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29801  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Boxing Thread on: May 08, 2007, 08:31:40 AM
I won't be seeing the fight until it is on for free, but I suspect you are right Keith.

As for Lampley, I met him several times (bit of a story there) and never cared for him at all.

Anyway, a bit off subject, but here's this:

Boxer Corrales dies in crash
The former IBF super-featherweight and WBC lightweight champ is killed on motorcycle in Las Vegas. He was 29.
By Lance Pugmire, Times Staff Writer
May 8, 2007


 
Former champion
 click to enlarge
Former world champion boxer Diego Corrales was killed in a motorcycle accident Monday night in Las Vegas.

A Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department source confirmed Corrales was killed in the evening crash and was "traveling at a high rate of speed" before impact. The spokesman said at least one other vehicle was involved and that one person in an automobile at the scene had sustained minor injuries.

Another police spokesman, Blake Quackenbush, confirmed there was a fatal collision involving a motorcycle near the intersection of South Fort Apache Road and Hacienda Avenue in southwest Las Vegas.

Boxing trainer Joe Goossen and Jin Mosley, a close friend of the boxer, said the victim was Corrales, 29.

"It's confirmed, he's dead," said Mosley, the wife of Pomona boxer Shane Mosley. "Details are sketchy. We were told he was going over 100 mph. We're in absolute shock, this is tragic. He has a baby on the way."

Corrales' boxing promoter, Gary Shaw, said the fighter's manager told him he saw Corrales "under the sheets with his helmet on," with a "new racing bike" nearby. "We're being told he ran into the back of a car and was struck by another from behind," Shaw said.

Corrales (40-5, with 33 knockouts), a former International Boxing Federation super-featherweight and World Boxing Council lightweight champion, reached what Goossen called "the pinnacle" of his career in 2005, when he rallied from two 10th-round knockdowns to knock out Jose Luis Castillo.

"In my 35 years, that was the greatest fight I've ever seen," said Goossen, who was Corrales' trainer.

Castillo failed to make weight in two scheduled rematches, however, and a third meeting in June 2006 was scrapped, costing Corrales a $1.2-million payday, Goossen said.

The fighter's career began to spiral. He showed up overweight for an October 2006 lightweight title defense against Joel Casamayor, then lost by split decision. Last month, Corrales lost a unanimous decision to Joshua Clottey in a welterweight bout.

Shaw said Corrales' life "was in a tailspin" after that loss, and "we were trying to put his life back together." Corrales had also negotiated to join Oscar De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions, but the deal never materialized, boxing sources said.

"The guy was a true warrior; simply by the way he fought, he should be in the hall of fame," Shaw said. "Believe me, if he could've got off that cold pavement, he would."

Jin Mosley said Corrales was suffering marital and financial difficulties with his wife, Michelle, six months pregnant.

"Diego was not immune to the pitfalls of life, especially as a young man surrounded by the fame and fortune of this game," Goossen said. "His better times in boxing were behind him. I'm sure he felt he was in a bad spot. It's too bad Diego couldn't stay in the top place he once was. Now, we'll all say prayers for him."

Corrales discussed his motorcycle riding last summer in a Las Vegas Review-Journal story.

"I'm only young once and, unless someone hasn't told me something yet, I only get to live once," said Corrales. "If I couldn't do this stuff now, stuff I always wanted to do, I would never get a chance to do it."

Corrales is survived by his wife and five children, Jin Mosley said.
29802  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: May 08, 2007, 07:12:31 AM
Six Arrested in Fort Dix Murder Plot

Tuesday , May 08, 2007

Six people were arrested on Monday night in connection with a plot to murder as many soldiers as possible at Fort Dix, WNBC.com reports.

The six ethnic Albanians attempted to purchase automatic weapons from an arms dealer working with the FBI and were arrested in New Jersey after officials learned of the plot, a law enforcement source said.

The undercover investigation followed the men, three of whom are brothers, from New Jersey to the Poconos, where they allegedly practiced firing automatic weapons.

Officials raided the homes of the men, described as Islamic radicals, and said there is video showing some of the planning.
================


NEW YORK -- Six men from New Jersey have been arrested in an alleged terror plot against soldiers at Fort Dix, according investigators.

Investigators said the men planned to use automatic rifles to enter Fort Dix and kill as many soldiers as they could at the N.J. base. Fort Dix was just one of several military and security locations allegedly scouted by this group, authorities said.

Investigators told Newschannel 4's Jonathan Dienst that these arrests are the result of a tip to the FBI and use of an informant to track the suspects. Authorities were alerted in January 2006 after the terror suspects traveled to the Pocono’s for a training exercise where they practiced firing automatic weapons, investigators said.

Sources have told Newschannel 4's Brian Thompson that the suspects tried to have a their training video tape converted to DVD at a store in Cherry Hill, N.J., but the store owner alerted authorities.

Authorities then inserted a cooperating witness into the alleged terror cell to be a go between in their attempt to purchase M16 and AK-47 semi-automatic rifles. Arrests were made Monday night after the informant delivered dummy weapons paid for by the alleged terror cell suspects.

Investigators said the group discussed targeting numerous locations like Dover Air base, Fort Monmouth, a Coast Guard building in Philadelphia, and the Philadelphia Federal building before deciding on Fort Dix as their intended target. Fort Dix is run in part by the Army and is a reserve-training center, but active units take part in training, including some which focuses on counter-terrorism.

Sources tell Newschannel 4's Brian Thompson that the family of one of the suspects owns a pizzeria near Fort Dix and claimed to know the base "like the back of his hand." The same suspect told the alleged terror group it would be easy to penetrate to "get the most soldiers killed."

Investigators said the group of suspects have been discussing and planning for much of the last year. They allegedly pooled their savings to pay for the operation targeted at soldiers stationed here at home.

The six suspects arrested Monday night will face terror conspiracy charges. Three of the men are brothers, all believed to be Islamic radicals. Authorities have told Newschannel 4 that some of the men were born in Albania and the former Yugoslavia. Investigators said most of the suspects have spent several years here in the U.S.

Some of the group's alleged planning was caught on videotape, investigators said. On the videotape there is significant discussion of Martyrdom.

"Who is going to take care of my wife and kids," one suspect asks. Another responds, "Allah will take care of your wife and kids." The alleged terror cell is described by investigators as disciples of Osama Bin Laden. Among the evidence seized was the downloaded will and testament of two Sept. 11 hijackers.

Spokesmen for U.S. Attorney Chris Christie and the FBI in New Jersey and Philadelphia could not be reached for a comment.
The suspects will be arraigned this afternoon in front of a Federal Magistrate at 1 PM.
29803  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: May 07, 2007, 09:33:04 PM
I think he IS running and doing so in a manner to avoid the stupdities of McCain-Feingold Act (Shame on McCain and the US Supreme Court!  angry )  Also, he gets to be on TV lots and lots without triggering the obligation to air other candidates.

Newt is the only one I could support with considerable enthusiasm. 
29804  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Free Speech vs. Islamic Fascism (formerly Buy DANISH!!!) on: May 07, 2007, 09:25:05 PM
Not exactly within the subject of this thread, but worth noting. 

Dhimmitude wins again:
Little Green Footballs blog
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
France Bans Citizen Journalists from Reporting Violence

The French government, in inimitable French fashion, have decided that they can prevent more riots like the intifada that tore apart French suburbs in 2005 by cracking down on free speech: France bans citizen journalists from reporting violence. (Hat tip: LGF readers.)

The French Constitutional Council has approved a law that criminalizes the filming or broadcasting of acts of violence by people other than professional journalists. The law could lead to the imprisonment of eyewitnesses who film acts of police violence, or operators of Web sites publishing the images, one French civil liberties group warned on Tuesday.

The council chose an unfortunate anniversary to publish its decision approving the law, which came exactly 16 years after Los Angeles police officers beating Rodney King were filmed by amateur videographer George Holliday on the night of March 3, 1991. The officers’ acquittal at the end on April 29, 1992 sparked riots in Los Angeles.

If Holliday were to film a similar scene of violence in France today, he could end up in prison as a result of the new law, said Pascal Cohet, a spokesman for French online civil liberties group Odebi. And anyone publishing such images could face up to five years in prison and a fine of €75,000 (US $98,537), potentially a harsher sentence than that for committing the violent act.
============



Riot coverage ‘excessive’, says French TV boss. (Hat tip: Ralph.)

One of France’s leading TV news executives has admitted censoring his coverage of the riots in the country for fear of encouraging support for far-right politicians.
Jean-Claude Dassier, the director general of the rolling news service TCI, said the prominence given to the rioters on international news networks had been “excessive” and could even be fanning the flames of the violence.

Mr Dassier said his own channel, which is owned by the private broadcaster TF1, recently decided not to show footage of burning cars.

“Politics in France is heading to the right and I don’t want rightwing politicians back in second, or even first place because we showed burning cars on television,” Mr Dassier told an audience of broadcasters at the News Xchange conference in Amsterdam today.

“Having satellites trained on towns across France 24 hours a day showing the violence would have been wrong and totally disproportionate ... Journalism is not simply a matter of switching on the cameras and letting them roll. You have to think about what you’re broadcasting,” he said.





29805  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Newt Gingrich on: May 07, 2007, 07:18:29 PM
Newt Gingrich

A French Lesson for Republicans

BERLIN, Germany, May 7 -- Callista and I are in Europe this week for a conference on innovation in health care. More about our trip to Berlin in a minute, but first the big news in Europe this week isn't in Germany but in France.

I know this will seem strange to those of us who like to make jokes about the French, but the fact is that there is a great deal to be learned from the victory of Nicolas Sarkozy (a member of the ruling party) in last weekend's "change" election in France -- and Republicans had better learn it.

For those of you who haven't followed it closely, here is some background on the election.

The Background: An Unpopular Incumbent President and a Desire for Change

Incumbent French President Jacques Chirac had been twice elected, has served a total of 12 years in office, and is very unpopular. Coming into this election, people were very tired of the Chirac government and there was a sense that there had to be change.

But the opposition on the left, the Socialist Party, failed completely to capitalize on this desire for change. They nominated a candidate of great achievement, Ségolène Royal, but she proved herself to be the candidate of the status quo, not the candidate of change. She was actually committed to keeping all the bureaucracies that were failing and all the policies that were creating unemployment. She was committed to avoiding the changes necessary for a French future of prosperity, opportunity and safety.

Normally, with the incumbent conservative government so unpopular, the left would have been expected to win the election, probably by a significant margin. But the conservative candidate, Nicolas Sarkozy, won decisively because he is an aggressive, different kind of French political leader. He is a member of the Chirac government -- the Minister of the Interior. But not only is he a man who is willing to stand up and fight for what he believes in, but Sarkozy is also a man who hasn't followed the normal French path to success by going to an elite university, becoming part of the ruling elite and fitting in.

Sarkozy: A Different Kind of Frenchman

Instead, Sarkozy is just the opposite. He was born of Hungarian parents who had fled communism in Eastern Europe. That makes him the first president of France who is a first-generation immigrant. It also means his name doesn't sound very French. And his style certainly isn't very French. He is a tough, confrontational leader -- a man who has been preaching things that don't sound very much like the French establishment.

In the campaign, Sarkozy argued that the French have to work longer hours and, in order to give them an incentive to do so, that they shouldn't pay taxes if they work overtime. He called for tax cuts to encourage investment so the private sector can create jobs. And critically, Sarkozy has said that the people must obey the law, that the creation of law and respect for the law is a central part of any civilized society.

Remember, this is a jarring message for a country that routinely accepts the burning of up to 15,000 cars a year by hooligans who, according to the elites, are simply "expressing their desire to disrupt society." It's jarring for a country that was very proud a few years back to have the first mandatory 35-hour work week in history. Yet an increasing majority of the French believes that without the kind of changes Sarkozy is calling for, France's stature will disappear in a wave of lawlessness and economic decay.

A Royal Commitment to the Status Quo and a Candidate of Change

As for the opposition in the French election, much like the American Democratic Party, it is trapped by its commitment to big labor, big bureaucracy, high taxes and social values people don't believe in. Every time French voters seriously looked at Ségolène Royal and the kind of politics she represents, she lost ground. She simply couldn't make the case that left-wing Socialist policies would work.

The result was a surprising and powerful upset by Sarkozy -- a victory by a center-right reformer, a member of the unpopular ruling party, who came to personify change.

And here's where American Republicans really need to pay attention: In France, voting for change meant voting for the party in office, but not the personality in office. And voting to keep the old order meant voting for the opposition, not for the incumbent party.

If Republicans hope to win the presidency next year, they better find a candidate who is prepared to stand for very bold, very dramatic and very systematic change in Washington. Not only that, but they had better make the case that the left-wing Democrat likely to be nominated represents the failed status quo: the bureaucracies that are failing, the social policies that are failing, the high tax policies that are failing, and the weakness around the world that has failed so badly in protecting America.

Only if we have that kind of campaign do we have a reasonable chance to expect the American people will vote for effective change for a better, safer and more prosperous future -- and that they will see that effective change as being Republican.

A Franco-American Alliance for 'Green Conservatism'?

In the meantime, Sarkozy has pledged to repair relations between France and America, and we should take him seriously in his pledge. In particular, he has called on America to lead the world in addressing climate change.

This gives President Bush a unique opportunity to change the perception of his attitude toward both Europe and the environment. The President should take up Sarkozy's call for U.S. leadership on global warming by proposing a bold new initiative on market-based, entrepreneurial incentives to help in the environment. As I outline in an op-ed that appeared in Sunday's Atlanta Journal-Constitution, using new technology to dramatically increase energy independence and reduce reliance on carbon isn't giving in to the left -- it's resisting the big government solutions that the left routinely imposes under the guise of protecting the environment and instead finding a more effective way forward to protect and renew the natural world.

Solutions Watch

In the news here at home, I wanted to take a moment to congratulate former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani for his call in a speech [video, audio] at the Citadel last week for the creation of a special force to specifically handle post-combat operations in places like Iraq.

In 1999, I served on the United States Commission on National Security/21st Century (also known as the Hart-Rudman Commission) to examine our national security challenges as far out as 2025. One of the reforms we called for was the creation of a post-combat force.

In addition, I have long argued for the creation of a much larger military. Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Mitt Romney, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are all on record calling for a bigger army. The White House should answer their calls now. We can't wait until 2009.

Environmental Polar Opposites

While we are here in Berlin, Callista and I plan to stop by the zoo to see my namesake, Knut the polar bear. He's getting bigger these days, but you probably remember him from a few months ago when he was a cub recently abandoned by his mother. Some animal rights activists had declared that he should be put to death rather than be raised by humans. I'm going to see Knut, not only because of my great love of zoos and the natural world, but because I think he is a symbol of a growing divide on man's relationship with the environment. The activists who wanted Knut killed represent the radical view that humans are only destroyers of the natural world and that human needs and wants shall always be a distant second to the environment.

My view is that we are stewards of the natural world. We have an obligation to preserve and protect it, not only for future generations of human beings, but for all living things.

So long for now from Berlin. I'll report again next week on the launch of my new novel, Pearl Harbor, and the national security lessons it contains for America today.

29806  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Yoga on: May 07, 2007, 08:43:21 AM
This article from today's NYTimes leads me to open this thread.
=========================================

A Big Stretch
by SUKETU MEHTA
Published: May 7, 2007

I GREW up watching my father stand on his head every morning. He was doing sirsasana, a yoga pose that accounts for his youthful looks well into his 60s. Now he might have to pay a royalty to an American patent holder if he teaches the secrets of his good health to others. The United States Patent and Trademark Office has issued 150 yoga-related copyrights, 134 patents on yoga accessories and 2,315 yoga trademarks. There’s big money in those pretzel twists and contortions — $3 billion a year in America alone.

It’s a mystery to most Indians that anybody can make that much money from the teaching of a knowledge that is not supposed to be bought or sold like sausages. Should an Indian, in retaliation, patent the Heimlich maneuver, so that he can collect every time a waiter saves a customer from choking on a fishbone?

The Indian government is not laughing. It has set up a task force that is cataloging traditional knowledge, including ayurvedic remedies and hundreds of yoga poses, to protect them from being pirated and copyrighted by foreign hucksters. The data will be translated from ancient Sanskrit and Tamil texts, stored digitally and available in five international languages, so that patent offices in other countries can see that yoga didn’t originate in a San Francisco commune.

It is worth noting that the people in the forefront of the patenting of traditional Indian wisdom are Indians, mostly overseas. We know a business opportunity when we see one and have exported generations of gurus skilled in peddling enlightenment for a buck. The two scientists in Mississippi who patented the medicinal use of turmeric, a traditional Indian spice, are Indians. So is the strapping Bikram Choudhury, founder of Bikram Yoga, who has copyrighted his method of teaching yoga — a sequence of 26 poses in an overheated room — and whose lawyers sent out threatening notices to small yoga studios that he claimed violated his copyright.

But as an Indian, he ought to know that the very idea of patenting knowledge is a gross violation of the tradition of yoga. In Sanskrit, “yoga” means “union.” Indians believe in a universal mind — brahman — of which we are all a part, and which ponders eternally. Everyone has access to this knowledge. There is a line in the Hindu scriptures: “Let good knowledge come to us from all sides.” There is no follow-up that adds, “And let us pay royalties for it.”

Knowledge in ancient India was protected by caste lines, not legal or economic ones. The term “intellectual property” was an oxymoron: the intellect could not be anybody’s property. You did not pay your guru in coin; you herded his cows and married his daughter, and passed on the knowledge to others when you were sufficiently steeped in it. This tradition continues today, most notably in Indian classical music, none of whose melodies have been copyrighted.

Perhaps it is for this reason that Indians do not feel obligated to pay for knowledge. Pirated copies of my book are openly sold on the Bombay streets, for a fourth of its official price. Many of the plots and the music in Bollywood movies are lifted wholesale from Hollywood. I have sat in on Bollywood script meetings where we viewed American films and decided that replication was the sincerest form of flattery.

Still, Indians get upset every time they hear reports — often overblown — of Westerners’ stealing their age-old wisdom, through the mechanism of copyright law. They were outraged by a story last year of some Americans trying to copyright the sacred Hindu syllable “om” — which would be like trade-marking “amen.”

The fears may be exaggerated, but they are widespread and reflect India’s mixed experience with globalization. Western pharmaceutical companies make billions on drugs that are often first discovered in developing countries — but herbal remedies like bitter gourd or turmeric, which are known to be effective against everything from diabetes to piles, earn nothing for the country whose sages first isolated their virtues. The Indian government estimates that worldwide, 2000 patents are issued a year based on traditional Indian medicines.
29807  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: May 07, 2007, 08:36:49 AM

SOMETHING OF VALUE
How to Sink a Newspaper
Free news for online customers is a disastrous business plan.
BY WALTER E. HUSSMAN JR.
WSJ
Monday, May 7, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

One has to wonder how many of the newspaper industry's current problems are self-inflicted. Take free news. News has become ubiquitous, free, and as a result, a commodity. Anytime you are trying to sell something that becomes a commodity, you have lost much of the value in providing that product or service.

Not many years ago if someone wanted to find out what was in the newspaper they had to buy one. But not anymore. Now you can just go to the newspaper's Web site and get that same information for free.

The newspaper industry wonders why it is losing young readers. Those readers might be young, but many of them are smart, not to mention computer-savvy. Why would they buy a newspaper when they can get the same information online for free?

Newspapers initially created their Web sites with the best of intentions. After all, newspapers are in the information business. And rather than fight the new medium, the Internet, why not embrace it? Wanting to be the leading information providers and thereby have the most popular Web site in the community, they posted all of their news online for free.

Exacerbating the problem with free news was the decision by the newspaper industry, which owns the Associated Press, to sell AP copy to news aggregators like Yahoo, Google and MSN. These aggregators created lucrative news portals where the world could get much of the news that was in newspapers. So readers could now get free news not only on newspaper Web sites, but also from portals and aggregators that had a chance to monetize the content, most of which was created and financed by the newspaper industry.

With local radio and television stations also creating Web sites and posting their news for free, newspapers soon realized that much of the news on the broadcast Web sites had been created by the local newspaper. So, whereas before the newspapers were selling print ads while radio and TV were selling air time, now they were all selling the same medium: their Web sites. Since newspapers share their content with the Associated Press so other members can use it, radio and TV members are using much of that content to compete against the newspapers that created it.





Newspapers have for years been frustrated by radio stations which merely read the stories which are printed in that morning's edition. TV stations often get much of their news from the newspapers, too. But reading it on the air is clearly different from posting it online, placing them in direct competition with newspapers' Web sites.
All of this would be fine if newspapers generated lots of additional revenues from offering free news. But the fact is newspapers generate most of their online revenues from classified advertising, not from news. Gordon Borrell, CEO of Borrell Associates, estimated that newspaper Web sites generated 78% of their revenues from classifieds in 2006.

It turns out that a Web site is a very different medium from a newspaper. While consumers often find pop-up ads a distraction and banner ads as more clutter, readers often seek out the advertising in newspapers.

The Inland Cost and Revenue Study shows that newspapers will generate between $500 and $900 in revenue per subscriber per year. But a newspaper's Web site typically generates $5 to $10 per unique visitor per year. It may be that newspaper Web sites as an advertising medium, and free news, just can't generate the revenue to sustain a valued news operation.

In fact, online revenues for the publicly traded newspaper companies in 2005 varied from 1.7% at Journal Register Co. to 5.7% at Belo Corp. The only company higher was the Washington Post Co. at 8.4%. Yet newspapers typically spend 12% or more of their revenues on their news and editorial operations.

The Wall Street Journal Online now has 931,000 paying subscribers, more than the paying subscribers to all but three U.S. newspapers: USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. Our newspaper, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock, does not offer our news for free on the Web site. We offer free headlines. On a few selected stories, we offer a few free paragraphs, designed to get people to read our paper. We also offer free classifieds.

Recently I had the opportunity to compare our Web site policy with the free news policies of other papers. For the six months ending March 31, 2007, the newspaper industry's circulation was down 2.1% daily and 3.1% Sunday. By contrast, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's circulation was up 1.24% daily and up less than 1% Sunday.

I was able to make another interesting comparison, too, with the Columbus, Ohio, Dispatch. Columbus and Little Rock are both state capitals. Columbus is a larger market, and the Columbus Dispatch's circulation of 217,291 compares with 176,172 for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Up until Jan. 1, 2006, both our paper and the Columbus Dispatch offered news content only by subscription. We even charged the same price, $4.95, for an online monthly subscription, and both of us offered the same style electronic editions.

But Columbus dropped its subscription model on Jan. 1, 2006, and began offering most of its news for free. Its Web traffic and revenues certainly increased. But what happened to its paid circulation?

The six months ending Sept. 30, 2006 was a good comparison, since it compared six months in 2006 when the Columbus Dispatch had free news on its Web site compared with six months in 2005 when it did not offer free news. The Columbus Dispatch's daily circulation was down 5.8% while Sunday was down 1.1% for the six-month period. This compared with our loss of less than 0.4% daily and 1% Sunday.

When I looked at this comparison with Columbus, as well as the newspaper industry's larger losses, it didn't encourage me to change our Web policy to free news.





So what are we doing with our Web site? We have hired a videographer to complement our text coverage in the newspaper. We have added photo galleries to increase the number of photographs beyond what we can publish. We offer an electronic edition where you can search the entire edition by keywords, something you can't do in the print edition. And we offer breaking news email alerts, something else you can't do in print. In other words, we are offering value on our Web site that complements, rather than cannibalizes, our print edition.
Collectively, the American newspaper industry spends $7 billion on news and editorial operations. This includes everything from copy editor salaries to sports travel expenses. In addition, the Associated Press spent about $600 million world-wide in editing and creating news. By offering this news for free, and selling it to aggregators like Google, Yahoo and MSN for a small fraction of what it costs to create it, newspaper readership and circulation have declined.

These declines are accelerating. In 2004 and prior years, industry circulation declines were usually less than 1%. Since March 2005, these declines have been 2%-3% per year. With declining readership comes declining ad revenues, which are followed by layoffs.

The newsroom layoffs are most troubling, as less news with less quality, context and details results in more declines in readership and later, declines in advertising. If the $7 billion spent covering news becomes $6 billion, and later $5 billion, it is not just the newspaper industry that gets hurt. Journalism will be diminished in America with less investigative and enterprise reporting; indeed, less reporting of state houses, city halls, school boards, business and sports. Clearly a lot is at stake.

It is time for newspapers to reconsider the ultimate costs and consequences of free news.

Mr. Hussman is publisher of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.


29808  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: May 07, 2007, 08:29:14 AM
WHAT TO GIVE UP . . . AND WHAT LAND TO HOLD: ISRAEL'S TOUGHEST CHOICE
 
May 6, 2007 -- EACH time I visit Israel, I come home more pro-Israeli - and more worried about Israel's future.

The nation has been a stunning success, as close to a miracle as humanity achieved over the last, horrid century. But Israel is also a victim of that success. Built - like the United States - by the "old country's" rejects and outsiders, Israel's triumph is a slap in Europe's face. Europe was comfortable with its image of the Jew as a narrow-shouldered rabbinical student the local toughs could bully. But Europeans don't like Jews with muscles.  As for Israel's neighbors, they had 13 centuries to make a go of "Palestine." Instead, they turned the Land of Milk and Honey into a desert.

The ecological reclamation of the land of Israel is nearly as dramatic as the creation of a Jewish state. (Indeed, environmentalists of real integrity should count among Israel's strongest advocates.) That return to the garden is as humiliating to feckless Arab cultures as their military defeats.

And we won't even talk about Israel's introduction of rule-of-law democracy into the wretchedly governed Middle East.

