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30751  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Boxing Thread on: December 19, 2004, 11:21:30 AM
This Time, the Judges Go Johnson's Way
Light heavyweight beats Tarver in split decision at Staples Center. Ward wins in his pro debut.
By Steve Springer, Times Staff Writer

The best light heavyweight in the world has nine losses.

No, that's not a typo, though Glen Johnson and those around him would be the first to say that, while it's not a typographical error, the majority of those losses were the result of errors by the judges.
Saturday night at Staples Center, Johnson (42-9-2, 28 knockouts) was involved in another close fight, this one with Antonio Tarver, this one to determine the successor to Roy Jones, who ruled the division for years until he was knocked out by both Johnson and Tarver.

This time, the close decision went to Johnson in front of a crowd of 9,126. Judges Melvina Lathan and Chuck Giampa gave the fight to Johnson by the score of 115-113. Judge Marty Denkin had Tarver winning, 116-112.

"I thought Tarver won," Jones said of the 3-1 favorite, "but the result doesn't surprise me. Glen Johnson is a hustler. This is what he does."

Even Johnson, modest in victory, said, "I'm not the best. I'm still looking for Mr. Best."

In the semi-main event, Andre Ward, coming off his gold-medal winning victory in the 2004 Olympics, made a successful debut as a professional, winning on a second-round technical knockout over Christopher Molina (2-1, 1).

While some argue Tarver (22-3, 18) won the main event, none could argue that it wasn't an entertaining, competitive match. They fought 12 bruising rounds in which each fighter attacked and retreated, soared on the crest of crisp, clean punches and sagged with the draining effects of fatigue. Neither man was down, but each was rocked with shots that seemed to turn the fight in his opponent's favor. But just as soon as it seemed one of them had the advantage, the other would rally, drawing upon reserves of strength that temporarily overwhelmed the target of his renewed aggression.

The punch stats favored Tarver. He landed more punches (296-217) and a higher percentage (35%-27%) of those thrown.

"I don't come out ahead too often," Johnson said, "so I'm not going to dispute the result. I'm just very grateful."

Tarver, a southpaw, said that he hurt his left hand in "the fourth or fifth round" when he hit Johnson on top of the head.

"That took away my best weapon," said Tarver, "but that's boxing. It's a tough sport. I feel, in my heart of hearts, that I did more to win the fight."

Nothing Tarver said could diminish the magnitude of this victory for Johnson, whose unlikely success story began at a construction site in Miami 15 years ago. It was there that Johnson, working as a carpenter, first put on boxing gloves to spar on his lunch break with a fellow Jamaican, who was preparing for an upcoming fight.

It was love at first punch for Johnson, who, since turning professional 11 years ago, has traveled the world in search of a night like Saturday night.

The logical question, after a match as close as Saturday's, is will there be a rematch?

The loser, of course, always wants one. But, in this case, the winner was just as amenable. "Definitely I will give him a rematch," Johnson said.


Freed of the constraints of the Olympic scoring system, buoyed by the opportunity to fight someone of similar weight and exhilarated by fighting as a professional for the first time, Ward quickly disposed of Molina, knocking him down in each of the first two rounds of a scheduled four-rounder.

It was after the second knockdown, with Molina back on his feet but not responsive according to referee Jose Cobian, that the fight was stopped at the 40-second mark of the round.

"It was a beautiful thing," said Ward, who weighed in at 165 pounds, half a pound less than Molina. At the Olympics, Ward fought in the 178-pound division, giving away six to nine pounds to opponents.

"It was nice to finally fight someone eye-to-eye," Ward said. "He had me by half an inch, but I'll take that over the extra weight. He looked at my physique and miscalculated, thinking I was weak, but he quickly learned that was not case."

Exiting the ring unscathed, Ward will soon prepare for Chapter 2 of his pro career, expected to be on Feb. 10 against a still-undetermined opponent.


In a women's bout, Mia St. John (39-4-2 16) staggered Janae Romero Archuleta (4-10-1, 2) at 1:46 of the first round of a scheduled four-rounder with a right that caused Cobian to stop the bout. St. John had won their previous two meetings by decision.

If you want other stories on this topic, search the Archives
30752  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Am I the first to say... on: December 17, 2004, 03:29:40 PM

The picture is of the Original Dog Brother, Pure Akita, True Warrior, the Akita in our logo, ZAPATA-- whom I still miss.

Crafty Dog
30753  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans on: December 17, 2004, 03:26:26 PM

The first is a front page piece from today's Left Angeles Times, and the second from the editorial page of today's WSJ.

Crafty Dog

Weary Guard Seeks to Rebuild
Retention bonuses will be tripled and recruiting expanded as Iraq war strains multiply. Force also seeks $20 billion to replace equipment.

By John Hendren, Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON ? The Army National Guard is tripling retention bonuses to counter lagging recruitment and is asking for $20 billion to replace equipment destroyed in combat as it struggles under the continuing burden of the Iraq war, the Guard's top commander said Thursday.

After missing its recruitment goals over the last two months, the National Guard plans to boost bonuses to $15,000 from $5,000 for members who sign up for another six-year stint. Bonuses for first-time recruits will jump to $10,000 from $6,000 ? tax-free for those abroad, Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum, head of the National Guard Bureau, told reporters at the Pentagon.

The Guard also is boosting the number of recruiters from 2,700 to 4,100 and adjusting its advertising campaigns and slogans away from so-called weekend warriors to appeal to potential recruits who will more readily accept deployment abroad.

The war has collided with the expectations of those who thought that joining the Guard meant serving short periods close to home, near their families and civilian jobs.

The changes announced Thursday underscored the strain the Guard is facing from a protracted war that has required a fourth of its 340,000 members to serve in combat in Iraq. More than 140 Guard troops have been killed in Iraq.

Blum said the extra $20 billion is needed over three years to repair and replace vehicles, radios and other equipment destroyed in Iraq and Afghanistan as the service seeks first to replenish and then equip its forces.

"Otherwise, the Guard will be broken and not ready the next time it's needed, either here at home or for war," Blum said.

More than 100,000 Guard members are now deployed abroad, and many complain that they face enemy fire with equipment inferior to that of their regular Army colleagues. The equipment problems only compound growing recruitment and retention weaknesses, commanders said.

"There's no question that when you have a sustained ground combat operation going that the Guard's participating in, that makes recruiting more difficult," Blum said.

The National Guard has faced recruitment and retention problems since last summer. It fell 7,000 short of its target of 350,000 members in September and has struggled since then. The Guard's recruiting problem compounds those of the Army Reserve, which also has failed to meet its goals for the last two months. Together, the two branches of the Army make up 40% of the 140,000 American troops now serving in Iraq.

Blum said some of the Guard's recruiting themes being changed.

"We're not talking about one weekend a month and two weeks a year and college tuition," he said, referring to the time that members traditionally spent on active duty and an educational benefit. "We're talking about service to the nation."

U.S. military officials have expressed concern that the extensive deployments of part-time troops could drive some out of the force and deter others from joining, making it hard to fill the ranks in the future.

Meanwhile, many state officials complain that because the Guard is so heavily deployed in Iraq, its members are unavailable to help with domestic security or natural disasters.

The Guard's ranks have been hit hardest by a drop in the number of former full-time soldiers who exit active duty from the Army and enlist in the Guard. About half of active-duty soldiers traditionally have gone into the Guard after being discharged; the number has recently dropped to about 35%, Blum said.

"Clearly, a good flow of active forces into the Guard and Reserve is something that will benefit the Army, the Guard and Reserve over the long haul," Gen. George W. Casey, commander of the U.S.-led multinational force in Iraq, told reporters Thursday at the Pentagon. "It's something I think we need to pay attention to and continue to encourage and maybe incentivize active forces to continue to move into the Guard and Reserve."

Critics expressed doubt Thursday that the added incentives would solve the problem, which they said was more the result of prolonged deployments.

"When people get out now, they don't necessarily go into the Reserves because they know they'll likely go back out to Iraq, where they might have just come back from," said retired Army Capt. Michael McPhearson of the group Military Families Speak Out, an organization of service members and their families critical of U.S. policy in Iraq. "People know that. And they don't want to go."

The extra $20 billion will have to win approval in Congress.

In seeking the extra money, the National Guard's request would go far beyond the $7 billion in equipment it plans to request in an emergency spending bill to cover the costs of deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, Blum said.

Members of Congress have served as fierce advocates for National Guard units in their districts. Even when the Pentagon seeks little money to reequip Guard units, lawmakers go to bat for federal funding for local units. Equipment problems in the National Guard put Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on the defensive when he visited troops in Kuwait on Dec. 8.

Tennessee National Guard Spc. Thomas Wilson said members of his unit were forced to rummage through scrap yards for material to armor their Humvees. The Army since has moved to increase production of armored vehicles.

The question of equipment is particularly of concern to National Guard and Reserve troops because they often work with older equipment, although they represent a significant portion of the U.S. military force in Iraq.

"The Army's equipment is old, but the Guard's is oldest and it's wearing out," said Loren Thompson, defense analyst for the Lexington Institute, an Arlington, Va., public policy group.

The equipment woes have provoked concern in Congress, with Republicans as well as Democrats criticizing Rumsfeld. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who chairs the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, said Wednesday in a letter to Rumsfeld that she found the issue troubling.

"Given that so many American soldiers have died or been seriously injured in Iraq as a result of improvised explosive devices or in ambushes from rocket-propelled grenades, the urgent requirement for armor protection remains," she said.



The Army We Have

December 17, 2004; Page A14

A few weeks ago Rep. Duncan Hunter handed me a reason that has largely escaped media attention as to why our troops don't have all the armor they need. It was a piece of ballistic glass the size of a small dinner plate and as transparent as a normal windshield. But as it was four sheets of glass glued together, it was very thick and extremely heavy. In Iraq, this glass is saving lives.

The problem, the House Armed Services Committee chairman explained, is that a ballistic windshield is too heavy for some military vehicles. The window frames simply cannot support it. That means some soldiers are driving vehicles with regular windshields as the bureaucracy figures out what to do.

While the troops wait, he complained, the military could install two-inch-thick ballistic glass, which would likely stop 80% of the shrapnel that penetrates ordinary windshields. But the military is loath to adopt an interim, if imperfect, remedy. It prefers to wait for the "100% solution," Mr. Hunter said. In other words, in military procurement, the perfect has become the enemy of the good.

Mr. Hunter has also pushed the military to give soldiers steel plates they can cut into armored doors. He even made a short video on how soldiers in the field can cut the armored doors themselves (you can view it at Somehow the military isn't getting this done either.

These are not the only problems. Mr. Hunter's office figured out a way to help protect convoys by converting a regular truck into an escort vehicle by bolting on a few plates of high-grade steel, ballistic glass and four machine guns. The Army initially said these gun trucks weren't needed. But now a handful of them are in Iraq, with more to be delivered by Christmas.

There have been a few successes, however. Before redeploying to Iraq last March, the Marines put some armor on all the vehicles they shipped over. Through the Rapid Fielding Initiative, the Pentagon distributed a new type of body armor in Iraq. And Rapid Acquisition Authority was signed into law in October, which empowers the defense secretary to go outside the procurement system to meet urgent battlefield needs. But the power has yet to be invoked.

Donald Rumsfeld stirred up a hornet's nest last week saying, "You go to war with the army you have." But he was right. We cannot afford to make George McClellan's mistake in the Civil War, endlessly preparing but not doggedly going after the enemy. Our soldiers deserve the best equipment money can buy. And that includes the best equipment they can use now, instead of waiting around for something better. Sometimes what's good enough today is better than what would be perfect sometime down the road.

Mr. Miniter is assistant editor of This is adapted from his weekly online column, "The Western Front."
30754  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Movies of interest on: December 17, 2004, 03:07:16 PM
The fully formatted report may be found at


A Review of "House of Flying Daggers"

Dec 16 2004

Memo To: Website Moviegoers
     From: Matthew Wanniski
     Re:  An Intimate Martial-Arts Romance

It is appropriate that December features films that explore beginnings and endings (see last week's review of "Closer"). The new film by Zhang Yimou, "House of Flying Daggers," is another excellent example, a real feast for the eyes and for the heart. While this summer's hit film "Hero" was a martial arts story with a romantic edge, this latest is a romance masquerading as an action film. One can argue that the action scenes in "House of Flying Daggers" are almost incidental to the story, but they are dazzling to witness and enjoy, and quicken the pulse as much as the love scenes do.
Set in China near the end of the illustrious T'ang Dynasty, the story revolves around a gorgeous and deadly blind assassin named Mei, played by the lovely Ziyi Zhang (she now uses the Westernized order of her first and last name), a member of the insurgent House of Flying Daggers, which is attempting to bring down the government, one official at a time. Ms. Zhang continues to make an impact with Western audiences, growing better with each performance. In such films as "Hero" and "The Road Home," (both directed by Yimou), and of course "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," she has continually proven her talent as a dramatic actress and an action star. Here again, her looks and athleticism are on fine display. With this role, she could very well become the breakout star of the year.

Two men factor into Mei's life, and with her they form more than a simple love triangle, but a tightly woven web of deception, loyalty, and sacrifice. Takeshi Kaneshiro plays Jin, an undercover police captain sent to infiltrate the House of Flying Daggers. A carefree playboy, Jin would rather laze the day away with one arm around a woman and another around a wine bottle, but he fights with determination and great skill when necessary. His relationship with Mei causes him to question his duty, and sets the stage for a heated and ongoing battle between reason and passion.

