Dog Brothers Public Forum
Return To Homepage
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
November 23, 2014, 07:38:12 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Search:     Advanced search
Welcome to the Dog Brothers Public Forum.
83383 Posts in 2260 Topics by 1067 Members
Latest Member: Shinobi Dog
* Home Help Search Login Register
  Show Posts
Pages: 1 ... 590 591 [592] 593 594 ... 632
29551  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Elephants-part three on: November 06, 2006, 04:20:07 PM
They have no future without us. The question we are now forced to grapple
with is whether we would mind a future without them, among the more mindful
creatures on this earth and, in many ways, the most devoted. Indeed, the
manner of the elephants' continued keeping, their restoration and
conservation, both in civil confines and what's left of wild ones, is now
drawing the attention of everyone from naturalists to neuroscientists. Too
much about elephants, in the end - their desires and devotions, their
vulnerability and tremendous resilience - reminds us of ourselves to dismiss
out of hand this revolt they're currently staging against their own
dismissal. And while our concern may ultimately be rooted in that most human
of impulses - the preservation of our own self-image - the great paradox
about this particular moment in our history with elephants is that saving
them will require finally getting past ourselves; it will demand the
ultimate act of deep, interspecies empathy.

On a more immediate, practical level, as Gay Bradshaw sees it, this involves
taking what has been learned about elephant society, psychology and emotion
and inculcating that knowledge into the conservation schemes of researchers
and park rangers. This includes doing things like expanding elephant habitat
to what it used to be historically and avoiding the use of culling and
translocations as conservation tools. "If we want elephants around,"
Bradshaw told me, "then what we need to do is simple: learn how to live with
elephants. In other words, in addition to conservation, we need to educate
people how to live with wild animals like humans used to do, and to create
conditions whereby people can live on their land and live with elephants
without it being this life-and-death situation."

The other part of our newly emerging compact with elephants, however, is far
more difficult to codify. It requires nothing less than a fundamental shift
in the way we look at animals and, by extension, ourselves. It requires what
Bradshaw somewhat whimsically refers to as a new "trans-species psyche," a
commitment to move beyond an anthropocentric frame of reference and, in
effect, be elephants. Two years ago, Bradshaw wrote a paper for the journal
Society and Animals, focusing on the work of the David Sheldrick Wildlife
Trust in Kenya, a sanctuary for orphaned and traumatized wild elephants -
more or less the wilderness-based complement to Carol Buckley's trauma
therapy at the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. The trust's human caregivers
essentially serve as surrogate mothers to young orphan elephants, gradually
restoring their psychological and emotional well being to the point at which
they can be reintroduced into existing wild herds. The human "allomothers"
stay by their adopted young orphans' sides, even sleeping with them at night
in stables. The caregivers make sure, however, to rotate from one elephant
to the next so that the orphans grow fond of all the keepers. Otherwise an
elephant would form such a strong bond with one keeper that whenever he or
she was absent, that elephant would grieve as if over the loss of another
family member, often becoming physically ill itself.

To date, the Sheldrick Trust has successfully rehabilitated more than 60
elephants and reintroduced them into wild herds. A number of them have
periodically returned to the sanctuary with their own wild-born calves in
order to reunite with their human allomothers and to introduce their
offspring to what - out on this uncharted frontier of the new "trans-species
psyche" - is now being recognized, at least by the elephants, it seems, as a
whole new subspecies: the human allograndmother. "Traditionally, nature has
served as a source of healing for humans," Bradshaw told me. "Now humans can
participate actively in the healing of both themselves and nonhuman animals.
The trust and the sanctuary are the beginnings of a mutually benefiting
interspecies culture."

On my way back to New York via London, I contacted Felicity de Zulueta, a
psychiatrist at Maudsley Hospital in London who treats victims of extreme
trauma, among them former child soldiers from the Lord's Resistance Army. De
Zulueta, an acquaintance of Eve Abe's, grew up in Uganda in the early 1960's
on the outskirts of Queen Elizabeth National Park, near where her father, a
malaria doctor, had set up camp as part of a malaria-eradication program.
For a time she had her own elephant, orphaned by poaching, that local
villagers had given to her father, who brought it home to the family garage,
where it immediately bonded with an orphan antelope and dog already residing


"He was doing fine," de Zulueta told me of the pet elephant. "My mother was
loving it and feeding it, and then my parents realized, How can we keep this
elephant that is going to grow bigger than the garage? So they gave it to
who they thought were the experts. They sent him to the Entebbe Zoo, and
although they gave him all the right food and everything, he was a lonely
little elephant, and he died. He had no attachment."

For de Zulueta, the parallel that Abe draws between the plight of war
orphans, human and elephant, is painfully apt, yet also provides some cause
for hope, given the often startling capacity of both animals for recovery.
She told me that one Ugandan war orphan she is currently treating lost all
the members of his family except for two older brothers. Remarkably, one of
those brothers, while serving in the Ugandan Army, rescued the younger
sibling from the Lord's Resistance Army; the older brother's unit had
captured the rebel battalion in which his younger brother had been forced to

The two brothers eventually made their way to London, and for the past two
years, the younger brother has been going through a gradual process of
recovery in the care of Maudsley Hospital. Much of the rehabilitation,
according to de Zulueta, especially in the early stages, relies on the basic
human trauma therapy principles now being applied to elephants: providing
decent living quarters, establishing a sense of safety and of attachment to
a larger community and allowing freedom of choice. After that have come the
more complex treatments tailored to the human brain's particular cognitive
capacities: things like reliving the original traumatic experience and being
taught to modulate feelings through early detection of hyperarousal and
through breathing techniques. And the healing of trauma, as de Zulueta
describes it, turns out to have physical correlatives in the brain just as
its wounding does.

"What I say is, we find bypass," she explained. "We bypass the wounded areas
using various techniques. Some of the wounds are not healable. Their scars
remain. But there is hope because the brain is an enormous computer, and you
can learn to bypass its wounds by finding different methods of approaching
life. Of course there may be moments when something happens and the old
wound becomes unbearable. Still, people do recover. The boy I've been
telling you about is 18 now, and he has survived very well in terms of his
emotional health and capacities. He's a lovely, lovely man. And he's a poet.
He writes beautiful poetry."

On the afternoon in July that I left the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee,
Carol Buckley and Scott Blais seemed in particularly good spirits. Misty was
only weeks away from the end of her quarantine, and she would soon be able
to socialize with some of her old cohorts from the Hawthorn Corporation:
eight female Asians that had been given over to the sanctuary. I would meet
the lot of them that day, driving from one to the next on the back of
Buckley's four-wheeler across the sanctuary's savanna-like stretches.
Buckley and Blais refer to them collectively as the Divas.

Buckley and Blais told me that they got word not long ago of a significant
breakthrough in a campaign of theirs to get elephants out of entertainment
and zoos: the Bronx Zoo, one of the oldest and most formidable zoos in the
country, had announced that upon the death of the zoo's three current
elephant inhabitants, Patty, Maxine and Happy, it would phase out its
elephant exhibit on social-behavioral grounds - an acknowledgment of a new
awareness of the elephant's very particular sensibility and needs. "They're
really taking the lead," Buckley told me. "Zoos don't want to concede the
inappropriateness of keeping elephants in such confines. But if we as a
society determine that an animal like this suffers in captivity, if the
information shows us that they do, hey, we are the stewards. You'd think we'd
want to do the right thing."

Four days later, I received an e-mail message from Gay Bradshaw, who
consults with Buckley and Blais on their various stress-therapy strategies.
She wrote that one of the sanctuary's elephants, an Asian named Winkie, had
just killed a 36-year-old female assistant caretaker and critically injured
the male caretaker who'd tried to save her.

People who work with animals on a daily basis can tell you all kinds of
stories about their distinct personalities and natures. I'd gotten, in fact,
an elaborate breakdown from Buckley and Blais on the various elephants at
the sanctuary and their sociopolitical maneuverings within the sanctuary's
distinct elephant culture, and I went to my notebook to get a fix again on
Winkie. A 40-year-old, 7,600-pound female from Burma, she came to the
sanctuary in 2000 from the Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison, Wisc., where she had
a reputation for lashing out at keepers. When Winkie first arrived at the
sanctuary, Buckley told me, she used to jump merely upon being touched and
then would wait for a confrontation. But when it never came, she slowly
calmed down. "Has never lashed out at primary keepers," my last note on
Winkie reads, "but has at secondary ones."

Bradshaw's e-mail message concludes: "A stunning illustration of trauma in
elephants. The indelible etching."

I thought back to a moment in Queen Elizabeth National Park this past June.
As Nelson Okello and I sat waiting for the matriarch and her calf to pass,
he mentioned to me an odd little detail about the killing two months earlier
of the man from the village of Katwe, something that, the more I thought
about it, seemed to capture this particularly fraught moment we've arrived
at with the elephants. Okello said that after the man's killing, the
elephant herd buried him as it would one of its own, carefully covering the
body with earth and brush and then standing vigil over it.

Even as we're forcing them out, it seems, the elephants are going out of
their way to put us, the keepers, in an ever more discomfiting place,
challenging us to preserve someplace for them, the ones who in many ways
seem to regard the matter of life and death more devoutly than we. In fact,
elephant culture could be considered the precursor of our own, the first
permanent human settlements having sprung up around the desire of wandering
tribes to stay by the graves of their dead. "The city of the dead," as Lewis
Mumford once wrote, "antedates the city of the living."

When a group of villagers from Katwe went out to reclaim the man's body for
his family's funeral rites, the elephants refused to budge. Human remains, a
number of researchers have observed, are the only other ones that elephants
will treat as they do their own. In the end, the villagers resorted to a
tactic that has long been etched in the elephant's collective memory, firing
volleys of gunfire into the air at close range, finally scaring the mourning
herd away.

29552  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Elephants-part two on: November 06, 2006, 04:18:51 PM
(Page 4 of Cool

For Bradshaw, these continuities between human and elephant brains resonate
far outside the field of neuroscience. "Elephants are suffering and behaving
in the same ways that we recognize in ourselves as a result of violence,"
she told me. "Elephant behavior is entirely congruent with what we know
about humans and other mammals. Except perhaps for a few specific features,
brain organization and early development of elephants and humans are
extremely similar. That's not news. What is news is when you start asking,
What does this mean beyond the science? How do we respond to the fact that
we are causing other species like elephants to psychologically break down?
In a way, it's not so much a cognitive or imaginative leap anymore as it is
a political one."

Eve Abe says that in her mind, she made that leap before she ever left her
mother's womb. An animal ethologist and wildlife-management consultant now
based in London, Abe (pronounced AH-bay) grew up in northern Uganda. After
several years of studying elephants in Queen Elizabeth National Park, where
decades of poaching had drastically reduced the herds, Abe received her
doctorate at Cambridge University in 1994 for work detailing the parallels
she saw between the plight of Uganda's orphaned male elephants and the young
male orphans of her own people, the Acholi, whose families and villages have
been decimated by years of civil war. It's work she proudly proclaims to be
not only "the ultimate act of anthropomorphism" but also what she was
destined to do.

"My very first encounter with an elephant was a fetal one," Abe told me in
June in London as the two of us sipped tea at a cafe in Paddington Station.
I was given Abe's contact numbers earlier in the spring by Bradshaw, who is
currently working with Abe to build a community center in Uganda to help
both elephants and humans in their recovery from violence. For more than a
month before my departure from New York, I had been trying without luck to
arrange with the British Home Office for Abe, who is still waiting for
permanent residence status in England, to travel with me to Uganda as my
guide through Queen Elizabeth National Park without fear of her being denied
re-entry to England. She was to accompany me that day right up to the
departure gate at Heathrow, the two of us hoping (in vain, as it turned out)
for a last-minute call that would have given her leave to use the ticket I
was holding for her in my bag.

"My dad was a conservationist and a teacher," explained Abe, a tall, elegant
woman with a trilling, nearly girlish voice. "He was always out in the
parks. One of my aunts tells this story about us passing through Murchison
park one day. My dad was driving. My uncle was in the front seat. In the
back were my aunt and my mom, who was very pregnant with me. They suddenly
came upon this huge herd of elephants on the road, and the elephants just
stopped. So my dad stopped. He knew about animals. The elephants just stood
there, then they started walking around the car, and looking into the car.
Finally, they walked off. But my father didn't start the car then. He waited
there. After an hour or more, a huge female came back out onto the road,
right in front of the car. It reared up and trumpeted so loudly, then
followed the rest of the herd back into the bush. A few days later, when my
mom got home, I was born."

Abe began her studies in Queen Elizabeth National Park in 1982, as an
undergraduate at Makerere University in Kampala, shortly after she and her
family, who'd been living for years as refugees in Kenya to escape the
brutal violence in Uganda under the dictatorship of Idi Amin, returned home
in the wake of Amin's ouster in 1979. Abe told me that when she first
arrived at the park, there were fewer than 150 elephants remaining from an
original population of nearly 4,000. The bulk of the decimation occurred
during the war with Tanzania that led to Amin's overthrow: soldiers from
both armies grabbed all the ivory they could get their hands on - and did so
with such cravenness that the word "poaching" seems woefully inadequate.
"Normally when you say 'poaching,' " Abe said, "you think of people shooting
one or two and going off. But this was war. They'd just throw hand grenades
at the elephants, bring whole families down and cut out the ivory. I call
that mass destruction."

The last elephant survivors of Queen Elizabeth National Park, Abe said,
never left one another's side. They kept in a tight bunch, moving as one.
Only one elderly female remained; Abe estimated her to be at least 62. It
was this matriarch who first gathered the survivors together from their
various hideouts on the park's forested fringes and then led them back out
as one group into open savanna. Until her death in the early 90's, the old
female held the group together, the population all the while slowly
beginning to rebound. In her yet-to-be-completed memoir, "My Elephants and
My People," Abe writes of the prominence of the matriarch in Acholi society;
she named the park's matriarchal elephant savior Lady Irene, after her own
mother. "It took that core group of survivors in the park about five or six
years," Abe told me, "before I started seeing whole new family units emerge
and begin to split off and go their own way."

In 1986, Abe's family was forced to flee the country again. Violence against
Uganda's people and elephants never completely abated after Amin's regime
collapsed, and it drastically worsened in the course of the full-fledged war
that developed between government forces and the rebel Lord's Resistance
Army. For years, that army's leader, Joseph Kony, routinely "recruited" from
Acholi villages, killing the parents of young males before their eyes, or
sometimes having them do the killings themselves, before pressing them into
service as child soldiers. The Lord's Resistance Army has by now been
largely defeated, but Kony, who is wanted by the International Criminal
Court for numerous crimes against humanity, has hidden with what remains of
his army in the mountains of Murchison Falls National Park, and more
recently in Garamba National Park in northern Congo, where poaching by the
Lord's Resistance Army has continued to orphan more elephants.

"I started looking again at what has happened among the Acholi and the
elephants," Abe told me. "I saw that it is an absolute coincidence between
the two. You know we used to have villages. We still don't have villages.
There are over 200 displaced people's camps in present-day northern Uganda.
Everybody lives now within these camps, and there are no more elders. The
elders were systematically eliminated. The first batch of elimination was
during Amin's time, and that set the stage for the later destruction of
northern Uganda. We are among the lucky few, because my mom and dad managed
to escape. But the families there are just broken. I know many of them.
Displaced people are living in our home now. My mother said let them have
it. All these kids who have grown up with their parents killed - no fathers,
no mothers, only children looking after them. They don't go to schools. They
have no schools, no hospitals. No infrastructure. They form these roaming,
violent, destructive bands. It's the same thing that happens with the
elephants. Just like the male war orphans, they are wild, completely lost."


Page 5 of Cool

On the ride from Paddington that afternoon out to Heathrow, where I would
catch a flight to Uganda, Abe told me that the parallel between the plight
of Ugandans and their elephants was in many ways too close for her to see at
first. It was only after she moved to London that she had what was, in a
sense, her first full, adult recognition of the entwinement between human
and elephant that she says she long ago felt in her mother's womb.

"I remember when I first was working on my doctorate," she said. "I
mentioned that I was doing this parallel once to a prominent scientist in
Kenya. He looked amazed. He said, 'How come nobody has made this connection
before?' I told him because it hadn't happened this way to anyone else's
tribe before. To me it's something I see so clearly. Most people are scared
of showing that kind of anthropomorphism. But coming from me it doesn't
sound like I'm inventing something. It's there. People know it's there. Some
might think that the way I describe the elephant attacks makes the animals
look like people. But people are animals."

Shortly after my return from Uganda, I went to visit the Elephant Sanctuary
in Tennessee, a 2,700-acre rehabilitation center and retirement facility
situated in the state's verdant, low-rolling southern hill country. The
sanctuary is a kind of asylum for some of the more emotionally and
psychologically disturbed former zoo and circus elephants in the United
States - cases so bad that the people who profited from them were eager to
let them go. Given that elephants in the wild are now exhibiting aberrant
behaviors that were long observed in captive elephants, it perhaps follows
that a positive working model for how to ameliorate the effects of elephant
breakdown can be found in captivity.

Of the 19 current residents of the sanctuary, perhaps the biggest hard-luck
story was that of a 40-year-old, five-ton Asian elephant named Misty.
Originally captured as a calf in India in 1966, Misty spent her first decade
in captivity with a number of American circuses and finally ended up in the
early 80's at a wild-animal attraction known as Lion Country Safari in
Irvine, Calif. It was there, on the afternoon of July 25, 1983, that Misty,
one of four performing elephants at Lion Country Safari that summer, somehow
managed to break free of her chains and began madly dashing about the park,
looking to make an escape. When one of the park's zoologists tried to corner
and contain her, Misty killed him with one swipe of her trunk.

There are, in the long, checkered history of human-elephant relations,
countless stories of lethal elephantine assaults, and almost invariably of
some gruesomely outsize, animalistic form of retribution exacted by us. It
was in the very state of Tennessee, back in September 1916, that another
five-ton Asian circus elephant, Mary, was impounded by a local sheriff for
the killing of a young hotel janitor who'd been hired to mind Mary during a
stopover in the northeast Tennessee town of Kingsport. The janitor had
apparently taken Mary for a swim at a local pond, where, according to
witnesses, he poked her behind the left ear with a metal hook just as she
was reaching for a piece of floating watermelon rind. Enraged, Mary turned,
swiftly snatched him up with her trunk, dashed him against a refreshment
stand and then smashed his head with her foot.

With cries from the townspeople to "Kill the elephant!" and threats from
nearby town leaders to bar the circus if "Murderous Mary," as newspapers
quickly dubbed her, remained a part of the show, the circus's owner, Charlie
Sparks, knew he had to do something to appease the public's blood lust and
save his business. Among the penalties he is said to have contemplated was
electrocution, a ghastly precedent for which had been set 13 years earlier,
on the grounds of the nearly completed Luna Park in Coney Island. A longtime
circus elephant named Topsy, who'd killed three trainers in as many years -
the last one after he tried to feed her a lighted cigarette - would become
the largest and most prominent victim of Thomas Edison, the father of
direct-current electricity, who had publicly electrocuted a number of
animals at that time using his rival George Westinghouse's alternating
current, in hopes of discrediting it as being too dangerous.

Sparks ultimately decided to have Mary hanged and shipped her by train to
the nearby town of Erwin, Tenn., where more than 2,500 people gathered at
the local rail yard for her execution. Dozens of children are said to have
run off screaming in terror when the chain that was suspended from a huge
industrial crane snapped, leaving Mary writhing on the ground with a broken
hip. A local rail worker promptly clambered up Mary's bulk and secured a
heavier chain for a second, successful hoisting.

Page 6 of Cool

Misty's fate in the early 80's, by contrast, seems a triumph of modern
humanism. Banished, after the Lion Safari killing, to the Hawthorn
Corporation, a company in Illinois that trains and leases elephants and
tigers to circuses, she would continue to lash out at a number of her
trainers over the years. But when Hawthorn was convicted of numerous
violations of the Animal Welfare Act in 2003, the company agreed to
relinquish custody of Misty to the Elephant Sanctuary. She was loaded onto a
trailer transport on the morning of Nov. 17, 2004, and even then managed to
get away with one final shot at the last in her long line of captors.

"The details are kind of sketchy," Carol Buckley, a founder of the Elephant
Sanctuary, said to me one afternoon in July, the two of us pulling up on her
all-terrain four-wheeler to a large grassy enclosure where an extremely
docile and contented-looking Misty, trunk high, ears flapping, waited to
greet us. "Hawthorn's owner was trying to get her to stretch out so he could
remove her leg chains before loading her on the trailer. At one point he
prodded her with a bull hook, and she just knocked him down with a swipe of
her trunk. But we've seen none of that since she's been here. She's as sweet
as can be. You'd never know that this elephant killed anybody."

In the course of her nearly two years at the Elephant Sanctuary - much of it
spent in quarantine while undergoing daily treatment for tuberculosis -
Misty has also been in therapy, as in psychotherapy. Wild-caught elephants
often witness as young calves the slaughter of their parents, just about the
only way, shy of a far more costly tranquilization procedure, to wrest a
calf from elephant parents, especially the mothers. The young captives are
then dispatched to a foreign environment to work either as performers or
laborers, all the while being kept in relative confinement and isolation, a
kind of living death for an animal as socially developed and dependent as we
now know elephants to be.

And yet just as we now understand that elephants hurt like us, we're
learning that they can heal like us as well. Indeed, Misty has become a
testament to the Elephant Sanctuary's signature "passive control" system, a
therapy tailored in many ways along the lines of those used to treat human
sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder. Passive control, as a sanctuary
newsletter describes it, depends upon "knowledge of how elephants process
information and respond to stress" as well as specific knowledge of each
elephant's past response to stress. Under this so-called nondominance
system, there is no discipline, retaliation or withholding of food, water
and treats, which are all common tactics of elephant trainers. Great pains
are taken, meanwhile, to afford the elephants both a sense of safety and
freedom of choice - two mainstays of human trauma therapy - as well as
continual social interaction.

Upon her arrival at the Elephant Sanctuary, Misty seemed to sense straight
off the different vibe of her new home. When Scott Blais of the sanctuary
went to free Misty's still-chained leg a mere day after she'd arrived, she
stood peaceably by, practically offering her leg up to him. Over her many
months of quarantine, meanwhile, with only humans acting as a kind of
surrogate elephant family, she has consistently gone through the daily
rigors of her tuberculosis treatments - involving two caregivers, a team of
veterinarians and the use of a restraining chute in which harnesses are
secured about her chest and tail - without any coaxing or pressure. "We'll
shower her with praise in the barn afterwards," Buckley told me as Misty
stood by, chomping on a mouthful of hay, "and she actually purrs with
pleasure. The whole barn vibrates."

Of course, Misty's road to recovery - when viewed in light of her history
and that of all the other captive elephants, past and present - is as
harrowing as it is heartening. She and the others have suffered, we now
understand, not simply because of us, but because they are, by and large,
us. If as recently as the end of the Vietnam War people were still balking
at the idea that a soldier, for example, could be physically disabled by a
psychological harm - the idea, in other words, that the mind is not an
entity apart from the body and therefore just as woundable as any limb - we
now find ourselves having to make an equally profound and, for many, even
more difficult leap: that a fellow creature as ostensibly unlike us in every
way as an elephant is as precisely and intricately woundable as we are. And
while such knowledge naturally places an added burden upon us, the keepers,
that burden is now being greatly compounded by the fact that sudden violent
outbursts like Misty's can no longer be dismissed as the inevitable isolated
revolts of a restless few against the constraints and abuses of captivity.

29553  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Elephants on: November 06, 2006, 04:17:09 PM
An Elephant Crackup?
Published: October 8, 2006
'We're not going anywhere," my driver, Nelson Okello, whispered to me one
morning this past June, the two of us sitting in the front seat of a jeep
just after dawn in Queen Elizabeth National Park in southwestern Uganda. We'd
originally stopped to observe what appeared to be a lone bull elephant
grazing in a patch of tall savanna grasses off to our left. More than one
"rogue" crossed our path that morning - a young male elephant that has made
an overly strong power play against the dominant male of his herd and been
banished, sometimes permanently. This elephant, however, soon proved to be
not a rogue but part of a cast of at least 30. The ground vibrations
registered just before the emergence of the herd from the surrounding trees
and brush. We sat there watching the elephants cross the road before us,
seeming, for all their heft, so light on their feet, soundlessly plying the
wind-swept savanna grasses like land whales adrift above the floor of an
ancient, waterless sea.

Andres Serrano for The New York Times

Andres Serrano for The New York Times

Then, from behind a thicket of acacia trees directly off our front left
bumper, a huge female emerged - "the matriarch," Okello said softly. There
was a small calf beneath her, freely foraging and knocking about within the
secure cribbing of four massive legs. Acacia leaves are an elephant's
favorite food, and as the calf set to work on some low branches, the
matriarch stood guard, her vast back flank blocking the road, the rest of
the herd milling about in the brush a short distance away.