The point is that, whatever Israel does or doesn't do, it will always have plenty of enemies. No matter how self-destructive and murderous Palestinian behavior may be in Gaza, how nakedly corrupt Palestinian leaders are, or how hypocritical Arab governments remain, the global left will always make excuses for them, while blaming Israel for every boil on a terrorist's backside.

SO why should Israel surren der any land to its enemies, if it gets in return nothing but empty promises and more security problems?

The reason has nothing to do with justice or sense, but with one of those oddities of the international system, "world opinion." I wish Israel could keep every inch of ground it now holds. But the reality is that global leaders who don't know Gaza from Giza will demand that Israel give up turf.

Some of those pressures can be shrugged off. But not all.

In this unjust world, Israel will be forced to make very difficult choices. Some of the toughest will have to do with the land it must surrender to thugs who'll turn it into yet another patch of self-made Arab misery. And there's a very real danger that, for internal political reasons, a future Israeli government will make faulty decisions.

ISRAEL must be severely prag matic, distinguishing between strategic terrain and evocative terrain - between those stretches of land critical to security and those whose appeal is purely emotional.

Sounds sensible and easy, but it isn't.

Israel's internal enemies are the rogue, extremist settlers who invoke a real-estate-magnate god to occupy West Bank territory that the state doesn't need and can't digest - and whose seizure plays into the hands of Israel's foes and complicates the support of her all-too-few friends.

Yet the fateful evolution of the Israeli parliamentary system has made those who return the least benefit to Israel - who drain its resources and give nothing back - into political kingmakers.

Jews who insist that their god cares more about a plot of bedeviled dirt than the reverence in their hearts are behaving like Arab militants (complete with the intolerance). No religious text is a valid deed.

Don't get me wrong: Jerusalem belongs to Israel. Christians have a stronger claim to Alexandria, Antioch and Istanbul than Muslims do to Jerusalem.

But when it comes to strategic terrain, forget about Hebron - the West Bank town that's home to less than 1,000 Israeli settlers, and well over 100,000 Palestinians. It's just one of the many settlements that hurt Israel's security instead of helping it.

SO what land truly matters to Israel's survival (assuming, for a moment, that Iran won't be permitted to build a nuclear arsenal)?

Israel can never surrender the Golan Heights. We might as well be honest about it. Syria repeatedly - three times - attacked Upper Galilee from the Golan. Three strikes and you're out.

Syria's a phony state, anyway, its borders drawn to please France. Israel has administered the Golan longer - and far better - than post-independence Damascus did.

Borders change. Get over it.

Elsewhere, though, traditional strategists have it wrong. They claim that whoever holds the mountainous "spine" running down through the West Bank controls the land that now comprises Israel. But Israel's survival and victorious wars disprove that "law."

What matters is control of the lines of communication - the roads - that enable Israel to shift military forces rapidly, and the control of foreign borders across which weapons can be infiltrated.

Thus, control of the Jordan Valley and its vital north-south highway is essential. The string of hilltop settlements east of Jerusalem that dominate the direct route to Jordan can never be given up.

And the recently floated scheme to swap Arab towns in northern Israel for part of the West Bank is madness - it would cost Israel control of a militarily vital highway from the coast into Galilee.

IN short, there are vital loca tions within the West Bank. They're just not the ones obsessing the fanatics who shame their faith.

If Israel doesn't do a cold- blooded analysis of what it truly needs to retain, the world will ask too much, its government will make decisions based upon political pressure rather than military necessity - and the result will be a far-worse mess than the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip created.

Israel must do what its survival requires. As the interim Winograd Report made clear on Monday, last summer's duel with Hezbollah was disastrous. Now Israel's enemies smell blood. Instead of the longed-for era of peace, we'll see no end of violence in the Middle East.

THERE'S no good solution to the region's problems. There may not even be any bad solutions that work. The failed civilization surrounding Israel may be hopeless - a possibility we pretend away because we cannot bear the implications.

But Israel can't pretend anything away. In a world in which so many openly seek its destruction - while others secretly long for the same thing - Israel is going to have to play flawless political chess. That means giving up the spaces on the board that don't help it checkmate its enemies.

Ralph Peters' most recent book is "Never Quit The Fight."
29809  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Boxing Thread on: May 06, 2007, 10:48:14 AM
Well, we passed on spending $55 for boxing  rolleyes

BTW, my seven year old and I were watching the promo clips yesterday and he said he thought Mayweather was going to win.  I asked why.  "Because he seems to do more hard training and the other guy seems to mostly be talking."  grin
29810  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Assessing Blame for Iraq front of WW3: on: May 05, 2007, 12:46:42 PM

Failures of Generalship in Iraq

America's generals have repeated the mistakes of Vietnam in Iraq. First, throughout the 1990s our generals failed to envision the conditions of future combat and prepare their forces accordingly. Second, America's generals failed to estimate correctly both the means and the ways necessary to achieve the aims of policy prior to beginning the war in Iraq. Finally, America's generals did not provide Congress and the public with an accurate assessment of the conflict in Iraq.

Despite paying lip service to "transformation" throughout the 1990s, America's armed forces failed to change in significant ways after the end of the 1991 Persian Gulf War. In "The Sling and the Stone," T.X. Hammes argues that the Defense Department's transformation strategy focuses almost exclusively on high-technology conventional wars. The doctrine, organizations, equipment and training of the U.S. military confirm this observation. The armed forces fought the global war on terrorism for the first five years with a counterinsurgency doctrine last revised in the Reagan administration. Despite engaging in numerous stability operations throughout the 1990s, the armed forces did little to bolster their capabilities for civic reconstruction and security force development. Procurement priorities during the 1990s followed the Cold War model, with significant funding devoted to new fighter aircraft and artillery systems. The most commonly used tactical scenarios in both schools and training centers replicated high-intensity interstate conflict. At the dawn of the 21st century, the U.S. is fighting brutal, adaptive insurgencies in Afghanistan and Iraq, while our armed forces have spent the preceding decade having done little to prepare for such conflicts.

Having spent a decade preparing to fight the wrong war, America's generals then miscalculated both the means and ways necessary to succeed in Iraq. The most fundamental military miscalculation in Iraq has been the failure to commit sufficient forces to provide security to Iraq's population. U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) estimated in its 1998 war plan that 380,000 troops would be necessary for an invasion of Iraq. Using operations in Bosnia and Kosovo as a model for predicting troop requirements, one Army study estimated a need for 470,000 troops. Alone among America's generals, Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki publicly stated that "several hundred thousand soldiers" would be necessary to stabilize post-Saddam Iraq. Prior to the war, President Bush promised to give field commanders everything necessary for victory. Privately, many senior general officers both active and retired expressed serious misgivings about the insufficiency of forces for Iraq. These leaders would later express their concerns in tell-all books such as "Fiasco" and "Cobra II." However, when the U.S. went to war in Iraq with less than half the strength required to win, these leaders did not make their objections public.

Given the lack of troop strength, not even the most brilliant general could have devised the ways necessary to stabilize post-Saddam Iraq. However, inept planning for postwar Iraq took the crisis caused by a lack of troops and quickly transformed it into a debacle. In 1997, the U.S. Central Command exercise "Desert Crossing" demonstrated that many postwar stabilization tasks would fall to the military. The other branches of the U.S. government lacked sufficient capability to do such work on the scale required in Iraq. Despite these results, CENTCOM accepted the assumption that the State Department would administer postwar Iraq. The military never explained to the president the magnitude of the challenges inherent in stabilizing postwar Iraq.

After failing to visualize the conditions of combat in Iraq, America's generals failed to adapt to the demands of counterinsurgency. Counterinsurgency theory prescribes providing continuous security to the population. However, for most of the war American forces in Iraq have been concentrated on large forward-operating bases, isolated from the Iraqi people and focused on capturing or killing insurgents. Counterinsurgency theory requires strengthening the capability of host-nation institutions to provide security and other essential services to the population. America's generals treated efforts to create transition teams to develop local security forces and provincial reconstruction teams to improve essential services as afterthoughts, never providing the quantity or quality of personnel necessary for success.

After going into Iraq with too few troops and no coherent plan for postwar stabilization, America's general officer corps did not accurately portray the intensity of the insurgency to the American public. The Iraq Study Group concluded that "there is significant underreporting of the violence in Iraq." The ISG noted that "on one day in July 2006 there were 93 attacks or significant acts of violence reported. Yet a careful review of the reports for that single day brought to light 1,100 acts of violence. Good policy is difficult to make when information is systematically collected in a way that minimizes its discrepancy with policy goals." Population security is the most important measure of effectiveness in counterinsurgency. For more than three years, America's generals continued to insist that the U.S. was making progress in Iraq. However, for Iraqi civilians, each year from 2003 onward was more deadly than the one preceding it. For reasons that are not yet clear, America's general officer corps underestimated the strength of the enemy, overestimated the capabilities of Iraq's government and security forces and failed to provide Congress with an accurate assessment of security conditions in Iraq. Moreover, America's generals have not explained clearly the larger strategic risks of committing so large a portion of the nation's deployable land power to a single theater of operations.

The intellectual and moral failures common to America's general officer corps in Vietnam and Iraq constitute a crisis in American generalship. Any explanation that fixes culpability on individuals is insufficient. No one leader, civilian or military, caused failure in Vietnam or Iraq. Different military and civilian leaders in the two conflicts produced similar results. In both conflicts, the general officer corps designed to advise policymakers, prepare forces and conduct operations failed to perform its intended functions. To understand how the U.S. could face defeat at the hands of a weaker insurgent enemy for the second time in a generation, we must look at the structural influences that produce our general officer corps.

The Generals We Need

The most insightful examination of failed generalship comes from J.F.C. Fuller's "Generalship: Its Diseases and Their Cure." Fuller was a British major general who saw action in the first attempts at armored warfare in World War I. He found three common characteristics in great generals — courage, creative intelligence and physical fitness.

The need for intelligent, creative and courageous general officers is self-evident. An understanding of the larger aspects of war is essential to great generalship. However, a survey of Army three- and four-star generals shows that only 25 percent hold advanced degrees from civilian institutions in the social sciences or humanities. Counterinsurgency theory holds that proficiency in foreign languages is essential to success, yet only one in four of the Army's senior generals speaks another language. While the physical courage of America's generals is not in doubt, there is less certainty regarding their moral courage. In almost surreal language, professional military men blame their recent lack of candor on the intimidating management style of their civilian masters. Now that the public is immediately concerned with the crisis in Iraq, some of our generals are finding their voices. They may have waited too long.

Neither the executive branch nor the services themselves are likely to remedy the shortcomings in America's general officer corps. Indeed, the tendency of the executive branch to seek out mild-mannered team players to serve as senior generals is part of the problem. The services themselves are equally to blame. The system that produces our generals does little to reward creativity and moral courage. Officers rise to flag rank by following remarkably similar career patterns. Senior generals, both active and retired, are the most important figures in determining an officer's potential for flag rank. The views of subordinates and peers play no role in an officer's advancement; to move up he must only please his superiors. In a system in which senior officers select for promotion those like themselves, there are powerful incentives for conformity. It is unreasonable to expect that an officer who spends 25 years conforming to institutional expectations will emerge as an innovator in his late forties.

If America desires creative intelligence and moral courage in its general officer corps, it must create a system that rewards these qualities. Congress can create such incentives by exercising its proper oversight function in three areas. First, Congress must change the system for selecting general officers. Second, oversight committees must apply increased scrutiny over generating the necessary means and pursuing appropriate ways for applying America's military power. Third, the Senate must hold accountable through its confirmation powers those officers who fail to achieve the aims of policy at an acceptable cost in blood and treasure.

To improve the creative intelligence of our generals, Congress must change the officer promotion system in ways that reward adaptation and intellectual achievement. Congress should require the armed services to implement 360-degree evaluations for field-grade and flag officers. Junior officers and noncommissioned officers are often the first to adapt because they bear the brunt of failed tactics most directly. They are also less wed to organizational norms and less influenced by organizational taboos. Junior leaders have valuable insights regarding the effectiveness of their leaders, but the current promotion system excludes these judgments. Incorporating subordinate and peer reviews into promotion decisions for senior leaders would produce officers more willing to adapt to changing circumstances, and less likely to conform to outmoded practices.

Congress should also modify the officer promotion system in ways that reward intellectual achievement. The Senate should examine the education and professional writing of nominees for three- and four-star billets as part of the confirmation process. The Senate would never confirm to the Supreme Court a nominee who had neither been to law school nor written legal opinions. However, it routinely confirms four-star generals who possess neither graduate education in the social sciences or humanities nor the capability to speak a foreign language. Senior general officers must have a vision of what future conflicts will look like and what capabilities the U.S. requires to prevail in those conflicts. They must possess the capability to understand and interact with foreign cultures. A solid record of intellectual achievement and fluency in foreign languages are effective indicators of an officer's potential for senior leadership.

To reward moral courage in our general officers, Congress must ask hard questions about the means and ways for war as part of its oversight responsibility. Some of the answers will be shocking, which is perhaps why Congress has not asked and the generals have not told. Congress must ask for a candid assessment of the money and manpower required over the next generation to prevail in the Long War. The money required to prevail may place fiscal constraints on popular domestic priorities. The quantity and quality of manpower required may call into question the viability of the all-volunteer military. Congress must re-examine the allocation of existing resources, and demand that procurement priorities reflect the most likely threats we will face. Congress must be equally rigorous in ensuring that the ways of war contribute to conflict termination consistent with the aims of national policy. If our operations produce more enemies than they defeat, no amount of force is sufficient to prevail. Current oversight efforts have proved inadequate, allowing the executive branch, the services and lobbyists to present information that is sometimes incomplete, inaccurate or self-serving. Exercising adequate oversight will require members of Congress to develop the expertise necessary to ask the right questions and display the courage to follow the truth wherever it leads them.

Finally, Congress must enhance accountability by exercising its little-used authority to confirm the retired rank of general officers. By law, Congress must confirm an officer who retires at three- or four-star rank. In the past this requirement has been pro forma in all but a few cases. A general who presides over a massive human rights scandal or a substantial deterioration in security ought to be retired at a lower rank than one who serves with distinction. A general who fails to provide Congress with an accurate and candid assessment of strategic probabilities ought to suffer the same penalty. As matters stand now, a private who loses a rifle suffers far greater consequences than a general who loses a war. By exercising its powers to confirm the retired ranks of general officers, Congress can restore accountability among senior military leaders.

Mortal Danger

This article began with Frederick the Great's admonition to his officers to focus their energies on the larger aspects of war. The Prussian monarch's innovations had made his army the terror of Europe, but he knew that his adversaries were learning and adapting. Frederick feared that his generals would master his system of war without thinking deeply about the ever-changing nature of war, and in doing so would place Prussia's security at risk. These fears would prove prophetic. At the Battle of Valmy in 1792, Frederick's successors were checked by France's ragtag citizen army. In the fourteen years that followed, Prussia's generals assumed without much reflection that the wars of the future would look much like those of the past. In 1806, the Prussian Army marched lockstep into defeat and disaster at the hands of Napoleon at Jena. Frederick's prophecy had come to pass; Prussia became a French vassal.

Iraq is America's Valmy. America's generals have been checked by a form of war that they did not prepare for and do not understand. They spent the years following the 1991 Gulf War mastering a system of war without thinking deeply about the ever changing nature of war. They marched into Iraq having assumed without much reflection that the wars of the future would look much like the wars of the past. Those few who saw clearly our vulnerability to insurgent tactics said and did little to prepare for these dangers. As at Valmy, this one debacle, however humiliating, will not in itself signal national disaster. The hour is late, but not too late to prepare for the challenges of the Long War. We still have time to select as our generals those who possess the intelligence to visualize future conflicts and the moral courage to advise civilian policymakers on the preparations needed for our security. The power and the responsibility to identify such generals lie with the U.S. Congress. If Congress does not act, our Jena awaits us.

 
29811  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Assessing Blame for Iraq front of WW3: on: May 05, 2007, 12:46:13 PM

http://www.armedforcesjournal.com/2007/05/2635198
A failure in generalship
By Lt. Col. Paul Yingling
"You officers amuse yourselves with God knows what buffooneries and never dream in the least of serious service. This is a source of stupidity which would become most dangerous in case of a serious conflict."
- Frederick the Great


For the second time in a generation, the United States faces the prospect of defeat at the hands of an insurgency. In April 1975, the U.S. fled the Republic of Vietnam, abandoning our allies to their fate at the hands of North Vietnamese communists. In 2007, Iraq's grave and deteriorating condition offers diminishing hope for an American victory and portends risk of an even wider and more destructive regional war.

These debacles are not attributable to individual failures, but rather to a crisis in an entire institution: America's general officer corps. America's generals have failed to prepare our armed forces for war and advise civilian authorities on the application of force to achieve the aims of policy. The argument that follows consists of three elements. First, generals have a responsibility to society to provide policymakers with a correct estimate of strategic probabilities. Second, America's generals in Vietnam and Iraq failed to perform this responsibility. Third, remedying the crisis in American generalship requires the intervention of Congress.

 
The Responsibilities of Generalship

Armies do not fight wars; nations fight wars. War is not a military activity conducted by soldiers, but rather a social activity that involves entire nations. Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz noted that passion, probability and policy each play their role in war. Any understanding of war that ignores one of these elements is fundamentally flawed.

The passion of the people is necessary to endure the sacrifices inherent in war. Regardless of the system of government, the people supply the blood and treasure required to prosecute war. The statesman must stir these passions to a level commensurate with the popular sacrifices required. When the ends of policy are small, the statesman can prosecute a conflict without asking the public for great sacrifice. Global conflicts such as World War II require the full mobilization of entire societies to provide the men and materiel necessary for the successful prosecution of war. The greatest error the statesman can make is to commit his nation to a great conflict without mobilizing popular passions to a level commensurate with the stakes of the conflict.

Popular passions are necessary for the successful prosecution of war, but cannot be sufficient. To prevail, generals must provide policymakers and the public with a correct estimation of strategic probabilities. The general is responsible for estimating the likelihood of success in applying force to achieve the aims of policy. The general describes both the means necessary for the successful prosecution of war and the ways in which the nation will employ those means. If the policymaker desires ends for which the means he provides are insufficient, the general is responsible for advising the statesman of this incongruence. The statesman must then scale back the ends of policy or mobilize popular passions to provide greater means. If the general remains silent while the statesman commits a nation to war with insufficient means, he shares culpability for the results.

However much it is influenced by passion and probability, war is ultimately an instrument of policy and its conduct is the responsibility of policymakers. War is a social activity undertaken on behalf of the nation; Augustine counsels us that the only purpose of war is to achieve a better peace. The choice of making war to achieve a better peace is inherently a value judgment in which the statesman must decide those interests and beliefs worth killing and dying for. The military man is no better qualified than the common citizen to make such judgments. He must therefore confine his input to his area of expertise — the estimation of strategic probabilities.

The correct estimation of strategic possibilities can be further subdivided into the preparation for war and the conduct of war. Preparation for war consists in the raising, arming, equipping and training of forces. The conduct of war consists of both planning for the use of those forces and directing those forces in operations.

To prepare forces for war, the general must visualize the conditions of future combat. To raise military forces properly, the general must visualize the quality and quantity of forces needed in the next war. To arm and equip military forces properly, the general must visualize the materiel requirements of future engagements. To train military forces properly, the general must visualize the human demands on future battlefields, and replicate those conditions in peacetime exercises. Of course, not even the most skilled general can visualize precisely how future wars will be fought. According to British military historian and soldier Sir Michael Howard, "In structuring and preparing an army for war, you can be clear that you will not get it precisely right, but the important thing is not to be too far wrong, so that you can put it right quickly."

The most tragic error a general can make is to assume without much reflection that wars of the future will look much like wars of the past. Following World War I, French generals committed this error, assuming that the next war would involve static battles dominated by firepower and fixed fortifications. Throughout the interwar years, French generals raised, equipped, armed and trained the French military to fight the last war. In stark contrast, German generals spent the interwar years attempting to break the stalemate created by firepower and fortifications. They developed a new form of war — the blitzkrieg — that integrated mobility, firepower and decentralized tactics. The German Army did not get this new form of warfare precisely right. After the 1939 conquest of Poland, the German Army undertook a critical self-examination of its operations. However, German generals did not get it too far wrong either, and in less than a year had adapted their tactics for the invasion of France.

After visualizing the conditions of future combat, the general is responsible for explaining to civilian policymakers the demands of future combat and the risks entailed in failing to meet those demands. Civilian policymakers have neither the expertise nor the inclination to think deeply about strategic probabilities in the distant future. Policymakers, especially elected representatives, face powerful incentives to focus on near-term challenges that are of immediate concern to the public. Generating military capability is the labor of decades. If the general waits until the public and its elected representatives are immediately concerned with national security threats before finding his voice, he has waited too long. The general who speaks too loudly of preparing for war while the nation is at peace places at risk his position and status. However, the general who speaks too softly places at risk the security of his country.

Failing to visualize future battlefields represents a lapse in professional competence, but seeing those fields clearly and saying nothing is an even more serious lapse in professional character. Moral courage is often inversely proportional to popularity and this observation in nowhere more true than in the profession of arms. The history of military innovation is littered with the truncated careers of reformers who saw gathering threats clearly and advocated change boldly. A military professional must possess both the physical courage to face the hazards of battle and the moral courage to withstand the barbs of public scorn. On and off the battlefield, courage is the first characteristic of generalship.

Failures of Generalship in Vietnam

America's defeat in Vietnam is the most egregious failure in the history of American arms. America's general officer corps refused to prepare the Army to fight unconventional wars, despite ample indications that such preparations were in order. Having failed to prepare for such wars, America's generals sent our forces into battle without a coherent plan for victory. Unprepared for war and lacking a coherent strategy, America lost the war and the lives of more than 58,000 service members.

Following World War II, there were ample indicators that America's enemies would turn to insurgency to negate our advantages in firepower and mobility. The French experiences in Indochina and Algeria offered object lessons to Western armies facing unconventional foes. These lessons were not lost on the more astute members of America's political class. In 1961, President Kennedy warned of "another type of war, new in its intensity, ancient in its origin — war by guerrillas, subversives, insurgents, assassins, war by ambush instead of by combat, by infiltration instead of aggression, seeking victory by evading and exhausting the enemy instead of engaging him." In response to these threats, Kennedy undertook a comprehensive program to prepare America's armed forces for counterinsurgency.

Despite the experience of their allies and the urging of their president, America's generals failed to prepare their forces for counterinsurgency. Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Decker assured his young president, "Any good soldier can handle guerrillas." Despite Kennedy's guidance to the contrary, the Army viewed the conflict in Vietnam in conventional terms. As late as 1964, Gen. Earle Wheeler, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated flatly that "the essence of the problem in Vietnam is military." While the Army made minor organizational adjustments at the urging of the president, the generals clung to what Andrew Krepinevich has called "the Army concept," a vision of warfare focused on the destruction of the enemy's forces.

Having failed to visualize accurately the conditions of combat in Vietnam, America's generals prosecuted the war in conventional terms. The U.S. military embarked on a graduated attrition strategy intended to compel North Vietnam to accept a negotiated peace. The U.S. undertook modest efforts at innovation in Vietnam. Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support (CORDS), spearheaded by the State Department's "Blowtorch" Bob Kromer, was a serious effort to address the political and economic causes of the insurgency. The Marine Corps' Combined Action Program (CAP) was an innovative approach to population security. However, these efforts are best described as too little, too late. Innovations such as CORDS and CAP never received the resources necessary to make a large-scale difference. The U.S. military grudgingly accepted these innovations late in the war, after the American public's commitment to the conflict began to wane.

America's generals not only failed to develop a strategy for victory in Vietnam, but also remained largely silent while the strategy developed by civilian politicians led to defeat. As H.R. McMaster noted in "Dereliction of Duty," the Joint Chiefs of Staff were divided by service parochialism and failed to develop a unified and coherent recommendation to the president for prosecuting the war to a successful conclusion. Army Chief of Staff Harold K. Johnson estimated in 1965 that victory would require as many as 700,000 troops for up to five years. Commandant of the Marine Corps Wallace Greene made a similar estimate on troop levels. As President Johnson incrementally escalated the war, neither man made his views known to the president or Congress. President Johnson made a concerted effort to conceal the costs and consequences of Vietnam from the public, but such duplicity required the passive consent of America's generals.

Having participated in the deception of the American people during the war, the Army chose after the war to deceive itself. In "Learning to Eat Soup With a Knife," John Nagl argued that instead of learning from defeat, the Army after Vietnam focused its energies on the kind of wars it knew how to win — high-technology conventional wars. An essential contribution to this strategy of denial was the publication of "On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War," by Col. Harry Summers. Summers, a faculty member of the U.S. Army War College, argued that the Army had erred by not focusing enough on conventional warfare in Vietnam, a lesson the Army was happy to hear. Despite having been recently defeated by an insurgency, the Army slashed training and resources devoted to counterinsurgency.

