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29551  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fall Gathering! Fighters thread on: October 19, 2007, 12:05:21 AM
I leave in the AM for Manassas VA.  I may not have online access while there.  If not, I will answer this early next week.
29552  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fire Hydrant: Howls from Crafty Dog, Rules of the Road, etc on: October 19, 2007, 12:02:44 AM
Busy, busy, busy.  After four days in Mexico City last weekend, I leave in the AM for three days in Manassas VA.
29553  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: October 19, 2007, 12:02:08 AM
Busy, busy, busy.  After four days in Mexico City last weekend, I leave in the AM for three days in Manassas VA.
29554  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: October 19, 2007, 12:00:00 AM
Why would a cop accompany the agency to enforce a civil contract?!?  Does this make any sense Rog?
29555  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia on: October 18, 2007, 11:54:21 PM
To make them operational reqjuires Moscow's agreement though , , WTF?
29556  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: October 18, 2007, 11:44:23 PM
Feds Recommend Closing Saudi School in Va.

October 18, 2007 - 12:43am

Associated Press Writer

McLEAN, Va. (AP) - A private Islamic school supported by the Saudi government should be shut down until the U.S. government can ensure the school is not fostering radical Islam, a federal panel recommends.
In a report released Thursday, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom broadly criticized what it calls a lack of religious freedom in Saudi society and promotion of religious extremism at Saudi schools.
Particular criticism is leveled at the Islamic Saudi Academy, a private school serving nearly 1,000 students in grades K-12 at two campuses in northern Virginia's Fairfax County.

The commission's report says the academy hews closely to the curriculum used at Saudi schools, which they criticize for promoting hatred of and intolerance against Jews, Christians and Shiite Muslims.

"Significant concerns remain about whether what is being taught at the ISA promotes religious intolerance and may adversely affect the interests of the United States," the report states.

The commission, a creation of Congress, has no power to implement policy on its own. Instead, it makes recommendations to other agencies.
The commission does not offer specific criticism of the academy's teachings beyond its concerns that it too closely mimics a typical Saudi education.

The report recommends that the State Department prevail on the Saudi government to shut the school down until the school's textbooks can be reviewed and procedures are put in place to ensure the school's independence form the Saudi Embassy.

Messages left Wednesday with the State Department and the Saudi Embassy were not immediately returned.

Several advocacy groups in recent years have cited examples of inflammatory statements in religious textbooks in Saudi Arabia, including claims that a ninth-grade textbook reads that the hour of judgment will not come "until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them."
Saudi officials said they have worked in recent years to reform the textbooks and the curriculum, but critics say progress has been insufficient.

The school's director-general, Abdalla I. Al-Shabnan, said Wednesday that he had not seen the report. But he said the academy has adjusted its curriculum in recent years and removed some of the inflammatory language that had been included in the Saudi text. The school's curriculum may now serve as a model for the Saudi government to use in continuing its reform of Saudi schools, he said.

"There is nothing in our curriculum against any religion," Al-Shabnan said.
He also said he is willing to show the school's curriculum and textbooks to anybody who wants to see them, and he expressed disappointment that the commission did not request materials directly from the school.
"We have an open policy," he said.

He also pointed out that many of the school's teachers are Christian and Jewish.

The commission based its findings in part on a the work of a delegation that traveled to Saudi Arabia this year. The commission asked embassy officials to review the textbooks used in Saudi schools generally and at the Islamic Saudi Academy specifically but did not receive a response.
Commission spokeswoman Judith Ingram said the commission did not request to speak to academy officials because that went beyond the commission's mandate.

The report also criticizes the school's administrative structure, saying it is little more than an offshoot of the Saudi Embassy, with the Saudi ambassador to the United States serving as chairman of the school's board of directors. The structure "raises serious concerns about whether it is in violation of a U.S. law restricting the activities of foreign embassies."
After the Sept. 11 attacks, critics questioned the nature of the religious education at the Saudi academy. The school again found itself in the spotlight in 2005, when a former class valedictorian, Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, was charged with joining al-Qaida while attending college in Saudi Arabia and plotting to assassinate President Bush.
Abu Ali was convicted in federal court and sentenced to 30 years in prison. He is appealing his conviction.

(Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
29557  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: October 18, 2007, 08:45:41 AM
The New Ways We Fight Cancer
October 18, 2007; Page A17

This week, the National Cancer Institute, in conjunction with other organizations that track cancers, reported that the death rate from cancer declined from 2002-2004 by an average of 2.1% per year. This is an improvement over the 1.1% annual declines from 1993-2002 and is very good news indeed. Each 1% decline represents 5,000 people living rather than dying, and, of course, this figure is compounded each year.

While some part of the declining death rate from cancer is the consequence of screening, much is the result of greatly improved treatments. And we believe that the successes achieved to date are only the modest beginning of a revolution in the research into and treatment of cancer.

During the last half of the 20th century, almost all treatments of cancers involved forms of chemotherapy in which cancerous and normal tissues were bombarded with nonselective cytoxic drugs. These drugs killed all cells, healthy as well as malignant. Worse, they did not kill all cancer cells, so the cancer progressed -- leading to the pessimism dominant in people's minds today, a reflection of years of articles and opinion pieces in the popular press expressing the view that "the war on cancer" has been waged incorrectly, if not lost.

Now, however, new therapeutic modes are in play, based on better understandings of cancers and great advances in technologies. Scientists are at last on the right track and making progress along three fronts. First, many cancers will be turned into chronic illnesses, each treated with far less toxic drugs with far fewer and less severe side effects, so that a patient can live a normal life span with a near normal quality of life. (A loose analogy would be to diabetics.) These treatments are probably closer to being realized than most people would guess.

Second, the prevention of entire types of cancers will occur through vaccinations, an approach already in clinical use. Third, cancers already growing in individuals will be eradicated. Here is just a partial list of the new approaches:

• Vaccines. Today, a newly developed vaccine is being administered to females, ages 11-26, that prevents cervical cancer (and anal cancer). The vaccine targets a certain virus, human papillomavirus (HPV), which is the cause of most cervical cancers. (Cervical cancer kills 4,000 women annually in the U.S., and 500,000 world-wide.) It is thought that infection with viruses or bacteria play a role in the development of other cancers, e.g., lymphoma and stomach cancer, and research is focused on vaccines and antibiotics to prevent these, and to eradicate those cancers already in existence in individuals.

Another area of vaccine research is Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, which causes most liver cancer in the Western world, and Hepatitis B virus (HBV), which causes liver cancer in Asia. (It should be noted that only in a very small percentage of people who have the infections do the viruses cause liver cancer.) Researchers are looking into the possible implications for humans of laboratory results which show that mammary (breast) cancer can be caused in mice by introduction of a virus, a virus which is normally passed from one mouse to another.

In the past, success in stimulating the human immune system to attack cancer cells has been elusive. But three novel research projects are underway, aimed at highly lethal metastatic melanoma. The first approach involves T cells (a group of white blood cells that play a critical role in immunity) which have a particular receptor on their surface known as "TCR" that activates the immune system. The process extracts T cells from a patient's blood sample and, in a laboratory, activates their TCR to turn the T cells into killers of the patient's melanoma cells, and not healthy cells, when reinjected into the patient.

The second approach involves genetic modification of a patient's white blood cells in a laboratory. The cells then produce a protein that enables the modified white cells to be detected and counted in tumors anywhere and everywhere in the patient's body using a noninvasive PET scan, a sophisticated X-ray technology.

In the third method, certain T cells which are derived from blood-forming stem cells are genetically manipulated to target and attack melanoma cells. These killer cells replicate in the body in response to the presence of melanoma tumors and attack the cancerous cells -- and because stem cells are long-lived, a large supply of the cancer-killing cells develop in the patient's body for as long as they are needed, i.e., as long as there are melanoma cells there.

- Epigenetics. Cancers are caused by mutations in DNA and abnormal control of genetic expressions. Epigenetic therapy involves correcting and reversing abnormal cancer-causing gene expressions through the use of drugs designed to target specific proteins involved in gene control.

In 1989, a drug removing the abnormal protein causing acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) was first successfully used. Since then, the cure rate for APL has gone to 90% and 50,000 lives have been saved world-wide. In the past three years the FDA has approved three epigenetic drugs that can change the behavior of malignant genes by acting on the proteins that control them. They act on cutaneous lymphoma, acute leukemia and myelodysplastic syndrome (a common form of blood cancer).

The most difficult-to-treat cancers involve many mutations involving many gene "switches" that turn on or off the flow of information passed from one gene to another. In our high-speed information age, we are moving to the point where we can keep up with them, and thus "edit" and control them in specific, selective ways.

• Targeted therapies. The use of personalized malignant gene-expression profiles has advanced from research to therapy in patients, e.g., in breast cancer. Research is advancing in targeting specific mutations in some lymphomas, lung cancer and leukemia.

Progress is also well underway in learning to control abnormal genes which signal normal genes to aid in the nurturing of cancers or in metastases of cancers. For example, doctors now have drugs that are able to curtail the production of new blood vessels which cancer cells need and cause to be produced, thus depriving the cancers of nourishment, thereby killing them. Drugs have been designed to block abnormal signals from an individual patient's cancer, and are in use or development.

Biomarkers to detect ongoing cancers are another fruitful area of research. An example of a biomarker now being used clinically is an overabundance of a protein (called HER-2 neu) which is associated with many breast cancers. Such personalized molecular profiles lead to the use of specific, highly selective treatments with minimal toxicity.

• Cancer "stem cells." Intensive, continuing research has identified a type of cancer cells, found in small numbers, that are more capable of producing cancers and are more difficult to eradicate than ordinary cancer cells. In the last five years, knowledge has greatly advanced regarding how these types of cancer stem cells operate at the genetic level. Work is also well underway in the specific targeting, through the rapid expansion of computer data bases, of the genetic signatures of stem cells of different cancers, to inhibit or cancel their ability to communicate information that causes cancer growth, dormancy and metastasis.

This is but a very incomplete account of new and increasingly productive research in understanding and defeating cancers. In all, there is a 21st-century cancer treatment revolution unfolding. Defeating cancers involves incremental, time-consuming processes along many avenues -- and we are advancing on all of them.

The danger is that misconceived pessimism might result in a loss of popular moral support for the revolutionary new approaches to cancer research and treatment. This in turn could lead to diminishing private and governmental funds for research.

At the very least, pessimism about taming and ultimately eliminating cancers turns the minds of millions from what should be justified hope to needless despair.

Dr. Waxman, an oncologist, is professor of medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center and scientific director of the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation. Mr. Gambino, who has a Ph. D. in philosophy, is professor emeritus at Queens College (CUNY).
29558  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: October 18, 2007, 08:40:07 AM
Dennis Baker's home security system includes three cameras that feed video to 42-inch screens in his living room and bedroom. But it was his pet parrot, he says, that alerted him to a burglar he shot and killed early Tuesday.
Also Online

Video: Homeowner Dennis Baker, accompanied by his parrots, talks about shooting the intruder

"Hello, hello," the parrot said, waking Mr. Baker from what he says was a deep sleep.

The 59-year-old locksmith keeps several pet birds in his northwest Dallas home, including a Mexican Red-headed parrot named Salvador. The bird says "hello" whenever he sees someone. When someone passed by a window about 2 a.m., Salvador squawked the greeting.

"It woke me up," Mr. Baker said. "I guess you could call him a stool pigeon."

Police say it appears that Mr. Baker was within his rights to shoot the burglar, but as is routine in such cases, they will turn the facts to a grand jury for review.

Mr. Baker killed 46-year-old John Woodson, whose criminal record includes charges of burglary, theft and possession of a controlled substance.

Tuesday's burglary, police say, was the fourth on Mr. Baker's property within a month. Investigators say preliminary information indicates Mr. Woodson may have been responsible for some or all of them.

Mr. Baker puts the number at five.

"I got hit five times this month. I have tools in my garage, my house and my van," Mr. Baker said. "They were coming here like they owned the place. I hate what happened, but somebody has to do what's necessary."

Mr. Baker runs a locksmith shop at the home in the 3600 block of Cortez Drive. A large safe sits on the porch. The door of the detached garage is off its hinges. He plans to fix the doors soon but has to replace some of the wood first.

Mr. Baker said he installed a video surveillance system after burglars targeted his home repeatedly. Thieves have taken $20,000 worth of locksmith equipment, saws and lawn gear, he said.

After the parrot woke him, Mr. Baker said, he got up and walked to the garage.
North of Love Field

"He was in the very back of the garage," Mr. Baker said of Mr. Woodson. "There were no lights on. The only thing I could do was see a silhouette, and as you saw in the video, he had his hands in his pockets when he came through here. I had no idea what he had."

The security video shows a man – presumably Mr. Woodson – with his hands in his pant pockets, casually walking around the perimeter of the garage and then inside.

Neither police nor Mr. Baker would give a detailed account of the confrontation that followed, and the cameras don't capture it. But police said Mr. Woodson didn't try to flee and that Mr. Baker shot him in his midsection.

The case is one of several in recent weeks in which a home or business owner has shot an intruder.

A West Dallas business owner fatally shot a suspected burglar on Sunday, the second time in three weeks that he has killed a prowler, police say.

Last week, the owner of Joe's Cleaners in Far East Dallas shot a man who tried to rob him at gunpoint.

Last month, a Mesquite business owner shot and wounded a suspected burglar after finding him with bolt cutters and copper cable taken from the building.

Musician Carter Albrecht was shot to death Sept. 3 after he tried to kick in a neighbor's back door during a drunken rage. The neighbor reportedly thought Mr. Albrecht was a burglar and fired a pistol high through the door as a warning, but struck 6-foot-4 Mr. Albrecht in the head.

Earlier this year, Texas lawmakers approved the Castle Law, which removes any obligation for a crime victim to retreat before responding with deadly force when faced with an intruder in his or her home, vehicle or business.

Despite the new law and the recent series of intruder shootings, Dallas police homicide Sgt. Larry Lewis said he would not describe them as a growing trend.

"We get them over the year from time to time," Sgt. Lewis said.

When police officers arrived at his home after the shooting, Mr. Baker said, Salvador began greeting them with his signature "hello."

"Sometimes he says 'hi,' but you can't get him to speak on cue," Mr. Baker said. "He has a mind of his own."

Mr. Baker said police officers are doing their jobs, but are overworked and understaffed. Dallas police recorded more than 14,400 residential burglaries last year.

"I will protect my property and my life," Mr. Baker said. "The fifth time is enough. It's not something you want to do, but you have to do.";
29559  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers: on: October 18, 2007, 08:15:37 AM
"If there is a form of government, then, whose principle and
foundation is virtue, will not every sober man acknowledge it
better calculated to promote the general happiness than any
other form?"

-- John Adams (Thoughts on Government, 1776)

Reference: The Works of John Adams, Charles Adams, ed., 194.
29560  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East War on: October 18, 2007, 08:14:39 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Emerging Turkish-Syrian Relations

The Turkish parliament on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a government motion seeking a one-year authorization for multiple incursions into northern Iraq to root out Kurdish rebels. Earlier in the day, Syrian President Bashar al Assad, who is on a three-day trip to Turkey, backed Ankara's plan to conduct cross-border military operations in Iraq. At a press conference with Turkish President Abdullah Gul, al Assad said, "Without a doubt, we support the decisions taken by the Turkish government against terrorism and we accept them as a legitimate right of Turkey."

At a time when Turkey is faced with opposition to its plans to send forces into Iraq from almost every quarter of the international community, Syria is the one state actor that has openly come out in support of Turkish plans. The only similar statement came from Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi -- the country's highest-ranking Sunni official -- who was in the Turkish capital the same day as al Assad. Al-Hashimi said it would be legal for Ankara to take whatever steps are necessary to preserve its national security should the Iraqi government fail to contain the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants.

Iraq, however, is not a polity in the traditional sense and al-Hashimi's comments reflect his partisan preferences rather than official Baghdad policy. Therefore the Syrian stance is unique and raises the question: Why is Damascus coming out so strongly in support of Ankara on this matter? A superficial explanation would be that the Syrians and the Turks share a common threat from Kurdish separatists in their respective countries. But that does not explain the larger context of the emerging Turkish-Syrian relationship, especially given that the two sides have had their share of bilateral problems (to put it mildly) over the PKK issue. In 1998, the Syrians expelled PKK chief Abdullah Ocalan, to whom they had been providing safe haven until the Turks threatened military action.

