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29801  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Weird and/or silly on: February 12, 2005, 05:24:16 PM
POSTED: 5:35 pm EST February 7, 2005

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Four sniper rifles, scopes and ammunition were stolen from an FBI SWAT van parked outside a Baymeadows Road hotel before dawn Sunday.

The FBI said the guns belonged to a team from Atlanta in Jacksonville to provide extra security for the Super Bowl.

A spokesman for the FBI said authorities are concerned these weapons are out on the street and are doing everything possible to try and find whoever took them.

Four high-powered rifles with scopes and 80 rounds of 308 ammunition were taken from the unmarked, locked van parked outside the Holiday Inn at Baymeadows and Interstate 95. An agent parked the van at 3:45 a.m. and discovered a few hours later the padlock cut and van burglarized.

An internal investigation is under way.

The FBI asks anyone with information that could help recover the rifles to call their Jacksonville office at (904) 721-1211.
29802  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Weird and/or silly on: February 12, 2005, 08:59:40 AM
Thu Feb 10, 9:56 AM ET

LONDON (Reuters) - A British woman was sentenced to two and a half years in jail Thursday for ripping off her ex-lover's testicle with her bare hands during a drunken brawl after he refused her sex.

Amanda Monti, 24, flew into a rage in May last year after Geoffrey Jones, 37, who had ended their long-term relationship, rejected her advances.

She grabbed him by the genitals, tearing off his left testicle, then hid it in her mouth before a friend of Jones handed it back to him saying "that's yours."

Monti, of Birkenhead, near Liverpool, pleaded guilty to unlawful wounding at an earlier hearing.
29803  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans on: February 11, 2005, 09:25:16 AM

IN San Diego on Tuesday, I had the privilege of sitting beside Lt.-Gen Jim Mattis, a Marine who knows how to fight. We were on a panel discussing future war. And Gen. Mattis, a Marine to the marrow of his bones spoke honestly about the thrill of combat. Mattis has commanded at every level. In Desert Storm, he led a battalion. In Afghanistan and then in Iraq, he led with inspiration and courage. Everyone on our panel had opinions about war, but that no-nonsense Marine knew more about it than the rest of us combined.

In the course of a blunt discussion of how our military has to prepare for future fights, the general spoke with a frankness that won the hearts of the uniformed members of the audience. Instead of trotting out politically correct clich?s, Mattis told the truth: "You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn't wear a veil . . . it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them." The language wasn't elegant. But we don't need prissy military leaders. We need generals who talk straight and shoot straight, men who inspire, and I guarantee you that any real Marine or Soldier would follow Gen Mattis.

What was the media's reaction? A B-team news crew saw a chance to grab a headline at the military's expense (surprise, surprise). Lifting the general's remarks out of context, the media hyenas played it as if they were shocked to learn that people die in war. Combat veterans are supposed to be tormented souls, you understand. Those who fight our wars are supposed to return home irreparably damaged.

HOLLYWOOD'S ideal of a Marine is the retired colonel in the film American Beauty," who turns out to be a repressed homosexual and a murderer. Veterans are sup- posed to writhe on their beds all night, covered in sweat, unable to escape their nightmares.

War does scar some men. Most vets, though, just get on with their lives scratch a veteran looking for pity and more often than not you'll find a supply clerk who never got near a battlefield. And some who serve the soldiers and Marines who win our wars run to the sound of the guns, anxious to close with the enemy and kill him. They may not love war itself, but they find combat magnetic and exhilarating. They like to fight. That's fine in movies featuring Brad Pitt as a mythical Greek hero. But God forbid that a modern-day Marine should admit that he loves his work.

Well, Marines and soldiers don't serve full careers because they hate their jobs. In peace or war, the military experience is incredibly rich and rewarding and sometimes dangerous. Goes with the territory. But for most of the young infantrymen in Iraq, their combat experience will remain the highpoint of their lives. Nothing afterward will be as intense or exciting and they will never make closer friends than they did in their rifle squad.

Gen Mattis may have been unusual in his honesty, but he certainly isn't unusual in our history. We picture Robert E. Lee as a saintly father figure, but Lee remarked that it's good that war is so terrible, since otherwise men would grow to love it too much. He was speaking of himself. Andy Jackson certainly loved a fight, and Stonewall Jackson never shied from one. Sherman and Grant only found themselves in war.

WE lionize those who embraced war in the past, but condemn those who defend us in the present. George S. Patton was far blunter than Jim
Mattis - but Patton lived in the days before the media was omnipresent and biased against our military.

The hypocrisy is stunning Gen Mattis told the truth about a fundamental human activity war and was treated as though he had dropped a nuclear weapon on an orphanage. Yet when some bozo on a talk show confesses to an addiction or a perversion in front of millions of viewers, he's lionized as "courageous" for speaking out. Sorry! It's men like Jim Mattis who are courageous. The rest of us barely glimpse the meaning of the word.

We've come to a sad state when a Marine who has risked his life repeatedly to keep our country safe can't speak his mind, while any professor who wants to blame America for 9/11 is defended by legions of free-speech advocates. If a man like Mattis hasn't earned the right to say what he really believes, who has?

Had Gen Mattis collapsed in tears and begged for pity for the torments war inflicted on him, the media would have adored him. Instead, he spoke as Marines and Soldiers do in the headquarters tent or the barracks, on the battlefield or among comrades. And young journalists who never faced anything more dangerous than a drunken night in Tijuana tried to create a scandal.

FORTUNATELY, Lt. Gen Mattis has three big things going for him: The respect of those who serve; the Marine Corps, which won't abandon a valiant fighter to please self-righteous pundits whose only battle is with their waistlines; and the fact that we're at war. We need more men like Mattis, not fewer. The public needs to hear the truth about war, not just the crybaby nonsense of those who never deigned to serve our country.

In my own far humbler career, the leaders I admired were those who had the killer instinct. The soldiers knew who they were. We would have followed them anywhere. They weren't slick Pentagon staffers anxious to
go to work for defense contractors. They were the men who lived and breathed the warrior's life.

Table manners don't win wars winning our nation's battles demands disciplined ferocity, raw physical courage - and integrity. Jim Mattis has those qualities in spades.

Semper Fi, General!

Ralph Peters is a retired Army officer and the author of "Beyond Baghdad: Postmodern War and Peace
29804  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politically (In)correct on: February 09, 2005, 01:09:33 PM
Woof All:

The concept of "evil" is definitely not PC.  

Interesting piece from the NY Times.

Crafty Dog

2/8/05 09:07
February 8, 2005
For the Worst of Us, the Diagnosis May Be 'Evil'
redatory killers often do far more than commit murder. Some have lured their victims into homemade chambers for prolonged torture. Others have exotic tastes - for vivisection, sexual humiliation, burning. Many perform their grisly rituals as much for pleasure as for any other reason.

Among themselves, a few forensic scientists have taken to thinking of these people as not merely disturbed but evil. Evil in that their deliberate, habitual savagery defies any psychological explanation or attempt at treatment.

Most psychiatrists assiduously avoid the word evil, contending that its use would precipitate a dangerous slide from clinical to moral judgment that could put people on death row unnecessarily and obscure the understanding of violent criminals.

Still, many career forensic examiners say their work forces them to reflect on the concept of evil, and some acknowledge they can find no other term for certain individuals they have evaluated.

In an effort to standardize what makes a crime particularly heinous, a group at New York University has been developing what it calls a depravity scale, which rates the horror of an act by the sum of its grim details.

And a prominent personality expert at Columbia University has published a 22-level hierarchy of evil behavior, derived from detailed biographies of more than 500 violent criminals.

He is now working on a book urging the profession not to shrink from thinking in terms of evil when appraising certain offenders, even if the E-word cannot be used as part of an official examination or diagnosis.

"We are talking about people who commit breathtaking acts, who do so repeatedly, who know what they're doing, and are doing it in peacetime" under no threat to themselves, said Dr. Michael Stone, the Columbia psychiatrist, who has examined several hundred killers at Mid-Hudson Psychiatric Center in New Hampton, N.Y., and others at Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in Queens, where he consults and teaches. "We know from experience who these people are, and how they behave," and it is time, he said, to give their behavior "the proper appellation."

Western religious leaders, evolutionary theorists and psychological researchers agree that almost all human beings have the capacity to commit brutal acts, even when they are not directly threatened. In Dr. Stanley Milgram's famous electroshock experiments in the 1960's, participants delivered what they thought were punishing electric jolts to a fellow citizen, merely because they were encouraged to do so by an authority figure as part of a learning experiment.

In the real world, the grim images coming out of Iraq -the beheadings by Iraqi insurgents and the Abu Ghraib tortures, complete with preening guards - suggest how much further people can go when they feel justified.

In Nazi prisoner camps, as during purges in Kosovo and Cambodia, historians found that clerks, teachers, bureaucrats and other normally peaceable citizens committed some of the gruesome violence, apparently swept along in the kind of collective thoughtlessness that the philosopher Hannah Arendt described as the banality of evil.

"Evil is endemic, it's constant, it is a potential in all of us. Just about everyone has committed evil acts," said Dr. Robert I. Simon, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown Medical School and the author of "Bad Men Do What Good Men Dream."

Dr. Simon considers the notion of evil to be of no use to forensic psychiatry, in part because evil is ultimately in the eye of the beholder, shaped by political and cultural as well as religious values. The terrorists on Sept. 11 thought that they were serving God, he argues; those who kill people at abortion clinics also claim to be doing so. If the issue is history's most transcendent savages, on the other hand, most people agree that Hitler and Pol Pot would qualify.

"When you start talking about evil, psychiatrists don't know anything more about it than anyone else," Dr. Simon said. "Our opinions might carry more weight, under the patina or authority of the profession, but the point is, you can call someone evil and so can I. So what? What does it add?"

Dr. Stone argues that one possible benefit of including a consideration of evil may be a more clear-eyed appreciation of who should be removed from society and not allowed back. He is not an advocate of the death penalty, he said. And his interest in evil began long before President Bush began using the word to describe terrorists or hostile regimes.

Dr. Stone's hierarchy of evil is topped by the names of many infamous criminals who were executed or locked up for good: Theodore R. Bundy, the former law school student convicted of killing two young women in Florida and linked to dozens of other killings in the 1970's; John Wayne Gacy of Illinois, the convicted killer who strangled more than 30 boys and buried them under his house; and Ian Brady who, with his girlfriend, Myra Hindley, tortured and killed children in England in a rampage in the 1960's known as the moors murders.

But another killer on the hierarchy is Albert Fentress, a former schoolteacher in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., examined by Dr. Stone, who killed and cannibalized a teenager, in 1979. Mr. Fentress petitioned to be released from a state mental hospital, and in 1999 a jury agreed that he was ready; he later withdrew the petition, when prosecutors announced that a new witness would testify against him.

At a hearing in 2001, Dr. Stone argued against Mr. Fentress's release, and the idea that the killer might be considered ready to make his way back into society still makes the psychiatrist's eyes widen.

Researchers have found that some people who commit violent crimes are much more likely than others to kill or maim again, and one way they measure this potential is with a structured examination called the psychopathy checklist.

As part of an extensive, in-depth interview, a trained examiner rates the offender on a 20-item personality test. The items include glibness and superficial charm, grandiose self-worth, pathological lying, proneness to boredom and emotional vacuity. The subjects earn zero points if the description is not applicable, two points if it is highly applicable, and one if it is somewhat or sometimes true.

The psychologist who devised the checklist, Dr. Robert Hare, a professor emeritus at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, said that average total scores varied from below five in the general population to the low 20's in prison populations, to a range of 30 to 40 - highly psychopathic - in predatory killers. In a series of studies, criminologists have found that people who score in the high range are two to four times as likely as other prisoners to commit another crime when released. More than 90 percent of the men and a few women at the top of Dr. Stone's hierarchy qualify as psychopaths.

In recent years, neuroscientists have found evidence that psychopathy scores reflect physical differences in brain function. Last April, Canadian and American researchers reported in a brain-imaging study that psychopaths processed certain abstract words - grace, future, power, for example - differently from nonpsychopaths.

In addition, preliminary findings from new imaging research have revealed apparent oddities in the way psychopaths mentally process certain photographs, like graphic depictions of accident scenes, said Dr. Kent Kiehl, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Yale, a lead author on both studies.

No one knows how significant these differences are, or whether they are a result of genetic or social factors. Broken homes and childhood trauma are common among brutal killers; so is malignant narcissism, a personality type characterized not only by grandiosity but by fantasies of unlimited power and success, a deep sense of entitlement, and a need for excessive admiration.

"There is a group we call lethal predators, who are psychopathic, sadistic, and sane, and people have said this is approaching a measure of evil, and with good reason," Dr. Hare said. "What I would say is that there are some people for whom evil acts - what we would consider evil acts - are no big deal. And I agree with Michael Stone that the circumstances and context are less important than who they are."

Checklists, scales, and other psychological exams are not blood tests, however, and their use in support of a concept as loaded as evil could backfire, many psychiatrists say. Not all violent predators are psychopaths, for one thing, nor are most psychopaths violent criminals. And to suggest that psychopathy or some other profile is a reliable measure of evil, they say, would be irresponsible and ultimately jeopardize the credibility of the profession.

In the 1980's and 1990's, a psychiatrist in Dallas earned the name Dr. Death by testifying in court, in a wide variety of cases, that he was certain that defendants would commit more crimes in the future - though often, he had not examined them. Many were sentenced to death.

"I agree that some people cannot be rehabilitated, but the risk in using the word evil is that it may mean one thing to one psychiatrist, and something else to another, and then we're in trouble, " said Dr. Saul Faerstein, a forensic psychiatrist in Beverly Hills. "I don't know that we want psychiatrists as gatekeepers, making life-and-death judgments in some cases, based on a concept that is not medical."

Even if it is used judiciously, other experts say, the concept of evil is powerful enough that it could obscure the mental troubles and intellectual quirks that motivate brutal killers, and sometimes allow them to avoid detection. Mr. Bundy, the serial killer, was reportedly very romantic, attentive and affectionate with his own girlfriends, while he referred to his victims as "cargo" and "damaged goods," Dr. Simon noted.

Mr. Gacy, a gracious and successful businessman, reportedly created a clown figure to lift the spirits of ailing children. "He was a very normal, very functional guy in many respects," said Dr. Richard Rappaport, a forensic psychiatrist based in La Costa, Calif., who examined Mr. Gacy before his trial. Dr. Rappaport said he received holiday cards from Mr. Gacy every year before he was executed.

"I think the main reason it's better to avoid the term evil, at least in the courtroom, is that for many it evokes a personalized Satan, the idea that there is supernatural causation for misconduct," said Dr. Park Dietz, a forensic psychiatrist in Newport Beach, Calif., who examined the convicted serial murderer Jeffrey Dahmer, as well as Lyle and Erik Menendez, who were convicted of murdering their parents in Beverly Hills.

"This could only conceal a subtle important truth about many of these people, such as the high rate of personality disorders," Dr. Dietz said. He added: "The fact is that there aren't many in whom I couldn't find some redeeming attributes and some humanity. As far as we can tell, the causes of their behavior are biological, psychological and social, and do not so far demonstrably include the work of Lucifer."

The doctors who argue that evil has a place in forensics are well aware of these risks, but say that in some cases they are worth taking. They say it is possible - necessary, in fact, to understand many predatory killers - to hold inside one's head many disparate dimensions: that the person in question may be narcissistic, perhaps abused by a parent, or even charming, affectionate and intelligent, but also in some sense evil. While the term may not be appropriate for use in a courtroom or a clinical diagnosis, they say, it is an element of human nature that should not be ignored.

Dr. Angela Hegarty, director of psychiatry at Creedmoor who works with Dr. Stone, said she was skeptical of using the concept of evil but realized that in her work she found herself thinking and talking about it all the time. In 11 years as a forensic examiner, in this country and in Europe, she said, she counts four violent criminals who were so vicious, sadistic and selfish that no other word could describe them.

One was a man who gruesomely murdered his own wife and young children and who showed more annoyance than remorse, more self-pity than concern for anyone else affected by the murders. On one occasion when Dr. Hegarty saw him, he was extremely upset - beside himself - because a staff attendant at the facility where he lived was late in arriving with a video, delaying the start of the movie. The man became abusive, she said: he insisted on punctuality.
29805  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Libertarian themes on: February 07, 2005, 12:33:52 AM
FBI Computers: You Don't Have Mail
By Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball

Feb. 14 issue - The FBI's computer woes got even worse last week when bureau officials were forced to shut down a commercial e-mail network used by supervisors, agents and others to communicate with the public. The reason, sources tell NEWSWEEK, was an apparent "cyberintrusion" by an outside hacker who officials fear had been tapping into supposedly secure e-mail messages since late last year. FBI spokesmen publicly sought to downplay the damage, saying the compromised commercial server?maintained by AT&T?was used exclusively for unclassified and "nonsensitive" communications that did not involve ongoing investigations. One example, they said, was notices from public-affairs offices' addresses to members of the press. But privately, officials were highly concerned?and recently notified the White House. One top FBI official says he regularly used his shut-down e-mail account to send messages to state and local police chiefs. Another source tells news-week that more than 3,000 old and current e-mail accounts were shut down. Others say the same apparently compromised server also provided accounts to other government agencies. Justice Department officials, who launched their own cybercrime investigation into the apparent intrusion, noted that there was no telling the potential damage at this point, given the common tendency for everybody to say too much?including making references to law-enforcement "sensitive" cases?even in theoretically routine e-mails. "This is an eye-opener for all of us," says one FBI official.

The bigger question, sources say, was how the hackers penetrated the bureau's e-mails?and why it took the FBI so long to notify the rest of the government. The FBI e-mail system was erected with firewalls that were supposed to prevent even sophisticated hackers from penetrating. But while officials stressed there was no evidence that the apparent intruder or intruders were part of any terrorist or foreign intelligence organization, the authorities were still baffled as to how they got into the system. According to sources familiar with the investigation, one suspicion is that hackers either used sophisticated "password cracking" software that tries out millions of password combinations or somehow eavesdropped on Internet transmissions. Over the weekend, NEWSWEEK has learned, the Department of Homeland Security posted a computer-security alert to agencies throughout the federal government urging e-mail users to be more careful about choosing their passwords by avoiding obvious clues?like nicknames, initials, children's names, birth dates, pet names or brands of car. "Such information can be easily obtained and used to crack your password," the bulletin states.

The e-mail compromise couldn't have come at a worse time for the bureau. Just last week, the Justice Department inspector-general released a report sharply criticizing the FBI's management of its new Virtual Case File computer system?a $170 million software upgrade that bureau officials now concede they may have to ?scrap. The VCF system was supposed to make it much easier for agents to electronically access vital information relating to ongoing cases in different FBI offices. But the I.G. found that poor planning and ineffective management have resulted in a system that is nearly unworkable. FBI chief Robert Mueller, who sources say has personally briefed President George W. Bush on the matter, took responsibility "at least in part" for the fiasco before a Senate subcommittee. "No one is more frustrated and disappointed than I," he said.

? 2005 Newsweek, Inc.
29806  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Rants on: February 06, 2005, 08:29:42 AM
Woof Alex:

"In fact French Special Forces are still helping US troops in hunting for Osama Bin Laden. Most of Europe had troops in Afghanistan. Yet many people ignore that fact when labelling the French as traitors in the War On Terror, and Euros in general as lazy, corrupt, elitist bystanders."

Agreed that in some cases the support in Afghanistan was reasonably substantial, but in some cases it was rather minimalist and required pulling teeth.

Although I supported and despite some poor execution by our civilian leadership continue to support our efforts in Iraq and elsewhere, I readily agree that a fair case could and was made that our actions in Iraq were not a good idea and would end badly and the nations of Europe are free and sovereign (well maybe not so sovereign anymore with the Euro Union  wink ) to support us or not.

Where I think the anger with France and (certain elements elsewhere in Europe) comes is in its activities to actively sabatoge our play in Iraq.  These are NOT the actions of a friend.  I have not the time or mood to rehash this again, but it was France that:

1) sold the nuclear technology to SH that it was using in its efforts to go nuclear.  Thank God that the Israelis acted at Osirak to take it out-- otherwise we would have been facing a nuclear SH when he invaded Kuwait and the west would have lacked the will to oppose him, which IMHO means he would now be the ruler of the entire Arabian peninsula with all the power that comes from being militarily successful in this way and all the oil revenues he would be receiving.

BTW it was Chirac himself who was responsible for the sale of the nuke tech to SH and there has been extensive warm correspondence between the two of them over the years.

2) disallowed US overflights of France when we had to go after Qadaffi n Libya.

3) for some 20 years had a deal with various terrorist organizations that they could go through France as long as they left France alone

4) there's more of this sort of thing, but at 0600 this Sunday AM it slips my mind.

This is the background of France's perfidy in actively undercutting our play against SH.  

So far the investigations of the Oil for Food program show that three members of the UN Security Council were on the take: France, Russia and China.  (Not on the SC but also on the take were many other countries from Eruope and elsewhere as well.)  

Russia and China are not our friends, but France was supposed to be and its actions (and those of other Euro friends) have cost American lives by making things harder for us.  It is pretty natural for us to be upset about this.

What drives all of this?  In Chirac's case the answer appears to be pretty ugly.  As for the part of Europe that opposes us in our course of action (and I do note just how much of Europe does support us) here is one German's answer:

Crafty Dog


Matthias Dapfner, Chief Executive of the huge German publisher Axel Springer AG, has written a blistering attack in DIE WELT, Germany's largest daily newspaper, against the timid reaction of Europe in the face of the Islamic threat.

(Commentary by Mathias Dapfner CEO, Axel Springer, AG)

A few days ago Henry Broder wrote in Welt am Sonntag, "Europe - your family name is appeasement." It's a phrase you can't get out of your head because it's so terribly true.

Appeasement cost millions of Jews and non-Jews their lives as England and France, allies at the time, negotiated and hesitated too long before they noticed that Hitler had to be fought, not bound to toothless agreements.

Appeasement legitimized and stabilized Communism in the Soviet Union, then East Germany, then all the rest of Eastern Europe where for decades, inhuman, suppressive, murderous governments were glorified as the ideologically correct alternative to all other possibilities.

Appeasement crippled Europe when genocide ran rampant in Kosovo, and even though we had absolute proof of ongoing mass-murder, we Europeans debated and debated and debated, and were still debating when finally the Americans had to come from halfway around the world, into Europe yet again, and do our work for us.

Rather than protecting democracy in the Middle East, European appeasement, camouflaged behind the fuzzy word "equidistance," now countenances suicide bombings in Israel by fundamentalist Palestinians.

Appeasement generates a mentality that allows Europe to ignore nearly 500,000 victims of Saddam's torture and murder machinery and, motivated by the self-righteousness of the peace-movement, has the gall to issue bad grades to George Bush... Even as it is uncovered that the loudest critics of the American action in Iraq made illicit billions, no, TENS of billions, in the corrupt U. N. Oil-for-Food program.

And now we are faced with a particularly grotesque form of appeasement...How is Germany reacting to the escalating violence by Islamic fundamentalists in Holland and elsewhere? By suggesting that we really should have a "Muslim Holiday" in Germany.