By the early 1990s, the Army's focus on conventional war-fighting appeared to have been vindicated. During the 1980s, the U.S. military benefited from the largest peacetime military buildup in the nation's history. High-technology equipment dramatically increased the mobility and lethality of our ground forces. The Army's National Training Center honed the Army's conventional war-fighting skills to a razor's edge. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 signaled the demise of the Soviet Union and the futility of direct confrontation with the U.S. Despite the fact the U.S. supported insurgencies in Afghanistan, Nicaragua and Angola to hasten the Soviet Union's demise, the U.S. military gave little thought to counterinsurgency throughout the 1990s. America's generals assumed without much reflection that the wars of the future would look much like the wars of the past — state-on-state conflicts against conventional forces. America's swift defeat of the Iraqi Army, the world's fourth-largest, in 1991 seemed to confirm the wisdom of the U.S. military's post-Vietnam reforms. But the military learned the wrong lessons from Operation Desert Storm. It continued to prepare for the last war, while its future enemies prepared for a new kind of war.
29812  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Cops need naps on: May 05, 2007, 06:55:41 AM
Force Science Research Center <Info@forcesciencenews.com> wrote:
Date: Fri, 04 May 2007 20:33:33 -0500
Subject: FORCE SCIENCE NEWS: Transmission #71
From: Force Science Research Center <Info@forcesciencenews.com>
To: <stickwacker1@yahoo.com>

Force Science News #71
May 4, 2007

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non-profit institution based at Minnesota State University, Mankato.
Subscriptions are free and sent via e-mail. To register for your free,
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click on the registration button. For reprint clearance, please e-mail:
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"OUR COPS ARE TICKING TIME BOMBS FOR LACK OF SLEEP"

About the time we were transmitting our recent article on the need for
on-shift naps, one of the nation's foremost law enforcement risk managers
was independently telling a standing-room crowd at the annual ILEETA
training conference that fatigue is a life-threatening issue for street
officers and that approved napping should be considered an on-duty necessity.

Risk and liability specialist Gordon Graham, an attorney and retired captain
with the California Highway Patrol, claimed later in an interview with Force
Science News that fatigue played a significant role in at least 3 officer
deaths that he's aware of in recent months in just one state alone.

"Administrators won't talk about it," Graham says, "but our cops are
ticking time bombs for lack of sleep.

"If a big rig runs off the road, we take that driver's life apart for the
previous few days, looking at his sleep log, among other things. But when
something tragic happens with a cop, we don't analyze for fatigue.

"Wouldn't it be interesting to know how many hours of sleep officers have
had before some of the controversial shootings that have rocked law
enforcement? Or to correlate citizen complaints with officer fatigue?

"Fatigue is an identifiable risk. Let's take responsibility and manage that
risk.

"I'd like to see officers paid to take care of 3 basic needs while on duty:
to eat, to nap, and to work out so they stay in better physical shape. This
could be a negotiable issue with the unions. I'm convinced that all the
positives would be up and that we'd save money in the long run."

[Gordon Graham, who consults with agencies throughout the nation on
liability issues, can be reached at: Ggraham@Lexipol.com]

In our report on fatigue and napping, which you can read here:

http://www.policeone.com/writers/columnists/ForceScience/articles/1238757/

we asked for comments. In this "Mailbag" edition of Force Science News, we
present a representative sampling of your responses, edited for clarity and
brevity. The views expressed do not necessarily represent those of the
writers' employers.

OFFICER THROUGH THE WRINGER: 3 DIFFERENT SHIFTS IN 1 WEEK!

As the research continues to confirm the importance of adequate sleep,
employers continue to ignore the implications. Police agencies are far and
beyond the worst offenders, small agencies in particular.

I work in a 12-officer agency. My REGULAR schedule, not affected by other
officers taking a sick day or holiday or overtime/court requirements, has me
working AT LEAST 2 different shifts in the SAME week.

"Double backs," with only 8 hours scheduled off between shifts (e.g.,
working an evening shift until midnight then having to be back at work at 8
AM) are the rule for every officer's schedule. Given report time, commute
time, getting ready for bed, sleeping, getting up and ready for work, that
translates to about 4 hours of actual sleep.

A TYPICAL schedule for me is midnight, double back to an evening shift,
another midnight, then double back again to another evening, then double
back yet again to a day shift: All 3 shifts in 1 week, with 3 double backs
and MAYBE 12 hours of total sleep--assuming your body isn't so confused by
the constantly variable schedule that you CAN sleep--and you're so damn
tired you can hardly think straight.

It isn't safe, it isn't smart, and it's a miserable way to live. Officers
are irritable and short with people, their productivity is quite
lacking--but at least they're not crashing their patrol cars into civilians.

Oh, wait...they are! When they're not racking up citizen complaints for
being rude.

Two factors perpetuate this pattern: One, there aren't enough officers.
Adding officers means more money, and small agencies simply do not have
enough money. Second, the administrators and supervisors writing the
schedules that affect all their officers work a straight day shift with
weekends off. They lose track of what it means to be sleep deprived.

Forget sanctioned naps. When you have only 1 officer on duty, you want him
to actually be awake for calls.

A Deputy from Texas


SNOOZE ELSEWHERE

I agree with the need to catnap to recharge. However, if our brothers in
blue are tired only because they have a second job, sleep on that one.

John Mertz
State Conservation Ofcr.
Knoxville, IA


HOURS OF NO CALLS ARE UNSAFE

I would not agree to napping on the 3 PM to 11 PM shift but definitely on
the midnight shift. It becomes unsafe when you have been driving around for
6 hours with little or no calls. If the call volume is high the fatigue does
not seem to set in as much. But the slow nights make it very hard to stay
awake.

Ofcr. Cliff Mahan
Guthrie (OK) PD


A COMPASSIONATE DEPARTMENT

My old department would let us come in for a 20- to 30-min. break and
snooze. This did wonders, especially when things were slow, since I could
only average 3-4 hours of sleep before work. Working 12-hr. shifts killed me.

A Force Science Reader


"WE ALREADY HAVE A TARNISHED IMAGE"

Officer fatigue is a valid argument for 2-person assignments. As a sergeant
I notice I am less efficient when I have to drive and supervise. When I have
a driver, my work is more efficient and I have more energy because I can
rest while being driven.

Napping, however, is another matter and unacceptable in a world where we
already have a tarnished image of not doing enough!

Sgt. Richard Aztlan
Chicago PD, Mass Transit


HAVE ANOTHER COP WATCH OVER YOU

I have said to my officers on the 3rd watch (2100-0700) that I am not
encouraging sleeping on duty, but I am a realist. I know it will happen,
especially at the first couple of weeks into the shift change. Therefore,
call your beat partner or me and have another cop park next to you while you
catch a 30-min. nap.

I have done so myself. I find the short rest is very refreshing and will
carry you alertly through the rest of the shift. I view this nap as healthy
and possibly lifesaving, not only during your shift but afterward while
you're on your way home.

A Sergeant from California


THE DISRUPTION OF BEING "FAIR"

For a decade I worked a job with a shift of 24 hours on and 48 hours off. It
took my body and brain nearly 2 years to become truly accustomed to this
shift, and for me to learn coping strategies to deal with the issues this
shift induced.

My local police department rotates officer shifts every 3 months, to be
"fair" don't you know. This is a huge mistake. I suspect officers may take 2
of the 3 months for their bodies, brains, and sleep and their family and
social patterns to become mostly adapted to the new shift. Just as they're
getting into a rhythm, their department disrupts them all over again with a
mandatory shift rotation.

Such departments must have a lot of officers operating at fractional
potential much of the time, just because of this effort to be "fair." If
this disruptive practice has not been studied, it's dang time it were.

Gary Marbut, president
Montana Shooting Sports Assn.
Missoula, MT


"A HARD SELL"

All of us know [napping] has gone on since the first night shift began. It's
human nature. Having trained your body to be awake in the day and asleep at
night then telling it to do something totally to the contrary on changing
intervals is not only very dangerous it's unhealthy.

Still, I believe this is a hard sell to administrators who don't have to
deal with this issue themselves. Also not everyone can just fall asleep on
command.

A Force Science Reader


MANPOWER DEMANDS OVERRIDE GOOD INTENTIONS

I have been in LE for over 28 years and totally agree that sleep deprivation
is a severe detriment to many officers. I average about 5 hours of sleep a
night while working our day shift. Because my spouse works and my child is
grown, I have the luxury of sleeping in on my days off, trying to make up
for my lost sleep. However, I find that I am often fatigued at work,
especially during the early morning hours and after the work day. Our shift
pattern causes all shifts to work during some hours of darkness.

Over the years we have allowed, and even encouraged, officers to come to the
station and take a snooze if they become over-tired. Unfortunately, even
though our manning is higher than it has ever been, our calls for service
have also increased to the point that allowing for a nap except under the
most serious situations has become a thing of the past.

Until there's a plan that allows for naps without causing a problem with
response to calls, it's coffee and supplements!

A Lieutenant from Florida


SWAP FOOD FOR SLEEP

If a lunch hour is in your shift hours, even half an hour, get permission to
sleep your lunch break, and eat energy bars and fruit as you drive to
replace a formal lunch.

Mike Hargreaves
CEO, Community Patrol, Inc.
Orlando, FL

================
(c) 2007: Force Science Research Center, www.forcescience.org.
29813  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: May 05, 2007, 06:48:08 AM
Move Over Olmert
Will Tzipi Livni be Israel's next prime minister?

BY FANIA OZ-SALZBERGER
Saturday, May 5, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT
WSJ

HAIFA, Israel--On Wednesday, Tzipi Livni gave a press conference calling for Ehud Olmert's resignation in the wake of the Winograd Commission's sharp critique of his performance during the Lebanon war. She also announced she would be challenging him in the Kadima Party primary elections. Mr. Olmert fumed, but stopped short of firing the minister of foreign affairs, aware of her popularity within the party and striving to keep his government above water.

Many Israelis, by contrast, found Ms. Livni's soft tone and refusal to step down a symptom of political weakness. Still, she is determined to keep alive both Kadima and the chances for Israeli-Arab peace. Amid the political tsunami that washed over Israel in the last four days, this is something of a feat.

In an interview given prior to the release of the Winograd Report--which lambasted Prime Minister Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz and former Chief of Staff Dan Halutz--Ms. Livni told me why she ought to stay in power. She has a peace-seeking vision for Israel's future, which she has consistently pursued since her appointment in March 2006 and throughout the 34 days of war with Lebanon. Despite current accusations of wishy-washiness, she is still considered by many voters to be the stuff prime ministers are made of. If not now, a little later--assuming Kadima survives.





Ms. Livni has the distinction of being Israel's least-hated leader, widely trusted and considered a spotless and serious stateswoman. The president is suspended and faces likely prosecution on rape, and both prime minister and finance minister are suspected of corruption; Ms. Livni's slate, by contrast, is glaringly clean. A good number of Israelis have considered her a viable heir to Mr. Olmert, and now, in the eye of the storm, many of her party members and supporters still do.
Yet the country is on a political roller-coaster. More than 100,000 protesters flocked to Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on Thursday, calling for Messrs. Olmert and Peretz to step down. Minister Livni was not targeted. And significantly, the rally did not demand new elections. The reason is clear: Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud is poised to win them. His support rose to 27% in recent polls. But many Israelis fear his leadership no less than they despise Mr. Olmert's. This concern is echoed by prominent voices world-wide. Germany's foreign minister Steinmeyer, on behalf of the EU, said on Thursday that "Israel's internal crisis must not be allowed to jeopardize the efforts to resuscitate the Middle East peace process."

If the polling box stays comfortably far, Ms. Livni faces four alternative futures: Mr. Olmert may survive and oust her; he may survive, swallow his pride and keep her in the cabinet, setting his sights on mending both army and peace process; Shimon Peres could take over if Mr. Olmert is forced to resign; or Ms. Livni would take the prime ministerial helm herself. The last three options leave ample room for her international vision to push onward.

This weekend, therefore, Ms. Livni's views are still deeply relevant to Israel's future.

We met in her modest, one-day-a-week Tel Aviv office. Somewhat slumped after a heavy lunch with EU ambassadors, Ms. Livni's energies promptly resurfaced as she recalled addressing a cheering Kadima audience. She told them she had left Likud last year because she couldn't support a political platform dominated by the word "No." "My colleagues and I established Kadima because we were sick and tired of Likud's political fallacies, both ideological and procedural. We wanted to spell out what Likud knows, but due to militant members of its electoral assembly, cannot utter: the principle of two states for two nations. The Kadima platform is based on a paper I originally drafted for the Likud; I took it from my computer, deleted the title 'Reaching Agreement in Likud,' and typed 'Platform' instead."

Ms. Livni's document won voters' confidence last March, scoring a historical victory for the newly founded party shortly after it was deprived of its natural leader, Ariel Sharon. Ms. Livni misses him, personally and politically: "He belonged to a generation of leaders whose commitment to Israel and to the Jewish people was obvious to the public even when they erred," she told me. His heirs, by contrast, must prove their worth. "Kadima represents a huge portion of the Israeli public that is sitting on the fence [between left and right]," she says. "We must regain its trust."

Center parties have never done well in this opinionated country, but Ms. Livni thinks the middle road will prevail. "It is a worldview, not a bunch of nondeciders. My vision of Israeli society and economy is clear and focused." In effect, her economic views are consistent with Kadima's social-minded but essentially free-market stance. Far more urgent for most Israelis is her international outlook. Can she get talks with the Palestinians going? Can she jump-start the peace process, cashing in on American support while courting a helpful European input? Will Israel's strongest female politician since Golda Meir deliver the goods which all her predecessors--Golda most of all--failed to bring home?

Born in 1958 to a seasoned right-wing family--her father was Knesset member for Likud--Tzipora Livni trained as a lawyer and worked for Mossad. Married with two children, she entered Israeli parliament in Netanyahu's list in 1999, and held several ministerial posts under Sharon. Her rise to political stardom was swift and relatively painless. Her political views shifted from right to center early in the new millennium. The longtime hawk, who at 16 years old demonstrated against Henry Kissinger's mission to get Israel out of the Sinai and the Golan Heights, became a supporter of major territorial compromise, buttressed by a vital condition: that not one Palestinian refugee be repatriated into the Jewish state as part of the final deal.

"The establishment of Israel," she says, "has removed 'the Jewish problem' from world agenda. A Palestinian state must do the same for all Palestinians, residents of the territories and exiles alike. It is the only solution for the refugee problem." Can this be anchored in the newly awakened Saudi peace initiative? Ms. Livni draws a clear demarcation: She would give her blessing to the Saudi plan--in fact, she did so from the day it was broached in 2002--as long as the Palestinian "right of return" is off the agenda. "Any border disagreement can be solved by negotiation," she says. Demography is another matter.





This statement not only matches a near-consensus among Jewish Israelis, it also reflects a constitutional credo. Ms. Livni and I have met during the lively debates of the public council of the Israeli Democracy Institute, a powerful independent think tank drafting a written constitution for the country and closely associated with legislators of all political shades. This ambitious project is based on Israel's self-definition as a "Jewish and democratic state" (though some Israelis, this writer included, would prefer to change the order of the adjectives). Ms. Livni is committed to both tags, along with "a strong protection of individual rights." Put together, "these are the Israeli values that every immigrant should memorize, just like the American values in the U.S." Not all Israelis would agree, I retort. Ms. Livni thinks that the solid center is on her side. So, by implication, is the political left. "The real political fault-line runs between those who accept the 'Jewish and democratic' principle, and such religious groups who demand Jewish presence in as much of the Land of Israel as possible. For them, each passing day is a net gain. For me, every decision must substantiate Israel's dual-value vision. Therefore, the land must be divided into two nation states."
Unlike her former Likud friends, she chose to face reality: Avery large Palestinian minority within Israel's final borders would kill off either its Jewish or its democratic character. A generous territorial compromise is her way to square the ensuing circle. This was Kadima's initial raison d'etre, before it slalomed into Lebanon and corruption charges.

Till recently, Israel did not officially respond to the Saudi peace plan. A mistake? "We ought to have put our concept on the table years ago," Ms. Livni concedes. "By neglecting to do so, we lost opportunities of launching a viable process." Her tenure at the ministry of foreign affairs is marked by an effort to advertise a clearer Israeli stance. "There is a pragmatic Muslim-Arab world, which conceives Iran as the primary threat rather than Israel and its [West Bank] settlements. The fundamental solution we can offer these countries is based on two equilibriums: a Palestinian state entailing a [non-repatriation] solution for the Palestinian refugees, and a border agreement entailing [Israel dealing with] the Jewish settlements." The Oslo accord, negotiated by Yitzhak Rabin's labor-led coalition, was therefore a dire error. "Leaving the refugee issue hanging out for separate negotiation is our worst-case scenario. The two-state concept incorporates the solution for the refugees' problem. Israel agrees to a major border compromise in return for a clear international statement about the non-return of the refugees. We have accomplished this with the Bush administration, and I have asked for a similar statement from the Europeans. My interlocutors tell me it makes sense."

Ms. Livni is convinced that an independent, peaceful Palestine is in Israel's best interest. "I want to accomplish a viable Palestine. It is in our interest, because the Palestinian nation state would vouchsafe the Jewish nation state." Are moderate Muslims part of the solution? "Oh yes. They are crucial for strengthening the Palestinian moderates, who are unfortunately weak."





In recent months, Ms. Livni has publicly called for immediate dialogue on a prospective Palestinian state, based on a new common denominator. Iranian Shiite ideology is now a shared enemy, and Middle Eastern extremism no longer stems from the Israeli-Palestinian struggle. "The camps and the alignments have changed. The solution depends on Israelis, moderate Palestinians and pragmatic Arabs and Muslims working together. The two nation state concept is the touchstone of moderation."
Like many Israelis, Ms. Livni feels that television is the enemy of peace-promoting subtlety. "The electronic media does not generate moderation: neither Al-Jazeera television, nor the Internet insofar as it serves al Qaeda. Public opinion has become a tool for extremists, and [Muslim] moderates are afraid to speak up." Another good reason, I tell Ms. Livni, to cultivate every bud of European-Muslim moderation. She consents, then lashes out against what she calls "attempts to theologize the conflict. I cannot solve a religious strife," she says, "but I can solve a conflict between nations."

The Road Map is of course a starting point, although Ms. Livni regrets its vagueness on the refugee issue. Territorial compromise, furthermore, demands mutual flexibility. "We must explain--mainly to Europe--that a wholesale return to the 1967 border is no magic solution. It would bust the dream of a Palestinian state, because there was no geographical or political connection between Gaza and the West Bank. So amendments would be necessary, and both sides would appeal for them. I believe in bilateral negotiation."

"Is Europe a helpful member of the peace-brokering Quartet?" I ask. Most Israelis are painfully suspicious of the old continent's true feelings toward the Jewish state. Ms. Livni is quick to praise the EU's new presence in the Middle East. After all, the deployment of European forces in Lebanon last summer is partly credited to her diplomatic performance. "Yet Israel's image among the European public is remote from reality," she adds. "European leaders told me they must take their own public opinion and media on board. Some EU members, impatient to move on, might soften the conditions imposed on the Palestinians, and speed the process in the wrong direction. If they tell the Palestinians they need not recognize Israel's existence, then we are back to 1947." For the German chancellor, though, Ms. Livni has nothing but praise. "Angela Merkel is a leader with strong values. Like myself, she refuses to accept that one man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter. She has a moral backbone."

Nothing of the sort can be said of Vladimir Putin. "Russia is recently edging away from American positions, and from the Quartet. It aims for independent policies, softer on Iran, accommodating to Hamas." A pause, and then a small concession to Israeli frankness: "Russia's wish to play a different game, vis a vis the Americans, is not helpful." What of the U.S. after President Bush? Israeli commentators suggest that a Democratic White House would pull some carpet from under our feet. On this, Ms. Livni is the diplomat again. "I take the American outlook I have discussed here to be bipartisan."

At close quarters, Ms. Livni is very much the sharp and likeable Sabra gal that middle Israel cannot dislike. She has genuine and refreshing faith in Israeli society and economy. The recent corruption investigations are a healthy sign, she says. Norms are changing and a painful cleanup operation would leave the country stronger, its ethical standards even higher. This utterance is no lip service: Israelis have good feelers for fakes, and Ms. Livni's optimism strikes even her political rivals as authentic.


Asked to comment on the outstanding performance of the Israeli economy throughout these years of crisis, her face lightens up. "This is amazing indeed: war in Lebanon, political dramas, and investments keep pouring in. I ascribe it to the human quality and originality of a group of Israelis. . . . Our economic policy has remained stable, despite the frequent government changes. We have not tilted between ideologies, but kept a consistent middle path. The Israeli public, grumpy as it is, has faith in its economy. So do international investors." Significantly, Israel's stock exchange did not even blink during this week's Winograd mayhem.





Ms. Livni's particular strength is the solid, optimistic, almost old-fashioned Israeli faith in her moral vision. Widespread public trust has been her greatest asset. Ironically, her greatest liability is the party she co-founded, fraught from its infancy by an unending tide of drama: Ariel Sharon's stroke, Mr. Olmert's Lebanese misadventure, Labor's unsuccessful chief as coalition partner, the string of probes and investigations, and now the Winograd showdown. If Kadima sinks, it is hard to see how Ms. Livni will remain afloat. If Kadima survives, however, Ms. Livni may yet be called upon to navigate the ship of state through the world's wildest water course.

Ms. Oz-Salzberger is the Leon Liberman Chair of Modern Israel Studies at Monash University and a senior lecturer in history at the University of Haifa.
29814  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Senator challenges M4 on: May 05, 2007, 06:40:56 AM


http://www.military.com/NewsContent/0,13319,133962,00.html?ESRC=dod.nl

Senator Tells Army to Reconsider M4
Military.com  |  By Christian Lowe  |  April 30, 2007
The debate over the Army's choice to purchase hundreds of thousands of M4 carbines for its new brigade combat teams is facing stiff opposition from a small group of senators who say the rifle may be inferior to others already in the field.

In an April 12 letter to acting Army Secretary Pete Geren, Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn said purchase of the M4 - a shortened version of the Vietnam-era M16 - was based on requirements from the early 1990s and that better, more reliable weapons exist that could give Army troops a more effective weapon.

Coburn asked the Army to hold a "free and open competition" before inking sole-source contracts worth about $375 million to M4 manufacturer, West Hartford, Conn.-based Colt Defense - which just received a $50 million Army contract for M4s on April 20.

"I am concerned with the Army's plans to procure nearly half a million new rifles outside of any competitive process," Coburn wrote in the mid-April letter obtained by Military.com.

A Geren spokesman said the secretary's office is putting together a reply to Coburn's letter, but provided no further details.

Take Action: Tell your public officials how you feel about this issue.

Coburn has banded together with a small group of like-minded senators to push the Army into a competition to determine whether the M4 is the best choice to equip newly-forming brigade combat teams, a top Coburn aide said.

The senator's concerns grew out of media coverage that showed the M4's design fails in critical situations and that special operations forces prefer other designs.

"Considering the long standing reliability and lethality problems with the M16 design, of which the M4 is based, I am afraid that our troops in combat might not have the best weapon," Coburn wrote. "A number of manufacturers have researched, tested and fielded weapons which, by all accounts, appear to provide significantly improved reliability."

Related Article: Army Won't Field Rifle Deemed Superior to M4

Special operations forces, including "tier one" units such as the Army's Delta Force and the Navy's SEAL Development Group - or SEAL Team Six - have used their own funds to purchase the Heckler & Koch-built 416, which uses a gas-piston operating system less susceptible to failure than Colt's gas-operated design.

"That's significant, because these guys don't screw around," the aide said.

In fact, Colt included four different weapons in the competition to build the Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle, or SCAR, none of which used the M4s gas system, the aide said.

In a routine acquisition notice March 23, a U.S. Special Forces battalion based in Okinawa announced that it is buying 84 upper receiver assemblies for the HK416 to modify their M4 carbines. The M4 fires using a system that redirects gas from the expended round to eject it and reload another. The 416 and SCAR use a gas-operated piston that physically pushes the bolt back to eject the round and load another.

Carbon buildup from the M4's gas system has plagued the rifle for years, resulting in some close calls with Soldiers in combat whose rifles jammed at critical moments.

According to the solicitation for the new upper receiver assemblies, the 416 "allows Soldiers to replace the existing M4 upper receiver with an HK proprietary gas system that does not introduce propellant gases and the associated carbon fouling back into the weapon's interior. This reduces operator cleaning time, and increases the reliability of the M4 Carbine, particularly in an environment in which sand and dust are prevalent."

Yet the Army has still declined to buy anything other than the M4 for its regular troops, requesting about $100 million in the 2007 wartime supplemental to buy M4s for its Soldiers.

The office in charge of equipping Soldiers said in a March 30 statement the service has no plans to purchase the HK416.

"I am certain we can all agree that America's Soldiers should have the best technology in their hands," Coburn wrote. "And there is simply no excuse for not providing our soldiers the best weapon - not just a weapon that is 'good enough.' "

The Army has not yet responded to Coburn's letter, but his aide said if the senator doesn't receive a response to the letter by Monday, Coburn plans to call Geren personally to address the issue.

"Our feeling is once people see the facts on the face of it they're going to say that this is ridiculous and demand that the Army does it right and competes the contract," the aide said.
29815  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: May 05, 2007, 06:36:36 AM
A Beautiful Mine
By ERIK REECE
Published: May 5, 2007
Rowdy, Ky.

MY home state contains the largest contiguous forests in southern Appalachia, which is home to the most biologically diverse landscape in North America. To sit quietly in such a place is an extraordinary thing to do. I have heard ovenbirds and black-and-white warblers, sometimes a wood thrush, as steep ridgelines rose around me, mountains older than the Himalayas. There is a lot to see in this forest: 250 different songbirds, 70 species of trees, bears, bobcats and my favorite nonspeaking mammal, the Southern flying squirrel.

Alas, many of these species are vanishing because their habitat is vanishing. A form of strip mining called mountaintop removal has ripped apart all of the ridgelines that surround this forest, leaving miles of lifeless gray plateaus, lunar wastelands. Mountaintop removal entails the blasting of entire summits to rubble in an effort to reach, as quickly and inexpensively as possible, thin seams of bituminous coal. Trees, topsoil and sandstone are dumped into the valleys below. More than 1,000 miles of streams have been buried in this way, and an Environmental Protection Agency study found that 95 percent of headwater streams near mines have been contaminated by heavy metals leeching from the sites.

