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30151  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: November 10, 2006, 09:14:31 AM
I hadn't realized that the "axis of evil" speech came after Iran helped us in Afg.

Iran the key in US change on Iraq
By Trita Parsi

WASHINGTON - With the Democrats taking control of the US Congress and Donald Rumsfeld being replaced as defense secretary by Robert Gates, Washington has new avenues to resolve its many problems with Iran.

The key to the elections - and to Iran - is Iraq. In light of the soon-to-be published Iraq Study Group (ISG) report, it is increasingly clear that headway can be made neither on Iraq nor on the


nuclear standoff with Iran unless the two are linked.

The victory of the Democrats by taking both the House of Representatives and the Senate and the firing of Rumsfeld have shifted the balance between the pragmatists and the neo-conservatives in the administration of President George W Bush. Rumsfeld was closely allied with Vice President Dick Cheney in opposing every effort to open up diplomatic channels to Tehran.

According to Lawrence Wilkerson, former secretary of state Colin Powell's chief of staff, it was Cheney and Rumsfeld who made sure that Washington dismissed Iran's May 2003 offer to open up its nuclear program, rein in Hezbollah and cooperate against al-Qaeda. Rumsfeld was also a driving force behind using the Mujahideen-e Khalq, an Iranian terrorist organization opposed to the ruling clerics, to weaken Tehran.

Gates, however, belongs to a different school of Republican foreign-policy thinking. Gates' entrance and the Republican leadership's exit have created a precious opportunity to change the course on Iraq - and on Iran. For years, the Bush administration has pursued a maximalist policy based on rejecting any links between the Iranian nuclear program and the many other areas where the US and Iran clash. By refusing any linkages, the Bush White House has aimed to gain maximum concessions from Iran in all areas without ever having to reciprocate or offer any concessions in return.

This was clearly seen in Afghanistan, where Bush's envoy opened up talks with Iran to coordinate efforts to dispose the Taliban regime. Bush's intentions were purely tactical - accept Iranian help in Afghanistan without permitting the cooperation to lead to a shift in attitude toward Iran. The Iranians, on the other hand, were hoping that their assistance in Afghanistan would have strategic implications with an entire new relationship between Tehran and Washington as the ultimate outcome.

Once Iran's help in Afghanistan was no longer deemed necessary, Washington's approach to Tehran cooled significantly, much thanks to the influence of Rumsfeld. Only weeks after the Bonn Conference in December 2001 where Tehran's assistance was crucial in finding a compromise among Afghanistan's many warlords, Bush put Iran into the "axis of evil", along with Iraq and North Korea. Tehran's goodwill gestures were for naught.

"Iran made a mistake not to link its assistance in Afghanistan to American help in other areas and by just hoping that the US would reciprocate," said Javad Zarif, Iran's United Nations ambassador who was in charge of negotiations with Washington over Afghanistan.

The Bush administration's insistence on rejecting all forms of linkages has made a bad situation worse. On the one hand, the lesson of Afghanistan for Tehran has been to run a very hard bargain with the US where no help is offered for free. As a result, Washington has been left to deal with the deteriorating situation in Iraq by itself.

On the other hand, Washington's efforts to put a halt to Iran's nuclear program have run into a dead end. Washington has reduced US-Iran relations to a zero-sum game about enrichment. Either Iran has enrichment, or it doesn't. The Bush administration has not permitted any middle ground to exist in hopes that it could completely deprive Iran of all nuclear know-how.

But in this game of winner takes all, Iran has so far been winning. Washington has not even been able to get the UN Security Council to pass a resolution imposing travel restrictions on Iranian officials involved in Tehran's nuclear program.

Much indicates that the only way out of this dead end is to do what Bush and Rumsfeld have refused to do all along: link Iranian cooperation in Iraq to Washington's willingness to find a compromise on the nuclear issue, where enrichment will be seen as a continuous rather than a binary variable. The White House refused such linkages in the past, since it sought complete victories. Now, creating linkages is necessary to avoid complete defeats in both Iraq and in Iran.

James Baker's ISG has already paved the way for dealing with Iran over Iraq, though Bush is yet to sign off on the idea of linkage. Last month, Baker met with Javad Zarif at the Iranian ambassador's residence in New York. The meeting lasted three hours and was deemed very helpful by both sides. Baker was told that Iran would consider helping the US in Iraq if "Washington first changed its attitude towards Iran", a euphemism for the Bush administration's unwillingness to deal with Iran in a strategic manner.

While the political earthquakes in Washington have raised hope that a shift in both Iraq and Iran may be forthcoming, Bush is still the final decision-maker. Neither a Democratic Congress nor a pragmatist in charge of the Pentagon is likely to change the course on Iraq and Iran unless the president recognizes the reality on the ground - without Iran, the US cannot win in Iraq, and without linking Iraq to the nuclear issue, Tehran's services are not available.

Dr Trita Parsi is the author of Treacherous Triangle: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran and the United States (Yale University Press, 2007).
30152  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action on: November 09, 2006, 02:31:24 PM
Fellowship of Fighters With Tales of Sacrifice
Bill Crandall for The New York Times

Marine Museum A new center near Quantico, Va., devoted to the Marine Corps opens on Friday.

Published: November 9, 2006

TRIANGLE, Va., Nov. 6 ? I may not be alone in my reaction to the National Museum of the Marine Corps, which is opening on Friday adjacent to the Marine base in Quantico, outside Washington. In making my way through its 118,000 square feet of exhibitions, timelines, sound-and-light shows, historical videos, battle accounts and fighting machines, I felt a little like an alien visitor getting to know another culture. I am not among those for whom these packaged experiences (executed with great skill in the current museum mode) evoke reminiscences and platoon allegiances. I know this world only from news reports, movies and histories.

But many who will visit this impressive complex ? which will grow by another 80,000 square feet of exhibition, classroom and theater space in coming years ? will be intimately familiar with its account of Marine culture, beginning with basic training so intense it is intended to strip the recruit of any hint of the individualism so deeply cherished on the outside.

That experience is evoked here by a model of a bus bearing hopeful young men to a Marine training camp. ?Get off my bus,? the voice of a drill instructor would roar. ?Stand on the yellow footprints on the pavement. Now!?

Those footprints are here, at the bus?s side. Nearby are two soundproof booths into which the museumgoer ? having just begun this engaging, serpentine journey through recent Marine Corps history ? seals himself to hear the disorienting shouts of the drill sergeant.

Some visitors, who have memories of such shouts, may have flown, during World War II, an F4U Corsair much like the airplane suspended from the ceiling in the Leatherneck Gallery here. They may know that marines are called leathernecks because of a strap that protected their necks from sword slashes in the 18th century. They may gaze upward, toward the angled sweep of that gallery?s ceiling, which encloses a space that is at once atrium, lobby and arena for display of the land, sea and air equipment used in crucial battles, and recognize allusions to ship?s decks and portholes and even to the sea itself, from which the marines have traditionally emerged, their weapons raised.

While many such visitors would not know immediately that the thrusting bayonetlike rod that extends out of the skewed glass roof is part of an abstract representation of the famed flag-raising at Iwo Jima, the iconography, once identified, will have more associations for them than just the new Clint Eastwood movie. A reproduction of the sculpture of that scene is at the entrance of the nearby Marine base, and the two American flags raised that day are on display here. Amid the quotations praising marines inscribed in stone in this circular gallery is one that also has the potency of legend and the poignancy of truth, as if addressing those whose profession it is to fight our wars. It was cried out by First Sergeant Dan Daly as he led his men against German positions during the late days of World War I: ?Come on you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever??

One of the doctrines of this elite fighting fellowship, and one of the themes of this museum, is that the Marine affiliation does not break with the end of active service, let alone death: a sense of identification extends over centuries. Symbols ? like the Marine insignia of the eagle, globe and anchor ? take on a persistent significance, since every living marine who fought during wartime is also a surviving marine who has seen others fall. In that way too this museum, with all its symbols, is a place of pride and remembrance, a spirit emphasized in the atrium?s central space. (The building is designed by Fentress Bradburn Architects.)

It is also an attempt to remind others of the role marines have played. The museum evolved out of a partnership of the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, which raised $57 million in private money for construction, and the corps itself, which raised $30 million for the exhibitions, many designed by Christopher Chadbourne & Associates, a firm also involved in designing the new George Washington exhibitions at nearby Mount Vernon. (One gallery, devoted to combat art, is sponsored by Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, the chairman emeritus of the New York Times Company.) The museum is part of the Marine Corps Heritage Center, which features a memorial park and is eventually to include parade grounds, a chapel, a conference center and a hotel.

That project will require additional fund-raising. The museum itself, according to its director, Lin Ezell, plans to begin its Phase 2 in 2008. Now this historical survey of the corps, which was founded on Nov. 10, 1775 (the opening on Friday, which is reservation only, is a birthday celebration), is necessarily incomplete. The 18th- and 19th-century galleries have yet to be built. Recent history is represented by a single gallery of photographs from Iraq and Afghanistan that will eventually be replaced by a full-scale history of the Marines since the Vietnam War.

