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30251  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: November 18, 2007 Dog Bros Gathering of the Pack on: October 02, 2007, 02:09:55 AM
Yes, email it to Cindy.
30252  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East War on: October 02, 2007, 02:07:32 AM
Iran, Iraq: Upping the Ante with SAMs

Signs indicate that Iran is planning to supply its militant proxies in Iraq with shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles. The threat of SAM shipments into Iraq is a useful pressure tactic for Iran to use in its negotiations with the United States over Iraq, but should the threat materialize, Tehran will be crossing a huge redline with Washington.


Stratfor has seen indications that Iran is planning to up the ante in Iraq by supplying its militant proxies with shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles (SAMs). These man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS) are short range and are only able to shoot down helicopters and other low-flying aircraft. The U.S. military also announced Sept. 30 that it had seized Iranian-made surface-to-air missiles called Misagh-1s being used by insurgents in Iraq.

Iranian military and logistical support to Iraqi Shiite militants is nothing new. But adding SAMs to the weapons mix opens up a whole new can of worms.

U.S.-supplied Stinger missiles were eagerly and quite successfully employed by the Afghan mujahideen during the Soviet war in Afghanistan. These point-and-shoot, easily transportable, heat-seeking SAMs are an excellent tool, allowing insurgents to wage asymmetrical warfare. Sunni insurgents in Iraq employed SAMs, likely old SA-7s and SA-14s, to cause a surge of chopper crashes in early 2007, though most helicopter losses to hostile fire in Iraq have been attributed to small-arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire. Iran's Misagh-1s are a knockoff the Chinese QW-1 Vanguard, but still would do an extremely effective job of creating a worst-case scenario for U.S. forces in Iraq.

The Iranians have had plenty to think about since U.S. President George W. Bush announced that the United States essentially would be staying the course in Iraq by keeping enough U.S. troops in the country to appease the Sunnis and make Iran sweat. But even though the United States is standing firm on keeping the Iranians at bay and resisting calls to withdraw, Iran might not be entirely convinced that its chances of filling the power vacuum in Iraq are completely shot.

The Iranians face two options now that Bush has announced the U.S. policy for Iraq moving forward, and they may not have decided which strategy to pursue:

1. Accept that policy as a reality, continue with the usual military posturing and negotiate seriously with the Bush administration for a security agreement that recognizes Iranian influence in Iraq, or
2. Entertain the idea of negotiations, but focus its efforts on reversing U.S. policy under a new administration by raising the stakes further for U.S. forces in Iraq.

Bush's Iraq strategy can be defended so long as U.S. casualties do not shoot up to unacceptable levels. Chopper crashes in Iraq are attention-grabbing events that can take a heavy toll on U.S. public morale, and could create pressure on the U.S. administration to shift its strategy. Moreover, helicopters are absolutely integral to the conduct of U.S. operations in Iraq, and will only become more so as troops become spread more thinly in the coming year.

At this point, the Iranians cannot bet that the tide will turn enough in Congress for Republican senators to side with the Democrats and pressure Bush into a withdrawal. Time and again, Bush has defied the odds and battled off pressure in Congress knowing that no senator in his or her right mind would dare cut funding to troops. But if Iran is looking beyond the Bush presidency, it could be working toward bleeding U.S. forces in Iraq to the point at which any incoming U.S. president would be pressured into carrying out a withdrawal.

This strategy, of course, carries its fair share of consequences. With war threats looming, Iran has no guarantee that the United States would continue to be hamstrung in Iraq and refrain from attacking Iran, especially when it becomes widely apparent that the SAMs used to shoot down U.S. choppers are made in Iran. Iranian SAMs would be much more traceable than explosively formed projectiles, the deadliest form of IED, and it would not take much to make the connection to Tehran should Washington decide to make a case for war.

The Iranians probably are well aware that they would be heading for trouble if the SAM threat materializes. For now, the prospect of Iranian-supplied SAMs to Iraqi insurgents is enough to get Washington's attention. As long as this threat is used as a pressure tactic, negotiations between Washington and Tehran have a chance of going somewhere. But if U.S. choppers start going down, a shift in Iranian thinking will immediately be made apparent -- and it will be Washington's turn to make a decision on grand strategy in Iraq.

30253  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: October 02, 2007, 02:05:53 AM
Mexico Security Memo: Oct. 1, 2007
October 01, 2007 20 23  GMT

Targeting the Feds in Baja

After several assassinations targeting police in central and northern Mexico, the Baja peninsula stood out this past week as a hot spot of violence against federal authorities. Minutes after a police officer in Tijuana, Baja California state, was killed Sept. 24, a group of armed men opened fire on a federal police headquarters in the city, wounding several agents inside. The gunmen, who were armed with assault rifles and traveling in sport utility vehicles, escaped after a 10-minute exchange of gunfire with police. Farther south, in La Paz, Baja California Sur state, a police commander was gunned down outside his house as he was leaving for work. This was the first targeted killing of a police officer in the state this year.

These incidents demonstrate how Mexico's drug violence is reaching into every corner of the state, even typically tranquil places like Baja California Sur. They also suggest that the level of violence is getting worse. Information released by Mexico's attorney general shows that, by mid-September of this year, 2,308 drug killings had already occurred in the country -- more than the total for 2006. Cartel retaliation against increasingly aggressive government forces explains the increase. Higher casualty counts are not how President Felipe Calderon hoped to begin his first term, but they are likely to continue as long as his administration keeps up its campaign against the country's drug traffickers.

More Action in the Yucatan

A Gulfstream II jet loaded with more than 3 tons of cocaine crashed this past week in a remote part of Yucatan state. The flight reportedly originated in Colombia and was monitored by Mexican military aircraft after it entered Mexican airspace. It is still unclear what caused the plane to crash. The pilot, a Mexican, survived and had fled the crash site by the time authorities arrived, though he was later apprehended. Two other individuals were arrested after they attempted to bribe Mexican soldiers, who were securing the site, to allow them to remove the cargo from the plane.

The incident highlights one important way that drugs are being transported from South America to Mexico on their way to the United States. It also illustrates the Yucatan Peninsula's strategic value as a trans-shipment point for drug flights from Colombia and maritime shipments arriving in ports such as Cancun. Though drug violence has been less common in the Yucatan compared to other regions in Mexico, the peninsula is not immune. In addition to the plane crash this past week, a Cuban man suspected of working with drug cartels was found dead in an abandoned car in the heart of Cancun's hotel district. On the same day, several hundred soldiers and federal police arrived in the area. The small size of the force, and the fact that the federal police are part of the Federal Preventive Police and not the Federal Investigative Agency, suggests its mission is to set up highway checkpoints and generally enhance security, rather than serve arrest warrants to high-ranking cartel members.

30254  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: October 01, 2007, 04:37:58 PM
"As over 150 heads of state and government gather at UN headquarters in New York to
discuss climate change, former Vice President Al Gore, the most prominent proponent
of the theory of the human-induced, catastrophic global warming, continues to refuse
repeated challenges to debate the issue. Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who addressed
the General Assembly on climate change September 24, is but the latest global
warming skeptic to receive the cold shoulder from Gore. In ads appearing in the Wall
Street Journal, New York Times, and Washington Times, Klaus has called on Gore to
face him in a one-on-one debate on the proposition: 'Global Warming Is Not a
Crisis.' Earlier in the year, similar challenges to Gore were issued by Dennis
Avery, director of the Center for Global Food Issues and senior fellow at the Hudson
Institute, and Lord Monckton of Brenchley, a former adviser to British Prime
Minister Margaret Thatcher. All calls on the former vice president to face his
critics have fallen on deaf ears" -- Bonner Cohen, writing at

30255  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: October 01, 2007, 04:36:10 PM
Political Journal WSJ

Randy Evans, a close adviser to Newt Gingrich, had scheduled a media briefing today
to explain just how some $30 million in pledges could be raised in the next month in
order to convince the former House Speaker to run for president.

It was not to be. On Saturday, Mr. Gingrich announced he was definitely out of the
2008 presidential race, saying he had just received legal advice that any further
effort by him to explore a presidential bid would have jeopardized the non-profit
status of his American Solutions educational group. Mr. Gingrich said he was pleased
with the success of hundreds of issue workshops conducted by American Solutions over
this past weekend, and he did not want to be forced to leave the group to pursue a
presidential run.

It may simply be that Mr. Gingrich is bowing out after recognizing the difficulty of
securing enough money for a last-minute parachute jump into the presidential race.
But he's also a victim of the McCain-Feingold campaign law, which makes any mixing
of purely political work with educational political projects almost impossible.

This latest episode is a reminder of just how much McCain-Feingold has failed to
live up to its billing. Exactly how has the law, which restricts political speech,
creates endless bureaucracy and now has played a factor in blocking the
ever-interesting Mr. Gingrich from livening up the interminable 2008 campaign, been
a boon to our democracy?

-- John Fund
30256  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: October 01, 2007, 04:27:33 PM
“[T]he so-called ‘explosion’ of the uninsured has been driven entirely by wealthy households opting out of health insurance. In the decade after 1995—i.e., since the last round of coercive health reform—the proportion of the uninsured earning less than $25,000 has fallen by 20 percent, and the proportion earning more than 75 grand has increased by 155 percent. The story of the past decade is that the poor are getting sucked into the maw of ‘coverage,’ and the rich are fleeing it. And, given that the cost of health ‘insurance’ bears increasingly little relationship to either the cost of treatment or the actuarial reality of you ever getting any particular illness, it’s entirely rational to say: ‘You know what? I’ll worry about that when it happens. In the meantime, I want to start a business and send my kid to school.’ Freedom is the desire of my human heart even if my arteries get all clogged and hardened.” —Mark Steyn

“Governments are not empowered to grant rights; governments can only limit, or extinguish rights. Governments can, however, bestow gifts upon its citizens. But in order to do so, governments must first take resources from those who have earned them, and redistribute those resources to others. Hillary-care, Obama-care, Edwards-care, and every other form of socialized medicine, is inherently fraught with fraud, abuse, and corruption... If the federal government is to be involved in health care, it should be looking toward encouraging, and providing incentives for private medical care that is determined between the patient and provider. The problem is complex, and cannot be solved by any government program. Health care is certainly one of the primary areas where the principles of freedom should be observed and advanced. Any candidate, or politician, who thinks government can solve the problem better than a free market, should be rejected.” —Henry Lamb
30257  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: October 01, 2007, 04:24:42 PM
Geopolitical Diary: Israeli Politics and Geopolitics

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will meet Oct. 2 for the sixth summit in the current peace process, leading up to an international peace conference planned by the United States for November. Normally, such peace conferences either achieve nothing or culminate in disaster. In the first case, they are simply gestures by all sides toward a peace process, without anyone really expecting a resolution. They are PR moves.

Then there are summits that really tackle fundamental tensions, like then-U.S. President Bill Clinton's Camp David meeting in 2000 with Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat. At these kinds of meetings, core issues -- such as the status of Palestinian refugees, control of Jerusalem and recognition of Israel's right to exist -- are faced squarely. Either the meeting blows apart on the spot, or the two sides start making concessions, in which case there are explosions back home. Normally, neither side has the political authority to make concessions; so with the grand gestures over, everyone goes home after the photo-ops are completed and life goes on pretty much as it did before.

The great exception to this rule was the Camp David accords signed between Egypt and Israel 30 years ago. In spite of universal expectations to the contrary, that agreement has held for more than a generation. It is the foundation of Israeli national security -- since a serious conventional threat to Israel is impossible without Egypt's participation -- and it relieved Egypt of the burden of confronting Israel. It was an agreement rooted in geopolitical reality. Egypt did not wish to mortgage its future on behalf of the Palestinians and the Israelis did not need the Sinai desert. A buffer zone was created, with foreign troops symbolically enforcing the buffer -- and it worked.

For any Israeli-Palestinian agreement to have any chance of working, there has to be some geopolitical rationality to it. Up to now, no settlement has been possible because of geography. A Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza is a social and economic abortion. It would immediately fall into dependence on Israel. Yet, at the same time, it represents a long-term threat to Israeli security, creating a Palestinian state within artillery range of Tel Aviv. And this does not even begin to deal with the questions of the future of Jerusalem, the right of Palestinians to return to Israel, or compensation for Israelis who left Arab countries.

But there is an opening at the moment. The victory of Hamas in Gaza and the continuation of the Palestinian National Authority in the West Bank has, for the moment, effectively created two Palestinian entities. In many ways, they are more bitterly opposed to each other than they are to Israel, at least for the time being. The division of the Palestinians is obviously advantageous to the Israelis.

Now the Israelis have to make a strategic decision. The maintenance of a split among the Palestinians requires that Abbas be strengthened. Israel is releasing Fatah fighters from prisons to bolster Abbas' forces. But creating a political settlement with Abbas that leaves Hamas stranded and isolated in Gaza, while Abbas' West Bank entity emerges into as viable a state as possible, is more difficult and more important. It means that Israel must deal with the more intractable issues, making concessions not only to strengthen secular Palestinians against Islamists, but institutionalizing the split in the Palestinian community.

The kind of political settlement that has to be made to strengthen Abbas will run directly into Israeli domestic politics. Fatah was the sponsor of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, which was pivotal in the suicide bombing campaigns. Abbas has common interests with Israel for the moment, but he is no friend of Israel by any stretch of the imagination. For many Israelis, Abbas is the heir of Arafat, which means the heir of 40 years of terrorism.

