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29251  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Stock Market on: October 08, 2007, 09:06:52 AM
Tis a rare event, but I re-entered the minor stopped out sub-position in LNOP in profitable fashion and today am quite happy.  As I type LNOP is up 5.8%-- and ISIS is having yet another fine day.
29252  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Knives for good on: October 08, 2007, 08:50:20 AM
Woof All:

I would like to mention that on page 66 of the Jan.'08 issue of "Tactical Knives" there is an article titled "Syderco's P'kal- Fist Full of Fight" which is about my friend Southnarc's reverse grip reverse edge Shivworks folder.    Those of you familiiar with Southnarc's Clinch Pick and Disciple designs know that a lot of serious combative IQ goes into the design of these knives and when we were talking last week he expressed a lot of pride to me that this, his first folder, has been done right.   We (DBIMA) are in conversation about carrying this knife.

Crafty Dog
29253  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA DVD: "DLO 2: Bringing a Gun to a Knife Attack" on: October 08, 2007, 08:26:17 AM
The use of mosaics is to hide the technique  wink grin cheesy  The mosaic will not be used in the actual DVD of course.
29254  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal issues on: October 08, 2007, 08:24:30 AM
Second post of the morning:


Another U.N. Power Grab
What would Reagan do? On the Law of the Sea Treaty, we know the answer.

Monday, October 8, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

It is an impressive testament to the abiding affection and political influence of former President Ronald Reagan that the fate of a controversial treaty now before the U.S. Senate may ultimately turn on a single question: What would Reagan do?

As we had the privilege of working closely with President Reagan in connection with the foreign policy, national security and domestic implications of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (better known as the Law of the Sea Treaty or LOST), there is no question about how our 40th president felt about this accord. He so strongly opposed it that he formally refused to sign the treaty. He even sent Donald Rumsfeld as a personal emissary to our key allies around the world to explain his opposition and encourage them to follow suit. All of them did so at the time.

Proponents of LOST, however, have lately taken--on these pages and elsewhere--to portray President Reagan's concerns as relatively circumscribed. They contend that those objections were subsequently and satisfactorily addressed in a multilateral accord known as the Agreement of 1994. To the extent that such assertions may induce senators who would otherwise oppose the Law of the Sea Treaty to vote for it, perhaps within a matter of weeks and after only the most cursory of reviews, we feel compelled to set the record straight.

Ronald Reagan actually opposed LOST even before he came to office. He was troubled by a treaty that had, in the course of its protracted negotiations, mutated beyond recognition from an effort to codify certain navigation rights strongly supported by our Navy into a dramatic step toward world government. This supranational agenda was most closely identified with, but not limited to, the Treaty's Part XI, which created a variety of executive, legislative and judicial mechanisms to control the resources of the world's oceans.

In a radio address titled "Ocean Mining" on Oct. 10, 1978, Mr. Reagan applauded the idea that "no nat[ional] interest of ours could justify handing sovereign control of two-thirds of the earth's surface over to the Third World." He added, "No one has ruled out the idea of a [Law of the Sea] treaty--one which makes sense--but after long years of fruitless negotiating, it became apparent that the underdeveloped nations who now control the General Assembly were looking for a free ride at our expense--again."

The so-called seabed mining provisions were simply one manifestation of the problems Ronald Reagan had with LOST. That was made clear by an entry in his diary dated June 29, 1982, after months of efforts to negotiate extensive changes in the draft treaty text came to naught. On that evening, President Reagan wrote: "Decided in [National Security Council] meeting--will not sign 'Law of the Sea' treaty even without seabed mining provisions."
The man selected by President Reagan to undertake those renegotiations was the remarkable James Malone. In 1984, Ambassador Malone explained why the Law of the Sea Treaty was unacceptable: "The Treaty's provisions were intentionally designed to promote a new world order--a form of global collectivism known as the New International Economic Order (NIEO)--that seeks ultimately the redistribution of the world's wealth through a complex system of manipulative central economic planning and bureaucratic coercion. The Treaty's provisions are predicated on a distorted interpretation of the noble concept of the Earth's vast oceans as the 'common heritage of mankind.'"

Interestingly, Ambassador Malone declared in 1995, "This remains the case today." That statement is particularly relevant insofar as LOST's supporters, including some of our colleagues from the Reagan administration, insist that the 1994 Agreement "fixed" the previously unacceptable Part XI provisions. As James Malone explained to a conference on the Law of the Sea Treaty before his untimely death more than a decade ago:

"All the provisions from the past that make such a [new world order] outcome possible, indeed likely, still stand. It is not true, as argued by some, and frequently mentioned, that the U.S. rejected the Convention in 1982 solely because of technical difficulties with Part XI. The collectivist and redistributionist provisions of the treaty were at the core of the U.S. refusal to sign."

He added, "The regime's structural arrangements place central planning ahead of free market interests in determining influence over world resources; and yet, the collapse of socialist central planning throughout the world makes this a step in the wrong direction."

In a comment that is, if anything, even more true at present, Ambassador Malone observed that: "Today, not only are the seabed mining provisions inadequately corrected, and the collectivist ideologies of a now repudiated system of global central planning still imbedded in the treaty, new and potentially serious concerns have arisen."

Currently, these include: the increasingly brazen hostility of the United Nations and other multilateral institutions to the United States and its interests; the organization's ambition to impose international taxes, which would allow it to become still less transparent and accountable to member nations; the determination of European and other environmentalists to impose the "precautionary principle" (a Luddite, "better safe than sorry" approach that requires proof no harm can come from any initiative before it can be undertaken); the increasing practice of U.S. courts to allow "universal jurisprudence" to trump American constitutional rights and laws; and the use of "lawfare" (multilateral treaties, tribunal rulings and convention declarations) by adversaries of the U.S. military as asymmetric weapons to curtail or impede American power and operations.

Such developments only serve to reinforce the concerns President Reagan rightly had about the central, and abiding, defect of the Law of the Sea Treaty: its effort to promote global government at the expense of sovereign nation states--and most especially the United States. One of the prime movers behind LOST, the late Elisabeth Mann Borgese of the World Federalist Association (which now calls itself Citizens for Global Solutions), captured what is at stake when she cited an ancient aphorism: "He who rules the sea, rules the land." A U.N. publication lauding her work noted that Borgese saw LOST as a "possible test-bed for ideas she had developed concerning a common global constitution."
While we would not presume to speak for President Reagan, his own words and those of the man who worked most closely with him and us on Law of the Sea matters, Jim Malone, make one thing clear: Even if the 1994 Agreement actually amended LOST (and there are multiple reasons why it did not actually alter so much as a single word of the treaty), Ronald Reagan's belief in the U.S. as an exceptional "shining city on a hill" and his enmity towards threats to our sovereignty in general, and global governance schemes in particular, were such that he would likely encourage the Senate to do today what he did in 1982: Reject LOST.

Judge Clark and Mr. Meese served in several capacities in President Reagan's administration including, respectively, as national security adviser and attorney general.
29255  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / No room for Entrepeneurs on: October 08, 2007, 08:23:38 AM
No Room for Entrepreneurs
October 8, 2007; Page A18

Economist Joseph Schumpeter (1883-1950) may be best known for his innovative work showing the link between entrepreneurial discovery and economic progress.

But as Carl Schramm, president of the Kauffman Foundation of Entrepreneurship has pointed out, Schumpeter's insights about risk-takers didn't make him an optimist.

In a speech last year to European finance ministers in Vienna, Mr. Schramm explained Schumpeter's fears: He "worried that entrepreneurial capitalism would not flourish because the bureaucracies of modern government and big corporations would dampen innovation -- the process of 'creative destruction' would be too ungovernable for a modern, Keynesian-regulated economy to tolerate." As a result, Mr. Schramm said, Schumpeter thought that "the importance of entrepreneurs would fade over time as capitalism sought predictability from governments who would plan economic activity as well as order social benefits."

Mr. Schramm's comments caught my attention because they so accurately describe Latin America. There the entrepreneur has been all but run out of town by the bureaucracies that Schumpeter feared. Growth has suffered accordingly.

The World Bank's annual "Doing Business" survey, released last week, demonstrates the point. The 2008 survey, which evaluates the regulatory climate for entrepreneurs in 178 countries, finds that Latin America and the Caribbean was the slowest reforming region this year and that it "is falling further behind other regions in the pace" of reform.

The average time it takes to start a business -- one of 10 factors measured -- in Latin America and the Caribbean is 68 days, longer than anywhere else. Compare that with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, where business start-ups take less than 15 days. Other common problems in the region are weak minority-shareholder rights, slow legal regimes and punishing tax systems.

Yet as bad as the regional averages are, entrepreneurs in Venezuela probably view them with envy. When it comes to the ease of doing business Venezuela now ranks six places from the bottom world-wide, between Eritrea and Chad. It also finishes dead last among the region's 31 countries -- and that includes Haiti. In the category of "employing workers" Venezuela ties with Bolivia at No. 177. The authors note that it is "not possible" to fire a Venezuelan employee. "Starting a business" takes 141 days and in ease of "paying taxes" it ranks No. 174.

Keeping Venezuela company in the cellar are Ecuador, which finishes 27th in the region, and Bolivia, which comes in 28th. Only Suriname, Haiti and Mr. Chávez's oil paradise have more hostile business climates.

To understand how Argentina went from being one of the world's top-performing economies during Schumpeter's lifetime to the basket case it is today, this report is instructive. The resurgence of Peronist economics helped it slide 16 places lower than its 2006 ranking. Not only has it failed to carry out any meaningful reforms but in the past year it complicated the insolvency process. And its tax system remains punitive: A company that pays all its taxes coughs up the equivalent of 113% of its profit. Argentina finishes 22nd in the region but ahead of Costa Rica, which comes in 24th. Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua are all better places to be an entrepreneur than Costa Rica.

Brazil earned about the same ranking as last year. It made improvements to its legal regime but lost ground to more aggressive reformers in the category of "trading across borders." It also takes last place world-wide for the time it takes to comply with the tax code (2,600 hours) and ranks 137th in the "paying taxes" category.

Sluggish reform in the region has led some analysts to conclude that democracies in the developing world cannot overcome the obstacles to modernization presented by the political economy. Yet there are regional successes that prove that where there is political will, there is a way.

Take Mexico. In last year's report it jumped almost 20 places world-wide thanks to a reform-minded treasury ministry under former President Vicente Fox, which lowered tax rates and made property registration easier. It now has the fifth-most pro-business climate in the region. If the government of Felipe Calderón keeps its reform promises, more improvements should be on the way, though its price controls on bread and tortillas are not a good sign.

This year's superstar is Colombia. It is among the top 10 reformers world-wide and ranks 12th in the region. It made enormous progress in "trading across borders" by reducing the time goods spend in terminals, extending port operating hours and making more selective customs inspections. It also strengthened investor protections, adopted an electronic tax filing system and progressively lowered the corporate tax rate to 33% in 2008 from 35% in 2006. Much more work is needed but the moral of the story is that with leadership, such as that which President Álvaro Uribe has provided, reform is possible.

But the opposite is also true. Chile has fallen nine places since its No. 24 ranking in the 2006 report, suggesting that the center-left coalition running the country is not attuned to the importance of entrepreneurial freedom.

The most important lesson for Latin America from the World Bank's report is that its competitors around the world are working to unleash entrepreneurial spirits, and doing nothing is not an option. As Mr. Schramm told his Vienna audience, "Schumpeter saw what a century of evidence would prove: Socialism has not sustained economic growth." Now, if only more Latin American policy makers would catch on.

Write to O'

29256  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: October 08, 2007, 08:11:43 AM
Goose Creek Terror Trial - Egypt to Hire Lawyer for Accused USF Student

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Egypt's government is paying for the legal representation of a college student who authorities say was found with pipe bombs near a Navy base, an attorney said Wednesday.

Attorney John Fitzgibbons told a judge he was in talks with the Egyptian embassy in Washington and likely will be hired to represent suspended University of South Florida student Ahmed Abdellatif Sherif Mohamed.

Ahmed el-Qawassni, an official in Egypt's foreign ministry, said the government is closely monitoring the case and confirmed that an attorney is being hired for Mohamed, who was born in Kuwait to Egyptian parents.

"We are responsible for the sons of Egypt abroad with no exception," el-Qawassni said.

Mohamed, 24, and another USF student, Youssef Samir Megahed, 21, are charged with carrying explosive materials across state lines.


29257  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: October 08, 2007, 08:06:42 AM
Al Qaeda's War of Villages
Signs that the terrorists are losing in Iraq.

Monday, October 8, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

BAGHDAD--The latest chapter in al Qaeda's war manual in their war against the Iraqi people and the Coalition is this: raiding remote peaceful villages, burning down homes and slaughtering both man and beast. It's a campaign of self destruction.

For about a year al Qaeda has been trying to build a so called Islamic State in Iraq. On several occasions al Qaeda has even declared parts of Baghdad or other places in other provinces the capital of this Islamic State.

But now that they are losing one base after another, their objective seems to have changed from adding more towns and villages to the "state" to destroying the very same towns and villages. Obviously, it's all about making headlines regardless of the means to do that.

This change in plans began to take shape with the battle between al Qaeda and the joint forces on Sept. 6 and 7 in Hor Rijab and then the massacre that followed in the same spot a week later and finally the attacks on other villages north, south and east of Baghdad in the last week or so.

Actually first I'd like to recommend reading a good post by Jules Crittenden about the flawed timing of this "Little Tet.

Anyway, our interest today is more about the field situation and strategy than about timing since the latter seems to be not so friendly to al Qaeda. Well, actually timing is very important here too but at a rather different level. In my opinion al Qaeda found itself forced to start this villages war. It wasn't a choice as much as a last resort because villages are among the few fighting spaces that al Qaeda can still utilize as large cities become increasingly difficult for them to operate in. They know that without engaging the enemy--that's us by the way--their existence and influence would end and I'm almost positive that they feel bitter about having to fight this way.

In order to fight a "good" guerilla war one has to stay in fluid state, have no permanent bases or barracks, no distinguishable uniform and above all one should be able to always have civilians around so as to deter the enemy--that's again us--from attacking out of concern about collateral damages and casualties among innocent civilians. No one questions the fact that no army in the Middle East, and I doubt there are any elsewhere, that can engage and defeat the U.S. military power in open terrain, in other words in a case of two traditional armies fighting on traditional battlefield.
The last factor is exactly what al Qaeda is sacrificing by waging this war on villages. But how can we make advantage of this situation? The greatest challenge I guess would be to have an alarm and information system through which the nearest available troops could be notified when an attack begins so they could interfere and repel the attack. This might be logistically difficult to establish in a short time since villages are usually far from the cities. In fact I worked in some such villages and I know that most of them are outside the administrative divisions or "civil planning" of provinces therefore they lack their own government offices and departments which means the nearest hospital, fire department, even phone and above all police station could be many miles away.

But even then if the troops fail to arrive in time to intercept the attack, which would be truly sad, the long distance that al Qaeda fighters would have to travel to go back to their base would require them to lose precious time since they have to rely only on ground transport on mostly exposed terrain while the troops very often have the advantage of the much faster air transport.