But what is being unveiled now is the heart of the story, at least for contemporary sensibilities: detailed accounts of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. These wars ? still in the realm of living memory ? are not only chronicled with photographs and wall panels, but also re-enacted in tableaus with life-size figures molded from the features of 75 active-duty marines. These figures are frozen in motion in tanks or jeeps, or appear in the midst of battles atmospherically evoked in what the museum is calling immersion galleries. The floors? molded sand and mud bear the footprints of the era?s boots, the lights and sounds imitate weather and weaponry, and history is turned into theater.

Such immersion of course is aimed less at veterans than at visitors who have not lived through the trauma, onlookers for whom the chill air of the gallery devoted to the battle at Toktong Pass during the Korean War or the humid haze of a siege on Hill 881 South in Vietnam (into which visitors descend from the thumping ramp of a real CH-46 helicopter fuselage) is a curious experience.

But there is so much information in the midst of the sensation that the result becomes thoroughly absorbing. I walked through these winding galleries ? where scenes, equipment and wall panels intermingle, and video screens can even appear on the undersides of planes ? feeling like an innocent abroad, astonished at the historical panorama.

For the most part these exhibitions do not give a whitewashed account. The display about boot camp even mentions the 1956 tragedy in which an overzealous drill instructor took his platoon on an unauthorized march through a swamp one night, leading to the deaths of six recruits. There is much defeat here; the heroism at the Toktong battle, for example, is the valor that leads to survival in the midst of retreat. The early Pacific battles of World War II in Guam and the Philippines were pageants of blood.

But the account of World War II, which focuses extensively on the Pacific because of the centrality of the Marines? involvement, is also a story of strategic lessons learned, in which air, land and water forces became tautly coordinated in fighting difficult battles against entrenched Japanese soldiers. The lessons are less clear in the accounts of the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Here the marines occasionally chafe at the role given them or celebrate their relationships with South Vietnamese villages, but an effort to make sense of the whole, with all its scars, is missing.

Given the unsatisfactory, painful winding down of both wars, there are hints of discontent here, signs of the ancient tension between the political and military authorities. Attention is drawn, for example, to the government?s disinclination to take risks after initial triumphs in Korea or to its confusion about strategy and ambition in Vietnam. An unstated lesson is that lack of clarity, determination and flexibility in either the political or the military realm can lead to calamity.

But here is the museum?s persistent point: The same sacrifice is demanded whatever mistakes are made. Whether in crucial battles ? in 36 days of fighting, 6,000 marines were killed at Iwo Jima ? or in more controversial extended wars, that sacrifice is subject to no second guesses. It presumes an allegiance that transcends individual judgment.

This is humbling for a civilian who has been drilled in just the opposite perspective. Yet in the best of such cases, it is through the sacrifices made by the military that we have the luxury of maintaining our proud individualism. The museum makes it possible to understand just what is demanded of those we have asked to fight for us, and how much more is so often given.

30153  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: November 09, 2006, 12:49:26 PM
MEXICO: Mexico's People's Popular Assembly of Oaxaca (APPO) said that in order to return to a dialogue, the state must cease all violent action against the group, re-establish the signal to the university radio station, liberate 60 political prisoners and find 30 missing individuals. In the meantime, APPO members have been offered asylum within the Roman Catholic Church.
30154  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Seminar: Kali Fence and the Dog Catcher on: November 09, 2006, 09:04:17 AM
The seminar is full.  No more registrations.  Thank you.
30155  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East War on: November 09, 2006, 08:31:39 AM
1209 GMT -- FRANCE -- French troops almost fired on Israeli air force jets in southern Lebanon when a squadron of F-15s dived at a French peacekeeper position, French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said in comments to parliament late Nov. 8.
30156  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science on: November 09, 2006, 08:14:19 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Rumsfeld's Legacy

U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld resigned on Wednesday after the Democrats succeeded in securing a majority hold on the U.S. House of Representatives in midterm elections.

Rumsfeld is perhaps among the most visionary defense secretaries who have served in the U.S. government, but that hardly has made him an effective one -- and it certainly has not stopped him from being a political liability.

Rumsfeld's primary goal, and the reason that U.S. President George W. Bush brought him into the government in the first place, was to bring about a seminal shift in the shape of the U.S. military. He sought to skip over an entire generation of military hardware -- such as the F-22, which is only now entering the military's toolkit -- and instead focus on the development of fundamentally new technologies, so that 20 years from now the United States would be fielding technology two generations ahead of any potential foes.

Part and parcel of this change would be a massive reduction in the size of the military, with the army suffering the largest cuts in manpower and resources. There would be a corresponding emphasis on light, highly mobile forces with high-tech capabilities such as long-range hypersonic cruise missiles, smart drones and the ability to insert small forces anywhere in the world at a moment's notice.

Rumsfeld's biggest failing was not his plan, or even his execution of it. It was that reality intervened, in the form of the 9/11 attacks and the Iraq war, and he refused to shift course in midstream. Rumsfeld was designing a military that could defeat state power by the precise applications of force while minimizing the exposure of U.S. forces; but the U.S.-jihadist war brought to the table a foe that thrived in chaotic regions where state control was weak or nonexistent. Rumsfeld's plan could overturn the Taliban or Saddam Hussein's government, but it could not muster the manpower necessary to impose order on the resulting chaos. Without sufficient "boots on the ground," the United States has proven unable to deny militants the environment in which they thrive.

The nature of the war the United States found itself fighting changed, and Rumsfeld demonstrated over and over that he lacked the ability to change with it.

His replacement, former CIA director Robert Gates, is in theory being brought in specifically to implement the very changes that Rumsfeld for the longest time refused to admit were necessary. Gates is part of the Iraq Study Group, a cadre of senior statesmen who have been out of government for over a decade -- he left government in 1993 -- recently tasked to come up with alternatives to the current Iraq strategy.

Their recommendations will be interesting to read, and Gates' efforts to implement them will be fascinating to watch. Congressional confirmation for Gates should come very easily and quickly -- he has no great political ambitions and is on the team that is supposed to come up with non-ideological recommendations for the way forward.

But what he will not be doing is prepping the United States for the next threat. Gates is a placeholder -- a competent placeholder for sure, but a placeholder nonetheless. Facing a hostile Congress, the Bush administration has sharp limitations on its actions and we will be seeing no revolutionary proposals from a defense secretary who will be in his job a maximum of two years.

The irony is that, instead of leaping ahead by a generation, U.S. forces have now been saddled with the worst of both worlds: an exhausted military that will take years to repair, and limited progress in the modernization that they will likely need a generation from now.
30157  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: November 08, 2006, 09:52:10 PM
Pakistan: Attacks and Retaliation in the NWFP

A suicide bombing killed more than 42 soldiers at a Pakistani army training base Nov. 8 in the town of Dargai, in the country's North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). This followed a Nov. 7 attack in which tribal militants fired rockets during NWFP Gov. Ali Mohammed Jan Orakzai's visit to the town of Wana, in the tribal belt. These attacks are retaliation for the Pakistani military's Oct. 30 strike against a religious school in the Bajaur area, which the army asserted was being used as a militant training facility. The Pakistani military will almost certainly respond aggressively to such a blatant provocation, especially considering the army's precedent for responding to militant attacks. Such a response will further destabilize the country's restive northwest.


More than 42 Pakistani soldiers died in a Nov. 8 suicide bombing attack at an army training base in Dargai, a town in Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). On the previous day, during NWFP Gov. Ali Mohammed Jan Orakzai's visit to the town of Wana -- the capital of South Waziristan, in the country's northwestern tribal areas -- tribal militants fired two rockets during the assembly and three more after the delegation had left the area. Security forces responded by firing mortar shells at the hills southeast of Wana.

It is hard to conclude that these attacks were anything other than retaliation for the Pakistani army's Oct. 30 strike against a madrassa in the Bajaur area. The army base targeted Nov. 8 is located about 30 miles southeast of the site of the Oct. 30 military strike. The town of Dargai is a stronghold of the banned pro-Taliban movement Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-Mohammadi, and sentiment ran strongly against Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf there even before the madrassa attack. Furthermore, Dargai is located in the Malakand tribal region, a possible hideout for al Qaeda's top leaders.

Tribesmen had publicly promised to retaliate against the madrassa attack, so the Nov. 8 suicide bombing attack was hardly a surprise, even if the scale and audacity of the attack were substantial. The Pakistani military had shown a willingness to talk with the militants and strike a deal, but the deadly attack against the military base destroyed any chances for diplomacy between the two parties by practically guaranteeing a bloody retaliation.

Militant jihadists, who are very much in league with tribal pro-Taliban forces in Pakistan's restive northwest, are attempting to make it clear to Pakistan's security establishment that their strength has yet to be sapped. This is a major escalation on the militants' part, in that they now are striking at the country's top institution -- the military, whose leaders they see as agents of the United States. The use of suicide bombers draws comparisons with militant tactics in Iraq and, to a lesser extent, Afghanistan. Furthermore, the al Qaeda-linked jihadists sense that Musharraf's domestic standing -- especially within the military -- has deteriorated and they are exploiting that deterioration as a window of opportunity, narrow though it is.

However, the Pakistani army will not allow the Nov. 8 attack to go unpunished. The army thinks of itself as the steward of the nation and cannot accept an attack that demonstrates its vulnerability. The military has never been shy about hitting back when it is threatened or under attack; for example, the upswing in military operations in Balochistan in January followed the December 2005 attack against the helicopter of the army's Frontier Corps inspector-general, Maj. Gen. Shujaat Zamir Dar. The military also has conducted largely retributive operations in the wake of assassination attempts against Musharraf, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and Musharraf's military deputy, Gen. Ahsan Saleem Hayat.