While the two leads share real chemistry, Kaneshiro's charming performance as the conflicted officer isn't quite as compelling as Tony Leung's remarkable turn in "Hero" (truly one of the year's best). Of the two, Leung's role is the more memorable one. Still, Kaneshiro imbues Jin with enough substance and goodness that, combined with his inner turmoil, goes a long way toward making him a sympathetic character.

Andy Lau plays Leo, Jin's fellow officer, who in contrast to his insouciant friend, appears to reek of duty from head to toe. Lau gives a capable if largely unexceptional performance until late in the film. Then the simmering anger and desperation of a man betrayed by those he trusted most boils over with great intensity. You can feel the heat of his furious desire coming off the screen.

Emotional intensity aside, the characters could have been more rounded out and made as engaging as they deserve to be. Still, on the whole the actors manage to deliver fine performances despite the occasional thinness of their roles. It is not exactly the characters that move the story along, but the romance itself, the belief that empires may crumble, but true love endures.

That's an upbeat message, yet a deep sense of melancholy still pervades the film. The settings and the mood often create the feeling of a huge and terrible prison, the most obvious being the jail cell at police headquarters, and later the fight in the bamboo forest. The latter is the subtler of the two, and is all the more dramatic because of it.

Cinematographer Xiaoding Zhao paints a picture that is just as beautifully lavish, but less dreamlike, than "Hero." The patterns and textures of the costumes and the scenery appear to leap from the screen. Unlike "Hero," the fight scenes in this film look more grounded and less obviously exaggerated, although they are just as fantastically choreographed. No CGI was used for those scenes. Where it is used, it's entirely unnecessary and strikes a discordant note. Somehow, it's easier to accept the gravity-defying stunts and extraordinary visual effects than it is to accept a noticeably faked scene of a forest path, down which Jin travels after Mei. It adds nothing to the story and no one would miss it if it were removed.

While most theatergoers may not pick up on one very brief, computer-generated image, they may find it difficult, to say the least, to suspend their disbelief over the ending. Many may leave with a strong feeling of dissatisfaction.

"House of Flying Daggers" is a much smaller, far more intimate film than the spectacular martial arts epics we've been treated to over the last few years. Despite its weaknesses, it has a good story that keeps you engaged. While audiences will be divided over which film they prefer most, "House of Flying Daggers" stands as an excellent example of the magic of movie-making and the joy of story-telling, not just a fine addition to the martial-arts genre, but to the annals of filmdom.

Rated "PG-13" for sequences of stylized martial arts violence, and some sexuality.

Matthew Wanniski is a writer, editor and story analyst for Anonymous Content, a talent management and production company in Los Angeles. He can be reached at His Thursday reviews here have been appearing Fridays to a much wider audience at

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30755  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We the Unorganized Militia on: December 15, 2004, 02:31:32 PM
There is more about this incident on our Spanish language forum.  Several of the articles are in English.

Changing subjects, here's this from about 2 miles from my house:

Diners bolt from breakfast to chase down a thief
Police praise two men who were eating at Rod's Charburger on Artesia Boulevard when they ran after a man seen stealing from an "older gentleman."

By Larry Altman
Daily Breeze

Kevin Jeanotte sat enjoying a plate of pork chops and eggs for breakfast Monday morning. And then he took a bite out of crime.  The termite inspector chased a suspected robber in Redondo Beach, tackling him on the sidewalk and holding him until police arrived.

"I saw an older gentleman getting jumped and it's not right," Jeanotte said. "I saw it happen and I took off after him."

Police credited Jeanotte and Redondo Beach street maintenance worker Gosford Tukutau with grabbing the suspect and subduing him. Jose Manuel Jimenez, 19, of Carson was arrested on suspicion of robbery.

"They did an excellent job and I'm sure they can expect some commendation from the city," Redondo Beach police Sgt. Phil Keenan said.

The robbery occurred at 9:30 a.m. outside Rod's Char-burger, 2600 Artesia Blvd., as Nick Kelesidis, 71, left the business with $7,200 in a bag, said police and the restaurant's manager, Dino Fotoulos.  Jimenez pushed Kelesidis to the ground, snatched the money bag and ran, Keenan said.  Jeanotte, 36, of Cypress said he saw the attack through the window, saw the older man fall and leaped from his breakfast table to help.

"I took off after the guy and tackled him about two blocks down the road," Jeanotte said.

Tukutau, who was eating a burrito on his break, saw Jeanotte run, looked out the window and saw Kelesidis on the ground.  Kelesidis said he had been robbed, so Tukutau took off to help Jeanotte.  Tukutau helped detain Jimenez after Jeanotte had tackled him.

"I grabbed him and there were some contractors and they called the cops for us," said Tukutau, a 25-year-old Hawthorne resident.

Jimenez told the men he was hungry, but Jeanotte said he had $100 shoes and a cellular telephone.  

Tukutau said he believed the crime was a set-up.

"We told him if he wanted food, he should have come into the restaurant," Tukutau said.

"We wouldn't have given him money, but we would have bought him a burrito."

Jimenez was held at the Redondo Beach jail on $100,000 bail. Police gave the money back to the restaurant.  Fotoulos, who is Kelesidis' nephew, said his uncle suffered a few scratches but was fine. He appreciated the good work of his customers.

"They are good guys," the manager said.

"I tell them, 'Thank you, I have to do something for you guys.' They said, 'Don't worry. Don't worry.' "

Both men were nonchalant about hero status.

Jeanotte said he was just a man who "tried to help out an old man."

Tukutau said people need to help others when they are in need. He said the thought occurred to him that the thief might have had a weapon.

"But if you think about that you are just going to let him go," he said. "You have to put that out of your mind and do what's right.  What's right is chasing him down."
30756  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Homeland Security on: December 15, 2004, 01:13:58 PM
This from today's WSJ is by a former Director of the CIA.  It is both thoughtful and scary.  It proposes solutions that could change the nature of the American government.

Get Smart

December 15, 2004; Page A20

Whatever the overall effects of the recent intelligence reorganization, the new director of national intelligence (DNI) should at least be able to bring about one important improvement -- coordinating foreign and domestic intelligence.

Such coordination was not really even being attempted before 9/11 because domestic intelligence, for all practical purposes, did not exist. The FBI was the only institution that had ever actually been in the business, e.g. with its very effective long-term penetration of the American Communist Party. But discredited in the mid-1970s by the revelation of excesses, including spying on Martin Luther King Jr., the Bureau had essentially been put out of the domestic intelligence business.

The Bureau's own decentralized character made it virtually impossible to collect domestic intelligence effectively. Decentralization prevented insightful agents in Phoenix and Minneapolis from communicating with one another before 9/11, although each had premonitions about what it meant that young Arab men were learning to fly commercial aircraft without learning to land them. Even if an office in the Bureau learned something useful about domestic terrorism, the Justice Department in the '90s had barred different parts of the Bureau from working together on such issues. and for good measure, Congress had gone the extra mile and barred the Bureau from giving most terrorist information that it obtained during its law enforcement work to the CIA -- or indeed to anyone but a prosecutor.

Since 9/11, the government has moved cautiously toward collecting domestic intelligence on the transnational terrorist threat; it chose to do so through the FBI instead of a new agency similar to Britain's MI-5, and to this end has shifted a number of FBI agents away from their law enforcement tasks of investigating individual past crimes.

But that new undertaking now needs to be fitted together with foreign intelligence collection. When terrorists are funded from the Middle East, plot in Kuala Lumpur, live in central Florida and Hamburg, train in Oklahoma and fly out of Logan Airport, any effort to stay ahead of them absolutely requires not only major efforts in both domestic and foreign intelligence but also the close coordination of the two. Congress rightly decided that it was better to create a new official to do this than to give the job to the director of Central Intelligence, since the latter heads the CIA. For sound civil liberties reasons the CIA should not be in the business of overseeing domestic intelligence.

Managing along this foreign-domestic fault line will be the principal, and hardest, job of the new DNI. The bureaucratic and policy clashes that will define the new director's effectiveness will not be those on which the press, the 9/11 Commission and the Congress have been focused for months -- rivalry with the Secretary of Defense. The defense secretary and the director of Central Intelligence have generally worked well together over the years and that will probably continue with the new DNI. Military management of some parts of the intelligence community and military use of intelligence will likely continue in its reasonably well-grooved and effective path. and that's fine. The Defense Department wasn't the pre-9/11 problem anyway.

But what if the new DNI says to the FBI: "We're in a war with radical Islamist fanatics and our foreign intelligence collection increasingly tells us that a number of individuals from the Saudi Wahhabi sect are a major threat here in the U.S. -- for example, Wahhabi clerics have penetrated our prisons as chaplains and recruited a number of potential terrorists. So why are you largely ignoring this sort of infiltration and focusing so much of your domestic counter-intelligence assets on Israel?" Will the FBI tell the DNI to get lost? Stay tuned.

Foreign intelligence collection -- especially human collection -- and intelligence analysis of course need to improve. The key here is not moving organizational boxes around, but getting the right policy decisions made and getting Congressional funding and support for them. This might or might not have happened under the old organization and might or might not under the new one. For instance, we currently rely heavily on intelligence collected by other countries and given to us in exchange for our providing either technical intelligence or some other benefit to them, i.e. from "liaison." CIA Director Porter Goss has rightly called for reducing reliance on such sources and running more of our own spies.

Too-heavy reliance on intelligence provided by liaison services can sap our will to challenge a foreign government that is trying to buy our quiescence with dollops of intelligence. There may be other explanations, but is this one of the reasons, for example, that we have been so tolerant for so long of the Syrians' support for terror and Syria's recent and blatant serving as a base for the Baathist insurgents in Iraq?

Reliance on liaison information can also introduce unhelpful bias into our foreign policy. Could the U.S. failure to train military units consisting of Shia and Kurds before the overthrow of Saddam have had anything to do with stern warnings against this from Iraq's Sunni Arab neighbors, from whom we were getting intelligence liaison information?

But even if the DNI becomes an engine for wise foreign intelligence reform (rather than, equally possible, a brake on it), there is a real risk that the extravagant claims made during the recent debate will convince people that the reorganization will be so effective that we will now be protected against attack.

This is dangerous nonsense. Small terrorist cells -- based on family, clan, and sect and communicating by courier -- are devilishly difficult to penetrate with spies or signal intercepts: much harder than the Soviets were. Those who opine that getting spies into al Qaeda should be easy since John Walker Lindh got in make the unsubstantiated assumption that foot soldiers such as Lindh are privy to closely held planning by the few guys in the cave. There is no reason to believe this. Most of the 9/11 terrorists, e.g., had no idea before boarding the flights that morning what Mohammed Atta's plans were, even in general.

So even if by some great good fortune both domestic and foreign intelligence, and their coordination, should be substantially improved by the new DNI, we are going to have to face a most unsettling proposition. Since the odds are strong that we will not have anything like the understanding of enemy capabilities and intentions that we had during the Cold War, we are going to have to turn immediately to making our society more resilient when the next attack comes. The electricity grid, industrial chemical distribution, food production and distribution, the Internet and much of the rest of our infrastructure all need urgent attention. We must integrate homeland security with military and other elements of the nation's security. In doing this we will have to do a much better job of managing risks and of assuring that our infrastructure is as protected as possible and that it can continue to function even if security fails.

If the new law engenders false confidence in what intelligence can provide, and this causes any delay in such improvements in resilience, intelligence reorganization will have done far more harm than good.

Mr. Woolsey, a former director of Central Intelligence, is a vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton.
30757  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Weird and/or silly on: December 15, 2004, 11:10:33 AM
Jokester in Bin Laden Mask Shot
Tuesday, December 14, 2004

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica - Usama bin Laden (search <> ) take note: You wouldn't be safe in Costa Rica. A startled taxi driver shot and wounded a jokester wearing a plastic mask of the Al Qaeda (search <> ) leader, police said Tuesday.

Leonel Arias, 47, told police he was playing a practical joke by donning the Bin Laden mask, toting his pellet rifle and jumping out to scare drivers on a narrow street in his hometown, Carrizal de Alajuela (search <> ), about 20 miles north of San Jose.

Arias had startled several drivers that way on Monday afternoon. But when he jumped out in front of taxi driver Juan Pablo Sandoval, the motorist reached for a gun and shot him twice in the stomach. He was hospitalized in stable condition.

"For me and I think for anybody else at a time like that one thinks the worst and so I fired my gun," Sandoval told Channel 7 television.
Police declined to detain Sandoval, saying he had believed he was acting in self-defense.
30758  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / DVDs? on: December 15, 2004, 12:04:44 AM
Woof All:

With editor Ron Gabriel on-line and me supervising, we are working 2 days a week on this.  Shaggy Dog is taking care of the artwork for the boxes.  We are planning special editions with sundry additional items such as fotos, articles and other things.

"Krabi Krabong", "Attacking Blocks" and "Combining Stick & Footwork" are all done.  All have a substantial amount of footage not in the videos. The case for KK is done.  We are working right now on "The Grandfathers Speak" for which the additional footage will be of an interview with Pedoy Braulio, and a 30 minute interview I did with GM Giron in 1991 in his training hall.

The Adventure continues,
Crafty Dog
30759  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We the Well-armed People on: December 14, 2004, 07:41:40 PM
This thread's title notwithstanding, here's one an armed LEO:


Police Arrest Deputy U.S. Marshal
Marshal Being Held Without Bond
POSTED: 10:51 AM EST November 2, 2004

ROCKVILLE, Md. -- Montgomery County police say a deputy U.S. Marshal has been charged with murder in the shooting death of 20-year-old Ryan Stowers last Thursday in Rockville, Md. Police said 53-year-old Arthur Lloyd was taken into custody about 8:30 a.m., at his Montgomery County home.

