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29801  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / What about Muslim Moderates? on: July 10, 2007, 08:14:30 AM
Second post of the morning:


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

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

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

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groups are able to attract disproportionately large amounts of publicity, while moderate voices go unheard and unpublished.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr. Woolsey, co-chair of the Committee on the Present Danger, was Director of Central Intelligence 1993-1995. Ms. Shea is the director of the Center for Religious Freedom of the Hudson Institute.
29802  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Communicating with the Muslim World on: July 10, 2007, 07:36:09 AM
Public Diplomacy for Dummies
The Bush administration falters in the battle of ideas.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

29803  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / As War enters classrooms, on: July 10, 2007, 06:45:54 AM
NY Times

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


(Page 2 of 2)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But the heartbroken girl could not yet imagine this. “Never,” she said.
29804  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: July 10, 2007, 12:19:34 AM
Texas State Lawmaker Opposing Deadly Force Bill Shoots Would-Be Thief

Monday , July 09, 2007

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

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

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

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

Police said Miles, who is in his freshman term, is licensed to carry a concealed weapon. No charges have been filed against Miles, Senties said.
Miles, a Democrat, voted against a bill that gives Texans stronger legal right to defend themselves with deadly force in their homes, vehicles, and workplaces. The so-called "castle doctrine," passed by the Legislature this year, states that a person has no duty to retreat from an intruder before using deadly force. The law goes into effect Sept. 1.
29805  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US Envoy offers grim prediction on: July 10, 2007, 12:09:22 AM
Who is "a US official" and why is he trying to frame the debate before the report is actually written and released?  angry

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

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

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

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

NY Times

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Page 2 of 2)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

29806  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education on: July 09, 2007, 01:52:51 PM

Second post of the day:

"The eight Democratic presidential candidates assembled in Washington recently for another of their debates and talked, among other things, about public education. They all essentially agreed that it was underfunded -- one system 'for the wealthy, one for everybody else,' as John Edwards put it. Then they all got into cars and drove through a city where teachers are relatively well paid, per-pupil spending is through the roof and -- pay attention here -- the schools are among the very worst in the nation. When it comes to education, Democrats are ineducable.... [N]ot a one of them even whispered a word of outrage about a public school system that spends $13,000 per child -- third-highest among big-city school systems -- and produces pupils who score among the lowest in just about any category you can name. The only area in which the Washington school system is No. 1 is in money spent on administration. The litany of more and more when it comes to money often has little to do with what, in the military, are called facts on the ground: kids and parents. It does have a lot to do with teachers unions, which are strong supporters of the Democratic Party. Not a single candidate offered anything close to a call for real reform" -- Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen.
29807  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: July 09, 2007, 01:50:46 PM
Karl Clinton?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-- John Fund
Political Journal/WSJ
29808  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Particular Stocks on: July 09, 2007, 11:09:39 AM
Outstanding Rick-- thank you!

Any comments on a buy price for NETL?  Buy now? Put in an order at? etc
29809  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: July 09, 2007, 10:45:05 AM,0,400506.story?coll=la-home-center

En ingles:  La policia de los pequenos pueblos cerca de la frontera se huyen de los narcotraficantes.
29810  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam the religion on: July 09, 2007, 10:40:02 AM
The Hotair blog continues with its very aggressive studies in Islam:’an-sura-2-“the-cow”-verses-211-221/
29811  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: July 09, 2007, 10:24:45 AM
editorial in The New York Observer, often called the paper of the liberal elite, described Mr. Clinton as ‘an untrustworthy lowlife who used people for his own purposes and then discarded them. How could they have been fooled so badly?’...[M]illions of Americans, including political hacks, media toadies, and grass-roots dupes, were unflinchingly loyal to Clinton throughout a scandal-drenched eight years, during which it was credibly charged or proven that he: seduced a 21-year-old White House intern, groped a visitor in the Oval Office, paid his way out of a pants-dropping charge, was credibly accused of rape, organized a White House hit team to assassinate the reputation of his accusers; took money from Chinese communist donors; entertained known criminals, drug dealers and arms smugglers at private White House gatherings; hid subpoenaed documents in the living quarters of the White House; rented out the Lincoln bedroom; sold seats on Air Force One; violated the War Powers Act; bombed an aspirin factory in Sudan; never uttered a word of regret for the 19 innocent babies and children who were burned to death at Waco; used the IRS and the FBI to attack political enemies; used taxpayer-paid lawyers and aides to defend himself against charges of sexual misconduct; lied under oath; lied when not under oath; shredded documents; suborned perjury; tampered with witnesses and obstructed justice... I remain hopeful that in time, the legacy of the Clinton presidency will be that its classic wretchedness awakened the American people from a soul-numbing, moral stupor.” —Linda Bowles
29812  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: July 09, 2007, 08:53:06 AM

The Gitmo Distraction
July 9, 2007; Page A15

Reports suggest that President Bush's top advisers are again wrestling with whether to close the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. There is no doubt that holding captured al Qaeda and Taliban fighters at that facility has become a significant diplomatic liability.

But the potential foreign policy benefits of moving war on terror prisoners must be weighed against the very real strategic, tactical and legal costs that this decision would entail. After looking at these, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that maintaining the Guantanamo Bay facility is not only justifiable but necessary.

Perhaps the most important cost of closing Guantanamo would be strategic. From the start of this conflict, al Qaeda's strategy for victory has been to take maximum advantage of Western sensibilities and institutions, including public opinion and legal rules which limit what states can do in their own defense. The Bush administration sought to minimize the impact of this type of strategy by itself adopting a wartime legal paradigm, declaring a war against terror and using the full force of the United States military -- rather than relying primarily on American law-enforcement resources -- against al Qaeda and its allies. Detaining captured al Qaeda and Taliban operatives as enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay was, and remains, a central aspect of that policy and there is little doubt that abandoning it will be seen by al Qaeda as a failure of American nerve and a vindication of their strategic vision.

Closing Guantanamo would also be a victory for al Qaeda because the other alternatives for detaining captured jihadis either give terrorists a legal advantage. The status quo is the best option we have.

There are three basic alternatives to Guantanamo: First, transferring the detainees back to U.S. bases in Afghanistan (such as Bagram Air Base) or elsewhere in the world; second, bringing them to the U.S. to be housed, still as captured enemy combatants, at federal military or civilian prison facilities; or last, having brought them to American soil, processing the detainees through the criminal justice system as civilian defendants, much like the "20th" 9/11 hijacker Zacarias Moussaoui.

The first alternative, moving the detainees to a different overseas location, would incur considerable expense (the current facilities would have to be more or less replicated in another location) and would almost certainly provoke a constitutional crisis between the president and the Supreme Court. The justices have already ruled in Rasul v. Bush (2004) that Guantanamo Bay, based on its unique status as Cuban territory subject to the U.S.'s exclusive authority, is subject to federal court jurisdiction.

Although this case was wrongly decided in light of the court's other precedents, withdrawing detainees from Guantanamo now would prompt the Supreme Court to consider another expansion of federal judicial power, effectively following the detainees wherever they are moved. And, given swing Justice Anthony Kennedy's uncertain temper in war on terror cases, a five-justice majority may well find a pretext to do just that. The president would then be placed in the unenviable position of accepting judicial oversight not merely at Guantanamo Bay, but also in active, foreign theaters of war -- or ignoring the court's ruling.

The second alternative, bringing the detainees into the U.S., also would be no panacea. This too would be costly, involving creation of new maximum-security prison space in an already overcrowded federal system. Relocation to the homeland would also raise the potential for escapes into the civilian population and would open vast new litigation vistas for the detainees and their American lawyers -- including challenges not merely to their classification as enemy combatants, but to the ongoing conditions of their confinement as well. Although Congress could attempt to avoid this projected litigation explosion by statutorily limiting detainee rights -- as it did in the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act and 2006 Military Commissions Act -- there is no guarantee that these or similar provisions will withstand constitutional scrutiny once detainees are in the U.S. and subject to the U.S. Constitution.

This is especially true with regard to proposals for the creation of a type of administrative detention that would permit the most dangerous detainees to be held indefinitely -- without criminal trial in either civilian or military courts. Despite the rhetoric of the administration's critics, the detainees are not now subject to indefinite detention. Under the laws of war, they may be held until the armed conflict is over, at which time they must be tried or set free. The laws of war do not provide a basis for post-conflict preventative detention, and the constitutional basis for such detention is far from obvious. To date, the courts have accepted truly preventative detention in only very limited circumstances, generally involving cases in which the prisoner has a mental disease or defect.

Thus, even assuming that congressional Democrats would accommodate the administration's request for such legislation -- and they do not appear to be in an accommodating mood -- the government may still lose the inevitable legal challenges. These are likely to be even more difficult than the one arising in the Guantanamo context which the justices have docketed for next fall. The administration could find itself having to charge the detainees as civilian criminal defendants or watch the courts release them onto America's streets.

This frightening possibility is real enough, because the final option -- processing the detainees in the civilian court system -- is also not possible. Some of the detainees would not be subject to trial in the United States at all because, unless they have actively opposed U.S. forces or otherwise directly targeted U.S. nationals, they are not obviously subject to American criminal laws. Attacking U.S. allies is not necessarily an adequate basis for jurisdiction. However, even if the underlying statutory framework were available to prosecute most of the detainees as civilian criminals, the government would be fatally handicapped in presenting its case.

Leaving aside the fact that evidence against the detainees has not (and could not have) been collected at overseas battlefields in accordance with normal exacting police procedures, the Constitution requires that every element of a criminal charge be proved beyond a reasonable doubt by admissible evidence presented in open court. This would require the compromise of classified, national security information being used as the price of a conviction. Although proponents of a criminal law approach to al Qaeda often claim that the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA) answers this objection, it does not.

CIPA permits the government to protect classified information throughout the pre-trial, including the "discovery," phase of a criminal prosecution. In addition, it allows the court to consider whether there are acceptable evidentiary alternatives to the admission of classified material at trial. However, if the court does not accept those alternatives, or if it concludes that the defendant would not receive a fair trial without the use of classified information, the government must accept the disclosure of that information (damaging the war effort) or see the case dismissed. Meanwhile, as was the case with the indefinite administrative detention option, any statutory restrictions on a defendant's right to have the evidence against him presented in open court -- another legislative option allegedly contemplated by the administration -- is neither likely to be adopted by Congress nor blessed by the courts.

Finally, in addition to these costs, the potential benefits of closing Guantanamo are illusory. The most commonly articulated reason for this step is to improve relations with our allies, especially in Europe. However, Europe's real objection is not to the detainees' location at a U.S. Naval Base in Cuba, but to their confinement as enemy combatants in the first place. By and large, Europe has never accepted that there is a "war" on terror. Moving detainees to Afghanistan or the U.S. will not change this.

To obtain any "public diplomacy" advantage from closing Guantanamo, the president must be prepared to declare an end to military operations against al Qaeda, and a return to the pre-9/11 policy mixture of law enforcement, diplomacy and surgical strikes against al Qaeda outposts that failed miserably. This is also why lesser changes at Guantanamo, such as inviting European allies to participate in both the operation and review of continued detentions, are impractical. Those allies simply do not believe there is a war in which these fighters can legally be held.

Just as nothing short of total U.S. withdrawal from Iraq would appease the administration's opponents, the critics of Guantanamo Bay will not be satisfied with anything other than abandonment of the war against al Qaeda. If, as the president says, a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq would be a key defeat in the war on terror, ending that war itself -- leaving al Qaeda bruised, but very much in possession of the global battlefield -- would be an even greater calamity.

Messrs. Rivkin and Casey served in the Justice Department under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
29813  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Education on: July 09, 2007, 08:48:01 AM

The Culture Gap
July 9, 2007; Page A15

Cut through all the statistical squid ink surrounding the issue of economic inequality, and you'll find a phenomenon that genuinely deserves public concern.

Over the past quarter-century or so, the return on human capital has risen significantly. Or to put it another way, the opportunity cost of failing to develop human capital is now much higher than it used to be. The wage premium associated with a college degree has jumped to around 70% in recent years from around 30% in 1980; the graduate degree premium has soared to over 100% from 50%. Meanwhile, dropping out of high school now all but guarantees socioeconomic failure.

In part this development is cause for celebration. Rising demand for analytical and interpersonal skills has been driving the change, and surely it is good news that economic signals now so strongly encourage the development of human talent. Yet -- and here is the cause for concern -- the supply of skilled people is responding sluggishly to the increased demand.

Despite the strong incentives, the percentage of people with college degrees has been growing only modestly. Between 1995 and 2005, the share of men with college degrees inched up to 29% from 26%. And the number of high school dropouts remains stubbornly high: The ratio of 17-year-olds to diplomas awarded has been stuck around 70% for three decades.

Something is plainly hindering the effectiveness of the market's carrots and sticks. And that something is culture.

Before explaining what I mean, let me go back to the squid ink and clarify what's not worrisome about the inequality statistics. For those who grind their ideological axes on these numbers, the increase in measured inequality since the 1970s is proof that the new, more competitive, more entrepreneurial economy of recent decades (which also happens to be less taxed and less unionized) has somehow failed to provide widespread prosperity. According to left-wing doom-and-gloomers, only an "oligarchy" at the very top is benefiting from the current system.

Hogwash. This argument can be disposed of with a simple thought experiment. First, picture the material standard of living you could have afforded back in 1979 with the median household income then of $16,461. Now picture the mix of goods and services you could buy in 2004 with the median income of $44,389. Which is the better deal? Only the most blinkered ideologue could fail to see the dramatic expansion of comforts, conveniences and opportunities that the contemporary family enjoys.

Much of the increase in measured inequality has nothing to do with the economic system at all. Rather, it is a product of demographic changes. Rising numbers of both single-parent households and affluent dual-earner couples have stretched the income distribution; so, too, has the big influx of low-skilled Hispanic immigrants. Meanwhile, in a 2006 paper published in the American Economic Review, economist Thomas Lemieux calculated that roughly three-quarters of the rise in wage inequality among workers with similar skills is due simply to the fact that the population is both older and better educated today than it was in the 1970s.

It is true that superstars in sports, entertainment and business now earn stratospheric incomes. But what is that to you and me? If the egalitarian left has been reduced to complaining that people in the 99th income percentile in a given year (and they're not the same people from year to year) are leaving behind those in the 90th percentile, it has truly arrived at the most farcical of intellectual dead ends.

Which brings us back to the real issue: the human capital gap, and the culture gap that impedes its closure. The most obvious and heartrending cultural deficits are those that produce and perpetuate the inner-city underclass. Consider this arresting fact: While the poverty rate nationwide is 13%, only 3% of adults with full-time, year-round jobs fall below the poverty line. Poverty in America today is thus largely about failing to get and hold a job, any job.

The problem is not lack of opportunity. If it were, the country wouldn't be a magnet for illegal immigrants. The problem is a lack of elementary self-discipline: failing to stay in school, failing to live within the law, failing to get and stay married to the mother or father of your children. The prevalence of all these pathologies reflects a dysfunctional culture that fails to invest in human capital.

Other, less acute deficits distinguish working-class culture from that of the middle and upper classes. According to sociologist Annette Lareau, working-class parents continue to follow the traditional, laissez-faire child-rearing philosophy that she calls "the accomplishment of natural growth." But at the upper end of the socioeconomic scale, parents now engage in what she refers to as "concerted cultivation" -- intensively overseeing kids' schoolwork and stuffing their after-school hours and weekends with organized enrichment activities.

This new kind of family life is often hectic and stressful, but it inculcates in children the intellectual, organizational and networking skills needed to thrive in today's knowledge-based economy. In other words, it makes unprecedented, heavy investments in developing children's human capital.