I wish I were joking, but I am not. A substantial fraction of our (German) Government, and if the polls are to be believed, the German people, actually believe that creating an Official State "Muslim Holiday" will somehow spare us from the wrath of the fanatical Islamists.

One cannot help but recall Britain's Neville Chamberlain waving the laughable treaty signed by Adolf Hitler, and declaring European "Peace in our time".

What else has to happen before the European public and its political leadership get it? There is a sort of crusade underway, an especially perfidious crusade consisting of systematic attacks by fanatic Muslims, focused on civilians, directed against our free, open Western societies, and intent upon Western Civilization's utter destruction.

It is a conflict that will most likely last longer than any of the great military conflicts of the last century - a conflict conducted by an enemy that cannot be tamed by "tolerance" and "accommodation" but is actually spurred on by such gestures, which have proven to be, and will always be taken by the Islamists for signs of weakness.

Only two recent American Presidents had the courage needed for anti-appeasement: Reagan and Bush. His American critics may quibble over the details, but we Europeans know the truth. We saw it first hand: Ronald Reagan ended the Cold War, freeing half of the German people from nearly 50 years of terror and virtual slavery. And Bush, supported only by the Social Democrat Blair, acting on moral conviction, recognized the danger in the Islamic War against democracy. His place in history will have to be evaluated after a number of years have passed.

In the meantime, Europe sits back with charismatic self-confidence in the multicultural corner, instead of defending liberal society's values and being an attractive center of power on the same playing field as the true great powers, America and China.

On the contrary - we Europeans present ourselves, in contrast to those "arrogant Americans", as the World Champions of "tolerance", which even (Germany's Interior Minister) Otto Schily justifiably criticizes. Why? Because we're so moral? I fear it's more because we're so materialistic, so devoid of a moral compass.

For his policies, Bush risks the fall of the dollar, huge amounts of additional national debt, and a massive and persistent burden on the American economy - because unlike almost all of Europe, Bush realizes what is at stake - literally everything.

While we criticize the "capitalistic robber barons" of America because they seem too sure of their priorities, we timidly defend our Social Welfare systems. Stay out of it! It could get expensive! We'd rather discuss reducing our 35-hour workweek or our dental coverage, or our 4 weeks of paid vacation... Or listen to TV pastors preach about the need to "reach out to terrorists. To understand and forgive".

These days, Europe reminds me of an old woman who, with shaking hands, frantically hides her last pieces of jewelry when she notices a robber breaking into a neighbor's house.

Appeasement? Europe, thy name is Cowardice
29807  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Rants on: February 05, 2005, 08:52:46 AM
Woof Alex:

That's pretty witty. cheesy   In particular the UK, Australia, and Poland have been good friends to us in all this, with the UK being especially noteworthy.  Point gladly acknowledged.

That said, there were quite a few voices out there on Afghanistan as VDH says.  That you didn't notice them speaks well of you Smiley so may I offer that his words be taken as a matter of "If the shoe fits, wear it"?


PS:  There is a reason this thread has the word "Rant" in its name wink
29808  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Geo Political matters on: February 04, 2005, 01:02:04 AM
Fascinating read Buz-- I will read it more closely in the next day or so.

In a different vein, here's this from Stratfor:

The following is an internal Stratfor document produced to provide high-level guidance to our analysts. This document is not a forecast but rather a series of guidelines for understanding and evaluating events, plus suggestions on areas for focus.

Intelligence Guidance: Feb. 2, 2005
February 02, 2005  1725 GMT

The Iraqi election is over and the insurgents failed to significantly increase the scope or scale of attacks on election day. What is next for the insurgents? Are they capable of maintaining the relatively high tempo of attacks seen in the last month or so, or have they reached a peak? Can the Shiite leadership deal with the Sunni nationalist guerrillas? What of the jihadist forces?

Iran has emphatically said it is not ready for friendly ties with the United States, but could talk to Washington via Europe. This was somewhat astonishing as the only overt comments and actions out of Washington have not been apparent invitations to establish peaceful ties. Iran is signaling, and given the movement toward a Shiite-dominated government in Iraq, what is the next step in the hidden dance between the United States and Iran? There are hints of cooperation in Iraq and Afghanistan; where else can they cooperate without being obvious? What does Washington want from Tehran, aside from not allowing Iran to dominate Iraq, and is there room for compromise with Iran's interests?

Colombia and Venezuela have apparently made up after tempers flared over the clandestine arrest of a Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) leader on Venezuelan territory. However, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has developed a relationship with the FARC that he is unwilling or unable to reverse, and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe Velez cannot allow the FARC to take sanctuary in neighboring Venezuela. While there have been public niceties, the fundamental interests appear irreconcilable. Who makes the next move, and how long until things flare up again?

Al Qaeda has been steadily shifting its operations back into the Middle East, failing to gain significant traction for actions in Europe and the United States. With the exception of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq, major (or even minor) al Qaeda actions have been few and far between. Is the organization losing its grip on the international jihadist movement? If it is losing its place as the vanguard, it must strike out or be replaced by others. The question that now arises is: Can it? Is the silence a prelude to a major hit somewhere in Europe or the Muslim world?

U.S. President George W. Bush has started his second term in office, and he will do what he can to begin shifting attention away from Iraq and even the U.S.-jihadist war as the conflict becomes more routinized. During the pre-Sept. 11 days of the first Bush term, China was the biggest concern for the administration. There are rumblings that Beijing might once again bear the brunt of U.S. foreign policy. China got a reprieve from U.S. pressure after Sept. 11. How will Beijing react to a return to business as usual?

Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said that state oil firm Rosneft's recent acquisition of Yuganskneftegaz, the former subsidiary of Yukos, was made possible by a $6 billion loan provided by the Chinese. The Russians have been very skittish -- and with good reason -- about letting the Chinese get their hands on any part of Russia's strategic assets. Changing that mindset would require a complete strategic re-evaluation of the nature of China. Has at least a part of the Kremlin done that? Or is this just the Russians grabbing some conveniently available capital to continue their financial machinations? Or is Moscow seeking to maneuver China into a strategic bloc -- willingly or otherwise -- to counter the United States and Western push on the Russian borders?
29809  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We the Unorganized Militia on: February 02, 2005, 04:16:29 PM
Here's a news story to analyze. What would you have done? His granddaughter was living in the residence that was being burglarized. The article does not mention that Glenn Adams is also a correctional officer.

Another news article ends with the following:
Adams says his only regret is that he was unarmed during the chase.

"I wish I'd just had my gun," he said.

Man Chases Burglary Suspects
(Dunn Daily Record)
Jon Soles, Reporter
A watchful Johnston County resident braved gunfire to fight back at crime in his neighborhood Monday. Glenn Adams chased a minivan after seeing its occupants on his property, finally ramming it with his own truck until the van lost control and crashed.

The incident happened just after noon Monday and attracted at least two dozen law enforcement officers from the Johnston County Sheriff?s Office and the N.C. Highway Patrol.

Two men who were suspected of breaking into a mobile home near Blackmon?s Crossroads escaped on foot after the minivan wrecked on Godwin Lake Road. Deputies combed woods in the vicinity with dogs while a helicopter hovered overhead. The two suspects were finally located, after about three hours, hiding in a van behind a house near the scene where the van stopped. Edward Duncan of Dudley and Jeremy Faison of Goldsboro, both 21, were arrested by deputies. Both men were recently released from prison after serving sentences for property crimes.

The two suspects pointed a gun at Mr. Adams and then shot the front of his pickup as he chased them down N.C. 96 and Godwin Lake Road. Mr. Adams said he did not actually cause the van to wreck, but watched it careen out of control and into a ditch at the intersection of Godwin Lake and Golda roads.

The incident started when Mr. Adams, who is 64 and said he often stays alert for suspicious activity in his neighborhood, noticed an unfamiliar blue minivan at the mobile home he rents to his granddaughter on Adams Road.

?What happened was I was in my house and saw a vehicle. I went and parked behind them. In my mind, I thought they were breaking in,? Mr. Adams said. ?I opened my door to say something and they pointed a gun.?

Mr. Adams said the two men got into the minivan and rushed off. Mr. Adams followed, even though he saw the gun.

?I knew they had a gun but I kept going,? he said.

Mr. Adams saw the gun up close when the passenger in the van crawled to the back seat and pointed a handgun out a broken rear window. Mr. Adams said he heard the shots fired at him. What he didn?t realize until he stopped was that a bullet pierced the hood of his truck, right in front of the driver?s seat.

Mr. Adams rammed his sturdy pickup into the van several times, causing both vehicles to swerve and shudder, he said.

Tried To Stop Them

?I hit them, bumped trying to stop them,? Mr. Adams said. ?I made contact every place I could.?

The van finally stopped when it hit the ditch on Godwin Lake Road, not far from the Sampson County line. Mr. Adams kept going until he reached a home where he could use the phone to call 911.

When sheriff?s deputies arrived, they found the van wedged in the ditch with a television in the back seat. The two suspects were not around, but were seen by a motorist who said they asked him for a ride.

The minivan, with faded blue paint, rust spots and a broken rear window covered with plastic, was familiar to Bobby Johnson of Mamie Road.

?I?ve seen that van 10 or 15 times riding up and down the road,? he said. ?I told my wife one day, ?Them people is up to something.? ?

Mr. Adams said he was proud of his pickup, which has a recently-rebuilt engine. He said, despite the danger, he was determined to stop the van.

?I wanted to stop them because if they had broken in one time, they were going to do it again,? he said.
29810  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Saludos desde Espa?a. on: February 01, 2005, 12:13:44 AM
Guau Cecilio:

Bien venido-- y por favor atreva a escribir aqui aunque sea en espanol.  Tambien, permitame sugerirle visitar nuestro foro en espanol en

?De donde eres en Espana?

Crafty Dog
29811  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politically (In)correct on: January 30, 2005, 09:37:14 PM
Can anyone confirm or deny this one?


Telegraph Story: Germany's New Labor Policy

A 25-year-old waitress who turned down a job providing "sexual services'' at a brothel in Berlin faces possible cuts to her unemployment benefit under laws introduced this year.

Prostitution was legalised in Germany just over two years ago and brothel owners ? who must pay tax and employee health insurance ? were granted access to official databases of jobseekers.

The waitress, an unemployed information technology professional, had said that she was willing to work in a bar at night and had worked in a cafe.

She received a letter from the job centre telling her that an employer was interested in her "profile'' and that she should ring them. Only on doing so did the woman, who has not been identified for legal reasons, realise that she was calling a brothel.

Under Germany's welfare reforms, any woman under 55 who has been out of work for more than a year can be forced to take an available job ? including in the sex industry ? or lose her unemployment benefit. Last month German unemployment rose for the 11th consecutive month to 4.5 million, taking the number out of work to its highest since reunification in 1990.

The government had considered making brothels an exception on moral grounds, but decided that it would be too difficult to distinguish them from bars. As a result, job centres must treat employers looking for a prostitute in the same way as those looking for a dental nurse.

When the waitress looked into suing the job centre, she found out that it had not broken the law. Job centres that refuse to penalise people who turn down a job by cutting their benefits face legal action from the potential employer.

"There is now nothing in the law to stop women from being sent into the sex industry," said Merchthild Garweg, a lawyer from Hamburg who specialises in such cases. "The new regulations say that working in the sex industry is not immoral any more, and so jobs cannot be turned down without a risk to benefits."

Miss Garweg said that women who had worked in call centres had been offered jobs on telephone sex lines. At one job centre in the city of Gotha, a 23-year-old woman was told that she had to attend an interview as a "nude model", and should report back on the meeting. Employers in the sex industry can also advertise in job centres, a move that came into force this month. A job centre that refuses to accept the advertisement can be sued.

Tatiana Ulyanova, who owns a brothel in central Berlin, has been searching the online database of her local job centre for recruits.

"Why shouldn't I look for employees through the job centre when I pay my taxes just like anybody else?" said Miss Ulyanova.

Ulrich Kueperkoch wanted to open a brothel in Goerlitz, in former East Germany, but his local job centre withdrew his advertisement for 12 prostitutes, saying it would be impossible to find them.

Mr Kueperkoch said that he was confident of demand for a brothel in the area and planned to take a claim for compensation to the highest court. Prostitution was legalised in Germany in 2002 because the government believed that this would help to combat trafficking in women and cut links to organised crime.

Miss Garweg believes that pressure on job centres to meet employment targets will soon result in them using their powers to cut the benefits of women who refuse jobs providing sexual services.

"They are already prepared to push women into jobs related to sexual services, but which don't count as prostitution,'' she said.

"Now that prostitution is no longer considered by the law to be immoral, there is really nothing but the goodwill of the job centres to stop them from pushing women into jobs they don't want to do."
29812  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3 on: January 30, 2005, 06:03:07 PM
January 30, 2005


In Europe, the wise old foreign-policy ''realists'' scoff at today's
elections in Iraq -- Islam and democracy are completely incompatible,
old boy; everybody knows that, except these naive blundering Yanks who
just don't have our experience, frankly.

If that's true, it's a problem not for Iraq this weekend but, given
current demographic trends, for France and Belgium and Holland a year
or two down the line.

But, as it happens, it's not true. The Afghan election worked so well
that, there being insufficient bad news out of it, the doom-mongers in
the Western media pretended it never happened. They'll have a harder
job doing that with Iraq, so instead they'll have to play up every
roadside bomb and every dead poll worker. But it won't alter the basic
reality: that today's election will be imperfect but more than good
enough. OK, that's a bit vague by the standards of my usual
psephological predictions, so how about this? Turnout in the Kurdish
north and Shia south will be higher than in the last American, British
or Canadian elections. Legitimate enough for ya?

But look beyond the numbers. When you consider the behavior of the
Shia and Kurdish parties, they've been remarkably shrewd, restrained
and responsible. They don't want to blow their big rendezvous with
history and rejoin the rest of the Middle East in the fetid swamp of
stable despotism. The naysayers in the Democratic Party and the U.S.
media are so obsessed with Rumsfeld getting this wrong and Condi
getting that wrong and Bush getting everything wrong that they've
failed to notice just how surefooted both the Kurds and Shiites have
been -- which in the end is far more important. The latter, for
example, have adopted a moderate secular pitch entirely different from
their co-religionist mullahs over the border. In fact, as partisan
pols go, they sound a lot less loopy than, say, Barbara Boxer. Even on
the Sunni side of the street, there are signs the smarter fellows
understand their plans to destroy the election have flopped and it's
time to cut themselves into the picture. The IMF noted in November
that the Iraqi economy is already outperforming all its Arab

You might not have gained that impression from watching CNN or reading
the Los Angeles Times. The Western press are all holed up in the same
part of Baghdad, and the insurgents very conveniently set off bombs
visible from their hotel windows in perfect synchronization with the
U.S. TV news cycle. But, if they could look beyond the plumes of
smoke, they'd see that Iraq's going to be better than OK, that it will
be the economic powerhouse of the region, and that the various small
nods toward democracy going on in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and
elsewhere suggest that the Arab world has figured out what the foreign
policy ''realists'' haven't: that the trend is in the Bush direction.
When Amr Moussa, secretary-general of the Arab League, warned that the
U.S. invasion of Iraq would ''destabilize'' the entire region, he was
right. That's why it was such a great idea.

The ''realpolitik'' types spent so long worshipping at the altar of
stability they were unable to see it was a cult for psychos. The
geopolitical scene is never stable, it's always dynamic. If the
Western world decides in 2005 that it can ''contain'' President Sy
Kottik of Wackistan indefinitely, that doesn't mean the relationship
between the two parties is set in aspic. Wackistan has a higher birth
rate than the West, so after 40 years of ''stability'' there are a lot
more Wackistanis and a lot fewer Frenchmen. And Wackistan has immense
oil reserves, and President Kottik has used the wealth of those oil
reserves to fund radical schools and mosques in hitherto moderate
parts of the Muslim world. And cheap air travel and the Internet and
ATM machines that take every bank card on the planet and the
freelancing of nuclear technology mean that Wackistan's problems are
no longer confined to Wackistan. For a few hundred bucks, they can be
outside the Empire State Building within seven hours. Nothing stands
still. ''Stability'' is a fancy term to dignify laziness and
complacency as sophistication.

If you want a good example of excessive deference to the established
order, look no further than Iraq. I'm often asked about the scale of
the insurgency and doesn't this prove we armchair warriors vastly
underestimated things, etc. I usually reply that, if you rummage
through the archives, you'll find that I wanted the liberation of Iraq
to occur before the end of August 2002. The bulk of the military were
already in place, sitting in the Kuwaiti desert twiddling their
thumbs. But Bush was prevailed upon to go ''the extra mile'' at the
United Nations mainly for the sake of Tony Blair, and thanks to the
machinations of Chirac, Schroeder and Co., the extra mile wound up
being the scenic route through six months of diplomatic gridlock while
Washington gamely auditioned any casus belli that might win the favor
of the president of Guinea's witch doctor. As we know, all that
happened during that period was that the hitherto fringe ''peace''
movement vastly expanded and annexed most of the Democratic Party.

Given all that went on in America, Britain, France, etc., during the
interminable ''extra mile,'' it would be idiotic to assume that, with
an almighty invasion force squatting on his borders for six months,
Saddam just sat there listening to his Sinatra LPs. He was very busy,
as were the Islamists, and Iran, and Syria.

The result is not only an insurgency far more virulent than it would
have been had Washington followed my advice rather than Tony's and
gone in in August 2002, but also a broader range of enemies that
learned a lot about how ''world'' -- i.e., European -- opinion could
be played off against Washington.

I don't believe Bush would make that mistake again. Which means he
wouldn't have spoken quite so loudly if the big stick weren't already
in place -- if plans weren't well advanced for dealing with Iran and
some of the low-hanging fruit elsewhere in the region. Bush won't
abolish all global tyranny by 2008 -- that might have to wait till
Condi's second term -- but he will abolish some of it, and today's
elections are as important in that struggle as any military victory.
29813  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Stick and other weapon fighting from around the World on: January 30, 2005, 01:36:18 PM
From Trinidad-Tobago

Tales of a Mayaro stickman


Sunday, January 30th 2005
The Panther was always ready for battle. Photo: Caldeo Sookram

"THE Panther fears no stickman. When The Panther reach the gayelle, is serious bois, no time to gallery," said the stickman from Mayaro.

"I don't want to know your name or whey you come from. I come here to battle,'' said Natto Sylvester alias The Panther.

Sylvester said he watched big men play stick when he was a youth.

"I used to look at them big fellas, men like Mayaro Tiger, Tony Red, Boss Frazier, Bandy Alexis, Sonny Bigteeth, Chinkey Fat,'' he recalled.

At the age of 14, Sylvester started to work on Beaumont Estate, a cocoa and coconut plantation in Mayaro.

"On the estate we start playing stick with cocoa chipon, pieces of sticks and things like that,'' he said.

Then one Carnival Monday The Panther made his debut in the stickfighting gayelle, where big men fought and blood flowed, and spectators cheered the heroes and booed the underdogs.

Then they turned and gulped down rum by the bottles, a popular recreation at stickfighting gayelles.

Joe Pringay one of the biggest names in stickfighting arena clashed with the young Panther making his debut in Sangre Grande.

The Panther fought bravely and earned accolades for that.

The long journey for The Panther had now begun. Gayelles in Mayaro, Manzanilla, Moruga, Siparia, Tacarigua, Rio Claro and Sangre Grande were just a few of the battlefields he fought opponents, big and small.

"I had about twenty stickman with me and plenty supporters. We used to travel in cars and van. It didn't have maxi that time,'' he said.

From gayelle to gayelle The Panther roamed and fought for pride, honour and good money too.

"When you see man fighting the pile ah money used to be high,'' he said.

"I went to fight ah stickman one day. The people start to boo me; they waste meh down. They want to know whey I come from, they never hear 'bout me. They bring they king. When I make the second bois I cut they king. All booing done,'' said a laughing Panther, his front teeth visibly missing when he opened his mouth.

"One thing, ah could tell yuh, I was a great breakser. I coulda breaks real good,'' he stressed.

"I get defeated three times and that was because of rum,'' he recalled.

"I see one time ah stick buss and a big bee fly out from the stick. When the police call the man to see the stick, you know the man pelt 'way the stick,'' he said.

"I see man get stick and kneel down. Man get stick and stop talking for days. I hit ah man three lash watap, watap, watap, and he get three bumps on top he head. The man sit down right dey,'' said The Panther.

"When I hear the drum beating, is like ah jumbie calling. I couldn't resist,'' he said.

"I see man, woman and child dance and cry when they hear drum beating,'' he said.

"We start playing stick with flambeau. It didn't have street lights in country area long time,'' he noted.

"When you hear Mayaro and Moruga clash, that was bois. That was the big battle. We make stick. I always hold a stick for Mayaro,'' said The Panther holding up his poui stick as a caution.

The Panther's arms and chest are coated with tattoos.

Female names, his long time girl friends, are etched on his arms.

The Panther's finger tips are now out of shape, having received some dents from "boismen''.

"Well you could see for yuhself,'' he said, displaying the battered finger tips.

Nowadays, The Panther has taken a back seat. He is a pensioner and indulges in a little Play Whe.

He is not happy however, with the state of stickfighting in recent times.

"Them fellas can't fight. They only walking 'round with stick and playing they could fight,'' he lamented.
29814  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Weird and/or silly on: January 28, 2005, 02:27:34 PM
Not eligible for the Darwin awards.  LOL  

Man peed way out of avalanche

A Slovak man trapped in his car under an avalanche freed himself by drinking 60 bottles of beer and urinating on the snow to melt it.

Rescue teams found Richard Kral drunk and staggering along a mountain path four days after his Audi car was buried in the Slovak Tatra mountains.

He told them that after the avalanche, he had opened his car window and tried to dig his way out.

But as he dug with his hands, he realised the snow would fill his car before he managed to break through.

He had 60 half-litre bottles of beer in his car as he was going on holiday, and after cracking one open to think about the problem he realised he could urinate on the snow to melt it, local media reported.

He said: "I was scooping the snow from above me and packing it down below the window, and then I peed on it to melt it. It was hard and now my kidneys and liver hurt. But I'm glad the beer I took on holiday turned out to be useful and I managed to get out of there."

Parts of Europe have this week been hit by the heaviest snowfalls since 1941, with some places registering more than ten feet of snow in 24 hours.
29815  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3 on: January 27, 2005, 04:47:57 PM
The Three-Power Game

By George Friedman

Now the question becomes Iran. But the Iran question is not the simplistic "next target" issue that has been framed by the media -- or the Bush administration for that matter. The Iran question is far more complex, subtle and defining. It divides into two questions. First, once Iraq holds elections, what will Iran's policy be toward Iraq's new Shiite government? Second, since the Shiite-Sunni split is fundamental to the Islamic world, how will the United States manage and manipulate that divide?

To approach these questions, we need to look at the world through Iran's eyes. Iran has a single, overwhelming national security interest: protecting itself from encroachments by foreign powers. After World War II, the primary threat came from the Soviet Union. Another threat, both ancient and continual, came from Iraq. Under both the shah and the ayatollahs, Iraq constituted what became Iran's major national security threat.

The Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s had a devastating effect on Iran. There is hardly an Iranian family that did not suffer a loss in that war. Iraq came out ahead in the war militarily, but had it simply defeated Iran, the result would have been catastrophic. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Iraq has been Iran's nightmare.