Furthermore, considering that the United States was likely heavily involved in the Oct. 30 strike, it is highly possible that militants will seek to attack U.S. interests in Pakistan. Vulnerable targets include U.S. diplomats' residences, consulates in Lahore or Peshawar (as opposed to the more heavily guarded Karachi consulate) and five-star hotels frequented by Western nationals.

30158  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: November 08, 2006, 08:02:19 PM
Back to Iraq
By George Friedman

The midterm congressional elections have given the Democrats control of the U.S. House of Representatives. It is possible -- as of this writing, on Wednesday afternoon -- that the Senate could also go to the Democrats, depending on the outcome of one extremely close race in Virginia. However it finally turns out, it is quite certain that this midterm was a national election, in the sense that the dominant issue was not a matter of the local concerns in congressional districts, but the question of U.S. policy in Iraq. What is clear is that the U.S. electorate has shifted away from supporting the Bush administration's conduct of the war. What is not clear at all is what they have shifted toward. It is impossible to discern any consensus in the country as to what ought to be done.

Far more startling than the election outcome was the sudden resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld had become the lightning rod for critics of the war, including many people who had supported the war but opposed the way it was executed. Extraordinarily, President George W. Bush had said last week that Rumsfeld would stay on as secretary of defense until the end of his presidential term. It is possible that Rumsfeld surprised Bush by resigning in the immediate wake of the election -- but if that were the case, Bush would not have had a replacement already lined up by the afternoon of Nov. 8. The appointment of Robert Gates as secretary of defense means two things: One is that Rumsfeld's resignation was in the works for at least a while (which makes Bush's statement last week puzzling, to say the least); the other is that a shift is under way in White House policy on the war.

Gates is close to the foreign policy team that surrounded former President George H. W. Bush. Many of those people have been critical of, or at least uneasy with, the current president's Iraq policy. Moving a man like Gates into the secretary of defense position indicates that Bush is shifting away from his administration's original team and back toward an older cadre that was not always held in high esteem by this White House.

The appointment of Gates is of particular significance because he was a member of the Iraq Study Group (ISG). The ISG has been led by another member of the Bush 41 team, former Secretary of State James Baker. The current president created the ISG as a bipartisan group whose job was to come up with new Iraq policy options for the White House. The panel consisted of people who have deep experience in foreign policy and no pressing personal political ambitions. The members included former House Foreign Relations Committee chairman Lee Hamilton, a Democrat, who co-chairs the group with Baker; former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Republican; former Clinton adviser Vernon Jordan; Leon Panetta, who served as White House chief of staff in the Clinton administration; former Clinton administration Defense Secretary William Perry; former Sen. Chuck Robb, a Democrat; Alan Simpson, a former Republican senator from Wyoming; and Edwin Meese, who served as attorney general under the Reagan administration.

Before Rumsfeld's resignation, it had not been entirely clear what significance the ISG report would have. For the Democrats -- controlling at least one chamber of Congress, and lacking any consensus themselves as to what to do about Iraq -- it had been expected that the ISG report would provide at least some platform from which to work, particularly if Bush did not embrace the panel's recommendations. And there had, in fact, been some indications from Bush that he would listen to the group's recommendations, but not necessarily implement them. Given the results of the Nov. 7 elections, it also could be surmised that the commission's report would become an internal issue for the Republican Party as well, as it looked ahead to the 2008 presidential campaign. With consensus that something must change, and no consensus as to what must change, the ISG report would be treated as a life raft for both Democrats and Republicans seeking a new strategy in the war. The resulting pressure would be difficult to resist, even for Bush. If he simply ignored the recommendations, he could lose a large part of his Republican base in Congress.

At this point, however, the question mark as to the president's response seems to have been erased, and the forthcoming ISG report soars in significance. For the administration, it would be politically unworkable to appoint a member of the panel as secretary of defense and then ignore the policies recommended.

Situation Review

It is, of course, not yet clear precisely what policy the administration will be adopting in Iraq. But to envision what sort of recommendations the ISG might deliver, we must first consider the current strategy.

Essentially, U.S. strategy in Iraq is to create an effective coalition government, consisting of all the major ethnic and sectarian groups. In order to do that, the United States has to create a security environment in which the government can function. Once this has been achieved, the Iraqi government would take over responsibility for security. The problem, however, is twofold. First, U.S. forces have not been able to create a sufficiently secure environment for the government to function. Second, there are significant elements within the coalition that the United States is trying to create who either do not want such a government to work -- and are allied with insurgents to bring about its failure -- or who want to improve their position within the coalition, using the insurgency as leverage. In other words, U.S. forces are trying to create a secure environment for a coalition whose members are actively working to undermine the effort.

The core issue is that no consensus exists among Iraqi factions as to what kind of country they want. This is not only a disagreement among Sunnis, Shia and Kurds, but also deep disagreements within these separate groups as to what a national government (or even a regional government, should Iraq be divided) should look like. It is not that the Iraqi government in Baghdad is not doing a good job, or that it is corrupt, or that it is not motivated. The problem is that there is no Iraqi government as we normally define the term: The "government" is an arena for political maneuvering by mutually incompatible groups.

Until the summer of 2006, the U.S. strategy had been to try to forge some sort of understanding among the Iraqi groups, using American military power as a goad and guarantor of any understandings. But the decision by the Shia, propelled by Iran, to intensify operations against the Sunnis represented a deliberate decision to abandon the political process. More precisely, in our view, the Iranians decided that the political weakness of George W. Bush, the military weakness of U.S. forces in Iraq, and the general international environment gave them room to reopen the question of the nature of the coalition, the type of regime that would be created and the role that Iran could play in Iraq. In other words, the balanced coalition government that the United States wanted was no longer attractive to the Iranians and Iraqi Shia. They wanted more.

The political foundation for U.S. military strategy dissolved. The possibility of creating an environment sufficiently stable for an Iraqi government to operate -- when elements of the Iraqi government were combined with Iranian influence to raise the level of instability -- obviously didn't work. The United States might have had enough force in place to support a coalition government that was actively seeking and engaged in stabilization. It did not have enough force to impose its will on multiple insurgencies that were supported by factions of the government the United States was trying to stabilize.

By the summer of 2006, the core strategy had ceased to function.

The Options

It is in this context that the ISG will issue its report. There have been hints as to what the group might recommend, but the broad options boil down to these:

1. Recommend that the United States continue with the current strategy: military operations designed to create a security environment in which an Iraqi government can function.

2. Recommend the immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces and allow the Iraqis to sort out their political problems.

3. Recommend a redeployment of forces in Iraq, based around a redefinition of the mission.

4. Recommend a redefinition of the political mission in Iraq.

We are confident that the ISG will not recommend a continuation of the first policy. James Baker has already hinted at the need for change, since it is self-evident at this point that the existing strategy isn't working. It is possible that the strategy could work eventually, but there is no logical reason to believe that this will happen anytime soon, particularly as the president has now been politically weakened. The Shia and Iranians, at this point, are even less likely to be concerned about Washington's military capability in Iraq than they were before the election. And at any rate, Baker and Hamilton didn't travel personally to Iraq only to come back and recommend the status quo.

Nor will they recommend an immediate withdrawal of troops. Apart from the personalities involved, the ISG participants are painfully aware that a unilateral withdrawal at this point, without a prior political settlement, would leave Iran as the dominant power in the region -- potentially capable of projecting military force throughout the Persian Gulf, as well as exerting political pressure through Shiite communities in Gulf states. Only the United States has enough force to limit the Iranians at this point, and an immediate withdrawal from Iraq would leave a huge power vacuum.

We do believe that the ISG will recommend a fundamental shift in the way U.S. forces are used. The troops currently are absorbing casualties without moving closer to their goal, and it is not clear that they can attain it. If U.S. forces remain in Iraq -- which will be recommended -- there will be a shift in their primary mission. Rather than trying to create a secure environment for the Iraqi government, their mission will shift to guaranteeing that Iran, and to a lesser extent Syria, do not gain further power and influence in Iraq. Nothing can be done about the influence they wield among Iraqi Shia, but the United States will oppose anything that would allow them to move from a covert to an overt presence in Iraq. U.S. forces will remain in-country but shift their focus to deterring overt foreign intrusion. That means a redeployment and a change in day-to-day responsibility. U.S. forces will be present in Iraq but not conducting continual security operations.

Two things follow from this. First, the Iraqis will be forced to reach a political accommodation with each other or engage in civil war. The United States will concede that it does not have the power to force them to agree or to prevent them from fighting. Second, the issue of Iran -- its enormous influence in Iraq -- will have to be faced directly, or else U.S. troops will be tied up there indefinitely.

It has been hinted that the ISG is thinking of recommending that Washington engage in negotiations with Iran over the future of Iraq. Tehran offered such negotiations last weekend, and this has been the Iranian position for a while. There have been numerous back-channel discussions, and some open conversations, between Washington and Tehran. The stumbling block has been that the United States has linked the possibility of these talks to discussions of Iran's nuclear policy; Iran has rejected that, always seeking talks on Iraq without linkages. If the rumors are true, and logic says they are, the ISG will suggest that Washington should delink the nuclear issue and hold talks with Iran about a political settlement over Iraq.