Consider these data from the National Education Longitudinal Study, an in-depth survey of educational achievement. Among students who received high scores in eighth grade mathematics (and thus showed academic promise), 74% of kids from the highest quartile of socioeconomic status (measured as a composite of parental education, occupations and family income) eventually earned a college degree. By contrast, the college graduation rate fell to 47% for kids from the middle two quartiles, and 29% for those in the bottom quartile. Perhaps more generous financial aid might affect those numbers at the margins, but at the core of these big differentials are differences in the values, skills and habits taught in the home.

Contrary to the warnings of the alarmist left, the increase in economic inequality does not mean the economic system isn't working properly. On the contrary, the system is delivering more opportunities for comfortable, challenging lives than our culture enables us to take advantage of. Far from underperforming, our productive capacity has now outstripped our cultural capacity.

Alas, there is no silver bullet for closing the culture gap. But the public institutions most directly responsible for human capital formation are the nation's schools, and it seems beyond serious dispute that in many cases they are failing to discharge their responsibilities adequately. Those interested in reducing meaningful economic inequality would thus be well advised to focus on education reform. And forget about adding new layers of bureaucracy and top-down controls. Real improvements will come from challenging the moribund state-school monopoly with greater competition.

Mr. Lindsey is vice president for research at the Cato Institute and author of the just-published book, "The Age of Abundance: How Prosperity Transformed America's Politics and Culture" (Collins, 2007).
29814  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Evolutionary biology/psychology on: July 09, 2007, 08:11:42 AM

The International Hopology site is well worth taking a look.

Its "Three Axioms" break down the aggressive instinct differently from Konrad Lorenz.

To refresh memories, KL wrote of three categories: Territory, Hierarchy, Reproduction.  To these three in the case of humans I have added Hunting e.g. a criminal stealing money in effect is taking food and his behaviors will be those of a hunter.

In contrast, as seen below, Hopology apparently has two categories.  My first intuitive response is that their approach also seems to have merit.


Three Axioms of Hoplology

1. The foundation of human combative behavior is rooted in our evolution. To gain a realistic understanding of human combative behavior, it is necessary to have a basic grasp of its evolutionary background.

2. The two basic forms of human combative behavior are predatory and affective. Predatory combative behavior is that combative/aggressive behavior rooted in our evolution as a hunting mammal. Affective combative behavior is that aggressive/combative behavior rooted in our evolution as a group-social animal.

3. The evolution of human combative behavior and performance is integral with the use of weapons. That is, behavior and performance is intrinsically linked to and reflects the use of weapons.
29815  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Citizen-Police interactions on: July 09, 2007, 07:46:43 AM
Woof All:

Although there is already a LEO issues thread, the focus here is a bit different.  We are also looking at the rights of the citizen.

By CWS on the WT forum:

This of course does not deal with the issue of a drug dog having a legal right to be brought by police to sniff your car (the Caballes case), but one thing is for sure. If you grant permission to search, search they will. And find they will. If all you have is an unlicensed weapon in your car, and no drugs, are you really worried about what a drug sniffing dog will find?

Secondly, even if you have drugs in the car, I am not sure an officer can hold you up indefinitely awaiting a drug dog to come sniff your car. One key element of the Caballes decision was that the whole matter occurred in 10 minutes, and during the time period the officer was still legitimately in ticket writing mode.

From the Caballes case: "A seizure that is justified solely by the interest in issuing a warning ticket to the driver can become unlawful if it is prolonged beyond the time reasonably required to complete that mission. In an earlier case involving a dog sniff that occurred during an unreasonably prolonged traffic stop, the Illinois Supreme Court held that use of the dog and the subsequent discovery of contraband were the product of an unconstitutional seizure. People v. Cox, 202 Ill. 2d 462, 782 N. E. 2d 275 (2002). We may assume that a similar result would be warranted in this case if the dog sniff had been conducted while respondent was being unlawfully detained."


certiorari to the supreme court of iowa

No. 97-7597. Argued November 3, 1998--Decided December 8, 1998

An Iowa policeman stopped petitioner Knowles for speeding and issued him a citation rather than arresting him. The officer then conducted a full search of the car, without either Knowles' consent or probable cause, found marijuana and a "pot pipe," and arrested Knowles. Before his trial on state drug charges, Knowles moved to suppress the evidence, arguing that because he had not been arrested, the search could not be sustained under the "search incident to arrest" exception recognized in United States v. Robinson, 414 U. S. 218 . The trial court denied the motion and found Knowles guilty, based on state law giving officers authority to conduct a full-blown search of an automobile and driver where they issue a citation instead of making a custodial arrest. In affirming, the State Supreme Court applied its bright-line "search incident to citation" exception to the Fourth Amendment's warrant requirement, reasoning that so long as the officer had probable cause to make a custodial arrest, there need not in fact have been an arrest.

Held: The search at issue, authorized as it was by state law, nonetheless violates the Fourth Amendment. Neither of the two historical exceptions for the "search incident to arrest" exception, see Robinson, supra, at 234, is sufficient to justify the search in the present case. First, the threat to officer safety from issuing a traffic citation is a good deal less than in the case of a custodial arrest. While concern for safety during a routine traffic stop may justify the "minimal" additional intrusion of ordering a driver and passengers out of the car, it does not by itself justify the often considerably greater intrusion attending a full field-type search. Even without the search authority Iowa urges, officers have other, independent bases to search for weapons and protect themselves from danger. Second, the need to discover and preserve evidence does not exist in a traffic stop, for once Knowles was stopped for speeding and issued a citation, all evidence necessary to prosecute that offense had been obtained. Iowa's argument that a "search incident to citation" is justified because a suspect may try to hide evidence of his identity or of other crimes is unpersuasive. An officer may arrest a driver if he is not satisfied with the identification furnished, and the possibility that an officer would stumble onto evidence of an unrelated offense seems remote. Pp. 3-6.

569 N. W. 2d 601, reversed and remanded.
Rehnquist, C. J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.


As I understand it with a Terry Stop, wouldn't the motorist be free to go if he does not consent to a search given that asking for consent means the officer has no PC and has already given out the speeding ticket?

From the actual Terry case:

"Where a reasonably prudent officer is warranted in the circumstances of a given case in believing that his safety or that of others is endangered, he may make a reasonable search for weapons of the person believed by him to be armed and dangerous regardless of whether he has probable cause to arrest that individual for crime or the absolute certainty that the individual is armed. Pp. 20-27.

(a) Though the police must, whenever practicable, secure a warrant to make a search and seizure, that procedure cannot be followed where swift action based upon on-the-spot observations of the officer on the beat is required. P. 20.
(b) The reasonableness of any particular search and seizure must be assessed in light of the particular circumstances against the standard of whether a man of reasonable caution is warranted in believing that the action taken was appropriate. Pp. 21-22.
(c) The officer here was performing a legitimate function of investigating suspicious conduct when he decided to approach petitioner and his companions. P. 22.
(d) An officer justified in believing that an individual whose suspicious behavior he is investigating at close range is armed may, to neutralize the threat of physical harm, take necessary measures to determine whether that person is carrying a weapon. P. 24.
(e) A search for weapons in the absence of probable cause to arrest must be strictly circumscribed by the exigencies of the situation. Pp. 25-26.
(f) An officer may make an intrusion short of arrest where he has reasonable apprehension of danger before being possessed of information justifying arrest. Pp. 26-27. - Caballes case - Knowles case
29816  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: July 09, 2007, 07:34:43 AM
Geopolitical Diary: The War Between Pakistan and its Ex-Proxies

After days of avoiding an all-out assault against the mosque/madrassa complex, Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf reportedly has issued orders to storm the Red Mosque in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad. The government also has claimed that the Islamist militants holed up in the mosque include both wanted hard-core Pakistani jihadists and foreign fighters -- mostly Arabs -- affiliated with al Qaeda. The six-day security operation to dislodge Islamist militants from the Red Mosque thus appears to have entered a decisive stage.

The government's new claims could have some merit, thus warranting an examination of the facts associated with the operation. The Pakistanis, fearing possible public backlash in an already charged political atmosphere, have until now avoided taking the facility by force. Nonetheless, the government has brought in some of its best security units to flush the militants from the mosque. These include the army's 111th Brigade, its Special Services Group (SSG) commando force, the ninth wing of the Pakistan Rangers paramilitary force and the elite anti-terrorism squad of the Punjab police.

Despite being up against some 12,000 well-trained, professional and heavily armed security personnel, the militants inside the Red Mosque have managed to hold their ground. They have managed to survive several days of intense bombardment in the form of shelling and gunfire. Moreover, they managed to kill a commander of the SSG (a lieutenant colonel) during one operation late July 6.

All of this does not appear to be the work of mere seminary students who are followers of the rogue mullahs running the Red Mosque, perhaps boasting only a little experience handling an AK-47. Radical seminary students do not possess the skills to strategize against -- let alone hold off -- a superior force. Holding out in the face of insurmountable odds demands a certain level of nerve as well.

The leaders of the resistance in the mosque probably are battle-hardened jihadists, not a mere ragtag band of seminarian zealots, which raises a number of questions. How did these elements establish themselves in a major mosque in the South Asian country's capital, just a few miles from the city's diplomatic enclave, key government institutions and -- above all -- the headquarters of the country's premier spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate? How did the fighters procure the weapons and other supplies needed to sustain such a standoff without setting off alarms? Why are the militants able to make back-channel contacts with some key top officials even after the government has made it clear the fighters must surrender unconditionally?

The answers to such questions are not readily available, but the questions themselves bolster claims that the Pakistani state, especially its military and intelligence agencies, has been significantly infiltrated by jihadist elements. This has directly resulted from the army's past practice of employing Islamist militant actors to pursue its domestic and foreign policy objectives.

Pakistani media reported July 7 that a close relative of the mullahs controlling the Red Mosque is the driver for Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao, and he was also the driver for the minister's two predecessors. Meanwhile, the bodyguard of the deputy leader is an employee of the National Crisis Management Cell, led by retired Director-General Brig. Javed Iqbal Cheema -- who is also the Interior Ministry's spokesman.

Consequently, these militants are not just challenging the writ of the state; they enjoy a significant number of sympathizers within both the government and wider society. The military leadership led by Musharraf might have embarked upon a strategic shift as far as the role of Islam in state and society is concerned, but clearly a large number of people both inside and outside the government do not subscribe to his philosophy of "enlightened moderation."

Though radical Islamist forces constitute a minority, they constitute a significant one. And while the vast majority of Pakistanis do not support jihadists, they do not necessarily support Musharraf's agenda either. Overall, Pakistan lacks a national consensus regarding Islam's role in public affairs, something extremist and radical forces are exploiting.

Therefore, the Red Mosque operation does not amount to a one-off event. Rather, it is likely the beginning of a long confrontation between the state and radical/militant Islamist forces. Such a clash will involve military operations in areas such as the North-West Frontier Province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, as well as nationwide social unrest.
29817  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Particular Stocks on: July 09, 2007, 07:18:24 AM
I'ved asked Rick Neaton to come comment on your post.  I know that he is still following the Gilder universe and is particularly positive on LNOP.

As for David Gordon, try his excellent blog at
29818  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Wolves, Dogs and other canines on: July 09, 2007, 07:12:30 AM
Dog wins a race against time to bring aid to injured athlete
By Brian Metzler, Rocky Mountain News
December 19, 2006

A prominent Colorado adventure athlete can thank her dog and a Utah search-and-rescue team for saving her life after she fell and injured herself while running and spent two nights in subfreezing weather near Moab last week.
Danelle Ballengee, 35, of Dillon, will have surgery today at Denver Health Medical Center to repair a broken pelvis suffered while running with her dog near the Amasa Back Trail south of Moab last Wednesday.

She also is recovering from severe frostbite on her feet, internal bleeding and numerous cuts and bruises.

The two-time adventure racing world champion and elite triathlete, trail runner and mountain biker slipped on a patch of ice on Hurrah Pass and tumbled off three successive rock faces of 10 to 20 feet each.

A Grand County (Utah) Search and Rescue team on all-terrain vehicles found Ballengee at about 3:30 p.m. Friday after her dog, Taz, a 3-year-old German shepherd-golden retriever mix, led rescuers on a five-mile journey to the accident site.

"I'm just happy to be alive," she said. "I thought about my family and my friends and everything I do, and I just kept saying to myself, 'I can't die. I'm not ready to die.' But it would have been so easy to relax and curl up and die."

Ballengee left around noon Wednesday for what she thought would be a casual two- hour trail run in the 40-degree weather. She was wearing light running pants, two lightweight running shirts and a lightweight fleece top.

After the fall, Ballengee crawled about a quarter-mile on her hands and knees to try to find help.

During the night, she did sit-ups and kept her upper body moving to keep warm. She drank snowmelt from a puddle when the water in her hydration pack ran out and ate two packets of raspberry energy gel she had carried on the run.

Ballengee owns a home in Moab and spends a lot of time running, cycling, climbing and paddling there in preparation for adventure races. Sometimes she trains with friends but often just with Taz.

A Moab neighbor called Balengee's parents in Evergreen on Thursday after she hadn't seen any sign of Ballengee for more than a day.

"We've told her before to be safe and leave a note about where she's going, but that's not always possible," her mother, Peggy Ballengee, said Monday. "With all of the things Danelle does, we didn't really want to bother people. But we just had a gut feeling that we needed to do something, and thank God we did."

Police initially searched Ballengee's house for signs of foul play and notified authorities in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona about her missing vehicle. They also searched the Colorado River and nearby lakes on the advice of her parents, who thought she might have been kayaking.

Moab police found Ballengee's pickup truck at the Amasa Back trailhead at 12:30 p.m. Friday. As search-and-rescue personnel arrived, a dog matching the description of Taz was seen running around the trailhead.

"We were going to try to identify the dog, but the dog basically didn't want to be caught and instead turned around and headed back toward the trail," said Curt Brewer, chief deputy with the Grand County Sheriff's Office.

"When that happened, the search crew decided to follow the dog. And the dog took our rescue personnel right to her. I think we would have eventually found her, because we were in the right location, but the dog saved us some time," he said.

A helicopter airlifted Ballengee to St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Junction. She was moved to Denver on Saturday.

A titanium plate and pins will be inserted into her pelvis to repair the breaks. Doctors have told her it is unlikely that she will lose any toes because of the frostbite, but it could be two to six months before she can walk.

Nighttime temperatures dipped to the low 20s in the Moab area last week and reached the mid-40s during the day. A hunter died of exposure on Nov. 29 near Moab after getting stranded in the La Sal Mountains.

On the first night of Ballengee's ordeal, Taz slept with his head on her stomach, but the second night he was hesitant to get near her.

"The first night I couldn't really cuddle with him because I had to stay on my back, but he cuddled next to me and helped keep me warm," Danelle said. "But the second night he either got mad or he got a plan in his head.

"Either way, I just can't wait to give him a big hug. He has no idea how important he can be.",1299,DRMN_15_5223711,00.html

29819  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mil-blogs: Michael Yon and others (support our troops) on: July 08, 2007, 02:34:43 PM
Second post of the day:

Al Qaeda continues to commit suicide in Iraq.  More Iraqis are turning against al Qaeda for the crimes they commit. 
Real progess is showing in Baqubah on D +16 since the launch of operation Arrowhead Ripper: the Battle for Baqubah.
Please click here for photos and text:

Michael Yon
Baqubah, Iraq
29820  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Emergency Tips and Emergency Medicine on: July 08, 2007, 01:36:07 PM

I am completely clueless in these matters, but this URL seems well worth the time for those looking to develop in this area.  It is military, so a large percentage of the contents are militarily driven, but there seems to be a lot of civilian relevant content as well.