This is why the Iranians did not seriously object to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. To the contrary, the Iranians did everything they could to encourage and entangle the Americans in the war -- including providing intelligence that triggered American responses. There was nothing more important for Iran than seeing Saddam Hussein's regime collapse.

For Iran, the best outcome of the war would be a pro-Iranian regime in Baghdad. The second best outcome would be chaos in Iraq. Both provide Iran with what it needs: a relatively secure frontier and an opportunity to shape events to the west. The third -- and least acceptable -- outcome would be a neutral Iraq. Neutrality is highly changeable.

It had been Iran's hope that the U.S. invasion would create a pro-Iranian regime in Baghdad. The United States certainly dangled this possibility in front of the Iranians. Ahmed Chalabi, the original fair-haired boy of the Pentagon, had a dual role to play. He was the conduit the Iranians used to pump intelligence into Washington that justified and required the invasion. He was also the channel used by the United States to convince the Iranians to keep the lid on the Iraqi Shia. Chalabi told Iran that the United States would give them what they wanted if the Shia remained quiet. Chalabi, like a figure in a Cold War espionage novel, was used and used up by both sides.

The Iranians will get a Shiite government in Baghdad after the election. It is not clear at all that it will be a puppet state. The Iraqi and Iranian Shia have diverging interests and somewhat different views of the kind of regime they want. Nevertheless, whatever the tensions, any Shiite regime is better than a Sunni regime as far as the Iranians are concerned. Even for this there will be a price. The new government will continue to control Shiite regions and probably have the cooperation of the Kurds. It will not control Sunni regions, where the insurgency is in place. There will not be a real Iraqi state unless the Sunni insurgency is defeated. The Shia -- with the Americans -- can potentially defeat the Sunnis, but Iranian cooperation is necessary. At the very least, the Iranians will have to avoid destabilizing the Shiite government by manipulating the Iraqi Shia to get more pro-Iranian officials in place. They will also have to share tactical intelligence on the Sunni insurgency with the Americans.

Alternatively, they can go with their second-best choice: chaos in Iraq. Under that scenario, the Shia in Iraq are pressured not to fight the Sunnis and the Iraqi regime becomes the government of Shiite Iraq and nothing more. At that point, Iraq, in effect, becomes divided into three states -- Shia, Sunni, Kurd.

This is a tempting proposition. The problem the Iranians have is that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. If Iraq collapses and the Iranians dominate southern Iraq, then the road is open militarily to Kuwait and Saudi oil fields. The Iranians might not want to take advantage of this, but the Arabs cannot hope for the best as a foreign policy.

The Saudis cannot afford chaos in Iraq or for the road from Iran to be wide open. They will increase their dependence on the United States and will be forced to do whatever they can to reduce the rebellion in the Sunni region. A united Iraq under a Shiite-dominated coalition government will secure Iran's western frontiers, but will deny it the opportunity to dominate the region. A divided Iraq will give Iran secure borders, an opportunity for domination and serious responses from Arab states. It will drive the Arabs into the Americans' arms. Things could get dicey fast for the Iranians. The United States is letting them know -- via the convenient conduit of Seymour Hersh and The New Yorker magazine -- that it is ready to push back hard on Iran. U.S. President George W. Bush directly warned the Iranians on Jan. 26 to stay out of the Iraqi elections. The Iranians are signaling back that they are a nuclear power -- which is not true yet.

The Iranians have a fundamental strategic decision to make. They can work with the United States and secure their interests. They can undermine the United States and go for the big prize: domination of the Persian Gulf. The first is low risk, the second incredibly high risk.

Behind this all there is a complex three-power game. There is the United States, in a war with factions of the Sunni. There are the Sunnis themselves, divided and unsure of their direction. There are the Shia, maneuvering to shift the political balance with the Sunni without becoming American puppets. Within each of these communities -- including the American -- there are deep divides, complex contradictions and political tensions. Each side is trying to use these to its advantage.

How this relationship plays out is the real issue. The question of the Sunni insurrection in four provinces of Iraq is not unimportant, but it is not defining. It is simply the arena in which the basic strategic complexity is being played out. But the real game is: Three players, each trying to create an alliance that locks out the third without limiting its own freedom of action, with none of the players really in control of the situation. It reminds us a bit of the U.S.-Soviet-Chinese game in 1968-1970. But even there, although internal factionalism was rife in all three countries, the decision-making process was not that chaotic.

That's why, in the end, it does not boil down to the Shia as much as to Iran. Iran can opt to align with the United States and define the terms under which it will accept a united Iraq under a Shiite-led coalition government, or it can go for it all, undermine the Shiite leadership in Iraq and open the door to the division of Iraq into three parts, with southern Iraq in the Iranian sphere of influence and the road to the western littoral of the Persian Gulf wide open -- except for the United States.

Iran has a low-risk, low-reward choice and a high-risk, high-reward choice. How lucky is Iran feeling?
29816  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Homeland Security on: January 27, 2005, 08:56:24 AM
MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- Passengers aboard a Southwest Airlines flight helped wrestle a fellow passenger to the floor Tuesday night after he tried to force his way into the cockpit, law enforcement officials said.

The incident happened aboard Flight 2161, which was traveling from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to West Palm Beach, Florida.

Christopher Egyed, 37, made "threatening comments about the government" and tried to make his way into the cockpit, Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office spokesman Paul Miller said.

"He had been acting in an obnoxious way throughout the flight," Miller said.

Egyed exchanged punches with a flight attendant before passengers joined the scuffle and subdued him, authorities said.

"They used duct tape to tie him up," FBI spokeswoman Judy Orijuela said.

Egyed was charged with interfering with a flight crew, she said. The pilot did not declare an emergency, and the plane landed without further incident at 9:45 p.m. ET in West Palm Beach. Egyed was taken into custody when the plane landed. Authorities said he is unemployed and lives in Philadelphia. Egyed was scheduled to appear Wednesday in federal court in Fort Pierce, officials said. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to 20 years behind bars
29817  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We the Well-armed People on: January 26, 2005, 03:05:08 PM
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 01/26/05
The cash register at Shoat's Grocery and Package Store in Oglethorpe County held just $300 Monday when the two teenagers walked in.

If they had been patient, the would-be robbers could have had it.

But, deciding the shopkeepers were too slow in complying with their demands, one of the young men pulled out a gun, igniting a gunbattle with the 62-year-old owner and his wife.

Both teens wound up dead.

"I'd have given it to them. Our insurance would have covered it," said Gloria Turner, who has owned the store for eight years with her husband.

Turner, 56, was rearranging the store, in the tiny community of Hutchins, when the teenagers walked in Monday evening.

One was wearing a wig that partly covered his eyes, prompting Turner to quip, "Can you see to walk with that thing on?"

The teen mumbled something, she recalled. He ran past Turner and shoved her husband, Bobby "Shoats" Doster, against the bakery counter.

The second teen pulled a white skullcap over his face, pushed Turner to the cash register and demanded money.

"I was about to give it to them . . . when the first guy says, 'You're not moving fast enough,' and pulls out a gun," Turner said Tuesday.

The teen aimed the gun at her husband and fired. The bullet missed. His gun jammed.

That was enough for Doster, who pulled out a .380 from his pocket. At the same time, his wife grabbed the 9 mm she kept under under the counter.

Both began firing at the teenagers, who ran to the back of the store for cover. A full-fledged gunbattle erupted.

The teens crouched behind a meat counter. The one with the gun popped up every few seconds to fire another round.

The unarmed teen kept shouting, "Shoot them! Shoot them!" while tossing at the couple whatever items he could get his hands on, Turner said.

The exchange of gunfire lasted less than five minutes "but it felt like hours," Turner said.

She remembered firing with one hand and dialing 911 with the other.

Deputies arrived four minutes later to find the store littered with shell casings. Both teenagers lay sprawled on the floor ? one shot several times, the other with a bullet in his chest, said Sheriff Mike Smith.

The teens were identified Wednesday as Michael Dewand Hill, 19, and 17-year-old Calvin Dantrell Ballard. Both were from Athens, according to the sheriff.

Turner and her husband will not be charged, Smith said.

"People have a right to protect their lives and their property," Smith said.

"We don't encourage them to take the law in their hands, but sometimes they are left with no other choice."

Turner and her husband moved to Hutchins, an unincorporated community in Oglethorpe County about 80 miles east of Atlanta, to get away from the encroaching development in Winder.

The attempted robbery Tuesday was the first holdup at their little store, which sells everything from alcohol to fishing supplies to sandwiches.

It also was the first robbery in Oglethorpe County in 30 years in which someone was killed, Sheriff Smith said.

"Shoats is a little shaken up by it all, but it hasn't hit me yet," Turner said, cleaning up the store Tuesday.

"I know it will, when I sit down to rest for a minute. They were humans' lives, after all."
29818  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3 on: January 26, 2005, 01:33:22 PM

IN just two days, Iraq took two giant steps forward. The forces of freedom in Baghdad announced the earlier bust of the al Qaeda killer behind the wave of suicide bombings. And Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the No. 1 terrorist in Iraq, told the world what he thinks.

Under pressure, men and women reveal their true character. On the run and frantic, Zarqawi offered a perfect contrast to President Bush's inauguration speech supporting global freedom: Zarqawi announced that democracy is "an evil principle."

There you have the deepest fear of oppressors everywhere. Whether dictators or assassins, they dread the free choice of free people. Terrorists know they can't win elections. Nor will many people vote to impose religious law on themselves.

The only hope the terrorists have is the tyranny of the bomb, the gun and
the lash.

Even Moqtada al-Sadr, baby-faced bully of the Shi'a slums, realized that few of Iraq's Shi'as would vote for his con- game wrapped in religion. As a result, he's withdrawn his sup port for elections. The Iraqi response?
Nobody cared.

Even before the elections, democracy did what the guns could not: It downed another demagogue.

Meanwhile, Zarqawi, the deadliest thug in the country, has grown desperate. In the wake of terror's defeat in Fallujah, his key lieutenant got fitted for handcuffs - a triumph revealed only yesterday to avoid compromising the grab's intelligence value.

Zarqawi knew his goon was gone. His wet-the-pants response? Lecturing the enthusiastic voters of Iraq that democracy is evil, then calling the revered Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani "Satan" for supporting the elections.

This is not sound politics. A Sunni Muslim, Zarqawi can only mobilize the
Shi'a voters he fears by attacking their spiritual leader.

But then Zarqawi has made one blunder after another in the face of wide
spread support for Sunday's election. Indeed, while he and the other
terrorists have played checkers, the Shi'a majority has been playing chess.

For example, key Shi'a religious leaders wisely agreed that Iraq's first
free elections should not replicate Iran's mis take of putting mullahs atop
the government. That keeps the mullahs off the blame-line, should
governmental efforts falter, while still allowing reli gious leaders a voice
behind the scenes (an authority that men of God enjoy from Indiana to
India). It calms Western fears of a "second Iran" emerging in Iraq and so
reduces the chance of a confrontation between the Coalition and the mullahs.

This isn't deviousness. It's statesmanship. We may live to be disappointed
in them, but Iraq's Shi'as are confounding all the Western elitists who
insist that the yokels aren't ready for democracy.

Just let people vote. Then the left's prophets of doom who dismiss the deep human desire for freedom can read the results and squirm as they explain their faulty predictions.

What's really happening in Iraq? Contrary to media depictions, suicide
bombings and other attacks are going down, not up. The terrorists are
running short on resources. The bad boys are getting popped - not least
because Iraqis, sick of the violence, turn them in.

And the leading terrorist in Iraq just told the common people what he thinks of them: He should decide their future, not their ballots.

Think that's going to play well with the masses? Does anyone except The New York Times believe that a Jordanian- born, Sunni Muslim terrorist is going to convince Iraq's majority Shi'a Arabs or the Kurds to throw up their hands, stay home on Election Day and hand him power?

Rarely has the contrast been so clear between the forces of freedom and
those of oppression. Last Thursday, America's president offered the world a courageous vision for the future. Over the weekend, the top terrorist in Iraq insisted that the world should return to a cruel and savage past. There you have the basic conflict of the 21st century.

Iraq's election won't produce perfect results. But the issue is no longer
whether the people will vote, but how many millions of voters will risk
their lives to go to the polls.

Those who still warn that Iraq's elections are misguided are on the side of
the terrorists. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi thinks so. And he's right.
29819  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Homeland Security on: January 26, 2005, 12:57:42 PM
On January 25, the Domestic Events Net reported that (a flight to Florida) had an unruly passenger that had been detained by other passengers.  The FBI met the flight upon arrival at West Palm Beach and arrested XX for interfering with a flight crew.  The FBI interview revealed XX made reference to taking the plane down and took several steps toward the front of the aircraft before being subdued by other passengers.
29820  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Real contact stickfighting, injuries and recovery on: January 26, 2005, 12:56:24 PM
I've noodled with these in the store, but was not that impressed.
29821  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politically (In)correct on: January 26, 2005, 08:52:56 AM
This from Scotland/England:


So what do you do when your home is burgled?


THE murder of John Monckton and the attack on his wife, Homeyra, during an apparent burglary in their London home has once again highlighted the true dangers and indeed the legal and moral dilemma members of the public face when they are confronted with intruders on their own property.

From a police perspective, the advice to potential victims of burglaries is unequivocal and clear-cut and you should never "have a go", so to speak, but for the victims of crime this is a very difficult thing to put into practice, especially when your natural instincts are to defend yourself, your family and your own property - the very pillars of your life that are being violated and potentially destroyed by criminals.

As a law-abiding individual confronted by an intruder in your home you face a catch-22. If you attack the burglar, or react in an "over the top" manner, as was recently illustrated in the case of Tony Martin who shot intruders in his Norfolk farmhouse, you will inevitably end up on the receiving end of a prison sentence that will far outstrip that imposed on the intruder in your own home. This situation has resulted in a lack of belief in the law among the public or rather a belief that the law isn?t exactly on your side when your home is broken into.

To this end it is perhaps important not to dwell on the situation involving Mr Martin because, regardless of the appeal procedure he successfully went through to secure his freedom, in many ways the law still points to his particular attack on the intruders who entered his home as a pre-meditated assault. He had previously been the victim of a number of burglaries within his home and as a result of this he was effectively prepared for further intrusion and reacted as such when his farmhouse was broken into again.

But what the Martin case does reflect is the general fear felt by the public over rising crime rates and the extent to which they will go to protect themselves. As the case involving Mr and Mrs Monckton shows those most at risk from aggravated burglary are the wealthy, individuals identified by criminals as prosperous professionals. However, at the other end of the scale, people living in inner cities and on council estates face a similar level of risk.

When individuals are confronted by intruders there are some actions they should follow. Direct contact should be avoided whenever possible. If unavoidable, the victim should adopt a state of active passivity. In most cases the best form of defence is always avoidance. If this isn?t possible, act passively, be careful what you say or do and give up valuables without a struggle. This allows the victim to take charge of the situation, without the intruder?s awareness, through subtle and non-confrontational means. People can cooperate but initiate nothing. By doing nothing there is no chance of inadvertently initiating violence by saying something such as "Please don?t hurt me".

In a situation involving housebreaking it is also important to remember that many common burglars are adolescents, most likely starting out on the first rung of the criminal ladder, and they are therefore prone to lashing out if confronted and in the worst case scenarios killing out of panic and fear.

Sometimes the perpetrator of a burglary is even more terrified than the victim and in many cases when things go wrong it is the perpetrator of the crime who panics. Although they sometimes go equipped with weapons, in most cases they probably don?t intend to use them but in the heat of the moment, and the fear of either getting caught or attacked themselves, they use them. They don?t expect the person they are trying to hold up to retaliate or react. Mostly the knife is there simply for intimidation rather than intent to use it and they finish up killing somebody by accident rather than design.

This, of course, does not excuse their actions, but it is certainly worth taking on-board when you consider confronting an intruder. While saying this, in my own experience counselling victims of crime in recent years, there has also recently been a marked increase in the use or the threatened use of dangerous weapons in burglaries and common assaults. This, in itself, is a deeply worrying trend and, although not entirely excusing over-retaliation from homeowners, creates an understandable degree of sympathy for members of the public who lash out at intruders in their home. In truth it is an incredibly difficult situation to assess.

What is perhaps most important is dealing with the victims of the crime and helping them through the aftermath. As someone with wide experience of counselling the victims of violent robberies in their homes it is essential to remember the post-traumatic stress associated with such incidents.

The truth is aggravated burglary causes enormous stress as the victim?s home has been violated. This situation is magnified when the victims and their family have been threatened or assaulted and can lead to a whole range of post-traumatic stress disorders. Like the victims of rape and violent assault, members of the public who experience criminal intrusion in their home experience episodes and often show all the classic symptoms of post-traumatic stress like panic attacks, sleep disorders, flashbacks and social withdrawal.

Like other serious crimes the aftermath of a burglary can be the start of a process that continues to destroy the victim?s self-esteem and even relationships with their loved ones and more often than not reinforces their feelings of guilt and self-blame over the situation. The damage to the victim from the original crime can also be magnified by the court experience and, more likely in today?s society, the lack of support from local authorities and the police.

The trauma can be dealt with in a number of ways with professional help, counselling to develop effective coping strategies and taking time off from stressful professional activities. People who fail to seek help often develop further psychological problems. Men especially are not good at accepting support, but some simple counselling immediately after an attack can substantially reduce the risk of long-term psychological problems.

? Dr Ian Stephen is an Honorary Lecturer (Forensic Psychology) at Glasgow Caledonian University and has worked in a number of prisons with long-term prisoners and young offenders. He was a consultant to forensic psychology television series Cracker.
29822  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Libertarian themes on: January 23, 2005, 01:23:12 AM
Snooping by satellite
Published: January 12, 2005, 11:00 AM PST
By Declan McCullagh
Staff Writer, CNET

TrackBack Print E-mail TalkBack
When Robert Moran drove back to his law offices in Rome, N.Y., after a plane trip to Arizona in July 2003, he had no idea that a silent stowaway was aboard his vehicle: a secret GPS bug implanted without a court order by state police.

Police suspected the lawyer of ties to a local Hells Angels Motorcycle Club that was selling methamphetamine, and they feared undercover officers would not be able to infiltrate the notoriously tight-knit group, which has hazing rituals that involve criminal activities. So investigators stuck a GPS, or Global Positioning System, bug on Moran's car, watched his movements, and arrested him on drug charges a month later.

A federal judge in New York ruled last week that police did not need court authorization when tracking Moran from afar. "Law enforcement personnel could have conducted a visual surveillance of the vehicle as it traveled on the public highways," U.S. District Judge David Hurd wrote. "Moran had no expectation of privacy in the whereabouts of his vehicle on a public roadway."

Last week's court decision is the latest to grapple with the slippery subject of how to reconcile traditional notions of privacy and autonomy with increasingly powerful surveillance technology. Once relegated, because of their cost, to the realm of what spy agencies could afford, GPS tracking devices now are readily available to jealous spouses, private investigators and local police departments for just a few hundred dollars.

Not all uses are controversial. Trucking outfits use GPS boxes to keep track of their drivers' locations, and companies sell software to dispatchers that instantly calculates which taxi is closest to a customer. OnStar uses GPS tracking to provide roadside assistance to owners of many General Motors vehicles.

What's raising eyebrows, though, is the increasingly popular law enforcement practice of secretly tagging Americans' vehicles without adhering to the procedural safeguards and judicial oversight that protect the privacy of homes and telephone conversations from police abuses.

"I think they should get court orders," said Lee Tien, staff counsel for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "We're in a world where more and more of our activities can be viewed in public and, perhaps more importantly, be correlated and linked together."

"We're in a world where more and more of our activities can be viewed in public correlated and linked together."
--Lee Tien, staff counsel, EFFGPS devices work by listening for radio signals from satellites and calculating how long the signals take to arrive.

The result of that calculation provides a highly accurate estimation of latitude and longitude. Depending on the type of GPS tracker, that information is beamed back to an eavesdropper's computer through the cellular network or quietly recorded and divulged when the device is retrieved a few days or weeks later.

Voluntarily agreeing to automotive GPS tracking can be a bargain for some consumers. Progressive Casualty Insurance began a pilot project

in Minnesota last year that embeds GPS devices in a customers' vehicles and offers insurance discounts based on where and when cars are driven.

Norwich Union, the United Kingdom's largest auto insurer, has experimented with a similar "pay as you drive" program involving 5,000 customers. Hertz has implanted GPS trackers in all of its rental cars, and trucking companies have used similar systems for years.

"If something's not totally secret, you don't have a reasonable expectation of privacy."
--Dan Solove, law professor,
George Washington UniversityGPS tracking systems are becoming cheap enough--the prices have dropped by about 50 percent in the last few years--that they've become attractive methods for tracing the whereabouts of teenagers and spouses. In 2003, South Carolina police thought they had discovered a bomb under a vehicle, but it turned out to be a GPS bug planted by a man's wife. In another case, a man in Colorado was convicted of tracking his wife with a GPS bug after she began divorce proceedings against him.

Solving crimes
GPS devices have been used to solve crimes from the petty to the heinous. Massachusetts police recently nabbed the driver of a snow removal truck who exposed himself at a Dunkin' Donuts, thanks to the Massachusetts Highway Department's requirement that state contractors outfit their trucks with GPS locators.

In 2000, when William Bradley Jackson called Spokane County, Wash., police to report that his daughter had vanished from the front yard that morning, detectives were immediately suspicious. Jackson seemed unusually nervous, and blood stains were discovered on his daughter's sheets.

Eight days later, after desperate searches failed to locate 9-year-old Valiree, detectives won court approval to secretly attach GPS tracking devices to Jackson's two vehicles.

The tactic worked; the GPS bugs led police to Valiree's shallow grave in a remote, dense forest about 50 miles from Spokane. The case ended in a murder conviction and 56-year prison sentence.

Complicating the privacy risks of tattletale cars is a pair of U.S. Supreme Court cases decided two decades ago. Those cases, U.S. v. Knotts and U.S. v. Karo, established that police don't need court approval to track suspects through a crude radio beeper.

In 1999, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals invoked that logic when deciding that federal agents did not need a court order to slap a GPS tracker on a truck owned by a man suspected of growing marijuana. "In placing the electronic devices on the undercarriage of the Toyota 4Runner, the officers did not pry into a hidden or enclosed area,"

the court ruled, saying the bug did not violate the Fourth Amendment's prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Privacy intrusion?
A handful of courts have veered in the other direction, saying GPS technology is so powerful and can reveal so much about a person's life that it requires strict judicial oversight.

The "use of GPS tracking devices is a particularly intrusive method of surveillance, making it possible to acquire an enormous amount of personal information about the citizen under circumstances where the individual is unaware that every single vehicle trip taken and the duration of every single stop may be recorded by the government," the Washington Supreme Court said in the Jackson murder case in September 2003. "Citizens of this state have a right to be free from the type of governmental intrusion that occurs when a GPS device is attached to a citizen's vehicle...A warrant is required for installation of these devices."

Some legal scholars fear that when the U.S. Supreme Court eventually weighs in on GPS tracking, it will side with police over privacy. "Unless it changes its view, it's unlikely that the court will think the same way as the Washington Supreme Court," said Dan Solove, a law professor at George Washington University. "The court has a very narrow and crabbed understanding of privacy. If something's not totally secret, you don't have a reasonable expectation of privacy."