Olmert hardly has the political base to make concessions to Abbas. At the same time, the deep division among the Palestinians, which has always been there in various ways, has now congealed into a geographical split. The more radical and intractable faction controls Gaza. Its enemy, the more secular movement, dominates the West Bank. The West Bank is far more important to Israel than Gaza. Maintaining that split and making a separate peace with Abbas should be tantalizing.

But the Israelis are likely to pass up the chance, for three reasons. First, they simply don't trust Abbas. Second, a Palestinian state along the 1948 borders poses a danger to Israel regardless of whether it includes Gaza. Finally, the Israelis are not prepared to make the kind of concessions that would make Abbas a Palestinian hero. However, from the Israeli point of view, the problem with inaction is that Hamas has been the rising tide among Palestinians -- if Israel passes on this moment, it could face Hamas in a pre-eminent position in the West Bank as well as in Gaza.

Splitting one's enemies is the pivot of geopolitics. The United States sided with Stalin against Hitler, with Mao against Brezhnev. The Palestinians have split themselves. Geopolitically, Israel has an obvious move, but politically it is an unsustainable one. Abbas is no friend of Israel and is playing his own game. His back is against the wall. But Abbas has a common enemy with Israel: Hamas.

It is Israel's move. If history is any guide, it will choose politics over geopolitics.
30258  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Older Warrior on: October 01, 2007, 04:08:58 PM
Woof Tom:

Bummer about the troubles.

Turning to cheerier things, pray tell what is the origen and theory of that diet?!?

30259  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DLO on: October 01, 2007, 04:05:31 PM
IIRC correctly his number is 909 (changed to 951?) 766-0702.

Also feel free to try 411 and ask for Griffin Martial Arts in Hemet.
30260  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: October 01, 2007, 04:00:44 PM
I post this article here because although it is not about media issues, it is responsive to the previous post on this thread about media coverage of Blackwater.

Blackwater has fired 122 personnel

By RICHARD LARDNER, Associated Press Writer1 hour, 5 minutes ago

Private security contractor Blackwater USA has had to fire 122 people over the past three years for problems ranging from misusing weapons, alcohol and drug violations, inappropriate conduct, and violent behavior, according to a report released Monday by a congressional committee.

That total is roughly one-seventh of the work force that Blackwater has in Iraq, a ratio that raises questions about the quality of the people working for the company.

The report, prepared by the majority staff of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, also says Blackwater has been involved in 195 shooting incidents since 2005, or roughly 1.4 per week.

In more than 80 percent of the incidents, called "escalation of force," Blackwater's guards fired the first shots even though the company's contract with the State Department calls for it to use defensive force only, it said.

"In the vast majority of instances in which Blackwater fired shots, Blackwater is firing from a moving vehicle and does not remain at the scene to determine if the shots resulted in casualties," according to the report.

The staff report paints Blackwater as a company that's made huge sums of money despite its questionable performance in Iraq, where Blackwater guards provide protective services for U.S. diplomatic personnel.

Blackwater has earned more than $1 billion from federal contracts since 2001, when it had less than $1 million in government work. Overall, the State Department paid Blackwater more than $832 million between 2004 and 2006 for security work, according to the report.

Blackwater, founded in 1997 and headquartered in Moyock, N.C., is the biggest of the State Department's three private security contractors. The others are Dyncorp and Triple Canopy, both based in Washington's northern Virginia suburbs.

According to the 15-page report, Blackwater has had more shooting incidents than the other two companies combined.

The report was distributed to committee members on the eve of a hearing on private security contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Blackwater's founder and chairman, Erik Prince, will be one of the witnesses.

Blackwater spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell had no comment on the specifics in the report.

"We look forward to setting the record straight on this issue and others tomorrow when Erik Prince testifies before the committee," she said.
On Friday seven of the oversight committee's 18 Republican members called on Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., the panel's chairman, to postpone the hearing until more is known about a recent incident in Iraq involving Blackwater guards.

On Sept. 16, 2007, 11 Iraqis were killed in a shoot-out involving Blackwater guards protecting a U.S. diplomatic convoy in Baghdad. Blackwater says its guards acted in self-defense after the convoy came under attack. Iraqi witnesses have said the shooting was unprovoked.
Several investigations are under way, including one by the State Department and another by a U.S.-Iraqi commission that is also examining the broader issue of how private security contractors in Iraq operate.

In a Sept. 28 letter, Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., and six other Republicans said the committee should wait until these investigations are complete.
"We feel it would be irresponsible for the committee to rush to judgment until all the facts are considered," the letter states.

Rep. Tom Davis or Virginia, the committee's top Republican, did not sign the letter.

Spokesman Brian McNicoll said Davis has no objection to the hearing taking place because several State Department representatives are scheduled to testify.

In addition to Prince, the witnesses include: David Satterfield, the department's Iraq coordinator, Richard Griffin, assistant secretary for diplomatic security, and William H. Moser, deputy assistant secretary for logistics management.
On the Net:
30261  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers: on: October 01, 2007, 06:00:04 AM
The Patriot Post
Founders' Quote Daily

"The great leading objects of the federal government, in which
revenue is concerned, are to maintain domestic peace, and provide
for the common defense. In these are comprehended the regulation
of commerce that is, the whole system of foreign intercourse;
the support of armies and navies, and of the civil administration."

-- Alexander Hamilton (remarks to the New York Ratifying
Convention, June 1788)

Reference: Selected Writings and Speeches of Alexander Hamilton,
Frisch, ed. (228-229)
30262  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: October 01, 2007, 04:46:45 AM
MIT finds cure for fear
Submitted by Vidura Panditaratne on Sun, 2007-07-15 19:37. MIT biochemists have identified a molecular mechanism behind fear, and successfully cured it in mice, according to an article in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

Researchers from MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory hope that their work could lead to the first drug to treat the millions of adults who suffer each year from persistent, debilitating fears - including hundreds of soldiers returning from conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Inhibiting a kinase, an enzyme that change proteins, called Cdk5 facilitates the extinction of fear learned in a particular context, Li-Huei Tsai, Picower Professor of Neuroscience in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and colleagues showed.

Conversely, the learned fear persisted when the kinase's activity was increased in the hippocampus, the brain's center for storing memories, the scientists found.

Cdk5, paired with the protein p35, helps new brain cells, or neurons, form and migrate to their correct positions during early brain development, and the MIT researchers looked at how Cdk5 affects the ability to form and eliminate fear-related memories.

"Remarkably, inhibiting Cdk5 facilitated extinction of learned fear in mice," Tsai said. "This data points to a promising therapeutic avenue to treat emotional disorders and raises hope for patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or phobia."

Emotional disorders such as post-traumatic stress and panic attacks stem from the inability of the brain to stop experiencing the fear associated with a specific incident or series of incidents.

For some people, upsetting memories of traumatic events do not go away on their own, or may even get worse over time, severely affecting their lives.

A study conducted by the Army in 2004 found that one in eight soldiers returning from Iraq reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

According to the National Center for PTSD in the United States, around eight percent of the population will have PTSD symptoms at some point in their lives. Some 5.2 million adults have PTSD during a given year, the center reports.

In the current research, genetically engineered mice received mild foot shocks in a certain environment and were re-exposed to the same environment without the foot shock.

The team found that mice with increased levels of Cdk5 activity had more trouble letting go of the memory of the foot shock and continued to freeze in fear.

The reverse was also true: in mice whose Cdk5 activity was inhibited, the bad memory of the shocks disappeared when the mice learned that they no longer needed to fear the environment where the foot shocks had once occurred.

"In our study, we employ mice to show that extinction of learned fear depends on counteracting components of a molecular pathway involving the protein kinase Cdk5," Tsai concluded. "We found that Cdk5 activity prevents extinction, at least in part by negatively affecting the activity of another key kinase."
30263  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: October 01, 2007, 04:30:58 AM
Published: October 1, 2007

Skip to next paragraph
Anna Bhushan
ACCORDING to a recent report from the Census Bureau, poverty fell from about 12.6 percent in 2005 to about 12.3 percent last year. That’s about 500,000 fewer people living in poverty, the first statistically significant decline since 2000. (In 2006, the poverty line was $20,614 for a family of four.)

As usual, there was much commentary in the news media about poverty’s intractability: today’s poverty rate is hardly lower than it was in 1968, when it was about 12.8 percent.

But a closer look at the experience of one group, Hispanics, tells a very different story. As a group, Hispanics are enjoying substantial economic progress. Their poverty rate has dropped by a third from its high 12 years ago, falling from 30.7 percent in 1994 to 20.6 percent in 2006.

These numbers come from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey, widely used by pro- and anti-immigration groups alike as a reasonably reliable source of information about illegal as well as legal immigrants. They show that although Hispanics still have a long way to go to achieve the full promise of the American Dream, as a group they are clearly on the economic up escalator.

In the past 30 years, the United States has experienced a tremendous amount of immigration, predominantly Hispanic. In 1975, a little more than 11 million Hispanics made up just over 5 percent of the population. Today’s nearly 45 million Hispanics are now about 15 percent of the country.

This influx of Hispanics has resulted in a higher poverty rate in the United States, mainly because many immigrants are low-skilled workers and women with young children. If the proportion of Hispanics in the population in 2006 had been the same as it was in 1975, then the overall American poverty rate in 2006 would have been 7 percent lower (11.4 percent rather than 12.3 percent). That would be 2.4 million fewer people, all Hispanics, in poverty.

This rough calculation leaves out the indirect impact that Hispanics have had on the job prospects and earnings of other low-skilled workers, especially African-Americans, probably keeping more of them in poverty. Economists argue about the size of this effect, but we see evidence of it all around us.

Consider the Hispanic success in obtaining skilled, blue-collar jobs, as measured by the census category for precision production, craft and repair occupations. From 1994 to 2006, as the total number of these jobs grew, the percentage held by whites fell from 79 percent to 65 percent. The percentage held by blacks remained constant at about 8 percent, and the percentage held by Hispanics more than doubled, rising to 25 percent from 11 percent. As whites left these relatively well-paid jobs, Hispanics rather than blacks moved into them.

Between 1994, the high point for Hispanic poverty, and 2006, the last year with comprehensive data, median Hispanic household income rose 20 percent, from about $31,500 a year in 2006 dollars to about $37,800 a year. The median income of Hispanic individuals rose 32 percent, to about $20,500 from about $15,500.

These incomes do not make Hispanics wealthy, of course, but they did allow about 70 percent of them to send remittances home last year. According to the best estimate, the total sent was $45 billion — $4 billion more than the entire amount distributed to Americans by the Earned Income Tax Credit.

One explanation for this economic progress is increased education. From 1994 to 2005, the percentage of 18- to 24-year-old Hispanics who graduated from high school or obtained a general equivalency diploma rose to about 66 percent from about 56 percent. About 25 percent are now enrolled in college, up from about 19 percent in 1994. Hispanics are moving rapidly into many management, professional and other white-collar occupations.

Because of the large and continuing influx of usually low-skilled Hispanic immigrants, economists have expected the poverty rate among Hispanics to rise or at least to remain flat. Instead, it is falling. However one feels about immigration, the falling Hispanic poverty rate testifies to the ability of Hispanic immigrants to take advantage of the opportunities that they have found in this country.

Douglas J. Besharov is a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research and a professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy.

NY Times
30264  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Why we fight on: October 01, 2007, 04:25:12 AM

Article published Sep 28, 2007
Al Qaeda on the ropes?

September 28, 2007

Arnaud de Borchgrave - Osama bin Laden "is a man on the run, from a cave, who is virtually impotent other than the tapes" he releases from time to time. That was the mid-September assessment of Frances Fragos Townsend, top adviser to President Bush on Homeland Security, terrorism and counterterrorism.

Mrs. Townsend was a former Coast Guard assistant commandant for intelligence and a counsel to the attorney general for intelligence policy. The best and the brightest in the Bush White House, she was deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism before her rise to czar, or czarina, for transnational terrorism.

For a terrorist darting from cave to cave, the world's most wanted terrorist wasn't as impotent as he apparently appeared in top secret e-mails speeding into Mrs. Townsend's computers. The view from cyberspace told a different story about al Qaeda. For bin Laden, it is high noon on the electronic frontier.

As former Central Command chief Gen. John Abizaid said, "Al Qaeda's organizing ability in cyberspace is unprecedented." Cyberpower has emerged as a complex ether power in which digital grass roots are truly global. Al Qaeda's 6,000-plus Web sites supply the ability to liberate and dominate at the same time. Al Qaeda now operates in virtual space with impunity in recruiting, proselytizing, plotting and planning.

In the ether (not the anesthetic), thought is a reality. For millions of Muslim surfers, the global caliphate and Shariah law exist. They have superseded the nation-state, whether the kingdom of Saudi Arabia or the Netherlands, where Muhammad is the second most popular name for baby boys.

The Muslim world's extremists are roughly estimated at 1 percent of Islam's 1.3 billion adherents (or 13 million who see suicide bombers and other acts of terrorism as legitimate weapons of war against the U.S.-Zionist crusaders). The fundamentalists who approve of bin Laden, though not necessarily his MO, number about 130 million.

Extremist ranks include many well-educated, middle-class youngsters with computer skills. Some of the cells under surveillance in the United Kingdom include computer scientists and engineers. They travel online, meeting like-minded spirits in the virtual caliphate. Plotting has morphed from the mosque to the virtual global caliphate.

