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30251  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Caminar como guerrero por todos nuestros dias on: October 27, 2005, 05:58:45 PM
Hola Omar:

"Conciencia mas alta" refiere al proceso interno que buscamos a traves de las peleas Dog Brothers y "Camino como guerrero" es la meta, el proposito del sistema DBMA.  Por supuesto, los dos son ramas del mismo arbol y se comunican entre si.

Espero que mi espanol sea suficiente para comunicar aqui.

Guau,
Crafty Dog
30252  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We the Unorganized Militia on: October 26, 2005, 11:45:12 PM
Not inside baseball at all!  A sound post on a matter of great importance.  In times of war, it is easy to let freedom slip away.
30253  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3 on: October 25, 2005, 07:41:31 PM
Syria, Iran and the Power Plays over Iraq
By George Friedman

In assessing the current phase of events in the Middle East, it is essential to link events in Syria with events in Iran. These, in turn, must be linked to the state of the war in Iraq and conditions in the Arabian Peninsula. The region is of one fabric, to say the least, and it is impossible to understand unfolding events -- the pressure against Syria involving the murder of a former Lebanese prime minister; feints and thrusts with Iran and talk of direct political engagement with the United States; the emergence of a new government in Baghdad, or obstacles to one -- without viewing them as one package.

Let's begin with two facts. Since the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Tehran has had close collaborative ties with Damascus. These have not been constant, nor have they been without strains and duplicity. Nevertheless, the entente between Iran and Syria has been a key element. Second, one of the many goals behind the U.S. invasion of Iraq was to position U.S. forces in such a way as to change a series of relationships between Islamic countries, not the least of which was the Iranian-Syrian relationship. Therefore, to understand what is going on, we must look at this as a "key player" game (Syria, Iran and the United States), with a serious of interested onlookers (Europe, China, Russia, Israel), and a series of extremely anxious onlookers (the states on the Arabian peninsula in particular).

The Roots of Alliance

Let's begin with the issue of what bound the Iranians and Syrians together. One part was ideological: Syria is ruled by a minority of Alawites, a Shiite offshoot that is at odds with Sunni Islam. Iran, a Shiite state, also confronts the Sunnis. Therefore, in religious terms, Syria under the Assads had a common interest with Iran. Second, both states were anti-Zionists. Syria, as a front-line state, confronted Israel alone after Egypt's Anwar Sadat signed the accords at Camp David. Iran, ideologically, saw itself as a committed enemy of Israel. Syria looked to Iran for support against Israel, and Iran used that support to validate its credential among other states -- Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia -- that were either collaborationist or merely symbolic in their opposition to Israel's existence. Syria and Iran could help each other, in other words, to position themselves both against Israel and within the Islamic world.

But ideology was not the glue that held them together: that was Saddam Hussein. Syria's Assad and Iraq's Saddam grew out of the same ideological soil -- that of Baath socialism, a doctrine that drew together pan-Arabism with economies dominated by the state. But rather than forming a solid front stretching from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf, the Iraqi and Syrian brands of Baathism split into two bitterly opposed movements. That difference had less to do with interest than with distrust between two dynastic presidents. Syria and Iraq had few common interests and were competing with each other economically. The relationship was, to say the least, murderous -- if not on a national level, then on a personal one. It never broke into open war because neither side had much to gain from a war. It was hatred short of war.

Not so between Iraq and Iran. When Iraq invaded Iran following the Islamic Revolution, a war lasting nearly a decade ensued. It was a war that cost hundreds of thousands of lives -- making it, for the size of the nations involved, one of the most brutal wars of the 20th century, and that is saying something. The issue here was fundamental. Iran and Iraq historically were rivals for domination of the Persian Gulf. The other countries of the Arabian Peninsula could not match either in military strength. Thus, each had an interest in becoming the dominant Persian Gulf power -- not only to control the oil, but to check the political power that Saudi Arabia had as a result of oil. So long as both were viable, the balance of power prevented domination by either. Should either win the war, there would be no native power to resist them. Thus, each side not only feared the other, but also had a great deal to gain through victory.

The Iranians badly wanted the Syrians to join in the war, creating a two-front conflict. Syria didn't. It was confronted by Israel on the one side and Turkey, another tense rival, on the other. Should its forces get bogged down fighting the Iraqis, the results could be catastrophic. Besides, while the Syrians had serious issues with Iraq, their true interests rested in Lebanon. The Syrians have always argued, with some justification, that Lebanon was torn from Syrian territory by the Sykes-Picot agreements between France and Britain following World War II. Nationalism aside, the Syrian leadership had close -- indeed, intimate -- economic relationships in Lebanon. It is important to recall that when Syria invaded Lebanon in 1975, it was in opposition to the Palestinians and in favor of Maronite Christian families, with whom the Alawites had critical business and political relations. It was -- and is -- impossible to think of Lebanon except in the context of Syria.

A Delicate Web of Relations

It was Damascus' fundamental interest for Lebanon to be informally absorbed into a greater Syria. Damascus used many tools, many relationships, many threats, many opportunities to weave a relationship with Lebanon and extend Syrian influence throughout the state. One of those tools was Hezbollah, an Islamist Shiite militia heavily funded and supported by Iran. From the Syrian point of view, Hezbollah had many uses. For one thing, it put a more secular Shiite group, the Amal movement under Nabih Berri, on the defensive. For another, it helped to put the Bekaa Valley, a major smuggling route for drugs and other commodities, under Syrian domination. Finally, it allowed Syria to pose a surrogate threat to Israel, retaining its anti-Zionist credentials without directly confronting Israel and incurring the risk of retaliation.

For Iran, Hezbollah was a means for asserting its claim on leadership of radical Islam while putting orthodox Sunnis, like the Saudis, in an uncomfortable position. Iran was fighting Israel via Hezbollah and building structures for a revolutionary Islam, while the dominant Sunnis were collaborating with the supporters of Israel, the United States. Hezbollah was, for the Iranians, a low-risk, high-payoff investment. In addition, it opened the door for financial benefits in the Wild West of Lebanon.

Both Iran and Syria maintained complex relations with both the United States and Israel. For example, Syria and Israel -- formally at war -- developed during the 1980s and 1990s complex protocols for preventing confrontation. Neither wanted a war with the other. The Syrians helped keep Hezbollah operations within limits and maintained security structures in such a way that Israel did not have to wage a major conventional war against Syria after 1982. There was far more intelligence-sharing and business deal-making than either Jerusalem or Damascus would want to admit. Lebanon recovered from its civil war and prospered -- as did Syrian and Israeli businessmen.

Iran also had complex relations with Washington. During the Iran-Iraq war, the United States found it in its interests to maintain a balance of power between Baghdad and Tehran. It did not want either to win. Toward this end, as Iran weakened, the United States arranged to provide military aid to Tehran -- not surprisingly, through Israel. Israel had maintained close relations with the Iranian military during the Shah's rule, and not really surprisingly, those endured under the Ayatollah Khomeini as well. Khomeini wanted to defeat Saddam Hussein more than anything. His military needed everything from missiles to spare parts, and the United States was prepared to use Israeli channels to supply them. It must always be remembered that the Iran-contra affair was not only about Central America. It was also -- and far more significantly -- about selling weapons to Iran via the Israelis.

Intersection: Iraq

Now, if we go back up to 50,000 feet, we will see the connecting tissue in all these relationships: Iraq. There were plenty of side issues. But the central issue was that everyone hated Iraq. No one wanted Iraq to get nuclear weapons. We have always wondered about Iran's role in Israel's destruction of the Osirak reactor in 1981; but no matter here. The point is that the containment of Iraq was in everyone's interest. Indeed, the United States merely wanted to contain Iraq, whereas Iran, Syria and Israel all had an interest in destroying it.

The U.S. invasion of Iraq was in the direct interest of two countries, in addition to the United States: Iran and Israel. Other countries had a more ambiguous response. The Saudis, for example, were as terrified of Iran as of Iraq. They, more than anyone, wanted to see the balance of power maintained and viewed the American invasion as threatening to their interests.

Syria's position was the most complex.

Syria had joined the coalition fighting Saddam Hussein during Desert Storm -- at least symbolically. The Syrians had complex motives, but they did not want the United States interfering with their interests in Lebanon and saw throwing in with the coalition as a means of assuring a benign U.S. policy. At the same time, Syria was in the most precarious strategic position of any country in the region. Sandwiched between Israel, Turkey and Iraq, it lived on the lip of a volcano. The outcome of Desert Storm was perfect for the Syrians: It castrated Iraq without destroying it. Thus, Damascus needed to deal with only two threats: Israel, which had grown comfortable with its position in Lebanon, and Turkey, which was busy worrying about its Kurdish problem. In general, with some exceptions, the 1990s were as good as it got for Syria.

The U.S. invasion in 2003 upset the equation. Now Syria was surrounded by enemies on all sides again, but this time one of the enemies was the United States -- and immediately at the end of conventional military operations, the United States rushed forces to the Iraq-Syria border, threatening hot pursuit of the fleeing Baathists. The Syrians had not calculated the American intervention, having believed claims by Saudi Arabia and France that the United States would not invade without their approval. Now Syria was in trouble.

Syria and Iran: A Parallel Play

For the Iranians, this was the golden moment. Their dream was of a pro-Iranian Iraq -- or, alternatively, for Iraq's Shiite region to be independent and pro-Iranian, or at least to have a neutral Iraq. The Sunni rising put the Iranians in a perfect position: Using their influence among the Shia, they held the cards that the Americans had dealt them. They adopted a strategy of waiting and spinning complex webs.

The Syrians saw themselves in a much less advantageous position. They were in their worst-case scenario. They could not engage the United States directly, of course. But the only satisfactory outcome to their dilemma was to divert U.S. attention from them or, barring that, so complicate the Americans' position that they would be prevented from making any aggressive moves toward Syria. What Damascus needed was a strong guerrilla war to tie the Americans down.

The Syrians hated the Iraqi Baathists, but they now had two interests in common: First, a guerrilla war in Iraq would help to protect Syria as well as the Baathists' interests; and second, the Iraqis were paying cash for Syrian support -- and the Syrians like cash. They had been selling services to the Iraqis during the run-up to the war, and once the war was over, they continued to do so. The strategy proved rational: Syrian support for the Sunni guerrillas and jihadists was important in bogging the Americans down.

The Iranians liked it too. The more bogged down the Americans were in the Sunni region, the more dependent they were on the Shia. At the very least, they urgently needed Iraq's Shia not to rise up. At most, they wanted the Shia to form the core of a new government. From the Iranian point of view, the Sunni guerrillas were despicable as the enemies of Shiite Iran and yet were the perfect tool to increase their control over the Americans.

Thus, as before, Syria and Iran were engaged in parallel play. They shared a natural interest in a weak Iraq. If the United States was the dominant power in Iraq, then they wanted the United States to be the weak power. For a very long time, the United States was unable to get out of the way of the complexities it had created. It used the Iranian Shia and then, when trying to pull away from them, would stumble and return to dependence. And while Iraqi and Iranian Shia are not the same by any means, in this particular case, both had the same interest: increased leverage over the Americans.

The United States had two possible strategies. The key to controlling Iraq lay in ending the guerrilla war. One part of the guerrilla war -- not all -- was in Syria. The United States could invade Syria -- not a good idea, given available forces. It could ask Israel to do it -- which would be a bad move politically, nor was it clear that Israel wanted to do this. Or, it could use a strategy of indirection.

The Situation at Hand

The thing that Syria wants more than anything is Lebanon. The United States has set in motion policies designed to force Syria out of Lebanon. It is not that the United States really cares who dominates Lebanon -- in fact, its Israeli allies rather like the control that Syria has introduced there. Nevertheless, by threatening its core interests, the United States could, leaders thought, begin to leverage Syria.

The Syrians were obviously not going to go quietly into that good night -- not with billions at stake. The assassination of Rafik al-Hariri was the answer. Even when Syria drew its overt military forces out of Lebanon, covert force remained there perpetually. The result of the assassination, however, was overwhelming pressure on Syria -- coupled with a not-too-convincing threat of the use of force by the United States.

For Iran, the fate of Syria is not a major national interest. The future of Iraq is. Iran's view of events in Iraq is divided into three parts: First, a belief that Syria is an important but not decisive source of support for the Sunni guerillas; second, the view that the United States has already maneuvered itself into a de facto alliance with a faction of Iraq's Sunnis; and finally, the belief that Iran's interests in Iraq were not endangered by evolving politics in Lebanon.

The most important feature of the landscape at this moment is the decision by Iran that it is time to move toward direct discussions with the United States. To be sure, the United States and Iran have been talking informally for years about a variety of things, including Iraq. But this week, the Iranian foreign minister did two things. First, he stated that the time was not yet right for talks with the United States -- while acknowledging that talks through intermediaries had taken place. And second, he described the conditions under which discussions might occur. In short, he set the stage for talks between Washington and Tehran to move into the public eye.

It appears at this point that Iran has taken note of the U.S. pressure against Syria and is adjusting for it. However, what is holding up progress on public talks between the United States and Iran are not the reasons stated by the foreign minister -- doubts about Washington's integrity and unclarity about its goals -- but rather, the status of the presidency in Washington. Support for President George W. Bush is running at 39 percent in the polls. He still hasn't bounced upward, and he still hasn't collapsed. He is balanced on the thin edge of the knife. Indictments in the Plame investigation might come this week, which would be pivotal. If Bush collapses, there is no point in talks for Tehran.

Thus, the Iranians are waiting to see two things: Does the United States really have the weight to back the Syrians into a corner? And can Bush survive the greatest crisis of his presidency?

The Middle East is not a simple place, but it is a predictable one. Power talks, and you-know-what walks.
30254  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3 on: October 24, 2005, 12:49:46 AM
Kissinger:

At some point in Washington the most important decision will have
to be taken. The question is who will get the upper hand: those who believe in regime change or those who favor negotiations? But let me make one important point: I was involved in decision-making processes when there were two superpowers. At that time one could be pretty sure that both sides would exert the same amount of restraint before starting an atomic war. And on top of that just imagine what complicated thought processes both went through trying to work out the opponent's possible behavior. The whole system of international relations is going to have to change. We have to bear this in mind when looking at Iran. The democratic countries have to keep an eye on the consequences of the spread of nuclear weapons and ask themselves what they would have done if the Madrid bombs had been nuclear. Or if the attackers in New York had used nuclear weapons, or if 50,000 people had died in New Orleans in a nuclear attack. The world would look very different than
it does today. So we have to ask ourselves how much energy we want to put into fighting the problem of further proliferation of nuclear weapons.
30255  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gender issues thread on: October 23, 2005, 10:45:05 PM
Special Forces Commander Transitions from Man to Woman

Retired Officer Now Embroiled in Employment Bias Suit
 
In 25 years of military service, David Schroer reached the rank of colonel and commanded a Special Forces unit in the U.S. Army. (ABC News)


Oct. 21, 2005 ? For more than 25 years, David Schroer was a star in the U.S. Army, rising through the ranks to become a Special Forces Commander while leading a classified anti-terrorism unit involved in covert operations. Fellow soldiers described him as a classic military man.

That all changed two years ago when he abruptly retired from the military and made a shocking announcement that stunned his colleagues and family alike. He would no longer be Col. David Schroer, because he is now Diane Schroer, a transsexual.

In her first television interview, Schroer explains to "20/20" correspondent Deborah Roberts why, after decades of service in one of the most dangerous and macho lines of work, she became a woman.

"Does seem a bit of a disconnect," Schroer acknowledges. But, she says, she has struggled with her gender identity ? privately ? since childhood.

"Something was different since even before I can remember. I was always enthralled with things the girls were doing. ? Whenever my parents were gone, I would experiment with my mother's makeup. And wondered why I enjoyed doing that? Wondered why I couldn't carry a purse," Schroer tells Roberts.

Schroer's family has come to accept her decision, but she is now embroiled in a gender discrimination lawsuit against the Library of Congress, which, she claims, withdrew its offer of employment based on her sex.

A Painful Internal Battle

Her lawsuit may be precedent-setting, but Dr. George Brown, a military psychiatrist, said Schroer's story is not unique. He said he's treated hundreds of soldiers who are transsexuals. Brown described transsexualism as "a sense that there's been a biological mistake ? that the body doesn't match who you are as a person inside."

Schroer says it was apparent to her from the time she was a child, growing up in Oak Lawn, Ill., just outside Chicago. Her brothers Gary and Bill only remember a happy childhood with their little brother, however.

"I think it was probably very much?the typical American family, three boys growing up. We played baseball. We played in the neighborhood. We rode bikes. We pretty much did what other kids did in the 50s," said Bill Schroer.

Schroer's siblings Bill and Gary never knew their little brother was suffering quietly, never daring to mention the anguish inside.


Schroer says growing up as a boy left her feeling uneasy and deeply conflicted about who she really was. "When I hit adolescence, it was at times consuming. ? So I did everything I could to push that out of my mind," she tells Roberts.

When David Schroer entered Northern Illinois University, he was in full denial of his gender crisis. He worked as an auto mechanic, an electrician and joined ROTC. After graduation, he entered Special Forces and somehow thrived in the most dangerous of military careers. He even fell in love with a woman and got married.

"We had a normal sexual relationship," Schroer tells Roberts. "Although I would say that I would often think of myself being on the other side of the relationship."

Ending Years of Denial

Schroer managed to keep up the act, rising through the ranks of the military. By his mid-40s, he was a Special Forces commander leading a classified anti-terrorism unit and managing an $8 billion budget. He even briefed Vice President Cheney on secret missions.

Then, two years ago, he grew tired of denying what he believed was his true sexual identity.

"I think when I learned enough to understand what it was that I was really feeling ? I could either hide that, or I could acknowledge to the world that I was in fact a woman. And receive their acknowledgement back," Schroer says.

Schroer told his wife first, even hoping there might be a possibility they could stay together. But the couple decided to separate.

Schroer's marriage was over, but he was finding fulfillment for the first time. He began openly dressing as a woman and calling himself Diane. Schroer was retired at the time, and didn't have to break the news to Washington's top brass. But Schroer did begin telling his Special Forces buddies, including retired Lt. Colonel Dan Bernard.

"The way she explained it to me was by showing me some photos that had been taken of her as a woman in a business kind of setting, wearing makeup and with a big wig and women's clothes. ?And I didn't get mad and I didn't storm out," Bernard said.

"I explained to him about being transgendered and what that meant, and he sat back for a moment and said, 'You really had me scared. Wow, I thought you were going to tell me something bad.' ? It was a tremendous relief," Schroer recalls.

Now Schroer was confident enough to tell family, nervously breaking the news to brothers Bill and Gary ? still dressed as David.

Even though the news was, and continues to be, difficult to accept, Gary Schroer said there was never a question in his mind about being supportive to his younger brother. "It's still tough. But support and acceptance are two different things," he said.


Schroer then began the long and painful process of becoming a woman, undergoing intense therapy and taking female hormones under medical supervision. He also started wearing makeup, and underwent extensive cosmetic surgery.

In 12 hours of surgery, Schroer said, doctors gave him "a scalp advance, a forehead revision, nose reconstruction, upper lip revision, jaw and chin reshaping, and a tracheal shave." In a tracheal shave, the surgeon reduces the cartilage in the throat to get rid of a masculine-looking Adam's apple.

The genital reassignment surgery would come later. But in the meantime Schroer was already looking more feminine and beginning to envision a new relationship.

But Schroer wasn't envisioning a sexual relationship with any men. Schroer is interested in dating women. "I would say I am in fact a lesbian," she said.

Schroer's desire to be with women is not uncommon for transsexuals. Dr. Brown says gender identity and sexual preference are two entirely different things.

"If sex and gender were the same, then that would make no sense at all. Sexuality is who you're attracted to. Gender is who you are as a person, male or female. So, the surgery and the transition is all about matching the mind with the body. It has nothing to do with sexuality," Brown said.

While Schroer is grateful to have the acceptance of her family, she has encountered challenges in her public life. While still transitioning to become female, Schroer applied for, and was offered, a job as a terrorism analyst at the Library of Congress late last year.

Because she was still legally David Schroer, she did not reveal her plans to her prospective employer during the interview.

She decided to tell the woman who hired her that she would begin work as a woman, not a man. Schroer said it seemed as though the woman took the information in stride and that the hiring was going forward as planned.

But the following day, Schroer said she was told that she was no longer "a good fit" for the position. Schroer and her brothers were furious.

With her brothers' encouragement, she filed what many say will become a landmark law suit against the Library of Congress, charging gender discrimination.

She says she's protected under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. "She is the same exact person that the Library of Congress knew that they wanted when they first encountered the application. And so there's nothing about that that's changed, except her physical appearance," said American Civil Liberties Union attorney Sharon McGowan, who is representing Schroer.

The Library of Congress first agreed to an interview with "20/20," but then declined, citing Diane's lawsuit. In an e-mail, they wrote that they "acted appropriately and complied with the law" and that "claims such as those raised by Ms. Schroer ? are not covered under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act" or the U.S. Constitution.

While waiting for her day in court and looking for a full time job, Schroer's deepest fears concerned her family who had yet to see her as a woman. In July, Schroer allowed "20/20" cameras to film her first visit as a sister with her family in suburban Chicago.

The family was understandably surprised by the dramatic change in her appearance, but before long the brothers were reminiscing about their childhood. For Gary and Bill Schroer, the memories are bittersweet as they feel in a sense they've lost a brother while gaining a new sister.

For Schroer, the childhood memories have a far different meaning. She's always known that inside that little boy lived a little girl who longed to grow up and become a woman. "What's great about my life now is that it's unified, it's focused and this huge distraction that was in my life is now gone."
30256  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Libertarian themes on: October 23, 2005, 10:20:45 PM
EDITORIAL

SELECTIVE ENFORCEMENT OF OVERBROAD FORFEITURE LAWS:
A Weapon Prone To Abuse

--Brenda Grantland, Esq., F.E.A.R. Chronicles, Vol. 1 No. 2,
(June, 1992)

For years the Justice Department has been lobbying Congress
for expansion of its forfeiture powers, for broader definitions of
property subject to forfeiture, and for procedures which give the
government greater and greater advantages over claimants. Their
lobbying has produced the current statutes, which put the burden of
proof on the claimant, make claimants pay in advance the
government's costs of forfeiture proceedings, and in all other
ways imaginable put a heavy thumb on the scales of justice in favor
of the government and to the detriment of the claimant.

The feds have used their powers to the fullest, declaring
"ZERO TOLERANCE" to be their policy. Zero Tolerance means no
sympathy for innocent owners of ships -- such as the Monkey
Business (of Gary Hart fame) or Woods Hole Oceanographic
Institute's floating lab that surveyed the ruins of the Titanic --
when a crew member is found by raiding customs agents to be in
possession of personal use quantities of drugs.

Zero tolerance also means parents, grandparents, spouses,
friends, business partners, finance companies, landlords and all
manner of unsuspecting people get caught up in forfeiture
proceedings because of something someone else did which is beyond
their control.

Although the statutes are supposed to protect innocent third
parties -- according to the hype the Justice department is feeding
us -- in reality innocent people are losing property as often as
criminals.

These overbroad powers give law enforcement the unlimited
discretion to destroy the financial lives of innocent citizens, to
take away from them their status achieved over a lifetime of hard
work and "upward mobility."

These overbroad powers are often used to discriminate between
the powerful and the powerless. As a prime example of this,
consider the case of Assistant U.S. Attorney Leslie Ohta of
Hartford, Connecticut -- the Iron Matron of forfeiture. As head of
her office's asset forfeiture unit she was ruthless and extremely
successful, with her unit netting more than $26 million since 1986.
According to the Hartford Courant, "Ohta's aggressive pursuit of
these asset forfeiture cases has won her national recognition in
the ranks of federal prosecutors, and she frequently lectures them
on how to apply the law." (3-22-92).

As head of her unit, Ohta mercilessly pursued Zero Tolerance,
making innocent parents and grandparents pay for the wrongdoings of
their offspring. The Hartford Courant reported that on several
occasions Ms. Ohta argued that "people should know what goes on in
their own homes." (3-22-92).

Presumably Ohta knew what was going on in her own home when
her son Miki began using and selling drugs.

The Hartford Courant reported that the first incident happened
in 1989 when Miki allegedly sold marijuana to an undercover
informant from his parents' home. Miki had another scrape with the
law in December 1991, when he was arrested for allegedly selling 50
"hits" of LSD from his parents' car on September 3, 1991, and for
possession of marijuana when stopped by police, again in his
parents' car, on September 29, 1991. In the September 29 incident,
his companion was allegedly in possession of two "hits" of LSD.

Was Mrs. Ohta's property forfeited? No.

As a result of relentless pursuit of this issue by the
Hartford Courant, and an article by the Connecticut Law Tribune,
the ironies of this situation did not escape public notice. The
U.S. Attorney's Office transferred Leslie Ohta to another unit, at
least temporarily.

In the end, however, the U.S. Attorney's Office decided that
forfeiture of Ohta's property would be "inappropriate".

Most of the forfeiture defense attorneys interviewed by the
Hartford Courant agreed that Ohta's assets should not be forfeited
-- not because she was a well-connected flag-waving forfeiture-
winning Assistant U.S. Attorney, but because, in principle, neither
she nor any of the innocent people she so hypocritically forfeited
property from should be punished for the actions of their children,
grandchildren or acquaintances.