In the worst case scenario what's left of a village if the attack is not intercepted would be only al Qaeda fighters and the remains of what used to be a village. Now isn't that the perfect target for the countless aggressive fire units of the U.S. military?

Now please let's put emotions aside for a while because this is war we're talking about and if sacrifices cannot be avoided we should make sure the enemy pays the heaviest price possible. If reaction is quick enough--and timing here is of crucial importance--the hunt would be great and the results would be spectacular.

Again, of course it would be much more pleasant if the attacks can be prevented or repelled but since I doubt there's such an alarm system we could at least make benefit of the gap in time that immediately follows the action of the attackers taking advantage of faster transportation means and the old principle in combat that says the enemy can be best attacked immediately after he makes his move.
For the duration of the war on al Qaeda in Iraq so far, the most frustrating fact for soldiers and military commanders has been that they were asked to identify terrorists who move like ghosts, separate them from civilians and kill or capture them and that's a truly difficult mission. That's partly because a soldier would have to be careful when and where each bullet he fires would hit. But when the ghosts are identified, isolated and far from any friendly objects/personnel a pilot could attack with assurance of not hurting a friend.

That's why I think the troops should seize each and every such opportunity (which are technically moments during which the crippling rule of engagement become much more flexible) and strike as hard as they can once they are sure the battlefield falls in the category we just described.

Mr. Fadhil and his brother Mohammed write a blog, Iraq the Model, from Baghdad.

29258  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East War on: October 08, 2007, 07:42:47 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Talk of More U.S.-Iranian Talks

U.S. President George W. Bush told a group of businesspeople Oct. 3 that he would be prepared to negotiate with Iran if it suspended its nuclear weapons program. He repeated the call for negotiations in an Oct. 5 interview on the Al Arabiya television network. Iran responded Sunday by saying that it welcomes Bush's call for negotiations, but that it will not suspend its nuclear program as a precondition for such talks.

A spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry said, "Iran is ready for talks in a just, unconditional manner with mutual respect." He added, however, "Suspension of enrichment is an old debate. We have many times said that new issues should be discussed in negotiations." Most interestingly, the spokesman said that while Bush's remarks weren't new, they were "clearer than previous times."

That might well be true. Bush has not heretofore been this open about his willingness and desire to deal with the Iranians. However, the nuclear issue is still on the table. Bush wants to discuss Iraq with the Iranians, but only after their nuclear weapons program is shut down. The Iranians have no intention of abandoning their program prior to the negotiations. While we do think they would be prepared to shut it down in the long run, they will want to use it as a bargaining tool to extract maximum concessions from the United States before letting go of it. There is no way they would consider shutting down the program prior to talks.

The United States knows that. It does not expect the Iranians to concede this point. Therefore, one of two things is going on. The first possibility is that Washington wants to create a clear, public record that it has gone the extra mile in trying to work with Tehran, in order to convince allies and the general public that it has exhausted all of its reasonable nonmilitary options. It also is possible that the United States has in fact decided to upgrade its talks with the Iranians and will, in due course, negotiate over the negotiations, ultimately conceding that there will be talks prior to an end to the program.

Our prior view, after the surge began, was that the United States expected to engage Iran in serious negotiations over Iraq because neither side felt in control of the situation. Our view shifted as the Petraeus report came in -- we expected it to be modeled after the National Intelligence Estimate, increasing the likelihood of a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. Instead, the opposite happened.

A general consensus, including most congressional Democrats, has emerged that recognizes that a unilateral and rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces is not going to happen. Moreover, Bush highlighted his improved relations with the Sunnis on his last visit to Iraq. A U.S.-Sunni alliance is a worst-case outcome for the Iranians, so it is possible that they might want to go back to the table. For the Americans, on the other hand, a relationship with the Sunnis is a thin reed on which to hang the U.S. strategy in Iraq. They do need to talk to the Iranians.

That makes the case that this offer of talks from the Americans could be real. And two such offers in the same week is more than just building the public record in preparation for an attack. Our gut tells us that Bush might be serious about talking right now.

The answer, if any, will come in backchannel discussions over the status of Iran's nuclear weapons program. The United States can't engage in talks if the program is going forward full-bore -- the politics would be impossible. On the other hand, Iran can't talk if doing so means abandoning the program. That would weaken Tehran's entire negotiating position. The only middle ground -- and this could be fantasy -- is the suspension of some aspect of the program without stopping it. If this is a serious opening, that is what is being discussed now. The formula should be clear to both sides and after a period of posturing, a compromise can emerge. Or, the offer is nothing more than atmospherics, and like other negotiating opportunities between the United States and Iran, it will go away.

We hate resorting to the ugly "we'll see" as an ending -- but that is exactly where we need to end this. Probably neither side really understands the position of the other. Indeed, each side might not have fully defined its own position yet. The public discussion is of enormous significance, but the unknowns are of equal importance.

So we'll see.
29259  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Gangs on: October 08, 2007, 07:26:30 AM
Woof All:

I suppose this thread could have gone on the P&R forum, or the MA forum, but I decided to put it here.  I open with a long documentary on MS-13.  The piece is quite a serious look at the serious problem of MS 13-- althoughI could have done without the occasional implications that US deportations of illegal aliens caused it all. 

I'll add one piece of background context.  El Salvador has extremely high population density rates and last I read (20 years ago) extremely high population growth rates (3.6% or so!!!  shocked ).

29260  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: October 08, 2007, 06:06:42 AM
Published: October 8, 2007
KABUL, Afghanistan, Oct. 7 — After the biggest opium harvest in Afghanistan’s history, American officials have renewed efforts to persuade the government here to begin spraying herbicide on opium poppies, and they have found some supporters within President Hamid Karzai’s administration, officials of both countries said.

Skip to next paragraph
Taliban Raise Poppy Production to a Record Again (August 26, 2007)
The New York Times
Helmand accounts for nearly half Afghanistan’s opium.
Since early this year, Mr. Karzai has repeatedly declared his opposition to spraying the poppy fields, whether by crop-dusting airplanes or by eradication teams on the ground.

But Afghan officials said the Karzai administration is now re-evaluating that stance. Some proponents within the government are pushing a trial program of ground spraying that could begin before the harvest next spring.

The issue has created sharp divisions within the Afghan government, among its Western allies and even American officials of different agencies. The matter is fraught with political danger for Mr. Karzai, whose hold on power is weak.

Many spraying advocates, including officials at the White House and the State Department, view herbicides as critical to curbing Afghanistan’s poppy crop, officials said. That crop and the opium and heroin it produces have become a major source of revenue for the Taliban insurgency.

But officials said the skeptics — who include American military and intelligence officials and European diplomats in Afghanistan — fear that any spraying of American-made chemicals over Afghan farms would be a boon to Taliban propagandists. Some of those officials say that the political cost could be especially high if the herbicide destroys food crops that farmers often plant alongside their poppies.

“There has always been a need to balance the obvious greater effectiveness of spray against the potential for losing hearts and minds,” Thomas A. Schweich, the assistant secretary of state for international narcotics issues, said in an interview last week in Washington. “The question is whether that’s manageable. I think that it is.”

Bush administration officials say they will respect whatever decision the Afghan government makes. Crop-eradication efforts, they insist, are only part of a new counternarcotics strategy that will include increased efforts against traffickers, more aid for legal agriculture and development, and greater military support for the drug fight.

Behind the scenes, however, Bush administration officials have been pressing the Afghan government to at least allow the trial spray of glyphosate, a commonly used weed-killer, current and former American officials said. Ground spraying would likely bring only a modest improvement over the manual destruction of poppy plants, but officials who support the strategy hope it would reassure Afghans about the safety of the herbicide and make eradication possible.

Aerial spraying, they add, may be the only way to make a serious impact on opium production while the Taliban continues to dominate parts of southern Afghanistan.

On Sunday, officials said, a State Department crop-eradication expert briefed key members of Mr. Karzai’s cabinet about the effectiveness and safety of glyphosate. The expert, Charles S. Helling, a senior scientific adviser to the department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, met with, among others, the ministers of public health and agriculture, both of whom have opposed the use of herbicides, an Afghan official said.

For all the controversy over herbicide use, there is no debate that Afghanistan’s drug problem is out of control. The country now produces 93 percent of the world’s opiates, according to United Nations estimates. Its traffickers are also processing more opium into heroin base there, a shift that has helped to increase Afghanistan’s drug revenues exponentially since the American-led invasion in 2001.

A United Nations report in August documented a 17 percent rise in poppy cultivation from 2006 to 2007, and a 34 percent rise in opium production. Perhaps more important for the effort to stabilize Afghanistan, officials said, the Taliban has been reaping a windfall from taxes on the growers and traffickers.

The problem is most acute in the southern province of Helmand, a Taliban stronghold. It produced nearly 4,400 metric tons of opium this year, almost half the country’s total output, United Nations statistics show.

Moreover, as Afghanistan’s opium production has soared, the government’s eradication efforts have faltered. Federal and provincial eradication teams — using sticks, sickles and animal-drawn plows — cut down about 47,000 acres of poppy fields this year, 24 percent more than last year but still less than 9 percent of the country’s total poppy crop.

And even that effort had to be negotiated plot by plot with growers. Powerful and politically connected landowners were able to protect their crops while smaller, weaker farmers were made the targets. The eradication program was so spotty that it did little to discourage farmers from cultivating the crop, American and European officials said.


Page 2 of 2)

“The eradication process over the past five years has not worked,” Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, said in an interview. “This year, it was a farce.”

A United Nations report estimates that the country’s cultivation of poppy buds has risen 17 percent in the last year.

President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan has opposed spraying but his administration is re-evaluating that stance.

The Americans have been pushing the Afghan government to eradicate with glyphosate for at least two years. According to current and former American officials, the subject has been raised with President Karzai by President Bush; Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; Stephen J. Hadley, the national security adviser; and John P. Walters, the director of national drug-control policy.

American officials thought they had the Karzai administration’s support late last year to begin a small-scale pilot program for ground spraying in several provinces. But that plan was derailed in January after an American-educated deputy minister of public health presented health and environmental concerns about glyphosate at a meeting of the Karzai cabinet, Afghan and American officials said.

Since then, Mr. Karzai has said he opposes spraying of any kind.

“President Karzai has categorically rejected that spraying will happen,” Farooq Wardak, Afghanistan’s minister of state for parliamentary affairs, said in a recent interview. “The collateral damage of that will be huge.”

Yet in the weeks since the latest United Nations drug report, the Bush administration’s lobbying appears to have made new headway. It has already won the backing of several members of Mr. Karzai’s government and the spray advocates here are now trying to swing other key Afghan officials and Mr. Karzai himself, one high-level Afghan official said

“We are working to convince the key ministers and President Karzai to accept this strategy,” said the official, who supports spraying but asked not to be identified because of the issue’s political delicacy. “We want to convince them to show some power. The government has to show its power in the remote provinces.”

General Khodaidad, Afghanistan’s acting minister of counternarcotics (who, like many Afghans, goes by only one name), said in an interview last week that ground spraying is under careful consideration by the Afghan government. A high-level official of the Karzai administration said he believed some spraying might take place during this growing season, which begins in several weeks.

The American government contends that glyphosate is one of the world’s safest herbicides — “less toxic than common salt, aspirin, caffeine, nicotine and even vitamin A,” according to a State Department fact sheet.

One well known supporter of glyphosate as a counternarcotics tool is the American ambassador in Kabul, William B. Wood, who arrived in April after a four-year posting as ambassador to Colombia. There, Mr. Wood oversaw the American-financed counternarcotics program, Plan Colombia, which relies heavily on the aerial spraying of coca, the raw material for cocaine.

Mr. Wood has even offered to have himself sprayed with glyphosate, as one of his predecessors in Colombia once did, to prove its safety, a United States Embassy official in Kabul said.

But among European diplomats here, a far greater concern than any environmental or health dangers of chemical eradication is the potential for political fallout that could lead to more violence and instability.

Those diplomats worry particularly that aerial spraying would kill food crops that some farmers plant with their poppies. European officials add that any form of spraying could be cast by the Taliban as American chemical warfare against the Afghan peasantry.

The British have been so concerned that on the eve of Mr. Karzai’s trip to Camp David in August, Prime Minister Gordon Brown called President Bush and asked him not to pressure the Afghan premier to use herbicides, according to several diplomats here.

In something of a reversal of traditional roles, officials at the Pentagon and Central Intelligence Agency have also challenged the White House and State Department support for spraying, raising concerns about its potential to destabilize the Karzai government, current and former American officials said.

American officials who support herbicide use do not dismiss such concerns. They say an extensive public-information campaign would have to be carried out in conjunction with any spraying effort to dispel fears about the chemical’s impacts.

Mr. Schweich, the assistant secretary of state, emphasized that a new American counter-narcotics strategy for Afghanistan, introduced in August, went far beyond eradication. He noted that it would increase punishments and rewards, including large amounts of development aid, to move farmers away from poppy cultivation. It also calls for more forceful eradication, interdiction and law enforcement efforts, and closer coordination of counternarcotics and counterinsurgency efforts, which until now have been pursued separately.

“We will do what the Afghan government wants to do,” Mr. Schweich said, referring to the use of herbicides. The Bush administration, he added, simply wants to ensure that the Afghans “have all the facts on the table.”

NY Times
29261  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: October 08, 2007, 06:01:13 AM
I saw the posters referenced in this article everywhere I went while in Switzerland last week.
NY Times

Published: October 8, 2007
SCHWERZENBACH, Switzerland, Oct. 4 — The posters taped on the walls at a political rally here capture the rawness of Switzerland’s national electoral campaign: three white sheep stand on the Swiss flag as one of them kicks a single black sheep away.

A poster at a rally for the Swiss People’s Party showed a white sheep kicking out a black one.
“To Create Security,” the poster reads.

The poster is not the creation of a fringe movement, but of the most powerful party in Switzerland’s federal Parliament and a member of the coalition government, an extreme right-wing party called the Swiss People’s Party, or SVP. It has been distributed in a mass mailing to Swiss households, reproduced in newspapers and magazines and hung as huge billboards across the country.

As voters prepare to go to the polls in a general election on Oct. 21, the poster — and the party’s underlying message — have polarized a country that prides itself on peaceful consensus in politics, neutrality in foreign policy and tolerance in human relations.

Suddenly the campaign has turned into a nationwide debate over the place of immigrants in one of the world’s oldest democracies, and over what it means to be Swiss.

“The poster is disgusting, unacceptable,” Micheline Calmy-Rey, the current president of Switzerland under a one-year rotation system, said in an interview. “It stigmatizes others and plays on the fear factor, and in that sense it’s dangerous. The campaign does not correspond to Switzerland’s multicultural openness to the world. And I am asking all Swiss who do not agree with its message to have the courage to speak out.”

Interior Minister Pascal Couchepin, of the Liberal Democratic Party, has even suggested that the SVP’s worship of Christoph Blocher, the billionaire who is the party’s driving force and the current justice minister, is reminiscent of that of Italian fascists for Mussolini.