When it comes to mountaintop removal, a certain fatalism seems to take hold in Appalachia — the coal companies are too powerful, the politicians are corrupt, the regulators won’t regulate and the news media don’t care. But we cannot give up on rehabilitating Appalachia. While most efforts to reclaim the land destroyed by strip-mining have done little to restore the landscape or improve the region’s economy, one effort holds out special promise. It is a three-year-old program within the United States Office of Surface Mining called the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative, and it is based on decades of research.

Pioneering foresters found that the best way to grow trees on a strip mine is not to compact the soil, as has been done on most strip mine sites, where regrowth has been scant and slow, but simply to plant saplings in the loose mix of sandstone and shale, known as spoil, that mines leave behind. High-value hardwoods will grow twice as fast in this loose rubble as in their native forest, because there is plenty of room below ground for the roots to take hold, and no competition from taller trees above ground. The porous spoil acts like a sponge during heavy rainfalls and greatly reduces the flooding caused by compacted strip mines.

Last spring I took a ride with Patrick Angel, the initiative’s point man in Kentucky, to a large mountaintop removal site called Bent Mountain. It was covered with mounded sandstone where foot-high saplings grew. On one acre, 1,000 disease-resistant American chestnuts waved like lawn flags in the gray rock. More small trees grew in the loosened spoil. Mr. Angel told me that the trees’ survival rate was 75 percent to 90 percent.

Then Mr. Angel drove me to one of the state’s largest strip jobs, the Starfire Mine. We pulled away from the heavy machinery and cratered landscape, toward a test site established nine years ago. Back then it looked like Bent Mountain. Nine years later, we were wandering among 30-foot tall poplar and 20-foot tall white ash. The trees had already developed a canopy. If I hadn’t heard the sounds of mining in the distance, I could almost imagine myself in a young forest.

“A culture,” wrote the poet W. H. Auden, “is no better than its woods.” Over a million acres have been strip-mined in Kentucky since 1980, and the numbers in West Virginia are worse. Mountaintop removal sites across Appalachia will soon reach the size of Delaware. And much of that acreage has been “reclaimed” as pasture: companies spray the mines with a layer of grass seed and hope it takes.

But to replace the forest with a grassland monoculture does not reclaim what has been lost. A forest sequesters 20 times more carbon than a grassland, prevents flooding and erosion, purifies streams, turns waste into food and insures species survival. Reforesting wasted mine sites would replace failed industrial methods with a system that mimics nature. Toward that goal, foresters have planted two million high-value trees on 2,700 acres of abandoned mine land.

Appalachia’s land is dying. Its fractured communities show the typical symptoms of hopelessness, including OxyContin abuse rates higher than anywhere in the country. Meanwhile, 22 states power houses and businesses with Kentucky coal. The people of central and southern Appalachia have relinquished much of their natural wealth to the rest of the country and have received next to nothing in return.

To right these wrongs, first we need federal legislation that will halt the decapitation of mountains and bring accountability to an industry that is out of control. Then we need a New Deal for Appalachia that would expand the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative, or create a similar program, to finally return some of the region’s lost wealth in the form of jobs and trees, rebuilt topsoil and resuscitated communities. Financing should come from a carbon tax on Appalachian coal bought and burned by utility companies across the country — a tax that would also discourage the wasteful emissions of greenhouse gases. Such a project would educate and employ an entire generation of foresters and forest managers, who would be followed by locally owned wood-product industries and craftsmen like Patrick Angel’s brother Mike, who makes much sought-after hardwood chairs just like ones his grandfather fashioned.

We know that our species, and most other species, will survive only in a future that burns no coal or oil. The question now is whether we have the nerve to get there before the world’s oldest mountains are gone.

Erik Reece is the author of “Lost Mountain: A Year in the Vanishing Wilderness.”
29816  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Darwin, Intelligent Design, Creationism in Christianity on: May 05, 2007, 06:07:33 AM
NY Times

A Split Emerges as Conservatives Discuss Darwin
By PATRICIA COHEN
Published: May 5, 2007
Evolution has long generated bitter fights between the left and the right about whether God or science better explains the origins of life. But now a dispute has cropped up within conservative circles, not over science, but over political ideology: Does Darwinian theory undermine conservative notions of religion and morality or does it actually support conservative philosophy?

On one level the debate can be seen as a polite discussion of political theory among the members of a small group of intellectuals. But the argument also exposes tensions within the Republicans’ “big tent,” as could be seen Thursday night when the party’s 10 candidates for president were asked during their first debate whether they believed in evolution. Three — Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas; Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas; and Representative Tom Tancredo of Colorado — indicated they did not.

For some conservatives, accepting Darwin undercuts religious faith and produces an amoral, materialistic worldview that easily embraces abortion, embryonic stem cell research and other practices they abhor. As an alternative to Darwin, many advocate intelligent design, which holds that life is so intricately organized that only an intelligent power could have created it.

Yet it is that very embrace of intelligent design — not to mention creationism, which takes a literal view of the Bible’s Book of Genesis — that has led conservative opponents to speak out for fear their ideology will be branded as out of touch and anti-science.

Some of these thinkers have gone one step further, arguing that Darwin’s scientific theories about the evolution of species can be applied to today’s patterns of human behavior, and that natural selection can provide support for many bedrock conservative ideas, like traditional social roles for men and women, free-market capitalism and governmental checks and balances.

“I do indeed believe conservatives need Charles Darwin,” said Larry Arnhart, a professor of political science at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, who has spearheaded the cause. “The intellectual vitality of conservatism in the 21st century will depend on the success of conservatives in appealing to advances in the biology of human nature as confirming conservative thought.”

The arguments have played out in recent books, magazine articles and blogs, as well as at a conference on Thursday at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. There Mr. Arnhart was grouped with John Derbyshire, a contributing editor at National Review, against John G. West and George Gilder, who both are associated with the Discovery Institute, which advocates intelligent design.

Mr. Derbyshire, who has described himself as the “designated point man” against creationists and intelligent-design proponents at National Review, later said that many conservatives were disturbed by positions taken by the religious right.

“There are plenty of people glad to call themselves conservatives,” he said, “who don’t see any reason not to support stem cell research.”

The reference to stem cells suggests just how wide the split is. “The current debate is not primarily about religious fundamentalism,” Mr. West, the author of “Darwin’s Conservatives: The Misguided Quest” (2006), said at Thursday’s conference. “Nor is it simply an irrelevant rehashing of certain esoteric points of biology and philosophy. Darwinian reductionism has become culturally pervasive and inextricably intertwined with contemporary conflicts over traditional morality, personal responsibility, sex and family, and bioethics.”

The technocrats, he charged, wanted to grab control from “ordinary citizens and their elected representatives” so that they alone could make decisions over “controversial issues such as sex education, partial-birth abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research and global warming.”

Advances in biotechnology — and pressure on elected Republicans to curb them — are partly responsible for the surge of interest in linking evolutionary and political theory, said those in the thick of the debate.

The fledgling field of evolutionary psychology also spurred some conservatives to invoke Darwinism in the 1990s. In “The Moral Sense” (1993), followed by “The Marriage Problem: How Our Culture Has Weakened Families” (2002), James Q. Wilson used evolution to explain the genesis of morality and to support traditional family and sex roles. Conservative thinkers from Francis Fukuyama to Richard Pipes have drawn on evolutionary psychology to support ideas like a natural human desire for private property and a biological basis for morality.

Debates over Darwinism became more pointed in 2005, however, as school districts considered teaching intelligent design, and President Bush stated that it should be taught along with evolution. The conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer wrote in Time magazine that to teach intelligent design “as science is to encourage the supercilious caricature of America as a nation in the thrall of a religious authority.” George F. Will wrote that Kansas school board officials who favored intelligent design were “the kind of conservatives who make conservatism repulsive to temperate people.”
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Mr. Arnhart, in his 2005 book, “Darwinian Conservatism,” tackled the issue of conservatism’s compatibility with evolutionary theory head on, saying Darwinists and conservatives share a similar view of human beings: they are imperfect; they have organized in male-dominated hierarchies; they have a natural instinct for accumulation and power; and their moral thought has evolved over time.

The institutions that successfully evolved to deal with this natural order were conservative ones, founded in sentiment, tradition and judgment, like limited government and a system of balances to curb unchecked power, he explains. Unlike leftists, who assume “a utopian vision of human nature” liberated from the constraints of biology, Mr. Arnhart says, conservatives assume that evolved social traditions have more wisdom than rationally planned reforms.

While Darwinism does not resolve specific policy debates, Mr. Arnhart said in an interview on Thursday, it can provide overarching guidelines. Policies that are in tune with human nature, for example, like a male military or traditional social and sex roles, he said, are more likely to succeed. He added that “moral sympathy for the suffering of fellow human beings” allows for aid to the poor, weak and ill.

To many people, asking whether evolution is good for conservatism is like asking if gravity is good for liberalism; nature is morally neutral. Andrew Ferguson in The Weekly Standard and Carson Holloway in his 2006 book, “The Right Darwin? Evolution, Religion and the Future of Democracy,” for example, have written that jumping from evolutionary science to moral conclusions and policy proposals is absurd.

Skeptics of Darwinism like William F. Buckley, Mr. West and Mr. Gilder also object. The notion that “the whole universe contains no intelligence,” Mr. Gilder said at Thursday’s conference, is perpetuated by “Darwinian storm troopers.”

“Both Nazism and communism were inspired by Darwinism,” he continued. “Why conservatives should toady to these storm troopers is beyond me.”

Of Mr. Arnhart, he said, “Larry has a beautiful Darwinism, a James Dobson Darwinism” — referring to the chairman of the Christian organization Focus on the Family — “a supply-side Darwinism.” But in capitalism, he added, “the winners don’t eat the losers.” Mr. West made a similar point, saying you could find justification in Darwin for both maternal instinct and for infanticide.

It is true that political interpretations of Darwinism have turned out to be quite pliable. Victorian-era social Darwinists like Herbert Spencer adopted evolutionary theory to justify colonialism and imperialism, opposition to labor unions and the withdrawal of aid to the sick and needy. Francis Galton based his “science” of eugenics on it. Arguing that cooperation was actually what enabled the species to survive, Pyotr Kropotkin used it to justify anarchism.

Karl Marx wrote that “Darwin’s book is very important and serves me as a basis in natural science for the class struggle in history.” Woodrow Wilson declared, “Living political constitutions must be Darwinian in structure and in practice.”

More recently the bioethicist and animal rights activist Peter Singer’s “Darwinian Left: Politics, Evolution, and Cooperation” (1999) urged people to reject the notion that there is a “fundamental difference in kind between human beings and nonhuman animals.”

At the American Enterprise Institute’s conference, the tension between the proponents of intelligent design and of evolution was occasionally on display. When Mr. Derbyshire described himself as a “lapsed Anglican,” which he compared to “falling out of a first-floor window,” Mr. Gilder piped up, “Did you fall on your head?”

What both sides do agree on is that conservatives who have shied away from these debates should speak up. Mr. Arnhart said that having been so badly burned by social Darwinism, many conservatives today did not want “to get involved in these moral and political debates, and I think that’s evasive.”

Yet getting involved is more important than ever, after “the disaster” of “President Bush’s compassionate conservatism,” he said, because the only hope for Republicans is a “fusion of libertarianism and traditionalism, and Darwinian nature supports that conservative fusion.”

Mr. West agreed that “conservatives who are discomfited by the continuing debate over Darwin’s theory need to understand that it is not about to go away”; that it “fundamentally challenges the traditional Western understanding of human nature and the universe.”

“If conservatives want to address root causes rather than just symptoms,” he said, “they need to join the debate over Darwinism, not scorn it or ignore it.”

As for Mr. Derbyshire, he would not say whether he thought evolutionary theory was good or bad for conservatism; the only thing that mattered was whether it was true. And, he said, if that turns out to be “bad for conservatives, then so much the worse for conservatism.”
29817  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The US Congress; Congressional races on: May 05, 2007, 05:45:16 AM
The following article helped me realize we need a thread specifically for the doings/shenanigans of our elected representatives

==============================================

http://www.military.com/NewsContent/0,13319,133428,00.html?ESRC=dod.nl

Air Force Might Cut Pay for Surge
Military.com  |  By Christian Lowe  |  April 25, 2007
The Air Force’s top officer said Wednesday that if nearly $1 billion in personnel funds taken from the service to pay for combat in Iraq and Afghanistan isn’t restored by the end of the summer, Airmen and civilian employees might not get their pay.

Due to a congressional delay in approving a wartime supplemental funding bill this year, the Pentagon pulled about $880 million from the Air Force’s personnel accounts to make up for a shortfall it warned lawmakers would come in mid-April.

Poll: Should Air Force personnel be used to man Army billets in Iraq?
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Michael “Buzz” Moseley said at a breakfast meeting with reporters today that the money is coming out of the military personnel account earmarked for the last four months of the year.

“Somebody’s going to have to pay us back,” Moseley said. “You have to pay people every day when they come to work.”

“A: it’s the right thing to do, and B: it’s kind of the law,” he added.

Alert: Tell your public officials how you feel about this issue.

The shortfall could delay permanent change of station moves, temporary duty expenses and other pays that “take care of people,” he said.

On April 15, the Army announced it would have to cut training, depot repair, and maintenance of non war-related gear because funding for the surge in Iraq, combat operations in Afghanistan and other Global War on Terrorism costs was running dry.

The Army also requested that about $1.6 billion be diverted from the Air Force and Navy personnel accounts to help put the wartime funding tab in the black.

With Congress locked in a political battle with the Bush administration over withdrawal deadlines and troop rotation schedules, the $100 billion wartime spending bill to pay for operations through the end of the fiscal year has yet to be signed into law.

Though both the Senate and House have submitted the supplemental bill to the floor for a vote this week, President Bush has vowed a veto over withdrawal deadlines inserted into the law.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Peter Pace has said if the wartime funds aren’t in place by mid-May, even more drastic cuts will have to be made, including reductions in training for forces on their way to Iraq, which will force the Pentagon to extend the deployments of units already there.

“The comptroller now has a check that they’re going to have to give us back to pay for [personnel] as we get closer to the end of the summer,” Moseley explained, putting the screws to Pentagon and administration budgeteers to recoup the loss.

“I don’t want to have any concerns about getting that money back,” he said. “It would be a breach of faith to take mil-pers money out of a service and then fast forward a couple of quarters and then just say ‘eat it.’”

Moseley said he’ll resist providing Airmen to man jobs the Army and Marine Corps can’t fill due to high operational tempo and increased demand, insisting his service is “drawing some red lines” to deny ground commanders’ requests.

About 20,000 Air Force personnel have filled shortfalls in the ground services’ manning – dubbed “in lieu of taskings” – including convoy and base security operations and even detainee handling jobs. As early as 2005, Air Force security personnel began augmenting Army detainee-handling troops at Camp Bucca prison near Baghdad and have continued to man prison jobs in Iraq.

“We don’t guard prisoners, we don’t even have a prison,” Moseley said. “To take out people and train them to be a detainee-guarding entity requires time away from their normal job.”

Some U.S.-based Air Force commands have as many as 25 percent of their personnel deployed to Iraq and are still executing their home station duties. For example, the San Angelo, Texas-based 17th Training Wing has its crash, fire, and rescue teams and security force units deployed “and we’re still operating the wing,” Moseley said.  

Moseley said he’s happy to provide personnel with job skills the Air Force has in abundance, including drivers and information technology specialists. But “I am less supportive of things outside of our competencies,” he said.

“We’ve drawn some red lines on some of the ‘in lieu of’ taskings to get away from the tasking of our folks that is incredibly outside the competencies.”


29818  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Spike TV, the Dog Brothers Gathering Webisodes; National Geographic on: May 05, 2007, 05:39:57 AM
Woof Tom:

Your "Happy Cuatro de Mayo" reminds me of when today, the first Saturday of May, used to be the date of our Spring Gatherings when we held them at the park across from where I lived in Hermosa Beach.   Indeed it would be most excellent if we could hold a Gathering there again, but it appears that such is not to be. 

Life moves forward and there are considerable benefits to being in an environment where one can exclude people who need to be excluded and this was not possible in a public park. 

Assuming all goes well with OP/Nat Geo, the June Gathering will be at a warehouse in Glendale belonging to OP.  I have seen it and think it will be tres cool.

The Adventure continues!
CD
29819  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: May 04, 2007, 05:55:04 PM
Newt Analyzes the First GOP Debate
Hannity and Colmes
Fox News Transcripts 
Sean Hannity   Alan  Colmes   Newt Gingrich   
ALAN COLMES: Welcome back to "Hannity & Colmes."

The Republican candidates' first debate in California is happening now, but the conservative that everybody wants to hear from tonight, right here, only on "Hannity & Colmes." Former speaker of the House, FOX News contributor, author of "Rediscovering God," Newt Gingrich joins us.

Mr. Speaker, do you wish you were on that stage tonight?

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: No. If anything would convince me to lean away from running, it was watching all of those guys with too little time, with too many Mickey Mouse questions from the reporters. It's exactly the wrong way to pick a president, and I think it doesn't help the country much.

Some of them I think did very well in brief moments. Senator McCain and Governor Tommy Thompson both were very, very eloquent on Iraq and offered very good ideas about Iraq. Governor Romney was very good in talking about health care, where he knows a great deal. Mayor Giuliani was very good about having controlled crime, having turned New York around.

But think about -- you know, you have 10 people up there. You have a couple of news media types being self-important. Towards the close of the debate, we get this absolutely childish question: How would you feel about Senator Clinton being in the White House? I mean, why would you waste the time of the American people and the 10 candidates when it's obvious that every single Republican is going to say that Senator Clinton shouldn't be in the White House?

Compare this for a minute, Alan, with the debate the French had last night. The French presidential runoff is Sunday. And last night, two candidates went head-to-head with almost no interference from the two moderators, and they went at each other. It was emotional; it was direct; it was aggressive.

And people had a chance to see the real personalities come out. I think, if they eliminated the moderators, and allowed the candidates to ask each other questions and kept the entire process between the candidates, it would be fascinating to see how an evening like this would evolve.

COLMES: By the way, is this why, in all the speculation about you, that you have decided, if you get in, it will be later in the process, is this example Exhibit A as to why that would be the case, so you don't have to go through this particular kind of gauntlet? And if you do get in, it will be after this part of the process?

GINGRICH: It's not a gauntlet. It's boring. Look, I have great respect for the people who are running. They're working very, very hard. They're on the road every day.

My hunch is Governor Thompson, by the time this was done, will have been in every town in Iowa 12 times. Governor Romney has done a great job of raising money. Senator McCain has been campaigning now for years and has built a huge national network. These are serious people doing serious things. You know, Mayor Giuliani, as you know, is the front-runner.

But what I'm struck with is, we as a country need to have a serious dialogue about a lot of things. This is not about Newt Gingrich. It's something, as you know, Governor Cuomo and I have talked about. Governor Cuomo recently wrote two articles talking about this and suggesting that the Democrats would be much better off to have a longer debate in an open, free form, to really talk things out.

But there's a second part of this, Alan, that really worries me. You have people sitting around in May of this year trying to describe what they would do in January of 2009. And now, let's say the world changes. Something different happens, and so somebody changes their position in September, October, November. Suddenly they'll have seven reporters, 16 blog sites, all saying, "Ah, this person switched." And you suddenly freeze people into defending positions that they took a year and a half or two years before they're ever going to be in office.

SEAN HANNITY: All right, I'm a little intrigued, because we're friends, Mr. Speaker, and you're going to hate me for going down this road, but when you said this would make you lean away more, I think people would like a little bit more definitive an answer about you.

GINGRICH: Well, I've told you, and I've told everybody that American Solutions is going to have a nationwide workshop on September 27th on the Internet, available to everybody in the country, in both Democrat, Republican, independent, and we're going to try to explain how you could change and dramatically improve government at every level. There are 511,000 elected offices in America; only one of them is the Oval Office.

But we have an amazing number of elected officials in this country. After we're done with that, we'll have a second workshop on Saturday the 29th of September. And then I'll look at it. But I am absolutely not going to think about this until then.

If it weren't for my friendship with you two and my willingness to come on tonight and talk about this, I wouldn't even be talking about the debate tonight. I mean, I think that it is so absurd to have this much attention paid to an office that doesn't get filled until January of 2009, that I really think this is exactly the wrong model for this country.

HANNITY: Well, I agree with you, and I like the debate that you mentioned in France that took place. I love the free-for-all. This is basically a joint press conference, where you end up getting like four minutes each in the course of an hour-and-a-half debate, so I think your criticism is valid. And you don't really have the substance that either one of us would like.

Do you glean anything -- the two issues that are picking news out of this debate, one has to do with Mayor Giuliani and his comments that it would be OK to repeal Roe v. Wade, it would be OK if a strict constructionist viewed it as precedent, and Senator McCain saying the Bush administration had terribly mismanaged the war.

Your reaction to both of those moments, which will make all the news here tonight?

GINGRICH: Well, I mean, I do think that, if Mayor Giuliani's position tomorrow clarifies what he just said, that would be a remarkable change from what I understood his position to be. So I think that will certainly lead to several days of conversation, probably more news out of that one item than everything that happened at the Democratic debate a week ago.

In the case of Senator McCain's position, I think he has been -- you have to give him enormous credit. He has been in Iraq over and over again. He has been deeply concerned for years. He has been public about his concerned about this war.

He has served very, very ably in a very senior position in the Senate on this. He's a graduate of Annapolis. As you know, he was a prisoner of war. I mean, Senator McCain has as much authority as any person in this country to render judgment on the mismanagement of the war in Iraq, and I think it's an act of courage on his part to simply tell the truth.

I mean, I don't care how much you like President Bush or how loyal you are to the Republican Party. This is clearly not where we wanted to be and not where we thought we would be in 2003 when the war began.

HANNITY: Is that what you're saying then yourself, Mr. Speaker, that the war is terribly mismanaged? Because I know you've had criticisms, but...

GINGRICH: Look, I said, in December of 2003, publicly in "Newsweek" and on several TV shows, that we went off a cliff in June of 2003 when Ambassador Bremer changed all the plans, abandoned the Iraqi army, failed to go through with having an Iraqi governing council, took over the administration, and made it an American administration. I spoke out as -- if you go back and look at what I said at that time, I was as clear and as direct as I could be that we were on a disastrous path and it was going to cause us an enormous amount of trouble.

Recently, I testified in the Senate in front of Senator Biden's committee, and I outlined 18 additional changes over and above the surge that I thought we needed. And I'm very, very concerned, Sean. I mean, as you know, I think that being defeated in Iraq, which clearly many Democrats in the House and Senate would like to see happen, will be a terrible blow to the United States and to the cause of freedom. And I think it is very, very dangerous for us to contemplate being defeated and think that's going to make life easier.

I think it's doubly dangerous to have the Congress imposing defeat on the United States in a way that will resonate around the world. But I am also very troubled. I believe very deeply in General Petraeus, as I believed earlier in General Abizaid. I think both of them are superb people, and I think that, had their advice been followed more carefully, we'd be in dramatically better shape today.

COLMES: We can debate whether Democrats really want defeat, but I'd rather talk about the debates. I don't see it that way, and many Democrats don't see it that way.

But I want to get back to John McCain, because when John McCain said it's been mismanaged, the other part of what he said tonight was, "But now we're on the right track." Most Americans, Quinnipiac poll out today, says 31 percent don't agree with Bush's Iraq policy. Most Americans don't see it that way. So I wonder if Senator McCain hurt himself by somehow saying we're now on the right track, when many of us, most Americans, don't see a difference.

GINGRICH: Well, look, I think Senator McCain has decided that it's his duty to be honest about what he honestly believes. And I think that's actually a very courageous thing for him to be doing.

I think, on the issue of Iraq, that John McCain is not going to look at any polling. He's not going to listen to any advisors. This is a field where he has spent his lifetime serving his country. He believes in his own knowledge. He knows very, very well the senior military leaders. He has been on the ground. And I think he is telling us what he believes to be the case.

Now, I don't think he's telling us we're going to win the war next Tuesday. I don't think he's telling us that bombings are going to go away. But what he is saying is that the team that General Petraeus has assembled, the strategy that they're following, gives us a better chance of defeating the terrorists than anything we've done up until now.

And, Alan, what we have to face up to as a country is this is very hard and very painful, but the alternative may be worse. And I think that it's very important to have a conscious national dialogue about, what's the world going to look like if the Congress mandates defeat, forces the U.S. to withdraw, and we end up with the entire world seeing us as having been defeated?

COLMES: If that's what it is. You know, most of the candidates, most of the Republican candidates who either want to stay in Iraq, or support a surge, or support the continuation of this war, and I include some Democrats in this, are out of synch with what most of the American public is now saying. So how would the American public vote for somebody who wants to continue any of the Bush policies for which most Americans don't agree?

GINGRICH: Look, I think the question is, what do the American people think after six weeks of discussing the consequences of defeat? I think what we've had -- look, I've not been happy, and I've been pretty public about the fact that I think there are a lot of changes we ought to have in how the American government works. There are a lot of changes we ought to have in what we've been doing in Iraq. I have always been against using American forces in the streets of big cities, because I don't think that they're very effective as policemen. I think they should be the reinforcers of Iraqi troops, rather than enforcers.

So I'm not sitting here as a pie in the sky, let's salute and march forward stubbornly. But I am saying, it's one thing to try to find a way to be patient and determined and to ultimately find a way to victory. It's another thing to say, "Let's set a deadline. Let's guarantee that the U.S. Congress will legislate defeat," and not talk about the consequences, Alan.