I agree except for the double standard. If the people
prosecuting these forfeiture laws are held to the same standard as
the people they have prosecuted, either Leslie Ohta's house and car
should be forfeited or the government should be forced to give back
the property it took from other innocent parents, grandparents and
third parties. This should include all the innocent victims in the
country since the main Justice Department gave the blessing to
excuse Ohta for her son's crimes.

We want to follow up on this and make sure justice is done.
Please write us if you have any information about Ohta cases or
other Zero Tolerance victims. Send us your opinion (or share it
through the computer bulletin board) on whether Mrs. Ohta's
treatment should also be the standard for forfeiture victims not
employed by the Justice Department. If you want to share your
thoughts with the Connecticut U.S. Attorney's Office, write U.S.
Attorney Albert Dabrowski, Esq., 450 Main Street, Room 328,
Hartford, CT 06103, or you can write Leslie Ohta herself at 2273
Hebron Ave., Glastonbury, CT.

--------------------------

Source articles:

The Hartford Courant and Connecticut Law Tribune news
clippings relied upon for this editorial are available for computer
download through ICSBBS under the filename OHTAW.ZIP OR OHTAA.ZIP.
They are: Rule Lawyer Upholds Might Focus On Her, Lynne Tuohy,
Hartford Courant staff writer, 3-22-92; Feds Reorder House As
Forfeitures Hit Home, Andrew Houlding, Connecticut Law Tribune, 3-
23-92; Let Innocent People Keep Assets; Toss Out Unjust Rules,
Denis Horgan, Hartford Courant Columnist, 3-25-92; Haunted By the
Law She Enforced, editorial Hartford Courant, 4-29-92; Prosecutor
Won't Lose Property in Son's Drug Arrest, Lynne Tuohy, Hartford
Courant staff writer, 4-23-92.
30257  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Transcription help please on: October 21, 2005, 01:26:48 PM
Woof All:

We have been told that the best way for us to make our DVDs/videos availabe in other languages is to have subtitles.  Thus we are in need of transcribing our videos/DVDs i.e. converting the spoken words to writing so that our translators can begin their work.

Can anyone help or direct us to someone who can?

Please answer here or at Craftydog@dogbrothers.com or 310-540-7521.

Thank you,
Crafty Dog
30258  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Palo Canario on: October 21, 2005, 12:14:16 PM
Para los de Uds quienes leen ingles, lo siguiente puede ser de interes:

http://www.dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=328
30259  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3 on: October 20, 2005, 05:00:29 PM
The Al-Zawahiri Letter and the Coming Jihadist Fracture
Editor's Note: This is the final report in a three-part analysis of the controversial Ayman al-Zawahiri letter.

The controversial letter from Ayman al-Zawahiri to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi -- which we believe is authentic despite certain apparent discrepancies -- not only provides insights into the inner workings of the global jihadist movement, but also suggests that it is fast reaching an impasse. As a result, the bulk of the movement will either continue to seek guidance and leadership from Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri or it will attempt to assume a more political face. Should politics prevail, al-Zarqawi's proven ability to lead successful attacks will catapult him into a leadership role -- and make him a rival to his current brothers-in-arms. It is too early to say which way the pendulum will swing, but one is thing is certain: The jihadist ranks have begun to fracture.

The U.S. war against jihadism, both its military and political components, is responsible for the jihadists' current situation -- they realize that they cannot continue much longer on the path they have taken since before Sept. 11, 2001. Until the attacks, Western governments, especially the United States, viewed the jihadists as a low-intensity regional terrorist phenomenon that could be handled by law enforcement. Meanwhile, even as some governments in the Muslim world were colluding with jihadists because of their own foreign and domestic policy needs, the Muslim masses were ignoring them or, in some cases, flirting with them -- not realizing that these transnational Islamist militants posed a security threat for Muslims as well.

All of this allowed al Qaeda and its jihadist allies to flourish, while no outside factor required them to re-evaluate their course of action. Furthermore, their clear objectives and ability to move ahead with their plans created a general harmony within the ranks as regards their ideology, objectives and policies.

That situation no longer exists. Not only have the jihadists suffered physical losses in terms of men, money and infrastructure, but they also have been challenged at the intellectual and ideological level -- even from within. Like any political actor faced with both external and internal threats, they are being forced to deal with issues of credibility, relevance and the survivability of their organization and its cause.

Subjected to a rude awakening, the Muslim world also is taking stock -- albeit gradually -- of the problems the jihadists have created. The Muslim masses, which never supported the jihadists even before Sept. 11, are now less and less willing to ignore them or try to use them to their advantage. Meanwhile, moderate Muslims have started coming to the fore, shrinking the jihadists' potential pool of support. This has caused al Qaeda to take a hard look at its ideology as well as its methods -- and to realize that it is way behind the curve when it comes to politics.

In other words, the leadership understands that the network's military accomplishments have not translated into political support from the masses -- even though they are desperately trying to pull Muslim public opinion toward their cause. The mainstream Muslim world, however, has become far too nuanced to accept their manifesto.

This is why we see al-Zawahiri, in his letter, trying to convince al-Zarqawi of the need for a more savvy political approach rather than the sole reliance on attacks. He is saying that, if al Qaeda is to become a competitive player, it needs to gain popular support, tolerate the Shia, use the ideology card judiciously and understand that the bulk of Muslims (especially the ulema) do not share the Wahhabi ideology.

Al-Zawahiri also urges al-Zarqawi to moderate his Wahhabi views in order to placate the non-Wahhabi Sunni majority in Iraq and the larger Muslim world. In this regard, he urges al-Zarqawi against alienating the religious scholars who may not share al Qaeda's doctrinal and juristic positions.

Al-Zawahiri points to the example of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, saying that he has been a steadfast supporter of the cause despite his "Hanafi adherence, Matridi doctrine." He also reminds al-Zarqawi of the fate of the lone Wahhabi/Salafi Afghan group that fought the Soviets in the late 1980s, and its leader, Jamil-ur-Rehman, who sought to establish his emirate based on strict Wahhabi ideas in Afghanistan's Kunar province. In the end, stronger non-Wahhabi Afghan Islamist forces killed Jamil-ur-Rehman -- and his organization crumbled.

He also urges al-Zarqawi against appearing the cruel terrorist by carrying out and broadcasting hostage executions. "Among the things which the feelings of the Muslim populace who love and support you will never find palatable . . . are the scenes of slaughtering the hostages," he writes. "You shouldn't be deceived by the praise of some of the zealous young men and their description of you as the sheikh of the slaughterers, etc. They do not express the general view of the admirer and the supporter of the resistance in Iraq, and of you in particular."

Al-Zawahiri also tries to dissuade al-Zarqawi from interpreting too literally the Koran verses that ask Muslims to strike terror in the hearts of non-Muslims. He then refers to the death of his wife and daughter in the battle of Tora Bora as "American brutality." This is an attempt to pre-empt any misconception on al-Zarqawi's part that the jihadist leadership has gone soft, and also to point out that he has suffered personally.

Quickly he turns to a discussion of the importance of good public relations, reminding al-Zarqawi that "more than half of this battle is taking place in the battlefield of the media . . . we are in a media battle in a race for the hearts and minds of our ummah" (global Muslim nation). He also acknowledges the asymmetry in public relations capabilities between the jihadists and those they battle. Al-Zawahiri says, ". . . however far our capabilities reach, they will never be equal to one-thousandth of the capabilities of the kingdom of Satan that is waging war on us."

And realizing that Muslims primarily identify with a nation-state -- as opposed to the notion of an Islamic ummah -- al-Zawahiri carefully tries to get the Jordanian-born al-Zarqawi to accept that it would be better for an Iraqi to serve as a figurehead and for al-Zarqawi to control his movement from behind the scenes. He warns that "the assumption of leadership for the mujahideen ? by non-Iraqis" could "stir up sensitivity for some people," and he asks al-Zarqawi to consider how that sensitivity might be overcome "while preserving the commitment of the jihadist work and without exposing it to any shocks."

The letter suggests that al-Zawahiri wishes for continued U.S. actions against Muslims -- which would sustain the anti-American sentiment within the Muslim world and thus allow the jihadists to be seen as the only force "defending" the Muslims. In this way, he believes, the jihadists can try to regain lost ground. He also expresses surprise that secular nationalist forces have begun to view the occupation of Iraq as troublesome and are beginning to feel the need for action against the U.S. military.

Above all, the al-Zawahiri letter is an acknowledgement of significant internal stress within the jihadist movement and the need to re-evaluate the gravity of the situation with an eye toward taking a more rational approach to ideology, objectives and policies. The movement, then, is set to splinter -- and some within it could even take more moderate stances (as many of the Gamaa al-Islamiyah jihadists of Egypt did in the late 1990s and early 2000s). Depending on how the United States executes its war on terrorism, the changes to come eventually could take the sting out of the jihadist threat.
30260  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Amateur MMA at R1 (formerly RAW) 10/23 on: October 20, 2005, 04:53:03 PM
Sunday October 23, starting promptly at noon

Fighters wanted, contact r1gundo@yahoo.com or 310-322-5552
Provide following info: Age, weight, school, Instructor, time training

Limited seating, door charge.

By the way, there is a rumor that Chris Gizzi may be fighting!!!
30261  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3 on: October 19, 2005, 08:02:38 PM
Nalchik: The 9/11 That Wasn't
October 19, 2005 22 59  GMT



By Fred Burton

Russian military forces are continuing mop-up operations in Nalchik, a city in the Caucasus region where Islamist militants last week staged a series of coordinated attacks -- signaling attempts to widen the Chechen conflict to other parts of Russia. The incident, which burst into the international news Oct. 13, is significant on several levels -- not least of which was the much-improved counterterrorism response by Russian forces, without which the raids conceivably might have expanded into something approaching the Sept. 11 attacks in terms of geopolitical impact.

As it happens, the events that took place involved some 100 to 150 armed militants, who attempted to seize control of the airport at Nalchik while also assaulting police stations, government offices and the regional headquarters of the Russian prison system, among other targets. All told, about 100 people were killed -- more than 60 of them militants, and roughly equal numbers of security forces and civilians. That's hardly what anyone would term a "minor incident," but compared to other attacks by Chechen militants -- such as the school hostage crisis in Beslan in 2004 or a similar event at a Moscow theater in 2002 -- the Russian response was swifter and the outcome much better.

This is not due to dumb luck: The response logically stems from drastically improved intelligence-gathering and targeting priorities in Russian counterterrorism strategies, which underwent a sea change following the Beslan incident. In fact, there is reason to believe that the militants who planned the attacks in Nalchik (an operation that has been claimed by Moscow's arch-enemy, Shamil Basayev) actually were forced into carrying out their operation prematurely, after Russian intelligence got wind of a much larger and more chilling plot -- one combining all the most deadly tactics of both Sept. 11 and Beslan.

Russian military contacts and other sources have told us that the events in Nalchik apparently were supposed to be only the first phase of a plan that ultimately was to include flying explosives-laden aircraft into high-profile targets elsewhere in Russia. Though the exact targets have not been confirmed, sources say possible targets included the Kremlin, a military district headquarters and railway hub in Rostov-on-Don, a nuclear plant in the vicinity of Saratov, and a hydroelectric plant or dam on the Volga. Sources also say the militants had a back-up plan that would have involved mining important government buildings and taking hostages -- tactics the Chechens have used in other headline-grabbing attacks.






Intelligence from human sources is rarely golden: Analysts always must play the skeptic and filter out the sources' own motives for providing the information -- and in this case, the Russian military certainly has reason to want to appear to have pre-empted a catastrophe. In this case, the list of possible targets reads like a laundry list of nightmare scenarios that have been widely discussed, in the U.S. context, since Sept. 11 -- so, admittedly, it is not much of a stretch to assume such assets also could be targeted in Russia. That said, the Nalchik incident fits into wider trend that we have been following in the Chechen/Islamist insurgency for more than a year, and the target sets make sense for what is becoming an increasingly Wahhabist-dominated campaign in Russian territory.

The events on the ground also seem to bear out the sourced intelligence: The militants opened their attack with attempts to seize the airport in Nalchik, where -- had they not been beaten back by Russian forces already guarding the target -- they would have been able to commandeer the aircraft needed for follow-on operations. The incidents in other parts of the city, which were closely time-coordinated but appear to have involved poorly trained recruits, are believed to have been intended as distractions -- drawing attention and Russian security forces away from the strategically crucial airport.

The fact that the follow-on attacks were more or less quickly put down, with (relatively) small loss of life, also fits the notion of a busted operation. Reportedly, the grand plot was to have been carried out on Oct. 17, with a force of about 700 militants -- most of whom had not yet moved into Nalchik when the Russians began taking action. The entire plan apparently started to unravel nearly 10 days in advance: Acting on tips from local residents, Russian forces arrested two suspected militants -- who reportedly confessed to planning attacks -- as early as Oct. 8.

Accepting, then, that the intelligence concerning the shape of the plot is credible, we have an operation that, if carried to fruition, would have mirrored Sept. 11 in many respects -- opening up a new front in the global jihadist war and, conceivably, could have reinvigorated the organized Islamist militancy in other parts of the world.

Considering Basayev's claims of responsibility for the Nalchik plot, that clearly seems to have been the intent. Basayev, it must be remembered, is the Chechen commander who has authored many of the most horrific terrorist incidents in Russia. Attacks like those at Beslan and the Moscow theater, and hostage-takings at hospitals and other soft targets typically have resulted in hundreds of deaths at a time -- both before and during the bloody responses by Russian security forces. To say that Basayev has a penchant for grand, showy schemes would be something of an understatement.

Operationally speaking, that trait seems to undermine his effectiveness as a militant leader -- and, in fact, eventually could be his undoing. The fact that that has not yet happened points more toward particular aspects of the political conflict between the Chechen/Islamist insurgents and Moscow than to best practices taught in Terrorism 101.

Under those principles, the most effective forms of attack are those that are simple yet ruthless: They require few resources, and operatives practice airtight "need-to-know" communications. The fewer people who know about a plan -- or have access to more details than they need in order to carry out their own part -- the less likely the plan is to leak out and be pre-empted. Except for the fact that Basayev has, for the most part, operated in territory where locals have supported at least some aspects of the militant campaign against Russian rule, it is nothing short of amazing that he and his cast of thousands have succeeded to the degree that they have.

But the amount of local support Basayev still is able to command has become something of a question mark, as Chechens themselves have grown weary of the death and destruction in their war. It is said that, partly because of this, Basayev increasingly has surrounded himself with Wahhabi militants -- including some Saudi commanders -- and is seeking ways to export the campaign from the Muslim-dominated Caucasus republics into Russia proper.

All of this seems logical: Judging from details of the Nalchik plot and others within the past year, Basayev appears intent on mimicking elements of the Sept. 11 attacks -- indicating that he at least is studying and learning from al Qaeda, even if he is not intimately linked to it. At the very least, his emerging fixation with air assets is reminiscent of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed -- another tactical genius with a penchant for spectacular strikes.

Both the Nalchik operation and the wider plot, had it been carried out, would have mirrored Sept. 11 in other ways as well: Multiple targets, representing a mix of both hard (government installations) and soft (civilian infrastructure) nodes, might have been struck -- maximizing the political, economic and sheer terror value of the strikes. The plot shows high degrees of strategic planning and, as a result, could have been designed to inspire audiences in the Muslim world -- whether that world is defined to include Russia's Muslim-majority provinces or other regions.

It is important to note here that, though Sept. 11 has become the gold standard for "effective" terrorist attacks, we and others believe that even al Qaeda likely was stunned by its success. The plot was redundant in most aspects: two economic facilities (the World Trade Center towers) and two government facilities (the Pentagon and, it is believed, the Capitol) were targeted, building in a margin of error for planners who likely never expected three of the four aircraft to strike their targets. Similarly, Basayev appears to be hatching redundant plots, so that operations can still be politically and economically effective even if some aspects of the mission fail.

But at Nalchik, almost the entire operation failed before it could get off the ground. The points of failure appear to rest in two areas.

First, there is evidence that Basayev used some and ill-prepared operatives in Nalchik -- rather than highly trained and ruthlessly efficient cells, like those that carried out the 9/11 attacks. The assailants acted in groups of five men. Typical al Qaeda operations use four-man cells, in which each member plays a specific and crucial role. Larger cells appear to be the norm in Chechen operations -- partly because this allows commanders to play a greater role on the ground, but also perhaps because strikes often include local militants who have been poorly trained. This can be a mixed blessing. For instance, we saw in Beslan would-be suicide bombers who ran away; in Nalchik, some of the fighters -- many of whom were well-equipped -- fired their weapons while running toward their targets (a tactic very likely to draw return fire and get them killed). The use of larger cells allows for this kind of attrition without endangering the mission, but it also brings into the mix local operatives who have supreme area knowledge -- and thus are able to identify launching points and escape routes with lower operational overhead.

Second, and crucially, there was poor operational security in Nalchik. In short, someone snitched, and the op was blown. The snitch could have been someone motivated by the bounties Moscow now is offering for intelligence targeting Chechen commanders, or a mole who has infiltrated the militants' ranks, or perhaps a local parent who overhead a conversation between teenagers -- or all of the above. Given the hundreds of people who, according to sources, ultimately would have taken part in the plot, anything is possible. The point is, a lot of people were in the know, and COMSEC -- communications security -- was next to impossible.

At this point, the Russians have to be feeling both relieved and shaken, asking the inevitable "What if?" Basayev certainly has the means and ability to hatch grandiose plots that, if effectively executed, would have serious geopolitical implications -- and, of course, he is alive and free to fight another day. On the other hand, his soaring ambition -- combined with the obviously improved intelligence capabilities and response strategies of the Russian forces -- could be his undoing.
30262  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / New on DVD! on: October 17, 2005, 08:33:20 PM
The DVD "Cycle Drills" featuring Guro Benjamin "Lonely Dog" Rittiner is over 90% done.
30263  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / KALI TUDO (tm) Article on: October 17, 2005, 07:17:59 PM
Woof All:

Jeff "the Angry Dwarf" Brown, who was prominently featured in KT was in town this week for Guro Inosanto's Instructor camp and we paired up for the training.  As always an awe inspiring experience with Guro I.

Jeff told me he was ready to fight in King of the Cage and we knew that the next one is sometime in December.  So we called Surf Dog who is a regular judge there as well as a teacher/trainer of fighters there -- of course he doesn't judge his own students though!  Anyway, SD said that the date is Friday December 2-- which is the weekend that Jeff is hosting Guro Inosanto at his school in Dayton OH so Jeff's appearance in KOTC will have to wait until the March show.

The Adventure continues,
Guro Crafty
30264  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3 on: October 13, 2005, 10:56:54 PM
www.stratfor.com

Iraq, the Constitution and the Fate of a President
By George Friedman

The elections scheduled in Iraq for Dec. 15 have generated what is becoming a permanent feature of Iraqi politics. The process of establishing a constitution has become the battleground among the three major ethnic factions over the nature of political arrangements in Iraq, the distribution of power, the character of the regime and, of course, how oil revenues will be shared. Each milestone on the road to a constitution has become an occasion for intensifying both the negotiating and military process, with no milestone becoming definitive. Thus, the Oct. 15 referendum will give way to December's general elections, and today's negotiations set the stage for the next round of negotiations.

All of this can be taken two ways. One way to view it is that the Iraqi situation is fundamentally insoluble, that the various parties cannot achieve a permanent resolution to the problem. Another way of looking at it is that this process is the permanent solution: Iraq will be an endless reshuffling of a finite political deck, with no end in sight. There are other countries that live this way, and the solution is that they muddle through: politics and the state are devalued, while the rest of society -- clans, families, corporations, organized crime -- are emphasized. An Iraq with eternally shifting politics is not incompatible with the notion of a functioning society.

This assessment, of course, ignores a number of things. First, Iraq is occupied by U.S. troops. Second, there is a war going on in which the Sunnis are fighting the occupation. The Iranians are in the wings -- actually, on the stage -- trying to dominate Iraq as much as possible. A border war is raging along the Syrian frontier. A broader war involving the United States and jihadists is still sputtering along. Therefore, any hope has to be viewed through the prism of this violence, and the question is simple: can the emerging political process ultimately reduce -- "eliminate" is too much to ask -- the level of violence? Put another way, from the U.S. side, can the present political process solve the problems of occupation while yielding the political goals Washington wanted? From the jihadist side, can the uncertainty of the political process be exploited to create the conditions for what Ayman al-Zawahiri described in a recent letter: the jihadist domination of Iraq? Or, will the conflict between political goals undermine the process and create permanent war instead of permanent instability?

The core difference between this milestone and the last -- the generation of a proposed constitution for consideration by the legislature and, through this referendum, the public -- is that, whereas the last round of negotiations ended in an inability of the Shia and Kurds to reach an agreement with the Sunnis, this one has ended in an agreement of sorts. That agreement frames the situation, inasmuch as it is less an agreement than a framework for ongoing negotiations.

Some Sunni leaders have opposed any agreement or participation in the constitutional referendum; others have supported participation with a "no" vote. What appears to have been crafted between the Shia and negotiating Sunni groups is this:


If the constitution is approved, it will be a temporary, not permanent, constitution.

After a general election on Dec. 15 that would be based on this constitution, a committee of the National Assembly would review the document once again.

The new parliament would have four months to complete changes to the document.

A new vote would be held to ratify that final constitution.


In other words, the agreement that has been reached here between the Sunnis, Shia and Kurds is simply that all sides will focus on the constitutional negotiations.

That's not a bad deal, if the negotiations can encompass a large enough spectrum of each group's leadership and if everyone agrees to put other issues on hold. You can spend a lot of time debating the rules under which you will debate the issues, and you can defuse other issues if that is what everyone wants to do. The problem here is that it is not clear that this is what everyone wants.

A major Sunni organization -- the Iraqi Islamic Party -- has agreed to these rules. Other groups, at least as or more important than the Iraqi Islamic Party, have not. Neither the Association of Muslim Scholars nor the Iraqi General Conference appear at this moment to have changed their position, which is that Sunni voters should reject the new constitution. That in itself is not as alarming as it appears. The Sunnis, and other factions, are represented by several groups, and these groups sometimes play "good cop, bad cop" very effectively. The signal the Sunnis are giving is that they are not rejecting the constitutional process out of hand, but that they will need serious coaxing before the vote comes about. They are taking it down to the wire, which is the rational thing to do under the circumstances.

Three serious pressures are converging on the Sunnis. First, simply refraining from participating in the Oct. 15 referendum could free the Shia and Kurds to set up a regional federal system that would leave the Sunnis as the weakest player -- and the one with least access to future oil revenues. At the same time, the traditional Sunni leadership, deeply complicit in the Baath dictatorship, has substantial reason to fear the jihadists. The jihadists are not part of the traditional leadership and are, in fact, ideological enemies of Baathism. If the jihadists grow in strength, the traditional leadership might find itself displaced by them over time. On the other hand, agreeing to participate in the country's political process would open the Sunni leadership up to charges of being, not only lackeys of the United States, but also stooges to the hated Shia. More than any other group in Iraq, the Sunnis need for the jihadists to be defeated. On the other hand, they know they can't count on the Americans to deliver this defeat. They are under pressure to find a political solution, but also under powerful pressure not to find one. So, they churn around, generally heading toward a solution but never quite getting there.

The position of the Shia is simpler, and they have more ways of winning. If the constitution leads to a simple federalist government, the Shia will dominate southern Iraq and can deal with the Sunnis at their leisure. If a centralized government is created, the Shia will be -- with the Kurds -- the majority. The only thing the Shia can't live with is the one thing the Sunnis want: a constitution so contrived that the Sunnis can block major initiatives by the Shia.

The Kurds can live with a lot of solutions and can create informal realities based on geography and their own military strength and American backing. Their interest is less institutional than geopolitical -- they want Mosul and Kirkuk. More precisely, they want to dominate the northern oil fields and trade, and to exclude the Sunnis as far as possible from these interests. Whether that is accomplished through constitutional or business means is of less interest to them than that it be done.

The form of the constitution, therefore, matters most to the Sunnis. They need it to be written a certain way, and then to have guarantees that its provisions will be respected. At the moment, this coincides with the American interest. A radical federalism that creates a de facto Shiite state in the south is not at all in the American interest: It would have the potential to expand Iranian power in ways far more significant that a nuclear weapons program, by bringing a Shiite force -- perhaps Iraqi, or perhaps Iraqi and Iranian -- to the borders of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. The specter of a Shiite force inciting Shiite populations in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia has always been a fear, but the possibility of the Iranian army taking up positions on the frontier would change the balance of power in the region decisively.

The countries in the Saudi peninsula are no match for the Iranians. Add in the Syrians, who long have been allies of sorts to Iran, and you get a situation in which the United States would have to retain a presence in order to protect the regional balance of power. The Saudis do not want U.S. forces in the kingdom, to say the least, and the United States does not want to be there -- it would generate even more jihadist threats. Therefore, Washington does not want to see the federal solutions favoring the Shia come into being, nor does it want to see a centralized government dominated by the Shia. Having used the Shia to contain the insurrection in the Sunni regions, the United States now finds itself aligned with the Sunnis and with the former Baath Party.

