They do this automatically without ever being told, or trained, to do so. If this is the case, then we need to train our officers to look for cover on their strong sides first, and then look for additional cover from there.

If you doubt the validity of this drill, let me give you one last fact. Get up and walk over to a set of stairs. Your first step up will be with your strong side foot. Walk a little further away from those same stairs and try it again. Your first step up will be with your strong side foot. We do this automatically and instinctively. If this is the case, then why not train this way? Why not train the way we’re going to fight.
Keep these facts, and problems, about cover in mind whenever you’re dealing with anyone, and you’ll win that fight.

About the author: Michael T. Rayburn is a 29-year veteran of Law Enforcement and is currently an adjunct instructor at the Smith & Wesson Academy. He is the author of three books, Advanced Vehicle Stop Tactics, Basic Gunfighting 101.
29290  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Training to much? on: July 11, 2007, 12:07:37 PM
Exercise.  Nutrition.  Rest.  

Everyone of us needs each of these.

How to know when we are getting/not getting enough Rest?  

Some general indicators:

a)  achy lower back.  Jean Jacques Machado drew my attention to this one.  My layman's theory is that the ache is actually the kidney-adrenal meridian talking to us.  Darkness under the eyes (more readily detectable amongst us caucasians  cheesy ) indicates tired/overworked kidneys

b) poor sleep:  when we are overtired sometimes good restful sleep becomes more elusive.

c) weaker or no erection in the morning, diminished sex drive.

d) Resting pulse is a great indicator.  Take your pulse every morning upon waking and before getting out of bed to get a sense of the band of your RP.  In my case this number is 48-52.  When my RP upon waking hits 55-56, I know it is time for a day of rest.

Also a good idea is to look at your training schedule on a weekly basis, a seasonal basis, and an annual basis.  Within the week there should be a mix of intense, moderate and mild days.  Similarly on a seasonal basis there should be some weeks of greater and lesser intensity.  On an annual basis, there should be a phase of rest.

Concering the last one of these, this is something it has taken me many years to accept.  Decembers always used to make me very grouchy.  As I saw it, from Thanksgiving forward, entranced by the all pervasive music of thes season all the goyim were off on their annual pine tree killing frenzy fueled by sugary foods and material culture consumption triggered by the manipulations of mass advertising.    How could the gym be closed on Dec 25th?  Didn't they know that was my day for squats and deadlifts?!?

It drove me crazy--and it drove me to injury and getting sick.

Finally I figured out that in a evolutionary biological sense the reason for the season was to fatten up for a time of hibernation.  I still loathe all the sugary food and the false jocularity, but now I give myself permission to take it easier in December.
29291  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Emergency Tips and Emergency Medicine on: July 11, 2007, 11:47:03 AM
Hat tip to the WT forum:

see this on for more info Antibiotics in tactical combat casualty care 2002. care%202002..pdf
29292  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East War on: July 10, 2007, 08:35:08 AM
Second post of the morning:


Another Iraq Front
July 10, 2007

Turkey is edging toward going after Kurdish PKK guerillas in northern Iraq. The Council of Ministers yesterday discussed calling Parliament into special session to approve a possible military incursion before general elections later this month, but in the end didn't take a decision. The Turkish military itself has been ready to move for weeks. The Turks have complained about the U.S. dropping the ball on fighting terrorism in the Kurdish areas of Iraq, and Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül recently made clear to Washington that Turkey needed no permission from anyone to move into northern Iraq.

All this has serious implications, none of them good, for Turkey domestically and for the region. Iran is forging an alliance of convenience with Ankara against the Kurds. Any Turkish military attack threatens to destabilize the only relatively calm region of Iraq.

Early last month, Turkish and Iranian forces located on their respective borders with Iraq fired numerous rockets into areas where the PKK has been active, apparently in coordination with each other. Turkey's Hurriyet newspaper identified the passes under attack by Turkish troops as those at Seranish, Destetag, Kesane, Banike, Geli and Batufa. (In a twist of history, these are the very areas where hundreds of thousands of Kurds climbed to safety while they fled Saddam Hussein's soldiers in 1988 and again in 1991, after the First Gulf War.) Iranian forces have allegedly fired on the PKK redoubts south of Kandil mountain, which straddles the point of the trilateral border.

Officials from the Peshmerga, the Iraqi Kurdish militia, were quoted as saying, "We've never seen the Turks coming like this." Turkish maneuvers on the Iraqi border are a familiar rite of springtime, and Turkish incursions into Iraq in pursuit of the PKK have taken place numerous times in the past, but not recently, at least officially. Some Turkish troops are even stationed at firebases in northern Iraq.

The rising tensions in northern Iraq stem, first off, from frequent terrorist bombings in Turkey in recent weeks blamed on the PKK. An attack in Ankara killed eight and wounded scores at the height of the evening rush hour. The bomber's code name was allegedly Adok, a Kurdish word that means a sacrificial offering. Forty-two people, most of them soldiers, were killed by terrorism in May, and attacks have continued. A road mine in southern Sirnak on Sunday killed a village guard. A number of suicide bombers and quantities of bomb material, most allegedly brought by the PKK from Syria, have been captured recently. Deaths from the struggle with the PKK have risen to over 650 since the beginning of last year, while the PKK claims the total is 900. So Turks are fed up. Police have had, for the first time, to erect barriers at military funerals to protect senior government officials from angry, shouting citizens.

The other cause of trouble is politics. The head of the Turkish General Staff, Gen. Yashar Buyukanit, announced this spring that a foray into Iraq was needed, but deferred to the government on the final decision. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the same, but has so far made no move. He recently complained that "retired generals are going around exciting the people" and that the political and military consequences of any incursion into northern Iraq have to be evaluated.

As Turkey moves toward a general election on July 22 that may well be the most important in its modern history, the pressure on Mr. Erdogan to do something in northern Iraq is strong. The military and the secular elite have taken up the issue, seeking to fuel popular discontent with the government. They see Mr. Erdogan's government and his party as soft on the Kurdish issue and not pushing the U.S. hard enough.