In Pakistan, where al Qaeda and Taliban training camps again operate with impunity, almost half the 160 million population gives Osama bin Laden high marks.

Similar percentages show up in other moderate Muslim states — e.g., Bangladesh, Jordan, Egypt and Morocco. New arrests and revelations about Muslim terrorist sleeper cells in European countries occur almost daily. In Algeria, the underground Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), which now includes deserters from the Algerian army, has sworn allegiance to al Qaeda.

Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda is not a hierarchical organization, but a network of like-minded Muslim fundamentalists with jihadi "spear carriers." Its expansion no longer depends on bin Laden and his deputy, the Egyptian doctor Ayman al-Zawahri (whose group assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1981). The Internet, with more than 1 billion people on line, and reckoned to double to 2 billion by 2010, does that job for them automatically.

Iraq, in al Qaeda's perspective, is a small subset of a broader campaign. For five years, Iraq has been a useful force multiplier for jihadi volunteers. Camp followers in cyberspace have busily posted videos of IED explosions that kill Americans in Iraq, along with beheadings of infidels.

Republican front-runner Rudolph Giuliani's foreign policy adviser Norman Podhoretz has a new book titled, "World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism." Last June, in an article in Commentary magazine (which he edited for almost four decades) Mr. Podhoretz "begged" President Bush to bomb Iran before Iran nukes Israel.

Daniel Pipes, also on Mr. Giuliani's team, agrees because the Islamists have "a potential access to weapons of mass destruction that could devastate Western life." That means Israel. Explains Newt Gingrich who is seriously considering a run for the presidency: "It makes no sense to have a Holocaust Museum in Washington and yet have no honest assessment of the threat of a 21st century Holocaust ... if the Iranians get nuclear weapons and use them against Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem."

Mr. Gingrich's alarm bell is the loudest: "The gap between where we are and where we should be is so large that it seems almost impossible to explain why the Petraeus Report, while important, will be a wholly inadequate explanation as to what is required to defeat our enemies and secure America and her allies."

America, says Mr. Gingrich, is "currently trapped between those who advocate 'staying the course' and those who would legislate surrender and defeat for America." The Petraeus Report is about a specific campaign, he explained, but Iraq is a campaign in a larger war just as Afghanistan is a campaign in a larger war. Context is missing. Like Gettysburg without the context of the larger Civil War still to be won; or Guadalcanal without the larger war still to be won, or President Reagan's Berlin Wall speech without any understanding about the Cold War and that the Soviet Union was a mortal threat to freedom.

Beyond Gen. Petraeus' testimony, says Mr. Gingrich, we need a report "on the larger war with the irreconcilable Wing of Islam. This enemy is irreconcilable with the modern civilized world... because it cannot tolerate other religions or other life styles... the Islamofascist approach to imposing its views on others and as such it is a mortal threat to our way of life, to freedom, and to the rule of law."

On Sept. 7, CIA Director Gen. Michael V. Hayden told the Council on Foreign Relations: "Our analysts assess with high confidence that al Qaeda's central leadership is planning high-impact plots against the U.S. homeland... we who study the enemy see a danger more real than anything our citizens at home have confronted since our Civil War."

Without an understanding of the virtual reality of Islam's global ummah in cyberspace, and a thorough reading of the bin Laden-Zawahri Islamist catechism, the warnings are likely to go unheeded in the Democratic scramble to bug out of Iraq.

Arnaud de Borchgrave is editor at large of The Washington Times and of United Press International.
30265  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: October 01, 2007, 04:15:07 AM
Trigger-Happy Journalists
Some of our finest special-op soldiers serve companies like Blackwater.

Monday, October 1, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

"They are immature shooters and have very quick trigger fingers," says an anonymous lieutenant colonel.

"Why are we creating new vulnerabilities by relying on what are essentially mercenary forces?" asks a nameless intelligence officer. "They often act like cowboys over here," says an unidentified commander.

Ever since a recent shootout in downtown Baghdad, newspapers have been ablaze with charges that private security contractors in Iraq are trigger-happy.

This rush to pass judgment is hardly surprising. Frequently derided as "mercenaries" and "rent-a-cops," security contractors make an easy target for war opponents.

As a former employee of a major Blackwater competitor, I find this categorical smearing of contractors to be starkly at odds with my experience. I served as an officer in the Navy SEALs for six years. After I left, I joined a private security firm and was promptly sent to Iraq.

Contrary to the popular belief that Blackwater contractors are "thugs for hire," most are highly professional and well trained. Blackwater operates the world's largest private military training facility. Its 1,000 contractors working in Iraq are drawn from the ranks of former military and law enforcement officials. Many of its workers are former SEALs or veterans of other special-operations units.
The risks these workers assume are underscored by the infamous 2004 ambush in Fallujah, in which four Blackwater contractors were murdered and mutilated. To date, Blackwater has lost 30 contractors. For all anyone knows, last month's incident could have turned into another Fallujah had Blackwater's contractors reacted differently. The details are still terribly unclear.

The contractors--and the U.S. diplomats they were escorting--claim they were ambushed. Yet Iraq's Ministry of Interior almost immediately issued a report declaring that the contractors were "100% guilty." Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has charged that the operators killed "in cold blood."

With conflicting reports, condemnations should not be made until the joint Iraqi-U.S. investigation is completed. The media, however, has accepted the Ministry of Interior's version of events, all but writing off the accounts of both Blackwater and the State Department.

This follows a long-established pattern of unfounded claims in the press about security contractors. For instance, numerous reports reference contractors making over $1,000 a day--far more than active-duty soldiers. Some point to the more than $700 million Blackwater has received in State Department contracts in order to denounce security firms as war profiteers.

The truth, however, is that contractors are cost-effective. Blackwater contractors, for example, are generally paid $450-$650 a day. More important, unlike U.S. servicemen, they usually receive no benefits and are paid only for the days they work. Security contractors at the better firms have typically retired from active duty or left the military on their own accord after extended service. They are honorable veterans who have chosen to risk their lives to protect American diplomats in a war zone.

Instead of depleting our armed forces, security contractors allow the government to recapture its investment in these men during wartime and avoid the extraordinary expense of training new recruits. In short, they're already trained and experienced--and cost money only when they're needed.

Another common myth is that contractors are above the law. True, the June 2004 Coalition Provisional Authority Order 17 exempts contractors (and other diplomatic personnel) from local prosecution. But that doesn't mean that contractors have been granted blanket immunity from prosecution. In fact, the order clearly states that this immunity is limited only to acts necessary to fulfill contracts. Indiscriminate attacks on civilians--as alleged in last month's incident--are not covered.
Contractors are also subject to numerous U.S. statutes and regulations, as well as international treaties. Just last year, Congress amended the Uniform Code of Military Justice to include contractors. Contractors can also be prosecuted under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act of 2000, which permits charges to be brought in federal court for crimes abroad.

Like soldiers, security contractors are sometimes forced to make split-second decisions with enormous consequences. They must be--and are--accountable to our government for their actions. But the people I worked with in Iraq, including veterans working for Blackwater, were hardly rogue cowboys. I did, however, meet some trigger-happy journalists over there.

Mr. Ryan is a former U.S. Navy SEAL officer who spent time in Iraq as an employee of Triple Canopy, a private security firm.
30266  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Knives for good on: October 01, 2007, 04:05:26 AM
Last updated September 29, 2007 5:29 p.m. PT
Teens attack older man, end up running for safety


The man at the back of the Metro bus was older, wore glasses and apparently drew the attention of a group of alleged gang members who reportedly began harassing him.
But when one of them tried to take the man's glasses, he pulled a knife and fought back, Seattle police said.

"He began swinging at his attackers in self-defense," spokeswoman Renee Witt said.
When the melee was over, four of the teens had cuts, including some with superficial cuts to their buttocks, and one had a dislocated shoulder. The man was not hurt.

The incident began about 11:15 p.m. on a northbound bus traveling along Rainier Avenue South, Witt said. The five teens boarded near Rainer Beach High School, having attended a football game there, she said.
Police reports described the teens as known to officers and active members of a local gang.

Officers called to the bus after the fight initially believed the wounded teenagers were the victims, until other passengers aboard the bus told officers that it was the teens who started the disturbance.
All were treated at the scene by Seattle Fire Department medics and released to their parents, Witt said. The man was interviewed and released; his knife taken as evidence.

Detectives on Monday expect to review videotape of the fight captured on cameras mounted in the bus, Witt said.
Charges are likely to be filed against at least some of the teens, Witt said, but that decision rests with the King County Prosecutors Office.
30267  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DLO on: September 30, 2007, 05:11:35 PM
Woof Craig:

Tail wags for the kind words.  Surf Dog/Lester called me last week to tell me that he is moving his school to a bigger location and wants me to come out on a regular basis.  I am delighted for his success and for the opportunity to continue working with you guys.

The Adventure continues!
30268  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: What does Kali Tudo Groundwork have in store for us?? on: September 30, 2007, 05:08:32 PM
Woof All:

Just a quick yip to report the bummer news that my intended training partner on this project, Cyborg Dog, suffered a bad elbow injury  cry in an amateur MMA fight that will necessitate surgery in the next week or so.  Naturally, this is setting this project back  cry  We are working on alternatives.

Guro Crafty
30269  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Brain damage in boxing, kickboxing, football, etc: on: September 30, 2007, 04:03:42 AM

SNELLVILLE, Ga. (AP) — An armless artist has turned himself in
to face a misdemeanor charge in a fight with a man who later died.

Police say William Russell Redfern, who has won recognition for
drawings he does with his feet, head-butted and kicked Charles
Keith Teer during a Sept. 17 fight over a woman. Teer complained of
dizziness and collapsed.

A medical examiner determined last week that Teer likely died of
a heart attack.

Police Chief Roy Whitehead said investigators decided against
felony charges but felt Redfern should be punished for the fight.

Redfern, who was born with no right arm and a stump below his
left shoulder, turned himself in Tuesday on a charge of affray. He
was released Wednesday on $1,213 bond, a jail official said.

The misdemeanor charge is likely the only legal action Redfern
will face, Whitehead said.

“We reviewed (the case), talked with everyone involved and felt
like that was an appropriate charge,” he said.

Known by the nickname “Rusty,” Redfern made a name for himself
in the late 1980s for pen and ink drawings he does using his foot.
30270  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Older Warrior on: September 30, 2007, 12:33:38 AM
I am in Bern Switzerland at the moment for the Euro DB Gathering yesterday, a seminar today in a few hours, and a couple of days of teaching privates.

The time difference is 8 or 9 hours.  In the past few years, this really kicked my butt, but this time it seems to be much better.  This I attribute to massive doses of melatonin to fascilitate sleep cheesy  Also helping is that Bemji set up a computer in my room so that when I do wake up a weird hours when everyone else is asleep I can putter along with my emails, posting here, etc.

30271  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: September 2007 Euro Gathering on: September 29, 2007, 05:22:57 PM
Woof All:

An outstanding day today.

Tomorrow I teach.

To bed.

The Adventure continues,
Crafty Dog
30272  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 29, 2007, 05:12:53 PM
Woof All:

I am deeply disappointed to read that Newt Gingrich will not be running for President.

Apparently one of the factors contributing to his decision was that the perfidious and insidious McCain-Feingold Campaign Reform rolleyes cheesy angry Act means he could no longer head his foundation if he were to run.  Some fcuking reform!

This leaves me with Fred, whose positions on many things are close to mine, but whom I doubt as having the fire in the belly, the communication skills, the breadth of appeal, and the political killer instinct necessary to beat Hillary Evita Clinton.

Rudy has the fire, the communications skills, broader appeal, and political killer instinct but is very suspect on two issues which matter to me greatly: gun rights and control of our borders.

McCain I respect on the Iraq war, but not only does he seem too old, but he is terrible on immigration and border control and is responsible for unAmerican anti-Constitutional disasters like McCain Feingold.

Romney says some things I like a lot e.g. supply side economics, but seems to me like a Ken doll who will say whatever he thinks will get him elected, but actually lacks conviction.
30273  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: September 29, 2007, 01:26:09 AM
Immigration front: U.S. v. Illinois
The Bush administration may—finally—be getting embarrassed over the flouting of immigration laws. They are suing Illinois over a new state law barring employers from voluntarily accessing a national database to verify that workers are legally present within the U.S. Ever notice how most of those favoring unfettered illegal entry across our nation’s borders will resort to any “heads we win, tails you lose” rationale? These defenders of the border-breaking “culture of lawlessness” contend that immigration is a matter for the federal government and that states and localities may not enforce any immigration laws at all, but then they turn around and claim that states and localities may legitimately enact laws protecting illegal aliens against enforcement of immigration laws.

as quoted in Patriot Post
30274  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: September 29, 2007, 01:18:25 AM
A quick yip just to say that at the moment I am in Bern, Switzerland with Lonely Dog.  In a few hours will be the S
second DB Euro Gathering and then a few days of teaching.  I return on Wednesday.
30275  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action on: September 29, 2007, 01:13:43 AM
On 8 August 2006, in Ebrahimkhel, Afghanistan, just north of Kandahar, Air Force Senior Airman Phillip King was leading a convoy to help the Afghan National Police (ANP) and Afghan National Army (ANA) when a rocket-propelled grenade landed within five yards of his Humvee. A full-scale insurgent attack came right on its tail.