After 15 minutes or so, Okello started inching the jeep forward, revving the
engine, trying to make us sound as beastly as possible. The matriarch,
however, was having none of it, holding her ground, the fierce white of her
eyes as bright as that of her tusks. Although I pretty much knew the answer,
I asked Okello if he was considering trying to drive around. "No," he said,
raising an index finger for emphasis. "She'll charge. We should stay right

I'd have considered it a wise policy even at a more peaceable juncture in
the course of human-elephant relations. In recent years, however, those
relations have become markedly more bellicose. Just two days before I
arrived, a woman was killed by an elephant in Kazinga, a fishing village
nearby. Two months earlier, a man was fatally gored by a young male elephant
at the northern edge of the park, near the village of Katwe. African
elephants use their long tusks to forage through dense jungle brush. They've
also been known to wield them, however, with the ceremonious flash and
precision of gladiators, pinning down a victim with one knee in order to
deliver the decisive thrust. Okello told me that a young Indian tourist was
killed in this fashion two years ago in Murchison Falls National Park, just
north of where we were.

These were not isolated incidents. All across Africa, India and parts of
Southeast Asia, from within and around whatever patches and corridors of
their natural habitat remain, elephants have been striking out, destroying
villages and crops, attacking and killing human beings. In fact, these
attacks have become so commonplace that a whole new statistical category,
known as Human-Elephant Conflict, or H.E.C., was created by elephant
researchers in the mid-1990's to monitor the problem. In the Indian state
Jharkhand near the western border of Bangladesh, 300 people were killed by
elephants between 2000 and 2004. In the past 12 years, elephants have killed
605 people in Assam, a state in northeastern India, 239 of them since 2001;
265 elephants have died in that same period, the majority of them as a
result of retaliation by angry villagers, who have used everything from
poison-tipped arrows to laced food to exact their revenge. In Africa,
reports of human-elephant conflicts appear almost daily, from Zambia to
Tanzania, from Uganda to Sierra Leone, where 300 villagers evacuated their
homes last year because of unprovoked elephant attacks.

Still, it is not only the increasing number of these incidents that is
causing alarm but also the singular perversity - for want of a less
anthropocentric term - of recent elephant aggression. Since the early 1990's,
for example, young male elephants in Pilanesberg National Park and the
Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve in South Africa have been raping and killing
rhinoceroses; this abnormal behavior, according to a 2001 study in the
journal Pachyderm, has been reported in "a number of reserves" in the
region. In July of last year, officials in Pilanesberg shot three young male
elephants who were responsible for the killings of 63 rhinos, as well as
attacks on people in safari vehicles. In Addo Elephant National Park, also
in South Africa, up to 90 percent of male elephant deaths are now
attributable to other male elephants, compared with a rate of 6 percent in
more stable elephant communities.

In a coming book on this phenomenon, Gay Bradshaw, a psychologist at the
environmental-sciences program at Oregon State University, notes that in
India, where the elephant has long been regarded as a deity, a recent
headline in a leading newspaper warned, "To Avoid Confrontation, Don't
Worship Elephants." "Everybody pretty much agrees that the relationship
between elephants and people has dramatically changed," Bradshaw told me
recently. "What we are seeing today is extraordinary. Where for centuries
humans and elephants lived in relative peaceful coexistence, there is now
hostility and violence. Now, I use the term 'violence' because of the
intentionality associated with it, both in the aggression of humans and, at
times, the recently observed behavior of elephants."

For a number of biologists and ethologists who have spent their careers
studying elephant behavior, the attacks have become so abnormal in both
number and kind that they can no longer be attributed entirely to the
customary factors. Typically, elephant researchers have cited, as a cause of
aggression, the high levels of testosterone in newly matured male elephants
or the competition for land and resources between elephants and humans. But
in "Elephant Breakdown," a 2005 essay in the journal Nature, Bradshaw and
several colleagues argued that today's elephant populations are suffering
from a form of chronic stress, a kind of species-wide trauma. Decades of
poaching and culling and habitat loss, they claim, have so disrupted the
intricate web of familial and societal relations by which young elephants
have traditionally been raised in the wild, and by which established
elephant herds are governed, that what we are now witnessing is nothing less
than a precipitous collapse of elephant culture.

It has long been apparent that every large, land-based animal on this planet
is ultimately fighting a losing battle with humankind. And yet entirely
befitting of an animal with such a highly developed sensibility, a
deep-rooted sense of family and, yes, such a good long-term memory, the
elephant is not going out quietly. It is not leaving without making some
kind of statement, one to which scientists from a variety of disciplines,
including human psychology, are now beginning to pay close attention.

Once the matriarch and her calf were a comfortable distance from us that
morning, Okello and I made the 20-minute drive to Kyambura, a village at the
far southeastern edge of the park. Back in 2003, Kyambura was reportedly the
site of the very sort of sudden, unprovoked elephant attack I'd been hearing
about. According to an account of the event in the magazine New Scientist, a
number of huts and fields were trampled, and the townspeople were afraid to
venture out to surrounding villages, either by foot or on their bikes,
because elephants were regularly blocking the road and charging out at those
who tried to pass.


Page 2 of Cool

Park officials from the Uganda Wildlife Authority with whom I tried to
discuss the incident were reluctant to talk about it or any of the recent
killings by elephants in the area. Eco-tourism is one of Uganda's major
sources of income, and the elephant and other wildlife stocks of Queen
Elizabeth National Park are only just now beginning to recover from years of
virtually unchecked poaching and habitat destruction. Tom Okello, the chief
game warden at the park (and no relation to my driver), and Margaret
Driciru, Queen Elizabeth's chief veterinarian, each told me that they weren't
aware of the attack in Kyambura. When I mentioned it to the executive
director of the wildlife authority, Moses Mapesa, upon my initial arrival in
the capital city, Kampala, he eventually admitted that it did happen, but he
claimed that it was not nearly as recent as reported. "That was 14 years
ago," he said. "We have seen aggressive behavior from elephants, but that's
a story of the past."

Kyambura did look, upon our arrival, much like every other small Ugandan
farming community I'd passed through on my visit. Lush fields of banana
trees, millet and maize framed a small town center of pastel-colored
single-story cement buildings with corrugated-tin roofs. People sat on
stoops out front in the available shade. Bicyclers bore preposterously
outsize loads of bananas, firewood and five-gallon water jugs on their
fenders and handlebars. Contrary to what I had read, the bicycle traffic
along the road in and out of Kyambura didn't seem impaired in the slightest.

But when Okello and I asked a shopkeeper named Ibrah Byamukama about
elephant attacks, he immediately nodded and pointed to a patch of maize and
millet fields just up the road, along the edges of the surrounding
Maramagambo Forest. He confirmed that a small group of elephants charged out
one morning two years earlier, trampled the fields and nearby gardens,
knocked down a few huts and then left. He then pointed to a long orange gash
in the earth between the planted fields and the forest: a 15-foot-deep,
25-foot-wide trench that had been dug by the wildlife authority around the
perimeter of Kyambura in an attempt to keep the elephants at bay. On the way
out of town, Okello and I took a closer look at the trench. It was filled
with stacks of thorny shrubs for good measure.

"The people are still worried," Byamukama said, shaking his head. "The
elephants are just becoming more destructive. I don't know why."

Three years ago, Gay Bradshaw, then working on her graduate degree in
psychology at the Pacifica Graduate Institute outside Santa Barbara, Calif.,
began wondering much the same thing: was the extraordinary behavior of
elephants in Africa and Asia signaling a breaking point? With the assistance
of several established African-elephant researchers, including Daphne
Sheldrick and Cynthia Moss, and with the help of Allan Schore, an expert on
human trauma disorders at the department of psychiatry and biobehavioral
sciences at U.C.L.A., Bradshaw sought to combine traditional research into
elephant behavior with insights about trauma drawn from human neuroscience.
Using the few remaining relatively stable elephant herds in places like
Amboseli National Park in Kenya, as control groups, Bradshaw and her
colleagues analyzed the far more fractious populations found in places like
Pilanesberg in South Africa and Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda.
What emerged was a portrait of pervasive pachyderm dysfunction.

Elephants, when left to their own devices, are profoundly social creatures.
A herd of them is, in essence, one incomprehensibly massive elephant: a
somewhat loosely bound and yet intricately interconnected, tensile organism.
Young elephants are raised within an extended, multitiered network of doting
female caregivers that includes the birth mother, grandmothers, aunts and
friends. These relations are maintained over a life span as long as 70
years. Studies of established herds have shown that young elephants stay
within 15 feet of their mothers for nearly all of their first eight years of
life, after which young females are socialized into the matriarchal network,
while young males go off for a time into an all-male social group before
coming back into the fold as mature adults.

When an elephant dies, its family members engage in intense mourning and
burial rituals, conducting weeklong vigils over the body, carefully covering
it with earth and brush, revisiting the bones for years afterward, caressing
the bones with their trunks, often taking turns rubbing their trunks along
the teeth of a skull's lower jaw, the way living elephants do in greeting.
If harm comes to a member of an elephant group, all the other elephants are
aware of it. This sense of cohesion is further enforced by the elaborate
communication system that elephants use. In close proximity they employ a
range of vocalizations, from low-frequency rumbles to higher-pitched screams
and trumpets, along with a variety of visual signals, from the waving of
their trunks to subtle anglings of the head, body, feet and tail. When
communicating over long distances - in order to pass along, for example,
news about imminent threats, a sudden change of plans or, of the utmost
importance to elephants, the death of a community member - they use patterns
of subsonic vibrations that are felt as far as several miles away by
exquisitely tuned sensors in the padding of their feet.


Page 3 of Cool

This fabric of elephant society, Bradshaw and her colleagues concluded, had
effectively been frayed by years of habitat loss and poaching, along with
systematic culling by government agencies to control elephant numbers and
translocations of herds to different habitats. The number of older
matriarchs and female caregivers (or "allomothers") had drastically fallen,
as had the number of elder bulls, who play a significant role in keeping
younger males in line. In parts of Zambia and Tanzania, a number of the
elephant groups studied contained no adult females whatsoever. In Uganda,
herds were often found to be "semipermanent aggregations," as a paper
written by Bradshaw describes them, with many females between the ages of 15
and 25 having no familial associations.

As a result of such social upheaval, calves are now being born to and raised
by ever younger and inexperienced mothers. Young orphaned elephants,
meanwhile, that have witnessed the death of a parent at the hands of
poachers are coming of age in the absence of the support system that defines
traditional elephant life. "The loss of elephants elders," Bradshaw told me,
"and the traumatic experience of witnessing the massacres of their family,
impairs normal brain and behavior development in young elephants."

What Bradshaw and her colleagues describe would seem to be an extreme form
of anthropocentric conjecture if the evidence that they've compiled from
various elephant resesarchers, even on the strictly observational level,
wasn't so compelling. The elephants of decimated herds, especially orphans
who've watched the death of their parents and elders from poaching and
culling, exhibit behavior typically associated with post-traumatic stress
disorder and other trauma-related disorders in humans: abnormal startle
response, unpredictable asocial behavior, inattentive mothering and
hyperaggression. Studies of the various assaults on the rhinos in South
Africa, meanwhile, have determined that the perpetrators were in all cases
adolescent males that had witnessed their families being shot down in
cullings. It was common for these elephants to have been tethered to the
bodies of their dead and dying relatives until they could be rounded up for
translocation to, as Bradshaw and Schore describe them, "locales lacking
traditional social hierarchy of older bulls and intact natal family

In fact, even the relatively few attempts that park officials have made to
restore parts of the social fabric of elephant society have lent substance
to the elephant-breakdown theory. When South African park rangers recently
introduced a number of older bull elephants into several destabilized
elephant herds in Pilanesburg and Addo, the wayward behavior - including
unusually premature hormonal changes among the adolescent elephants -

But according to Bradshaw and her colleagues, the various pieces of the
elephant-trauma puzzle really come together at the level of neuroscience, or
what might be called the physiology of psychology, by which scientists can
now map the marred neuronal fields, snapped synaptic bridges and crooked
chemical streams of an embattled psyche. Though most scientific knowledge of
trauma is still understood through research on human subjects, neural
studies of elephants are now under way. (The first functional M.R.I. scan of
an elephant brain, taken this year, revealed, perhaps not surprisingly, a
huge hippocampus, a seat of memory in the mammalian brain, as well as a
prominent structure in the limbic system, which processes emotions.) Allan
Schore, the U.C.L.A. psychologist and neuroscientist who for the past 15
years has focused his research on early human brain development and the
negative impact of trauma on it, recently wrote two articles with Bradshaw
on the stress-related neurobiological underpinnings of current abnormal
elephant behavior.

"We know that these mechanisms cut across species," Schore told me. "In the
first years of humans as well as elephants, development of the emotional
brain is impacted by these attachment mechanisms, by the interaction that
the infant has with the primary caregiver, especially the mother. When these
early experiences go in a positive way, it leads to greater resilience in
things like affect regulation, stress regulation, social communication and
empathy. But when these early experiences go awry in cases of abuse and
neglect, there is a literal thinning down of the essential circuits in the
brain, especially in the emotion-processing areas."
29554  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sen. Ted Kennedy on: November 06, 2006, 04:12:41 PM

This raises my hackles quite a bit.


KGB Letter Outlines Sen. Kennedy's Overtures to Soviets, Prof Says
By Kevin Mooney Staff Writer
October 20, 2006

( - The antipathy that congressional Democrats have today toward
President George W. Bush is reminiscent of their distrust of President
Ronald Reagan during the Cold War, a political science professor says.

"We see some of the same sentiments today, in that some Democrats see the
Republican president as being a threat and the true obstacle to peace,
instead of seeing our enemies as the true danger," said Paul Kengor, a
political science professor at Grove City College and the author of new
book, The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism.

In his book, which came out this week, Kengor focuses on a KGB letter
written at the height of the Cold War that shows that Sen. Edward Kennedy
(D-Mass.) offered to assist Soviet leaders in formulating a public relations
strategy to counter President Reagan's foreign policy and to complicate his
re-election efforts.

The letter, dated May 14, 1983, was sent from the head of the KGB to Yuri
Andropov, who was then General Secretary of the Soviet Union's Communist

In his letter, KGB head Viktor Chebrikov offered Andropov his interpretation
of Kennedy's offer. Former U.S. Sen. John Tunney (D-Calif.) had traveled to
Moscow on behalf of Kennedy to seek out a partnership with Andropov and
other Soviet officials, Kengor claims in his book.

At one point after President Reagan left office, Tunney acknowledged that he
had played the role of intermediary, not only for Kennedy but for other U.S.
senators, Kengor said. Moreover, Tunney told the London Times that he had
made 15 separate trips to Moscow.

"There's a lot more to be found here," Kengor told Cybercast News Service.
"This was a shocking revelation."

It is not evident with whom Tunney actually met in Moscow. But the letter
does say that Sen. Kennedy directed Tunney to reach out to "confidential
contacts" so Andropov could be alerted to the senator's proposals.

Specifically, Kennedy proposed that Andropov make a direct appeal to the
American people in a series of television interviews that would be organized
in August and September of 1983, according to the letter.

"Tunney told his contacts that Kennedy was very troubled about the decline
in U.S -Soviet relations under Reagan," Kengor said. "But Kennedy attributed
this decline to Reagan, not to the Soviets. In one of the most striking
parts of this letter, Kennedy is said to be very impressed with Andropov and
other Soviet leaders."

In Kennedy's view, the main reason for the antagonism between the United
States and the Soviet Union in the 1980s was Reagan's unwillingness to yield
on plans to deploy middle-range nuclear missiles in Western Europe, the KGB
chief wrote in his letter.

"Kennedy was afraid that Reagan was leading the world into a nuclear war,"
Kengor said. "He hoped to counter Reagan's polices, and by extension hurt
his re-election prospects."

As a prelude to the public relations strategy Kennedy hoped to facilitate on
behalf of the Soviets, Kengor said, the Massachusetts senator had also
proposed meeting with Andropov in Moscow -- to discuss the challenges
associated with disarmament.

In his appeal, Kennedy indicated he would like to have Sen. Mark Hatfield
(R-Ore.) accompany him on such a trip. The two senators had worked together
on nuclear freeze proposals.

But Kennedy's attempt to partner with high-level Soviet officials never
materialized. Andropov died after a brief time in office and was succeeded
by Mikhail Gorbachev.

In his attempt to reach out the Soviets, Kennedy settled on a flawed
receptacle for peace, Kengor said. Andropov was a much more belligerent and
confrontational leader than the man who followed him, in Kengor's

"If Andropov had lived and Gorbachev never came to power, I can't imagine
the Cold War ending peacefully like it did," Kengor told Cybercast News
Service. "Things could have gotten ugly."

In the long run of history, Kengor believes it is evident that Reagan's
policies were vindicated while Kennedy was proven wrong. In fact, as he
points out in his book, Kennedy himself made a "gracious concession" after
Reagan died, crediting the 40th president with winning the Cold War.
29555  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Mexico City Bombings on: November 06, 2006, 02:39:57 PM
Mexico City Bombings: An Escalation in Tensions
Just after midnight Nov. 6, emergency officials in Mexico City received two telephone calls from an unknown source warning that bombs were about to detonate. A few minutes later, bombs exploded outside of the headquarters of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), a Scotiabank branch and the Federal Electoral Tribunal building. Two more improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were defused later outside of another Scotiabank branch and another PRI building. No serious injuries have been reported.

Although those responsible for the bombings have not been identified, Mexico is facing political and social unrest from two separate camps -- suggesting one of the two, or perhaps a sympathetic outside group, is upping the ante.

Most of the bombs contained approximately 11 pounds of the commercial blasting compound hydrogel, making them fairly large devices (the IED defused outside the PRI building contained just about 1 pound of explosives). Moreover, Mexican security officials said the IEDs were more sophisticated than the kinds of devices seen in previous attacks in the capital, although these were the first bombings in Mexico City since November 2005. At that time, an anti-globalization group calling itself the Barbarous Mexico Revolutionary Workers' Commando detonated two similarly sized bombs outside of two banks, one U.S.-owned and one Spanish-owned.

The tactics employed in the Nov. 6 bombings are similar to those used in the past by leftist groups such as the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR) and its various splinters. Although the bombs were larger than those normally used, they were operated on battery-powered timers that were set to detonate at night, when fewer people would be in the area. The defused bombs even had warning signs affixed to them that read "Danger -- Bomb."

The bombings could very well be related to the unrest in Oaxaca state, where an annual teacher's protest has spiraled into a full-blown insurrection that has seen leftists and other opposition groups demand the removal of state Gov. Ulises Ruiz of the PRI.

The People's Popular Assembly of Oaxaca (APPO), the main group in the poorly organized and loosely affiliated movement in Oaxaca, denied later Nov. 6 that it had any part in the bombings. The involvement of militants from the region or groups sympathetic to the APPO cause, however, cannot be ruled out. Even if the APPO leadership did not order the bombings, some of the group's fringe members -- those who believe the group's leadership is unwilling to take the necessary measures -- might have decided to take matters into their own hands.

Just last month, the crisis in Oaxaca took a more violent turn when previously unknown leftist group Revolutionary Armed Organization of the People of Oaxaca (ORAPO), detonated three small IEDs at banks in the troubled state. The ORAPO, however, claimed responsibility for that attack in a letter left at one of the sites. So far, no group has claimed responsibility for the Mexico City attacks.

The bombings also could be related to this summer's controversial presidential election. Supporters of failed candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador have been increasingly vocal about the strife in Oaxaca -- and could be planning to co-opt it into their agenda. The Federal Electoral Tribunal, which issued the ruling on the contested election that denied Lopez Obrador a victory, could have been targeted by his supporters.

If the bombings are directly connected to Oaxaca, it indicates the unrest that spread from rural Mexico to the capital is escalating. If the bombings are related to the elections, it suggests the opposition is raising the ante while the government tries to deal with the situation in Oaxaca. With both issues unsettled, the remnants of the EPR, its splinters or groups acting on behalf of the Oaxacans would have no shortage of motivations to carry out similar attacks.

Regardless of the motive, these bombings have serious implications for future stability and security in Mexico. President-elect Felipe Calderon, who had hoped to avoid having to deal with the Lopez Obrador or Oaxaca situations when he takes office Dec. 1, will likely find that both issues continue to fester -- and probably escalate. As long as the situation in Oaxaca is unresolved, the risk of similar attacks in the capital will remain.
Send questions or comments
29556  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Griffith Observatory on: November 06, 2006, 12:51:21 PM
29557  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / God and Sex on: November 06, 2006, 10:58:56 AM
Woof All:

We've certainly been willing to explore the good and the bad about Islam, so it seems more than fair that EVERYONE is fair game for fair questions. 

The Catholic Church has been on the forefront of "family values" yet seems to have a lot of people in it who have a hard time living up to its values.  Why is this?

29558  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Stock Market on: November 06, 2006, 10:40:32 AM
This thread is for chatter on particular stocks.  I'll start with a couple I've filed under the heading of "reckless"

Based upon a Spear report suggestion, I am in on MVIS at 1.90, so I am up 50% in very short order.

KVHI (think Sat Radio like XMSR, but instead its for TV-- which includes military battlefield application).  I rode this one up and down on its ride to 30 and got out too late to profit much, but got back in , , , just in time for the recent drop on options issues.  Ugh-- but I've bought some more in the 11s.  We shall see.

On a less reckless basis, I'm following David Gordon's calls on GOOG, UARM and am looking to fatten my position in RACK.

Even at last again on IRF.
29559  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Deipnosophist on: November 06, 2006, 10:33:26 AM
There's an entry today.
29560  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: November 06, 2006, 10:04:20 AM
MEXICO: Three bombs exploded simultaneously outside of the headquarters of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, a ScotiaBank branch and the Federal Electoral Tribunal building in Mexico City. Another homemade device was deactivated outside a separate ScotiaBank branch. No serious injuries have been reported.

29561  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action on: November 06, 2006, 09:48:30 AM
Godawful music, but the facts inspire

And yes, we have checked it on

And here's this:? Marine Corps News
Rochester, N.Y. Marine, receives Navy Cross
May 6, 2004; Submitted on: 04/21/2005 01:33:28 PM ; Story ID#: 200456162723

By Cpl. Jeremy Vought, MCB Camp Pendleton

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (May 6, 2004) -- Marine Capt. Brian R. Chontosh received the Navy Cross Medal from the Commandant of the United States Marine Corps, Gen. Michael W. Hagee, during an awards ceremony Thursday at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Training Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif.

Three other Marines received medals for valor at the same ceremony.

Chontosh, 29, from Rochester, N.Y. , received the naval service's second highest award for extraordinary heroism while serving as Combined Anti-Armor Platoon Commander, Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom March 25, 2003. The Medal of Honor is the highest military award.

While leading his platoon north on Highway 1 toward Ad Diwaniyah, Chontosh's platoon moved into a coordinated ambush of mortars, rocket propelled grenades and automatic weapons fire. With coalitions tanks blocking the road ahead, he realized his platoon was caught in a kill zone.

He had his driver move the vehicle through a breach along his flank, where he was immediately taken under fire from an entrenched machine gun. Without hesitation, Chontosh ordered the driver to advanced directly at the enemy position enabling his .50 caliber machine gunner to silence the enemy.

He then directed his driver into the enemy trench, where he exited his vehicle and began to clear the trench with an M16A2 service rifle and 9 millimeter pistol. His ammunition depleted, Chontosh, with complete disregard for his safety, twice picked up discarded enemy rifles and continued his ferocious attack.

When a Marine following him found an enemy rocket propelled grenade launcher, Chontosh used it to destroy yet another group of enemy soldiers.

When his audacious attack ended, he had cleared over 200 meters of the enemy trench, killing more than 20 enemy soldiers and wounding several others.

"They are the reflection of the Marine Corps type who's service to the Marine Corps and country is held above their own safety and lives," said Gen. Hagee, commenting on the four Marines who received medals during the ceremony. "I'm proud to be here awarding the second highest and third highest awards for bravery to these great Marines."

"These four Marines are a reflection of every Marine and sailor in this great battalion," said Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, Sgt. Maj. John L. Estrada.

"I was just doing my job, I did the same thing every other Marine would have done, it was just a passion and love for my Marines, the experience put a lot into perspective," said Chontosh.

In effect since April 1917, and established by an Act of Congress on Feb. 4, 1919, the Navy Cross may be awarded to any person who, while serving with the Navy or Marine Corps, distinguishes himself/herself in action by extraordinary heroism not justifying an award of the Medal of Honor.