These things happen in war and geopolitics. But there are two problems here. First, the United States has made it very clear that it will be withdrawing its forces -- at least some of them -- from Iraq in 2006. Second, everyone reads U.S. polls. President George W. Bush is in political trouble in the United States and, now, within the Republican Party itself. As with Nixon and Ford found in Vietnam, following Watergate, the threat posed by the United States declines as the president's political weakness grows. And with the decline of the U.S. military threat, there is a decline of U.S. influence. Last week's discussion of air strikes inside Syria -- and the leak that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice opposed such strikes -- is an example of the problem. Where the administration had had credibility for action before, that credibility has now decreased.

The administration's political weakness does not seem to be reversing. Should Karl Rove be indicted in the Valerie Plame affair -- and at the moment, the rumors in Washington say that he will be -- the president will have lost his chief aide, and the administration will have been struck another blow.

At this moment, it is possible to make the constitutional process into a container for diverse Iraqi interests. It is also possible to see a point where the Sunni Baathists would turn on the jihadists in order to protect their political position. But all of this hinges on the guarantees that are provided by each side, and the ability and willingness of the United States to compel compliance with those guarantees. The paradox is that the most likely path to a successful withdrawal from Iraq is the perception that the United States is going to stay there forever -- and can do it. But as Bush weakens in Washington, the ability of various Iraqi factions to rely on U.S. guarantees declines.

Geopolitics teaches the interconnectedness of events. The current American strategy requires sufficient stability to be generated in Iraq to permit a U.S. military withdrawal. That requires that the United States must be taken seriously as a military force. But the weaker Bush is -- for whatever reason, fair or not -- the less credible becomes his pledge to stay the course. There are few parallels between Iraq and Vietnam save this: the political climate in Washington determines the seriousness with which American power is taken on the battlefield.

It would seem, then, that Bush has two problems. The first is whether he can stabilize and increase his power in the United States. The second is whether he can extract a clear strategy from the complexity of Iraq. The answer to the second question rests in the answer to the first. At the moment, the Iraqi constitutional talks seem to be saying, "Bush is not broken, but we aren't committing to anything until we see the polls in December."
30265  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / DATE CHANGE DBMA seminar in Tulsa OK on: October 11, 2005, 10:31:18 PM
Woof All:

Myke and I have just realized that Guro Inosanto is in town that weekend and so we have rescheduled for February 11-12.

Woof,
Guro Crafty
30266  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3 on: October 11, 2005, 04:06:19 PM
October 17, 2005



Exploit Rifts in The Insurgency
The next two weeks are crucial. Washington and the Iraqi government should put forward a bold program of "national reconciliation"
By Fareed Zakaria

Amid all the problems in Iraq, I see one encouraging sign. Sunnis are organizing to defeat the referendum on Iraq's draft constitution. This is good news because it places the Sunnis in direct opposition to the jihadi insurgents in Iraq. The latter, headed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, have been threatening to kill anyone who votes. The vast majority of Sunni organizations in Iraq?including several insurgent groups-have called on Sunnis to mobilize and vote to defeat the constitution, which they view as anti-Sunni. This is the most important positive development in Iraq?a growing split between the radical jihadists and the other insurgents, who are mostly Baathists. It provides the United States with an opportunity, even at this late date, for some success. Drive this split wider and isolate the jihadis. Or as the British motto goes, divide and conquer.

Rifts are emerging on other issues. Recently Zarqawi urged a "total war" against the Shiites in Iraq. But five Sunni insurgent groups rejected the argument and emphasized that they do not target civilians, whether Sunni or Shia. The Association of Muslim Scholars, a Sunni group that supports the insurgency, issued a more elaborate denunciation. Days later, Zarqawi issued a correction, explaining that "not all Shiites are targets," and exempting those who opposed the occupation, such as the followers of the rebel cleric Muqtada al Sadr. This led Sadr's group to issue a statement rejecting Zarqawi's embrace and making clear that "for our movement Zarqawi is nothing but an enemy and if he falls into the hands of our militia he will be torn apart."

Most recently comes news that Ayman al-Zawahiri sent a letter to Zarqawi telling him his goals and means were causing a loss of support for Al Qaeda. For months now there have been signs that the Baathist insurgency wants to end its uprising. Last week, there was one more such signal. Saleh al Mutlak, a prominent Sunni politician whom many believe has ties to the insurgency, publicly proposed a ceasefire. "The fighting should stop," Mutlak told Reuters. "We have fought for two and a half years and the problem is, it doesn't work."

Within the next week, several Sunni groups will gather to put together a formal set of proposals for the United States to consider. "We must find a political solution," he said. A ceasefire during Ramadan, which began last week, "should be a start for direct negotiations between the two sides."

Until recently, the United States has been opposed to negotiating with the insurgents, but that line is weakening. The new U.S. ambassador in Baghdad, Zalmay Khalilzad, has begun meeting with people who are close to the insurgents. But, according to a senior diplomat who spoke on background so as not to interfere with the negotiations, Khalil-zad has not yet met the people with power, who are actually running the insurgency.

From the start, the United States has misunderstood how to handle Iraq's Sunnis, sending the signal that it viewed them all as Baathists. In fact, Saddam's regime was run by a small group of tribal Sunnis, mostly from Tikrit and adjoining areas. He displaced the secular, urban Sunnis, who were Iraq's traditional elite. Some of the latter were left in government bureaucracies and educational establishments, but with little power. Then came de-Baathification and the disbanding of the Army. All of a sudden, tens of thousands of people, nominally members of the Baath Party, lost jobs as engineers, schoolteachers and officials. The result was chaos and an embittered Sunni population.

For the last year, Washington has been trying to reverse these errors. But the Shiite-dominated government has been unwilling to make many compromises. This is understandable. The Shiites suffered greatly under Saddam and the Baath Party. But that perspective might blind them to what is in Iraq's long-term interest. Only a balance of power between the Shia, the Sunni and the Kurds will keep Iraq stable.

The next two weeks are crucial. In all likelihood, the Sunnis will not be able to defeat the constitution, which means they will be further embittered. Washington and the Iraqi government should then put forward a bold program of "national reconciliation" that includes talks with some of the insurgent groups to draw the Sunnis into the political mainstream. Otherwise the dangers grow for Iraq, and for others as well. Iraq's Interior minister, Bayan Jabr, said last week that while Zarqawi had been weakened in recent months, other smaller jihadi groups were getting stronger. And, he added, they were beginning to move men and arms outside of Iraq. "You will see insurgencies in other countries," he warned. There's a dark cloud forming in the Middle East, and it may burst if we don't act soon.
30267  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We the Unorganized Militia on: October 11, 2005, 03:42:05 PM
No charges in death of intruder

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No charges in death of intruder

A Boulder County couple used a bat and a masked assailant's own knife to kill him when he broke into their home. The DA's office says the pair acted in self-defense.

By George Merritt and Felisa Cardona
Denver Post Staff Writers

As a masked intruder lay bleeding in front of her house, Becci Starr called 911 and described a violent and emotional struggle to protect her home at the expense of a man's life.

"I have never felt so violated," she told an operator. "I was hitting him over the head. Like, I must have hit him 20 times. I have a baseball bat at my front door, and the guy kept coming at me. And then my husband came, and he tried to cut him up."

Authorities released recordings of the 911 call Monday, the same day the district attorney's office announced the couple will not face criminal charges. The intruder was carrying a plastic water gun, a hunting knife, pepper spray and a flashlight when he broke into the home in the 100 block of Poorman Road in Boulder County on Oct. 3, authorities said. Starr and her husband, Scott Mattes, fought back, beating the man with a metal bat and stabbing him with his own knife.

The commotion was first reported by a neighbor across the street who said she thought she could hear someone being hit with a bat.
Starr pleaded for operators to send help fast so she would not have a man's life on her conscience. The intruder had "multiple stab wounds, I'm sure of it," Starr said. "Because I'll tell you something, my husband was in a rage. I hope it's not like a bad thing. I mean this guy came into our house, and I'm freaking out now because he's (expletive) dying in my front yard."

When the intruder stopped fighting, Mattes administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation in an attempt to revive him.

"The circumstances of this incident reveal a clear case of self-defense and defense of others," First Assistant District Attorney Pete Maguire wrote in a report. "Mr. Mattes and Ms. Starr were each acting to protect the other from the actual use of force from the knife- wielding assailant. ... The ferocity of the attack left no doubt that if they had not defended themselves effectively, they would likely have been killed."

The intruder is still unidentified. Authorities have issued a sketch of the man in an attempt find out who he is. He probably came to the house on a bicycle and was carrying a satchel that contained small sections of rope, duct tape and plastic restraints called zip-ties, authorities said.

The district attorney found two legal reasons for clearing the couple: a Colorado law that allows people to defend themselves, and the Make My Day law, which allows homeowners to use deadly force if someone enters their home illegally with the intention of committing a crime.

When Starr answered the door, the masked man identified himself as "Boulder County police" and pinned her against the back of the front door, according to officials. Starr grabbed a metal baseball bat - it stood near the front door for 26 years - and beat the man back.

The intruder dropped his plastic gun and flashlight and reached for the knife in his satchel. Starr screamed for help, and her husband charged the intruder.

The couple fought the man with the bat and the intruder's knife until he stopped struggling.

"Ms. Starr recalled saying to her husband, 'Don't kill him,' to which her husband replied, 'He's killing me,"' the report says.

Emotional and out of breath at times, Starr told the 911 operator that she had felt empowered to defend her home.

"He says he's having difficulty breathing, but you know, do I care? " she said. "I mean this (expletive) guy came into my house."

Starr reported that it was hard to believe what had just happened.

"I don't know how much time has passed, but let me tell you, I feel like I was just in an action movie," she said. "You know. And I watch a lot of films."

http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_3104973
 

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Killing of intruder deemed justified
DA says Boulder County couple fought for lives
By Bill Scanlon, Rocky Mountain News
October 11, 2005

BOULDER COUNTY - The husband and wife who killed an intruder at their home in Sunshine Canyon likely would have been killed themselves if they hadn't fought back, so no charges will be lodged, the district attorney's office said Monday.

"The ferocity of the attack left no doubt that if they had not defended themselves effectively they would likely have been killed," First Assistant District Attorney Pete Maguire said in a statement.

"The amount of force used was not excessive," the statement said.

"I believe the homicide to have been justified, and will not be filing criminal charges arising from this incident," Maguire said.

The intruder, who still hasn't been identified, didn't stop his attack until he was near death. He was hit repeatedly with a baseball bat and stabbed with his own knife.

The incident on the night of Oct. 3 unfolded this way, according to the Boulder County Sheriff's Office:

The intruder likely arrived by bicycle at the home of Becci Starr and Scott Mattes, on Poorman Road, just off Sunshine Canyon Road. Starr told sheriff's investigators that her husband had walked her daughter to her car parked in the driveway shortly after 10 p.m.  As Starr was preparing for bed, she heard the doorbell ring. She first thought it was her husband who might have accidentally locked himself out of the house.  As she approached the front door she heard a man say "Boulder County police." As she opened the door, a man with a mask pushed it open and pinned her against the wall.  Starr said he was armed with a gun and carried a flashlight. She reached for a baseball bat that she'd kept by the door for 26 years. The intruder dropped the gun - it turned out to be a plastic water pistol - and the flashlight, and pulled a hunting knife from his satchel.  Starr screamed for help as she used the end of the bat to try to push the man back outside. Mattes ran upstairs from the basement and tackled the intruder.  The intruder got on top of Mattes, who tried to push the knife hand away to keep from being stabbed.  Starr repeatedly whacked the intruder on the head and back with a baseball bat.
The intruder dropped the knife, and Mattes picked it up.  Starr tried to call 911, but heard a commotion and ran back to the door to see that her husband had been pepper-sprayed and was again struggling for control of the knife.

Starr again hit the man with the baseball bat and told her husband, "Don't kill him."
Mattes replied, "He's killing me."

Starr kept striking the man while Mattes was underneath him, stabbing him from below. The intruder eventually stopped fighting, at which time the couple stopped striking and stabbing him. Starr finished her 911 call while Mattes tried to resuscitate the man. Starr can be heard on the 911 tape saying, "I must have hit him 20 times with the baseball bat!"

Less than five minutes elapsed between the first 911 call from a neighbor and the time that the intruder stopped struggling. The man was carrying a toy water gun, the knife and pepper spray, and a green satchel that contained a rope, duct tape and zip ties.  The man's fingerprints were run against the CBI's and FBI's files, but no match was found. A morgue photograph of the man, distributed to police and deputies, brought no recognition. A sketch of the man's face has been distributed to newspapers and TV stations.

Colorado's Make My Day law allows use of physical force, including deadly physical force, when an intruder illegally enters a home and when the occupants have a reasonable belief that the intruder intends to commit a crime and use physical force, no matter how slight, against them.
Neighbors said Mattes and Starr are friendly, peaceful people. A sign on their property reads, "May Peace Prevail on Earth."

http://www.rockymountainnews.com/dr...4148946,00.html
30268  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Libertarian themes on: October 11, 2005, 11:41:00 AM
Forwarded to me by a friend:
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I know that Rockwell is way too strident for many of you, but I am posting this piece for one reason -- it is an incredible compilation of control-freak behaviors during this disaster. The problem with FEMA is not so much their incompetence as their possessive bureaucratic tendencies that often prevented anyone from helping people in need. If they were merely incompetent, this disaster would have been handled far better.
 
If this is the way bureaucrats behave, do we really want them "solving" our retirement problem, our health care problem, ... or even "protecting" us from terrorists? This story is enough to give anyone pause ... I would think. But maybe I am wrong about that.
 
Tom
 
Katrina and Socialist Central Planning
by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.
[Posted on Monday, October 10, 2005]

Watching the Capitol Hill hearings on what went wrong after Hurricane Katrina provided a glimpse of what it must have been like in the Politburo in the 1950s. The Soviet bureaucrats would gather with the party officials and factory managers to figure out why grain production was down or why shop shelves were empty or why the bread lines were ever longer and the quality ever worse.

They gathered under the conviction that they had a workable system that was being rendered unworkable because of the incompetence of certain key players in the chain of command. No one was permitted to say that the command system itself was the problem; this would too contrary to the prevailing political ethos. Instead, they had to place blame on someone, as if all problems could be reduced to issues of obedience. It was always a scramble. Whoever was finally said to be at fault faced certain ruin.

To be sure, there was plenty of blame to go around. With rats in a maze, there is a sense in which they are all responsible for not having found the exit. If those rats could also organize into a hierarchy of control and hold trials, it would surely produce quite a show with many victims. But at the end of the day, the rats would be no closer to getting out of the maze. And so it was in the US Congress: the hearings produced a great show with no results that will make a difference for our future.

The Soviet system had to fully unravel before it became permissible to state what it used to be a crime even to think: you can't manage an economy. You can make every demand, issue a million commands, exhaust every financial resource in the state's account, elevate some people and demote others, dress up in a military costume and make grand pronouncements from a glorified pedestal, cut off fingers, toes, and heads, but in the end, you can't make the economy perform in a way that serves the people unless you let market forces work.

Not just the Soviets had to learn this. Authoritarian regimes from the beginning of time have attempted to defy the laws of economics, step on the interests of the merchant class, control and redirect the wishes of consumers and entrepreneurs, bend and kick prices and wages this way and that, and inhibit trade in every way. But they cannot finally overpower the driving desire on the part of people to control their own fate and not be subject to the slavery that is collectivism of all colors, whether red, green, or brown.

Someday, the US managers of crises will have to realize this same point. But for now, they are like Soviet bureaucrats scrambling to make an unworkable system function, and creating a scene that is as farcical as it is tragic.

Consider first how the much-glorified Department of Homeland Security responded to the Katrina crisis. There is a mysterious missing day between the time the hurricane hit and the levees broke and flooded New Orleans. During this strange Monday, August 29 ? a day in which there was a window of opportunity to prevent the meltdown of civilization ? why didn't federal officials respond or even pretend to respond?

The head of the Department of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, said that he read in the Tuesday morning newspaper that, according to the headline, "New Orleans Dodged the Bullet." So, to his mind, there was nothing to do. This was his testimony. This is not exactly an awe-inspiring admission, but it speaks to a truth that few are willing to admit: government officials live normal lives. They do not partake of the mind of God. They get their news just like you and me. And they have far less information than the body of knowledge generated by the signaling process of the market economy and the private sector.

We might even say that they are in effect sub-normal in intelligence, because government officials stand outside of society, cut off from normal channels of information that the rest of us take for granted. They are isolated from markets and the regular pressures of life. They are not owners of what they control, and have no real stake in the value of their product. They are surrounded by some of the most peculiar people in the world, namely lifetime bureaucrats, power-mad politicians, and lobbyists on the make. This is their world and this is what they know.

Now, they enjoy the illusion of being better informed than the rest of us, so it would never occur to a high official to surf Google News to find out what is really going on. Thus was it apparently beyond the capacity of FEMA to find out that the National Weather Service had issued a flood warning soon after the hurricane hit. The National Weather Service in turn was only reporting what many private local media outlets were saying.

Certainly the municipal government of New Orleans got the message. It issued a warning to residents, and then all the officials packed up their stuff and headed to Baton Rouge. I suppose that this was the plan that the bureaucrats came up with after having received a $500,000 federal grant in 1997 to design a comprehensive plan for evacuation. Half a million dollars later, they agreed what the plan should be. Two words: let's go!

Now, we can learn from observing this. It is always the case that the government's first interest in a crisis is the protection of itself. The public interest is way down the list. Government employees have no ancient code that requires them to go down with the ship. The seafaring captain might feel disgrace if he lost his crew and passengers but returned safely to shore, but the government bureaucrat would see this as nothing but rational self-interest at work. From their point of view, public service is not a suicide pact.

If this is so, are we wise to expect government service at times of crisis? Well, here is where it gets complicated. They always promise that they will take care of us. On the day the Hurricane hit, for example, President Bush made the following announcement: "For those of you who are concerned about whether or not we're prepared to help, don't be. We are. We're in place. We've got equipment in place, supplies in place. And once the ? once we're able to assess the damage, we'll be able to move in and help those good folks in the affected areas."

Well, given the calamity that followed, this statement by Bush might as well have been a Soviet propaganda poster about the glorious future of socialism.

If the only response by government were to turn and run, they could be accused of hypocrisy, but it would be better than the alternative of bad government that stayed to ruin the work that markets and private individuals do.

As the Hurricane approached, for example, Mr. Bush, along with nearly every office holder in the entire region, immediately announced that there would be no tolerance of so-called price gouging. What is and what is not gouging remain undefined by law, but there are still criminal penalties attached to doing it. If you raise your prices to the point where you attract a complaint, there is a good chance that you will be thrashed as a gouger.

And yet, we have to ask ourselves what the purpose of a price is. It is a signaling device that allows market players, including both producers and consumers, to adjust their economic behavior in light of supply and demand. If supply remains the same and demand rises, the price too will have to rise so the market can clear properly. Otherwise there will be shortages and surpluses that will prove to be a benefit to no one. William Anderson has called gouging rules a form of back-door price control, and he is right. They create victims, encourage economic dislocations, and foster black markets.

One might think that a Republican administration would understand this, but reflect on the fact that Iraq still has very strict price controls on gasoline, controls that were instituted by the US after Saddam was overthrown. Don't think for a minute that it is beyond the capacity of the Bush administration to do what the Nixon administration did, which was to believe that the laws of markets can be overridden by regulatory force.

Anti-gouging laws, to the extent they are obeyed, will create shortages. But in telling the sad tale of Katrina, I would like to begin not with a case of shortage, but with a strange case of surplus.

One week after the hurricane, FEMA ordered the Army Corps of Engineers to buy 211 million pounds of ice from IAP Worldwide Services of Florida. Trucking companies were notified of a grand opportunity since the government was paying the bills for delivery, and the dispatchers sent out the word. There is no space to explore the workings of IAP Worldwide, but I will observe that the company, which exists solely to get paid by your tax dollars as a federal contractor, has a new CEO who most recently held the position of vice president of national security programs for the notorious Kellogg Brown and Root. His name is David Swindle.

But back to the story of the ensuing chaos. One trucker picked up ice in Greenville, Pennsylvania, and was told to drive it to Carthage, Missouri. When he arrived in Carthage, he was told by a FEMA official to go to Montgomery, Alabama. After a day and a half sitting in Montgomery, he was told to go to Camp Shelby, Mississippi, after which he was sent to Selma, Alabama, after which he was sent to Emporia, Virginia, where he stayed for a week burning fuel, until he was sent to North Carolina, and finally to Fremont, Nebraska, where he dropped the ice in a government storage unit. That's 4,000 miles over two weeks.

This was hardly the only case.

The news media chronicled the stories of these truckers. A truck full of ice was sent from Dubuque, Iowa, to Meridian, Mississippi, then to Barksdale Base in Louisiana, then to Columbia, South Carolina, and finally to Cumberland, Maryland, where he waited for six days before being sent to Bettendorf, Iowa, where the ice was unloaded. Another truck was sent from Wisconsin to Missouri to Selma to Memphis, before finally dropping off the ice in a storage unit.

Do you know how many drivers were enlisted in this incredible charade? 4,000. No one knows for sure how much ice ever got through or how much good it did, if any.

In one of the first incidents reported of what was to be two weeks of catastrophe, a group of volunteer fire fighters from Houston came to New Orleans wanting to help. They were told to wait. They waited 48 hours and were ordered to go back. A group of doctors from Maryland tried to get in but FEMA sent them on to the Red Cross, which said it could do nothing without the approval of federal health officials.

After the New Orleans mayor made a call for firefighters to come help, hundreds of volunteers were sent to Atlanta, where they were put in a conference room at the Sheraton hotel and subjected to seminars on sexual harassment and other bureaucratic matters. They were then told that their job would be to distribute flyers with a message on it: call 1-800-621-FEMA. Many or even most of these well-trained people caught on to the racket and left town. Those who stuck it out and headed for Louisiana were aghast that their first assignment was not to fight fires, which had been raging for a week, but to escort President Bush on his TV-laden tour of the area.

You can see all the photos on WhiteHouse.gov.

In fact, FEMA refused offers of help of all sorts, mainly because of issues of control. FEMA declined helped from Amtrak in evacuating people from New Orleans. The Chicago municipal government was trying to send volunteers from the fire department, police department, and hospitals. FEMA said no. The same happened to New Mexico, whose governor volunteered equipment and personnel.

FEMA prevented Wal-Mart from delivering three tank trucks of water, and the Coast Guard from delivering 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel. It even cut the communications lines for Jefferson Parish. The local sheriff ending up posting armed guards to protect the restored lines from FEMA ? an interesting model that many communities around the country would do well to imitate in the future.

A chief medical officer for a large ambulance company says he was unable to find helicopters to pick up dying patients at the Superdome. He walked outside and discovered that two helicopters, donated by an oil services company, had been ordered to wait in the parking lot. Morticians attempted to donate their help. But FEMA said absolutely not, on grounds that they were not officially certified by FEMA to perform such services, so the bodies of the dead piled higher.

As for the National Guard, for days it would not allow reporters into the superdome where tens of thousands were trapped. People were hungry and thirsty, but the National Guard would not allow the Red Cross to deliver any food.

Here is the astounding statement from the spokesperson of the Red Cross: "The Homeland Security Department has requested and continues to request that the American Red Cross not come back into New Orleans? Right now access is controlled by the National Guard and local authorities?. We cannot get into New Orleans against their orders."

The Salvation Army attempted to rescue two of its own officers trapped in a building and on dialysis. They rented three boats for a rescue. But they were not allowed through, though to be fair the Salvation Army did not specifically name the government as at fault, but it did point out that all private efforts were running into similar kinds of obstacles, so the message was clear.

Meanwhile, the USS Bataan, a floating hospital for 600 patients, that had ridden out the storm, was still sitting empty by the third day, not permitted to do its job.

An astounding case of ineptness comes to us from the case of three Duke University students who drove to New Orleans to help but were turned away by the National Guard. They had seen the news and knew that they could help, and wondered why they should be pushed around by bureaucrats. Being college sophomores, they took a risk. They forged press credentials, with fake IDs and shirts and the works. They went back and adopted a haughty tone. The National Guard waved them through.

Then the students drove to the Convention Center. There they found thousands of sick, hungry, thirsty, and dying people in desperate need. They found a man who had welts all over his body. He was in a tree covered with fire ants as the waters rose, and there he stayed there being bitten repeatedly for up to 24 hours.

The boys picked him up along with three others and drove them to a Baton Rouge hospital. They made another trip there and back with more people before they began to become frightened of what the government might do to them. On one return trip, they observed 150 empty buses driving the other way ? and they have a video to prove it.

One can only express astonishment at how the government treated the tens of thousands of people that it had herded like cattle into large public spaces. For reasons that are still unclear, the government couldn't get its act together on transporting them out even as the people themselves were forbidden to leave. Once the central planners decided to move all these people from the Superdome to the Astrodome, no means of transport arrived, even as aerial photos showed miles and miles of public buses available.

Indeed, the first bus to reach Houston was not driven or approved by the government. It was commandeered by 20-year-old named Jabbar Gibson, who drove it from the floods and picked up as many people as he could and drove all the way to Houston, a 13-hours drive! He beat the government's system by a day. Meanwhile, the tens of thousands of people who had been shoved into the Superdome on Sunday, before the floods came, were still suffering in that massive calamity by Friday and Saturday.