Returning fire, King positioned his Humvee to shield the convoy against the incoming barrage. When a second RPG blast gave him a concussion, King persisted, exposing himself to intense enemy fire to direct defensive fire by Afghan soldiers. This allowed an ANA soldier to neutralize the enemy site using a hand grenade.

As King led his team out of danger amid continued sniper fire, he discovered a second ambush site where Taliban forces had entrapped five Afghan soldiers with gunfire. King maneuvered his vehicle, freed the soldiers, then led the ANP and ANA troops to establish a perimeter.

Still taking heavy fire from machine guns, small arms, and RPGs, King’s team called in air support. Just before it arrived, King again exposed himself to intense fire to mark the targets for the bombers, which effectively took out the Taliban position. Airman King’s actions saved the lives of more than a dozen Afghans and helped eliminate 20-25 Taliban militants. His team suffered no casualties.

King, who volunteered for the 365-day Afghanistan deployment, called it “another day on the job.” The U.S. military called it heroism in ground combat. For his actions, Airman King was awarded the Bronze Star with Combat “V” for Valor.
30276  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers: on: September 29, 2007, 01:04:32 AM
"A Man may, if he know not how to save, keep his Nose to the
Grindstone, and die not wirth a Groat at last."

-- Benjamin Franklin (Poor Richard's Almanack, 1742)

Reference: Poor Richard: The Almanacks for the Years, 1733-1758,
intro by Van Wyck Brooks (94)
30277  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: September 28, 2007, 07:20:45 PM
Why We're Winning Now in Iraq
Anbar's citizens needed protection before they would give their "hearts and minds."

Friday, September 28, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Many politicians and pundits in Washington have ignored perhaps the most important point made by Gen. David Petraeus in his recent congressional testimony: The defeat of al Qaeda in Iraq requires a combination of conventional forces, special forces and local forces. This realization has profound implications not only for American strategy in Iraq, but also for the future of the war on terror.

As Gen. Petraeus made clear, the adoption of a true counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq in January 2007 has led to unprecedented progress in the struggle against al Qaeda in Iraq, by protecting Sunni Arabs who reject the terrorists among them from the vicious retribution of those terrorists. In his address to the United Nations General Assembly Wednesday, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki also touted the effectiveness of this strategy while at the same time warning of al Qaeda in Iraq's continued threat to his government and indeed the entire region.

Yet despite the undeniable successes the new strategy has achieved against al Qaeda in Iraq, many in Congress are still pushing to change the mission of U.S. forces back to a counterterrorism role relying on special forces and precision munitions to conduct targeted attacks on terrorist leaders. This change would bring us back to the traditional, consensus strategy for dealing with cellular terrorist groups like al Qaeda--a strategy that has consistently failed in Iraq.

Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the consensus of American strategists has been that the best way to fight a cellular terrorist organization like al Qaeda is through a combination of targeted strikes against key leaders and efforts to discredit al Qaeda's takfiri ideology in the Muslim community. Precision-guided munitions and special forces have been touted as the ideal weapons against this sort of group, because they require a minimal presence on the ground and therefore do not create the image of American invasion or occupation of a Muslim country.
A correlative assumption has often been that the visible presence of Western troops in Muslim lands creates more terrorists than it eliminates. The American attack on the Taliban in 2001 is often held up now--as it was at the time--as an exemplar of the right way to do things in this war: Small numbers of special forces worked with indigenous Afghan resistance fighters to defeat the Taliban and drive out al Qaeda without the infusion of large numbers of American ground forces. For many, Afghanistan is the virtuous war (contrasting with Iraq) not only because it was fought against the group that planned the 9/11 attacks, but also because it was fought in accord with accepted theories of fighting cellular terrorist organizations.

This strategy failed in Iraq for four years--skilled U.S. special-forces teams killed a succession of al Qaeda in Iraq leaders, but the organization was able to replace them faster than we could kill them. A counterterrorism strategy that did not secure the population from terrorist attacks led to consistent increases in terrorist violence and exposed Sunni leaders disenchanted with the terrorists to brutal death whenever they tried to resist. It emerged that "winning the hearts and minds" of the local population is not enough when the terrorists are able to torture and kill anyone who tries to stand up against them.

Despite an extremely aggressive counterterrorism campaign, by the end of 2006, al Qaeda in Iraq had heavily fortified strongholds equipped with media centers, torture chambers, weapons depots and training areas throughout Anbar province; in Baghdad; in Baqubah and other parts of Diyala province; in Arab Jabour and other villages south of Baghdad; and in various parts of Salah-ad-Din province north of the capital. Al Qaeda in Iraq was blending with the Sunni Arab insurgency in a relationship of mutual support. It was able to conduct scores of devastating, spectacular attacks against Shiite and other targets. Killing al Qaeda leaders in targeted raids had failed utterly either to prevent al Qaeda in Iraq from establishing safe havens throughout Iraq or to control the terrorist violence.

The Sunni Arabs in Iraq lost their enthusiasm for al Qaeda very quickly after their initial embrace of the movement. By 2005, currents of resistance had begun to flow in Anbar, expanding in 2006. Al Qaeda responded to this rising resistance with unspeakable brutality--beheading young children, executing Sunni leaders and preventing their bodies from being buried within the time required by Muslim law, torturing resisters by gouging out their eyes, electrocuting them, crushing their heads in vices, and so on. This brutality naturally inflamed the desire to resist in the Sunni Arab community--but actual resistance in 2006 remained fitful and ineffective. There was no power in Anbar or anywhere that could protect the resisters against al Qaeda retribution, and so al Qaeda continued to maintain its position by force among a population that had initially welcomed it willingly.

The proof? In all of 2006, there were only 1,000 volunteers to join the Iraqi Security Forces in Anbar, despite rising resentment against al Qaeda. Voluntarism was kept down by al Qaeda attacks against ISF recruiting stations and targeted attacks on the families of volunteers. Although tribal leaders had begun to turn against the terrorists, American forces remained under siege in the provincial capital of Ramadi--they ultimately had to level all of the buildings around their headquarters to secure it from constant attack. An initial clearing operation conducted by Col. Sean MacFarland established forward positions in Ramadi with tremendous difficulty and at great cost, but the city was not cleared; attacks on American forces remained extremely high; and the terrorist safe-havens in the province were largely intact.

This year has been a different story in Anbar, and elsewhere in Iraq. The influx of American forces in support of a counterinsurgency strategy--more than 4,000 went into Anbar--allowed U.S. commanders to take hold of the local resentment against al Qaeda by promising to protect those who resisted the terrorists. When American forces entered al Qaeda strongholds like Arab Jabour, the first question the locals asked is: Are you going to stay this time? They wanted to know if the U.S. would commit to protecting them against al Qaeda retribution. U.S. soldiers have done so, in Anbar, Baghdad, Baqubah, Arab Jabour and elsewhere. They have established joint security stations with Iraqi soldiers and police throughout urban areas and in villages. They have worked with former insurgents and local people to form "concerned citizens" groups to protect their own neighborhoods. Their presence among the people has generated confidence that al Qaeda will be defeated, resulting in increased information about the movements of al Qaeda operatives and local support for capturing or killing them.
The result was a dramatic turnabout in Anbar itself--in contrast to the 1,000 recruits of last year, there have already been more than 12,000 this year. Insurgent groups like the 1920s Revolution Brigades that had been fighting alongside al Qaeda in 2006 have fractured, with many coming over to fight with the coalition against the terrorists--more than 30,000 Iraq-wide, by some estimates. The tribal movement in Anbar both solidified and spread--there are now counter-al Qaeda movements throughout Central Iraq, including Diyala, Baghdad, Salah-ad-Din, Babil and Ninewah. Only recently an "awakening council" was formed in Mosul, Ninewah's capital, modeled on the Anbar pattern.

A targeted raid killed Abu Musaab al Zarqawi, founder of al Qaeda in Iraq, near Baqubah in June 2006. After that raid, al Qaeda's grip on Baqubah and throughout Diyala only grew stronger. But skillful clearing operations conducted by American forces, augmented by the surge, have driven al Qaeda out of Baqubah almost entirely. The "Baqubah Guardians" now protect that provincial capital against al Qaeda fighters who previously used it as a major base of operations. The old strategy of targeted raids failed in Diyala, as in Anbar and elsewhere throughout Iraq. The new strategy of protecting the population, in combination with targeted raids, has succeeded so well that al Qaeda in Iraq now holds no major urban sanctuary.

This turnabout coincided with an increase in American forces in Iraq and a change in their mission to securing the population. Not only were more American troops moving about the country, but they were much more visible as they established positions spread out among urban populations. According to all the principles of the consensus counterterrorism strategy, the effect of this surge should have been to generate more terrorists and more terrorism. Instead, it enabled the Iraqi people to throw off the terrorists whose ideas they had already rejected, confident that they would be protected from horrible reprisals. It proved that, at least in this case, conventional forces in significant numbers conducting a traditional counterinsurgency mission were absolutely essential to defeating this cellular terrorist group.

What lessons does this example hold for future fights in the War on Terror? First, defeating al Qaeda in Iraq requires continuing an effective counterinsurgency strategy that involves American conventional forces helping Iraqi Security Forces to protect the population in conjunction with targeted strikes. Reverting to a strategy relying only on targeted raids will allow al Qaeda to re-establish itself in Iraq and begin once again to gain strength. In the longer term, we must fundamentally re-evaluate the consensus strategy for fighting the war on terror. Success against al Qaeda in Iraq obviously does not show that the solution to problems in Waziristan, Baluchistan or elsewhere lies in an American-led invasion. Each situation is unique, each al-Qaeda franchise is unique, and responses must be tailored appropriately.
But one thing is clear from the Iraqi experience. It is not enough to persuade a Muslim population to reject al Qaeda's ideology and practice. Someone must also be willing and able to protect that population against the terrorists they had been harboring, something that special forces and long-range missiles alone can't do.

Mr. Kagan is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and the author most recently of "No Middle Way: The Challenge of Exit Strategies from Iraq." (AEI, 2007).
30278  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: September 28, 2007, 07:02:45 PM
IRAN, ISRAEL, SYRIA: Informed sources have confirmed that retired Iranian Gen. Ali Reza Asghari, who defected in February, gave Israel the intelligence on Syria's missile program needed for the Syrian airstrike Sept. 6. Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jeerada reported earlier that Asghari was the source of information for the airstrike. Asghari is a former aide to the Iranian defense minister and a retired general who served for a long time in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
30279  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 28, 2007, 06:29:07 PM
Democrats and Iran
Hillary outsmarts her dovish competition.

Friday, September 28, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Kudos to Hillary Clinton--yes, you read that right--for her Senate vote this week urging the U.S. to designate Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a foreign terrorist organization. That's more than can be said for her primary competition of Barack Obama, Chris Dodd, Bill Richardson and John Edwards, who assailed her on this score at Wednesday's Democratic Presidential candidates debate at Dartmouth. These are men who seem to fear the Netroots more than the mullahs.

Mrs. Clinton's vote was on a symbolic amendment offered by Connecticut maverick Joe Lieberman and Republicans Jon Kyl and Norm Coleman. After marshaling the evidence of Iran's terrorist activities in Iraq, the amendment stated that "it is a critical national interest of the United States to prevent [Iran] from turning Shi'a militia into a Hezbollah-like force that could serve its interests inside Iraq." Twenty-one Democrats, including Joe Biden and John Kerry, apparently found this too shocking to support and voted nay, as did Republicans Chuck Hagel and Dick Lugar.

We probably shouldn't complain when 76 Senators, including a majority of Democrats, show some foreign-policy sense. Still, it's telling that the Democrats only agreed to the amendment after demanding that its language be edited to remove a statement that "it should be the policy of the United States to stop inside Iraq the violent activities and destabilizing influence" of Iran. Also left on the cutting-room floor, under Democratic duress, was a call "to support the prudent and calibrated use of all instruments of United States national power in Iraq" with respect to Iran and its proxies.

The mullahs are supplying the shaped-explosive charges to Shiite militias that are killing or maiming Americas in Iraq. But these Senators are afraid even to suggest that the U.S. might use some kind of military force to save the lives of American soldiers. And they want to be Commander in Chief?

At Dartmouth, Mrs. Clinton defended her vote by noting that it "gives us the options to be able to impose sanctions on the primary leaders to try to begin to put some teeth into all this talk about dealing with Iran." That's right. With Americans having just had a Close Encounter of the Third Kind with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, it's no surprise that her relative hawkishness is only widening her primary lead.

30280  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: September 28, 2007, 05:31:18 PM

Phil's rant probably would have been better posted on the immigration thread.  Although I certainly agree with the general gist of many of the points made, I found the general tone and some of the phrasing in particular to be over the top with undertones that I didn't really care for.

It is quite possible to be for our defending our borders, our laws, etc. without hating Mexicans.  My own in experience in Mexico is rather extensive and overwhelmingly quite favorable.

30281  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: September 28, 2007, 04:49:53 PM
While opposing the Israeli invasion of Lebanon last year is within the range of reasonable points of view (for the record, as recorded elsewhere on this forum I supported the invasion as being forced by the attacks on Israel), the comment about Jihad here in America is not.  Another moderate Muslim turns out not to be as billed.