29821  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Interest in a DBMA Class in Redondo Beach? on: July 08, 2007, 08:40:15 AM
After a post-Gathering break, we are now gearing up again.  If you wish to apply for this class, please email me at
29822  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: July 08, 2007, 08:28:14 AM
Any comments on last night's UFC?
29823  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North Korea on: July 08, 2007, 07:31:30 AM
A Whistleblower's Tale
Remember Oil for Food? Here's the story of how the U.N. propped up Pyongyang.

Sunday, July 8, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

It's been more than six months since the U.S. first shone a light on the corruption in the United Nations Development Program in North Korea--a scandal potentially involving tens of millions of dollars used to help prop up the nuclear-armed regime of one of the world's most dangerous dictators. But never mind. It's all a Bush administration plot.

Such, apparently, is the considered view of the UNDP, which has spent the past half-year variously disputing the U.S. disclosures, justifying UNDP actions on "humanitarian" grounds, or offering an everyone-does-it defense. Ad Melkert, the former Dutch politician who is the No. 2 official at the UNDP and the point person for oversight of the program, even threatened to "retaliate" against the U.S., according to Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. ambassador to the U.N.

In any case, Mr. Melkert seems to be more worried about his own job than the integrity of the organization he leads. In a June 23 article titled, "Smear Campaign, U.S. Against Melkert," the Dutch daily De Telegraaf, citing "insiders at the UNDP," reported that "conservative forces in the American government want the scalp of Ad Melkert."

So it's perhaps the right moment for a reality check courtesy of the man who blew the whistle on it all--Artjon Shkurtaj, an Albanian-born accountant who served as chief of operations for all U.N. operations in North Korea from November 2004 to September 2006. Mr. Shkurtaj--a veteran of UNDP programs in Bangladesh, East Timor, Kosovo, Mexico, India and elsewhere--was outraged at the violations he encountered in North Korea. After two years of trying to persuade his superiors at UNDP headquarters in New York to take corrective action, he took his information to the U.S. mission to the U.N. in May 2006. The UNDP responded by firing him this March.

A preliminary report by U.N. auditors, issued last month, confirms massive violations of U.N. rules regarding hiring practices, the use of foreign currency, and inspections of U.N.-funded projects. In a series of interviews in New York, Mr. Shkurtaj says the auditors (who were barred by North Korea from going there) barely scratched the surface of the misconduct.
We get quickly to the bottom line: Did the U.N. money go to the humanitarian projects it was supposed to fund? "How the hell do I know?" responds Mr. Shkurtaj--oversight was so poor, the involvement of North Korean workers assigned by the government so extensive and the use of cash so prevalent, that it was impossible to follow the money trail.

Mr. Shkurtaj arrived in North Korea on Nov. 4, 2004. He says one of his first indications that something was amiss was when checks denominated in euros and made out to "cash" arrived on his desk for signature. "Rule No. 1 in every UNDP country in the world is that you have to operate in local currency," he says, "not in hard currency. It's the rule No. 1 of development . . . in order to support the local economy and not devalue or destroy the local currency."

"I didn't sign the checks for about a week," he says, and then "it became a real mess. Headquarters contacted me, and said, 'Don't become a problem. You're going to wind up a PNG, a persona non grata, and ending up a PNG means the end of your career with the U.N. . . . We are authorizing you to go ahead and sign the checks. . . . So I started signing."

"Every morning from 8 to 10, we would issue checks" in euros for staff and projects, Mr. Shkurtaj says. "Then the checks, instead of going directly to the people or institutions by mail, as they should go [as specified by U.N. rules], the checks were given to the driver of our office." The driver would take them to the Foreign Trade Bank, where he would "exchange them into cash and come back to the office." North Korea did not permit Mr. Shkurtaj to have access to the UNDP's accounts at the Foreign Trade Bank, which refused even to keep his signature on file.

Then, every day at noontime, "North Koreans saying they represented U.N.-funded projects would come to receive cash at the UNDP offices." Mr. Shkurtaj says he was not allowed to require the North Koreans to sign receipts for the money or even to present IDs. "I had to trust them," he says. "But, hey, if headquarters tells me to give the money away, I'll give the money away."

On Aug. 16, 2006, a few weeks before Mr. Shkurtaj left North Korea, the UNDP resident representative, Timo Pakkala, issued a memo to the staff noting "an increased use of cash payments, in some cases to payees that are not authorized to receive payments." Citing "UNDP policy," Mr. Pakkala ordered future payments be made by bank transfer or "non-cash cheque." He also ordered staff to obtain receipts and not give money to unidentified people.
Mr. Shkurtaj says nothing happened. "The same routine continued." On Jan. 31, in a memo to Kemal Dervis, head of the UNDP, he urged that "the cashing of checks from the UNDP driver must be stopped and UNDP must demand access to the Foreign Trade Bank in all transactions with our accounts."

As the recent U.N. audit confirmed, the North Koreans who worked at UNDP were selected by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which also collected their salaries; both practices were violations of U.N. rules. Mr. Shkurtaj notes, too, that North Koreans selected by the government performed "core" functions such as dispensing cash--another violation of the rules. All communications tools--fax and telex equipment, computer servers, the local area network--"were in the hands of the North Koreans." "All the backup data [for the office's computers] were in a storage place completely isolated with a North Korean the chief of it." When Mr. Shkurtaj wanted to file a secure report, "I would go use the telex and communications satellite at the German Embassy or other embassies in the compound."

A North Korean--Li Kum Sun--controlled the office safe in her job as "finance officer." "Damn it," says Mr. Shkurtaj, "you had security-evacuation plans in the hands of a North Korean. It's unbelievable." One of his few on-the-job successes was to get control of the safe and petty cash taken away from Ms. Li and handed over to him in March 2006.

The U.N. audit also found numerous irregularities regarding on-site inspections of UNDP projects. Most projects are located outside Pyongyang, and Mr. Shkurtaj says one way to determine whether the required annual field visits actually took place is whether the inspectors filed expense accounts. "Everybody--meaning one driver, one translator . . . and one or two international staff would have received per diems," he says, or submitted vouchers for gas or overtime. "That is the proof that people checked the project." Yet, "in nearly two years in North Korea. . . . I signed for a maximum of two or three" such trips.

Mr. Shkurtaj recounts two inspections he attempted to carry out himself. In one case, UNDP paid for 300 computers intended for Kim Il Sung University. "Instead of the computers coming to UNDP, they went to a warehouse outside town, and we were allowed to inspect them only after a month and a half of fighting [with the government]. Then we were allowed to inspect only one computer in one box. The other boxes were not allowed to be opened."

Another inspection charade involved GPS equipment supposedly going to an agricultural project on flood control. "They didn't allow us for 3 1/2 months to see the GPSs that we gave them," Mr. Shkurtaj says.

Finally, he says, "they took us to the outskirts of Pyongyang, to an empty building, completely empty--no desk, no chairs, no nothing. We come in and go to the first floor. Empty. We go to the second floor. Empty. On the last door of the second floor, we enter. There is only one desk in the middle of the room, and on the desk are the GPS devices that we provided. Now, you're telling me we are providing GPS devices for an empty building, without people working inside?"

During the years he worked for UNDP in Pyongyang, Mr. Shkurtaj says he filed numerous reports to his superiors but got nowhere. Finally, with several months to go in his tour of duty in North Korea, he was recalled to New York.
He says that David Lockwood, deputy assistant administrator of the UNDP, told him, "Look, it would be good for your future if you come to New York and from here we'll send you somewhere else in the world. But you have rocked the boat too much right now and you should leave for your own good."

Mr. Shkurtaj's last day in North Korea was Sept. 26, 2006. When his contract came up for renewal in March--the vast majority of U.N. employees operate under work contracts--he was told that after 13 years of employment at UNDP his services would no longer be needed.

A few months before his dismissal, he received an "outstanding" rating in his annual review, dated Dec. 14, 2006, and signed by Romulo Garcia, chief of the Northeast Asia and Mekong Division. Mr. Garcia described Mr. Shkurtaj as "quick, professional, highly competent, creative, hard working and dedicated."

Mr. Shkurtaj has filed a complaint with the U.N. Ethics Office, asking for reinstatement under the U.N. whistleblower protection policy. Yesterday Rep. Ilena Ros-Lehtinen, ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, wrote U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon asking him to look into Mr. Shkurtaj's dismissal. His case "appears to be a fundamental test of the UN's whistleblower protection policy, one of the touted hallmarks of internal U.N. reform in recent years," she writes. "It is also highly relevant to whether UNDP has adequately internalized the need for increased transparency and accountability." Her request followed a similar letter to Mr. Ban last week from Sen. Norman Coleman, asking that Mr. Shkurtaj be accorded whistleblower protection.

Meanwhile, Mr. Shkurtaj has sent his wife and two children home to Italy--he is an Italian citizen--and is fast depleting his savings. He says he is "living like a bum" in New York.

Ms. Kirkpatrick is a deputy editor of The Wall Street Journal's editorial page.
29824  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: July 08, 2007, 07:19:42 AM

Iran's Proxy War
Tehran is on the offensive against us throughout the Middle East. Will Congress respond?

Friday, July 6, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Earlier this week, the U.S. military made public new and disturbing information about the proxy war that Iran is waging against American soldiers and our allies in Iraq.

According to Brig. Gen. Kevin Bergner, the U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, the Iranian government has been using the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah to train and organize Iraqi extremists, who are responsible in turn for the murder of American service members.

Gen. Bergner also revealed that the Quds Force--a special unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps whose mission is to finance, arm and equip foreign Islamist terrorist movements--has taken groups of up to 60 Iraqi insurgents at a time and brought them to three camps near Tehran, where they have received instruction in the use of mortars, rockets, improvised explosive devices and other deadly tools of guerrilla warfare that they use against our troops. Iran has also funded its Iraqi proxies generously, to the tune of $3 million a month.

Based on the interrogation of captured extremist leaders--including a 24-year veteran of Hezbollah, apparently dispatched to Iraq by his patrons in Tehran--Gen. Bergner also reported on Monday that the U.S. military has concluded that "the senior leadership" in Iran is aware of these terrorist activities. He said it is "hard to imagine" Ayatollah Ali Khamenei--Iran's supreme leader--does not know of them.

These latest revelations should be a painful wakeup call to the American people, and to the U.S. Congress. They also expand on a steady stream of public statements over the past six months by David Petraeus, the commanding general of our coalition in Iraq, as well as other senior American military and civilian officials about Iran's hostile and violent role in Iraq. In February, for instance, the U.S. military stated that forensic evidence has implicated Iran in the death of at least 170 U.S. soldiers.
Iran's actions in Iraq fit a larger pattern of expansionist, extremist behavior across the Middle East today. In addition to sponsoring insurgents in Iraq, Tehran is training, funding and equipping radical Islamist groups in Lebanon, Palestine and Afghanistan--where the Taliban now appear to be receiving Iranian help in their war against the government of President Hamid Karzai and its NATO defenders.

While some will no doubt claim that Iran is only attacking U.S. soldiers in Iraq because they are deployed there--and that the solution, therefore, is to withdraw them--Iran's parallel proxy attacks against moderate Palestinians, Afghans and Lebanese directly rebut such claims.

Iran is acting aggressively and consistently to undermine moderate regimes in the Middle East, establish itself as the dominant regional power and reshape the region in its own ideological image. The involvement of Hezbollah in Iraq, just revealed by Gen. Bergner, illustrates precisely how interconnected are the different threats and challenges we face in the region. The fanatical government of Iran is the common denominator that links them together.

No responsible leader in Washington desires conflict with Iran. But every leader has a responsibility to acknowledge the evidence that the U.S. military has now put before us: The Iranian government, by its actions, has all but declared war on us and our allies in the Middle East.

America now has a solemn responsibility to utilize the instruments of our national power to convince Tehran to change its behavior, including the immediate cessation of its training and equipping extremists who are killing our troops.

Most of this work must be done by our diplomats, military and intelligence operatives in the field. But Iran's increasingly brazen behavior also presents a test of our political leadership here at home. When Congress reconvenes next week, all of us who are privileged to serve there should set aside whatever partisan or ideological differences divide us to send a clear, strong and unified message to Tehran that it must stop everything it is doing to bring about the death of American service members in Iraq.

It is of course everyone's hope that diplomacy alone can achieve this goal. Iran's activities inside Iraq were the central issue raised by the U.S. ambassador to Iraq in his historic meeting with Iranian representatives in Baghdad this May. However, as Gen. Bergner said on Monday, "There does not seem to be any follow-through on the commitments that Iran has made to work with Iraq in addressing the destabilizing security issues here." The fact is, any diplomacy with Iran is more likely to be effective if it is backed by a credible threat of force--credible in the dual sense that we mean it, and the Iranians believe it.

Our objective here is deterrence. The fanatical regime in Tehran has concluded that it can use proxies to strike at us and our friends in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Palestine without fear of retaliation. It is time to restore that fear, and to inject greater doubt into the decision-making of Iranian leaders about the risks they are now running.
I hope the new revelations about Iran's behavior will also temper the enthusiasm of some of those in Congress who are advocating the immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. Iran's purpose in sponsoring attacks on American soldiers, after all, is clear: It hopes to push the U.S. out of Iraq and Afghanistan, so that its proxies can then dominate these states. Tehran knows that an American retreat under fire would send an unmistakable message throughout the region that Iran is on the rise and America is on the run. That would be a disaster for the region and the U.S.

The threat posed by Iran to our soldiers' lives, our security as a nation and our allies in the Middle East is a truth that cannot be wished or waved away. It must be confronted head-on. The regime in Iran is betting that our political disunity in Washington will constrain us in responding to its attacks. For the sake of our nation's security, we must unite and prove them wrong.

Mr. Lieberman is an Independent Democratic senator from Connecticut.
29825  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: July 08, 2007, 07:13:57 AM

One of Iraq's most controversial politicians offers thoughts on the "surge," Iran and where we go from here.
Saturday, July 7, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

BAGHDAD--"these people need help. The army must help them more. The government must help them more. They have been fighting alone against a vicious enemy, fighting for all of us to make our country safe."

I'm in Diyala province, watching Ahmed Chalabi shouting into a TV camera over the sound of mortar shells. He's imploring the Iraqi state to support tribesmen fighting off al Qaeda attacks such as the one we're now experiencing.

In the end our entourage, which had driven from Baghdad for lunch with local leaders, escaped unharmed. But the episode showed--as so many events in his turbulent past few years have--that Mr. Chalabi is hardly the transient opportunist that his detractors at the State Department, CIA and on the antiwar left once made him out to be. He's still in Iraq, despite long ago losing whatever American support he once had and failing to win a seat in the last parliamentary election. (He was deputy prime minister in Iraq's first elected government.) And almost alone among the Iraqi political figures, he not only lives but travels widely outside the Green Zone.

Last month, I spent some days in Mr. Chalabi's company in and out of the capital, and at his residence in a well-fortified warren of cul-de-sacs in the wealthy, but dangerous, Mansour district. Though he's not in the current Maliki government, he is still courted by the state and given key appointments. He heads up the De-Baathification program and the Committee for Public Support of the "surge," which engages in reconciliation activities like reopening Sunni mosques in Shiite neighborhoods. Community leaders from all sides troop through his doors daily.

Returning residents back to their purged neighborhoods, Mr. Chalabi says, "is a slow process because people have to learn to trust each other all over again. . . . They're often glad to see their old neighbor again, and it can be very emotional and moving. But underneath it you can't be sure because, after all, they've had brothers or fathers killed, perhaps by people in their neighborhood--reconciliation takes time."