They said Stowers and Lloyd argued at the Mid Pike Shopping Plaza on Rockville Pike, shortly after having a traffic altercation on Rockville Pike.
Police said the verbal dispute escalated into a physical altercation and at some point, Lloyd drew his service handgun and fired one round , striking Stowers in his lower right leg.

Detectives said Stowers called 911 using his cell phone, and then got back into his car and began to drive away. Lloyd then fired multiple times, with one round hitting Stowers in the back near his left shoulder, detectives said.

Stowers was taken to Suburban Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Lloyd was taken to a local hospital and treated and released for a broken thumb and other injuries he sustained during the altercation.
Police said Lloyd was off duty at the time and had his family in the car when the incident happened.

Authorities said Lloyd has been charged with first-degree murder, use of a handgun in the commission of a crime of violence, and reckless endangerment and is being held without bond.
According to the U.S. Marshals Service, Lloyd has been suspended without pay.

Copyright 2004 by All rights reserved.
30760  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Bilateralism on: December 13, 2004, 08:00:56 PM
Woof All:

From a recent thread on the Eskrima Digest:

Guro Crafty

Turning to the subject at hand,  be it left or right,  I misplaced the issue
with Kim's post but IIRC correctly the gist of it was that many people may
talk ambidexterity but not walk ambidexterity.

This, as far as it goes, is true.

Briefly reprising points made here over the years:

1) Whereas single lead boxing structures (e.g. a righty always having the
left foot forward) develop both sides of the body, single stick structures
as trained by most people tend to increase the difference between dominant and complimentary sides.

2) Fastest initial results may come from working single stick in standard
lead.  IMO this tends to lead to physical imbalances over time.  For many
people double stick takes substantially more training time before good
results are obtained in fighting.

3) People tend to avoid true ambidexterity work because it messes with the ego to work the complimentary side in the dominant function.

4) If the disparity between dominant side and complementary side has been increased by working single stick dominant side first, it becomes even less likely for most people that they will ever really go to work on the complimentary side in dominant function because it will be an even larger "ego bubble pop" to do so.

5) A common response to this ego chatter is to think that matching siniwali drills (right meets right, etc) show ambidexterity.  Under pressure, such training often reveals results exactly as Kim comments.  This is, I think, because in the drills that most people do, the complimentary hand is, in effect, slip streaming the coordination of the dominant hand.  My sense of it however is that true skill is best achieved by the complimentary side of the body being trained in dominant side movement BEFORE the dominant side learns the movements in question.  This explains why lefties who must undergo learning on the right side first in order to "fit in" over time often produce stellar ambidexterity results.  Those of you familiar with Chad Stahelski, may use him as a good example of this.

My own experience was that as I began sparring in 1986, and then fighting in 1988 was that I could not really manifest double stick at all and I didn't bother trying for many years.  After my serious knee injury in 1992 I had about 18 months of recuperation during which time I invested some focused time working single stick in my left hand.  Around 1995 I gave fighting siniwali another go, and although the results showed things that needed work, it went well enough that I entered into several years of fighting only siniwali. I now have a strong preference for siniwali.

I have put considerable thought into this for Dog Brothers Martial Arts.
(BTW, as we define it, empty hand is a subset of siniwali)  DBMA has as its mission statement "To Walk as a Warrior for all One's days."    This
includes developing the physical skill sets for 360 situations, amongst them ambidexterity and bilateralism and siniwali is an important part of this work.  The teaching syllabus is organized so that these skills are taken to fighting level in a lot less time than it took me to figure it out. smiley

So far it seems to be working for several of my fighting students who are
manifesting the material very nicely

Crafty Dog.

PS:  QUESTION:  My understanding is that monkeys do not have dominant and complimentary sides.  Why is it that we do?

Woof All:

Responses interspersed:

> From: "" <>
>> Subject: Re: [Eskrima] Lefty, Righty, Ambidextrous, Matched and
>  Unmatched, and bilateralism
> Reply-To:

> Marc, I got to say that's an inspiring post.

Tail wags.

>, , ,  Sometimes you have to put your ego down.  I also admire working your working to improve even while you were recuperating.  I've been >wracked by one injury after another recently and that's good the hear.

Few things will mess with your ego like having your complementary side work in the dominant function-- combining stick and footwork is another.

The art and science of working around injuries is an important one,
especially the closer you play to your peresonal limits.

> A question:  When you say "sinawali", do you mean the kind of sinawali
pattern that people are used to (not necessarily the drills, but the
>motions) or is 'sinawali' here used to mean 'two sticks'?  Without giving
the store away, could you be more detailed about the lessons you >learned?

I am using "siniwali" here in the common and imprecise American usage of the term i.e. to mean "double stick".  It is my understanding that in the
Philippines the term is used to refer to "weaving" motions.  However, just
as Brazilians often use kimono to refer to a gi, in the US we often use
siniwali to mean double stick.  I suspect we do it because the foreign word
sounds cooler than "double stick" smiley

As for lessons learned, they are numerous and lengthy.  Perhaps another day.

> >PS:  QUESTION:  My understanding is that monkeys do not have dominant and complimentary sides.  Why is it that we do?
> Like you said, I'm often surprised where this list goes.  I would think
that it is a development in tool handling ability.  I think that hand
>dexterity goes hand-in-hand (pun intended) with the development of
intelligence, conceptual ability and speech, and that takes some rationing
>of brain reserves , , , .
> Why not develop the non-dominant hand?  I'm thinking it's a conservation of effort thing.  Most of us can use the non-dominant hand, just without as much dexterity.  I'm picturing a cave man flintknapping a stone tool: he (or she) can hold one stone in the non-dominant hand - in a multitude of positions - and let the dominant hand do the fine-tuned work, and things work just fine.  Same thing with weaving baskets, tying >knots, etc.

Certainly the idea of conservation is plausible and accords with principles
of evolutionary biology, but I'm wondering if it is more a question of
specialization of functions-- dominant and complementary as you point out in your next paragraph:

> It could also be that one-sidedness allows one to use one handed weapons easier.  Think of one of our ancestors throwing a spear.  Having a dominant side "knowing" it was the popropellant fource and the non-dominant side "knowing" it was a bracing force would be an advantage in >that middle range of our development when we were walking upright using tools, but not using language too well.  When you look at films of >apes attacking each other with branches, you don't have that same sophistication.  And, evolutionarily speaking, it would be far easier to hard->wire that in (with little downside, since for most of our time on the planet writing has not been widely used) than to set up a caveman dojo to >churn out cromagnon black belts in spear throwing after just five years.
> I also wonder if there's something about the division of the brain into
hemispheres, although one would think the motor part would be able to >
function indepdently.>

Hmm interesting point; this had not occurred to me.  Preliminary follow-up
question: Do (some or all) monkeys have hemisheres or is this distinctive to humans?

>All this is, of course, my being speculative.  If you're really interested,
I think Feldenkrais writes about this in some of his books.

Anyone able to narrow this down a bit?

> From:
> Date: Mon, 13 Dec 2004 17:31:10 EST
> To:
> Subject: [Eskrima] Re: Kim's lefty repsonse
> Reply-To:
> Hi Doc,
> The instructor I mentioned was Dan Inosanto, and yes, I was present.
> > I'm not for or against anybody on this point, just telling it from a
>lefties point of view; it is sometimes hard to relate to something unless you live it.  I am left dominant (both in strength and reflexes), and would never presume to have a righty train with his left as his dominant hand just because I'm not a right-hand dominant person.  I always ask a new student which hand they are most comfortable with before they begin training with me. My reasons for this are that righties often assume that it's just a matter of having the lefty put the stick in their right hand and train it this way from the beginning, and this will make a "righty" out of the person.  It doesn't work that way, trust me.  "Handedness" doesn't just refer to "hands"...we are also right or left dominant eyed, and this must be taken into consideration as well.

I think Guro Inosanto is left eyed BTW

> In the end, I find it's always best to let nature take it's course, which I
>believe was the cornerstone of the training, and later teaching, of one
>very famous martial artist....
> Kim Satterfield

This too makes sense.

Just in case it is necessary, a point of clarification:  I am not seeking to make righties into lefties or vice versa  Rather I seek to have movements learned on the complementary side.  In my experience, when learned in this way they are always natural to the complementary side and transpose readily to the dominat side.  Motions learned on the dominant side do NOT transpose readily to the complementary side.  At any rate, our goal over time is to have the option against any one opponent, be he right or lefty, to fight matched lead or unmatched lead and in 360 situations, in that there may not be time to select the preferred side, to not require having a particular side forward
as well as being able to play for field position in any direction.

Concerning empty hand, in the 1980s I thought I was doing well with
ambidexterity because I sparred using both leads.  Upon honest reflection I had to realize that this was not so.  When in Jun Fan or Kali single stick modalities,  I put the strong side forward, and when in Muy Thai or Savate modalities I put the strong side in the power position.  I agree that the dominant side will virtually always be better than the complementary side in the dominant function, but I still want to have, for example a humdinger of a left cross when fighting out of Right Lead against a Righty in Left Lead. One of the purposes of the approach I have outlined is to develop this.

This perhaps addresses the point made in this post:

> Subject: [Eskrima] Re: lefty/righty
> Hi Crafty,
> , , ,  BTW,  one of my major shortcomings in my training was to rely too much on my "left-side forward" stance, and carry it over to empty-hand.  I boxed for years, but still put the left side forward due to a very serious shoulder dislocation early in my career.  I had a helluva a left jab and hook, but had to think to get the right cross to fire.  I put twenty plus years into just drilling the right cross, but it still lags a bit.


> As for why monkeys have no dominant side, who knows, maybe they have both sides of the brain working as one unit, but don't want to give up the secret...

In which case maybe they are just making monkeys out of us , , , smiley

> Kim Satterfield

Crafty Dog

PS:  About 6 months ago I started taking Djembe Drum lessons (the Djembe is a drum from west Africa).  My teacher is pleased with me progress and feels that my double stick training has been of tremendous benefit to me in this endeavor.  He is a lefty and early in the process noted that I was playing as a lefty too.  He asked if I was a lefty too, but I replied that no, I am a righty.  So he asked me to play righty.  Thinking to apply my double stick theories I resisted but he insisted, only to discover that I did better as a Lefty in 4/4 rhythms, but better as a Righty in 6/8 rhythms.  Either way, it seems that I have above average abilities to play with my complementary hand in the dominant function.  In the long run he feels the ability to work with either hand in the dominant function will allow for higher level drumming.
30761  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / DB Gathering posts on: December 10, 2004, 10:24:40 PM
Woof Glenn & Toby:

Would each of you be so kind as to email me at ?

Crafty Dog
30762  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3 on: December 10, 2004, 07:01:37 PM
Iraq: Familiarity Breeds Political Hope
December 10, 2004   2300 GMT


There are signs that certain Islamist Sunni groups that have acted as mediators between Baghdad and Sunni insurgents will be participating in scheduled Jan. 30 elections in Iraq. Apparently, Sunni principals are worried about being left out of the polls, which points to the possibility that a Sunni presence in both the militant and Baghdad camps could weaken the insurgency from within.


The main moderate Sunni Islamist group in Iraq, the Iraqi Islamic Party (IIP), which had called for a delay in the Jan. 30 elections, submitted Dec. 9 a list of 275 candidates. Officials from the group told The Associated Press they wanted to reserve the right to vote if the election is not postponed.

Until the recent coalition assault against Al Fallujah, when it pulled out of the government in protest, the IIP was the only Sunni group represented in Iraq's two post-Hussein transitional administrations -- the now defunct Iraqi Governing Council and the current Interim Iraqi Government (IIG). The IIP, along with the Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS), also has played a mediator role in negotiations between the IIG and Sunni insurgents.

While the IIP and the AMS are the main Sunni organizations through which the two sides have negotiated, Sunni political power rests primarily with tribal leaders, who are maintaining a foot in both camps -- the militants and Baghdad. By participating in the political process, the IIP leadership would get a good taste of politics, which would percolate throughout the complex Sunni network and possibly weaken support for the insurgency. Initial cooperation between the two sides, even on a limited basis regarding relatively insignificant issues, can pave the way for greater level of cooperation on more thorny matters later on.

Thus far, Baghdad has been employing a combination of tactics in getting the Sunnis to end the insurgency and participate in the political process -- military operations concurrent with behind-the-scenes negotiations. The IIP's decision to participate in the elections likely is a result of Baghdad's recent decision to stop trying to appease the Sunnis. This sent the message that the IIG was going full speed ahead with the electoral process with or without the Sunnis.

The Sunni leadership could have perceived they faced a loss in political influence over the short term and that they could be shut out of the political process for years to come (at least until the next elections). Even if they entered at a later date, the political space already would be filled. The IIP and the AMS could be the first of many boycotting Sunni groups to come in from the cold.

Meanwhile, the continuation of the insurgency suggests that a schism could be forming among the Sunni tribal sheikhs who support the militants. Participation in democratic politics tends to have a moderating effect on radical groups. An example of this is the metamorphosis of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl-ur-Rehman (JUI-F), the largest component of the Mutahiddah Majlis-i-Amal, a moderate Islamist alliance in Pakistan that was a major supporter of the Taliban and the Kashmiri militants. Winning control of two Pakistani provinces and becoming the largest opposition bloc in the Parliament, JUI-F has moderated its stance on both the Taliban and Kashmiri militants and is cutting deals with President Gen. Pervez Musharraf on more significant matters, such as Musharraf's dual portfolio.