GPS tracking--even when bugs are installed by police armed with a court order--can be imperfect. One bug used by police to track convicted murderer Scott Peterson sometimes developed glitches that showed him driving at about 30,000 miles per hour. Judge Alfred Delucchi ruled the data could be admitted during Peterson's trial, which appears to have been the first such decision in California.

Even with the occasional glitches, police see great potential in GPS tracking systems, like OnStar, that are built into more expensive cars--and that most people believe will be activated only in emergencies. In one North Carolina case, police used the built-in OnStar system in a 2000 Chevrolet Suburban truck to locate it and arrest the driver, who had bought it with a fake certified check.

An even more creative method of vehicle tracking arose when the FBI used such a system for audio eavesdropping. OnStar and other remote assistance products permit passengers to call an operator for help in an emergency. The FBI realized the feature could be useful for bugging a vehicle and remotely activated it to eavesdrop on what passengers were saying. (The 9th Circuit shot down that scheme in 2003, on the grounds that it rendered the system useless in emergencies.)
29823  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We the Well-armed People on: January 21, 2005, 08:06:00 AM
Michael Moore's Bodyguard Arrested on Airport Gun Charge
Thursday, January 20, 2005
NEW YORK ? Filmmaker Michael Moore's (search) bodyguard was arrested for carrying an unlicensed weapon in New York's JFK airport Wednesday night.

Police took Patrick Burke, who says Moore employs him, into custody after he declared he was carrying a firearm at a ticket counter. Burke is licensed to carry a firearm in Florida and California, but not in New York. Burke was taken to Queens central booking and could potentially be charged with a felony for the incident.

Moore's 2003 Oscar-winning film "Bowling for Columbine" criticizes what Moore calls America's "culture of fear" and its obsession with guns.
29824  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3 on: January 20, 2005, 07:29:01 PM

After the Election

By George Friedman

It is now a week from the Iraqi elections. Apart from knowing the precise levels of violence the insurgency will be able to reach before the election, most of the rest of it is clear. The election will be held. In much of the Sunni region, the turnout will be extremely low -- low enough that the election might be suspended there. The Shia will win. The United States could choose to suspend the elections -- and there should be no mistake about who is making the decisions on this -- but the point for that has passed. If the elections were going to be postponed, one would think that Washington would have made that decision weeks ago.

The next decision that will have to be made is whether to certify the election. There is not much choice there either. Washington knows the vote in the Sunni region will be disrupted. To hold the election and then fail to certify it because of the guerrilla war makes no sense. The guerrilla war has been there for a long time now. If you are going to hold the election anyway, not certifying it would be an exercise in futility.

If the vote is certified, a government will be formed. The Shia will dominate that government. They would have dominated any government for simple demographic reasons. With the Sunni vote suppressed, they will dominate the government overwhelmingly. The United States has proposed in the past some artificial formula to guarantee Sunni representation in the government, a substitute for an election, but the Shia have rejected it. Moreover, if the United States allowed the Sunnis to take a full seat at the table in spite of their inability to suppress the insurrection, there would be zero incentive in the future for Sunni elders to take a chance. Undoubtedly, some sort of contrived Sunni presence will be inserted, but this will be a Shiite government.

Thus, at some point in February, a Shiite prime minister, governing through a predominantly Shiite Cabinet, will become the government of Iraq. The Shia have been waiting for this moment for decades. Although divided, the formation of a government that reflects -- or over-reflects -- Shiite power will be a moment of enormous triumph. The evolution of this government is unclear. It could evolve into an Iranian-style theocracy, although the Iraqi religious leaders seem to take a different view of this than the Iranians. It might be ruled by Islamic principles without the overtly theocratic elements. It could even be, for a time, formally pluralist or secular. Whatever it will be, it will be Shia, and it will be under the heavy control of the religious leaders.

The first problem the new government will face will be the Sunni uprising. Sunni guerrillas recently killed two of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani's aides. They have been conducting a fairly one-sided assault against the Shia for months. The reasoning behind the attacks appears to have been to intimidate the Shiite leadership prior to its taking power. What they have done instead is infuriate the Shia. The Shia have suffered from suppression by the Sunni-dominated regime of Saddam Hussein -- Sunni by birth if not by religious principle. They have been the dispossessed. It is now their time.

The Shia understand they cannot simply remain in a defensive mode. They have been passive in the run-up to the election, but after the election their credibility as the government of Iraq will depend on how they deal with the guerrillas. They must either suppress the guerrillas or negotiate a deal with them. Since a deal is hard to imagine at this time, they will have to act to suppress them. If they don't, the government will either be destroyed by the insurgents or Iraq will split into two or three countries, an evolution unacceptable to the Shia or to Iran.

Therefore, the Shia will fight. The Shiite leadership has made it clear it wants the United States to remain in Iraq for the time being. This does not mean it wants a long-term American presence. It means it wants U.S. forces to carry the main battle against the Sunnis on its behalf. In the same way that al-Sistani wanted the Americans to deal with Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr during the An Najaf affair, he wants the Americans to carry the main burden now.

The United States is prepared to carry a burden, but it is not prepared to single-handedly deal with the Sunnis any longer. The Shia have substantial armed militias. It is these forces -- not the failed Iraqi army the United States has tried to invent -- that will be the mainstay of the regime. The Shia don't want this force ground up because it is the guarantor of their security. The United States is not going to protect the regime without these forces engaged.

At this point, something interesting happens. The Shia have a greater vested interest in the viability of this government than even the Americans. The Americans can leave. The Shia aren't going anywhere. For the first time, the United States has a potential ally with capabilities and motivation. Most important, it is an ally that is not blind on the ground. Its intelligence capability is not perfect among the Sunnis, but it is better than what the Americans have.

It is an opportunity for the Americans. It is hard to get excited any longer about opportunities. We have seen so many open up and either prove chimerical or be fumbled by the United States that we temper our enthusiasm in all things. Nevertheless, the Shia will be the government for the first time; they have been waiting for this; they owe the Sunnis a beating and they might, with the United States, have the means to deliver it.

In all of this, the role of Iran is the most complex. The Iranians supported the Shiite community throughout the post-Desert Storm period. During the first phase of the American occupation, the two Shiite communities were close. Since the events of April 2004, the long-term wariness between the two communities has returned. Iran might not be as enthusiastic as it once was to see a Shiite government in Iraq. Alternatively, Iran could use its ongoing influence to manipulate and control that government.

It is no accident, in our view, that Washington is beating the war drums against Iran in the weeks before the Iraqi election. It is not only about nuclear weapons or not even about them. It is warning the Iranians not to intrude into Iraqi affairs. The Iranians might listen, but it's unlikely. Iraq is a fundamental national interest of Iran, and the Iranians will be playing.

Thus, the election brings a new government with new interests and new crises. If the government is seated, and we can't see why it wouldn't be, the next thing to watch is what steps it takes with its militias against the insurgents. Certainly, the guerrillas will be hitting them hard, so passivity is not an option. The Iranians will be manipulating the government and the Americans will be squeezing it. But it is at this point that something might finally, if temporarily, break in favor of the United States. Certainly that is the bet Washington is making.
29825  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3 on: January 20, 2005, 12:57:32 AM
Camp Bucca Turns 180 Degrees From Abu Ghraib
Commanders hope the model detention facility will improve the U.S. military's reputation, tarnished by the prison torture scandal in Iraq.

By Ashraf Khalil, Times Staff Writer

CAMP BUCCA, Iraq ? A winter fog rolled in off the Persian Gulf, coiling around searchlights and 12-foot-high fences rimmed with razor wire.

Dozens of listless Iraqi men lingered near the edges of one compound, wearing winter coats over dishdasha gowns and wool socks under plastic flip-flops. One sat wrapped in a plastic garbage bag as another prisoner trimmed his beard with an electric clipper.

It seems an unlikely setting for a hearts-and-minds campaign, but commanders at this fast-growing U.S. military prison camp near the Kuwaiti border describe it as just that. As the U.S. military shifts the bulk of its more than 7,000 Iraqi and foreign prisoners to Camp Bucca, commanders hope this model prison will bury the ghosts of the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal.

"We want [the prisoners] to say, 'The Americans treated me all right and they're good-hearted people,' " said Col. Jim Brown, commander of the 18th Military Police Brigade.

The driving force behind these changes is the lingering damage from what has become known among the guards simply as "Abu" ? a catchall term for the abuse and humiliation of detainees in the prison west of Baghdad.

"Our reputation was tarnished ? both as a military and as a nation," said Army Maj. Gen. William H. Brandenburg, the new commander in charge of prisons in Iraq.

During a recent visit to Camp Bucca, he told a collection of guards and commanders, "We've got to stay on the moral high ground and do the right thing all the time, even when nobody's looking."

The lessons of Abu Ghraib resonate in all corners of the 100-acre Bucca compound, which serves as both laboratory and showcase for the Army's new approach to detention facilities.

Master Sgt. Jimmy James, who will become Bucca's warden this month, calls the camp "kind of a new animal that evolved from this war."

The tent cities that housed Abu Ghraib prisoners have largely been replaced by climate-controlled prefab huts ? a change that improves both living conditions and safety, because the inmates can no longer use the tent poles and stakes to fashion weapons. Packaged military rations have given way to hot meals, delivered to the prisoners in large coolers filled with steaming rice, soup and stew. A new hospital is being built in a series of connected double-wide trailers.

Inmates run their own classes on literacy, English and religion and hold soccer games so raucous that the guards sometimes think a riot is in progress. Some prisoners are lobbying to play inter-compound matches on a communal field, but the guards are leery of that one.

Each of the 10 compounds, which hold between 600 and 800 prisoners apiece, elects its own "mayor" who is in charge of maintaining order and acting as a liaison with the guards ? if necessary, informing on impending escape attempts or culprits in a violent crime.

Cigarettes, tea and access to radios are used as incentives for good behavior or revoked as punishment. Visiting family members are treated deferentially and supplied with water and snacks in the hope that they'll leave with a good impression.

The base commander, Col. Tim Houser, speaks of educating prisoners, teaching them social guidelines and making them into productive members of society. Then he grins at how "painfully American" the idea sounds.

The Iraqi Human Rights Ministry maintains an office just outside the prison fence. Ministry representatives spend three days a week on site to mediate concerns between inmates and guards, work with families and serve on the camp's version of a parole board.

Saad Sultan, the ministry's point man for the U.S. prison camps, said he was pleased with the changes made so far but considered Bucca's medical facilities lacking until the new hospital was finished. One of the most common complaints from the prisoners, he said, wasn't abuse or mistreatment. It was that the Pakistani cooks didn't know how to make Iraqi food.

On the other side of the camp, efforts continue to create a pleasant environment for the guards, partially to head off anyone taking out their frustrations on the inmates.

Stressful living conditions at Abu Ghraib were one of the reasons cited for the abuses, along with insufficient oversight, unclear command structure and the still-murky role of intelligence agents in encouraging the softening-up of prisoners.

At Bucca, the soldiers live in comfortable trailers, and a large recreation center offers a library, board games, pingpong, an Internet cafe, karaoke and a first-class gym.

A massive antenna, a remnant of the government radio station that once occupied the site, still dominates the soldiers' side of the prison, which was used as a POW camp for a short time after the war. It was reopened as a prison in the summer of 2003 as the insurgency started in earnest.

For the guards and administrators, many of whom are rotating into Iraq for the first time, the camp has been a pleasant surprise.

"I expected to live in a tent for a year on a cot," said Capt. Diana Stumpf. "I'm afraid to tell my family what it's like because they'll stop feeling sorry for me."

Brandenburg's arrival in Iraq in early December heralded a literal changing of the guard for the U.S. detention system in Iraq. The command team brought in last spring by his predecessor, Army Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, is mostly rotating out, and detention operations are facing what one officer called "almost an entirely new chain of command."

There's a new superintendent for military police at both Abu Ghraib and Bucca and a new Bucca warden. In the coming months, three-fourths of the guards will be going home.

The new team faces a challenge fraught with all the traditional complexities of a long-term prison environment: violence, religious tension and shifting factional dynamics. They must deal with escape attempts that average two to three per month, often in fog so thick the tower guards can't see the ground and must shift to foot patrols to spot prisoners trying to breach the fence.

In mid-October, just as the new MP unit was arriving on duty, fighting broke out between Sunni and Shiite prisoners.

The dispute centered on differences over observance of Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month, and may have been fueled by general edginess among fasting prisoners craving caffeine and nicotine.

Commanders decided to separate the Shiites and Sunnis. But when Sultan threatened to pull his human rights team in protest, the separation was confined to the problematic compound.

Now Houser, the base commander, admits that they face a dilemma.

Religious separation doesn't quite mesh with the stated U.S. goal of fostering a unified Iraqi society. But reintegrating the Shiite prisoners into other compounds could cause further trouble.

"We're pretty sensitive to anything ? that could upset the dynamic," Houser said.

Brown, the MP commander and a Santa Monica native, recalls what he terms a "wannabe riot" in one of the compounds in early December. After two prisoners were sentenced to isolation for a failed escape attempt, their compound mates rose up in solidarity.

The compound had not yet had its huts built, and prisoners collapsed their tents to make spears from the poles and shanks from the stakes. They formed a shouting phalanx, using mattresses as shields and encouraging nearby compounds to follow suit.

The guards didn't fire a shot, instead putting on their own show of force, gathering in strength and patrolling the compound's perimeter with guard dogs. Finally, two firetrucks were brought out, and the prisoners dispersed around 3 a.m. before the hoses could be turned on them.

"Firetrucks," Brandenburg said with a laugh, "are a pretty good dampener on a cold night."
29826  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Geo Political matters on: January 16, 2005, 08:12:35 PM
Global Market Brief: Jan. 17, 2005

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has been ratcheting up the rhetoric over cutting off U.S. markets from Venezuelan oil supplies during the past
several weeks.

On the surface the idea seems preposterous. Along with Mexico, Canada and Saudi Arabia, Venezuela has ranked among the top four U.S. oil suppliers for decades and currently supplies approximately 11 percent of U.S. oil needs. Located just across the Caribbean from the U.S. Gulf Coast, it is ideally situated to supply the U.S. market. Denying that in order to supply customers in Asia or Europe would cut deeply into Venezuela's profit margins.

However, Chavez's primary rationale is not economic, it is political.
Opposition to the United States is an ideological fact for him, and he wants
to reduce Venezuela's economic links to the superpower to his north -- even if it means a little less cash for his coffers.

Now, we do not take Chavez exactly at his word. We never expect him to stop all shipments to the United States, not out of love or kindness, but because the primary customer for Venezuelan crude in the United States is Citgo, a subsidiary of PDVSA, the state-owned Venezuelan oil company. Chavez might be many, many things, but he is not about to cut off supplies to one of his own companies -- or at least not before he sells it (although that is another issue we will get to in good time).

Citgo uses about 860,000 barrels per day to supply its refineries and
approximately 700,000 bpd of that total comes from PDVSA. To fill domestic refinery needs, Venezuela keeps about another 1.3 million bpd at home, of which some 900,000 bpd of product is shipped abroad with the remaining 400,000 bpd being used at home. That leaves Venezuela with only about 600,000 bpd of additional crude exports to play with. In a global system where demand is at about 80 million bpd, 600,000 bpd can be mopped up pretty quickly.

But Chavez has even selected where he wants his country's crude to go:
China. Chinese representatives have been hopscotching all over Latin America during the past few months attempting to pen trade and investment deals. For China, energy security is an acute issue. The Persian Gulf states enj oy a near monopoly on exports to Asia, resulting in a stiff premium on supplies. Venezuela's heavy crude might be of inferior quality to the lighter, sweeter streams that come from the Middle East, but it does not have to steam past regional rivals Australia, India, Singapore or Vietnam to reach Shanghai. The lower cost of Venezuelan crude -- not to mention the lack of a premium -- should also offset the higher transport cost of getting it across the Pacific.

Venezuela is already in advanced negotiations with Panama to trim some of that transport cost. Panama possesses a pipeline -- the Petroterminales de Panama -- that transports crude from its Pacific to its Atlantic coast. Chavez wants to reverse the flow so Venezuelan crude can reach the Pacific basin. The process is rather simple and cheap -- and with oil prices where they are Venezuela can afford it. Should an agreement be struck, Venezuelan cargos could be steaming to Asia by August. At maximum capacity the Petroterminales de Panama can handle 800,000 bpd.

The one hitch in the plan is that Venezuelan crude is so thick that very few Chinese refineries can run it at all. Refitting sufficient capacity to use
the stuff could take up to two years. Currently, China could handle no more than 100,000 bpd according to sources in the U.S. Department of Energy.

But even here Venezuela has a bridge to make things work out. Singapore currently has spare capacity of about 300,000 bpd which is capable of handling the Venezuelan crude, and the U.S. West Coast has plenty of refineries that would be willing to take a few cargos to supplant -- or supplement -- Middle Eastern deliveries even if only on a temporary basis. When Venezuelan crude oil hits the Pacific, Chavez will have his pick of potential customers -- even if the Chinese are not among them at first.

That leaves only the pesky issue of Citgo, a front on which no moss is
gathering. On Jan. 13, Chavez restructured the PDVSA board of directors and installed Bernard Mommer, until now PDVSA's U.K. director, in the new lineup. Mommer favors PDVSA selling all of its international holdings. Add that PDVSA President Rafael Ramirez's first assignment for the new board was to completely review all of PDVSA's contracts and agreements with foreign firms, and it appears ground is being laid for a rolling Venezuelan disengagement from the United States.
29827  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We the Unorganized Militia on: January 14, 2005, 02:46:37 AM
Family Captures Suspected Stalker

(original article here)

The quick action of a teenage girl's family may have saved her from being abducted as she waited for a school bus this morning, police said.

A man suspected of stalking the 14-year-old at her bus stop was caught and beaten by two members of her family, police said.

Several hours later, the suspect was still in the hospital while neighbors were crediting the family with possibly saving the girl's life.

Investigators told ABC News affiliate WFTS-TV in Tampa the teenager said she had seen the same man drive past her bus stop several times over the last few weeks, both in the mornings and afternoons. She said he sometimes stopped to ask her where she was going or to tell her how nice she looked, police said.

On Wednesday, the girl told her parents that the man had become more aggressive, pulling in front of her and opening the door in an attempt to get her to go with him.

Based on that, the girl's father and uncle accompanied her to the bus stop today, where they spotted the suspect at the intersection of Ola Avenue and Indiana Street.

While they called police, the girl's family tried to restrain the man, who tried to get away, police said. A scuffle ensued, but the suspect, later identified as Alfredo Rivera, 45, of Spring Hill, got the worst of it, investigators said.

"I thought that it was school kids having a fight," one neighbor told WFTS-TV. "The guy was on the ground already. Every time he moved, he got kicked again."

Knife, Duct Tape Found in Vehicle

By the time police arrived, Rivera's face was bloodied badly enough to require treatment at Tampa General Hospital.

Police said they are not sure what his plans for the girl were, but they found a knife, duct tape, and pillows in the back of his station wagon.

He was charged with aggravated stalking and attempted armed kidnapping.

Police say they don't encourage people to take the law into their own hands, but neighbors were very supportive of the family.

"I'd have probably been out there kicking him too if I'd have known what was going on," another neighbor added. "I think [the family] did right. Street justice." [ABC News]
29828  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Battle of grand masters on: January 11, 2005, 07:51:15 PM
Tom intervenes, bans controversial arnis duel by Gabby Malagar
The Freeman, Cebu
January 12, 2005

Go on with the duel or face arrest.

This was the stern warning by Cebu City Mayor Tomas R. Osmena to eskrima Grandmaster Ciriaco "Noy Cacoy" Canete and his challenger Bonifacio "Loloy" Uy not to pursue their eskrima duel because it is "illegal" having no permit issued for that purpose.

Therefore, the highly-anticipated eskrima "Duel of the year" between Noy Cacoy against his former student-turned detractor Bonifacio "Loloy" Uy set yesterday morning at the Cebu City Sports Center did not materialize.

Instead, Osmena sent Cebu City police chief Melvin Gayotin and some Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) members to effect the arrest should both eskrimadors defy his orders.

Just before they could set up their duel, the police intervened and sent Canete and Uy home including Cacoy's family who went to the venue in full force and Atty. Dionisio "Diony" Canete, Cacoy's nephew turned critic.

The would-be protagonists and their seconds, as well as the people who were there to witness the duel, acceded to the mayor's order.

"They don't have to fight among themselves just to prove who is the best of them. I think the rest of us should encourage them that they both excelled in that particular sports discipline and that we hold them with high esteem for the pride they brought to the Cebuanos," said Osmena.

"Thus, the City will be giving them due recognition and special awards for their invaluable contribution to the field of sports during our Charter Day celebration next month," added Osmena.

It was the second time that the eskrima duel involving Cacoy did not push through.

In 1986 during the Martial Law anniversary, the duel between Cacoy and Esing Atillo was scrapped because Atillo was not allowed to fight for having a high blood pressure.

That particular fight was promoted by then regional police office chief Gen. Alfredo Olano.

During the Doce Pares induction of officers last January 8, Cacoy showed the form, which he said could beat Uy in just 10 seconds.
29829  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Wolves & Dogs on: January 11, 2005, 05:13:49 PM
29830  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3 on: January 11, 2005, 01:49:11 PM
Left Angeles Times, today

Ex-Baathists Play Crucial Insurgent Role, U.S. Says
By John Hendren, Times Staff Writer

TIKRIT, Iraq ? U.S. military commanders say a new assessment of the Iraqi insurgency has led them to focus on 34 former Baath Party leaders who they believe are financing and directing attacks against American troops and their allies.

Army Gen. John P. Abizaid and other senior Defense officials interviewed in Iraq said much of the insurgent violence was being carried out by a network of regional cells that loosely coordinate their operations with former officials of Saddam Hussein's ruling party.

Insurgent leaders often operate out of Syria and Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, officials said.

"There is a level of tactical coordination and direction that still comes from the remnants of the Baath Party, and I believe a certain amount of this tactical coordination effort is orchestrated from Syria," said Abizaid, the Central Command chief who is directing the war in Iraq.

Military officials have conceded that they have limited information on the insurgency due to a lack of reliable intelligence reports. In some cases, unconfirmed tips have come from questionable sources. In others, the information is too dated to allow U.S. forces to track suspected insurgent leaders, officials said.

But military leaders said they had been receiving more tips on the insurgency and higher-quality reports in recent weeks.

"We have focused the intelligence system on these 34 guys in the belief that if there is an emerging leadership structure for the former regime element movement that these 34 guys will be holding the reins," said another senior military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The new information has allowed military strategists to better discern the face of the insurgency, officials said, and has painted a portrait of guerrillas led by former regime officials who are predominantly Sunni Muslim.

U.S. military officials say recent evidence suggested that former members of Hussein's elite fighting units have been involved in attacks on U.S. troops.

"We see that a lot of the attacks that are going on right now show evidence that they were planned and executed by those who had a military background," said Air Force Brig. Gen. Erv Lessel, a deputy to Gen. George W. Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq. "There are some former Republican Guard and Special Republican Guard that are involved in these attacks."

U.S. military officials say the insurgency appears to lack a central leader, although they believe that former Gen. Izzat Ibrahim, one of Hussein's top aides, has directed many attacks against the U.S.-led coalition in the Tikrit area.