The action must take place under one of three circumstances: while engaged in action against an enemy of the United States; while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or, while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict in which the United States is not a belligerent party.
To earn a Navy Cross the act to be commended must be performed in the presence of great danger or at great personal risk and must be performed in such a manner as to render the individual highly conspicuous among others of equal grade, rate, experience, or position of responsibility.

More than 6,000 Navy Crosses have been awarded since World War I.
29562  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: on: November 06, 2006, 12:35:44 AM

I just saw it from beginning to end today.  Excellent presentation and as the following review suggests, I will be buying the DVD.

The review does discuss an important point I think when it discusses the intimidation factor in the Muslim world.  Our strategy needs to find a way to make connection with these people.


Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West

By Patrick Poole | July 28, 2006



If there?s a documentary that you need to purchase and invite all of your friends and neighbors over to watch, it?s Obsession: Radical Islam?s War against the West, a new film from This follows up on their previous documentary, Relentless: The Struggle for Peace in the Middle East, an equally excellent film that chronicled the long history of failed international diplomacy concerning the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.


But Obsession, their most recent effort, couldn?t be more timely, as it seeks to help its viewers better understand the religious, social, and political forces at work behind the current events in the Middle East. This movie is shocking, but in a way that avoids gratuitous scenes of dismembered body parts and heavy-handed polemics, which would seem to be temptation for anyone dealing with the (pardon the pun) explosive subject of radical Islam. The movie progresses at a quick pace and keeps your attention for its full 73 minutes.




The power of Obsession is its clarity and balance. From the very outset, the producers make it clear that the focus of the film is not to impute the violence of radical Islamists to most Muslims. The movie immediately qualifies that Islam itself and its overwhelming majority of peaceful, law-abiding adherents worldwide are not in view. In fact, in the first segment of the movie, Daniel Pipes makes a very important point:




The Islamists hate everything other than what they are themselves. They killed, for example, over 100,000 Algerians who disagreed with their brand of Islam. These are [their] fellow Muslims.




The message is hard to overstate: not only are Westerners being killed by the violence fueled by the virulent and toxic ideology of radical Islam, but so are Muslims who reject that ideology. In a recent article for the Weekly Standard, Olivier Guitta discussed the ongoing violence in Algeria, with dozens of Muslims being killed monthly by Islamist groups. One would only have to read the daily body count of the dozens ? sometimes hundreds ? of Muslims killed in Iraq by insurgents every day to get a sickening sense of the slaughter being driven by an ideology that has no reservations about killing its own.




The overriding theme of the film is that radical Islam is a greater threat than most everyone in the West will really admit, and that the West is in denial that. The first few minutes of the movie poses a challenge to any viewer who would dismiss or diminish that threat, recounting a litany of terror attacks against the West or Westerners. As the attacks of 9/11, Madrid, Bali, Istanbul, Beslan, London, and others are quickly revisited, it is hard to avoid coming to terms with the scale of the conflict; and that the West, regardless of what a particular country?s political leanings, has been put in the crosshairs of this extremist worldview. Regardless of what the West is willing to admit, war has been declared on us by a determined enemy prepared to fight to the death to advance their ideology to every corner of the planet. And our very existence is an obstacle to that goal.




The second and third segments of the movie identify the critical elements of the radical Islamic worldview. Rooted in pretended grievances against the West mixed with rabidly anti-American sentiments, framed by bizarre conspiracy theories (many shared with the fringe constituency of the moonbat Left in the West) and outright paranoia, radical Islam has transformed its mother-religion by synthesizing these elements through the filter of Western revolutionary thought to create an ideological system for actuating Sorelian apocalyptic violence.




To help dissect this ideology, the film enlists the help of several former adherents, including Walid Shoebat, a former PLO terrorist, and Nonie Darwish, the daughter of a high-level Egyptian Fedayeen unit commander who was killed by Israeli forces. They help explain the culture of jihad that is the heart of a program of indoctrination that many Muslims in the Middle East encounter at a very early age. Adherents of radical Islam are taught to intentionally equivocate on their usage of particular terms for apologetic purposes, like ?jihad,? when talking to Westerners. While many imams will preach about jihad, when questioned about it, they describe it as an internal, subjective struggle with oneself. As Shoebat notes, however, the ?dual usage? terminology cannot mask the unavoidable consequences of such language:




People think about it, yes, jihad does mean self-struggle, struggle within. But so does Mein Kampf. Mein Kampf means ?my struggle.? But what struggle? Nazism had a struggle against what? What did the Jews do to tangle with Nazi Germany? Jihad is being used in the Middle East with struggle with the Jewish people, struggle with the West.




This deconstructive terminology and methodology are the practical elements for concealing from unwitting Westerners the culture of hatred that is engendered by the religious, educational, government and media institutions where radical Islam dominates. Beginning with an antithetical view that divides the whole of humanity into camps of Dar al-Islam (the House of Islam) and Dar al-Harb (the House of War), and through a process of dehumanizing and demonizing the West, added to an inflated sense of the cultural superiority of Islam, radical Islamic ideology not only justifies violence against their designated enemies, it makes violence a religious, moral and social obligation.




This culture of hatred has a counterpart in the West ? the culture of self-loathing and morbid introspectionism that is endemic to Western academia, media and ?progressive? politics. Questions that dominate their discourse are very familiar: ?Why do they hate us? and ?How are we to blame? automatically assume that the guilt for the violence and hatred of radical Islam should be placed entirely on the West, portraying the rage as a rational response to ?Western occupiers.?




The most effective element to Obsession is that it allows radical Islam to speak for itself. Using a number of clips recorded and translated by MEMRI and Palestinian Media Watch, along with clips taken directly from a number of Middle Eastern television networks, there is no way to avoid the violent messages and images that are all part of the theatre of radical Islam. Seeing thousands of Hezbollah fighters chanting ?Death to America? in Lebanon, hearing an Iraqi cleric preaching a Friday sermon about cutting the heads off the infidels, or watching a three and a half year-old Palestinian girl questioned on a children?s TV program about how Jews are apes and pigs, more than adequately communicates how widespread and how dangerous this worldview has become.




A point clearly made in Obsession is that radical Islamic ideology is fueling a global jihad movement. Caroline Glick, Senior Fellow at the Center for Security Policy, states:




Every single country is dealing with this on one level or another. You see that the Thais are dealing with it, the Philippinos are dealing with it, the Europeans are dealing with it in Madrid, the Russians are dealing with it in Chechnya, the British are dealing with it in London and Manchester. And of course you see it in the Middle East, whether it is in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, and of course, Israel and Saudi Arabia. And then you go to Africa, and you see that jihadis are operating from Djibouti to South Africa. All of these areas that we refer to as separate wars, the Palestinian war in Israel, the Iraq war ? they see all of these not as specific wars but as fronts in a global jihad.




But according for former federal prosecutor John Loftus, who was directly involved in many high-level terrorism cases for the U.S. government, many political and cultural leaders in the West have deliberately chosen to ignore the overwhelming evidence of the global jihad movement operating amongst us:




The infiltration of radical Islam is so deep, it?s shocking. And everyone is in denial about it. The minute you say this is an extremist group, all of a sudden it?s ?Oh, you?re not being politically correct.?




As the movie demonstrates through statements made by radical Islamic leaders, the Islamists make no bones about their willingness to turn the values of our pluralistic society against us. They don?t believe in our pluralistic values and they want to destroy those values, but they readily admit that they are useful tools to make it easier for them to undermine the West and accomplish their goal of global domination.




What is disconcerting is that the Western media is very receptive to the duplicity offered by radical Islamic leaders. The media?s lack of attention to this issue transcends mere negligence. In the movie, for example, we see a 2002 interview with British Al-Muhajiroun leader Anjem Choudary, who denounces the 9/11 attacks as acts of terrorism. And yet in September 2003 he is recorded at an Al-Muhajiroun event praising the ?Magnificent 19? ? that is, the 9/11 hijackers.




Western governments are complicit in this duplicity, as well. Al-Muhajiroun disbanded in 2004 before the British government could designate it a terrorist organization, but Choudary reappeared representing a new organization, Al Gurabaa, which was also designated a terrorist organization just this month. An article in the Guardian this past weekend states that Choudary and his associates are redirecting their efforts to dozens of other radical organizations, but the Blair administration is reluctant to deal decisively with Choudary and his cultural combatants.




What the treatment of Choudary demonstrates is the lengths to which Western governments (the Bush administration would just as easily qualify here, as well) will go to avoid confronting the domestic threat from radical Islam by allowing well-known organizations and personalities advancing an extremist worldview to operate openly and without hindrance, despite any direct ties they might have to terror organizations. In America, one example will more than suffice to prove this point: the Council for American-Islamic Relations.




The final segments of Obsession draw a historical parallel between the failure by the West to confront the threat from Nazism in the 1930s and the current failure to come to terms with the global threat from radical Islam. We have many Neville Chamberlain?s today proclaiming ?Peace in Our Time? and arguing for appeasement of radical Islam?s demands. But capitulation didn?t work for Chamberlain, and it is unlikely to prove more successful today.




As historian, Sir Martin Gilbert, Winston Churchill?s official biographer, notes during the documentary, the real problem is with those who fail to recognize the problem, and those that do, yet who choose to do nothing:




In the 1930s, the danger of Nazism was there, it was in everything Hitler wrote and said, and everything Nazi authorities did. In the corruption in a whole generation of German youth through the propaganda of Nazism in schools. But people thought, ?Well, this is a German problem, it is a limited problem. We have our own problems, we have our unemployment.? And I think the same is true today. They don?t connect the dots. They don?t connect the acts together. They don?t see that Islamic fundamentalism is a global network and a global problem?People don?t want to feel that this is part of a single threat, because if you come to that conclusion, and I?m sure it is the true conclusion, then you have to do something about it.




The intent of Obsession is to challenge viewers in the 21st Century to begin to do something in the face of as grave a threat as Nazism posed to the world in the 20th Century. The movie both begins and ends with a quote from 18th Century British parliamentarian, Edmund Burke: ?The only thing needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.?




Since the rise of radical Islam in the 1970s and 80s, the West has really done little to respond to the escalating threat. In the 1990s, the Clinton Administration and the Republican-led Congress were perfect examples of ?do-nothing? government in response to the repeated terrorist acts against our country during that decade. The 9/11 attacks were the result of that failed ?do-nothing? policy. As with Nazi Germany, all the signs were there: Osama bin Laden had already openly declared war on the United States and launched several attacks, and radical Islamic terrorists had already tried to bring down the World Trade Center. What more evidence did we need? And yet America slept and continued to do nothing.




Since 9/11, America has finally responded. It eradicated al-Qaeda?s Taliban haven in Afghanistan and took down Saddam Hussein?s regime, which had been one of the most active sponsors of state-supported terrorism directed at the West. But still that is far from enough. In many respects, we are still following many of the same ?do-nothing? policies of the past three decades. Regardless of any successes in Afghanistan and Iraq, the threat is not only growing internationally, but inside the United States as well, without any response whatsoever.




There are additional observations and elaborations I could make based on the film about how the Western media distorts what?s really going on; how radical Islam perceives its conflict with the West as a religious war; how institutionalized the extremist worldview is within the Islamic world; and how the culture of death and violence is taught in their schools, preached in their mosques, supported by their leaders, and broadcast by their media; but I?ll let the movie speak for itself on those points.




The last comment I would make, however, is that this movie puts the current conflict between Israel, Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria and Iran in context. What Obsession establishes beyond any reasonable doubt is that the conflict between Israel and radical Islam is a proxy war by Islamic extremists against the West. In recent days, critics of all stripes put the blame on America?s foreign policy towards Israel, but what exactly is it that they have a problem with? When we leaned on Israel to withdraw from Gaza and the West Bank, did the attitude of radical Islam worldwide suddenly change? No. What then is their real problem with our policies towards Israel? Their real beef with America is that we have cooperated in Israel?s continued existence.




As George Santayana once said, those who forget the past will be condemned to repeat it. In a cosmic historical twist, the Jews in Israel are faced again with extinction for the religious and cultural values they represent, and the West is forced to consider what to do. During the 1930s, the West did nothing, and the world was inflamed with war and tens of millions of innocents died at the hands of Nazism. As Nazism spread and the concentration camps were filled (and emptied), denying that there was a conflict became a moot issue and those who choose to do nothing became irrelevant. And this time, the threat is not confined to nation-state. The battlefield for radical Islam is the entire world.




Whether you are a skeptic or a believer in the global threat of radical Islam, Obsession is a film everyone needs to see. It should be shown in churches, mosques and synagogues; Lion?s Club meetings and Kiwanis lunches; corporate board rooms and cafeterias; public libraries and legislative offices. And the reason it needs to be seen is for no other reason that in light of the immediate danger posed by radical Islam, each one of us is going to have to decide, what will we do? This will not be a battle in which anyone will be able to sit on the sidelines. The silent witness of the 3,000 Americans killed on 9/11 bears testimony to that. The obsession of radical Islam to destroy the West and to impose their ideology globally will not allow anyone to remain untouched. The question stands: what will you do?


You can view a trailer or purchase a DVD of Obsession: Radical Islam?s War against the West by going to the movie?s website.

29563  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: November 05, 2006, 05:31:07 PM

Radical Islam finds US 'sterile ground'
Home-grown terror cells are largely missing in action, a contrast to Europe's situation.
By Alexandra Marks | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

NEW YORK ? The Islamist radicalism that inspired young Muslims to attack their own countries - in London, Madrid, and Bali - has not yielded similar incidents in the United States, at least so far.
"Home-grown" terror cells remain a concern of US law officers, who cite several disrupted plots since 9/11. But the suspects' unsophisticated planning and tiny numbers have led some security analysts to conclude that America, for all its imperfections, is not fertile ground for producing jihadist terrorists.

AMERICA'S WAY: Omar Jaber of New York says Muslims in the US practice their religion 'without complications.'
In the Monitor
Monday, 11/06/06

To understand why, experts point to people like Omar Jaber, an AmeriCorps volunteer; Tarek Radwan, a human rights advocate; and Hala Kotb, a consultant on Middle East affairs. They are the face of young Muslim-Americans today - educated, motivated, and integrated into society - and their voices help explain how the nation's history of inclusion has helped to defuse sparks of Islamist extremism.

"American society is more into the whole assimilation aspect of it," says New York-born Mr. Jaber. "In America, it's a lot easier to practice our religion without complications."

In a nation where mosques have sprung up alongside churches and synagogues, where Muslim women are free to wear the hijab (or not), and where education and job opportunities range from decent to good, the resentments that can breed extremism do not seem very evident in the Muslim community. Since 9/11, however, concern is rising among Muslim-Americans that they are becoming targets of bias and suspicion - by law enforcement as well as fellow citizens. It's a disquieting trend, say the young Muslims - one that might eventually help radicalism to grow.

It's impossible to pinpoint the factors that produce home-grown terrorists, analysts say. But it's also impossible to ignore the stark contrast between the lives of Muslims in European countries where bombings have occurred and those of Muslims in America.

"What we have here among Muslim-Americans is a very conservative success ethic," says John Zogby, president of Zogby International in Utica, N.Y., whose polling firm has surveyed the Muslim-American community. "People come to this country and they like it. They don't view it as the belly of the beast. With very few exceptions, you don't see the bitter enclaves that you have in Europe."

Life in America vs. life in Europe

Part of what so shocked Spain about the Madrid train bombers, and then Britain after the London subway and bus bombings in July 2005, was that most of the perpetrators were native sons. In each case, the young men, allegedly inspired by Al Qaeda ideology, came from poorer neighborhoods heavy on immigrants. (By contrast, a plot foiled in August to blow up airplanes over the Atlantic involved suspects from leafy, middle- and upper-middle-class neighborhoods in Britain.)

America, too, has poorer neighborhoods with large Muslim concentrations, but they tend to be interspersed with other ethnic groups and better assimilated into society. Another difference, some suggest, is the general profile of Muslims who have come to the US and raised their families here.

Most Muslim immigrants came to America for educational or business opportunities and from educated, middle-class families in their home countries, according to an analysis by Peter Skerry of Boston College and the Brookings Institution. In Europe, the majority came to work in factory jobs and often from poorer areas at home.

European Muslims today live primarily in isolated, low-income enclaves where opportunities for good jobs and a good education are limited. In the US, 95 percent of Muslim-Americans are high school graduates, according to "Muslims in the Public Square," a Zogby International survey in 2004. Almost 60 percent are college graduates, and Muslims are thriving economically around the country. Sixty-nine percent of adults make more than $35,000 a year, and one-third earn more than $75,000, the survey showed.

In Britain, by contrast, two-thirds of Muslims live in low-income households, according to British census data. Three-quarters of those households are overcrowded. British Muslims' jobless rate is 15 percent - three times higher than in the general population. For young Muslims between 16 and 24, the jobless rate is higher: 17.5 percent.

"The culture is qualitatively different [in the American Muslim community] from what we've seen from public information from Europe, and that actually says very positive things about our society," says Jonathan Winer, a terrorism expert in Washington. "We don't have large populations of immigrants with a generation sitting around semi-employed and deeply frustrated. That's a gigantic difference."

Jaber, the AmeriCorps volunteer, who is studying to become a medical doctor, says he has not experienced anti-Muslim bias. In part, he says, that may be because he doesn't have an accent or look particularly Middle Eastern - his father is Palestinian and his mother Filipino. But he also credits America's melting-pot mentality, as does Ms. Kotb, the Middle East consultant.

 'NOT ISOLATED': Hala Kotb of Washington cites 'progressive attitudes' within the Muslim community where she grew up.
"We weren't isolated growing up. We were part of the culture," says Kotb, who grew up outside Washington in a family that inculcated a success ethic. "Religion was important, but not so much that you'd have to cover your head or if you don't pray five times a day, that's it - nothing like that. There were a lot more progressive attitudes" within her local Muslim community.

In mosques in America, it's fairly common for imams to preach assimilation, says Mr. Zogby. That's not as true in Europe, particularly in poorer neighborhoods where sermons can be laced with extremism.

"The success of ... Saudi-inspired religious zealotry in Europe was in large part because the Saudis put up the money to build mosques and pay for imams," says Ian Cuthbertson, a counterterrorism expert at the World Policy Institute at the New School for Social Research. "The American Muslim community was rich enough not to require Saudi money to build its mosques."

In Europe, it's estimated that millions of second- and third-generation Muslims have not been well assimilated in their adopted countries, so have little or no fealty to either the European country they live in or the one their parents were born in. "They are much more susceptible to the Internet, returning jihadist fighters, and extremist imams," says Thomas Sanderson of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "There's no doubt that Europe has an incubator environment and we have a somewhat sterile environment for radicalism."

To be sure, the United States has brought charges in several terrorism-related cases involving American Muslims. Some have resulted in convictions, notably the 2002 case of six Yemeni-Americans from Lackawanna, N.Y. Other cases are pending. (See chart on Page 2.)

Identifying and tracking home-grown terrorists is a complicated task - one that risks alienating or even infuriating the general Muslim-American citizenry if tactics are seen as unfair.

Feeling a chill

The young Muslims interviewed for this story chose their words carefully, but their inference is clear: They worry that suspicion toward Muslims has been building since 9/11, and they suggest that US intervention in Iraq and its support for Israel cause angst among many Arab-Americans.

US foreign policies "in the long term are going to hurt the US," says Mr. Radwan, the human rights activist, who works in Washington. "They, along with the crackdown on Muslim-Americans [by law enforcement], feed a feeling of resentment and the perception that the US acts on the basis of a double standard."

Indeed, America's Muslim community would wage the war on terror differently. According to the 2004 Zogby survey, three-quarters say the best way is for the US to change its foreign policy in the Middle East by recognizing a Palestinian state and being less supportive of Israel.

A newer concern for America's Muslims is their standing in post-9/11 society. Many sense that the ground under their feet is shifting - and young people like Florida-born Radwan, in particular, feel it. A 2001 graduate of Texas A&M University, Radwan wanted to become a doctor and began working as a medical researcher. One month after the 9/11 attacks, he was let go - at the end of a three-month probationary period. Afterward, he says, he couldn't get even an interview for a job that used his biochemistry degree or research skills. Eventually he abandoned his hopes of a medical career and shifted to human rights work.

That experience leads him to suggest another reason the US hasn't seen European-style homegrown terror cells: the intense scrutiny the FBI has focused on Muslim-Americans. "That is good in the short term, but bad in the long term," he says. "The Bush administration policies feed resentment that ... will stay in the Arab- American psyche for a long time."

The FBI says it doesn't target any community, neighborhood, or religion. Agents simply go where the leads take them, says John Miller, the FBI's assistant director of public affairs. But he adds: "We have put a growing effort into community outreach because we understand the discomfort the amount of pressure our attention can bring to a community."

Story continues below

Click here to enlarge the image 
The 'home-grown' threat: Is it overstated?
A small but growing number of analysts believe that some US officials have overstated the threat of homegrown Islamist radicalism in the United States. While Al Qaeda and foreign terrorists remain determined to attack in America, they say, the focus on potential American cells may be leading the US to misdirect its antiterror efforts.

"My theory as to why we haven't found any [homegrown Islamist terrorist cells] is because there aren't very many of them.... They aren't the diabolical, capable, and inventive people envisioned by most politicians and people in the terrorism industry," says John Mueller, a political scientist at Ohio State University. "The danger is that we've wasted an enormous amount of money with all of the wiretaps [and] investigations, and diverted two-thirds of the FBI from criminal work to terrorism work."

The FBI calls such conclusions "uninformed," citing alleged plots by radicalized US citizens. The most notable was the case of the Lackawanna Six, so named for the six Yemeni-Americans from Lackawanna, N.Y., who went to Al Qaeda training camps in the spring of 2001.

"The people who make these claims [about threats being exaggerated] are never the ones responsible for preventing these attacks," says John Miller, the FBI's assistant director of public affairs. "The point is that if you're the dead guy, or you're a family member of one of those guys, all you know is that you wanted someone to develop the intelligence and take the actions to prevent it."

Still, a lack of public evidence pointing to extensive Islamist extremism in the US is leading a small but growing number of experts to agree with Professor Meuller's assessment. Like Meuller, though, they add a cautionary note.

"There's not zero threat in any community, but it is good news and we have to hope that reflects an underlying reality that [homegrown extremist cells] don't exist here," says Jonathan Winer, a terrorism expert in Washington. "You've always got lone nuts in every imaginable ethnic group grabbing every imaginable ideology to justify terrorism."
29564  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Articulos en espanol sobre Dog Brothers Martial Arts on: November 05, 2006, 03:07:05 PM

Si alguien quiere comentar sobre un articulo en particular, favor de comenzar un hilo dedicado al tem-- Gracias
29565  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Boxing Thread on: November 05, 2006, 03:02:07 PM,0,1560345.column

 Neil Best

Boxing: It's down but not out
November 5, 2006

Back in January we left a message for Bob Arum, seeking his take on the sorry state of TV boxing. This was after HBO Sports' Ross Greenburg fingered promoters and managers as "short-term greedy."  Arum never called back. But SportsWatch never gives up, and Tuesday we cornered him over lunch at the Friars Club - an old-school venue for an old- school promoter.
Turns out he agrees with Greenburg that there are far too many quality fights relegated to pay per view, and he did not excuse promoters for that. But not surprisingly, he put more blame on the fighters.

"I try very much to steer it to [non-PPV] pay television, but it's a competitive environment," he said. "Some fighters will understand that hey, the exposure is much better. This is for the future. Other guys say, just give me the money."

There were several curse words excised from the above, the kind of colorful language that makes it difficult not to like the 74-year-old, Harvard-educated, Las Vegas-based New Yorker - even if, as with everyone in boxing, it is wise not to believe everything he says.  Arum is long removed from his days promoting the likes of Marvin Hagler and Roberto Duran, but he's still plugging away and does not sugarcoat the challenges facing the sport.  Among them, he said, is the difficulty young fighters, especially Americans, have getting exposure from HBO and Showtime, which prefer big names. Arum cited one of his own, Kelly Pavlik, a middleweight who Thursday fought on the latest Versus card, for which Arum provides bouts.

The quality of the Versus cards, which debuted in July, has been uneven; like those on other outlets, they are a big step down from HBO and Showtime. But Arum said they are the type of showcase the sport and unheralded boxers need.  Of course, it could just be that mainstream America is through with boxing for good. Times change. Now boxing must battle even for what should be its natural audience.  Ultimate Fighting Championship, which combines boxing, wrestling and martial arts, has been a ratings hit among young males.  In the 18-34 age group, a Tito Ortiz-Ken Shamrock fight Oct. 10 on Spike TV beat recent boxing cards, the World Series and almost everything else in cable sports other than football.

Arum praised UFC for doing a better job of putting on a show for fans outside the ring than does boxing, and admitted UFC has "got us jealous," given its ratings and demographics.