All I'm saying is, let's have a national debate about what the world is going to look like a year after the United States is publicly defeated, and the terrorists publicly are in triumph, and countries around the world look at us as a country that doesn't have the will to keep its word and doesn't have the will to protect its friends. I think, after that debate, you might be surprised how many Americans say, "Well, let's go a little slow with this legislative defeat process."

HANNITY: You know, Mr. Speaker, I'm listening to you, and what you're describing is so consequential. And I'm listening to the comments of Senator McCain here tonight and what you're saying here. And I can't imagine, especially in light of the veto that took place, and, you know, the slow bleed strategy that has emerged from the Democrats, and, you know, Harry Reid saying the war is lost, meanwhile we have troops over there in harm's way that are fighting and trying to win this whole thing.

And it seems what you've hit on here is the one thing that nobody has ever thought of: What happens if we lose Iraq? What does the world think? We create a safe haven for Al Qaeda and Iran inside of Iraq, and the world is a less dangerous place. And with all the criticism -- and I guess there's a lot to go around -- it seems that nobody has thought of that and nobody is thinking about that. And I don't think anyone's stopping to do so.

GINGRICH: You know, it's as though our neighbor's house was on fire, to quote Franklin Delano Roosevelt, somebody who I assume Alan would approve of...

HANNITY: At times.

GINGRICH: ... it's as though our neighbor's house was on fire, and we were getting tired of fighting the fire, and we said, you know, let's just give up. This is too hard. The house is going to burn down. And nobody has stopped to say, "Well, what if the fire spreads to our house?"

Yesterday, in Great Britain, five terrorists were sentenced to prison for life, and the judge said to them, "Do not expect to ever be back on the street, because you are ruthless, dangerous, evil men." I just want to suggest to you, the British weren't doing that as some kind of political ploy. They know that they are in a serious, long war and that the terrorists out there want to destroy us, if they can.

So all I think we have to ask is, let's have a national dialogue about, how are we going to manage the Middle East? How are we going to manage America's role in the world? Why would any of our allies trust us, if the Congress decides to legislate defeat and if we, in fact, leave in defeat?

HANNITY: Let me ask you this question.

GINGRICH: I'm not saying this is easy. I am not saying this is a happy time. I'm not saying this is a positive thing we should feel good about. I'm saying that Senator McCain tonight and Governor Thompson both had positive ideas.

HANNITY: What are the troops thinking? We're running out of time. What are the troops thinking when they hear Senator McCain, the Republican, say that? What are they thinking when they hear Senator Reid say that it's lost? What do they think when they have slow bleed strategies and other strategies emerging to cut off bullet supplies and armor? What are these guys thinking, you know, out there?

GINGRICH: There's no question -- I was just told today by somebody who has a son who's serving at Fort Bragg -- that the level of demoralization and confusion among the younger troops watching the Congress, watching the news, watching the debates, watching the maneuvering, these guys want to serve their country. They're willing to risk their lives. They sure wish the political class would get them the money, have the policy fights, but don't mess up the military while you're doing it.

COLMES: The confusion might be because of policy, not because of free speech in the United States, Mr. Speaker.

We thank you very much for being with us tonight. Thank you for your time.

29820  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gonzales at it again! on: May 04, 2007, 05:44:22 PM
GONZALES WANTS ARBITRARY POWER TO BLOCK GUN PURCHASES; SAF SAYS HE SHOULD RESIGN
BELLEVUE, WA – Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ troubling support of legislation that would allow him and future attorneys general the arbitrary power to block firearms purchases without due process is cause for him to step down as the nation’s highest ranking law enforcement officer, the Second Amendment Foundation said today.

The bill, S. 1237, was introduced last week at the Justice Department’s request by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), one of the most extreme anti-gunners in Congress. Called the “Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2007,” this legislation would give the Attorney General discretionary authority to deny the purchase of a firearm or the issuance of a firearm license or permit because of some vague suspicion that an American citizen may be up to no good.

“This bill,” said SAF founder Alan Gottlieb, “raises serious concerns about how someone becomes a ‘suspected terrorist.’ Nobody has explained how one gets their name on such a list, and worse, nobody knows how to get one’s name off such a list.

“The process by which someone may appeal the Attorney General’s arbitrary denial seems weak at best,” Gottlieb suggested, “and there is a greater concern. When did we decide as a nation that it is a good idea to give a cabinet member the power to deny someone’s constitutional right simply on suspicion, without a trial or anything approaching due process?

“We’re not surprised that General Gonzales has found an agreeable sponsor in Frank Lautenberg,” Gottlieb observed. “The senator from New Jersey has never seen a restrictive gun control scheme he did not immediately embrace, and S. 1237 is loaded with red flags. It would allow an appointed bureaucrat the authority to suspend or cancel someone’s Second Amendment right without even being charged with a crime.

“Attorney General Gonzales has no business asking for that kind of power over any tenet in the Bill of Rights,” Gottlieb said. “He took an oath to uphold the Constitution, not trample it. Perhaps it is time for him to go.”
29821  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: KALI TUDO (tm) Article on: May 04, 2007, 03:59:27 PM
Woof All:

Just a quick yip to say that we are looking to shoot KT2 and maybe KT3 in August.  We haven't decided how to organize it, but subject areas are:

KT for the Clinch
KT against the Guard
KT Guard

TAC,
Guro Crafty
29822  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: May 04, 2007, 02:39:33 PM


The Burgeoning Extortion Racket along the U.S.-Mexico Border
U.S. authorities are investigating what appears to be a new extortion scheme that involves the threat of bodily harm to attorneys, bankers and their families in Laredo, Texas. This is yet another sign that the extortion racket is expanding and escalating along the U.S.-Mexico border. Left unchecked, this criminal activity could escalate into violence on the U.S. side, similar to what is occurring now south of the border.

Since mid-April, at least a dozen attorneys and an unknown number of bankers have received phone calls from a man threatening to harm them or their families unless money is paid immediately. The caller, who speaks with a Spanish accent, provides a significant amount of personal information about the targets, such as names, addresses, habits and the birthdates and schools of family members.

The caller then orders the targets to wire a certain amount of money to various Western Union offices in Mexico, threatening that "bad things" will happen if they fail to pay. The amount of the extortion demand is unclear, but the victims are given just 30 minutes to send the money. They are told that if the money is even one minute late, they and their families will suffer the consequences -- a tactic designed to prevent targets from thinking rationally, and thus to increase the chances that they will pay. The tactic apparently has worked, as some victims reportedly have complied with the demands and transferred money.

These calls are very similar to the virtual kidnapping
schemes that are common in Mexico. Both exploit the fear generated by the frequent kidnappings in Mexico and the violence that occurs on both sides of the border. While a typical kidnapping requires the victim to be housed and fed -- and thus usually requires a group of accomplices to successfully execute -- crimes of the virtual nature are cheap and easy to commit, requiring very little physical risk and infrastructure. In essence, this crime takes far less effort than one involving an actual kidnap victim.

It is unclear whether the calls in this latest scheme are originating from the United States or Mexico, and whether the scheme is being perpetrated by a lone criminal or an extortion ring. The tactics, however, are similar to other extortion schemes targeting business owners along the border. The targets of those schemes have had connections to both sides of the border, such as a Mexico resident who owns property in Texas. In one case, a Mexican business owner was shown evidence that the criminals threatening him had surveilled his home in Brownsville, Texas. Considering that bankers and lawyers are the targets of this latest scheme, it appears the extortionists are focusing on those who have the ability to pay higher sums than earlier victims.

In most extortion schemes, the problem often is more widespread than it appears on the surface because victims can be reluctant to involve law enforcement authorities on either side of the border for reasons that include distrust of authorities, fear of the consequences and a desire to avoid publicity. This reluctance already has been seen in cases involving trucking companies operating between the United States and Mexico. Evidence suggests that, when threatened with the hijacking of their shipments, many truckers have found it easier and less damaging to their bottom line to simply pay the criminals rather than involve the authorities.

Unlike in extortion cases involving truckers, or even small-business owners and shopkeepers, however, lawyers have better access to law enforcement assistance -- and are more likely to use it. By targeting this group, then, the extortionists appear fearless of law enforcement involvement. This is cause for concern, especially considering that the extortion payments are being directed to Mexico, where drug cartels and other criminals often have killed lawyers and judges. Having already demonstrated a disregard for the law -- and the attorneys who practice it -- these extortionists could progress to more violent means to influence them.

stratfor.com
29823  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: May 04, 2007, 02:37:25 PM
stratfor.com
The Burgeoning Extortion Racket along the U.S.-Mexico Border

U.S. authorities are investigating what appears to be a new extortion scheme that involves the threat of bodily harm to attorneys, bankers and their families in Laredo, Texas. This is yet another sign that the extortion racket is expanding and escalating along the U.S.-Mexico border. Left unchecked, this criminal activity could escalate into violence on the U.S. side, similar to what is occurring now south of the border.

Since mid-April, at least a dozen attorneys and an unknown number of bankers have received phone calls from a man threatening to harm them or their families unless money is paid immediately. The caller, who speaks with a Spanish (CD: Mexican?) accent, provides a significant amount of personal information about the targets, such as names, addresses, habits and the birthdates and schools of family members.

The caller then orders the targets to wire a certain amount of money to various Western Union offices in Mexico, threatening that "bad things" will happen if they fail to pay. The amount of the extortion demand is unclear, but the victims are given just 30 minutes to send the money. They are told that if the money is even one minute late, they and their families will suffer the consequences -- a tactic designed to prevent targets from thinking rationally, and thus to increase the chances that they will pay. The tactic apparently has worked, as some victims reportedly have complied with the demands and transferred money.

These calls are very similar to the virtual kidnapping
schemes that are common in Mexico. Both exploit the fear generated by the frequent kidnappings in Mexico and the violence that occurs on both sides of the border. While a typical kidnapping requires the victim to be housed and fed -- and thus usually requires a group of accomplices to successfully execute -- crimes of the virtual nature are cheap and easy to commit, requiring very little physical risk and infrastructure. In essence, this crime takes far less effort than one involving an actual kidnap victim.

It is unclear whether the calls in this latest scheme are originating from the United States or Mexico, and whether the scheme is being perpetrated by a lone criminal or an extortion ring. The tactics, however, are similar to other extortion schemes targeting business owners along the border. The targets of those schemes have had connections to both sides of the border, such as a Mexico resident who owns property in Texas. In one case, a Mexican business owner was shown evidence that the criminals threatening him had surveilled his home in Brownsville, Texas. Considering that bankers and lawyers are the targets of this latest scheme, it appears the extortionists are focusing on those who have the ability to pay higher sums than earlier victims.

In most extortion schemes, the problem often is more widespread than it appears on the surface because victims can be reluctant to involve law enforcement authorities on either side of the border for reasons that include distrust of authorities, fear of the consequences and a desire to avoid publicity. This reluctance already has been seen in cases involving trucking companies operating between the United States and Mexico. Evidence suggests that, when threatened with the hijacking of their shipments, many truckers have found it easier and less damaging to their bottom line to simply pay the criminals rather than involve the authorities.

Unlike in extortion cases involving truckers, or even small-business owners and shopkeepers, however, lawyers have better access to law enforcement assistance -- and are more likely to use it. By targeting this group, then, the extortionists appear fearless of law enforcement involvement. This is cause for concern, especially considering that the extortion payments are being directed to Mexico, where drug cartels and other criminals often have killed lawyers and judges. Having already demonstrated a disregard for the law -- and the attorneys who practice it -- these extortionists could progress to more violent means to influence them.
29824  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: May 04, 2007, 12:58:27 PM
http://www.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2...321.shtml?s=tn

From the NewsMax.com Staff For the story behind the story...
Friday, May 4, 2007 11:39 a.m. EDT
Hamas Calls for 'Extermination of Jews'

The Palestinian militant organization Hamas not only wants the elimination of the state of Israel, but also the extermination of the Jews, according to the group’s newspaper.


"The extermination of Jews is Allah’s will and is for the benefit of all humanity, according to an article in the Hamas paper Al-Risalah,” the Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) reports.



"The author of the article, Kan’an Ubayd, explains that the suicide operations carried out by Hamas are being committed solely to fulfill Allah’s wishes. Furthermore, Allah demanded this action, because ‘the extermination of the Jews is good for the inhabitants of the worlds.’”

PMW points out that Hamas’ justification for the extermination of the Jews echoes Adolph Hitler’s words in "Mein Kampf”: "Thus I believe today that I am acting according to the will of the almighty Creator: when I defend myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.”

Another Hamas statement monitored by the PMW called Judaism "a faith that is based on murder.”

And in a televised speech, Dr. Ahmad Bahar, Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, called for the killing of Americans as well as Jews.


Bahar said his people were "afflicted by the cancerous lump, that is the Jews, in the heart of the Arab nation,” according to a transcript provided by the PMW.


"Be certain that America is on its way to disappear. America is wallowing [in blood] today in Iraq and Afghanistan. America is defeated and Israel is defeated . . . Allah, take hold of the Jews and their allies. Allah, take hold of the Americans and their allies . . . Allah, count them and kill them to the last one and don’t leave even one.”


© NewsMax 2007. All Rights Reserved.

=============

Added on Saturday evening, what seems to be a better report from another forum:
----------------------

Here is a fuller report of Bahr's speach. If you want to pass it around Marc, this is probably a better version:

JPost.com Staff, THE JERUSALEM POST May. 1, 2007

Sheik Ahmad Bahr, acting Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, declared during a Friday sermon at a Sudan mosque that America and Israel will be annihilated and called upon Allah to kill Jews and Americans "to the very Last One". Following are excerpts from the sermon that took place last month, courtesy of MEMRI.

Ahmad Bahr began: "You will be victorious" on the face of this planet. You are the masters of the world on the face of this planet. Yes, [the Koran says that] "you will be victorious," but only "if you are believers." Allah willing, "you will be victorious," while America and Israel will be annihilated. I guarantee you that the power of belief and faith is greater than the power of America and Israel. They are cowards, who are eager for life, while we are eager for death for the sake of Allah. That is why America's nose was rubbed in the mud in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Somalia, and everywhere.

Bahr continued and said that America will be annihilated, while Islam will remain. The Muslims "will be victorious, if you are believers." Oh Muslims, I guarantee you that the power of Allah is greater than America, by whom many are blinded today. Some people are blinded by the power of America. We say to them that with the might of Allah, with the might of His Messenger, and with the power of Allah, we are stronger than America and Israel.

The Hamas spokesperson concluded with a prayer, saying: "Oh Allah, vanquish the Jews and their supporters. Oh Allah, count their numbers, and kill them all, down to the very last one. Oh Allah, show them a day of darkness. Oh Allah, who sent down His Book, the mover of the clouds, who defeated the enemies of the Prophet defeat the Jews and the Americans, and bring us victory over them."
29825  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: May 04, 2007, 11:53:17 AM
http://blog.gildertech.com/

See the May 4th entry by Gilder's daughter scientifically ripping Al Gore a new butthole so big that he is going to need "Depends"  cheesy

29826  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: May 04, 2007, 10:31:03 AM
Second post of the morning:

   

 
By Hoshyar Zebari
Friday, May 4, 2007; A23



Last weekend a traffic jam several miles long snaked out of the Mansour district in western Baghdad. The delay stemmed not from a car bomb closing the road but from a queue to enter the city's central amusement park. The line became so long some families left their cars and walked to enjoy picnics, fairground rides and soccer, the Iraqi national obsession.

Across the city, restaurants are slowly filling and shops are reopening. The streets are busy. Iraqis are not cowering indoors. The appalling death tolls from suicide attacks are often high because of crowding at markets. These days you are as likely to hear complaints about traffic congestion as about the security situation. Across Baghdad there is a cacophony of sirens from ambulances, firefighters and police providing public services. You cannot even escape the curse of traffic wardens ticketing illegally parked cars.

These small but significant snippets of normality are overshadowed by acts of gross violence, which fuel the opinion of some that Iraq is in a downward spiral. The Iraqi people are indeed suffering tremendous hardships and making grave sacrifices -- but daily life goes on for 7 million Baghdadis struggling to take back their capital and country.

Today, at an international summit on the future of Iraq in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, my government will ask the international community to maintain its engagement in our country to help us achieve our goals of security and stability. We recognize that our request conflicts with a plethora of voices decrying the situation in Iraq and those in the British and American publics who seek an expeditious withdrawal from a war they claim is all but lost.

So why should the world remain engaged in Iraq?

There is no denying the difficulties Iraq faces, and no amount of good news can obscure the demons of terrorism and sectarianism that have risen in my country. But there is too much at stake to risk failure, and everything to gain by helping us protect our hard-won democratic achievements and emerge as a stable, self-sustaining country.

We remain determined in spite of our losses. Spectacular attacks may dominate foreign headlines, but they cannot change the reality that Iraq has made steady political, economic and social progress over the past four years. We continue to strengthen our nascent democratic institutions, pursue national reconciliation and expand Iraqi security forces. The Baghdad security plan was conceived to give us breathing space to expedite political and economic development by "securing and holding" neighborhoods across the capital. There is no quick fix, but there have been real results: Winning public confidence has led to a spike in intelligence, a disruption of terrorist networks and the capture of key leaders, as well as the discovery of weapons caches. In Anbar province, Sunni sheikhs and insurgents have turned against al-Qaeda and to the side of Iraqi security forces. This would have been unthinkable even six months ago.

Contrary to popular belief, most government ministries are located outside the Green Zone, and employees drive to work every day despite death threats and attacks on colleagues and families. We government ministers are always at risk of assassination. When a suicide bomber attacked parliament last month, the legislators sat in defiance in an extraordinary session the following day. I am particularly inspired by the commitment of the young diplomats in the Foreign Ministry, a diverse mix of Sunni, Shiite, Christian, Arab and Kurdish men and women who serve their country without subscribing to religious or sectarian divisions.

Iraqis are standing up every day, and we persevere because there is no other option. We will not surrender our country to terrorists. They have failed to cripple the elected government, and they have failed to intimidate us into submission. Iraqis reject their vision of a future whose hallmarks are bloodshed and hatred.

Those calling for withdrawal may think it is the least painful option, but its benefits would be short-lived. The fate of the region and the world is linked with ours. Leaving a broken Iraq in the Middle East would offer international terrorism a haven and ensure a legacy of chaos for future generations. Furthermore, the sacrifices of all the young men and women who stood up here would have been in vain.

Iraqis, for all our determination and courage, cannot succeed alone. We need a healthy and supportive regional environment. We will not allow our country to be a battleground for settling scores in regional and international conflicts that adversely affect stability inside our borders. Only with continued international commitment and deeper engagement from our neighbors can we establish a stable democratic, federal and united Iraq. The world should not abandon us.

The writer is foreign minister of Iraq.
29827  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / FDA vs. medical freedom on: May 04, 2007, 08:52:43 AM
Drug Czars
By STEVEN WALKER
May 4, 2007; Page A15

The Food and Drug Administration recently argued in the D.C. Court of Appeals that it has the power to ban meat and vegetables without violating anyone's fundamental rights. The agency chose this bizarre position in an attempt to counter arguments made by patients and their advocates in Abigail Alliance v. von Eschenbach. This groundbreaking case challenges the agency's refusal to grant access to investigational drugs, even as a last resort for terminally ill patients.

Last year, a three-judge panel decided that the FDA is violating the due- process rights of terminally ill patients by denying them access to promising investigational drugs. In response the FDA moved for a rehearing by the full court, hoping to prevent a lower court-supervised examination of whether its draconian policies actually serve a narrowly tailored compelling governmental interest. In layman's terms, this means the FDA would have to show its policies toward terminal patients are so critical to the well-being of society that they supersede (in broad and highly imperfect fashion) the fundamental right of an individual to pursue life free of undue government interference. The FDA knows their policies will not survive this test, and doesn't want the question asked.

Consider the FDA's handling of Genasense, a new drug for melanoma and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), two often terminal forms of cancer. The drug is being developed by Genta, a small, innovative company with only one approved drug and limited financial resources. Despite compelling evidence that Genasense is making progress in fighting both diseases, the FDA appears determined to kill the drug.

 
In the case of the melanoma application, instead of reviewing the clinical-trial data in accordance with usual methods (which showed positive results), the FDA chose a nonstandard statistical approach aimed at discrediting the results. The agency used this analysis in its briefing to its advisory committee, claiming that the drug might not be effective. The committee then relied on that information to vote against approval.

Now, Genta has found a serious mathematical error in the FDA's analysis, rendering its results meaningless. Genta is filing a complaint under the Federal Data Quality Act to correct the record. But in the meantime, the drug remains unapproved and melanoma patients continue to wait.

Genasense was also shown in a well-run, randomized clinical trial (the FDA's gold standard) to cause a complete disappearance of disease in 17% of patients with advanced CLL when combined with two older drugs. Just 7% of patients in a control group who received only the older drugs experienced similar benefit. The responders to Genasense have seen their relief last an average of 36 months, while those using other drugs saw their cancer return, on average, in 22 months.

Following these results, the Director of the FDA's cancer division, Dr. Richard Pazdur, again convened a public meeting of his advisory committee. After an agency presentation designed to elicit a negative outcome, the panel voted 7 to 3 against approval, triggering an immediate reaction of surprise and dismay among many CLL experts.

But the committee vote is less surprising if one knows that the FDA appointed several voting consultants to the committee (none of them CLL experts), and recused from the meeting the only sitting member of the committee who is an expert in CLL. Perhaps even more troubling, two of the voting committee members worked behind the scenes as undisclosed consultants for the FDA on Genasense, then without disclosure voted in the open meeting.

A shocked Genta quickly requested a meeting with the FDA to seek clarity on the agency's position, and to present additional information from patient follow-up. On the referral of an eminent leukemia expert, Genta asked if we would attend the meeting as witnesses in our capacity as patient advocates. No compensation was offered, requested or received.

Most of the meeting was consumed by getting the FDA to admit the obvious: The long-lasting, complete disappearance of CLL and its symptoms constituted "clinical benefit." Making these arguments were two cancer-medicine professors at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, the recused ODAC member and an immediate past president of the American Society of Hematology -- all experts in CLL. None were employees of Genta and collectively represented a far more qualified advisory committee than the one that the FDA had convened.

The FDA's inane answer to the CLL experts was that the long-lasting disappearance of disease in patients taking Genasense was a "theoretical construct" and not grounds for approval.

The experts explained to the FDA that complete responses in advanced CLL patients are the medical equivalent of the Holy Grail. The FDA finally agreed, but was unimpressed with emerging data showing responders to Genasense living longer than responders in the control group.

The experts were unanimous in advising that Genasense should be approved, but the FDA was unmoved. The agency's Dr. Pazdur suggested that Genta could make the drug available as an unapproved treatment through an expanded access program -- this from a regulator fond of stating that the best way to get a drug to patients in need is through approval! In this case the agency was saying to Genta: We are not going to approve your drug, but any patient who needs it can have it so long as you give it away.

Genta responded that nonapproval would be a denial of patient access to Genasense because they could not afford to give it away in an expanded access program. Twice, Dr. Pazdur referred to that logic as a "business decision."

Less than 48 hours later, the FDA rejected Genasense. Within days Genta made a "business decision," laying off a third of its staff in a cost cutting move aimed at keeping the doors open long enough to appeal the FDA's decision. The appeal was filed in early April. Genta's announcement of the filing included a statement from one of the expert physicians: "It is puzzling that they would deny approval to a drug that met its primary and key secondary endpoint, especially since these findings were observed in the only randomized controlled trial that has ever been conducted in patients with relapsed CLL."

The FDA's handling of Genasense lays bare the all too common, aggressive incompetence of the FDA's cancer-drug division and should lead to an immediate examination of its policies and leadership, followed by swift corrective action.

As for the FDA's belief that their power to control us and even deny us the pursuit of life itself is unlimited under the Constitution, we can only hope the appeals court disagrees. An agency that blocks progress against deadly diseases -- while arguing that its power to do so is above challenge -- is in dire need of a court supervised review.

Mr. Walker is co-founder and chief adviser for the Abigail Alliance for Better Access to Developmental Drugs . He receives no compensation for his work as an advocate, nor has he ever received compensation from any private or public-sector entity involved in drug development, approval or marketing.
29828  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Negroponte on: May 04, 2007, 08:44:52 AM
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What's Going Right in Iraq
By JOHN D. NEGROPONTE
May 4, 2007; Page A15

By now it goes without saying that sectarian conflict and extremism in Iraq cannot be solved by military means alone -- it will take national reconciliation, economic reform and development, and international support as well. And as a former ambassador to Iraq, I know how difficult it is to create an alternative to coercive violence in a country that has lived under these conditions for decades.

In 2004 the U.N. Security Council laid out an arduous agenda for Iraq when it regained its sovereignty. This included setting up an interim government and electing a transitional government, writing and adopting a constitution, electing a permanent government, and developing national reconciliation based on the rule of law, tolerance and pluralism.

Despite horrific violence, much of that agenda has been implemented, though not national reconciliation. Nonetheless, the Iraqis have come a long way in what has been a short time for them. Pressing them to continue moving ahead on national reconciliation and reform is well-justified. But imposing fixed deadlines would be ill-advised.

Fixed deadlines would empower the obstructionists, stiffening their resolve to resist and delay by showing them where to concentrate their efforts. It would also weaken the moderates who -- forced to face a near-term future without us -- would hedge their bets and be less willing to broker hard political compromises. This could provoke even greater violence and insecurity, the opposite effect of that presumably intended by those advocating deadlines. That is why President Bush just issued only the second veto of his administration.