"There are former regime element organizational meetings. But there is no sort of grand pooh-bah that sits atop of this thing. There's no Saddam-like figure to whom they have allegiance and who is in overall charge of the insurgency," a senior defense official said.

Citing intelligence reports, senior U.S. military officials said Ibrahim and other former Baath Party members met near the Syrian border in November to plan strategy.

Also present at that meeting, officials said, were Mahdi Nasr Ubeidi, who supervises financial dealings; Mohammed Younis, who has acted as Ibrahim's assistant from a base east of Baghdad; Ahmed Hassan Kaka, an insurgent leader in the northern city of Kirkuk; Ramadan Zaidan Jaburi, Kaka's assistant; Mohammed Rijab Haddushi Nasser, the leader of the group's operations in Tikrit and nearby Baiji; and Yassir Sabawi Ibrihim Hassan, a courier.

The Baathist leaders are believed to be financing the insurgency with billions of dollars that Hussein officials allegedly grabbed from government coffers in the final days before the government fell, officials said.

Abizaid and other military strategists believe that leaders of these groups also determine tactics to be used against coalition and Iraqi forces.

U.S. efforts to find insurgent leaders have been hampered by Syria, officials said.

"We have been very clear to the Syrians about our unhappiness about Baathist cells operating from Syria. They have access to money, and they have access to smuggling routes," Abizaid said.

The Bush administration has been sternly warning Syria to stop the movement of fighters and smugglers across its borders and crack down on militants using its territory. This month, Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage visited the Syrian capital, Damascus, to deliver that message as well as other U.S. demands.

Congress has voted to impose sanctions on Syria, but the administration has so far picked the mildest penalty authorized by the law. The president has hinted at a tougher stance, but Armitage told U.S.-run Al Hurra television that Bush had not yet made a decision.

"He's waiting to see the outcome of Syrian behavior over a length of time and then will make a decision on what to do," Armitage said.

Syrian officials based in Washington could not be reached for comment but have said in response to earlier criticism that they have redoubled efforts to police their borders in response to concerns from the interim Iraqi government and the Bush administration.

It remains unclear exactly how closely the Baathist-led groups coordinate with foreign Islamic extremists such as Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian who has proclaimed himself the leader of Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda organization in Iraq. But the two groups are believed to communicate and work together at least loosely in what officials describe as a temporary marriage of convenience.

"I think there is a level of coordination between Zarqawi and some of the Baathist cells," Abizaid said. "There is a certain amount of coordination at a rudimentary level that goes on within Iraq. And there is certainly an organizational network within the Zarqawi terrorist network that shows an ability to organize terrorist activities across a broad range of targets in Iraq."

Abizaid warned that former regime leaders who ally themselves with extremists will not be offered amnesty even if they surrendered their arms.

Most of the leaders are probably not capable of rehabilitation anyway, a senior military official said. "There are a number of people that are going to have to die," the official said. "Zarqawi is one of them. He's in the box. His name's on the list, and you only come off it one way."

Times staff writer Sonni Efron in Washington contributed to this report.
29831  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We the Well-armed People on: January 11, 2005, 01:46:29 PM
High Court Clears Way for Gun Suit

Families of victims shot by racist Buford Furrow in 1999 can sue the makers of his weapons.
By Henry Weinstein, Times Staff Writer

The U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way Monday for victims of the 1999 shooting rampage by white supremacist Buford O. Furrow Jr. to sue the companies that made his guns.

Without comment, the justices let stand a decision by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that said the mother of a Los Angeles letter carrier killed by Furrow and the families of several children wounded by him could sue Glock Inc. and China North Industries, the gun manufacturers.

The companies ? and eight dissenting judges of the 9th Circuit ? had argued that the appeals court's decision would open the way for manufacturers, at least in California, to be hauled into court simply because their products had been used improperly.

Gun control groups hailed Monday's development. "We look forward to these victims having their day in court," said Joshua Horwitz, executive director of the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, which is based in Washington, D.C.

On Aug. 10, 1999, Furrow ? a follower of the racist Aryan Nations ? sprayed a Jewish community center in Granada Hills with gunfire, wounding five people. Later that day, he killed Joseph S. Ileto. After being arrested, Furrow told FBI agents that he had shot the letter carrier because Ileto looked "Asian or Latino" and worked for the government. Ileto was Filipino American.

The families of three children who were wounded by Furrow at the Jewish Community Center joined Ileto's mother, Lillian Ileto, in suing the companies.

In March 2001, U.S. District Judge Nora M. Manella sentenced Furrow to five life terms in prison after he pleaded guilty to avoid the death penalty.

In their civil suit, the victims' families said that the companies had produced and distributed many more guns than possibly could have been purchased by law-abiding customers.

Their suit also alleged that many of the weapons were sold at guns shows and through "kitchen table dealers," who may be licensed but are loosely regulated. The manufacturers often advertised their wares with the illicit market in mind, the suit alleged.

Plaintiffs' lawyers Peter Nordberg and Sayre Weaver cited Glock's marketing of its 9-millimeter "pocket rocket" concealable handgun, which Furrow used that day.

In October 2003, a 9th Circuit panel ruled that allowing the suit to go to trial could encourage gun manufacturers to be more cautious in overseeing how their products are sold.

"The social value of manufacturing and distributing guns without taking basic steps to prevent these guns from reaching illegal purchasers and possessors cannot outweigh the public interest in keeping the guns out of the hands of ? [those] who in turn use them in crimes," Judge Richard Paez wrote.

The gun makers then asked the full 9th Circuit to review the case. The court declined in May, but eight dissenting judges predicted dire consequences if the suit went forward.

"The potential impact of the ? decision is staggering," they said.

Nordberg noted that the avalanche of litigation predicted by the dissenting judges had not occurred. He also said that Monday's development was not surprising "because ? the 9th Circuit decision turned on issues of California law, which the Supreme Court normally would not get involved in."

"We are pleased that there is a rule of liability that holds gun manufacturers to the same standards of reasonable care that everyone else is subject to," Nordberg said.

He said he now would have to prove that the gun makers had acted negligently or created a public nuisance by using an unreasonable pattern in distributing their products.

Colin Murray, a lawyer for China North Industries, said he was disappointed that the Supreme Court had not taken up the case. A lawyer for Glock did not return a call seeking comment.

The case will return to the court of U.S. District Judge Audrey Collins. The two sides said they anticipate that the discovery process will start soon. Ultimately, the Supreme Court could review the case after a trial.
29832  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Criminal Record Search Question on: January 11, 2005, 01:44:20 PM
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29833  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Libertarian themes on: January 11, 2005, 12:40:22 AM
January 6, 2005

Government IDs and Identity Theft

Mr. Speaker, today I introduce the Identity Theft Prevention Act. This act protects the American people from government-mandated uniform identifiers that facilitate private crime as well as the abuse of liberty. The major provision of the Identity Theft Prevention Act halts the practice of using the Social Security number as an identifier by requiring the Social Security Administration to issue all Americans new Social Security numbers within five years after the enactment of the bill. These new numbers will be the sole legal property of the recipient, and the Social Security administration shall be forbidden to divulge the numbers for any purposes not related to Social Security administration. Social Security numbers issued before implementation of this bill shall no longer be considered valid federal identifiers. Of course, the Social Security Administration shall be able to use an individual's original Social Security number to ensure efficient administration of the Social Security system.

Mr. Speaker, Congress has a moral responsibility to address this problem because it was Congress that transformed the Social Security number into a national identifier. Thanks to Congress, today no American can get a job, open a bank account, get a professional license, or even get a driver's license without presenting his Social Security number. So widespread has the use of the Social Security number become that a member of my staff had to produce a Social Security number in order to get a fishing license!

One of the most disturbing abuses of the Social Security number is the congressionally-authorized rule forcing parents to get a Social Security number for their newborn children in order to claim the children as dependents. Forcing parents to register their children with the state is more like something out of the nightmares of George Orwell than the dreams of a free republic that inspired this nation's founders.

Congressionally-mandated use of the Social Security number as an identifier facilitates the horrendous crime of identity theft. Thanks to Congress, an unscrupulous person may simply obtain someone's Social Security number in order to access that person's bank accounts, credit cards, and other financial assets. Many Americans have lost their life savings and had their credit destroyed as a result of identity theft. Yet the federal government continues to encourage such crimes by mandating use of the Social Security number as a uniform ID!

This act also forbids the federal government from creating national ID cards or establishing any identifiers for the purpose of investigating, monitoring, overseeing, or regulating private transactions among American citizens. At the very end of the 108th Congress, this body established a de facto national ID card with a provisions buried in the ?intelligence? reform bill mandating federal standards for drivers? licenses, and mandating that federal agents only accept a license that conforms to these standards as a valid ID.

Nationalizing standards for driver's licenses and birth certificates creates a national ID system pure and simple.  Proponents of the national ID understand that the public remains wary of the scheme, so proponents attempt to claim they are merely creating new standards for existing state IDs.  However, the ?intelligence? reform legislation imposed federal standards in a federal bill, thus creating a federalized ID regardless of whether the ID itself is still stamped with the name of your state.  It is just a matter of time until those who refuse to carry the new licenses will be denied the ability to drive or board an airplane.  Domestic travel restrictions are the hallmark of authoritarian states, not free republics.  

The national ID will be used to track the movements of American citizens, not just terrorists. Subjecting every citizen to surveillance diverts resources away from tracking and apprehending terrorists in favor of needless snooping on innocent Americans.  This is what happened with "suspicious activity reports" required by the Bank Secrecy Act. Thanks to BSA mandates, federal officials are forced to waste countless hours snooping through the private financial transactions of innocent Americans merely because those transactions exceeded $10,000.

The Identity Theft Prevention Act repeals those sections of federal law creating the national ID, as well as those sections of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 that require the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a uniform standard health identifier--an identifier which could be used to create a national database containing the medical history of all Americans. As an OB/GYN with more than 30 years in private practice, I know the importance of preserving the sanctity of the physician-patient relationship. Oftentimes, effective treatment depends on a patient's ability to place absolute trust in his or her doctor. What will happen to that trust when patients know that any and all information given to their doctors will be placed in a government accessible database?

By putting an end to government-mandated uniform IDs, the Identity Theft Prevention Act will prevent millions of Americans from having their liberty, property, and privacy violated by private and public sector criminals.

In addition to forbidding the federal government from creating national identifiers, this legislation forbids the federal government from blackmailing states into adopting uniform standard identifiers by withholding federal funds. One of the most onerous practices of Congress is the use of federal funds illegitimately taken from the American people to bribe states into obeying federal dictates.

Some members of Congress will claim that the federal government needs the power to monitor Americans in order to allow the government to operate more efficiently. I would remind my colleagues that, in a constitutional republic, the people are never asked to sacrifice their liberties to make the jobs of government officials easier. We are here to protect the freedom of the American people, not to make privacy invasion more efficient.

Mr. Speaker, while I do not question the sincerity of those members who suggest that Congress can ensure that citizens' rights are protected through legislation restricting access to personal information, the only effective privacy protection is to forbid the federal government from mandating national identifiers. Legislative "privacy protections'' are inadequate to protect the liberty of Americans for a couple of reasons.

First, it is simply common sense that repealing those federal laws that promote identity theft is more effective in protecting the public than expanding the power of the federal police force. Federal punishment of identity thieves provides cold comfort to those who have suffered financial losses and the destruction of their good reputations as a result of identity theft.

Federal laws are not only ineffective in stopping private criminals, but these laws have not even stopped unscrupulous government officials from accessing personal information. After all, laws purporting to restrict the use of personal information did not stop the well-publicized violations of privacy by IRS officials or the FBI abuses of the Clinton and Nixon administrations.

In one of the most infamous cases of identity theft, thousands of active-duty soldiers and veterans had their personal information stolen, putting them at risk of identity theft. Imagine the dangers if thieves are able to obtain the universal identifier, and other personal information, of millions of Americans simply by breaking, or hacking, into one government facility or one government database?

Second, the federal government has been creating proprietary interests in private information for certain state-favored special interests. Perhaps the most outrageous example of phony privacy protection is the ?medical privacy'? regulation, that allows medical researchers, certain business interests, and law enforcement officials access to health care information, in complete disregard of the Fifth Amendment and the wishes of individual patients! Obviously, "privacy protection'' laws have proven greatly inadequate to protect personal information when the government is the one seeking the information.

Any action short of repealing laws authorizing privacy violations is insufficient primarily because the federal government lacks constitutional authority to force citizens to adopt a universal identifier for health care, employment, or any other reason. Any federal action that oversteps constitutional limitations violates liberty because it ratifies the principle that the federal government, not the Constitution, is the ultimate judge of its own jurisdiction over the people. The only effective protection of the rights of citizens is for Congress to follow Thomas Jefferson's advice and "bind (the federal government) down with the chains of the Constitution.''

Mr. Speaker, those members who are not persuaded by the moral and constitutional reasons for embracing the Identity Theft Prevention Act should consider the American people?s opposition to national identifiers. The numerous complaints over the ever-growing uses of the Social Security number show that Americans want Congress to stop invading their privacy. Furthermore, according to a survey by the Gallup company, 91 percent of the American people oppose forcing Americans to obtain a universal health ID.

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I once again call on my colleagues to join me in putting an end to the federal government's unconstitutional use of national identifiers to monitor the actions of private citizens. National identifiers threaten all Americans by exposing them to the threat of identity theft by private criminals and abuse of their liberties by public criminals, while diverting valuable law enforcement resources away from addressing real threats to public safety. In addition, national identifiers are incompatible with a limited, constitutional government. I, therefore, hope my colleagues will join my efforts to protect the freedom of their constituents by supporting the Identity Theft Prevention Act.
29834  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / DVDs? on: January 11, 2005, 12:38:51 AM
Woof All:

The cover for KK and Attacking Blocks are done, and the one for Combining Stick & Footwork probably will be fiinished tomorrow.  This will enable us to get decent costs from the duplication house.  In other words, these babies are going to be ready VERY soon!

Crafty Dog

PS:  Substantial new footage on all of them.
29835  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We the Well-armed People on: January 10, 2005, 11:12:04 AM
Shopkeeper Who Killed Rapist: 'I Guess We Were Lucky'

POSTED: 8:22 am EST January 6, 2005
UPDATED: 2:37 pm EST January 7, 2005

CAMDEN, N.J. -- The owner of a small city store had not heard about the rapist terrorizing downtown Camden before he used a single bullet to end the man's life.
When Ngoc Le saw a masked man holding his wife at knifepoint, the shopkeeper shot the man in the head, killing him instantly. Five days later, DNA tests showed Antonio Diaz Reyes was responsible for three sexual assaults in November and December.

On Thursday, Ngoc Le and his wife, Kelly, sat in the room where the shooting happened and described their ordeal, which they said lasted only a minute or two. They described themselves as fortunate, not heroic.

"When I shot him, he went right down in maybe two or three seconds, he went down," Ngoc Le said. "I guess we were lucky."

Ngoc Le, 28, and Kelly, 22, opened Camden City Wireless and Fishing Supply about three years ago in the city where she grew up.

He always kept a a legally registered gun there, just in case. But the pistol made her nervous.

"I never saw a gun, I never held a gun," Kelly Le said. "I got used to it. I just kept in my mind, 'We don't know what's going to happen next."'

Nothing bad did happen. Before last week, Ngoc Le had never even brandished the weapon to run off a would-be robber.  And the rough neighborhood became like home. After late nights of working, he would stay in the back of the store rather than drive back to their home in nearby Philadelphia.  Kelly Le said customers and neighbors were so friendly, they figured they'd always keep their store there. Their views changed on the final afternoon of 2004.

Camden, with about 80,000 residents, already had suffered 53 homicides -- close to an annual record for the city. Based on statistics from the year before, the city recently had been named by one crime analyst as the most dangerous in America.

Ngoc Le was in the bathroom and Kelly was alone behind the counter when Reyes, with a ski mask on his face, entered the shop.  Kelly Le said she was on guard because neighbors had been telling her about robberies committed at knifepoint in shops nearby. Police are trying to determine whether Reyes was also responsible for those crimes.

She said the man did not speak much and what he said was so soft she had trouble understanding him. He pointed to his belt to indicate he wanted a clip for his cell phone. She turned her back to get one off the wall. When she heard the man jump over the counter, Le screamed for her husband and Ngoc Le emerged with the pistol.

Reyes pushed Kelly Le into the office and into the entrance to the tidy living room behind it. Ngoc kept backing up with them. The couple's daughter and son, ages 6 and 4, often play in that room, but were elsewhere that day.

"When he saw my husband with the gun, I said this guy probably doesn't want no money," Kelly Le said. "He probably wants something other than money."

"My husband keeps telling him, 'Just take whatever you want and go,"' Kelly Le said. "He (Reyes) keeps saying, 'I'm going to kill you, I'm going to kill you."'

Kelly was shaking.

The man with the knife had moved into the living room as far as the dinette set.

Ngoc Le, a slight man, stayed about five feet away, afraid the man might take his gun if he got any closer.

"I saw an open space and I just had to pull the trigger on him," Ngoc Le said.

The stranger in the mask collapsed. Blood gushed.

Ngoc said he didn't know what part of the Reyes' face he hit. His aim had more to do with luck than training, he said.

"If it didn't turn out this way, it would probably have turned out the opposite way and we're not sitting here talking, I guess," Kelly Le said.

Both called police. While they waited, the dead man's cell phone rang constantly.

Police arrived within a few minutes and took Ngoc Le to the police station, but they did not put him in handcuffs. Because he used deadly force to protect his wife's life, rather than his property, Ngoc Le was not charged with a crime.  (!!!!)

It was only that afternoon the businessman heard about the three rapes that had taken place a few miles away in a safer area of the city. The victims in those daytime, knifepoint attacks were a high school student, a college student and an employee at a shop. All three were close in age to Kelly Le.

Authorities told Ngoc Le they would compare Reyes' DNA to the samples from the three rapes. He bought a newspaper to learn more about what they were talking about. For a few days, the couple stayed away from their store.

"Sometimes when I come back here, it feels like it's still happening a few minutes ago. It's scaring me," said Kelly Le.

The store reopened Thursday with a new plastic wall above the counter.

"Now, I spend a lot of money to put up security," Ngoc Le said.

Besides the barrier, one other thing has changed for the couple: their plans.

"We'll try to make some money and move away to a safer place," Kelly Le said.

? 2005 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
29836  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans on: January 07, 2005, 02:14:23 AM

I debated on whether to post the following in the WW3 thread or here, but wound up choosing here, because ulimately this piece is about the troops-- not Rumbo.

Our gratitude and prayers!


"Rumsfeld should have hit the panic button on Army force structure when the insurgency picked up steam." The Force Structure Problem

By George Friedman

A memo written by Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly, head of the U.S. Army Reserve, was leaked to The Baltimore Sun. Addressed to the chief of staff of the Army, the memo stated that the Army Reserve was in danger of becoming a "broken force," due to personnel policies adopted by the Army and the Department of Defense. Helmly wrote, "The purpose of this memorandum is to inform you of the Army Reserve's inability . . . to meet mission requirements associated with Iraq and Afghanistan and to reset and regenerate its forces for follow-on and future missions."

When a three-star general writes a memo containing these words to the chief of staff, and then leaks the memo to the press (it did not arrive at the Sun through telepathy), what you have is a major revolt by senior Army commanders. Helmly may have been more incautious than others, but he is far from alone in his view that the force in general is broken. More directly, if the Army Reserve is unable to carry out its mission, the same can likely be said for National Guard units. This means that the Army in general, which is heavily dependent on both to carry out its mission, won't be able to do so. What the generals are saying is that the Army itself is unable to carry out its mission.

Part of this is a discussion of several procedures governing call-ups and other issues that have not changed since the Sept. 11 attacks. Some of it has to do with the extreme stress that reserve components are experiencing. All of it has to do with a revolt against Donald Rumsfeld and his policies toward the Army, policies that go back to Rumsfeld's view of warfare.

Rumsfeld believes that there is a revolution in warfare under way. As the author of The Future of War, I completely agree with him. However, as I stated in that book, the revolution is just getting under way and will not be mature for generations. It is not ready to carry the warfighting burden of the United States, although it can certainly support it. Until that revolution matures, traditional forces, particularly the Army, will need to be maintained and, in time of war, expanded.

Rumsfeld's view is that the revolution is more mature than that and that warfare can now be carried out with minimal Army forces. In some ways, Rumsfeld was right when he focused on the conventional invasion of Iraq. A relatively small force was able to defeat the main Iraqi force. Where he made his mistake, in my opinion, was in not recognizing that the occupation of Iraq required substantial manpower and that much of that manpower was in the reserves.

He compounded that mistake enormously when he failed to recognize that an organized insurgency was under way in Iraq. Counterinsurgency operations is one area in which the revolution in warfare has made little progress, and Rumsfeld should have hit the panic button on Army force structure when the insurgency picked up steam. In Iraq, Rumsfeld was going to fight a guerrilla war, and he was going to need a lot of infantry and armor to do it. If, in addition to fighting the guerrilla war, Rumsfeld planned to carry out other operations in the region and maintain a strategic reserve, he needed to expand the Army dramatically.

Rumsfeld made three mistakes. First, he overestimated the breadth and depth of the revolution in warfare. Second, he underestimated the challenges posed by counterinsurgency operations, particularly in urban areas. Mistakes are inevitable, but his third mistake was amazing: he could not recognize that he had made the first two mistakes. That meant that he never corrected any of the mistakes.

There is another way to look at this. The United States is in a global war. Personnel policies have not been radically restructured to take into account either that the U.S. needs a wartime force structure or that that force structure must be congruent with the type and tempo of operations that will be undertaken. Not only doesn't the force stretch, but the force is not built to stretch. Hence, Helmly's memo.

Essentially, this memo is an open challenge by Army generals to Rumsfeld, with the chief of staff caught in the middle. The situation is now officially out of hand. If the commander of the Army Reserve says that his command is not capable of carrying out its mission, and says it publicly, there is no way to cover that up. He is either going to be relieved of his command, or he is going to be given the tools to fix the problem. If he is going to be given those tools, then Rumsfeld's view is being repudiated and Rumsfeld has to go.

There is something more than politics at work here. It's called reality. Helmly is right. It seems to me that the handwriting is on the wall. Once the elections in Iraq are completed, dramatic changes will take place. Bush will call for an expansion of the Army and the reserves. In Iraq, U.S. forces will be shifted out of security responsibilities, where they are not effective anyway. And, incidentally, Rumsfeld will retire. Or, Rumsfeld will purge the senior ranks of the Army. Since that is not a viable option, we expect Bush will be forced to act on their recommendations.
29837  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Geo Political matters on: January 06, 2005, 04:11:49 PM
Ralph Peters

THE tsunami's devastation on the Indian Ocean's shores offers a strategic lesson of incomparable importance. Whether or not the Pentagon's current leadership is capable of grasping that lesson is another matter.
The Indian Ocean and its adjoining seas and gulfs form one crucial, integrated strategic theater. The region has been critical to Western dominance for five centuries. Yet, when our intelligence services or military planners consider this vast, densely populated region at all, they poke at the different parts and miss the whole.