This is going to be the hard part for Bush. The last thing he wants is to enhance Iranian power. But the fact is that Iranian power already has been enhanced by the ability of Iraqi Shia to act with indifference to U.S. wishes. By complying with this recommendation, Washington would not be conceding much. It would be acknowledging reality. Of course, publicly acknowledging what has happened is difficult, but the alternative is a continuation of the current strategy -- also difficult. Bush has few painless choices.

What a settlement with Iran would look like is, of course, a major question. We have discussed that elsewhere. For the moment, the key issue is not what a settlement would look like but whether there can be a settlement at all with Iran -- or even direct discussions. In a sense, that is a more difficult problem than the final shape of an agreement.

We expect the ISG, therefore, to make a military and political recommendation. Militarily, the panel will argue for a halt in aggressive U.S. security operations and a redeployment of forces in Iraq, away from areas of unrest. Security will have to be worked out by the Iraqis -- or not. Politically, the ISG will argue that Washington will have to talk directly to the other major stakeholder, and power broker, in Iraq: Tehran.

In short, the group will recommend a radical change in the U.S. approach not only to Iraq, but to the Muslim world in general.
30159  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Farewell Marine on: November 08, 2006, 01:23:00 PM
30160  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA on: November 08, 2006, 12:35:37 PM


Contact: Mario Serrano

Publicist 408-607-5756


Los Angeles, CA may be the entertainment capitol of the world but the event that is on everyone's lips is the historic match-up between MMA fighting legend Randy Couture and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) superstar Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza at the Professional Submission League's (PSL) 'X-Mission' on Friday, November 17, 2006. This classic battle, unprecedented in modern times, has brought Randy out of retirement and Jacare into the spotlight as two of the world's finest Mixed Martial Artists collide on the PSL tatame.

?Jacare', the alligator from Manaus, Amazon, Brazil has been causing quite a stir since he arrived in the States. The BJJ Absolute Mundial & ADCC World Submission Champion has been spotted at the Pride Fighting Championships, in Las Vegas and training in dojos all around the Los Angeles area with none other than Mr. Wallid Ismail, the Amazon's first MMA hero.

The PSL crew caught up with the dynamic duo from the great Amazon State as they headed out to the set of Spike TV's Pros vs. Joes in Los Angeles, CA to meet the only man to win UFC titles in two different weight categories, Randy Couture.  At this exclusive on-set meeting the two 'X Mission' main eventers sealed the deal for their highly anticipated match up.

Since retiring from the UFC "The Natural" has been busy as ever with several business projects, a slew of personal appearances, and of course television & film roles. His latest role is in Pros vs. Joes, Spike TV's action-packed sports series that pits a team of average everyday Joes vs. a team of the world's greatest Pros. UFC Hall of Famer Couture was on the set filming the season premiere along with his fellow Pros Michael Irvin (five time NFL Pro Bowler & three time Super Bowl Champion), Glen Rice (three time NBA All Star) and Jose Canseco (six time MLB All Star).

The set came to life as Jacare arrived with his consignor, Mr. Ismail, to meet "The Natural" and face off before the big day. Much respect was exchanged between the two combatants along with the usual pre-match posturing as 'Jacare' informed us that "Randy is a big man and has accomplished many great things but now is my time and he will feel the bite of the alligator."

Jacare seemed to revel in his first visit to a Hollywood set as Randy, the consummate professional, was unfazed by it all and he revealed to us that "I may have retired from fighting but I have not retired from competition. There are many new challenges ahead for me and this is one of them."

Indeed, both men will need to be at their best during the PSL's X-Mission event on Friday, November 17, 2006 at the Culver City Veterans' Memorial.


PSL brings the sport and its athletes into the spotlight where they can be appreciated in a tasteful and upscale environment.  ?X-MISSION? is PSL?s latest event showcasing an international line-up of ?who?s who? and world champion athletes from around the world including Brazil, Japan, Canada, Russia and the United States. To schedule interviews, obtain press credentials and receive more information, call Mario Serrano at (408) 607-5756.


                                                                         # # #





30161  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: God and Sex on: November 08, 2006, 07:23:32 AM

Staying with the God & Sex theme of the thread, it seems to me that one of the fundamental areas of social discord in the world today comes from the disconnect between sex and reproduction. The history of our evolutionary biology and the social codes that arose from it, until quite recently were based upon the idea that sex had reproductive consuquences.  Now, with the pill and other birth control technologies and with abortion it is possible for heterosexuals to have sex without having babies.  Now, with the increasing social acceptance of homosexuality there is another non-reproductive outlet for sexual urges.

Combine this with ever earlier arrival of puberty and the ever later age of life in which marriage and children take place, and we have some people going for many years of sexual maturity without having children.  If, for example puberty hits at 14 (and apparantly there are many cases where it now hits earlier) and parenting hits at 30, that person is going for 16 years.   

The "Just say no to pre-marital sex"  solution of many religions can be a really hard sell when the reality is for 16 years.  And if we look at the massive pedophiliac and homosexual issues within the Catholic Church, it seems like even serious spiritual people have a real hard time with "just say no".

On the other hand, is recreational sex emotionally and spiritually sound?

What is to guide us through the interregnum between puberty and parenthood?


30162  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA on: November 08, 2006, 06:55:23 AM

MMAWeekly has learned that Kevin Randleman has been charged by the Nevada State Athletic Commission with providing a fake urine sample for the drug test that he took after his fight on the Pride card in Las Vegas on October 21st.

If he is found to be guilty of these charges, Randleman could face severe disciplinary measures from the athletic commission, which could include a significant fine, a lengthy suspension, or perhaps even permanent revocation of his fighters' license.

All NSAC-sanctioned organizations, including Pride, are required to honor NSAC suspensions for all of their shows throughout the world if they want to continue to be licensed to run events in Nevada.

In the recent history of unarmed combat drug testing in Nevada, one fighter was previously alleged to have provided a fake urine sample, and that fighter's license was flat-out revoked (as opposed to suspended). That fighter was Sean McCully, who tested positive for marijuana and the anabolic steroid nandrolone in September 2004, and then allegedly provided a fake urine sample when he was re-tested in September 2005.

Keith Kizer, the Executive Director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, tells MMAWeekly, "I just spoke with Dr. Hyatt, who said [Randleman's urine] specimen 'flat-lined' for hormones. This allegedly means that the urine was fake, similar to Sean McCully?s case from several months ago."

If it does indeed turn out that the urine sample provided by Randleman did not contain any human hormones, that would mean that it was urine from a dead human or urine from a non-human.

Randleman, who lost to Mauricio "Shogun" Rua by submission on the Pride card in question, will have 20 days to respond to the NSAC's complaint, and then at some point there will be a disciplinary hearing at which Randleman's status will be determined.

Providing fake urine or otherwise trying to defraud the drug testing system is regarded as being just as much of a violation as actually failing a drug test, if not more of a violation.

Randleman now becomes the fourth MMA fighter to fail to pass a drug test in a period of less than two months in the state of Nevada. Stephan Bonnar tested positive for Boldenone, an anabolic steroid used to rehabilitate injured horses, after his fight at UFC 62. At Bonnar's disciplinary hearing last Friday, he admitted that he knowingly took a banned substance, and he was suspended for nine months.

Competing on the same Pride card as Randleman on October 21st, Vitor Belfort and Pawel Nastula also failed their respective drug tests. Belfort tested positive for the anabolic steroid 4-hydroxytestosterone, while Nastula tested positive for the anabolic steroid nandrolone and the banned stimulants phenylpropanolamine, pseudoephedrine, and ephedrine (ironically, the same exact combination of banned substances for which Kimo Leopoldo tested positive after a UFC fight in 2004). The cases of Belfort and Nastula are still pending before the NSAC.

Randleman, Belfort, and Nastula were three of the ten fighters who were drug tested on Pride's October 21st card. Four other fighters on the card were not drug tested. In Bonnar's case, he was one of just four fighters who were drug tested at UFC 62, as there were fourteen fighters on the card who were not drug tested.

According to the Nevada State Athletic Commission, the total cost of drug testing one fighter for all banned steroids, stimulants, and recreational drugs is $278.40. With ticket sales for these events in the millions and with more and more fighters failing to pass their drug tests, a growing number of MMA fans have begun to question the fact that there isn't mandatory drug testing for every single fighter on every single card.
30163  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics, Investing, & Technology on: November 08, 2006, 06:29:58 AM
The Dot-Com Bubble
Is Reconsidered --
And Maybe Relived
November 8, 2006; Page B1
The traditional history of the dot-com bubble has been told many times: Too many companies rushed into the market in defiance of all known business fundamentals, and when the crash came, all but a tiny fraction of them just as quickly imploded and went away.

That received wisdom, though, is now getting a going-over by economists, business historians and others, some of whom are coming to new conclusions about what precisely went wrong during the bubble years, normally dated from the Netscape IPO in August 1995 to March 2000, when Nasdaq peaked at above 5100.

A recent paper suggests that rather than having too many entrants, the period of the Web bubble may have had to few; at least, too few of the right kind. And while most people recall the colossal flops of the period (Webvan,, etoys and the rest) the survival rates of the era's companies turns out to be on a par, if not slightly higher, than those in several other major industries in their formative years.