The fact is that critically important economic, political and diplomatic progress is being made; we must not allow the fog of war to obscure major developments that are fundamental to stability in Iraq and the region. These developments are more powerful than bombs -- they are the stuff of which modern nation states are made and the basis upon which they survive and thrive.

The U.S. has spent more than 84% of its major reconstruction appropriation in 11 sectors. Despite some missteps, inevitable given the chaotic conditions, these projects have brought significant benefits to the Iraqi people and will continue to do so for decades.

Now we are shifting toward increasing the capacity of Iraqis to meet their own needs. This is critical to Iraq's prospects for effective self-governance. In 2006 we began a ministerial capacity development program and completed the initial rollout of our Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) program. We're on track to double the number of PRTs from 10 to 20, deploying specialists to support moderates in local government, civil society and business.

Without question, oil is the most important and contentious economic sector. The Iraqis are making progress on a legislative package that is extremely important for national reconciliation. That this will prompt a great deal of debate should surprise no one. Such debate is healthy. Politically and economically, the stakes are high.

Iraq's financial position is improving, and the government is making budget execution a priority for 2007. The $1 billion that the Ministry of Finance released upon enactment of the budget has been delivered. Thus far, 94 of 128 spending units have opened the capital expenditure accounts needed for the full Iraqi budget to be disbursed. Some key ministries like Oil have not performed well. Others -- such as Communications, which has allocated 90% of its capital budget already -- are making good headway.

The International Compact with Iraq -- a road map for what Iraq will need to do over the next five years to achieve economic self-sufficiency -- is another step forward. Iraq has produced this credible package of economic reforms in 10 short months. There's no package like this anywhere else in the region.

Another positive development is that the IMF Board of Directors has approved the combined third and fourth reviews of Iraq's Stand-By Arrangement, keeping Iraq on track for the final 20% of Paris Club debt relief due in 2008. As part of this arrangement, Iraq has cut fuel subsidies, increased hard currency reserves to $18 billion, and mitigated inflationary pressure by appreciating the Iraqi dinar against the U.S. dollar and raising interest rates. These are tough measures. Countries less troubled than Iraq have balked or failed when trying to take similar steps.

Iraq's national reconciliation, reconstruction and stability depend not only on its internal policies but also on its relations with its neighbors. The Neighbors Conference being held this week in Sharm el-Sheikh is giving Iraq an important opportunity to improve those relations. We strongly support this effort.

As Gen. Petraeus explained last week, security is a necessary condition for sustained progress in the political, economic and diplomatic dimensions. By the same token, political, economic and diplomatic progress is necessary for achieving improved security. The two go hand-in-hand.

When I was ambassador to Iraq two years ago, the country had no permanent government, no Council of Representatives, no constitution, no IMF Stand-By Arrangement, no hydrocarbon laws in draft or otherwise, no willingness to cut subsidies, no International Compact with Iraq, and no forum for constructive dialogue with its neighbors and international community leaders. Now all that exists. It is what the Iraqis and we are fighting for, and what the terrorists and extremists are fighting against.

Mr. Negroponte is the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State.
 
29829  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Politica-Economia en Latino America on: May 04, 2007, 08:42:36 AM
Losing Latin America
May 4, 2007; Page A14
Wall Street Journal
A popular theme among Democrats running for President is their pledge to make America better liked around the world. Hillary Clinton says she'll even dispatch her husband as a kind of ambassador to the world. Well, he might start in Latin America, where our allies are getting stiffed by Democrats in Congress on trade and security.

We're referring in particular to Colombian President Álvaro Uribe, who has been in Washington this week, making his case for the U.S.-Colombia free-trade agreement and for continued U.S. help against terrorism. Colombia, Peru and Panama have all negotiated trade accords with the U.S. that, pending Congressional approval, would raise living standards and expand American influence.

A defeat for any of the three would do great harm to the Andean region, where democrats are battling Hugo Chávez's neo-socialist populism. Mr. Uribe, Peruvian President Álan Garcia and Panamanian President Martin Torrijos have all bet their futures on opening their economies to the U.S. If they're rebuffed, the local disciples of Mr. Chávez will say they were right not to trust the capitalist Yankees. The consequences won't look good on Nancy Pelosi's resume.

 
On economic grounds alone, the U.S. has everything to gain by approving these trade deals. Most Peruvian and Colombian exports already have duty-free access to the U.S. market through the Andean Trade Preferences Act. But U.S. manufacturing and farm exports heading south still face high tariff and non-tariff barriers. The regional financial center of Panama is especially attractive for U.S. services but is likewise a protected market.

The larger goal is spurring development and improving the investment climate in all three countries. While Colombia and Peru have duty-free access to U.S. markets, that privilege must be renewed every few years. The FTAs end this uncertainty. Even if Latin producers lose some protection, new access to imports means they can use help from abroad to innovate and grow more competitive. This is how Chile became an export powerhouse and reduced poverty. Maybe that's why Chile's Socialist President Michelle Bachelet has endorsed the deals.

None of this matters to some Democrats, whose loyalty to the AFL-CIO trumps their concern for the poor. Having won assurances that our Latin trading partners would enforce their labor and environmental laws at home, such Democrats as Michigan's Sander Levin are now asking for more. They're threatening to block the Latin FTAs unless the U.S. accepts language that would force U.S. companies to adhere to International Labor Organization "core principles." These "principles" have never passed Congress, in part because they'd put "right-to-work" states in legal jeopardy. Republicans won't support a trade pact with such a provision, which suggests that Mr. Levin intends it as a poison pill.

All of this is taking place while Venezuela's Mr. Chávez is working to reduce American influence in the Western Hemisphere. He's doing energy deals with China while confiscating U.S. oil assets. And he's pressing to supplant the U.S. goal of hemispheric free trade with a high-tariff South American customs union that he would run. Bolivia and Ecuador have already been captured by versions of chavismo, though Peru and Colombia have so far escaped thanks to their political leadership.

Colombia is especially vulnerable, as Mr. Chávez provides aid and comfort to that country's narco-trafficking guerrillas. This is why Mr. Uribe is also asking for continued U.S. assistance to fight organized crime. The State Department has certified that Colombia has held up its commitment to human rights under this "Plan Colombia" agreement.

But now that they control Congress again, Democrats are putting this policy in doubt. Mr. Levin says the Colombia FTA should be blocked on human rights grounds, claiming that Mr. Uribe's impressive record of reducing murder, kidnapping and terrorism isn't good enough. Vermont Senator Pat Leahy has put a hold on $55 million in new Plan Colombia funding because of false human rights charges coming from Mr. Uribe's political enemies in Bogotá. Mr. Leahy's grandstanding is all the more embarrassing because U.S. demand for cocaine is the largest source of financing for the criminal networks that have killed so many innocent Colombians.

If Democrats want to make more enemies in Latin America, this is the way to do it. The twice-elected Mr. Uribe is the most far-sighted leader Colombia has had in decades, and his FTA is an attempt to align his country's future firmly with the hemisphere's free-market democracies. Peru, Panama and Colombia are saying they want to be America's political and economic partners. Do Democrats in Congress want to drive them into the arms of Mr. Chávez?
29830  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gagging Shaha Riza on: May 04, 2007, 08:27:13 AM
Gagging Shaha Riza
Why won't the World Bank let her have her say?
WSJ
Friday, May 4, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Since the misnamed "Wolfowitz scandal" broke last month, enemies of the World Bank president have engaged in selective press leaks and calculated smears intended to oust him. Most of these leaks have come from within the bank itself, not that we've seen any effort by the institution to stop them.

Meanwhile, the bank bureaucracy has systematically sought to prevent Mr. Wolfowitz and his girlfriend Shaha Riza from telling their side of the story. Exhibit A is the bank's refusal to allow Ms. Riza--whose raise and promotion are the central issue--to defend herself even in a newspaper op-ed.

That was the order she received this week from one W. Paatii Ofosu-Amaah, a longtime bank bureaucrat from Ghana who serves as its vice president and corporate secretary. Both Ms. Riza and her lawyer declined to comment and were not our sources, but others who've seen the letter tell us that Mr. Ofosu-Amaah cited the bank's disclosure policies regarding board proceedings to forbid Ms. Riza from taking her case to the public.

That's more than odd, given that Ms. Riza currently works at a State Department affiliate; her salary continues to be paid by the bank as part of an agreement to avoid a "conflict of interest" claimed by the bank's own ethics committee. Bank sources also tell us that Mr. Ofosu-Amaah was among those who opposed letting Mr. Wolfowitz and Ms. Riza testify on Monday to the "ad hoc committee" investigating the case. One source adds that, "like several other vice presidents, Paatii took the position that a verdict could be reached through the documentary evidence alone."

Maybe that explains why this kangaroo court was prepared last week to reach a guilty verdict against Mr. Wolfowitz before either he or Ms. Riza had been given a chance to appear, according to "three senior bank officials" cited on Saturday by the Washington Post. Mr. Ofosu-Amaah's office didn't return our calls, naturally.
29831  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Humor/WTF on: May 03, 2007, 05:29:44 PM

'Goat Man' of Sudan Becomes a 'Widower'

Thursday , May 03, 2007

Charles Tombe just may be the world's most unique widower.

The Sudanese man's bizarre story first came to light more than a year ago when a newspaper in his hometown of Juba reported that he had been caught having sexual relations with... a goat.

Tombe was arrested, and later told a Sudanese judge that he was drunk at the time and didn't realize what he'd done.

The judge, however, relying on tribal law, passed judgment and equated Tombe's crime with that of a man caught sleeping with an unmarried girl, who would be ordered to marry her immediately to protect her honor and that of her family.

The judge, therefore ordered Tombe to pay the owner of the goat — named Rose — a dowry of 15,000 Sudanese dinars (about $50 at the time) — and marry the goat.

Hand-and-hoof, the two returned to Tombe's home.

"The idea was to publicly embarrass the man," says Tom Rhodes, editor of the Juba Post, which first ran the story.

Shortly after Tombe brought Rose back to his Juba home, the black-and-white goat gave birth to a male kid.

Villagers, meanwhile, started calling Tombe "The Goat Man," a title he so loathed that he kept to himself, allowing Rose to roam local streets, where it is believed she ate a plastic bag, choked and died this week.

Unlike the Anna Nicole Smith custody battle, however, there's no controversy involving the "couple's" offspring: Tombe gets to keep the kid.
__________________
29832  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Geo Political matters on: May 03, 2007, 04:42:33 PM
Second post of the day:

WSJ
The American Century
By LEO MELAMED
May 3, 2007; Page A17

If one had to pinpoint the birth of globalization, a good bet would be Aug. 15, 1971, when President Richard Nixon dropped the U.S. dollar's convertibility to gold. This led to an irreversible breakdown of fixed exchange rates, initiated the modern era of globalization, and provided the rationale for the launch of financial futures by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME).

As the world left the gold standard in favor of the information standard, the U.S. had the so-called "first mover advantage." For the next three decades we dominated the world's capital markets, dwarfing everyone. With derivatives, the CME, Chicago Board of Trade and New York Mercantile Exchange initiated the modern futures era. In over-the-counter, financial engineers created a vast array of financial instruments. In securities, Chicago Board Options Exchange stock options were born, and the New York Stock Exchange, Nasdaq, as well as other American exchanges grew without equal -- deeper and more liquid than anywhere else.

Merton Miller, Nobel Laureate in economics, liked to say the period between the mid-1960s and mid-1980s was unique. In his view, no other 20-year period in recorded American history witnessed even a tenth of the financial innovation of those two decades. But time marched on. Suddenly, American first mover advantage was over. The growth track the U.S. maintained in the decades after the onset of globalization has been steadily leveling off, while the growth track of other industrial nations has ramped up. The U.S., its commercial enterprises and its exchanges are facing serious competition from other capital markets.

Recently three major studies, one led by Glenn Hubbard and John Thornton, another by Sen. Charles Schumer and Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the third by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, have concluded that America is losing its dominance in world securities markets. These studies were a wake-up call. But reducing the Sarbanes-Oxley regulatory requirements, as these studies suggested, while a good idea, will by itself not alter the dynamic. Nor will we fix the problem with populist demagoguery advocating a protectionist agenda. "America First" solutions have been tried before and are self-defeating. In today's globalized marketplace, such remedies would be devastating to both U.S. capital markets and the American standard of living.

To find a solution one must first recognize the cause of the problem. We have entered a new era in the global marketplace. The industrial world has caught up with us. It has learned the value of Milton Friedman's free-market precepts, adopted them and put them to work. All major capital markets have modern trading capabilities, competent securities and derivatives exchanges, cutting-edge technology and banks that are as solid as our own. We are beginning to feel the competitive pinch from the Asian giants China and India. Within a decade their competitive presence will be felt in every segment of the marketplace. Needless to say, we were excellent teachers and our students learned well.

To remain competitive in the 21st century, the U.S. must first accept the reality of the modern global paradigm. We cannot pretend or assume that things will ever again be as they were. In the future, our private sector will have to fight for business flows on a world stage. It will require our best efforts and brightest minds. Similarly, U.S. government officials must accept the fact that U.S. businesses face competitors from across the ocean rather than across the river.

The old road map is history. The new map necessitates continued deregulation to promote continued innovation, reduction of burdensome compliance costs, containment of baseless litigation and open markets for goods. Beyond that, we must redouble our efforts to sustain the academic excellence that helped give us our first-mover advantage in the first place.

The fruit of our labor resulting from a three-decade, first-mover advantage is a priceless intellectual legacy -- a unique reservoir of knowledge, ideas and experience that can become an arsenal of competitive weaponry for the future. This, coupled with the constitutional and cultural birthright that encourages Americans to think freely, experiment and create, gives us an endowment of extraordinary potency.

Mr. Melamed is chairman emeritus of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
29833  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Shadow Candidates on: May 03, 2007, 04:38:16 PM
The Shadow Candidates
The art of not running for president.

Thursday, May 3, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Tonight 10 Republicans go on stage to trade sound bites in a debate at the Reagan Library in Los Angeles. But a lot of media oxygen is being used up by the "noncandidate candidates"--those who might want to be president, but haven't yet officially jumped into the race.

In every election some conventional wisdom is swept aside. Be it that third party candidates can't influence the race (Ross Perot won 19% of the popular vote in 1992), that sitting presidents have to wait for their opposing party to pick a candidate (Bill Clinton ran negative ads more than a year before the 1996 election and went on to be the first Democrat to win re-election since FDR in 1944) or that an Internet-based campaign can't threaten an establishment candidate (Howard Dean surged, if briefly, past everyone in 2004), conventional wisdom is only right until it turns out to be wrong. This year, the assumption that the best way to run for president is to, well, run for president might go by the boards.





Everyone agrees on the negatives of being a noncandidate. Rivals scoop up cash, campaign talent and endorsements while noncandidates sit and wait. But for the already well-known, there are advantages to being "outside the ring." While official candidates are scrutinized relentlessly for gaffes and battered by "independent" opposition groups, noncandidates can be selective in their media exposure and appear high-minded.
Playing hard-to-get also creates allure and curiosity. Today noncandidates appeal to both parties. Depending on the poll, between one-third and three-fifths of Republicans are dissatisfied with their current crop of candidates. Last month, a straw poll at the Oklahoma Republican Party's convention saw noncandidates Fred Thompson and Newt Gingrich top the field with a majority of the votes between them. Democrats are more happy with their field, but persistent doubts about Hillary Clinton's electability or Barack Obama's seasoning fuels speculation that Al Gore or some other savior will enter the race.

Mr. Gingrich is touring the country touting his ideas without the scrutiny and legal constraints that an official candidate's fund-raising team would get. His aim is to offer "solutions so compelling that if voters say I have to be the president, it will happen." He will make up his mind in September, but in the meantime his audiences are larger, his influence greater and his exposure on TV even more ubiquitous.

The same is true for Mr. Gore. Only a noncandidate could get the praise and royal treatment he enjoyed testifying before Congress in March. This summer, he is both losing weight and keeping his name in the headlines by promoting his new book and environmentally themed rock concerts. Even if he doesn't win the Nobel Peace Prize this fall, he could parachute into the presidential race. He has trained thousands of people to present his global-warming film in every state, a cast of supporters who could easily be converted into campaign volunteers. A Quinnipiac Poll of three battleground states shows that Mr. Gore polls better against leading Republicans than either Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Obama.

Mr. Thompson, whose movies and network appearances are a fixture on TV screens, is clearly being helped for now by not being part of the candidate pack. The day after tonight's GOP debate he will appear before a large GOP audience in Orange County, 75 miles south of the Reagan Library. C-Span and CNN will cover the event live. His solo act may get as many viewers as tonight's debate. Pollsters John Zogby and Doug Schoen both agree that Mr. Thompson could shake up the GOP race.

Another candidate who could transform the race is popular New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, a client of Mr. Schoen's. He has already told friends he could easily spend $500 million of his own money on an independent run and could snap up middle-of-the-road voters from both parties.





Whoever runs, looking over this year's shadow candidates it is clear that they are changing the rules of American politics. "Americans love having more choices," says Peter Brown, an analyst with the Quinnipiac Poll. "They'll now even give noncandidates a real look to see if there's something there they're missing in the others."
In 2000, blogger Mickey Kaus refined the Feiler Faster Thesis, which holds that though news cycles are constantly getting faster, "people are comfortable processing that information with what seems like breathtaking speed." This rapid pace may be transforming presidential politics. Voters aren't waiting for pundits to tell them who is running for president, and shadow candidates can run low-cost guerilla campaigns using the Internet, talk shows and word-of-mouth. "Candidates have been running so long already it opens up opportunities for late entries," says Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit.com. "We may not like it, but voter boredom may now be a driver of politics."

Modern presidential campaigns started in 1960 when the first Kennedy-Nixon debate established the primacy of television. This upcoming race could mark similar dramatic changes in the pace, shape and tone of elections to come.


WSJ
29834  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal issues on: May 03, 2007, 04:05:10 PM
Doug:

You are right.

GM:

You too.

 grin
29835  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Intellectual Property theft on: May 03, 2007, 10:59:35 AM
The tenor of this piece is vintage NY Slimes, but it does report something of interest to those who seek to protect their intellectual property.
============================

In Web Uproar, Antipiracy Code Spreads Wildly
       
By BRAD STONE
Published: May 3, 2007
SAN FRANCISCO, May 2 — There is open revolt on the Web.

Jim Wilson/The New York Times
Does encryption of media files unfairly limit consumer freedom?

Sophisticated Internet users have banded together over the last two days to publish and widely distribute a secret code used by the technology and movie industries to prevent piracy of high-definition movies.

The broader distribution of the code may not pose a serious threat to the studios, because it requires some technical expertise and specialized software to use it to defeat the copy protection on Blu-ray and HD DVD discs. But its relentless spread has already become a lesson in mob power on the Internet and the futility of censorship in the digital world.

An online uproar came in response to a series of cease-and-desist letters from lawyers for a group of companies that use the copy protection system, demanding that the code be removed from several Web sites.

Rather than wiping out the code — a string of 32 digits and letters in a specialized counting system — the legal notices sparked its proliferation on Web sites, in chat rooms, inside cleverly doctored digital photographs and on user-submitted news sites like Digg.com.

“It’s a perfect example of how a lawyer’s involvement can turn a little story into a huge story,” said Fred von Lohmann, a staff lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group. “Now that they started sending threatening letters, the Internet has turned the number into the latest celebrity. It is now guaranteed eternal fame.”

The number is being enshrined in some creative ways. Keith Burgon, a 24-year-old musician in Goldens Bridge, N.Y., grabbed his acoustic guitar on Tuesday and improvised a melody while soulfully singing the code. He posted the song to YouTube, where it was played more than 45,000 times.

“I thought it was a source of comedy that they were trying so futilely to quell the spread of this number,” Mr. Burgon said. “The ironic thing is, because they tried to quiet it down it’s the most famous number on the Internet.”

During his work break on Tuesday, James Bertelson, an engineer in Vancouver, Wash., joined the movement and created a Web page featuring nothing but the number, obscured in an encrypted format that only insiders could appreciate. He then submitted his page to Digg, a news site where users vote on what is important. Despite its sparse offerings, his submission received nearly 5,000 votes and was propelled onto Digg’s main page.

“For most people this is about freedom of speech, and an industry that thinks that just because it has high-priced lawyers it has the final say,” Mr. Bertelson said.

Messages left for those lawyers and the trade organization they represent, the Advanced Access Content System Licensing Administrator, which controls the encryption system known as A.A.C.S., were not answered. In an e-mail message, a representative for the group said only that it “is looking into the matter and has no further comment at this time.”

The organization is backed by technology companies like I.B.M., Intel, Microsoft and Sony and movie studios like Disney and Warner Brothers, which is owned by Time Warner.

The secret code actually stopped being a secret in February, when a hacker ferreted it out of his movie-playing software and posted it on a Web bulletin board. From there it spread through the network of technology news sites and blogs.

Last month, lawyers for the trade group began sending out cease-and-desist letters, claiming that Web pages carrying the code violated its intellectual property rights under the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Letters were sent to Google, which runs a blog network at blogspot.com, and the online encyclopedia Wikipedia.

The campaign to remove the number from circulation went largely unnoticed until news of the letters hit Digg. The 25-employee company in San Francisco, acting on the advice of its lawyers, removed posting submissions about the secret number from its database earlier this week, then explained the move to its readers on Tuesday afternoon.

The removals were seen by many Digg users as a capitulation to corporate interests and an assault on free speech. Some also said that the trade group that promotes the HD-DVD format, which uses A.A.C.S. protection, had advertised on a weekly Digg-related video podcast.

On Tuesday afternoon and into the evening, stories about or including the code swamped Digg’s main page, which the company says gets 16 million readers each month. At 9 p.m. West Coast time, the company surrendered to mob sentiment.

“You’d rather see Digg go down fighting than bow down to a bigger company,” wrote Kevin Rose, Digg’s founder, in a blog post. “We hear you, and effective immediately we won’t delete stories or comments containing the code and will deal with whatever the consequences might be.” If Digg loses, he wrote, “at least we died trying.”

Jay Adelson, Digg’s chief executive, said in an interview that the site was disregarding the advice of its lawyers. “We just decided that it is more important to stand by our users,” he said. Regarding the company’s exposure to lawsuits he said, “we are just going to prepare and do our best.”

The conflict spilled over to Wikipedia, where administrators had to restrict editing on some entries to keep contributors from repeatedly posting the code.

The episode recalls earlier acts of online rebellion against the encryption that protects media files from piracy. Some people believe that such systems unfairly limit their freedom to listen to music and watch movies on whatever devices they choose.

In 1999, hackers created a program called DeCSS that broke the software protecting standard DVDs and posted it on the hacker site 2600.com. The Motion Picture Association of America sued, and Judge Lewis A. Kaplan of Federal District Court in Manhattan, citing the 1998 digital copyright act, sided with the movie industry.

The DVD code disappeared from the 2600 site, but nevertheless resurfaced in playful haiku, on T-shirts and even in a movie in which the code scrolled across the screen like the introductory crawl in “Star Wars.”

In both cases, the users who joined the revolt and published the codes may be exposing themselves to legal risk. Chris Sprigman, an associate professor at the University of Virginia School of Law, said that under the digital copyright act, propagating even parts of techniques intended to circumvent copyright was illegal.

However, with thousands of Internet users now impudently breaking the law, Mr. Sprigman said that the entertainment and technology industries would have no realistic way to pursue a legal remedy. “It’s a gigantic can of worms they’ve opened, and now it will be awfully hard to do anything with lawsuits,” he said.

NY Times
29836  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Geo Political matters on: May 03, 2007, 10:19:08 AM
Good questions SB Mig.

This analysis from Stratfor I think does a good job of showing just how complicated all this is.
===============

The Iraq Security Conference: Hanging a Deal on Faulty Assumptions
By Kamran Bokhari

After weeks of playing hard to get, Iran announced April 29 that Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki will attend the May 3-4 conference in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, where Iraq's neighboring states and major world powers will explore ways to stabilize Iraq. The same day, Iranian national security chief Ali Larijani traveled to Baghdad on a surprise three-day visit apparently aimed at discussing security and the upcoming conference with Iraqi officials.

The United States welcomed Iran's decision to attend the conference, calling it a "positive" development. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice hinted before Iran's announcement at the possibility of meeting directly with Mottaki on the sidelines of the conference. President George W. Bush later explained that Rice and Mottaki could engage in bilateral talks within the context of the multilateral event, though he ruled out separate public-level talks between Tehran and Washington. Things still could go wrong before May 3, and Mottaki could decide against attending the conference, but for now it looks like he will show up. Deputy Foreign Minister Mehdi Mostafavi said May 1 that, while Iran is ready to hold "discussions" with the United States, the conditions are not appropriate for negotiations.

The potential open engagement between the United States and Iran at the foreign ministry level would be the culmination of back-channel negotiations that started even before the United States led the invasion of Iraq. In other words, the Bush administration -- long after having scrapped its original deal with Tehran on the makeup of a post-war Iraqi government -- has reached a preliminary understanding with Iran's clerical regime on how the two sides will proceed with regard to stabilizing Iraq in the wake of the unexpected Sunni insurgency, the subsequent sectarian war and the involvement of Arab Sunni states in the fray.

The Sharm el-Sheikh conference, then, represents the launch of the formal process of hammering out a complex, multi-party deal to piece together the Humpty Dumpty that is Iraq.

The U.S.-Iranian back-channel talks were never going to result in a deal on how to divide Iraq; rather, they were a way for Washington and Tehran to work out their respective concerns about a future post-Baathist Iraq before taking the problem to the wider forum. The back-channel talks, which provide the context for the multilateral conference, will continue -- though the real deal will likely emerge from this wider forum.