[On Saturday, a march of several thousand SVP supporters in Bern ended in clashes between hundreds of rock-throwing counterdemonstrators and riot police officers, who used tear gas to disperse them. The opponents of the rally, organized by a new group called the Black Sheep Committee, had tried to prevent the demonstrators from marching to Parliament.]

The message of the party resonates loudly among voters who have seen this country of 7.5 million become a haven for foreigners, including political refugees from places like Kosovo and Rwanda. Polls indicate that the right-wing party is poised to win more seats than any other party in Parliament in the election, as it did in national elections in 2003, when its populist language gave it nearly 27 percent of the vote.

“Our political enemies think the poster is racist, but it just gives a simple message,” Bruno Walliser, a local chimney sweep running for Parliament on the party ticket, said at the rally, held on a Schwerzenbach farm outside Zurich. “The black sheep is not any black sheep that doesn’t fit into the family. It’s the foreign criminal who doesn’t belong here, the one that doesn’t obey Swiss law. We don’t want him.”

More than 20 percent of Swiss inhabitants are foreign nationals, and the SVP argues that a disproportionate number are lawbreakers. Many drug dealers are foreign, and according to federal statistics, about 70 percent of the prison population is non-Swiss.

As part of its platform, the SVP party has begun a campaign seeking the 100,000 signatures necessary to force a referendum to let judges deport foreigners after they serve prison sentences for serious crimes. The measure also calls for the deportation of the entire family if the convicted criminal is a minor.

Human rights advocates warn that the initiative is reminiscent of the Nazi practice of Sippenhaft, or kin liability, under which relatives of criminals were held responsible and punished for their crimes.

The party’s political campaign has a much broader agenda than simply fighting crime. Its subliminal message is that the influx of foreigners has somehow polluted Swiss society, straining the social welfare system and threatening the very identity of the country.

Unlike the situation in France, where the far-right National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen campaigned for president in the spring alongside black and ethnic Arab supporters, the SVP has taken a much cruder us-against-them approach.


In a short three-part campaign film, “Heaven or Hell,” the party’s message is clear. In the first segment, young men inject heroin, steal handbags from women, kick and beat up schoolboys, wield knives and carry off a young woman. The second segment shows Muslims living in Switzerland — women in head scarves; men sitting, not working. The third segment shows “heavenly” Switzerland: men in suits rushing to work, logos of Switzerland’s multinational corporations, harvesting on farms, experiments in laboratories, scenes of lakes, mountains, churches and goats. “The choice is clear: my home, our security,” the film states.

The film was withdrawn from the party’s Web site after the men who acted in it sued, arguing they were unaware of its purpose. But over beer and bratwurst at the Schwerzenbach political rally, Mr. Walliser screened it for the audience, saying, “I’m taking the liberty to show it anyway.”

For Nelly Schneider, a 49-year-old secretary, the party’s approach is “a little bit crass,” but appealing nevertheless. “These foreigners abuse the system,” she said after Mr. Walliser’s presentation. “They don’t speak any German. They go to prostitution and do drugs and drive fancy cars and work on the black market. They don’t want to work.”

As most of the rest of Europe has moved toward unity, Switzerland has fiercely guarded its independence, staying out of the 27-country European Union and maintaining its status as a tax haven for the wealthy. It has perhaps the longest and most arduous process to become a citizen in all of Europe: candidates typically must wait 12 years before being considered.

Three years ago the SVP blocked a move to liberalize the citizenship process, using the image of dark-skinned hands snatching at Swiss passports. And though the specter of terrorism has not been a driving issue, some posters in southern Switzerland at the time showed a mock Swiss passport held by Osama bin Laden.

Foreigners, who make up a quarter of the Swiss work force, complain that it is harder to get a job or rent an apartment without a Swiss passport and that they endure everyday harassment that Swiss citizens do not.

James Philippe, a 28-year-old Haitian who has lived in Switzerland for 14 years and works for Streetchurch, a Protestant storefront community organization, and as a hip-hop dance instructor, said he is regularly stopped by the police and required to show his papers and submit to body searches. He speaks German, French, Creole and English, but has yet to receive a Swiss passport.

“The police treat me like I’m somehow not human,” he said at the Streetchurch headquarters in a working-class neighborhood of Zurich. “Then I open my mouth and speak good Swiss German, and they’re always shocked.

“We come here. We want to learn. We clean their streets and do all the work they don’t want to do. If they kick us out, are they going to do all that work themselves? We need them, but they need us too.”

SVP officials insist that their campaign is not racist, just anticrime. “Every statistic shows that the participation of foreigners in crime is quite high,” said Ulrich Schlüer, an SVP Parliament deputy who has also led an initiative to ban minarets in Switzerland. “We cannot accept this. We are the only party that addresses this problem.”

But the SVP campaign has begun to have a ripple effect, shaking the image of Switzerland as a place of prosperity, tranquillity and stability — particularly for doing business. On Thursday, a coalition of business, union and church leaders in Basel criticized the SVP for what they called its extremism, saying, “Those who discriminate against foreigners hurt the economy and threaten jobs in Switzerland.”

“In the past,” said Daniele Jenni, a lawyer and the founder of the Black Sheep Committee who is running for Parliament, “people were reluctant to attack the party out of fear that it might only strengthen it. Now people are beginning to feel liberated. They no longer automatically accept the role of the rabbit doing nothing, just waiting for the snake to bite.”

29262  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal issues on: October 08, 2007, 05:29:02 AM
WASHINGTON —  President Bush, who presided over 152 executions as governor of Texas, wants to halt the state's execution of a Mexican national for the brutal killing of two teenage girls.

The case of Jose Ernesto Medellin has become a confusing test of presidential power that the U.S. Supreme Court, which hears the case this week, ultimately will sort out.

The president wants to enforce a decision by the International Court of Justice that found the convictions of Medellin and 50 other Mexican-born prisoners violated their rights to legal help as outlined in the 1963 Vienna Convention.

That is the same court Bush has since said he plans to ignore if it makes similar decisions affecting state criminal laws.

"The president does not agree with the ICJ's interpretation of the Vienna Convention," the administration said in arguments filed with the court. This time, though, the U.S. agreed to abide by the international court's decision because ignoring it would harm American interests abroad, the government said.

Texas argues that neither the international court nor Bush has any say in Medellin's case.

Medellin was born in Mexico, but spent much of his childhood in the United States. He was 18 in June 1993, when he and other members of the Black and Whites gang in Houston encountered two teenage girls on a railroad trestle.

The girls were gang-raped and strangled. Their bodies were found four days later.

Medellin was arrested a few days later. He was told he had a right to remain silent and have a lawyer present, but the police did not tell him that he could request assistance from the Mexican consulate.

Medellin gave a written confession. He was convicted of murder in the course of a sexual assault, a capital offense in Texas. A judge sentenced him to death in October 1994.

Medellin did not raise the lack of assistance from Mexican diplomats during his trial or sentencing. When he did claim his rights had been violated, Texas and federal courts turned him down because he had not objected at his trial. Mexico later sued the United States in the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, on behalf of Medellin and 50 other Mexicans on death row in the U.S.

29263  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hamilton on: October 08, 2007, 05:20:35 AM
"Wise politicians will be cautious about fettering the government
with restrictions that cannot be observed, because they know that
every break of the fundamental laws, though dictated by necessity,
impairs that sacred reverence which ought to be maintained in
the breast of rulers towards the constitution of a country. "

-- Alexander Hamilton (Federalist No. 25, 21 December 1787)

Reference: Hamilton, Federalist No. 25 (167)
29264  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The left's family values on: October 07, 2007, 07:26:00 PM
If we are going to have an extended discussion of Iraq again, then lets take it to that thread.
29265  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The left's family values on: October 07, 2007, 02:57:33 PM

Thinking that our troops should be brought home is quite different than hoping they lose.  I disagree with the former, but have a real hard time with the latter.   As best as I can tell the unavoidable conclusion of opposing our victory is that more die than are dying now.
29266  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: VIDEO CLIPS OF INTEREST on: October 07, 2007, 11:12:16 AM
This clip first crossed my radar screen a year or two ago and recently came to my attention against. Definitely a contender for a Most Embarassing Award cheesy
29267  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Kali Fitness on: October 07, 2007, 11:10:39 AM
Woof All:

We have begun the process of converting the "DBMAA Vid-lesson: Kali Fitness" featuring Guro Lonely Dog to DVD  cool

Guro Crafty
29268  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Las 5 respuestas on: October 07, 2007, 10:24:27 AM
Cecilio et al:

Muy buena descripcion.

YO quisiera anadir que aunque todo el mundo sabe las dos respuestas al peligro de pelear o huir, en la realidad hay tres mas.

Congelarse (to freeze)
Blufear (to posture)
Rendirse (to submit)

29269  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Water drying up in China on: October 07, 2007, 10:18:04 AM
Stop the tease please!  cheesy URL? 25-50 words on the theory behind the investment?
29270  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Nigeria on: October 07, 2007, 08:39:14 AM

Homes, churches destroyed as 500 people are displaced; government slow to respond.

TUDUN WADA DANKADAI, Nigeria, October 5 (Compass Direct News) – A Muslim rampage last week in this town in the northern state of Kano resulted in the killing of 10 Christians and the destruction of nine churches, according to eyewitnesses.

Another 61 people were injured and more than 500 displaced in the September 28 disturbance, touched off when Muslim students of Government College-Tudun Wada Dankadai, a public high school, claimed that a Christian student had drawn a cartoon of Islam’s prophet, Muhammad, on the wall of the school’s mosque.

Christian students said no one saw the alleged cartoon and that no one in the tiny minority group of Christians would have dared such a feat, especially during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. Of the student population of 1,500 at the high school, only 14 are Christians. Seven of them live on campus.

Iliya Adamu, an 18-year-old student at the school, told Compass that he had been preparing to go to class when a group of Muslim students stormed into his dorm and began to beat him.

“I was surprised that they were beating me without telling what I did,” Adamu said. “I asked to know what was happening, and they claimed that one Christian student had gone to their mosque to draw a cartoon of Muhammad. In spite of my denying the act, they kept beating me.”

Adamu said he saw them beating a Christian classmate, Sule La’azaru. Sensing that he would be killed, he ran to the principal’s office to take refuge. Soon the remaining Christian students escaped and joined him in the principal’s office.

Sensing danger, Muslim teachers locked the Christian students in the principal’s office. They were kept there for about 30 minutes before the school principal, Alhaji Garba Wajume, arrived at the chaotic scene.

Disregarding the appeal of their Muslim teachers to calm down, Muslim students began throwing stones at the Christian students through the window of the principal’s office, wounding the head of student Ayuba Wada.

“I was inside the office of our principal, with the others, when suddenly the Muslim students began throwing stones at us,” Wada said. “It was through this way that my head was broken. I was bleeding, and no help came as the situation became more riotous.”

Trapped in the Principal’s Office
The Muslim students eventually broke into the office, but the timely arrival of the principal saved Wada’s life.

Apart from his head wound, Wada also suffered cuts on his legs. He was taken to Hayin Yawa Clinic, where he was treated and smuggled to Doguwa village. Two of his colleagues also were taken to the clinic and subsequently escaped the carnage. The Christian students remaining in the principal’s managed to escape from the Muslim mob unaided.

Christian student Shehu Bawa told Compass that when he arrived at the school that morning, he noticed there were no students on the assembly grounds as there normally would be.

“I then went to my class, however, after about 10 minutes I heard shouts of ‘Allahu Akbar [God is Great]’ all over the school,” he said. “The Muslim students were now attacking every Christian student on sight. Four of us ran into the office of the vice principal, but when it was finally broken into by the Muslim students, we ran out and escaped.”

The Christian students denied that any of them could have drawn a cartoon of Muhammad. “How can we take such a risk when we know that we are a minority and cannot stand [against] them?” Bawa told Compass. “This is a lie created to have a reason to attack us.”

Adamu added that no one saw the alleged cartoon.

“We suspect that either one of the Muslim student in the school did this to create an excuse for us to be attacked, or that a Muslim fanatic from the town might have done this to spark off a fight among Muslims and Christians,” he said. “How could we have done this when Muslim students are always around the mosque day and night because of the Ramadan?”

Having attacked Christian students in the school, Muslim students poured into the streets of Tudun Wada, joined in the mayhem by other Muslims. Burned down churches, vandalized Christian property and unrestrained killings marked the next four hours.

The churches burned included St. Mary’s Catholic Church, St. George’s Anglican Church, Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA), Assemblies of God Church, First Baptist Church, and a Pentecostal church, the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Church.

Other churches destroyed by the Muslim militants were an African independent church, the Cherubim and Seraphim Church, and two other Pentecostal churches, The Chosen Bible Church and Deeper Life Bible Church.

Among the 10 Christians murdered were Augustine Odoh and his younger brother Cosmos Odoh, both members of St. Mary’s Catholic Church. Another Catholic, Joseph Eze, was also killed. At press time, the corpses of the three Catholics were lying at the City Hospital in Kano city.

Seven other Christians killed were buried in a common grave by officials of the government of Kano state on Wednesday (October 3), as government workers did not allow relatives or church leaders to identify the corpses.

Those injured were being treated at the Assumpta Clinic, Nomansland in Sabon Gari area of Kano city.

Musa Ahmadu Haruna, priest of St. George’s Anglican Church, Tudun Wada Dankadai, whose church was burned, told Compass that he believes no Christian student in the school could have drawn an image of Muhammad.

“None of these students is capable of drawing a cartoon on a mosque,” he said. “That is a frame-up to find a reason to attack us.”

Part 2

Town in Flames
Rabiu Danbawa, pastor of area ECWA church, said that when he heard of an outbreak of violence against Christians, he decided to move closer to the town center to see what was happening.

“I stood as they set fire on our churches one by one,” he said.

Danbawa said he helped evacuate a member of his church, Juliana Lawal, on his motorcycle before returning for his own family. By the time he approached his home, the storming Muslims had already set fire to the structure, part of the church building already in flames.

Danbawa said he stood about 500 meters from the church as it burned.

“There was nothing I could do,” he said. “I did not know the fate of my wife and my children. I prayed asked for their protection, even as I did not know whether they were killed in the fire in the church or not. However, a few days later, I found my wife and children safe.”

Danbawa said he went to the police station, only to find the police dispersing the many Christians who had run there to escape the attack.

“We were told to leave, as our safety could not be guaranteed,” he said, in tears. “Women and children all scampered to the bush, only to be attacked by the Muslims who had already hid themselves in the bush awaiting their Christian prey.”

Many Christians, Danbawa said, were killed in the surrounding foliage as they tried escaping. Other Christian victims corroborated this statement.

Danbawa and his family are now refugees in Dogon Kawo village alongside other Christian victims. Other Christians are also taking refuge in Kalgo village. None of them have food or shelter, he said.

Christian survivors of the attack told Compass that their survival was a miracle. While Kano state was the site of religious violence in which hundreds died in 2004, the destruction in Tudun Wada, they said, is unprecedented.