"There is an acquired taste for that type of combat," he said. "I don't like it, but I'm not the be-all-and-end-all."

Nor is boxing itself, which often is relegated to programming filler.  Through it all, Arum plows on. Why does he bother? Because he still makes money, and because, he added, "I'm having fun."

29566  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Peru on: November 05, 2006, 02:26:12 PM

Treasure quest endangers Peru's bears 
By Hugh O'Shaughnessy
BBC News, Peru 

Economic development is putting some of Peru's oldest inhabitants in danger of extinction.

Spectacled bears are the only bear species found in South America I learnt I was in Paddington territory the other day 13,000 feet up in the Peruvian Andes. I was chatting to Captain Sutcliffe of the Peruvian air force whose Russian helicopter had brought me up to an isolated mine site east of the local capital Piura.

He and his crew are extremely skilful aviators.

They avoided vertical walls of rock and put us down on a spot rather smaller than you would find on a warship at sea, before buzzing off up and down the tropical valley with heavy loads of mining equipment slung underneath their aircraft. There, beside the Rio Blanco, the border between Peru and Ecuador, a British company, Monterrico Metals, is planning to dig up millions of tonnes a year of valuable copper ore and send it down a massive pipeline to the Pacific Ocean.

"Much wild life about in this altitude?" I asked.

"Well, sometimes we see bears," Sutcliffe replied.

"They're not very big but they can be aggressive. When we see them we run."

Reclusive inhabitants

Helicopters, however useful to the mining company, must be a not particularly welcome novelty for the bears who have been inhabiting the cloud forest of these latitudes for some two million years past.

Paddington Bear's associates could be forced out of "darkest Peru" 
White marks around the eyes means they are sometimes called "spectacled bears".

The males sometimes grow to two metres or more and can weigh 200 kilos. Females are smaller and lighter and look after their young for a year or more after birth. They live a vegetarian life, eating fruits and seeds the forest provides, in solitude and certainly flee contact with humans. During the day they keep to the platforms they build for themselves in the trees from where they can spy out any intruders.

For me, the exchange with Captain Sutcliffe high in the mountains perfectly encapsulated a situation which in one form or another is becoming ever more common in Peru. This country is a genuine treasure trove of mineral riches. It is the world's largest producer of silver and there is lead, copper, zinc, molybdenum - known as "Molly" in the trade - and much more. As international prices of metals have risen steeply, investors have poured in, seeking their fortunes, much as the Spanish conquistadors did 500 years ago seeking the gold of the Inca empire.

Yet this has coincided with the Peruvians taking a hard new look at what the mining - and, indeed, the metal smelting - industries are doing in Peru. They are certainly bringing more money into the country and pushing up output. The business-friendly, pro-US government of President Alan Garcia is naturally very pleased. But the hard new look has only underlined the vast damage that is being done to Peru's rivers, plains and forests and to its flora and fauna.

New investment

It has also strengthened some of the worst features of Peruvian society, namely the concentration of wealth in few hands and the criticism is not confined to the "usual suspects", the political left and the green lobby. In a hard-hitting document published last year the World Bank in Washington said, "expectations created by [mining] developments are damaged by the harm done to the environment, on the one hand, and the limits on the use and distribution of mining income, on the other."

While vast new investments have opened vast new mines, there have been a series of popular protests here in northern Peru by those whose immediate interests are harmed by the mining and who see little prospect of their families and their localities getting any benefit from the profits the mine owners expect to reap - and keep - for themselves.

One of the most famous and successful new mines is at Yanacocha which is producing fabulous amounts of gold. Yet the locals have halted the company's efforts to extend the diggings to a nearby mountain, the Cerro Quilish, which is the source of much of the area's drinking water.

And there were confrontations between police and locals when Manhattan, a Canadian company, tried to establish a mine which would have eaten deep into the town of Tambogrande and destroyed orchards which produce fine lemons and avocados. One protester was killed in the confusion.

Monterrico itself has been at odds with local people. Two protesters have lost their lives in violence. Protests centre on the possible danger to the waters which flow down from the watershed where the mine is to the Atlantic to the East and to the Pacific Ocean to the West.

Propaganda war

The pro- and anti-mining factions seem to be digging in their positions deeper every day. The opponents say that Monterrico lacks the community's permission to be at the mine site at all and their presence is therefore illegal.

What would Paddington Bear have thought about the whole affair?
The company has until recently been waging a propaganda war against its opponents, calling them terrorists and drug dealers.
Like President Garcia - who has just brought in new restrictions on them - it looks askance at non-governmental organisations.
It also is wary about the Catholic Church which it regards as all to partial to the local peasantry. This whole development is casting a shadow over the life of the dogged Bishop of Chulucanas.

Daniel Turley, born in Chicago, 63 years ago and in poor health, is critical of attitudes on both sides. He is still committed to finding a compromise which would allow the mine to go ahead while the interests of the locals are preserved. But as I talked to him in a hospital in the city of Piura he said that reconciliation was becoming an ever more difficult task.

From Our Own Correspondent was broadcast on Saturday, 4 November, 2006 at 1130 BST on BBC Radio 4. Please check the programme schedules for World Service transmission times.

29567  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Griffith Observatory on: November 05, 2006, 09:30:16 AM

I've noted in local press the renovation of the Griffith Observatory and wondered whether to take my son.  How perfectly timed then to find this piece by the NY Times's (don't hold that against him!) Edward Rothstein, whose columns it is always a pleasure to read.  Indeed, I always forward them to my mother in Peru and she has declared him to be "a mensch".  For those who don't know New Yorkese, which includes many Yiddish words, that's a good thing.


Observatory Review | 'Griffith Observatory'

A Human-Centered Cosmos in Domes to the Stars


Published: November 2, 2006

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 28 ? Walk into the central rotunda of the expanded Griffith Observatory ? the Los Angeles landmark that is to reopen Friday after being closed almost five years and undergoing $93 million of reconstruction ? and gaze up at the domed ceiling. You will see what 70 million visitors have glimpsed since the observatory opened in 1935, high above the city?s ever-expanding grid and sprawl: stern Jupiter grasping his thunderbolt, Atlas bearing the weight of the Zodiac, Mercury soaring, and Venus reclining. These are the heavenly bodies in their original mythological incarnations: gods and goddesses deploying stupendous and mystifying powers.

Skip to next paragraph

Enlarge This Image

Warren Aerial Photography

The Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles reopens tomorrow.

The Griffith Observatory, at 2800 East Observatory Road in Los Angeles, opens tomorrow; (323) 664-1181.

Readers? Opinions

Forum: Artists and Exhibitions

Enlarge This Image

Stephanie Diani for The New York Times

The central rotunda, showing the original artwork by Hugo Ballin.

Enlarge This Image

Stephanie Diani for The New York Times

The Big Picture exhibit at the Griffith Observatory, a Los Angeles landmark that has undergone a $93 million reconstruction and expansion.

As for seeing the stars in more realistic celestial domes, you will have to wait until night to look through the observatory?s 12-inch Zeiss telescope, or enter the new Samuel Oschin Planetarium, just past the rotunda, within which a custom-modified, Zeiss Universarium Mark IX projector will shine its technologically refined images on an aluminum dome above 300 reclining seats.

In the midst of celebrations of the Griffith?s return, such new attractions ? including an expansive lower level of exhibition space carved underneath the original building ? may get much of the attention. But Hugo Ballin?s original ceiling and murals in the rotunda reveal something more important. For this reconstruction is most remarkable not for what has changed, but for what has stayed the same. And that is a radical approach in the world of science exhibitions.

The rotunda?s ceiling holds the key. It shows not what the sky actually is but what humans once made of it, how it was observed and interpreted. Below it are eight murals, newly restored, that portray scientific advances that led to ever more subtle understandings: metallurgists, engineers and mathematicians, in busy colloquy, shape the cosmos through the millenniums. What is being portrayed is the classical human-centered universe. This is the very world that gave birth to the modern planetarium, in which the observer sits ? gazing upward, learning how to interpret what is seen ? as the universe moves around him in a sky dome that could well have been designed by Ptolemy.

When these murals were installed, the Griffith was only the third major planetarium in the United States. (Chicago and Philadelphia came first; the Hayden Planetarium in New York followed a few months later, all using Zeiss equipment.) Built with funds bequeathed to the city by a wealthy Welsh immigrant, Griffith J. Griffith (1850-1919), the observatory is operated by the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks as a public institution with free admission.

The Griffith?s portrayal of a human-centered universe was shared with other planetariums in the 1930?s, including the Hayden, which also had a lobby with mythological allusions, and a planetarium show, complete with Manhattan?s skyline. These new institutions also linked astronomy to the progressive populism of their era: knowledge about the heavens would inspire another generation of stargazers and explorers, leading to as yet unimagined possibilities.

But this is a very different time, and anything might have happened as the Griffith expanded. (Construction was financed in nearly equal portions by the city, voter-approved bonds and private donations.) In New York the Rose Center for Earth and Space, for example, the reinvention of the Hayden, rejected the perspective of human-centered mythology and looked through the opposite end of the telescope, emphasizing the insignificance of the human, dissolving Hayden?s home into galactic mist.

Something even more unpredictable might have happened here. After all, the Griffith has no affiliation with a university or research institution to provide an anchor. During reconstruction (the architects were Pfeiffer Partners), the building itself was raised by hydraulic lifts so the mountain beneath could be excavated, creating new exhibition areas and a 200-seat hall for shows and lectures, expanding 27,000 square feet of internal space into 67,000.

The only thing that couldn?t change was the observatory?s mission and the classic appearance of this Art Deco building, a landmark that has appeared in science-fiction movies accompanied by figures ranging from Gene Autry to Arnold Schwarzenegger, that had a cameo role in ?Rebel Without a Cause,? and that defines the skyline for parts of Los Angeles.

Many institutions have given in to far lesser temptations by seeking to increase the size of their audience or alter their tone with flashier amusements or pander to lowered expectations with condescension. Yet what happened here? Griffith?s director, Edwin C. Krupp, told The Los Angeles Times earlier this year that the observatory ?won?t be in the mainstream of exhibition design at science centers, astronomy museums or any kind of museums.? And it isn?t. It is retrograde in every sense.

That is one of its virtues.

That doesn?t mean it isn?t flawed, but it does mean that the exhibitions by C&G Partners rather courageously turn their back on contemporary pressures in the museum world. One alcove, the Hall of the Sky, contains simple mechanical models mounted overhead that demonstrate the phases of the moon or how the tilt of the Earth?s axis creates its seasons. In another, live images of the sun?s surface are projected through the observatory?s solar telescope. Another gallery, the Hall of the Eye, displays the evolution of the telescope with panels, dioramas and cases, and shows how California became an ?Alexandria? of astronomical research in the 20th century.

The entire first floor has a quaint clarity. No display tries too much; all will be supplemented by guides offering assistance and information. The most dramatic exhibit is a relic of the original Griffith but bears little relation to the heavens: a Tesla coil housed in a metal cage, whose lightninglike sparks may provide the Griffith?s only spectacle aside from the stars. But all the exhibits remain deliberately human centered; they encourage observation and are about observation.

The new lower level, evoking the expanse of the universe in its cavernous space, is less coherent, but the observer remains central. Traditional panels describe the planets, which are arrayed in proportional size; an interactive computer screen highlights other planetary systems.

The most imposing exhibit, the Big Picture, is an image of what might be hidden behind your finger if held about a foot from your face against the night sky, as demonstrated by a bronze Einstein on a bench, his finger aloft. That strip of eclipsed space becomes a 152-foot-long, 20-foot-high photo of the heavens in porcelain enamel, its 114 panels mounted against the wall, showing the myriad galaxies, quasars and other celestial bodies visible in a finger?s breadth of our perceptible world.

As it turns out, the Big Picture is less interesting visually than conceptually. It does not, in itself, inspire a sense of awe at the heavens. That is reserved for the moment when, in a traditional planetarium, the twilight sky darkens, the overhead dome seems to dissolve, and one gazes upward at a boundless expanse.

But that sensation too is promised. The Griffith?s new planetarium show was still being worked on during my visit, but Mr. Krupp said it would be in keeping with the mythic possibilities of the rotunda, dramatizing a history of our understanding of the universe. Most remarkably, it will have a live narrator, leading the audience on a guided celestial tour. Human centered indeed.

Perhaps the observatory?s only misstep was in giving its bust of James Dean such pride of place on the front lawn, overlooking the famed Hollywood sign on a nearby hill. Why Mr. Dean? Because in ?Rebel Without a Cause? the Griffith plays a crucial role. Mr. Dean?s character comes in contact with the full scope of 1950s teenage brutality and anomie right after a planetarium show in which the cosmic destruction of the Earth is portrayed.

?In all the immensity of our universe and the galaxies beyond,? says the lecturer below the projected dome of stars, ?the Earth will not be missed. Through the infinite reaches of space, the problems of man seem trivial and na?ve indeed. And man, existing alone, seems an episode of little consequence.?

That message might have encouraged the nihilistic violence of the movie?s disaffected characters; or it might have grated against their adolescent convictions about the immensity of their problems when compared with humanity?s ?episode of little consequence.? But why should the Griffith have given Mr. Dean such credit? The observatory?s real message is just the opposite.
29568  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: November 05, 2006, 09:15:54 AM
"The Muslim population in the United States is estimated as being somewhere between two to six million, and according to the U.S. State Department, by the year 2010 the Muslim population of the United States is expected to surpass the Jewish population, making Islam the country's second-largest faith."
29569  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Neologisms Part Two on: November 05, 2006, 09:08:26 AM

Page 3 of 4)

The scouring of the Internet for evidence ? the use of cyberspace as a language lab ? is being systematized in a program called the Oxford English Corpus. This is a giant body of text that begins in 2000 and now contains more than 1.5 billion words, from published material but also from Web sites, Weblogs, chat rooms, fanzines, corporate home pages and radio transcripts. The corpus sends its home-built Web crawler out in search of text, raw material to show how the language is really used.

I?m too embarrassed to ask the lexicographers if they have a favorite word. They get that a lot. Peter Gilliver tells me his anyway: twiffler. A twiffler, in case you didn?t know, is a plate intermediate in size between a dinner plate and a bread plate. ?I love it because it fills a gap,? Gilliver says. ?I also love it because of its etymology. It comes from Dutch, like a lot of ceramics vocabulary. Twijfelaar means something intermediate in size, and it comes from twijfelen, which means to be unsure. It?s a plate that can?t make up its mind!?

Fiona McPherson gives me mondegreen. A mondegreen is a misheard lyric, as in, ?Lead on, O kinky turtle.? It is named after Lady Mondegreen. There was no Lady Mondegreen. The lines of a ballad, ?They hae slain the Earl of Murray,/And laid him on the green? are misheard as ?They have slain the Earl of Murray and Lady Mondegreen.?

?A lot of people are just really excited by that word because they think it?s amazing that there is a word for that concept,? McPherson says. I have my own favorites among the newest entries in O.E.D.3. Pixie dust is, as any child knows, ?an imaginary magical substance used by pixies.? Air kiss is defined with careful anatomical instructions plus a note: ?sometimes with the connotation that such a gesture implies insincerity or affectation.?

Builder?s bum is reportedly Brit. and colloq., ?with allusion to the perceived propensity of builders to expose inadvertently this part of the body.?

It is clear that the English of the O.E.D. is no longer the purely written language, much less a formal or respectable English, the diction recommended by any authority. Gilliver, a longtime editor who also seems to be the O.E.D.?s resident historian, points out that the dictionary feels obliged to include words that many would regard simply as misspellings.

No one is particularly proud of the new entry as of December 2003 for nucular, a word not associated with high standards of diction. ?Bizarrely, I was amazed to find that the spelling n-u-c-u-l-a-r has decades of history,? Gilliver says. ?And that is not to be confused with the quite different word, nucular, meaning ?of or relating to a nucule.? ? There is even a new entry for miniscule; it has citations going back more than 100 years. Yet the very notion of correct and incorrect spelling seems under attack. In Shakespeare?s day, there was no such thing: no right and wrong in spelling, no dictionaries to consult. The word debt could be spelled det, dete, dett, dette or dept, and no one would complain.

Then spelling crystallized, with the spread of printing. Now, with mass communication taking another leap forward, spelling may be diversifying again, spellcheckers notwithstanding. The O.E.D. so far does not recognize straight-laced, but the Oxford English Corpus finds it outnumbering strait-laced. Similarly for just desserts.

To explain why cyberspace is a challenge for the O.E.D. as well as a godsend, Gilliver uses the phrase ?sensitive ears.?

?You know we are listening to the language,? he says. ?When you are listening to the language by collecting pieces of paper, that?s fine, but now it?s as if we can hear everything said anywhere. Members of some tiny English-speaking community anywhere in the world just happen to commit their communications to the Web: there it is. You thought some word was obsolete? Actually, no, it still survives in a very small community of people who happen to use the Web ? we can hear about it.?

In part, it?s just a problem of too much information: a small number of lexicographers with limited time. But it?s also that the O.E.D. is coming face to face with the language?s boundlessness.The universe of human discourse always has backwaters. The language spoken in one valley was a little different from the language of the next valley and so on. There are more valleys now than ever, but they are not so isolated. They find one another in chat rooms and on blogs. When they coin a word, anyone may hear.

Page 3 of 4)

The scouring of the Internet for evidence ? the use of cyberspace as a language lab ? is being systematized in a program called the Oxford English Corpus. This is a giant body of text that begins in 2000 and now contains more than 1.5 billion words, from published material but also from Web sites, Weblogs, chat rooms, fanzines, corporate home pages and radio transcripts. The corpus sends its home-built Web crawler out in search of text, raw material to show how the language is really used.

I?m too embarrassed to ask the lexicographers if they have a favorite word. They get that a lot. Peter Gilliver tells me his anyway: twiffler. A twiffler, in case you didn?t know, is a plate intermediate in size between a dinner plate and a bread plate. ?I love it because it fills a gap,? Gilliver says. ?I also love it because of its etymology. It comes from Dutch, like a lot of ceramics vocabulary. Twijfelaar means something intermediate in size, and it comes from twijfelen, which means to be unsure. It?s a plate that can?t make up its mind!?

Fiona McPherson gives me mondegreen. A mondegreen is a misheard lyric, as in, ?Lead on, O kinky turtle.? It is named after Lady Mondegreen. There was no Lady Mondegreen. The lines of a ballad, ?They hae slain the Earl of Murray,/And laid him on the green? are misheard as ?They have slain the Earl of Murray and Lady Mondegreen.?

?A lot of people are just really excited by that word because they think it?s amazing that there is a word for that concept,? McPherson says. I have my own favorites among the newest entries in O.E.D.3. Pixie dust is, as any child knows, ?an imaginary magical substance used by pixies.? Air kiss is defined with careful anatomical instructions plus a note: ?sometimes with the connotation that such a gesture implies insincerity or affectation.?

Builder?s bum is reportedly Brit. and colloq., ?with allusion to the perceived propensity of builders to expose inadvertently this part of the body.?

It is clear that the English of the O.E.D. is no longer the purely written language, much less a formal or respectable English, the diction recommended by any authority. Gilliver, a longtime editor who also seems to be the O.E.D.?s resident historian, points out that the dictionary feels obliged to include words that many would regard simply as misspellings.

No one is particularly proud of the new entry as of December 2003 for nucular, a word not associated with high standards of diction. ?Bizarrely, I was amazed to find that the spelling n-u-c-u-l-a-r has decades of history,? Gilliver says. ?And that is not to be confused with the quite different word, nucular, meaning ?of or relating to a nucule.? ? There is even a new entry for miniscule; it has citations going back more than 100 years. Yet the very notion of correct and incorrect spelling seems under attack. In Shakespeare?s day, there was no such thing: no right and wrong in spelling, no dictionaries to consult. The word debt could be spelled det, dete, dett, dette or dept, and no one would complain.

Then spelling crystallized, with the spread of printing. Now, with mass communication taking another leap forward, spelling may be diversifying again, spellcheckers notwithstanding. The O.E.D. so far does not recognize straight-laced, but the Oxford English Corpus finds it outnumbering strait-laced. Similarly for just desserts.

To explain why cyberspace is a challenge for the O.E.D. as well as a godsend, Gilliver uses the phrase ?sensitive ears.?

?You know we are listening to the language,? he says. ?When you are listening to the language by collecting pieces of paper, that?s fine, but now it?s as if we can hear everything said anywhere. Members of some tiny English-speaking community anywhere in the world just happen to commit their communications to the Web: there it is. You thought some word was obsolete? Actually, no, it still survives in a very small community of people who happen to use the Web ? we can hear about it.?

In part, it?s just a problem of too much information: a small number of lexicographers with limited time. But it?s also that the O.E.D. is coming face to face with the language?s boundlessness.The universe of human discourse always has backwaters. The language spoken in one valley was a little different from the language of the next valley and so on. There are more valleys now than ever, but they are not so isolated. They find one another in chat rooms and on blogs. When they coin a word, anyone may hear.

(Page 4 of 4)

Neologisms can be formed by committee: transistor, Bell Laboratories, 1948. Or by wags: booboisie, H. L. Mencken, 1922. But most arise through spontaneous generation, organisms appearing in a petrie dish, like blog (c. 1999). If there is an ultimate limit to the sensitivity of lexicographers? ears, no one has yet found it. The rate of change in the language itself ? particularly the process of neologism ? has surely shifted into a higher gear now, but away from dictionaries, scholars of language have no clear way to measure the process. When they need quantification, they look to the dictionaries.

?An awful lot of neologisms are spur-of-the-moment creations, whether it?s literary effect or it?s conversational effect,? says Naomi S. Baron, a linguist at American University, who studies these issues. ?I could probably count on the fingers of a hand and a half the serious linguists who know anything about the Internet. That hand and a half of us are fascinated to watch how the Internet makes it possible not just for new words to be coined but for neologisms to spread like wildfire.?

It?s partly a matter of sheer intensity. Cyberspace is an engine driving change in the language. ?I think of it as a saucepan under which the emperature has been turned up,? Gilliver says. ?Any word, because of the interconnectedness of the English-speaking world, can spring from the backwater. And they are still backwaters, but they have this instant connection to ordinary, everyday discourse.? Like the printing press, the telegraph and the telephone before it, the Internet is transforming the language simply by transmitting information differently. And what makes cyberspace different from all previous information technologies is its intermixing of scales from the largest to the smallest without prejudice, broadcasting to the millions, narrowcasting to groups, instant messaging one to one.

So anyone can be an O.E.D. author now. And, by the way, many try. ?What people love to do is send us words they?ve invented,? Bernadette Paton says, guiding me through a windowless room used for storage of old word slips. Will you put the word I have invented into one of your dictionaries? is a question in the FAQ. All the submissions go into the files, and until there is evidence for some general usage, that?s where the annabes remain.

Don?t bother sending in FAQ. Don?t bother sending in wannabes. They?re not even particularly new. For that matter, don?t bother sending in anything you find via Google. ?Please note,? the O.E.D.?s Web site warns solemnly, ?it is generally safe to assume that examples found by searching the Web, using search engines such as Google, will have already been considered by O.E.D. editors.?
29570  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / The English Language & the study of languages on: November 05, 2006, 09:07:49 AM
 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? E-MailPrint Single Page Save
Published: November 5, 2006
When I got to John Simpson and his band of lexicographers in Oxford earlier this fall, they were working on the P?s. Pletzel, plish, pod person, point-and-shoot, polyamorous ? these words were all new, one way or another. They had been plowing through the P?s for two years but were almost done (except that they?ll never be done), and the Q?s will be ?just a twinkle of an eye,? Simpson said. He prizes patience and the long view. A pale, soft-spoken man of middle height and profound intellect, he is chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionary and sees himself as a steward of tradition dating back a century and a half. ?Basically it?s the same work as they used to do in the 19th century,? he said. ?When I started in 1976, we were still working very much on these index cards, everything was done on these index cards.? He picked up a stack of 6-inch-by-4-inch slips and riffled through them. A thousand of these slips were sitting on his desk, and within a stone?s throw were millions more, filling metal files and wooden boxes with the ink oftwo centuries, words, words, words.

Skip to next paragraph
Enlarge This Image
Typography by Sam Winston
But the word slips have gone obsolete now, as Simpson well knows. They are treeware (a word that entered the O.E.D. in September as ?computing slang, freq. humorous?). Blog was recognized in 2003, dot-commer in 2004, metrosexual in 2005 and the verb Google last June. Simpson has become a frequent and accomplished Googler himself, and his workstation connects to a vast and interlocking set of searchable databases, a better and better approximation of what might be called All Previous Text. The O.E.D. has met the Internet, and however much Simpson loves the O.E.D.?s roots and legacy, he is leading a revolution, willy-nilly ? in what it is, what it knows, what it sees. The English language, spoken by as many as two billion people in every country on earth, has entered a period of ferment, and this place may be the best observation platform available. The perspective here is both intimate and sweeping. In its early days, the O.E.D. found words almost exclusively in books; it was a record of the formal written language. No longer. The language upon which the lexicographers eavesdrop is larger, wilder and more amorphous; it is a great, swirling, expanding cloud of messaging and speech: newspapers, magazines, pamphlets; menus and business memos; Internet news groups and chat-room conversations; and television and radio broadcasts.