Perhaps the most astounding case of incompetence has received the least attention. It relates to a 500-boat flotilla stretching over 5 miles that left for New Orleans from Acadiana Mall in Lafayette. It involved 1,000 people who had hoped to rescue hospital patients and take them to safety. It consisted of private boaters, fishermen, hunters, and others who had spent their entire lives navigating the waterways of Louisiana.

Once this caravan arrived, they were turned away by the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, now being run by FEMA. All five hundred boats were ordered out.

After pleading, some people were told that they could take the boats to a rescue operation launch site. They reported that at this site, there were 200 agents of the government standing around doing absolutely nothing even as people were dying in hospitals and thousands were desperate to get out. After three hours, even these few boats were told to go away.

Now, President Bush has been criticized for being out to lunch on all of this. Indeed, some staff members put together a DVD of the evening news coverage for him to watch on Air Force One, which was the only way they could get him to understand the depth of the crisis. The purpose of the action was not so much to help people, of course, but rather to stop the meltdown of the president's reputation.

Now, President Bush has been criticized for being out to lunch on all of this. Indeed, some staff members put together a DVD of the evening news coverage for him to watch on Air Force One, which was the only way they could get him to understand the depth of the crisis. The purpose of the action was not so much to help people, of course, but rather to stop the meltdown of the president?s reputation.

In fact, by the time he actually arrived in Louisiana, food and medicine deliveries, such as they were, had to be halted on order of the White House, to make room for the presidential caravan.

Then there was the matter of the government's proposed cash gifts to the victims of Katrina. Most FEMA employees knew nothing about it when their phones and offices were mauled by people demanding their cash. FEMA's website registration for victims required Internet Explorer 6.0 and could not work with any other browser. Of course this is somewhat academic, since most of the victims had no computer access at all. But those who called the number were often told to go online to register. Most of the time, people couldn't get through on the phone or online.

In one particularly interesting detail, Katrina triggered the first use of the Department of Homeland Security's great accomplishment since it was created after 9-11: the National Response Plan, a 426-page central plan for dealing with a crisis on the level of the post-Katrina floods. Here is how the government describes it:

"The National Response Plan establishes a comprehensive all-hazards approach to enhance the ability of the United States to manage domestic incidents. The plan incorporates best practices and procedures from incident management disciplines ? homeland security, emergency management, law enforcement, firefighting, public works, public health, responder and recovery worker health and safety, emergency medical services, and the private sector ? and integrates them into a unified structure. It forms the bases of how the federal government coordinates with state, local, and tribal governments and the private sector during incidents."

What happened to the National Response Plan after the floods? It remained what it always was: a colorful PDF download, a thick book on the management shelves, an item in the Government Printing Office catalog, bird-cage liner, and many other things. One thing it was not was a national response plan that did all those glorious things listed above. As with all these plans from time immemorial, it was a dead letter.

As for the National Guard, it did what the military does best: it started harassing the residents. Working with the police, it began to enforce an order for everyone to evacuate. As the New York Times summarized the order: "no civilians in New Orleans will be allowed to carry pistols, shotguns, or other firearms of any kind."

The National Guard allowed themselves to be videotaped going from house to house, and mansion to mansion, knocking down doors, searching for weapons, handcuffing owners and humiliating them. They called them the "holdouts," a phrase out of Baghdad.

One storm trooper ? that's a pretty good name for them ? was asked whether he would shoot residents if they resisted. Yes, he said. He added, "It's surreal. You never expect to do this in your own country."

The police also broke into the offices of a heroic little company in New Orleans that did not flee. Its name is DirectNIC, an Internet Service Provider, and it was staffed by friends of the Mises Institute. Through careful preparations, good generators, lots of fuel, and vast amounts of courage, this company kept providing internet service throughout. For several days after the flooding, it was the only source of information coming out of New Orleans. They had a camera on the streets below, and ventured out to take pictures of the scenes. They were first to report the looting, the explosions, the fires, and to chronicle the craziness. They became so good at acquiring fuel that they military actually came to them for diesel.

Millions were logging into their feed, and for four of the most critical days the Mises Institute actually provided the group with an external server in order to make their broadcasts possible. They were showing what the mainstream media would not show and could not show. But late one night, there was a pounding at the door. The National Guard had seen lights in the window and demanded to know what was going on in this room. Though these young people had already been interviewed on MSNBC, Fox, and were the talk of the blogosphere, the troops knew nothing about them. Astounded and confused at what they saw, the troops allowed their pictures to be taken and went on their way.

I've provided a look at some of the terrible failures by the government ? not only failing to do what it claims it will do, but actively working to prevent others from helping out. The cost to human life and prosperity is incalculable. But, one might say, at least the government is generous now in preparing to spend perhaps $250 billion to clean up and reconstruct what was destroyed.

But who will get this money and where will it go? Cynics could not be more correct: the first companies to receive the money were our old friend Kellogg Brown and Root, a current client of President Bush's former campaign manager and former head of FEMA. KBR is a subsidiary of Halliburton, the company formerly headed by Dick Cheney. Another winner is Bechtel, whose former head is now in charge of Bush's Overseas Private Investment Corporation. The top rebuilding priority: repairing government military bases in Louisiana and Mississippi.

If you work for one of these companies, you will do very well by this aid. As for the victims, everyone knows that what rebuilding they do will come from their own savings. You can expect no assistance from this monstrosity that taxes and controls you relentlessly on the pretext that it will protect you and care for you when no one else will.

Fortunately for people who lived in flooded areas, they did not face the crisis alone. The private commercial sector, along with thousands of religious charities, was there to help. Indeed, John Tierney of the New York Times was one of the few mainstream journalists to note that Wal-Mart improved its image after Katrina. Its stores in the disaster-stricken areas still carried generators in areas. Wal-Mart trucks rode into to areas immediately following the hurricane and gave away chain saws, boots, sheets, and clothes for shelters, plus water and ice. It alone had prepared for emergency with its own emergency operations center.

Chris Westley further noted that Wal-Mart gave $20 million in cash donations, 1,500 truckloads of free merchandise, food for 100,000 meals, and the promise of a job for every one of its displaced workers. After comparing FEMA's failures with Wal-Mart's successes, he concluded that the government emergency management ought to be abolished.

Tierney, meanwhile, drew the wrong conclusion. He says that the Wal-Mart CEO "is the kind of leader we need to oversee the tens or hundreds of billions that Washington will be spending on the Gulf Coast. Scott could insist on low everyday prices while still leaving the area as well prepared for the next disaster as Wal-Mart was for Katrina."

In fact, if Lee Scott were given a government job, it would only be a matter of time before he became just another Michael Brown, the disgraced former FEMA head. This isn't a matter of character. It is a matter of the maze in which you find yourself ? the one made by the market so that it has large exit signs, or the one that is government's, that is, the one with no exits at all.

As Walter Block, Mark Thornton, and many others have shown, it was not the storm as such that did the damage, but the failure of the government levees. Combined with the levees-only river management strategy of the Army Corps of Engineers, the floods were a disaster waiting to happen. Just imagine if the town were private like your home or car. Insurance companies would have taken a huge role in risk assessment, not only charging more for higher risk but insisting on management strategies that reduce risk and rewarding those who adopt those strategies with better premiums. This works on the same principles as you home owners' insurance, which combines rules and incentives to reduce the likelihood of losses.

Government insurance, however, makes us less cautious and more willing to take risks. It prices coverage from losses far too low and creates an environment where disasters like flooding are waiting to happen. With programs like subsidized flood insurance, government is like a bad mother who pays her children to run with scissors.

Government ownership is even worse because there are no signaling systems in operation at all. It was also government that created a false sense of security for people in New Orleans, who were led to believe that the levees would hold and pumps would work. And when the floods finally did come, they were told the government would be there to manage the crisis.

But the government cannot manage crisis, as the response to Katrina demonstrated. The local government fled. The state government was dithering. And the federal government actively worked to prevent good things from happening. The thousands and millions of acts of private heroism that took place after Katrina occurred despite the government and not because of it.

And yet what lessons does the political culture want us to take from this? It is the same lessons we are instructed to learn after NASA spends and spends and still can't seem to make a reliable space shuttle. We are told that NASA needs more money. The public schools absorb many times more ? thousands times more ? in resources than private schools, and still can't perform well. So we are told that they need more money.

The federal government spends trillions over years to "protect" the country and can't fend off a handful of malcontents with an agenda. And so we are told that the government needs to start several new wars and erect a massive new bureaucracy and put sections of the country under martial law at the slightest sign of trouble.

So too, Congress can allocate a trillion dollars to fix every levee, fully preventing the last catastrophe, but not the next one. The real problem is the same in all these cases, not insufficient resources but public ownership and management.

Public ownership has encouraged people to adopt a negligent attitude toward even such obvious risks. Private developers and owners, in contrast, demand to know every possible scenario as a way to protect their property. But public owners have no real stake in the outcome and lack the economic capacity to calibrate resource allocation to risk assessment. In other words, the government manages irresponsibly and incompetently.

Actually, it was Mr. Bush who said one of the most sensible things, on September 2, 2005: "If you want to help, if you're listening to this broadcast, contribute cash to the Salvation Army and the Red Cross?. They're on the front lines providing help to the people who need help."

But it was two weeks later when his other instincts kicked in and he delivered a very different message, one that is deeply alarming. He said: "It is now clear that a challenge on this scale requires greater federal authority and a broader role for the armed forces ? the institution of our government most capable of massive logistical operations on a moment's notice."

Interesting that his beloved military was not there at a moment's notice. It now cites its own failures as the great excuse to expand its powers. So the government will spend the next several years preparing for another Katrina that will never come, just as it spent the last several years preparing for another 9-11 that will never come. The next crisis will be something completely unexpected, and once again the government will fail. But we will be left with a government with some very bad habits, among which are declarations of martial law, mandatory evacuations, gun and price controls, and other totalitarian ways.

And given that that this is a Republican administration with its own internal culture, and its attachment to military means, we get what can only be described as the continuation of the fascist track: the militarization of the country under its own armed forces.

So far as I know, this passing remark by Mr. Bush has provoked no commentary in the national press. Commentators in the organized conservative movement have displayed an appalling deference to administration's priorities, with National Review consistently arguing for more spending and militarization, Rush Limbaugh calling for price gougers to be strung up, and even some free-market friends calling for billions to rebuild New Orleans as a way of showing terrorists that we won't let the weather get in the way of progress. On the last point, I kid you not.

Conservatives have been especially bad on tolerating egregious uses of the military. We need to reflect on what it means to have the military take over in the event of crisis. What kind of ideology promotes such things, and looks the other way when it happens? I think I know, and it serves as a reminder that not all threats to freedom come from the Left.

A clue comes from the neo-Nazi novel called the Turner Diaries, sometimes cited as the motivating force for the bombing of the Oklahoma federal building, which ends in what the author regards as a political utopia. After a world war that exterminates all non-whites, a military regime takes over the United States and centrally plans the economy under permanent martial law. All food and water are distributed on military trucks, all production takes place on a planned basis, and the merchant class is required to obey or be shot.

The author describes this race-based national socialism as if it is a system with an inherent appeal to the reader, and perhaps there are people economically ignorant enough and full of enough loathing for humanity and freedom to regard it as attractive. I do know that in our own times there are people waiting in the wings who long for power and who are drawn to the ideal of a militarized society and a centrally managed economy. Some call themselves conservatives, and they are as much a threat to civilization as those who call themselves liberals.

But let me end with several notes of optimism. The first is implied in all that I said above. The government cannot actually do what it promises, and there is a way in which we can only be thankful for that. It cannot succeed in managing a central plan. Its plans will always fail. The government tries to use its failures as an excuse for more power, but with every failure comes a substantial degree of public humiliation for the public sector, and that humiliation can provide a basis for the undoing of government authority.

Some people say that a loss of government authority will mean the breakdown of civilization. Actually it will create the preconditions for the reestablishment of civilization, and in a state of freedom that can happen very quickly. The aftermath of Katrina illustrated in a million individual acts of charity and enterprise that people can manage their affairs, even amidst the chaos.

The calamity following Katrina was an egregious display, one that gave the federal government a black eye. The Democrats will continue to use this to harm the Republicans, which is fine by me, but it is not just Mr. Bush that is suffering, but the whole apparatus of central planning by decree from above. A government that cannot manage a crisis should not be trusted to manage anything at all. Thanks to Katrina and its dreadful aftermath, I think it's fair to say that the age of not trusting government has returned with a vengeance.

It took decades for the rot to give way underneath the Soviet apparatus of central planning. But eventually the implausibility of the entire project was no longer possible to deny. It gave way under an intellectual reaction against the whole of socialism. We are seeing something like that take place today, as government fails in Iraq and New Orleans and in every place around the country and the world where it causes problems and creates no solutions.

The age of confident central planning is behind us. Right now, the state is just trying to keep its head above water. If freedom is to have a future, the time will come when it will sink to an ignoble end, and we will wonder how we ever believed in this myth called government crisis management.

The advocates of freedom and the partisans of private enterprise will be there with the intellectual equivalent of flotillas, barges, buses, helicopters, and the whole apparatus necessary to rescue liberty from every attempt to kill it. And when our City on a Hill comes to be, it will be privately built to withstand any flood.
30269  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Rants on: October 09, 2005, 08:53:06 AM
Snopes says its not GC-- but its got his spirit I think.
30270  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Bloomington, IL - October 8-9th, Seminar with Guro Crafty! on: October 09, 2005, 08:49:49 AM
Woof All:

Day One:  A good group-- several people with a good Inosanto Blend background and several people with strong Muay Thai-- so the natural call for the day was Los Triques.

After dinner we went to a local coffee place and placed chess and talked about many things.  Very enjoyable conversation.

The plan for today is SIWs (short impact weapons) and Kali Tudo.

The Adventure continues,
Guro Crafty
30271  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gender issues thread on: October 06, 2005, 11:39:05 PM
Under the Microscope
From an Ingredient
In Cosmetics, Toys,
A Safety Concern

Male Reproductive Development
Is Issue With Phthalates,
Used in Host of Products
Europe, Japan Restrict Them
By PETER WALDMAN
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
October 4, 2005; Page A1

In the 12th week of a human pregnancy, the momentous event of gender formation begins, as X and Y chromosomes trigger biochemical reactions that shape male or female organs. Estrogens carry the process forward in girls, while in boys, male hormones called androgens do.

Now scientists have indications the process may be influenced from beyond the womb, raising a fresh debate over industrial chemicals and safety. In rodent experiments, common chemicals called phthalates, used in a wide variety of products from toys to cosmetics to pills, can block the action of fetal androgens. The result is what scientists call demasculinized effects in male offspring, ranging from undescended testes at birth to low sperm counts and benign testicular tumors later in life. "Phthalate syndrome," researchers call it.

Whether phthalates -- pronounced "thallets" -- might affect sexual development in humans, too, is now a matter of hot dispute. Doses in the rodent experiments were hundreds of times as high as the minute levels to which people are exposed. However, last year, federal scientists found gene alterations in the fetuses of pregnant rats that had been exposed to extremely low levels of phthalates, levels no higher than the trace amounts detected in some humans.

Then this year, two direct links to humans were made. First, a small study found that baby boys whose mothers had the greatest phthalate exposures while pregnant were much more likely than other baby boys to have certain demasculinized traits. And another small study found that 3-month-old boys exposed to higher levels of phthalates through breast milk produced less testosterone than baby boys exposed to lower levels of the chemicals.

RELATED READING


See various studies related to phthalates:
? Phthalate Exposure and Human Semen Parameters

? Phthalate exposure and reproductive hormones in adult men

? Dose-Dependent Alterations in Gene Expression and Testosterone Synthesis in the Fetal Testes of Male Rats Exposed to Di (n-butyl) phthalate

? Analysis of Consumer Cosmetic Products for Phthalate Esters

? Phthalate Exposure during Pregnancy and Lower Anogenital Index in Boys: Wider Implications for the General Population?

? Decrease in Anogenital Distance among Male Infants with Prenatal Phthalate Exposure

? Medications as a Source of Human Exposure to Phthalates

? Human Breast Milk Contamination with Phthalates and Alterations of Endogenous Reproductive Hormones in Three Months Old Infants

? Follow-Up Study of Adolescents Exposed to Di(2-Ethylhexyl) Phthalate (DEHP) as Neonates on Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) Support

Scientists are raising questions about phthalates at a time when male reproductive disorders, including testicular cancer, appear to be on the rise in many countries. Seeking an explanation, European endocrinologists have identified what some see as a human counterpart to rodents' phthalate syndrome, one they call "testicular dysgenesis syndrome." Some think it may be due in part to exposure to phthalates and other chemicals that interfere with male sex hormones.

"We know abnormal development of the fetal testes underlies many of the reproductive disorders we're seeing in men," says Richard Sharpe of the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, a researcher on male reproduction. "We do not know what's causing this, but we do know high doses of phthalates induce parallel disorders in rats."

It isn't surprising to find traces of phthalates in human blood and urine, because they are used so widely. Nearly five million metric tons of phthalates are consumed by industry every year, 13% in the U.S. They are made from petroleum byproducts and chemically known as esters, or compounds of organic acid and alcohol. The common varieties with large molecules are used to plasticize, or make pliable, otherwise rigid plastics -- such as polyvinyl chloride, known as PVC -- in things like construction materials, clothing, toys and furnishings. Small-molecule phthalates are used as solvents and in adhesives, waxes, inks, cosmetics, insecticides and drugs.

Users and producers of phthalates say they are perfectly safe at the very low levels to which humans are exposed. Phthalates are among the most widely studied chemicals and have proved safe for more than 50 years, says Marian Stanley of the American Chemistry Council, a trade association.

She says studies suggest primates, including humans, may be much less sensitive to phthalates than are rodents. She cites a 2003 Japanese study of marmoset monkeys exposed to phthalates as juveniles, which found no testicular effects from high doses. The study was sponsored by the Japan Plasticizer Industry Association. Scientists involved in a California regulatory review questioned the study and maintained it didn't support the conclusion that humans are less sensitive to phthalates than rodents are.

Ms. Stanley's conclusion: "There is no reliable evidence that any phthalate, used as intended, has ever caused a health problem for a human."

Societal Issue

The phthalate debate is part of the larger societal issue of what, if anything, to do about minute, once-undetectable chemical traces that some evidence now suggests might hold health hazards.

With much still unknown about phthalates, scientists and regulators at the Environmental Protection Agency are moving cautiously. "All this work on the effects of phthalates on the male reproductive system is just five years old," says the EPA's leading phthalate researcher, L. Earl Gray. "There appears to be clear disruption of the androgen pathway, but how? What are phthalates doing?"

To Rochelle Tyl, a toxicologist who works for corporations and trade groups studying chemicals' effects on animals, the broader question is: "If we know something bad is happening, or we think we do, do we wait for the data or do we act now to protect people?" Based on her own studies of rodents, Dr. Tyl says it is still unclear whether low levels of phthalates damage baby boys.

Some countries have acted. In 2003, Japan banned certain types of phthalates in food-handling equipment after traces turned up in school lunches and other foods.

The European Union has recently banned some phthalates in cosmetics and toys. In January, the European Parliament's public health committee called for banning nearly all phthalates in household goods and medical devices. In July, the full parliament asked the EU's regulatory body, European Commission, to review a full range of products "made from plasticised material which may expose people to risks, especially those used in medical devices."

With the controversy particularly hot in Europe, the European market for the most common phthalate plasticizer, diethylhexyl phthalate, or DEHP, has fallen 50% since 2000, says BASF AG, the German chemical giant. In response, BASF says it is ceasing production of DEHP in Europe this month. A spokesman for the company says the cutback won't affect its phthalate production in the U.S.

The U.S. doesn't restrict phthalates, and has lobbied the EU hard in recent years not to burden manufacturers with new regulations on chemicals. Still, a few companies, under pressure from health groups, have agreed to abide by European standards in their products sold in the U.S. Procter & Gamble Co. said last year it would no longer use phthalates in nail polish. Last December, Unilever, Revlon Inc. and L'Or?al SA's American unit promised to eliminate all chemicals banned in European products from the same items in the U.S.

For medical bags and tubes, Baxter International Inc. pledged in 1999 to develop alternatives to phthalate-containing PVC, as did Abbott Laboratories in 2003. (Abbott has since spun off its hospital-products unit.) In a June study by Harvard researchers of 54 newborns in intensive care, infants who'd had the most invasive procedures had five times as much of the phthalate DEHP in their bodies -- as measured in urine -- as did babies with fewer procedures.

Researchers aren't yet sure what this means. Another study by doctors at the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, published last year, found that 19 adolescents who'd had significant exposure to phthalates from medical devices as newborns showed no signs of adverse effects through puberty.


Kaiser Permanente, the big health-maintenance organization, promised in 1999 to eliminate phthalates in hospital supplies. Demand from the HMO has helped drive development of medical gloves that don't contain phthalates, as well as non-PVC carpeting and a new line of phthalate-free plastic handrails, corner guards and wall coverings.

In the early 1990s, the EPA set exposure guidelines for several types of phthalates, based on studies that had been done decades earlier. Since then, much more has been learned about them.

Consider dibutyl phthalate, which is used to keep nail polish from chipping and to coat some pills. The EPA did a risk assessment of it 15 years ago, relying on a rodent study performed in 1953. The now half-century-old study found a "lowest adverse-effect level" -- 600 milligrams a day per kilogram of body weight -- that killed half of the rodents within a week.

A 2004 study of the same chemical, published in the journal Toxicological Sciences, found far subtler effects, at far lower exposures. It detected gene alteration in fetuses of female rats that ingested as little as 0.1 milligram a day of the phthalate for each kilogram of body weight. That dose is one six-thousandth of the 1953 "lowest adverse-effect" level.

It's also an exposure level found in some U.S. women, says Paul Foster of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, a co-author of the gene study. So "now we're talking about 'Josephina Q. Public' -- real women in the general population," he says. "The comfort level is receding."

EPA Caution

Still, because researchers don't know the function of the genes that were altered in the rat study, EPA experts say it's too early to base regulatory decisions on such gene changes. "We're a long way, in my opinion, from considering changes in gene expression as 'adverse' for risk assessment," says the environmental agency's Dr. Gray.

Exxon Mobil Corp. and BASF dominate the $7.3 billion phthalates market. An Exxon Mobil spokeswoman says risk assessments by government agencies in Europe and the U.S. confirm "the safety of phthalates in their current applications."

Phthalates are cheaper than most other chemicals that can soften plastics. But a BASF press release says European manufacturers have been replacing phthalates with plasticizers designed for "sensitive applications such as toys, medical devices and food contact."

Makers of pills sometimes coat them with phthalates to make them easier to swallow or control how they dissolve. A case study published last year in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives said a man who took a drug for ulcerative colitis, Asacol, for three months was exposed to several hundred times as much dibutyl phthalate as the average American. The drug's maker, Procter & Gamble, says it coats the pill with the phthalate so it will stay intact until it reaches inflamed colon areas. P&G says a daily dose of the drug has less than 1% of the 0.1 milligram of dibutyl phthalate per kilogram of body weight that the EPA regards as a safe daily dose.

Sperm Count

Attributing health effects to specific industrial chemicals is a dicey business. Scientists often look for associations: statistical correlations that suggest, but don't prove, a possible causal link.

With phthalates, they've found a few. For instance, a 2003 study divided 168 male patients at a fertility clinic into three groups based on levels of phthalate metabolites in their urine. The study found that men in the highest third for one of the phthalates were three to five times as likely as those in the lowest third to have a low sperm count or low sperm activity. Men highest in a different phthalate also had more abnormally shaped sperm, according to the study, which was done by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and published in the journal Epidemiology.

The scientists now are extending the research to 450 men. In their next paper, they're also planning to discuss a separate Swedish study, of 245 army recruits, that found no link between phthalate exposure and sperm quality.

The latest human study, on 96 baby boys in Denmark and Finland, found that those fed breast milk containing higher levels of certain phthalates had less testosterone during their crucial hormonal surge at three months of age than baby boys exposed to lower levels.

Authors of the study, led by Katharina Main of the University of Copenhagen and published Sept. 8 in Environmental Health Perspectives, said their findings support the idea that the human testis is vulnerable to phthalate exposure during development -- possibly even more vulnerable than rodents' genitalia. They added, however, that "before any regulatory action is considered, further studies on health effects of [phthalates] are urgently needed" aimed at "verifying or refuting our findings."

Physical Differences

A human study of 85 subjects published in June linked fetal exposure to phthalates to structural differences in the genitalia of baby boys.

Researchers measured phthalate levels in pregnant women and later examined their infant and toddler sons. For pregnant women who had the highest phthalate exposure -- a level equivalent to the top 25% of such exposure in American women -- baby sons had smaller genitalia, on average. And their sons were more likely to have incompletely descended testicles.

Most striking was a difference in the length of the perineum, the space between the genitalia and anus, which scientists call AGD, for anogenital distance. In rodents, a shortened perineum in males is closely correlated with phthalate exposure. A shortened AGD also is one of the most sensitive markers of demasculinization in animal studies.