On one occasion, in the post-prayer evening hours, we visited the football-field sized mosque complex of Khadimiya in Baghdad. It is one of Iraq's top Shiite holy sites decorated intricately with floral tiling and cut-mirror facades. Wearing his trademark suit and tie, Mr. Chalabi was continuously mobbed by crowds of women and children, astonished and delighted that a famous official should appear in public and lend an ear to their complaints. Not an hour before, a motorbike-borne suicide bomber had been disarmed nearby.

Mr. Chalabi would appear to be the nearest thing Iraqis currently possess to a genuine walk-and-talk democratic politician, one who will risk life and limb to embody the principle personally. In fact, the U.S.'s main error in Iraq, according to Mr. Chalabi, has been trying to micromanage the development of Iraqi politics. "The U.S. should make a choice," he says, "either to accept full democracy and live with the consequences or undertake full control. They keep trying to 'give local initiatives a boost' instead of letting Iraqi democracy succeed on its own. When you make your own mistakes, you learn. When outsiders make them, unfortunately, they get treated as the enemy."
His recounting of post-war Iraqi history--which began with the high-handed regency of L. Paul Bremer and then the appointed Iraqi government of Ayad Allawi--returns again and again to this point.

"The problems began when the U.S. declared an official occupation," he says. "We told the U.S. not to have an occupation, that it would be a disaster. We never intended that. We wanted the Iraqis to run their own affairs, but we were not trusted to do that. Two years ahead of time, we asked [the U.S.] for a 10,000 man multiethnic military police force of Iraqis to be trained. . . . We were refused."

Mr. Chalabi continues: "We could have prevented the looting and the disbanding of the army. We planned to deploy in front of the army barracks, to disarm the soldiers and keep them in their barracks and tell them 'we are your brothers. Help us run the country, keep order and have democracy.' We intended to pay them, and absorb them selectively into our ranks. We had good intelligence. We knew who was who. Look at it now. The U.S. has had six intelligence chiefs since the war started. They keep changing. Do the allies get any useful intelligence?"

With such views, Mr. Chalabi quickly added parts of the Bush administration to his enemies on the antiwar left. Relations became so strained during the Bremer-era that on May 20, 2004, U.S. soldiers raided his offices in Baghdad. He was also accused of leaking intelligence to Iranian operatives inside Iraq to the effect that the U.S. had broken their communication codes. From Mr. Chalabi's side the accusation meets with a ready dismissal: "It's strange that the Iranians then used the same code to inform Tehran of the fact."
But Mr. Chalabi remains unrepentant in his criticism of what he calls "elementary mistakes" by the U.S., which he believes would not have happened if Iraqis had run things from the start. "We always said, keep the allied military here for a while, but not as part of an occupation government--that was the point. . . . When the president said 'Mission Accomplished' he should have followed through and handed civilian government over to Iraqis, as was originally agreed."

So much for the past. Does he think the "surge" will succeed? "Not if it's just a military action," he says. "It's intended as a political initiative backed by military force. It creates the opportunity for political initiatives to work but they must be pursued. It won't work forever without underlying political agreements. If Sadr City stayed quiet for some months, it's because there was a political rapprochement and Moqtada al Sadr agreed to rein in his militia. But paradoxically, the overall political scene may not clarify while the U.S. is too engaged--all sides are waiting for the real Iraq to emerge from underneath the U.S. shadow. Only when they have to face each other directly will Iraqis make their deals."

Mr. Chalabi's hardheaded views on the allied occupation have an implicit flipside: that some beneficent outcome can still be shaped from the chaos, and that Iraq can gain stability even (or especially) without U.S. ballast. Doesn't he think, as most outside commentators do, that a U.S. withdrawal will create an all-out regional conflict, sucking in nearby countries? "I'd say it's possible but not probable. Look at everyone who works for me, from all sides of Iraqi society. People want peace. They want to go back to their homes. If the U.S. leaves, the present government will fall and there will be elections quickly." To Mr. Chalabi's thinking, this will improve things because Iraqis will choose their real leaders, and they will be accountable to the electorate for delivering peace and practical benefits such as electricity and water.

"Still, in the end," he says, "U.S. policy in Iraq will not be determined by the interests of Iraqis but by U.S. strategic interests and by U.S. domestic pressures. The Iraqi conflict's domestic unpopularity will drive America's decisions on its presence here. In my view, being constructive in preventing conflict is the surest way for the U.S. to exercise positive influence in the region. Iraq is a very strategic country. It borders six countries including the Gulf, so it's in U.S. interests to keep it stable and to keep influence in it."

After listening to Mr. Chalabi over time, one learns how to hear the meaning in his more cautious phrases. By the "real Iraq" he likely means the majority, Shiite-dominated Iraq. He talks about how "the Sunnis have lost the battle for Baghdad," and that the Arab states, having incited them to fight, ultimately abandoned them in ways comparable to the Palestinian conflicts with Israel. He believes that the Sunnis will ultimately face reality and make accommodation with fellow Iraqis once they accept that they are an even smaller minority than previously thought--some 80% Shiite to 20% Sunni in Baghdad by his estimates.
This perhaps is what Mr. Chalabi means by "letting Iraqi democracy succeed"--that is, letting the sheer weight of numbers dictate. "Being constructive in preventing conflict" likely refers to the U.S. reining in Arab support of Sunni Baathists and al Qaeda in Iraq.

Mr. Chalabi has had a lifelong feud with Baathists and one feels that he regards their car bombs as more dangerous and destructive to Iraq's future than the Shiite militias. Still, he defends his position as evenhanded. "With Baathists, it's more complicated than Sunni vs. Shiite," he says. "There were more Shiite than Sunni Baathists. The Shiites hate them, whereas in Sunni areas they're quite popular." In his de-Baathification program, he has, he says, returned most of the Baathists either to their jobs or pensions. "There were some 1.2 million party members, and we have reintegrated all but some 30,000, and those are the hardcore ones, and only 6,000 of those don't have their pensions. [The U.S.] now wants us to return all the Baathists to their former positions or comparable ones, but with the old military and security personnel, that's impossible. They're too hated. We just can't do it."

It's dangerous, Mr. Chalabi believes, even to return Sunni Baathists to certain key strategic posts such as those responsible for guarding electricity plants. He draws a rough 'S'-shaped diagram and says, "Saddam positioned electric plants around Baghdad in that configuration. The very people he put in charge of protecting them are now wrecking them to choke the city. That's one reason why we don't have electricity."

Most interesting perhaps are Mr. Chalabi's views on Iran, which differ substantially from the alarm expressed by many of his current and former American backers. "The influence of Iran on Iraq is inevitable," he says. "It's been there for centuries. They supported the anti-Saddam resistance for years. They were the first to accept trade agreements, transit rights, electricity linkups and the like with the new Iraqi government. Some 90% of Iraq's population lives within 100 miles of Iran. We have an enormous land border in common and it's the only country that ships goods to us unhindered."
"I understand the U.S. has worries about Iranian power so here's a solution," he continues. "Let us quantify and monitor the amount of Iranian influence: Let's make an agreement on how much trade, how much electricity, how many trucks and so on can come through. Iraq needs as many friends as possible and nobody wants to be dependent on one source of help. Everything can be worked out. We will have to in the end anyway. What choice is there?"

Mr. Kaylan is a writer living in New York.
29826  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: July 08, 2007, 06:40:59 AM
U.S. Aborted Raid on Qaeda Chiefs in Pakistan in ’05
NY Times
Published: July 8, 2007
WASHINGTON, July 7 — A secret military operation in early 2005 to capture senior members of Al Qaeda in Pakistan’s tribal areas was aborted at the last minute after top Bush administration officials decided it was too risky and could jeopardize relations with Pakistan, according to intelligence and military officials.

The target was a meeting of Qaeda leaders that intelligence officials thought included Ayman al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden’s top deputy and the man believed to run the terrorist group’s operations.

But the mission was called off after Donald H. Rumsfeld, then the defense secretary, rejected an 11th-hour appeal by Porter J. Goss, then the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, officials said. Members of a Navy Seals unit in parachute gear had already boarded C-130 cargo planes in Afghanistan when the mission was canceled, said a former senior intelligence official involved in the planning.

Mr. Rumsfeld decided that the operation, which had ballooned from a small number of military personnel and C.I.A. operatives to several hundred, was cumbersome and put too many American lives at risk, the current and former officials said. He was also concerned that it could cause a rift with Pakistan, an often reluctant ally that has barred the American military from operating in its tribal areas, the officials said.

The decision to halt the planned “snatch and grab” operation frustrated some top intelligence officials and members of the military’s secret Special Operations units, who say the United States missed a significant opportunity to try to capture senior members of Al Qaeda.

Their frustration has only grown over the past two years, they said, as Al Qaeda has improved its abilities to plan global attacks and build new training compounds in Pakistan’s tribal areas, which have become virtual havens for the terrorist network.

In recent months, the White House has become increasingly irritated with Pakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, for his inaction on the growing threat of the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

About a dozen current and former military and intelligence officials were interviewed for this article, all of whom requested anonymity because the planned 2005 mission remained classified.

Spokesmen for the Pentagon, the C.I.A. and the White House declined to comment. It is unclear whether President Bush was informed about the planned operation.

The officials acknowledge that they are not certain that Mr. Zawahri attended the 2005 meeting in North Waziristan, a mountainous province just miles from the Afghan border. But they said that the United States had communications intercepts that tipped them off to the meeting, and that intelligence officials had unusually high confidence that Mr. Zawahri was there.

Months later, in early May 2005, the C.I.A. launched a missile from a remotely piloted Predator drone, killing Haitham al-Yemeni, a senior Qaeda figure whom the C.I.A. had tracked since the meeting.

It has long been known that C.I.A. operatives conduct counterterrorism missions in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Details of the aborted 2005 operation provide a glimpse into the Bush administration’s internal negotiations over whether to take unilateral military action in Pakistan, where General Musharraf’s fragile government is under pressure from dissidents who object to any cooperation with the United States.

Pentagon officials familiar with covert operations said that planners had to consider the political and human risks of undertaking a military campaign in a sovereign country, even in an area like Pakistan’s tribal lands, where the government has only tenuous control. Even with its shortcomings, Pakistan has been a vital American ally since the Sept. 11 attacks, and the militaries of the two countries have close ties.

The Pentagon officials said tension was inherent in any decision to approve such a mission: a smaller military footprint allows a better chance of a mission going undetected, but it also exposes the units to greater risk of being killed or captured.

Officials said one reason Mr. Rumsfeld called off the 2005 operation was that the number of troops involved in the mission had grown to several hundred, including Army Rangers, members of the Navy Seals and C.I.A. operatives, and he determined that the United States could no longer carry out the mission without General Musharraf’s permission. It is unlikely that the Pakistani president would have approved an operation of that size, officials said.

Some outside experts said American counterterrorism operations had been hamstrung because of concerns about General Musharraf’s shaky government.

“The reluctance to take risk or jeopardize our political relationship with Musharraf may well account for the fact that five and half years after 9/11 we are still trying to run bin Laden and Zawahri to ground,” said Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert at Georgetown University.

Those political considerations have created resentment among some members of the military’s Special Operations forces.

Page 2 of 2)

“The Special Operations guys are tearing their hair out at the highest levels,” said a former Bush administration official with close ties to those troops. While they have not received good intelligence on the whereabouts of top Qaeda members recently, he said, they say they believe they have sometimes had useful information on lower-level figures.

“There is a degree of frustration that is off the charts, because they are looking at targets on a daily basis and can’t move against them,” he said.

In early 2005, after learning about the Qaeda meeting, the military developed a plan for a small Navy Seals unit to parachute into Pakistan to carry out a quick operation, former officials said.

But as the operation moved up the military chain of command, officials said, various planners bulked up the force’s size to provide security for the Special Operations forces.

“The whole thing turned into the invasion of Pakistan,” said the former senior intelligence official involved in the planning. Still, he said he thought the mission was worth the risk. “We were frustrated because we wanted to take a shot,” he said.

Several former officials interviewed said the operation was not the only occasion since the Sept. 11 attacks that plans were developed to use a large American military force in Pakistan. It is unclear whether any of those missions have been executed.

Some of the military and intelligence officials familiar with the 2005 events say it showed a rift between operators in the field and a military bureaucracy that has still not effectively adapted to hunt for global terrorists, moving too cautiously to use Special Operations troops against terrorist targets.

That criticism has echoes of the risk aversion that the officials said pervaded efforts against Al Qaeda during the Clinton administration, when missions to use American troops to capture or kill Mr. bin Laden in Afghanistan were never executed because they were considered too perilous, risked killing civilians or were based on inadequate intelligence. Rather than sending in ground troops, the Clinton White House instead chose to fire cruise missiles in what became failed attempts to kill Mr. bin Laden and his deputies — a tactic Mr. Bush criticized shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Since then, the C.I.A. has launched missiles from Predator aircraft in the tribal areas several times, with varying degrees of success. Intelligence officials say they believe that in January 2006, an airstrike narrowly missed killing Mr. Zawahri, who hours earlier had attended a dinner in Damadola, a Pakistani village.

General Musharraf cast his lot with the Bush administration in the hunt for Al Qaeda after the 2001 attacks, and he has periodically ordered Pakistan’s military to conduct counterterrorism missions in the tribal areas, provoking fierce resistance there. But in recent months he has pulled back, prompting Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney to issue stern warnings in private that he risked losing American aid if he did not step up efforts against Al Qaeda, senior administration officials have said.

Officials said that mid-2005 was a period when they were gathering good intelligence about Al Qaeda’s leaders in Pakistan’s tribal areas. By the next year, however, the White House had become frustrated by the lack of progress in the hunt for Mr. bin Laden and Mr. Zawahri.

In early 2006, President Bush ordered a “surge” of dozens of C.I.A. agents to Pakistan, hoping that an influx of intelligence operatives would lead to better information, officials said. But that has brought the United States no closer to locating Al Qaeda’s top two leaders. The latest message from them came this week, in a new tape in which Mr. Zawahri urged Iraqis and Muslims around the world to show more support for Islamist insurgents in Iraq.

In his recently published memoir, George J. Tenet, the former C.I.A. director, said the intelligence about Mr. bin Laden’s whereabouts during the Clinton years was similarly sparse. The information was usually only at the “50-60% confidence level,” he wrote, not sufficient to justify American military action.

“As much as we all wanted Bin Ladin dead, the use of force by a superpower requires information, discipline, and time,” Mr. Tenet wrote. “We rarely had the information in sufficient quantities or the time to evaluate and act on it.”
29827  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Palo Canario on: July 08, 2007, 06:36:05 AM

Gracias por la informacion sobre Alfonso Acosta, los URLs de varios estilos, y la informacion sobre la condiciones actuales de varios estilos en Tenerife.

Hablando de al posible desaparacion de varios estilos, esto tambien es una dinamica que tambien se ve con unos de los estilos Filipinos.  Si el lider del sistema guarda sus secretos demasiado, el sistema y sus conocimientos mueren.

Crafty Dog

PD:  He aqui un hilo viejo sobre palo canario  Esta' en ingles principalmente.
29828  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mil-blogs: Michael Yon and others (support our troops) on: July 08, 2007, 06:19:00 AM
Friday, July 06, 2007

The Zawahiri Tape

Power Line thinks al-Qaeda is having a rough time of it, and Ayman al-Zawahiri's video, which describes their travails in Iraq and elsewhere is clear proof. The Zawahiri video with subtitles is shown. The video is worth watching in detail to get more than a superficial sense of Zawahiri's message. Here was how I heard it:
Zawahiri reminds his listeners of the establishment of the Caliphate-in-exile "which everybody applauded"; but bitterly notes that some of those who once clapped now opposed the Islamic State of Iraq "because it is not empowered", which I can only take to mean "in declining fortune". But never fear, he now claims, the "wind is blowing against Washington". Then he digresses and excoriates the Saudis, contrasting the way they sent the youth for Jihad into Afghanistan and but now have forbidden young men to go into Iraq; and who Zawahiri accuses of working tirelessly on behalf of the Americans to deliver Muslim lands into the hands of the Jew! He then switches to a audio clip from a commander who asks why he is getting no reinforcements, why Muslim scholars are hanging back from endorsing their struggle. At this point in watching the video, I realized that although the idea of the "moderate Muslim" may be laughed to scorn by conservatives, the concept was real to Zawahiri at least, as a bitter and galling reality. He seemed disappointed that the Ummah was not prepared to go as far as he.