Bilateral relations between the two have come a long way since those days. In fact, in the last few years, there has been an unprecedented warming between the two countries. Al Assad's current visit to Turkey is his second in three years. In 2004, he became the first Syrian head of state to visit Turkey. In July 2007, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's chief foreign policy adviser, Ahmet Davutoglu, traveled to Damascus to encourage the al Assad government to play a constructive role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Al Assad's latest trip to Ankara comes on the heels of Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan's visit to Damascus last week, during which the Syrians were assured that Ankara would not facilitate any Israeli military action against Syria.

The Syrians were pleased to hear this in light of the Sept. 6 Israeli airstrike against a weapons facility near Syria's border with Turkey. Syria clearly needs good relations with Turkey because of its increasingly tense dealings with Israel, as well as with the United States. Just days ago, the Syrian president acknowledged that Ankara is acting as a mediator between Syria and Israel. Syria's situation is such that it can meaningfully deal with the Israelis only through Turkey.

Because of their ties to the Iranians, the Syrians have cut themselves off from the Arab states, especially those that have relations with Israel. Relations with Iran have also brought Syria closer to conflict with Israel. The Syrians need to offset the perception that they are a regional spoiler, and getting closer to the Turks could allow them to do so. Syria is taking note of the shift in Turkish behavior toward the United States, which works to its advantage. With Turkey adopting an anti-American stance, Damascus hopes to be able to leverage its budding ties to Ankara as a means of ending its isolation.

But Turkey does not attach the same degree of importance to its relations with Syria. The Turkish calculus is in fact very different. The Middle East is Turkey's main sphere of influence, and Syria is its immediate southern neighbor. It is therefore in Ankara's interest to see stability in Damascus, and playing the role of mediator between the Syrians and the Israelis helps it achieve this objective.

But this is not of immediate importance to the Turks. The single-most important item on Turkey's regional foreign policy agenda is the situation in Iraq and the ability of the PKK to use Iraqi Kurdish-controlled areas to pose a security threat to Turkey. Ankara will soon initiate military operations in northern Iraq, for which it has secured Syria's support. But beyond diplomatic support and possibly some level of tactical assistance on the ground, Syria has little to offer Turkey on the issue of Iraq or any other matter.

In short, the Syrians need the Turks more than the Turks need the Syrians. Turkey is also not about to help Syria at the cost of its relations with Israel. Syrian-Iranian relations are a major cause of concern for the Arabs, and the Turks very much value the influence they enjoy in Arab capitals. The downturn in U.S.-Turkish relations is also a temporary phenomenon, whereas the strain in Washington's ties with Damascus is much more chronic. For all these reasons, the warming of relations between Turkey and Syria is not likely to lead to a real strategic partnership between the two neighbors.

29561  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: October 18, 2007, 08:12:35 AM

Gen. Sanchez's Scream
He indicted everyone involved in Iraq, including the media and Congress.

Thursday, October 18, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Over the past weekend there were front-page accounts everywhere of Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez's description of the war in Iraq as a "nightmare." The New York Times led its story this way:

"In a sweeping indictment of the four-year effort in Iraq, the former top commander of American forces there called the Bush administration's handling of the war 'incompetent' and said the result was 'a nightmare with no end in sight.' " Gen. Sanchez said this last Friday to a gathering of reporters and editors in Washington who cover military affairs. It was a dramatic denunciation from the man who led U.S. forces in Iraq from 2003 to 2004.

On Monday my colleague John Fund wrote an item for the Journal editorial page's daily email newsletter, Political Diary, noting that most of the news reports of the speech had failed to note that Gen. Sanchez had also severely criticized the press's performance in Iraq. "For some of you," Gen. Sanchez said to the reporters, "the truth is of little to no value if it does not fit your own preconceived notions, biases and agendas."

By now I was curious to see what Gen. Sanchez actually did say. The full text is an indictment all right, of everyone connected to this war--the president, the press, Congress, the bureaucracy and maybe the country itself.

Gen. Sanchez was running the U.S. war effort in Iraq when the Abu Ghraib scandal blew up, though an investigation absolved him.
It's possible to dismiss some of what he says as over the top or to cavil with the particulars. One cannot really know how extensively Gen. Sanchez's views are shared across the officer corps. But there is a discomfiting, Cassandra-like quality to this speech. It is a scream of rage.

Whatever happens in Iraq, this country at some point will have to think seriously (if possible) about the war's effects on its politics and its institutions. Gen. Sanchez's scream is as good a place as any to start.

With elided excerpts, I'll summarize what he said. Body armor recommended.

• The media. "It seems that as long as you get a front-page story there is little or no regard for the 'collateral damage' you will cause. Personal reputations have no value and you report with total impunity and are rarely held accountable for unethical conduct. . . . You assume that you are correct and on the moral high ground."

"The speculative and often uninformed initial reporting that characterizes our media appears to be rapidly becoming the standard of the industry." "Tactically insignificant events have become strategic defeats." And: "The death knell of your ethics has been enabled by your parent organizations who have chosen to align themselves with political agendas. What is clear to me is that you are perpetuating the corrosive partisan politics that is destroying our country and killing our service members who are at war."

• The Bush administration. "When a nation goes to war it must bring to bear all elements of power in order to win. . . . [This] administration has failed to employ and synchronize its political, economic and military power . . . and they have definitely not communicated that reality to the American people."

• Congress and politics. "Since 2003, the politics of war have been characterized by partisanship as the Republican and Democratic parties struggled for power in Washington. . . . National efforts to date have been corrupted by partisan politics that have prevented us from devising effective, executable, supportable solutions. These partisan struggles have led to political decisions that endangered the lives of our sons and daughters on the battlefield. The unmistakable message was that political power had greater priority than our national security objectives."

• The bureaucracies. Gen. Sanchez argues that "unity of effort" was hampered by the absence of any coordinated authority over the war effort of the bureaucracies: "The Administration, Congress and the entire interagency, especially the Department of State, must shoulder the responsibility for this catastrophic failure."

"Clearly," he says, "mistakes have been made by the American military in its application of power. But even its greatest failures in this war can be linked to America's lack of commitment, priority and moral courage in this war effort. . . . America has not been fully committed to win this war."

He says leaving Iraq is not an option, and he has no doubt about the threat: "As a nation we must recognize that the enemy we face is committed to destroying our way of life."

In sum, what Gen. Sanchez is describing here is a nation that is at risk and is in a state of disunity. Does disunity matter? He is saying that in war, it does.

In politics, a degree of disunity is normal. But in our time, partisan disunity has become the norm. The purpose of politics now is to thwart, to stop.

We may have underestimated how corrosive our disunity has been on the troops in Iraq, and how deeply it has damaged us.

Those of us in politics--politicians, reporters, bureaucrats--are largely inured to all this, and we seem to have assumed that the system shares our infinite capacity for antipathy and tumult. But is this occupational toughness natural to politics, or is it cynicism? I don't think the soldiers or the American people see the difference.
Arguably it is the proper role of politics to intervene, to question. But during Vietnam and again now, we haven't been able to avoid simultaneously putting troops on the battlefield while fighting bitterly amongst ourselves at home for the length of the war.

The U.S. officer corps is aware of this. While no one is talking about a stab in the back, they may conclude that the home front and its institutions are unable to, or will not, protect their back.

One may ask: Will we ever want to do this again? Are we able to undertake military missions that prove difficult? Or is the projection of U.S. military power into the world an idea that now irreparably divides the American people? Before November 2008, we had better have some answers, from our presidential candidates and from ourselves.

Mr. Henninger is deputy editor of The Wall Street Journal's editorial page. His column appears Thursdays in the Journal and on
29562  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: October 18, 2007, 08:11:37 AM
1133 GMT -- IRAQ -- The Iraqi government plans to award $1.1 billion in contracts to Iranian and Chinese companies to build two power plants in the country, The New York Times reported Oct. 18, citing Iraqi Electricity Minister Karim Wahid. He said the Iranian project would be built in Baghdad's Sadr City area and the Chinese project would be built in Wasit. Iran also has agreed to provide cheap electricity from its own grid to southern Iraq, and to build a large power plant essentially free of charge in an area between the two southern Shiite holy cities of Karbala and An Najaf, the Times reported.

29563  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia on: October 18, 2007, 08:10:14 AM
To me this reads like we just caved in big time, and then got sodomized by Putin in his statements while in Iran:

1149 GMT -- RUSSIA, UNITED STATES -- U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Russian President Vladimir Putin during their recent meeting that the United States would be willing to delay operationalizing a missile defense system in Europe until Washington and Moscow have jointly validated that Iranian ballistic missiles posed a threat, the Financial Times reported Oct. 17, citing a Pentagon spokesman.

29564  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: October 18, 2007, 07:57:22 AM
Police face Mexican military, smugglers
Armed standoff along U.S. border
By Sara A. Carter and Kenneth Todd Ruiz, Staff Writers

Mexican soldiers and civilian smugglers had an armed standoff with nearly 30 U.S. law enforcement officials on the Rio Grande in Texas Monday afternoon, according to Texas police and the FBI.

Mexican military Humvees were towing what appeared to be thousands of pounds of marijuana across the border into the United States, said Chief Deputy Mike Doyal, of the Hudspeth County Sheriff's Department.

Mexican Army troops had several mounted machine guns on the ground more than 200 yards inside the U.S. border -- near Neely's Crossing, about 50 miles east of El Paso -- when Border Patrol agents called for backup. Hudspeth County deputies and Texas Highway patrol officers arrived shortly afterward, Doyal said.

"It's been so bred into everyone not to start an international incident with Mexico that it's been going on for years," Doyal said. "When you're up against mounted machine guns, what can you do? Who wants to pull the trigger first? Certainly not us."

An FBI spokeswoman confirmed the incident happened at 2:15 p.m. Pacific Time.

"Bad guys in three vehicles ended up on the border," said Andrea Simmons, a spokeswoman with the FBI's El Paso office. "People with Humvees, who appeared to be with the Mexican Army, were involved with the three vehicles in getting them back across."

Simmons said the FBI was not involved and referred inquiries to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  ICE did not return calls seeking comment.

Doyal said deputies captured one vehicle in the incident, a Cadillac Escalade reportedly stolen from El Paso, and found 1,477 pounds of marijuana inside. The Mexican soldiers set fire to one of the Humvees stuck in the river, he said.

Doyal's deputies faced a similar incident on Nov. 17, when agents from the Fort Hancock border patrol station in Texas called the sheriff's department for backup after confronting more than six fully armed men dressed in Mexican military uniforms. The men -- who were carrying machine guns and driving military vehicles -- were trying to bring more than three tons of marijuana across the Rio Grande, Doyal said.

Doyal said such incidents are common at Neely's Crossing, which is near Fort Hancock, Texas, and across from the Mexican state of Chihuahua.

"It happens quite often here," he said.

Deputies and border patrol agents are not equipped for combat, he added.

"Our government has to do something," he said. "It's not the immigrants coming over for jobs we're worried about. It's the smugglers, Mexican military and the national threat to our borders that we're worried about."

Citing a Jan. 15 story in the Daily Bulletin, Reps. David Dreier, R-Glendora, and Duncan Hunter, R-San Diego, last week asked the House Judiciary Committee, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, the House Homeland Security Committee and the House International Relations Committee to investigate the incursions. The story focused on a Department of Homeland Security document reporting 216 incursions by Mexican soldiers during the past 10 years and a map with the seal of the president's Office of National Drug Control Policy, both of which were given to the newspaper.

Requests by Dreier, chairman of the House Rules Committee, and Hunter were made in jointly signed letters. 

On Wednesday, Chertoff played down the reports of border incursions by the Mexican military. He suggested many of the incursions could have been mistakes, blaming bad navigation by military personnel or attributing the incursions to criminals dressed in military garb.

Mexican officials last week denied any incursions made by their military.

But border agents interviewed over the past year have discussed confrontations those they believe to be Mexican military personnel.

"We're sitting ducks," said a border agent speaking on condition of anonymity. "The government has our hands tied."

- Sara A. Carter can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at (909) 483-8552.

- Kenneth Todd Ruiz can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at (909) 483-8555.
29565  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Parenting Issues on: October 18, 2007, 07:49:02 AM
Liberal Fascism continues , , ,

Birth Control Allowed at Maine Middle School

Published: October 18, 2007
PORTLAND, Me., Oct. 17 — The Portland school board on Wednesday approved a measure allowing middle-school students to gain access to prescription birth control medications without notifying parents.

The proposal, from the Portland Division of Public Health, calls for the independently operated health care center at King Middle School to provide a variety of services to students, including immunizations and physical checkups in addition to birth-control medications and counseling for sexually transmitted diseases, said Lisa Belanger, an administrator for Portland’s student health centers.

All but two members of the 12-person committee voted to approve the plan.

The school principal, Mike McCarthy, said about 5 of the school’s 500 students had identified themselves as being sexually active.

Health care professionals at the clinic advised the committee that the proposal was necessary in order for the clinic to serve students who were engaging in risky behavior.

The conference room at the Wednesday night meeting was packed with parents, students and television cameras as school board committee members discussed the issue and heard testimony from experts and residents.

“It has been shown, over and over again, that this does not increase sexual activity,” said Pat Patterson, the medical director of School-Based Health Centers.

Reaction was mixed.

“This is really a violation of parents’ rights,” Peter Doyle, a Portland resident, told the committee. “If there were a constitutional challenge, you guys would be at risk of a lawsuit.”

Others argued for approval.

“Not every child is getting the guidance needed to keep them safe,” said Richard Veilleux, who said his child attends King Middle School. “This is about giving kids who are sexually active the tools that they need.”

According to the National Assembly on School-Based Health Care, about 30 percent of the 1,700 school-based health centers in the United States provide birth control to students, Dr. Patterson said.

NY Times
29566  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: October 18, 2007, 07:47:05 AM
I'm not really following this Rog.  Are you saying that there should be a FD here so that the agency gets to respond to EG on her show?

Also, I'm not getting why the hairdresser and family gave up the dog.  Some third part comes to my door wanting my children's dog has got a serious problem.  What kind of parent coughs up their children's dog?  If the agency wants the dog, let them sue.

29567  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / SEAL receives CMH on: October 17, 2007, 07:02:31 PM
First Navy MoH since Vietnam to go to SEAL

By Gidget Fuentes - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Oct 15, 2007 18:03:21 EDT
SAN DIEGO — Two years after his death in a harrowing firefight on a mountaintop in Afghanistan, Lt. Michael P. Murphy, a SEAL from Patchogue, N.Y., will receive the nation’s highest combat honor, Navy officials said.

A Navy spokeswoman confirmed Oct. 11 the decision by President Bush approving the posthumous award of the Medal of Honor, the first for the Navy for the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Murphy, 29, was leading a four-man reconnaissance and surveillance team during Operation Red Wing in Afghanistan’s rugged Hindu Kush mountains June 28, 2005, when the team was spotted by Taliban fighters. During the intense battle that followed, Murphy and two of his men — Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class (SEAL) Danny Dietz and Sonar Technician (Surface) 2nd Class (SEAL) Matthew Axelson — were killed. A fourth man, then-Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class (SEAL) Marcus Luttrell, was seriously wounded and knocked unconscious, but managed to escape. Luttrell was rescued days later.

Murphy was killed while phoning in for reinforcements. The tragedy continued when enemy fighters shot down one of the transport helicopters carrying the rescue force, killing eight more SEALs and eight Special Forces operators. The 11 SEALs killed marked the largest single-day loss of life for the tight-knit community.

Bush will present the Medal of Honor to Murphy’s parents, Daniel and Maureen, and his brother, John, on Oct. 22 at a 2:30 p.m. ceremony in the White House.

“We’re thrilled with the president’s announcement, and more importantly that there’s now a public recognition of what Mike’s family and friends have known about him from the very beginning,” Daniel Murphy said Oct. 11 by telephone from New York.