The O.E.D. is unlike any other dictionary, in any language. Not simply because it is the biggest and the best, though it is. Not just because it is the supreme authority. (It wears that role reluctantly: it does not presume, or deign, to say that any particular usage or spelling is correct or incorrect; it aims merely to capture the language people use.) No, what makes the O.E.D. unique is a quality for which it can only strive: completeness. It wants every word, all the lingo: idioms and euphemisms, sacred or profane, dead or alive, the King?s English or the street?s. The O.E.D. is meant to be a perfect record, perfect repository, perfect mirror of the entire language.

James Murray, the editor who assembled the first edition through the final decades of the 19th century, was really speaking of the language when he said, in 1900: ?The English Dictionary, like the English Constitution, is the creation of no one man, and of no one age; it is a growth that has slowly developed itself adown the ages.? And developing faster nowadays. The O.E.D. tries to grasp the whole arc of an ever-changing history. Murray knew that with ?adown? he was using a word that could be dated back to Anglo-Saxon of the year 975. When John Updike begins his New Yorker review of the new John le Carr? novel by saying, ?Hugger-mugger is part of life,? it is the O.E.D. that gives us the first recorded use of the word, in 1529 (?... not alwaye whyspered in hukermoker,? Sir Thomas More) and 27 more quotations from four different centuries. But when The New York Times prints a timely editorial about ?sock puppets,? meaning false identities assumed on the Internet, the O.E.D. has more work to do.

The version now under way is only the ?hird edition. The first, containing 414,825 words in 10 weighty volumes, was presented to King George V and President Coolidge in 1928. Several ?supplements? followed, but not till 1989 did the second edition appear: 20 volumes, totaling 21,730 pages. It weighed 138 pounds. The third edition is a mutation. It is weightless, taking its shape in the digital realm. To keyboard it, Oxford hired a team of 150 typists in Florida for 18 months. (That was before the verb keyboard had even found its way in, as Simpson points out, not to mention the verb outsource.) No one can say for sure whether O.E.D.3 will ever be published in paper and ink. By the point of decision, not before 20 years or so, it will have doubled in size yet again. In the meantime, it is materializing before the world?s eyes, bit by bit, online. It is a thoroughgoing revision of the entire text. Whereas the second edition just added new words and new usages to the original entries, the current project is researching and revising from scratch ? preserving the history but aiming at a more coherent whole.

The revised installments began to appear online in the year 2000. Simpson chose to begin the revisions not with the letter A but with M. Why? It seems the original O.E.D. was not quite a seamless masterpiece. Murray did start at A, logically, and the early letters show signs of the enterprise?s immaturity. The entries in A tended to be smaller, with different senses of a word crammed together instead of teased lovingly apart in subentries. ?It just took them a long time to sort out their policy and things,? Simpson says, ?so if we started at A, then we?d be making our job doubly difficult. I think they?d sorted themselves out by. ...? He stops to think. ?Well, I was going to say D, but Murray always said that E was the worst letter, because his assistant, Henry Bradley, started E, and Murray always said that he did that rather badly. So then we thought, ??Maybe it?s safe to start with G, H. But you get to G and H, and there?s I, J, K, and you know, you think, well, start after that.?

So the first wave of revision encompassed 1,000 entries from M to mahurat. The rest of the M?s, the N?s and the O?s have followed in due course. That?s why, at the end of 2006, John Simpson and his lexicographers are working on the P?s. Their latest quarterly installment, in September, covers pleb to Pomak. Simpson mentions rather proudly that they scrambled at the last instant to update the entry for Pluto when the International Astronomical Union voted to rescind its planethood. Pluto had entered the second edition as ?1. A small planet of the solar system ... ? discovered in 1930 and ?2. The name of a cartoon dog ...? first appearing in 1931. The Disney meaning was more stable, it turns out. In O.E.D.3, Pluto is still a dog but merely ?a small planetary body.?

Even as they revise the existing dictionary in sequence, the O.E.D. lexicographers are adding new words wherever they find them, at an accelerating pace. Beside the P?s, September?s freshman class included agroterrorism, bahookie (a body part), beer pong (a drinking game), bippy (as in, you bet your ? ), chucklesome, cypherpunk, tuneage and wonky. Every one of these underwent intense scrutiny. The addition of a new word is a solemn matter.

?Because it?s the O.E.D.,? says Fiona McPherson, a new-words editor, ?once something goes in, it cannot ever come out again.? In this respect, you could say that the O.E.D. is a roach motel (added March 2005: ?Something from which it may be difficult or impossible to be extricated?). A word can go obs. or rare, but the editors feel that even the most ancient and forgotten words have a way of coming back ? people rediscover them or reinvent them ? and anyway, they are part of the language?s history.

The new-words department, where that history rolls forward, is not to everyone?s taste. ?I love it, I really really love it,? McPherson says. ?You?re at the cutting edge, you?re dealing with stuff that?s not there and you?re, I suppose, shaping the language. A lot of people are more interested in the older stuff; they like nothing better than reading through 18thcentury texts looking for the right word. That doesn?t suit me as much, I have to say.? Cutting edge, incidentally, is not a new word: according to the O.E.D., H. G. Wells used it in its modern sense in 1916.


Page 2 of 4)

As a rule, a neologism needs five years of solid evidence for admission to the canon. ?We need to be sure that a word has established a reasonable amount of longevity,? McPherson says. ?Some things do stick around that you would never expect to stick around, and then other things, you think that will definitely be around, and everybody talks about it for six months, and then. ...?

Still, a new word as of September is bada-bing: American slang ?suggesting something happening suddenly, emphatically, or easily and predictably.? ?The Sopranos? gets no credit. The historical citations begin with a 1965 audio recording of a comedy routine by Pat Cooper and continue with newspaper clippings, a television news transcript and a line of dialogue from the first ?Godfather? movie: ?You?ve gotta get up close like this and bada-bing! you blow their brains all over your nice Ivy League suit.? The lexicographers also provide an etymology, a characteristically exquisite piece of guesswork: ?Origin uncertain. Perh. imitative of the sound of a drum roll and cymbal clash.... Perh. cf. Italian bada bene mark well.? But is bada-bing really an official part of the English language? What makes it a word? I can?t help wondering, when it comes down to it, isn?t bada-bing (also badda-bing, badda badda bing, badabing, badaboom) just a noise? ?I dare say the thought occurs to editors from time to time,? Simpson says. ?But from a lexicographical point of view, we?re interested in the conventionalized representation of strings that carry meaning. Why, for example, do we say Wow! rather than some other string of letters? Or Zap! Researching these takes us into interesting areas of comic-magazine and radio-TV-film history and other related historical fields. And it often turns out that they became institutionalized far earlier than people nowadays may think.?

When Murray began work on O.E.D.1, no one had any idea how many words were there to be found. Probably the best and most comprehensive dictionary of English was American, Noah Webster?s: 70,000 words. That number was a base line. Where were the words to be discovered? For the first editors it went almost without saying that the source, the wellspring, should be the literature of the language. Thus it began as a dictionary of the written language, not the spoken language. The dictionary?s first readers combed Milton and Shakespeare (still the single most quoted author, with more than 30,000 references), Fielding and Swift, histories and sermons, philosophers and poets. ?A thousand readers are wanted,? Murray announced in his famous 1879 public appeal. ?The later 16th-century literature is very fairly done; yet here several books remain to be read. The 17th century, with so many more writers, naturally shows still more unexplored territory.? He considered the territory to be large, but ultimately finite.

It no longer seems finite. ?We?re painting the Forth Bridge!? says Bernadette Paton, an associate editor. ?We?re running the wrong way on a travolator!? (I get the first part ? ?allusion to the huge task of maintaining the painted surfaces of the railway bridge over the Firth of Forth? ? but I have to ask about travolator. Apparently it?s a moving sidewalk.)

The O.E.D. is a historical dictionary, providing citations meant to show the evolution of every word, beginning with the earliest known usage. So a key task, and a popular sport for thousands of volunteer word aficionados, is antedating: finding earlier citations than those already known. This used to be painstakingly slow and chancy. When Paton started in new words, she found herself struggling with headcase. She had current citations, but she says she felt sure it must be older, and books were of little use. She wandered around the office muttering headcase, headcase, headcase. Suddenly one of her colleagues started singing: ?My name is Bill, and I?m a headcase/They practice making up on my face.? She perked up.

?What date would that be?? she asked.

?I don?t know, it?s a Who song,? he said, ?1966 probably, something like that.?

So ?I?m a Boy,? by P. Townshend, became the O.E.D.?s earliest citation for headcase.

Antedating is entirely different now: online databases have opened the floodgates. Lately Paton has been looking at words starting with pseudo-. Searching through databases of old newspapers and historical documents has changed her view of them. ?I tended to think of pseudo- as a prefix that just took off in the 60?s and 70?s, but now we find that a lot of them go back much earlier than we thought.? Also in the P?s, poison pen has just been antedated with a 1911 headline in The Evening Post in Frederick, Md. ?You get the sense that this sort of language seeps into local newspapers first,? she says. ?We would never in a million years have sent a reader to read a small newspaper like that.?

The job of a new-words editor felt very different precyberspace, Paton says: ?New words weren?t proliferating at quite the rate they have done in the last 10 years. Not just the Internet, but text messaging and so on has created lots and lots of new vocabulary.? Much of the new vocabulary appears online long before it will make it into books. Take geek. It was not till 2003 that O.E.D.3 caught up with the main modern sense: ?a person who is extremely devoted to and knowledgeable about computers or related technology.? Internet chitchat provides the earliest known reference, a posting to a Usenet newsgroup, net.jokes, on Feb. 20, 1984.
29571  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Guro Crafty en el DF, Mexico on: November 05, 2006, 01:24:14 AM
Ahora esta' enfermo yo.  tongue angry cry Tengo 4 dias sin entrenar y estoy tomando anti-biotico.  tongue angry cry

Lo bueno es que ayer Cindy compro' el programa para los certificados, pero lo probable es que mientras esta' cuidandome a mi y ayudandome con mis responsibilidades que todo eso tardara' un poco mas.

Eso de tener miembros de familia enfermos por semanas en seguidas es @$%%^#$%^ angry
29572  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: November 04, 2006, 02:35:34 PM
Recently the "Levine Breaking News" has started appearing in my email box.  Thus it has no track record with me.  That said, the following just appeared:

"*4 LEADING MILITARY PAPERS: 'RUMSFELD MUST GO': An editorial set to appear on Monday -- election eve -- in the four leading newspapers for the military calls for the resignation of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The papers are the Army Times, Air Force Times, Navy Times and Marine Corps Times. They are published by the Military Times Media Group, a subsidiary of Gannett Co., Inc. President Bush said this week that he wanted Rumsfeld to serve out the next two years."

The timing and the political impact of publication the day before such pivotal elections are intriguing to say the least.
29573  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Humor on: November 04, 2006, 01:53:14 PM

Unintentional humor grin
29574  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Boxing Thread on: November 04, 2006, 01:51:34 PM
Second post on this fight:

Baldomir has the deck stacked against him
Though he's the champ, all signs point to a Mayweather victory in tonight's fight.
By Steve Springer, Times Staff Writer
November 4, 2006

LAS VEGAS ? If you think World Boxing Council welterweight champion Carlos Baldomir will successfully defend his title against Floyd Mayweather tonight at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, the odds are:

A.) You're from Argentina.

B.) You like to bet on underdogs.

C.) You've never seen Mayweather fight.

D.) You don't know much about boxing.

Emanuel Steward, one of the most respected trainers in boxing, is none of the above. He knows that Mayweather, 36-0 with 24 knockouts and a 5-1 favorite in tonight's match, is almost universally recognized as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. He knows that Mayweather has extremely quick feet, fast hands and more-than-adequate power.

Steward knows that Baldomir, who is from Santa Fe, Argentina, has a mediocre record (43-9-6, 13 knockouts), and has a slow, plodding style that, against Mayweather, may make Baldomir look as if somebody had hit the slow-motion button on the remote control.

Yet Steward gives Baldomir a good chance, focusing on his recent accomplishments in the ring. Baldomir emerged from relative obscurity to stun the boxing world by winning a unanimous decision over Zab Judah in January to give Baldomir his first major championship. And he defended the title in July with a victory over Arturo Gatti, stopping him in the ninth round.

"This is the first fight I personally have thought Floyd might lose," Steward said. "He has never fought a guy as physically, mentally and spiritually fit as Baldomir. Physically, Baldomir is a strong guy. Mentally, he is tough. Spiritually, he believes in himself. He hasn't lost a fight in eight years."

Mayweather shrugs off such dire speculation with an easy smile, as he does Baldomir's opinion that Mayweather is not the dazzling fighter at 147 pounds that he was at lower weights. "He's a bigger, slow Floyd Mayweather," said Baldomir through an interpreter. "That is why I am going to win."

There are two other questions about Mayweather heading into tonight's fight.

One is the absence of his trainer and uncle, Roger Mayweather, who is serving a sixth-month jail sentence on a felony battery conviction. And even if Roger were free, he wouldn't have been able to work his nephew's corner because his license was revoked after he instigated a brawl at the Floyd Mayweather-Judah fight in April.

Leonard Ellerbe, Floyd's manager, shrugs off that concern. He has backed up Roger in the corner for nine years and will be the trainer in charge tonight.

"It will be business as usual," Ellerbe said. "This fight will be decided by Baldomir and Floyd in the ring. It won't be decided by who is in the corner. This is not about me.

"After the first round, Baldomir will go to his corner and ask himself what he got into. Floyd is so fast, Baldomir will think he is fighting three Floyds."

The other concern is the large shadow of Oscar De La Hoya looming on the horizon. Negotiations for a blockbuster May fight between Mayweather and De La Hoya, a fight that would figure to generate more than a million pay-per-view buys, will intensify if Mayweather wins tonight.

Mayweather insists he's not looking beyond Baldomir, nor looking at De La Hoya.

"I'm the best in the world," Mayweather said. "It's my time. All roads lead to Floyd Mayweather, with or without Oscar De La Hoya."



29575  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Boxing Thread on: November 04, 2006, 01:49:00 PM
Note the comments at the very end about the UFC:

Clothes don't make this man
Jones went from gold medal to selling garments on the street until Mayweather came calling
November 4, 2006

LAS VEGAS ? If it weren't for Nate Jones, it would be tempting to dismiss Floyd Mayweather as just another loud-mouthed, pampered, super-macho professional boxer. Mayweather gets points this fight week for knowing it was time for primping and promoting tonight's WBC welterweight title fight against Carlos Baldomir of Argentina at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.

He knows there are two measures of a fighter ? winning, and home pay-per-view buys. Before he steps into the ring, the latter needs to take precedence over the former. Losing is one thing. Losing with fewer than 400,000 buys is a disaster.  So, as he went to his early-week TV appearances, open workouts and photo ops, he worked his boxer's braggadocio at every stop. Always, he says he is the best, maybe the best ever. He says he has never had a moment's fear in the ring, nor before he stepped into one. He has not been tired during a fight, nor after one.

With boxers, it appears that if they say it often and loud enough, everybody eventually will believe it. Especially the boxer.

Still, once you meet Nate Jones and hear his story, you have a much easier time stomaching ? key word here, and we'll get to that ? the Mayweather show.

Lots of the hype and attitude are predictable. Mayweather's record is 36-0, with 24 knockouts. He has held titles in the sport's various alphabet-soup sanctioning groups at lightweight, junior welterweight and welterweight (147 pounds), and now seems intent on creating a legacy on the level of Ali, Leonard and De La Hoya while, at 29, still fighting.

"All roads in boxing lead to Floyd Mayweather," he says. "I am the face of boxing."

He also says that among his attributes is humility. That brings to mind the axiom that, if you have to tell somebody you are humble, you aren't.  Understandably, it is hard to be humble when everywhere you go in Mandalay, your picture is on the wall, 20 feet high; your name is projected in lights onto the walkways, and the suite they put you in has big screen TVs that also serve as entire walls.

The workout scene features a constant barrage of rap music, a red Ferrari parked outside that says "MAYWEATHER" in chrome above the license plate and the ever-present entourage of backslappers and errand boys, who wear T-shirts advertising Mayweather's music-business endeavors, "Philthy Rich Records," and whose ultimate job seems to be holding up his title belts at public appearances.

In the middle of this, Jones is a quiet presence.

He won a bronze medal as a heavyweight in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, the same Olympics and medal as Mayweather. Jones fought 21 professional fights after that, even held a North America Boxing Assn., title, and took a 19-1 record into a fight in Reading, Pa., against Lamon Brewster on Feb. 2, 2002.

In that one, Brewster got Jones against the ropes in the second round and unleashed 20 straight blows that Jones somehow survived. In the next round, the referee stopped it. Jones was done fighting. He says he has nerve damage in his neck. A report after the fight said that doctors advised him to stop because their tests showed "diminished speech and reflexes."

He continued to get medical help until, he says, "Don King stopped paying the bills."

King was Jones' promoter during his brief pro career, and Jones says they are still friends and he understands why King cut off funds. 

That meant, though, that Jones, a product of one of the worst and most dangerous housing projects in the country, Chicago's old Cabrini-Green, had to find a new way to support his wife and five children. That was complicated by the time he'd spent in jail in the early 1990s for robbery and car theft. Felonies don't play well on job resumes.

So Jones became a haberdasher, of sorts. He says he would drive to New York City, pick up some clothes cheap ? "wholesale" may not be quite the right term ? and go out on the streets of Chicago to sell them.

Page 2 of 2  << back     1 2     

"There were times, in the winter, when I'm out there and it was so cold I couldn't stand it," he says. "I didn't know what to do, but I had those kids at home."

On one of those cold days, he got a reprieve. It was a phone call from Mayweather, who was training for a fight against DeMarcus Corley in Atlantic City, N.J., in March 2004. According to Jones, Mayweather had heard what had happened, what Jones was doing, and ordered him to get on the next flight to Atlantic City.

 "We had been friends, so he checked up on me," says Jones, adding that the friendship began when they both won national Golden Gloves titles in Milwaukee in 1994, two years after Jones' release from prison.

"I disliked him right away," Jones says. "He talked all the time and I told him to shut up. Then I went and saw him fight and I said, 'Oh, my, this guy is something.' I went and told him that. He went and watched me fight. We both won. We've been friends ever since."

More recently, Mayweather had the one thing Jones needed most, employment. Jones is part of Mayweather's training team, is paid year-round, and when it is time for a fight, comes to Las Vegas for months at a time. His contribution is unusual.

Almost every session, Jones, at 270 pounds, puts on a chest-and-stomach protector, made of hard foam and resembling baseball catching equipment, and climbs into the ring. Then, with blocking pads on his hands, and towering over the 147-pound Mayweather, he moves slowly and menacingly forward while Mayweather pounds his chest, ribs and stomach with hooks, jabs and uppercuts. Sometimes, this goes on for nearly half an hour.

Jones, who got up to 325 pounds and is now hoping to lose enough weight to try a comeback, is a human punching bag. If you saw up close the ferocity with which Mayweather hits, you would feel the need to pray for Baldomir.

Jones says he has never seen a training drill exactly like this. He says it is the creation of Leonard Ellerbe, Mayweather's trainer, advisor and best friend, the one person on Team Mayweather who seems able to bring order out of constant chaos.

"I saw Leonard put on the pads and get dropped to his knees a couple of times," Jones says, "and Leonard's a strong guy. Ain't nobody in camp but me can take it."

The after-effects?

"I go and I sit down, and I get gas," Jones says. "I've got to buy lots of Pepto-Bismol."

So, it turns out that Mayweather, the boxer with the quick jab and the quicker tongue, the guy who wants the world to see only a tough guy, is a softy when it comes to friends. He seems uncomfortable even talking about it.

"Me and Nate, we go back before boxing," he says.

On Halloween night, we watch silly photo-ops. Mayweather makes his grand appearance at the Mandalay entrance in an old red Cadillac, the model with ugly fins. He is wearing black pinstriped pants and vest, red shirt and red hat with a four-foot feather. A public-relations woman, Kelly Swanson, positions photographers for shots of Floyd giving candy to little girls with pumpkin sacks.

"If I can just get a shot on 'SportsCenter,' " says Swanson.

We watch two days later as Goossen-Tutor Promotions holds one of the silliest news conferences in the history of boxing, which is saying something.  There are 22 people seated, most of whom eventually speak. There is a guy who is selling shoes and brings his main investor to the podium with him.  There are the usual three guys, standing behind Mayweather, holding title belts, and two shapely underdressed women, neither of whom you would bring home to mother, standing nearby for no apparent reason. Swanson eventually shoos them off to the side.  Two Mandalay guys shill for Mandalay, an HBO guy shills for HBO, and promoter Dan Goossen shills for everything else.  It ends, mercifully, when the nicest, mildest-mannered person in the room, Ellerbe, tells Baldomir there are two ways he can go out, on his face or on his rear end. Then he adds that there is a third way, and tosses a little white flag in Baldomir's lap.  Baldomir's manager throws water on Ellerbe, and Mayweather throws water on Baldomir's manager.

You watch, giggle and marvel that boxing still thinks this stuff works, that it can't see itself imploding by its own hands while the guys down the street who run the Ultimate Fighting Championship are laughing and taking boxing's business away.

You feel good, though, because there was a story to tell, even if boxing had no idea what it was, and never will. You have met Nate Jones, been exposed to the decent side of Floyd Mayweather, and are able to leave town before having to put on rubber boots.


Bill Dwyre can be reached at To read previous columns by Dwyre, go to

29576  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: November 04, 2006, 01:33:46 PM
Perle says he should not have backed Iraq war
By Peter Spiegel, Times Staff Writer
November 4, 2006

WASHINGTON ? Richard N. Perle, the former Pentagon advisor regarded as the intellectual godfather of the Iraq war, now believes he should not have backed the U.S.-led invasion, and he holds President Bush responsible for failing to make timely decisions to stem the rising violence, according to excerpts from a magazine interview.

Perle ? a leading neoconservative who chaired the Pentagon's defense advisory board for the first three years of the Bush administration ? is quoted in January's Vanity Fair as saying the U.S. might have been able to strip Saddam Hussein of his ability to build unconventional weapons "by means other than a direct military intervention."

 "I think if I had been Delphic, and had seen where we are today, and people had said 'Should we go into Iraq?' I think now I probably would have said, 'No, let's consider other strategies for dealing with the thing that concerns us most, which is Saddam supplying weapons of mass destruction to terrorists,' " Perle said, according to interview excerpts released Friday by the magazine.

Perle's about-face is the latest in a series of war recriminations by neoconservatives, many of whom blame Iraq's spiraling violence on the administration's management of the postwar stabilization effort.

Others interviewed for the article included former Bush speechwriter David Frum and former Reagan administration official Kenneth L. Adelman.

Perle's prominent advocacy of invasion after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks ? and his close relationship with the war's top architects, including Paul D. Wolfowitz, then the deputy Defense secretary, and Douglas J. Feith, the former Pentagon policy chief ? makes his reversal particularly noteworthy.

Perle told Vanity Fair he did not anticipate the "depravity" currently underway in Iraq, saying, "The levels of brutality we've seen are truly horrifying."

He said "huge mistakes" had been made in the management of the war, and he blamed disloyalty among top Bush administration officials for a failure to get the policy correct.

"The decisions did not get made that should have been," he said.

He continued: "At the end of the day, you have to hold the president responsible?.

"I don't think he realized the extent of the opposition within his own administration, and the disloyalty."

Although the excerpts do not show who Perle blames for disloyalty or mismanagement, he appears to lay the blame at the feet of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and the military leaders who put together the war plan.

"Huge mistakes were made, and I want to be very clear on this: They were not made by neoconservatives, who had almost no voice in what happened, and certainly almost no voice in what happened after the downfall of the regime in Baghdad," he said.

"I'm getting damn tired of being described as an architect of the war. I was in favor of bringing down Saddam. Nobody said, 'Go design the campaign to do that.' I had no responsibility for that."

The excerpts include quotes from other neoconservatives who have turned against the war, including Adelman, a longtime friend of Rumsfeld who has received classified Pentagon briefings on the war as recently as March, according to a recent book by journalist Bob Woodward.