Males' perineums at birth are usually about twice as long as those of females, in both humans and laboratory rodents. In this study, the baby boys of women with the highest phthalate exposures were 10 times as likely to have a shortened AGD, adjusted for baby weight, as the sons of women who had the lowest phthalate exposures.

The length difference was about one-fifth, according to the study, which was led by epidemiologist Shanna Swan of the University of Rochester (N.Y.) School of Medicine and Dentistry and published in Environmental Health Perspectives. Among boys with shorter AGD, 21% also had incomplete testicular descent and small scrotums, compared with 8% of the other boys.

Does it matter? The researchers intend to track as many of the boys as possible into adulthood, to address a key question: Will they grow up with lower testosterone levels, inferior sperm quality and higher rates of testicular tumors, as do rats with phthalate syndrome?

When the boys are 3 to 5 years old, Dr. Swan plans to assess their play behavior to see if exposure to phthalates appears associated with feminized neurological development. She says such tests have shown that little girls with high levels of androgens, or male hormones, gravitate toward "masculine" play. But she says no one has studied whether boys' play is affected by fetal exposure to chemicals that block androgens.

"In rodents, the changes result in permanent effects. Future studies will be necessary to determine whether these boys are also permanently affected," Dr. Swan says.

She and others agree that a study of just 85 subjects needs to be enlarged and repeated. She notes that although boys' genitalia were affected in subtle ways, no substantial malformations or disease were detected.

Some endocrinologists call this the first study to link an industrial chemical measured in pregnant women to altered reproductive systems in offspring. "It is really noteworthy that shortened AGD was seen," says Niels Skakkebaek, a reproductive-disorder expert at the University of Copenhagen, who wasn't an author of the study. "If it is proven the environment changed the [physical characteristics] of these babies in such an anti-androgenic manner, it is very serious."

Ms. Stanley of the American Chemistry Council doubts that any study can "tease out" the cause of a human health condition, given the wide variety of chemical exposures in people's lives. She notes that some of the specific phthalates associated with reproductive changes in the two human-baby studies haven't been linked to such changes in rodents. So, she says, it's possible the changes in anogenital distance and hormone levels may merely reflect normal variability.

Dr. Tyl, the chemical-industry toxicologist, says her own rat studies confirm that AGD is very sensitive to phthalates. She says that in rats that had very high phthalate exposures, a shortened AGD at birth was closely associated with a number of serious reproductive disorders later in life. However, in rats exposed to much lower doses of phthalates, a shortened AGD at birth did not always lead to later troubles. Many of these rats grew up to breed normally, she says, despite their slightly altered anatomy.

Dr. Tyl suggests that the same may be true of humans. Dr. Swan's study is "potentially important," Dr. Tyl says, because it suggests that "at low levels of exposure, humans are responding" to phthalates. But it remains quite possible, Dr. Tyl theorizes, that the boys with shortened AGD will grow up normally. "At what point do changes like this cross the line" to become dangerous, she asks. "We don't know yet."

Write to Peter Waldman at peter.waldman@wsj.com
30272  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Wolves & Dogs on: October 06, 2005, 11:32:03 PM
4 cases of dog virus detected in South Bay
New, 4:55 p.m. Veterinarians issue warnings as California's first confirmed cases of highly contagious and potentially fatal dog virus show up here. Virus worries pet owners nationwide.
By Josh Grossberg
Daily Breeze

The first confirmed cases in California of a highly contagious and potentially fatal dog virus have been found in the South Bay, officials said.

Inglewood veterinarian Jon Bernstein said he became suspicious in August when he treated four dogs that had similar symptoms and had all been housed in the same nearby boarding facility. He sent blood samples to a laboratory in Florida, which confirmed his fear this week.  
 

"All came up positive for this canine influenza," Bernstein said.

Since then, 31 suspected cases have been found in Los Angeles County, health officials said. They are waiting for test results to confirm their findings.

The virus has caused concern among dog owners nationwide since the first outbreak last year among greyhounds in Florida last year. It is not been shown to be contagious to humans or other animals.

Symptoms include coughing, runny nose and fever.

"This is a highly contagious virus," Bernstein said. "Most dogs will get exposed to it. There's no prevention and no vaccination."

While there is no treatment available and the disease can be fatal in 1 to 10 percent of the time, animal health officials believe that the figure could actually be much lower because many dogs have come down with benign cases of the disease and recover without seeing a vet.

"Most of the time, it's a mild respiratory ailment," Bernstein said. "In a much less common situation, dogs can get pneumonia."

In some cases, the symptoms are the same as those of the fairly common kennel cough, which is easily treated. It also can resemble distemper, which can be more serious for the animal.

"People should make sure their pets are healthy and up to date on (kennel cough) and distemper vaccines to avoid confusion," said Emily Beeler, a veterinarian with the county public health and rabies control program.

Beeler said owners should keep their dogs away from other dogs.

"Because there are no dogs considered immune and there is no vaccine, if your dog is coughing, don't take it to the dog park. And don't take it to a kennel. Do everyone else a favor and keep your dog at home if you hear it coughing, even a little."
30273  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / KALI TUDO (tm) Article on: October 06, 2005, 07:07:34 PM
Black Belt informs us that "Kali Silat for the cage DVD set is featured in the Essential Gear section of the December issue on News stands now."   Cool
30274  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3 on: October 06, 2005, 01:43:48 PM
Pretty inspiring stuff!

"I have prepared an important dispatch entitled " Battle for Mosul IV."  This is a very interesting and important dispatch with many photos, and is just now posted www.michaelyon.blogspot.com."
30275  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Mexico on: October 06, 2005, 01:16:05 PM
Quiero agradecer los mensajes de 9-Terremoto y Omar tan bien expresados.

Yo quisiera ofrecer otro hilo al analisis; lo del crecimiento de poblacion.  No tengo conocimiento a los datos acutales, pero cuando yo estudiaba esos asuntos en la universidad hace casi 30 anos, la taza de crecimiento fue alredor de 3.5% lo cual implicaba, despues de hacer un calculo matematico, que la mitad de la poblacion no habia cumplido 16 anos de edad y que 700,000 mas personas cada ano entraba al mercado de trabajo.  En aquela epoca cuando la economia crecia bien (5%, una taza muy buena) creo' unos 350,000 empleos, osea el desempleo crecia 350,000 mas cada ano.

En otras palabras, debido a la estructura demografica de la poblacion Mexicana, fue imposilbe salir adelante-- al contrario, fue inevitable que la situacion se empeore mas cada ano.

Desde mi punto de vista aqui en los EU, cualquier paso a la izquierda se hara' peor la situacion por la simple razon que izuierdismo no funciona-- no se puede deshacer la ley de oferta y demanda y el izquierdismo en la practica quiere decir mas burocracia y mas corupcion-- muchas veces en favor de los grandes interes.

Mi conclusion actual es que Mexico necesita frenar su taza de crecimiento de poblacion, lo cual puede implicar un choque con La Iglesia, y debe seguir un modelo de seguridad juridico de derechos de contrato, bienes raices, y un mercado libre y honesto.
30276  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Homeland Security on: October 05, 2005, 10:20:34 PM
http://www.danielpipes.org/article/3005
30277  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politically (In)correct on: October 05, 2005, 01:28:16 PM
FEMA Suspends Phoenix Rescuers Over Arms
Oct 04 11:20 PM US/Eastern


PHOENIX

The Phoenix Fire Department's Urban Search and Rescue team has been suspended by a federal agency because it brought armed police officers for protection on hurricane relief missions.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency's conduct code prohibits urban search-and-rescue teams from having guns.

Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon called the reaction from FEMA "stunning, unbelievable, bewildering and outrageous."

Phoenix's team included four police officers who were deputized as U.S. marshals when they participated in relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita.

The team was credited with plucking more than 400 Katrina survivors from rooftops and freeway overpasses in flooded sections of New Orleans.

Phoenix officials are threatening to refuse deployments in the future or possibly pull out of the federal agency altogether unless the rules are changed to allow teams to bring their own security, even if that means police with guns.

Phoenix police were added to the team about a year ago, and officials say they are essential to protecting firefighters and FEMA's $1.4 million worth of equipment.

Assistant Phoenix Fire Chief Bob Khan said his department also is questioning the federal agency's ability to manage working conditions, security and communications.

"We have an obligation to provide the safest environment as we can," Khan said.

U.S. Marshal David Gonzales said he was dismayed by the suspension because the setup with the police officers seemed ideal.

"We think this was a model," he said. "We think all rescue teams should have armed escorts wherever they go, and we think this is something they should adopt nationwide."

FEMA relies on 28 elite teams like the Phoenix group to perform specialized rescue operations immediately after terrorist attacks and natural disasters.

According to the mayor, FEMA officials advised the team to bring U.S. marshals along on the initial trip.

After Hurricane Katrina struck, firefighters faced deployment to areas plagued by looting and lawlessness. Twice, Phoenix's team was confronted by law enforcement officers who refused to let them pass through their communities and told them to "get out or get shot," Gordon said.

Officials told the Phoenix team on Sept. 26 that their help was no longer needed after members of the group were seen embarking on a helicopter flight with a loaded shotgun while helping with the aftermath of Rita.
http://www.breitbart.com/news/2005/10/04/D8D1KDB80.html
30278  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We the Unorganized Militia on: October 05, 2005, 09:18:52 AM
Woof Szymon:

The idea common to all these stories is that they are about people defending themselves or defending other people.

Does this help?

Crafty Dog
30279  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3 on: October 05, 2005, 07:10:46 AM
............................................................................................
Geopolitical Diary: Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2005

Two streams of intelligence, both touching on Syria, cropped up on Tuesday. First, sources close to deliberations within the Bush administration said the National Security Council is discussing the idea of bombing certain Syrian villages, along the infiltration routes used by jihadists staging attacks in Iraq. And second, sources within Syria said U.S. Special Forces are conducting cross-border operations on Syrian territory.

These reports follow a day after Israeli daily Haaretz, citing unnamed sources, said senior U.S. officials wanted Israel's assessments of possible successors for Syrian President Bashar al Assad. According to Haaretz, officials were asking who might be able to replace him, assuming he were ousted, while still maintaining the stability of the country. The report went on to say that the Sharon government is interested in weakening the Alawite-Baathist regime, but beyond that, it prefers the status quo in Damascus.

It is possible that all of these reports and leaks are a way for Washington to pressure Damascus, which long has been viewed as enabling the cross-border flow of militants into Iraq. The United States has just embarked on a fresh counterterrorism offensive in Iraq, with two simultaneous campaigns: Operation Iron Fist near the Syrian border, and Operation River Gate closer to Al Fallujah. By placing pressure on both ends of the ant line, troops would make it more difficult for insurgents to take shelter in Syria and then reappear in Iraqi towns and cities soon after. The RUMINT concerning a diplomatic offensive against al Assad would add impetus to this effort as well.

However, Damascus already has been making concessions to Washington -- mainly in efforts to keep al Assad and his top aides from being implicated in the investigation of the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri. Not only has al Assad abandoned his most trusted ally in Lebanon, President Emile Lahoud, but he also has sacrificed his own interior minister, Ghazi Kanaan; the ex-chief of Lebanese military intelligence, Gen. Rustom Ghazaleh; and the chief of general headquarters in Syria, Lt. Gen. Bahjat Suleiman.

Thus, it would seem there is more to the RUMINT than merely efforts to raise the pressure. But this doesn't necessarily mean Washington truly seeks to topple al Assad. For one thing, the Bush administration doesn't have the bandwidth for such an undertaking at the moment.

There are several other possible explanations for the leaks. First, the United States always has contingency plans in place, even if there are no plans for immediate execution -- which would explain the discussions between U.S and Israeli officials about an alternative to al Assad. Second, it is highly likely that, as they are along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, U.S. forces are indeed making forays onto Syrian soil while in hot pursuit of jihadists. This is underscored by the fact that U.S. and Iraqi forces are more focused on taking out the al Qaeda-linked transnational jihadists than the Sunni nationalist insurgents.

All of this leaves us wondering, just what is Syria doing in the face of these incursions? In all likelihood, Damascus has relocated its troops a safe distance away from the Iraq border. Doing so would serve three purposes:

1. It reduces chances of a firefight between U.S. and Syrian forces, which would complicate matters horribly for Damascus;
2. By not having an official presence in the area, the Syrian regime can deny that U.S. operations are even taking place on its soil -- thus mitigating further backlash from the public or government officials (who could be expected to be disgruntled that al Assad has sacrificed three top lieutenants to Washington already);
3. It allows the Syrians to signal their willingness to play ball with Washington, so long as everyone remains suitably discreet.

Much as with Iran, it is not in the Bush administration's interest to be open about dealings with Damascus. Doing so could upset the geopolitical calculus in the region, which already is seething with anti-American sentiment, and add to the growing problems for the president on the home front. Therefore, Washington will not be the one rushing to go public with its moves. The Bush administration knows that many states in the region already are trying to break free of the U.S. pressure that was applied following the Sept. 11 attacks, and they are looking for an opening to make their moves -- especially knowing that Bush is in a weakened position at home.

The wild card to watch now is Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al Qaeda's leader in Iraq -- whose group stands to lose the most in all of this. It's conceivable that he might eventually issue a statement, commenting on the whole U.S.-Syria dynamic. Al-Zarqawi, who is a hunted man, would want to upset the U.S. calculus so as to save himself. His goal would be to destabilize the Syrian regime from within -- creating chaos that would lend itself to another jihadic pasture. Moreover, he could create problems for the United States at the strategic level by spreading rumors that U.S. forces were invading Syria at will. This in turn would create a major dilemma for other governments in the region, which would be forced to condemn the move.
30280  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We the Unorganized Militia on: October 05, 2005, 06:46:42 AM
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dy...5100301649.html


Facing Abductor, Girls Proved Martial Arts Training

By Jamie Stockwell and Tom Jackman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, October 4, 2005; Page B01

When the masked man attacked them inside their bedroom in the middle of the night Sunday, the twin 10-year-old girls responded just as they had been taught in their martial arts class: They fought back.

The commotion woke their parents, who rushed in and thought they recognized the tall, ponytailed intruder. The girls' father whacked him with the base of a table lamp and yanked off part of his mask. As the intruder ran from the Vienna townhouse, the parents were pretty sure it was "Andy," an instructor at Mountain Kim Martial Arts studio in Vienna, where their daughters take classes every week, the mother told police.



Suspect Andrew Jacobs had taught the girls martial arts skills. (Fairfax County Police Department - Fairfax County Police Department)





Hours later, Andrew Jacobs, 42, a part-time instructor at the studio who holds a black belt, was arrested at the brick house he shares with his sister, not far from the girls' home. Yesterday, he appeared in court, with a black eye and bruises on his face, on charges of assault, attempted abduction and burglary. A judge ordered him held without bond.

Capt. Mike Miller, the acting police chief of Vienna, said that Jacobs had taught the twins, who hold blue belts. When they were attacked in their bedroom about 12:30 a.m. Sunday, Miller said, "the children responded the way they were instructed to by the suspect" in their training.

"He had attempted to gag one of the 10-year-olds," Miller said, which attracted the attention of her sister. Jacobs told police that he had brought wire ties and a cut-up towel to the house to tie up the residents, Miller said.

There was no sign of a break-in at the townhouse, one of several on a quiet, shaded street in the Townes of Moorefield subdivision off Nutley Street. After his arrest, Jacobs told police that he intended to tie up the residents to "keep everybody quiet" while he stole valuables, including "loose money, jewelry and VCRs." according to a search warrant affidavit filed yesterday in Fairfax Circuit Court.

One of the sisters told police that Jacobs "struck her in the face with his hand and placed one of the [towel bits] around her mouth," the affidavit says. The other girl then screamed, and moments later the parents rushed into their room.

Reached at home yesterday, the mother referred calls about their ordeal to Vienna police. On Sunday evening, the father told a reporter that the family "took care of it" and declined to comment further.

Grandmaster Mountain Kim, who owns the Vienna martial arts studio, said Jacobs has been a student and occasional instructor for him off and on for many years. He said that Jacobs wasn't around for about 10 years but showed up again this summer.

"I thought he was okay. He was not ever real friendly, but I knew him for a long time," Kim said yesterday afternoon as young students wearing white wrap jackets filed out of a van and into the studio. "It's a terrible situation, and I'm very sad that it happened."

No one answered the door at Jacobs's home, a detached brick house with a freshly mowed lawn and manicured bushes. A blue pickup with the license plate AMJ 4X4 sat at the curb.

Next door, Jennifer Copp, 34, stood on the driveway with her 2-month-old daughter. She said she has known Jacobs for about a year.

"He didn't talk much to anyone or socialize a whole lot," she said. "We knew him only as the man next door. We knew him only as Andy and didn't know whether he had a job. We never saw him leave."

Copp said her husband watched as Jacobs was led in handcuffs from his house Sunday evening. When they watched the news later that night, she said, she "almost fainted."

"Good for them for fighting back. I guess the girls were taught well," she said. If the allegations prove true, she continued, "who else will the family wonder about in their lives? Here was someone who was supposed to be teaching them how to be safe."

Staff writer Nikita Stewart contributed to this report.
30281  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Help our troops/our cause: on: October 05, 2005, 06:29:08 AM
http://www.bandsforfreedom.com/en/

We created Bands for Freedom? in order for Americans to make a unified statement in honor of the sacrifice and patriotism of the men and women of our Armed Forces. While many of us, on occasion, will pay lip service to these brave souls, in the rush of our daily lives we often take for granted the dedicated individuals who protect our freedom. And so we decided to develop a tangible emblem which each of us could wear and show that the people who risk their lives for us are always in our hearts, the Band for Freedom.

After extensive research and discussion with military officials and the loved ones and respected friends of our military service personnel, we concluded that the Armed Forces Relief Trust (AFRT) is the right organization to receive our support. The AFRT raises money to support men and women of our Armed Forces and their families and, unlike many other charitable organizations, distributes 100% of the money it raises among the five divisions of our military.

After covering the cost of manufacturing and the administrative costs (such as maintenance of our web site) of running this program, Bands for Freedom, Inc. will donate 100% of its revenue to AFRT.

While many of us may not have the words to express our gratitude, the Band for Freedom lets all of us show our troops how much their dedication means to us, and how proud we all are that there are wonderful men and women among us to make this sacrifice for America.

Bands for Freedom Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.
30282  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans on: October 05, 2005, 05:54:45 AM
Troops Wait for Body Armor Reimbursements
Associated Press  |  September 30, 2005
WASHINGTON - Nearly a year after Congress demanded action, the Pentagon has still failed to figure out a way to reimburse soldiers for body armor and equipment they purchased to better protect themselves while serving in Iraq.

For Marine Sgt. Todd Bowers that extra piece of equipment - a high-tech rifle scope bought by his father for $600 and a $100 pair of goggles - turned out to be a life or death purchase. And he has never been reimbursed.

Bowers, who is from Arizona but going to school in Washington, D.C., was shot by a sniper during his second tour in Iraq, but the round lodged in his scope, and his goggles protected his eyes from the shrapnel that struck his face.

"We weren't provided those going to Iraq," he said Thursday. "But they literally saved my life."

He and other soldiers and their parents are still spending hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars for armor they say the military won't provide. One U.S. senator said Thursday he will try again to force the Pentagon to obey the reimbursement law it opposed from the outset and has so far not implemented.

Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., said he will offer amendments to the defense appropriations bill working its way through Congress to take the funding issue out of the hands of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and give control to military unit commanders in the field.

"Rumsfeld is violating the law," Dodd said. "It's been sitting on the books for over a year. They were opposed to it. It was insulting to them. I'm sorry that's how they felt."

Dodd said men and women in uniform "are serving halfway around the world. And they shouldn't have to rely on bake sales and lemonade stands to raise money" to get them the equipment they need.

Pentagon spokeswoman Air Force Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke said the department "is in the final stages of putting a reimbursement program together and it is expected to be operating soon." But defense officials would not discuss the reason for the delay.

Krenke said the Pentagon's first priority is to ensure that soldiers "have all they need to fight and win this nation's wars."

Others don't see it that way.

"Your expectation is that when you are sent to war, that our government does everything they can do to protect the lives of our people, and anything less than that is not good enough," said a former Marine who spent nearly $1,000 two weeks ago to buy lower-body armor for his son, a Marine serving in Fallujah.

The father asked that he be identified only by his first name - Gordon - because he is afraid of retribution against his son.

"I wouldn't have cared if it cost us $10,000 to protect our son, I would do it," said Gordon. "But I think the U.S. has an obligation to make sure they have this equipment and to reimburse for it. I just don't support Donald Rumsfeld's idea of going to war with what you have, not what you want. You go to war prepared, and you don't go to war until you are prepared."

Under the law Congress passed last October, the Defense Department had until Feb. 25 to develop regulations for the reimbursement, which is limited to $1,100 per item. Pentagon officials opposed the reimbursement idea, calling it "an unmanageable precedent that will saddle the DOD with an open-ended financial burden."

In a letter to Dodd in late April, David Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel, said his office was developing regulations to implement the reimbursement, and would be done in about 60 days.

Soldiers and their families have reported buying everything from higher-quality protective gear to armor for their Humvees, medical supplies and even global positioning devices.

"The bottom line is that Donald Rumsfeld and the Defense Department are failing soldiers again," said Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Operation Truth, an advocacy group for Iraq veterans.

"It just became an accepted part of the culture. If you were National Guard or Reserve, or NCOs, noncommissioned officers, you were going to spend a lot of money out of your pocket," said Rieckhoff, who was a platoon leader with the 3rd Infantry Division and served in Iraq from the invasion in March 2003 to spring 2004.

Dodd said he is worried the Pentagon will reject most requests for reimbursement. Turning the decision over to troop commanders will prevent that, he said, because the commanders know what their soldiers need and will make better decisions about what to reimburse.

Dodd also said he wants to eliminate the deadline included in the original law, which allowed soldiers to seek reimbursement for items bought between September 2001 and July 2004. Now, he wants it to be open-ended.
30283  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans on: October 05, 2005, 12:06:35 AM
http://madeucegunners.blogspot.com/2005/10/record.html

Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Record

My brigade, the 116th Brigade Combat Team, made up of units from Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, New Jersey, and California, currently owns the record for re-enlisting soldiers, out of any unit, Active Duty, Reserve or National Guard, during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The 256th BCT, headquartered in Louisiana, held the previous record at over 400 soldiers re-enlisting in-country. The 116th BCT set out to beat that record with a goal of 500, and did on 14 September 2005, with BG Alan Gayheart, Commander of the 116th BCT, ceremonially swearing in SGT Seckel in front of a representative formation of other soldiers re-affirming their commitment to continue to stand ready to protect freedom.



I'm in there somewhere, third row from the back, right-center of the photo. Even I couldn't find myself.

You will notice the photo is labeled "500th Re-Enlistment". As of right now,
the 116th BCT has had 733 soldiers sign new 3 or 6 year contracts.

I venture to say that this is a huge testament to the will of the army. Not
the Army, the organization, but the army, the men and women who wear the uniform, no matter what branch. Knowing the adversity faced in combat, and the need for the constant defense of our nation, and having already experienced hardship, loss, and separation, a momentus number are willing to continue to be counted among the willing.

SCOUTS OUT!!!!!

MDG....OUT.
30284  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Homeland Security on: October 04, 2005, 11:49:05 PM
From another forum.  Anyone have anything on this?

===================================
Explosion Kills One at University of Oklahoma

Sunday, October 02, 2005


NORMAN, Okla. ? One person was killed in an explosion near a packed football stadium at the University of Oklahoma on Saturday night in what authorities said appeared to be a suicide.

The blast, in a traffic circle about 100 yards from Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, could be heard by some in the crowd of 84,000, but university President David Boren said no one inside the stadium was ever in danger.

"We are apparently dealing with an individual suicide, which is under full investigation," Boren said in a statement. There was no information about the person who was killed, and no reports of any other injuries.

A police bomb squad detonated explosives found at the site of the blast. The area near the stadium was searched by bomb-sniffing dogs.

Jaclyn Hull, an OU freshman who left the game shortly before the explosion, said she saw "a little bit of smoke, about as much as you would see coming up from a grill."

Officers cordoned off an area west of the stadium after the explosion and nobody was allowed out of the stadium for about a half-hour after the blast, which occurred shortly before 8 p.m., about halftime of the Sooners' game against Kansas State. The game continued.

WT Perspective: I'll bet we don't hear another word about this. We should, but we won't.

Admitting it was, if it was, would not be good for business or politics. I wonder. Was this a terrorist event gone wrong?

They say it was a suicide. I investigated many suicides in my time in service. I never saw on done with explosives.
============

http://www.homelandsecurityus.com/

==========

INTELL PROVIDED BY MEMBERS

? Islamic Bomb-Making documents, Other Jihad Materials Reportedly Removed from Suspect's Park View Apartment

? Suspect's Apartment located Near the Islamic Society of Norman, OK

Law enforcement sources close to the Northeast Intelligence Network have confirmed that search and seizure warrants were served today upon the residence of the ?suicide bomber, 21-year-old Joel Henry Hinrichs III of Colorado Springs, CO, who was a resident of the Park View Apartments on campus.

Speaking strictly ?off the record,? the officials stated that they recovered ?a significant amount? of Islamic ?Jihad? type literature, some possibly written in Arabic, along with the suspect?s computer. Some of the documentation included material on how to construct bomb-making vests.