Kaine Appointee Advocates 'the Jihad Way'

September 27, 2007 - 2:58pm

Editor's Note: This story contains video from YouTube. Please click on the link in the story or in the left-hand column to watch.
Associated Press Writer

RICHMOND, Va. - A member of the state's Commission of Immigration resigned Thursday, a few hours after Gov. Timothy M. Kaine was told about online videos showing the appointee condemning Israel and advocating "the jihad way."

Kaine learned of the videos from a caller to his live monthly radio program and accepted the resignation of Dr. Esam S. Omeish about three hours later.

"Dr. Omeish is a respected physician and community leader, yet I have been made aware of certain statements he has made which concern me," Kaine said in a press statement announcing the resignation.

Kaine said Omeish resigned because he did not want the controversy to distract from the work of the 20-member commission appointed to study the effects of immigration and federal immigration policies on Virginia.
Omeish, the president of the Muslim American Society, is shown in a video on YouTube denouncing the invasion of Lebanon during that time by the "Israeli war machine" during an Aug. 12, 2006, rally in Washington.
Omeish, chief of the division of general surgery at INOVA Alexandria Hospital, also accused Israel of genocide and massacres against Palestinians and said the "Israeli agenda" controls Congress.

In a separate, undated video made, Omeish tells a crowd of Washington-area Muslims, " have learned the way, that you have known that the jihad way is the way to liberate your land."

That video was credited to Investigative Project, a Washington-based organization that investigates radical Islamic organizations.
Omeish did not immediately respond to a request for comment. (Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
30282  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Water drying up in China on: September 28, 2007, 04:43:28 PM
The ecology situation in China seems to be quite grim on many fronts.  That was a good piece, thank you.  Please refresh my memory as to what WTS does- itis down to 30 from a high of 40 in the last five months.

30283  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Saudi Arabia on: September 27, 2007, 05:54:46 PM
Not the war, but a bit of background context:

SAUDI ARABIA: The World Bank on Sept. 25 recognized Saudi Arabia as one of the top global reformers in its annual "Ease of Doing Business" report. Recent reforms in Saudi Arabia improved the kingdom's position from 38th to 23rd in the 178-country ranking. The report calls Saudi Arabia the best place to do business in the entire Middle East and Arab world, ahead of Kuwait (ranked 40th in the world) and the United Arab Emirates (ranked 68th). The Saudi kingdom has made huge strides since 2003 to attract investment, motivated largely by Riyadh's need to engage in damage control after the 9/11 attacks. But the law of unintended consequences is creating another dynamic in the country; reforms to the financial and economic sectors have spilled over into civil society, where Saudis are demanding more freedoms. The challenge for the Saudi government is to maintain power while pushing ahead with reforms, which will not be limited to the money markets.
30284  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Peru on: September 27, 2007, 05:51:38 PM
U.S./PERU: The U.S. House Ways and Means Committee approved a free trade agreement (FTA) with Peru on Sept. 25. The accord was passed in a "mock" hearing that gave legislators a chance to offer amendments to the deal before its submission to Congress for a formal vote. No amendments were suggested. Congress now has 90 days to approve or reject the agreement without filibuster or changes to the deal. The Senate Finance Committee gave its initial approval to a draft of the agreement Sept. 21. FTA talks between the United States and Peru were concluded nearly two years ago; Peru ratified the agreement in 2006, but the deal has languished in the U.S. legislature amid concerns related to labor and environmental conditions in the South American country. Peru made changes to the deal in June and has since lobbied heavily for U.S. approval. The passage of Peru's FTA is particularly significant because Washington is facing political obstacles to the approval of two other proposed FTAs with Latin American countries Colombia and Panama.
30285  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: September 27, 2007, 03:10:18 PM
Second post of the day:


Bush and Iran
Tehran has been told it will pay a price for killing Americans, but it never has.

Thursday, September 27, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

The traveling Mahmoud Ahmadinejad circus made for great political theater this week, but the comedy shouldn't detract from its brazen underlying message: The Iranian President believes that the world lacks the will to stop Iran from pursuing its nuclear program, and that the U.S. also can't stop his country from killing GIs in Iraq. The question is what President Bush intends to do about this in his remaining 16 months in office.

Over the last five years, Mr. Bush has issued multiple and sundry warnings to Iran. In early 2002, he cautioned Iran that "if they in any way, shape or form try to destabilize the [Afghan] government, the coalition will deal with them, in diplomatic ways initially." In mid-2003, following revelations about the extent of Iran's secret nuclear programs, he insisted the U.S. "will not tolerate the construction of a nuclear weapon."

In January of this year, as evidence mounted that Iran was supplying sophisticated, armor-penetrating munitions to Shiite militias in Iraq, Mr. Bush was tougher still: "We will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq."

In February, he added that "I can speak with certainty that the Qods Force, a part of the Iranian government, has provided these sophisticated IEDs that have harmed our troops." And as recently as this month's TV speech on Iraq, the President alerted Americans to the "destructive ambitions of Iran" and warned the mullahs that their efforts to "undermine [Iraq's] government must stop."

We belabor this rhetorical record because it so clearly contrasts with how little the Administration has done about it. As with Syria, the Bush Administration has repeatedly told Iran that it would have to pay a price for its hostile behavior while in the end demanding no such price. This undermines U.S. diplomacy, but in the case of GIs in Iraq it is worse: It means the Commander in Chief is letting an enemy kill Americans with impunity. And the Iranians have got the message: Mr. Ahmadinejad felt confident enough to declare this week at the U.N. that the issue of its nuclear program was "closed."
From 2003 to 2005, Mr. Bush outsourced his Iran policy to France, Germany and Britain, which wooed Tehran with trade concessions, security guarantees and promises of technical assistance. Iran rejected those offers, as it did a Russian proposal to enrich uranium on its own soil--but not without drawing out talks as long as possible.

The Administration finally succeeded in having Iran's Non-Proliferation Treaty violations referred to the U.N. Security Council in 2006, though by then Iran had mastered the technology of enriching uranium in a "cascade" of centrifuges. Many nuclear analysts consider this the point of no return toward a bomb. Intelligence reports also suggested that Iran had designs for casting uranium into hemispherical shapes--essential for making a bomb--and for marrying a nuclear warhead to a ballistic missile.

So far there have been two "binding" U.N. resolutions on Iran's nuclear project, both notable mainly for their weakness. When Resolution 1747 passed this March, U.S. officials said the Security Council would move quickly to the next round. Instead, it has done nothing, even as Iran has moved to install industrial-scale (3,000-plus centrifuge) enrichment facilities.

The U.S. has also exerted some financial pressure on Iran, in part by pressing European companies to scale back their investments. This is useful, but only on the margins. The U.S. is now talking with France and others on developing sanctions outside the U.N., to avoid a Russian or Chinese veto. But these sanctions will apparently not include an embargo on Iran's imports of refined gasoline, which account for 40% of its domestic consumption.

The failure to act is similar regarding Iran's support for terror in Iraq. As early as August 2003, Paul Bremer noted Iran's "irresponsible conduct" in Iraq's affairs. In 2005, even Time magazine was reporting "Inside Iran's Secret War for Iraq." It was not until last summer that the U.S. began taking any kind of action against Iranian operatives in Iraq, most of them working under diplomatic cover.

This month U.S. forces arrested Mahmudi Farhadi, whose job description, according to the Iranian government, is head of "cross-border commercial transactions" for the western Iranian province of Kermanshah. Translation: Mr. Farhadi smuggles IEDs into Iraq. Wire reports say Mr. Farhadi's arrest is only the third such action against Iranian nationals this year.

According to information from an Iranian opposition group with a record of being right, Iran's Qods (Jerusalem) Force operates under the aegis of the Al-Najaf Al-Ashraf Al-Saqafieh Establishment, based in Najaf and run by Iranian mullah Hamid Hosseini. Arms deliveries are organized by a group called the "Headquarters for Reconstruction of Iraq's Holy Sites." Iran orchestrates these efforts from the Fajr Base, in the Iranian city of Ahwaz.

Administration officials tell us that Iranian-backed militias using Iranian-supplied arms now account for 70% of U.S. casualties in Iraq. U.S. forces also recently intercepted a shipment of shaped explosive devices that Iran was smuggling to insurgents in Afghanistan. This is at least the third time such shipments have been seized by coalition forces. Dan McNeill, NATO's senior commander in Kabul, notes that "it would be hard for me to imagine that they come into Afghanistan without the knowledge of at least the military in Iran."

The Administration seemed prepared last month to name the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (which runs the Qods Force) as a terrorist organization, a designation that would be amply justified. But once again, the State Department is equivocating amid Russian, Chinese and European opposition.

Meanwhile, on the nuclear issue, Mr. Ahmadinejad declared this week that he'll no longer cooperate with the U.N. Security Council, but only with Mohamed ElBaradei, the accommodating Egyptian who runs the U.N. nuclear agency. Our readers will recall that former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton warned Mr. Bush about Mr. ElBaradei and tried to block his wish for a third term. But Mr. Bush sided with State Department officials who supported Mr. ElBaradei, and now the U.S. has to live with his pro-Iranian machinations.

The Bush Presidency is running out of time to act if it wants to stop Iran from gaining a bomb. With GIs fighting and dying in Iraq, Mr. Bush also owes it to them not to allow enemy sanctuaries or weapons pipelines from Iran. If the President believes half of what he and his Administration have said about Iran's behavior, he has an obligation to do whatever it takes to stop it.
30286  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Sayoc kali? on: September 27, 2007, 03:04:59 PM
The computer I had with that data died a gruesome death several months ago. 

Have you tried the Sayoc site?  I'm guessing they list their instructors there and with the info I gave you, you should be able to find it.

Anyway, I'm out the door in a few hours to Switzerland for 6 days of teaching, the Euro DB Gathering, etc.
30287  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: September 27, 2007, 12:44:02 PM
Reliability of this source unknown:

This presents an interesting idea, to say the least...
Written by Dr. Jack Wheeler
Wednesday, 19 September 2007

One of India's top ranking generals assigned to liaise with the Iranian military recently returned to New Delhi from several days in Tehran - in a state of complete amazement.

"Everyone in the government and military can only talk of one thing," he reports. "No matter who I talked to, all they could do was ask me, over and over again, 'Do you think the Americans will attack us?' 'When will the Americans attack us?' 'Will the Americans attack us in a joint operation with the Israelis?' How massive will the attack be?' on and on, endlessly. The Iranians are in a state of total panic."

And that was before September 6. Since then, it's panic-squared in Tehran. The mullahs are freaking out in fear. Why? Because of the silence in Syria.

On September 6, Israeli Air Force F-15 and F-16s conducted a devastating attack on targets deep inside Syria near the city of Dayr az-Zawr. Israel's military censors have muzzled the Israeli media, enforcing an extraordinary silence about the identity of the targets. Massive speculation in the world press has followed, such as Brett Stephens' Osirak II? in yesterday's (9/18) Wall St. Journal.

Stephens and most everyone else have missed the real story. It is not Israel's silence that "speaks volumes" as he claims, but Syria's. Why would the Syrian government be so tight-lipped about an act of war perpetrated on their soil?

The first half of the answer lies in this story that appeared in the Israeli media last month (8/13): Syria's Antiaircraft System Most Advanced In World. Syria has gone on a profligate buying spree, spending vast sums on Russian systems, "considered the cutting edge in aircraft interception technology."

Syria now "possesses the most crowded antiaircraft system in the world," with "more than 200 antiaircraft batteries of different types," some of which are so new that they have been installed in Syria "before being introduced into Russian operation service."

While you're digesting that, take a look at the map of Syria:

Notice how far away Dayr az-Zawr is from Israel. An F15/16 attack there is not a tiptoe across the border, but a deep, deep penetration of Syrian airspace. And guess what happened with the Russian super-hyper-sophisticated cutting edge antiaircraft missile batteries when that penetration took place on September 6th.


El blanko. Silence. The systems didn't even light up, gave no indication whatever of any detection of enemy aircraft invading Syrian airspace, zip, zero, nada. The Israelis (with a little techie assistance from us) blinded the Russkie antiaircraft systems so completely the Syrians didn't even know they were blinded.

Now you see why the Syrians have been scared speechless. They thought they were protected - at enormous expense - only to discover they are defenseless. As in naked.

Thus the Great Iranian Freak-Out - for this means Iran is just as nakedly defenseless as Syria. I can tell you that there are a lot of folks in the Kirya (IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv) and the Pentagon right now who are really enjoying the mullahs' predicament. Let's face it: scaring the terror masters in Tehran out of their wits is fun.

It's so much fun, in fact, that an attack destroying Iran's nuclear facilities and the Revolutionary Guard command/control centers has been delayed, so that France (under new management) can get in on the fun too.

On Sunday (9/16), Sarkozy's foreign minister Bernard Kouchner announced that "France should prepare for the possibility of war over Iran's nuclear program."

All of this has caused Tehran to respond with maniacal threats. On Monday (9/17), a government website proclaimed that "600 Shihab-3 missiles" will be fired at targets in Israel in response to an attack upon Iran by the US/Israel. This was followed by Iranian deputy air force chief Gen. Mohammad Alavi announcing today (9/19) that "we will attack their (Israeli) territory with our fighter bombers as a response to any attack."

A sure sign of panic is to make a threat that everyone knows is a bluff. So our and Tel Aviv's response to Iranian bluster is a thank-you-for-sharing yawn and a laugh. Few things rattle the mullahs' cages more than a yawn and a laugh.