In addition to the Oval Office ceremony, the fallen SEAL will be honored at two other Washington events: the inclusion of his name on a wall at the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes at 11 a.m. Oct. 23, and the presentation of the Medal of Honor flag at the Navy Memorial at 6 p.m. Oct. 23. Additional ceremonies are planned next month at Calverton National Cemetery in eastern Long Island, where Murphy is buried, and on his birthday next year at the Patchogue post office that bears his name, his family said.

When he deployed overseas, Murphy carried a patch from New York Fire Department’s Engine Company 53 and Ladder Company 43, in Manhattan’s El Barrio neighborhood, “as a symbol of why he was there and what he was doing,” Daniel Murphy said.

“Michael felt that he was doing something important ... to root out, capture and kill those who were responsible for 9/11,” he added. “Michael understood the importance of his work.”

In mourning their son, the Murphy family has also celebrated his life. “What a man he grew up to be,” said Maureen Murphy, who called him “an American hero.”

To the Murphy family, the announcement of the Medal of Honor isn’t just a personal recognition. “It’s more than just about Michael,” his father said. “It’s about Michael and his team. Michael, first and foremost, was a team player.”

“Eleven SEALs who fought, died and sacrificed for one another,” he added. “There’s no higher calling.”

Life and death on Murphy’s ridge
The team was taking heavy fire in the close-quarters battle as Taliban fighters continued to close in, firing weapons and rocket-propelled grenades. At one point, Murphy took his mobile phone and “walked to open ground. He walked until he was more or less in the center, gunfire all around him, and he sat on a small rock and began punching in the numbers to HQ,” according to Luttrell, the surviving SEAL, who wrote a book called “Lone Survivor.”

“I could hear him talking,” Luttrell wrote. “My men are taking heavy fire ... we’re getting picked apart. My guys are dying out here ... we need help.

“And right then Mikey took a bullet straight in the back. I saw the blood spurt from his chest. He slumped forward, dropping his phone and his rifle. But then he braced himself, grabbed them both, sat upright again, and once more put the phone to his ear.”

Then, Luttrell heard Murphy say, “Roger that, sir. Thank you.” The lieutenant continued to train fire on the enemy fighters.

“Only I knew what Mikey had done. He’d understood we had only one realistic chance, and that was to call in help,” Luttrell wrote. “Knowing the risk, understanding the danger, in the full knowledge the phone call could cost him his life, Lieutenant Michael Patrick Murphy, son of Maureen, fiancé of the beautiful Heather, walked out into the firestorm.

“His objective was clear: to make one last valiant attempt to save his two teammates.”

Not long after the call, Murphy was shot again, screaming for Luttrell to help him, but Luttrell, also hit and wounded, couldn’t reach him. “There was nothing I could do except die with him,” he wrote.

Murphy’s actions didn’t surprise those who knew him.

That, despite his wounds, he made that call “and at the end of the call to say, ‘Thank you,’ and hang up, and continue the fight ... really exemplifies the type of person that he was,” said Sean, a lieutenant commander who was the naval special warfare task unit leader with SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 1, a Pearl Harbor, Hawaii-based unit. Naval Special Warfare Command asked to withhold his full name.

“Murph,” as others called him, was “a warrior and [was devoted] to his men,” Sean said. The Medal of Honor “draws attention to the true heroism and selfless sacrifice of all the guys that day,” he added. “It’s a testament to all 19 who gave their lives that day.”

A well-kept secret
In the two years since, the events on that Afghan mountain have stirred much speculation on how the team members would be recognized. “They knew what they were dying for, they believed in what they were doing and they gave their last full measure,” then-Rear Adm. Joe Maguire said during a June 28, 2006, ceremony dedicating a memorial tree and plaque outside Naval Special Warfare Command headquarters in Coronado, Calif.

The other three SEALs in Murphy’s team have received the Navy Cross.

On Aug. 27, the Murphy family received a call from the White House chief of military affairs telling them that President Bush approved the award. “They asked us if we could please keep the information confidential” until the Navy’s announcement, Daniel Murphy said.

Talk about pressure. “Obviously, you want to get on top of a building and scream out,” he said.

But the Murphys agreed, and they kept it secret.

“You wanted to tell everybody, but you really couldn’t,” said Maureen Murphy.

“I was thrilled, and I was like, oh my God. It’s like a rollercoaster ride,” she said. “You are so happy that the nation recognizes what you already know about your son — handsome and the brave actions and everything — then there’s the other part. ... I wish he could walk up there and receive that. It’s bittersweet.”

Family and colleagues describe Murphy as a likeable leader, witty, sincere, caring, honest humble, selfless. He didn’t live for the spotlight, they say, and he’d probably prefer to deflect the attention over his combat actions.

“He was a great little boy. He was a very wonderful teenager. He always rolled up his sleeves to help people,” his mother said. “In every picture we have,” she noted, “he was always in the background.”

SEALs honor their own
This will mark the first time a Navy person has received the Medal of Honor in 35 years, and the fourth time a SEAL has received the award. It also marks the third awarding of the Medal of Honor for combat heroism in Iraq or Afghanistan — the other two were awarded posthumously to Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul Smith and Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham.

Top Navy SEALs paid tribute to the president’s decision.

“I am grateful Lt. Murphy will receive the Medal of Honor in recognition and tribute for his heroism and sacrifices,” Adm. Eric Olson, who commands U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fla., said in a statement. “His selfless actions exemplify the characteristics and values of special operations forces.”

Murphy “was a valued teammate, professional warrior and fearless leader. We are humbled by his courageous and selfless actions, and this award is a testament to the man he was,” said Rear Adm. Joe Kernan, head of Naval Special Warfare Command, in a statement. “Mike believed deeply in his country, and he honorably lived the ethos that he shared with his fellow SEALs.

“The Medal of Honor will ensure that his sacrifice — for freedom, for his teammates and for his fellow Americans — will never be forgotten,” Kernan added. “He will inspire our Naval Special Warfare community for years to come.”

Sean, the task unit leader, recalled that Murphy “is one of those few leaders who was truly able to command the respect of his men, while at the same time knowing them at a personal level. They trusted him, and they felt confident in his abilities.

“It just exemplified the type of people that we have in the community. The events of that day were extraordinary,” he said.

Murphy’s actions that day — “exposing himself the way he did, way into a lengthy gunfight and already severely wounded” — didn’t surprise the officer.

Murphy, he added, “would just say he was doing his job.”
29568  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: October 17, 2007, 06:57:45 PM
Second post of the day

* * *
Mike Kelly's journal about events and people in the Garden State.

Visit the blog

One of Cruise's deputies was even more specific.

"There are people in your county who are affiliated with known al-Qaida members overseas," said Jack Jupin, the FBI agent who heads the counterterror squad for Bergen County.

Cruise, who supervised FBI investigations of terrorist bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa and the USS Cole before taking over the Newark task force, cautioned that his agents have no information about an imminent attack here. But he said several al-Qaida sympathizers would try if given the chance.

"There are many people who are like-minded who want to commit acts of terrorism and have just not taken that extra step," said Cruise, who keeps a "wanted" poster of Bin Laden on his office wall.

Sometimes, he said, counterterror agents "disrupt" these North Jersey residents with al-Qaida ties.

Cruise declined to describe any case in detail. But in general, such disruption methods ranged from outright deportations to quiet visits by FBI agents in which suspected terrorists are told their activities are being monitored.

"There are many disruptions that occur that the public does not know about," Cruise said.

Taliban aren't here

For the past six years, FBI officials have routinely declined to discuss counterterror measures in northern New Jersey. But last week, the FBI granted The Record limited access to the offices of its Joint Terrorism Task Force, in a gleaming glass building in Newark overlooking the Passaic River.

This unusual glimpse into the inner workings of North Jersey's primary counterterrorism force revealed the following:

Task force investigators have discovered that every major terrorist group in the world, including Hamas and Hezbollah, has at least one North Jersey contact. The lone exception is Afghanistan's ultra-fundamentalist sect, the Taliban.
The task force is currently conducting more than 400 counterterror investigations. These range from probes into Bin Laden's network to neo-Nazis to environmental terrorists.
Each month, a task force "response" squad receives as many as a dozen new tips about possible nuclear, biological or chemical terrorism in New Jersey. These range from citizen concerns about a mysterious powder to the report that three ships were sailing to New Jersey with radiological material on board. Squad members were even dispatched to Emerson last month after school administrators received a threat to blow up schools.
Undercover agents attend all professional football games at Giants Stadium. Agents also plan to monitor the upcoming Breeders' Cup at Monmouth Park Racetrack.
Task force agents routinely travel overseas. One is currently in Iraq; another is in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, helping to question suspected al-Qaida captives at the U.S. naval base there. Newark-based agents also played a role in the investigation of the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl and provided information to assist the interrogation of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed.
Task force agents say they are united by one common fear -- that they may overlook information that could stop a potential terrorist attack. Indeed, almost every office seems to contain some reminder of the 9/11 attacks.

'Daily reminder'

In weighing his own fear of an attack, Cruise noted that northern New Jersey has a wide range of tempting and vulnerable targets, from tunnels and bridges to sports venues, shopping malls and chemical plants.

"My greatest fear in New Jersey is that somebody or some group will slip through our grasp," he said.

Scott Nawrocki, the FBI agent who directs the task force's special response squad, keeps a photograph of the World Trade Center on the wall by his desk. On the opposite wall is a poster with a mushroom cloud from a nuclear bomb. "The first things I see are a daily reminder of why I'm here," Nawrocki said.

But he added that it's dangerous for his counterterror agents to fall into the trap of assuming that future terrorists will try to duplicate the 9/11 attacks.

"We use our imagination when we conduct assessments," Nawrocki said.

William Sweeney Jr., whose squad monitors potential terrorists in Hudson County, said some tips for local investigations can originate in the unlikeliest places.

In one case, Sweeney described how U.S. soldiers confiscated a laptop computer when they captured a suspected al-Qaida operative in Iraq. When the laptop's files were examined, investigators discovered several New Jersey phone numbers.

"Why was a person in New Jersey in the address book of a bad guy picked up in Iraq?" Sweeney asked. "We have to check it out."

He declined to describe the result. But the process, described by Sweeney, is not uncommon for the task force.

As a result, task force agents are in daily contact with officials at the CIA and other American intelligence agencies who monitor phone and Internet traffic from North Jersey to known operatives for al-Qaida and other terrorist groups.

"I talk to them 10 times a day," Jupin said of the CIA.

Listening in

Cruise holds several top-secret intelligence briefings each week with fellow agents as well as police from such small towns as Old Tappan and Ho-Ho-Kus.

Amid the wash of tips and ongoing cases, though, Cruise said the task force has to make difficult calculations -- especially when monitoring phone or Internet contacts.

"If it's somebody who is simply communicating with somebody who is known to be an al-Qaida operative, that in itself is not illegal," Cruise said. "It's what they intend to do."

To better understand some of his enemies, Cruise even listens to Arabic language CDs during his commute. But he tries to keep himself and his agents from becoming too confident.

"We have better security measures in place and we have better intelligence," he said. "But we are still vulnerable."

29569  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Unorganized Militia on: October 17, 2007, 06:37:14 PM
I wasn't quite sure where to put this one, this thread seems like the closest fit:

12/10/07 - News section

Prisoner 'throws boiling oil' over terrorist leader who plotted to murder thousands with dirty bombs

A prisoner has been accused of throwing boiling oil over an al Qaida terrorist who planned to murder thousands with dirty bombs.

The 22-year-old inmate is accused of scarring for life Dhiren Barot, who was jailed for life for leading a British-based terrorist cell that plotted bombings across the world.  Barot's lawyer claimed he had the boiling oil thrown over him during the attack in the high security Frankland Prison in County Durham. The unnamed prisoner faces charges of wounding and assault occasioning actual bodily harm following the incident on July 6.  He will appear in court later this month.

After the alleged attack, which left Barot, 35, with excruciating burns, a news blackout was imposed to protect medical staff from possible attack while he was treated at Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary.

A Durham Police spokesman said today in a statement: "A prison inmate from Sunderland has been charged with an assault at Durham's top security Frankland Jail this year. The victim, a 35-year-old Category A prisoner, suffered burns to his body and face in the alleged attack on July 6.  He was treated for several days at Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary before being readmitted to the prison. Police inquiries have been taking place since then and this morning detectives from Durham charged a 22-year-old from Sunderland with wounding and assault occasioning actual bodily harm. He is due to appear before magistrates at Peterlee on October 23."

Barot was sentenced to life, with a minimum term of 30 years, for planning to plant radioactive, chemical or toxic gas bombs and pack limousines with nails and explosives in the UK and America.  The al Qaida mastermind had been moved to Frankland from Belmarsh jail, south east London, after fears for his safety. Barot was arrested in August 2004 and accused of conspiracy to murder.  He admitted planning to bomb several targets including the New York Stock Exchange, the International Monetary Fund HQ, and the World Bank.
Barot, who recruited other bomb plotters, was sentenced to life in prison last November. It was recommended he serve 40 years but that was cut to 30 years on appeal in May.

Barot was born in India then moved to Kenya with his family. They came to England in 1973 and his banker father had to work in a factory to support them. Hindu Barot converted to Islam aged 20. He later travelled to Pakistan for al Qaida training and funding.

Find this story at
29570  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: October 17, 2007, 05:18:32 PM
Almost a Massachusetts Miracle

It was a special House election in a state that hasn't sent a single Republican to Congress in a decade, held at a time when support for Republicans from President Bush on down is sagging badly. Yet Republican Jim Ogonowski almost pulled off an upset in the Lowell-based 5th District of Massachusetts last night. Democrat Niki Tsongas, widow of the late U.S. Senator, won only 51% of the vote despite outspending Mr. Ogonowski by five-to-one. How could this happen?

For one thing, turnout in the special election was spotty. Though Ms. Tsongas pledged to work to remove all U.S. troops from Iraq by March 2008, Democratic pollster Brad Bannon predicted that the district's liberals were "in a surly mood because of their party's inability to bring a conclusion to the war." It appeared that many of these voters stayed home.

In addition, Mr. Ogonowski, who retired from the Air Force in June after a 28-year career, was also able to effectively make the case that U.S. troops must stay in Iraq. He reminded voters that his own brother had been a pilot on the American Airlines plane flown into the World Trade Center on 9/11. Mr. Ogonowski initially had qualms about the Iraq war but now says the U.S. intervention should continue until stability is achieved there.

The GOP underdog wound up winning 45% of the vote, polling significantly better than President Bush's 41% showing in the district in 2004. While not a winner, Mr. Ogonowski says his populist approach could point the way to recovery for the GOP in the 2008 elections. He told me during a New York fundraising swing last month that he campaigned vigorously against his own party's failings by advocating limits on pork-barrel spending and calling for greater transparency in government. His approach provides lessons for other scrappy Republican challengers next year.

Democrats can be pleased they dodged a bullet with Ms Tsongas' narrow victory, but it could prove a warning that voters are in such a sour mood that they are willing to punish both parties -- a possible portent of what the 2008 election may bring.

-- John Fund
Political Journal WSJ
29571  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal issues on: October 17, 2007, 05:16:48 PM
Second post of the day:

As early as today, we'll find out whether House Speaker Nancy Pelosi really believes she can win a veto showdown with the president over a national security issue.

Ms. Pelosi is nudging legislation towards a floor vote to reauthorize the terrorist surveillance program for another two years. Mr. Bush has already said he will veto the bill for two reasons: It would severely hamper his ability to combat terrorism and does nothing to protect American phone companies from billion-dollar lawsuits for complying with government efforts to listen in on foreign phone calls involving suspected terrorists.

The ultra-liberal group believes this is a fight Ms. Pelosi should make. On Monday, the organization blasted an email to 3.3 million supporters urging her into the fray. Trial lawyers, a big Democratic constituency that stands to benefit handsomely from such lawsuits, have been letting others carry the fight so far. Ms. Pelosi didn't mince words in a press conference last week in referring to Verizon, AT&T and other target companies: "These are not individual citizens without resources, these are major telecom companies with a phalanx of lawyers who understand the Constitution and the law. And if they have exposure, the courtroom is the place to go."