Throughout the years of behind-the-scenes talks, the two sides have been unable to reach an understanding that balances the concerns of both with regard to Iraq's future. Iran does not want an Iraq with close ties to the United States -- one that threatens Iranian national security and Tehran's regional aspirations. Conversely, the United States does not want to see an Iraq dominated by Iran -- a situation that would allow Tehran to threaten the Arab states in the Persian Gulf/Arabian Peninsula, and thus U.S. regional interests. Moreover, the involvement of Sunni Arab states that feel threatened by the rise of Iran and its Shiite Arab allies has further complicated U.S.-Iranian dealings. Saudi Arabia, which has emerged as the leader of the Arab world, has been spearheading the move to counter Iran.

Complications aside, the Saudi efforts to insert themselves into the equation have given Washington a tool with which to counter Iranian moves. In fact, just as the Bush administration has used the Iraqi Sunni card to rein in the country's Shia (Washington has signaled to the Shia that it is willing to cut deals with the Sunnis, especially the Baathists), it has leveraged its alignment with the Arab states to contain the Iranians. While the United States needs Iranian cooperation to stabilize Iraq, the Iranians also need the United States to ensure that the Arab states and their Iraqi Sunni allies will not threaten Iranian interests.

The upcoming conference, therefore, is immensely important to all sides. The meeting represents a formal acknowledgement by all parties of the sphere of influence the Iranians and the Saudis will have in Iraq. Both Riyadh and Tehran want assurances that each other's respective proxies -- the Shiite militias and the Sunni insurgents -- will be restrained from creating security issues for them. In recent weeks, the Iranians have demonstrated they can get Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr's militia, the Mehdi Army, to more or less go along with the security plan. On the other hand, the Saudi announcement of the arrests of jihadist militants and the seizure of large sums of cash and weapons was meant as a reciprocating message that Riyadh, too, can rein in the jihadists who threaten the Shia -- and, by extension, the Iranian position in Iraq.

The general understanding has been that a U.S.-Saudi-Iranian deal could help stabilize Iraq -- the assumption being that Riyadh and Tehran have the ability to rein in their respective militias and insurgents in Iraq. Although ending the violence is beyond either country's ability, the Saudis and the Iranians are letting on that they can contain their fighters -- for a price. The Saudis want to ensure that Iraq's Sunni community has a sufficient share of the political pie in Baghdad so that, even with Shiite domination of the Iraqi state, the Iranians could not use Iraq as a military springboard into the Arabian Peninsula. For their part, the Iranians want assurances that the Sunni minority in Iraq never again will be in a position to threaten Iran's national security. More than that, however, the Islamic republic would like to be able to use its influence to pull strings within the Iraqi Shiite-dominated government.

This is the dilemma that faces the United States and the Sunni Arab states. They want to figure out how to acknowledge Iranian influence in Iraq's affairs, but still prevent Tehran from using such influence to enhance its power. Iraq's ethno-sectarian demography -- it is only approximately 20 percent Sunni -- is what scares Washington and its Arab allies. They are hoping, then, that ensuring the Sunnis a sufficient share of the Iraqi government will serve to check the Iranian/Shiite rise. To achieve that goal, however, the United States and Saudi Arabia would have to make a major reciprocal concession: acknowledging that a larger share of the pie will be in the hands of the Shia. This is one of the key reasons why reining in the Shiite militias has become a prerequisite for containing the Sunni insurgency.

This brings us back to the Sharm el-Sheikh conference, where Tehran is hoping the United States and its Arab allies acknowledge Iranian interests in Iraq in exchange for Iran's willingness to restrain the Shiite militias. The Arabs are willing to give Tehran the recognition it wants, though they are operating from a position of relative weakness and cannot trust that Iran would not use a relatively stable Iraq to extend its influence across the Persian Gulf.

Furthermore, although the Bush administration is downplaying the possibility, the Arabs are concerned that the political pendulum in the United States is swinging heavily in favor of an early pullout -- or major drawdown -- of coalition forces from Iraq. Since, in the long run, they cannot trust Washington to underwrite a deal with the Iranians, the Arabs are hesitant to sign a document that would effectively give Iran the room to maneuver as it pleases. This is the root of the Saudi reluctance to use its influence among the Iraqi Sunnis to help contain sectarian violence.

More important, however, Iraq's Sunni and Shiite communities are so internally factionalized (the Shia to a greater extent) that neither Tehran nor Riyadh is likely to succeed in shutting down the militancy. Moreover, the multiplicity of Shiite political and militant factions makes it difficult for Iran to keep all of them happy -- and thus on board with any deal it might be willing to cut. The continuing strife in the Shiite south, especially in the oil-rich city of Basra, is but one example of the problems the Iranians face in this regard.

Similarly, the Saudis cannot claim to speak for all the Sunnis. But even more problematic for Riyadh is that its best weapon against the Iranians is the jihadists, especially those affiliated with al Qaeda -- precisely those who pose a major national security threat to the Saudi kingdom.

The question, then, is whether the Saudis and the Iranians can actually deliver on a triangular deal involving each of them and the third main state actor in Iraq -- the United States. It would appear that their fears over their respective interests have forced them to deal with one another despite their apprehensions.

Ultimately, however, the three big players are negotiating a security deal that rests on the faulty assumptions that each side has enough sway over the various factions inside Iraq to make an agreement actually work.
29837  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / The Smartest/Nuttiest Futurist on Earth on: May 02, 2007, 11:37:39 PM

http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2007/05/14/100008848/index.htm?source=yahoo_quote

 
The smartest (or the nuttiest) futurist on Earth
Ray Kurzweil is a legendary inventor with a history of mind-blowing ideas. Now he's onto something even bigger. If he's right, the future will be a lot weirder and brighter than you think.
By Brian O'Keefe, Fortune senior editor
May 2 2007: 11:08 AM EDT


(Fortune Magazine) -- If you went around saying that in a couple of decades we'll have cell-sized, brain-enhancing robots circulating through our bloodstream or that we'll be able to upload a person's consciousness into a computer, people would probably question your sanity. But if you say things like that and you're Ray Kurzweil, you get invited to dinner at Bill Gates' house - twice - so he can pick your brain for insights on the future of technology. The Microsoft chairman calls him a "visionary thinker and futurist."

Kurzweil is an inventor whose work in artificial intelligence has dazzled technological sophisticates for four decades. He invented the flatbed scanner, the first true electric piano, and large-vocabulary speech-recognition software; he's launched ten companies and sold five, and has written five books; he has a BS in computer science from MIT and 13 honorary doctorates (but no real one); he's been inducted into the Inventor's Hall of Fame and charges $25,000 every time he gives a speech - 40 times last year.

 
Still life with innovator: Kurzweil at his home near Boston.
 
Everybody loves Raymond: Kurzweil is a major tech conference draw, commanding $25,000 a speech.
 
The power of technology will keep growing exponentially. By 2050, you'll be able to buy a device with the computational capacity of all mankind for the price of a nice refrigerator.
 
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And now, if anything, he's gaining momentum as a cultural force: He has not one but two movies in the works - one a documentary about his career and ideas and the other an adaptation of his recent bestseller, The Singularity Is Near, which he's writing and co-producing (he's talking about a distribution deal with the people who brought you "The Day After Tomorrow").

When Kurzweil isn't giving keynote addresses or reading obscure peer-review journals, he's raising money for his new hedge fund, FatKat (Financial Accelerating Transactions from Kurzweil Adaptive Technologies). He's already attracted a roster of blue-ribbon investors that includes venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, former Microsoft CFO Mike Brown, and former Flextronics-CEO-turned-KKR-partner Michael Marks.

Life imitates TV
Being a hedge fund manager may seem an odd pursuit for an expert in AI, but to Kurzweil it's perfectly natural. The magic that has enabled all his innovations has been the science of pattern recognition - and what is the financial market, he postulates, but a series of patterns?

Kurzweil, however, has something bigger on his mind than just making money - after half a lifetime studying trends in technological change, he believes he's found a pattern that allows him to see into the future with a high degree of accuracy.

The secret is something he calls the Law of Accelerating Returns, and the basic idea is that the power of technology is expanding at an exponential rate. Mankind is on the cusp of a radically accelerating era of change unlike anything we have ever seen, he says, and almost more extreme than we can imagine.

What does that mean? By the time a child born today graduates from college, Kurzweil believes, poverty, disease, and reliance on fossil fuels should be a thing of the past. Speaking of which, don't get him started on global-warming hype.

"These slides that Gore puts up are ludicrous," says the man who once delivered a tech conference presentation as a singing computer avatar named Ramona. (That stunt was the inspiration for the 2002 Al Pacino movie "Simone.") "They don't account for anything like the technological progress we're going to experience."

Great big cell phones in the sky
He has plenty more ideas that may seem Woody Allen - wacky in a "Sleeper" kind of way (virtual sex as good as or better than the real thing) and occasionally downright disturbing à la "2001: A Space Odyssey" (computers will achieve consciousness in about 20 years). But a number of his predictions have had a funny way of coming true.

Back in the 1980s he predicted that a computer would beat the world chess champion in 1998 (it happened in 1997) and that some kind of worldwide computer network would arise and facilitate communication and entertainment (still happening). His current vision goes way, way past the web, of course. But at least give the guy a hearing. "We are the species that goes beyond our potential," he says. "Merging with our technology is the next stage in our evolution."

In mid-April, Kurzweil traveled to the Island hotel in Newport Beach, Calif., as one of the featured speakers at a two-day World Innovation Forum. The roster of luminaries included Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen and Vint Cerf, one of the fathers of the Internet, now at Google (Charts, Fortune 500). But Kurzweil was the only one followed around by a team of documentary-film makers.

He took the stage wearing a brown houndstooth sports coat and navy checked tie and began toggling through his PowerPoint slides. He's about 5-foot-7, and in regular conversation he tends to speak in a monotone. But he comes alive onstage, mixing in reliable one-liners with his bigger point: Don't underestimate the power of technological change. "Information technologies are doubling in power every year right now," he tells the crowd of 400 or so attendees. "Doubling every year is multiplying by 1,000 in ten years. It's remarkable how scientists miss this basic trend."

Kurzweil's crusade, if you will, is to get across that most of us (even scientists) fail to see the world changing exponentially because we are "stuck in the intuitive linear view." To hammer home his point, Kurzweil packs his presentations with charts that show, for instance, supercomputer power doubling consistently over time.

He explains that Moore's Law - the number of transistors on a chip will double every two years - is but one excellent example of the Law of Accelerating Returns. One of Kurzweil's favorite illustrations of exponential growth is the Human Genome Project. "It was scheduled to be a 15-year project," he says. "After seven years only 1% of it was done, and the critics said it would be impossible. But if you double from 1% every year over seven years, you get 100%. It was right on schedule."

He believes humanity is near that 1% moment in technological growth. By 2027, he predicts, computers will surpass humans in intelligence; by 2045 or so, we will reach the Singularity, a moment when technology is advancing so rapidly that "strictly biological" humans will be unable to comprehend it.

A corporate governance gadfly irks CEOs
Everything will be subject to his Law of Accelerating Returns, Kurzweil says, because "everything is ultimately becoming information technology." As we are able to reverse-engineer and decode our own DNA, for instance, medical technology can be converted to bits and bytes and zoom along at the same fantastic rate. That will enable overlapping revolutions in genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics. Which is how you end up with nanobots living in your brain.

Kurzweil, 59, declared his career as an inventor at age 5. He grew up in Queens, New York, one of two children (he has a younger sister named Enid) of Fredric and Hannah Kurzweil, Viennese Jews who fled the Nazis in 1938. His parents encouraged their son's ambition. "Ideas were the religion of our household," he says. "They saw science and technology as the way of the future and a way to make money and not struggle the way they did." Fredric, a composer and conductor, died of heart disease at 58, an event that would have a lasting impact on his son.

Kurzweil discovered computers at age 12, and quickly demonstrated an amazing facility with technology. At 14 he wangled a job as the computer programmer at the research department of Head Start, the federal government's early-childhood-development program. While there he wrote software that was later distributed by IBM (Charts, Fortune 500) with its mainframes.

Going beyond 'Moneyball'
At 17 he won an international science contest by building a computer that analyzed the works of Chopin and Beethoven to compose music; that trick landed him on the TV show "I've Got a Secret," hosted by Steve Allen. At MIT he started a company that used a computer to crunch numbers and match high school students with the best college choice; he sold it for $100,000 plus royalties.

After graduating from MIT, he founded Kurzweil Computer Products in 1974, and his initial breakthrough came later that year when he created the first optical-character-recognition program capable of reading any font. After he happened to sit next to a blind man on a plane, he decided to apply the technology to building a reading machine for the sight-impaired. To make it work he invented the flatbed scanner and the text-to-speech synthesizer, and introduced a reader in 1976.

When his first reader customer - Stevie Wonder - later complained about the limitations of electronic keyboards, Kurzweil used pattern-recognition science to invent the first keyboard that could realistically reproduce the sound of pianos and other orchestra instruments. Thus was born Kurzweil Music Systems. (When his name is recognized today, it's still often as "that keyboard guy.")

Kurzweil never left the Boston area after college. He and his wife, Sonya, live in a suburb about 20 minutes west of the city in a house they bought 25 years ago. Both of his children are grown and out of the house - Ethan, 28, is at Harvard Business School and Amy, 20, is at Stanford - so it's just the two of them and 300 or so cat figurines. (Kurzweil says he likes the way cats always seem to be "calmly thinking through their options.")

Kurzweil won't say how much he's worth, but he's never had the kind of payday that made so many of his peers centimillionaires or better. He sold Kurzweil Computer Products to Xerox (Charts, Fortune 500) in 1980 for $6.25 million. Kurzweil Music Systems was in bankruptcy when Korean piano maker Young Chang bought it in 1990 for $12 million.

From NBA to MBA: Shaq suits up for business
Kurzweil Applied Intelligence introduced a series of speech-recognition products and went public in 1993, but was tarnished by an accounting-fraud scandal in 1995. Kurzweil, who was co-CEO, was not implicated. "I was focusing on the technology," he says. "There was this small conspiracy, which was deeply shocking." KAI was sold in 1997 for $53 million.

If Kurzweil hasn't made the big score, he's done well enough to keep funding his new ventures. Former Microsoft (Charts, Fortune 500) CFO Brown has invested in a few of Kurzweil's businesses and says he's impressed. "There's a certain smart kind of person who can get all the way from the big picture down to the little kernel and back," he says. "He's extremely adaptive that way. His businesses in my experience have always been well run and successful. He's grown them until they get to be a certain size and typically sold them to somebody who has a bigger distribution network."

These days Kurzweil organizes his business interests - including FatKat and Ray & Terry's Longevity Products, which sells supplements - under the umbrella of Kurzweil Technologies. The company takes up all of one floor and half of another in a nondescript office-park building in Wellesley Hills, Mass. In the reception area on the second floor is an antique Ediphone, one of Thomas Edison's dictation machines.

On a table filled with plaques noting Kurzweil's achievements is a photo of him receiving the National Medal of Technology from President Clinton. There's a pipe-smoking mannequin with a ribbon that reads I AM AN INVENTOR on its chest. In the basement is a supercomputer processing millions of bits of market-related data.

Kurzweil is hoping that FatKat will prove to be as spectacular an achievement as his early inventions, only a lot more lucrative. When describing his approach, he refers to the success of fellow MIT board member and hedge fund manager James Simons of Renaissance Technologies, whose $6 billion fund Medallion has averaged 36% returns annually after fees since 1988 and who, according to the hedge fund trade magazine Alpha, was the highest-paid hedgie last year, with a take-home of $1.7 billion.

Kurzweil says he is applying Simons-like quantitative analysis to take advantage of market inefficiencies. And he's confident that, just as he trained computers to recognize patterns in human speech or the sound of a violin, he can do the same with currency fluctuations and stock-ownership trends. The ultimate goal is to create the first fully artificially intelligent quant fund - a black box that can learn to monitor itself and adjust. Although he started the company back in 1999, the fund has only been trading for about a year.

How's he doing? Kurzweil won't say, citing SEC rules, nor will his investors. "I view Ray as one of the best pattern-recognition people in the world," says Khosla, when asked why he put money into FatKat. "I am a happy investor in Ray's company. A very happy investor."

As respected as Kurzweil is, to some of his peers his ideas have a persistent whiff of the too-good-to-be-true. One intellectual equal who takes exception to Kurzweil's views is Mitch Kapor, the co-founder and former CEO of Lotus Development. In 2002, Kapor made a much publicized $20,000 bet with Kurzweil that a computer would not be able to demonstrate consciousness at a human level by 2029.

But his quibbles with Kurzweil run much deeper than that debate. He rejects Kurzweil's theories about the implications of accelerating technology as pseudo-evangelistic bunk. "It's intelligent design for the IQ 140 people," he says. "This proposition that we're heading to this point at which everything is going to be just unimaginably different - it's fundamentally, in my view, driven by a religious impulse. And all of the frantic arm-waving can't obscure that fact for me, no matter what numbers he marshals in favor of it. He's very good at having a lot of curves that point up to the right."

Even technologists who take Kurzweil seriously don't necessarily echo his optimism. It was after a conversation with him that Bill Joy wrote an apocalyptic cover story for Wired magazine in 2000 about nanotechnology run amok.

Kurzweil, who's always careful to acknowledge the possibility that everything could go haywire, says his outlook is about math, not religion. And he's not planning to go anywhere until he bears witness to humankind's ultimate destiny, even if it takes him forever.

Note that by "forever" we mean "forever": The man literally intends not to die. With an acute memory of his father's early death, he's been getting weekly blood tests and intravenous treatments. He also takes pills - lots of pills, more than 200 vitamins, antioxidants, and other supplements every day. It's all part of his effort to "reprogram" his body chemistry and stop growing old. "I've slowed down aging to a crawl," he claims. "By most measures my biological age is about 40, and I have some hormone and nutrient levels of a person in his 30s."

Tuesday night in Newport Beach, after his talk at the Innovation Forum, Kurzweil is having dinner at an upscale seafood restaurant with one of his true believers, Peter Diamandis. The 45-year-old Diamandis is best known as the creator of the X Prize, a $10 million bounty for the first privately built, manned rocket launched into space. (Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's team won in 2004.)

He's developing a new X Prize for a 100-mile-a-gallon car, and considering others in cancer research and, with Kurzweil's help, AI. Diamandis says he buys completely into Kurzweil's Law of Accelerating Returns and everything that it implies. "The Singularity, for anyone who stops and thinks about it, is completely obvious," he says.

Diamandis, who has an MD, has also been profoundly affected by Kurzweil's 2004 book Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever and has adopted Kurzweil's dietary guidelines. Diamandis pulls out a plastic bag of supplement pills and explains he's up to about 30 a day. Kurzweil reaches into his jacket for some of his own supplements. "His pills are bigger than my pills!" says Diamandis.

Then, more seriously, he asks Kurzweil if he ever gets nosebleeds from the supplement regimen. Kurzweil doesn't. "I think it might be the memory pills," says Diamandis. The conversation morphs into a debate on why earthlings have been unable to detect extraterrestrial civilizations, because with the billions of star systems out there, surely the Law of Accelerating Returns must have taken root somewhere...

It's easy to ridicule a scene like this, and perhaps people will when the movie comes out. (The documentary crew was there.) It's currently unfashionable to be so positive in one's open-mindedness. But remember, Kurzweil has been right before. And frankly, he's delighted we haven't heard from anyone else in the universe yet - it just means we're further up the technology curve than the aliens. "I think it's exciting that we're in the lead," he says, fiddling with his half-eaten ahi tuna. "There's a lot ahead of us."

Reporter associates Doris Burke and Telis Demos contributed to this article.

From the May 14, 2007 issue
29838  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mil-blogs: Michael Yon and others (support our troops) on: May 02, 2007, 07:01:23 PM
http://www.michaelyon-online.com/wp/desires-of-the-human-heart-part-ii.htm

As always, MY is a must read.
29839  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WW3 on: May 02, 2007, 06:39:25 PM
Victor Davis HansonMay 2, 2007 8:48 AM The Crazy Middle East
All Eyes on Baghdad

All the pros and cons on the war have been aired. We’ve read all the tell-all books by Woodward, Ricks, Gordon, Trainor and the rest that now contradict the arguments and theses of what they wrote about the 1991 war—that then we should have done what we are doing now, which in turn should now be what we had done then.

All the once insider geniuses like Clark, Scheuer, O’Neil and Tenet have sold their tell-all accounts in which they were brilliant and all else obtuse. Feith has been called a dumb _____ by almost everyone in DC. Libby is facing jail for something or other, but most certainly not what the Special Prosecutor was supposed to be looking for; Wolfowitz faces an ouster: so much for bringing up to your board that you might have a conflict of interest down the road.

We’ve suffered through the distortions of Michael Moore and know that Cindy Sheehan once thanked President Bush for meeting with her. We’ve heard that the US military is akin to Saddam, Nazis, Pol Pot, or Stalin from the likes of Sens. Durbin and Kennedy, that America is a pariah from Sen. Kerry, that the war is lost from Sen. Reid and Howard Dean, and about everything imaginable from poor Sen. Biden.

We know that the Clintons once tried to restore their fides on national security by railing about Saddam’s WMD program, both before and after September 11. There has been a revolt of the generals and CIA operatives, that in addition to demonstrating opposition to the war, showed just how angry top brass are at our restructuring the military and /or intelligence agencies.

The Celebs have weighed in, and now we know that the Dixie Chicks, Sean Penn, Barbra Streisand, Rosie, the Donald, and Alec Baldwin are as ignorant as they are vehement and vicious in their pronouncements.

We’ve seen all the supposed landmark stories come and go: Dick Cheney’s shotgun, the supposed flushed Koran, the forged memos about Bush’s National Guard service, the doctored photos from Beirut, the slips from CNN brass about bias, the implosion of Dan Rather, the blood lust for Ashcroft, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Gonzalez, et. al. None of them did anything illegal; all of them were hounded by the press to resign—all of whom Republicans thought if these just go, the Left will stop, when in fact its appetite was only fed.

All that has come and gone, and we are left in the end with the verdict of the battlefield. The war will be won or lost, like it or not, fairly or unjustly, in the next six months in Baghdad. Either Gen. Petraeus quells the violence to a level that even the media cannot exaggerate, or the enterprise fails, and we withdraw. For all the acrimony and hysteria at home, that in the end is what we face—the verdict of all wars that ultimately are decided by the soldiers, and then either supported or opposed by the majority at home with no views or ideology other than its desire to conform to the narrative from the front: support our winners, oppose our losers. In the end, that is what this entire hysterical four years are about.

Win Iraq in the sense of a government stabilizing analogous to Kurdistan or Turkey, and even at this late hour, pundits and politicians will scramble around to dig up their 2002-3 quotes supporting the war, while Hollywood goes quiet and turns to more sermons on Darfur.

Sad, but true.


And the Palestinians wonder?

Polls show about 20% of Americans favor the Palestinians in their war against Israel, while about half the US population now expresses an unease with Muslims in general. Meanwhile a large minority of Muslims, according to polls, condones terrorist attacks on civilians, while a vast majority is vehemently anti-American. Their prejudice apparently is chalked up to our omnipresence—like saving Kuwait, feeding Somalia, stopping Muslims dying en masse in the Balkans, ridding Afghanistan of the Soviets, paying astronomical prices for their oil, and giving nearly $100 billion over the years to the Egyptians, Jordanians, and Palestinians.

Our prejudice surely could not be due to 19 Muslims slaughtering— to the delight of millions—3,000 Americans, nor to the news almost every hour of Christian-Muslim violence, Hindu-Muslim violence, Buddhist-Muslim violence, or secular-Muslim violence. And now the much circulated quote from Sheik Ahmad Bahr, acting Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council:

“You will be victorious” on the face of this planet. You are the masters of the world on the face of this planet. Yes, [the Koran says that] “you will be victorious,” but only “if you are believers.” Allah willing, “you will be victorious,” while America and Israel will be annihilated. I guarantee you that the power of belief and faith is greater than the power of America and Israel. They are cowards, who are eager for life, while we are eager for death for the sake of Allah. That is why America’s nose was rubbed in the mud in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Somalia, and everywhere… Oh Allah, vanquish the Jews and their supporters. Oh Allah, count their numbers, and kill them all, down to the very last one. Oh Allah, show them a day of darkness. Oh Allah, who sent down His Book, the mover of the clouds, who defeated the enemies of the Prophet defeat the Jews and the Americans, and bring us victory over them.”

And wait till these people get the bomb. So much for the war against Islamism being “over.”

What is it about the Palestinians?

Occupied Land? Are we speaking of Tibet? And why not worry about territorial disputes between Argentina and its neighbors, or Russia and Japan over the Kuriles, or a divided and Turkish-occupied Cyprus, or for that matter, Germany that lost historic homelands to postwar Poland? Or let us stop the earth’s rotation for Kashmir, which at least involves two large nuclear adversaries. Do the millions of Kurds in Turkey qualify as homeless or refugees or voiceless?

Refugees?

Are we talking of the 600,000 plus Jews that were expelled from the major Arab capitals following the 1967 war?

Or are we drawn to the millions in the Congo and Nigeria that have lost their homes?

If we are speaking of Palestinians, do we refer to the quarter-million plus expelled from Kuwait following the 1991 Gulf War?

Violence?

Surely the world mourns the million lost in Rwanda? Or the tens of thousands now killed in Darfur? Or the million plus starved the last decade in North Korea?

So why just the Palestinians?


The truth is that the international media has created the entire Palestinian crisis, at least in terms of elevating it beyond all others of far worse magnitude.

Why?

Fear of international terrorists, going way back to the plane hijackings and Olympian killings of the 1970s.