Yet no matter how much fun this sport with the mullahs is, it is also deadly serious. The pressure build-up on Iran is getting enormous. Something is going to blow and soon. The hope is that the blow-up will be internal, that the regime will implode from within.

But make no mistake: an all-out full regime take-out air assault upon Iran is coming if that hope doesn't materialize within the next 60 to 90 days. The Sept. 6 attack on Syria was the shot across Iran's bow.

So - what was attacked near Dayr az-Zawr? It's possible it was North Korean "nuclear material" recently shipped to Syria, i.e., stuff to make radioactively "dirty" warheads, but nothing to make a real nuke with as the Norks don't have real nukes (see Why North Korea's Nuke Test Is Such Good News, October 2006).

Another possibility is it was to take out a stockpile of long-range Zilzal surface-to-surface missiles recently shipped from Iran for an attack on Israel.

A third is it was a hit on the stockpile of Saddam's chemical/bio weapons snuck out of Iraq and into Syria for safekeeping before the US invasion of April 2003.

But the identity of the target is not the story - for the primary point of the attack was not to destroy that target. It was to shut down Syria's Russian air defense system during the attack. Doing so made the attack an incredible success.

Syria is shamed and silent. Iran is freaking out in panic. Defenseless enemies are fun.

( )
30288  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: September 27, 2007, 11:59:47 AM
Dream Act Puts Illegal Alien Kids Ahead of American Kids

This outrage is an opportunity to get tens of millions of parents and grandparents to get active in the fight against amnesty for illegal aliens. Until now, many of them thought it was not an issue that affected them.
But thanks to Sen. Durbin, it has now become a major issue for all families who had hoped that their children would go to college. Under the Dream Act, illegal aliens, not American students, will be getting preferential service. Illegal alien children will be given low, low in-state tuition rates while American families, many of whom are losing jobs or earning lower wages because employers are hiring illegals, will have to pay TEN TIMES MORE for their children's education.
So if you have relatives or friends who have high school aged children getting ready to apply to colleges, forward this email to them and urge them to join the fight against amnesty for illegal aliens.
Rampant Hypocrisy
In July, Senate Democrats, led by Majority Leader Harry Reid, voted to keep Senator Lindsay Graham's border security amendment off of the Homeland Security Appropriations Bill, claiming immigration reform amendments were not germane to Homeland Security and violated Senate rules.
The Senate voted 52 to 44 that the amendment was not germane.
Will the Senate Democrats show the same interest in keeping things "germane" by keeping Dick Durbin's "Dream Act," that grants amnesty and low tuition rates for illegal aliens, off of the Concurrent Resolution bill to keep the government running?
Let's hold their feet to the fire. Let's remind Reid what he did in July to keep an important and very germane amendment off of the Homeland Security Bill and demand that he use the same rigid standards to keep the Dream Act off the Budget bill.
The Dream Act is a Continuing Amnesty
(the gift that keeps on giving!)
Unlike the Amnesty bills from the Senate for the past 2 years, the DREAM Act is a
continuing program, not just a one-time amnesty.
The amnesty that was defeated a few months back was an amnesty for all those illegal aliens currently living here, but the Dream Act will continue year after year, as long as illegal aliens continue to bring their children across the border with them.
Of course neither Dick Durbin nor Ted Kennedy thought to mention this to their colleagues, hoping it would be lost in the shuffle. Consequently, most people and most Senators remain totally unaware of this dangerous aspect of the amendment. Hopefully, if you ask your Seantors the following questions, it make give them a much-needed wake up call to oppose this disastrous amendment.
"Does the Senator realize that DREAM is a permanent, cycling amnesty with no end, not just "one-time" amnesty?
"Please ask the Senator for me exactly how many times do the American people have to demand NO MORE AMNESTY before our elected officials honor our request?"
Please click here to go to our Senate listing that contains all of their telephone numbers in D.C. and their state offices. And start calling right now!
I think this is winnable, but only if we get a full effort from all Americans who are outraged by the continuous efforts of our Congress to sneak through a back-door amnesty, knowing that 80% of their constituents are dead set against it!
So please start calling and call your friends as well and get them calling too. We stopped them before and we can do it again, if we all work together.
Thanks again for all your help and continuing support.
Edward I. Nelson
P.S. Here are some other things you can do:
1. Consider forwarding this email to your own email list of friends, relatives, business associates. It will multiply our lobbying efforts tremendously. Our strength is in our numbers and the more people we can activate, the louder our collective voice in Washington, on Capitol Hill and in state assemblies across the country.
2. Go to our Legislative Action Center where you can send instant FREE email letters to Congress and the White House!
3. Consider making a donation to U.S. Border Control. It's the best investment you can make.
Don't be fooled by flashy emails or fancy websites. U.S. Border Control is the most respected voice for immigration reform on Capitol Hill. We have been fighting this battle since 1988. We know the issues and we know how to get things done.
Our annual report documents that Border Control donors get the most for their money. Your dollars don't go to plush carpets, fancy offices and big salaries -- they go right into the fight. And year after year, Border Control has the lowest percentages spent on overhead and the highest percentages spent lobbying Congress to secure our borders against drugs, disease, terrorism and illegal migration. We thought you
would like to know.
Thank you for your continued support!
30289  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 27, 2007, 11:58:44 AM
-- Collin Levy
A Slightly Less Favorite Son

It's no secret former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney's strategy for winning the Republican nomination hinges on racking up early wins in both Iowa and New Hampshire. But two recently released polls indicate Mr. Romney may be losing his grip on the Granite State, despite years of familiarity from nearby Boston TV coverage.

A Rasmussen Reports survey released last Tuesday showed Mr. Romney's lead over Rudy Giuliani dwindling over the course of the last month from 12 points to just three points. A survey by CNN and WMUR TV released yesterday indicated a similar downward trend: the 15-point lead Mr. Romney held over Mr. Giuliani in July is now down to a single point. Overall, Mr. Romney's lead in the RealClearPolitics Average for New Hampshire has slipped to 4%, its lowest level since the end of May.

Should Mr. Romney be worried? Yes. Is it time to hit the panic button? Not quite. The linchpin of his strategy is a win in Iowa, and right now the big lead he's built up in the Hawkeye State over the summer appears to be holding. Since winning the Ames straw poll at the beginning of August, Mr. Romney has extended his lead in the RealClearPolitics Average in Iowa by more than five points, now holding a 15.4% lead over his nearest competitor, Rudy Giuliani.

Conventional wisdom says that a win in Iowa will provide a bounce heading into New Hampshire. But one need look no further than the 2000 Republican primary -- when George Bush won the Iowa caucuses only to be trounced by John McCain by 18 points the following week in New Hampshire -- to see that's not always the case.

One factor working in Romney's favor this year is that a sizable majority of Independents -- the largest voting bloc in the state and eligible to vote in either primary -- appear to be leaning toward participating in the Democratic primary, which would lessen the chances of an Independent-fueled upset like Mr. McCain's.

But unlike President Bush, who rebounded from the loss in New Hampshire eight years ago with a hard fought victory in South Carolina, Mr. Romney has no such firewall to fall back on. He's currently running a distant fourth in South Carolina and 16 points off the pace in Florida, two states that will set the tone for the heap of delegates up for grabs on February 5th.

On the other hand, the addition of Michigan to the early primary schedule is a boon for Mr. Romney, who was born in Detroit and is the son of a former Michigan governor. But the benefit of a win by the Wolverine State's favorite son could be short lived if Mr. Romney suffers a defeat in New Hampshire.

-- Tom Bevan, executive editor of
A Democratic Debate Parody - Er, the Real Thing

Last night's Democratic debate at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire featured many memorable moments, including Hillary Clinton artfully dodging any specifics on how she would revamp Social Security -- a sure sign that voters won't like what she has in mind.

But what Republicans are likely to focus on is the bizarre answer that the candidates gave to a question from Allison King of New England Cable News: "Last year, some parents of second-graders in Lexington, Massachusetts, were outraged to learn their children's teacher had read a story about same-sex marriage, about a prince who marries another prince.... Would you be comfortable having this story read to your children as part of their school curriculum?"

Not a single Democratic candidate was willing to say he or she thought such instruction inappropriate for students in the second grade. The reluctance to offend a powerful Democratic interest group was striking. After the debate, MSNBC commentator Pat Buchanan summed up succinctly: "[John] Edwards and these folks, the Democrats, they came off tonight as a nanny-state party. They're not going to let me smoke in public, they're not going to let an 18-year-old Marine have a beer, but they're going to give 6-year-olds -- teach 'em about homosexual marriage. I mean, you get the average American out there -- this might be big stuff at Dartmouth, but I can tell ya: That doesn't sell."

NBC Political Director Chuck Todd agreed: "I would be not shocked if in 24 hours... what Pat said is the script for a Mitt Romney radio ad to try to hit the Democrats on some cultural issues." MSNBC host Chris Matthews chimed in: "The catechism of the Democratic Party is: Lots of information about the gay orientation early in life, right?"

The media often utters clucks of regret when sensitive social and cultural questions are brought into presidential politics. But could voters really be blamed for reacting negatively after the eye-popping response of the Democratic field to last night's curriculum question? It would be the equivalent of every Republican candidate declining to oppose mandatory rifle training for second-graders in order to appease the gun lobby. It would be silly and bizarre and fully worthy of comment -- and condemnation.

-- John Fund
political journal WSJ
30290  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Crafty Dog seminars in October: on: September 27, 2007, 10:52:20 AM
October 13-14 Mexico City:  This seminar will be conducted in Spanish.

October 20-21 Manassas VA:

For details about both these seminars, see
30291  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: September 27, 2007, 10:47:05 AM
Second post of the morning:

The D.C. Gun Ban: Supreme Court Preview
by Robert A. Levy
Robert A. Levy is senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute, and co-counsel to the plaintiffs in Parker v. District of Columbia.

On September 4, the District of Columbia government asked the Supreme Court to reverse a federal appellate decision in Parker v. District of Columbia, 478 F.3d 370 (D.C. Cir. 2007), which upheld a Second Amendment challenge to D.C.'s ban on all functional firearms. The six D.C. residents who brought the lawsuit — although they won in the lower court — agree with the city that the Supreme Court should revisit the Second Amendment for the first time since 1939. A four-square pronouncement from the High Court is long overdue. The entire nation, not just Washington, D.C., needs to know how courts will interpret "the right of the people to keep and bear arms." Sometime before yearend, the justices will decide whether to review the case. If the Supreme Court chooses to intervene, a final decision will probably be issued by June 30, 2008.

D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and attorney general Linda Singer, in their petition to the Supreme Court and in a Washington Post op-ed ("Fighting for Our Handgun Ban," September 4), raise four arguments in support of the city's ban. Their first argument is that the Second Amendment ensures only that members of state militias are properly armed, not that private citizens can have guns for self-defense and other personal uses. That contentious question has been debated at length on these pages. See Dennis Henigan, "The Mythic Second," March 26, 2007; and Robert A. Levy, "Thanks to the Second Amendment," April 16, 2007.

The city's remaining three arguments — two legal claims and one policy claim — have received comparatively less attention. First, declares the mayor, even if the Second Amendment protects private ownership of firearms for non-militia purposes, a ban on all handguns is reasonable because D.C. allows possession of rifles and shotguns in the home. Second, the Amendment restricts the actions of the federal government, but not the states, and D.C. should be treated the same as a state for Second Amendment purposes. And third, "handgun bans work"; the streets of the Nation's Capital are safer as a result. Let's consider each argument in turn.

It's okay to ban handguns as long as rifles and shotguns are permitted.
The D.C. Circuit, for good reason, called that argument "frivolous." "It could be similarly contended," wrote Senior Judge Laurence Silberman, "that all firearms may be banned so long as sabers were permitted." After all, D.C. does not ban home possession of knives or hatchets. Does that justify the city's handgun ban? Could publication of cookbooks be barred under the First Amendment as long as restaurant guides were allowed?
Moreover, the D.C. Code bans not just handguns, but all functioning firearms. Rifles and shotguns in the home must be unloaded and either disassembled or bound by a trigger lock. That's why one of the Parker plaintiffs, who owns a shotgun, had to sue in order to render the weapon usable in an emergency.

Not to worry, says the mayor. "The District does not … construe this provision [regarding rifles and shotguns] to prevent the use of a lawful firearm in self-defense." That assurance might be heartening were it not disingenuous. Once a rifle or shotgun is loaded, it is no longer a "lawful firearm." Accordingly, D.C.'s pledge, limited to lawful weapons, is an empty one. A gun must be operative before it can be used in self-defense. Any owner who waits to load and assemble a gun until it's needed for self-defense has waited too long. If the mayor means what he says, he should have no problem repealing the city's ban on home possession of functional rifles and shotguns, as the Parker plaintiffs have demanded.

D.C. is like a state, and the Second Amendment doesn't apply to states.
The District relies on an 1886 case, Presser v. Illinois, for the proposition that the Second Amendment applies only to the federal government, not to the states. Admittedly, D.C. is not a state. But, says the mayor, the city should be treated the same as a state when courts review its gun control regulations. Therefore, so the argument goes, the city is immune from a Second Amendment challenge.