The degree of despair can be gathered from the video's choice of metaphor. The Al-Qaeda tape compared the Muslim debates over whether or to follow it's lead in the Jihad to the idle discussions within Constantinople over how many devils could stand on the tip of a pin as the Muslims were battering the walls with catapaults -- except this time the roles were reversed. It was the hated Americans were doing the battering and the bickering Muslims who were counting the devils upon the pins. Even allowing for hyperbole, the choice of metaphor does little to convey confidence.

His commander exclaims "May Allah pluck your eyes out if you don't come an join the Jihad!". Quite a line that. It might be that al-Qaeda has been missing its recruitment targets lately and this video is the equivalent of the America's "Army Strong" pitch, except in this case it is more like Jihad On It's Last Legs.

Zawahiri urges the "youth" to hurry to Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Palestine and the Atlas Mountains. Support through propaganda (books and cassettes) are not enough. What he needs are sandals on the ground.

As to his boys in Iraq being too "unempowered" for recognition, Zawahiri ask bristlingly whether the Islamic State of Iraq could be any weaker than the Jihadis in Gaza, who only exists he says, at the sufferance of Israel and who commute to the West Bank only after consenting to a search? He asks if those semi-prisoners of Israel can be a government, why can't his boys in Iraq be given the same standing? (These passages were immensely revealing, because they frankly conveyed the fact that despite their bluster, and the media's amplification of it, the bald truth was that mighty Hamas and Fatah lived only because Israel let them. Whether the Israeli hand was stayed from decency or fear of Western political correctness is an open question, but clearly not out of a fear for Palestinian firepower, which Zawahiri can hardly conceal his contempt for.

Indeed, Zawahiri goes on so long and hard against Palestine and Hamas that I strongly suspect he dislikes the spotlight on Gaza and the West Bank because, were he frank enough to admit it, it is a competitor for resources for his own project, the Islamic State of Iraq. Shorn of his holy Joe attitude, and Koranic pretensions, what Zawahiri is actually talking about is money, just like a used car salesman. The message is gimme, gimme! This is a better model than that Gaza jalopy you've paid so much for. Gimme.

Zawahiri then goes and declares how pure the al-Qaeda in Iraq is compared to Hamas, how unstained by innocent blood. He says this with a straight face, but his whiskers have me at a disadvantage. Then having denied any misdeeds, he makes the extraordinary offer to submit the Caliphate's leaders and men to Muslim judicial proceedings -- some kind of Islamic International Criminal Court -- strange that the Brussel's ICC's writ runs so short that Zawahiri doesn't even consider it from across the Mediterranean Sea. And my guess on hearing these words is that Zawahiri is feeling the heat, despite his disclaimers of innocence and heading off the complaints about al-Qaeda's bloody tactics in Iraq. He is saying "I promise to cooperate fully with any investigation". That would be the way it would be phrased in Washington. Then he claims is being wronged by the Mainstream Media, which reserves favorable coverage for those bozos Hamas when they are thugs, while his pure warriors are depicted as baby-killers by ignorant correspondents.

Zawahiri's explains that al-Qaeda's counterattacked in Iraq was to save it from the defeat which overtook Afghanistan. He says so plainly. He saw it -- initially at least -- as fundamentally defensive in character; a blocking action to an imminent American threat. And in my opinion, his great fortune lay in that Iraq was so close, to the sources of his Arabian manpower pool that he was able generate a much greater force than has been possible in Afghanistan. And yet despite the advantage of fighting in the heart of the Arab World he was running out of recruits, which is the entire point of his whole video. Maybe the American strategy of turning the Sunnis against the al-Qaeda has had international repercussions on his recruiting. Word is filtering back to other Arab countries that al-Qaeda is the enemy; that it's not all it was cracked up to be when it could be viewed from the romantic distance of Afghanistan. Up close it was ugly. In an indirect way the battlefield has produced what diplomacy was supposed to and could not. It has alienated al-Qaeda from some of its Sunni base. If I am right, it's a thunderclap. And I suspect I am right because right aferward Zawahiri waxes poetic on the great "conquests" of Islam. The attacks on the embassies, on the USS Cole. September 11. Attacks in Europe. But he has no victories to offer after that. Except one. Political victories in America. He offers a clip from Thomas Kean saying that America is facing a tough challenge as if to underscore how the winds are now turning against Washington, though the winds blow from Washington itself. Zawahiri then plays clips asserting that al-Qaeda has grown to Pan-Islamic power, with cells everywhere, even in London. (Interestingly enough, one of the reasons his cited experts give for al-Qaeda's increasing strength "is not just American policy" but the repressive policies of Arab governments. The same people our "realists" want us to rely upon once we withdraw from Iraq.) His cited experts say that if al-Qaeda can drive America from Iraq then not only will al-Qaeda's stock rise but those of Arab governments will correspondingly decline. But he fears those governments still and in his last statements warns of cryptic dangers "outside of Iraq", to pefidies of all types and I wonder whether he meant Iran.

I think anyone who has the time should watch the video in its entirety. Especially Senators, though I doubt they have the time. Zawahiri is not a man who exudes the air of a winner. The entire 23 minute segment shows a man who seeking comfort from past glories, is agonizing over a quagmire, worried he is losing international support, and whose army is breaking down from overstretch.
29829  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Can Infidels be Innocents? on: July 07, 2007, 10:09:38 AM

Daniel Pipes' Weblog

Can Infidels be Innocents?
August 7, 2005

Three so-called fatwas (even a novice in Islam knows they do not fulfill the definition of a fatwa, which has to be written by a Islamic jurisprudent in response to a specific query) came out in July condemning the 7/7 attacks in London.

British Muslim Forum: "Islam strictly, strongly and severely condemns the use of violence and the destruction of innocent lives." (July 18, 2005)
120 Canadian imams: "Any one who claims to be a Muslim and participates in any way in the taking of innocent life is betraying the very spirit and letter of Islam." (July 21, 2005)
Fiqh Council of North America: "Islam strictly condemns religious extremism and the use of violence against innocent lives." (July 28, 2005)
Non-Muslims can be forgiven if they assume the reference to "innocent lives" includes those traveling on the Underground and bus lines in London earlier in the month. But the term "innocent lives" can be much more restricted in application, as a fascinating article in today's Sunday Times (London) makes clear.

Titled "Undercover in the academy of hatred," it is based on the covert research by Ali Hussain of the newspaper's Insight team. Ali joined the Saviour Sect in June, a few weeks before the 7/7 bombings and took along his tape recorder. What he heard is hair-raising – it is imperative for Muslims to "instil terror into the hearts of the kuffar," "I am a terrorist. As a Muslim, of course I am a terrorist," "They will build tall buildings and we will bring them down," the bombings were "a good start" and Allah should "bless those involved"

Omar Bakri Mohammed, leader of the Saviour Sect.
He also heard two speakers discuss whom they consider to be innocent.
Zachariah, referring to the London passengers: "They're kuffar [infidels, kafirs]. They're not people who are innocent. The people who are innocent are the people who are with us or those who are living under the Islamic state."
Omar Bakri Mohammed, the sect's leader, who on July 20 publicly condemned the deaths of "innocents," but at the Selby Centre in Wood Green, north London, on July 22 referred to the 7/7 bombers as the "fantastic four" and explained that his grief for the "innocent" applied only to Muslims. "Yes I condemn killing any innocent people, but not any kuffar."

Comments: (1) Muslim statements condemning the killing of "innocents" cannot be taken at face value but must be probed to find out who exactly are considered innocent and who not. In brief, Can infidels be innocents?

(2) For other assessments of the U.S. "fatwa," see the critiques of Abul Kasem, Yehudit Barsky, Steven Emerson, Christopher Orlet, Steven Stalinsky, and the United American Committee, as well as the interesting quotations in an Associated Press report. See the fine analysis of the Canadian statement by David Ouellette.

(3) These documents fit a pattern of dissembling by Islamist organizations; for another example, see "CAIR's Phony Petition." (August 7, 2005)

Anjum Chaudri (a.k.a. Anjem Choudhury)
Aug. 10, 2005 update: Anjum Chaudri, a follower of Omar Bakri Mohammed and UK leader of the radical al Muhajiroun, appeared on the BBC program HARDtalk where the following exchange took place (at 4:20 minutes) with the host, Stephen Sackur:

Sackur: I just wonder why you won't condemn it when your own leader, Omar Bakri, said quite simply, "I condemn the killing of innocent people," on the 20th of July. Why won't you say what he said?

Chaudri: No, at the end of the day innocent people - when we say innocent people we mean Muslims. As far as non-Muslims are concerned, they have not accepted Islam, and as far as we are concerned, that is a crime against God.

Sackur: I want to be clear about what you are saying – this is very important – you are saying that only Muslims can count as innocent people?

Chaudri: As far as far as Muslims are concerned , you are innocent if you are a Muslim – then you are innocent in the eyes of God. If you are a non-Muslim, then you are guilty of not believing in God.

Comment: "When we say innocent people we mean Muslims" – one cannot put it more clearly or starkly than that.

Aug. 30, 2005 update: In a bellicose interview in Lebanon (where he may feel he has nothing to lose in being more candid), Omar Bakri Mohammed publicly came close to confirming the above sentiments. He was questioned by Sanaa al Jack of Ash-Sharq al-Awsat:

(Q) you said that you are against killing innocent people and have nothing to do with the Al-Qaeda Organization. Now you are calling for jihad. How do you explain your position?

(A) I have often repeated that I am against the killing of innocent people anywhere in the world but who are the innocent? I keep the answer to myself.

Q) Who do you define as innocent?

(A) The innocent people are specified by Islam. I denounce killing innocent people regardless of who kills them. However, who are the innocent? I do not have to explain this issue.
(Q) Does this mean that you support killing those whom you consider guilty and those whom Islam as you understand it describes as not innocent?

(A) I support what the Sunni Muslim youths in Lebanon believe in.

(Q) What about killing in general?

(A) Sister, I do not say that I support killing in general. You said that.

(Q) But you alluded to a classification of innocent people. Does this mean that you support jihad in certain areas because of things that are being done against Islam?

(A) Do you think that the Palestinian resistance is not right?

(Q) I am not giving an opinion, I am asking about your point of view.

(A) I am against killing innocent people and I repeat this everywhere. This is my personal position.

Sep. 15, 2005 update: A Pakistani veteran of the jihad, Khalid Khawaja, explains his understanding of "innocents" this way to Steward Bell (as quoted in Bell's new book, The Martyr's Oath, p. 81): "We don't believe in killing innocent people but we would certainly like to send you into the Stone Age the same way you have sent us into the Stone Age."

Salah Sultan on Al-Risala TV
May 19, 2006 update: MEMRI reveals today that Salah Sultan, a signatory of the above Fiqh Council of North America fatwa and a mainstay of the Islamist establishment in the United States, spoke two days ago on Al-Risala TV channel, where he blamed 9/11 on the U.S. government ("The entire thing was of a large scale and was planned within the U.S., in order to enable the U.S. to control and terrorize the entire world"). He also praised Abd Al-Majid Al-Zindani ("he is known worldwide for his refinement, virtue, and broad horizons"), although the U.S. government has categorized Al-Zindani as a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist" because of his loyalty to Osama bin Laden and his support of Al-Qaeda.
29830  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: July 07, 2007, 09:31:42 AM
Buz, GM et al:

The Parker case out of the DC circuit is highly significant and looks like to go to the SCt.  Nice point about the same phrase in the 4th GM!  I had not seen it made before and will be using it.   Thank you!
29831  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: July 07, 2007, 09:27:54 AM
This is a good question I think.

Actually there are two issues here: 

a) Illegal immigration and defending our borders
b) What should the overall level of immigration be? (and what should the criteria for admission be?)

IMHO Until we deal with a) our opinions on b) are irrelevant. 

On the whole IMHO immigration has been a source of strength for America. 

I think the emphasis by many on the massive immigration of Mexicans is because, unlike those immigrating from other parts of the world, they do not have to commit 100% to America because of the nature of our border with Mexico.

NY Times editorial:

Immigration Malpractice
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Published: July 7, 2007
The prickliness and glacial ineptitude of the immigration system is old news to millions of would-be Americans. Immigrants who play by the rules know that the rules are stringent, arbitrary, expensive and very time-consuming. But even the most seasoned citizens-in-waiting were stunned by the nasty bait-and-switch the federal bureaucracy pulled on them this month. After encouraging thousands of highly skilled workers to apply for green cards, the government snatched the opportunity away.

The tease came in a bulletin issued by the State Department in June announcing that green cards for a wide range of skilled workers would be available to those who filed by July 2. That prompted untold numbers of doctors, medical technicians and other professionals, many of whom have lived here with their families for years, to assemble little mountains of paper. They got certified records and sponsorship documents, paid for medical exams and lawyers and sent their applications in. Many canceled vacations to be in the United States when their applications arrived, as the law requires.

Then they learned that the hope was effectively a hoax. The State Department had issued the bulletin to prod Citizenship and Immigration Services, the bureaucracy that handles immigration applications, to get cracking on processing them. The agency is notorious for fainting over paperwork — 182,694 green cards have been squandered since 2000 because it did not process them in time. That bureaucratic travesty is a tragedy, since the annual supply of green cards is capped by law, and the demand chronically outstrips supply. The State Department said it put out the bulletin to ensure that every available green card would be used this time.

After working through the weekend, the citizenship agency processed tens of thousands of applications. On Monday, the State Department announced that all 140,000 employment-based green cards had been used and no applications would be accepted.

Citizenship and Immigration Services, the definition of a hangdog bureaucracy, says the law forbids it to accept the applications. The American Immigration Lawyers Association says this interpretation is rubbish. It is preparing a class-action lawsuit to compel the bureaucracy to accept the application wave that it provoked.

The good news is that immigrants’ hope is pretty much unquenchable. Think of the hundreds of people standing in the rain in ponchos at Walt Disney World on Independence Day, joining the flood of new citizens now cresting across the country. They celebrated on July Fourth, but for many of them the magic date is July 30, when a new fee schedule for immigrants takes effect, drastically jacking up the cost of the American dream.

The collapse of immigration reform in the Senate showed the world what America thinks of illegal immigrants — it wants them all to go away. But the federal government, through bureaucratic malpractice, is sending the same message to millions of legal immigrants, too.

29832  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: July 07, 2007, 09:19:28 AM
Stated in non-PC English, the FD means in order to hear one point of view, you have to hear "the other" POV.  Of course there are the additional problems of determining:

a) who gets to represent "the other POV"
b) whether it needs to have a substantial following (of course if it doesn't it willl be litigated that it does not have a following because it hasn't yet had the govt make people listen to it rolleyes )
c) what to do if there are several other POVs-- do we have to listen to all of them?

29833  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Communicating with the Muslim World on: July 07, 2007, 09:10:14 AM
The new British PM has orderd that reference's to terrorism no longer use the world "Muslim".  See e.g. this report from Fox a few days ago:
Report: British Prime Minister Bans Use of 'Muslim' in Connection With Terrorism
Wednesday, July 04, 2007

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has instructed his ministers not to use the word "Muslim" in connection with the recent terrorist incidents in Glasgow and London, the Daily Express reports.