Further reports by the same officials indicated that the bomb was detonated prematurely when the suspect was either arming a bomb vest or backpack, which contained TATP, a homemade explosive.

TATP (triacetone triperoxide) is a very potent but relatively easily manufactured explosive compound that was used in the July London bombings. It is important to note that TATP has been cited in numerous Jihad bomb-making manuals.

The same officials, requiring anonymity as the investigation is ongoing, continued to confirm that ?other un-detonated explosive devices were found in the area cordoned off by police and federal officials.? Those devices WERE NOT DETONATED, but carefully confiscated for further forensic testing. Initially, information provided to the Northeast Intelligence Network suggested that that the so-called ?suicide-bomber? was attempting to attach bombs to the buses parked in the area when one of the bombs detonated prematurely. The investigation has expanded into the possibility that others might have been involved.

WT Editorial -

Suspicions confirmed? Lots of Jihadi connections in OK. Another post will contain more material. I will venture a theory. This American Hadji was going to go inside the stadium and blow himself up killing lots of americans. When they tried to evacuate, more deaths.

Now, the authorities can either say this was a terrorist event or that it was not. If they say it was not, everyone sheds a tear for the dead guy and discussions on how the sad tragedy of a suicide could have been averted. If they state it was a terror attack gone wrong, what would the reaction accross the country be???

I think we know WHY they are being quiet about this. The same thing happened with the Beltway Sniper case as well as with the Egyptian Shooter at LAX. If any WTers are privy to discussions held at the high levels of police admin it would be interesting to hear the logic behind their thinking.
===========

MANY PATHS SEEM TO INTERSECT IN NORMAN, OKLAHOMA

? In early July 2000, Mohammed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi visited the Airman Flight School in Norman, Oklahoma.

? On or about 29 September, 2000, Zacharias MOUSSAOUI contacted Airman Flight School in Norman, Oklahoma using an e-mail account he set up on September 6 with an internet service provider in Malaysia.

? On or about 26 February 2001, Zacharias MOUSSAOUI opened a bank account in Norman, Oklahoma where he deposited approximately $32,000 in cash.

? Between 26 February 2001 and 29 May 2001, MOUSSAOUI attended the Airman Flight School in Norman, Oklahoma, ending his classes early.

? And more recently...26 September 2005: A University of Oklahoma student charged with bringing an explosive device to an airport pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge in federal court in Oklahoma City.

Charles Alfred Dreyling Jr. of Norman, Oklahoma faces up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine at a future sentencing hearing. Dreyling, 24, was arrested in August at the Will Rogers World Airport after security personnel noticed a suspicious object in his carryon bag as he was leaving for a family vacation with his parents.

He later told FBI agents the device -- a modified carbon dioxide cartridge filled with gunpowder -- was "basically a pipe bomb," according to court papers that he had forgotten was in his bag. (Former Oklahoma City, OK Mayor Kirk Humphreys-- who was also DREYLING'S landlord-- spoke on behalf of DREYLING at his bail hearing).

? On a bus trip to the University of Oklahoma, Zacharias MOUSSAOUI was on the same bus as Nicholas BERG, the American man who was beheaded in Iraq in 2004 by Islamic terrorists. At some point on that trip, MOUSSAOUI asked BERG if he could use BERG'S laptop computer. Government sources said BERG gave the MOUSSAOUI his computer password...

? September 11 hijacker Ziad Jarrah?s ticket (United Airlines Flight 93) was purchased from a computer terminal at Oklahoma University.

? Norman, OK is also cited on a number of occasions in the best-selling book, the most comprehensive investigative work by Jayna Davis titled The Third Terrorist, about the truck bomb blast that killed 171 souls and destroyed the Murrah Federal Building on 19 April 1995
__________________
30285  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / New on DVD! on: October 04, 2005, 07:50:33 PM
LOST TRIQUES is DONE: Pretty Kitty should have the box cover done in a day or two and then everything will be sent to the Duplication House.

STAFF is DONE:  Box cover is DONE and will be sent to the Dupe House with LT.

And today Night Owl surprised with a DVD master of "A Dog Brothers Gathering of the Pack".  Very polished, NO's game keeps getting better with each outing.  "Dogzilla's First Day" is the extra  cheesy
30286  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We the Well-armed People on: October 04, 2005, 01:46:52 AM
Actually the fighting for American Revolution started when the British went to Concord to take control of the powder. The liberal biased history books sort of overlook this little fact. Those men risked their lives defending their powder. The British would allow them to have guns, just not the powder. Sound like a slick Willy move to me. The Colonials stood their ground and won. Actually in New England, the Brits wouldn't engage out of range of their naval guns because they always lost. Fighting in the woods was a very expensive proposition for them.

Subject: Gun Refresher Course

GUN REFRESHER COURSE
A.. An armed man is a citizen. An unarmed man is a victim.
B.. A gun in the hand is better than a cop on the phone.
C.. Smith & Wesson: The original point and click interface.
D.. Gun control is not about guns; it's about control.
E.. If guns are outlawed, can we use swords?
F.. If guns cause crime, then pencils cause misspelled words.
G.. Free men do not ask permission to bear arms.
H.. If you don't know your rights you don't have any.
I... Those who trade liberty for security have neither.
J.. The United States Constitution (c) 1791. All Rights Reserved.
K.. What part of "shall not be infringed" do you not understand?
L. .The Second Amendment is in place in case they ignore the others.
M.. 64,999,987 firearms owners killed no one yesterday.
N.. Guns only have two enemies: Rust and Politicians.
O.. Know guns, know peace and safety. No guns, no peace nor safety.
P.. You don't shoot to kill; you shoot to stay alive.
Q.. 911 - government sponsored Dial a Prayer.
R.. Assault is a behavior, not a device.
S.. Criminals love gun control - it makes their jobs safer.
T.. If Guns cause Crime, then Matches cause Arson.
U.. A government that's afraid of it's citizens tries to control them.
V. You only have the rights you are willing to fight for.
W.. Enforce the "gun control laws" in place, don't make more.
X ..If you remove the people's right to bear arms, you create slaves.
Y.. The American Revolution wouldn't have happened with Gun Control.
Z. ."...a government by the people, for the people..."

PLEASE PASS THIS 'REFRESHER' ON TO OTHER
FREE CITIZENS BEFORE WE LOOSE OUR FREEDOM
30287  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Our Environment on: October 03, 2005, 08:17:27 AM
The following depressing piece kicks off this thread:
=====================================

 

 



Originally published in the April/May 2004 issue of Boston Review.

 

End of the Wild

The extinction crisis is over. We lost.

Stephen M. Meyer

For the past several billion years evolution on Earth has been driven by small-scale incremental forces such as sexual selection, punctuated by cosmic-scale disruptions?plate tectonics, planetary geochemistry, global climate shifts, and even extraterrestrial asteroids. Sometime in the last century that changed. Today the guiding hand of evolution is unmistakably human, with earth-shattering consequences.

The fossil record and statistical studies suggest that the average rate of extinction over the past hundred million years has hovered at several species per year. Today the extinction rate surpasses 3,000 species per year and is accelerating rapidly?it may soon reach the tens of thousands annually. In contrast, new species are evolving at a rate of less than one per year.

Over the next 100 years or so as many as half of the Earth's species, representing a quarter of the planet's genetic stock, will either completely or functionally disappear. The land and the oceans will continue to teem with life, but it will be a peculiarly homogenized assemblage of organisms naturally and unnaturally selected for their compatibility with one fundamental force: us. Nothing?not national or international laws, global bioreserves, local sustainability schemes, nor even "wildlands" fantasies?can change the current course. The path for biological evolution is now set for the next million years. And in this sense "the extinction crisis"?the race to save the composition, structure, and organization of biodiversity as it exists today?is over, and we have lost.

This is not the wide-eyed prophecy of radical Earth First! activists or the doom-and-gloom tale of corporate environmentalists trying to boost fundraising. It is the story that is emerging from the growing mountain of scientific papers that have been published in prestigious scientific journals such as Nature, Science, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences over the past decade.

The Real Impact

Through our extraordinary capacity to modify the world around us, we human beings are creating a three-tiered hierarchy of life built around human selection. The great irony here is that this anthropogenic transformation of the biosphere springs as much from our deliberate efforts to protect and manage the life around us as it does from our wanton disregard for the natural environment.

At one extreme we are making the planet especially hospitable for the weedy species: plants, animals and other organisms that thrive in continually disturbed, human-dominated environments. (I borrow this term from David Quammen's seminal A Planet of Weeds.) Many of these organisms are adaptive generalists?species that flourish in a variety of ecological settings, easily switch among food types, and breed prolificly. And some have their needs met more completely and efficiently by humans than by Mother Nature. In the United States, for example, there are five times as many raccoons (Procyon lotor) per square mile in suburban settings than in corresponding natural populations in "the wild."

From dandelions to coyotes, weedy species will enjoy expanding populations, spatial distribution, ecological dominance, and opportunities for further speciation into the far future. Many of these species have become so comfortable living with us that they have been labeled pests, requiring stringent control measures: the common (Norway) rat (Rattus norvegicus) and white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) come immediately to mind.

Living on the margins in ever-decreasing numbers and limited spatial distribution are relic species. Relic species cannot thrive in human-dominated environments?which now nearly cover the planet. Facing the continual threat of extinction, relic species will linger in either ecologically marginalized populations (e.g., prairie dogs and elephants) or carefully managed boutique populations (e.g., pandas). Most, including the Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis), the California condor (Gymnogyps californianus), and virtually all of Hawaii's endemic plants, will require for survival our permanent, direct, and heavy-handed management, including captive breeding and continuous restocking.

Other relics, such as rare alpine plants, may survive in isolated patches through benign neglect. Over time they will experience progressive genetic erosion and declining numbers, and will rapidly lose their ecological value. In essence, they will be environmental ornaments.

But a large fraction of the non-weedy species will not be fortunate enough to have special programs to extend their survival or will be incapable of responding to such efforts. These are the ghost species?organisms that cannot or will not be allowed to survive on a planet with billions of people. Although they may continue to exist for decades, their extinction is certain, apart from a few specimens in zoos or a laboratory-archived DNA sample.

Some, such as the East Asian giant soft-shell turtle (extirpated except for one left in the wild) and the dusky seaside sparrow (extinct), are incapable of adapting their highly specialized needs rapidly enough to keep up with human-induced pressures. Others we intentionally try to eradicate. Although they are now protected, wolves and black-tailed prairie dogs in North America were once hunted for extermination as part of federal and state animal-control programs (and unofficially, they still are). In Africa, the lion population has plunged from over 200,000 in 1980 to under 20,000 today due to preemptive eradication by livestock herders.

Still other prospective ghosts we simply consume beyond their capacity to successfully reproduce?for food, for commercial products, or as pets. Recent reports suggest that we have consumed 90 percent of the stocks of large predatory fish, such as tuna and swordfish, in the world's oceans. And while 10,000 tigers live as private pets in the United States, fewer than 7,000 live in the wild throughout the world!

A great many of the plants and animals we perceive as healthy and plentiful today are in fact relics and ghosts. This seeming contradiction is explained by the fact that species loss is not a simple linear process. Many decades can pass between the start of a decline and the collapse of a population structure, especially where moderate-to-long-lived life forms are involved.

Conservation biologists use the term "extinction debt" to describe this gap between appearance and reality. In the past century we have accumulated a vast extinction debt that will be paid, with interest, in the century ahead. The number of plants and animals we "discover" to be threatened will expand out of control as the extinction debt comes due.

Thus, over the next hundred years, upwards of half of the earth's species are destined to become relics or ghosts, while weedy species will constitute an ever-growing proportion of the plants and animals around us. By virtue of their compatibility with us, weedy species can follow us around the planet, homogenizing (in both plausible interpretations of the word) the biosphere by filling in the spaces vacated by relics and ghosts. More and more we will encounter on every continent remarkably similar, if not the very same, species of plants, insects, mammals, birds, and other organisms.

How Did We Get Here?

Although we have been aware of species losses for decades, only recently has it become apparent that the biotic world as we have known it is collapsing. The causes, varied and complex, fall into three broad disturbance categories: landscape transformation, geochemical modification (pollution), and biotic consumption and manipulation. Each reflects some aspect of human-induced manipulation of the environment, as these examples from the news show:

New housing developments in Scotland will destroy critical habitat for Britain's threatened red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris), which has disappeared from most of its former range.
Logging and agricultural development have reduced the distribution of Chile's famed national tree?the monkey puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana)?to three small areas of the country, where it is vulnerable to fire and illegal logging.
A new dam in Belize will flood vital habitat for rare species of jaguars, macaws, and crocodiles in a valley linking to wildlife preserves.
Biologically active quantities of common over-the-counter and prescription drugs (e.g., Prozac) are ubiquitous in European and North American urban and suburban waste waters, where discharge to streams and rivers wreaks havoc on aquatic animal endocrine systems.
Polar bears endure body concentrations of PCB and other industrial toxins hundreds of times higher than those of animals living where the pollutants are emitted, thousands of miles away.
Eighty percent of Caribbean corals have died off in the past two decades from diseases fuelled by nutrient pollution from municipal waste-water treatment plants and agricultural runoff flooding into coastal waters.
Demand for "bush meat" in Africa (which sells for 30 percent of the price of farmed meat) is now outstripping supply, seriously depleting wildlife populations in general and great apes in particular. Meanwhile the international trade in bush meat and animal parts is growing exponentially, fetching prices many times those in domestic markets.
During the past two years half of the world's remaining Amur tigers (Panthera tigris altaica) were wiped out by trophy hunters, leaving fewer than 300 animals in the wild?ensuring the extirpation of the species.
Collecting freshwater and marine fish for the aquarium trade reduces wild populations of targeted species by 75 percent in commercial collection areas.
Cheatgrass, introduced into North America around 1900, has displaced native vegetation across broad areas of rangeland in western North America, devastating the local ecology. A prolific annual of low nutritive value, cheatgrass dries up early in the season, fueling extensive range fires that wipe out native plants and leave little food or shelter for wildlife.
Native aquatic food webs in South America are being destroyed by the introduction of the North American bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana)?a voracious predator.
When these factors?development, agriculture, resource consumption, pollution, alien species, etc.?are considered separately, the problem seems quite manageable. Sprawl can be fixed with smart growth. The demand for agricultural land and high-intensity farming can be dampened through dietary changes. Natural resource over-consumption in logging, hunting, fishing, and the exotic pet trade can be reduced through education, regulation, and policing. And the proliferation of alien species can be stopped through better laws and inspections. But this is a gross simplification: the appearance of tractability is created only by taking the causes one at a time.

Consider the plight of a simple, undemanding, and modestly adaptable creature: the California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense). These amphibians live most of the year underground in upland fields and woodlands. Each winter they migrate thousands of feet to their natal breeding pools to find mates and lay eggs. After several weeks of carousing they return to their underground burrows in the surrounding uplands.

The key to the breeding success of these salamanders is the ephemeral nature of the pools. The pools exist as dry depressions for six months of the year. Then, as heavy spring rains flood the region, these shallow basins fill with water, creating vernal pools. Tiger salamanders have come to rely on these temporary pools because, since they are dry part of the year, they cannot support naturally occurring fish populations. Thus, the salamanders' eggs are relatively safe from predation. As the eggs hatch, the larvae find themselves immersed in a bath of food: the water is bursting with millions of planktonic organisms. The salamander larvae grow rapidly?and they need to, because with the rains gone the pools dry up quickly, and unless the juvenile salamanders mature and move out into the surrounding terrain they will die. And so it has been for millions of years.

But not anymore. Today the California tiger salamander is disappearing. First, the upland habitat where it lives is prime real estate for residential, commercial, and agricultural development. Between 50 and 75 percent of its native habitat has already been lost, and more than 100 development projects are pending in the remaining areas. Woodlands are cut down and fields plowed up to make room for houses, lawns, schools, shopping centers, and roadways. Many vernal pools themselves are simply filled.

Where pools are spared bulldozing they are pressed into service as roadside storm basins to collect runoff from lawns, roads, and driveways?water saturated with fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, and heavy metals. The nitrogen and phosphorus in the runoff stimulates massive algal blooms that drives oxygen levels in the pools down to deadly levels, suffocating a large proportion of the animals. High concentrations of herbicides and pesticides in the runoff kill many juveniles and, in lower doses, alter metabolic chemistry in ways that bizarrely change sexual development, immune function, and even limb development.

Even setting aside local sources of contamination, the water in the pools is increasingly laden with a cocktail of toxic compounds (e.g., the herbicide atrazine) that are not used locally. Blowing in from industrial and agricultural sites many hundreds of miles away, these endocrine-disrupting compounds significantly reduce breeding success and foster grotesque developmental abnormalities.

Then there is the army of alien species?bullfrogs, crayfish, and other predators?that have been introduced intentionally into the landscape. These voracious hunters consume huge numbers of salamander larvae and juveniles, further decimating the tiger salamanders. In some instances, non-native salamanders (former pets) have been released into local pools, reducing breeding success and posing the risk of hybridization. And fish are frequently added to the temporary pools to devour mosquitoes during the wet season. While this makes life more comfortable for nearby human inhabitants, it exhausts the young salamanders' food supply.

But the assault does not end there. The regularity of spring rains is being replaced by recurrent three- and four-year droughts. Several generations of tiger salamanders therefore never emerge to replace the animals lost to natural and unnatural causes. In the past, tiger salamanders persisted despite climate variations by virtue of wandering individuals who trundled aimlessly through networks of wetlands until they chanced upon new vernal pools and restarted the population. But that is no longer possible because the matrix of connecting wetlands has been eliminated, and habitat fragmentation makes the chance encounter with a car tire many orders of magnitude greater than an encounter with either a suitable mate or a suitable habitat.

Finally, where residual populations of tiger salamanders have survived despite the odds in still isolated locations, they have become a target of the pet trade. Children are paid 25 cents per salamander to collect these highly prized animals, which are then sold for $15 a piece in U.S. pet shops and for more than $200 overseas. In fact the global trade in "exotics" such as tiger salamanders is growing explosively, especially for reptiles and amphibians. Probably one in a thousand salamanders survives the commerce and perhaps one in a thousand of these survives a few years in captivity.

This story is neither fictional nor unique. It is, in fact, the rule. One could tell similar stories of the red-crowned crane (Grus japonensis), the leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), the Lesothan succulent Aloe polyphylla, and most other species in decline. Relic species generally face an overwhelming web of threats that are impossible to disentangle.

Further complicating the picture are two meta-disturbances: global climate change and economic globalization. Climate change will make many areas inhospitable to their present inhabitants. Entire biotic communities will be evicted: coastal wetlands will be permanently submerged, many cloud forests will dry out, some dry savannas will become lush while others become deserts. Studies suggest that the types of climate shifts we can expect over the next century are well within the experiential history of most species that have survived the last two million years. In the past, most could have moved to new regions. But today only weedy species have the capacity to migrate and reestablish thriving populations in new habitats, which invariably are human-disturbed areas. For the rest, there is either no place to go because acceptable habitat has been reduced to a few isolated patches surrounded by a sea of human development. There is no way for non-weedy species to get to potentially more suitable locations (if they exist) hundreds of miles away because of interposed cities, roadways, subdivisions, shopping centers, and airports.

Economic globalization exacerbates the species-loss problem in several ways. Globalization increases the demand for natural resources in remote and undeveloped regions. In locations previously occupied by subsistence villages, labor towns spring up to support foreign timber and mining operations. As foreign capital flows into undeveloped regions it inflates the price paid for local goods, thereby increasing incentives for over-exploitation to feed the lucrative export market. Timber from the Malaysian and Indonesian rainforests bought and paid for by Japanese firms brings a much higher return than the same lumber sold in local markets. Over 80 percent of these rainforests have now been logged, with the consequence that the orangutan population is now less than ten percent of what it was decades ago.

Perhaps most importantly, the booming trade of the globalized economy accelerates the pace of alien species being transported around the globe. Breaking down economic barriers effectively breaks down geographic, ecological, and biotic barriers as vast numbers of plants and animals are shipped worldwide to support the pet and horticultural trades. Although presently only about five percent of these aliens take hold and flourish in their new environs, five percent of an exploding number is itself a large number. (As a reference point, 25 percent of the vascular plants in the United States today are alien species.)

Unintended introductions of alien plants, animals, and other organisms are even more threatening since authorities make no attempt to screen out truly harmful organisms. Alien pests, parasites, and predators take an increasingly high toll on native ecosystems. As ships and planes shuttle between continents carrying unprecedented volumes of cargo, they cart with them a growing roster of stow-away organisms. The Asian long-horn beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis), for example, invaded the United States in 1996 encased in wood crates from China or Korea. Spreading through New York and Chicago, they decimated local trees, especially maples. Since then, adult beetles have been intercepted at 17 U.S. ports.

Thus, climate change and economic globalization are powerful agents of human selection that amplify and make irreversible the traditional and localized human disturbances that undermine biodiversity.

Why There Is Nothing We Can Do

As our awareness of the extinction crisis has grown, we have taken some ameliorative actions. In the United States we have imposed rules upon ourselves to try to halt the loss. The U.S. Endangered Species Act prohibits the taking, harm, or harassment of some 1,300 plants and animals designated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Some critical habitats of these species are also protected. In addition, 44 of the 50 states have some form of state-level endangered species act of their own, through which they try to protect locally threatened species.

Since the early 1990s the European Union has had its Habitat Directive, which makes it illegal to kill or harm about 700 protected species or to disrupt 168 specially designated habitats. Approaching the problem from a different angle is the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES), which, as the name implies, is an attempt by the international community-presently over 150 countries-to limit the global trade in threatened species. About 30,000 plants and animals are on the CITES list. Thousands of species are added annually.

Meanwhile, nations, acting individually and through international conventions, have attempted to set aside biologically valuable landscapes and ocean areas as wildlife refuges and bioreserves. More than ten percent of the earth now has some form of protected status. The Parsa Reserve in Nepal covers about 500 square kilometers and offers sanctuary to a range of creatures, including 300 species of birds. The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve, encompassing over 400,000 square kilometers of ocean, protects about 70 percent of the coral reef ecosystems in the United States. Over 7,000 marine species are associated with this area, of which 25 percent are found nowhere else on the planet.

Recognizing that governments have limited political and fiscal resources, nongovernmental organizations have moved to impede the flow of species loss through land protection, public education, litigation, and policy advocacy. The Nature Conservancy claims to have helped to preserve over 117 million acres of wildlife habitat over the past 50-plus years. In the United States the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, and others use the courts to force recalcitrant government agencies to implement and enforce existing conservation laws and regulations.

A casual reading of the news would suggest these efforts are paying off:

By 1939 the number of whooping cranes (Grus americana) in the United States had declined to 18. Thanks to captive breeding, today there are over 300 whooping cranes, with 180 living in the wild. In an astounding effort, humans piloting ultralight aircraft taught a novice flock how to migrate from Florida to Wisconsin.
The population of Puerto Rican crested toads (Peltophryne lemur) has tripled to 300 over the past 25 years thanks to captive breeding in U.S. zoos and restocking in the wild.
A recent survey of tigers in India's Sunderbans Forest suggests that the preserve's population is stable and may even reflect an increase in cubs.
The last remaining patch of Kneeland prairie penny-cress (Thlaspi californicum), found in only one California county, will be saved with a ten-year, $300,000 conservation effort.
Perhaps if we dedicated a few billion dollars more, increased cooperative efforts among governments, expanded the system of bioreserves walling off biodiversity hot spots, cultivated sustainable economics among local communities, and reduced human consumption habits we could save the earth's biota.

Unfortunately, such efforts are far too little and far, far too late. In fact these and similar apparent success stories reflect a much more insidious process that is reshaping the living earth. Our most common tools for preserving biodiversity?prohibitory laws and regulations, bioreserves, and sustainable-development programs?are themselves powerful engines of human selection, tweaking (for our pleasure) but not fundamentally altering the outcome: massive species loss.

Prohibitory regulation. Virtually by definition all regulatory efforts at species protection and recovery are focused on relics and (unknowingly) ghosts, which have no chance of true recovery. Occasionally there are extraordinary exceptions, such as the American alligator, which having been almost extirpated is once again abundant. But our very few alleged successes are nothing more than manifestations of the growing dominance of human selection in evolution.

The very notion that we could regulate ourselves out of the extinction crisis?that government could force the wild to remain wild?is based on a fundamentally false premise: that the causes of species extinction are finite and reducible and that the number of true threatened species is reasonably limited. When the U.S. Endangered Species Act was recrafted in the early 1970s, wildlife experts naively believed that at most a few hundred species would require protection. Although the current U.S. list of domestic "endangered species" tops 1,300, the list would contain almost 5,000 entries if politics did not prevent it. (Species may be placed on the U.S. Endangered Species list only after a biological review by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Practically all such reviews these days are initiated by petitions from environmental groups. The Bush administration has halted these reviews, claiming it has run out of money.)