But Democrats would be wise to remember that they've lost elections and, ultimately, control of one house of Congress over the appearance of caring more about the party's bankrollers than national security. In 2002, Georgia Sen. Max Cleland lost his seat when Republican Saxby Chambliss ran a hard charging campaign that made an issue of Mr. Cleland's willingness to carry water for labor unions in establishing the Department of Homeland Security. Thanks partly to Mr. Cleland's loss, the GOP won back control of the Senate.

According to the New York Post, after al Qaeda operatives launched a sneak attack on American forces in Iraq last May, killing several GIs and capturing three others, a U.S. search-and-rescue team was halted from monitoring cell phone calls between enemy operatives because those calls were routed through American servers. For more than nine critical hours lawyers debated how to proceed. When confronted with incidents like that, voters might see the Democratic desire to let trial lawyers fatten their wallets at the expense of U.S. phone companies in a new light.

-- Brendan Miniter
29572  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Mala Leche on: October 17, 2007, 05:14:52 PM
Cubans Say 'Show Us the Moneda'

Cuba's acting leader Raul Castro has been accused of being paranoid, but he does have few things to worry about. Take the hot new release by one of Cuba's most popular bands, Moneda Dura. The song is called Mala Leche, which in Cuban slang means "evil intentions." Does it denounce Fidel or embrace the Miami exile community or capitalism? Nothing of the sort. It merely recites, in upbeat rap, a litany of problems that are driving everyday Cubans to despair: long bus lines, blackouts, uncollected garbage everywhere. "The role of the artist is to be aware of the situation he is living in," songwriter Nassiry Lugo told an MSNBC reporter.

That apparently is not how the Castro regime sees things. It has banned Mala Leche, without bothering to explain why. But as Mr. Lugo knows, anyone in Cuba can be thrown in the slammer for "dangerousness," a subjective judgment by the regime about what a person might be thinking. Mr. Lugo is willing to flirt with "dangerousness." He told his American interviewer: "If an idea is not dangerous, it doesn't deserve to be an idea."

Cuba already has the highest suicide rate in the hemisphere and the whole island, as the Castro regime drags itself on and on, seems to be nearing the end of its psychic rope. As one Havana commentator told MSNBC, perhaps the reason the government banned the song is that it is too "fatalistic."

And too popular. Word has it that Mala Leche is being downloaded to the Cuban underground and spreading like wildfire. What the government may still not understand is that the song is a symptom and not a cause of Cuban

political journal WSJ
29573  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Nuclear War? on: October 17, 2007, 04:26:57 PM
See No Proliferation
Reality can't interfere with "diplomacy."

Wednesday, October 17, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

The silence from the Bush Administration over Israel's recent bombing of a site in Syria gets louder by the day. U.S. officials continue to look the other way, even as reports multiply that Israel and U.S. intelligence analysts believe the site was a partly constructed nuclear reactor modeled after a North Korean design.

The weekend was full of reports about these intelligence judgments, first in the U.S. media then picked up by the Israeli press. Israel's former chief of military intelligence, Major General Aharon Zeevi Farkash, called them "logical." That's the term of art people use to confirm things in Israel when they want to get around the military censors.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Israel and offered her own non-confirmation confirmation. "We're very concerned about any evidence of, any indication of, proliferation," she said, according to the New York Times. "And we're handling those in appropriate diplomatic channels." Just what you need when your enemies are caught proliferating nuclear expertise--a little more diplomacy. The world is lucky Israel preferred to act against the threat, in what seems to have been a smaller version of its 1981 attack against Iraq's Osirak reactor.

Ms. Rice went on to say that "The issues of proliferation do not affect the Palestinian-Israeli peace efforts we are making," adding that "This is the time to be extremely careful." In other words, even if North Korea is spreading nuclear weapons, she doesn't want to say so in public because it might offend a country--Syria--that is refusing even to take part in the regional Palestinian-Israeli peace conference next month. That's certainly being "careful."

Or perhaps she fears offending North Korea, which the Bush Administration has agreed to trust for finally pledging to dismantle its nuclear weapons program and disavowing proliferation. In return for that promise, the U.S. is shipping fuel oil to Pyongyang and is taking steps to remove North Korea from its list of terror states. It would certainly be inconvenient, not to say politically embarrassing, if North Korea were found to be helping Syria get a bomb amid all of this diplomacy.
All the more so given that only last year, after North Korea exploded a nuclear device, President Bush explicitly warned North Korea against such proliferation. "America's position is clear," he said at the time. "The transfer of nuclear weapons or material will be considered a grave threat to the United States." More than once, Mr. Bush added that, "We will hold North Korea fully accountable for the consequences."

Even granting some leeway in defining the words "fully accountable," they cannot mean winking at the spread of nuclear know-how to a U.S. enemy in the most dangerous corner of the world. With its continuing silence about what happened in Syria, the Bush Administration is undermining its own security credibility. More important, the see-no-evil pose is showing North Korea that it can cheat even on an agreement whose ink is barely dry--and without "consequences."

29574  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Attacks that didn on: October 17, 2007, 04:12:52 PM
Summer 2007: The Attack that Never Occurred
By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart

The summer of 2007 was marked by threats and warnings of an imminent terrorist attack against the United States. In addition to the well-publicized warnings from Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and a National Intelligence Estimate that al Qaeda was gaining strength, a former Israeli counterterrorism official warned that al Qaeda was planning a simultaneous attack against five to seven American cities. Another warning of an impending dirty bomb attack prompted the New York Police Department to set up vehicle checkpoints near the financial district in Lower Manhattan. In addition to these public warnings, U.S. government counterterrorism sources also told us privately that they were seriously concerned about the possibility of an attack.

All these warnings were followed by the Sept. 7 release of a video message from Osama bin Laden, who had not been seen on video since October 2004 or heard on audio tape since July 2006. Some were convinced that his reappearance -- and his veiled threat -- was the sign of a looming attack against the United States, or perhaps a signal for an attack to commence.

In spite of all these warnings and bin Laden's reappearance -- not the mention the relative ease with which an attack can be conducted -- no attack occurred this summer. Although our assessment is that the al Qaeda core has been damaged to the point that it no longer poses a strategic threat to the U.S. homeland, tactical attacks against soft targets remain simple to conduct and certainly are within the reach of jihadist operatives -- regardless of whether they are linked to the al Qaeda core.

We believe there are several reasons no attack occurred this summer -- or since 9/11 for that matter.

No Conscious Decision

Before we discuss these factors, we must note that the lack of an attack against the U.S. homeland since 9/11 has not been the result of a calculated decision by bin Laden and the core al Qaeda leadership. Far too many plots have been disrupted for that to be the case. Many of those foiled and failed attacks, such as the 2006 foiled plot to destroy airliners flying from London to the United States, the Library Tower Plot, Richard Reid's failed attempt to take down American Airlines flight 63 in December 2001 and Jose Padilla's activities -- bear connection to the core al Qaeda leadership.

So, if the core al Qaeda has desired, and even attempted, to strike the United States, why has it failed? Perhaps the greatest single factor is attitude -- among law enforcement and intelligence agencies, the public at large, the Muslim community and even the jihadists themselves.

Law Enforcement and Intelligence

Prior to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the FBI denied the existence of an international terrorism threat to the U.S. homeland, a stance reflected in the bureau's "Terrorism in the United States" publications in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Even after the radical Zionist Rabbi Meir Kahane was killed by a jihadist with connections to the Brooklyn Jihad Office and "Blind Sheikh" Omar Abdul-Rahman, the FBI and Department of Justice denied the act was terrorism and left the investigation and the prosecution of the gunman, ElSayyid Nosair, to New York police and the Manhattan District Attorney's Office. (Though they were greatly aided on the federal level by the Diplomatic Security Service, which ran investigative leads for them in Egypt and elsewhere.)

It was only after Nosair's associates detonated a large truck bomb in the parking garage of the World Trade Center in 1993 that the existence of a threat to the United States was recognized. Yet, even after that bombing and the disruption of other plots -- the July 1997 plot to bomb the New York subway system and the December 1999 Millennium Bomb Plot -- the apathy toward counterterrorism programs remained. This was most evident in the low levels of funding and manpower devoted to counterterrorism programs prior to 9/11. As noted in the 9/11 Commission Report, counterterrorism programs simply were not a priority.

Even the April 1995 Oklahoma City bombing made no real difference. Some changes were made, such as physical security enhancements at federal buildings, but they were merely window dressing. The real problems, underlying structural problems in the U.S. government's counterterrorism efforts -- resources, priorities and intelligence-sharing -- were not addressed in a meaningful way.

Prior to 9/11, experts (including the two of us) lecturing to law enforcement and intelligence groups about the al Qaeda/transnational terrorist threat to the United States were met with indifference. Of course, following 9/11 some of those same groups paid careful attention to what the experts had to say. Transnational terrorism had become real to them. The 9/11 attacks sparked a sea change in attitudes within law enforcement and intelligence circles. Counterterrorism -- aggressively collecting intelligence pertaining to terrorism and pursuing terrorist leads -- is now a priority.

Citizen Awareness

Before the 1993 World Trade Center bombing the American public also was largely unconcerned about international terrorism. Even after that bombing, the public remained largely apathetic about the terrorist threat to the U.S. homeland. This was partly the result of the media's coverage of the 1993 bombing, which seemed to focus on the hapless, bumbling Mohamed Salameh and not the cunning and dangerous Abdel Basit (who is more widely known by his alias, Ramzi Yousef). Furthermore, the follow-on plot to that attack, the 1993 New York bomb plot -- for which Abdul-Rahman and some of his followers were accused of planning strikes against the Lincoln Tunnel and other New York City landmarks -- was thwarted. This led many to believe that the government had a handle on terrorism and that the United States was protected from such attacks. The second plot was thwarted before it could be executed, and most Americans never saw the gigantic crater (nearly 100 feet across) that the February 1993 truck bomb created through several floors of Building One's reinforced concrete parking garage. Instead, they saw only a bit of smoke billowing from the damaged building. The 1993 cases lacked the stunning visual displays of the 9/11 attacks.

The events of 9/11 also created a 180-degree change in how people think about terrorism and how they perceive and respond to suspicious activity. "If you see something, say something" has become a popular mantra, especially in New York and other large cities. Part of this stems from the changed attitudes of law enforcement officials, who not only have issued appeals in the press but also have made community outreach visits to nearly every flight school, truck driving school, chemical supply company, fertilizer dealer and storage rental company in the United States. Through media reports of terrorist plots and attacks, the public also has become much more aware of the precursor chemicals for improvised explosive mixtures and applies far more scrutiny to anyone attempting to procure them in bulk.

U.S. citizens also are far more aware of the importance of preoperational surveillance and -- fair or not -- it is now very difficult for a person wearing traditional Muslim dress to take a photograph of anything without being reported to the authorities by a concerned citizen.

This change in attitude is particularly significant in the Muslim community itself. Contrary to the hopes of bin Laden -- and the fears of the U.S. government -- the theology of jihadism has not taken root in the United States. Certainly there are individuals who have come to embrace this ideology, as the arrests of some grassroots activists demonstrate, but such people are very much the exception. In spite of some problems, the law enforcement community has forged some strong links to the Muslim community, and in several cases Muslims have even reported potential jihadists to law enforcement.

Even in places where jihadism has more successfully infiltrated the Muslim community, such as Europe, North Africa and Saudi Arabia, the jihadists still consider it preferable to wage the "real" jihad against "crusader troops" in places such as Iraq, rather than to attack soft civilian targets in the West or elsewhere. As unpopular as it is to say, in many ways Iraq has served as a sort of jihadist magnet, drawing young men from around the world to "martyr" themselves. Pragmatically, every young jihadist who travels from Europe or the Middle East to die in Baghdad or Ar Ramadi is one less who could attack Boston, London, Brussels or Rome.

Attitude is Everything

In late 1992 and early 1993, amateur planning was all that was required to conduct a successful terrorist attack on U.S. soil. In addition to the almost comical mistakes made by Salameh, serious gaffes also were made by Ahmed Ajaj and Basit as they prepared for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. However, because of the prevailing apathetic attitude among law enforcement officials and the public in general, those mistakes were not fatal to the operation.

Given the changes in attitude since 9/11, however, no operation conducted as poorly as the 1993 bombing would succeed today. Before the bombing, the FBI investigated the cell that carried it out, made the determination that the men were harmless fanatics and closed the investigation. That would not happen today, as even slightly goofy, wannabe terrorists such as the Miami Seven are vigorously investigated and prosecuted when possible.

When Ajaj and Basit flew into JFK Airport in September 1992, authorities pretty much ignored the fact that Ajaj was found transporting a large quantity of jihadist material, including bombmaking manuals and videos. Instead, he was sentenced to six months in jail for committing passport fraud -- a mere slap on the wrist -- and was then to be deported. Had authorities taken the time to carefully review the materials in Ajaj's briefcase, they would have found two boarding passes and two passports with exit stamps from Pakistan. Because of that oversight, no one noticed that Ajaj was traveling with a companion. Even when his co-conspirators called Ajaj in jail seeking his help in formulating their improvised explosive mixtures and recovering the bombmaking manuals, the calls were not traced. It was not until after the bombing that Ajaj's involvement was discovered, and he was convicted and sentenced.

These kinds of oversights would not occur now. Furthermore, the attitude of the public today makes it far more difficult for a conspirator like Niday Ayyad to order chemicals used to construct a bomb, or for the conspirators to receive and store such chemicals in a rented storage space without being reported to the authorities.

Another change in attitude has been on the legal front. Prior to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, there were no "terrorism" statutes concerning the use of weapons of mass destruction or acts of terrorism transcending national borders. Instead, prosecutors in terrorism cases struggled to apply existing laws. The defendants in the 1993 New York bomb plot case were not charged with conspiring to build bombs or commit acts of international terrorism. Rather, they were convicted on "seditious conspiracy" charges. Similarly, Salameh was convicted of violating the Special Agricultural Worker program and with damaging U.S. Secret Service cars stored in the basement of the World Trade Center building.

The U.S. security environment has indeed improved dramatically since 1993, largely as a result of the sweeping changes in attitude, though also to some extent due to the magnet effect of the war in Iraq. Success can engender complacency, however, and the lack of attacks could allow attitudes -- and thus counterterrorism resources -- to swing back toward the other end of the spectrum.

29575  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Superbug on: October 17, 2007, 12:37:11 PM
Antibiotic-resistant bacterium that causes severe infections has migrated from hospitals and now kills more Americans than AIDS.
By Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
October 17, 2007
The number of severe infections by a "superbug," known as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, isat least twice as high as researchers previously believed, and the bacterium now kills more Americans than AIDS, researchers reported today.

The antibiotic-resistant infections, commonly called MRSA, were once confined to a few hospitals, but a new study by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that in 2005 they made an estimated 94,000 Americans seriously ill and killed almost 19,000, compared with 17,000 who died of AIDS.

"Certainly, MRSA now has to be viewed as a very important target for prevention and control," said Dr. David A. Talan, an infectious diseases specialist at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center in Sylmar who was not involved in the study.

The infections have been a growing concern, particularly over the last decade, as they have spread outside hospitals, popping up in prisons, athletic fields and locker rooms.

The study reported that nearly 14% of new antibiotic-resistant staph infections are not linked to hospitals or other medical facilities, indicating that the disease has become ingrained in parts of the wider community.

The finding, reported in the Journal of the American Medical Assn., is the latest evidence of a widespread pattern of increasing drug resistance among a variety of infectious agents, including multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, antibiotic-resistant Clostridium difficile and other once-innocuous organisms.

Some hospitals, gyms and other public facilities have begun to implement more stringent infection controls to prevent the spread of the bacterium, such as more thorough scrubbing of equipment, using hotter water for laundry, banning towel sharing and increasing the use of disinfectants.

The bacterium also remains susceptible to some powerful and expensive antibiotics, such as vancomycin. But experts fear that the ability of the bacterium to mutate will outpace the ability of scientists to create new drugs.

The spread of resistant organisms is "astounding," Dr. Elizabeth A. Bancroft, an epidemiologist with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, wrote in an editorial accompanying the report.

Bancroft said the reported incidence of resistant staph infections is just "the tip of the iceberg" because the CDC researchers studied only blood-borne infections that find their way into internal organisms.

Several studies have found that such infections represent only 6% to 9% of all MRSA infections, which can also thrive on the skin in a more innocuous form, waiting for the opportunity to enter the body.