By participating in the elections, the IIP would likely gain some positions within the new government and, as a result, a stake in the emerging political system. This would serve as a lesson to other Sunni leaders and insurgents that there are tangible benefits to be had from a participatory democracy. First, though, Sunnis must have confidence in the system. It is not just a stake that matters but the belief that the system can be a vehicle to achieve political goals. This is exactly what the jihadist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi alluded to months ago in his message to Osama bin Laden: Once this political process is set in motion, al-Zarqawi said, they will have to die fighting in Iraq or pack up and take their fight elsewhere.

There always will be Sunnis who are not willing to compromise. If enough can be brought into the system, however, the democratic process can move forward and the violence can be gradually contained -- a prospect not readily apparent in the current atmosphere.
30763  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Geo Political matters on: December 10, 2004, 06:48:33 PM
Geopolitical Intelligence Report: Russia: After Ukraine

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Russia: After Ukraine
December 10, 2004 1849 GMT

By Peter Zeihan

The Russian defeat in Ukraine is nearly complete.

In presidential runoff elections, the Ukrainian government's candidate, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, won the official ballot. However, protests launched by opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko over alleged election fraud -- combined with strong international pressure -- caused the results to be overturned. New elections will be held Dec. 26, and Yushchenko is widely expected to win. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, in an effort to deny Yushchenko the powers that he himself has enjoyed, succeeded in forcing the Ukrainian opposition to accept constitutional amendments that will transfer some presidential powers to the Parliament, but these changes will take effect only after the next parliamentary elections in 2006 -- elections in which the opposition already is celebrating victory.

But the biggest loser in the election was not Yanukovich or Kuchma -- his
political master -- or even the oligarchic clans that sponsored him. It was
Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Not only has the Ukraine Supreme Court made a public mockery of Putin's international proclamations of the election's "fair" nature, but Kuchma and the oligarchic interests supporting him have all but abandoned Yanukovich. That has left Russia as the only serious entity hanging a hope on the now-"vacationing" Yanukovich.

Ukraine is not the only place where Putin has found geopolitical egg on his
face of late; Russian geopolitical defeats in the past four years have come
fast and furious.

Putin's desire not to be a focus of American rage after the Sept. 11 attacks guided him to sanctioning a strong U.S. military presence in Central Asia -- a presence that is extremely unlikely ever to leave. Moscow's efforts to get Washington to label the Chechens as terrorists were successful, but at the price of the United States committing to taking care of the issue itself; there are now U.S. military trainers indefinitely stationed in Georgia. In the background, both the European Union and NATO have expanded their borders steadily and now almost the entirety of the Central European roster of the Warsaw Pact is safely within both organizations -- and out of Russia's reach.

All of this pales, however, in comparison to Ukraine, Russia's ancestral
home. The 10th- to 13th-century entity of Kievian Rus is widely considered to the birthplace of today's Russia. But Moscow's queasiness over losing Ukraine is far from merely the anxiety of emotional attachment.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but without Ukraine, Russia's political,
economic and military survivability are called into question:

* All but one of Russia's major infrastructure links to Europe pass through
* Three-quarters of Russia's natural gas exports pass through Soviet-era
pipelines that cross Ukraine.
* In most years, Russia has imported food from Ukraine.
* Eastern Ukraine is geographically part of the Russian industrial heartland.
* The Dnieper River, the key transport route in Russia's Belarusian ally,
flows south through Ukraine -- not east Russia.
* With a population of just under 50 million, Ukraine is the only captive
market in the Russian orbit worth reintegrating with.
* The Black Sea fleet -- Russia's only true warm-water fleet -- remains at
Sevastopol on Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula because it is the only deep-water
port on the entire former Soviet Black Sea coast.
* A glance at a population density map indicates just how close Russia's
population centers are to the Ukrainian border, and how a hostile Ukraine
would pinch off easy Russian access to the volatile North Caucasus, a region already rife with separatist tendencies.
* Moscow and Volgograd -- Russia's two defiant icons of World War II -- are both less than 300 miles from the Ukrainian border.

It would not take a war to greatly damage Russian interests, simply a change in Ukraine's geopolitical orientation. A Westernized Ukraine would not so much be a dagger poised at the heart of Russia as it would be a jackhammer in constant operation.

The significance of the loss only magnifies the humiliation. Like the failed
submarine-launched ballistic missile tests of Putin's re-election campaign,
this operation had Putin as its public face. He traveled twice to Ukraine to
personally -- if indirectly -- campaign for Yanukovich, and Kremlin spin
doctors who successfully ushered in Putin's second term provided much of the brains behind the prime minister's political campaign.

Putin has lost more than face; he also has lost credibility at home in his
wider foreign and domestic policy goals. In the aftermath of the Sept. 11
attacks, Putin overruled opposition within Russia's national security
apparatus to align with Washington. The immediate costs included -- among other things -- Russian pre-eminence in the Caucasus and Central Asia.

Putin anticipated -- and grudgingly accepted -- this loss in anticipation of
having time and U.S. sponsorship to trigger a Russian renaissance. Putin
needed the Americans to get off his back about things such as human rights, press freedoms and Chechnya. The unofficial agreement was simple: Russia would assist the United States in the war on terrorism, and in exchange U.S. criticism of Russian domestic policies would be muted. It is a deal that continues to this moment.

With the United States satisfied, Putin proceeded with his plan, the opening stage of which was to establish himself as the unquestioned leader of Russia as both a state and a civilization.

First, Putin defined the problem. Russia is in decline -- politically,
strategically, economically and demographically. The Commonwealth of
Independent States, the only international organization that Moscow can rely upon to support it (and, incidentally, the only one it dominates) is moribund because of lack of interest. The Americans are in Central Asia, and the other former Soviet republics are squirming out from under Moscow's grasp. Talk of a Russian-led Eurasian Economic Community that would reform the Soviet economy remains largely talk. Everything from Russia's early warning satellite system to its rank-and-file army is collapsing, with 90,000 troops unable to pacify Chechnya even after five years of direct occupation. HIV and tuberculosis are spreading like wildfire, and the death rate stubbornly remains nearly double the birth rate, hampering Russia's ability even to field a nominal army or maintain a conventional work force.

Second, Putin realized that before he could reverse the decline, he had to
consolidate control. One of Boris Yeltsin's greatest mistakes was that he
lacked the authority to implement change. More to the point, no one feared Yeltsin, so the men who eventually became oligarchs robbed the state blind, becoming power centers in and of themselves.

Putin spent the bulk of his first term reasserting control. The once-unruly
(and heavily oligarch-dominated) press has been subjugated to the state's
will. Regional governors are now appointed directly by the president. Nearly all tax revenues flow into federal -- not regional -- coffers. The oligarchs, particularly now that the Yukos drama is moving toward a resolution, are falling over each other to pay homage to Putin (at least publicly).

Putin systematically has worked to consolidate political control in the
Kremlin as an institution and himself as a personality, using every
development along the way to formalize his control over all levels of
government and society. The result is a security state in which few dare
oppose the will of the president-turned-czar.

From here, Putin hoped to revamp Russia's economic, legal and governmental structures sufficiently so that rule of law could take root, investors would feel safe and the West would -- for its own reasons -- fund the modernization of the Russian economy and state. Put another way, Putin was counting on his pro-Western orientation to be the deciding factor in ushering in a flood of Western investment to realize Russia's material riches and economic potential.

Putin's problem is that revamping the country's political and economic
discourse required a massive amount of effort. The oligarchs, certainly not at first, did not wish to go quietly into that good night, and the Yukos
crisis -- now in its 17th month -- soaked up much of the government's energy.  During this time the Kremlin turned introspective, understandably obsessed with its effort to hammer domestic affairs into a more manageable form. Moreover, as Putin made progress and fewer oligarchs and bureaucrats were willing to challenge him, they also became too intimidated to act autonomously. The result was an ever-shrinking pool of people willing to speak up for fear of triggering Putin's wrath. The shrinking allotment of bandwidth forced Russia largely to ignore international developments, nearly collapsing its ability to monitor and protect its interests abroad.

This did not pass unnoticed.

Chinese penetration into the Russian Far East, European involvement in the economies of Russia's near abroad and U.S. military cooperation with former Soviet clients are at all-time highs. As Putin struggled to tame the Russian bear, Moscow racked up foreign policy losses in Central Asia, the Baltics, the Balkans and the Caucasus. Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan all became U.S. allies. Serbia formally left Russia's sphere of influence, Georgia welcomed U.S. troops with open arms and ejected a Russian-backed strongman from one of its separatist republics, and the three Baltic states and the bulk of the Warsaw Pact joined both NATO and the European Union. And now, Ukraine is about to take its first real steps away from Russia.

In short, Putin achieved the necessary focus to consolidate control, but the cost was the loss of not just the empire, but with Ukraine, the chance of one day rebuilding it.

More defeats are imminent. Once Ukraine adopts a less friendly relationship with Russia, the Russian deployment to Transdniestria -- a tiny separatist republic in Moldova kept alive only by Russian largesse -- will fade away. Next on the list will be the remaining Russian forces at Georgian bases at Akhalkalaki and Batumi. Georgia already has enacted an informal boycott on visa paperwork for incoming soldiers, and the United States has begun linking the Russian presence in Georgia and Transdniestria to broader Russian security concerns.

Once these outposts fall, Russia's only true international "allies" will be
the relatively nonstrategic Belarus and Armenia, which the European Union and United States can be counted upon to hammer relentlessly.

To say Russia is at a turning point is a gross understatement. Without
Ukraine, Russia is doomed to a painful slide into geopolitical obsolescence
and ultimately, perhaps even nonexistence.

Russia has three roads before it.

* Russia accepts the loss of Ukraine, soldiers on and hopes for the best.

Should Putin accept the loss of Ukraine quietly and do nothing, he invites
more encroachments -- primarily Western -- into Russia's dwindling sphere of influence and ultimately into Russia itself, assigning the country to a painful slide into strategic obsolescence. Never forget that Russia is a
state formed by an expansionary military policy. The Karelian Isthmus of
Russia's northwest once was Finnish territory, while the southern tier of the Russian Far East was once Chinese. Deep within the  Russian "motherland" are the homelands of vibrant minorities such as the Tatars and the Bashkirs, who theoretically could survive on their own. Of course the North Caucasus is a region ripe for shattering; Chechens are not the only Muslims in the region with separatist desires.

Geopolitically, playing dead is an unviable proposition; domestically it
could spell the end of the president. Putin rode to power on the nationalism of the Chechen war. His efforts to implement a Reaganesque ideal of Russian pride created a political movement that he has managed to harness, but never quite control. If Russian nationalists feel that his Westernization efforts have signed bit after bit of the empire away with nothing in return, he could be overwhelmed by the creature he created. But Putin is a creature of logic and planning.

Though it might be highly questionable whether Putin could survive as
Russia's leader if this path is chosen, the president's ironclad control of
the state and society at this point would make his removal in favor of
another path a complicated and perhaps protracted affair. With its economy, infrastructure, military and influence waning by the day, time is one thing Russia has precious little of.

* Russia reassesses its geopolitical levers and pushes back against the West.

Russia might have fallen a long way from its Soviet highs, but it still has a
large number of hefty tools it can use to influence global events.

If Putin is to make the West rethink its strategy of rolling back Russian
influence and options -- not to mention safeguard his own skin -- he will
have to act in a way to remind the West that Moscow still has fight left in
it and is far from out of options. And he will have to do it forcefully,
obviously and quickly.

The dependence upon Ukraine goes both ways. While Ukraine's south and east are not majority Russian, those regions are heavily Russofied. Should a Yushchenko-led Ukraine prove too hostile to Moscow, splitting a region that is linguistically, culturally and economically integrated into Russia off from Ukraine would not prove beyond Russia's means.

Also on the Ukrainian front, Russia has the energy card to play. Kiev's
primary source of income is transit fees on natural gas and oil. Russia
supplies about one-quarter of all European consumption. Tinkering with those supplies -- or simply their delivery schedules -- would throw the European economies into frenzy.

Russia could use its influence with Afghanistan's Northern Alliance to make the United States' Afghan experience positively Russian. Sales of long-range cruise missiles in India or Sovremenny destroyers complete with Sunburn missiles to China would threaten U.S. control of the oceans. Weapons sales to Latin America would undermine U.S. influence in its own backyard. The occasional quiet message to North Korea could menace all U.S. policy in the Koreas. And of course, there is still the Red Army. It might be a shadow of its former self, but so are its potential European opponents.

All of these actions have side effects. The U.S. presence in Afghanistan
limits Islamist activities in Russia proper. India is no longer a Cold War
client; it is an independent power with its own ambitions which might soon
involve a partnership with the United States. Excessive weapons sales to
China could end with those weapons being used in support of an invasion of the Russian Far East. Large-scale weapons sales to Latin America require Latin American cash to underwrite them. Russian meddling in North Korea would damage relations with China, Japan and South Korea as well as the West. And a Russian military threat against Europe, if it could be mustered, would still face the U.S. nuclear umbrella.

Such actions would also have consequences. The West might often -- and
vigorously -- disagree within itself, but there has not been a Western war in nearly three generations. The West still tends to see Russia as the dangerous "other," and by design or coincidence, Western policy toward the former Soviet Union focuses on rolling back Russian influence, with Ukraine serving as only the most recent example. Russian efforts to push back -- even in what is perceived as self-defense -- would only provoke a concerted, if not unified, response along Russia's entire economic, political and geographic periphery.

Russia still might have options, but it did lose the Cold War and has fallen
in stature massively. In the years since the Cold War, Western options -- and strength -- have only expanded. Even if Russian efforts were so successful that they deflected all foreign attention from it, Russia would still be doomed. Russia has degraded too far; simply buying time is not enough.

* Russia regenerates from within.