Vanity Fair quotes Adelman as saying that though he still believes the reasons for going to war were right, the invasion should not have occurred because the goals were unachievable. He called Bush's national security advisors "among the most incompetent teams" in the post-World War II era, adding he was particularly let down by Rumsfeld: "I'm very, very fond of him, but I'm crushed by his performance."

29577  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science on: November 04, 2006, 01:30:20 PM
U.S. trains Iraqis in river warfare tactics
By Tony Perry, Times Staff Writer
November 4, 2006

Hoping to restrict the smuggling of weapons and fighters along the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, the U.S. Navy has brought Iraqi security forces to America for training on river warfare tactics.

On Thursday, 16 members of the Iraqi Riverine Police Force finished a six-week course at a Navy training facility in Mississippi to prepare them to patrol the wide waterways that have served as smuggling corridors and danger zones for centuries.

 The Navy routinely trains foreign military forces in such tactics. For the Iraqis, the training emphasized the possibility of combat.

"We know the likelihood of them getting shot at is very high," said Navy Cmdr. Lance Bach. "We practiced on how to return fire and how to get out of the kill zone."

Navy officials hope the 16 will teach other Iraqi security personnel techniques for guiding small boats, inspecting suspicious vessels, and landing or evacuating "friendlies" on the shore.

Additional Iraqis are likely to take the course given at the Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School at Stennis Space Center, Miss. The school is part of the Naval Special Warfare Center, based in Coronado, Calif..

Assisted by four interpreters, Navy instructors taught the group techniques for patrolling in 25-foot boats armed with M60 machine guns. Much of the training was on how to react to ambush attacks.

"We pushed 'em hard," said Navy Chief Petty Officer Rob Rheaume.

Historians suggest the lawlessness of Ramadi, now an insurgent hotspot, derives from its long involvement with smuggling rings using the Euphrates. Some smuggling is to avoid taxation on consumer goods. In other cases, smuggling aids the insurgency.

"In the absence of police or security forces, smugglers, using canoes and diesel-powered boats, move freely along these rivers," said the Iraqi newspaper Azzaman, referring to the Tigris, Euphrates and the Shatt al Arab waterway in southern Iraq.

The Shatt al Arab, which divides Iran and Iraq, is an important smuggling route for oil being illegally exported from Iraq. The 16 Iraqis who graduated on Thursday will be deployed along the Tigris River, which runs through Baghdad.

One of them, who used the name Abu Ali, said he and his comrades learned "how to fight and fight hard." Along with the training, there was also time to see some Americana, including museums and a four-hour trip to Wal-Mart.

"It's a beautiful thing," Abu Ali said of Wal-Mart. "You need a whole day to spend there."
29578  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: November 04, 2006, 01:27:03 PM
If this Syrian was Muslim, then he too is part of Islam in America:

Clerk confronts robbers, is killed
The gunmen waited for customers to leave, then handed Simon Khalil a note. He threw it back.
By Jill Leovy, Times Staff Writer
November 4, 2006

When the robbers shoved a note at him, store clerk Simon Khalil threw it back. That's when they shot him.

The 35-year-old Syrian immigrant died hours later at California Hospital after being shot at point-blank range by an assailant wielding a black handgun.

On Friday, Los Angeles Police Department detectives sought the public's help in finding the assailants, who were videotaped.

Police said two robbers entered Khalil's family business, Maple Liquor and Market in the 3000 block of Maple Avenue in South L.A., about 1 p.m. Thursday and waited for customers to leave before springing the note on Khalil.

After throwing the note back at them, Khalil walked around the counter and confronted the men. One robber pulled a sawed-off shotgun from his waistband, and the other pulled a handgun and fired.

LAPD Det. Mike Terrazas described both suspects as short, Latino and in their 20s. One had a goatee and was wearing a black baseball cap, white T-shirt and lower-back brace; the other wore a pink or red baseball cap and a dark blue nylon jacket.

Khalil and his brother, Sam Khalil, of Burbank had owned the store for two years without problems, relatives said.

Anyone with information or anonymous tips is asked to call investigators at (323) 846-6556 or at (877) 525-3855.

29579  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: November 04, 2006, 09:31:57 AM
I agree about the Kurds. They have been straight with us and we should be with them.  Screw the Turks if they don't like it. 

But if we leave the Sunnis and Shiites to hash it out, won't the Shiites win because of numerical superiority and because of support from Iran?  Combined with Hez's "success" against the Israelis with Iran's support, will this make them the strong horse of the region? 

You call for taking out Iran's nuke capabilities, but from what I have seen our military doubts its ability to do so.  Are you suggesting we leave Iraq , , , by rolling east?  Is the US in a position world-wide to handle the economic consequences of mid-east oil being shut off which I gather Iran may do in the Straights of Hormuz-- not to mention the Chinese being pretty unhappy if their oil is shut off (I forget the numbers, but my understanding is that more mid-east oil goes to them than us)

What if Iran also counters us by unleashing Hamas for another go round?

Just armchair generaling on a Saturday morning.
29580  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: November 04, 2006, 07:33:10 AM

Of course I agree with the basic premise, but exactly what does that mean in Iraq right now? 

Do you think that our training of the Iraqi Army is working?

Do you think that we should support the Sunnis against the Shiites?  Will that drive the Shiites (futher?) into the arms of the Iranians? 

Should we support the Shiites and Kurds against the Sunnis?

Should we take out Al-Sadr even though this is against the wishes of the elected sovereign government of Iraq?

If we don't, then what of the Shiite militias killings of Sunnis and what of its policies of de-Sunnification out of certain regions?

If we don't stop Shiite militias and de-Sunnification by Shiites, what about the Kurds efforts to de-Sunnify the Sunnis who were moved north by SH to de-Kurdify oil regions of the north?

Or do we say that the Sunnis deserve it for being such buttholes to the Shiites for so long, especially under SH?

But if we do so, what of incipient Arab/Sunni support for taking a hardline with Iran?

Can we fight Iran now?  No?  If not, what is the point of fighting in Iraq if it keeps us from stopping Iran's nuke program?  Isn't stopping Iran's nukes essential?  Won't we have failed if we do not?

What do we tell our troops as they go out on patrol to get sniped at and IED'd?  What do we tell them that they are fighting for?  Democracy in Iraq?  Do you think that rings true right now?  Do we tell them that we are preparing to deal with Iran?  Does that ring true right now?

Is Iraq part of the strategy for Iran or is it a stand-alone theater of WW3?

After Olmert's failure to finish the job with Hamas, doesn't Iran now have a forward base from which to neuter the Israeli threat to take out Iran's nukes?  In this context, is there any substance to President Bush's comments the other day that he would understand if Israel acted against Iran?

Do you think what we are doing now is working?

If not, then what should we be doing?  And is there any chance at all that the American people will support what you suggest?
29581  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action on: November 03, 2006, 11:02:12 PM

Beach SEAL honored for his sacrifice in Afghanistan
By DALE EISMAN, The Virginian-Pilot
? September 14, 2006
Last updated: 1:29 AM
WASHINGTON - Danny Dietz was a quiet guy, devoted to his family, his dogs and his shipmates in the Navy's SEAL Team 2, a special-warfare unit based in Virginia Beach. The sort who never hesitated to take on extra responsibilities, extra burdens, one of his buddies remembered Wednesday, and who never thought there was anything remarkable about doing it.
Matt Axelson - "Cool Hand Luke" to his friends - was a Californian who loved golf, joking that he planned to hone his game for a career on the Senior PGA Tour once he got out of the Navy.
"No matter how hard I worked at something, he was always better," said friend Dave Albritton, a petty officer first class - but Axelson never boasted .
Under leaden skies and amid the bustle of rush hour on a memorial plaza in downtown Washington, more than 200 of the two men's friends, relatives and shipmates bit their lips and brushed away tears Wednesday evening as they expressed the nation's gratitude for the courage and sacrifice Axelson and Dietz exhibited on an Afghan mountainside last year.
The men were among 19 SEALS and U.S. Army NightStalkers killed June 28, 2005. It remains the bloodiest single day of Operation Enduring Freedom, the war in Afghanistan. Six of the SEALS killed were based in Virginia Beach.
"Heroes are ordinary people who make extraordinary decisions every day of their lives," sai d Lt. Brad Geary, a Dietz friend who spoke at the ceremony.
Their actions in the midst of a firefight with Taliban militiamen allowed another SEAL - the only survivor of the engagement - to escape and earned Axelson and Dietz the Navy Cross, the branch 's second-highest honor. The pair are part of Navy history because of the way they died, Geary said, but "these men are heroes because of the way they lived."
The citations presented Wednesday to their widows, Cindy Axelson and Maria Dietz, recounted how the men and two other SEALS tracking a Taliban leader in rugged northeastern Afghanistan were attacked on three sides by a force of perhaps 40 .
Dietz, 25, a gunner's mate second class, was wounded "in a hailstorm of enemy fire," his citation reads, but he continued returning fire and covering his teammates "until he was mortally wounded." Axelson, 29, a sonar technician second class, also kept fighting despite multiple wounds. "With total disregard for his own life," his citation reads, he laid down covering fire so the one surviving member could slip away.
That SEAL, who has never been identified publicly, was rescued several days later by other U.S. forces and received a Navy Cross earlier this year in a private ceremony at the White House, a Navy spokesman said. The service is still processing the record of the fourth man on the ground team, Lt. Michael Murphy, the spokesman added.
Eight other SEALS and the eight Army NightStalkers killed in the engagement died as they tried to come to the rescue of the four men on the ground. Their MH-47 Chinook helicopter was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade and crashed as it approached the battlefield.
29582  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / SEALs receive Navy Cross on: November 03, 2006, 11:00:26 PM
SEALs Receive Navy Cross
Pair Died Fighting Taliban in AfghanistanBy Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 14, 2006; A12
Wounded and locked in a harrowing gunfight deep in Afghanistan's Hindu Kush mountains, Navy SEAL Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew G. Axelson laid down covering fire so a teammate could escape -- an act of heroism for which Axelson was yesterday posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, the service's second-highest medal.
Fighting nearby, Petty Officer 2nd Class Danny P. Dietz was also mortally wounded but stood his ground in a barrage of fire from 30 to 40 Taliban militiamen who surrounded his four-man SEAL reconnaissance team on June 28, 2005. For his "undaunted courage," as described by the military, Dietz, 25, of Littleton, Colo., also posthumously received the Navy Cross yesterday in a ceremony at the U.S. Navy Memorial.
Families and comrades gathered to honor them on a chilly, gray evening, with flags on ships' masts waving in the breeze. One SEAL, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of his work, recalled his close friend Axelson as laid back, a golfer and a quiet leader. His voice cracked as he described the inscription Axelson wrote on the back of a photograph of the two men that Axelson's wife gave him after Axelson died.
"But within the willingness to die for family and home, something inside us longs for someone to die beside. Someone to lock step with, another man with a heart like our own," the inscription read.
"I can't tell you how much I wish I could have been there for him," his friend told the gathering.
Patsy Dietz, 25, Dietz's widow, said her husband died during his final mission, only about two weeks before he was to return home. Describing him as a generous man who loved his dogs and who would hand out $20 bills to strangers, she said Dietz had volunteered for the deployment because he believed in the cause. She said he knew the risks that he faced. "Danny and his brothers went towards evil and ran forward and gave their last breath," she said in an interview.
The actions of Axelson and Dietz allowed a lone teammate to escape and survive, and he has also been awarded the Navy Cross, but the military has withheld his name for security reasons because he is still on active duty.
The perilous firefight erupted at 10,000 feet in some of the world's most rugged terrain along Afghanistan's border with Pakistan, when the SEAL team probed deep into enemy territory on a clandestine mission to kill or capture a Taliban militia leader. By nightfall that day, three of the SEALs lay dead, along with eight other SEALs and eight Army Special Operations aviators whose MH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed during a daring rescue attempt.
It was the worst death toll in a single day since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, and the biggest single loss of life for the Naval Special Warfare forces since the invasion of Normandy in World War II, the Navy reported.
The fatal mission -- Operation Red Wing -- began June 27, when Axelson, Dietz, Lt. Michael P. Murphy and the fourth unnamed SEAL, bearded and camouflaged, were inserted into heavily forested terrain east of the Afghan town of Asadabad to track down militia leader Ahman Shah.
The next day, however, the SEAL team was spotted and pointed out by local residents who were sympathetic to the Taliban. A Taliban force launched a "well-organized, three-sided attack," taking advantage of the high ground to assault the SEAL position using rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, according to an official military account.
"Three of the four SEALs were wounded. The fight relentlessly continued as the overwhelming militia forced them deeper into a ravine," it said.
About 45 minutes into the firefight, Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, N.Y., made radio contact with Bagram Air Base outside the capital, Kabul, asking for air support and reinforcements. Soon afterward, the Chinook lifted off with 16 special operations troops aboard on a mission to extract the surrounded SEALs.
The Chinook was escorted by Army attack helicopters, whose job was to suppress enemy ground forces to make it safe for the lightly armored troop carrier to land. But the heavier attack helicopters lagged behind at the high altitude and were outpaced by the Chinook, whose pilots then faced a life-or-death decision: Try to land unprotected in hazardous terrain in a battle zone, or wait while their wounded comrades on the ground risked being overrun.
They chose to land, but as the Chinook rushed into the fight, it was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade and crashed, killing all 16 men aboard.
Meanwhile, Axelson, 29, of Cupertino, Calif., "ignoring his injuries and demonstrating exceptional composure" urged his teammate to escape, according to the medal citation. "With total disregard for his own life and thinking only of his teammate's survival, he continued to attack the enemy, eliminating additional militia fighters, until he was mortally wounded by enemy fire," it said. His body was recovered July 10 after a massive military search effort in Afghanistan's Kunar Province.
Dietz was lauded for "undaunted courage in the face of heavy enemy fire, and absolute devotion to his teammates" as he remained behind to fight to defend his partners after he, too, was wounded.

? 2006 The Washington Post Company
29583  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bronze Star for handling of IEDs on: November 03, 2006, 10:59:20 PM
Navy officer awarded Bronze Star for deft handling of deadly IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices)

By JACK DORSEY The Virginian-Pilot August 30, 2006

NORFOLK, Va. -- For the entire year he was in Baghdad analyzing more than 1,000 roadside bomb detonators, Benito Baylosis never took a day off.

No one did. And no one complained about it, he said, as they explored the electronic circuits of defused improvised explosive devices, or IEDs.

"What we did was that important. You get time off when you go home, or on R & R," he said. Baylosis, 41, a Navy lieutenant commander, came back to his hometown of Norfolk to receive the Bronze Star on Tuesday.

The award cited him for personally handling more than 1,000 IEDs, providing "critical countermeasures" and saving "countless coalition forces' lives."

"He developed and monitored over 136 bombmaker profiles," said the Army's citation, which added that "no one in the U.S. armed forces knows more about enemy IED initiators utilized in the Iraqi theater of operations."

Baylosis, who graduated from OldDominionUniversity with an undergraduate electrical engineering degree, will return soon to his regular duty station in Naples, Italy, where his family resides.

In Iraq, he headed a team of American, British and Australian military specialists, mainly engineers. He also worked with agents from the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, gathering forensic evidence for possible future court cases related to terrorism. The team, operating from CampVictory near the international airport in Baghdad, examined IEDs, traced their origins and turned over information to help find the manufacturer.

"They are some of the most basic forms, from mechanical to electrical, to remote," he said in an interview. Because of the sensitivity of the work, he could not detail what his team found. Published reports say many devices use garage-door openers or cell phones to activate the explosives.

According to Michael White, who compiles casualty figures of Operation Iraqi Freedom on the Web site, and Defense Department figures, 904 of the 2,087 American service members killed in action in Iraq have died of injuries from IEDs.

Baylosis said he normally specializes in shipbuilding and program management in his job in Naples, but his electronics skills seemed a good match for what he was asked to do. "We felt that the job we were doing did save lives and will continue to save lives as long as we get to do it," said the father of three.

"I think we are making a difference. Obviously, we want to get ahead of the IED maker. We want to be a step ahead of them and with increased security, I think it will eventually get solved. I just don't know the time line."
29584  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A camp divided- part two on: November 03, 2006, 10:58:31 PM
Part Two
Once the plan was explained to them through an interpreter, the Iraqis strongly disagreed with it. Col. Pasquarette planned to surround the city with razor wire and set up checkpoints to search all cars moving in and out of the city. U.S. and Iraqi soldiers would then begin regular foot patrols through the city to gain intelligence on insurgents. The centerpiece of the plan was $5 million in reconstruction projects.

Col. Pasquarette argued that the projects would help the U.S. win support of the city's powerful mayor, Sheik Sayid Jassem, who had been detained by U.S. forces in the early days of the occupation for supporting the insurgency. He also thought the projects would turn the people to the side of the new Iraqi government.

The Iraqis favored a harder-nosed approach. They wanted to conduct house-to-house searches and find a way to put pressure on the mayor, who they insisted was still supporting insurgents. They suggested shutting Tarmiyah's business district down for a week. Once the mayor had been cowed with the stick, they favored dangling the $5 million in reconstruction funds.

Col. Pasquarette says the Iraqi approach would have alienated the people in Tarmiyah. He rejected it and stuck to his plan. Although the operation hasn't netted any insurgents, he says people are out shopping and businesses that had been closed are bustling as a result of the checkpoints and foot patrols. The U.S. military is bankrolling a pipeline that will bring potable water into the city, building medical clinics and repairing the main road.

Attacks in the city are down substantially since March, though they have begun to climb of late, Col. Pasquarette says. Still, he says the operation was a success because residents feel safer. He doubts the city was ever really a major insurgent hotbed. "We were all wrong about Tarmiyah," he says.

Col. Saad and Col. Payne say the insurgents have simply moved outside the city's gates.

Gen. George Casey, the top military officer in Iraq, acknowledges it has often been hard for U.S. commanders to let Iraqis take over the fight. "We are so mission-oriented and so focused, we tend to want to do everything ourselves," he says. "It is a constant battle ? . I would hope that when the Iraqis have ideas we try to help them execute them."

Iraqi troops "have never betrayed their U.S. advisory teams," adds Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey, who is overseeing the effort to train and equip Iraqi forces.

In their four months together, Col. Payne and Col. Saad became close. Col. Payne teased him about a poster on his office wall of two fluffy white kittens, nuzzling next to a dozen roses. "What in the world is the deal with the cat and the flowers?" Col. Payne asked.

"It reminds me of softness and women," Col. Saad replied. He often referred to Col. Payne as "my brother."

Col. Saad confided his worries about his country and his army to Col. Payne. His unit was constantly short of supplies. His soldiers often didn't have enough fuel for their armored vehicles and generators. They also lacked AA batteries to run the night-vision goggles the Americans had given them. He blamed corruption in the Iraqi system for supply shortages. "If you don't have the basics to survive, you cannot be great. You cannot win," he said one evening. Col. Payne threw his arm around the Iraqi colonel's shoulder. "No, but you can survive," he said.

The U.S. says it is helping the Iraqis fix problems that have led to shortages of equipment. The Iraqi government recently replaced the contractor responsible for serving troops spoiled food. Supplying the army is the responsibility of the Iraqi government and "there have been a few cases of poor performance" among Iraqi contractors, says Lt. Col. Michael Negard, a senior spokesman in Iraq. "While the problems aren't huge, the issue's certainly of the highest priority," he says.

Col. Saad has also grown frustrated with the Americans on the other side of Camp Taji. Last month, Col. Pasquarette asked the Iraqis to provide a couple of dozen soldiers to man some checkpoints with U.S. soldiers. The U.S. soldiers showed up at the checkpoints for about a week. Then, without warning, they left the Iraqis to run them on their own, Col. Saad says. The Iraqis, who questioned the value of the checkpoints in the first place, were angry they had suddenly been abandoned.

"Why did they leave? Aren't they supposed to be helping us?" Col. Saad asked Col. Payne.

"I don't know what the hell they are doing," Col. Payne replied.

Col. Pasquarette says the Iraqis should have been informed that the U.S. soldiers were pulling out of those checkpoints.

In late May, Col. Payne began to push the Iraqi soldiers to get out on the offensive. "I am sick of sitting around and waiting to get attacked," Col. Payne told Col. Saad. He asked Col. Saad to cut loose 10 or 15 soldiers that he could pair up with three or four U.S. soldiers to venture out at night in search of the enemy. Col. Saad agreed.

On May 19, soldiers from Col. Payne's and Col. Saad's units set out on their second night patrol. After they stopped a car that was out in violation of curfew, the enemy opened fire on them from a surrounding palm grove. The soldiers fired back, killing three insurgents and dispersing the rest. When the shooting ended, a man stumbled out of a small shack deep in the palm grove. His hands were tied and a blindfold hung around his neck. "Come mister. I am problem," he sobbed in broken English.

The man said he worked as a legal adviser for Iraq's Ministry of Defense and had been kidnapped by men who told him they would slaughter him "like a sheep." The kidnappers were setting up a camera to film his execution, he said, when they heard the soldiers and left him. "God sent you to save me," the man said, as tears streamed down his face. (Read more about the mission.2)

Col. Payne was elated. "The Iraqi army saved a life. It also demonstrated that it will go into the field to find and destroy the enemy," he said.

His victory, however, quickly gave way to crushing defeat. The next day, he was summoned to meet with his immediate supervisor. Col. Payne was relieved of his command and told to move to a headquarters position in Baghdad.

He says he was told that he removed because he was "ineffective" and "lacked the skills necessary to lead [his] team in this challenging environment." An Army spokesman in Baghdad said Col. Payne wasn't relieved for any single incident. He declined to comment further.

A few days before Col. Payne was fired, Col. Pasquarette said in an interview that he thought Col. Payne and his men had grown too close to the Iraqis they were advising and his decisions were too often guided by emotion. "From my perspective, the move was warranted," Col. Pasquarette wrote in an email after Col. Payne was dismissed.

The morning after he was fired, Col. Payne spent the day saying goodbye to Col. Saad and the U.S. soldiers on his team. That evening, he boarded a helicopter for Camp Victory, a massive U.S. base on the outskirts of Baghdad.

"I'm now here in Victory -- an alien environment to me and one I never wanted to be a part of," he wrote in an email. He was able to hold his emotions in check until his helicopter lifted off from Camp Taji. Then, he says, he began to sob. "I simply cannot tell you how much I will miss my team."

Write to Greg Jaffe at greg.jaffe@wsj.com5
29585  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action on: November 03, 2006, 10:56:32 PM
A Camp Divided

As U.S. tries to give Iraqi troops more responsibility,
clash of two American colonels shows tough road ahead.
June 16, 2006 11:24 p.m.; Page A1

Camp Taji, Iraq

This sprawling military base is divided down the middle by massive concrete barriers, a snaking fence and rifle-toting guards. On one side, about 10,000 U.S. Army soldiers live in air-conditioned trailers. There's a movie theater, a swimming pool, a Taco Bell, and a post exchange the size of a Wal-Mart, stocked with everything from deodorant to DVD players.

On the other side are a similar number of Iraqi soldiers whose success will determine when U.S. troops can go home. The Iraqi troops live in fetid barracks built by the British in the 1920s, ration the fuel they use to run their lights and sometimes eat spoiled food that makes them sick.

The only soldiers who pass regularly between the two worlds are about 130 U.S. Army advisers, who live, train and work with the Iraqis.

For many of these advisers, the past six months have been a disorienting experience, putting them at odds with their fellow U.S. soldiers and eroding their confidence in the U.S. government's ability to build an Iraqi force that can stabilize this increasingly violent country.

Army commanders back in the U.S. "told us this was going to be the most thankless and frustrating job we have ever held, and boy, were they right," says Lt. Col. Charles Payne, who until last month oversaw about 50 Army advisers.

He and fellow advisers say U.S. troops on the American side of the base saddle Iraqis with the least-desirable missions and often fail to provide them with the basics they need to protect themselves against insurgent attacks. "They treat the Iraqis with utter scorn and contempt," Col. Payne says. "The Iraqis may not be sophisticated, but they aren't stupid. They see it."

Col. James Pasquarette, who commands most of the soldiers on the U.S. side of Camp Taji, calls those claims "totally ridiculous." He says he's proud of what the Iraqi units have achieved in the region and has made supporting them his top priority, after ensuring his own troops have the protection they need. But he worries that if the Iraqis are given too much latitude to execute challenging missions too quickly, they will alienate Iraqi civilians with heavy-handed tactics.

He says Col. Payne and his fellow advisers have "gone native."

Though the divide here at Camp Taji is extreme, it reflects a growing friction throughout this war-torn country. No one on either side of the divide expects the Iraqi troops to be trained, equipped or housed to U.S. standards. But if U.S. troops are going to go home, U.S. commanders must allow Iraqis to take a far greater role in planning operations and taking the fight to the enemy, senior military officers say.