"It appears that the total burden of MRSA is much greater than what was estimated in this study," she said.

Most forms of the staph bacterium are easily killed with common antibiotics, such as amoxicillin. But beginning in 1968, researchers began to see variants that required treatment with stronger antibiotics.

Experts attribute the emergence of the superbugs to indiscriminate use of antibiotics, the failure of patients to complete their antibiotic regimens and the use of antibiotics in animal feed. In each case, incomplete eradication of the bacteria leads to mutations that have increased resistance to the drugs.

Confined to the surface of the skin, the bacteria do minimal damage. But in hospitals, nursing homes and dialysis centers, they can hitch a ride inside the body on needles and other invasive devices, spreading through the bloodstream and causing severe illness.

In the same fashion, they can be spread by tattooing and drug use in prisons and by cuts and abrasions on the athletic field. In 2003, four members of the USC football team were hospitalized and three more infected by MRSA.

Doctors have been aware of the growing staph problem, but there were no hard data to document it.

The new results were obtained by Dr. R. Monina Klevens of the CDC and her colleagues as part of the agency's ongoing Active Bacterial Core surveillance program, which monitors infections in nine regions of the U.S., including San Francisco, Baltimore, Atlanta and Denver. All infections were laboratory confirmed.

The group observed 8,987 cases of blood-borne MRSA infections in the survey area, which was extrapolated to come up with a nationwide estimate of 94,360 cases. There were 1,598 deaths in the area, corresponding to 18,650 deaths nationwide.

Only 26.6% of the cases were infections that occurred in hospitals. An additional 58.4% were infections that occurred in the community but were linked to hospitalization or medical procedures. Infections unrelated to medical procedures accounted for 13.7% of cases.

Infection rates were highest among those older than 65, and African Americans were twice as likely as whites to suffer an infection. In both groups, Klevens said, the higher rates were most likely due to a higher incidence of chronic diseases, which both weaken patients and send them more often to the hospital, where they come in contact with the bacterium.

For infants younger than 1, the rate was four times as high in blacks as in whites.

Healthcare advocates argue that hospitals need to improve hygiene. Some studies, for example, show that hospital workers wash their hands only about half as often as guidelines recommend.

Other critics say hospitals should screen all newly admitted patients for MRSAs and isolate those found to be positive. Hospitals, however, say such isolated patients are likely to receive less care because of the inconvenience associated with entering their rooms.

Despite the best efforts of scientists, the rapid evolution of bacteria gives them a major advantage, as illustrated by another report in the journal detailing the appearance of an ear infection resistant to all antibiotics approved for use in children.

Dr. Michael E. Pichichero and Dr. Janet R. Casey of the University of Rochester reported on nine ear infections caused by a multi-drug resistant strain of Streptococcus pneumoniae that succumbed only to a powerful antibiotic known as Levaquin, whose label carries a warning against using it in children.

The first four children were successfully treated by inserting tubes in their ears, which allowed the infections to resolve naturally. The last five were given a ground-up Levaquin pill, which ended the infection with no adverse effects.

Physicians agreed that Levaquin should be used in children only as a last resort, and only if the bacterium in question has been grown in culture and shown to be susceptible.
29576  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Dog Brothers Tribe on: October 17, 2007, 11:51:44 AM
Woof All:

The most recent Dog Brothers Gathering in Switzerland was a great success with tremendous DB spirit displayed-- see Lonely Dog's report nearby.  Naturally, the DB tribe continues to grow.  cool

"Higher Consciousness through Harder Contact" (c)
Crafty Dog
Guiding Force of the Dog Brothers

Ivan "Kuma Dog" Reboli
Marlon "C-Red Dog" Höss-Böttger
Stefan "C-Cro Dog" Konstanjevec
Marcus "C-? Dog" Schillinger

"Dog" Christian Eckert
"Dog" Daniel Budar
"Dog" Jiri Söderblom
"Dog" Oskar Bernal
"Dog" Lars Christie
"Dog" Riccardo Bassani
"Dog" Roberto Cereda
"Dog" Michele Gemini
"Cat" Lynn Brown

29577  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia on: October 17, 2007, 11:41:08 AM
And a fifth post-- also important!

ISRAEL, RUSSIA: Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will travel to Russia on Oct. 18 for surprise talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and will return to Israel the same day, Olmert's office said. The discussions reportedly will focus on the Palestinian peace process and Iran's nuclear program and regional ambitions.

RUSSIA, IRAN: Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia is serious about finishing Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant, IranMania reported. Putin said there are some minor issues that need to be resolved before the plant's completion and asserted that delays have been because of technical and legal issues and are not politically motivated. Putin said Russia and Iran have signed an agreement that the nuclear fuel from Bushehr must be returned to Russia, an issue "on top of the agenda in meeting between experts from the two sides."
29578  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Russia warns on: October 17, 2007, 11:39:07 AM
Fourth post of the morning.  In my opinion, all of them are quite important.

Geopolitical Diary: Russia Warns Against U.S. Military Action in Iran

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday finally arrived in Tehran for meetings with Iranian leaders, including Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He also met with leaders from Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. Putin's meetings with Khamenei and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made his visit to Iran the center of discussion rather than the Caspian summit that was taking place. Leaks of assassination threats had already called attention to the visit. In order to thwart such threats and showcase his bravery, Putin arrived late from Germany and his time of arrival was not announced; this helped bring global attention to the meeting.

What came out of the meeting was not surprising but it was very important. Putin made it known that Russia would oppose any U.S. military action against Iran. More significant, he reached an agreement with the leaders of Caspian states that none of them would permit their soil to be used by the United States for such an attack. Putin was quoted as saying, "We should not even think of using force in this region. We need to agree that using the territory of one Caspian Sea [state] in the event of aggression against another is impossible."

The immediate target of the comments was Azerbaijan, where there has been discussion of U.S. use of airfields in the event of war against Iran. Putin made it clear -- and there did not seem to be much dissent -- that general cooperation by former Soviet Union nations with the United States in a war against Iran would place them on a collision course with Russia. This was not Russia's position in Afghanistan or Iraq. Moscow is taking a different tack on Iran.

Two themes have now merged. Until this point, the Russians have used U.S. preoccupation with Iraq to increase their influence in the former Soviet Union. Now Putin has upped the ante, making it clear that Russia can dictate the parameters of acceptable behavior to at least the countries around the Caspian and, by logical extension, in the former Soviet Union. It is certainly important that Putin does not want a U.S. attack against Iran. It is extremely important that Putin is now openly limiting the freedom of action of former Soviet republics. He is making Iran a test case.

Putin has a range of levers to use against these countries, the most important being the fact that their ministries, police and military forces are deeply penetrated by the Russian FSB, the successor to the KGB. Put differently, as Soviet states, these countries' regimes were intimately tied to the KGB. Following independence, that relationship did not atrophy. Apart from economic and military options, the Russians know what is happening in these countries, and can influence their affairs with relative ease. In Tehran Putin read the riot act to Azerbaijan, and we expect that it heard it.

The Russians did not give Tehran everything it wanted. No apparent breakthrough was reached on the question of Russian support for construction of an Iranian nuclear reactor in Bushehr. Putin refused to give guarantees on resumption of fuel deliveries, but did agree to discuss it with the Iranians during a planned visit by Ahmadinejad to Moscow. But Putin did give two important things: he said Russia would oppose military intervention and that it would work to prevent any Caspian state from participating in such intervention.

This of course leaves the question of what Russia might do. Its ability to protect Iran is negligible. However, during the Cold War the Soviets practiced linkage. During the Cuban missile crisis, the United States expected Russia to do nothing in Cuba, but to act against Berlin in response to an invasion. Russia will not do anything directly to help Iran. But Moscow is interested in countries in the former Soviet Union, where Russia wants to redefine its status and the United States has few military options. Georgia in the Caucasus and the Baltic countries are of interest to the United States and very vulnerable to Russian response.

Putin did two things at the meeting. First, he opposed a U.S. attack against Iran. He then implicitly claimed primacy within the former Soviet Union, imposing solidarity among Caspian states. It is the second thing that is the most striking. In doing this, Putin implicitly broadened the range of responses possible if the United States does attack Iran.
29579  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia on: October 17, 2007, 11:36:12 AM
Third post of the morning:

The Russia Problem
By Peter Zeihan

For the past several days, high-level Russian and American policymakers, including U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Russian President Vladimir Putin's right-hand man, Sergei Ivanov, have been meeting in Moscow to discuss the grand scope of U.S.-Russian relations. These talks would be of critical importance to both countries under any circumstances, as they center on the network of treaties that have governed Europe since the closing days of the Cold War.

Against the backdrop of the Iraq war, however, they have taken on far greater significance. Both Russia and the United States are attempting to rewire the security paradigms of key regions, with Washington taking aim at the Middle East and Russia more concerned about its former imperial territory. The two countries' visions are mutually incompatible, and American preoccupation with Iraq is allowing Moscow to overturn the geopolitics of its backyard.

The Iraqi Preoccupation

After years of organizational chaos, the United States has simplified its plan for Iraq: Prevent Iran from becoming a regional hegemon. Once-lofty thoughts of forging a democracy in general or supporting a particular government were abandoned in Washington well before the congressional testimony of Gen. David Petraeus. Reconstruction is on the back burner and even oil is now an afterthought at best. The entirety of American policy has been stripped down to a single thought: Iran.

That thought is now broadly held throughout not only the Bush administration but also the American intelligence and defense communities. It is not an unreasonable position. An American exodus from Iraq would allow Iran to leverage its allies in Iraq's Shiite South to eventually gain control of most of Iraq. Iran's influence also extends to significant Shiite communities on the Persian Gulf's western oil-rich shore. Without U.S. forces blocking the Iranians, the military incompetence of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar could be perceived by the Iranians as an invitation to conquer that shore. That would land roughly 20 million barrels per day of global oil output -- about one-quarter of the global total -- under Tehran's control. Rhetoric aside, an outcome such as this would push any U.S. president into a broad regional war to prevent a hostile power from shutting off the global economic pulse.

So the United States, for better or worse, is in Iraq for the long haul. This requires some strategy for dealing with the other power with the most influence in the country, Iran. This, in turn, leaves the United States with two options: It can simply attempt to run Iraq as a protectorate forever, a singularly unappealing option, or it can attempt to strike a deal with Iran on the issue of Iraq -- and find some way to share influence.

Since the release of the Petraeus report in September, seeking terms with Iran has become the Bush administration's unofficial goal, but the White House does not want substantive negotiations until the stage is appropriately set. This requires that Washington build a diplomatic cordon around Iran -- intensifying Tehran's sense of isolation -- and steadily ratchet up the financial pressure. Increasing bellicose rhetoric from European capitals and the lengthening list of major banks that are refusing to deal with Iran are the nuts and bolts of this strategy.

Not surprisingly, Iran views all this from a starkly different angle. Persia has historically been faced with a threat of invasion from its western border -- with the most recent threat manifesting in a devastating 1980-1988 war that resulted in a million deaths. The primary goal of Persia's foreign policy stretching back a millennium has been far simpler than anything the United States has cooked up: Destroy Mesopotamia. In 2003, the United States was courteous enough to handle that for Iran.

Now, Iran's goals have expanded and it seeks to leverage the destruction of its only meaningful regional foe to become a regional hegemon. This requires leveraging its Iraqi assets to bleed the Americans to the point that they leave. But Iran is not immune to pressure. Tehran realizes that it might have overplayed its hand internationally, and it certainly recognizes that U.S. efforts to put it in a noose are bearing some fruit. What Iran needs is its own sponsor -- and that brings to the Middle East a power that has not been present there for quite some time: Russia.

Option One: Parity

The Russian geography is problematic. It lacks oceans to give Russia strategic distance from its foes and it boasts no geographic barriers separating it from Europe, the Middle East or East Asia. Russian history is a chronicle of Russia's steps to establish buffers -- and of those buffers being overwhelmed. The end of the Cold War marked the transition from Russia's largest-ever buffer to its smallest in centuries. Put simply, Russia is terrified of being overwhelmed -- militarily, economically, politically and culturally -- and its policies are geared toward re-establishing as large a buffer as possible.

As such, Russia needs to do one of two things. The first is to re-establish parity. As long as the United States thinks of Russia as an inferior power, American power will continue to erode Russian security. Maintain parity and that erosion will at least be reduced. Putin does not see this parity coming from a conflict, however. While Russia is far stronger now -- and still rising -- than it was following the 1998 ruble crash, Putin knows full well that the Soviet Union fell in part to an arms race. Attaining parity via the resources of a much weaker Russia simply is not an option.

So parity would need to come via the pen, not the sword. A series of three treaties ended the Cold War and created a status of legal parity between the United States and Russia. The first, the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE), restricts how much conventional defense equipment each state in NATO and the former Warsaw Pact, and their successors, can deploy. The second, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I), places a ceiling on the number of intercontinental ballistic missiles that the United States and Russia can possess. The third, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), eliminates entirely land-based short-, medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles with ranges of 300 to 3,400 miles, as well as all ground-launched cruise missiles from NATO and Russian arsenals.

The constellation of forces these treaties allow do not provide what Russia now perceives its security needs to be. The CFE was all fine and dandy in the world in which it was first negotiated, but since then every Warsaw Pact state -- once on the Russian side of the balance sheet -- has joined NATO. The "parity" that was hardwired into the European system in 1990 is now lopsided against the Russians.

START I is by far the Russians' favorite treaty, since it clearly treats the Americans and Russians as bona fide equals. But in the Russian mind, it has a fateful flaw: It expires in 2009, and there is about zero support in the United States for renewing it. The thinking in Washington is that treaties were a conflict management tool of the 20th century, and as American power -- constrained by Iraq as it is -- continues to expand globally, there is no reason to enter into a treaty that limits American options. This philosophical change is reflected on both sides of the American political aisle: Neither the Bush nor Clinton administrations have negotiated a new full disarmament treaty.

Finally, the INF is the worst of all worlds for Russia. Intermediate-range missiles are far cheaper than intercontinental ones. If it does come down to an arms race, Russia will be forced to turn to such systems if it is not to be left far behind an American buildup.

Russia needs all three treaties to be revamped. It wants the CFE altered to reflect an expanded NATO. It wants START I extended (and preferably deepened) to limit long-term American options. It wants the INF explicitly linked to the other two treaties so that Russian options can expand in a pinch -- or simply discarded in favor of a more robust START I.

The problem with the first option is that it assumes the Americans are somewhat sympathetic to Russian concerns. They are not.

Recall that the dominant concern in the post-Cold War Kremlin is that the United States will nibble along the Russian periphery until Moscow itself falls. The fear is as deeply held as it is accurate. Only three states have ever threatened the United States: The first, the United Kingdom, was lashed into U.S. global defense policy; the second, Mexico, was conquered outright; and the third was defeated in the Cold War. The addition of the Warsaw Pact and the Baltic states to NATO, the basing of operations in Central Asia and, most important, the Orange Revolution in Ukraine have made it clear to Moscow that the United States plays for keeps.

The Americans see it as in their best interest to slowly grind Russia into dust. Those among our readers who can identify with "duck and cover" can probably relate to the logic of that stance. So, for option one to work, Russia needs to have leverage elsewhere. That elsewhere is in Iran.

Via the U.N. Security Council, Russian cooperation can ensure Iran's diplomatic isolation. Russia's past cooperation on Iran's Bushehr nuclear power facility holds the possibility of a Kremlin condemnation of Iran's nuclear ambitions. A denial of Russian weapons transfers to Iran would hugely empower ongoing U.S. efforts to militarily curtail Iranian ambitions. Put simply, Russia has the ability to throw Iran under the American bus -- but it will not do it for free. In exchange, it wants those treaties amended in its favor, and it wants American deference on security questions in the former Soviet Union.

The Moscow talks of the past week were about addressing all of Russian concerns about the European security structure, both within and beyond the context of the treaties, with the offer of cooperation on Iran as the trade-off. After days of talks, the Americans refused to budge on any meaningful point.