Unlike the United States, which has embraced change as part of daily life,
Russia is an earthquake society. It does not evolve. Pressures -- social,
political, economic -- build up within the country until it suffers a
massive, cataclysmic breakdown and then revival. It is not pleasant; often as a result of Russia's spasms, millions of people die, and not always are they all Russian. But in the rare instances when Russia does change, this is invariably how it happens.

Ironically, the strength of the Soviet period has denied Russia the
possibility of foreign events triggering such a change. Russia, as the Union
of Soviet Socialist Republics' successor state, has nuclear weapons capable of reaching any point on the globe. As such, a land invasion of Russia is unthinkable.

That simple fact rules out a scenario such as what happened after World War I. Massive defeat by the Central Powers might have triggered the Bolshevik Revolution, but that did not directly result in the constitution of the Soviet Union. Forging Russia into a new entity took another invasion on multiple fronts. Foreign sponsorship of the White armies during Russia's civil war -- and the direct involvement of hundreds of thousands of foreign troops -- was necessary to instill a sense of besiegement sufficient to make the Russians fight back and create a new country. The "mere" loss of Ukraine during World War I was simply not enough. Russia did not merely need to be defeated, humiliated and parsed -- Russia itself, not simply Ukraine, had to be directly occupied.

As long as Russia has nukes, that cannot happen.

If Russia is to choose this third path, it must trigger its reformation by
itself from wholly domestic developments.

Perhaps it could be done by some sort of natural catastrophe, but to be
effective the catastrophe would need to be sufficient to mobilize the entire
Russian population. Russian society's muted response to the Beslan massacre -- in which Chechen militants killed 350 Russian citizens, half of them children -- indicates that terrorism will not be a sufficient stimulus.
Depopulation caused by HIV might prove a trigger, but by the time the effects are obvious, there would not be much of a Russia left to revive.

That leaves the personal touch of a Russian leader to shake the state to its very core.

Most likely, Putin is not the man for the job. He is, among all else, from
St. Petersburg. He's sees Russia's future in the West, particularly the
European West -- but only on Russia's terms. Of course, this is not how
realignment of civilizations works. Ask the Spanish (who took a leave of
absence from the West during the Franco years), or the Greeks (who have shuttled between West and East), or the Poles (forced separation), or the Romanians (never really in the West) or the Turks (wanting, but not too desperately, to join), or -- in a few years -- the Ukrainians (who really have no idea what they are signing up for). To join the West you must change; the West does not change to join you.

Putin also is a gradualist. Russia cannot even attempt the necessary internal renaissance until such time as the oligarchs are liquidated -- not merely reshuffled, as is happening currently. That necessitates a Russian upheaval on a scale for which Putin does not appear to have the stomach. Putin has been in command for four years, and in that time he has liquidated four oligarchs: Boris Berezovsky, Vladimir Gusinsky, Rem Vyakhirev and Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Four oligarchs in four years. Not exactly revolutionary.

Making matters worse, all the assets of these four have either been
expropriated to other private oligarchs or shuffled into the hands of a
growing class of state oligarchs such as Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller.

Actually eliminating the oligarchs as a class (which, incidentally, controls
nearly 70 percent of the country's economy) will require a massive national spasm complete with a complete scrapping and reformation of the country's legal structure, up to and including the constitution. Investors who have been spooked by Russia's anti-oligarchic efforts have not seen anything yet.

But just because Putin is not the spy for the job does not mean Russia is not capable. Russian leaders have done this before. Peter the Great did it. Ivan the Terrible did it. Joseph Stalin did it. It tends not to be pretty.

(c) 2004 Strategic Forecasting, Inc. All rights reserved.
30764  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / FMA In Fresno on: December 10, 2004, 07:42:32 AM

GM Ramiro Estalilla of the interesting Kabaroan system, with whom I have had the pleasure of training of various occasions, is located in Fresno.  His phone number is:  559-435-8891

Crafty Dog
30765  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Weird and/or silly on: December 09, 2004, 12:36:06 AM
Good one Buz- now try this!


The names/religion of the 2 men have been withheld...This is how holy wars start..

Two men tie up cow, rape, stab it

NEW DELHI: In a bizarre incident that smacks of sheer desperation and sadism, two men in south Delhi's Tughlaqabad area allegedly raped a cow early on Tuesday morning.

If that wasn't enough, the two also repeatedly stabbed the cow - an animal considered holy in the country - after the assault.

One of the accused has been arrested, says Deputy Commissioner of Police (South) Praveer Ranjan, while the other is absconding.

"The one who has been arrested owned an STD phone booth in the area and the other was his employee," Ranjan told

The incident occurred at about 4 am on Tuesday, when the two accused, in inebriated state, were walking back home.

The two reportedly tied the cow's legs to a tractor. They also tied up its snout and after sexually assaulting the animal, stabbed it repeatedly.

About an hour later, Amar Singh, the owner of the cow, saw the animal tied up and bleeding profusely. He immediately raised an alarm.

The whole neighbourhood awoke to the shocking scene, and in anger began disrupting traffic on the highway nearby.

Singh went to the police station, but he says the police were hesitant initially to lodge a complaint. It was only when the crowd turned violent they registered a complaint.

The cow was rushed to a veterinary hospital and is said to be in a "critical condition".

The police fear an "outburst among the people" and aren't disclosing the names of the offenders.

In 2002, angry mob lynched 5 dalit youth in Haryana after they tried to skin a dead cow for its hide.
30766  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Poi Dog on: December 08, 2004, 07:44:44 PM
Woof My Good Friend:

I'm forwarding your posts on the DBMA Assn Forum until we/you can figure out how to get you in.  Call Cindy at 310-540-6853 and have her walk you through it.

Crafty Dog/Marc
30767  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / DB Gathering posts on: December 07, 2004, 05:47:39 AM
Woof Glenn:

My compliments on a fine first Gathering.  We look forward to seeing you at the next one.

Crafty Dog
30768  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Rants on: December 05, 2004, 06:45:01 PM

What is Man? Competition Attrition
Doug Giles

December 4, 2004

Nowadays, especially via TV and Hollywood, men are seen as despicable, cruel, pusillanimous, selfish, ineffectual oafs, veritable bumbling idiots who need women or some gay guy with a Queer Eye ? to help us through our primal fog towards metrosexual healing.

If you?re a guy who wants to keep his guy-ness and not trade it in for the androgynous pomosexual image of the 21st century, then you will receive more scorn than Michael Moore at a NRA luncheon. From the college classroom to the corporate boardroom, men have been meeting with man-hatred for quite some time now.

Look ? I?m sure men need some retooling, and I confess we do egregious things for which we need to take responsibility. Y?know, just the other day while I was on a hunting trip without my wife during our anniversary, after not bathing for 5 days, while eating cold refried beans out of a can, chasing the beans with a hot Budweiser and belching so loudly that a Bull Elk came to our cabin looking for a fight, I was thinking that maybe I need to take some etiquette classes.

However, the little tweaking that I?ll admit to needing with respect to balancing out my mannish weirdness will not be coming from our current culture of castration but from the scripture and from classical masculine values of days gone by (not from a re-run of Friends).

What are the basic elements of the masculine spirit? Well, from Homer to Gomer, from Abraham to the Apostle Paul, there are three primary traits that men, if properly raised and allowed to express their biology, will and should naturally exhibit.

They are the following:
? Competition
? Independence
? Responsibility

Let?s look at number one, competition. Guys will fight over anything ? and you know what? We?re supposed to. Probably the thing that separates the men from the ladies more than the Austin Power-like hair on our backs is man?s innate combative nature.

Take the animal kingdom, for instance. While on one of my glorious and many hunting trips, I had two bucks feeding in front of my stand about 75 yards away. To my right, out of a thick stand of trees, comes a doe in to feed with the grass-munchin? boys, and the next thing you know ? it?s a WWE match in a South Florida palmetto patch. The two young bucks commenced to smashing their heads together over Bambi?s cute sister. The kicker is ? while Frick and Frack are locked up vying for dominance ? a more mature buck appears and begins to walk off with the doe ? that is, until I shot him!

Male animals will fight over who gets to breed, who gets to eat, and who owns a particular piece of turf, and aside from our cell phones ? we bipods are no different. Men clash over women, ideas, politics, business, war, and if that does not suffice, we will make up stuff to wrangle over.

Nowadays, men are reviled and harangued for this traditionally esteemed and essential, God-wired, gung-ho spirit. It is this positive bellicose behavior that causes men to rightly protect, even to the point of death, women and kids from whatever threatens them. This is what men have been classically known for, and this is what should be re-tabled for men in this Age of Wussification.

In addition to and closely connected with this confrontational role, is the classic male mission of fetching vittles and acquiring a killer crib. Men looked for the new castle in a safer hamlet. Men sought increased opportunity for their kids and a greater slice of the bliss pie for the entire family.

And lastly, the male competitive spirit caused the production of a better breed of people. You know, in the animal kingdom, you don?t get to mate if you don?t exert your masculinity in the field by dominance.

The competitive spirit within the man, together with its spin-off fruits, is a must for our nation to continue to be the solid country it is. Sure, this viable spirited competitive distinctiveness, allowed to grow on its own, ungoverned by greatness, can fester into an O.J. However, the competitive spirit, governed by biblical ethics, has always produced powerful and productive patriarchs who were the backbone of whatever culture they grew up in. That?s why traditional Judeo-Christian communities invested so much time, capital and oomph in the ordering of this potential force through the institution of rights, rules and heroic narratives.

My ClashPoint is this: As society becomes more secular, dispensing with Judeo-Christian values that relate to man, and diluting the values which address their combativeness in a constructive fashion, man?s competitive bent will deteriorate rapidly into free-for-all competition, Scott Peterson weirdness, and success at all costs. On the flip side of that competition-minus-character coin is the current overcorrection of poo-pooing competition and turning men into Charmin-like creatures.

Traditional society esteemed and structured man?s aggressiveness, realizing that men who like to fight were a must for the good society. Our forebears bridled the bad fruits and released the good produce of combative behavior by recounting great biblical narratives, by conducting ceremonies, and by maintaining an ethical code built around properly releasing this warrior spirit.

Part two, Independence, to follow?
30769  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Homeland Security on: December 05, 2004, 12:49:34 PM
Straighten Up and Fly Right
How long before Washington's political correcteness leads to new hijackings?

Saturday, December 4, 2004 12:01 a.m. EST

One of the highest priorities for Homeland Security Secretary-designate Bernard Kerik should be to take political correctness and a fear of litigation out of national security decisions. From immigration enforcement to intelligence gathering, government officials continue to compromise safety in order to avoid accusations of "racial profiling"--and in order to avoid publicly acknowledging what the 9/11 Commission finally said: that the enemy is "Islamist terrorism." This blind antidiscrimination reflex is all the more worrying since radical Islam continues to seek adherents and plan attacks in the U.S.

The government antidiscrimination hammer has hit the airline industry most severely. Department of Transportation lawyers have extracted millions in settlements from four major carriers for alleged discrimination after 9/11, and they have undermined one of the most crucial elements of air safety: a pilot's responsibility for his flight. Since the charges against the airlines were specious but successful, every pilot must worry that his good-faith effort to protect his passengers will trigger federal retaliation.

Transportation's action against American Airlines was typical. In the last four months of 2001, American carried 23 million passengers and asked 10 of them not to board because they raised security concerns that could not be resolved in time for departure. For those 10 interventions (and an 11th in 2002), DOT declared American Airlines a civil-rights pariah, whose discriminatory conduct would "result in irreparable harm to the public" if not stopped.

On its face, the government's charge that American engaged in discriminatory conduct was absurd, given how few passenger removals occurred. But the racism allegation looks all the more unreasonable when put in the context of the government's own actions. Three times between 9/11 and the end of 2001, public officials warned of an imminent terror attack. Transportation officials urged the airlines to be especially vigilant. In such an environment, pilots would have been derelict not to resolve security questions in favor of caution.

Somehow, DOT lawyers failed to include in their complaint one further passenger whom American asked not to board in 2001. On Dec. 22, airline personnel in Paris kept Richard Reid off a flight to Miami. The next day, French authorities insisted that he be cleared to board. During the flight, Reid tried to set off a bomb in his shoe, but a stewardess and passengers foiled him. Had he been kept from flying on both days, he too might have ended up on the government's roster of discrimination victims.

Jehad Alshrafi is typical of those who were included in the suit against American. On Nov. 3, 2001, this Jordanian-American was scheduled to fly out of Boston's Logan Airport (from which two of the hijacked planes--including American Flight 11--departed on 9/11). A federal air marshal told the pilot that Alshrafi's name resembled one on a terror-watch list--and that he had been acting suspiciously, had created a disturbance at the gate, and posed unresolved security issues. The pilot denied him boarding. Alshrafi was later cleared and given first-class passage on another flight.

According to DOT, the only reason American initially denied Alshrafi passage was because of his "race, color, national origin, religion, sex or ancestry." Never mind that there were at least five other passengers of Arab descent on his original flight, none of whom had been given additional screening or kept from flying. In fact, on virtually every flight on which the government claims that American acted out of racial animus, other passengers of apparent Middle Eastern ancestry flew undisturbed.

If DOT believes that an air marshal's warnings about a passenger's name and suspicious behavior are insufficient grounds for keeping him off a flight, it is hard to imagine circumstances that would justify a security hold in the department's view--short of someone's declaring his intention to blow up a plane. Given the information presented to the pilot, the only conceivable reason to have allowed Alshrafi to board would have been fear of a lawsuit.