Fear of oil price hikes, as if the Saudis might once again turn off the spigots in solidarity with Palestinians.

Demography? There are tens of millions of pro-Palestinian angry Muslims with a propensity toward supporting violent acts, and very few Jews who are busy writing scientific articles and discovering new products. So whom to fear?

And then there is the old anti-Semitism, old in the sense of both generated in Europe and as old as the Koran itself in the Middle East.

What to Do?

We should give not a cent to any government in Palestine. Americans might wish the people there well, but explain due to their vehement anti-American prejudices, we cannot accept any into this country, revoke the visas of those who are here, and politely ask them to settle their own differences with Israel.

Perhaps with Gulf oil money, they can one day forget Israel, create a just society, foster a vibrant, non-corrupt economy, and then with confidence negotiate with Israel about borders. But until then, there is no reason to have relations with this government or its populace.

Its mother’s milk is envy and jealousy that a displaced decimated people was placed down beside them in rock and scrub, and sixty years later built a humane, prosperous society that is a daily reminder to them that what they do—statism, gender apartheid, tribalism, feuding, religious intolerance, corruption, autocracy, polygamy, honor killings, etc.—lead to the very opposite sort of society in which nothing is invented, no discovery is found, no security or prosperity is achieved, and hand-outs are demanded but never appreciated.

But why discuss self-inflicted misery when the Jews are a few hundred yards away to blame, and guilt-ridden wealthy Westerners are easy marks for shake-downs, themselves anti-Semitic and fearful of hooded men with shaking fist and blood-curdling chants?

Don’t forget Syria.

Nancy Pelosi et al. gave sermons on the need to include Syria in regional discussions and to open a dialogue with this “key player.” Here’s what that olive branch won in reply, a boast from dictator Assad that Syria is essential to the killing of Americans in Iraq:

“To the east there is the resistance in Iraq, to the west there is the resistance in Lebanon and to the south there is the resistance of the Palestinian people…We, in Syria, are at the heart of all these events. Syria, the Arab region and the Middle East are going through a dangerous period. Destructive colonial projects are seeking to divide and reshape our region…Every Syrian citizen supports the Iraqi people who are resisting the American occupation.”

“Destructive colonial projects” means offering someone the right to vote and have some freedom of expression, in other words to say no to thugs like Assad, Ahmadinejad, or Khadafy.

Be careful what you wish for.

For years Arab intellectuals demanded from the West some concern for human rights, and a cessation of business as usual with their dictatorial strongmen. But post 2003 we are learning that such posturing was, well, posturing, and most of these hothouse plants are more angry at the democratization efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq than they are at their own autocrats. An unspoken truth in the post 9/11 climate is that Arab reformers have zero credibility. Most live in Europe and the United States (including members of the families of the Pakistani, Syrian, Lebanese, and Saudi autocrats and extremists). Most are far more critical of western governments that gave them refuge and a new life than they are of the illiberal regimes that drove them out.

Oil, father of us all

In the end, all reasoning and caclucation comes down to oil, not energy independce just a lessening of our need to import by about 5 million barrels or so on the world market. Let Brazil export duty-free ethanol; drill in Anwar and off our coasts; build 20 or so nuclear reactors to replace natural gas and power batteries at night of small commuter cars; up the fleet average gas mileage; develop oil tar and oil shale; use alternative energies—and do all that inclusively rather than in an either/or strategy, and we can collapse the world price, and with it the strategic importance of this dangerous, dysfunctional, and ultimately irrelevant part of the world.

Without oil and nukes, the Arab and Iranian Middle East has no hold on the world, no more than does Paraguay or the Ivory Coast or Bulgaria or Laos. We wish them well, but find Ahmadinejad, Nasrallah, the House of Saud, Hamas, Khadafy, and all the rest, well, all too retro-7th-century for our tastes.


29840  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: May 02, 2007, 05:43:50 PM
I wonder what lies underneath this cryptic paragraph?

IRAN: Former Iranian nuclear negotiator Hossein Mousavian is being detained on charges of espionage, Fars News Agency reported. Earlier reports did not indicate what charges had been brought against him. Mousavian was reportedly taken from his home April 30.

stratfor.com
29841  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: I am new and have 3 questions. on: May 02, 2007, 05:21:23 PM
I'd love to see that essay on training with wood without it cracking.

Concerning hubud, it is part of the training in DBMA.  As a matter of fact I was training one of my private students in it rather heavily just this morning.

Concerning some of the negative commentary about it and similar training methods, see the thread "Tippy Tappy Drills-- thread or menace?" on this forum.

Of couse Guro Inosanto would be the best course of action for learning hubud!  (And of course, I second Gruhn's kind words about our "Kali Tudo"(c) DVD  grin )

Training hubud is great fun and in my opinion when connected with the proper understandings can be of tremendous fighting value.    If I may offer a suggestion-- learn it on your complementary side first (your left side if you are a righty) and ingrain it well, then learn it on your dominant side, then learn to fluidly flow between the two.
29842  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / LNOP on: May 02, 2007, 05:10:05 PM
Sent to me by a friend from my Gilder days-- Marc

For the record, I have what is for me a fairly solid size position.

====================================================

For you LNOP shareholders, I enclose the following interview with Eli Fruchter, CEO, in an Israeli newspaper, Globes.  Right now, the company's annual revenue is $8 million.  By 2008-2009, the company should capture at least 50% market share of the $250 million market.  This is why I have recommended buying shares in this company.  We are looking at 1200% revenue growth from 2006 to 2009.
 
 
*********************
 
Shiri Habib 2 May 07 18:56

Two years ago, Eli Fruchter, President and CEO of EZchip Technologies Ltd. said that it was not inconceivable that the company would record revenue of $75 million in 2008. He was still optimistic when he talked to "Globes" last week although this time round he refuses to give figures. "The market we're targeting will reach $250 million in 2008-2009. I expect that we will have a sizeable chunk of it," he predicts.
Yokneam-based EZchip, which is controlled by LanOptics Ltd. (Nasdaq: LNOP; TASE:LNOP), is a fabless company that develops high-speed network processors. EZchip's chip sits in the router, and Fruchter describes it as the "Pentium of routers."


Most of EZchip's customers presently use its first generation NP-1c processor. The company began shipping the newer NP-2 to customers at the end of 2006. At the same time, it is also developing the next generations of processor, the NP-3 and NP-4.

EZchip's potential customers are telecommunications equipment manufacturers and the three largest companies in this sector are Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), which controls 50% of the market, Juniper Networks (Nasdaq: JNPR), and Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU). EZchip has more than 100 design wins, and two of the three companies just mentioned are its customers. Fruchter refuses to say who they are but describes them as the "crème-de-la-crème in the field."

One individual who has been forthcoming about this is tech stocks guru George Gilder, who has been following EZchip for several years. In his latest report, Gilder writes that EZchip's revenue is likely to increase thanks to the sales of NP-2 processors, followed by sales of the next generation of processors, NP-3, to Cisco and Juniper from the beginning of next year. He believes that revenue of $100 million or more for EZchip in 2009 is definitely possible. For the sake of comparison, the company ended 2006 with sales of $8.5 million.

"We began shipping NP-2 processors in the third quarter of 2006," says Fruchter. "Every router has many cards and every card has our chips. The previous generation of processors had one chip in each chassis, while the new generation can take up to 64 chips. The difference in price is such that the NP-2 costs about half of the NP-1, so even if you don't fill the chassis with our chips, the potential revenue from NP-2 is ten times that of NP-1."

Since the time from the announcement of a contract win to the launch of a completed product on the market can sometimes be two to three years, EZchip is now recognizing revenue from previous years. This fact should on the face of it give the company good visibility and the ability to publish forecasts, but it doesn't do this. "We have visibility for one quarter and that's not enough," says Fruchter. "The customers' products need to prove themselves on the market. In order to increase our visibility, we need more large customers that have reached the production stage." In any event, he adds the company should not be judged on a quarterly basis. "If anyone is expecting stable growth, it won't necessarily happen. There could be surges from one quarter to the next. At the annual level, 2007 should be a lot stronger than 2006."

Globes: And when will the profit come? You lost $12.3 million in 2006.

Fruchter: "We are spending just over $1 million a month, $12-13 million a year, and with an expenditure level like this and a profit margin of around 60%, a quarter in which we recorded $5.5 million in revenue would be a profitable one. I can't say exactly when this will happen, but it will."

As a start-up, EZchip was not required to publish its results, but it is controlled by LanOptics, which is a public company. LanOptics has a market cap of $211 million, reflecting a value for EZchip of $270 million, in which it has a 78% stake. EZchip is LanOptics' sole activity, and LanOptics recently decided to raise its stake in EZchip to outright ownership. Last December it increased its holding from 60% to 78% after it gave EZchip's minority shareholders its own shares in exchange for their holdings.

"The current structure does not give us any advantage," says Fruchter, who also serves as LanOptics chairman. "It started when EZchip needed a lot of money, and LanOptics didn't have enough. We raised a total of $60 million through venture capital funds, the last part of which was raised in 2005. The goal is to simplify the structure and return to full ownership by LanOptics. The problem here is not efficiency but simplicity - people like simple things."

Fruchter notes that today two funds remain investors in EZchip - Goldman Sachs and JK&B Capital. "They hold preference shares in EZchip, and if they convert them they will receive ordinary LanOptics shares," explains Fruchter. "I assume that once LanOptics's stock is at a certain price level, it'll be worthwhile for them to convert. I believe it is worthwhile for them now. There's a good chance that it will happen as early as next year." Once it does, Fruchter believes that LanOptics will change its name to EZchip and continue trading under its new name.

EZchip is already acting more and more like a public company. The company plans to hold a conference call following the publication of its financials for the first quarter, and a road show, and it also intends to work with an investor-relations company. "The main reason for this is that a lot of investors are interested in us, largely thanks to the "Gilder Reports," says Fruchter. The company currently does not have any coverage by investment houses.

Does EZchip's market cap give a fair reflection of the state of the company and the market?

"I'm not an analyst and I don't engage in calculations of profit multiples. It has transpired from conversations with investors that the fairly high value is derived from their view of EZchip as a growth company. This is typical of many companies at the early growth stages."

EZchip recently announced a collaboration with Marvell Technology Group (Nasdaq: MRVL), an announcement that sent LanOptics' stock up sharply, even though the collaboration was known before the official announcement was made. The two companies are collaborating on R&D, marketing, and sales of network processors to the Ethernet market. "The goal is to increase exposure to Tier 1 customers, a sector in which Marvell has a very strong grip," says Fruchter. "Marvell is active primarily in the enterprise solutions sector, and our chip is designed for service providers. The combination enables us to approach customers of both companies."

Do you mean customers that are apprehensive about working with a small company like EZchip?

"That's one good example."

The collaboration with Marvell was a form of response to Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM), which entered EZchip's market after it acquired the privately-held Sandburst Corporation at the beginning of 2006. "Broadcom is our main competitor," says Fruchter. "Broadcom and Marvell are acting in a similar fashion to each other. They both came from the enterprise field and are trying to reach service providers, Broadcom by way of an acquisition, and Marvell through a collaboration."

Did Broadcom approach you or make an acquisition offer to you too before it acquired Sandburst?

"I'd rather not comment on that."

But do you feel that EZchip could still be an acquisition target?

"Yes, of course it could. Looking ahead, the most reasonable scenario is that LanOptics will buy the remaining holdings and reach 100% ownership, and that EZchip will continue to grow as a public company. Another option is that EZchip will be acquired, before or following a full merger with LanOptics. A third option, albeit highly unlikely, is that EZchip itself will make an offering, but there is no need for this at present."

Aside from Broadcom, EZchip faces another kind of competition, since there are companies that prefer to develop their chips in-house. One competitor now quitting the market is Intel Corporation (Nasdaq: INTC). "Intel announced that it would no longer be making any developments in the field," says Fruchter. "They're in the process of exiting the market. They developed low-speed processors, while we have been developing high-speed processors. I imaging that had they stayed in the market, they would have developed high-speed ones too." Fruchter believes that Intel decided that a market worth hundreds of millions of dollars in which other companies were also active, was not suited to a company of its size.

Fruchter notes the many changes that are now taking place in the market. "The standards are changing. The whole idea of processors is to replace chips, which are not flexible. This allows for changes to be made and the product's life to be extended when the market changes," he says. "The move to processors is a move to another technology and it takes time."

According to Fruchter, the market was worth less than $20 million in 2006, but it has grown. "Service providers have seen some dry periods," he says. "They didn't invest in new infrastructures and routers, things are now changing. There has also been a move to Internet services, which necessitates the replacement of old infrastructures, something that helps to push the processors."

Are there any other directions that EZchip could develop in?

"We began with large and expensive chips, and working our way down from that is easy. We're looking at further options, such as for example, entering the developing wireless market."

Fruchter says EZchip could also acquire companies for the purpose of growth, although the company wishes first to complete the move with LanOptics.

How will EZchip look in a few years from now?

"I don't want to commit myself as to figures, but the company will sell at levels that are a lot higher than those today. We'll take our technology to additional markets as well."
29843  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science on: May 02, 2007, 10:30:13 AM

Armored Vehicles for Iraq Delayed
Associated Press  |  April 30, 2007
CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq - The armored carrier has a grim black slash across its side, burn marks on the door and a web of cracks along the window.

Like most of the Mine Resistant, Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles in Anbar province, this one has been hit as many as three times by enemy fire and bomb blasts. Yet, to date, no American troops have died while riding in one.

But efforts to buy thousands more carriers - each costing about $1 million - could be delayed if the White House and Congress do not resolve their deadlock over a $124.2 billion war spending bill.

Take Action: Tell your public officials how you feel about this issue.

About $3 billion for the vehicles is tied up in the legislation. The spending plan has stalled because of a dispute over provisions that would set a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

At a hearing last month, lawmakers urged the Army to get more of the carriers to the battlefront as quickly as possible. The vehicles, with their unique V-shaped hull that deflects blasts outward and away from passengers, are considered lifesavers against the No. 1 killer in Iraq - roadside bombs.

Military leaders say the carriers have reduced roadside bomb casualties in Iraq by as much as two-thirds. But they are not effective against the enemy's latest weapon - explosively formed penetrators, which hurl a fist-sized lump of molten copper capable of piercing armored vehicles.

Right now, there are at least 1,100 of the armored carriers on the battlefront in Iraq, including the 100 or so that rumble through Anbar province carrying troops and clearing roads of explosives.

The Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force and Special Operations forces want thousands more. The goal is more than 7,700, at a cost of about $8.4 billion.

The Army wants 2,500, at a cost of about $2.7 billion. The Marines are planning to buy 3,700 and would send about 3,000 to Iraq. There will be 525 in the country by the end of the year, said Brig. Gen. Mark Gurganus, ground combat commander for U.S. forces in western Iraq.

As the Pentagon scrapes to find the money to run the war in the midst of the budget impasse, the Pentagon says there is not enough cash to buy as many as commanders say they need.

"We can build what we can get the funds to build. It's strictly an issue of money," Gen. Peter Schoomaker, former Army chief of staff, told a Senate committee last month.

At the time, he said the Army had an unfunded requirement of about $2 billion. Lawmakers added some additional money to the bill, so that number would now be about $1.5 billion.

He said the Army believes "that not only do we need the MRAP immediately to give us better protection, but that we need to stay on a path to get an even better vehicle than the MRAP for the long haul, because the enemy is going to continue to adapt."

Senators pressed for more. "We're buying far too few of them," said Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D. "If we have that capability, why would we not do everything to mobilize, to move as many of them into the field as is possible?

In January, the military approved contracts to buy 4,100 of the armored carriers, using nine different companies to fill the order. Although the Pentagon is shifting money around to cover war costs until the spending bill is signed, the Army said dollars already approved and in the pipeline for the vehicles will not be affected.

Additional orders cannot be placed until the disagreement over the war spending legislation is settled. That bill would give the Army ($1.2 billion), the Marines ($1.25 billion), the Navy ($154 million), the Air Force ($139 million) and special operations forces ($259 million) money to buy their own versions of the carriers, according to Bill Johnson-Miles, spokesman for the Marine Corps Systems Command.

The Defense Department has requested about $4.4 billion in the 2008 budget to buy more of the vehicles.

Out on the dusty roads in Anbar province, Marines say the carriers have proved their worth.

This month, Marine Staff Sgt. Tim Kessler said, Marines were riding in one and took a hit from a small roadside bomb. The blast blew a tire, and it took them more than 90 minutes to limp back to base, but no one was hurt. Days earlier, a carrier with six Marines was hit by two blasts; two Marines had broken bones, but they all survived.

"It's an extremely survivable vehicle. I guarantee it saves lives," said Kessler. Pointing to the scars on the side of the MRAP, he added that had they been riding in a Humvee or something else, "they would all be dead."

 
29844  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: May 02, 2007, 08:14:08 AM
The NYTimes, which has betrayed America more than once in this war (e.g. revealing that we were tracking the enemy's financial transactions and more) is certainly of dubious credibility in all this, but a President who chose and stands by an Attorney General who doesn't belive that habeas corpus is a Constitutional right has credibility problems of his own too.

======================================

Spying on Americans
Published: May 2, 2007
NYTimes

For more than five years, President Bush authorized government spying on phone calls and e-mail to and from the United States without warrants. He rejected offers from Congress to update the electronic eavesdropping law, and stonewalled every attempt to investigate his spying program.

Suddenly, Mr. Bush is in a hurry. He has submitted a bill that would enact enormous, and enormously dangerous, changes to the 1978 law on eavesdropping. It would undermine the fundamental constitutional principle — over which there can be no negotiation or compromise — that the government must seek an individual warrant before spying on an American or someone living here legally.

To heighten the false urgency, the Bush administration will present this issue, as it has before, as a choice between catching terrorists before they act or blinding the intelligence agencies. But the administration has never offered evidence that the 1978 law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, hampered intelligence gathering after the 9/11 attacks. Mr. Bush simply said the law did not apply to him.

The director of national intelligence, Michael McConnell, said yesterday that the evidence of what is wrong with FISA was too secret to share with all Americans. That’s an all-too-familiar dodge. Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, who is familiar with the president’s spying program, has said that it could have been conducted legally. She even offered some sensible changes for FISA, but the administration and the Republican majority in the last Congress buried her bill.

Mr. Bush’s motivations for submitting this bill now seem obvious. The courts have rejected his claim that 9/11 gave him virtually unchecked powers, and he faces a Democratic majority in Congress that is willing to exercise its oversight responsibilities. That, presumably, is why his bill grants immunity to telecommunications companies that cooperated in five years of illegal eavesdropping. It also strips the power to hear claims against the spying program from all courts except the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which meets in secret.

According to the administration, the bill contains “long overdue” FISA modifications to account for changes in technology. The only example it offered was that an e-mail sent from one foreign country to another that happened to go through a computer in the United States might otherwise be missed. But Senator Feinstein had already included this fix in the bill Mr. Bush rejected.

Moreover, FISA has been updated dozens of times in the last 29 years. In 2000, Lt. Gen. Michael Hayden, who ran the National Security Agency then, said it “does not require amendment to accommodate new communications technologies.” And since 9/11, FISA has had six major amendments.

The measure would not update FISA; it would gut it. It would allow the government to collect vast amounts of data at will from American citizens’ e-mail and phone calls. The Center for National Security Studies said it might even be read to permit video surveillance without a warrant.

This is a dishonest measure, dishonestly presented, and Congress should reject it. Before making any new laws, Congress has to get to the truth about Mr. Bush’s spying program. (When asked at a Senate hearing yesterday if Mr. Bush still claims to have the power to ignore FISA when he thinks it is necessary, Mr. McConnell refused to answer.)

With clear answers — rather than fearmongering and stonewalling — there can finally be a real debate about amending FISA. It’s not clear whether that can happen under this president. Mr. Bush long ago lost all credibility in the area where this law lies: at the fulcrum of the balance between national security and civil liberties.
29845  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Islamic Countries: on: May 02, 2007, 07:50:24 AM
The WSJ on recent events in Turkey:

Turkish Turmoil
May 2, 2007; Page A20
The Muslim world's liveliest democracy has long been a work in progress, but the stakes just got a lot higher for Turkey and the greater Mideast. Turkey's future as a pluralistic, free society is on the line.

Amid a presidential campaign marked by street protests and divisive rhetoric, the powerful military inserted itself into politics late Friday by threatening a coup. The generals and their secularist allies in the civil service and professions are trying to derail the ruling party's selection for president. Yesterday the country's highest court sided with the secularists.

The crisis erupted last week when the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, by virtue of its majority in Parliament, nominated one of its own for the presidency. The job is currently held by a secularist, and the AKP choice would give a party with roots in the Islamist movement control over all branches of government for the first time. Despite the belief of some secularists that the AKP's "secret agenda" is to implant political Islam in Turkey, its five years in power have done more to entrench democracy and free markets than have most previous governments.

The AKP's candidate, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül, is a pro-Western moderate who spearheaded Turkey's political and economic reforms and helped secure an invitation to start membership talks with the European Union. But Mr. Gül got his political start in the Islamist movement and -- the greatest sin in secular eyes -- his wife wears a headscarf.

The battle came to a head Friday, when Mr. Gül failed by a slim margin to get the two-thirds needed to win. Then the military weighed in just before midnight with a statement posted on its home page. "It should not be forgotten that the Turkish armed forces takes sides in these debates and is the absolute defender of secularism," the missive read. "When necessary they will display their attitudes and actions very clearly." The message was lost on no Turk.

Yesterday the court annulled Friday's vote, ruling in favor of the opposition party that had boycotted the vote. The judges, all staunchly secular, ruled that a two-thirds quorum must be present in the legislature for a vote -- even though the constitution says nothing firmly about a quorum and past presidents were elected with less than two-thirds.

Turkey has done well under the political stability and sound economics brought by the AKP, which took office in late 2002, and party leader and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan may feel confident enough to keep pressing back. As a soft Islamist who has taken a few false steps -- pushing a law banning adultery and cozying up to Hamas -- he has stronger democratic credentials and more legitimacy than the secularists, who fall back on the generals.

The court decision, while unfortunate, could show a way out of the problem. The public demonstrations indicate that Mr. Erdogan continues to make a large chunk of the Turkish public uneasy. Though Mr. Gül is a capable politician, a different candidate may calm the public storms without compromising the AKP's right to choose that figure. Down the road, the AKP's oft-mooted ideas about a directly elected president could be part of a broader constitutional overhaul. Mr. Erdogan said yesterday that early parliamentary elections are likely.

The immediate need for anyone concerned about Turkey's future must be to get politics played by the rules and by the civilians. The military made important contributions to Westernizing the country, but its current behavior is a danger to Turkish progress. The best thing that can be said about the high court's decision is that early elections are better than tanks in the street. But the damage done to Turkey's institutions might have been avoided by sticking to the rules set down in the constitution.
29846  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: May 02, 2007, 07:40:39 AM
Glad to have you hear LawDog!
29847  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Boxing Thread on: May 02, 2007, 07:39:27 AM
While we are waiting, from the WT forum:
======================
Ray "Boom Boom" Manicini-vs-Duku Kim

This was the fight that ended the 15 round championship fight due to Kim's death from brain damage. This is just the end of the fight but it was a brutal back and forth affair. This fight was as even as could be until the last few rounds. It was like a mirror image fight for the first 11 rounds.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ThQFPJpVtK8

One of the greatest knock down drag out brawls of all times.

Foreman-vs-Lyle

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96Kfe...related&search=

What do you do when you have lost every minute of all fourteen rounds......and you have a great left hook?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_2Yn...related&search=

Not a classic fight, but definitely classic

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EruTRrg1MPg

29848  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: the titles of the teachers in the fillipino martial arts on: May 02, 2007, 07:06:37 AM
Another post from the ED:

Tue, 1 May 2007 23:29:59 -0400
From: bgdebuque <bgdebuque@gmail.com>
To: eskrima@martialartsresource.net
Subject: Re: [Eskrima] Kali
Reply-To: eskrima@martialartsresource.net

I think you are on the right track.

It appears that the ancient martial art from South India of Kalaripayattu
have spawned several martial arts-based performing arts, all of which have
"kali" affixed to it - KOLKALI, VELAKALI, THACHOLIKALI and KATHAKALI.

KOLKALI is particularly interesting.  According to Wikipedia:  "The dance
performers move in a circle, striking small sticks and keeping rhythm with
special steps. The circle expands and contracts as the dance progress."

Kalaripayattu is now highly-suspected as the possible origin of Shaolin Kung
Fu.  It would not be highly remote that it could also be the origin of the
FMA.  If that is really the case, the use of "Kali" to refer to the FMA
would not be without basis at all.


29849  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Good brief rant on: May 01, 2007, 12:35:22 PM


"As to why some of Capitol Hill's would-be war managers can't name more than a single Iraqi province, officers and journalists offer all kinds of theories.... But, then, expertise may be beside the point. Obliviousness, after all, has its uses.... Where all this leads is clear. Piece together a string of demonstrably false 'facts on the ground' from a suitably safe remove, and you're left with a scenario where we can walk away from Iraq without condition and regardless of consequence. You don't need to watch terrified Iraqis pleading for American forces to stay put in their neighborhoods. You don't need to read the latest National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, which anticipates that a precipitous U.S. withdrawal will end in catastrophe. Why, in the serene conviction that things are the other way around, you don't even need to read at all. Chances are, your congressman doesn't either" -- Lawrence Kaplan, writing in the New Republic, on the basic ignorance about Iraq displayed by Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, John Murtha and other Democratic leaders.
29850  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Boxing Thread on: May 01, 2007, 12:31:18 PM
How much is the fight?
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