The Indian Ocean theater contains the world's largest democracy (India), the world's most populous Muslim state (Indonesia), the greatest concentration of oil (on the Arabian Peninsula and in the Persian Gulf), the first Muslim nuclear power (Pakistan), the most progressive economies in Southeast Asia (Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand) and the greatest concentration of terrorists in the world.

On its eastern extreme, this vast region is bounded by Australia, a sturdy Western outpost. To the west, the Indian Ocean laps the old Swahili Coast and the Republic of South Africa, a state on its way to becoming the continent's first indigenous great power.

No region of the world is so complex, or so thick with both threats and opportunities. The Indian Ocean region is not only critical in detail, but has an overall importance even greater than its parts. From the vital sea lanes that once carried spices and now carry oil, to the competing civilizations on its littorals, the Indian Ocean binds together the world's great passions, needs and dangers.

This is where Islam must ? and can ? change; where nuclear weapons are likeliest to be used; where the future economic potential is vast; where the bulk of the world's heroin is produced; and where the heroin of the world economy ? oil ? could be cut off with a handful of nuclear weapons (think Iran, the Suez Canal and a few Arab ports).

We have failed to see the forest for the palm trees. Nature recognized what our government consistently fails to understand. The earthquake centered off the coast of Sumatra triggered deadly waves that struck Thailand and Somalia, India and Indonesia, Burma and the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Africa's Swahili coast.

The tsunami drew a strategic map of the 21st century. It took a tragedy to inspire serious American involvement in the region (apart from the Middle East, with which we remain rabidly obsessed). While cognizant of the horrors that brought them to Indonesia, U.S. Navy officers are relieved to have a mission at last. Largely excluded from participation in Iraq and Afghanistan because of the reactionary choices the service made, our Navy has suffered from a perception of fading relevance.

Yet, our Navy remains as important to America's security as it ever was. The problem is that the Navy itself can't see it. The service suffers from the destructive nostalgia that afflicted the Army a decade ago, the desire to perfect a force to fight the wars of the past.

Nonetheless, our Navy remains the lead service for security affairs in the Indian Ocean. The Air Force will have a role in crises, while the Army and Marines will be needed to fight the region's ground campaigns of tomorrow (they're coming), but our naval presence is the indispensable military and strategic tool required by the Indian Ocean's strategic environment.


We have lost our focus on the control of the seas.

Half a millennium ago, the Indian Ocean proved to be the soft underbelly of the Ottoman Empire. Obscure naval battles off the coast of India secured the spice routes for Europe and triggered the long Ottoman decline. Today, the Indian Ocean is the weak link in Western security, a distant theater whose sea lanes carry not only oil, but vital trade, from the Suez Canal to the Straits of Malacca. No other region is so critical and so vulnerable. If we look beyond the terrible toll of the tsunami, there is much to be hopeful about. Far too little attention has been paid to the Thai government's position that, while it welcomed foreign recovery expertise, it did not need post-tsunami financial aid. Only a generation ago, Thailand was dirt-poor; today, it's proud of its ability to self-recover.

India has become a prized source of top-flight human capital. Afghanistan's proving that democracy can work in the absence of superhighways and investment bankers. South Africa is pioneering a dynamic multiracial society on a continent old-school thinkers blithely write off. And Indonesia, for all its problems, relishes its new democracy and its tolerant forms of Islam.

The future is waving its arms and shouting, but we see only the past.

First in uniform, then as a civilian, I've visited most of the countries on the Indian Ocean littoral, from Burma to Mozambique. I've become convinced both of the need to view the region as a unity and of the criticality of intelligent American engagement.

Only last month, I completed a book ("New Glory," due out next summer) that argues for a shift in our strategic priorities and a fundamental rethinking of the way we view the world. My conclusion was that the Indian Ocean lies at the heart of postmodern strategy. I didn't expect the disaster of the century to underscore my point.

The tsunami's devastation raised a signpost to the 21st-century's future. Does our government have the strategic literacy to read it?

Ralph Peters is a former Army officer and the author of 20 books.
29838  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Humor on: January 04, 2005, 05:14:06 PM
Once again, The Washington Post ran its yearly contest in
which readers are asked to supply alternate word meanings.
Here are the results:

1. Coffee (n.), a person who is coughed upon.

2. Flabbergasted (adj.), appalled over how much weight you have gained.

3. Abdicate (v.), to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.

4. Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk.

5. Willy-nilly (adj.), impotent.

6. Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which you absentmindedly
answer the door in your nightgown.

7. Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp.

8. Gargoyle (n.), an olive-flavored mouthwash.

9. Flatulence (n.) the emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are
run over by a steamroller.

10. Balderdash (n.), a rapidly receding hairline.

11. Testicle (n.), a humorous question on an exam.

12. Rectitude (n.), the formal, dignified demeanor assumed by a
proctologist immediately before he examines you.

13. Oyster (n.), a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddish

14. Pokemon (n), A Jamaican proctologist.

15. Frisbeetarianism (n.), The belief that, when you die,
your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck there.

16. Circumvent (n.), the opening in the front of boxer shorts.
29839  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3 on: January 04, 2005, 12:08:31 AM
U.S., Iran: Coming to Terms With Iraq and the Future?


There have been a number of statements from Washington, Tehran and Baghdad suggesting that the Bush administration, the clerical regime in Iran and the power brokers in Iraq's Shiite majority community have reached an understanding on the future of Iraq. Despite the Iranian nuclear issue -- which Washington does not deem an immediate threat -- it would appear that dealings on Iraq could pave the way for enhanced U.S.-Iranian bilateral relations.


Iranian government spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh said Jan. 3 that Tehran had not yet decided on a third party to mediate in unspecified negotiations between Iran and the United States. The statement comes the day after U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said that a future Iraqi government dominated by the Shia and influenced by Iran will not be a threat to the United States or its interests. On the same day in Baghdad, the main Shiite-dominated electoral coalition, the United Iraqi Alliance, said that if it came to power in the Jan. 30 elections, it would not be calling for the immediate withdrawal of U.S.-led coalition forces from the country.

These three statements along with other related developments suggest that Washington and Tehran have reached an understanding on how Iraq needs to be stabilized.

The likely deal comes close on the heels of the temporary end of the nuclear standoff involving Iran in November 2004. Iran decided to comply with the demands of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog -- at least for the time being -- in order to achieve its goal of gaining influence over Iraq through the installation of a Shiite-dominated Iraqi regime in the Jan. 30 polls.

Conversely, the United States also understands that Iraq's demographics -- particularly its 60-65 percent Shiite majority -- and the continuing insurgency leave little choice but to engage Iran on the issue of Iraq. Another reason Washington has come back to the Iranian/Shiite option is that at its current state of development the clerical regime's nuclear program does not constitute an immediate threat, and it can always contain Iran through the European Union. The United States does not expect Iran to pose a real nuclear threat anytime soon. Washington understands that Tehran currently is using the threat as a means of achieving other goals. Tehran manipulated the nuclear threat to get the United States to the table to talk about Iraq -- a goal that has been accomplished. Iran can return to the nuclear issue at a later date, and the Bush administration seems confident that it will have other ways and means to deal with the nuclear issue at the appropriate time. For now, however, the Bush administration has successfully isolated the two issues in its dealings with Iran, which likely will lead to improved relations between the two sides, especially if the issue of Iraq is resolved to their mutual satisfaction.

At the crux of the Iraqi issue is that neither Washington nor Tehran can
escape from the reality that they need each other to get what they want from Iraq. Washington needs to bring eventual closure to its policy of
regime-change in Iraq and scale back its troop levels. For Iran, Iraq is the
instrument through which it can break out of the Persian Gulf area and become a major regional player in the larger Middle East, especially at a time when there is no potential rival to thwart its ambitions. At the same time, Washington might be using the Shiite Persians to balance Sunni Arabs and keep the Middle East focused on regional squabbles in order to prevent them from unifying against the United States.

Given the last quarter of a century of bad relations, there seems no way: 1) for the two sides to openly conduct business, at least not immediately; 2) for each to be sure that the other will not renege on its commitments; and
3) for them to come to mutually acceptable terms. Now, however, the major points of disagreement seem to have either been set aside to be dealt with at a future date or perhaps resolved amicably.

The nuclear issue is in the first category. Washington appears at ease with
the issue being dealt with through its EU proxy and the logic of events in
Iraq necessitated that it stand down on the nuclear matter in order to pursue its goals vis-a-vis Baghdad. The other major sticking point was the continued presence of U.S. troops in Iraq.

Washington did not engage in a quid pro quo with Iran -- trading Iraq for
nuclear power. Instead, it recognized that the nuclear issue was a false
crisis at present and decided to deal with the real issue. Tehran stepped
back from the nuclear crisis, even though nuclear weapons remain a strategic interest of the Iranians -- and Washington is by no means oblivious to this.

Through both back channels and public statements, Washington appears to have finally convinced the Iranians that it is not going to try to effect regime change in Tehran. At the same time, the growing Sunni insurgency has made it easier for Iraq's Shia to accommodate U.S. and coalition forces remaining in Iraq after an all-but-certain Shiite ascent to power in Baghdad -- and avoid looking like collaborators.

Only Sunni nationalist guerrillas and transnational jihadists now threaten
the road to the Jan. 30 elections and beyond. This does not mean that all is settled between the Bush administration, Iran's clerical regime and the
Shiite Hawza in Iraq; nor does it mean that at some future point the Shia -- both Arab and Persian -- will not run into problems with Washington or vice-versa. At least the vote in Iraq can be held in some shape or form, and the war against al Qaeda can go on.

(c) 2004 Strategic Forecasting, Inc. All rights reserved.
29840  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Libertarian themes on: January 03, 2005, 02:12:02 AM
Woof All:
January/February 2005 Issue
The Condemned

Gary Greenberg

In Ohio, and across the country, homeowners are battling cities and developers conspiring to seize their property.

From his office at the top of Rookwood Tower, the seven-story, glass-and-steel building that his family?s real estate company built, Jeffrey Robert Anderson Jr., or J.R. as he is known here in Norwood, Ohio, can easily survey his empire. Directly below the tower and its 185,000 square feet of professional and financial services offices is Rookwood Pavilion, 23 acres of shopping and eating. A little farther to the left is Rookwood Commons -- not, Anderson advises me, a shopping plaza, but a "lifestyle center" containing a Gap, Ann Taylor, and 46 of the other usual suspects. This former brownfield, abandoned when a machine tool factory left Norwood, is now the premier shopping destination in Greater Cincinnati, if not all of Ohio, according to anyone around here that you ask. It?s an impressive sight, and perched high up in his well-appointed office with its sculptures and paintings and enormous glass-topped table, you might believe that this tall and fit 32-year-old with flaxen hair and bright blue eyes rules over all that he sees, or at least all that lies this side of the interstate.

And he would, were it not for the 13-acre, triangular spit of land directly below the tower. There, under the spruce and maple trees, are the asphalt-shingled roofs of a tidy neighborhood of modest houses. Bounded by the Cincinnati city line to the east and Rookwood to the south, and cut off from the rest of Norwood by an interstate highway, these 97 homes and small businesses are glaringly out of place, a mid-20th-century remnant amid all this 21st-century glitz. They?re also in Anderson's way. He wants to expand the Rookwood complex, but he has to buy and raze all these houses first, and while most property owners have eagerly accepted his offer to buy their houses at a premium price, five have refused. And so the $125 million-plus project, known as Rookwood Exchange, slated to be under construction by now, is at a dead standstill.

But Anderson has an ace up his sleeve. At his behest, and using his money, the city of Norwood has invoked its powers of eminent domain -- the right, granted by the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, of a government to seize private property and turn it to public use -- to condemn a neighborhood and order residents out of their homes. Norwood is not the first city to act as a real estate broker whose offer can?t be refused, nor is Anderson the first businessman to benefit from this kind of largesse. A 1954 Supreme Court decision stating that the economic benefits of private development are a legitimate "public use" has forged an unholy alliance between cities strapped for cash and entrepreneurs promising economic bounty. (Anderson, for example, forecasts that Rookwood Exchange will net Norwood, a city with an annual budget of $18 million, between $1.5 and $3 million in annual taxes.) Struggling cities have placed their urban renewal hopes in the hands of developers like Anderson, who in turn rely on governments to assemble the parcels for their projects.

According to the Institute for Justice (IJ), a public-interest law firm, this is a growing trend. The institute analyzed eminent domain cases between 1998 and 2002 and found more than 10,000 instances where local governments had attempted to use a power once reserved for indisputably public projects like highways and railroads to obtain properties for private development projects such as box stores and golf courses.

No properties are off-limits -- working-class communities, ski chalets, and one-tenth of San Jose, California, have all been targets of condemnation proceedings on behalf of enterprises as varied as casinos, Costco, and the New York Times -- and no one has yet been able to thwart this newly privatized version of eminent domain. But by litigating against what it calls "eminent domain abuse," the IJ has succeeded in creating enough disarray in state courts to achieve its ultimate goal: convincing the Supreme Court to revisit the issue. This spring, for the first time in 50 years, the court will address the parameters of eminent domain, and the institute hopes the justices will rein in the private use of what the court itself once called government?s "despotic power."

"It was the day before Mother?s Day in 2002," Joy Gamble says. "They said they were going to build this fabulous project, and we were going to be gone. The roof fell in." The Gambles, who have lived in Norwood their entire lives, made an immediate decision. They weren?t selling, no matter what price Anderson was paying. "And start life all over again?" Carl adds. "We started here, we raised two kids here, we finish up here."

"Here" is the Gambles' two-story stucco home a few doors up tree-lined Atlantic Avenue from its terminus at the I-71 off-ramp. An American flag is planted by the brick front stairs, next to a hand-lettered sign that says, "IF YOU WANT THIS PROPERTY YOU SHOULD HAVE BOUGHT IT IN 1969." Inside, a hunting supply catalog sits on the coffee table, a Ronald Reagan calendar hangs from the kitchen wall, and vivid tapestries and paintings of stags and partridges give the overall effect of Field & Stream on acid. The Gambles, who won?t give their ages ("I forgot," says Carl; "I don?t tell," says Joy), appear to be in their 70s, and they speak in clipped sentences inflected with the local twang. "The first time we had contact with these people," Joy tells me, "[Anderson] wanted to meet with us. I said, 'We don?t want to sell.' He said, 'Thank you.' I said, 'You're welcome.' I hung up. Very nice." Joy goes on to list several other unsuccessful attempts, noting that Anderson?s people were always extremely polite.

But what the Gambles didn't know was that in January 2002, before he called them or any of their neighbors, Anderson had asked the City Council to undertake an urban renewal study, the prerequisite to condemning properties. "I figured we wouldn?t have to go through with it," Anderson says. "Just pass the urban renewal study and get things rolling." When he built Rookwood Tower back in 1997, Anderson had easily convinced the city to authorize such a study -- although he was ultimately able to assemble the necessary properties on his own. But in 2003, three years after he was indicted for corruption, the longtime mayor -- whom Anderson had given $23,000 in campaign contributions ("an astronomical sum around here," says one city official) and an undisclosed amount toward legal fees -- resigned. The council, perhaps eager to seem less cozy with its largest private taxpayer, had earlier told Anderson "to go out and pound the doors, go assemble as many houses as possible," he says. "Once I?m completely at a stalemate, then come back and discuss urban renewal."

While Anderson was going door to door in the early summer of 2002, so was Joe Horney, a 35-year-old construction manager. Sitting on the Gambles' couch, bouncing his two-year-old daughter on his lap, Horney proudly recounts how he used an inheritance to buy a two-family house across from the Gambles when he was 21. When he heard the news, he says, "I decided to go out and meet the neighbors. I found out from a lot of people that they were perfectly happy here, they'd like to stay. So we started a petition." At first, about half of the homeowners vowed not to sell. But in September, Anderson and his partners announced their terms: They'd buy everyone's house at a 35 percent premium over its fair market value, but only if they had all the neighbors under contract. If any residents held out, the developers would ask the city to condemn those properties, and a jury would decide the price. Throughout the fall, many of Horney's erstwhile allies signed contracts. In the meantime, Anderson eliminated from his plans a 28-house section of the neighborhood in which resistance was most concentrated, and by year?s end, with 5 of the remaining 69 owners still refusing to sell, Anderson had his stalemate -- in no small part, as it turns out, because condemnation had been in the air all along. "Where I made my decision is when eminent domain was threatened from day one," says Horney. "Once they threatened my rights, my decision was made."

The City Council authorized the urban renewal study, which Anderson paid for, in April 2003. Citing certain facts -- small driveways, narrow streets, lots that don't conform to current zoning regulations, houses that are more than 40 years old, a neighborhood subject to all the light and noise and traffic that progress (much of it Rookwood-related) has brought -- the study declared the neighborhood blighted and thus eligible to be seized, emptied, and razed.

Standing in the Gambles' tranquil back yard, with its lilacs and bird feeders, it's hard to understand how anyone could think this property was blighted. Horney points out that by the study's criteria, nearly anyone's home could be taken by the government. "You could call the White House blighted because it's over 40 years old, it's got a lack of parking, it's surrounded by commercial development. I'm sure there is noise. If you tore it down and put in a big office building, certainly it would generate more taxes than Mr. Bush living there." The City Council proceeded to condemn the five properties not under contract with Anderson. According to Mayor Tom Williams, they took this action reluctantly, partly to secure tax revenues for the city. "I was a cop for 34 years, got shot once and shot people twice," Williams says. "It's the same with this thing. You hate to pull the trigger, but sometimes it?s a necessity."

When Institute for Justice lawyers Scott Bullock and Dana Berliner first visited Norwood in December 2002, they were pleased with what they saw: "a classic mixed-use neighborhood, in perfectly fine condition," as Bullock puts it. That boded well for the institute -- which Bullock describes as an "unabashedly libertarian" organization and which gets much of its funding from wealthy opponents of big government like energy magnates David and Charles Koch -- and its overall goal of reversing what it sees as a disastrous half-century of eminent domain jurisprudence.

Governments have always taken land on behalf of private interests; owners of mines and railroads relied heavily on condemnations for their rights of way, which were granted because, as one Pennsylvania court put it, "the necessities of a great public industry, which although in the hands of a private corporation, [serve] a great public interest." But in Berman v. Parker, a 1954 case, the Supreme Court ruled that the District of Columbia could seize a fully functional store in a blighted neighborhood on the grounds that, as Justice William O. Douglas wrote in the unanimous opinion, "It is within the power of the legislature to determine that the community should be beautiful as well as healthy, spacious as well as clean, well-balanced as well as carefully patrolled." It was not up to the courts to insist "that public ownership is the sole method of promoting the public purposes of community redevelopment projects." Legislatures, in other words, were free to determine -- as the Norwood City Council did -- that one private use of a property was better for the overall community than another, and to use eminent domain to enforce this finding.

According to the IJ?s Berliner, the Berman decision has devolved into a license for cities to "rent out" their eminent domain powers to private developers, with bogus blight designations providing the legal cover. But Jason Jordan, a government affairs director at the American Planning Association, sees the decision as underpinning the "hottest" trend in urban renewal: replacing economically obsolete neighborhoods with large-scale, tax-generating developments like Rookwood Exchange. "Eminent domain is an important tool for communities interested in revitalizing themselves," Jordan told me, and, according to Jeffrey Finkle, head of the International Economic Development Council, it's also a needed tool for reducing sprawl. "Unless we want to pave over all the land outside cities, we have to be able to do these projects inside the urban ring. How can we reposition cities if they don?t have the power to acquire private land?" The ability to team up with developers is indispensable to this agenda, Finkle adds. "Communities have to respond to market opportunities," he says. "If you have a developer willing to invest millions of dollars, it?s important to make that happen."

Rick Dettmer, who runs Norwood?s one-man municipal development office out of the basement of City Hall, says this is precisely why Norwood couldn't turn Anderson away. "The reality is that you need to rely on developer interest in order to facilitate projects. We're not paying for this party." If he were, Dettmer says he might throw it elsewhere -- perhaps in Norwood's decaying downtown, less than a mile from the Rookwood complex. But Norwood, which has suffered two decades of factory closings, and which has a $1.5 million budget deficit, desperately needs this party, wherever it is held.

Many American cities are in a similar predicament, and in the wake of Berman and related state and federal court decisions, cities and entrepreneurs have worked out an elaborate courting ritual in which local governments offer up their eminent domain authority while developers tout the economic benefits of their projects to the electorate. "All the developer has to do," says the IJ?s Bullock, "is to convince the city that it?s good for them and that he will pay for it, and the city will start taking away people?s property." He adds that cities often offer more than condemnations. "Eminent domain is part of a whole set of incentives -- tax breaks and deferrals and other public subsidies -- that add up to massive corporate welfare. Often the numbers fail to live up to expectations. Jobs don't materialize or the economic benefits don?t outweigh the subsidies or the drain on public services that the development creates." When this happens, Bullock says, cities are left holding the bag.

The IJ took on its first eminent domain case in 1996, winning a favorable ruling for an elderly homeowner who refused to sell her Atlantic City property for a Donald Trump casino. "After that decision, we were swamped with phone calls," Bullock recalls, "and we started to think that courts might be willing to revisit this issue." The IJ has since taken on several cases nationwide, and saw Norwood -- with its unblighted neighborhood, its developer-driven condemnations, and its questionable public use -- as another opportunity to illustrate to a court how wrongheaded the private use of eminent domain is. An Ohio judge, however, was unswayed, ruling in June that although the neighborhood was not blighted, it was "deteriorating," and on these grounds, Norwood could go ahead and condemn the holdouts' properties; they are appealing.

In the meantime, a series of jury trials will decide the value of the five condemned properties. (In September, in the first of these trials, Horney?s house was valued at $233,000, money that, he says, "I hope I never see.") But developments elsewhere might make these trials irrelevant. In August 2004, the Michigan Supreme Court invalidated its 1981 landmark Poletown v. Detroit decision, which had determined that "one entity's profit maximization contributed to the health of the general economy." Stating that "Poletown's 'economic benefit' rationale would validate practically any exercise of the power of eminent domain on behalf of a private entity," the court refused to allow Wayne County to condemn land for an industrial park. "State courts from Nevada to Connecticut have relied on Poletown in upholding condemnations," Berliner said. "Now the same case will work for our side."

Add this case to those roiling communities across the country, and you have the kind of confusion in lower courts that begs for clarification from the U.S. Supreme Court. And indeed, shortly after the Poletown decision, the court agreed to hear another IJ case, in which the city of New London, Connecticut, condemned an unblighted neighborhood in order to make way for a hotel and condominium complex. Bullock hopes the Supreme Court will revisit the scope of the Berman decision, and rein in the privatization of eminent domain.

Out here on Edwards road, yellow signs bearing messages like "HELD HOSTAGE" and "WE SUPPORT ROOKWOOD EXCHANGE" sprout like dandelions from front lawns, and a king-size bedsheet banner hanging from Sandy Dittoe's pink stucco one-story declares, "64 OF 65 RESIDENTS WANT OUT. I AM ONE OF THEM." Dittoe bought her house for $82,000 seven years ago, and she's almost completely rehabbed it since. In 2002, speculating on Anderson's plans, she bought a house around the corner, which she rents out. When Anderson offered her $175,000 for each property, "it was a godsend," she told me. "I was thrilled." She began to make plans to move and to pay off the loan for her Northern Kentucky nightclub. But she has to wait for Anderson to make deals with all her neighbors before she'll receive a penny.