The U.S. is on the record as opposing a military intervention in Iraq by Turkey, but Turks are worn out by what they perceive as U.S. foot-dragging on doing anything about the PKK. European resistance to Turkish EU candidacy and media propaganda claiming that the U.S. wants to set up an independent Kurdistan help to inflame Turkish nationalism. A sensationalist 2005 Turkish best seller, "Metal Storm," even forecast the U.S. and Turkey going to war in 2007 after a Turkish incursion into northern Iraq.

Iran may be coordinating with the Turks against the PKK but is no doubt also pleased at the problems the situation is causing for U.S.-Turkish relations. Such maneuvering is common to this area, where a century ago imperial Russians were inciting Kurdish tribes to destabilize the region. The Kurds have long been the victims of such power manipulations in the region, divided by others and among themselves.

The military show of strength may come to no more than that, as the international community rushes to defuse yet another crisis in the area. A parliamentary resolution would allow, not demand, an incursion.

The question of the PKK as a threat to Turkish national sovereignty and the question of the Kurds and their role in Iraq, however, will remain linked. A Turkish general who visited northern Iraq pointed out that the Kurdish flag and anthem are played for visitors in the north, not the Iraqi ones. As long as that does not change and the PKK receive refuge in the mountains, many Turks will be ready to act and U.S.-Turkish relations will be clouded.

While the U.S. considers the PKK a terrorist organization, it has also basically turned over security in the northern areas of Iraq to the Kurds. Surely it still has the clout to make it clear to the Kurds that this does not give them carte blanche to accommodate terrorist camps. The number of PKK fighters in northern Iraq is not huge, perhaps three or four thousand, but certainly larger than the "hundreds" to which Prime Minister Erdogan has referred. The authorities in Iraq can shut the PKK down, as they have in the past, and the U.S., for its own good, should push them to do so.

Mr. Finn, a former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan who also served several diplomatic tours in Turkey, teaches at Princeton.
29293  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East War on: July 10, 2007, 08:23:48 AM
I have no idea as to the merits of the suggested solutions of this piece, but post it in amazement that Turkey's incipient invasion of Kurdistan, Iraq has garnered so little attention:


Kurdistan Showdown
July 10, 2007; Page A20

You have to feel sorry for David Petraeus. The commander of the multinational force in Iraq already has his hands full overseeing the "surge." Now he needs to deal with another, equally pressing problem. According to Iraqi officials, Turkey has mobilized some 140,000 soldiers along its common border with Iraq, in a maneuver that many see as a prelude to some sort of military confrontation between the two countries.

The reason has everything to do with Ankara's threat calculus. Today, Turkish officials and analysts alike are preoccupied with four interlocking strategic fronts. The first is the country's southeast, where Turkey's military continues its long-running struggle against the separatists of the radical Kurdish Workers Party (PKK). The second lies across the border in northern Iraq, where officials say Kurdish rebels are operating with the knowledge -- and possibly even the tacit backing -- of Massoud Barzani's Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). The third and fourth are the sizeable Kurdish enclaves in Syria and Iran -- communities that officials in Ankara fear could similarly become outposts for anti-Turkish activity.

Washington has been slow to grasp the gravity of this threat, and even slower to address it. Until quite recently, the Bush administration brushed aside Turkish appeals for an expansion of the war on terror to include Kurdish terrorism, preferring to focus solely on the threat of al Qaeda and its affiliates. Worse, persistent talk in Washington of Iraqi "federalism" or "soft partition" sent shockwaves through officials in Ankara, who believe that the emergence of an independent "Kurdistan" could encourage neighboring Kurdish enclaves to seek self-determination, likely peeling away Turkish territory.

Only last year, in a belated response to Ankara's urgings, did the administration appoint a special envoy for combating the PKK. The post, as well as the credentials of the envoy -- Gen. Joseph Ralston, a former vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff -- were viewed in Turkey as a long-overdue sign of seriousness. But, by all accounts, bilateral progress has been slow and Mr. Ralston's efforts stymied by bureaucracy. The Beltway debate over Iraq, meanwhile, has heightened Turkish fears that they soon could be forced to face an expanded insurgent threat on their own.

All of which has spurred Ankara to action. In recent days, observers say, the Turkish government has launched a "great mobilization" that has positioned more than a quarter of its half-million-strong army in southeastern Turkey, awaiting orders for a cross-border operation. Such an incursion could be catastrophic. The quasi-autonomous government of "Iraqi Kurdistan" has made clear that it is ready and able to repulse a Turkish invasion. The U.S., meanwhile, has hinted that it would be obliged to defend and assist Iraqi forces in the event of such a conflict. Thus a Turkish raid could spark a war between a NATO member state and the U.S.-led Coalition.

Up until now, Ankara has appeared to understand the danger. Over the past several weeks, its military created a number of "temporary security zones" on the Iraqi border to interdict cross-border terrorist activities. But Turkish officials have made perfectly clear that this step is not a permanent solution to their security problem.

Fortunately, an opportunity to avert a crisis exists. Back in the spring of 2002, in an effort to assist Georgia in its fight against terrorism, the Pentagon launched the Georgia Train and Equip Program (GTEP) -- a bilateral military training initiative intended to enhance the former Soviet republic's counterterrorism, border security and intelligence capabilities. Practically, GTEP served as a useful capacity-building exercise, helping Tbilisi consolidate control over inhospitable terrain and expand the effectiveness of its forces. Politically, however, GTEP was much more; by increasing Georgia's competence to combat terrorism within its own borders, it eliminated a potential pretext for Russian imperialism. By 2004, the 20-month program had attained tangible results, simultaneously bolstering Tbilisi's anti-terror abilities and reducing the reasons for Russian intrusion.