That argument fails on two counts. First, none of the amendments in the Bill of Rights originally applied to the states. Beginning in 1897, however, 11 years after Presser, the Supreme Court decided that the post-Civil War enactment of the 14th Amendment was intended to "incorporate" most of the Bill of Rights in order to hold state governments accountable for violations. To be sure, the Court never formally ruled that the Second Amendment was incorporated, but even ultra-liberal Ninth Circuit judge Stephen Reinhardt has conceded that "Presser rest on a principle that is now thoroughly discredited."

Second, even if states are exempt from the Second Amendment, the Constitution expressly grants to Congress, not a state, plenary legislative power over all matters whatsoever in the Nation's Capital. Because the Second Amendment indisputably applies to the federal government, it therefore applies to the District, a federal enclave. D.C.'s assertion that its city council, a creature of Congress, should enjoy an exemption from the Second Amendment that binds Congress itself, is quite simply bizarre. If it were true, then the Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial in civil cases — which also hasn't been incorporated — would not apply to D.C. But the courts have held otherwise. See, e.g., Pernell v. Southall Realty (U.S. 1974).

The city responds that the Second Amendment is different because, unlike the Seventh, the Second is a limitation on federal power over the states. In effect, that's the collectivist or states' rights view of the Second Amendment. Thus, the District's claim of exemption merges with, and depends on, its collectivist interpretation of the Second Amendment. If D.C. is wrong about the Second Amendment, then its "no-incorporation" argument collapses as well.

"Handgun bans work"; they've "saved countless lives."
Before the District banned handguns in 1976, the murder rate had been declining. But soon afterward, the rate climbed to the highest of all large U.S. cities. It also rose relative to nearby Maryland and Virginia as well as relative to other cities with more than 500,000 people. During the 31-year life of the ban, with the exception of a few years during which the city's murder rate ranked second or third, there have been more killings per capita in Washington, D.C. than in any other major city.

In 12 of the years between 1980 and 1997, including all nine years from 1989 through 1997, the violent crime rate in D.C. exceeded 2,000 per 100,000, reaching a high of 2,922 in 1993, versus 1,481 in 1976 — a 97 percent increase in violent crime, 17 years after citizens were forbidden from defending themselves with firearms. Moreover, the murder rate climbed as high as 81 per 100,000 inhabitants in 1991 — triple the pre-ban levels. As of 2005, the last year for which I have data, the murder rate is still 32 percent above the 1976 level.

Two non-partisan, respected federal government agencies recently examined gun controls and found no statistically significant evidence to support their effectiveness. In 2004, the National Academy of Sciences reviewed 253 journal articles, 99 books, and 43 government publications evaluating 80 gun-control measures. The researchers could not identify a single gun-control regulation that reduced violent crime, suicide, or accidents. A year earlier, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on an independent evaluation of firearms and ammunition bans, restrictions on acquisition, waiting periods, registration, licensing, child access prevention laws, and zero tolerance laws. Conclusion: none of the laws had a meaningful impact on gun violence.

Based on those statistics, there's a compelling argument that Americans deserve an opportunity to defend themselves by possessing suitable firearms. But even if the data were to cut the other way — even if it could be demonstrated (which it emphatically cannot) that more gun laws lead to less crime — gun laws are not just about public policy. They're about the meaning of the Constitution. Hopefully, the U.S. Supreme Court, at long last, will answer this vital question: Does the right to keep and bear arms belong to us as individuals, or does the Constitution merely recognize the collective right of states to arm the members of their militias?

This article appeared in Legal Times on September 24, 2007.
30292  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: September 27, 2007, 08:55:16 AM
Caveat lector:  NY Times

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26 — A year and a half after President Bush told top aides that he feared he might be forced someday to choose between acquiescing to Iran’s nuclear ambitions and ordering military action, the struggle to find an effective alternative — sanctions with real bite — is entering a new phase.

The speech at the United Nations on Tuesday by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran is already being used by American officials in an effort to convince European allies that Iran’s leadership will respond only to a sharp new wave of economic pressure, far greater than anything it has endured so far. Mr. Ahmadinejad, trying to make the case that no additional sanctions would derail Iran’s uranium enrichment program, declared that “the nuclear issue of Iran is now closed.”

Until now, Washington has relied on gradually escalating sanctions, including convincing a growing number of banks that it is risky to lend new funds to Iran for major oil projects. Yet in interviews, American diplomats, White House officials and military officers acknowledge that the strategy has been largely ineffective.

So have veiled threats of military action. While President Bush and his aides insist that “all options are on the table,” senior officials say there is little enthusiasm in the White House or the Pentagon for military attacks on Iran’s nuclear facilities, though they acknowledge that such war plans are always being refined.

The officials say the Iranians fully understand that while the United States could destroy Iran’s major nuclear facilities, it would be far harder to manage the probable response, which could include heightened attacks on American forces in Iraq, possible retaliation on Israel or the destabilization of governments from Lebanon to Pakistan.

Administration officials say that the chances appear slim that the United States can enlist Russia and China behind really tough sanctions against Iran, and that it could take several months for such sanctions to emerge, if they do at all.

But for the first time, administration officials say, the European allies are talking about a far broader cutoff of bank lending and technology to Iran than any tried so far. The lead is being taken by the new government in France, whose president, Nicolas Sarkozy, issued a starker warning to the United Nations this week about a nuclear Iran than did Mr. Bush.

That has created a new initiative between Washington and Paris unlike any since they split over the invasion of Iraq. The effort, said Stephen J. Hadley, the national security adviser, is intended to convince Iranians that the nuclear program is “taking us into the ditch,” and to make the pressure so great “that they finally have to make a strategic choice.”

In a meeting on Tuesday with editors and reporters for The New York Times, Mr. Hadley conceded that the United States was still struggling to understand how much pressure it would take to force Iran to make what he called a “strategic choice” and said that intelligence estimates “vary widely” about how much time remained before the Iranians could have a weapon.

One senior European official who is taking part in conversations in New York this week to design sanctions that the entire European Union might agree to said it was now “a race between how fast they can build centrifuges and we can turn up the pain.”

So the discussions now center on cutting off even more lending to the Iranians and — for the first time — supplies of technology and other goods. But that would require severing, one by one, deep ties between European and Iranian businesses, and necessitate what Mr. Hadley called a consensus for “aggressive action, even if that means compromising their commercial interests.”

A range of officials acknowledged the difficulty of designing a military strike option effective enough to set the Iranian program back for many years.

While many of the sites have long been known — especially the giant underground complex at Natanz, where just shy of 2,000 centrifuges have been installed — there is no certainty that military action could destroy the entire system of well-disguised factories and laboratories, some known and some hidden.

And the turmoil certain to follow such an attack may not be worth military action that simply delays nuclear development, officials say.

That probably explains why Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have both vowed to pursue the diplomatic track, saying that military action is a last resort. But those comments have not silenced the speculation here, in Europe and in the Middle East that America is planning for an attack.

“This constant drumbeat of war is not helpful, and it’s not useful,” said Adm. William J. Fallon, the senior American commander in the region.
Page 2 of 2)

In a telephone interview this week as he visited various regional capitals, Admiral Fallon pledged that the United States would “maintain our capabilities in that region of the world in an attempt to make sure that if they opt for military activity there, that is not going to be very useful to them.”

At the same time, he said, “we will pursue avenues that might result in some kind of improvement in Iranian behavior.”

“I am not talking about a war strategy, but a strategy to demonstrate our resolve,” Admiral Fallon said. “We have a very, very robust capability in the region, especially in comparison to Iran. That is one of the things that people might want to keep in mind. Our intention is to make sure they understand that, but we are being prudent in our actions and certainly not trying to be provocative.”

In recent days others have begun to speak openly about what the United States would face if Iran successfully fielded nuclear weapons or manufactured enough uranium to make clear that it could produce weapons in short order. It is that second possibility — in which Iran would stay within the strict rules of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty — that worries many intelligence officials.

Gen. John P. Abizaid, who retired this year as senior American commander in the Middle East, said that while the United States must do all it can to prevent Iran from going nuclear, the world could live with a nuclear Iran and could contain it.

“I believe that the United States, with our great military power, can contain Iran, that the United States can deliver clear messages to the Iranians that makes it clear to them that while they may develop one or two nuclear weapons, they’ll never be able to compete with us in our true military might and power, and they should not underestimate either our resolve or our ability to deal with them in the event of war,” General Abizaid said in a speech last week at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington policy institute

He said the broad rules of deterrence that kept a nuclear peace between the United States and the Soviet Union during the cold war, and remain in effect with nuclear Russia and China today, would be effective against a nuclear Iran.

“I believe nuclear deterrence will work with the Iranians,” General Abizaid said.

Inside the administration, senior officials say they have also considered organizing a regional forum to confront Iran, using as a model the “six party” talks with North Korea, an effort to put pressure on that country from all its neighbors. But in the Middle East, officials say, the idea has hardly gotten off the ground.

“As we talk to the regional leaders, we have yet to hear a single good idea for ways to find common ground, or a forum or framework for dealing with Iran,” said one senior official involved in Iran policy. The problem, officials say, is that none of Iran’s neighbors are willing and able to play the decisive role alongside the United States.

30293  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: September 27, 2007, 08:42:55 AM
The NY Times weighs in on Blackwater:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26 — The American security contractor Blackwater USA has been involved in a far higher rate of shootings while guarding American diplomats in Iraq than other security firms providing similar services to the State Department, according to Bush administration officials and industry officials.

Blackwater is now the focus of investigations in both Baghdad and Washington over a Sept. 16 shooting in which at least 11 Iraqis were killed. Beyond that episode, the company has been involved in cases in which its personnel fired weapons while guarding State Department officials in Iraq at least twice as often per convoy mission as security guards working for other American security firms, the officials said.

The disclosure came as the Pentagon said Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates had sent a team of officials to Iraq to get answers to questions about the use of American security contractors there.

The State Department keeps reports on each case in which weapons were fired by security personnel guarding American diplomats in Iraq. Officials familiar with the internal State Department reports would not provide the actual statistics, but they indicated that the records showed that Blackwater personnel were involved in dozens of episodes in which they had resorted to force.

The officials said that Blackwater’s incident rate was at least twice that recorded by employees of DynCorp International and Triple Canopy, the two other United States-based security firms that have been contracted by the State Department to provide security for diplomats and other senior civilians in Iraq.

The State Department would not comment on most matters relating to Blackwater, citing the current investigation. But Sean McCormack, the department’s spokesman, said that of 1,800 escort missions by Blackwater this year, there had been “only a very small fraction, very small fraction, that have involved any sort of use of force.”

In 2005, DynCorp reported 32 shootings during about 3,200 convoy missions, and in 2006 that company reported 10 episodes during about 1,500 convoy missions. While comparable Blackwater statistics were not available, government officials said the firm’s rate per convoy mission was about twice DynCorp’s.

The State Department’s incident reports have not been made public, and Blackwater refused to provide its own data on cases in which its personnel used their weapons while guarding American diplomats. The State Department is in the process of providing at least some of the data to Congress. The administration and industry officials who agreed to discuss the broad rate of Blackwater’s involvement in violent events would not disclose the specific numbers.

“The incident rate for Blackwater is higher, there is a distinction,” said a senior American government official who insisted on anonymity in order to discuss a delicate, continuing investigation. “The real question that is open for discussion is why.”

A Blackwater spokeswoman declined to comment.

Blackwater, based in North Carolina, has gained a reputation among Iraqis and even among American military personnel serving in Iraq as a company that flaunts an aggressive, quick-draw image that leads its security personnel to take excessively violent actions to protect the people they are paid to guard. After the latest shooting, the Iraqi government demanded that the company be banned from operating in the country.

“You can find any number of people, particularly in uniform, who will tell you that they do see Blackwater as a company that promotes a much more aggressive response to things than other main contractors do,” a senior American official said.

Today, Blackwater operates in the most violent parts of Iraq and guards the most prominent American diplomats, which some American government officials say explains why it is involved in more shootings than its competitors. The shootings included in the reports include all cases in which weapons are fired, including those meant as warning shots. Others add that Blackwater’s aggressive posture in guarding diplomats reflects the wishes of its client, the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security.

Still, other government officials say that Blackwater’s corporate culture seems to encourage excessive behavior. “Is it the operating environment or something specific about Blackwater?” asked one government official. “My best guess is that it is both.”


Page 2 of 2)

Blackwater was founded in 1997 by Erik Prince, a former member of the Navy Seals, and is privately owned. Most of its nearly 1,000 people in Iraq are independent contractors, rather than employees of the company, according to a spokeswoman, Anne Tyrrell. Blackwater has a total of about 550 full-time employees, the she said.

Its diplomatic security contract with the State Department is now the company’s largest, Ms. Tyrrell said, while declining to provide the dollar amount. The company also provides security for the State Department in Afghanistan, where it also has counternarcotics-related contracts.

In addition to the Sept. 16 shooting in the Nisour area of Baghdad, Iraqi officials said Blackwater employees had been involved in six other episodes under investigation. Those episodes left a total of 10 Iraqis dead and 15 wounded, they said.

Many American officials now share the view that Blackwater’s behavior is increasingly stoking resentment among Iraqis and is proving counterproductive to American efforts to gain support for its military efforts in Iraq.

“They’re repeat offenders, and yet they continue to prosper in Iraq,” said Representative Jan Schakowsky, an Illinois Democrat who has been broadly critical of the role of contractors in Iraq. “It’s really affecting attitudes toward the United States when you have these cowboy guys out there. These guys represent the U.S. to them and there are no rules of the game for them.”