The paper is being published in a coming issue of the Journal of Financial Economics. As noteworthy as the findings are, even more interesting is the process that led to them. The work is an outgrowth of the Business Plan Archive at the University of Maryland. Its goal is to become a kind of Smithsonian Institution of the Internet bubble, saving for posterity every business plan, PowerPoint presentation and venture-capital term sheet -- the more frothy and half-baked, the better -- that it can get its hands on.

David A. Kirsch, a professor of management at the university's business school and one of the authors of the study, said it relied on a thorough examination of one particular treasure trove at the archive: every business plan, roughly 1,100 in all, submitted during the period to an East Coast venture firm.

The VC office later closed and donated the papers to the archive on the condition it remain anonymous. Prof. Kirsch said that while the office would be considered second tier when compared with the famous names in Silicon Valley's Sand Hill Road, the 1,100 firms he studied were representative of all of the companies started during the period.

Looking through those business plans, and contemporary press accounts, the study identifies a defining business strategy of the bubble era: Get Big Fast. A business was supposed to grow as quickly as possible because the first successful entrant in a category could keep out challengers. If a company was able to successfully get big, it could use that position to later finesse other questions, such as how it might one day actually make money.

Belief in this "first mover advantage" is today tempered by a new awareness of the risks of being the first out of the chute. Back then, though, VCs used Get Big Fast as their basic investing strategy, despite the absence of any evidence that it worked. By the spring of 2000, however, the world was beginning to wake up to the fact that it didn't work. The crash followed soon thereafter.

The study suggests, though, that the dimensions of that crash might be misunderstood. Nearly half of the companies they studied were still in business in 2004. Prof. Kirsch says that most people believe just a few percent made it through.

The study found that the attrition rate for dot-com companies was roughly 20% a year, which is no different from what occurred during many other industries, such as automobiles, during their early boom periods.

Most of these survivors, though, aren't the titans like Amazon or eBay, but much smaller efforts such as, which sells equipment to high-school and college wrestlers, what Prof. Kirsch called precisely the sort of demanding niche market for which Web shopping was invented.

The fact that so many dot-com companies survived suggests that even more could have started. But that didn't happen, says the study. Investors following conventional wisdom of the day were interested only in companies that could dominate an entire industry. In looking for these, they ignored smaller niche opportunities that had the potential to become modest but profitable enterprises.

"It turns out there were lots of nooks and crannies for entrepreneurial action," says Prof. Kirsch. "But those nooks and crannies might have been $5 million or $10 million businesses -- well worth doing, though not necessarily for VCs."

The paper's other authors were Brent Goldfarb, a University of Maryland economist, and David A. Miller, of UC San Diego.

While they didn't deal with the current Internet bubble involving "Web 2.0" companies, it's clear that a variation on Get Big Fast is alive and well today, just a few years later.

Companies like Interactive, eBay and Google are spending hundred of millions, often billions, on start-ups such as MySpace, Skype and YouTube, which have developed a commanding market presence but without actually making money. Some of the explanations for these purchases have a certain logic; others seem like dot-com d?j? vu.

It will take awhile to know whether things will turn out differently this time. But bubbles always have happy endings, don't they?

Write to Lee Gomes at
30164  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: November 08, 2006, 06:13:14 AM
Mexico: Jumping on the Oaxaca Bandwagon

An umbrella group composed of five armed revolutionary organizations claimed responsibility for the Nov. 6 bombings in Mexico City. In a Nov. 7 Internet statement, the coalition said it will continue to detonate bombs and expand attacks to target 40 national and multinational corporations throughout Mexico as long as Ulises Ruiz remains governor of Oaxaca state. And as the government cracks down on protests, as it recently did in Oaxaca, the movement probably will only grow stronger -- and extend its attacks beyond Mexico City.


An umbrella group composed of five armed revolutionary organizations claimed responsibility Nov. 7 for Mexico City's Nov. 6 bombings outside the headquarters of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), a Scotiabank branch and the Federal Electoral Tribunal. The group added that it will carry out more attacks and expand its list of targets as long as Oaxacan Gov. Ulises Ruiz remains in power and the government continues to repress dissent. It also said it would target 40 main national and transnational organizations, as well as Mexican political and government institutions.

Mexico's left-wing groups traditionally rally behind prominent issues to harness attention for their causes. It is thus unsurprising that this group emerged amid the row over Mexico's 2006 presidential election and the ongoing crisis in Oaxaca to capitalize on the volatile political environment and win protesters' support. And as the government cracks down on protests -- as it recently did in Oaxaca, the coalition probably will only grow stronger -- and extend its attacks beyond Mexico City.

The coalition is made up of the Lucio Cabanas Barrientos Revolutionary Movement (MR-LCB), Democratic Revolutionary Tendency-People's Army (TDR-EP), Insurgent Organization-May 1, Dec. 2 Execution Brigade and Popular Liberation Brigades. Of these groups, the MR-LCB and TDR-EP are the most well-established. Both are more than five years old, and are offshoots of the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR), a left-wing guerrilla group that operates throughout Mexico.

The MR-LCB and TDR-EP recently took up the cause of the People's Popular Assembly of Oaxaca (APPO) by echoing the APPO's call for the federal police to withdraw from Oaxaca and for Ruiz to step down. So long as these demands go unmet, the threat to national and transnational companies and government institutions in all parts of Mexico will remain high. But the two groups probably will not drop their threats even if their Oaxaca demands are met. Statements from both reveal that their cause is fundamentally anti-government, and so the Oaxaca crisis merely represents a convenient platform to attract attention. The decision to target multinational corporations is therefore rooted in the group's fundamental ideology.

The new umbrella group said multinational corporations that support the government are responsible for rampant poverty and the marginalization of most Mexicans, and have assisted the "cynical dictatorship" of Ruiz and "governmental repression" on the state and federal level.

This language is reminiscent of defeated presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, though there are no overt links between the umbrella group and Lopez Obrador's movement. Two of the targets of the Nov. 6 bombings -- the PRI headquarters and the Federal Electoral Tribunal building -- did play a role in the Lopez Obrador election row, however. Though PRI ideology is closer to Lopez Obrador and his Democratic Revolutionary Party's views than it is to President-elect Felipe Calderon's National Action Party, the PRI allied itself with Calderon after the election. The Federal Electoral Tribunal attack is more clearly linked to the Lopez Obrador affair, since that body rejected his claims of vote fraud and pronounced Calderon the winner of the July 2 election.

In response to the threats against government and enterprise, police stepped up security in Mexico City, focusing on transportation and state-owned companies, such as the capital's airport and subway system, PRI offices, Petroleos Mexicanos facilities, the Federal Electrical Commission and the Power and Light Co. But violence and unrest have surged beyond Mexico City.

In Oaxaca, a Burger King near a protester-occupied university was vandalized; the words "murderous multinationals" were scrawled on the building, though the restaurant is a franchise owned by local Oaxacans. And late Nov. 6, two small devices thrown at representatives of the Mexican attorney general's office in Ixtapa, a beach resort town in Guerrero state, exploded hours before a scheduled visit by Calderon. No one was injured, and Calderon's trip proceeded undisturbed. While no group has claimed responsibility for the incidents, the targets of the attacks -- a multinational corporation and government agents -- are consistent with the ideology of the coalition responsible for the Mexico City bombings.

The coalition behind the Mexico City attacks also took special care to avoid capture and cause no injuries. If it plans to continue along these lines, Mexico City's increased police presence means the groups will probably conduct future attacks elsewhere.

30165  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / The importance of good cholesterol on: November 08, 2006, 06:01:20 AM,1,4868473,full.story?coll=la-headlines-health

A better number?
We obsess over bad cholesterol levels, but when it comes to heart disease risk, good cholesterol may be more important. Next up: New treatments.
By Shari Roan
Times Staff Writer

November 6, 2006

FOR the last two decades, a fear of bad cholesterol has gripped Americans. We've measured it, compared it, worried about it and doused it with statins, now among the bestselling drugs of all time.

But hovering on the sidelines has been another type of cholesterol ? HDL, the good kind, also known as high-density lipoprotein. HDL cholesterol doesn't get anywhere near the attention of its bad LDL twin (low-density lipoprotein). But now it may be poised to receive the respect it deserves.

Recent research suggests that HDL may actually be the more important player of the two in raising or lowering heart disease risk. And as the 20th anniversary of the first cholesterol-lowering statin draws close, a new heart disease deterrent is ready to leap onto the stage: the first drug to substantially raise good cholesterol.

If approved, it could usher in a radically new era in the battle against the No. 1 killer of Americans, responsible for 37% of adult deaths in the United States every year.

In fact, by simultaneously tinkering with good and bad ? giving medications in tandem to alter both HDL and LDL ? doctors may finally have the potent one-two punch against heart disease they have long been searching for.

"We've taken LDL management as far as we can go," says Dr. Prediman K. Shah, director of the division of cardiology and the Atherosclerosis Research Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. "Everyone is on the bandwagon that HDL is the next frontier for atherosclerosis management."

Interest in raising HDL cholesterol has been growing in recent years for several reasons. Chiefly, researchers have discovered that HDL prevents or reduces the build-up of plaque in artery walls and appears to be a significant cardiovascular risk factor independent of whether LDL is high or low.