If implemented quickly, the same model could reap benefits in northern Iraq. Despite its virtual political autonomy, the KRG is not an independent entity. It is beholden to the Iraqi central government, and to the Coalition, which now has greater authority pursuant to a May 30 security agreement signed by Mr. Barzani and U.S. commanders. Both now need to seize the initiative to create an institutional mechanism capable of defending Turkey from cross-border attack.

Of late, Baghdad has begun to show welcome signs of responsibility on this score. In early June, after months of dialogue with Turkish officials, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki officially signaled his intent to outlaw the activities of the PKK. Mr. Maliki and company will need to go beyond mere rhetoric, however, and immediately formulate a concrete plan for containing the activities of Kurdish insurgents in northern Iraq. For its part, the Coalition must throw its weight behind a serious plan for northern Iraq, one that addresses Turkey's security concerns in a real and tangible way.

Anything less, and the Iraqi insurgency could become the least of Gen. Petraeus's problems.

Mr. Berman is vice president for policy at the American Foreign Policy Council.

29294  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / What about Muslim Moderates? on: July 10, 2007, 08:14:30 AM
Second post of the morning:


What About Muslim Moderates?
July 10, 2007; Page A21

Islamist terrorism has led the American and British governments in the past month to launch separate public diplomacy programs aimed at engaging Muslims at home and abroad. A quick comparison shows the two initiatives are headed in opposite directions. At least the Brits have finally got it right.

The Bush administration is building bridges to well-funded and self-publicized organizations that claim to speak for all Muslims, even though some of those groups espouse views inimical to American values and interests. After years of pursuing similar strategies -- while seeing home-based terrorists proliferate -- the Blair-Brown government is now more discerning about which Muslims it will partner with. Stating that "lip service for peace" is no longer sufficient, the British are identifying and elevating those who are willing to take clear stands against terrorism and its supporting ideology.

Thus, in a major address at a two-day government conference early last month (titled "Islam and Muslims in the World Today"), then-Prime Minister Tony Blair, with Gordon Brown in attendance and hosting a reception, vowed to correct an imbalance. He stated that, in Britain's Muslim community, unrepresentative but well-funded groups are able to attract disproportionately large amounts of publicity, while moderate voices go unheard and unpublished.

Mr. Blair emphasized that Islam is not a "monolithic faith," but one made up of a "rich pattern of diversity." The principal purpose of the conference, Mr. Blair stressed, was to "let the authentic voices of Islam, in their various schools and manifestations, speak for themselves." He was as good as his word.

Invitations to participate in the assembly were extended to the less-publicized, moderate groups, such as the Sufi Muslim Council, the British Muslim Foundation and Minhaj-ul-Quran. Notably absent from the program was the Muslim Council of Britain, a group that claims to represent that nation's Muslims but is preoccupied with its self-described struggle against "Islamophobia" -- a term it tries to use to shut down critical analysis of anything Islamic, whether legitimate or bigoted.

Also dropped from the speaking roster was the leading European Islamist Tariq Ramadan, who, while denied a visa by the United States, has been a fixture at official conferences on Muslims in Europe. The grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mr. Ramadan is fuzzy on where he stands on specific acts of terror -- and he infamously evaded a challenge by Nicolas Sarkozy to denounce stoning.

Mr. Blair committed funds to improve the teaching of Islamic studies in British universities; announced a new effort to develop "minimum standards" for imams in Britain; and, most significantly, declared that henceforth the government would be giving "priority, in its support and funding decisions, to those leadership organizations actively working to tackle violent extremism." Routine but vague press releases against terrorism would no longer do.

A few days later, British backbone was demonstrated again with the knighting of novelist Salman Rushdie. Since 1989, when Iran's mullahs pronounced one of his works "blasphemous," Mr. Rushdie has lived under the shadow of a death threat, the first fatwa with universal jurisdiction against a Muslim living in the West. With the news that Britain would honor him, extremist Muslims rioted. But many Western Muslim reformers, increasingly threatened by death threats and murderous fatwas themselves, cheered the Brits. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a former Dutch parliamentarian who was born a Muslim in Somalia, wrote: "The queen has honored the freedom of conscience and creativity cherished in the West."

On the eve of his departure from office, Mr. Blair gave a television interview taking on those he once courted -- British Islamists who have been quick to level charges of Islamophobia and oppression against Britain and the United States: "The reason we are finding it hard to win this battle [against terror] is that we're not actually fighting it properly. We're not actually standing up to these people and saying, 'It's not just your methods that are wrong, your ideas are absurd. Nobody is oppressing you. Your sense of grievance isn't justified.' . . . Some of what is written on this is loopy-loo in its extremism."

Contrast this with the Bush administration's new approach. On June 27, President Bush delivered his "Muslim Initiative" address at the Washington Islamic Center in tribute to the 50th anniversary of that organization's founding, by Saudi Arabia. Wahhabism is the state religion of Saudi Arabia, and its extremist ideology often flows with the kingdom's money. The Islamic Center is not an exception.

A few years ago when we were with Freedom House, concerned Muslims brought us Saudi educational material they collected from the Washington Islamic Center that instructed Muslims fundamentally to segregate themselves from other Americans. One such text stated: "To be dissociated from the infidels is to hate them for their religion, to leave them, never to rely on them for support, not to admire them, to be on one's guard against them, never to imitate them, and to always oppose them in every way according to Islamic law."

Though Mr. Bush's remarks were intended for all American Muslims, the administration left the invitation list to Washington Islamic Center's authorities. Predictably, they excluded the truly moderate, who are not Saudi-founded or funded: the Islamic Supreme Council of America, the American Islamic Congress, the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, the Center for Eurasian Policy, the Center for Islamic Pluralism, the Islam and Democracy Project, the Institute for Gulf Affairs, the Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia and many others.

These organizations are frequently shut out of U.S. government events and appointments on the basis that they are considered insignificant or "controversial" by the petro-dollar-funded groups. The administration makes a terrible mistake by making such Wahhabi-influenced institutions as the Washington Islamic Center the gate keepers for all American Muslims.