Despite the growing criticism of Blackwater and its tactics, the company still enjoys an unusually close relationship with the Bush administration, and with the State Department and Pentagon in particular. It has received government contracts worth more than $1 billion since 2002, with most coming under the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, according to the independent budget monitoring group OMB Watch.

Last year, the State Department gave Blackwater the lead role in diplomatic security in Iraq, reducing the roles of DynCorp and Triple Canopy.

The company employs about 850 workers in Iraq under its diplomatic security contract, about three-quarters of them Americans, according to the State Department and the Congressional Research Service. DynCorp has 157 security guards in Iraq; Triple Canopy has about 250. The figures compiled by the State Department track the number of shootings per convoy mission, rather than measuring against the number of employees.

Just in recent weeks, Blackwater has also been awarded another large State Department contract to provide helicopter services in Iraq.

The company’s close ties to the Bush administration have raised questions about the political clout of Mr. Prince, Blackwater’s founder and owner. He is the scion of a wealthy Michigan family that is active in Republican politics. He and the family have given more than $325,000 in political donations over the past 10 years, the vast majority to Republican candidates and party committees, according to federal campaign finance reports.

Mr. Prince has helped cement his ties to the government by hiring prominent officials. J. Cofer Black, the former counterterrorism chief at the C.I.A. and State Department, is a vice chairman at Blackwater. Mr. Black is also now a senior adviser on counterterrorism and national security issues to the Republican presidential campaign of Mitt Romney.

Joseph E. Schmitz, the former inspector general at the Pentagon, now is chief operating officer and general counsel for Blackwater’s parent company, the Prince Group. Officials at other firms in the contracting industry said that Mr. Prince sometimes met with government contracting officers, which they say is an unusual step for the chief executive of a corporation.

No Blackwater employees, or any other contractors, have been charged with crimes related to the shootings in Iraq, although there are a number of American laws governing actions overseas and in wartime that could be applied, according to experts in international law. In addition, a measure enacted last year calls for the Pentagon to bring contractors in Iraq under the jurisdiction of American military law, but the Defense Department has not yet put into effect the rules needed to do so.

Separately, American officials specifically exempted all United States personnel from Iraqi law under an order signed in 2004 by L.Paul Bremer III, then the top official of the American occupation authority. The Sept. 16 shootings have so angered Iraqis, however, that the Iraqi government is proposing a measure that would overturn the American rule and subject Western private security companies to Iraqi law. The proposal requires the approval of the Iraqi Parliament.

In a sign of the Pentagon’s concern over private security contractors, Mr. Gates last Sunday sent a five-person team to Iraq to discuss with Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq, the rules governing contractors. “He has some real concerns about oversight of contractors in Iraq and he is looking for ways to sort of make sure we do a better job on that front,” Geoff Morrell, Mr. Gates’s spokesman, told reporters at the Pentagon on Wednesday.

On Tuesday night, Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England sent a three-page memorandum to senior Defense Department officials and top commanders around the world ordering them to ensure that contractors in the field were operating under rules of engagement consistent with the military’s.

30294  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Current Events: Philippines on: September 27, 2007, 08:30:13 AM
PHILIPPINES: Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is planning to offer an unconditional pardon to her ousted predecessor Joseph Estrada. Estrada, 70, previously said he would not accept a pardon if it meant admitting guilt. The conditions of the pardon will be settled between Arroyo's interior minister and Estrada. Arroyo's chief legal advisor said the move was to ease political tensions in the country; the long enmity between Arroyo and Estrada has been the source of many coup rumors.

30295  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: September 27, 2007, 08:27:59 AM
No URL came to me with this.

Veterans Disarmament Act To Bar Vets From Owning Guns

Larry Pratt | September 23, 2007

Hundreds of thousands of veterans -- from Vietnam through Operation Iraqi Freedom -- are at risk of being banned from buying firearms if legislation that is pending in Congress gets enacted.

How? The Veterans Disarmament Act -- which has already passed the House -- would place any veteran who has ever been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) on the federal gun ban list.

This is exactly what President Bill Clinton did over seven years ago when his administration illegitimately added some 83,000 veterans into the National Criminal Information System (NICS system) -- prohibiting them from purchasing firearms, simply because of afflictions like PTSD.

The proposed ban is actually broader. Anyone who is diagnosed as being a tiny danger to himself or others would have his gun rights taken away ... forever. It is section 102((1)©(iv) in HR 2640 that provides for dumping raw medical records into the system. Those names -- like the 83,000 records mentioned above -- will then, by law, serve as the basis for gun banning.

No wonder the Military Order of the Purple Heart is opposed to this legislation.

The House bill, HR 2640, is being sponsored by one of the most flaming anti-Second Amendment Representatives in Congress: Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY). Another liberal anti-gunner, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), is sponsoring the bill in the Senate.

Proponents of the bill say that helpful amendments have been made so that any veteran who gets his name on the NICS list can seek an expungement.

But whenever you talk about expunging names from the Brady NICS system, you're talking about a procedure that has always been a long shot. Right now, there are NO EXPUNGEMENTS of law-abiding Americans' names that are taking place under federal level. Why? Because the expungement process which already exists has been blocked for over a decade by a "funds cut-off" engineered by another anti-gunner, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY).

So how will this bill make things even worse? Well, two legal terms are radically redefined in the Veterans Disarmament Act to carry out this vicious attack on veterans' gun rights.

One term relates to who is classified a "mental defective." Forty years ago that term meant one was adjudicated "not guilty" in a court of law by reason of insanity. But under the Veterans Disarmament Act, "mental defective" has been stretched to include anyone whom a psychiatrist determines might be a tiny danger to self or others.

The second term is "adjudicate." In the past, one could only lose one's gun rights through an adjudication by a judge, magistrate or court -- meaning conviction after a trial. Adjudication could only occur in a court with all the protections of due process, including the right to face one's accuser. Now, adjudication in HR 2640 would include a finding by "a court, commission, committee or other authorized person" (namely, a psychiatrist).

Forget the fact that people with PTSD have the same violent crime rate as the rest of us. Vietnam vets with PTSD have had careers and obtained permits to carry firearms concealed. It will now be enough for a psychiatric diagnosis (a "determination" in the language of the bill) to get a veteran barred ­for life ­ from owning guns.

Think of what this bill would do to veterans. If a robber grabs your wallet and takes everything in it, but gives you back $5 to take the bus home, would you call that a financial enhancement? If not, then we should not let HR 2640 supporters call the permission to seek an expungement an enhancement, when prior to this bill, veterans could not legitimately be denied their gun rights after being diagnosed with PTSD.

Veterans with PTSD should not be put in a position to seek an expungement. They have not been convicted (after a trial with due process) of doing anything wrong. If a veteran is thought to be a threat to self or others, there should be a real trial, not an opinion (called a diagnosis) by a psychiatrist.

If members of Congress do not hear from soldiers (active duty and retired) in large numbers, along with the rest of the public, the Veterans Disarmament Act -- misleadingly titled by Rep. McCarthy as the NICS Improvement Amendments Act -- will send this message to veterans: "No good deed goes unpunished."
30296  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: September 27, 2007, 07:23:43 AM
AFGHANISTAN: The process of letting Afghan forces take over from NATO in large-scale regional security operations in Afghanistan has already begun and is expected to be complete by 2009 or 2010, NATO Brig. Gen. Vincent Lafontaine said. The Afghan National Army is expected to reach 70,000 troops by 2009, and NATO troops will help with their training and conduct of operations.

30297  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: September 27, 2007, 07:21:07 AM
Although most of this piece is about NK, I post it here because a goodly part of this piece concerns events that have been covered in this thread:


Geopolitical Diary: A Softened U.S. Stance Toward North Korea?

The six-party talks over North Korea's nuclear program are ramping up again in Beijing amid seemingly contradictory signals from the United States.

On one hand, North Korea was implicated in nuclear proliferation, through a series of leaks (intentional or otherwise) to U.S. and Israeli press outlets, after a Sept. 6 Israeli airstrike in Syria that was reportedly aimed at a facility hosting North Korean missile or nuclear technology and workers. On the other hand, U.S. representative to the six-party talks Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill is offering an upbeat assessment of progress on dismantling North Korea's nuclear facilities following a pre-meeting session with North Korean envoy Kim Kye Gwan on the eve of the six-party talks.

Meanwhile, U.S. President George W. Bush used his address at the U.N. General Assembly to label North Korea a "brutal regime," and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice separately suggested that North Korea might be removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism even before the question of kidnapped Japanese citizens is resolved.

The six-party talks are, in and of themselves, not necessary to solve the North Korean nuclear issue. The nuclear crisis -- or interminable bureaucratic discussion punctuated by moments of excitement -- has been going on for more than a decade. At its most basic level, it represents an attempt by North Korea, a nation squeezed between U.S.-backed South Korea and an at-best-ambiguous China to the north, to break free from the international isolation left over from the collapse of its Cold-War life-support system, all on its own terms. And the main focus of North Korean attention is the United States.

Interestingly, despite the rising speculation about North Korean proliferation to Syria, Washington does not appear to be taking too hard a line against Pyongyang leading up to this round of talks, aside from Bush's requisite lumping of North Korea in with the likes of Belarus, Syria and Iran. And Pyongyang does not appear to be taking steps that would indicate it is all that concerned about the circulating accusations or the attendant consequences for such actions one would normally expect from the United States.

Rather, it seems the earliest hints that came out after the Israeli airstrike on Syria might be the most accurate: that Pyongyang -- in private bilateral negotiations with Washington -- handed over its buyers list, including the lot numbers and details of what it sold to whom and when, and that the Israelis launched a strike on Syria following the U.S. disclosure of a small piece of that information to Tel Aviv. In return, North Korea has been promised removal from the U.S. State Sponsors of Terrorism list, in addition to other incentives (perhaps including progress on normalization talks) as part of overall bilateral negotiations.

The mystery and obfuscation following the Israeli strike against Syria, then, allows Washington and North Korea to both play like they don't know what is going on, with neither losing face. Israel leaks that it was in possession of the information and shared it with the United States, not the other way around. (This also makes up for the obvious intelligence failure on the part of the Israelis, if they truly had to wait for North Korea to tell them where the offending material was hiding). North Korea calls Washington a hypocrite for helping Israel develop nuclear weapons and quickly meets with the Syrians, feigning ignorance and claiming conspiracy.

And remarkably, amid what might be proof positive of both Syrian attempts to acquire nuclear weapons and North Korean proliferation of nuclear material, there is no slowing of the six-party process, or of Washington's negotiations with Pyongyang.

If that is the case, then two things will come out of this week's six-party talks. First, there will be clear movement on North Korea's commitment to dismantle the aging Yongbyon nuclear facility, as well as on Washington's assurances of economic aid and removing Pyongyang from international blacklists. But this is window dressing.

More important will be the panic in China (if not also in South Korea, Japan and Russia) as it sees the United States and North Korea reshaping their relationship in spite of the other regional interests. This could strip Beijing of much of its negotiating leverage with Washington on other issues, leave Seoul off-balance as it tries to pursue its own path with regard to the upcoming inter-Korean summit and keep the outlying parties -- Moscow and Tokyo -- unsure of just what the United States will do next, or how that will affect Japan's attempts to take charge of shaping Northeast Asia and Russia's efforts to reassert itself in the region.
30298  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers: on: September 27, 2007, 07:12:00 AM

"No political truth is certainly of greater intrinsic value, or is
stamped with the authority of more enlightened patrons of liberty
than that on which the objection is founded. The accumulation of
all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same
hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary,
self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very
definition of tyranny."

-- James Madison (Federalist No. 48, 1 February 1788)

Reference: Madison, Federalist No. 47.
30299  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politically (In)correct on: September 27, 2007, 12:12:25 AM
And what an impression of the American mindset this man will take away from the experience!!!
30300  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Indianapolis pinged? on: September 26, 2007, 02:44:55 PM

From today's Indy Star:

Inactive explosives found at airport

By Meagan Ingerson
September 26, 2007

A suspicious item found in a security checkpoint at Indianapolis International Airport this morning caused a concourse of the airport to be closed for about an hour, delaying several flights, according to a report from the Indianapolis Airport Police.
An unidentified passenger reported the suspicious package, which appeared to be an improvised explosive device, after finding the item in a stack of gray plastic trays used to send personal belongings through the X-ray machine, the report stated.
Police shut down the checkpoint and adjoining concourse D from 5:10 to 6:20 a.m. A perimeter was set up and a bomb squad from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department rendered the device safe.

The suspected bomb appears to be a simulated explosive device, the report stated. The device included a battery, wires, a switch, and a plastic bag containing a modeling-clay-like substance labeled as a semtex imitation. Semtex is a plastic explosive often used in terrorist attacks.

According to the report, a second plastic bag also contained a fake explosive consisting of a small amount of a liquid labeled helix and a powder-filled tube. The bag was marked with a label from manufacturer S.E.T.D. Law Enforcement Training Center in Stamford, N.Y., the report stated.

Police called the manufacturer and were told that the company did manufacture the simulated helix but did not make the semtex imitation.

The origin of the simulated device is unknown. The incident is still under investigation by airport police.

Several East Coast-bound flights for United and U.S. Airways were delayed as a result of the closure, airport spokeswoman Susan Sullivan said. No flights were cancelled.

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