The Rev. Father Emmanuel Koro, parish priest of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in the town, told Compass that Muslim fanatics intent on killing him his hand cut with a machete.

“That I survived this attack is a miracle,” Rev. Koro said. “When I had the cut on my hand and was bleeding, it was not possible for me to do anything. Schoolchildren on the church premises were crying for help from me, but there was nothing I could do. I had to be helped out through a back fence in the parish to escape.”

The slashing of his hand, it turned out, may have saved his life, as it seemed to signal the aborting of a plan to burn Koro alive; they had already poured gas on him, he said, in preparation for doing so. He was rescued and taken to the police station, and then moved to a cathedral in Kano city.

Policemen who are Christians were not spared from attack; the Muslim rowdies attacked about 30 officers and their families, looted their household items and set their rooms on fire. Eyewitnesses said the Muslim fanatics also extended their attacks to Christians living in Kumbarau (Yarkawu) village.

Christian Shops Destroyed
The attack comes on the heels of a call in July by the Sultan of Sokoto, Abubakar III, to Muslims in northern Nigeria to rise against Christianity. Kano state government has led the implementation of sharia (Islamic) law throughout northern Nigeria.

Haruna of St. George’s Anglican Church estimated property damage at his church alone at 5 million naira (US$40,718). Haruna said that in the carnage, not only churches but Christian businesses were attacked.

“All shops and businesses of Christians were looted and burnt,” he told Compass at Tudun Wada police station. “Christians have been killed, and all homes of Christians burnt too.”

Afiniki Andy Luka, a Christian widow, told Compass at the Tudun Wada police station that she missed the carnage because she was in Kano city.

“I was phoned and told not to come back to the town, but my children were alone in the house,” she said. “God in his way led them through the carnage as they escaped to the police station. I found them among displaced persons the following day.”

Luka said no house belonging to a Christian in town, nor a church, remains – they have all been destroyed.

“There is not a single church standing in this town as they have all been burned,” she said. “I had two shops, but the Muslims looted them and then burned every other thing in them. I have now been forced to become a refugee in my country with no home to stay in, no husband and no means of survival.”

Dr. Chudi Nwoye, medical director of Assumpta Clinic, told Compass that the victims of the crisis have not only been violated but traumatized.

“These people have been dehumanized and traumatized,” Dr. Nwoye said. “Religious conflicts have become recurrent problems in Kano. It is terrible that these victims have been made to experience deep emotional trauma for not committing any wrong.”

He said there is the urgent need at the moment for these Christians to be rehabilitated.

Mark Lipdo, director of the Stefanos Foundation, a ministry to the persecuted in Nigeria, told Compass that it is shocking that the Nigerian government has done nothing to assist the injured and the displaced.

“It is surprising that an overwhelming thing like this that has displaced thousands of Christians is not known to the Nigerian government,” he said, as the government initially downplayed the extent of the tumult. “The government must act to check such unprovoked attacks against Christians.”

Haruna of St. George’s Anglican Church said, “We are living under persecution in Kano state, and yet, we are being told that we are under a democratic government. Do Muslims really want us to co-exist together as a nation? I doubt so.”

29271  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: October 07, 2007, 05:52:13 AM
That's a very pertinent passage GM.

At the same time, I must say that some of the following is not without considerable resonance for me-- even if it is from the NY Times. and some not e.g. it appears the NYTimes wants to turn this over to the US legal system.  Also to be noted is that still in contention is to what extent the relevant Congressional committees were informed of this secret information, as is the very relevant fact that Congress's record on keeping secrets is quite often is quasi-treasonous.

On Torture and American Values
Published: October 7, 2007
Once upon a time, it was the United States that urged all nations to obey the letter and the spirit of international treaties and protect human rights and liberties. American leaders denounced secret prisons where people were held without charges, tortured and killed. And the people in much of the world, if not their governments, respected the United States for its values.

The Bush administration has dishonored that history and squandered that respect. As an article on this newspaper’s front page last week laid out in disturbing detail, President Bush and his aides have not only condoned torture and abuse at secret prisons, but they have conducted a systematic campaign to mislead Congress, the American people and the world about those policies.

After the attacks of 9/11, Mr. Bush authorized the creation of extralegal detention camps where Central Intelligence Agency operatives were told to extract information from prisoners who were captured and held in secret. Some of their methods — simulated drownings, extreme ranges of heat and cold, prolonged stress positions and isolation — had been classified as torture for decades by civilized nations. The administration clearly knew this; the C.I.A. modeled its techniques on the dungeons of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Soviet Union.

The White House could never acknowledge that. So its lawyers concocted documents that redefined “torture” to neatly exclude the things American jailers were doing and hid the papers from Congress and the American people. Under Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Mr. Bush’s loyal enabler, the Justice Department even declared that those acts did not violate the lower standard of “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.”

That allowed the White House to claim that it did not condone torture, and to stampede Congress into passing laws that shielded the interrogators who abused prisoners, and the men who ordered them to do it, from any kind of legal accountability.

Mr. Bush and his aides were still clinging to their rationalizations at the end of last week. The president declared that Americans do not torture prisoners and that Congress had been fully briefed on his detention policies.

Neither statement was true — at least in what the White House once scorned as the “reality-based community” — and Senator John Rockefeller, chairman of the Intelligence Committee, was right to be furious. He demanded all of the “opinions of the Justice Department analyzing the legality” of detention and interrogation policies. Lawmakers, who for too long have been bullied and intimidated by the White House, should rewrite the Detainee Treatment Act and the Military Commissions Act to conform with actual American laws and values.

For the rest of the nation, there is an immediate question: Is this really who we are?

Is this the country whose president declared, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,” and then managed the collapse of Communism with minimum bloodshed and maximum dignity in the twilight of the 20th century? Or is this a nation that tortures human beings and then concocts legal sophistries to confuse the world and avoid accountability before American voters?

Truly banning the use of torture would not jeopardize American lives; experts in these matters generally agree that torture produces false confessions. Restoring the rule of law to Guantánamo Bay would not set terrorists free; the truly guilty could be tried for their crimes in a way that does not mock American values.

Clinging to the administration’s policies will only cause further harm to America’s global image and to our legal system. It also will add immeasurably to the risk facing any man or woman captured while wearing America’s uniform or serving in its intelligence forces.

This is an easy choice.
29272  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA DVD: "DLO 2: Bringing a Gun to a Knife Attack" on: October 06, 2007, 10:34:21 PM
Here's the text from the back of the cover:

In DBMA "Die Less Often 1:  Intro to the Interface of Gun, Knife, and Empty
Hand" we had our FOF (Force On Force) drills take on some of the
characteristics of scenario training wherein the players engage in a
certain amount of acting.  The purpose was to help the viewer get a sense
of situations where "the Interface Paradigm" could arise.

In this DVD we have deliberately limited ourselves to drills which are
intended to isolate the performance of particular physical skills.   We
want people who go through training with us to have an experience of
exactly how much distance they need to ensure for their particular skills
and fitness levels that they can ensure a gun solution to a knife problem-- 
and to recognize when combatives are the first step of the solution.  We
want them to have a sense of how to maximize their odds with a combatives
structure that will enable them to "die less often" when the excrement hits
the fan.  Here focus is on that structure generating the ability to access
the gun (or other weapon).  And-- key point here-- we want the underlying
structure of the gun fighting footwork and angles and the combatives
footwork and angles to be essentially the same thing.  In our opinion, the
adrenal state demands this.

One more point.  The idea is NOT to let yourself get into situations where
you can/have to use these skills.  The purpose of this training is for you
to understand what the odds are FOR YOU and integrate these skills into
your "threat management" accordingly.
29273  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Crafty Dog seminars in October: on: October 06, 2007, 09:33:42 PM
Will you have enough space for Porn Star Dog (Brian)?
29274  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The left's family values on: October 06, 2007, 09:31:05 PM

Distinguish for me please, rooting for us to lose and rooting for our troops to be killed.
29275  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Help our troops/our cause: on: October 06, 2007, 09:26:19 PM
Second post of the day:

This seems worthy of President Bush's intervention:

By Rhonda Erskine
MINNEAPOLIS, MN (NBC) -- When they came home from Iraq, 2,600 members of the Minnesota National Guard had been deployed longer than any other ground combat unit. The tour lasted 22 months and had been extended as part of President Bush's surge.

1st Lt. Jon Anderson said he never expected to come home to this: A government refusing to pay education benefits he says he should have earned under the GI bill.

"It's pretty much a slap in the face," Anderson said. "I think it was a scheme to save money, personally. I think it was a leadership failure by the senior Washington leadership... once again failing the soldiers."

Anderson's orders, and the orders of 1,161 other Minnesota guard members, were written for 729 days.

Had they been written for 730 days, just one day more, the soldiers would receive those benefits to pay for school.

"Which would be allowing the soldiers an extra $500 to $800 a month," Anderson said.

That money would help him pay for his master's degree in public administration. It would help Anderson's fellow platoon leader, John Hobot, pay for a degree in law enforcement.

"I would assume, and I would hope, that when I get back from a deployment of 22 months, my senior leadership in Washington, the leadership that extended us in the first place, would take care of us once we got home," Hobot said.

Both Hobot and Anderson believe the Pentagon deliberately wrote orders for 729 days instead of 730. Now, six of Minnesota's members of the House of Representatives have asked the Secretary of the Army to look into it -- So have Senators Amy Klobuchar and Norm Coleman.

Klobuchar said the GI money "shouldn't be tied up in red tape," and Coleman said it's "simply irresponsible to deny education benefits to those soldiers who just completed the longest tour of duty of any unit in Iraq."

Anderson said the soldiers he oversaw in his platoon expected that money to be here when they come home.

"I had 23 guys under my command," Anderson said. "I promised to take care of them. And I'm not going to end taking care of them when this deployment is over, and it's not over until this is solved."

The Army did not respond questions Tuesday afternoon.

Senators Klobuchar and Coleman released a joint statement saying the Army secretary, Pete Geren, is looking into this personally, and they say Geren asked a review board to expedite its review so the matter could be solved by next semester.

Minnesota National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Kevin Olson said the soldiers are "victims of a significant injustice."

Source Drudge
29276  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action on: October 06, 2007, 06:28:32 PM
Nice to see the dog get away too , , ,
29277  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Islamismo radical y España on: October 06, 2007, 06:22:57 PM
Yo he leido que Espana tiene una taza de natalidad (birth rate) muy baja, alredor de 1.2.  Pues dado que para mantener un dado nivel de poblacion se requiere 2.1, se ve que la poblacion espanola esta' disminuyendo rapidamente en terminos de tendencias demograficas.  Mientras Espana mantiene sus beneficios sociales (cradle to grave) tan bondadosas, va a requerer que ALGUIEN haga el trabajo; osea Sud Americanos, Africanos , , , y muchos Muselmanes. 

?Como lo ves Cecilio?  ?Va a sobrevivir Espana?
29278  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: October 06, 2007, 06:08:26 PM
I'm willing to consider that there may be, , , pardon the expression, some Clintonian parsing of terms here-- or it may be absolutely nothing at all.
29279  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: October 06, 2007, 09:29:16 AM
Persian Gulf
Insights into Iran can be gleaned from these masterly works.

Saturday, October 6, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

1. "The Strangling of Persia" by W. Morgan Shuster (Century, 1912).

Iranians tend to believe that their destinies are shaped by powerful forces beyond their reach--and it's not just a collective fantasy. In the early 20th century, control over Persia was brutally exercised by Russia and Britain. Desperate Persian rulers of the time turned to the U.S. to find an expert who could sort out the kingdom's ransacked treasury. The man they chose, W. Morgan Shuster, fell in love with Iran and worked feverishly to introduce virtuous financial practices. He never had a chance; the Russians and Brits sent him packing. "The Strangling of Persia" is a remarkable account of life in a failed, corrupt state and a tale of heartbreak for an American who foolishly believes that he can prevail by force of will and hard work. Lessons for strategists abound.

2. "Know Thine Enemy" by Edward Shirley (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1997).

When Reuel Marc Gerecht worked for the CIA as a Middle Eastern specialist (1985-94), the agency would not allow him to venture into Iran. But when he left the CIA to become a scholar (he is a colleague of mine at the American Enterprise Institute), he decided to sneak into the country by hiring a driver and hiding in a padded box on the floor of a truck. In "Know Thine Enemy," written under the pen name Edward Shirley, Mr. Gerecht describes the trip and what he found. "An Iranian can scream 'Death to America!' one moment and ask you sincerely a minute later to help his sister get a visa to the States, a land they both adore," he writes. "Those feelings are not contradictory; they are sequential. Commitments come and go, then return." Given Iranians' similar love-hate feelings about the mullahs who rule them and the West's decadence, he asks: "How do you know when Iranians aren't lying to themselves?" Mr. Gerecht doesn't know. How could he? They themselves don't.

3. "The Adventures of Haji Baba of Ispahan" by James Morier (1824).

James Morier, a British diplomat in Persia in the early 19th century, published "The Adventures of Haji Baba of Ispahan" to great success in 1824. Morier's tale, about a barber's son who seeks his fortune, is a delightful series of encounters that cut to the heart of Iranian society. We see the Chief Executioner explaining to Haji: "Do not suppose that the salary which the Shah gives his servants is a matter of much consideration with them: no, the value of their places depends upon the range of extortion which circumstances may afford, and upon their ingenuity in taking advantage of it." The culture of corruption is little changed in contemporary Iran. And the religious fanaticism that Morier tweaked also echoes down the years: A character named Nadan who wants to become Tehran's religious leader, Morier writes, has no peer "either as a zealous practiser of the ordinances of his religion, or a persecutor of those who might be its enemies."

4. "The Persian Puzzle" by Kenneth M. Pollack (Random House, 2004).

Kenneth M. Pollack spent years at the CIA, then migrated to the National Security Council during Bill Clinton's presidency. Like every other government official who has tried to normalize relations between Iran and the U.S., he came to grief. And like most such failed dreamers, he continued to believe that there must be a way. His odyssey is the best account we have of recent Iranian history and U.S.-Iranian relations. "The Persian Puzzle" is remarkably candid about the illusions and failures of the men and women for whom Mr. Pollack worked--people he often admired.

5. "Prisoner of Tehran" by Marina Nemat (Free Press, 2007).

Marina Nemat was arrested at age 16 in 1982 and held in Tehran's infamous Evin Prison for more than two years, accused of antiregime activity. She was not an activist but a friend of leftists and a Christian. In prison, she was interrogated and tortured, then sentenced to death. But a guard named Ali had fallen in love with her and saved her from execution. She remained in prison, though, and Ali became her husband--as well as a new source of menace when he forced her to convert to Islam by threatening her family. In "Prisoner of Tehran," her gripping, elegantly written memoir, Ms. Nemat, who now lives in Canada, reminds us that it is through the details of daily life that the evils of a regime such as the Islamic Republic are best understood.

Mr. Ledeen is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. His latest book, "The Iranian Time Bomb" (St. Martin's), has just been published.