Option Two: Imposition

Russia has no horse in the Iraq war. Moscow had feared that its inability to leverage France and Germany to block the war in the first place would allow the United States to springboard to other geopolitical victories. Instead, the Russians are quite pleased to see the American nose bloodied. They also are happy to see Iran engrossed in events to its west. When Iran and Russia strengthen -- as both are currently -- they inevitably begin to clash as their growing spheres of influence overlap in the Caucasus and Central Asia. In many ways, Russia is now enjoying the best of all worlds: Its Cold War archrival is deeply occupied in a conflict with one of Moscow's own regional competitors.

In the long run, however, the Russians have little doubt that the Americans will eventually prevail. Iran lacks the ability to project meaningful power beyond the Persian Gulf, while the Russians know from personal experience how good the Americans are at using political, economic, military and alliance policy to grind down opponents. The only question in the Russian mind pertains to time frame.

If the United States is not willing to rejigger the European-Russian security framework, then Moscow intends to take advantage of a distracted United States to impose a new reality upon NATO. The United States has dedicated all of its military ground strength to Iraq, leaving no wiggle room should a crisis erupt anywhere else in the world. Should Russia create a crisis, there is nothing the United States can do to stop it.

So crisis-making is about to become Russia's newest growth industry. The Kremlin has a very long list of possibilities, which includes:

Destabilizing the government of Ukraine: The Sept. 30 elections threaten to result in the re-creation of the Orange Revolution that so terrifies Moscow. With the United States largely out of the picture, the Russians will spare no effort to ensure that Ukraine remains as dysfunctional as possible.

Azerbaijan is emerging as a critical energy transit state for Central Asian petroleum, as well as an energy producer in its own right. But those exports are wholly dependent upon Moscow's willingness not to cause problems for Baku.

The extremely anti-Russian policies of the former Soviet state of Georgia continue to be a thorn in Russia's side. Russia has the ability to force a territorial breakup or to outright overturn the Georgian government using anything from a hit squad to an armored division.

EU states obviously have mixed feelings about Russia's newfound aggression and confidence, but the three Baltic states in league with Poland have successfully hijacked EU foreign policy with regard to Russia, effectively turning a broadly cooperative relationship hostile. A small military crisis with the Balts would not only do much to consolidate popular support for the Kremlin but also would demonstrate U.S. impotence in riding to the aid of American allies.

Such actions not only would push Russian influence back to the former borders of the Soviet Union but also could overturn the belief within the U.S. alliance structure that the Americans are reliable -- that they will rush to their allies' aid at any time and any place. That belief ultimately was the heart of the U.S. containment strategy during the Cold War. Damage that belief and the global security picture changes dramatically. Barring a Russian-American deal on treaties, inflicting that damage is once again a full-fledged goal of the Kremlin. The only question is whether the American preoccupation in Iraq will last long enough for the Russians to do what they think they need to do.

Luckily for the Russians, they can impact the time frame of American preoccupation with Iraq. Just as the Russians have the ability to throw the Iranians under the bus, they also have the ability to empower the Iranians to stand firm.

On Oct. 16, Putin became the first Russian leader since Leonid Brezhnev to visit Iran, and in negotiations with the Iranian leadership he laid out just how his country could help. Formally, the summit was a meeting of the five leaders of the Caspian Sea states, but in reality the meeting was a Russian-Iranian effort to demonstrate to the Americans that Iran does not stand alone.

A good part of the summit involved clearly identifying differences with American policy. The right of states to nuclear energy was affirmed, the existence of energy infrastructure that undermines U.S. geopolitical goals was supported and a joint statement pledged the five states to refuse to allow "third parties" from using their territory to attack "the Caspian Five." The last is a clear bullying of Azerbaijan to maintain distance from American security plans.

But the real meat is in bilateral talks between Putin and his Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and the two sides are sussing out how Russia's ample military experience can be applied to Iran's U.S. problem. Some of the many, many possibilities include:

Kilo-class submarines: The Iranians already have two and the acoustics in the Persian Gulf are notoriously bad for tracking submarines. Any U.S. military effort against Iran would necessitate carrier battle groups in the Persian Gulf.

Russia fields the Bal-E, a ground-launched Russian version of the Harpoon anti-ship missile. Such batteries could threaten any U.S. surface ship in the Gulf. A cheaper option could simply involve the installation of Russian coastal artillery systems.

Russia and India have developed the BrahMos anti-ship cruise missile, which has the uniquely deadly feature of being able to be launched from land, ship, submarine or air. While primarily designed to target surface vessels, it also can act as a more traditional -- and versatile -- cruise missile and target land targets.

Flanker fighters are a Russian design (Su-27/Su-30) that compares very favorably to frontline U.S. fighter jets. Much to the U.S. Defense Department's chagrin, Indian pilots in Flankers have knocked down some U.S. pilots in training scenarios.

The S-300 anti-aircraft system is still among the best in the world, and despite eviscerated budgets, the Russians have managed to operationalize several upgrades since the end of the Cold War. It boasts both a far longer range and far more accuracy than the Tor-M1 and Pantsyr systems on which Iran currently depends.

Such options only scratch the surface of what the Russians have on order, and the above only discusses items of use in a direct Iranian-U.S. military conflict. Russia also could provide Iran with an endless supply of less flashy equipment to contribute to intensifying Iranian efforts to destabilize Iraq itself.

For now, the specifics of Russian transfers to Iran are tightly held, but they will not be for long. Russia has as much of an interest in getting free advertising for its weapons systems as Iran has in demonstrating just how high a price it will charge the United States for any attack.

But there is one additional reason this will not be a stealth relationship.

The Kremlin wants Washington to be fully aware of every detail of how Russian sales are making the U.S. Army's job harder, so that the Americans have all the information they need to make appropriate decisions as regards Russia's role. Moscow is not doing this because it is vindictive; this is simply how the Russians do business, and they are open to a new deal.

Russia has neither love for the Iranians nor a preference as to whether Moscow reforges its empire or has that empire handed back. So should the United States change its mind and seek an accommodation, Putin stands perfect ready to betray the Iranians' confidence.

For a price.
29580  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: October 17, 2007, 11:21:33 AM
Geopolitical Diary: The Iranian Goal of Sunni-Shiite Relations in Iraq

Ammar al-Hakim, the son of the leader of Iraq's most powerful and pro-Iranian Shiite party, visited the Sunni province of Anbar on Oct. 14. Al-Hakim, who is being groomed to succeed Abdel Aziz al-Hakim as head of the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council (SIIC), met with Ahmed Abu Risha, who leads the anti-jihadist Sunni tribal force, the Anbar Salvation Council.

In an Eid prayer sermon Oct. 13, the younger al-Hakim called for the complete withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq and rejected the possibility of permanent foreign (read U.S.) military bases, stressing the need for the creation of autonomous regions there. These comments and the visit to the Sunni heartland occurred a few days after the ailing senior al-Hakim returned from a long stay in Iran.

The SIIC and its Iranian patrons are the architects of the call for the creation of the self-governing Shiite region in southern Iraq, which they have been pushing for several years. What is new, however, is the rejection of bases, which fits with Iranian plans to fill the vacuum created by a withdrawal of U.S. forces. It should be noted that this call is not coming from the maverick Muqtada al-Sadr, but from the Shiite establishment and the party that also happens to be the main working partner of the United States.

Even more significant is the visit to Sunni central Iraq and the meeting with a Sunni group that is aligned with the United States in the fight against al Qaeda and its jihadist allies. The Iranians and their Iraqi Shiite proxies abhor U.S. dealings with the Sunni forces independent of Baghdad and have long demanded that Washington try stabilizing Iraq as part of a broad comprehensive arrangement with Tehran.

But from the U.S. viewpoint, its relationship with certain elements among Iraq's Sunni community is beneficial. First, it allows Washington to undercut the Sunni insurgency, especially its jihadist component. Second and more important, a relationship with the Sunnis could help the United States counter Iranian influence in Iraq.

The Iranians realize this but thus far have lacked the means to counteract U.S. moves, largely because they lack a liaison within the Sunni community with which they could establish a working relationship. Al-Hakim's meeting with the Sunni tribal chieftain indicates that Iran might have finally found a way to get around the problem.

Abu Risha's council and the Shia both view the jihadists as their enemy, which could become a good starting point for a future relationship. The Sunni tribal force also is competing with fellow Sunni political, religious and insurgent groups, which further works to the advantage of the Iranians since it could allow Tehran to divide the Sunni community in order to contain the Baathists, whom the Shia and Iranians view as the real threat among the Sunnis. However, a successful Sunni-Shiite relationship would be hard for Iran to achieve for numerous reasons -- the ethnic and sectarian divide in Iraq being one of the biggest obstacles to overcome.

Forging ties with certain Sunnis certainly has its long-term advantages for the Shia regarding their ability to maintain their domination in Baghdad. But more immediate is the Iranian need to counter U.S. moves to undercut its influence in Iraq. Sunnis closely aligned with the United States and open to working with pro-Iranian Shia could go a long way in helping the Persian ayatollahs achieve this objective.

29581  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Turkey on: October 17, 2007, 11:20:17 AM
Turkey: Re-evaluating the U.S. Alliance

A pending resolution before the U.S. Congress that calls the 1915 killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks genocide has brought to light a growing strain in U.S.-Turkish relations. This latest episode seriously threatens to complicate U.S. military logistics into Iraq should Turkey carry out threats to limit U.S. access to the air base in the southeastern Turkish city of Incirlik. The Armenian genocide issue, as well as U.S. protests over Turkish incursions into northern Iraq to crush Kurdish rebels, strike at the core of Turkish geopolitics, and will push Ankara into re-evaluating its long-standing alliance with the United States.


New U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen called up his Turkish counterpart, Gen. Yasar Buyukanit, on Oct. 15 to discuss the repercussions to U.S.-Turkish relations from the proposed Armenian bill before the U.S. Congress. The bill labels the 1915 massacre of Armenians by Ottoman Turks genocide. The big fear in the Pentagon is that if the resolution passes, Turkey will follow through with threats to further limit use of Incirlik Air Base in southeastern Turkey for support of operations in Iraq.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan described the current strain between Washington and Ankara with a Turkish idiom, saying recently, "Where the rope is worn thin, may it break off." Such big threats coming out of Ankara over a symbolic resolution on an event that occurred almost a century ago might seem odd at first glance. But they become clearer once it is understood that the Armenian issue, as well as Turkey's military push into northern Iraq against Kurdish rebels, are issues that cut to the heart of Turkish geopolitics -- and thus carry significant implications for the future of U.S.-Turkish relations.

Prior to World War I, Turkey was a model multiethnic and multireligious empire that commanded the Mediterranean and Black Sea trade routes. The Ottoman Empire was the geopolitical pivot between Europe, Russia and Persia, allowing it to develop into a global economic and military power. The outcome of World War I, however, drastically altered the geopolitical landscape of the region as the West infected the empire with ethnic nationalism that broke the bonds of Ottoman control. Turkey then faced a choice: Try (and fail) to continue as a multiethnic empire as its minorities broke away, or jump on the bandwagon and consolidate its own emerging nationalism. It chose the latter. The geography of Turkey is not amenable to clearly defined borders, however, which meant the birth of the modern Turkish republic defined by nationality inevitably would entail ugly episodes such as the 1915 Armenian mass killings and repeated killing of Kurds in order to solidify a self-sufficient Turkish state.

This takes us back to a pivotal point in Turkish history: the 1920 Treaty of Sevres, which sealed the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. At that time, the victorious European powers drew up a treaty to dismember the Ottoman Empire by ceding territory to Greece (including the key northern shore of the Dardanelles), giving Armenia more territory than it could manage and creating the conditions for an independent Kurdish state. The West, in essence, had abolished Turkish sovereignty.

These were, of course, unacceptable terms to the Turks, who then spent the next three years regaining their territory from the Greeks, Armenians and Kurds and reversing the terms of the treaty to ensure the survival of the Turkish nation-state as opposed to the multiethnic Ottoman Empire. But the damage had still been done. To this day, Turkey is locked into a sort of Sevres syndrome, under which any Western interference in Turkey's ethnic minority issues must be confronted as long as Turkey defines itself by its nationality. So, if Turkey feels the need to set up a solid buffer zone along its border with northern Iraq to contain the Kurds and swoop in with troops when it sees fit, there is little the United States can do to stop it.

The same argument was taking place in Turkey following the 1991 Gulf War, when the Iraqi Kurds were granted autonomy. Soon enough, Turkey in 1995 sent 35,000 troops into northern Iraq to crush Kurdish rebels and squash Iraqi Kurdish aspirations for independence. The same episode is repeating itself today, as Iraqi Kurdistan has made strides in attracting foreign investment and extending its autonomy since the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. Turkey opposed the invasion by refusing U.S. access to Turkish military bases, and now is threatening to set up roadblocks along the U.S. military's logistics chain into Iraq and upset Washington's relations with the Kurds.

And this probably is just the beginning. Since the end of the Cold War, Turkey's neighborhood -- and its relationship with Washington -- has drastically changed. Attempts to become a Central Asian or European power have failed, and the Turks are looking in different directions for opportunities. The Iraq war has proven that U.S. and Turkish security concerns are no longer in lockstep, leading Turkey to re-evaluate its alliance with the United States.

From the Turks' viewpoint, the United States can no longer be viewed as a stabilizing force, as it has been since World War II. Moreover, Turkey no longer is a weak economic force and is not as reliant on the United States for its security. Turkey's rapid economic growth and its strong military tradition are creating the conditions for Ankara to pull itself out of its post-World War I insularity and extend itself in the region once again. As a result, Turkey's foreign policy no longer needs to tie itself to the United States, and Ankara can afford to make bold moves concerning issues -- whether those issues relate to the Kurds, Armenians or Greeks -- without losing too much sleep over any follow-on damage to its relationship with the United States. If the United States is going to act as the destabilizing force in the region through creating a major upheaval in Iraq, Turkey must at the very least attempt to take control of the situations within its old sphere of influence.

But this does not mean Turkey can make a clean break from the United States either, at least not any time in the near future. Turkey's growth is still fragile and needs more time to become consolidated. Turkey also faces resistance in every direction that it pushes, from Greece in the Balkans, Iran, Iraq and Syria in the Middle East and Russia in the Caucasus. Turkey's current position puts it into a geopolitical context where Iran is rising to Turkey's southeast and a resurgent Russia is bearing down on the Caucasus and even hinting at returning its naval fleet to the Mediterranean. In the near term, a major power is needed in Iraq to keep the Iranians at bay, and the Turks would prefer that the Americans do the heavy lifting on this since Iraq already is in disarray. Meanwhile, Turkey will move forward with its grand strategy of keeping Iraqi Kurdistan in check.

29582  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Geo Political matters on: October 17, 2007, 11:09:10 AM
Iran: Keeping an Eye on Washington and Moscow

Talks between U.S. and Russian officials have entered a critical round and have given Iran -- which figures heavily in the negotiations -- something to be concerned about.


Stratfor on Oct. 11 highlighted the details of the agenda for upcoming high-level talks between the United States and Russia, along with how Iran will figure heavily in these negotiations. The degree to which either side is willing to make concessions is unclear, but the Washington-Moscow talks have entered a critical round.

Therefore, Iran cannot be oblivious to what is transpiring between the Kremlin and the White House. It could be that nothing substantive will come from U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates' visit to Russia, in which case the Iranians do not have much to worry about. There are, however, indications from within the clerical regime that it is concerned (to put it mildly) that Russia could sell it out to the United States for the right price.

Hassan Rohani, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's representative on the Supreme National Security Council, scathingly criticized his country's nuclear policy Oct. 11, saying that the sanctions it has prompted are badly hurting the Iranian economy. Rohani, who also is a senior member of top Iranian clerical body the Assembly of Experts, was quoted by Iranian daily Etemad Melli as saying, "At the moment, we are under threats in the international domain more than ever. … The country's diplomacy is successful when it does not let the enemy unite other countries against our national interests."

Rohani's comments clearly underscore the grave concerns within the Iranian establishment's highest echelons about the growing possibility of Iran's isolation. Tehran was, for a long time, able to maintain a wedge between the United States and the European Union. With the emergence of new European governments in Germany and France, Iran depended more on Russia and China to block U.S.-sponsored resolutions in the U.N. Security Council calling for tougher action against Iran.