The phrase "War on Terror" has also been dropped in an effort to improve community relations with the nation's Islamic community, the paper reported.

Click here to read the Daily Express report.

“There is clearly a need to strike a consensual tone in relation to all communities across the UK,” a spokesman told the paper. “It is important that the country remains united.”

The move has drawn some criticism from Brown's opponents in the Tory Party.

“I don’t know what purpose is served by this," Tory member Philip Davies told the paper. "I don’t think we need (to) pussyfoot around when talking about ­terrorism.”
 Here's one response to this:

Article published Jul 6, 2007
Call it like it is

Diana West - Q: Who is winning the really important war of ideas — the one between the West and itself? A: Not the side that understands jihad as a foundational Islamic institution.

This is nothing new. From September 11 onward, the yeoman effort of elites has been to wrench "Islam" away from all acts of jihad. But now, particularly after the London and Glasgow attacks, their efforts have achieved a deeper level of denial, and, worse, broader consensus.

The new British prime minister, Gordon Brown, has directed ministers to omit "Muslim" when discussing (Muslim) terrorism. And forget the generic "war on terror"; even that pathetic phrase is off limits. (This has absolutely nothing to do with Mr. Brown's unctuously stated goal to make Britain "the gateway for Islamic finance.") The new Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith (love that "i" ending) refers to British Muslims as "communities" — maybe a prelude to not mentioning them at all. Both have done the "perversion of a great faith" dance to enlightened applause, taking cues from the unpublished "EU Lexicon," which reportedly nixes such "offensive" phrases as "Islamic terrorism."

British literary lions couldn't agree more. Philosopher John Gray and historian Eric Hobsbawm recently said on British television that even the word "Islamist" was "unfair" because "it implied a strong link to Islam." Never mind the link is doctrinally accurate. Better to accommodate mortal threat without identifying its Islamic roots. Instead of defending their nations — for starters, stopping Islamic immigration and, with it, the progression of Islamic law into Western societies — our elites have decided to pretend Islam isn't there at all.

In the media, the effort is misleading to the point of farce. Joel Mowbray, writing at the Powerline blog, noted that the New York Times has identified Britain's Muslim terrorists as "South Asian people" — which, considering Britain's largest South Asian population is Hindu, is beyond absurd. "Diverse group allegedly in British plot," the Associated Press reported, missing that unifying Islamic thread. "All 8 detainees have ties to health service," wrote the Toronto Star, "but genesis of terror scheme still eludes investigators."

If they read Robert Spencer's, the essential daily compendium of jihad and dhimmi news, they might get a clue. But, very ominously, Mr. Spencer's Web site is being blocked by assorted organizations which, according to his readers, continue to provide access to assorted pro-jihad sites. Mr. Spencer reports he's "never received word of so many organizations banning this site all at once." These include the City of Chicago, Bank of America, Fidelity Investments, GE IT, JPMorgan Chase, Defense Finance and Accounting Services and now, a federal employee in Dallas informs him, the federal government.

Reason given? Some Internet providers deem the factually based, meticulous analysis on display at to be "hate speech." This should send Orwellian shivers up society's spine, but, alarmingly, such reactions to jihad analysis are increasingly the norm.

Case in point: Objecting to a recent column characterizing his views as being non-comprehending or indifferent to jihad, Lt. Col. David Kilcullen, senior counterinsurgency adviser to our forces in Iraq, wondered in an e-mail whether I "may not like Muslims, and that's your choice." It was a long e-mail — one of several — but even these few words convey the viewpoint, increasingly prevalent, that discounts the doctrinal centrality of Islam to jihad violence convulsing the world, from Iraq to London. In the mental no-jihad zone (and, in Lt. Col. Kilcullen's case, despite what he calls his "significant personal body count of terrorists and insurgents killed or captured"), only personal animus can explain alarm over the Islamic institution of jihad (let alone dhimmitude). "Alternatively," he wrote, "you may think Islam contains illiberal and dangerous tendencies."

I may think? I do think "tendencies" such as jihad and dhimmitude. "Again," he said, "you're entitled to that view."

"That view" is increasingly absent at the top, where Islam itself is politically and strategically beside the point. Consider current military thought, as expressed by Lt. Col. Kilcullen: Typical terrorists, he wrote, are "driven by fundamentally non-religious motivational factors." I wonder which non-religious motivational factors inspired Glasgow's terror-docs to scream "Allah, Allah" while ramming a flaming car into the airport.

Of course, it gets worse. Debate now divides the Pentagon over a new lexicon for Centcom. At stake is the Islamic term "jihad" itself, which could become officially verboten within the ranks of the fighting force that is actually supposed to defeat it.

This might leave us speechless, but it better not shut us up.

29834  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The White House, CAIR and the OIC on: July 06, 2007, 08:00:13 PM
The White House, CAIR and the OIC

By Steven Emerson

The White House has admitted to a senior government official that it did not vet the audience members in attendance at President Bush’s speech last week at the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C., despite having been warned of the potential presence of individuals who might have triggered national security concerns.
An informed source has told me that the White House was completely unaware that a Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) representative would be present at President Bush’s speech last week for the rededication ceremony of the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C., and, in fact, had no idea who the mosque leaders had invited to the event, basically surrendering the vetting process to the Islamic Center, a Saudi-funded institution with a documented history (pdf) of extremism and anti-Semitism.

Further, the source told me, “We desperately need to know what radical Islamists are doing in this country” and he was “shocked and surprised to learn that the White House would not take greater care of who was vetted to this event," adding, "this was not your typical Rotary Club invitation.” The source told me that a White House official said that it does not vet all attendees at events to which the President is invited to speak, and the Islamic Center ceremony was no exception. Additionally, the White House was warned by a senior government official that it was making a huge national security error in not vetting those in attendance at the mosque. A White House liaison has told me in the past that CAIR has been barred from attending White House events on national security grounds.
And on cue, CAIR is playing up spokesman Ibrahim Hooper’s attendance at the speech and taking full advantage of its presence to insinuate itself into the President’s agenda.

On the heels of President Bush’s strange announcement at the mosque that he would appoint a “special envoy” to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), a body with a very disturbing track record (see my article published in the National Review Online, Radical Outreach: Bush coddles American apologists for radical Islam), CAIR has started lobbying for the job.
On a trip to Saudi Arabia to meet with OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ishanoglu to “discuss future CAIR-OIC projects,” CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad made his feelings on the American-OIC envoy known, telling the Saudi-based Arab News, “[w]e hope that the selection of the individual would also be representative of the Muslim community and its views,” meaning that to avoid an Awad-engineered outcry and pressure campaign, the envoy must be “CAIR-approved.”

President Bush said that the special envoy’s job would be to “listen and learn” from the OIC, and that the envoy “will share with (the OIC) America's views and values.” Unless the purpose of the envoy would be to see who can be the more radical and anti-American mouthpiece, CAIR needs to be kept as far away from this initiative as possible, lest both organizations gang up in some outrageous, Karen Hughes-approved “grievance theater” performance. CAIR and the OIC are already in lockstep on virtually all issues, especially relating to terrorism, and CAIR is in no position to share America’s views and values with anyone. In fact, someone needs to explain America’s views and values to CAIR.
As readers of this blog know, CAIR was recently officially named (pdf) as a Muslim Brotherhood organization and as an un-indicted co-conspirator in the case against alleged Hamas-fundraisers, the Dallas-based Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF). Beyond that, CAIR’s lengthy history of extremism, pro-terrorist sentiments and anti-Semitism has been extensively reported and is well known.

And the Arab News article telegraphs just how useless having a CAIR-approved individual as special envoy to the OIC would be:
Muslims and Muslim organizations in the US have been criticized for not being effective in lobbying and standing up to smear campaigns compared to other US minorities. This is the most common criticism heard from the Muslim world, according to Awad, who added that Muslims in the US are heading in the right direction and that the Muslim community there is becoming more effective and gaining ground in building bridges.
So the “most common” criticism has not been that Muslim organizations in the U.S. have failed to sufficiently condemn terrorism or put forward policies and positions that condemn the targeted use of violence against civilians by such groups as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah and Al-Qaeda, but that CAIR is not “effective” in standing up to “smear campaigns” against it. Expect more of this if CAIR has any say about the President’s appointment.
The President’s plan to appoint a special envoy to the OIC was a bad idea from the start, and can only be further compounded by letting CAIR – or other Islamist groups like it - have any say in the matter.
July 5, 2007 12:33 PM Print
29835  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Voluntary Dhimmitude on: July 06, 2007, 07:56:19 PM

wn up warning governments not to link Islam and terrorism.

The politically correct directives are believed to be behind ministers not using words such as “Muslim’’ about Britain’s terrorism crisis.

Yesterday the Daily Express reported how Gordon Brown’s ministers had been told to avoid inflammatory language when speaking about the attempted car bomb attacks in London and Glasgow.

Neither the Prime Minister in a major interview nor Home Secretary Jacqui Smith in the Commons referred to Muslims or Islam.

Last night critics pointed to a classified EU document sent out to all European governments offering “non-offensive’’ phrases to use when discussing terrorism.

Banned terms were said to include “jihad’’, “Islamic’’ or “fundamentalist”.

It is completely unacceptable for people in Brussels to tell us what words we can and can’t use.
Conservative MP Philip Davies

EU officials said the “common lexicon’’ aimed to stop the distortion of the Muslim faith and alienation of its followers in Europe. European governments had previously agreed on the need to develop a “non-emotive lexicon’’ for use in discussion to avoid “exacerbating division’’.

Gerard Batten, a UK Independence Party MEP, claimed Ms Smith’s statement was “evidence that the Government is now cutting its suit to suit the European Commission’s cloth’’. He is demanding that the full lexicon be published.

But the Home Office insisted: “The Home Secretary uses her own words. She did not draw on any other source.’’

Even Labour former Foreign Office Minister Denis MacShane said yesterday that “Islamist’’ was an “accurate description’’ of the ideology behind the terror attacks.

And Conservative MP Philip Davies said: “Whatever your view on particular words, surely everyone should agree it is completely unacceptable for people in Brussels who have already interfered too much in our lives to start to tell us what words we can and can’t use.

“If we believe in anything in this country we should believe in free speech. If we are allowing the EU to dictate to us on this, most people would find that horrifying.’’

Hugo Robinson, of Open Europe thinktank, said: “Brussels has no place telling national governments how they should deal with the real and immediate threat of terrorism: The EU’s so-called non-emotive lexicon won’t do anything to stop dangerous extremists targeting Britain.’’

A Foreign Office source insisted the “common lexicon’’ was not an exercise in “political correctness’’ but an attempt to find a “common vocabulary and definitions’’ for statements about terrorism.
29836  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: July 06, 2007, 07:51:48 PM
Opinions are like *ssholes.  Everyone has one.  I'll choose my *sshole and you choose yours cheesy   "Facts" are often a matter of dispute.  IMHO this is clearly a matter for free people to work out for themselves e.g. by changing the station/channel and not for Congress or bureaucrats.    If I have already decided that my orientation in tax policy is supply side, I really don't want the government decreeing that I have to listen to a Keynesian in order to hear a supply sider analysis of tax policy.  As a matter of fact, I can imagine getting right prickly to anyone trying to make me listen to what I don't want to listen to.

29837  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Wolves, Dogs and other canines on: July 06, 2007, 01:18:22 PM
 shocked shocked shocked  Outstanding!!!
29838  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: July 4th on: July 06, 2007, 12:52:36 PM
And I grew up in a liberal Jewish family in Manhattan NYC in the 50s and 60s.  My mother co-chaired a committee in the local Democratic Party with later to be Congresswoman Bella Abzug and strategy sessions included people like Betty Friedan, Alan Lowenstein, Theodore Sorenson, and others-- and look at me now  cheesy grin

Any way, all this is part of the beauty and magic of America.
29839  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: July 06, 2007, 12:47:21 PM
Newt sketches out a campaign theme:

Sarkozy's Lesson for America
Washington Post  July 5 2007
Newt Gingrich
The country is at a crossroads, a different kind of place from where we've been before. The special interests seem more reactionary and entrenched than ever, the bureaucracies much larger. We need to marshal the courage to change, and we need to understand what needs changing.

Two books guide my thoughts these days. One is "Testimony: France in the Twenty-First Century," by the new French president, Nicolas Sarkozy. The second is American: "The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression," by Amity Shlaes. Together they form a map for the crossroads.

Start with the will to change. Most American politicians have lost that. Or, if they have it, they are hostage to advisers who don't have the will to change.

France has a reputation as a country averse to change. But President Sarkozy translated his general exhortation about the need to change and the importance of work into a simple and direct policy proposal: All overtime will be tax-free.

Sarkozy had the courage to campaign on the theme that "the French will have to work harder." Imagine trying to get that past an American campaign consultant. In effect, he repudiated the French left's passion for income transfer and trumped it with a passion for pursuing happiness.

The elites hated that repudiation, but it won the French election. France proves change is possible in a country whose special interests are even more entrenched than ours are.

And what about the second part of the challenge -- knowing what should be done? The great lesson of the past six years is that it is impossible to solve America's problems within the failed reactionary bureaucracies and redistributionist policies of the left.

Republicans were punished in 2006 for their own failure to run the system effectively. They were also punished for failing to develop a new system -- that is, to push for a Sarkozy-scale disruption of the old order. They didn't really even know what was wrong.

Citizens had to choose between a left enthusiastically raising taxes to run failing bureaucracies and a right passively attempting to avoid tax increases while bureaucracies decay and policies fail around it.

But there is a more powerful alternative to this. It could be very popular and economically effective. It is a return to the old liberalism that was so important in America before the New Deal. This is a liberalism we share with Britain: Whig-style free-market liberalism.

The "forgotten man" was a term coined by a great conservative pro-market, pro-growth professor named William Graham Sumner. In an 1883 essay, he asserted: "As soon as A observes something which seems to him to be wrong, from which X is suffering, A talks it over with B, and A and B then propose to get a law passed to remedy the evil and help X. Their law always proposes to determine . . . what A, B, and C shall do for X."

Sumner wanted to know about C, the one he called "the forgotten man." As Shlaes explains, "[t]here was nothing wrong with A and B helping X. What was wrong was the law, and the indenturing of C, his forgotten man, to the cause." Sumner wrote of the forgotten man: "He works, he votes, generally he prays -- but he always pays -- yes, above all, he pays."

Much like Sarkozy today, Sumner wanted to center society's policies on making that productive person more productive. He understood that a social contract that encouraged work led to a brighter future. But the meaning of that phrase forgotten man changed, as Shlaes demonstrates.

Franklin D. Roosevelt bought out constituencies in 1935 and 1936, spending billions on popular projects that created jobs. Nineteen thirty-six was the first peacetime year that the federal government was larger than state and local governments combined -- and it set a trend. The Depression was real, but it also was a pretext for this action.

By helping his groups of forgotten men, Roosevelt created another forgotten man, the individual left out by the groups. That forgotten man was the forgotten man of productivity, not redistributionist pity.

Shlaes's book is historical -- she is a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. But the implication for today is that the interest groups are the problem. This is where we must begin -- and get back to the individual.

Washington now is like the corrupt Tory England that the Whigs reformed. Whig liberalism brought growth. Our own Jeffersonian forerunners, the Founding Fathers, also rejected the Crown and understood the importance of small government.

Sarkozy shows us how a courageous leader could translate Shlaes's call to liberalism into the boldest campaign in our lifetime.
29840  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / LNOP on: July 06, 2007, 09:19:39 AM

LanOptics Subsidiary EZchip In Bed with Cisco
29841  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Humor/WTF on: July 06, 2007, 09:18:26 AM
That's a very funny clip.
29842  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: July 06, 2007, 08:14:24 AM
Second post of the AM

Proposed OSHA Regulation Threatens
Firearm and Ammunition Industry

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the government agency charged with assuring the safety and health of America's workers, is proposing a regulatory rule affecting the manufacturing, transportation and storage of small arms ammunition, primers and smokeless propellants.