29280  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: October 06, 2007, 09:19:47 AM
Published: October 6, 2007
WASHINGTON, Oct. 5 — President Bush, reacting to a Congressional uproar over the disclosure of secret Justice Department legal opinions permitting the harsh interrogation of terrorism suspects, defended the methods on Friday, declaring, “This government does not torture people.”

The remarks, Mr. Bush’s first public comments on the memorandums, came at a hastily arranged Oval Office appearance before reporters. It was billed as a talk on the economy, but after heralding new job statistics, Mr. Bush shifted course to a subject he does not often publicly discuss: a once-secret Central Intelligence Agency program to detain and interrogate high-profile terror suspects.

“I have put this program in place for a reason, and that is to better protect the American people,” the president said, without mentioning the C.I.A. by name. “And when we find somebody who may have information regarding a potential attack on America, you bet we’re going to detain them, and you bet we’re going to question them, because the American people expect us to find out information — actionable intelligence so we can help protect them. That’s our job.”

Without confirming the existence of the memorandums or discussing the explicit techniques they authorized, Mr. Bush said the interrogation methods had been “fully disclosed to appropriate members of Congress.”

But his comments only provoked another round of recriminations on Capitol Hill, as Democrats ratcheted up their demands to see the classified memorandums, first reported Thursday by The New York Times.

“The administration can’t have it both ways,” Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, the West Virginia Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement after the president’s remarks. “I’m tired of these games. They can’t say that Congress has been fully briefed while refusing to turn over key documents used to justify the legality of the program.”

In two separate legal opinions written in 2005, the Justice Department authorized the C.I.A. to barrage terror suspects with a combination of painful physical and psychological tactics, including head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures.

The memorandums were written just months after a Justice Department opinion in December 2004 declared torture “abhorrent.”

Administration officials have confirmed the existence of the classified opinions, but will not make them public, saying only that they approved techniques that were “tough, safe, necessary and lawful.”

On Friday, the deputy White House press secretary, Tony Fratto, took The Times to task for publishing the information, saying the newspaper had compromised America’s security.

“I’ve had the awful responsibility to have to work with The New York Times and other news organizations on stories that involve the release of classified information,” Mr. Fratto said. “And I could tell you that every time I’ve dealt with any of these stories, I have felt that we have chipped away at the safety and security of America with the publication of this kind of information.”

The memorandums, and the ensuing debate over them, go to the core of a central theme of the Bush administration: the expansive use of executive power in pursuit of terror suspects.

That theme has been a running controversy on Capitol Hill, where Democrats, and some Republicans, have been furious at the way the administration has kept them out of the loop.

The clash colored Congressional relations with Alberto R. Gonzales, the former attorney general. And by Friday, it was clear that the controversy would now spill over into the confirmation hearings for Michael B. Mukasey, the retired federal judge whom Mr. Bush has nominated to succeed Mr. Gonzales in running the Justice Department.

Senator Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, sent a letter to Mr. Mukasey asking him whether, if confirmed, he would provide lawmakers with the Justice Department memorandums.

And Senator Charles E. Schumer, the New York Democrat and Judiciary Committee member, said he expected the memorandums would become a central point in the Mukasey confirmation debate.

“When the president says the Justice Department says it’s O.K., he means Alberto Gonzales said it was O.K.,” Mr. Schumer, who has been a vocal backer of Mr. Mukasey, said in an interview.

“Very few people are going to have much faith in that, and we do need to explore that.”

The administration has been extremely careful with information about the C.I.A. program, which had been reported in the news media but was, officially at least, a secret until Mr. Bush himself publicly disclosed its existence in September 2006.

At the time, the president confirmed that the C.I.A. had held 14 high-profile terrorism suspects — including the man thought to be the mastermind of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks — in secret prisons, but said the detainees had been transferred to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

The 2005 Justice Department opinions form the legal underpinning for the program. On Friday, the director of the C.I.A., Gen. Michael V. Hayden also defended the program, in an e-mail message to agency employees.

“The story has sparked considerable comment,” General Hayden wrote, referring to the account in The Times, “including claims that the opinion opened the door to more harsh interrogation tactics and that information about the interrogation methods we actually have used has been withheld from our oversight committees in Congress. Neither assertion is true.”

NY Times
29281  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ukraine on: October 06, 2007, 09:17:27 AM
NY Times

PARIS, Oct. 5 — His subjects were mostly children and teenagers at the time, terrified witnesses to mass slaughter. Some were forced to work at the bottom rung of the Nazi killing machine — as diggers of mass graves, cooks who fed Nazi soldiers and seamstresses who mended clothes stripped from the Jews before execution.

"I cannot react to the horrors that pour out. If I react, the stories will stop."
The Rev. Patrick Desbois

They live today in rural poverty, many without running water or heat, nearing the end of their lives. So Patrick Desbois has been quietly seeking them out, roaming the back roads and forgotten fields of Ukraine, hearing their stories and searching for the unmarked common graves. He knows that they are an unparalleled source to document the murder of the 1.5 million Jews of Ukraine, shot dead and buried throughout the country.

He is neither a historian nor an archaeologist, but a French Roman Catholic priest. And his most powerful tools are his matter-of-fact style — and his clerical collar.

The Nazis killed nearly 1.5 million Jews in Ukraine after their invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. But with few exceptions, most notably the 1941 slaughter of nearly 34,000 Jews in the Babi Yar ravine in Kiev, much of that history has gone untold.

Knocking on doors, unannounced, Father Desbois, 52, seeks to unlock the memories of Ukrainian villagers the way he might take confessions one by one in church.

“At first, sometimes, people don’t believe I’m a priest,” said Father Desbois in an interview this week. “I have to use simple words and listen to these horrors — without any judgment. I cannot react to the horrors that pour out. If I react, the stories will stop.”

Over four years, Father Desbois has videotaped more than 700 interviews with witnesses and bystanders and has identified more than 600 common graves of Jews, most of them previously unknown. He also has gathered material evidence of the execution of Jews from 1941 to 1944, the “Holocaust of bullets” as it is called.

Often his subjects ask Father Desbois to stay for a meal and to pray, as if to somehow bless their acts of remembrance. He does not judge those who were assigned to carry out tasks for the Nazis, and Holocaust scholars say that is one reason he is so effective.

“If a Jewish taker-of-testimony comes, what would people think — that this is someone coming to accuse,” said Paul Shapiro, director of the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. “When a priest comes, people open up. He brings to the subject a kind of legitimacy, a sense that it’s O.K. to talk about the past. There’s absolution through confession.”

Unlike in Poland and Germany, where the Holocaust remains visible through the searing symbols of the extermination camps, the horror in Ukraine was hidden away, first by the Nazis, then by the Soviets.

“There was nothing to see in Ukraine because people were shot to death with guns,” said Thomas Eymond-Laritaz, president of the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, Ukraine’s largest philanthropic organization. “That’s why Father Desbois is so important.”

The foundation helped underwrite a conference on the subject at the Sorbonne this week — the first to bring together Western and Ukrainian scholars — and has begun contributing funds to Father Desbois’s project.

Some of the results of Father Desbois’s research — including video interviews, wartime documents, photographs of newly uncovered mass graves, rusty bullets and shell casings and personal possessions of the victims — are on display for the first time at an exhibit at the Memorial of the Shoah in the Marais district of Paris.

The exhibit shows, for example, images of the 15 mass graves of several thousand Jews in a commune called Busk that Father Desbois and his team discovered and began excavating after interviewing several witnesses. Among hundreds of other items on display is a black-and-white photo from 1942 that shows a German police officer shooting naked Jewish women lying in a ravine in the Rivne region.

Traveling with a team that includes two interpreters, a photographer, a cameraman, a ballistics specialist, a mapping expert and a notetaker, Father Desbois records all the stories on video, sometimes holding the microphone himself, and asking questions in simple language and a flat tone.

In Buchach in 2005, Regina Skora told Father Desbois that as a young girl she witnessed executions.

“Did the people know they were going to be killed?” Father Desbois asked her.


“How did they react?”

“They just walked, that’s all. If someone couldn’t walk, they told him to lie on the ground and shot him in the back of the neck.”

Page 2 of 2)

Vera Filonok said she was 16 when she watched from the porch of her mud hut in Konstantinovka in 1941 as thousands of Jews were shot, thrown into a pit and set on fire. Those who were still alive writhed “like flies and worms,” she said.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
In a World War II photograph, a member of a Nazi SS paramilitary group prepared to execute a Ukrainian Jew, one of 1.5 million put to death during the war.

Witness to Genocide ( There are stories of how the Nazis drummed on empty buckets to avoid having to listen to the screams of their victims, how Jewish women were made sex slaves of the Nazis and then executed. One witness said that as a 6-year-old he hid and watched as his best friend was shot to death.

Other witnesses described how the Nazis were allowed only one bullet to the back per victim and that the Jews sometimes were buried alive. “One witness told of how the pit moved for three days, how it breathed,” Father Desbois recalled.

Father Desbois became haunted by the history of the Nazis in Ukraine as a child growing up on the family farm in the Bresse region of eastern France. His paternal grandfather, who was deported to a prison camp for French soldiers in Rava-Ruska, on the Ukrainian side of the Polish border, told the family nothing about the experience. But he confessed to his relentlessly curious grandson, “For us it was bad, for ‘others’ it was worse.”

There were other family links to the German occupation of France. One maternal cousin who carried letters for French resisters perished in a Nazi concentration camp. Father Desbois’s mother told him only recently that the family hid dozens of resisters on the farm.

After teaching mathematics as a French government employee in West Africa and working in Calcutta for three months with Mother Teresa, he joined the priesthood. His secular family was horrified.

He started as a parish priest, studying Judaism and learning Hebrew during a stint in Israel. He asked to work with Gypsies, ex-prisoners or Jews, and was appointed as a bridge to France’s Jewish community.

It was on a tour with a group in 2002 that, visiting Rava-Ruska, he asked the mayor where the Jews were buried. The mayor said he did not know.

“I knew that 10,000 Jews had been killed there, so it was impossible that he didn’t know,” Father Desbois recalled.

The following year, a new mayor took the priest to a forest where about 100 villagers had gathered in a semicircle, waiting to tell their stories and to help uncover the graves buried beneath their feet.

He met other mayors and parish priests who helped find more witnesses. In 2004, Father Desbois created Yahad-In Unum, an organization devoted to Christian-Jewish understanding run from a tiny office in a working-class neighborhood in northeastern Paris, backed and largely financed by a Holocaust foundation in France and the Catholic Church.

To verify witnesses’ testimony, Father Desbois relies heavily on a huge archive of Soviet-era documents housed in the Holocaust museum in Washington, as well as German trial archives. He registers an execution or a grave site only after obtaining three independent accounts from witnesses.

Only one-third of Ukrainian territory has been covered so far, and it will take several more years to finish the research. A notice at the exit of the Paris exhibit asks that any visitor with information about victims of Nazi atrocities in Ukraine leave a note or send an e-mail message.

“People talk as if these things happened yesterday, as if 60 years didn’t exist,” Father Desbois said. “Some ask, ‘Why are you coming so late? We have been waiting for you.’”

29282  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Haditha case, NY Times bummed on: October 06, 2007, 09:10:47 AM
Second post of the morning.  Here the NY Slimes' reporter's disappointment is almost palpable.

The Erosion of a Murder Case Against Marines in the Killing of 24 Iraqi Civilians

Published: October 6, 2007
BAGHDAD, Oct. 5 — Last year, when accounts of the killing of 24 Iraqis in Haditha by a group of marines came to light, it seemed that the Iraq war had produced its defining atrocity, just as the conflict in Vietnam had spawned the My Lai massacre a generation ago.

 But on Thursday, a senior military investigator recommended dropping murder charges against the ranking enlisted marine accused in the 2005 killings, just as he had done earlier in the cases of two other marines charged in the case. The recommendation may well have ended prosecutors’ chances of winning any murder convictions in the killings of the apparently unarmed men, women and children.

In the recent case, against Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich, the investigator recommended that he be charged with negligent homicide if the case moved ahead to court-martial. In the other two cases, the investigator recommended dropping all charges.

Experts in military justice say the Haditha prosecutions were compromised by several factors having to do with the quality of the evidence, including a delayed investigation and the decision to conduct hearings in the United States, far from the scene of the killings and possible Iraqi witnesses.

The cases also reflect the particular views of Lt. Col. Paul J. Ware, who presided over the hearings and concluded that all three cases lacked sufficient evidence. He made clear in his recommendations to the commander who ultimately decides the cases that he felt that the killings should be considered in context — that of a war zone where the enemy ruthlessly employed civilians as cover.

Perhaps nothing handicapped military prosecutors more than the delay in investigating the killings, on Nov. 19, 2005, because battalion officers initially decided the case did not require an inquiry. The attack began after a roadside bombing of the marines’ convoy killed a comrade; led by Sergeant Wuterich, a group of marines then killed 24 people over several hours. Nineteen of the 24 were killed in their homes.

By the time the Marine Corps announced murder charges against the infantrymen, 13 months had passed. Evidence vanished, witnesses evaporated and memories paled.

Those problems with collecting evidence were further complicated because Haditha remained a combat zone. When forensic experts traveled there last year to interview family members of those killed, heavily armed Marine infantrymen had to guard them, and even then, insurgent fire forced the investigators to abandon the scene after an hour.

Beyond that, Islamic custom dictates that families bury their dead within hours. Relatives of those killed in Haditha refused American requests to exhume the bodies for forensic analysis.

In addition, the collection of evidence was hurt by the decision to hold evidentiary hearings for the marines in the Haditha case at Camp Pendleton, Calif., rather than in Baghdad, where some other cases have been heard.

“In the Vietnam era, you often had the lawyers, the witnesses, the scene, the victims’ families — you had them right there,” said Gary D. Solis, a former Marine judge who teaches the laws of war at Georgetown University Law Center. “If you happened to have a witness who had rotated back to the United States, you could call them back.”

In the end, in Colonel Ware’s view, expressed in dozens of pages of analysis and opinion in his reports on all three cases, the Haditha prosecutors failed to amass enough evidence to win a conviction.

In his latest report, in which he recommended dismissing 10 murder charges against Sergeant Wuterich and reducing seven others to negligent homicide, Colonel Ware wrote that the evidence presented to him “is simply not strong enough to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.”

He made similar conclusions in his reports on the cases against two other infantrymen for whom he urged the dismissal of all charges: Lance Cpl. Justin Sharratt, whose murder charges were subsequently thrown out by the commanding general overseeing the case, and Lance Cpl. Stephen Tatum, who is still waiting to hear the general’s decision. Commanders usually follow investigators’ recommendations.

“When you have an investigating officer like Ware, who says ‘don’t go there if you can’t prove,’” your case, Mr. Solis said, “we’re left with what appear to be very reduced charges.” He added: “He’s aggressive, and he seems to make his judgments without regard for anything but the law. He must know that people — civilians, primarily — are going to howl about this, but that doesn’t seem to be a concern.”