Right now, Iraqi commanders and some of their U.S. advisers say that isn't happening enough. Part of the reason, U.S. officials say, is that widespread Iraqi corruption has made it hard for the fledgling Iraqi government to supply their troops with basics like good food, batteries and fuel. But Iraqi soldiers and their U.S. advisers say the problem extends beyond basic supply issues. They complain that U.S. troops, bunkered down on large, fortified bases, treat Iraqi forces more like a problem than a partner. U.S. forces "don't talk to us," says Col. Saad, a senior Iraqi commander on Camp Taji. The Iraqi colonel, whose family has been threatened by insurgents, asked that his full name not be used.

U.S. commanders counter that there are huge risks to giving the Iraqi army too big a role right now. They worry some Iraqis will leak word of impending operations to the enemy or use military force to settle sectarian scores. Many U.S. commanders say Iraqi forces aren't as disciplined as U.S. troops and are too prone to abuse civilians and detainees.

The debate raises difficult questions for U.S. commanders, as they plot the way forward in Iraq: Should Iraqi units be held to the same standards as U.S. units? What happens when the Iraqis' solution is at odds with the American commander's strategy?

Earlier this spring, the tension between the two sides at Camp Taji reached the breaking point when the Iraqi army brigade that Col. Payne was advising leveled two dozen roadside kiosks. The Iraqi soldiers said insurgent snipers, who had killed and wounded Iraqi troops, used the kiosks for cover.

Col. Pasquarette thought destroying the kiosks would only enrage locals and drive them to support the insurgents. "This was a great day for the terrorists," he recalls telling Col. Payne on the day that the Iraqi army flattened the fruit and vegetable stands.

Col. Payne says the Iraqi army bulldozed the kiosks -- consisting mostly of palm fronds suspended by bamboo poles -- to protect Iraqi soldiers. "When I first heard what they had done, my initial response was, 'I am all for it,' " Col. Payne says. "This is not a law and order situation. This is a war."

Late last month, Col. Pasquarette asked that Col. Payne be dismissed from his position, just four months after the two men started working together. Col. Payne was then assigned to a desk job in Baghdad.

The unit Col. Payne headed is at the leading edge of a major shift in U.S. strategy. Until last summer, the U.S. military saw its primary mission as fighting insurgents. With pressure mounting to bring the 130,000 U.S. troops in Iraq home, President Bush decided the military's main effort should instead focus on training Iraqis to take its place.

To speed development of Iraqi army forces, about 3,000 U.S. soldiers were placed with Iraqi units throughout the country. The teams live and work with Iraqi soldiers in places such as Camp Taji.

In November 2005, Col. Payne came back from retirement to lead his team. The colonel had served 28 years in the Army, fought in the Grenada invasion and taught history at West Point. He retired in July 2001. A few weeks later, terrorists struck the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. Col. Payne called the Army and volunteered to return. "There was a chuckle on the end of the phone," he says. The Army told him he wasn't needed.

Four years later, with the Army stretched thin by the war, the 50-year-old soldier, who was teaching at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, called again. This time, the Army was eager to send him to Iraq. In November, he was told he had 23 days to report to Fort Carson, Colo., and link up with his unit. His wife was "very unhappy," he says. Col. Payne says he was determined to go. "The nation is at war and all real soldiers want to be where the action is."

Col. Pasquarette, a former college basketball player, took command of his 6,000-soldier brigade in June 2005. Before that, the 45-year-old had attended Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, worked for the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon and served as an aide-de-camp to a four-star general.

The two men's troops arrived in Iraq in December 2005 and settled on opposite sides of Camp Taji, a sprawling former Iraqi army base, about 20 miles north of Baghdad. Col. Payne's group consisted of 50 U.S. soldiers, assigned to advise the Iraqi military. His team was one of the few at Camp Taji that didn't report to Col. Pasquarette.

The 2,500-soldier Iraqi brigade that Col. Payne was advising had formed 11 months earlier and had been fighting nonstop. The Iraqis had scrounged all of their tanks and armored personnel carriers -- most of which were at least 30 years old -- from a massive junkyard on the Iraqi side of Camp Taji. When something broke, Iraqi soldiers retreated to the scrapyard where they would pillage rusting hulks for spare parts. Of the $260 billion spent on the Iraq war since 2003, about $10 billion has gone to build Iraqi army and police forces.

The U.S. officers bonded quickly with their Iraqi counterparts. In January, Maj. Michael Jason, who leads one of the advisory teams, was on patrol with a 42-year-old Iraqi colonel when a terrified farmer told them he had found bodies in a field. He then led them to the corpses of 11 Iraqi army soldiers who had been headed home on leave. Each had been beaten, blindfolded and shot in the head. Their Iraqi army identification cards had been taken from their wallets and pinned to their shirts by insurgents who regularly target Iraqi forces.

Maj. Jason, a Roman Catholic, and his Iraqi counterpart, Col. Khalid, a Muslim, kneeled next to the bodies and prayed. The U.S. Army asked that Col. Khalid's full name be withheld for his safety. That night, Maj. Jason, a 33-year-old West Point grad, wrote an email home describing his Iraqi colleague's bravery and sacrifice.

"Col. Khalid's children have to move constantly for fear of their lives. When he goes home on leave, he cannot tell anyone for security reasons. He just disappears. He drives 90 mph with a pistol tucked in the small of his back and his ID hidden. I love these guys, no s-t," he wrote. A month later, Col. Khalid's brother, also an army officer, was kidnapped. Insurgents killed him and dumped his body on his parents' doorstep. Col. Khalid couldn't go to the funeral for fear that he would be assassinated. So Maj. Jason and soldiers in the unit mourned with him at Camp Taji.

In March, Col. Khalid left the battalion for a safer assignment, which doesn't require him to leave the base.

As the U.S. advisers grew closer to the Iraqis, they also grew more frustrated with U.S. soldiers on the other side of the base.

Shortly after Col. Pasquarette arrived at Camp Taji, he beefed up the number of guards and armored vehicles at the gates separating the U.S. and Iraqi sides of the base. "Securing my [base] is my No. 1 mission. I am risk averse here," he says. The U.S. advisers to the Iraqis thought the additional guards and guns were unnecessary and only served to make U.S. soldiers more suspicious of the Iraqis.

When the advisers asked if they could bring an Iraqi colleague to eat with them on the American side of the base, they say they were shocked at the response. They were told that the presence of an Iraqi officer in the dining hall might upset the U.S. soldiers.

"These kids go outside the gate and deal with a very hostile environment. They need a place where they can relax and let their guard down," says Lt. Col. Kevin Dixon, Col. Pasquarette's deputy commander. He says the policy was driven by the bombing of a dining facility in Mosul in 2004 by an Iraqi who had sneaked in.

The advisers felt differently. "We really believe there is a systemic contempt for Iraqi soldiers," says Master Sgt. John McFarlane, a senior enlisted adviser to the Iraqis at Camp Taji. The policy has since been amended to allow advisers to eat with Iraqi officers on the U.S. side if they file a letter in advance with the base's security office.

One of the Iraqi army's primary jobs in the Taji area is to guard water-purification substations that provide most of Baghdad's drinking water. Last summer, insurgents blew up one of the substations, cutting off water for two weeks. To ensure that didn't happen again, Iraqi army units were dispatched by the U.S. to guard the sites. Iraqi soldiers began to take regular sniper fire there.

In January, the U.S. advisers asked Col. Pasquarette for help installing barriers around one of the substations, to shield the Iraqis from snipers. Col. Pasquarette asked one of his units to help. Weeks passed, but help never came. American engineering units were too busy fortifying the U.S. side of Camp Taji and bases around it, says Maj. Martin Herem, who handled the request.

On Feb. 28, a sniper shot in the back one of the Iraqi soldiers at the water station. The soldier bled to death. Three weeks later, a sniper killed a second Iraqi soldier who was on patrol near the water station. Iraqi troops said that both times snipers used the small fruit and vegetable stands lining a nearby road for cover. The Iraqi army couldn't return fire without killing shopkeepers and customers.

When the Iraqi soldiers ran over to ask people who had been shooting at them, locals said they hadn't seen anything. It's dangerous for locals to be seen helping the U.S. Army or the Iraqi army.

The day after the second killing, Col. Saad, an Iraqi colonel in the unit Col. Payne was advising, ordered his men to tell the shopkeepers to empty the vegetable stands. The Iraqi soldiers then bulldozed the stands. Col. Saad says he destroyed the kiosks to protect his soldiers.

When Col. Pasquarette learned about the incident, he was furious. The Iraqis' actions ran completely counter to his strategy. He had told his soldiers to focus less on killing insurgents and more on reconstruction programs designed to win support of the people.

"When you go lethal or destroy property there may be a short-term gain, but there is a long-term loss," he says. He saw the move as a throwback to the Saddam Hussein era when the army was used to quell unrest and inflict mass punishment.

Photoillustration by Stuart Bradford; photos, left: U.S. Department of Defense; photos, right: Getty Images
Because the Iraqi troops operate in his sector, Col. Pasquarette oversees them. He called Col. Payne into his office and demanded that he tell Col. Saad to have his soldiers apologize and pay reparations to the shop owners.

Col. Payne passed along the orders. But Col. Saad says he refused to follow them. "Here in Iraq if someone makes a mistake, you punish them," he says, referring to the shop owners' failure to give Iraqis information about the snipers. "If you give him money, he will repeat the mistake. And he will consider the person who gave him the gift an idiot."

The next day, Col. Pasquarette met with Col. Saad's Iraqi superior and told him about the dispute. The Iraqi general fired Col. Saad. Later that day, three low-ranking Iraqi soldiers, accompanied by about a dozen Americans, passed out the reimbursement forms.

The Iraqi officers in Col. Saad's brigade felt betrayed. On March 21, just before midnight, four senior officers stopped by Col. Payne's office and threatened to resign. "They were furious," says Col. Payne. Two days later, Col. Saad was quietly re-hired.

Col. Payne says he is still angry that neither Col. Pasquarette nor his subordinate commanders talked to Col. Saad to hear his side of the story. "This is a respect issue. These guys don't respect the Iraqis," Col. Payne says.

"Personally I don't think there was anything to discuss," Col. Pasquarette says.

In the days that followed, the relationship between Col. Payne and Col. Pasquarette grew more tense. In mid-March -- about the time the Iraqis flattened the vegetable stands -- insurgents attacked an Iraqi army patrol base in Tarmiyah, a city of about 50,000, a short drive from Camp Taji. One Iraqi soldier from Col. Saad's brigade was killed by a rocket-propelled grenade and another was shot in the head by a sniper. The next day, four of Col. Saad's soldiers died when their armored personnel carrier hit a roadside bomb. The blast threw the turret of the vehicle about 30 yards and lopped off the head of one of the Iraqi soldiers inside, U.S. and Iraqi officers say.

Senior Iraqi officials in the Ministry of Defense were convinced Tarmiyah was a hotbed of insurgent activity. Col. Pasquarette says he was told by his commander in Baghdad to clear the city of insurgents.

Col. Pasquarette and his team spent several days building a plan before he invited Col. Payne, Col. Saad and Col. Saad's commander to the U.S. side to explain it.

The two Iraqi officers were led through a 208-slide PowerPoint briefing, in which all the slides were written in English. The six areas the Iraqi troops were supposed to occupy were named for New England cities, such as Cranston, Bangor and Concord. The Iraqi officers, who spoke only Arabic, were dumbfounded. "I could see from their body language that both of them were not following what was going on," says Maj. Bill Taylor, Col. Payne's deputy.
29586  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action on: November 03, 2006, 10:52:02 PM
Soldiers' Angels needs you to adopt a soldier.....(or airman, Marine, etc)!

Every year after the holidays we have a shortage of angels and an abundance of soldiers. Here is proof of what your help does for our service members:

To All That Have Supported Us,
My name is SGT A. and I am currently deployed to Kuwait and have been receiving packages and letters from many of your volunteers. I want to take this time to say Thank You from the bottom of my heart. Your support is unparalleled and means so much to us soldiers in our toughest times. You have been there through it all with us. You are in our thoughts and prayers as well as our loved ones. Your group is what keeps us going through rain, cold nights, hot days and everything in between. You have been a shining light to help guide many a soldier. Once again I would like to say Thank you for your unwavering support. Sincerely, SGT A

What angels do:

1) Send two packages a month. These do not have to be expensive. The key to sending support is that they will know someone cares and they get their name called at mail call, or come home to mail on their bunk. If you can send some toiletries and some snacks each month, that's great. Once you sign up, you will get a mentor who can walk you through customs forms and flat rate packages. It's addictive, actually! You'll find you won't be able to go into a store without remembering Dave, who likes Old Spice aftershave, etcetera!

2) Send two letters a week. This seems like a lot but if you sit down to write a quick note to say hi, how are you, and talk a little about things at home, you would be amazed how quickly a letter gets written. Another thing you can do is buy postcards wherever you visit and send one of those each week. Again, it's about getting the names called and letting them know that while they are "over there," those of us "back home" are thinking of them.

If you can do this, please go to and click on "Adopt a Soldier." You will receive a soldier's name and address within a couple of days, as well as an orientation letter.


We hope everyone who reads this can adopt one soldier!!


Written by Ralph Bennett

Since his days growing up in Tampa, Fla. the lanky kid with the slightly mischievous smile had wanted to be a soldier. By this bright morning, April 4, 2003, Sgt 1st Class Paul Ray Smith had more than fullfilled his dream. He had served 15 of his 33 years in the U.S. Army, including three tours of duty in harms way- in the Persian Gulf, Bosnia and Kosovo.
Now all his training, all his experience, all the instincts that had made him a model soldier, were about to be put to the test. With 16 men from his 1st Platoon, B Company, 11th Engineer Battalion, Sgt. Smith was under attack by about 100 troops of the Iraqi Republican Guard.
"We're in a world of hurt" he was heard to say.
That world was a dusty triangular, walled compound about half the size of a football field, near the Saddam Hussein Airport, 11 miles from Baghdad. Sgt. Smith's engineers or "sappers" had broken through the southren wall of the compound with a military bulldozer and begun turning the area into a temporary "pen" for Iraqi prisoners as U.S. forces pressed their attack on the airport.
While they were working, guards spotted a large Iraqi force approaching their position. The guards called for Sgt. Smith to take a look and as he arrived all hell broke loose. They came under heavy fire from machine gunners and RPG's.
The lightly armed work detail needed fire support. Sgt. Smith called for a Bradley fighting vehicle. The Bradley was on site in short order and attacked the enemy force with it's 25mm Bushmaster cannon. Sgt. Smith and his men took up positions around the Bradley as he called for a nearby M-133 personnel carrier for additional fire power from it's .50 caliber machinegun.
As the two vehicles engaged the Iraqis both were hit by motor rounds and RPG's. Sgt Smith lost his fire power to hold back the enemy troops.
Sgt. Smith could have withdrawn but he was the only thing standing between the enemy and a aid station with combat casualties and medical teams a short distance away.
Under fire Sgt Smith and his men extracted three wounded from the APC. Then Sgt Smith positioned the APC where he could cover most of the compound then he manned the machinegun while one of his men fed the belted ammo. His other men made an assault on a guard tower while Sgt Smith layed down fire on the main forces coming at them now from three different positions. His men reached the tower and took it over but Sgt Smith was shot by one of the Iraqis there in the tower just as the other Iraqi troops started turning back because of the accurate fire of Sgt. Smith. 50 dead Iraqi soldiers lay in the area of the compound. Sgt. Smith's vest had 13 bullet holes in it but he had continued to fire while being hit. The shot from the tower hit him in the neck killing him.
When the Army told his mother her son had died in battle she said "Our name is so common, maybe it's a mistake"
On April 4th, 2005, exactly two years after his selfless action, his wife and their children stood in the White House and was presented with Sgt. Smith's Medal of Honor.

29587  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Humor/WTF on: November 03, 2006, 10:49:09 PM
An elderly couple was attending church services. About halfway
through she leans over and says, "I just had a silent fart what do you
think I should do?"

He replies "Put a new battery in your hearing aid."
29588  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Grandfathers Speak Vol. 2: Sonny Umpad on: November 03, 2006, 08:17:47 PM
The Beatles song was because Maestro Sonny liked the Beatles.

29589  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Grandfathers Speak Vol. 2: Sonny Umpad on: November 03, 2006, 06:08:15 PM
A fairly polished edit of the opening sequence can be found at

login: Grandfathers2
password: contain

click on "My videos"
Click on "Grandfathers2 Opening"
29590  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Looking at Flipper on: November 03, 2006, 03:18:38 PM
Looking at Flipper, Seeing Ourselves
Published: October 9, 2006

NO one blinks when a celebrity is called "vacuous" or a politician a
"moron" - but when headlines screamed that dolphins are "dimwits" and
"flippin' idiots," I was truly shocked. Is this a way to talk about an
animal so revered that there are several Web domain names that include
"smart dolphin"?

This is not to say that one should believe everything about them. For
example, their supposed "smile" is fake (they lack the facial musculature
for expressions), and all we seem to have learned from chatting "dolphinese"
with them is that lone male dolphins are keenly interested in female

Nevertheless, it's going too far to say that dolphins are dimwits. Yet this
is the claim of Paul Manger, a South African scientist who says that
dolphins' relatively large brains are due simply to preponderance of fatty
glial cells. These glia produce heat, which allows the brain's neurons to do
their job in the cold ocean.

Based on this observation, Professor Manger couldn't resist speculating that
the intelligence of dolphins and other cetaceans (like whales and porpoises)
is vastly overrated. He offered gems of insight, such as that dolphins are
too stupid to jump over a slight barrier (as when they are trapped in a tuna
net), whereas most other animals will. Even a goldfish will jump out of its
bowl, he noted.

If we skip the technicalities - such as that glial cells are not simply
insulation, that they add connectivity to the brain, and that humans, too,
have many more glial cells than neurons - the question remains why the
prospect of animal intelligence sets off such controversy. Could it be that
the huge size of the dolphin brain, which exceeds ours by 15 percent or
more, threatens the human ego? Are we to ignore the billions and billions of
neurons that dolphins do possess?

The goldfish remark reminded me of a common strategy of those who play down
animal intelligence. They love to "demonstrate" remarkable cognitive feats
in small-brained species: if a rat or pigeon can do it, it can't be that
special. Thus, some pigeons have been trained to use "symbolic
 communication" by pecking a key marked "thank you!" that delivered food to
another pigeon. And they have also been conditioned to peck at their own
bodies in front of a mirror, supporting the claim that they are

Clearly, pigeons are trainable. But is this truly comparable to the actions
of Presley, a dolphin at the New York Aquarium, who, without any rewards,
reacted to being marked with paint by taking off at high speed to a distant
part of his tank where a mirror was mounted? There he spun round and round,
the way we do in a dressing room, appearing to check himself out.

What is so upsetting to some people about the closeness between animal and
human intelligence, or between animal and human emotions, for that matter?
Just saying that animals can learn from each other, and hence have
rudimentary cultures, or that they can be jealous or empathic is taken by
some as a personal affront. Accusations of anthropomorphism will fly, and we'll
be urged to be parsimonious in our explanations. The message is that animals
are no humans.

That much is obvious. But it is equally true that humans are animals. Is it
so outlandish, from an evolutionary standpoint, to assume that if a
large-brained mammal acts similarly to us under similar circumstances, the
psychology behind its behavior is probably similar, too? This is true
parsimony in the scientific sense, the idea that the simplest explanation is
often the best. Those who resist this framework are in "anthropodenial" -
they cling to unproven differences.

Since Aristotle, humans have known that dolphins are incredibly social. Each
individual produces its own unique whistle sound by which the others
recognize him or her. They enjoy lifelong bonds and reconcile after fights
by means of "petting." The males form power-seeking coalitions, not unlike
the politics of chimpanzees and humans. Dolphins also support sick
companions near the surface, where they can breathe. They may encircle a
school of herring, driving the fish together in a compact ball and releasing
bubbles to keep them in place, after which they pick their food like fruit
from a tree.

In captivity, dolphins are known to imitate the gait and gestures of people
walking by, and to outsmart their keepers. One female dolphin that was
rewarded with a fish for every piece of debris she managed to collect from
her tank managed to con her trainers into a bounty of snacks. They
discovered she had been hiding large items like newspapers underwater, only
to rip small pieces from them, bringing these to her trainer one by one.

There are tons of such observations, which is why most of us believe in
dolphin intelligence - glia or no glia. It also explains why the slaughter
of dolphins, as still occurs every year in Japan, arouses such strong
emotions and controversy.

Still, I must admit that the whole dolphin affair has also offered me some
fresh insights. From now on, if I find my goldfish thrashing on the floor, I
will congratulate him before dropping him back into his bowl.

Frans de Waal, a professor of psychology at Emory University, is the author
of "Our Inner Ape."
29591  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Book Reviews on: November 03, 2006, 03:05:09 PM
Another entry from the circular:

Thanks, XYZ for accepting my 3 Cups of tea recommendation and passing the word around. I appreciate your trust.
At this point, I don't want to say much about the book and possibly take away from your experiences in reading it.  I had the good fortune to meet the author, Greg Mortenson, last week and based on that meeting want to make some comments on XYZ's excellent review below.
The book is titled: Three Cups of Tea, with a subtitle of "One Man's Mission
 to Fight Terrorism and Build Nations ? One School at a Time." Greg Mortenson
 is that man with the mission.  (Tom Burger)
Greg said that he was very unhappy with the Subtitle of his book and has been in a battle with the publisher about it - possible wanting a change for the paperback due out next year.  He says that his school building and other Central Asia projects have nothing to do with fighting terrorism although he believes that education will contribute to positive and peaceful changes.  He first conceived of his idea to build a school in 1993 after being nursed back to health by the indeginous people in a northern Pakistan village Korphe in the Karakoram mountain range area.  Greg wanted to do something to repay the villagers for their kindness and told the Korphe people that he would return and build them a school.  The first school was built in Korphe in 1996.  Terrorists, terrorism, and Jihads, were not buzz words at the time and in no way was greg on a mission to fight anything.  Greg merely wanted to follow through on his committment to the Korphe people and fulfill their longing for a school to educate their children.  As other villages heard about the Korphe school, other communities wanted schools for their children and so on and so forth.  Since then, Greg has built 58 schools.  His work has also included over 24 potable water projects and water filtration systems, over 3000 cataract eye surgeries, Sanitation and latrine projects, over 14 women's vocational Centers, and much, much more.  Currently their are over 24,000 students in his schools including 14,000 girls. 
In person, there is nothing in Greg to give even the sightest hint of the word "famous" as XYZ called him.  He is very ordinary, unassuming, and without a bit of grandiosity or other "guru-like" qualities.  The book was published quite recently in March, 2006.
29592  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: November 03, 2006, 02:48:07 PM
Sorry for the lack of URL.  This came to me on 10/24/06 from a usually reliable source:

Police Tuesday near Osnabrueck, in western Germany, arrested a 36-year-old terrorism suspect, identified only as Ibrahim R., after they had searched his apartment and computer.

The Iraqi man, described by his landlord as "helpful but crazy," had administered an Internet chat room where he supported terrorist ideologies and even tried to recruit new personnel for al-Qaeda.

Police had surveyed him for more than a year and found that he downloaded and disseminated audio and video messages by al-Qaida bosses Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. Officials said he likely didn't have direct contacts to al-Qaida, but what he shared with the terror network was a profound hatred against the United States and the West, hatred that he discharged onto the Web.

Rolf Tophoven, a German terrorism expert, recently told United Press International that the Internet, used for "propaganda and inciting purposes," has become the Islamists' most important recruitment tool.

"The Web has turned into something like the University of Jihad -- it has become a virtual self- service shop of Islamist terror," he said. Officials in Berlin agree. Wolfgang Schaeuble, Germany's interior minister and thus the top security chief, has long called for closer monitoring of the Internet.

Last week's arrest was preceded by a failed train bombing, when two men placed homemade bombs on two regional trains. They had found the plan to build the explosive devices on the Internet, and although the bombs failed to detonate, the attempt shook Germany's intelligence community to the core, as both individuals had not previously appeared as terror suspects.

In recent months, more and more videos have popped up online that have German subtitles, to spread the jihadist messages for converts with little to zero knowledge of Arabic, but a large potential for violence.

In an update of the country's anti-terror laws, lawmakers gave Schaeuble some $165 million to improve the war against online terrorism. Observers say this funding was much needed: While federal police and intelligence agents already comb through the Web on the lookout for terror propaganda, the number of Islamist Web sites has grown exponentially in recent months. The money, the German news magazine Der Spiegel writes in its latest issue, may result into new computers and the creation of an additional 50 jobs assigned to survey the Web.