The actual substance of Mr. Bush's mosque speech -- particularly good on religious freedom -- was overshadowed by the announcement of its single initiative: America is to send an envoy to the Organization of Islamic Conference. Based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the OIC was created explicitly to promote hostility to Israel, and its meetings largely consist of ritualistic Israel-bashing. At one last year, Iran's president called for the "elimination of the Zionist regime." It has no mechanism for discussing the human rights of its member states, and thus has never spoken out against Sudan's genocide of Darfuri Muslims. It is advancing an effort to universalize Islamic blasphemy laws, which are applied as often against speech critical of the governments of OIC member states as against profanities. Last month the OIC council of foreign ministers termed Islamophobia "the worst form of terrorism." Currently no Western power holds either member or observer status at the OIC.

The Bush administration is now actively considering whether its public diplomacy should reach out to Muslim Brotherhood groups. While such groups may pay lip service to peace, they do not denounce terror by Hamas, a Brotherhood offshoot. It keeps as its motto: "Allah is our objective, the Prophet is our leader, the Koran is our law, jihad is our way, dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope." By choosing those whose definition of terror does not include the murder of Jews, honor killings and lethal fatwas against Muslim dissidents and reformers, the U.S. government makes them look strong -- particularly in the shame-and-honor culture of the Middle East -- and strengthens their hand against the real moderates and reformers.

Great Britain, as we were reminded over the past week, has much work ahead in defeating Muslim terror, as well as in overcoming the misguided form of multiculturalism of its recent past. Not all of Britain's measures will be right for America, with our First Amendment. But the British Labour Party socialists appear to have done one major thing right that this American Republican administration has not: Reach out to Muslim leaders who are demonstrably moderate and share our values, even though they may not have petrodollar-funded publicity machines.

While we don't have a Queen to dub knights, Americans do have distinct way of honoring our heroes. Mr. President, confer the Medal of Freedom on one of our own outstanding Muslim-American citizens. For a selection of honorees, look at who was not invited to your recent speech. If Islamists charge "Islamophobia," repeat after Tony: "Loopy loo. Loopy loo."

Mr. Woolsey, co-chair of the Committee on the Present Danger, was Director of Central Intelligence 1993-1995. Ms. Shea is the director of the Center for Religious Freedom of the Hudson Institute.
29295  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Communicating with the Muslim World on: July 10, 2007, 07:36:09 AM
Public Diplomacy for Dummies
The Bush administration falters in the battle of ideas.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Late last month, President Bush gave an address at the Islamic Center in Washington, D.C., where he announced that the United States would for the first time appoint an observer to the Organization of the Islamic Conference. "Our special envoy will listen to and learn from representatives from Muslim states and will share with them America's views and values," he said. "This is an opportunity for Americans to demonstrate to Muslim communities our interest in respectful dialogue and continued friendship."

To say public diplomacy hasn't been this administration's forte is a truism and an understatement. Still, it's hard to recall any presidential initiative as spectacularly misjudged and needless since Ronald Reagan paid tribute to Nazi soldiers at Bitburg. The OIC's signal contribution to date has been a decades-long boycott by Muslim countries against Israel. The Islamic Center is a Saudi-funded institution that, as Freedom House documented in 2005, distributes Wahhabi religious literature. Charming tidbit: "It is forbidden for a Muslim to be the first in greeting an unbeliever, even if he had prestigious position. This is due to many established holy traditions, in this matter, like his [Prophet Muhammad] saying [peace be upon him]: Do not be first, in greeting the Jews and the Christians."

Dutifully in attendance at the president's speech was Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy Karen Hughes. Critics of the administration usually point to Mr. Bush's policies and his public persona as the source of America's declining stock in global public opinion surveys. But public diplomacy is also the job of American embassies and ambassadors, taxpayer-funded broadcasting corporations such as Voice of America, military officials and especially Ms. Hughes. In theory, their job is to wage a battle of ideas against radical Islam. In practice and effect, however, too often reality is otherwise.

Take the case of career diplomat Francis Riccardione, currently the U.S. ambassador to Egypt. In interviews with the Egyptian media, Mr. Riccardione has said that American officials have "no right to comment" on the case of Ayman Nour, the former opposition leader imprisoned on trumped-up charges; that faith in Egypt's judiciary is "well-placed," and that president Hosni Mubarak--now in his 26th year in office-- "is loved in the U.S." and "could win elections [in America] as a leader who is a giant on the world stage." Mr. Riccardione also admits he "enjoyed" a recent film by Egyptian artist Shaaban Abdel Rahim, best known for his hit song "I Hate Israel."

Or take the Voice of America's Persian Service. According to a Farsi-speaking source who tracks the broadcasts, during last year's war between Hezbollah and Israel, VOA reporter Nazi Beglari opined that "Hezbollah ended the Israeli occupation in the past and is doing it again." Camera shots lingered over toys scattered near bomb sites and a burnt page of the Quran--evidence, presumably, of Israel's intent to destroy Islam and murder Muslim children.

Then there is Ms. Hughes herself. During one of her first overseas ventures as public diplomacy czarina, Ms. Hughes visited Indonesia--the world's largest Muslim country--where she met its very own Bono, rock star Ahmad Dhani. Mr. Dhani had recently released his album "Laskar Cinta," or "Warriors of Love," a deliberate and political response to the terrorist atrocities perpetrated by Laskar Jihad. Ms. Hughes seemed enthralled by both the message and the messenger.

"Hughes met Dhani, praised him to the skies, and said 'people like you are exactly what we need,'" recalls C. Holland Taylor, an American who runs the LibForAll foundation with which Mr. Dhani is associated. "She then asked us whether he would be willing to work with the State Department, whether he'd be willing to travel and whether there was anything she could do for him. We answered all three questions affirmatively. Since then there's been a vast silence."