More to the point, the great irony is that the U.S. Endangered Species Act is the very institutionalization of human-driven evolution. We decide which species get on the list for protection and which are kept off. We decide which habitats of listed species will be labeled critical. We decide the recovery goals: how many of a given plant or animal should be allowed to persist, in how many "populations," and where they should (and should not) be distributed across the landscape. The official recovery goal for wild bison is for a total population in the low thousands, not their original numbers in the tens of millions. The wolf recovery plan envisions several dozen packs confined to carefully delineated refuges in a few key states, not free-roaming wolf packs in every state that would reflect their true former range. And the government still shoots both species if they wander off designated lands. Recovery goals for plants (for which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spends less than five percent of what it spends on animals) are limited to restoring populations in the locations where they are presently growing as relics and ghosts, not to restoring their former range.

Similarly, International Whaling Commission rules, CITES, and other international conventions convert human values into biotic structure; they are not regimes designed for ecological restoration. How many minke whales are sufficient to allow hunting? How many zoo requests for gorillas should be honored? Fundamentally, the determination of which species make it onto these protection lists and the timing of those listings is more about what appeals to us in an aesthetic and charismatic way and economics than about pivotal ecological roles and biology. Pandas get lots of attention and support; the many thousands of disappearing aquatic invertebrates do not.

Although legal prohibitions and strict enforcement can preserve some relic species at the margins and temporarily forestall the extinction of ghost species, they cannot prevent or even slow the end of the wild. Regulation, then, does little more than transform nature into a product of the human imagination.

Refuges and preserves. Biologists and ecologists have long recognized the limitations of species-specific preservation and have lobbied instead for the creation of protected areas that would shield ecosystems and all the plants and animals within. The idea behind refuges, bioreserves, and the like is to somehow wall off the wild from the harmful disturbances of humanity. Set aside 20,000 acres, limit human activity, and allow nature to proceed unhindered in its special space. And for a while this appears to work. But this too is largely an illusion. The refuges and bioreserves we set aside are no more than our paltry conception of an ecosystem, and the species within their boundaries are in most instances part of the extinction debt and all the while in decline.

As they exist today, bioreserves are the proverbial barrel in which fish are more easily shot: three quarters of the deaths of large carnivores in bioreserves are causedby people. The failures of this approach are only now becoming obvious.

Direct and indirect human encroachment into bioreserves is relentless and, with ever expanding populations in the developing world, unavoidable. Mexico's Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve, North America's last remaining rain forest, extends across 820,000 acres and is home to half of Mexico's bird species. Having already lost a quarter of its tree cover in the last 30 years to illegal logging by local residents (which Mexican authorities have ignored) the park has become a magnet for those looking for land to clear and till. In Africa and Asia, bioreserves have become the preferred hunting grounds for poachers and bush-meat traders: that is, after all, where the animals are!

Bioreserves will always be too small and too isolated from each other to accomplish their stated goal of preserving the wild as it is today. Embedded in a matrix of human habitation?cities, towns, farms, mining and logging operations?they cannot be insulated from broader human disturbances in the region, even if their own boundaries remain inviolate.

Consider one of the world's favorite eco-tourist destinations: the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve. This ecologically significant area covers more than 30,000 acres and hosts more than 2,500 plant species, 100 mammalian species, 400 bird species, 120 reptilian and amphibian species, and thousands of insects. The problem is that the cloud forest appears to be drying out. Deforestation is the apparent cause, but not from logging in the preserve. Rather, the clearing of lowland areas outside the preserve for agriculture is causing changes in the local patterns of fog and mist formation, thereby altering cloud formation up in the preserve. Thus, despite strong protections within its boundaries, the cloud forest may soon lack its defining feature: clouds. And the multitude of species that depend on that moisture will go the way of the extinct golden toad.

This weakness in the call for specific ecosystem preservation becomes all the more apparent in the context of climate change. The creation of a network of isolated, independent bioreserves assumes that the global environment?in particular the global climate?is relatively static. For the past 11,000 years this would have been a fair assumption. But this has changed. Climate models project far cooler and wetter weather during the critical winter months in what are now the most important Monarch-butterfly wintering grounds in Mexico, the Monarch Butterfly Bioreserve, which will become unlivable to the insects over the next few decades. Similar problems confront many of Europe's protected birds.

Lastly, by concentrating species within a limited geographic area, bioreserves increase the vulnerability of relic species to catastrophic, unrecoverable losses from natural disasters, epizootic diseases, war, and so on. During the summer of 2003, for example, fires in Brazil's two refuges that are home to the Brazilian Merganser duck (Mergus octosetaceus) wiped out 70 percent of one of the 53,000-square-kilometer parks while decimating large parts of the other and may lead to the creature's extinction. Only 250 existed before the fire.

Ultimately the transformation of wilderness into a patchwork of static bioreserves is just another tool of human selection?the antithesis of the wild.

Sustainable communities. Much has been said and written about sustainable communities as a social approach to easing the extinction crisis. Sustainability has been something of a crusade for the UN, various international agencies, and many nongovernmental environmental organizations. The argument goes that if local communities could learn to live within the carrying capacity of their environs, the pressures on terrestrial and marine ecosystems would be eased. And of course this is true.

But in the context of the extinction crisis, sustainable development is an anthropocentric resource-use policy, not an ecological model. Consumptive demand measured against resource supply, not ecosystem function, determines the limit of sustainability. What is the maximum amount of mahogany, or tuna, or leopard pelts that can be harvested and still allow projected human demand for the product to be met for the foreseeable future? The demands of the ecosystem are not truly part of the equation.

In addition, for sustainable development to have an impact on conservation it must be tied directly to local demand, where the costs of overexploitation are borne by those who benefit from it. This makes sustainable economic programs a moving target because communities grow. As medical services and standards of living improve, the size of a community, its economic aspirations, and its demands for resources grow. What was sustainable for a Kenyan village in 2000 will not be sustainable in 2020. The collapse of Africa's wildlife populations in the face of the bush-meat trade is just one example.

Moreover, if there was ever a hope for this strategy, even at a limited level, economic globalization destroyed it. Consider what might be regarded as an exemplar of sustainable development: Brazil-nut harvesting in the Amazon. Originally the idea was to protect the rain forest by creating a local economy based on the collection and sale of Brazil nuts. Initially this was quite successful. But today, local residents in the Brazilian Amazon harvest over 45,000 tons of nuts from the forest floor each year, yielding some $43 million in global trade. Unfortunately, nut gatherers harvest so many nuts that few if any seedlings are taking root. As aging Brazil-nut trees die off, they will not be replaced. Global demand for this environmentally friendly and sustainable crop drives the harvest and has made it unsustainable in the long term.

Similarly, the depletion of global fish stocks shows the basic flaw in the sustainability strategy. Local fishermen fishing for the local market are not depleting the stocks. The problem is the rise of global markets to satisfy the demands of people remote from the fishing grounds. Gross disparities in wealth between those who supply (low-wage labor) and those who demand (high-wage developed societies) ensure that sustainability will be a function of maximum bearable price, not ecological balance.

The notion of sustainable communities, then, is not about the wild. It is about long-term economic efficiency and the wise use of natural resources.

Wildlands. The wildlands concept is fantastic in both senses of the word. This idea, advocated by those in the deep-ecology movement, has two main components. First, national populations would be resettled into tightly drawn sustainable enclaves. In the United States, for example, huge, formerly ecologically significant areas such as Florida and the Rocky Mountains would be depopulated and restored to a natural state. About 50 percent of the United States would be converted into an expansive set of connected wildlands, surrounded by extensive buffers. Human access to this half of the country would be prohibited. Similar wildlands could be created on every continent.

Second, extensive social engineering would be necessary to alter land use and consumption patterns. The goal would be to reduce the ecological footprint of humanity so that much of the planet could be free from human exploitation.

In theory this strategy could reduce the slide of ghosts and relics into oblivion if it could be implemented immediately and universally. It would be a form of global ecological zoning that would significantly lessen the influence of human selection in the excluded regions. Wildlands would enable species and populations to adapt to climate change. As an ecologically centered strategy it is most likely the only approach that could truly reduce the scale and scope of the biotic collapse that is already underway.

Yet the notion that upwards of seven billion people could live hobbit-like with nature is hard to accept. With the right social framework we might have been able to do it modestly in 1304, but not in 2004 and certainly not in 2104. Global society is moving rapidly and inexorably in the opposite direction.

To be fair, advocates of wildlands acknowledge that, owing to enormous social, political, and economic hurdles, their vision would be at minimum a 100-year undertaking. The problem, of course, is that the end of the wild will already be complete.

Genetic engineering. Each year some of my students suggest that genetic engineering can end the cascade of species loss. Why can't we store DNA and, once the technology matures, bring all the species back and release them into the wild?

This kind of Jurassic Park thinking ignores the fact that all of the factors that contributed to species loss will remain in place and probably become even more powerful. If 95 percent of desert-tortoise habitat has been developed and its primary diet of herbs, grasses, and desert flowers is no longer available in 2004, exactly where will our reengineered tortoises live in 2030? At best they could exist as genetic relics in a zoo.

The miracles of genetic engineering cannot alter the fact that the wild will cease to exist even if we can individually manufacture each of its constituent parts.

A Reason to Do Nothing?

We cannot prevent the end of the wild. Absent an immediate 95-percent reduction in the human population (a truly horrendous thought), we cannot change our current course. This leads us to the question, If we are unalterably moving to a world in which half the currently existing species will be relics or ghosts, why should we continue to do anything to preserve biodiversity? Why not rescind national and international laws protecting endangered species, eliminate bioreserves, and let the unfettered market determine how and where we consume natural resources? By bowing to the serendipitous elements of human selection in setting the course of biotic development and evolution we could happily bulldoze, pave, or grass over every square inch of the planet in the pursuit of human progress. But it is not that simple.

This why-bother strategy would greatly magnify the scale, scope, and destructive consequences of the end of the wild. First, it would effectively bifurcate the earth's biota into two groups: weedy species and ghost species, the latter subsuming virtually all relics. And in this respect the number of lost organisms would surely shoot well past the 50-percent threshold noted earlier, while the time scale would contract to decades rather than a century-plus.

Indeed, even weedy species could face serious threats in this environment. The American crow and the blue jay, for example, have already seen their numbers decimated in many areas of the United States as a consequence of the invasion of the alien West Nile Virus, which first struck in 1999.

Second, this human-selected biosphere will not necessarily be a human-friendly one. Without direct management many species that we view as key natural resources, such as timber trees and marine fish stocks, would be consumed out of existence. The invisible hand of the market is all too invisible when it comes to the exploitation of natural commodities. The multiple collapses of once bountiful Atlantic and Pacific fisheries?which are now regulated, albeit poorly-represent just a taste of what would happen without any controls in place. (The North Atlantic, for example, has less than 20 percent of the fish it held in 1900.) The destructive effects would rebound through the economies of many nations.

Certain types of ecosystems and biotic communities, such as tropical rain forests and wetlands, might completely disappear. Thirty-five percent of the world's mangrove swamps?essential breeding habitat for many marine fish species?have already been lost, and the rate of destruction is accelerating annually. Surviving ecosystems would be impoverished and would fail to provide the range of services (e.g., water purification, flood and storm damage control) that we depend on.

Third, this approach would almost certainly increase the predominance of pests, parasites, and disease-causing organisms among the weedy species. Already today white-tailed deer populations in the United States (and Britain) have been allowed to grow virtually unchecked. There are now over 350,000 deer-auto collisions a year in the United States (50,000 in the U.K.), resulting in over 10,000 serious injuries to motorists, 150 human deaths annually, and billions of dollars in property damage. (By comparison there have been fewer than 50 confirmed human killings by mountain lions in the United States in the past 100 years.) In Britain there are about 50,000 auto-deer collisions, 2,400 human injuries, and 20 deaths. White-tailed deer, moreover, are an essential vector for the highly debilitating Lyme disease, which is spreading rapidly in the eastern United States. Indeed, many human pathogens and diseases are likely to flourish in this environment, finding it easy to skip around the world from country to country as was the recent case of the SARS virus.

Fourth, the global spread of invasive species would explode if left unchecked. Ecological concerns such as biotic homogenization aside, the economic toll would be disastrous. The economic harm caused by the 50,000 non-native invasive plants, animals, and other organisms already in the United States is approaching $140 billion per year. Florida's government alone spends $45 million annually battling invasive species, which cause some $180 million in agricultural damage.

The why-bother approach, moreover, would kill off a large proportion of the relic species in the wild that have particular psychological importance (existence value) to humanity: elephants, gorillas, whales, owls, and hawks, and other charismatic animals. From a humanist standpoint the quality of life on earth would plummet.

In the end, the notion that we could let nature take its course in a world so dominated by humanity is as dangerous as it is self-contradictory. Like it or not, nature now works for us. If humanity is to survive and prosper on such a planet then we have no choice but to at least try to manage the fine details of the end of the wild.

Since we cannot possibly restore relic and ghost species to their former status, nor do we have the knowledge to pick evolutionary winners and losers, we should focus on two core concerns: (1) safeguarding future evolutionary processes and pathways and (2) preserving ecosystem processes and functions.

We should begin with a massive and sustained two-decade global effort, reminiscent of the International Geophysical Year, to map systematically and dynamically the earth's biota. Only about 20 percent of the earth's species have been formally described. We need to know what is here, how it lives, what it does, and what is happening to it in order to prepare for what will be lost. More significantly we need to understand the intricacies of genetic and functional relationships among species?especially for relics and ghosts?to understand how evolutionary and ecological processes will be altered.

This means recording not just what species exist, how they look, what they do, and how they are linked together, but also what is happening to them as populations, as communities of populations, and at the landscape level. Undoubtedly this will be expensive, but spending $100 billion over the next decade to understand fully the dimensions of the accelerating biotic extinction on Earth will have infinitely greater significance for humanity than scratching at the surface of Mars for signs of remotely hypothetical billion-year-old bacterial extinctions.

Meanwhile we must move away from the haphazard strategy of protecting relic and ghost species in isolation. Specifically, we can begin to think about trans-regional schemes for building meta-reserves. These would be non-contiguous assemblages of terrestrial and aquatic sanctuaries and proto-sanctuaries, significantly larger than current bioreserves. Sites would be selected to protect broad ecosystem functions and processes in a dynamic environment rather than species-specific habitat needs or singly-defining (highly peculiar) ecological characteristics. In other words, these meta-reserves would involve the designation of multiple and disparate terrestrial and aquatic refuges, many of which could have future, but not current, special biodiversity value. Each meta-reserve would be modeled around an one or more existing core biodiversity hot spots and a constellation of satellite sites, with the expectation that climate change and other human disturbances are likely to shift the ecological processes and habitat values of current biodiversity hot spots among these sites. The satellite sites of these meta reserves would periodically receive (by our doing) biotic community transplants as experimental "migrations" as abiotic characteristics such as rainfall change. The goal?admittedly a gamble?would be to avoid mistakes like the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reservation.

For these meta-reserves to operate properly, three conditions will have to be met. First, plant and animal populations within these meta-reserves will have to be actively and heavily managed at all levels ? exactly the opposite of how we think about present-day bioreserves. Ecosystems cannot be conserved by benign neglect. We must determine population levels within the meta-reserves as well as when and where plants and animals should migrate among meta-reserve sites. We must determine when it is time to introduce new genes into a species, as we are presently doing with the Florida panther. Restricted-range and sessile species would require our explicit intervention to disperse them to potential new habitat areas.

Second, meta-reserves would need highly porous wildlife boundaries within a broad network of corridors and connections (e.g., forest tracts and wetlands) allowing wildlife to move freely and stochastically to new areas. Movement, migration, and colonization are the goals of meta-reserves, not imprisonment. These corridors would be buffered by wide swaths of landscape where ecologically compatible agriculture and heavily regulated resource use were allowed.

Third, given the above, substantial human and financial resources would have to be devoted to continuous management and rigorous enforcement, or else these efforts will be futile. Annual global spending on ecosystem protection (including acquisition) is just over $3 billion (the price of two B-2 bombers). In order to nudge the end of the wild toward a more human-friendly outcome, we need to spend ten times that much to compensate for the unintended impact of human selection.

In this context the issue of alien plant and animal species becomes problematic. On the one hand the intentional and unintentional movement of species among the continents can be a dangerous and harmful manifestation of human selection. Controlling the flow of exotic parasites, pests, and predators will increase the cost of global commerce and disrupt short-term profits. But it will save far more in the costs associated with trying to eradicate destructive alien pests such as the zebra muscle or the Formosan termite.

On the other hand, in confronting the end of the wild, the notion of meta-reserves implies that the intentional transplanting of alien species might be desirable from an evolutionary perspective. If climate change and development are going to render some regions unsuitable for certain species, should we transplant them out-of-region to where they might thrive? For example, the Puerto Rican coqui (Eleutherodactylus coqui), a tree frog, is under increasing pressure from development and pollution at home. But in Hawaii (where they were illegally transported) they are thriving. Habitat substitution in the face of dynamic environmental change is not the same as biotic homogenization. Should we oppose it or employ it?

Finally, prohibitive policies such as the U.S. Endangered Species Act and CITES need to be kept in place and strengthened. Although they are at best stop-gap measures, they buy time for us to examine the ecological roles of relic and ghost species and assess the impact of their loss. Perhaps more significant is their moral imperative. Like the Ten Commandments, they remind us who we could be. They make us examine our own behavior and obligations as the planet's stewards while giving pause to the brazen and needless destruction of species in our own backyards.

The end of the wild does not mean a barren world. There will be plenty of life. It will just be different: much less diverse, much less exotic, far more predictable, and?given the dominance of weedy species?probably far more annoying. We have lost the wild. Perhaps in 5 to 10 million years it will return. <

Stephen M. Meyer is a professor of political science at MIT and the director of the MIT Project on Environmental Politics and Policy.

 

Recommended reading:

 

Andrew Balmford, Rhys E. Green, and Martin Jenkins, ?Measuring the Changing State of Nature,? Trends in Research in Evolutionary Ecology 18 (2003): 326?330.

Stephen L. Buchmann and Gary Paul Nabhan, The Forgotten Pollinators (Washington, D.C.: Island Press/Shearwater Books, 1996).

Gretchen Daily, ed., Nature?s Services: Societal Dependence on Natural Ecosystems (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1997).

Goncalo Ferraz et al., ?Rates of Species Loss from Amazonian Forest Fragments,? Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 100 (2003): 14069?14073.

John H. Lawton and Robert M. May, eds., Extinction Rates (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995).

Julie L. Lockwood and Michael L. McKinney, eds., Biotic Homogenization (New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, 2001).

Norman Myers and Andrew H. Knoll, ?The Biotic Crisis and the Future of Evolution,? Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 98 (2001): 5389?5392. [This issue of PNAS includes a number of provocative papers from a colloquium on this topic.]

John F. Oates, Myth and Reality in the Rain Forest: How Conservation Strategies are Failing in West Africa (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999).

David Quammen, ?Planet of Weeds: Tallying the Losses of Earth?s Animals and Plants,? Harper?s, October 1998.

Michael L. Rosenzweig, ?The Four Questions: What Does the Introduction of Exotic Species Do to Diversity?,? Evolutionary Ecology Research 3 (2001): 361?367. (PDF)

John Terborgh, Requiem for Nature (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1999).

J.A. Thomas et al., ?Comparative Losses of British Butterflies, Birds, and Plants and the Global Extinction Crisis,? Science 303 (2004): 1879?1881.

Peter M. Vitousek, Harold A. Mooney, Jane Lubchenco, and Jerry M. Melillo, ?Human Domination of Earth?s Ecosystems,? Science 277 (1997): 494?499.

Gian-Reto Walther et al., ?Ecological Responses to Recent Climate Change,? Nature 416 (2002): 389-395.

E.O. Wilson, The Diversity of Life (New York: W.W. Norton, 1999).

David S. Woodruff, ?Declines of Biomes and Biotas and the Future of Evolution,? Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 98 (2001): 5471?5476.
30288  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Crimes using knives on: October 03, 2005, 08:11:46 AM
WEAPONS OF CHOICE
Texan shoots robber in garage
'This is one homeowner that you ain't going to mess with'

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Posted: October 1, 2005
1:00 a.m. Eastern



? 2005 WorldNetDaily.com



Texan Danny Dunn fought burglar (KRIS-TV, Corpus Christi, Texas)
Stabbed by a burglar in his own garage, a Texas homeowner fought back, shooting the suspect three times.

Danny Dunn of Corpus Christi told local KRIS-TV that when an intruder entered his home just before 6 a.m. yesterday, he was determined to not go down without a fight.

"This is one homeowner that you ain't going to mess with," Dunn said. "I'll take the next one down too."


Police arrested a suspect, 22-year-old Daniel Holcomb, at a nearby hospital where he was being treated for gunshot wounds to his arm, leg and pelvis.

Dunn, in his garage heading to work, said he saw the burglar rummaging through his belongings and shouted at him.

That's when the burglar attacked.

"He came at me with a knife, he cut me on the hand, and on the face, I took 49 stitches total," Dunn told the TV station.

The homeowner said the burglar then tried to escape the same way he entered, by crawling underneath the cracked-open garage door, but he couldn't get out.

A frightened Dunn then raced inside and grabbed his .22 caliber rifle.

"He had pushed the garage door opener and it went down, trapping him; he come at me again, and I shot him. ... I shot him three times," Dunn said.

The burglar left behind a trail of blood before falling to the ground just outside the garage.

"He flopped around out here for a while, and he wouldn't stay down, like I told him, I told him I was going to kill him, and I should have."

Dunn said the burglar managed to get away by opening the garage door, but apparently left his fingerprints behind.

Police didn't take long to catch up with the suspect, however, KRIS reported.
30289  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / M?sica para entrenar on: September 30, 2005, 12:52:25 PM
Ah.  Pues la cancion rap-salsa "Cuba" con la cual se termine "Attacking Blocks" viene de la compilacion "Mo'vida" de Putamayo (si me acuerdo bien).

Seguire' buscando otros titulos para ti.
30290  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / M?sica para entrenar on: September 30, 2005, 12:45:17 AM
Vendemos los discos de Brent Lewis en nuestro catalogo.  El tocaba "drum" (tambor?) en nuestros Gatherings por muchos anos y su musica se oye en el clip "Crafty Dog in Action" y otros.
30291  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Guro Crafty en el DF, Mexico on: September 30, 2005, 12:43:05 AM
27-28 de Mayo.   Cool
30292  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Kali Tudo bonus material on: September 30, 2005, 12:40:41 AM
This incident excited considerable public and media interest in Mexico City where it ocurred.  The footage we show in the extras was but the first night of four nights where the footage was examined in ever greater detail and additional matters came to light.  It is an absolutely fascinating case study on many levels.  Forgive me the hook, but we go into this in further detail on the DBMA Association website cheesy

In answer to your question about shooting the perps:

1) Although it was not apparent on the first night this footage was broadcast, subsequent analysis revealed four shots

2)  Also broadcast on one of the subsequent nights was a piece on the urine poor quality of police pistol training.  It was basically zero, and all bullets had to be bought by the individuals officers-- whose salary is under $150 US a month.
30293  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans on: September 29, 2005, 07:48:31 AM
http://www.michaelyon.blogspot.com/?BMIDS=17137839-4e534328-81766

While there, take a look around.  This is a good blog.
30294  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Crimes using knives on: September 29, 2005, 07:34:10 AM
Associated Press  9/28/05

**********************8
 MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. (AP) - Five years into the 21st century, an 1846
anti-dueling law is being used to prosecute two cousins accused of getting
in a knife fight.

"The 1800s are alive and well in Mount Clemens," joked Dean Alan, who heads
the Macomb County prosecutor's office warrants division. It issued warrants
Tuesday.

Police say the cousins, ages 19 and 31, disagreed Monday over a $30 debt.

The older man brandished a knife and challenged the younger man to fight
outside their Mount Clemens home, and the younger man accepted, said Sheriff
Mark Hackel. The teen was stabbed in the stomach.

"He could've done any number of things," Hackel said. "He could've called
police, he could've fled the area. But he took on the challenge and became part of the problem."

A lawyer specializing in criminal defense said he has never represented
anyone charged with dueling but said lawyers for both men could use the same strategy -- claiming self-defense.

"If it's a mutual fight, it's kind of hard to say it's one guy's fault,"
said Stephen Rabaut. "And just because you're the injured party, that
doesn't mean you were the good guy."
30295  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We the Unorganized Militia on: September 29, 2005, 07:28:16 AM
Woof Szymon:

The American ear recognizes the phrase "a well-regulated militia" from the second amendment to our Constitution, which is the one guaranteeing the right of the people to bear arms.  There is argument about whether this right is that of the individual (the correct position in my opinion) or of the "militias", which are now held to be the "National Guard" of the various states of the United States.

There is also the "unorganized militia".  For a good legal discussion of this see:

http://dogbrothers.com/wrapper.php?file=savedbythemilitia.htm&osCsid=2fb71eaeda1710704825c5d440d40b9a

This page is the "Flight 93 Memorial", a button for which can be found towards the bottom on our front page.

For the role of all this in the concept of Dog Brothers Martial Arts go to the clip on our opening page titile "The Unorganized Militia"

Your post is a perfect example of what we are talking about.  Thanks for sharing it with us.

Hope this helps.
30296  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3 on: September 28, 2005, 10:47:05 AM
Heart of Darkness
From Zarqawi to the man on the street, Sunni Arabs fear Shiite emancipation.