If Iran is about to lose Russian support as well, Tehran could be completely vulnerable; China is unlikely to stand up for the Iranians on its own. Additionally, Moscow could make a commitment to Washington not to sell weapons to Iran or complete the Bushehr nuclear power plant -- a move that would force the Iranians to reshape their policy. An isolated Iran is just what the United States needs in order to force a settlement on Iraq more or less on its own terms.

Iran's position in Iraq is not superb, either; the Iranians are having a hard time keeping the Shia together and recently brokered a truce between their main proxy, the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council, and the al-Sadrite movement. Tehran also knows that U.S. forces will not be withdrawn any time soon, and thus there will be no vacuum for the Iranians to fill. Given these circumstances, waiting out the United States in order to consolidate its influence in Iraq is becoming a more untenable option for Tehran.

Thus, a U.S.-Russian agreement -- or lack thereof -- will determine the future course of U.S.-Iranian dealings on Iraq.

29583  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Oil infrastructure bombings on: October 17, 2007, 11:04:49 AM
Mexico: Examining Oil Infrastructure Bombings
Since July, several facilities belonging to Mexican state-owned oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) have been attacked. A report of a blast Oct. 11 along a Pemex pipeline in Michoacan state immediately gave rise to fears of another attack against Mexico's energy infrastructure, though the company said Oct. 12 that there was no explosion, only a natural gas leak.

The attacks against Pemex facilities are only adding to Mexico's unstable security situation (which currently includes a war against drug cartels). Four groups in Mexico would benefit from either the security or political fallout from attacks against Mexican energy infrastructure: the Gulf drug cartel, oil industry union agitators, political opposition to Mexican President Felipe Calderon's government and the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR) leftist rebel group, which has claimed responsibility for the attacks that have occurred since July, saying the bombings are part of an effort to force the release of jailed members.

One theory that U.S. counternarcotics sources have floated is that the Gulf drug cartel is facilitating EPR's bombing campaign, since many of the attacks have occurred in the cartel's territory. This alleged link would explain how EPR operated in the cartel's territory without fear of reprisal, since the Gulf cartel is believed capable of extending its influence over most criminal activities in its territories. The cartel's motive for supporting the bombings would be to shift government security forces toward protecting Mexico's strategic infrastructure and away from counternarcotics operations. However, Mexican investigators believe this is the least likely scenario and have yet to find evidence pointing to the cartel as the instigator.

Some Mexican investigators believe the bombings are the work of saboteurs from petroleum industry labor unions who are unhappy with the Pemex administration, according to a former Mexican law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation. Due to links between labor unions and leftist organizations, overlap between EPR and the unions could have led to the attacks.

The bombings also might have been the work of agitators from the leftist Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD). Privately, the PRD theory is popular among Mexican officials. PRD's presidential candidate in 2006, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, hotly contested the election, which was marred by allegations of voter fraud and other misconduct. As the only viable leftist party in Mexico, PRD attracts diverse elements from the leftist political spectrum, ranging from the middle-left to radicals.

Of course, the bombings could be attributable solely to EPR, but since the attacks are of a larger scope than -- and would represent a departure from -- EPR's usual tactics, the group likely had input from outside influences while planning and carrying out the bombings.

If the perpetrators are not EPR members, they are almost certainly collaborating with EPR in some way. Regardless of who is actually behind the attacks, having EPR take credit for them serves the agendas of all possible parties: The Gulf cartel does not care who gets credit for the attacks, as long as security forces are diverted from chasing down its drug smugglers; the union agitators and PRD get their desired effects -- either hurting Pemex or making Calderon's government appear incapable of providing security -- without having to be directly associated with the violent acts; and EPR gets credit for the most significant attacks ever attributed to it.

The violence caused by the cartel wars is providing a backdrop for the pipeline attackers to blend into. If there were no cartel wars, Mexican security forces would have an easier time tracking down the perpetrators.

So far, the attacks have been confined to the infrastructure for Mexican domestic consumption, not the export lines carrying oil to the United States. However, if export lines are targeted, the pipeline attacks could easily throw another wrench into Mexico's economy.

29584  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The on: October 17, 2007, 11:01:33 AM
Second post of the morning

Geopolitical Diary: The Price of Russian Cooperation

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is scheduled to travel to Moscow on Friday for three days of talks with Russian First Deputy Prime Minster Sergei Ivanov on the minor topic of the future of the post-Cold War treaty structure. We say "minor" because all the talk of conventional forces placement and nuclear weapons limitations is but the tip of the iceberg. The two and their respective negotiating teams will in fact be hashing out the deepest Eurasian security realignments since the end of the Cold War in 1989.

Formally, three independently large topics are on the agenda. The first is the status of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE), which governs the size and disposition of non-nuclear nuclear hardware in the NATO and former Warsaw Pact states and their successors. The second is the future of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I), which caps the number of long-range nuclear weapons the United States and Russia can field. The final is what will or will not be done about rising U.S. interest in building an anti-ballistic missile system, which would have much of its hardware in Central Europe.

All of these issues are obviously of critical interest to both Moscow and Washington, but in reality they are not what the crux of the discussions will be. The United States has decided to dedicate all of its spare military resources to Iraq, largely stripping it of its ability to ride to the assistance of any of its allies. The Russians -- having been the target of U.S. political, economic and military pressure for the better part of the past two generations -- have obviously noticed this. (They can breathe, for a change.) This is a situation that they greatly wish to take advantage of.

Russia certainly can make the U.S. experience in Iraq even more unpleasant. Both Syria and Iran would dearly love to enjoy full access to Russia's top defense hardware, and the political cover of the Russian U.N. Security Council veto is not something to be scoffed at.

But Russia's interests in the long run are not in the Middle East -- they are in the former Soviet Union. Russian interests involve amendments to the CFE to prevent that treaty from being used as a basis for the expansion of U.S. military deployments in Eurasia. Those interests require an extended START treaty that locks the United States out of launching another nuclear arms race in which Moscow cannot afford to compete. Those interests include undoing any U.S. missile defense program in which Russia is not inseparably involved.

Simply put, the price of Russian cooperation in the Middle East is the United States granting Russia much of what it needs in the former Soviet space to reformulate the foundations of the Soviet Union. That might sound like a very tall order -- and it is -- but it is no less dramatic than what the United States is attempting to do in Iraq: fundamentally alter the balance of power in the Persian Gulf. If Washington is to fundamentally rewire one part of the world to serve its interests, it might just have to let Moscow rewire another part of the world.

Situation Reports

1131 GMT -- RUSSIA -- Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that unless the treaty becomes global, it will be hard for Moscow to remain in the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, media reported Oct. 12. Putin cited neighboring countries' development of missiles banned by the treaty as a factor in Russia's viewing the treaty's restrictions as difficult.

29585  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia on: October 17, 2007, 10:59:59 AM
Russia: How Iran Figures in Talks with the West
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Oct. 11 that not only is a nuclear-armed Iran not in Russia's interest, but it would pose a greater threat to Russian national security than to European or U.S. security. This is not just meant to serve as fodder in Moscow's upcoming negotiations with the West; it also happens to be true.

The Russian government is engaging the United States in a series of high-level summits this week and this coming weekend involving officials from the countries' respective Foreign and Defense ministries. Among the many personalities involved are U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov. The nature of these talks is as broad as it is central to the states' grand strategies for dealing with the size and disposition of both countries' military forces, as regulated by the Conventional Forces in Europe and the Strategic Arms Reduction treaties. Considering the Americans' preoccupation with Iraq and the rising prominence of anti-missile defenses in Russian-American talks, the status of the Iranian military and of its nuclear program are sure to play a central role.

Putin's public statement that Russia is concerned about a potential Iranian nuclear weapon is an excellent way to steer the talks in a direction favorable to Moscow's interests.

Putin knows full well that a nuclear-armed Iran would greatly complicate everything the United States is attempting to accomplish in the Middle East, and it is always useful to remind the Americans that the Russians are in the position to either grant or deny the Iranians that capability on the eve of grand strategic talks. After all, it is Russia that is building a nuclear power plant for the Iranians at Bushehr.

But this is not all just posturing before a major round of talks.

Putin is perfectly capable of looking at a map. Russia -- not the United States or Europe -- is Iran's neighbor, and the demonstrated 900-mile range of Iran's Shahab-3 missile brings a great many of Russia's industrial and population centers into potential striking distance. Should the Iranian missile actually reach the 1,500 miles that Tehran claims, it could even hit Moscow. Of the Western states, only those in the eastern Balkans are potentially at risk (and only if the 1,500-mile figure proves true). It is not so much that Russia believes an Iranian attack is imminent -- this would be suicidal for Iran, to say the least -- but rather that the shifts in the balance of power that a nuclear-armed Iran would cause would be far more detrimental to Moscow than to Washington.

There are very good reasons why the Russians have been dragging their feet at Bushehr, a project that was supposed to become operational nearly a decade ago. Putin is perfectly happy to take Iran's money, but if he can get a better deal from Washington on the broader dispensation of U.S. forces in the Eurasian theater, he is perfectly willing to throw Tehran under the American bus. Beep beep.

29586  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: October 17, 2007, 10:59:44 AM
See No Proliferation
Reality can't interfere with "diplomacy."

Wednesday, October 17, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

The silence from the Bush Administration over Israel's recent bombing of a site in Syria gets louder by the day. U.S. officials continue to look the other way, even as reports multiply that Israel and U.S. intelligence analysts believe the site was a partly constructed nuclear reactor modeled after a North Korean design.

The weekend was full of reports about these intelligence judgments, first in the U.S. media then picked up by the Israeli press. Israel's former chief of military intelligence, Major General Aharon Zeevi Farkash, called them "logical." That's the term of art people use to confirm things in Israel when they want to get around the military censors.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Israel and offered her own non-confirmation confirmation. "We're very concerned about any evidence of, any indication of, proliferation," she said, according to the New York Times. "And we're handling those in appropriate diplomatic channels." Just what you need when your enemies are caught proliferating nuclear expertise--a little more diplomacy. The world is lucky Israel preferred to act against the threat, in what seems to have been a smaller version of its 1981 attack against Iraq's Osirak reactor.

Ms. Rice went on to say that "The issues of proliferation do not affect the Palestinian-Israeli peace efforts we are making," adding that "This is the time to be extremely careful." In other words, even if North Korea is spreading nuclear weapons, she doesn't want to say so in public because it might offend a country--Syria--that is refusing even to take part in the regional Palestinian-Israeli peace conference next month. That's certainly being "careful."

Or perhaps she fears offending North Korea, which the Bush Administration has agreed to trust for finally pledging to dismantle its nuclear weapons program and disavowing proliferation. In return for that promise, the U.S. is shipping fuel oil to Pyongyang and is taking steps to remove North Korea from its list of terror states. It would certainly be inconvenient, not to say politically embarrassing, if North Korea were found to be helping Syria get a bomb amid all of this diplomacy.
All the more so given that only last year, after North Korea exploded a nuclear device, President Bush explicitly warned North Korea against such proliferation. "America's position is clear," he said at the time. "The transfer of nuclear weapons or material will be considered a grave threat to the United States." More than once, Mr. Bush added that, "We will hold North Korea fully accountable for the consequences."

Even granting some leeway in defining the words "fully accountable," they cannot mean winking at the spread of nuclear know-how to a U.S. enemy in the most dangerous corner of the world. With its continuing silence about what happened in Syria, the Bush Administration is undermining its own security credibility. More important, the see-no-evil pose is showing North Korea that it can cheat even on an agreement whose ink is barely dry--and without "consequences."


SYRIA, IRAN: Iran has reportedly helped Syria domestically manufacture modified copies of the Chinese DF-11 and DF-15 short-range ballistic missiles, a source in the region said. Both are capable of striking almost all of Israel. Other transfers could include additional shorter-range Russian FROG-7s and the Misagh-1, an Iranian copy of the Chinese copy of the U.S. FIM-92 Stinger missile.
29587  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: October 17, 2007, 10:49:00 AM
Mexico Security Memo: Oct. 8, 2007
October 08, 2007 18 34  GMT

Hits and Misses

An effort to increase security in Veracruz state got off to a rough start this past week. A day after the state's governor announced the upcoming arrival of 200 federal police as part of "Operation Safe Veracruz," cartel hit men staged a very public killing of a municipal police officer in Veracruz city. The gunmen opened up on the officer's patrol car, firing at least 25 shots in broad daylight just down the street from an army infantry installation. The timing of the attack suggests it was intended to warn federal forces not to interfere with narcotics operations during their deployment, a strategy that has worked well in the past. Several weeks ago, a large security operation in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state -- initiated by a public attack against police -- ended with little to show for it, suggesting that the Veracruz operation will not result in any important arrests or seizures.

Finalized Aid Plan

The Mexican government announced this past week that negotiations over a much-anticipated counternarcotics aid plan with the United States have concluded. Washington reportedly has promised up to $1 billion over two years as part of the program, which also calls for greater information-sharing, technical assistance and legal cooperation. These efforts have actually been under way for some time, which means the aid program is essentially a way to formalize the relationship between the two countries. In any case, the aid money certainly will amount to a significant increase in the U.S. commitment and could well improve Mexico's counternarcotics capabilities. But this assistance plan will not solve all the problems faced by the two countries in trying to counter the drug trade. Both Mexico and the United States have deep-rooted issues that will not be remedied by funding increases. Nevertheless, information released this week by the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy suggests that the two countries have already made important progress in some areas, especially in curbing the flow of drugs into the United States. An increase in the street price of cocaine and methamphetamine in all regions of the United States is the most convincing evidence that tighter border security and Mexican counternarcotics efforts are having a positive impact. It remains to be seen if these achievements can be sustained, especially since any long-term disruptions in cartel operations are likely to be met with greater violence.

Oct. 1

Police in Jesus del Monte, Michoacan state, discovered the body of a man whose head had been nearly severed.

The charred body of an unidentified individual was found inside a burning car along a federal highway just outside Acapulco, Guerrero state.

Oct. 2

The bodies of two men were discovered in Mocorito, Sinaloa state, bound with their hands behind their backs.

A man in Culiacan, Sinaloa state, was shot dead by gunmen. He had arrived from Phoenix several hours before his death.

A former police officer in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas state, was shot to death by gunmen who entered the house where he was sleeping. Two others were wounded in the attack.

Oct. 3

The body of an unidentified individual was found wrapped in a blanket in a park in Mexico City. The body was bound at the hands and feet; police did not release information about the cause of death.

A man in Culiacan, Sinaloa state, was shot dead by several gunmen as he left his house.

The body of a man with several gunshot wounds was found in Tijuana, Baja California state. The body had been partially burned.

Oct. 4

A police officer in Veracruz, Veracruz state, died when gunmen fired more than 25 shots through the windshield of his patrol car.

Two security chiefs at a federal prison were shot and killed by gunmen as they were driving in Mexico City.

One police officer died and three were wounded during a gunbattle in Miacatlan, Morelos state. At least three of the gunmen also died.

Oct. 5

Authorities in Aguascalientes, Aguascalientes state, reported finding the body of a suspected drug dealer along a busy avenue. He had been suffocated and was bound at the hands and feet.

A firefight between inmates and guards inside a prison in Culiacan, Sinaloa state, left one inmate dead and five wounded. Army troops eventually stormed the prison.

A police commander in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, died after he was repeatedly run over by several vehicles in front of a crowd. Witnesses said the drivers of the vehicles were armed and prevented bystanders from assisting the police officer.

The Mexican army seized more than 11 tons of cocaine from a tractor-trailer near the Gulf Coast city of Tampico, Tamaulipas state. At least seven suspects were detained during the seizure, which was the largest ever in Mexico.

Oct. 6

Gunmen in Juchitan, Oaxaca state, attacked a police station with gunfire and grenades, killing at least one officer.

Oct. 7

At least 11 people were detained following a firefight at a military checkpoint on a highway near Jaumave, Tamaulipas state.
29588  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers: on: October 17, 2007, 10:43:07 AM
"I have not yet begun to fight!"