Other military law experts also noted that in his two reports on the charges against Lance Corporals Sharratt and Tatum, Colonel Ware revealed a willingness to give the men the benefit of the doubt, and to consider the impact of the prosecutions on the morale of troops still fighting in Iraq.

“It does surprise me to see that the killing of seven women and children by grenades and rifles, for the purposes of clearing structures, is being treated the way this investigating officer has treated it,” said Eugene R. Fidell, an expert in military law in Washington.

In an unusual departure from the analysis of the facts in Lance Corporal Sharratt’s case, Colonel Ware warned that putting marines on trial for murder without having the evidence to prove it could “erode public support of the Marine Corps and mission in Iraq.”

Michael F. Noone, a law professor at Catholic University and a retired Air Force lawyer, said Colonel Ware was right to assume that rulings in the Haditha cases might have an impact on the overall war effort. Last week, he noted, testimony in a Baghdad military murder trial suggested that an Army sniper, a member of one of the most highly trained infantry units, had planted evidence on the remains of a dead fighter — as insurance against second-guessing.

“That’s somebody who doesn’t trust the system,” Professor Noone said. “Do you want kids out there representing the United States who don’t think they’re going to be treated fairly?”

More Articles in International »
29283  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Marion Jones on: October 06, 2007, 09:04:05 AM
Jones Admits to Doping and Enters Guilty Plea
NY Times
Published: October 6, 2007
WHITE PLAINS, Oct. 5 — On the day she admitted publicly to using performance-enhancing drugs, the former Olympic track champion Marion Jones wept Friday as she stood on the steps of the United States District Courthouse here and apologized for her mistakes.

"You have the right to be angry with me," Marion Jones told supporters in an emotional speech on the steps of the courthouse.

Inside the courtroom, she did not waver when confessing in a strong voice to Judge Kenneth M. Karras that she had made false statements in two separate government investigations: the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative case and a check-fraud case based out of the United States attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York.

Jones repeatedly answered the judge’s questions by saying, “Yes, I understand,” as he explained the ramifications of her guilty plea. The prosecutors have recommended a sentence of no more than six months, according to the agreement. The maximum sentence is five years.

She will be sentenced in January. The International Olympic Committee has indicated it will not wait until then to move to strip her of the five medals she won — including three gold — at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia. With her performance that summer, she became the first woman to win five medals in track and field at the same Olympics.

Jones, 31, was released after yielding her United States passport and promising to yield her passport from Belize, her mother’s native country. But in her emotional speech outside the courthouse, she made it clear that she believed she had lost far more.

“It is with a great amount of shame that I stand before you and tell you that I have betrayed your trust,” she said, referring to her fans and supporters. She added: “You have the right to be angry with me. I have let them down, I have let my country down and I have let myself down.”

She also announced she was retiring from track and field. Jones recently married the sprinter Obadele Thompson from Barbados and now goes by the name Jones-Thompson. She has two children, one with Thompson and the other from a relationship with the former sprinter Tim Montgomery.

Her guilty plea, as well as her admission in court that she used performance-enhancing drugs provided by her former coach Trevor Graham, were big developments in the government’s case against Graham for making false statements to federal agents. Graham’s trial is scheduled to begin in November.

Jones said in court that from September 2000 until July 2001, Graham gave her a substance he told her was flaxseed oil. But after she stopped training with him in 2001, she said she realized it had been a performance-enhancing drug. By the time she was interviewed in the Balco investigation in November 2003, Jones said, she knew it was the designer steroid THG, known as the clear. But she had denied recognizing the substance and denied taking it in that Balco interview.

“Both were lies,” Jones said.

She similarly admitted lying to federal officials investigating the bank-fraud case in two separate interviews in August and September 2006. At that time, she denied receiving a fraudulent $25,000 check that she had endorsed and denied knowing about the involvement of Montgomery.

Perhaps the biggest consequences of Jones’s sworn statements in court will be the damage they do to Graham, who has repeatedly denied providing his athletes with performance-enhancing drugs.

If Jones is called to testify at Graham’s trial, she can no longer invoke her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination because she waived that with her guilty plea.

“The federal government will vigorously prosecute individuals who provide false statements to its agents,” Scott N. Schools, the interim United States attorney in the Northern District of California, said in a written statement. “Individuals who lie to federal agents interfere with the government’s ability to investigate criminal conduct and undermine the efficiency of government investigations.”

Telephone messages left for Graham’s lawyers were not returned.

The twist to Jones’s downfall is that it was triggered by her involvement in the bank-fraud scheme. E. Danya Perry, an assistant United States attorney, told the judge there was ample evidence, including Jones’s signature on the $25,000 check and the testimony of other defendants in the case, many of whom have already pleaded guilty.

Jones admitted to lying to investigators from the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the United States attorney’s office in interviews on Aug. 2 and Sept. 5, 2006.

The strength of the government’s evidence in that case was used to persuade Jones to plead guilty to the false statements to the Balco investigators.

Travis Tygart, the chief executive of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, said he applauded the cooperation between the government lawyers in the two cases.

“It’s bittersweet,” Tygart said. “Any time you watch a potential American hero admit to cheating us, sports fans, people that watch the Olympic Games, it’s bittersweet. Clean athletes, who do it right, who play by the rules and honorably, have a sense of vindication today.”

Last year, Jones fell under renewed drug-testing scrutiny when she tested positive for the blood-boosting drug EPO. The test was not pursued, however, when the B sample was negative for the drug and did not corroborate the A sample. After that, Jones defiantly denied ever having used drugs.

Tygart said Usada, which has had a case open against Jones for several years, would continue investigating and perhaps seek to take away Jones’s Olympic medals.

The Olympic sports community reacted with firm condemnation of Jones.

“Her admission is long overdue and underscores the shame and dishonor that are inherent with cheating,” the United States Olympic Committee chairman, Peter Ueberroth, said in a statement. “As further recognition of her complicity in this matter, Ms. Jones should immediately step forward and return the Olympic medals she won while competing in violation of the rules.”

The more immediate issue, though, was Jones’s role in the continuation of the Balco case, which had seen few developments in recent months.

The case has resulted in the guilty pleas of six others: Balco’s founder and president, Victor Conte Jr.; James Valente, the former vice president of Balco; Greg Anderson, Barry Bonds’s former trainer; Remi Korchemny, a track coach; Patrick Arnold, a chemist; and Troy Ellerman, a defense lawyer.

The cyclist Tammy Thomas, who also denied using steroids, was charged last year with three counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice. No trial date has been set.

Bonds, baseball’s career home run leader, remains under investigation on the suspicion that he lied to a federal grand jury about his use of steroids. Anderson is in jail for contempt of court for refusing to testify about Bonds.
29284  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: October 06, 2007, 08:55:48 AM
Ted Koppel, even though he often let his Democrat preferences show, always impressed me.  Here's this on what he's doing now:

“Nightline” had its privileges, one being that viewers knew just where to find Ted Koppel during his quarter-century tenure there.

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Times Topics: Ted Koppel
 Additional articles and information about Mr. Koppel.
He’s now nearly two years removed from the program that made his name. But Mr. Koppel no doubt is still being discovered on the Discovery Channel, a comparative wilderness where he can indulge himself in the extended documentaries that long ago roamed free on broadcast television.

His latest two-hour effort, “Koppel on Discovery: Breaking Point,” is a report on the “overloaded and understaffed” California prison system. Escapist TV it’s not. And it will be tough to get much traction opposite the likes of ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” and NBC’s “Sunday Night Football.”

Mr. Koppel’s efforts are no less valuable, though. This is television journalism the way it was drawn up in some mythical Edward R. Murrow playbook. Pertinent, eye-opening information is imparted. Individual stories flesh it out. All sides are heard. The correspondent is visibly involved yet unobtrusive. What a concept.

“Breaking Point” focuses on California State Prison, Solano, in Vacaville, where a onetime indoor basketball court is now H Dorm. Designed for 200 inmates, it houses more than 340. They’re stacked three bunks high in a cauldron rife with “drama and politics,” Mr. Koppel says.

“It’s about turf and protection, drugs, weapons and prostitution,” he continues. “It’s a rigid code of segregation along ethnic and racial lines. And most of all it’s about gangs.”

All told, a California prison system built to hold 100,000 inmates is bursting with 173,000, Mr. Koppel says. Each prisoner costs taxpayers $43,000 annually. Many are repeat offenders serving mandatory sentences of 25 years to life as part of the “three strikes and you’re out” law.

The impetus for that legislation was the 1993 kidnapping, rape and murder of a 12-year-old girl, Polly Klaas, by a man who had just been paroled from prison. Mr. Koppel interviews her father, Marc Klaas, identified as a “victims’ advocate,” who has an understandable enmity toward violent criminals.

“As far as I’m concerned, you can stack these guys like cordwood,” Mr. Klaas says. “And you can keep them locked away forever.”

Many of the long-term inmates were not convicted of violent crimes, however.

One is Joey Mason, who says he voted in favor of the three strikes law before being convicted of a nonviolent burglary. He has since been imprisoned two more times for the same offense and is not eligible for parole until 2019. Believe him or not, though, Mr. Mason tells Mr. Koppel he’s a changed man.

“I really believe I’d be a better taxpayer than a tax taker,” he says.

“Breaking Point” is divided into chapters, and one of the more striking is called “Powder Keg.”

“Race guides every aspect of prison life,” Mr. Koppel tells viewers before inmates and prison officials back him up. Cellmates are invariably of the same race by design. Prisoners eat and share food only with their own kind. Fights are almost always between inmates of different races. No one, inmates say, wants to be branded a “race traitor.”

“It is as rigid a form of segregation as ever existed in this country,” Mr. Koppel says.

A recent court order has mandated that California prisons be integrated. An inmate named Darren Doucette, among others, isn’t in favor of that.

“I think it’s bad,” he tells Mr. Koppel, “because someone’s son’s gonna die.”

There are some bright spots, too. The chapter “Graduation Day” is surprisingly moving, with a relative handful of inmates proudly wearing caps and gowns to receive their G.E.D. diplomas. Friends and relatives applaud after a prison official intones, “Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the spring 2007 graduating class.”

Mr. Koppel quickly adds, “Keep in mind that these inmates are the exception.”

“Breaking Point” is exceptional. Real-life looks at prison life generally aren’t crowd-pleasers, even if fictional depictions often are. But Mr. Koppel and his longtime executive producer, Tom Bettag, have fought another good fight on behalf of in-depth television journalism about a subject of true import.

Ed Bark, a former television critic for The Dallas Morning News, is now proprietor of the television Web site
29285  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Help our troops/our cause: on: October 06, 2007, 08:51:33 AM
Caveat lector, its the NY Times.  That said, as Commander in Chief, the ultimate responsibility on this matter does fall to the President.

Published: October 6, 2007
It’s more painfully clear that wounded soldiers who seek disability care and benefits face bureaucratic chaos worthy of an infernal ring from Dante. Seven months after news accounts detailed the appalling neglect of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, Congressional investigators have found promised repairs already lagging at the Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs.

It still takes almost half a year for the average veteran’s claim for disability benefits to be decided in a tortuous process that can involve four separate hearings. The promised pilot program to make a single efficient system out of dueling military and veterans bureaucracies — the knotty heart of a mammoth backlog running into hundreds of thousand of cases — should have begun last month. Now the promise is slipping into next year. At the same time, the Army’s plan for creating special “warrior transition units” to deliver more personalized care at 32 national centers is bedeviled by staff shortages that mean close to half of the eligible troops are unable to get the service.

A dozen Congressional and executive agencies and blue-ribbon commissions are investigating. Unfortunately, there has been no comparable surge of creativity or commitment from the White House.

Worthy remedies are being proposed. The latest is from a Congressionally created commission that is urging wholesale changes in the veterans’ benefit system, which hasn’t been modernized since 1945. Chief among its recommendations is that the signature disabilities of the current war — severe brain damage and the post traumatic stress syndrome already afflicting 45,000 veterans — be accorded top priority for improvement. The commission is also recommending an immediate increase of up to 25 percent in benefits — above economic disability payments — for the lost quality of life that scarred veterans suffer.

With the number of wounded mounting daily, the White House needs to fix these problems. For many veterans, their disabilities will endure their remaining lifetimes, outlasting the politicians who now proclaim them heroes while shortchanging them in the care and support they desperately need.

29286  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: October 06, 2007, 08:25:41 AM
A quick historical review of some inconvenient facts:
29287  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Crafty Dog seminars in October: on: October 05, 2007, 11:28:05 PM
Let me see if I can get you included with my ride to Manassas. Please email me your phone numbers.
29288  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Protección civil familiar y personal on: October 05, 2007, 09:10:53 PM
Tambien es importante hablar con su familia sobre que ellos pueden hacer para hacerte mas facil cumplir con tu papel como protector. 

Por ejemplo, aunque a mi esposa no le interesa para nada entrenar, ella sabe caminar mi lado que no tiene cuchillo y que si haya problema ponerse atras de mi con una mano en la parte inferior de mi espalda, lo cual me dira' que ella este alli sin que yo necesite voltear (girar?) mi cabeza para verla con mis ojos, y mantenerse alli' aun cuando necesito yo girar para dar cara al problema.
29289  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: October 05, 2007, 07:31:23 PM
Second (or third?) post of the day:

Iraq: Increasing Frictions Between Baghdad and Arbil

Iraqi Oil Minister Hussein Shahristani said Oct. 5 that oil companies that sign contracts with Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) will be blacklisted and prevented from working in Iraq. At the same time, Arab newspapers are reporting that the KRG is actively reversing the demographics in Iraq's oil-rich city of Kirkuk by monetarily compensating Arab families to relocate. The tug-of-war over Kirkuk carries significant implications for foreign companies with investments in northern Iraq, and the struggle will escalate in the coming months.


Arab newspapers report that Kurdish parties in Iraq are working to reverse the demographics of Kirkuk by paying Arabs to relocate. Arabs leaving Kirkuk are being paid approximately $16,248 per family to leave the city, according to Dubai-based Gulf News.

The process of "Kurdifying" the ancient, multiethnic and oil-rich city of Kirkuk has been going on for awhile and is, for Iraqi Kurds, a vital step toward financial independence. Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq's Sunni and Shiite factions all have a vested interest in making sure Kirkuk's oil wealth does not officially fall under the Kurds' control, however, and are actively working to settle more Arabs in the city in order to shift the demographics back in their favor.

This tug-of-war over Kirkuk will intensify in the coming months as the constitutional deadline approaches. Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution stipulates that the final status of Kirkuk and other disputed areas is supposed to be settled in a local referendum by the end of 2007. For the referendum to take place, Kirkuk must first be demographically "normalized" and a census must be conducted. But Iraq's central government has put enough obstacles in place to prevent the census from being taken.

Despite rhetoric to the contrary, Iraqi Kurdish officials have privately resigned themselves to the fact that the referendum very likely will not be held by the end of the year. Holding the referendum would lead to a nightmarish security situation, including the potential for a Turkish military intervention in northern Iraq. Jihadist attacks in northern Iraq also have increased over the past year, and as the Kirkuk issue flares up, militant activity in the North will escalate and will likely have the support of Iraq's neighbors. And the United States is simply unwilling to further destabilize its relations with Ankara and its delicate negotiations with Iraq's Sunni and Shiite factions by meeting Kurdish demands to hold the referendum.