LibForAll is itself a model of what a competent public diplomacy effort in the Muslim world should look like. Mr. Taylor, a former telecom executive who moved to Jakarta in the 1990s and speaks fluent Indonesian, has engaged influential and genuinely reform-minded Muslims--as opposed to the faux "moderates" on whom Mr. Bush lavished praise at the Islamic Center--to articulate and defend a progressive and tolerant version of Islam.

In its brief life, LibForAll has helped turn back an attempted Islamist takeover of the country's second-largest Muslim social organization (with 30 million members), translated anti-Wahhabist books into Indonesian, sponsored a recent multidenominational conference to denounce Holocaust-denial, brought Mr. Dhani to Colorado to speak to U.S. military brass, and launched a well-researched "extremist exposé" in order, Mr. Taylor says, "to get Indonesian society to consciously acknowledge that there is an infiltration occurring of radical ideology, financed by Arab petrodollars, that is intent on destroying Indonesian Islam."

For his efforts, Mr. Taylor has been cold-shouldered by the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta--more proof that when it comes to public diplomacy the U.S. government functions with its usual genius and efficiency. But there's more at work here than a bumbling and insipid bureaucracy. As the scholar Carnes Lord notes in his useful book on public diplomacy, "Losing Hearts and Minds," America's public diplomatists "are today no longer as convinced as they once were that America's story is after all fundamentally a good one, or believe an alternative, negative story is at least equally plausible." Hence someone like Mr. Riccardione can say, when asked about discrimination in Egypt (where a Coptic population amounting to about 10% of the population has one member in the 444-seat parliament) that it "happens everywhere, even in the U.S."

No doubt a dose of moral equivalence served Mr. Riccardione's purposes in getting through his interview without a rhetorical scrape. No doubt, too, maintaining (or pretending) a blissful ignorance about the ideology being propagated by the Islamic Center served Mr. Bush's political purposes. But if effective public diplomacy is really as vital in the war on terror as everyone appears to agree it is, we need better ambassadors, better administrators and a better sense of who we need to engage and how. At least Mr. Taylor has a clue. The administration could stand to learn from him.
Mr. Stephens is a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board. His column appears in the Journal Tuesdays.

29296  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / As War enters classrooms, on: July 10, 2007, 06:45:54 AM
NY Times

QALAI SAYEDAN, Afghanistan, July 9 — With their teacher absent, 10 students were allowed to leave school early. These were the girls the gunmen saw first, 10 easy targets walking hand-in-hand through the blue metal gate and on to the winding dirt road.

 The stataccato of machine-gun fire pelted through the stillness. A 13-year-old named Shukria was hit in the arm and the back, and then teetered into the soft brown of an adjacent wheat field. Zarmina, her 12-year-old sister, ran to her side, listening to the wounded girl’s precious breath and trying to help her stand.
But Shukria was too heavy to lift, and the two gunmen, sitting astride a single motorbike, sped closer.

As Zarmina scurried away, the men took a more studied aim at those they already had shot, killing Shukria with bullets to her stomach and heart. Then the attackers seemed to succumb to the frenzy they had begun, forsaking the motorbike and fleeing on foot in a panic, two bobbing heads — one tucked into a helmet, the other swaddled by a handkerchief — vanishing amid the earthen color of the wheat.

Six students were shot here on the afternoon of June 12, two of them fatally. The Qalai Sayedan School — considered among the very best in the central Afghan province of Logar — reopened only last weekend, but even with Kalashnikov-toting guards at the gate, only a quarter of the 1,600 students have dared to return.

Shootings, beheadings, burnings and bombings: these are all tools of intimidation used by the Taliban and others to shut down hundreds of Afghanistan’s public schools. To take aim at education is to make war on the government.

Parents are left with peculiar choices. “It is better for my children to be alive even if it means they must be illiterate,” said Sayed Rasul, a father who had decided to keep his two daughters at home for a day.

Afghanistan surely has made some progress toward development, but most often the nation seems astride some pitiable rocking horse, with each lurch forward inevitably reversed by the backward spring of harsh reality.

The schools are one vivid example. The Ministry of Education claims that 6.2 million children are now enrolled, or about half the school-age population. And while statistics in Afghanistan can be unreliably confected, there is no doubt that attendance has multiplied far beyond that of any earlier time, with uniformed children now teeming through the streets each day, flooding classrooms in two and three shifts.

A third of these students are girls, a marvel itself. Historically, girls’ education has been undervalued in Afghan culture. Girls and women were forbidden from school altogether during the Taliban rule.

But after 30 years of war, this is a country without normal times to reclaim; in so many ways, Afghanistan must start from scratch. The accelerating demand for education is mocked by the limited supply. More than half the schools have no buildings, according to the Ministry of Education; classes are commonly held in tents or beneath trees or in the brutal, sun-soaked openness.

Only 20 percent of the teachers are even minimally qualified. Texts are outdated; hundreds of titles need to be written, and millions of books need to be printed. And then there is the violence. In the southern provinces where the Taliban are most aggressively combating American and NATO troops, education has virtually come to a halt in large swaths of the contested regions. In other areas, attacks against schools are sporadic, unpredictable and perplexing.

By the ministry’s estimate, there have been 444 attacks since last August. Some of these were simple thefts. Some were instances of tents put to the torch. Some were audacious murders under the noon sun.

“By attacking schools, the terrorists want to make the point of their own existence,” said Mohammad Hanif Atmar, the minister of education.

Western-educated and notably energetic, Mr. Atmar is the nation’s fifth education minister in five and a half years, but only the first to command the solid enthusiasm of international donors. Much of the government is awash in corruption and cronyism. But Mr. Atmar comes to the job after a much-praised showing as the minister of rural redevelopment.

He has laid out an ambitious five-year plan for school construction, teacher training and a modernized curriculum. He is also championing a parallel track of madrasas, or religious schools; students would focus on Islamic studies while also pursuing science, math and the arts. “This society needs faith-based education, and we will be happy to provide it without teaching violence and the abuse of human rights,” Mr. Atmar said.