In the meantime, Dittoe's in limbo -- a maddening situation that she blames on her holdout neighbors. "Sure I'm pissed. They're screwing everybody. I've been stuck in a house for two years. There's no point in putting any more money into it, but I still have to live here," she says, pointing out the unfinished trim in her kitchen and the place where she left off putting purple paint on a bedroom ceiling. Her neighbor, Bill Pierani, a part-time security guard for the Cincinnati Reds, agrees. "We'd have been out of here years ago if it wasn?t for them."

Pierani and Dittoe are glad to show me evidence of "blight": the streaks of grime in eaves; an overgrown back yard, home to rats and snakes; the foundations cracked, they say, by the heavy truck traffic; the "foot traffic" and the "element" it brings in; the guys -- "I won?t tell you what color they were," Pierani says -- who broke into someone's house. They point out the oil change place and the muffler shop down the street and describe how they've long wanted to get away from these nuisances -- although there's little evidence that they or their neighbors tried to sell their homes or otherwise flee the neighborhood before Rookwood Exchange came along. Pierani compares the neighborhood, in which he has lived for nearly all of his life, to the cancer he once had. "The job is to go in and cut it off completely. Not to keep hacking at it."

At a meeting the previous night, the residents' impatience turned on Anderson's lawyer, who assured them that the end was in sight. This statement left resident Walter Sims hopping mad. "That lawyer pissed me off because he stood up there and misled these people," Sims, who is settled into his rocker on the front porch, says in his Kentucky drawl. "He knows these people" -- he points to a holdout's house next door -- "ain?t gonna ever sell to him. But he?s relying on the city to do it for him in court. And he knows that until all these appeals are resolved, they can't do nothing. You know how slow the judicial system is? It takes them months to wipe their a$$."

But the residents reserve most of their seething fury for the holdouts, and when Pierani says, "Twenty-five years ago, there would have been a homicide by this point," it's not clear if he's nostalgic or relieved. When Sims says, "I think people are mad and disgusted because they ain't got their money. Why haven't you done something by now to get us the money?" you feel how ugly things might get. And when a man smoking a cigarette on his porch first refuses to talk to you because "the papers always get this story wrong," and then calls you back to say, "Wait a minute. You can quote me on this. f*ck the Gambles. Yeah. f*ck the Gambles, and throw Joe Horney in there, too," you're pretty sure things already have.

In this kind of atmosphere, it's no surprise that the residents don't believe that the Gambles and the others are standing on principle. Explanations vary -- some think that they're angling for a better price, others that they're just stubborn -- but most people seem to agree with Dittoe's assessment that "this project is going to benefit everyone, all the residents here and the whole city." She adds, "There's more to it than just what these people want." But whatever NIMBY concerns may have motivated the holdouts in the first place, they have become galvanized by the large-scale implications of their battle. "What I want to protect is not just myself, but virtually everyone else in the USA from having their constitutional rights undermined," says Horney. "I mean, this is the land of the free and the home of the brave. We're allowed to go out and buy property, and that's being taken away." As they dig in for the appeals, it's clear that these folks are in it for the long haul, that, even with his rented eminent domain powers, Anderson has a lengthy wait before he can extend his empire into this neighborhood. "He can have the house when we're on our deathbed," says Carl Gamble. "Not a minute before."

Gary Greenberg is a psychotherapist, college professor of psychology, and occasional journalist. His writing on science and public policy has appeared in The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, and Harper's
29841  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Rants on: January 03, 2005, 02:10:00 AM
Sent to me by a friend in the Israeli IDF


By Prof. D. Koller

Here is a capsule of accomplishments you may not be fully aware of. I thought you might find these statistics interesting.

The Middle East has been growing date palms for centuries. The average tree is about 18-20 feet tall and yields about 38 pounds of dates a year. Israeli trees are now yielding 400 pounds/year and are short enough to be harvested from the ground or a short ladder.

Israel, the 100th smallest country, with less than 1/1000th of the world's population, can lay claim to the following:

The cell phone was developed in Israel by Israelis working in the Israeli branch of Motorola, which has its largest development center in Israel. Most of the Windows NT and XP operating systems were developed by Microsoft-Israel.

The Pentium MMX Chip technology was designed in Israel at Intel. Both the Pentium-4 microprocessor and the Centrino processor were entirely designed, developed and produced in Israel.

The Pentium microprocessor in your computer was most likely made in Israel.

Voice mail technology was developed in Israel.

Both Microsoft and Cisco built their only R&D facilities outside the US in Israel.

The technology for the AOL Instant Messenger ICQ was developed in 1996 by four young Israelis.

Israel has the fourth largest air force in the world (after the U. S, Russia and China). In addition to a large variety of other aircraft, Israel's air force has an aerial arsenal of over 250 F-16's. This is the largest fleet of F-16 aircraft outside of the U. S.

According to industry officials, Israel designed the airline industry's most impenetrable flight security. U. S. officials now look to Israel for advice on how to handle airborne security threats.

Israel's $100 billion economy is larger than all of its immediate neighbors combined. Israel has the highest percentage in the world of home computers per capita.

Israel has the highest ratio of university degrees to the population in the world.

Israel produces more scientific papers per capita than any other nation by a large margin - 109 per 10,000 people -- as well as one of the highest per capita rates of patents filed.

In proportion to its population, Israel has the largest number of startup companies in the world. In absolute terms, Israel has the largest number of startup companies than any other country in the world, except the U. S. (3,500 companies mostly in hi-tech).

With more than 3,000 high-tech companies and startups, Israel has the highest concentration of hi-tech companies in the world -- apart from the Silicon Valley, U. S.

Israel is ranked #2 in the world for venture capital funds right behind the U. S.

Outside the United States and Canada, Israel has the largest number of NASDAQ listed companies.

Israel has the highest average living standards in the Middle East. The per capita income in 2000 was over $17,500, exceeding that of the UK.

On a per capita basis, Israel has the largest number of biotech startups.

Twenty-four per cent of Israel's workforce holds university degrees -- ranking third in the industrialized world, after the United States and Holland - and 12 per cent hold advanced degrees. Israel is the only liberal democracy in the Middle East.

In 1984 and 1991, Israel airlifted a total of 22,000 Ethiopian Jews at risk in Ethiopia, to safety in Israel.

When Golda Meir was elected Prime Minister of Israel in 1969, she became the world's second elected female leader in modern times.

When the U. S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya was bombed in 1998, Israeli rescue teams were on the scene within a day -- and saved three victims from the rubble.

Israel has the third highest rate of entrepreneurship -- and the highest rate among women and among people over 55 - in the world.

Relative to its population, Israel is the largest immigrant-absorbing nation on earth. Immigrants come in search of democracy, religious freedom, and economic opportunity.

Israel was the first nation in the world to adopt the Kimberly process, an international standard that certifies diamonds as "conflict free."

Israel has the world's second highest per capita of new books.

Israel is the only country in the world that entered the 21st century with a net gain in its number of trees, made more remarkable because this was achieved in an area considered mainly desert.

Israel has more museums per capita than any other country.

Medicine... Israeli scientists developed the first fully computerized, no-radiation, diagnostic instrumentation for breast cancer.

An Israeli company developed a computerized system for ensuring proper administration of medications, thus removing human error from medical treatment. Every year in U. S. hospitals 7,000 patients die from treatment mistakes.

Israel's Givun Imaging developed the first ingestible video camera, so small it fits inside a pill. Used to view the small intestine from the inside, the camera helps doctors diagnose cancer and digestive disorders.

Researchers in Israel developed a new device that directly helps the heart pump blood, an innovation with the potential to save lives among those with heart failure. The new device is synchronized with the heart's mechanical operations through a sophisticated system of sensors.

Israel leads the world in the number of scientists and technicians in the workforce, with 145 per 10,000, as opposed to 85 in the U. S., over 70 in Japan, and less than 60 in Germany. With over 25% of its work force employed in technical professions.

Israel places first in this category as well. A new acne treatment developed in Israel, the Clear Light device, produces a high-intensity, ultraviolet-light-free, narrow-band blue light that causes acne bacteria to self-destruct -- all without damaging surrounding skin or tissue.

An Israeli company was the first to develop and install a large-scale solar-powered and fully functional electricity generating plant, in southern California's Mojave desert.

All the above while engaged in regular wars with an implacable enemy that seeks its destruction, and an economy continuously under strain by having to spend more per capita on its own protection than any other country on earth.



Prof. D. Koller is at the Institute of Life Sciences, The Hebrew University.
29842  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Evolutionary Biology and Psychology on: January 02, 2005, 05:39:28 PM
Woof All:

An internet friend of mine had this to comment on this piece:

Crafty Dog

There is likely a sense on this circular that I tend to interject economics into every topic, but let's think about that for a minute.
Look economics is the study of "human action in the face of scarcity"; it deserves to be part of every discussion. Especially this one, which is about people consuming every last tree or cow until they starve to death.
Did you know that early settlers in America starved to death, with losses higher than 50% in the first few months or the first year? The following quotes and ideas are from DiLorenzo's book "How Capitalism Saved America."  
At the time, one of the Virginia colonists described the problem in this way. He said the cause of the starvation was "want of providence, industrie and government, and not the barennesse and defect of the Countrie, as is generally supposed." The colonial expeditions had been set up as communal organizations; everything was owned by the funding institution and individual colonists were simply indentured servants. Sir Thomas Dale was sent by the British government to serve as the high marshal of the Virginia colongy. DiLorenzo: "Dale noted that although most of the settlers had starved to death, the remaining ones were spending much of their time playing games in the streets and he immediately identified the problem: the system of communal ownership. He determined, therefore, that each man in the colony would be given three acres of land and be required to work no more than one month per year ... to contribute to the treasury of the colony."
DiLorenzo quotes historian Mathew Page Andrews: "As soon as the settlers were thrown upon their own resources, and each freeman had acquired the right of owning property, the colonists quickly developed what became the distinguishing characteristic of Americans -- and aptitude for all kinds of craftsmanship coupled with an innate genius for experimentation and invention."  The colony immediately began to prosper.
Now, obviously the Greenland example is different from this history -- but the nature of property in the Eastern and Western Greenland settlements may be crucial to understanding how a people could destroy their grass land, cut every last tree, and eat every cow. Private owners do not do that to their property -- but people do it all the time to communal property.
It would be interesting to see if historians know any more about these communities. I am out of time this morning, but this, I propose, is a key question which is all too often ignored completely by historians. It deserves some discussion, IMO.
29843  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3 on: January 02, 2005, 11:31:40 AM
Sunday, December 26, 2004; Page B01


Achieving Real Victory Could Take Decades
By David Ignatius

Gen. John Abizaid probably commands the most potent military force in history. The troops of his Central Command are arrayed across the jagged crescent of the Middle East, from Egypt to Pakistan, in an overwhelming projection of U.S. power. He travels with his own mini-government: a top State Department officer to manage diplomacy; a senior CIA officer to oversee intelligence; a retinue of generals and admirals to supervise operations and logistics. If there is a modern Imperium Americanum, Abizaid is its field general.


I traveled this month with Abizaid as he visited Iraq and other areas of his command. Over several days, I heard him discuss his strategy for what he calls the "Long War" to contain Islamic extremism in Centcom's turbulent theater of operations. We talked about the current front in Iraq, and the longer-term process of change in the Middle East, which Abizaid views as the ultimate strategic challenge.


"We control the air, the sea and the ground militarily," Abizaid told one audience, and in conventional terms, he's unquestionably right. From its headquarters near the huge new U.S. airbase in Qatar, Centcom's military reach stretches in every direction: To the west, the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet has its base in Bahrain; to the north, the aircraft carrier USS Harry Truman and its task force are steaming on patrol in the Persian Gulf; to the east, more than 17,000 troops are working to stabilize postwar Afghanistan; to the south, about 1,000 troops are keeping a lid on the Horn of Africa. And to the northwest lies the bloody battlefield of Iraq, where nearly 150,000 of Abizaid's soldiers are fighting a determined insurgency.


For all of America's military might, the Long War that has begun in the Middle East poses some tough strategic questions. What is the nature of the enemy? If the United States is so powerful, why is it having such difficulty in Iraq? What will victory look like, in Iraq and elsewhere in the Islamic world? And how long will the conflict take?


The costs of war came home for America this past week. On Monday, President Bush conceded that the Iraq insurgents "are having an effect," and that U.S. efforts to train Iraqi security forces have had only "mixed" success. On Tuesday, a suicide bomber savaged a mess hall in Mosul in the deadliest single attack since the war began 21 months ago. On Wednesday, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld tried to fend off calls for his resignation because of setbacks in Iraq.


It was a week that focused attention on gut-level issues, reminiscent of the Vietnam War more than 30 years ago: Why are we in Iraq? What kind of conflict is the United States fighting there? How can we win it? Abizaid offers the best answers to these questions I've heard from any official in the U.S. government. In addition to being the military's top commander in the Middle East, he has an intellectual and emotional feel for the region. He's of Arab ancestry -- his forebears came to the United States from Lebanon in the 1870s -- and he learned to speak Arabic during a stint in Jordan 25 years ago. Like many of the best U.S. Army officers for generations, he's a well-read man who analyzes contemporary issues against the background of history.


Abizaid believes that the Long War is only in its early stages. Victory will be hard to measure, he says, because the enemy won't wave a white flag and surrender one day. Success will instead be an incremental process of modernization of the Islamic world, which will gradually find its own accommodation with the global economy and open political systems.


America's enemies in this Long War, he argues, are what he calls "Salafist jihadists." That's his term for the Muslim fundamentalists who use violent tactics to try to re-create what they imagine was the pure and perfect Islamic government of the era of the prophet Muhammad, who is sometimes called the "Salaf." Osama bin Laden is the best known of the Salafist extremists, but Abizaid argues that the movement is much broader and more diffuse than al Qaeda. It's a loose network of like-minded individuals who use 21st century-technology to spread their vision of a 7th-century paradise.


Salafist preachers see themselves as part of a vanguard whose mission is to radicalize other Muslims to overthrow their leaders. Abizaid likens them to Lenin, Trotsky and the other Bolshevik leaders. During a gathering of foreign-policy experts in Washington last October, he posed a haunting question: What would you have done in 1890 if you had known the ruin this Bolshevik vanguard would bring? At another point, he urged the audience to think of today's Islamic world, wracked by waves of violence, as akin to Europe in the revolutionary year of 1848. The Arab world's spasms of anarchy and terror, like those in Europe 150 years ago, are part of a process of social change -- in which an old order is crumbling, and a new one is struggling to be born.


Abizaid's historical analogies are helpful because they stretch our thinking. People tend to see current problems as unique and overwhelming, and that has been especially true for America in the traumatic years since Sept. 11, 2001. But through the long lens of history, contemporary problems come into better focus. The wealthy Saudi jihadist bin Laden begins to seem a bit like 19th-century anarchist Prince Peter Kropotkin, who similarly wanted to use revolutionary violence to purge what he viewed as a corrupt order. On this broad canvas of historical change, the time horizon isn't years, but decades.


Abizaid didn't draw for me any specific lessons from this history, but several conclusions seem obvious: If the United States is fighting an ideological vanguard similar to the Bolsheviks -- whose leaders will never surrender or negotiate -- then it will have to capture or kill them. That suggests a dirty, drawn-out conflict in which each side tests the other's will and staying power. It's not the sort of war that democracies are usually good at fighting, but among Abizaid's team of advisers, you hear the same phrase repeated over and over: "A lot of bad guys are going to have to die."


Yet because the battlefield is society itself, the United States cannot think of the struggle in purely military terms. Centcom's 1,000 troops who are digging wells and performing other reconstruction tasks in the Horn of Africa may be a better model for success than the 150,000 soldiers hunkered down in Iraq. And because it is a war of transformation, comparable to Europe's hundred-year process of modernization in the 19th century, the United States must above all be patient.


Abizaid argues that this enemy is especially dangerous because it has fused an atavistic Salafist ideology with the most modern tools of technology. "The enemy has a virtual connectivity we haven't seen before with guerrilla groups," he says. "They use the Internet to pass along techniques, tactics, procedures, advice." He believes the jihadists have been clever in using the global media -- both to spread their message among followers and to intimidate adversaries. Indeed, the media are their best weapon.


The Salafist vanguard seeks victory through what Abizaid calls "weapons of mass effect" -- the 9/11 attacks, the suicide bombings in Baghdad, the gruesome beheadings in Fallujah -- which seek to destabilize the United States and its allies through the media. "We have nothing to fear from this enemy other than its ability to create panic," he argues. "This enemy is like water -- it seeks an unguarded path. They'll go for the place they can use a weapon of mass effect -- and gain a media victory."


Given the importance of the media front, Abizaid is frustrated that Arab journalists haven't provided a more critical picture of life in places where Islamic insurgents have gained control, such as Fallujah. He's convinced that if ordinary Arabs could see the cruelty and repression of these Taliban-style jihadists, they would reject them. Indeed, at several stops during our trip, he urged his listeners to push Arab media to report more about the insurgents' brutal tactics.


"They are the most despicable enemy I've ever seen," he told European and Arab leaders who gathered in Bahrain to talk about Persian Gulf security. "They operate from mosques, they behead people, they have killed far more Muslims than non-Muslims."


Abizaid believes the winning strategy, in Iraq and across the Islamic world, is to isolate the Salafist vanguard from ordinary Muslims who want the better, freer life that prosperity and connectedness can bring. That means breaching the gaps between rich nations and poor ones, and preventing terrorists from establishing bases of operations, in the way bin Laden did in Afghanistan. "The clear military lesson of Afghanistan is that we cannot allow the enemy to establish a safe haven anywhere," he says.


One of Abizaid's top deputies, Vice Adm. David Nichols, summarizes the nature of the Salafist threat. Nichols, who commands the 5th Fleet, asserts that the enemy is mounting "a cultural, not just a physical attack." For enemy leaders, the clash of civilizations is the organizing principle of life, Nichols argues. They tell Muslims that there are only two camps, and that "peaceful coexistence is not possible." The goal of America and its allies, says Nichols, must be to convince the average Muslim that the jihadists are wrong. It's not "us" vs. "them," but a connected world in which everyone will gain by isolating and destroying the extremist fringe.


This strategy of isolating the religious extremists has been embraced by Iraq's interim prime minister, Ayad Allawi -- to the point of making contact with Baathists who were part of Saddam Hussein's regime and are now on the fringes of the insurgency. It reflects a judgment by Allawi -- one that Abizaid would certainly share -- that the Baathists in the long run will make an accommodation with America and the modern world. The Salafist extremists, in contrast, will never do so.


My travels with Abizaid ended with a stop in Mosul, at the same camp hit by a suicide bomber last week. Mosul is a case study in what America is facing in Iraq, and in the Long War. Over the past year, the city has gone from a model of stability to a new Fallujah, where insurgents have used terror tactics to halt collaboration with U.S. forces. The measure of success here will be the return of normal life. "It won't ever be over completely, where you wake up one morning and the enemy has surrendered," says Abizaid. "But one day you'll wake up and there will be more food, more security, more stability."


That's what victory would look like in Abizaid's Long War, too. In the broad arc of the world where Centcom operates, life would feel modern, connected, free, relaxed, ordinary. It would feel like a hand that is no longer clenched in a fist. It's a fight where the Muslims masses would win, without the United States losing. But this past week, those images of connectedness and success seemed a long, long way off.
29844  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / le trique-marc denny kali and krabi krabong tape on: January 02, 2005, 07:30:48 AM
29845  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans on: January 01, 2005, 12:09:39 PM
Army Program Allows for More Healing at Home
Under the Community Based Health Care Initiative, National Guard and Reserve members can recuperate in their comfort zones.

By John-Thor Dahlburg, Times Staff Writer

OAKLAND PARK, Fla. ? Staff Sgt. Mitch Riviera needs therapy on his left knee and an operation to mend his bad back, enduring and painful consequences of a yearlong deployment in Iraq. But this holiday season, because of a new Army program, the injured National Guardsman hasn't been marooned in a military hospital on some faraway base, but is back home.

"I wake up every day happy," said the 33-year-old mechanic with the 743rd Maintenance Company of the Florida National Guard. "You're just happy to be home."

Under the Community Based Health Care Initiative, wounded or ailing members of the Army National Guard and Reserve are able for the first time to live at home and recuperate while still on active-duty status.

They receive medical care at local Veterans Administration facilities or from healthcare providers authorized by Tricare, the U.S. military's equivalent of an HMO, and are given light duties at a local armory or other military facilities.

The impetus was a public embarrassment for the Army: media reports in 2003 that hundreds of wounded reservists and guardsmen were languishing in barracks as they waited to see doctors or be admitted to overcrowded medical facilities. That was Riviera's experience after his company returned from Iraq in April.

Nearly all members of his unit were allowed to go home, but the staff sergeant said he was kept on base at Ft. Stewart, Ga., for three months, housed in a 16-person trailer as he awaited his turn for medical treatment.

"They were just overwhelmed. They couldn't cope with the wounded people they had," said Riviera, who hurt his back and knee in Tikrit, north of Baghdad, while lugging the heavy tools needed in his job as a front-line mechanic and wearing 80 pounds of "battle rattle" combat gear. At one point, he said, he couldn't walk for three weeks.

"I was disorganized with all the surgery I had to go through" at Ft. Stewart, 400 miles from South Florida, Riviera said. "You're so close to home, but you can't go there, and you can't go off post."

It was his fiancee, Diana Villescaz, 24, of Bakersfield, a legal secretary, who came to his rescue, Riviera said. She heard about the Army's new community-based healthcare program, and sent an e-mail to Florida Gov. Jeb Bush asking for help.

Within 48 hours, Riviera said, he received a phone call from an officer inquiring about his case.

Lt. Col. Bruce Cornelison is in charge of the initiative in Florida, which in March became the first state to implement the program. He called it "an absolutely wonderful improvement," in large part because it gets wounded or injured men and women "back to their families and loved ones."

"An individual cures faster if he is surrounded by his support system," Cornelison, an officer in the Army Medical Service Corps, said from the program's Florida offices in Plant City east of Tampa. "Soldiers were so far from their home, and facilities were being overcrowded."

Offices have also been opened in California, Arkansas, Massachusetts and Wisconsin to arrange for and supervise medical care for 1,335 soldiers in 23 states. The initiative was deemed so successful, and demand grew so fast, that the Army has announced that by April, more centers would be opened in Virginia, Alabama and Utah, expanding coverage to all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

A total of $23 million in funding has been set aside, and nearly 800 additional physicians, nurses, clerks and case managers have been hired or mobilized to help, the Pentagon announced Dec. 6.

According to Col. Barbara Scherb of Army Forces Command, the program's overall manager, the innovation is a response to the new realities of today's Army, where active-duty troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere have had to be heavily and repeatedly supplemented by part-time soldiers from the Guard and Reserve.

"It quickly became apparent that we might exceed the [medical] capacity at the installations for these folks" if they suffered the same level of casualties as troops in World War II, Vietnam and Operation Desert Storm," Scherb said. "That's why we looked at establishing something that was community-based."