But the Kurds have other means to secure the oil-rich city. Kurdish officials are stepping up efforts to both hand out compensation checks to Arab families to leave and bring more Kurdish families back to the city. Data on how many Arabs have accepted compensation and left Kirkuk vary wildly; Arab estimates show that more than 1,000 families have relocated, while Kurdish figures put the number at 9,450. That these families have actually left cannot be confirmed, but if the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) can make enough progress in the Kirkuk normalization process, it can attempt to proceed with the referendum when it feels the timing is appropriate.

The failure to hold the Kirkuk referendum by year's end would carry significant implications for energy investment in northern Iraq. Breaking Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution would undermine the constitution's validity in the eyes of Kurdish officials, particularly when they face resistance over the signing of energy contracts without central government approval. In other words, if a constitutionally mandated referendum cannot take place, why should the constitution restrict the KRG's energy deals with foreign companies?

While Baghdad has been boiling, the KRG has been signing oil contracts with foreign energy companies, including Norway's DNO, Texas-based Hunt Oil Co., Canada's Heritage Oil Corp. and France's Perenco, as well as two other international oil companies whose names will be revealed in approximately two weeks by the KRG.

The Iraqi central government is fighting back against the KRG, however. Iraqi Oil Minister Hussein Shahristani, a Shi'i with close ties to Tehran, said Oct. 5 that any oil companies that sign contracts with the KRG will be blacklisted and prevented from working in Iraq. The oil companies with contracts in the North do not currently have projects elsewhere in Iraq, but this is a dangerous escalation between Arbil -- the seat of the KRG -- and Baghdad. Foreign oil majors will now have to think twice before pursuing lucrative energy investments in Iraq's most stable region in the North, especially when they consider that Iraq's southern -- albeit insurgent-wracked -- region has three times as much oil waiting to be extracted.

Foreign oil companies in Iraq also will have to grapple with the fact that, even if they invest in energy exploration and production in the North, the KRG will still need permission from Baghdad to transport oil out of the country. The oil extracted in the short term can supply domestic consumption in the North, but anything beyond that also will involve the good graces of Ankara, which will be difficult to come by since Turkey has its own incentives to keep the Kurds contained and strapped for cash. Iran also has demonstrated the ease with which it can constrain the Kurds by closing its border in the North.

The KRG already has given up on holding the Kirkuk referendum on time, in the interest of maintaining stability in the region and safeguarding foreign investment in Iraqi Kurdistan. But with the Kurds' rivals holding a number of potent levers to keep them constrained, the foreign investment the KRG has strived to protect also runs the risk of coming under attack.

29290  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / DBMA DVD: "DLO 2: Bringing a Gun to a Knife Attack" on: October 05, 2007, 07:10:23 PM
The formal clip will be up on the front page in a day or three, but until then here's the promo clip:

29291  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Did Filipino Martial Arts Revolutionize Boxing? on: October 05, 2007, 07:08:14 PM
29292  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Crafty Dog seminars in October: on: October 05, 2007, 07:06:58 PM

I fly into DC for the seminar so it can't be too far.  Hey! If you pick me up at the airport, we could catch up on things during the drive to Manassas  cool

29293  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Epidemics: Bird Flu, TB, etc on: October 05, 2007, 03:19:04 PM

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The H5N1 bird flu virus has mutated to infect people more easily, although it still has not transformed into a pandemic strain, researchers said on Thursday.

The changes are worrying, said Dr. Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

"We have identified a specific change that could make bird flu grow in the upper respiratory tract of humans," said Kawaoka, who led the study.

"The viruses that are circulating in Africa and Europe are the ones closest to becoming a human virus," Kawaoka said.

Recent samples of virus taken from birds in Africa and Europe all carry the mutation, Kawaoka and colleagues report in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS Pathogens.

"I don't like to scare the public, because they cannot do very much. But at the same time it is important to the scientific community to understand what is happening," Kawaoka said in a telephone interview.

The H5N1 avian flu virus, which mostly infects birds, has since 2003 infected 329 people in 12 countries, killing 201 of them. It very rarely passes from one person to another, but if it acquires the ability to do so easily, it likely will cause a global epidemic.

All flu viruses evolve constantly and scientists have some ideas about what mutations are needed to change a virus from one that infects birds easily to one more comfortable in humans.

Birds usually have a body temperature of 106 degrees F, and humans are 98.6 degrees F usually. The human nose and throat, where flu viruses usually enter, is usually around 91.4 degrees F.

"So usually the bird flu doesn't grow well in the nose or throat of humans," Kawaoka said. This particular mutation allows H5N1 to live well in the cooler temperatures of the human upper respiratory tract.

H5N1 caused its first mass die-off among wild waterfowl in 2005 at Qinghai Lake in central China, where hundreds of thousands of migratory birds congregate.
That strain of the virus was carried across Asia to Africa and Europe by migrating birds. Its descendants carry the mutation, Kawaoka said.

"So the viruses circulating in Europe and Africa, they all have this mutation. So they are the ones that are closer to human-like flu," Kawaoka said.
Luckily, they do not carry other mutations, he said.

"Clearly there are more mutations that are needed. We don't know how many mutations are needed for them to become pandemic strains."
29294  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / DLO 2: Bringing a gun to a knife attack on: October 05, 2007, 12:48:12 PM
Woof All:

The trailer for our newest DVD, which is titled "DLO 2:  Bringing a gun to a knife attack" featuring Gabe Suarez and me, can now be seen at:

This clip will be posted with the other clips here on the website soon, and in the next day or so DLO 2 will be available for pre-orders here on the website.

The Adventure continues!
Guro Crafty Dog
29295  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Health Care needs an Internet Revolution: Bill Gates on: October 05, 2007, 11:43:29 AM
Health Care Needs an Internet Revolution
October 5, 2007; Page A17

We live in an era that has seen our knowledge of medical science and treatment expand at a speed that is without precedent in human history. Today we can cure illnesses that used to be untreatable and prevent diseases that once seemed inevitable. We expect to live longer and remain active and productive as we get older. Ongoing progress in genetics and our understanding of the human genome puts us on the cusp of even more dramatic advances in the years ahead.

But for all the progress we've made, our system for delivering medical care is clearly in crisis. According to a groundbreaking 1999 report on health-care quality published by the Institute of Medicine (the medical arm of the National Academy of Sciences) as many as 98,000 Americans die every year as a result of preventable medical errors. That number makes the health-care system itself the fifth-leading cause of death in this country.

Beyond the high cost in human life, we pay a steep financial price for the inability of our health-care system to deliver consistent, high-quality care. Study after study has documented the billions of dollars spent each year on redundant tests, and the prolonged illnesses and avoidable injuries that result from medical errors. The impact ripples through our society, limiting our ability to provide health care to everyone who needs it and threatening the competitiveness of U.S. businesses, which now spend an average of $8,000 annually on health care for employees.

At the heart of the problem is the fragmented nature of the way health information is created and collected. Few industries are as information-dependent and data-rich as health care. Every visit to a doctor, every test, measurement, and procedure generates more information. But every clinic, hospital department, and doctor's office has its own systems for storing it. Today, most of those systems don't talk to each other.

Isolated, disconnected systems make it impossible for your doctor to assemble a complete picture of your health and make fully informed treatment decisions. It also means that the mountain of potentially lifesaving medical information that our health-care system generates is significantly underutilized. Because providers and researchers can't share information easily, our ability to ensure that care is based on the best available scientific knowledge is sharply limited.

There is widespread awareness that we need to address the information problem. In 2001, the Institute of Medicine issued a follow-up report on health-care quality that urged swifter adoption of information technology and greater reliance on evidence-based medicine. In his 2006 State of the Union address, President Bush called on the medical system to "make wider use of electronic records and other health information technology."

But increased digitization of health-care information alone will not solve the problems we face. Already, nearly all procedures, test results and prescriptions are recorded in digital form -- that's how health-care providers transmit information to health insurers so they can be paid for their work. But patients never see this data, and doctors are unable to share it. Instead, individuals do their best to piece together the information that they think their caregivers might need about their medical history, the medications they take and the tests they've undergone.

What we need is to place people at the very center of the health-care system and put them in control of all of their health information. Developing the solutions to help make this possible is an important priority for Microsoft. We envision a comprehensive, Internet-based system that enables health-care providers to automatically deliver personal health data to each patient in a form they can understand and use. We also believe that people should have control over who they share this information with. This will help ensure that their privacy is protected and their care providers have everything they need to make fully-informed diagnoses and treatment decisions.

I believe that an Internet-based health-care network like this will have a dramatic impact. It will undoubtedly improve the quality of medical care and lower costs by encouraging the use of evidence-based medicine, reducing medical errors and eliminating redundant medical tests. But it will also pave the way toward a more important transformation.

Today, our health-care system encourages medical professionals to focus on treating conditions after they occur -- on curing illness and managing disease. By giving us comprehensive access to our personal medical information, digital technology can make us all agents for change, capable of pushing for the one thing that we all really care about: a medical system that focuses on our lifelong health and prioritizes prevention as much as it does treatment. Putting people at the center of health care means we will have the information we need to make intelligent choices that will allow us to lead healthy lives -- and to search out providers who offer care that does as much to help us stay well as it does to help us get better.

The technology exists today to make this system a reality. For the last 30 years, computers and software have helped industry after industry eliminate errors and inefficiencies and achieve new levels of productivity and success. Many of the same concepts and approaches that have transformed the world of business -- the digitization of information, the creation of systems and processes that streamline and automate the flow of data, the widespread adoption of tools that enable individuals to access information and take action -- can be adapted to the particular requirements of health care.

No one company can -- or should -- hope to provide the single solution to make all of this possible. That's why Microsoft is working with a wide range of software and hardware companies, as well as with physicians, hospitals, government organizations, patient advocacy groups and consumers to ensure that, together, we can address critical issues like privacy, security and integration with existing applications.

Technology is not a cure-all for the issues that plague the health-care system. But it can be a powerful catalyst for change, here in the U.S. and in countries around the globe where access to medical professionals is limited and where better availability of health-care information could help improve the lives of millions of people.

Mr. Gates is chairman of the Microsoft Corporation.

29296  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Help our troops/our cause: on: October 05, 2007, 11:01:46 AM
Warfront with Jihadistan: Berets and Blackwater
In last week’s witch hunt, “unbiased journalism” attempted to convict two from among America’s most elite fighting force, despite conclusive evidence that both were blameless. In Afghanistan last October, under the direction of Army Special Forces Capt. Dave Staffel, Master Sgt. Troy Anderson killed insurgent leader Nawab Buntangyar with a single, 100-yard sniper shot, thus “rehabilitating” the architect of countless suicide and roadside bombings. Incredibly, rather than being awarded medals for ridding planet Earth of this vermin, these two Green Berets were charged with premeditated murder, on the basis that Buntangyar was unarmed when he was shot. Apparently, SOCOM must now deploy lawyers when it sends out its finest, along with primers on Miranda warnings.

Two official Army investigations each concluded that Staffel’s seven-man team had fully complied with U.S. rules of engagement. Further, the reports noted that having been classified as an enemy combatant, Buntangyar was “fair game” as a target, armed or not. Finally, of considerable weight was the nontrivial issue that Buntangyar happened to showcase on the Special Forces’ “Top Ten” list of individuals to be killed or captured.

Evidently more convinced by media trials than he was by the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command, however, the recently-pinned-on Army three-star charged with Special Forces oversight in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. Frank Kearney, convened yet another hearing to weigh evidence against the two soldiers. As the attorney for Capt. Staffel noted, Kearney’s charges carried an air of “military politics” about them. Fortunately, the American justice system trumped media jurists in this case, but only barely. Although the two soldiers were exonerated earlier this week, neither Lt. Gen. Kearney nor any within media circles offered so much as an oops-we-goofed comment to clear the soldiers’ good names.

In this week’s witch hunt, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Left Coast) leads a House investigation into Blackwater, a private security firm providing protection for State Department members in Iraq and Afghanistan. At issue is the culpability of Blackwater agents on 16 September, when at least 14 Iraqis were killed following a shootout occurring while the agents were protecting U.S. Embassy staff in a Baghdad convoy. Though Rep. Waxman had agreed not to probe for specific information because of ongoing FBI investigations, his promise apparently didn’t weigh too heavily on his conscience, as he pressed on, unhindered, with his inquisition, er, investigation. We note that Rep. Waxman has a history of hounding Blackwater for everything from war-profiteering to 2004’s ambush at Fallujah (ironically, Waxman cites the cause as—wait for it—Blackwater’s cost-cutting!), so we’re not surprised by this latest move.

We should also note that we’re not asserting that Blackwater is without fault in this incident (U.S. military reports say they fired without provocation), however, like last week’s Green Beret incident, both the media, as well as key individuals in power, have made such a determination for themselves—and apparently for everyone else, if they can get away with it—before all the evidence is in and before ongoing investigations are complete

Patriot Post
29297  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: October 05, 2007, 10:56:45 AM
Anatomy of a BIG Lie: ‘Phony Soldiers’
Regular readers are aware that, since The Patriot’s founding a decade ago, we’ve included a short section within Friday’s Digest called, “The BIG Lie.” It’s a section we’ve reserved for egregious examples of Leftist disinformation.

There is an old maxim that if one repeats a lie often and loud enough, it will eventually be perceived as the truth.

Adolf Hitler defined that dictum in his 1925 autobiography Mein Kampf, writing that a big lie must be so “colossal” that the public would be confident that no national leaders “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.”

After Hitler became the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party, his chief propagandist, Joseph Goebbels, used the Third Reich’s big-lie apparatus to fortify the Nazi campaign against Jews. Goebbels blamed the Jews for Germany’s inability to recover from World War I, and this big lie led to the Holocaust—the wholesale murder of some six million men, women and children.

After Germany’s WWII defeat, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and subsequent Communist leaders perfected the big-lie propaganda machine with media “dezinformatsia” campaigns. The primary organ for disseminating this disinformation was the official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, Pravda, which in English means “the truth.” Even the name is a big lie.

Here in the U.S. , the organs of Leftist disinformation have assumed equally impressive identities: The New York Times, The Washington Post, CBS, CNN, MSNBC and NPR, and the list goes on. (For a weekly recounting of the MSM’s biggest whoppers, please see the “Dezinformatsia” section of our Wednesday Chronicle.)

Most recently, the Democrats’ dezinformatsia machines were running overtime to discredit Gen. David Petraeus, commander of our Armed Forces in Iraq. In advance of his congressional testimony about the progress of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Leftmedia gave endless play to those Demo-gogues who have bet their 2008 electoral prospects on failure in and retreat from Iraq.

On the morning of Gen. Petraeus’s testimony, the Democrats’ most effective web-based organ of disinformation,, was given a deep discount by the Democrats’ most effective print-based organ of disinformation, The New York Times, to run an appalling full-page lie under the heading, “General Petraeus or General Betray Us?”