(Page 2 of 2)

To succeed, the minister must prove a magnet for foreign cash. And donors have not been unusually generous when it comes to schools. Since the fall of the Taliban, the United States Agency for International Development has devoted only 5 percent of its Afghanistan budget to education, compared with 30 percent for roads and 14 percent for power.

Skip to next paragraph
Afghanistan School Attacks
Virtually every Afghan school is a sketchbook of extraordinary destitution. “I have 68 girls sitting in this tent,” said Nafisa Wardak, a first-grade teacher at the Deh Araban Qaragha School in Kabul. “We’re hot. The tent is full of flies. The wind blows sand and garbage everywhere. If a child gets sick, where can I send her?”

The nation’s overwhelming need for walled classrooms makes the killings in Qalai Sayedan all the more tragic. The school welcomed boys through grade 6 and girls through grade 12. It was terribly overcrowded, with the 1,600 students, attending in two shifts, stuffed into 12 classrooms and a corridor.

But the building itself was exactly that: two stories of concrete with a roof of galvanized steel, and not a collection of weather-molested tents. Two years ago, Qalai Sayedan was named the top school in the province. Its principal, Bibi Gul, was saluted for excellence and rewarded with a trip to America.

But last month’s attack on the school caused parents to wonder if the school’s stalwart reputation had not itself become a source of provocation. Qalai Sayedan is 40 miles south of Kabul, and while a dozen other schools in Logar Province have been attacked, none has been as regularly, or malignly, singled out. Three years ago, Qalai Sayedan was struck by rockets during the night. A year ago, explosives tore off a corner of the building.

In the embassies of the West, and even within the Education Ministry in Kabul, the Taliban are commonly discussed as a monolithic adversary. But to the villagers here, with the lives of their children at risk, it is too simplistic to assume the attacks were merely part of some broad campaign of terror.

People see the government’s enemies as a varied lot with assorted grievances, assorted tribal connections and assorted masters. Villagers ask, has anyone at the school provided great offense? Is the school believed to be un-Islamic?

At the village mosque, many men blame Ms. Gul, the principal. “She should not have gone to America without the consultation of the community,” said Sayed Abdul Sami, the uncle of Saadia, the other slain student. “And she went to America without a mahram, a male relative to accompany her, and this is considered improper in Islam.”

Sayed Enayatullah Hashimi, a white-bearded elder, said the school had flaunted its success too openly. “The governor paid it a visit,” he said disparagingly. “He brought with him 20 bodyguards, and these men went all over the school — even among the older girls.”

Education is the fast track to modernity. And modernity is held with suspicion.

Off the main highway, 100 yards up the winding dirt road and through the blue metal gate, sits the school. It was built four years ago by the German government.

On Monday, Ms. Gul greeted hundreds of children as they fidgeted in the morning light: “Dear boys and brave girls, thank you for coming. The enemy has done its evil deeds, but we will never allow the doors of this school to close again.”

These would be among her final moments as their principal. She had already resigned. “My heart is crying,” she said privately. “But I must leave because of everything that people say. They say I received letters warning about the attacks. But that isn’t so. And people say I am a foreigner because I went to the United States without a mahram. We were 12 people. I’m 42 years old. I don’t need to travel with a mahram.”

In the village, she wears a burqa, enveloped head to toe in lavender fabric. This is a conservative place. For some, the very idea of girls attending school into their teens is a breach of tradition.

Shukria, the slain 13-year-old, was considered a polite girl who reverently studied the Koran. Saadia, the other student killed, was remarkable in that she was married and 25. She had refused to let age discourage her from finishing an education interrupted by the Taliban years. She was about to graduate.

A new sign now sits atop the steel roof. The Qalai Sayedan School has been renamed the Martyred Saadia School. Another place will be called Martyred Shukria.

For three days now, students have been asked to return to class. Each morning, more of them appear. Older girls and women are quite clearly the most reluctant to return.

Shukria’s home is only a short walk from the school. Nafiza, the girl’s mother, was still too scalded with grief to mutter more than a few words. Shukria’s uncle, Shir Agha, took on the role of family spokesman.

“We have a saying that if you go to school, you can find yourself, and if you can find yourself, you can find God,” he said proudly. “But for a child to attend school, there must be security. Who supplies that security?”

Zarmina, the 12-year-old who had seen her sister killed, was called into the room. She was not ready to return to school, she said. Even the sound of a motorbike now made her hide. But surely the fear would subside, her uncle reassured her. She must remember that she loves school, that she loves to read, that she loves to scribble words on paper.

Someday, she would surely resume her studies, he told her.

But the heartbroken girl could not yet imagine this. “Never,” she said.
29297  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: July 10, 2007, 12:19:34 AM
Texas State Lawmaker Opposing Deadly Force Bill Shoots Would-Be Thief

Monday , July 09, 2007

A state lawmaker who opposed a bill giving Texans stronger right to defend themselves with deadly force pulled a gun and shot a man he says was trying to steal copper wiring from a construction site, police said Monday.

Rep. Borris Miles told police he was fixing a leak on the second floor of the Houston house he's building Sunday night when he heard a noise downstairs and saw two men trying to steal the copper. After Miles confronted the pair, one of the men threw a pocketknife at him, Houston Police spokesman Victor Senties.

Miles, a former law enforcement officer, shot the man in the left leg, police said. The wounded suspect was being treated at a Houston hospital. Police were trying to identify the other suspect.

Charges of aggravated robbery are pending against the wounded suspect, Senties said.