As written, the proposed rule would force the closure of nearly all ammunition manufacturers and force the cost of small arms ammunition to skyrocket beyond what the market could bear—essentially collapsing our industry. This is not an exaggeration. The cost to comply with the proposed rule for the ammunition industry, including manufacturer, wholesale distributors and retailers, will be massive and easily exceed $100 million. For example, ammunition and smokeless propellant manufacturers would have to shut down and evacuate a factory when a thunderstorm approached and customers would not be allowed within 50 feet of any ammunition (displayed or otherwise stored) without first being searched for matches or lighters.

NSSF and SAAMI have already had a preliminary meeting with OSHA officials to begin the process of explaining to them the major problems this proposed rule presents for all levels of the firearms and ammunition industry. Furthermore, NSSF and SAAMI are each seeking a 60 day extension of the public comment period (currently scheduled to expire July 12).

NSSF is urging all retailers to contact OSHA directly and request a 60-day extension of the public comment period. Retailers should inform OSHA that the proposed rule constitutes a "significant regulatory action" as defined in Executive Order 12866 (1993) Section 3(f)(1) in that it will clearly "adversely affect in a material way" the retail sector of the firearms and ammunition industry, productivity, competition and jobs and that the annual compliance cost for all retailers of ammunition will far exceed $100 million dollars.

Click here for a template letter. If you choose to draft your own letter, the reference line must read as follows:

RE:  Docket No. OSHA–2007–0032
         Request to Extend Public Comment Period and Request for Hearing on
        "Significant Regulatory Action" as Defined in Executive Order 12866

Please fax the letter to: 202-693-1648 (include the docket number and Department of Labor/OSHA on the cover sheet and in the reference section of your letter).

Please e-mail the letter by visiting: and following the submission instructions.
29843  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science on: July 06, 2007, 06:39:40 AM,15240,141012,00.html?

Interesting piece on the use of aerial gunships in Iraq.
29844  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: July 06, 2007, 06:14:26 AM
NY Times
GIs Forge Sunni Ties

BAQUBA, Iraq, June 30 — Capt. Ben Richards had been battling insurgents from Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia for three weeks when he received an unexpected visitor.

Former Insurgents Aid U.S. Soldiers Abu Ali walked into the Americans’ battle-scarred combat outpost with an unusual proposal: the community leader was worried about the insurgents, and wanted the soldiers’ help in taking them on.

The April 7 meeting was the beginning of a new alliance and, American commanders hope, a portent of what is to come in the bitterly contested Diyala Province.

Using his Iraqi partners to pick out the insurgents and uncover the bombs they had seeded along the cratered roads, Captain Richards’s soldiers soon apprehended more than 100 militants, including several low-level emirs. The Iraqis called themselves the Local Committee; Captain Richards dubbed them the Kit Carson scouts.

“It is the only way that we can keep Al Qaeda out,” said Captain Richards, who operates from a former Iraqi police station in the Buhritz sector of the city that still bears the sooty streaks from the day militants set it aflame last year.

The American military has struggled for more than four years to train and equip the Iraqi Army. But here the local Sunni residents, including a number of former insurgents from the 1920s Revolution Brigades, have emerged as a linchpin of the American strategy.

The new coalition reflects some hard-headed calculations on both sides. Eager for intelligence on their elusive foes, American officers have been willing to overlook the past of some of their newfound allies.

Many Sunnis, for their part, are less inclined to see the soldiers as occupiers now that it is clear that American troop reductions are all but inevitable, and they are more concerned with strengthening their ability to fend off threats from Sunni jihadists and Shiite militias. In a surprising twist, the jihadists — the Americans’ most ardent foes — made the new strategy possible. Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, a predominantly Iraqi organization with a small but significant foreign component, severely overplayed its hand, spawning resentment by many residents and other insurgent groups.

Imposing a severe version of Islamic law, the group installed its own clerics, established an Islamic court and banned the sale of cigarettes, which even this week were nowhere to be found in the humble shops in western Baquba to the consternation of patrolling Iraqi troops.

The fighters raised funds by kidnapping local Iraqis, found accommodations by evicting some residents from their homes and killed with abandon when anyone got in their way, residents say. A small group of bearded black-clad militants took down the Iraqi flag and raised the banner of their self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq.

“They used religion as a ploy to get in and exploit people’s passions,” said one member of the Kit Carson scouts, who gave his name as Haidar. “They were Iraqis and other Arabs from Syria, Afghanistan, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. They started kicking people out of their houses and getting ransom from rich people. They would shoot people in front of their houses to scare the others.”

Collaborations like the one with the scouts in Baquba are slowly beginning to emerge in other parts of Iraq. In Baquba they face some notable obstacles, primarily from the Shiite-dominated provincial and Baghdad ministries that are worried about American efforts to rally the Sunnis and institutionalize them as a security force.

But with Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s government showing scant progress toward political reconciliation and the American military eager to achieve a measure of stability before its elevated troop levels begin to shrink, American commanders appear determined to proceed with this more decentralized strategy — one that relies less on initiatives taken by Iraqi leaders in Baghdad and more on newly forged coalitions with local Iraqis.

A West Point graduate, Idaho native and former Mormon missionary who worked for two years with Chinese immigrants in Canada, Captain Richards commands Bronco Troop, First Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment. When the 31-year-old officer was first sent to Buhritz in mid-March as part of a battalion-size task force, he encountered a deeply entrenched foe who numbered in the thousands.

Page 2 of 2)

Many of the members of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia were ensconced in a sprawling palm grove-laden sanctuary south of Baquba and east of the Diyala River. The area, which is still under the group’s control, is still so replete with arms caches, insurgent leaders, fighters and their supporters that American soldiers have taken to calling it the Al Qaeda Fob, or forward operating base in American military jargon.

Former Insurgents Aid U.S. Soldiers The insurgents also had a firm grip on the city, the provincial capital of Diyala, which Abu Musab al-Zarqawi made the center of his self-styled Islamic caliphate before he was killed in an airstrike near Baquba last year. The key supply and communications lines between the insurgents’ rural staging area and the city ran through the Buhritz, making it vital ground for Al Qaeda.

The militants’ hold on the region was facilitated, senior American officers now acknowledge, by American commanders’ decision to draw down forces in the province in 2005 in the hopes of shifting most of the responsibility for securing the region onto the Iraqis. That strategy backfired when the Iraqi authorities appointed overly sectarian Shiite army and police regional commanders, alienating the largely Sunni population, and otherwise showed themselves unable to safeguard the area.

“Up until Captain Richards went in and met the 1920s guys, we fought,” recalled Lt. Col. Mo Goins, the commander of the First Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, which held the line in Baquba until reinforcements began to arrive in March. “That is what we did. Small arms. Mortars. I.E.D’s.”

Captain Richards’s soldiers arrived in Buhritz in mid-March as part of a battalion-sized operation. Unlike many earlier operations, the Americans showed up in force and did not quickly withdraw. The residents saw an opportunity to challenge Al Qaeda, and for a week, the two sides battled it out in the streets.

Initially, the Americans stood on the sidelines, concerned that they might be witnessing a turf fight among insurgents and militias. “We were not sure what was going on,” Captain Richards recalled. “We were not sure we could trust the people not to turn on us afterwards.”

But after the militants gained the upper hand and more than 1,000 residents began to flee on foot, the Americans moved to prevent the militants from establishing their control throughout the neighborhood. The soldiers called in an airstrike, which demolished a local militant headquarters.

The meeting between the residents and the Americans was Abu Ali’s initiative. The locals wanted ammunition to carry on their fight. Captain Richards had another proposal: the residents should tip off the Americans on which Iraqis belonged to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia and where they had buried their bombs.

At first, no more than a dozen of the several hundred Sunnis who were taking on the militants served as Kit Carson scouts, but they made a vital difference. Unlike Anbar Province, where the American military has formed similar alliances, Diyala lacks a cohesive tribal structure. Nor did another Sunni insurgent group, the 1920s Revolution Brigades, deliver fighters en masse.

Even so, some of the main obstacles that the Americans have faced in institutionalizing the arrangement with the scouts have come from the United States’ ostensible allies in the Iraqi government. According to Captain Richards, the provincial police chief, Maj. Gen. Ghanen al-Kureshi, repeatedly resisted efforts to hire the local Sunnis.

Captain Richards rejected a group of Shiite police recruits from Baghdad, fearing they might be penetrated by Shiite militias. Determined to get his scouts hired, he loaded 50 scouts and other residents on his Stryker vehicles and drove them to the provincial headquarters over the insurgent-threatened roads.

Today, the police number only 170, a fraction of the police force in adjoining areas. The small police force, made up of scouts and Sunni residents, was provided with only two trucks, seven radios and a paltry supply of ammunition that the Sunni residents have managed to supplement by buying ammunition on the black market from corrupt Interior Ministry officials in Baghdad. Another 150 scouts participate as unpaid monitors in a neighborhood watch program to guard key routes in and out of the area that Captain Richards oversees.

“The people in the community think that he is actively trying to prevent the Buhritz police from establishing themselves because the Shia government does not want a legitimate Sunni security force in Diyala Province,” Captain Richards said, referring to General Ghanen, the provincial police chief.

Colonel Goins had a more charitable view of the provincial chief’s actions, saying that he was coping with personnel and weapons shortages, as well as Interior Ministry guidance to build up the force in other areas. “Right now, his resources are extremely limited,” Colonel Goins said.

The new police and neighborhood watch monitors appear to work well with the local Iraqi Army unit and police officials. But a local Iraqi Army commander expressed doubts that the scouts, in uniform or not, amounted to a disciplined, military unit that could take and hold ground.

During a quick visit to two villages, Guam and Abu Faad, the Americans and their Iraqi allies tried to persuade welcoming but still wary residents that they needed to overcome their fears of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia and provide tips for their own security.

The American military is trying to expand the alliance into the western sector of the city, which a Stryker brigade recently wrested back from Qaeda militants. During the recent American assault in the western sector, soldiers from Blackhawk Company got a glimpse of an alliance the Americans hope to see. An Iraqi seemingly emerged from nowhere, announced himself as a member of the 1920s Revolution Brigades and warned the soldiers that insurgents could be found on the far side of a sand berm around the corner. The tip was accurate.

29845  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: July 06, 2007, 06:00:33 AM
Pakistan: After the Red Mosque Operation
July 05, 2007 18 57  GMT


Regardless of whether it ends by force, the security operation at the Red Mosque in the Pakistani capital will result in the militant Islamist cult losing control of the mosque. The end of the standoff could allow Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf some degree of a temporary reprieve from the ongoing political crisis in the country. However, the coming elections and the verdict in the case of suspended Pakistani Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry will return to center stage quickly, putting Musharraf's troubles back in the spotlight.


The security operation against the Islamist cult holed up in the Red Mosque in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad has entered its final stages. Since the standoff began July 3, the on-and-off heavy gunfire exchanges between security forces and the militants have resulted in some two dozen casualties. Authorities are trying to avoid storming the mosque/madrassa complex by getting the remaining militants and seminary students inside the facility to surrender.

Regardless of whether the standoff ends with a surrender, with security forces storming the complex or with a combination of the two, the defeat of the Red Mosque cult will give Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf some relief from his larger legal and political crisis. But this reprieve likely will be temporary, because the case of suspended Pakistani Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry and Pakistan's coming elections will once again take center stage.

Though the Musharraf government will gain some political capital from its ability to end the standoff with the Red Mosque cult, expectations will increase -- within the country and, more important, internationally -- for the Musharraf government to deal with the Taliban and al Qaeda militants and their allies using Pakistan to launch attacks in Afghanistan and elsewhere. This expectation will come from the perception that if the Musharraf government can successfully crack down on militants in one part of the country, it can reproduce those results in the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas, North-West Frontier Province and the Pashtun corridor in northwestern Balochistan. The Pakistani government's ability to actually crack down on Islamist militants had been in question up until now, but the Red Mosque situation has dispelled those doubts.

For now, Musharraf will be able to use the Red Mosque operation to impress upon the United States and the West that he must stay in power if the fight against Islamist radicalism and militancy is to continue. This could help counter any slide in Washington's support for his government. However, this support will not take care of the domestic situation, in which -- now more than ever -- Musharraf needs support from the main opposition party, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP). This situation could give Bhutto a certain element of leverage in her back-channel communications with Musharraf, allowing her to drive a harder bargain and potentially forcing Musharraf to make concessions.

Additionally, this unprecedented operation against a mosque likely will create more resentment among conservative and extremist circles, which could lead the mainstream Islamist coalition, the Muttahida Majilis-i-Amal (MMA), to lose some of its influence to more extremist elements.

Musharraf, who already is in negotiations with the PPP and the largest component party of the MMA -- the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam, led by Maulana Fazlur Rehman -- to help him get over the hurdle of his own re-election and the parliamentary polls, will now need the opposition parties' support not only to secure a second term but also to deal with the fallout from the Red Mosque operation, which could see increased militancy in the country.

Prior to the Red Mosque operation, Musharraf was already headed toward a situation in which he would at least be forced to share power. The operation could prevent him from losing power altogether -- which has been a prospect since early March, given the brewing crisis. That said, the continuing crisis and upcoming elections will put him in a position in which he cannot avoid giving up some of his power to the next civilian administration.
29846  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action on: July 06, 2007, 05:39:36 AM

Pilot rides helicopter out of Iraqi firefight

WASHINGTON — Giving up his seat to a wounded soldier, an Army officer strapped himself to the side of an Apache helicopter gunship that airlifted them out of a furious firefight in Iraq, the military said Monday.

The Army called it an "unusual casualty evacuation," but Chief Warrant Officer Allen Crist's selfless act goes way beyond heroism.

Realizing that Spc. Jeffrey Jamaleldine needed medical attention fast, Crist put the critically wounded man in his own spot on the Apache on Saturday.

Crist then rigged a harness to strap himself to the fuselage and crouched on the stubby left gun wing of the aircraft.

With Chief Warrant Officer Kevin Purtee, of Houston, at the controls and Crist hanging on for dear life, the Apache flew out of the battle zone. It kept low, about 200 feet, until it reached a field hospital, the military said.

Jamaleldine, 31, of Fort Smith, Ark., was later reported in stable condition.

Army officials could not immediately recall an Apache ever being used before for a medical evacuation — and certainly not with the co-pilot riding outside.

Crist and Purtee, from Company B, 1st Battalion, 149th Aviation Regiment, were part of a four-Apache team that came to help U.S. troops pinned down under heavy fire in Ramadi.
29847  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: July 06, 2007, 05:26:43 AM
Fort Worth police praise man who shot at Albertsons robber

FW: Suspect in crime at store left at hospital; 2 others sought in case
12:00 AM CDT on Thursday, July 5, 2007

By MARISSA ALANIS / The Dallas Morning News A Fort Worth man who only wanted to protect his wife stuck in an Albertsons store during a robbery is being hailed for his heroics by police.

The retired man may have shot one of the robbers early Wednesday at the store in the 3500 block of Sycamore School Road.

Three men armed with guns robbed the store shortly after midnight and stole wallets and purses belonging to customers, said Lt. Dean Sullivan, a Fort Worth police spokesman.

The man, whom police didn't identify because he is a witness, saw two of the men walking around nervously before they entered the store. The witness said he called 911 when one of the men pulled out a gun and fired as he walked into the store.

About 20 seconds later, the witness's wife tried to call him from her cellphone inside the store. But he never got to talk to her.