According to Spiegel Online, Schaeuble as early as the beginning of this year has asked his experts to develop a concept for a new department of Berlin's Anti-Terror Center, a federal institution designed to combat terrorism in Germany. The new department will be called Center for Internet Monitoring and Analysis and will go live in 2007, the magazine wrote. Germany reportedly wants to cooperate with other countries (mainly with the United States and its western European partners) to fight online terrorism.

"More than before and at best round the clock we have to know what happens in Islamist forums, analyze hints for developments and try to arrest possible disseminators of propaganda in Germany," August Hanning, the deputy interior minister, told the magazine.

Some lawmakers even want to go a step further. Uwe Schuenemann, the conservative interior minister of Lower Saxony , wants Web site providers to sign guarantees that they take terrorism-related material off their servers. He also calls for outlawing the download of terrorism videos.

Ingo Wolf, the Free Democrat interior minister of North-Rhine Westphalia, wants to enable law enforcement agents to not only survey terrorism suspects who go online, but also access their hard drives, according to Der Spiegel, via spy ware or similar programs.
29593  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Our Troops in Action on: November 03, 2006, 02:45:09 PM
With the words of Senator Kerry lingering in the air, we kick this thread off with the following:
Debunking the myth of the underprivileged soldier
by Tim Kane and James Carafano
November 29, 2005 | 

[back to web version]
They all volunteered. The U.S. soldiers pitching in with hurricane relief along the Gulf Coast and those fighting and dying in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere decided, on their own, to serve their nation.
Or was the decision made so freely? Could it be that unscrupulous Pentagon recruiters duped them, taking advantage of their poverty, their lack of education and the bleak futures they share as members of the USA's urban underclass?

That's the view of some critics, such as New York Times columnist Bob Herbert, who writes that "very few" of the soldiers fighting in Iraq "are coming from the privileged economic classes," and that there would likely be no war if rich kids had to fight. According to Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., social equality demands reinstatement of the draft, which he justifies by asserting that "the most privileged Americans are underrepresented or absent." Herbert concludes that there is "something very, very wrong with this picture."

What's "very, very wrong" with the Rangel-Herbert picture is that it has no factual basis.

According to a comprehensive study of all enlistees for the years 1998-99 and 2003 that The Heritage Foundation just released, the typical recruit in the all-volunteer force is wealthier, more educated and more rural than the average 18- to 24-year-old citizen is. Indeed, for every two recruits coming from the poorest neighborhoods, there are three recruits coming from the richest neighborhoods.

Yes, rural areas and the South produced more soldiers than their percentage of the population would suggest in 2003. Indeed, four rural states - Montana, Alaska, Wyoming and Maine - rank 1-2-3-4 in proportion of their 18-24 populations enlisted in the military. But this isn't news.

Enlistees have always come from rural areas. Yet a new study, reported in The Washington Post earlier this month, suggests that higher enlistment rates in rural counties are new, implying a poorer military. They err by drawing conclusions from a non-random sample of a few counties, a statistically cloaked anecdote. The only accurate way to assess military demographics is to consider all recruits.

If, for example, we consider the education of every recruit, 98% joined with high-school diplomas or better. By comparison, 75% of the general population meets that standard. Among all three-digit ZIP code areas in the USA in 2003 (one can study larger areas by isolating just the first three digits of ZIP codes), not one had a higher graduation rate among civilians than among its recruits.

In fact, since the 9/11 attacks, more volunteers have emerged from the middle and upper classes and fewer from the lowest-income groups. In 1999, both the highest fifth of the nation in income and the lowest fifth were slightly underrepresented among military volunteers. Since 2001, enlistments have increased in the top two-fifths of income levels but have decreased among the lowest fifth.

Allegations that recruiters are disproportionately targeting blacks also don't hold water. First, whites make up 77.4% of the nation's population and 75.8% of its military volunteers, according to our analysis of Department of Defense data.

Second, we explored the 100 three-digit ZIP code areas with the highest concentration of blacks, which range from 24.1% black up to 68.6%. These areas, which account for 14.6% of the adult population, produced 16.6% of recruits in 1999 and only 14.1% in 2003.

Maintaining the strength and size of our all-volunteer military isn't always easy. But Americans step up when their country needs them. To suggest the system is failing or exploiting citizens is wrong. And to make claims about the nature of U.S. troops to discredit their mission ought to be politically out of bounds.

Tim Kane is an Air Force veteran, and James Carafano is an Army veteran. Both are research fellows at The Heritage Foundation.

First appeared in USA Today

29594  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Book Reviews- political and religious on: November 03, 2006, 12:34:15 PM

Now for the hard part: Looking stabilization square in the face



Old vaudevillians say dying is easy but comedy is hard. For American armed forces, conventional warfare is relatively easy, but stabilization and reconstruction operations are hard.

George Packer's "The Assassins' Gate" and Bernard Trainor's and Mike Gordon's "Cobra II" describe the difficulties America is having in Iraq, and although neither book is perfect, these two volumes have been the first to cover the tragedy in Iraq in anything like a comprehensive, professionally accomplished, well-written manner. These books are the very best sort of journalism, truly the first take on history.


Packer, Trainor and Gordon resist simplification and look the difficulties square in the face: All three authors argue that the Bush administration, Defense Department and U.S. Central Command used fallacious assumptions, which were based either on poor intelligence or the tendentious selection of information regarding the international political position of potential coalition partners or the political status of the various Iraqi peoples, to map their post-conflict strategy.


Finally, and most important, from the outset, all the players above shunned a major U.S. effort in nation building. There was no political will, Packer, Trainor and Gordon contend, to remain in Iraq for any appreciable length of time. There was an exit strategy based on U.S. military forces remaining in Iraq for only months after the expected military victory.


Conventional wisdom dictates that success in stabilization and reconstruction of a war-torn society takes five to seven years, but even this traditional understanding can be overly optimistic. The U.S. occupied the former Confederacy for 12 years and did not succeed; Reconstruction in the South lasted from 1865 to 1877, and after the U.S. Army left, the Old Confederacy was ruled by a single party, freedom of the press was often circumscribed (especially on racial matters) and blacks lived in terrorized peonage for almost a century. The U.S. government also occupied and ran Haiti for 19 years from 1915 to 1934 and failed utterly to reform that society. Disappointment in such endeavors is the norm.


The postwar planning done for Iraq by CentCom and others (excluding the State Department) allotted weeks and months to the task. We need to examine carefully all of the generalizations one reads about stabilization and reconstruction and all of us ? readers of this journal, war college faculty and students, legislators, bureaucrats in the executive branch ? would profit enormously from reading Packer's and Trainor and Gordon's essential reports on Iraq.


Packer is a deeply experienced journalist who led Iraq coverage for The New Yorker magazine. He has traveled all over Iraq, has interviewed most of the decision-makers and is a long-term acquaintance of some of the leading characters in this drama. His sobering account rings with verisimilitude.


Packer believed in Operation Iraqi Freedom in March 2003. He considered the war a necessary enterprise because he knew Saddam Hussein was an international menace and a despot dangerous to Iraqis of any religion or ethnic group and whose son and likely successor Uday was a monster. Packer has less trouble, therefore, with the decision to eliminate Saddam (although he believes the case made by the administration was deceptive) than with the planning for the war, its execution and especially with the strategy for the occupation after the fall of Baghdad.


Packer argues: "The campaign of persuasion [of the Congress and American people before combat began] proceeded by rhetorical hyperbole, by the deliberate slanting of ambiguous facts in one direction, and by a wink-and-nod suggestion that the administration knew more than it could reveal. Conflicting and inconclusive intelligence about Saddam's weapons programs was selected and highlighted for the worst-case analysis favored by the White House."


The deception by key decision-makers, as Packer sees it, was born essentially from the notion that the war would be over quickly and the occupation would be measured in short months ? 90 days, according to Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, the first reconstructor sent to Iraq by the Pentagon. The problem with the planning was the slant the decision-makers put on the tendentious intelligence they emphasized. Missing the fact that there were no weapons of mass destruction was of much less significance than the notion that American forces would be welcomed as liberators.


Packer asserts the administration relied much too heavily for intelligence from Iraqi exiles described by the author as: "hundreds of mullahs, monarchists, ex-officers, party bosses, businessmen, intellectuals, and schemers." One of these exiles, a man very close to Packer, was Kanan Makiya, whose story is woven through the narrative from beginning to end. Makiya, author of "Republic of Fear," had not been in Iraq for 35 years, yet the White House relied upon him for its post-invasion picture of Iraq.


Packer writes that Makiya told President Bush and Vice President Cheney that the invasion "would transform the image of America in the Arab world, that war could be a force for progress, for democracy. 'People will greet the troops with sweets and flowers.'"


Packer cites the numerous organizations that disagreed with the administration's idea of how Iraqis would greet the American military ? the Council of Foreign Relations, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Rand Corp., Army War College, United States Institute of Peace, National Defense University ? but "none of the forecasts penetrated the Pentagon or the Oval Office."


Gullibility, according to Packer, caused the administration to send a small force into Iraq to conquer it and then to stabilize it. All pundits writing on this subject argue that security is the first prerequisite for reconstruction and the fewer than 150,000 troops sent to remove Saddam would be enough to provide security only if America were greeted with "sweets and flowers," but not if the reception was rocket-propelled grenades and improvised explosive devices.


To secure the country and then build an economy, the occupiers must have an intimate knowledge of the society one is planning to reconstruct and neither Jay Garner nor his replacement, L. Paul Bremer ? nor the generals commanding the nation-building forces ? were qualified in that regard, according to Packer.


Packer's final assessment is severe: "I came to believe that those in positions of highest responsibility for Iraq showed a carelessness about human life that amounted to criminal negligence," he writes. "Swaddled in abstract ideas, convinced of their own righteousness, incapable of self-criticism, indifferent to accountability, they turned a difficult undertaking into a needlessly deadly one. When things went wrong, they found other people to blame. The Iraq war was always winnable; it still is. For this very reason, the recklessness of its authors is all the harder to forgive."


In "Cobra II," Gordon and Trainor tackle similar issues, but from a different point of view. The authors ? the longtime military correspondent for The New York Times and a retired Marine lieutenant general ? previously collaborated on "The Generals' War," the best book on the 1991 Persian Gulf War, and are authentic experts on military planning and operations. They focus on the operational aspects of the conflict, both planning and execution. They conclude their work with a concise and cogent 10-page "lessons learned" chapter that serves as an effective "executive summary" for the 507-page volume.


Gordon and Trainor's work, exhaustively researched and thorough, is much more a traditional campaign history than Packer's work. It includes exceptionally useful maps and a 40-page appendix containing a constructive chronology and key documents. "Cobra II" focuses in on operations, and Trainor and Gordon brilliantly describe the fighting. Gordon was embedded with several combat units, and the narrative is helped by his experiences. The book, however, pays less attention to the contributions of air power in Operation Iraqi Freedom than it deserves, much less than in "The Generals' War," and practically no attention to the British campaign; the U.S. had seven times the British number of combat troops in Iraq, and the British suffered one-quarter of the battle deaths.


There are practically no civilian heroes in "Cobra II," although Trainor and Gordon cite President Bush favorably for asking the right questions, and repeatedly. But the authors insist the president did not get the right answers from his civilian advisers or from Gen. Tommy Franks, the CentCom commander. Nobody escapes criticism, including Secretary of State Colin Powell for not fighting the Defense Department and its bureaucracy for control of the nation-building part of the operation, and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, for not ensuring the president got all sides of the story and not balancing battling bureaucracies. The authors are most critical of the Defense Department leadership and Franks for their lackadaisical approach to the stabilization and reconstruction part of the operation.


Trainor and Gordon argue that the administration made five fundamental errors in ts approach to the war, beginning with the most grievous of all, misreading of the foe. "Rumsfeld and his generals," assert Trainor and Gordon, "misread their foe by viewing the invasion of Iraq largely as a continuation of the Persian Gulf War." During the 1991 war, Saddam's Republican Guard was his best-equipped and most loyal force, and Franks and "his generals continued to regard the Republican Guard as their principal adversary." Allied ground forces "expected to run roughshod over the [Republican] Guard units ? and drive directly to Baghdad. Bypassed Iraqi units would be left to die on the vine. As it turned out [however] ? the paramilitary Fedayeen ? represented the principal challenge ? [and it] fought tenaciously." Misunderstanding the foe "reflected a failure of intelligence. The CIA in particular was not only wrong on WMD, but failed to identify the importance of the Fedayeen or to uncover the tons of arms that had been cached in the cities and towns of southern Iraq." The defense secretary and CentCom commander, moreover, believed "their victory would be sealed with the seizure of Baghdad ? identified as Iraq's 'center of gravity.'" But the attacks by the Fedayeen "demonstrated that the American-led coalition was contending with a decentralized enemy that was fanatical, not dependent on rigid command and control, and whose base of operations was dispersed throughout the towns and cities of Iraq."


Second, the Pentagon leadership relied too much on technology. During the march to Baghdad, high technology combined with a lean and fast force was effective in reaching the city in exceptionally rapid time and with relatively few casualties. "But after the fall of Baghdad ? mass, not speed, was requisite for sealing the victory. Military technology was less decisive against an opponent that faded away into Iraqi cities to fight another day."


Third, CentCom failed to adapt to developments on the battlefield. "There were numerous indications in the first days of the war that the United States was involved in a different war than it had anticipated. ? The first Marine to be killed in action died at the hands of an Iraqi dressed in civilian clothes who fired from a pickup truck, not a tank. Moreover, the Americans encountered primitive roadside bombs, suicide car bombs, foreign jihadists, and guerrilla-style ambushes, hallmarks of the insurgency to come. ? But the American war plan was never adjusted on high."


Fourth, the American military structure was dysfunctional. In the Iraq war, Rumsfeld and Franks dominated the planning; the Joint Chiefs of Staff were pushed to the margins, and largely accepted their roles.


Fifth, the administration had a disdain for nation building. "Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Tommy Franks spent most of their time and energy on the least demanding task ? defeating Saddam's weakened conventional forces, and the least amount on the most demanding rehabilitation of and security for the new Iraq."


There are, and there will be, myriad reasons to study both the triumphs and failures of the American military experience in Iraq. The first rough drafts of history produced by Packer, Gordon and Trainor will not only serve the needs of staff and war college students, but today's soldiers and strategists. The story of Iraq, thus far, is that our initial successes are inseparable from our current trials.
29595  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: November 03, 2006, 08:56:17 AM
Believe me, I understand.  That said, I am reminded of what my father used to say when big plans we announced:  "What do we do Monday morning at 0900?"

For example, what do we do specifically about the problem raised by this Stratfor piece? 


Geopolitical Diary: Iraq Without Bechtel

Bechtel Corp., a global engineering firm, announced Thursday that it is wrapping up its work in Iraq and not seeking any further contracts (its last contract expired last week). According to Cliff Mumm, who heads up Bechtel's infrastructure projects, the security situation in Iraq has deteriorated to the point where continuing is not possible. Bechtel's decision follows the decision by Kroll Security International to sell or abandon -- it was not clear which from media reports -- its operations in Iraq following the loss of some of its personnel.

When companies like Bechtel and Kroll begin to withdraw from Iraq, the situation has clearly reached a new level of instability. These firms are used to working in unstable environments, and security threats are simply a part of the business they are in. When they have to start calculating that the threat is greater than the potential profit, the situation is indeed serious.

There is a deeper aspect to this. The U.S. Army was designed, during the 1990s, to be a force that was dependent on the private sector to operate. Put another way, the standing Army was not designed to go into combat without integrating Reserve and National Guard components and without outsourcing support services to the private sector. It was not an Army that could undertake combat operations without this support.

During the 1990s, it appeared to some that the world had reached a new level of stability, and that economics had replaced geopolitics. The assumption was that there would not be extended combat. It made sense to depend on the Reserves and the National Guard for additional manpower during short combat situations, and to use contractors to provide many of the services that the military had provided for itself in the past.

The force structure was not designed for multi-year, multi-divisional combat. The Reserve and National Guard components were not expected to sustain the regular force for years. And the contractors did not expect to have to operate in a world of extreme risk.

The combat capability of the U.S. Army is therefore breaking in two ways. First, its manpower base is being exhausted through multiple deployments. Second, it is now going to find that the contracting support it relies on won't be there if the security risk becomes too extreme. Unlike combat support drawn from the ranks of the military, the contractors can't be ordered and expected to carry out their duties in high threat circumstances. But the Army is not built to operate without them.

The decision to outsource key support functions made sense in the 1990s. It shifted the cost of standby capabilities to private companies, and allowed the military to focus on its core mission. In the course of the Iraq war, the challenges have gone beyond feeding the troops to include rebuilding infrastructure, providing security to the firms doing the rebuilding, and so on. The Army could not provide security to engineering companies, so private companies like Blackwater were bought in. As the situation developed, the dependency on these contractors expanded, until the war effort -- understood in the broad sense of nation-building -- became enormously dependent on these contractors.

But they have a different appetite for risk than the military. They are free to leave, and they are leaving. It is unlikely that a decision reached by Bechtel and Kroll is so unique that others won't follow. They will. And that now poses a new problem for the U.S. effort: It does not have the military capability of filling in for the contractors. There are just not the numbers or skills. That means that if the security situation worsens, we will see a spiral in which contractors withdraw, the security situation further deteriorates and more contractors withdraw.

Given the structure of the force that has been fielded, the level of deployment cannot be controlled by the Department of Defense. When you depend on contractors looking to make money, a lot of them will bail when the risks get too great. Defense planners in the 1990s did not count on this scenario, when the enablers of the Army decide to leave the theater of operations. But it seems that that is what is happening.
29596  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rushing for the Exit on: November 02, 2006, 07:23:52 PM
Woof Buzwardo:

A stirring piece no doubt, but what are we to make of this post from another forum, the general tenor of which is QUITE clear that Islamofascism is a clear and present danger?


I figured this was as good a place to post my take on a couple of recent conversations as any. I had two friends come back from Iraq in the last month. One is a Gunnery Sergeant and the other a First Sergeant. I know both of them well and deployed with them twice before myself.

Their opinion is that Iraq is as bad or worse than it's ever been. Apparently, it's not quite as dangerous on the Syrian border, but much more so near Baghdad. So, things sort of even out. The only bright spot seems to be the availability of electricity, but it's something of a bitter pill to swallow given the price.

Both of them are at least as conservative as your average Republican. Both of them said that they'd vote for the first person who promised to get us out as soon as possible. Specifically, "Good men are dying over there for no reason. It's ridiculous." Honestly, I would blame this on their basic frustration, not having thought through the consequenses. But, they were adamant.

In one anecdote, one of their troops is being prosecuted for killing an Iraqi. The kid was a .50 BMG gunner on a truck in a convoy. A vehicle ahead of the convoy was swerving back and forth across lanes in front of them, impeding the them. He was ordered by the Staff Sergeant in charge of the truck to fire a burst into the ground next to the car after all of the requisite warning steps had been taken. He did so. The rounds ricochetted off of the ground and killed the driver. After a short investigation, the Lieutenant in charge of the JAG investigation chose to press charges for negligent homicide. The Lance Corporal hasn't been told what the future holds for him. The command won't tell him what they plan to do. He's just in limbo. He just got back from the deployment a few weeks ago, and apparently they'll let him know if they are going to arrest him. I wouldn't be shocked if he killed himself.

When asked about his experience with Iraqi military units and their competency (the key to us leaving is their ability to run the place), the First Sergeant's answer was simple: "Who, the insurgents?" It seems that they run patrols or operations with the Iraqi Army guys one day, and arrest them the next day planting bombs next to the road. "They are using our weapons and technology to kill us."

The next gem was the incarceration system. As has been since I was there two years ago, if you can't make a Johnny Cochoran proof case against an arrested insurgent within 14 days, he's released - with $6 dollars a day of compensation (not bad pay in that part of the world). A good number of the guys they arrest have made the trip three or four times. I cringed when I heard this because it was the same story we ran into in 2004. My simple answer was to kill anyone that the ROE allowed for. There would be more than enough opportunity to interrogate people who we couldn't legally kill. However, guys are still taking chances capturing people who could simply and legally be killed in the field. Ugh.

Since the three of us come from an intel background (though both of their recent deployments have been in different types of units than we'd previously been assigned), I asked them about their take on the intel side of the war. As expected, it's essentially worthless. None of the meaningful intelligence analysis is being passed to the field. The commanders might have fabulously colorful PowerPoint briefings of the situation, but the people who are actually being shot at know nearly nothing.

This dilema was the source of a fight I'd had with my S-2 years ago when we tried to digest the intelligence doctrine. He was convinced that Intel drove Ops, and that if it'd never been done right before, by God he'd be an example of how it should work. I tried to explain to him that basic human nature would thwart him. Essentially, Intel guys are some of the biggest geeks in the Marine Corps. The units in the field are the business end of one of the most dangerous military forces on earth. There is no way that the combat leader of the uberwarrior society is going to have the biggest geek in the organization tell him what to do and when to do it. I was put in my place, but I was proven right. And, nothing has changed.

I hesitate to write this because there seem to be only two options in regards to opinions on the war: Support Bush the Second's plan, or cheer for the muslims. I'm here to tell anyone who is not clear on the issue that there are at least a couple of other realities. I have my opinion about what is actually going on over there, and what we ought to do about it. But, I hope everyone is ready to start digesting a fairly stout anti-Bush sentiment from seriously pro-American vets who are growing in number everyday.

For me, there seems nothing left to do on the matter other than to grieve for our guys who are wasting their time jeopardizing their lives so that a bunch of savages can have the right to vote to kill off the next smallest tribe.
29597  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam the religion on: November 02, 2006, 04:56:02 PM
29598  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Medio Oriente on: November 02, 2006, 04:51:59 PM

Esta' en espanol.
29599  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 'America Alone' on: November 02, 2006, 01:52:35 PM
I have bought and read Steyn's book.  IMHO this is a very important book that everyone should read.
29600  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: November 02, 2006, 10:37:35 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Washington vs. the Iraqi Shia?

Reuters reported Wednesday that Iraqi Shiite leaders are increasingly becoming critical of what they see as an alignment between the country's Sunni minority and the United States. The report cited several Shiite sources saying that Washington wants the Shiite militias disbanded, so that Iran will not be able to use them in a potential U.S-Iranian conflict.

We predicted in our fourth-quarter forecast that Iran might instigate militant attacks by the Iraqi Shia against U.S. troops. Recent political developments appear to be setting the stage for just such a scenario.

Washington has a lot riding on Iraq, and needs to show that it can steer the country out of its current pandemonium and toward some minimum semblance of security and stability. As recently as January, the main obstacles in the way of that goal were Sunni nationalist insurgents and al Qaeda-led transnational (Sunni) jihadists. Then came the destruction of the Shiite al-Askariyah shrine in As Samarra by suspected jihadist militants, which led to reprisals by Shiite "death squads" against Sunnis.

The anti-Sunni violence and the Shiite-Kurdish push toward federalism brought the Sunnis and the United States closer together. The Sunnis needed U.S. support to counter the political and military aggressiveness of the Shia; the Americans needed to contain the Sunni insurgency and find a way to blunt Iran's influence in Iraq. Washington made disbanding Shiite militias a top priority -- bringing it on par with the need to contain the Sunni insurgents, and perhaps even a notch higher.

All of this was bound to irritate the Shia -- which would explain the events of the past two weeks.

Abdel-Aziz al-Hakim, chief of the largest Shiite political group the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), has been aggressively calling for the creation of an autonomous Shiite federal zone composed of nine southern Iraq governorates, but U.S. President George W. Bush came out strongly against the idea Oct. 18. Meanwhile, Washington, under pressure on the domestic front, continued to press the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to disband the Shiite militias and to agree to a timetable for a U.S. troop drawdown.

Al-Maliki said in an interview published in USA Today that his government will not force militias to disarm until later this year or early next year. He also criticized a U.S. raid against a Mehdi Army stronghold in the capital -- saying he had not been consulted on the operation -- and slammed the top U.S. military and diplomatic representatives in Iraq for calling for a timetable to curb violence. On Tuesday, he ordered U.S. military checkpoints removed from Sadr City and other parts of Baghdad.

Ahmed Chalabi on Monday criticized secret talks between Sunni insurgents and U.S. officials. Chalabi -- a controversial Shiite politician who once enjoyed strong ties with the Pentagon and remains close to Tehran -- urged the United States to open talks with Iran, saying it is the only way out of the current problems.

What we have here is a conflict in the making between the United States and the Iraqi Shia. Iraqi Sunnis and the governments of other Arab states don't want to see the departure of U.S. troops from Iraq; Iran, meanwhile, has begun the mantra that the occupation must end. Given the current circumstances, Iraqi Shia agitating for a U.S. withdrawal does not seem to be beyond the pale.

Pages: 1 ... 590 591 [592] 593 594 ... 632
Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.19 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!