And litigation phobia is precisely the mindset that DOT is hoping to cultivate in flight personnel: 10 days after 9/11, the department started rolling out "guidance" documents on nondiscrimination. While heavy on platitudes about protecting civil rights, they are useless in advising airlines how to avoid the government's wrath. The closest the DOT gets to providing airlines a concrete rule for avoiding litigation is a "but-for" test: "Ask yourself," advise the guidelines, "But for this person's perceived race, ethnic heritage or religious orientation, would I have subjected this individual to additional safety or security scrutiny? If the answer is 'no,' then the action may violate civil rights laws."

But security decisions are never that clear. A safety officer will consider many factors in calculating someone's riskiness; any one of them could be pulled out as a "but-for" element. As American's record makes clear, it is almost never the case that someone gets additional screening based on his apparent ethnic heritage or national origin alone; behavior and no-fly-list matching are key in the assessment. (In fact, about half the complainants in the government's action were not even Middle Eastern. DOT simply assumes, without evidence, that American scrutinized the men because of the mistaken belief that they were Arabs.) A pilot trying to apply the "but-for" test to his own security judgment will inevitably reduce the test to an easier calculus: "Deny passage to someone who is or could claim to look Muslim only under the most extreme circumstances."

In application, the "but-for" test reduces to a "never-ever" rule: Ethnic heritage, religion, or national origin may play no role in evaluating risk. But when the threat at issue is Islamic terrorism, it is reckless to ask officials to disregard the sole ironclad prerequisite for being an Islamic terrorist: Muslim identity or its proxies--national origin or ethnic heritage. (Muslim identity should be at most only one factor in assessing someone's security risk.)

American contested DOT's action, but fighting the government civil-rights complex is futile. In February 2004, the airline, while denying guilt, settled the action for $1.5 million, to be spent on yet more "sensitivity training." American's pilots were outraged. "Pilots felt: 'How dare they second-guess our decision?' " says Denis Breslin, a pilots' union official.

Not satisfied with just one scalp, DOT lawyers brought identical suits against United, Delta and Continental. Those carriers also settled, pledging more millions for "sensitivity training"--money much better spent on security training than on indoctrinating pilots to distrust their own security judgments. And in the government's wake, the private civil-rights bar, led by the ACLU, has brought its own airline discrimination suits. An action against Northwest is seeking government terror-watch lists, Northwest's boarding procedures, and its cabin-training manual. If these materials got loose, they would be gold to terrorists trying to figure out airline-security procedures

The first George W. Bush administration tried mightily not to offend the antidiscrimination lobby. It's time to give up that game. From now on, common sense alone should determine security decisions, the only course which can protect all Americans, Muslims and non-Muslims, alike.
30770  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / STICK FIGHTING FROM THE CANARY ISLANDS on: December 05, 2004, 11:07:43 AM
This passage suggests that Palo Canario has roots in the FMA:


 The year 1635 had witnessed the arrival in Manila of a very efficient
Governor-General and a perfect soldier. The coming of Don Sebastian
Hurtado de Corcuera marked a period of success for the Spanish arms which was not to be equaled again until the mighty soldier Juan Arolas arrived 250 years later.

 Whatever Corcuera's emotions as he gazed down the valley to the horde of brown kris men waiting to resist him, there can be no question as to his
valor. At a flourish of a mailed fist, the Spanish plumes disappeared into
the wave of Moros.

We are indebted to Father Crevas for an account of this campaign. From him we learn that Corcuera, with a squadron of small vessels and a dozen flat boats, entered the river, defying Correlat. "The forces which he had were five companies; his own of 150 men, those of Captain Nicholas Gonzalez and Lorenzo Orella de Ugalde of 100 men each; another company of sailors; another of Pampangos; all the rest were rabble and pioneers. The same day he reached the river, he entered, with seventy men, the court of Correlat, defended by more than two thousand armed Moros."

 As we consider the caliber of the men who opposed Corcuera that day, we wonder how he kept his small company from being overwhelmed. The Spaniards had arquebuses, but they were slow and laborious to reload. A great deal of the combat must have been hand-to-hand. Pitched to religious fervor, a Moro was the equal to any Spaniard in hand-to-hand battle, and yet Corcuera survived to win a brilliant victory.

 de Corcuera remains as one of the conspicuous figures of the Spanish
conquest of Mindanao. He was a perfect soldier. His reward for
distinguished service in the field against the Moros was paralleled by the treatment Cortez and Balboa received at the hands of the Spanish crown. During his term of office as Governor-General of the Philippines (1635-1644), he incurred the displeasure of the Friars, and upon being succeeded by Diego Fa jardo, he was haled into court, fined 25,000 and thrown into prison for five years. He was finally released by a Royal Order and given the tardy award of Governor of the Canary Islands.

 Ned Nepangue in a previous article wrote of the stick fighting arts of
Canary Islands and Venezuela that is closely similar in technical form to
Eskrima / Arnis. Who could have introduced stick fighting in the Canary
Islands? From the historical facts above we can surmise that De Corcuera, during his administration of the Canary Islands could have brought along with him trusted alalays (cronies) that probably cross trained with native Filipinos during his Mindanao campaign.
30771  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Death of Pat Tillman on: December 05, 2004, 09:38:21 AM

There is a quick and easy sign up to read this extensive and interesting piece on the death of Pat Tillman.
30772  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 3 Reads on Russia on: December 04, 2004, 02:06:52 PM
We begin with 2 good examples of why signing up at is a good idea.


Finding Russia's Limit
December 03, 2004  1910 GMT

By George Friedman

Most political crises have little meaning in the countries where they occur, let alone internationally or historically. On rare occasion, a crisis comes along that has profound significance far beyond what appears to be the case.

That is the case with the Ukrainian election. We do not like hyperbole and normally try to understate things, but the crisis over the Ukrainian election, and the manner in which it is resolved, can define the future of Eurasia -- and therefore the world -- for generations. This particular crisis might not be definitive, but the issue it presents about the Ukraine will be.

The issue in the election is relatively simple. There are two factions in Ukraine, defined to a great extent by geography. One faction, concentrated in the western Ukraine, favors closer ties between Ukraine and the West. This faction goes so far as to support Ukrainian membership in NATO. The other faction, concentrated in eastern Ukraine, favors closer ties with Russia and wants relations with the West to develop in the context of a primary
Russo-Ukrainian relationship. For many in this faction there is a desire to create a closer relationship, even some sort of federation, with Russia and Belarus.

An election was held for a new president that was, in effect, a referendum on the direction that Ukraine should go. The pro-Russian faction won the election, but it was immediately charged that it did so by fraud. The United
States and European countries supported the claim of fraud and demanded some unspecified solution that would allow the pro-Western faction to win. Russia argued that the pro-Russian faction had won fairly and demanded that the West
not interfere in Ukraine's internal affairs. It was a fairly typical election, save for the enormous interest that outside powers showed in the outcome.

In order to understand the excitement -- and to go beyond the idea that this is simply about helping democracy grow in Ukraine -- we need to consider the geopolitical implications of each side winning. In order to do this, we need to consider the geopolitical condition of the former Soviet Union. There are these essential questions:

1. Will the disintegration of the Soviet Union be followed by a disintegration of the Russian Federation?

2. To what extent will Russia have secure and defensible borders, and to what extent will it be able to claim a sphere of influence in surrounding countries?

3. To what extent will Western institutions, particularly NATO, incorporate former Soviet republics, and to what extent will Western -- and particularly U.S. -- military power intrude into the former Soviet Union?

A Decade of Western Moves

In the decade since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Western institutions -- especially NATO -- have intruded or shown intentions of intruding deep into the former Soviet empire. Some central European countries already are members of NATO, and others are lining up. Parts of the former
Soviet Union, like the Baltics, also have been included. In a parallel process, the United States has developed strategic military relations with countries in the Caucasus and in the Muslim states to Russia's south. This process has been accelerating since Sept. 11.

From the Russian viewpoint, these intrusions have gone far beyond the understandings Moscow thought Russia had with the West after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The idea of NATO coming into central Europe would have once seemed farfetched and the idea of it coming into the former Soviet Union preposterous. The Russians have reason to believe they had assurances from both the Bush Sr. and Clinton administrations on the limits of Western and U.S. expansion. Whatever these understandings were, they have not been respected.

International relations do not deal in sentimentality, and Russian weakness and the need for economic relations with the West made it impossible for Russia to deter the expansion. On the other side, knowing that Russian weakness was not necessarily permanent, the United States saw an opportunity for redefining Eurasia in such a way that the reemergence of a Russian superpower would become impossible. Essentially, the temptation to expand into power vacuums created by Russian weakness has proven irresistible -- as a simple means of buying insurance against the future.

As deep as the intrusion has been, however, one country has thus far not been seriously on the table -- Ukraine. If Ukraine moves into the Russian sphere of influence, Russia has not in any way reversed its massive decline. However, if Ukraine were to join NATO, Russia would have entered an era in which its decline is not only irreversible, but in which the ability of the Russian Federation to survive becomes highly questionable.

Ukraine stretches from the Carpathian Mountains, at the point where Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania converge, east nearly to the Don River in the Russian heartland, a distance of more than 800 miles along the underbelly of
Belarus and Russia. It constitutes the northern coast of the Black Sea. Moscow is less than 300 miles from the Ukrainian frontier; Volgograd, formerly Stalingrad, is less than 200 miles away.

If Ukraine were part of NATO, Russia would become indefensible. This does not mean NATO would have the intention of invading Russia. It would mean that if
NATO's intentions were to change -- and nations must always assume the worst about the intentions of others -- Russia would find itself fighting along nearly the lines of Adolf Hitler's deepest penetration into the country in World War II. And they would find themselves fighting on those lines on the first day of the war. They would lose the ability to defend themselves conventionally.

Looking at the map more closely, there is a solid NATO salient in the west, growing U.S. influence and presence in the Caucasus and a growing U.S. economic presence in Kazakhstan and the Muslim republics in the south. U.S.
troops already are in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Southern Russia to the Caucasus would be accessible to Moscow only through the 300 mile-wide Volgograd corridor. The ability of the Russians to project credible power into the Caucasus dramatically would decline. The Black Sea would be virtually surrounded by U.S. allies and become an American lake. There would be U.S. naval bases in Odessa and the Crimea. Russian ability to influence events in the Caucasus would evaporate.

Under these circumstances, the ability of Russia to resist centrifugal forces inside the federation would simply disintegrate. It would not be a matter of Chechnya alone. Secessionist movements in the Russian Pacific Maritime
Provinces, Karelia and in other regions would surge. Resistance could prove particularly robust in Russia's titular republics such as Tatarstan and Bashkortostan, which incidentally not only provide a sizable portion of
Russia's oil output, but also sit astride the only infrastructure that pumps Siberian oil to the rest of Russia and the rest of the world. Moscow -- and
President Vladimir Putin -- would find itself presiding over the second wave of disintegration. Serious force projection even inside Russia would become difficult, leaving Russia with a nuclear option and not much else. If Ukraine were to move decisively to the west and join NATO, we do not think it too extreme to raise the question of whether the Russian Federation could survive.

The Stakes in Ukraine

For the Russians, the outcome of the Ukrainian elections is a matter of fundamental national security. Russia can tolerate an independent Ukraine. It can tolerate a Ukraine with close economic ties to the West, but this election has posed a further possibility -- the idea of NATO expanding into Ukraine. The possibility was stated as a serious option and not rejected by the United States or Europe. Therefore, from the Russian viewpoint, the defeat of the pro-NATO opposition party was a matter of national necessity.

The United States and Europe responded exactly as the Russians feared they would. They demanded the election go to the pro-Western faction. This is not read in Moscow as simply the West's love of a fair election. Rather, it is
seen by the Russians as a concerted effort to take control of Ukraine and put Russia in an untenable position.

The central European viewpoint is that the historical opportunity to cripple Russia must not be lost. Countries that have drawn close to the United States -- such as Poland -- understand what is at stake and, after half a century of Soviet domination, want more than anything to cripple Russia. The United States would prefer to see Russia in one piece, but has no objection to crippling Russia, as it might give the United States a freer hand in central Asia to wage its war.

The problem is that in the Ukraine, the United States has encountered the Russian limit. The United States and Europe have pushed and probed at Russia for more than a decade without hitting a point the Russians simply cannot live with. With the Ukrainian election, the United States has found that point. It is not clear if the United States is aware it has hit this limit. The United States has become used to a passive Russia and the move into Ukraine seems to be simply another phase in a process that began in 1989. It
seems not to have a cost.

The Russians do not always respond in the region on which they are focused. We find remarks by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov warning the United States that its path in Afghanistan is unacceptable to the Russians because
it is too soft on the Taliban -- a statement made while visiting India and asking for renewed strategic relations -- to be a warning to the United States that Russia is capable of causing serious problems for the United States in its war on terrorism, to be an example of this. Russia announcing it was introducing a new class of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) is another example. There will be many more.

Putin cannot possibly give on this and he will not. The issue for Russia is not fair elections but national survival. That means the only way to defuse the Ukrainian crisis is for guarantees on the role of NATO in Ukraine. The
problem is that the West has made previous guarantees to the Russians on other NATO expansions that it did not heed. Credibility is not high.

Putin has begun domestically increasing his power. There is an assumption that he is eager to avoid a confrontation with the West, which is certainly true. He helped U.S. President George W. Bush win re-election by making a
number of supporting comments. He expects to be repaid. If the Bush administration presses hard on Ukraine, we suspect this will be the trigger of a fundamental re-evaluation by Russia of its strategy. Which means Washington needs to either back off or move very fast.

(c) 2004 Strategic Forecasting, Inc. All rights reserved.

U.S., Russia: Setting Up the South Asian Chessboard?


Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived Dec. 3 on a visit to India, while Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf is making a stopover in Washington to meet with U.S. President George W. Bush. Moscow's moves to counter the possible loss of Ukraine to U.S. influence could affect the situation in southwest Asia and the Indo-Pakistani region. The Cold War chessboard could be resurrected if the United States and Russia seek to engage in a geopolitical game, and the regional actors will have a chance to advance their national interests.


Two significant and related visits occurred Dec 3. Russian
President Vladimir Putin began a visit to India, while Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf made a weekend stopover in Washington, D.C., to meet with U.S. President George W. Bush. Musharraf is on his way from South America to Europe.

The two visits are coincidental and would normally be dismissed as such, but these are interesting times: Russia is preparing to respond to what increasingly looks like the alignment of Ukraine with the United States -- something the Kremlin cannot just accept, given Ukraine's geostrategic importance to Russia. One way in which Putin's government will try and counter growing U.S. influence in what used to be Russia's geopolitical sphere of influence is by creating problems for Washington in south and
southwest Asia.

The Kremlin understands the importance the Bush administration attaches to its military and political objectives with respect to Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. Moscow will seek to balance U.S. political forays into Ukraine by using its influence on various regional state and non-state actors.

Russia already is involved in the Iranian nuclear program,
helping with the construction of the reactor at Bushehr. Thus far, Moscow has not finalized the deal on the completion of this project because it shares Washington's opinion that Iran should not be able to acquire nuclear weapons. This situation could change, given that Russia is feeling threatened so close to home. It could move Moscow to accelerate efforts to finalize the deal with Iran -- thereby signaling to Washington that it is not without options.

Moving eastward, India is ruled by a Congress-led coalition
government that is not as eager to accommodate the United States as its predecessor, the Bharatiya Janata Party. Instead, the Congress Party traditionally has sought to counter Pakistan's alignment with the United States by forging closer relations with Russia. This is yet another tool at the Russians' disposal -- they can get together with India, Iran, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to back Afghanistan's groups aligned against Islamabad, the
Pashtuns and Afghan President Hamid Karzai (and, by extension, the United States). Aiding these groups -- the ethnic Tajiks, Uzbeks, Hazara, Turkmen and others -- against Karzai and the Pashtuns would thwart the United States' plans for Afghanistan.

The time for this could not be better. U.S. Ambassador to
Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad has worked since late October to accelerate public efforts to co-opt "moderate" Taliban into the political process to strengthen Karzai's -- and, by default, the Pashtuns' -- position. Khalilzad also has been trying to get Pakistan's assistance in this effort -- something for which Islamabad is perfect. It is, however, sure to raise eyebrows with non-Pashtun Afghans and their regional backers in Tehran, Dushanbe, Tashkent and New Delhi -- a development Moscow can take advantage of.

Putin's visit to India might already have the Pakistanis worried, and it is sure to come up during the Musharraf-Bush meeting, where Islamabad will point to the Russian-Indian partnership and try to push for more military and economic assistance from Washington. The peace negotiations between India and Pakistan also have slowed down somewhat, especially on the question of Kashmir. Moreover, both India and Pakistan have in the past couple of weeks engaged in missile tests.

From the U.S. viewpoint, Moscow's movements in south and
southwest Asia could create problems for both the war against al Qaeda-led jihadists and the war in Iraq. This was something that Putin even directly mentioned upon his arrival in New Delhi. He called on the United States to learn from the lessons of the Iraq war in formulating its foreign policy, and added that the differences among the major international players over the Iraq war had adversely affected the war on terrorism.

In response, the United States also has options to offset Russian maneuvers. Washington has the Iraq card, which it can use to forestall Iran's closeness with the Kremlin. Iran will not align with Russia in a bid to advance its nuclear program at the cost of influence in Iraq. As for Afghanistan, the pace of events can continue, as the United States is not faced with an insurgency nor does it have too many troops on the ground. This leaves the Indo-Pak theater, which Washington needs to use toward
dismantling al Qaeda. Enhanced Russian relations with India can slow progress toward that objective.

Russia, shaken by the setback in Ukraine, is adopting an
aggressive political stance toward the United States. This
position not only has ramifications for the world's two leading military powers, but also for the southwest Asian proxies through which Moscow's response and Washington's counter-response will manifest themselves.

(c) 2004 Strategic Forecasting, Inc. All rights reserved.

Today's Left Angeles Times, page one

Rivalry Brews in Russia's Backyard
Using its energy resources as leverage, Moscow is angling for influence in its former republics in the face of growing U.S. and NATO presence.
By Kim Murphy, Times Staff Writer

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan ? The Cold War may be over, but U.S. and Russian soldiers are expanding outposts in this mountainous former Soviet republic about 3,200 miles east of NATO headquarters in Brussels and nearly 2,000 miles from Moscow.

The U.S. opened its base three years ago as a launching pad for troops and cargo heading into Afghanistan. Two years later, with the Americans showing no signs of leaving, Russia opened its own base. Now, Moscow is quadrupling the number of its troops, while the American garrison is crawling with bulldozers and trucks, as Washington spends $10 million replacing tents with sturdier quarters.

Officially, Russia has welcomed the U.S. presence as a reflection of a new partnership against a common enemy: Islamic extremists. Washington, in turn, has praised Moscow for enhancing cooperative security efforts in this volatile corner of Central Asia.

But the cooperation is limited largely to words. The current U.S. base commander has never met his Russian counterpart, troops are mostly forbidden to venture outside their respective gateposts, and military flights are scrupulously segregated.

The bases here are symbols of a new rivalry between East and West for influence over the lands of Russia's old empire. More than a decade after it ended, the global Cold War standoff has been supplanted by competition for political and economic hegemony along Russia's vast frontier stretching from the Baltic Sea to China.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, a weakened Russia initially turned inward and the West moved rapidly into the faded superpower's sphere of influence. But now, armed with $50-a-barrel oil and a determination to protect its interests, a newly confident Kremlin is reasserting centuries-old claims.

The competition extends far beyond Kyrgyzstan. The U.S. also has military bases in neighboring Uzbekistan and has sent military trainers to Georgia, where Russia has two bases. Moscow's Baltic Sea fleet sails from a sliver of Russian territory between two new North Atlantic Treaty Organization members, Poland and Lithuania; NATO planes now patrol the skies over former Soviet republics to Russia's west.

The Caspian Sea basin, with its more than 200 billion barrels of oil, is seen by both Russia and the U.S. as a zone of strategic interest. Russia is using its energy reserves to maintain influence in the small, newly independent countries of the Baltic and Caucasus regions.

And now, the struggle between pro-Moscow and pro-Western forces is playing out in the disputed presidential election in Ukraine, a territory that for centuries has been central to Russia's sense of itself as a great power.

"As a military man, I see that Russia is surrounded. And I can imagine the reaction of the U.S. if our country were all of a sudden to declare the Gulf of Mexico the zone of our vital interests. We're gritting our teeth," said Russian parliament deputy Viktor Alksnis, a former air force colonel.

"On the other hand, they are mistaken if they think Russia collapsed along with the Soviet Union in the 1990s," he said. "For all the 1,000 years of history of our state, Russia has been like a human heart. It squeezes and unsqueezes. And what we have seen recently is that people who should have looked to Russia as a partner in tackling global problems have instead seen a need to drive the Russian bear back into its den."


In 2000, Boris N. Yeltsin handed over the Russian presidency to Vladimir V. Putin, a former KGB agent whose youth and aura of strength gave his demoralized and chaotic country a badly needed shot of confidence.

While Putin consolidated his political power, Russia also gained a windfall from rising global oil prices. Now, backed by its energy wealth, $100 billion in gold and foreign currency reserves (growing lately at a rate of $2 billion a week) and an upgraded arsenal of 7,800 nuclear warheads, Putin has broadly reasserted the power of the Russian state.

He has blocked the sale of Russia's biggest oil companies to Western conglomerates, sharply centralized government authority and driven democratic forces to the political margins.

And in the last year or two, it also has become clearer how Putin aims to position Russia in the world at large. Quietly, Russia is regaining a semblance of its historic empire.

By locking in energy contracts, controlling pipelines and buying up regional utilities, the Kremlin now holds a near-monopoly in much of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics. Russian businessmen have bought up factories, steel mills and energy companies. Russian interests that back pro-Moscow candidates now represent a powerful political force in nearly every former Soviet republic.

"Until recently, everyone was concerned that Russia, weakened by its internal crisis, was becoming unpredictable," Defense Minister Sergei B. Ivanov said this year. "But now a different kind of Russia is feared: a country which has become stronger and more confident after several years of stability and economic growth."

To some in the West, the scenes now playing out in the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Baltics hark back to the czarist empire's conflicts with other European powers, including Peter the Great's parade through the Baltics; periodic invasions of Poland; and the "Great Game" with Britain for control of Central Asia.

"Some people say this is the new Cold War. It is not. It is much closer to 19th century or early 20th century behavior, where you basically had these feverish qualities sweeping Moscow, when they were off to do something thoroughly stupid and dangerous in Europe," said Bruce P. Jackson, a former Pentagon official who now heads the Project on Transitional Democracies, which has lobbied for democratic reform in the former Soviet republics.

But Russian officials say they are intent merely on protecting their country.

"Our main task is to ensure national security, first of all. It is the creation of a belt of security around our country, and a gradual expansion of our coordination with other states on key world issues. We have agreed to new forms of cooperation with NATO," Igor S. Ivanov, secretary of the National Security Council, said in an interview.

"But all of this does not mean that we have overcome our differences," the former foreign minister said. The U.S. and its allies must keep in mind that Russia is strong militarily and economically, that it retains a seat on the United Nations Security Council, and that it has worked for global stability, he said.

Besides investing heavily in upgrading their strategic nuclear arsenal, Russian officials have signaled that they will use it if necessary: a message that Moscow will not be cowed by the threat of NATO airstrikes.

Putin has tried to use the U.S. presence in the region for his own purposes. Recognizing that Islamic militancy on Russia's borders presents a great danger, he joined the Bush administration's war on terrorism. In his most crucial policy move, he used his influence in Central Asia to help the United States set up bases to attack the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Putin saw an opportunity to forge an alliance with President Bush that would enable him to paint Russia's war against Muslim separatists in Chechnya as part of a common fight against terrorism. The strategy appears to have paid off, to a large degree, as Washington has muted its criticism over allegations of torture and civilian slaughter by Russian troops.

Analysts say Russia also has used the U.S. presence in Central Asia to counter an interloper it fears even more: China.

China's 1.3 billion people and rapidly growing economy, sitting next to Russia's depopulated Far East, engender "vague horror scenarios" of Chinese expansion, said Dmitry Trenin, deputy director of the Carnegie Moscow Center.

Putin has made strides toward cooperation with China, concluding an economic and security pact in 2001 and signing a border agreement in November. Yet Putin also hedged his bets by facilitating a "temporary" U.S. presence, analysts say.

"The idea was, if the U.S. comes, it's a strong counterbalance to China. They don't have deep roots in the region, like China does. The U.S. will leave sooner, rather than later," said Ivan Safranchuk, director of the Moscow office of the Washington-based Center for Defense Information.

Russia may have miscalculated.

Officials at NATO, created in 1949 as a bulwark against the Soviet threat, say Russia is proving a reliable partner by participating in joint military exercises, helping halt illegal weapons shipments and sharing intelligence on terrorism and drug trafficking.

"There is discussion on all the most fundamental issues: theater missile defense, defense reform. We're discussing issues even where there's political sensitivity. We had an open discussion on Ukraine just a few days ago, and it was a frank discussion, a very frank discussion," said James Appathurai, NATO spokesman in Brussels. "Of course we do have differences of opinion on some issues."

But many in the West question whether Russia is committed to transparency in government, democratic elections and a free press. "That is, in a sense, where the true test of the long-term strength of the relationship will be," Appathurai said.

In an open letter to the European Union and NATO in September, more than 100 U.S. and European political leaders and academics, including former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former U.S. envoy Richard C. Holbrooke and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), warned that Russia was "breaking away from the core democratic values" of the U.S. and Europe.

"President Putin's foreign policy is increasingly marked by a threatening attitude towards Russia's neighbors and Europe's energy security, the return of rhetoric of militarism and empire, and by a refusal to comply with Russia's international treaty obligations," the letter said.


The main lines of new military, economic and political competition in the former Soviet republics, an area the Kremlin calls its "near abroad," form a tight circle around Russia.

Although Russia has reminded the U.S. of its pledge that bases in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan are temporary, the pace of construction belies the idea that the U.S. will be leaving soon.

"It will all depend on what the Kyrgyz government will support," said Col. Bradley R. Pray, commander of the U.S. base in Bishkek. "Basically, we'll have semi-permanent buildings here."

U.S. officials scoff at the notion that Central Asian bases represent anything more than a steppingstone to Afghanistan. "In strategic terms, a base in Kyrgyzstan is a dagger in the heart of nowhere," said a diplomat in the region. "What are we going to use it to attack, if not Afghanistan?"

The Kyrgyz government, which faced a significant incursion by Islamic militants from Uzbekistan in 1999, has welcomed both the Russian and U.S. military. American aid to the country has reached $283 million over the last three years.

Kyrgyzstan's deputy defense minister, Col. Zamir Suerkulov, said the Russian base would provide air support to a multinational force to protect against regional Islamic insurgencies.

But some in the country also feel caught between forces beyond their control.

"When the U.S. base came, many people immediately began to accuse Kyrgyzstan of having betrayed Russia and its allies," said Orozbek Moldaliev, head of the SEDEP Research Center, a political think tank in Bishkek. "Then when the Russian base came in as well, some began to fear that a conflict between the Americans and Russians on the territory of Kyrgyzstan was inevitable."