BY FOUAD AJAMI
Wednesday, September 28, 2005 12:01 a.m. EDT

The remarkable thing about the terror in Iraq is the silence with which it is greeted in other Arab lands. Grant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi his due: He has been skilled at exposing the pitilessness on the loose in that fabled Arab street and the moral emptiness of so much of official Arab life. The extremist is never just a man of the fringe: He always works at the outer edges of mainstream life, playing out the hidden yearnings and defects of the dominant culture. Zarqawi is a bigot and a killer, but he did not descend from the sky. He emerged out of the Arab world's sins of omission and commission; in the way he rails against the Shiites (and the Kurds) he expresses that fatal Arab inability to take in "the other." A terrible condition afflicts the Arabs, and Zarqawi puts it on lethal display: an addiction to failure, and a desire to see this American project in Iraq come to a bloody end.

Zarqawi's war, it has to be conceded, is not his alone; he kills and maims, he labels the Shiites rafida (rejecters of Islam), he charges them with treason as "collaborators of the occupiers and the crusaders," but he can be forgiven the sense that he is a holy warrior on behalf of a wider Arab world that has averted its gaze from his crimes, that has given him its silent approval. He and the band of killers arrayed around him must know the meaning of this great Arab silence.





There is a clich? that distinguishes between cultures of shame and cultures of guilt, and by that crude distinction, it has always been said that the Arab world is a "shame culture." But in truth there is precious little shame in Arab life about the role of the Arabs in the great struggle for and within Iraq. What is one to make of the Damascus-based Union of Arab Writers that has refused to grant membership in its ranks to Iraqi authors? The pretext that Iraqi writers can't be "accredited" because their country is under American occupation is as good an illustration as it gets of the sordid condition of Arab culture. For more than three decades, Iraq's life was sheer and limitless terror, and the Union of Arab Writers never uttered a word. Through these terrible decades, Iraqis suffered alone, and still their poetry and literature adorn Arabic letters. They need no acknowledgment of their pain, or of their genius, from a literary union based in a city in the grip of a deadening autocracy.
A culture of shame would surely see into the shame of an Arab official class with no tradition of accountability granting itself the right to hack away at Iraq's constitution, dismissing it as the handiwork of the American regency. Unreason, an indifference to the most basic of facts, and a spirit of belligerence have settled upon the Arab world. Those who, in Arab lands beyond Iraq, have taken to describing the Iraqi constitution as an "American-Iranian constitution," give voice to a debilitating incoherence. At the heart of this incoherence lies an adamant determination to deny the Shiites of Iraq a claim to their rightful place in their country's political order.

The drumbeats against Iraq that originate from the League of Arab States and its Egyptian apparatchiks betray the panic of an old Arab political class afraid that there is something new unfolding in Iraq--a different understanding of political power and citizenship, a possible break with the culture of tyranny and the cult of Big Men disposing of the affairs--and the treasure--of nations. It is pitiable that an Egyptian political class that has abdicated its own dream of modernity and bent to the will of a pharaonic regime is obsessed with the doings in Iraq. But this is the political space left open by the master of the realm. To be sure, there is terror in the streets of Iraq; there is plenty there for the custodians of a stagnant regime in Cairo to point to as a cautionary tale of what awaits societies that break with "secure" ways. But the Egyptian autocracy knows the stakes. An Iraqi polity with a modern social contract would be a rebuke to all that Egypt stands for, a cruel reminder of the heartbreak of Egyptians in recent years. We must not fall for Cairo's claims of primacy in Arab politics; these are hollow, and Iraq will further expose the rot that has settled upon the political life of Egypt.

Nor ought we be taken in by warnings from Jordan, made by King Abdullah II, of a "Shia crescent" spanning Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. This is a piece of bigotry and simplification unworthy of a Hashemite ruler, for in the scheme of Arab history the Hashemites have been possessed of moderation and tolerance. Of all Sunni Arab rulers, the Hashemites have been particularly close to the Shiites, but popular opinion in Jordan has been thoroughly infatuated with Saddam Hussein, and Saddamism, and an inexperienced ruler must have reasoned that the Shiite bogey would play well at home.

The truth of Jordan today is official moderation coupled with a civic culture given to anti-Americanism, and hijacked by the Islamists. In that standoff, the country's political life is off-limits, but the street has its way on Iraq. Verse is still read in Saddam's praise at poetry readings in Amman, and the lawyers' syndicate is packed with those eager to join the legal defense teams of Saddam Hussein and his principal lieutenants. Saddam's two daughters reside in Jordan with no apologies to offer, and no second thoughts about the great crimes committed under the Baath tyranny. Those who know the ways of Jordan speak of cities where religious radicalism and bigotry blow with abandon. Zarqa, the hometown of Abu Musab, is one such place; Salt, the birthplace of a notorious suicide bomber, Raad al-Banna, who last winter brought great tragedy to the Iraqi town of Hilla, killing no fewer than 125 of its people, is another. For a funeral, Banna's family gave him a "martyr's wedding," and the affair became an embarrassment to the regime and the political class. Jordan is yet to make its peace with the new Iraq. (King Abdullah's "crescent" breaks at any rate: Syria has no Shiites to speak of, and its Alawite rulers are undermining the Shiites of Iraq, feeding a jihadist breed of Sunni warriors for whom the Alawites are children of darkness.)





It was the luck of the imperial draw that the American project in Iraq came to the rescue of the Shiites--and of the Kurds. We may not fully appreciate the historical change we unleashed on the Arab world, but we have given liberty to the stepchildren of the Arab world. We have overturned an edifice of material and moral power that dates back centuries. The Arabs railing against U.S. imperialism and arrogance in Iraq will never let us in on the real sources of their resentments. In the way of "modern" men and women with some familiarity with the doctrines of political correctness, they can't tell us that they are aggrieved that we have given a measure of self-worth to the seminarians of Najaf and the highlanders of Kurdistan. But that is precisely what gnaws at them.
An edifice of Arab nationalism built by strange bedfellows--the Sunni political and bureaucratic elites, and the Christian Arab pundits who abetted them in the idle hope that they would be spared the wrath of the street and of the mob--was overturned in Iraq. And America, at times ambivalent about its mission, brought along with its military gear a suspicion of the Shiites, a belief that the Iraqi Shiites were an extension of Iran, a community destined to build a sister-republic of the Iranian theocracy. Washington has its cadre of Arabists reared on Arab nationalist historiography. This camp had a seat at the table, but the very scale of what was at play in Iraq, and the redemptionism at the heart of George Bush's ideology, dwarfed them.

For the Arab enemies of this project of rescue, this new war in Iraq was a replay of an old drama: the fall of Baghdad to the Mongols in 1258. In the received history, the great city of learning, the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate, had fallen to savages, and an age of greatness had drawn to a close. In the legend of that tale, the Mongols sacked the metropolis, put its people to the sword, dumped the books of its libraries in the Tigris. That river, chroniclers insist, flowed, alternately, with the blood of the victims and the ink of the books. It is a tale of betrayal, the selective history maintains. A minister of the caliph, a Shiite by the name of Ibn Alqami, opened the gates of Baghdad to the Mongols. History never rests here, and telescopes easily: In his call for a new holy war against the Shiites, Zarqawi dredges up that history, dismisses the Shiite-led government as "the government of Ibn Alqami's descendants." Zarqawi knows the power of this symbolism, and its dark appeal to Sunni Arabs within Iraq.

Zarqawi's jihadists have sown ruin in Iraq, but they are strangers to that country, and they have needed the harbor given them in the Sunni triangle and the indulgence of the old Baathists. For the diehards, Iraq is now a "stolen country" delivered into the hands of subject communities unfit to rule. Though a decided minority, the Sunni Arabs have a majoritarian mindset and a conviction that political dominion is their birthright. Instead of encouraging a break with the old Manichaean ideologies, the Arab world beyond Iraq feeds this deep-seated sense of historical entitlement. No one is under any illusions as to what the Sunni Arabs would have done had oil been located in their provinces. They would have disowned both north and south and opted for a smaller world of their own and defended it with the sword. But this was not to be, and their war is the panic of a community that fears that it could be left with a realm of "gravel and sand."





In the aftermath of Katrina, the project of reforming a faraway region and ridding it of its malignancies is harder to sustain and defend. We are face-to-face with the trade-off between duties beyond borders and duties within. At home, for the critics of the war, Katrina is a rod to wave in the face of the Bush administration. To be sure, we did not acquit ourselves well in the aftermath of the storm; we left ourselves open to the gloatings of those eager to see America get its comeuppance. Even Zarqawi weighed in on Katrina, depicting a raid on the northern town of Tal Afar by a joint Iraqi-American force as an attempt on the part of "Bush, the enemy of God" to cover up the great "scandal in facing up to the storm which exposed to the entire world what had happened to the American military due to the wars of attrition it had suffered in Iraq and Afghanistan."
Those duties within have to be redeemed in the manner that this country has always assumed redemptive projects. But that other project, in the burning grounds of the Arab-Muslim world, remains, and we must remember its genesis. It arose out of a calamity on 9/11, which rid us rudely of the illusions of the '90s. That era had been a fools' paradise; Nasdaq had not brought about history's end. In Kabul and Baghdad, we cut down two terrible regimes; in the neighborhood beyond, there are chameleons in the shadows whose ways are harder to extirpate.

We have not always been brilliant in the war we have waged, for these are lands we did not fully know. But our work has been noble and necessary, and we can't call a halt to it in midstream. We bought time for reform to take root in several Arab and Muslim realms. Leave aside the rescue of Afghanistan, Kuwait and Qatar have done well by our protection, and Lebanon has retrieved much of its freedom. The three larger realms of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria are more difficult settings, but there, too, the established orders of power will have to accommodate the yearnings for change. A Kuwaiti businessman with an unerring feel for the ways of the Arab world put it thus to me: "Iraq, the Internet, and American power are undermining the old order in the Arab world. There are gains by the day." The rage against our work in Iraq, all the way from the "chat rooms" of Arabia to the bigots of Finsbury Park in London, is located within this broader struggle.

In that Iraqi battleground, we can't yet say that the insurgency is in its death throes. But that call to war by Zarqawi, we must know, came after the stunning military operation in Tal Afar dealt the jihadists a terrible blow. An Iraqi-led force, supported by American tanks, armored vehicles and air cover, had stormed that stronghold. This had been a transit point for jihadists coming in from Syria. This time, at Tal Afar, Iraq security forces were there to stay, and a Sunni Arab defense minister with the most impeccable tribal credentials, Saadoun Dulaimi, issued a challenge to Iraq's enemy, a message that his soldiers would fight for their country.

The claim that our war in Iraq, after the sacrifices, will have hatched a Shiite theocracy is a smear on the war, a misreading of the Shiite world of Iraq. In the holy city of Najaf, at its apex, there is a dread of political furies and an attachment to sobriety. I went to Najaf in July; no one of consequence there spoke of a theocratic state. Najaf's jurists lived through a time of terror, when informers and assassins had the run of the place. They have been delivered from that time. The new order shall give them what they want: a place in Iraq's cultural and moral order, and a decent separation between religion and the compromises of political life.

Over the horizon looms a referendum to ratify the country's constitution. Sunni Arabs are registering in droves, keen not to repeat the error they committed when they boycotted the national elections earlier this year. In their pride, and out of fear of the insurgents and their terror, the Sunni Arabs say that they are registering to vote in order to thwart this "illegitimate constitution." This kind of saving ambiguity ought to be welcomed, for there are indications that the Sunni Arabs may have begun to understand terror's blindness and terror's ruin. Zarqawi holds out but one fate for them; other doors beckon, and there have stepped forth from their ranks leaders eager to partake of the new order. It is up to them, and to the Arab street and the Arab chancelleries that wink at them, to bring an end to the terror. It has not been easy, this expedition to Iraq, and for America in Iraq there has been heartbreak aplenty. But we ought to remember the furies that took us there, and we ought to be consoled by the thought that the fight for Iraq is a fight to ward off Arab dangers and troubles that came our way on a clear September morning, four years ago.

Mr. Ajami teaches International Relations at Johns Hopkins University.
30297  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Homeland Security on: September 23, 2005, 01:36:56 PM
U.S. Terrorism Threats: Overconfidence in California?
Hamid Hayat, a California man who has been held on charges of lying to federal authorities about attending a terrorist training camp in Pakistan, was accused in federal court in Sacramento on Sept. 22 of providing material support to terrorists. The indictment alleges that Hayat "intended, upon receipt of orders from other individuals, to wage jihad (holy war) in the United States."

In June, federal authorities arrested Hayat, his father and three others from the same mosque in Lodi, Calif., near Sacramento -- later issuing deportation orders for the non-U.S. citizens among them. In announcing the latest Hayat indictment, U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott said authorities do not know what kind of plot was being hatched at the mosque, but that it had been stopped.

Scott's remarks could be premature.

Terrorist networks often are composed of multiple cells, one or more of them capable of operating independently and carrying out attacks after another has been broken up. For security reasons, terrorist cells often have no knowledge of the activities or status of one another. The December 2004 attack against the U.S. Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, is a case in point. Saudi counterterrorism forces exposed one of the two cells the previous month, but the attack proceeded -- and five consulate employees died, none of them U.S. nationals. Four members of the Saudi military and three of the five attackers also died in the attack.

Attacks also have occurred after authorities believed they had thwarted the entire plot. In 1997, U.S. counterterrorism authorities suspected that an attack was being planned against the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. The investigation led to Wadih el Hage, who authorities say had been Osama bin Laden's close confidant and personal secretary. U.S. and Kenyan authorities searched el Hage's home but the suspect managed to flee Kenya in September 1997, leading U.S. officials to believe they had thwarted the attack. On Aug. 7, 1998, the U.S. Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, were simultaneously attacked with massive truck bombs, killing more than 220 people.

The exposure of one cell or individual involved in a terrorist plot does not mean that other attacks are not being planned in the same area. In June 1993 -- four months after the World Trade Center bombing -- U.S. authorities raided a warehouse in Queens, N.Y., based on a tip from informants. The warehouse allegedly was being used by followers of blind Egyptian cleric Omar Abdel-Rahman to mix explosives to use in attacks against targets in New York, including the FBI building and U.N. headquarters. Abdel-Rahman, who was arrested in 1993 along with nine of his followers, was convicted in October 1995 of "seditious conspiracy." He is serving a life sentence.

Although the investigation into Hayat's activities resulted in multiple arrests and deportations, it is possible that only one part of a larger plot has been exposed. It also is possible that some other aspect of human or tactical intelligence has been overlooked, leaving other cells uninvestigated. After the Lodi arrests, any other cell in the area would have gone underground for a time to keep from being exposed. If that is the case, Scott could be overconfident.
30298  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We the Well-armed People on: September 23, 2005, 10:36:55 AM
NRA Files Suit To Stop Firearm Seizures In New Orleans


Help support NRA's efforts in New Orleans. Click here to make a contribution.

(Fairfax, VA) - Today, the National Rifle Association (NRA) filed a motion in United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana seeking a temporary restraining order to block authorities from confiscating law-abiding citizens' firearms in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

 

"New Orleans is the first city in the United States to forcibly disarm peaceable law-abiding citizens and it must be the last.  Victims are dealing with a complete breakdown of government.  At a time when 911 is non-operational and law enforcement cannot respond immediately to calls for help, people have only the Second Amendment to protect themselves, their loved ones and their property," said NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre.

 

"The NRA stands with law-abiding Americans, who agree that at their most vulnerable moment, their right to defend themselves and their families should not be taken away," said Chris W. Cox, NRA's chief lobbyist.

 

According to The New York Times, the New Orleans superintendent of police directed that no civilians in New Orleans will be allowed to have guns and that "only law enforcement are allowed to have weapons."  ABC News quoted New Orleans' deputy police chief, saying, "No one will be able to be armed. We are going to take all the weapons."

 

"The NRA is determined to stop this blatant abuse of power by local politicians.  It is disgraceful that any government official would further endanger the lives of innocent victims by issuing this ridiculous order.  We are very grateful to the many rank and file police officers who have come forward and assisted NRA in exposing these violations of constitutional freedoms.  We are also pleased that the Second Amendment Foundation is joining us in this effort," added Cox.

 

"The actions of the New Orleans government have destroyed the one levee that stands between law-abiding citizens and anarchy - the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.  The NRA will not rest until this injustice is resolved," concluded LaPierre.    

--nra--

 

Established in 1871, the National Rifle Association is America's oldest civil rights and sportsmen's group.  Four million members strong, NRA continues its mission to uphold Second Amendment rights and to advocate enforcement of existing laws against violent offenders to reduce crime.  The Association remains the nation's leader in firearm education and training for law-abiding gun owners, law enforcement and the armed services.
30299  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Nutrition, Diet Thread on: September 23, 2005, 07:23:46 AM
Cancer and Vitamins:
Patients Urged to Avoid
Supplements During Treatment
September 20, 2005; Page D1

Many cancer patients take a range of antioxidant vitamins in hope of improving their odds, but research suggests the supplements may be doing more harm than good.

A report published this month in CA, an American Cancer Society medical journal, says cancer patients shouldn't use antioxidants during radiation or chemotherapy because the supplements may reduce the effectiveness of treatment. Worse, some research suggests that antioxidants may actually feed cancers, protecting the very cancer cells patients are trying to attack.

  HEALTH MAILBOX



 
Read Tara Parker-Pope's Health Mailbox where she answers readers' questions about medical studies, ailments and treatments.
 
 
 
The news further clouds the role that vitamins play in promoting good health. Earlier this year, a major study showed that certain people who regularly take vitamin E supplements had a higher risk for heart failure. The notion that antioxidants may be harmful is likely to be upsetting and confusing to the large number of cancer patients gobbling down vitamins and supplements to help fight the disease. Studies show that as many as a third to half of cancer patients are taking antioxidants, vitamins and other supplements.

Antioxidants include beta-carotene, lycopene, and vitamins A, B, C and E, among others. In the body, antioxidants mop up rogue molecules called free radicals, which have the potential to cause extensive cell damage and are believed to play a role in heart disease, cancer and numerous other health problems.

A substance that attacks free radicals would seem to battle cancer in theory. But the results of both lab and human studies of cancer and antioxidants have been mixed. One concern is that because chemotherapy treatments sometimes act against the cancer by producing free radicals, taking antioxidants could interfere with that effect.

 
Some lab studies have shown that antioxidants can improve the effectiveness of cancer treatments, such as a 1997 study that showed antioxidant supplements boosted chemotherapy used for colon-cancer patients. Other lab studies raise questions about their use, however. For instance, a 1995 report in the Journal of Biological Chemistry showed that cancer cells in a petri dish actually absorb more vitamin C than normal cells, suggesting that vitamin C is better at protecting tumors than healthy tissues.

Until more is known, patients undergoing treatment should avoid high-dose supplements, concludes Gabriella M. D'Andrea, breast oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and author of the CA article.

In her review of the scientific evidence on use of antioxidant supplements to prevent or treat cancer, Dr. D'Andrea found a handful of human trials that showed supplements often don't benefit cancer patients and may be causing harm.

"We would love to find a nutrient or antioxidant that could be anticancer, but I think we need to be very cautious," says Dr. D'Andrea. "In fact we've seen the counter," she adds, "where cancer rates are higher."

For instance, two randomized trials of patients with advanced cancer found no benefit from vitamin C supplements and suggested that survival may have been worse in the vitamin group. Two large trials of smokers and former smokers found that beta carotene supplements appeared to increase lung-cancer risk. Last year, the British medical journal Lancet published a study showing that antioxidants didn't prevent gastrointestinal cancers, and may have increased mortality risk. In a 2002 study of early-stage breast-cancer patients undergoing treatment, some were prescribed large doses of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Results weren't conclusive but suggested survival may be worse in the antioxidant users.

A major study this year of patients at risk for heart disease showed high doses of vitamin E had no impact on risk of melanoma, prostate, lung, oral, colorectal or breast cancers, but they were linked with higher risk for heart failure. A separate vitamin E study showed head-and-neck-cancer patients who took the supplement increased their risk for developing a second cancer.

Dr. D'Andrea says a large human trial is needed to show the real impact vitamins and antioxidants have on cancer patients. The problem is that such trials are expensive, and it's notoriously difficult to study supplements because dietary patterns vary so widely and issues like fat content and fruit and vegetable consumption may alter the way one supplement acts in different people.

Certainly, none of this means cancer patients should never take vitamins or other supplements. Many cancer patients suffer nutrition problems and may be advised to take vitamins. The main concern is that patients discuss diet changes with their doctor. "A lot of people think nutrients in any dose are harmless, but that may not be the case," says Marji McCullough, nutritional epidemiologist for the American Cancer Society. "It's probably prudent to say people should avoid taking large doses of any single supplement unless specifically recommended to do so from their doctor."

Patients still may be able to help themselves by adopting a lifestyle of healthful eating and exercise. In May researchers released the results of a study of 2,400 post-menopausal women with early-stage breast cancer. The study showed that a low-fat diet can lower the chances of the cancer coming back by 24%.

? E-mail me at healthjournal@wsj.com.
30300  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Mexico on: September 22, 2005, 06:05:55 PM
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The Foreboding Death of Mexico's Security Minister
September 22, 2005 18 30  GMT



Summary

Mexican Security Minister Ram?n Mart?n Huerta and several other government officials died in a Sept. 21 helicopter crash that appears to have been caused by bad weather. The consequences of this apparent accident likely include a further deterioration of Mexico's security environment, reduced cooperation between U.S. and Mexican law enforcement on border issues, increased levels of capital flight and decreased foreign investment.

Analysis

Mexican Security Minister Ram?n Mart?n Huerta and five other government officials, including Federal Police Chief Tom?s Valencia Angeles, died in a helicopter crash 20 miles outside Mexico City on Sept. 21. Government officials said the helicopter, which was attempting to detour around inclement weather, crashed head-on into a wall of rock on a wooded hillside at an altitude of more than 11,000 feet. The helicopter's pilots also died in the crash. A pilot flying a second helicopter said he lost visual contact with Huerta's when it flew into a dense patch of clouds shortly before it crashed. Although an investigation is just beginning, bad weather is the most plausible explanation for the crash.

The helicopter was on its way to maximum-security La Palma prison 35 miles outside Mexico City. Huerta, Valencia and other officials were to inaugurate a new prison security force intended to improve security at the jail, which is notorious for its gang- and drug-related business and violence -- a state of affairs aided by the prison's heavily corrupted security personnel. Huerta was a close friend of President Vicente Fox, and his death, as well as Valencia's, will leave a vacuum in the government security apparatus. This, in turn, portends a decline in domestic security and in cooperation with the United States along the border -- as well as a slowdown in foreign investment and an increase in capital flight.

Fox appointed Huerta to the country's top security job in August 2004 with a mandate to tackle Mexico's exploding drug-trafficking problems in the face of a rapidly deteriorating domestic security situation. In his one year on the job, the drug trade's influence on local and regional governments increased -- as did violent crime. Huerta, however, was seen as someone with the potential to begin turning the ship around.

His death will not only bring an end to any new initiatives directed toward combating Mexico's drug traffickers and crime rates, but in combination with Valencia's death, will leave Mexico's security policies and main crime-fighting force rudderless. This will ease the work of Mexico's gangs and narcotics traffickers until replacements are found, meaning these groups are likely to take advantage of the vacuum to step up their activities in the near term. The result should be a further deterioration in domestic security.

Huerta and Valencia also played significant roles in cooperative efforts with U.S. law enforcement to improve security along the increasingly perilous U.S.-Mexican border. Without counterparts to work with, and eventually with the added complication of having to build new relationships with less-familiar officials, U.S. law enforcement will face a more daunting task, meaning security along the border is likely to decline as well in the near term.

Mexican politics will further complicate efforts to stabilize the country's security, as presidential elections due in July 2006 are fast approaching. Fox already is a lame duck, and with the campaign season under way the legislative and executive agendas will be limited as all parties focus on the elections. Huerta's replacement, therefore, likely will be unable to implement any new policies to substantially alter the security situation, meaning that any effective security policy unlikely can be put in place until the new administration takes office.

Expectations of worsening security will impact the Mexican economy as well. The central bank reported Sept. 20 that capital flight in the first half of 2005 stood at $10 billion, the highest figure for this period since 1980. Although the Mexican economy has an established history of hemorrhaging capital, this number is cause for concern. The leading reasons for the high figures are political uncertainty ahead of elections, the inability of the Fox government to push through needed reforms, and a higher risk environment caused by inadequate security. Huerta and Valencia's death will only compound these concerns and likely send more money abroad.

Foreign direct investment will likewise be affected by the more unstable security environment. Foreign investment has remained surprisingly strong in 2005 with an increase of 8.8 percent in the first half of the year to $7.4 billion compared to the same period in 2004, but this growth rate has been notably slower than in years past. This, again, is because of political uncertainty tied to the 2006 elections, the government's failure to further liberalize the economy and the business- and personal-security issues associated with rising crime in Mexico City and along the border. The fallout from the crash is likely to further slow foreign investment until after the elections.

Economic growth, expected to be 3 percent for 2005, is likely to come in below this figure. Expectations of 3.5 percent growth for 2006 also are likely to be negatively impacted by the deaths. This accident, then, will put many critical issues in Mexico on hold, thereby increasing the overall uncertainty in the country at least until after the presidential election.
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