-- John Paul Jones (response to enemy demand to surrender, 23
September 1779)

Reference: The Spirit of `Seventy-Six, Commager and Morris (948);
original Life and Character of Jones, Sherburne (126-129)

"If by the liberty of the press were understood merely the liberty
of discussing the propriety of public measures and political
opinions, let us have as much of it as you please: But if it means
the liberty of affronting, calumniating and defaming one another,
I, for my part, own myself willing to part with my share of it,
whenever our legislators shall please so to alter the law and
shall chearfully consent to exchange my liberty of abusing others
for the privilege of not being abused myself."

-- Benjamin Franklin (An Account of the Supremest Court of
Judicature in Pennsylvania, viz. The Court of the Press, 12
September 1789)

Reference: Franklin Collected Works, Lemay, ed., 1152.

"It will not be doubted, that with reference either to
individual, or National Welfare, Agriculture is of primary
importance. In proportion as Nations advance in population, and
other circumstances of maturity, this truth becomes more apparent;
and renders the cultivation of the Soil more and more, an object
of public patronage."

-- George Washington (Eighth Annual Message to Congress, 1796)

Reference: Washington's Maxims, 67.
“The construction applied... to those parts of the Constitution of the United States which delegate Congress a power... ought not to be construed as themselves to give unlimited powers.” —Thomas Jefferson

"But if we are to be told by a foreign Power ... what we shall
do, and what we shall not do, we have Independence yet to seek,
and have contended hitherto for very little."

-- George Washington (letter to Alexander Hamilton, 8 May 1796)

Reference: The Writings of George Washington, Fitzpatrick, ed.,
vol. 35 (40)


“Freedom had been hunted round the globe; reason was considered as rebellion; and the slavery of fear had made men afraid to think. But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing.”—Thomas Paine

29589  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Why we fight on: October 17, 2007, 10:41:30 AM
“If you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a small chance of survival. There may even be a worse case: you may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.” —Winston Churchill

29590  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal issues on: October 17, 2007, 10:36:41 AM
Permission slip for the sea—by Oliver North
In his 2004 State of the Union Address, President Bush said, “America will never seek a permission slip to defend the security of our country.” Members of both parties and both houses of Congress applauded. But if the Senate votes to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea—known as the Law of the Sea Treaty—or its appropriate acronym—LOST—he and his successors are going to need lots of permission slips.

In 1982, Ronald Reagan, concerned about the treaty’s implications for our sovereignty and national security, formally rejected LOST because it did “not satisfy the objectives sought by the United States.” In 1994, William Jefferson Clinton, eager to appease One World Government advocates in his own party and at the United Nations, negotiated a parallel “agreement” that purported to address Mr. Reagan’s concerns—and urged ratification. Since then, LOST has gathered dust in the bowels of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. All that may be about to change. The deeply flawed, Soviet-era agreement giving unelected, unaccountable international bureaucrats control over 71 percent of the Earth’s surface is now on a fast track to ratification.

Advocates for LOST—among them Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joe Biden (D-DE)—claim that the Clinton-negotiated parallel “agreement” eliminates concerns about empowering international organizations to collect heavy fees or interfere with the U.S. military or intelligence collection. Yet a careful reading of LOST’s 202 pages—and the so-called agreement—proves that’s not true.

The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea already has created a Byzantine array of international organizations to administer the provisions of LOST. Everything from compliance with global environmental agreements, to the collection of “user fees” from private companies, to disputes about military operations above, on or under international waters are subject to mandatory dispute resolution by one or more of these international bodies.

According to the UN, the purpose of LOST is to preserve international waters for peaceful purposes. But Articles 19 and 20 of the treaty would proscribe the U.S. Navy from training with weapons, collecting intelligence or interfering with enemy communications in the territorial waters of other countries without their expressed permission. Military aircraft are prohibited specifically from taking off and landing in these waters, and severe limitations would be imposed on loading and unloading “any commodity, currency or person” including military equipment. Submarines are required to travel on the surface and “show their flag in territorial waters.” Article 30 states that warships not complying with the laws of a coastal nation can be forced to leave. Disputes about these issues would be adjudicated by international lawyers. Right.

LOST’s proponents discount these concerns by claiming the U.S. simply will exempt military activities from the treaty’s compulsory dispute resolution requirements. However, the “opt out” clause in Article 298 fails to define such operations. In our own Congress, intelligence functions are not considered to be military activities, so it is far from certain that the UN would accept the U.S. position that intelligence operations over, on or under the seas are indeed military activities. If there is a dispute as to what is or isn’t a military activity, LOST requires the matter to be resolved by international arbitration.

In 2003, Navy Adm. Michael Mullen, now the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that rulings from these arbitration panels “could have an impact on operational planning and activities, and our security.” Last week, in response to questions from Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) during a committee hearing, professor Bernard Oxman, a witness supporting LOST, admitted that if the parties to a dispute can’t agree on the arbitration panel, the UN secretary-general will chose the arbitrators. Lawyers in Pyongyang, Havana and Tehran: Call Turtle Bay.

LOST also opens the door to a long-sought UN goal: the redistribution of wealth by taxing Americans. The International Seabed Authority, a bloated, multinational bureaucracy headquartered in Jamaica, has the mandate to distribute revenues and “other economic benefits” on the basis of “equitable sharing criteria, taking into account the interests and needs of developing states.” In addition to acting as a global IRS, the ISA also decides which companies from which nations will develop mineral resources on the seabed.

In urging ratification, former President Bill Clinton described LOST as “a far-reaching environmental accord” that would “harmonize” U.S. laws to “prevent, reduce and control pollution” in the “best practical means.” But Article 213 requires nations to adopt “laws and regulations... to prevent, reduce and control pollution of the marine environment from land-based sources.” Thus, LOST could become a means of enforcing another agreement we never ratified: the Kyoto Protocol on global warming. Al Gore, call your office.

Before casting a vote to ratify LOST, all 100 senators should read Article 314 of this onerous treaty and Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution. The UN-crafted document specifies that amendments to the treaty can be adopted—and therefore enforced—without the consent of any signatory. Yet our Constitution requires that two-thirds of our Senate concur in any treaty. Do 67 members of this Senate now want to surrender that authority to foreign governments?

Quote of the week
“One of the most ridiculous arguments for LOST is to protect us against Russia’s claim to the North Pole and its oil riches. If we ratify LOST, we would have to accept the LOST tribunal’s decision. Even though the United States already has valid claims to the North Pole region under the Doctrine of Discovery, the chances of the LOST bureaucrats ruling for us against Russia are about 1 in 155.” —Phyllis Schlafly, founder and president of the Eagle Forum

Patriot Post
29591  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: October 17, 2007, 10:32:06 AM
Thanks for this Doug.  Wesbury is an outstanding economist, with a true gift for conceptualizing in a way that both simplifies and gets to the essence.  His track record as a prognosticator is one of the very best out there.
29592  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: October 17, 2007, 10:28:23 AM

Interesting.  Please keep us posted as the data comes out.

29593  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Intervención armada desde otro punto... on: October 17, 2007, 09:18:22 AM

!No quiero limitar ese foro al nivel de mi espanol!  cheesy !Por lo cual, nada de disculpas!   smiley Con su explicacion, ahora todo queda bien claro.

29594  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: More or less technical? on: October 17, 2007, 09:14:52 AM
Woof CFR:

Great question-- which I understand to be the application of FMA (what we call Kali) to MMA.  Have you seen the thread titled "Kali Tudo" in this forum?  If not, please give it a read, especially the article which begins the thread.

The Adventure continues,
Crafty Dog
29595  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politically (In)correct on: October 16, 2007, 05:04:58 PM
Academic Inquisitors
October 16, 2007; Page A20

As if losing the presidency of Harvard for hinting that there might be a biological explanation for the preponderance of men in academic science wasn't enough, Lawrence Summers now appears to be persona non grata elsewhere too.

A few weeks ago the University of California, Davis rescinded an invitation for him to speak. More than 150 faculty members signed a petition protesting his appearance, saying Mr. Summers "has come to symbolize gender and racial prejudice in academia." Davis ecology Professor Maureen Stanton was "appalled and stunned that someone like Summers would be invited to speak."

Ms. Stanton and her allies want pariah status for anyone who dares to suggest a biological basis for difference. Yet the scientific literature on why men and women enter different fields is legitimate, robust, complex and fascinating. What is appalling is that leading academic institutions would try to shut down the discussion and get away with it. Almost.

Last week, the American Enterprise Institute brought together top researchers on sex differences, ranging from the strongly feminist Brandeis women's studies scholar Rosalind Barnett to AEI scholar and co-author of "The Bell Curve," Charles Murray. The discussions were heated, but civil. No one got mad, fled the room weeping, or nearly fainted.

Ms. Barnett opened by reminding the conference of the history of prejudice against women in the sciences. Though significant gains have been made, she pointed out that there are still "invisible walls" that hold women back. Another speaker, Richard Haier, professor of psychology at the University of California, Irvine, acknowledged the long history of prejudice, then presented slides that must give pause to even the most fervent biology denier.

Using the latest and most advanced MRI brain imaging technology, he demonstrated that male and female brains have strikingly distinct architectures and process information differently. Mr. Haier reminded us that "there is so much we do not know and so much yet to discover about brain biology and sex differences, and perhaps even career choices."

Simon Baron-Cohen, a professor at Cambridge University and one of the world's leading experts on autism, had an intriguing hypothesis. Autism is far more common in males than females. Those afflicted with the disorder, including those with normal or high IQ, tend to be socially disconnected and clueless about the emotional states of others. They often exhibit an obsessive fixation on objects and machines.

Sound like anyone you know?

Mr. Baron-Cohen suggests that autism may be the far end of the male norm -- the "extreme male brain," all systematizing and no empathizing. He believes that men are, on average, wired to be better systematizers and women to be better empathizers. He presented a wide range of correlations between the level of fetal testosterone and behaviors in both girls and boys from infancy into grade school to back up his belief.

Harvard cognitive psychologist Elizabeth Spelke, another speaker, noted that Mr. Baron-Cohen's theory is not settled science. She is right, of course.

Yet the current configuration of the workplace fits Mr. Baron-Cohen's theory: Women dominate in empathy-centered fields such as early childhood education, social work and psychology, while men are over-represented in the "systematizing" vocations such as car repair, oil drilling and electrical engineering.

Others debated the pros and cons of research on "unconscious bias" and the effects of stereotypes on test takers. So it went. No one present could doubt the importance of the debate or the significance of the evidence from both sides. The audience was captivated as experts played with the politically incorrect notion that male and female brains may be markedly different.

Unfortunately, the deniers of differences between the sexes are on the march with powerful allies. In the fall of 2006, the National Academy of Sciences released a recklessly one-sided study, now widely referred to as authoritative, titled "Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering." According to the report, differences in cognition between the sexes have no bearing on the dearth of women in academic math, physics and engineering. It is all due to bias. Case closed. The report calls on Congress to hold hearings on gender bias in the sciences and on federal agencies to "move immediately" (emphasis in original) to apply anti-discrimination laws such as Title IX to academic science (but not English) departments. "The time for action is now."

No it is not. Now is the time for scholars in our universities and in the National Academy of Sciences to defend and support principles of free and objective inquiry. The chronically appalled must not have the last word.

Ms. Sommers is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

29596  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Turkey on: October 16, 2007, 02:58:03 PM
Secretary of State Pelosi
October 16, 2007; Page A20
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, famous for donning a head scarf earlier this year to commune for peace with the Syrians, has now concluded that this is the perfect moment to pass a Congressional resolution condemning Turkey for the Armenian genocide of 1915. Problem is, Turkey in 2007 has it within its power to damage the growing success of the U.S. effort in Iraq. We would like to assume this is not Speaker Pelosi's goal.

To be clear: We write that we would like to assume, rather than that we do assume, because we are no longer able to discern whether the Speaker's foreign-policy intrusions are merely misguided or are consciously intended to cause a U.S. policy failure in Iraq.

Where is the upside in October 2007 to this Armenian resolution?

The bill is opposed by eight former U.S. Secretaries of State, including Madeleine Albright. After Tom Lantos's House Foreign Affairs Committee voted out the resolution last week, Turkey recalled its ambassador from Washington. Turkey serves as a primary transit hub for U.S. equipment going into both Iraq and Afghanistan. After the Kurdish terrorist group PKK killed 13 Turkish conscripts last week near the border with Iraq, Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, asked the parliament to approve a huge deployment of the army along the border, threatening an incursion into Kurdish-controlled Iraq. This of course is the one manifestly successful region of post-Saddam Iraq. In a situation teetering on a knife-edge, President Bush has been asking Mr. Erdogan to show restraint on the Iraq border.

Somehow, none of this is allowed to penetrate Speaker Pelosi's world. She is offering various explanations for bringing the genocide resolution to the House floor. "This isn't about the Erdogan government," she says. "This is about the Ottoman Empire," last seen more than 85 years ago. "Genocide still exists," insists Ms. Pelosi. "We saw it in Rwanda; we see it now in Darfur."

Yes, but why now, with Turkey crucial to an Iraq policy that now has the prospect of a positive outcome? The answer may be found in the compulsive parochialism of the House's current edition of politicians, mostly Democrats. California is home to the country's largest number of politically active Armenians. Speaker Pelosi has many in her own district. Mr. Lantos represents the San Francisco suburbs. The bill's leading sponsors include Representatives Adam Schiff, George Radanovich and Anna Eshoo, all from California.

Pointedly, Jane Harman, the Southern California Democrat who Speaker Pelosi passed over for chair of the intelligence committee, wrote an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times Friday, questioning the "timing" of the resolution and asking why it is necessary to embarrass a "moderate Islamic government in perhaps the most volatile region in the world."

Why indeed? Perhaps some intrepid reporter could put that question to the three leading Democratic Presidential candidates, who are seeking to inherit hands-on responsibility for U.S. policy in this cauldron. Hillary Clinton has been a co-sponsor of the anti-Turk genocide resolution, but would she choose to vote for it this week?

Back when Bill Clinton was President, Mr. Lantos took a different view. "This legislation at this moment in U.S.-Turkish relations is singularly counterproductive to our national interest," he said in September 2000, when there was much less at stake in the Middle East. According to Reuters, he added that the resolution would "humiliate and insult" Turkey and that the "unintended results would be devastating."

If Nancy Pelosi and Tom Lantos want to take down U.S. policy in Iraq to tag George Bush with the failure, they should have the courage to walk through the front door to do it. Bringing the genocide resolution to the House floor this week would put a terrible event of Armenia's past in the service of America's bitter partisanship today. It is mischievous at best, catastrophic at worst, and should be tabled.

29597  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: UFC, Randy Coture on: October 16, 2007, 02:54:58 PM
From Sherdog
"The motivation for the decision is two-fold," he continued. "I know Fedor (Emelianenko) just signed with another organization and that's the only real fight that makes sense for me at 44 years old as the heavyweight champion of the UFC. That's the fight I wanted and if that can't happen it doesn't make sense for me to compete with all these other guys. And then obviously that's not going to happen now. And, two, I'm tired of being taken advantage of, played as the nice guy and basically swimming against the current with the management of the UFC. I have a lot of other things going on in my life that I'm doing just fine with. I don't need the problems. I don't feel like I get the respect I deserve from the organization, and that's motivation No. 2 for the letter of resignation that was sent today."
29598  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: November 18, 2007 Dog Bros Gathering of the Pack on: October 16, 2007, 02:39:40 PM
Woof All:

Good news!  I just spoke with Ernie Avila and we did the verbal handshake thing over the phone (with writing to be accomplished later in the day) and we will be using OP's warehouse again cool cool cool

Crafty Dog
29599  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Intervención armada desde otro punto... on: October 16, 2007, 01:59:45 PM

Muy, muy interesante.  Acabo de regresar de 4 dias de ensenanza en Mexico y salgo Viernes por Virginia.  Entonces posiblemente no tendre' tiempo para comentar, pero por el momento yo quisiera pedir que me ayude entender que quier decir ese:

"explícaselo al de la toga”.

29600  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: October 16, 2007, 11:11:21 AM

PNA, ISRAEL: Palestinian faction Hamas does not object in principle to negotiations with Israel or to a political solution to the Palestinian issue, Palestinian-owned Al-Quds al-Arabi daily reported, citing an exclusive interview with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. Haniyeh added, however, that Hamas will only negotiate if it believes a political breakthrough is possible.

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