Democrats and the George Soros-funded MoveOn thought they could, with impunity, brand one of our nation’s most distinguished warriors a traitor. By extension, they branded as traitors all American forces fighting jihadi terrorists in Iraq and around the world. However, Leftist politicos and MoveOn grossly underestimated the new media’s ability to expose such a colossal lie and grossly overestimated the public’s tolerance for such accusations once brought to their attention.

In short, the Left got caught in a big lie and was severely rebuked.

In an effort to offset that rebuke, Democrats and their radical cadre have fabricated another big lie—this one targeting Rush Limbaugh.

Rush, of course, is the arch-nemesis of the Left. He broke ground for conservative perspective on the radio, much as Fox News did for television and The Patriot did for the Web.

To recap: Rush had been responding to an on-air caller who noted that the MSM has continually dredged up a handful of troops—some real, some fake—to provide antiwar statements to support the Demos’ desire for defeat and retreat. Rush agreed, noting that some of these anti-warriors, in particular Jesse MacBeth, have flat-out lied about their military service. He rightly dubbed them “phony soldiers.”

For the record, Jesse MacBeth, the prototypical anti-OIF poster boy, was in fact born Jesse Al-Zaid. Al-Zaid claimed to have served in Iraq, even receiving a Purple Heart after being shot. He claimed to have witnessed atrocities committed by “fellow soldiers.” But it turns out that Al-Zaid never completed boot camp, being discharged after 44 days because of his “entry level performance and conduct.” He was not a Green Beret, never in Special Ops, never in Iraq—though he even attempted to defraud the VA of more than $10,000 for “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.” Al-Zaid, whose protest diatribes have been circulating for several years, is indeed a phony soldier.

But the truth never deters the Left’s big lies.

Their so-called “watchdog group,” Media Matters for America, removed from context the two words “phony soldiers” and blast-broadcasted the big lie that Rush had branded that label on the handful of anti-OIF protestors who actually served in Iraq. In lock step, that smear was dutifully regurgitated by the MSM and then picked up by opportunistic Demo-gogues in Congress, desperately seeking a reversal of charges after their disastrous attempt to question the patriotism of Gen. Petraeus.

Chief among the most despicable of those propagating this dezinformatsia campaign from their Senate soapboxes are John Kerry and Tom Harkin.

Kerry, like Jesse Al-Zaid, embellished his military record and then used his “hero status” as a platform to falsely accuse ground troops in Vietnam of all manner of atrocities. (He is the target of a national petition to indict him for acts of treason, which now has more than 200,000 signers.)

Kerry’s most notable commentary on Iraq in the past year was his assertion that American service personnel are “stuck in Iraq” because they are too stupid to get a better job.

This week he led the charge against Rush, saying, “In a single moment on his show, Limbaugh managed to question the patriotism of men and women in uniform who have put their lives on the line and many who died for his right to sit safely in his air conditioned studio peddling hate.”

This is the same Jean-Francois Kerry who, back in 2005, accused U.S. forces in Iraq of “going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children, uh, uh, uh, you know, women...”

Iowa Demo Sen. Tom Harkin, who also falsified his military record by claiming to have been a Vietnam combat pilot when he actually flew repaired aircraft from Japan to U.S. bases in Vietnam, perpetuated the lie, saying, “I must say that as a veteran, I find it offensive that Rush Limbaugh would attack the patriotism and the dedication of any soldier fighting in Iraq... I also find it disturbing that his offensive comments have not been condemned by our Republican colleagues or by the Commander in Chief, all of whom are so quick to condemn a similar personal attack on General Petraeus several weeks ago.”

Of course, as Limbaugh said in response, “Why should they condemn something that wasn’t said? You know what ought to be condemned here is [the Left’s] wanton inability to find the truth.”

Further perpetuating the big lie—and further wasting the taxpayers’ hard-earned money—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his cadre of MoveOn Demos sent a letter to Mark Mays, CEO of Clear Channel Communications, which broadcasts Rush’s program via more than 1,200 stations. The letter demanded that Mays condemn “Limbaugh’s hateful and unpatriotic” remarks.

Further, former Democrat presidential wannabe, General Wesley Clark, who has endorsed Hillary Clinton for President, is demanding that Rush be removed from the Armed Forces Radio network.

In the House, Lefty Mark Udall introduced a big-lie resolution condemning Limbaugh, and 26 Democrats have signed on as co-sponsors.

And what of Media Matters, the propaganda organ that launched the lie?

My colleague, National Review essayist Byron York, offered this analysis: “Media Matters is much more than a traditional media-watchdog group. Indeed, it is probably more accurate to view Media Matters as part of the constellation of groups that have come together on the left in the last year or so, all aimed at electing a Democratic President. Their [donors list] reads like a Who’s Who of those who have financed the new activist Left.”

“Constellation of groups”? In other words, a Socialist propaganda network that would make even Goebbels blush with pride!

Patriot Post
29298  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: October 05, 2007, 10:51:44 AM
IRAQ: Every Arab who wishes to leave the northern Iraqi province of Kirkuk is being paid about $16,500, Gulf News reported, citing Abdul Rahman Mustafa, governor of the Kirkuk province. An article in the Iraqi Constitution states that Shiite and Sunni Arabs in Kirkuk will be paid in order to facilitate their return to their native provinces.
29299  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Shifting Thinking, Eroding Advantage on: October 05, 2007, 10:40:24 AM
China, Taiwan: Shifting Thinking, Eroding Advantage
October 04, 2007 22 40  GMT


A potential shift in China's thinking about contingency war planning for conflict with Taiwan could herald some significant alterations in the military dynamic between the island and the mainland. Such a shift would come at a time of eroding technological advantage for Taipei.


A new aspect of Chinese contingency war planning for dealing with Taiwan in the event that the island declares independence is emerging from Chinese researchers and semigovernmental think tanks. These sources suggest that if Beijing feels such action against Taiwan is necessary, it will sacrifice even the 2008 Olympic Games, which are of paramount importance for the Communist Party of China. Though an outright declaration of Taiwanese independence is unlikely in the near future, there is still plenty Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian can do to get creative.

China's potential strategy centers on a punishing bombardment of Taiwan rather than a full-scale amphibious invasion. The combined tonnage of ballistic and cruise missiles, airstrikes and naval gunfire would focus specifically on the Taiwanese military's command-and-control infrastructure, with the objective of obliterating Taipei's ability to meaningfully coordinate a defense of the island. It appears China hopes to accomplish this in less than a week, and possibly as quickly as 24 hours, with the objective of forcing the direct capitulation of the government or compelling the population in general, the Kuomintang opposition in particular or the military itself to force the government into that capitulation. The ultimate goal of such a strategy would be a return to the status quo, rather than reunification.

While there are a number of problems with this strategy, the shift in thinking -- away from occupying the island and bringing it back into the mainland fold and toward bombardment and restoring the status quo -- is significant. And while it is ever-important for Beijing to appear politically firm on all things Taiwan, talk of sacrificing the Olympics is not idle banter in China.

The long-standing objective of an amphibious assault to retake the island has massive operational problems. Chinese ships laden with troops, tanks and supplies would be unlikely to survive the push across the 100-nautical-mile Taiwan Strait -- especially against an enemy that has spent decades preparing for just that. The island's coast bristles with anti-ship missiles.

Meanwhile, Taiwan already has begun to acquire the latest U.S. Patriot air defense system, the PAC-3, which offers a terminal-phase ballistic missile defense capability, in addition to its anti-aircraft heritage. There also is the matter of the island's Republic of China Air Force, which promises to make any assault from the mainland a costly one.

While there are infinite complexities to this dynamic, with the open sea as a buffer, Taiwan is in a good geographic position for its self-defense. But it cannot endure an endless onslaught from the mainland. Taiwan boasts less than a fifth of the combat-capable aircraft of the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), though frontline pilots on both sides of the strait reportedly get a very respectable 180 hours of flying per year.

Meanwhile, the mainland's modernization of the PLAAF -- both in terms of air defenses and aircraft -- has evoked strong concerns even from U.S. Lt. Gen. Bruce Wright, commander of U.S. Forces Japan and the U.S. 5th Air Force. Wright said during the week of Sept. 23 that he considered China's air defenses "nearly impenetrable" to all but the most modern U.S. aircraft -- a strong statement from the U.S. Air Force.

The trajectory of this modernization outpaces Taiwan's, in terms of both technology and sheer numbers. The island's F-16s are the Block 20 variant and are a significant asset. But its F-5E Tiger IIs and French Mirage 2000Ei-5s are dated. Its Ching Kuo Indigenous Defense Fighter (a sort of hybrid of the U.S. F-16 and F/A-18 Hornet designs), while an eminently respectable design and production achievement, already is slated for replacement by the newer Block 50 F-16s Taipei hopes to import soon.

The PLAAF already has imported more than 70 of the latest Su-30MKK Flanker fighters from Russia. Using these aircraft, the Indian air force occasionally has outperformed U.S. pilots in fourth-generation aircraft in exercises. Meanwhile, the indigenous production of the J-11, a licensed copy of the earlier Su-27 Flanker design, already has yielded more than 100 airframes. Production of the domestically designed J-10 fighter also is well under way.

Thus, while not true in all regards, Taipei's technological advantage in the realm of fighter aircraft is slowly being eroded. How both the Ching Kuo and J-10 would perform in combat remains an open question, as is the effectiveness of the PLAAF's nascent airborne early warning (AEW) and control aircraft, which might not even be available for operational deployment. Taiwan's E-2 Hawkeye AEW fleet -- which dates back to 1989 -- is far better established and would be of great significance, however.

Advantage in quality is an essential counter to disadvantage in quantity, but Taiwan simply is not in the position it was a decade ago. Meanwhile, the new evidence that China is contemplating more realistic military options for dealing with Taiwan (bombardment not invasion, restoring the status quo rather than reabsorbing the island) means Beijing's focus might no longer be a doomed amphibious assault, which would have represented a massive black hole for People's Liberation Army efforts -- to Taipei's benefit.

However things plays out, the avenues for escalation quickly expand. China and Taiwan could quickly find themselves engaged in the largest two-way air battle since World War II. This would be only one aspect of a complicated dynamic. And of course, U.S. or even Japanese intervention on behalf of Taiwan could radically alter the picture.

Such intervention is nearly guaranteed in the event of a Chinese military incursion into Taiwan, given Washington's legal obligation to come to Taiwan's aid. The USS Kitty Hawk, homeported in Yokosuka, Japan, is never far. Ultimately, the prospect of a short, furious bombardment of the island that does not involve a prolonged Chinese military commitment on the ground might be enticing for Beijing and has significant implications for foreign intervention.
29300  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East War on: October 05, 2007, 10:33:01 AM
Iraq: The Sectarian Tables Turn

Iraq's Shiite-dominated government issued a public criticism Oct. 4 condemning the United States for creating Sunni militias that operate outside the law. The formation of U.S.-backed Sunni militias to counter Iranian-backed Shiite militias fits into a larger U.S. strategy to pressure the Iranians into serious negotiations over Iraq. Iran, however, still appears to be undecided on how to progress in its own Iraq strategy.


The Shiite-dominated government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki sharply criticized what it called a U.S. policy to create Sunni militias that are operating outside the control of the central government. The United Iraqi Alliance (UIA) -- Iraq's largest Shiite bloc, which has close ties to Iran -- issued a statement Oct. 4 accusing these Sunni militias of kidnapping, killing and blackmailing Shiite militiamen belonging to Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army in Baghdad's western Saydiya neighborhood. These U.S.-backed groups, the UIA says, are setting up checkpoints without coordinating with the government.

The tables appear to be turning in Iraq. The complaints that the Shiite bloc is now issuing are exactly the same complaints that Iraq's Sunni bloc has voiced over Iranian-backed Shiite death squads. And this is precisely the dynamic that the United States is aiming to create in order to push the Iranians into serious negotiations.

Iran's biggest advantage in post-Saddam Hussein Iraq was that it had strong and disciplined Shiite militias lying in wait for the very moment that Hussein fell. These militias gave Iran a cohesive and well-trained militant proxy to carry out its objectives in Iraq. In addition, Iran's principal allies in Iraq's Shiite bloc, namely Abdel Aziz al-Hakim's Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council party, were unified enough to guarantee a Shiite majority in the Iraqi government.

The Sunnis, on the other hand, were in disarray. They lacked a unified political voice and insurgent leader to effectively counter the Shia on both the political and militant fronts. The Sunnis themselves were deeply divided among the jihadist factions, the Islamist-leaning Sunni nationalist factions and the secular former Baathists.

However, lately the United States has focused its efforts on re-creating Iran's worst nightmare: the rise of another hostile Sunni Baathist regime. By striking deals with key Sunni tribal leaders, the United States has lessened its own workload by getting Iraqi Sunni nationalists to turn on the jihadists, but this tactical strategy also fits into the broader U.S. strategy against Iran. Fashioning a potentially potent Sunni front made up of former Baathists to counter the Shia could ultimately force the Iranians into cutting a deal, or so Washington hopes. Factional differences still exist within the Sunni militant community, and uniting the bulk of Iraq's Sunni community into a single force against the Iranians will be no easy task. But most of Iraq's Sunni nationalist and Islamist insurgent groups have formed alliances in recent months that will allow them to pool their resources and build up a more formidable militant front in anticipation of a post-U.S. withdrawal bloodbath with the Shia. Many of Iran's key Shiite allies in the government also have been taken out in insurgent attacks that have exacerbated intra-Shiite tensions and complicated Iran's position in Iraq.

Now that these newly-fashioned, U.S.-backed Sunni militias are deliberately working outside the control of Iraq's Shiite-dominated government, a crisis of confidence is brewing in Iraq's already fractured Shiite bloc.

Iran and Iraq's Shia have a choice to make. They can dig their heels in, raise the stakes for U.S. forces in Iraq, push for a U.S. withdrawal and prepare for the coming bloodbath with the Sunnis. Or they can decide that it is not worth the risk of losing what they have gained thus far to a Sunni force receiving strong backing from Washington and Riyadh. Iran also might be unwilling to risk dealing with any surprises from the next U.S. president. This calculus is what would push the Iranians closer to talks and Iraq's Shia into working out a viable power-sharing arrangement with the Sunnis.

At this point the Iranians appear to be undecided. On one hand, there are strong forces within Iran advocating talks with the United States. On the other hand, Iran is signaling that it is willing to up the stakes by shipping surface-to-air missiles into Iraq. There are also rumors going around Baghdad that new Shiite mercenaries have shown up on the streets and are getting paid $5,000 for every U.S. soldier they kill.

The Iranians could very well risk a military confrontation with the United States should they decide to bleed U.S. forces and take on the newly-formed Sunni militias directly. Without any guarantee that the United States would withdraw from Iraq to allow the Iranians to reap their gains, this is a risky move. We expect the Iranians to err on the side of caution, but the coming months will reveal whether they are prepared to move toward an understanding with the United States over Iraq.

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