Police said Miles, who is in his freshman term, is licensed to carry a concealed weapon. No charges have been filed against Miles, Senties said.
Miles, a Democrat, voted against a bill that gives Texans stronger legal right to defend themselves with deadly force in their homes, vehicles, and workplaces. The so-called "castle doctrine," passed by the Legislature this year, states that a person has no duty to retreat from an intruder before using deadly force. The law goes into effect Sept. 1.
29298  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US Envoy offers grim prediction on: July 10, 2007, 12:09:22 AM
Who is "a US official" and why is he trying to frame the debate before the report is actually written and released?  angry

The Surge has just finally reached full force, yet the same Congress that voted support for Gen. Petraeus has been yapping for months about how we have already "lost" (e.g. Sen. Harry Reid).  How on earth can Iraqis be expected to commit to working with the US when the Congress makes it clear every day that the big bug out is coming?!?  angry angry angry  Frankly I find this to be a despicable display of p*ss-poor partisanship, political cowardice and in many cases an profound absence of patriotic feeling.   Do these people not realize that Tehran TV broadcasts what they say?!? 

It is no coincidence that the stampede of the weak horses of Washington coincides with Syria predicting the outbreak of war in Lebanon in the next couple of weeks and Turkey lining up on the border of Kurdistan with a massive amount of troops and open declarations of intent to cross the border. 

The things these people say and do in Washington have real consequences and cost real lives-- shame!!!  angry angry angry

Gen Petraeus and President Bush asked for a chance with the Surge until mid-September.  This was and is a reasonable request and should be granted.

NY Times

BAGHDAD, July 9 — As the Senate prepares to begin a new debate this week on proposals for a withdrawal from Iraq, the United States ambassador and the Iraqi foreign minister are warning that the departure of American troops could lead to sharply increased violence, the deaths of thousands and a regional conflict that could draw in Iraq’s neighbors.

Two months before a pivotal assessment of progress in the war that he and the overall American military commander in Iraq are to make to the White House and Congress in September, Ryan C. Crocker, the ambassador, laid out a grim forecast of what could happen if the policy debate in Washington led to a significant pullback or even withdrawal of American forces, perhaps to bases outside the major cities.

“You can’t build a whole policy on a fear of a negative, but, boy, you’ve really got to account for it,” Mr. Crocker said Saturday in an interview at his office in Saddam Hussein’s old Republican Palace, now the seat of American power here. Setting out what he said was not a policy prescription but a review of issues that needed to be weighed, the ambassador compared Iraq’s current violence to the early scenes of a gruesome movie.

“In the States, it’s like we’re in the last half of the third reel of a three-reel movie, and all we have to do is decide we’re done here, and the credits come up, and the lights come on, and we leave the theater and go on to something else,” he said. “Whereas out here, you’re just getting into the first reel of five reels,” he added, “and as ugly as the first reel has been, the other four and a half are going to be way, way worse.”

Hoshyar Zebari, the foreign minister, sounded a similar warning at a Baghdad news conference on Monday. “The dangers vary from civil war to dividing the country or maybe to regional wars,” he said, referring to an American withdrawal. “In our estimation the danger is huge. Until the Iraqi forces and institutions complete their readiness, there is a responsibility on the U.S. and other countries to stand by the Iraqi government and the Iraqi people to help build up their capabilities.”

Fearing that the last pillars of Republican support for the war were eroding, the White House invited Senators John W. Warner, Republican of Virginia, who has been critical of the administration’s war policy, and Jon Kyl, Republican of Arizona, a supporter of the American troop presence, to the White House to ask them to delay votes on withdrawal until the administration delivers an interim progress report on the war, due in September.

Administration officials say Mr. Bush is considering a news conference on Iraq this week and is also likely to talk about it Tuesday during a trip to Cleveland that was intended to focus on his domestic agenda.

Although Senator Warner said he was inclined to heed the president’s request to delay a vote, the Democratic leader, Senator Harry Reid, of Nevada, said Monday afternoon that he would not wait. Indeed, hours later, the Senate began debate on the National Defense Authorization Act, the main military spending bill for the next budget year — and a vehicle for trying to force the administration to change its policy.

The bill calls for the military to balance the amount of time American troops spend overseas and on American soil, a measure that would limit troop deployments to Iraq.

While Senators Richard G. Lugar, of Indiana, and Pete V. Domenici, of New Mexico, and other Republicans have publicly urged a change of course, the Senate debate is testing party alliances. Mr. Warner and Senator Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan, are set to speak Tuesday morning at a rare bipartisan meeting to discuss Iraq. And Senator Olympia J. Snowe, a Maine Republican, said she was strongly supporting for the first time a bill with a specific timetable to remove troops from Iraq.

But the White House insisted Monday that Mr. Bush did not intend to change gears. “Don’t expect us to lift a veil and have a whole different strategy,” the spokesman, Tony Snow, said. “We’re not going to have a strategy jumping out of a cake.”

Mr. Crocker’s remarks echoed warnings that have been made for months by President Bush and other administration officials. But Mr. Crocker, a career diplomat,, seemed eager to emphasize that the report he and Gen. David H. Petraeus are to make in September — an event Mr. Bush and his war critics have presented as a watershed moment — would represent their professional judgment, unburdened by any reflex to back administration policy.

In the interview, which was requested by The New York Times, he said, “We’ll give the best assessment we can, and the most honest.” Unusually for American officials here, who have generally avoided any comparisons between the situation in Iraq and the war in Vietnam, he compared the task that he and General Petraeus face in reporting back in September to the one faced by Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker and Gen. Creighton W. Abrams Jr., the two top Americans in Vietnam when the decisions that led to the American withdrawal there were made nearly 40 years ago.

General Petraeus, too, has warned in recent months that while there is a high price for staying in Iraq, including mounting American casualties, the price for leaving could be higher than many war critics have acknowledged. Some opponents of the war have argued the contrary, saying that keeping American troops in Iraq provokes much of the violence and that withdrawing could force Iraq’s feuding politicians into burying their sectarian differences.

(Page 2 of 2)

In the interview, Mr. Crocker said he based his warning about what might happen if American troops left on the realities he has seen in the four months since he took up the Baghdad post, a knowledge of Iraq and its violent history dating back to a previous Baghdad posting more than 25 years ago, and lessons learned during an assignment in Beirut in the early 1980s. Then, he said, a “failure of imagination” made it impossible to foresee the extreme violence that enveloped Lebanon as it descended into civil war. He added, “And I’m sure what will happen here exceeds my imagination.”