But doctors have long known that LDL cannot be the whole story. Statins, for example, lower LDL cholesterol 30% to 40% and reduce heart attack and stroke rates by about the same amount ? but most doctors can remember patients who dutifully lowered their LDL and still suffered heart attacks or strokes.

"Even with 30% to 40% reduction, we have not eliminated cardiovascular disease," says Dr. William Averill, a cardiologist and past president of the Los Angeles division of the American Heart Assn.

Doctors also know people who have too-high LDL but never succumb to cardiac trouble ? perhaps, in some cases, because their high HDL is protecting them.

The interest in HDL cholesterol is also, to some extent, market-driven. Many drug companies have blockbuster statin drugs with patents that are expiring, and they're searching for ways to reignite the market for treating cardiovascular disease.

In this case, however, market forces and the quest for better heart health may happily align.

When arteries clog

Cholesterol is a type of fat known as a lipid that helps many types of body cells function. The liver manufactures most of what the body needs; the rest is obtained through diet.

The lipid uses a two-way street to travel through the bloodstream: LDL particles are carried from the liver to body cells; HDL particles move in reverse, returning extra cholesterol to the liver for disposal.

When too much LDL is in the blood, it can accumulate along the artery walls, forming the hard plaque deposits that lead to heart attacks. Statins help fight this traffic pileup.

Until the last decade or so, the role of HDL cholesterol in this process was largely overlooked.

"We've had a blind spot about HDL," says Dr. William Tierney, Chancellor's Professor of Medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine and author of a recent study highlighting the importance of HDL levels. "I think that's because we're used to focusing on the bad risk factors. As physicians we think, what can we fix? We fix something that is broken."

But evidence for HDL's benefits has been accumulating in recent years and can no longer be ignored. Animal studies and lab research on cells show that HDL has properties that reduce tissue inflammation and blood clotting and improve blood vessel function.

Additional research has found that the risk of heart disease is lower in people with higher levels of HDL and that tinkering with HDL may give patients more bang for their buck. Studies suggest that reducing LDL by 1 milligram per deciliter cuts cardiovascular risk by 1% ? but raising HDL by 1 mg/dl reduces risk by 2% to 3%.

Tierney's study, published in March in the American Heart Journal, examined 7,000 individuals who had two or more cholesterol measurements between 1985 and 1997. The scientists found that for every 10 mg/dl increase in the HDL level, there was an 11% decrease in heart attacks and other so-called acute coronary events.

In contrast, changes in the subjects' blood LDL levels, or in levels of lipids known as triglycerides (also heart disease risk factors) did not decrease the risk of heart attack or stroke.

"If you believe our research, HDL turns out to be the more important of the two," Tierney says.

Based on the science so far, the National Cholesterol Education Program (a federally funded group that issues guidelines) categorizes people as being at high risk for heart disease if their HDL is less than 40 mg/dl in men and less than 50 mg/dl in women. A level of 60 or higher is considered protective.

About 30% of American adults who have heart disease have sub-optimal HDL as their "dominant abnormality," says Shah ? in other words, low HDL is their most glaring risk factor for heart trouble.

Low HDL is more common in non-hispanic white and Mexican American men than in women or other ethnic groups. But as obesity rates and the incidence of diabetes have risen, HDL levels appear to be declining throughout the population.

Renewed interest in niacin

There are a number of measures that people or doctors can take to ramp up HDL levels. Lifestyle changes, such as a healthful diet and exercise, can boost HDL slightly ? and even small changes can lower heart disease risk (see sidebar). So can statins and drugs called fibrates.

Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, can raise HDL substantially. But there has been a significant problem with this remedy: It can cause intense itching and facial and upper-body flushing.

"Niacin is the most effective HDL drug available. But the problem is that only about 70% of people can take it because of the major side effects," Shah says.

Now, however, Merck & Co. is in the late stages of testing a pill that combines extended-release niacin with a drug called a prostaglandin D2 blocker that prevents flushing. Early studies suggest the drug may raise HDL 20% to 30%, says Dr. Yale Mitchel, executive director for clinical research at Merck.

The company plans to seek permission from the Food and Drug Administration to market the pill, called MK-0524A, next year, Mitchel says.

"I think if [Merck's] strategy proves to be true and effective that would revive interest in niacin," Shah says.

The company is also testing the niacin and prostaglandin D2 blocker in combination with a statin. And it is conducting an international study of 20,000 people to see if MK-0524A reduces cardiovascular events in high-risk people who have already lowered their LDL cholesterol with a statin. This study may be the first to show if raising HDL can truly reduce heart attacks, strokes and deaths even after LDL has been controlled.

"We think this study is critical," Mitchel says. That's because so far, the belief that raising HDL can slash heart disease risk is based on observational studies, ones in which populations of people have simply been observed.

To truly test the idea, a clinical trial is needed in which HDL is raised with drugs (after LDL has already been lowered) and the effect on heart disease is carefully monitored.

That gold-standard clinical trial hasn't been possible before now, Mitchel says, for one principal reason. "We haven't had drugs to raise HDL and test the hypothesis."

Other researchers are focusing on new drugs to improve levels of HDL. One approach evolved after a discovery about 15 years ago of a group of people in Japan who have a genetic mutation that causes high levels of HDL. The people, who have a low incidence of heart disease, lack an enzyme called CETP (cholesteryl ester transfer protein) that is responsible for transferring cholesterol from HDL particles to LDL particles.

Several drug companies are working on oral drugs that block CETP and would thus raise HDL in patients. Torcetrapib, under development at Pfizer Inc., is furthest along. In a small 2004 study of 19 patients with low HDL, torcetrapib raised HDL levels by 46%. It boosted them higher, by 61%, in people receiving torcetrapib plus the statin atorvastatin (Lipitor).

Questions remain about the drug. It may, for one thing, increase blood pressure, Shah says, undermining its benefit to the heart. And even if it raises HDL, that doesn't necessarily mean it will reduce heart disease for certain.

"It may lead to a form of HDL that is dysfunctional. You may get a lot of HDL but it doesn't do anything. That is a concern that has been raised," Shah says.

Heart disease experts are anticipating the results of the company's Phase 3 clinical trials, expected early next year. These will gauge the medicine's effects on heart disease, measuring whether atherosclerotic plaque is reduced.

If the findings are promising, Pfizer could seek approval to sell torcetrapib in combination with Lipitor, its bestselling statin drug, next year or in 2008.

The company recently bowed to public pressure and announced it would also sell torcetrapib alone so that people who don't need a statin (or use statins other than Pfizer's) could benefit from the medication.

Another novel approach to raise HDL ? this one advanced by Shah's studies in animals ? uses high doses of a synthetic type of HDL to diminish plaque buildup. Again, the research stems from observing unusual human beings.

In the 1980s, doctors discovered a small group of people in a picturesque Italian village near Milan who had extraordinarily low levels of HDL but no heart disease. The scientists determined that these people carried a genetic mutation, named ApoA-1 Milano, that gave them a kind of super-charged HDL that is more protective than regular HDL. The gene variant prevents the accumulation of plaque in spite of low HDL levels.

Shah showed that this special HDL could shrink plaque in the arteries of lab animals. That finding was followed by a landmark study published in the Journal of the American Medical Assn. in 2003 that found that five weekly infusions of synthetic ApoA-1 Milano produced a 4.2% decrease in atherosclerotic plaque in people with heart disease.

Several drug companies are working on products based on ApoA-1 Milano. But because it has to be infused into the blood, such a treatment would probably be reserved for people with acute heart disease. "It's not ideally suited for repeat therapy over many years," Shah says.

The discovery of ApoA-1 Milano raises an intriguing question about HDL cholesterol, however. It could be that the quality of HDL is just as important as the quantity, affected by genes or environmental factors that subtly alter its structure and properties. It could be that scientists have just begun to explore the complexities of the good fat that flows through our bloodstreams.

"There is a lot of work going on," Shah says ? work that may uncover new exceptions to any simple test that just measures HDL levels. But for most of us for now, Shah adds, one thing about HDL seems clear: "The more you have, the better off you are."


It's more difficult to raise HDL cholesterol than it is to lower LDL. After all, statin drugs alone routinely lower LDL by 30% to 40%. But there are still ways to improve your HDL.
Exercise: Aerobic exercise for 30 minutes several times a week can raise HDL by 3% to 9% in sedentary, healthy people. But you'll have to get your heart rate up. There is little evidence that walking increases HDL.
Quitting smoking: Average increase of 4 milligrams per deciliter.
Weight control: Every 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of weight lost raises HDL by average of 0.35 mg/dl.
Alcohol consumption: Mild to moderate drinking (one to two drinks a day) can raise HDL by an average of 4 mg/dl.
Diet: A diet low in trans fatty acids and high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids can raise HDL. Choose oils such as olive, flaxseed and canola; nuts; cold-water fish; and shellfish. Limit high glycemic load foods such as pasta and bread made with refined flour, which can lower HDL.
Niacin therapy: Increases of 20% to 35%.
Fibrate therapy: Increases of 10% to 25%.
Statins: Increases of 2% to 15%.
? Shari Roan
Sources: American Heart Assn.; Dr. William Averill; New England Journal of Medicine


Here are the numbers, as described by the American Heart Assn. (Defined as less than 40 milligrams per deciliter.)