Since active-duty soldiers typically live on or near an Army base, families and friends can be by their side as they are treated in a location familiar to them. The community-based care program extends that psychological and emotional boost to soldiers in the Guard and Reserve, as well as easing them back into civilian life.

"The quality of the care is really the same as it was before," Scherb said. "The quality of life is the thing that is improving, because they are able to get home and get back with their families."

The National Military Family Assn. is still monitoring how the novel program will work in practice, especially for soldiers who live in remote locales where medical resources may be scarce, said Julia Pfaff, the not-for-profit group's executive director. "We're cautious," Pfaff said. "A lot of these individuals are stuck in this Catch-22 of knowing they can be closer to home, but also having healthcare requirements that are enormous and can overwhelm the system."

For Riviera, an 11-year veteran of the Guard with thick black hair and a ready smile, being home has meant being able to buy diamond earrings for Villescaz (they plan to get married in March) and joining his mother and other family members in Tampa for Christmas. Last Thursday, he had an afternoon date to drive his fiancee, who had a cold, to the doctor. Riviera laughed at the irony of it.

Since coming back to Florida in late June, Riviera has been operated on at a Veterans Administration facility in Miami for a torn meniscus in his knee, and he will learn this month what sort of surgery he needs on his lower back. "The lower disk is gone," Riviera said. "They are probably going to have to fuse two lower disks together."

Two times a week, the sergeant, in civilian life a service technician for a cable company, attends physical therapy sessions at the VA's outpatient clinic in the Fort Lauderdale suburb of Oakland Park. There, he is treated with ice and electrical stimulation, and does exercises to strengthen his muscles.

"It's painful, but it's getting the job done," Riviera said. "That therapist doesn't let you slack." At his apartment complex in Davie, he regularly walks in the swimming pool, with the water buoying his body so he doesn't put too much weight on his back and knee.

Not all of the wounded or injured who might want to take part in the program are eligible, Cornelison said.

"It wouldn't make any sense to bring someone home who required constant hospitalization," he said. Before going home, the soldiers spend a few days at a program office like the one in Plant City, meeting their case manager, discussing a treatment plan with a physician and arranging for a duty assignment for the time they will remain on active duty.

At 8 a.m. most days, Riviera reports to a National Guard armory near Fort Lauderdale's airport, where he assists military recruiters with administrative tasks. A third-generation military man, he wants to stay in the National Guard. He will continue on active duty in his current "medical hold" status, he said, until the VA treats his medical problems or decides it can't do anything more.

For the moment, Riviera must be careful even when making the simplest of movements ? like reaching for a bottle of milk.

His immediate goals are to get married, buy a house and start a family. Despite the pain and uncertainty about his back, he seems cheerful and upbeat. He'll be happy, the guardsman said, if he can get 90% of his old physical ability back.

"The rest I'll chalk up to life," he said.
29846  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Tsunami Relief: What we can do on: December 31, 2004, 12:43:37 PM
Far From Stingy
December 31, 2004; Page A10

Across the world, the reaction to Asia's tsunami is bringing out the best in human nature. Fund-raising appeals, disaster-relief teams, military assets -- all are being marshaled for the victims of this tragedy.

Which makes it all the more outrageous that a top United Nations official chose this week to accuse the U.S. and other Western nations of being stingy with assistance to poorer nations. "We were more generous when we were less rich," Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland lectured on Monday. "And it is beyond me why we are so stingy, really."

Now, complaints about U.S. miserliness are more routine than the earthquakes and floods that strike the globe. A favorite "fact" of international critics is that while the U.S. government nearly always ranks first in absolute amounts of foreign aid, it tends to fall last among industrial countries in aid as a percentage of gross national product. The one-tenth of one percent that Washington devotes to foreign assistance, they say, is nothing compared with what the U.S. could afford.

The problem is that, as with so many questions of accounting (say, Oil for Food), the U.N. and other international bodies rely on unreliable ledgers. Groups like the Development Assistance Committee (part of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) tend to look only at "official" government aid. What this misses is that Americans have never trusted government institutions to dole out assistance. Instead, we open our wallets for private groups that are better at targeting money where it's needed, tracking projects, cutting waste -- and getting results.

When it comes to this sort of giving, nobody beats Americans. According to a 2003 report from the U.S. Agency for International Development, U.S. international assistance to developing countries in 2000 was $56 billion. Yet just 18% of that was "official" government assistance. Some $33.6 billion -- or 60% -- came from the private sector. Corporations shelled out nearly $3 billion. Religious groups weighed in with $3.4 billion. Individuals provided $18 billion. To say nothing of funds from foundations, private and voluntary organizations, or universities.

Cynics mark this generosity down to a U.S. tax code that encourages giving. Yet most research shows that Americans view donations as a duty. Philanthropy magazine reports a study showing the average U.S. contribution outweighs the average German or French one seven- or eight-fold. This sense of responsibility is often motivated by faith; some 60% of American donations go to religious groups or causes.

None of this sits well with the U.N., whose own budget relies on state dollars. A chastened Mr. Egeland was forced later this week to claim he'd been misinterpreted and to acknowledge U.S. generosity. But behind this apology is the U.N.'s longstanding belief that what's really needed is for the U.S. and others to raise taxes to pay for more public foreign aid.

That approach reigns in Western Europe and explains what's wrong with so much of current foreign aid. Europeans have come to view private donations as a failure of the state and expect their governments to collect billions in taxes to shuffle along to slow-moving and unaccountable international bureaucracies. The result is a lose-lose situation. Giving countries see their own economies depressed by higher taxes and receiving countries find the aid too often enabling strongmen or perpetuating poor policies.

A far better approach, at least in the public sphere, are initiatives such as President Bush's Millennium Challenge Account. By tying long-term assistance to improvements in specific economic and political goals -- such as cracking down on corruption or establishing rules of law -- foreign aid brings about real reform. This approach drives U.N. bureaucrats nuts, a sure sign it's on the right track.

Today's priority in Asia is immediate humanitarian relief. The list of U.S.-based private and religious organizations already working in the area is stunning. And it's good to see the U.S. decision effectively to go around U.N. bureaucracy by working directly with a coalition of Japan, Australia and India to coordinate relief. Meanwhile, we can expect the federal government to continue its tradition of generosity in the upcoming weeks -- a tradition that resulted in $2.4 billion in humanitarian relief last year alone, or 40% of the world total.

But future money, both public and private, should be aimed at developing the sort of governments and economies that will be equipped to deal with disasters on their own.
29847  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3 on: December 31, 2004, 12:40:34 PM

The End of the Affair
This was the year when the civilized world's romance with terrorists ended.
Friday, December 31, 2004 12:01 a.m. EST

It is fitting that this was the year Yasser Arafat died. When the history of the war on terror is written, 2004 will be remembered as the moment when the romance of the terrorist finally faded away.

Arafat was the romantic terrorist par excellence, the man who was given the podium of the U.N. General Assembly in 1974, just months after Palestinian gunmen had murdered 26 Israeli schoolchildren in Ma'alot. For the next three decades, an ever-broadening patch of the West came to see Arafat and his associates as militants, not terrorists, worthy of Nobel Prizes and White House overnights and states to call their own.

Arafat's rejection of Israel's partition offer at the 2000 Camp David talks should have finished this romance, but it did not. Nor, really, did the attacks of September 11. For some people, terrorism directed against Israel or the U.S. will always have some justification, because Israel and the U.S. are ipso facto the world's original aggressors.

But what justification can be offered the killer of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, whose sin was to have made a short movie about the mistreatment of women in Islamic societies? And where is the romance in slaughtering 500 children in Beslan, or 200 commuters in Madrid? Perhaps the latter atrocity could be explained as payback for Spain's support of the Bush Administration in Iraq. But then what about the kidnapping and execution of Margaret Hassan, the Irish-born Iraqi citizen who devoted her life to humanitarian relief and opposed the prewar sanctions as well as the invasion itself? Islamists, it turns out, issue no exemptions for the bien-pensant when drawing up their target lists.
In 2004, then, the world finally awoke to the fact that the only line worth taking against terrorists is a hard one, and this was reflected in political trends. In the U.S. and Australia, George W. Bush and John Howard decisively won contests framed as referendums on their handling of the war on terror. In Britain, Tony Blair survived every effort by the antiwar lobby to bring him down and looks set to win a third term in 2005. In France, the most popular politician today is Nicolas Sarkozy, who is outspokenly pro-American and pro-Israel. Only Spain proved an exception, and that now looks like the result of clumsy post-attack news management by the former conservative government, which might otherwise have held on to power.

All this has had knock-on effects, particularly in the Arab world. While al-Jazeera continues to propagandize on behalf of Abu Musab al Zarqawi, another line of Arab commentators began this year to ask some previously taboo questions. "It is a certain fact that not all Muslims are terrorists, but it is equally certain, and exceptionally painful, that almost all terrorists are Muslims," Abdel Rahman al-Rashed, the manager of the Al-Arabiya news channel, wrote last summer. "Does all this tell us something about ourselves, our societies and our culture?"

Last week, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas kicked off his presidential campaign by saying "the use of weapons is unacceptable because it has a negative impact on our image." It's an instructive choice of words: Mr. Abbas does not reject terrorism because it is immoral, but because it no longer sells the cause abroad. Still, even in Ramallah the message is getting through that terrorism is a self-defeating course of action. The romance, in other words, is gone.

There is another way in which 2004 witnessed the fading of the romance, and this has to do with the myth of terrorist invincibility. In March, Israel killed Hamas spiritual leader Ahmed Yassin, a measure immediately condemned as certain to incite Palestinians to new heights of retributive fury. Instead, Israel experienced the first sustained lull in suicide attacks since the intifada began, demonstrating that countries that take tough action against terrorism get results. The same went in Colombia under the leadership of President Alvaro Uribe, who rejected negotiations with the narco-terrorist FARC in favor of a military strategy, bringing terrorist incidents down to about 800 in 2004 from a high of 1,642 in 2002.

Now the lesson is being relearned by the Bush Administration as it fights battles from which it flinched in April for fear of provoking a wider Sunni uprising. In fact, the Administration's most provocative act in 2004 was in not taking action then, creating a perception of American irresolution that emboldened Sunni and Shia insurgents throughout the summer. Notably, when Fallujah was finally retaken in November, the only voice to be heard from the proverbial Arab street was that of Zarqawi himself. "You have let us down in the darkest circumstances," he berated Muslim clerics for their failure to raise an army to his cause. Both their failure and his remonstrance are a good indication that, in Iraq, things are gradually turning America's way.

Elsewhere in the world, the year's news in the war on terror tended to be good. A.Q. Khan's nuclear-proliferation network was rolled up. In Afghanistan, the Taliban is disbanding itself as democracy takes root. There will be more genuinely democratic elections in the Arab world next month than there have been in the past 40 years. Even the U.N. managed to propose (if not yet adopt) a commonsense definition of terrorism. The main worry is Iran, which continues to bankroll Hezbollah and harbor al Qaeda while moving toward a nuclear bomb. Here the Administration's failure to announce, much less conduct, a coherent policy is leading toward crisis.

In "Armageddon," British historian Max Hastings reminds us that the closing months of World War II were by far its bloodiest. Surely in this war there will be more awful surprises, and possibly reverses. But in 2004, it became clear that the civilized world would not soon again succumb to the fatal attractions of terror.
29848  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3 on: December 31, 2004, 01:21:36 AM

Facing Realities in Iraq
December 30, 2004 1840 GMT

By George Friedman

On May 17, 2004, Stratfor published a piece entitled "Iraq: New Strategies." In a rare moment of advocacy ( ),
we argued that the war in Iraq had evolved to a point where the United States was unlikely to be able to suppress the insurgency.

We argued then that, "The United States must begin by recognizing that it
cannot possibly pacify Iraq with the force available or, for that matter,
with a larger military force. It can continue to patrol, it can continue to
question people, it can continue to take casualties. However, it can never
permanently defeat the guerrilla forces in the Sunni triangle using this
strategy. It certainly cannot displace the power and authority of the Shiite
leadership in the south. Urban warfare and counterinsurgency in the Iraqi
environment cannot be successful."

We did not and do not agree with the view that the invasion of Iraq was a
mistake. It had a clear strategic purpose that it achieved: reshaping the
behavior of surrounding regimes, particularly of the Saudis. This helped
disrupt the al Qaeda network sufficiently that it has been unable to mount
follow-on attacks in the United States and has shifted its attention to the
Islamic world, primarily to the Saudis. None of this would have happened
without the invasion of Iraq.

As frequently happens in warfare, the primary strategic purpose of the war has been forgotten by the Bush administration. Mission creep, the nightmare of all military planners, has taken place. The United States has shifted its focus from coercing neighboring countries into collaborating with the United States against al Qaeda, to building democracy in Iraq. As we put it in May: "The United States must recall its original mission, which was to occupy Iraq in order to prosecute the war against al Qaeda. If that mission is remembered, and the mission creep of reshaping Iraq forgotten, some obvious strategic solutions re-emerge. The first, and most important, is that the United States has no national interest in the nature of Iraqi government or society. Except for not supporting al Qaeda, Iraq's government does not matter."

Most comparisons of Iraq to Vietnam are superficial and some are absurd, but one lesson is entirely relevant to Iraq. In Vietnam, the United States attempted to simultaneously re-engineer Vietnamese society and wage a counterinsurgency campaign. That proved impossible. The United States is attempting to do precisely that again in Iraq. It will fail again for the same reason: The goals are inherently contradictory.

Creating democracy in Iraq requires that democratic institutions be created. That is an abstract, bloodless way of putting it. The reality is that Iraqis must be recruited to serve in these institutions, from the army and police to social services. Obviously, these people become targets for the guerrillas and the level of intimidation is massive. These officials -- caught be tween the power of U.S. forces and the guerrillas -- are hardly in a position to engage in nation building. They are happy to survive, if they choose to remain at their posts.

Even this is not the central problem. In order to build these institutions,
Iraqis will have to be recruited. It is impossible to distinguish between
Iraqis committed to the American project, Iraqis who are opportunists and
Iraqis who are jihadists sent by guerrilla intelligence services to penetrate
the new institutions. Corruption aside, every one of the institutions is full
of jihadist agents, who are there to spy and disrupt.

This has a direct military consequence. The goal of the Untied States in
Vietnam was, and now in Iraq is, to shift the war-fighting burden -- in this
case from U.S. forces to the Iraqis. This can never happen. The Iraqi army, like the Army of the Republic of Vietnam, is filled with guerrilla
operatives. If the United States mounts joint operations with the Iraqis, the guerrillas will know about it during the planning stages. If the United
States fights alone, it will be more effective, but the Iraqi army will never
develop. For the United States, it is a question of heads you win, tails I

The United States cannot win the intelligence war on the ground level. Its
operations to penetrate the guerrillas depend on Iraqis working with the
United States and these operations will be quickly compromised. The
guerrillas on the other hand cannot be rooted out of the Iraqi military and
intelligence organs because they cannot be distinguished from other Iraqis. Some will be captured. Many might be captured. But all of them cannot be captured and therefore no effective allied force can be created in Iraq. This was the center of gravity of the problem in Vietnam, the problem that destroyed Vietnamization. It is the center of gravity of the problem in Iraq.

Missed Opportunities

There were two points where the problem could have been solved. Had the United States acted vigorously in May and June 2003, there is a chance that the guerrilla force would have been so disrupted it could never have been born. U.S. intelligence, however, failed to recognize the guerrilla threat and Donald Rumsfeld in particular was slow to react. By the summer of 2003, the situation was out of hand.

There was a second point where effective action might have been fruitful,
which was in the period after the Ramadan offensive of October-November 2003, when Saddam Hussein was captured, and the beginning of the April 2004 offensives in Al Fallujah and the Muqtada al-Sadr rising. Those four months were wasted in diffused action in several areas, rather than in a concerted effort to turn Sunni elders against the guerrillas.

It is interesting to note that the attempt to break the Sunni guerrillas in a
systematic way did not begin until November 2004, with the attack against Al Fallujah and an attempt to co-opt the Sunni elders. For a while it looked like it might just work. It didn't. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's jihadists had become too strong and too well organized. Whatever inroads were made among the Sunni elders was blocked by al-Zarqawi's ability to carry out reprisals. The Sunnis were locked into place.

The U.S. military is now carrying out an impossible mission. It is trying to
suppress a well-organized guerrilla force using primarily U.S. troops whose intelligence about the enemy is severely limited by language and cultural barriers that cannot be solved by recruiting Iraqis to serve as intelligence aides. The United States either operates blind or compromises its security.

Unless the Iraqi guerrillas are not only throwing all of their strength into
this offensive, but also using up their strength in a non-renewable fashion,
the Jan. 30 elections will not be the end of the guerrilla war. There will be
a lull in guerrilla operations -- guerrillas have to rest, recruit and
resupply like anyone else -- but after a few months, another offensive will
be launched. There is, therefore, no possibility that the Sunni guerrilla
movement will be suppressed unless there is a dramatic change in the
political landscape of the Sunni community.

There is one bit of good fortune that arises out of another of Rumsfeld's
failures. His failure to listen to Gen. Erik Shinseki's warnings about the
size of the force that would be needed in Iraq after the war meant that the U.S. force structure was never expanded appropriately. In most instances, this is a terrible failing. However, in this case, it has an unexpectedly positive consequence. We do not doubt for a moment that Rumsfeld would throw in more forces if he had them. They would not solve the problem in any way and would add additional targets for the guerrillas. But Rumsfeld doesn't have the needed forces, so he can't send them in.

Facing the Facts

The issue facing the Bush administration is simple. It can continue to fight
the war as it has, hoping that a miracle will bring successes in 2005 that
didn't happen in 2004. Alternatively, it can accept the reality that the
guerrilla force is now self-sustaining and sufficiently large not to flicker
out and face the fact that a U.S. conventional force of less than 150,000 is
not likely to suppress the guerrillas. More to the point, it can recognize
these facts:

1. The United States cannot re-engineer Iraq because the guerrillas will
infiltrate every institution it creates.

2. That the United States by itself lacks the intelligence capabilities to
fight an effective counterinsurgency.

3. That exposing U.S. forces to security responsibilities in this environment generates casualties without bringing the United States closer to the goal.

4. That the strain on the U.S. force is undermining its ability to react to
opportunities and threats in the rest of the region.

And that, therefore, this phase of the Iraq campaign must be halted as soon as possible.

This does not mean strategic defeat -- unless the strategic goal is the
current inflated one of creating a democratic Iraq. Under the original
strategic goal of changing the behavior of other countries in the region, the United States has already obtained strategic success. Indeed, to the extent that the United States is being drained and exhausted in Iraq, the strategic goal is actually being undermined.

We assert two principles:

1. The internal governance -- or non-governance -- of Iraq is neither a
fundamental American national interest nor is it something that can be shaped by the United States even if it were a national interest.

2. The United States does require a major presence in Iraq because of that country's strategic position in the region.

It is altogether possible for the United States to accept the first principle
yet pursue the second. The geography of Iraq -- the distribution of the
population -- is such that the United States can maintain a major presence in Iraq without, for the most part, being based in the populated regions and therefore without being responsible for the security of Iraq -- let alone responsible its form of government.

The withdrawal of U.S. forces west and south of the Euphrates and in an arc north to the Turkish border and into Kurdistan would provide the United States with the same leverage in the region, without the unsustainable cost of the guerrilla war. The Saudis, Syrians and Iranians would still have U.S. forces on their borders, this time not diluted by a hopeless pacification program.

Something like this will have to happen. After the January elections, there
will be a Shiite government in Baghdad. There will be, in all likelihood,
civil war between Sunnis and Shia. The United States cannot stop it and
cannot be trapped in the middle of it. It needs to withdraw.

Certainly, it would have been nice for the United States if it had been able
to dominate Iraq thoroughly. Somewhere between "the U.S. blew it" and "there was never a chance" that possibility is gone. It would have been nice if the United States had never tried to control the situation, because now the U.S. is going to have to accept a defeat, which will destabilize the region psychologically for a while. But what is is, and the facts speak for themselves.

We are not Walter Cronkite, and we are not saying that the war is lost. The war is with the jihadists around the world; Iraq was just one campaign, and the occupation of the Sunnis was just one phase of that campaign. That phase has been lost. The administration has allowed that phase to become the war as a whole in the public mind. That was a very bad move, but the administration is just going to have to bite the bullet and do the hard, painful and embarrassing work of cutting losses and getting on with the war.

If Bush has trouble doing this, he should conjure up Lyndon Johnson's ghost, wandering restlessly in the White House, and imagine how Johnson would have been remembered if he had told Robert McNamara to get lost in 1966.

(c) 2004 Strategic Forecasting, Inc. All rights reserved.
29849  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Tsunami Relief: What we can do on: December 30, 2004, 08:26:46 PM
I'm guessing from the architecture that these are from Thailand

29850  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3 on: December 30, 2004, 06:11:58 AM
Saudi Arabia Bombings: New Direction for Al Qaeda?


At least two major explosions shook the Saudi capital of Riyadh on Dec. 29, the location of the blasts suggesting that the targets were not Westerners but the al Saud regime itself. If this is the case, then al Qaeda jihadists in the kingdom have activated a major shift in their operations -- in keeping with threats announced by Osama bin Laden in his Dec. 16 message.


Two separate bombs exploded near the Saudi Ministry of Interior (MOI)
building in Riyadh on Dec. 29, and at least one militant reportedly was
killed and two were arrested.

Although the facts are unclear at this point -- gunbattles continue to rage
in the vicinity -- Saudi diplomatic sources have told Stratfor that Islamist
militants launched a coordinated attack against the MOI building. The
attackers, according to these sources, apparently planned to blast the MOI building with two suicide car bombs, aiming to collapse the structure, which is in the form of an upside-down pyramid.

However, the sources said that Saudi government security forces managed to intercept some of the militants before they reached the ministry. During the firefight, the drivers of the car bombs detonated their vehicles as security forces began to surround them.

The sources said that several teams of attackers approached the MOI building armed with small arms, and ambushed the security forces there. Currently, the Saudi sources said, Saudi forces are attempting to encircle the area in the effort to eliminate as many attackers as possible. However, according to the sources, the attackers do not appear to be retreating, but are attempting to break through into the MOI building.

The fact that the blasts occurred near the MOI building -- which is close to
other government buildings, including the Ministry of Defense and Air
Aviation, the Ministry of Communication and Riyadh Palace -- suggests that the attack most likely was intended against the regime and not against a Western target.

If this is the case, then this represents a massive operational shift on the
part of al Qaeda, less than two weeks after al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden threatened to stage attacks against the al Saud regime unless it stepped down.

Other than the attack against the Saudi special forces counterterrorism
agency in April by a group calling itself the Brigades of the Two Holy
Mosques, the al Qaeda Organization in the Arabian Peninsula (the jihadist
network's chapter in the kingdom) has refrained from attacking the regime directly.

That the attack took place after hours, at 8:35 p.m. local time, indicates
that the jihadists continue to be cautious about causing Muslim casualties
and that they designed this attack as a warning shot to show that al Qaeda can make good on its threat -- and relatively quickly.

In any case, al Qaeda has shifted gears in Saudi Arabia by going after the al Saud regime directly. This does not mean that the network will not attack Western targets. Instead, it has upped the ante.

(c) 2004 Strategic Forecasting, Inc. All rights reserved.
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