On the potential for worsening violence after an American withdrawal from Iraq, he said: “You have to look at what the consequences would be, and you look at those who say we could have bases elsewhere in the country. Well yes, we could, but we would have the prospect of American forces looking on while civilians by the thousands were slaughtered. Not a pretty prospect.”

In setting out what he called “the kind of things you have to think about” before an American troop withdrawal, the ambassador cited several possibilities. He said these included a resurgence by the insurgent group Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, which he said had been “pretty hard-pressed of late” by the additional 30,000 troops Mr. Bush ordered deployed here this year; the risk that Iraq’s 350,000-strong security forces would “completely collapse” under sectarian pressures, disintegrating into militias; and the specter of interference by Iran, neighboring Sunni Arab states and Turkey.

The ambassador also suggested what is likely to be another core element of the approach that he and General Petraeus will take to the September report: that the so-called benchmarks for Iraqi government performance set by Congress in a defense authorization bill this spring may not be the best way of assessing whether the United States has a partner in the Baghdad government that warrants continued American military backing. “The longer I’m here, the more I’m persuaded that Iraq cannot be analyzed by these kind of discrete benchmarks,” he said.

After the Iraqi government drew up the first list of benchmarks last year, American officials used them as their yardstick, frequently faulting the Iraqis for failure to act on them, especially on three items the Americans identified as priorities: a new oil law sharing revenue between Iraq’s main population groups; a new “de-Baathification” law widening access to government jobs to members of Saddam Hussein’s former ruling party; and a law scheduling provincial elections to choose representative governments in areas where Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds are competing for power.

But Mr. Crocker said there were better ways to measure progress, including the levels of security across Iraq, progress in delivering basic services like electricity to the population, and steps by Iraqi leaders from rival groups to work more collaboratively.

Measured solely by the legislative benchmarks, he said, “you could not achieve any of them, and still have a situation where arguably the country is moving in the right direction. And conversely, I think you could achieve them all and still not be heading towards stability, security and overall success for Iraq.”

29299  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education on: July 09, 2007, 01:52:51 PM

Second post of the day:

"The eight Democratic presidential candidates assembled in Washington recently for another of their debates and talked, among other things, about public education. They all essentially agreed that it was underfunded -- one system 'for the wealthy, one for everybody else,' as John Edwards put it. Then they all got into cars and drove through a city where teachers are relatively well paid, per-pupil spending is through the roof and -- pay attention here -- the schools are among the very worst in the nation. When it comes to education, Democrats are ineducable.... [N]ot a one of them even whispered a word of outrage about a public school system that spends $13,000 per child -- third-highest among big-city school systems -- and produces pupils who score among the lowest in just about any category you can name. The only area in which the Washington school system is No. 1 is in money spent on administration. The litany of more and more when it comes to money often has little to do with what, in the military, are called facts on the ground: kids and parents. It does have a lot to do with teachers unions, which are strong supporters of the Democratic Party. Not a single candidate offered anything close to a call for real reform" -- Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen.
29300  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: July 09, 2007, 01:50:46 PM
Karl Clinton?

The Scooter Libby case may have ended with President Bush's decision to commute the former White House aide's sentence, but attendees at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado, an annual gathering of largely liberal philanthropists, still had to get some final words in.

At a Saturday question-and-answer session with Karl Rove, the White House aide came under fire for his alleged role in the revelation of CIA agent Valerie Plame's name. Mr. Rove outlined his minor role in the scandal, claimed he had cooperated fully with Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald and emphasized that the original leaker of Ms. Plame's name was found to be Richard Armitage, then a top deputy to Secretary of State Colin Powell. "Remember, the underlying offense of Armitage talking to Novak was no violation. There was no indictment," said Mr. Rove.

At that point, Colin Powell, who was in the audience, stood up to provide his own version of the Plame affair. He agreed that no crime had been committed in revealing Ms. Plame's name and that Mr. Libby "got in trouble for an entirely different set of circumstances." Mr. Powell also expressed frustration with how the government's investigation had dragged on. "The FBI knew on Day 1 of Mr. Armitage's involvement, yet for two months after that the FBI kept investigating," he told the Aspen audience. "They kept investigating to see who else might be involved and when they finished their investigation -- they couldn't finish it. Therefore, a special counsel was brought in, Mr. Patrick Fitzgerald, who spent another two years on it.... I think this [would have better] ended early on and not dragged out the way it has been."

The crowd, which was clearly not sympathetic to the Bush administration, was polite during the discussion, in contrast to the incivility with which Mr. Rove was received by some when he appeared at the Ideas Festival last year. The change may have partly been due to his disarming manner. The White House aide began his remarks by noting he had enjoyed driving in from Denver the day before. Along the way, he stopped at an inn in the town of Twin Lakes for coffee. He noted that when a man standing in line at a the registration desk was told Karl Rove was on the premises, his instant response was: "I'd like to hit that son of a bitch."

Mr. Rove then deadpanned: "I knew I was getting close to Aspen." Once in Aspen, Mr. Rove said he had another interesting encounter when he arrived at the Aspen Institute.

"There's a guy in a Land Rover, very expensive, and he's got a car full of people, and takes one look at me, a scowl on his face, and says, 'Go home.' And as he goes off, I say, 'I am home.'" Mr. Rove noted that he had been born in Denver and lived in several Colorado towns, including one very close to Aspen, during his childhood.

All in all, Mr. Rove charmed the crowd. Indeed, Ross Douthat of the Atlantic magazine thinks Mr. Rove managed to "out-Clinton" former President Bill Clinton, who also appeared at the Ideas Festival. He says Mr. Rove won over the audience with his "jokey anecdotes" which were then followed up with a presentation that "drowned the crowd in policy detail, complete with a series of PowerPoint slides on immigration and global warming."

-- John Fund
Political Journal/WSJ
Pages: 1 ... 584 585 [586] 587 588 ... 666
Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.19 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!