Men: 34.5%
Women: 12.4%
Men: 22.7%
Women: 11.3%
Men: 34.4%
Women: 15.4%
30166  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dog Brothers on the East Coast on: November 07, 2006, 01:34:36 PM
Nick "Raw Dog" Sacoulas
Horace Harding Expwy; Flushing Queens.

Various other members scattered around NYC.
30167  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action on: November 07, 2006, 12:42:15 PM
Chicago Tribune
Why Iraq war seems almost devoid of heroes
By E.A. Torriero, a Tribune reporter who has covered conflicts in the
Americas, the Middle East, Afghanistan and Iraq

November 5, 2006

War breeds heroes. Etched in the history books are tales from the combat
trenches of a special kind of valor--gritty and gutsy deeds that have
inspired a nation since its earliest days and its first wars.

In our current war, such heroism seems elusive. That style of hero--one
that Americans have long come to expect--seems to be missing.

The reasons are varied: The military is often slow to publicize valor and
award medals. The national media rarely write about it. As the political
debate over the war rages, the term hero has taken on assorted meanings.

The fighting in this war is different from that in any other American
conflict. There is no traditional battlefield on which to make a hero's
mark. The enemy is not a nation's army but insurgents who often do not
show their faces and who strike with bombs and snipers' bullets.

"The enemy has a lot to do with how this war is being fought and the
perception it has," said Andrew Krepinevich, executive director of the
Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington, D.C. "That
makes it difficult to produce a Custer's Last Stand style of hero."

Although the Pentagon says heroic acts occur almost daily, they are
usually known only to the military and to families.

When a GI is killed in Iraq, the military bureaucracy usually says little
about the circumstances, citing family privacy, classified intelligence or
a need for operational secrecy. The military's medal process is methodical
and often takes so many years that the heroism becomes a distant memory by the
time it is publicly known.

The U.S. military is stringent in its definition of a hero, drawing sharp
distinctions in awarding medals and bestowing the Medal of Honor -- its
highest award--only to a GI who "distinguishes himself conspicuously by
gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the
call of duty."

When such calm deliberation is abandoned, the result can backfire. Several
highly publicized attempts to quickly advertise incidents worked out badly
for the Pentagon.

 The alleged heroism of Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch at the start of the Iraq
war proved hollow. The valor of former football star Pat Tillman in
Afghanistan was undermined by military lies and the eventual disclosure that he was
killed by friendly fire.

Guarded about recognition

Since then, the military has been guarded when it comes to hero stories.

"Heroes are being overlooked," said Roger Lee Crossland, a Navy reserve
captain and attorney from Connecticut who served in Afghanistan.

In the U.S. Naval Institute's magazine Proceedings, Crossland wrote an
article titled "Why Are Victims Our Only War Heroes?" that is widely
circulated on the Internet. He argued that acts of American bravery are
being masked by media coverage of troops under attack and military
personnel being blown up by street bombs.

 "There needs to be another story told, that of bravery in battle,"
Crossland said in an interview. "Those are heroes, the ones we need to hear about."

In the Iraq war, stories of heroic actions in battle get little exposure
in the media. Even when they do, as in the case of the late Sgt. 1st Class
Paul Ray Smith, the stories have a remarkably short staying power.

Smith is the only Iraq war soldier to win the country's highest award for
military valor, the Medal of Honor. His valor came in 2003, in the early
days of the war, when the battles were fought in more traditional combat.

According to the military, Smith's unit was building a jail holding pen at
the Baghdad airport when it came under attack from an Iraqi Republican
Guard unit. After a mortar struck one of the American armored vehicles, leaving
three of Smith's men injured, the unit was pinned down. Smith jumped to
the gunnery and grabbed a machine gun from his injured comrades.

 Before being killed by enemy fire, Smith shot 20 to 50 Iraqi soldiers and
saved as many as 100 of his comrades, according to the Pentagon.

It took the Pentagon two years to honor Smith. In 2005, he became the
first GI since the Somalia conflict in 1993 to be awarded the Medal of Honor.

Honoring victims instead

Maybe the media fear glorifying violence, Crossland said.

 "We have substituted being a victim for being a hero," he said. "That's
far from the meaning of a war hero."

From early mythology, war has produced heroes, soldiers who sacrificed
themselves in extraordinary ways to save others.

In recent years, though, the public definition of a hero has become much
broader and, some argue, overused. On a wider cultural level, Americans
refer to all sorts of people as heroes, no matter the depth of their

"The whole hero phrase has been cheapened," said John Mueller, a political
science professor at Ohio State University who has studied war and the

The Vietnam War signaled a major transformation in the nation's perception
of heroism, according to several experts on American military history.

In an unpopular war, Hollywood painted the bleak picture of combat
soldiers returning from Vietnam not as heroes but as outcasts. POWs, however, found
a hero's welcome for sacrificing years of their lives as captives and
 surviving mental and physical torture.

"It's not for what they did on the battlefield," Mueller said of the POWs.
"It's for what they endured."

In the Iraq war, families and those honoring American dead often cast them
in a heroic light no matter how they died--even if it was sitting in a
Humvee that was felled by a roadside bomb.

 "Of course they are heroes," said Tony Cutrano, leader of a Chicago-area
group of motorcyclists who have erected a memorial wall in central
Illinois naming the U.S. dead in Iraq. "They went over there and gave their lives
for our freedom. What can be more heroic?"

`This is a brave generation'

Hundreds of other personnel also have performed brave acts, according to
the military. "There are a ton of heroes out there," said Marine spokesman
Brig.  Gen. Robert Milstead, who returned recently from a second tour of duty in
Iraq. "They make my eyes water. This is a brave generation."

While military spokesmen offered contradictory views of how well the
Pentagon is publicizing its heroes, they agreed that many Americans would
rather ignore the war--even the hero stories.

"Americans don't believe we are at war," Milstead said. "Given that
mind-set, it's difficult to give fidelity to heroes."

Among support-the-troops groups, a following has developed in cyberspace
for American military exploits.

 Chicagoan and former military intelligence officer Matthew Currier Burden
started such a Web site and also has compiled stories from military
personnel in a book titled "The Blog of War." In it, frontline dispatches
provide unfiltered details of bravery, he said.

Burden also does a weekly talk show on a Boston radio station with a
segment called "Someone You Should Know" that tells stories of war.

"I could tell a story a night and never run out of material," Burden said.
"Unfortunately, many of these don't turn out with happy endings, and I
think that can be a turnoff for the American public. It doesn't make
them any less inspiring though.",1,634721,prin
30168  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Read it all! on: November 07, 2006, 09:15:48 AM
Folks (in this case GM grin )

Please lets remember to include a description of what the piece is about, why we are posting it etc.  For example, this blog post takes on common one liner arguments such as "Chickenhawks" "Blood for Oil" "Bush is an idiot" etc.

30169  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Interesting timeline on: November 06, 2006, 07:39:39 PM
30170  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: November 06, 2006, 06:08:18 PM
That's an excellent find there GM.

Highly recommended viewing everyone!
30171  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Book Reviews- political and religious on: November 06, 2006, 04:26:11 PM
This book was recommended to me by someone who has done unusually serious work in Iraq.

I've just ordered it.
30172  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Elephants-part three on: November 06, 2006, 04:20:07 PM
They have no future without us. The question we are now forced to grapple
with is whether we would mind a future without them, among the more mindful
creatures on this earth and, in many ways, the most devoted. Indeed, the
manner of the elephants' continued keeping, their restoration and
conservation, both in civil confines and what's left of wild ones, is now
drawing the attention of everyone from naturalists to neuroscientists. Too
much about elephants, in the end - their desires and devotions, their
vulnerability and tremendous resilience - reminds us of ourselves to dismiss
out of hand this revolt they're currently staging against their own
dismissal. And while our concern may ultimately be rooted in that most human
of impulses - the preservation of our own self-image - the great paradox
about this particular moment in our history with elephants is that saving
them will require finally getting past ourselves; it will demand the
ultimate act of deep, interspecies empathy.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

30173  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Elephants-part two on: November 06, 2006, 04:18:51 PM
(Page 4 of Cool

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Page 5 of Cool

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Page 6 of Cool

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

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

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

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

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

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

30174  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Elephants on: November 06, 2006, 04:17:09 PM
An Elephant Crackup?
Published: October 8, 2006
'We're not going anywhere," my driver, Nelson Okello, whispered to me one
morning this past June, the two of us sitting in the front seat of a jeep
just after dawn in Queen Elizabeth National Park in southwestern Uganda. We'd
originally stopped to observe what appeared to be a lone bull elephant
grazing in a patch of tall savanna grasses off to our left. More than one
"rogue" crossed our path that morning - a young male elephant that has made
an overly strong power play against the dominant male of his herd and been
banished, sometimes permanently. This elephant, however, soon proved to be
not a rogue but part of a cast of at least 30. The ground vibrations
registered just before the emergence of the herd from the surrounding trees
and brush. We sat there watching the elephants cross the road before us,
seeming, for all their heft, so light on their feet, soundlessly plying the
wind-swept savanna grasses like land whales adrift above the floor of an
ancient, waterless sea.