"I just heard her saying, 'There is nothing in my purse,' " he recalled. "And there was a 'pow.' The phone went dead."

The man, who has a concealed handgun license, sprang into action. He walked into the store with his .45-caliber pistol under his shirt.

"I really thought I'd find her in the store shopping and get her out the back door," he said. "That was my intention. ... I had no intention of confronting these armed bandits."

But in the store, one of the robbers pointed the gun at the man. The man then fired twice. The robber ran away, and it's unknown whether he returned fire, Lt. Sullivan said. Outside the store, the retired man fired again.

Lt. Sullivan said Rayshaun Johnson was possibly hit during the robbery. Mr. Johnson, 17, was injured on his backside and foot. He was dropped off in the parking lot of Huguley Memorial Medical Center in Fort Worth.

Lt. Sullivan said Mr. Johnson faces a charge of aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon once he's released from the hospital. Police continue to search for the other two robbers. Descriptions were unavailable.

The man said he does not feel like a hero.
"I don't feel good at all that there is an 18-year-old guy who's been injured and is going to go to some terrible place because it was a horrible mistake that somebody talked him into," he said. "I was worried about my wife. I just wanted to get her out of there."
29848  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: July 06, 2007, 04:13:14 AM

Respeto mucho al "Stratfor" pero en asuntos economicos en mi opinion su nivel es menos que en asuntos de geo-politica.  Aqui esta'n en favor en AUMENTANDO ingresos al gobierno Mexicano.  Admito abiertamente que en general mis perjuicios ven aumentando el papel del Estado.  La economia de Mexico ya causa que milliones y milliones de Mexicanos vengan aqui a los EU en violacion de nuestras leyes-- ?como puede ayudar eso dando aun mas dinero y por lo cual, potencia a las burocracias del gobierno?


Mexico: Taxes, Pemex and Calderon's Reforms

Mexico's Congress has begun reviewing President Felipe Calderon's fiscal reform plan. While Calderon and his allies carry enough political weight to pass his tax legislation despite the opposition's resistance, the president is seeking a consensus that could facilitate his future plans for reforming Mexico's energy sector.


Mexico's government finally is tackling the country's troubled tax system. President Felipe Calderon's fiscal reform plan is before Congress, with opposition parties readying their positions regarding the proposal. Tax reform is crucial if Mexico's government is to remain solvent, as oil revenues are projected to fall sharply. In addition, this legislative initiative must succeed for Calderon to gain sufficient momentum to tackle the more controversial challenge of energy reform.

Calderon's chances for success with this initiative are reasonably high, and the president will hope to use this success to generate momentum for his plans to reform state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex). Reforming Mexico's prized oil giant will be decidedly more difficult, since this will see the opposition's resistance to the tax reform proposal grow into a very public battle against the president's plans for Pemex.

At present, Mexico's tax system is a disaster. The country has one of the lowest tax rates in Latin America, collecting only about 10 percent of its gross domestic product. To put this in perspective, other major Latin American powers such as Chile and Brazil take in about twice that percentage. Rampant tax evasion exacerbates this problem.

Moreover, 40 percent of the government's revenues come directly from state oil company Pemex. But Pemex is declining rapidly. Its onshore fields are maturing, and Pemex lacks the technical capacity to explore its ample offshore reserves. Without major reform, the oil giant will weaken further, effectively bankrupting Mexico.

Calderon's reform proposal targets Mexico's biggest tax evader: the business sector. The plan proposes a 19 percent flat tax on all companies, along with taxes on large cash deposits to prevent smaller cash-based businesses from operating below the tax radar. In addition to closing tax loopholes, a flat tax also simplifies the highly complex tax code, making it harder for companies to avoid taxation.

The government has maintained that the majority of businesses the plan would affect are tax cheats. Since publicly opposing the plan would thus effectively mark a firm as a tax evader, the business community has responded to the plan with a deafening silence. The relative quiet is not surprising given that Latin American countries' tax rates average about 40 percent higher than Mexico's planned flat tax -- meaning Mexico would remain a relatively low-tax option for multinational firms with current or planned Latin American operations.

Though Calderon's plan calls for some serious revisions, it has been criticized by more conservative elements for not going far enough because it does not call for the addition of value-added tax (VAT) on food or medication. Calderon's decision to avoid VAT changes is decidedly pragmatic. Proposed and highly controversial additions to VAT killed the reform plans of former President Vicente Fox because of their effects on Mexico's lower-income population. Calderon's focus on relatively palatable reforms indicates he understands the art of policy compromise essential to actually getting legislation passed.

Approval is, of course, the chief obstacle Calderon faces. While the president's National Action Party (PAN) is poised to support his proposal, Calderon must also contend with Mexico's two other major parties, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD). The PAN has enjoyed an alliance with the PRI since the postelection row of 2006, while the PRD has maintained a staunch opposition to the ruling party. The layout of Congress is such that no one party can dominate, but the PAN and PRI's coalition -- collectively holding 66 percent of Senate seats to the PRD's 20 percent and 62 percent of lower house positions to the PRD's 25 percent -- effectively can shut out the PRD.

The PRI, Mexico's traditional ruling party and PAN's recent ally, already has noted that it does not intend to give Calderon carte blanche with the reform plan. There are indications, however, that PRI resistance to the plan is purely a political bargaining tool and that the party recognizes the need for reform and intends to support the plan in exchange for certain concessions. The PRI's primary concern is state-level issues, since it controls 17 state governments, more than the PRD and PAN combined. For the former ruling party, keeping a strong control on state politics -- by increasing budget control at the state level and directly transferring 3 percent of current VAT revenues to states -- is a priority. Calderon's proposal would have to be adjusted through negotiations to meet these demands.

Meanwhile, the PRD has a divided stance on Calderon's proposal. The more radical elements led by former presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador are demanding zero negotiation with Calderon. While Lopez Obrador lost the vast majority of his political force after his 2006 presidential loss and his so-called shadow government is disregarded by all but his most ardent followers, his opposition could lead more radical PRD legislators to vote against any version of the proposal. PRD moderates have indicated they are open to negotiation and dialogue in Congress, but there is little consensus within the party as to what changes the PRD plans to pursue. The PRD's chief complaint with Calderon's proposal regards the idea of a flat tax. The PRD contends that tax rates should be increased according to earnings in order to hit big business. Since the PRD caters to lower-income constituents, the notion of progressive taxation is far more appealing than a flat tax. Splits within the PRD are good news for Calderon, since a united PRD would provide the most significant opposition to his efforts.

The PRD's limited resistance to Calderon's current proposal is trifling compared to the resistance the president will face when he attempts to undertake an overhaul of Pemex. The PRD can be expected to mount a firm, united opposition to any such proposals. The oil giant is a matter of national pride and an object of sentiment for Mexicans, and even as it struggles, many Mexicans remain highly resistant to the notion of reforming the company by allowing foreign involvement -- regardless of how necessary such reform might be.

Calderon hopes that support for his tax plan will follow him into his Pemex plans. Getting PRD support for his tax plans could thus facilitate his Pemex plans, though he will proceed with his tax plans with or without PRD support. Ultimately, however, Calderon does not need PRD support to pass his legislation, since he can negotiate with the PRI and hammer out a deal that pleases the PRI and the PAN. Regardless of whether PRD supports his current tax proposal, Calderon's fight to change Pemex will be the most controversial and taxing agenda of his presidency.
29849  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: July 05, 2007, 08:55:52 AM

By James C. McKinley Jr.
Wednesday, July 4, 2007

MEXICO CITY: The Mexican government vigorously denied this week the
accusations of a Chinese-Mexican businessman who is wanted on drug charges
here but who asserts that $150 million found hidden in his mansion came from
members of President Felipe Calderón's party, including the secretary of

Zhenli Ye Gon, a naturalized Mexican citizen who owns a pharmaceutical
company, rocked the political world here recently by suggesting, through his
lawyer in New York, that the labor secretary, Javier Lozano Alarcón, had
threatened to kill him last year unless he agreed to hide duffel bags
stuffed with tens of millions of dollars in his house.

On Tuesday, Lozano Alarcón issued a statement calling the charges "false,
absurd, untrue, crooked and perverse." A spokesman for Calderón, speaking on
the condition of anonymity because the president had yet to make an official
statement, said Zhenli appeared to be making false charges as part of a
strategy to broker a deal with prosecutors here.

Mexico's attorney general, Eduardo Medina Mora, said in a televised
interview Monday that the idea that someone from Calderón's campaign or
cabinet would force Zhenli to hide money seemed "ridiculous and fantastic."

"Evidently the man dedicated himself to the illicit importation of
pseudoephedrine, and this was sold to drug traffickers," the attorney
general said. "This money was the product of that activity."

He said the government had evidence that Zhenli, 44, had illegally imported
19 tons of pseudoephedrine, a decongestant, and intended to sell it to drug
dealers who use it to manufacture methamphetamine, a synthetic stimulant
known on the street as "ice."

Zhenli denied the charge in an interview with The Associated Press published
Saturday; the news agency said the interview was given in the New York
office of his lawyer, Ning Ye.

Zhenli said that various party officials had delivered money for him to
hide, but he did not provide their names.

The Mexican authorities began investigating Zhenli in December, after
discovering an illicit shipment of pseudoephedrine on a boat in the port of
Lázaro Cárdenas, prosecutors say. The chemical was being shipped to Unimed,
a pharmaceutical company Zhenli started in 1997, they said.

On March 15, federal agents raided his home in an affluent section of the
capital. There they found about $205 million and $22 million in other
currencies and traveler's checks. The money was stuffed in walls, suitcases
and closets. They also seized eight luxury cars and seven high-powered

At the time, Karen Tandy, the head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement
Administration, called the raid "the largest single drug-cash seizure the
world has every seen."

Zhenli, who was born in Shanghai and became a Mexican citizen in 2002, had
disappeared before the raid. Eleven other people, among them several of
Zhenli's relatives, have been arrested and charged with drug trafficking in
connection with the seizures.

Over the weekend, the Mexican government said Zhenli's lawyers had sent a
letter to the Mexican Embassy in Washington threatening to expose an alleged
link between the cash found at his house and Calderón's campaign unless
prosecutors made a deal beneficial to the accused businessman.

"These lawyers are unscrupulously and uselessly looking to blackmail the
Mexican government with absurd and untrue statements," the attorney
general's office said Sunday.

In the AP interview, Zhenli said the labor secretary, an important member of
Calderón's campaign last year, gave him about $150 million for safekeeping
in May 2006, during the heat of the electoral battle.

He also denied that the chemical he had imported was pseudoephedrine, saying
it was another chemical used in cough medicines.

Source Drudge
29850  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: July 05, 2007, 08:20:49 AM
 July 3, 2007 -- WE'RE not fighting a single war against terrorists. We're stuck in two. The past few days saw both conflicts hit the headlines. And we're still not serious about either one.
One war in this global struggle involves Sunni-Arab fanatics, exemplified by al Qaeda, who believe not only that the atrocities they commit will revive the caliphate - a romanticized religious empire - but that their merciless brand of Islam is destined to rule the world.

Our other fight is with Shia extremists, such as the god-gangsters wrecking Iran, Muqtada al-Sadr's thugs and Hezbollah. Their goals are regional (for now): They want to master the heart of the Middle East and gain hegemony over the world's oil supply.

In London, then in Glasgow, we saw attempts (blessedly incompetent ones - thanks, Allah!) to generate mass civilian casualties, challenge Britain's new government and strengthen the U.K.'s appeasement faction. The terrorists involved weren't the "wretched of the earth" beloved in left-wing mythology, but included at least two doctors, as well as other middle-class immigrants.

Behind all the jihadi nonsense, this was a revenge plot by madmen for imagined wrongs. Like all religious fanatics, the would-be murderers (burn, baby, burn) weren't really serving any god, but acting out their struggle with personal demons. It was classic Sunni terrorism - 9/11 re-invented by the Three Stooges.

In the Shia terror war, a U.S. military spokesman in Iraq yesterday finally admitted the serious role that Iran and its clients play in the bombing, kidnapping and cold-blooded murder of our troops. Back in March, our forces busted Ali Mussa Daqduq - a Hezbollah bomb, ambush and abduction expert - in Basra. He wasn't on vacation.

Media speculation holds that Iran, which funds and equips Hezbollah, called in some chips and forced Daqduq to take a leave of absence from Lebanon to help Tehran's al Quds commandos train Iraqi Shias to kill Americans more efficiently.

What's wrong is the notion that Daqduq was press-ganged. Shia terror also crosses borders, if still only regionally. The terrorists are "cross-leveling" expertise with enthusiasm, not reluctance.

Within both the Sunni and the Shia terror co-ops, we're seeing a level of collaboration that's utterly missing in the West. And the Iran-backed rise of Sunni Hamas makes it look as if they're increasingly willing to work across sectarian lines, if it helps them defeat Israel, the West and moderate Arab governments.

They'll get back to killing each other in good time. But right now they want to kill us. Meanwhile, we want to persuade them that we're nice guys.

The most effective action we ever launched against Sunni terror was the destruction of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. We took away the terrorists' safe-haven state, still the greatest loss suffered by Qaeda and Sunni fanaticism. Even if no Democratic presidential aspirant will admit it, al Qaeda has never recaptured the authority it lost.

Shia extremists have a safe-haven state, too: Iran. But the Bush administration ran out of steam when Iraq didn't turn into Iowa. Aware that Tehran's commandos were active in Iraq, supplying weapons, training and direct supervision of attacks that targeted Americans, we did nothing. An Iranian diplomatic passport turned out to be a better form of body armor than anything our troops wear.

Patience isn't a virtue when a hostile government's killing your soldiers. Our timidity only encouraged Iran, which has paid no serious penalties. Tehran has been given free rein not only in Iraq, but also in Lebanon and Gaza.

An invasion of Iran isn't the answer. But selective strikes against the infrastructure of the Revolutionary Guards (and the Quds Force in particular), as well as against Tehran's security services, are the minimum needed to get the regime's attention. Our Air Force's combat capabilities are distinctly under-utilized: It's time for 30 seconds over Tehran. Let's see if those F-22s really work.

Sanctions? Diplomacy? Tell it to the troops in Walter Reed. Or in Arlington.

Oh, I wish we could just buy every terrorist a pint of Ben & Jerry's and make him feel all mushy about surfer-girls in bikinis. But it ain't going to happen. If you want to win any war, you have to kill the enemy until he gives up trying to kill you. Instead, our response to terror is the equivalent of a lawsuit.

If military action isn't a perfect answer, appeasement is never the answer. Give in to terrorists' demands, and you'll only get more demands. Britain is paying for its reluctance to crack down hard on extremist mosques and hate speech - even though most British Muslims would be glad to be rid of the fanatics. Fair play doesn't work if the other side refuses to play fair.

Here at home, we face maddening calls to extend to captured terrorists the legal rights enjoyed by American citizens. Stop and think about that - really think about it. We're bleeding in multiple wars, and we want to send in the lawyers?

Perhaps the biggest lie told since 9/11 is that we must wage war according to our values. If we'd tried that in World War II, we'd still be fighting in the Philippines and struggling to reach the Rhine. In war, the point is to win. Nothing else matters. And you don't get credit for manners.

Our global position isn't eroding because we're stuck in Iraq or because Europeans are mad at us (they're always mad at us). We're losing ground because our leaders, Democrat and Republican, still don't believe we're at war. They live in perfect safety and don't really care if you or your children die, as long as you vote for them.

If roadside bombs were going off on Capitol Hill, we'd punish Iran ferociously and stop treating captured terrorists like white-collar crooks. But as long as the IEDs only kill and cripple our soldiers and Marines, neither political party gives a damn.

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