Andres Serrano for The New York Times

Andres Serrano for The New York Times

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Page 2 of Cool

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Page 3 of Cool

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

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

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

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

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

"We know that these mechanisms cut across species," Schore told me. "In the
first years of humans as well as elephants, development of the emotional
brain is impacted by these attachment mechanisms, by the interaction that
the infant has with the primary caregiver, especially the mother. When these
early experiences go in a positive way, it leads to greater resilience in
things like affect regulation, stress regulation, social communication and
empathy. But when these early experiences go awry in cases of abuse and
neglect, there is a literal thinning down of the essential circuits in the
brain, especially in the emotion-processing areas."
30175  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sen. Ted Kennedy on: November 06, 2006, 04:12:41 PM

This raises my hackles quite a bit.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the long run of history, Kengor believes it is evident that Reagan's
policies were vindicated while Kennedy was proven wrong. In fact, as he
points out in his book, Kennedy himself made a "gracious concession" after
Reagan died, crediting the 40th president with winning the Cold War.
30176  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Mexico City Bombings on: November 06, 2006, 02:39:57 PM
Mexico City Bombings: An Escalation in Tensions
Just after midnight Nov. 6, emergency officials in Mexico City received two telephone calls from an unknown source warning that bombs were about to detonate. A few minutes later, bombs exploded outside of the headquarters of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), a Scotiabank branch and the Federal Electoral Tribunal building. Two more improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were defused later outside of another Scotiabank branch and another PRI building. No serious injuries have been reported.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Regardless of the motive, these bombings have serious implications for future stability and security in Mexico. President-elect Felipe Calderon, who had hoped to avoid having to deal with the Lopez Obrador or Oaxaca situations when he takes office Dec. 1, will likely find that both issues continue to fester -- and probably escalate. As long as the situation in Oaxaca is unresolved, the risk of similar attacks in the capital will remain.
Send questions or comments
30177  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Griffith Observatory on: November 06, 2006, 12:51:21 PM
30178  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / God and Sex on: November 06, 2006, 10:58:56 AM
Woof All:

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

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

30179  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Stock Market on: November 06, 2006, 10:40:32 AM
This thread is for chatter on particular stocks.  I'll start with a couple I've filed under the heading of "reckless"

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

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

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

Even at last again on IRF.
30180  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Deipnosophist on: November 06, 2006, 10:33:26 AM
There's an entry today.
30181  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: November 06, 2006, 10:04:20 AM
MEXICO: Three bombs exploded simultaneously outside of the headquarters of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, a ScotiaBank branch and the Federal Electoral Tribunal building in Mexico City. Another homemade device was deactivated outside a separate ScotiaBank branch. No serious injuries have been reported.

30182  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action on: November 06, 2006, 09:48:30 AM
Godawful music, but the facts inspire

And yes, we have checked it on

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

By Cpl. Jeremy Vought, MCB Camp Pendleton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More than 6,000 Navy Crosses have been awarded since World War I.
30183  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: on: November 06, 2006, 12:35:44 AM

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

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


Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West

By Patrick Poole | July 28, 2006



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


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




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




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




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




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




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




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




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




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




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




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




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




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




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




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




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




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




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




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




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




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




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




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




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




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




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




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




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




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


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

30184  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: November 05, 2006, 05:31:07 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life in America vs. life in Europe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feeling a chill

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

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

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

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

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

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

Story continues below

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

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

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

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

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

"There's not zero threat in any community, but it is good news and we have to hope that reflects an underlying reality that [homegrown extremist cells] don't exist here," says Jonathan Winer, a terrorism expert in Washington. "You've always got lone nuts in every imaginable ethnic group grabbing every imaginable ideology to justify terrorism."
30185  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Articulos en espanol sobre Dog Brothers Martial Arts on: November 05, 2006, 03:07:05 PM

Si alguien quiere comentar sobre un articulo en particular, favor de comenzar un hilo dedicado al tem-- Gracias
30186  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Boxing Thread on: November 05, 2006, 03:02:07 PM,0,1560345.column

 Neil Best

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

30187  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Peru on: November 05, 2006, 02:26:12 PM

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

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

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

He and his crew are extremely skilful aviators.

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

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

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

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

Reclusive inhabitants

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

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

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

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

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

New investment

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

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

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

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

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

Propaganda war

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

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

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

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

30188  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Griffith Observatory on: November 05, 2006, 09:30:16 AM

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


Observatory Review | 'Griffith Observatory'

A Human-Centered Cosmos in Domes to the Stars


Published: November 2, 2006

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

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Warren Aerial Photography

The Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles reopens tomorrow.

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

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Forum: Artists and Exhibitions

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Stephanie Diani for The New York Times

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

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Stephanie Diani for The New York Times

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That is one of its virtues.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That message might have encouraged the nihilistic violence of the movie?s disaffected characters; or it might have grated against their adolescent convictions about the immensity of their problems when compared with humanity?s ?episode of little consequence.? But why should the Griffith have given Mr. Dean such credit? The observatory?s real message is just the opposite.
30189  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: November 05, 2006, 09:15:54 AM
"The Muslim population in the United States is estimated as being somewhere between two to six million, and according to the U.S. State Department, by the year 2010 the Muslim population of the United States is expected to surpass the Jewish population, making Islam the country's second-largest faith."
30190  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Neologisms Part Two on: November 05, 2006, 09:08:26 AM

Page 3 of 4)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Page 3 of 4)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Page 4 of 4)

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

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

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

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

Don?t bother sending in FAQ. Don?t bother sending in wannabes. They?re not even particularly new. For that matter, don?t bother sending in anything you find via Google. ?Please note,? the O.E.D.?s Web site warns solemnly, ?it is generally safe to assume that examples found by searching the Web, using search engines such as Google, will have already been considered by O.E.D. editors.?
30191  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / The English Language & the study of languages on: November 05, 2006, 09:07:49 AM
 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? E-MailPrint Single Page Save
Published: November 5, 2006
When I got to John Simpson and his band of lexicographers in Oxford earlier this fall, they were working on the P?s. Pletzel, plish, pod person, point-and-shoot, polyamorous ? these words were all new, one way or another. They had been plowing through the P?s for two years but were almost done (except that they?ll never be done), and the Q?s will be ?just a twinkle of an eye,? Simpson said. He prizes patience and the long view. A pale, soft-spoken man of middle height and profound intellect, he is chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionary and sees himself as a steward of tradition dating back a century and a half. ?Basically it?s the same work as they used to do in the 19th century,? he said. ?When I started in 1976, we were still working very much on these index cards, everything was done on these index cards.? He picked up a stack of 6-inch-by-4-inch slips and riffled through them. A thousand of these slips were sitting on his desk, and within a stone?s throw were millions more, filling metal files and wooden boxes with the ink oftwo centuries, words, words, words.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Page 2 of 4)

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

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

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

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

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

?What date would that be?? she asked.

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

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

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

The job of a new-words editor felt very different precyberspace, Paton says: ?New words weren?t proliferating at quite the rate they have done in the last 10 years. Not just the Internet, but text messaging and so on has created lots and lots of new vocabulary.? Much of the new vocabulary appears online long before it will make it into books. Take geek. It was not till 2003 that O.E.D.3 caught up with the main modern sense: ?a person who is extremely devoted to and knowledgeable about computers or related technology.? Internet chitchat provides the earliest known reference, a posting to a Usenet newsgroup, net.jokes, on Feb. 20, 1984.
30192  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Guro Crafty en el DF, Mexico on: November 05, 2006, 01:24:14 AM
Ahora esta' enfermo yo.  tongue angry cry Tengo 4 dias sin entrenar y estoy tomando anti-biotico.  tongue angry cry

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

Eso de tener miembros de familia enfermos por semanas en seguidas es @$%%^#$%^ angry
30193  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: November 04, 2006, 02:35:34 PM
Recently the "Levine Breaking News" has started appearing in my email box.  Thus it has no track record with me.  That said, the following just appeared:

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

The timing and the political impact of publication the day before such pivotal elections are intriguing to say the least.
30194  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Humor on: November 04, 2006, 01:53:14 PM

Unintentional humor grin
30195  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Boxing Thread on: November 04, 2006, 01:51:34 PM
Second post on this fight:

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

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

A.) You're from Argentina.

B.) You like to bet on underdogs.

C.) You've never seen Mayweather fight.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



30196  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Boxing Thread on: November 04, 2006, 01:49:00 PM
Note the comments at the very end about the UFC:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Page 2 of 2  << back     1 2     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The after-effects?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

30197  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: November 04, 2006, 01:33:46 PM
Perle says he should not have backed Iraq war
By Peter Spiegel, Times Staff Writer
November 4, 2006

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

30198  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science on: November 04, 2006, 01:30:20 PM
U.S. trains Iraqis in river warfare tactics
By Tony Perry, Times Staff Writer
November 4, 2006

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"It's a beautiful thing," Abu Ali said of Wal-Mart. "You need a whole day to spend there."
30199  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: November 04, 2006, 01:27:03 PM
If this Syrian was Muslim, then he too is part of Islam in America:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

30200  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: November 04, 2006, 09:31:57 AM
I agree about the Kurds. They have been straight with us and we should be with them.  Screw the Turks if they don't like it. 

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

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

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

Just armchair generaling on a Saturday morning.
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