But, he said, "In truth, it's not just a small profit, it's a huge benefit for us. Kyrgyzstan is milking not only two cows, it is also deriving a profit from China. So for most of us, the Cold War has gone from being 'either-or,' to 'and-and.' "

Earlier this year, thousands of miles to the west, NATO expanded into the three former Soviet Baltic republics ? Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia ? but said it did not intend to open bases there. Russian hard-liners are skeptical.

"NATO keeps talking about 'no intentions, no plans.' But we frankly view NATO as an aggressive organization, which is constantly building up its military capabilities and expanding its sphere of operation towards Russia," said Leonid D. Ivashov, a retired Russian general who formerly oversaw his nation's international military cooperation directorate.

The Caucasus, the Baltics, and Ukraine ? arenas of rivalry between East and West for centuries ? are also regions of economic competition in which Russia is wielding its main weapon: energy.

Governments that don't toe the Kremlin line risk steep price increases or having the tap turned off entirely ? as happened to Belarus this year after a tiff with Russia.

Supplies were abruptly halted to much of Azerbaijan and Lithuania as well. Moscow reportedly was concerned over Azerbaijan's increased military cooperation with the U.S.

Russia's state-owned gas company, Gazprom, has bought into several Lithuanian gas companies. In 2003, the state-controlled electricity monopoly, Unified Energy Systems, bought a controlling stake in the utility in Georgia's capital, Tbilisi. The firm already has expanded its stakes in half of Ukraine's local electricity providers and has its eye on the market throughout Eastern Europe.

UES chief Anatoly B. Chubais has said he dreams of a "liberal Russian empire" stretching across the territory of the former Soviet Union.

Russia canceled much of Armenia's $90-million-plus debt last year in exchange for the transfer of assets in several key factories, scientific research institutes and power facilities that produce the majority of the former Soviet republic's electricity.

The Russian steel giant, Severstal, has bought a controlling stake in Estonia's major oil terminal. And in Latvia, Russia abruptly cut off oil shipments to the port of Ventspils last year in what some Latvian officials complained was an attempt to starve the Baltic nation into selling the facility at a bargain-basement price.

Putin made it clear how important the energy lever was to Russia when he announced last year that it regarded the Soviet-era pipelines that carry its petroleum products to market to be its responsibility ? "even those parts of the system that are beyond Russia's borders."

"This is a huge claim, and frankly a colonial claim ? 'Even though the assets are on your soil, they belong to us,' " said Jackson, the former Pentagon official.

The political turmoil in Ukraine is the latest and largest example of the competition for political influence in the former Soviet republics.

In Georgia, the U.S. is supporting President Mikheil Saakashvili's attempts to regain control over the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia ? territories that Russia has used to maintain a foothold in the southern Caucasus and destabilize a key new transit route for Caspian Sea oil to the West. Russia has gone so far as to offer citizenship to residents of the two regions.

Lithuanian President Rolandas Paksas was removed from office in April, in large part because of his connections to a Russian businessman who contributed $400,000 to his campaign in 2003.

In Ukraine, the Kremlin poured more than $200 million into this fall's presidential election, in part to protect economic ties worth up to $10 billion a year. Putin made two trips to Ukraine before the election to boost the candidacy of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, and huge billboards around Moscow urged Ukrainian expatriates to support Putin's choice. His opponent, Viktor Yushchenko, is a strong advocate of Ukrainian membership in NATO and the European Union.

The reason for the interest is simple. As Vladimir I. Lenin once said, "If we lose Ukraine, we lose our head."

Ukraine, with a population of 48 million, is the second-largest country in Europe and transports 90% of Russian gas to Europe. Many of the decisive battles of European history have been fought on its fields, and a westward-tilting Ukraine could sever Russia's access to its Black Sea Fleet, which is currently under a lease agreement with Kiev.

Moreover, Ukraine is the key to Russia's hope of establishing an economic coalition of former Soviet nations as a front against Europe. Belarus and Kazakhstan are also part of a pact initialed this year.

For both East and West, Ukraine always has been a "pivotal state" in what former U.S. national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski describes as the "Grand Chessboard" of geopolitics. That is especially true for Moscow, he said.

"Its very existence as an independent country helps transform Russia," Brzezinski said. "Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire."

The dispute in Ukraine also could have implications for Putin's grip on power. The techniques that have enabled the Kremlin and its allies to determine election outcomes in Chechnya and Belarus are on the brink of failure in Ukraine. Most analysts say that would inevitably encourage Russia's own democracy advocates and threaten Moscow's elite.

The U.S. and its allies are reluctant to talk about Russia as a military adversary. "Nothing we know about Russia, nothing we see and feel in the cooperation that's going on, would suggest we should see Russia as anything but a partner of NATO," an alliance spokesman said.

But military planners, perhaps on both sides, remain prepared for the possibility that one day, a leader more aggressive than Putin will take the reins of a reinvigorated Russia. This is not unimaginable in a country in which polls show that the 1970s, when Leonid I. Brezhnev led the Soviet Union, are regarded as a golden era.

In an address to the Senate Intelligence Committee in February, former CIA Director George J. Tenet listed Russia, along with North Korea and China, as a "pivotal state."

"The Kremlin's increasing assertiveness is partly grounded in a growing confidence in its military capabilities," Tenet said, noting that although the Russian military remained at "a fraction" of its former strength, training rates and defense spending were increasing.

Russia's updated military doctrine makes it clear that the Kremlin, like Washington, is prepared to use preemptive strikes against other nations to protect itself, and also to resort to nuclear force if gravely threatened.

The installation of NATO military infrastructure in the Baltics would prompt Russia to "conduct its policy and military planning based on the principles of self-defense," Defense Minister Ivanov warned in a visit to Washington in April.

Russia's newly beefed-up nuclear weapons also provide the Kremlin with an important political tool.

"Clearly, nuclear weapons are a shield against potential U.S. sanctions, military or otherwise," said Trenin, the Carnegie official who has written a book on the Russian military. "The U.S. will not attack a nuclear power."

Both sides have thought through the logistics, if only theoretically.

In a report prepared by the Rand Corp. for the U.S. Army this year, one scenario explored the possibility of a conflict between Russia and NATO in the Baltics. The report referred to "an assumed decline in Russian-NATO relations in the period after 2007," and weighed how hard it would be for NATO to respond if Russian troops speedily overran the Baltics and dug in to wait for negotiations.

The report, analysts say, measures military capabilities; the chance of Russia invading the Baltics, most agree, is nearly zero.

Russia, for its part, conducted a military exercise in 1999 that envisioned "enemy" forces taking over Kaliningrad, the wedge of Russian territory between Poland and Lithuania that is the headquarters of the Baltic Fleet, and striking nuclear power plants and other targets inside Russia. As part of the exercise, a pair of Tupolev bombers simulated nuclear cruise missile strikes on the U.S. East Coast and Europe.

Nikolai Sokov, senior research associate at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, wrote in a report this year that Russia appeared to be using the possibility of limited nuclear strikes as a deterrent against political and military pressure.

But Russian officials say it is a mistake to confuse Moscow's assertion of legitimate interests with a return of empire-building.

"It is wrong to interpret any of this as Russia's attempts to impose its influence," said Igor S. Ivanov, the National Security Council secretary. "In these countries, all the generations of people, although they are people of different nationalities, lived in one state. They had common culture, common education, they worked together, they developed their economies together. If you please, common thinking was formed. Naturally, these are not some artificial ties, these are real ties that connect us."

At the same time, Russia's reemergence as a player is not to be discounted, they warn.

"Whereas American interests extend thousands of miles, and to many continents, let's accept that Russia has natural interests in the former Soviet states. Let's have a dialogue about this," former Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev said in an interview.

"I think we have a unique chance to create a new quality of relations with the West. But we don't want to be beggars. We don't want to be treated by the EU or by the United States like we are down; that is something we will not accept," he said. "Russia will not be scared. Russia will not be intimidated."

Coming Monday: Russia is increasingly relying on nuclear weapons to ensure its security.
30773  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Globalization on: December 02, 2004, 06:41:41 PM


Question: What is the truest definition of Globalization?

Answer: Princess Diana's death.

Question: How come?

Answer: An English princess

with an Egyptian boyfriend

crashes in a French tunnel,

driving a German car

with a Dutch engine,

driven by a Belgian who was drunk

on Scottish whisky, (check the bottle before you change the spelling)

followed closely by Italian Paparazzi,

on Japanese motorcycles;

treated by an American doctor,

using Brazilian medicines.

This is sent to you by an American,

using Bill Gates's technology,

and you're probably reading this on your computer,

that use Taiwanese chips,

and a Korean monitor,

assembled by Bangladeshi workers

in a Singapore plant,

transported by Indian lorry-drivers,

hijacked by Indonesians,

unloaded by Sicilian longshoremen,

and trucked to you by Mexican illegals.....

That, my friends, is Globalization
30774  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Movies of interest on: December 02, 2004, 11:04:47 AM
This review is from whom I guessing is the son of noted Suppy Side economist Jude Wanniski upon whose site it appears wink


A Review of "Alexander"

Dec  2 2004

Memo To: Website Moviegoers
     From: Matthew Wanniski
     Re: A Tantalizing Bid for Epic Greatness

Moviemaking can be like a military campaign - you spend bundles of cash to win the hearts and minds of a wary audience, marshalling a troop of actors to deliver a blockbuster and not a dud. Can a film about the most famous conqueror in history be as good as the legend of Alexander? Can $150 million buy greatness?

"Alexander" comes tantalizingly close. Directed by Oliver Stone, the film opens with a montage of graven images of Alexander and what appears to be his name in the languages of the ancient world, a subtle but effective reminder of his world-wide renown. He pushed ever further how people conceived of the world and their place within it, opening up the East and instigating the flow of ideas between the East and the West. A captivating mix of the human and the superhuman he was, a perpetual motion machine that unhappily burned itself out too soon.

The film engages both heart and mind as it explores all aspects of Alexander's life. In the role of Alexander, Colin Farrell is so natural and effortless, we almost forget he isn`t Alexander himself. We witness all the bravery, vigor, and hubris of the Greek heroes he admired and envied. We feel his visceral reaction to the overwhelming, even oppressive personalities of his mother and father, both of whom tragically used him to best suit their own personal interests and ambitions. Farrell makes Alexander accessible, while preserving the myth.

The rest of the cast is equally impressive. Anthony Hopkins, in the role of Ptolemy, one of Alexander's generals, serves as the film's narrator, ensconced in the pristine luminosity of Alexandria in Egypt and reciting to his scribes the history behind Alexander's achievements. This is a great service to the audience, as it gives them a solid background in the past and puts the events of the film into their proper historical context.

As Alexander's strong, shrewd, and beautiful mother Olympias, Angelina Jolie sparkles. An extremely talented actress, Jolie slithers and slinks across the screen like one of the queen's pet snakes. The serpent is indeed an apt symbol for her, as she is a hypnotic and dangerous woman. Her pushing and cajoling of Alexander is not exactly motherly (he calls himself "the cracked mirror of her dreams"). Where his brilliance is on the battlefield, she is far more practical and political in domestic affairs. The relationship between mother and son, borderline incestuous and pseudo-Oedipal, is fascinating to watch play out. Alexander wavers between love and hate for Olympias, simultaneously wishing to please and to escape from her influence.

Val Kilmer plays Philip, Alexander's father and King of Macedon. Kilmer gives a glowing performance as the man whose efforts to unite Greece under one rule laid the basis for Alexander's desire to bring the rest of the world into the fold. Kilmer swaggers as the grizzled and drunken king who casts a long and terrible shadow over his son. When he tells Alexander "there is no glory without suffering," we see a man who has been tempered by loss and life, who has gained a degree of wisdom from his drive to unify the Greeks and push out their old enemy, the Persians, who had sacked and burned Athens roughly 150 years before. His wisdom offsets his brutish behavior, making him a sympathetic character that recognizes how glory and ambition can make slaves of us all. He surely winds heavy chains around Alexander, meanwhile urging him to be free. Audiences will surely have a love-hate relationship with Philip that is every bit as fierce as the one between Alexander and his mother.

All the women in Alexander's life appear to be iron-willed lionesses, including Rosario Dawson, as Roxanne, a woman from Bactria (present day Afghanistan) whom Alexander marries. Alexander had several wives and mistresses, but Dawson appears to symbolize them all, as well as all the enemies he's ever conquered and treated as equals.

The sets are lavish and on an appropriately grand scale in the spirit of Lean, DeMille, and the other epic filmmakers of Hollywood's golden years. The depiction of Babylon in particular stands out among the rest. Audiences will likely react much the same way Alexander himself did when he rode through its gates to the adulation of its citizens, all of whom turned out to welcome him-that far from being the barbarians that Aristotle and others claimed, the Persians were just as civilized, if not more so, than the Greeks believed themselves to be. That feeling of equality and respect for ones foes makes Alexander appear much more enlightened than his tutor, Aristotle.

Rodrigo Prieto's cinematography vividly brings those ancient cultures to life. Pushing the boundaries of the possible, it blends the real with the surreal to show where myth overlaps reality (eg, using infrared film to depict Alexander's near-death experience while fighting an elephant-backed tribe in India). Under Prieto's able hand, the battle scenes become bloody, brutal, and epic in scope, capturing the chaos and madness of war, and highlighting the differences in tactics between Alexander's forces and those of his enemies. Yet these scenes carry less weight than the complicated relationships between the characters. Prieto renders the more intimate and personal scenes that explore Alexander's kinships and liaisons as effectively as the battle scenes. They are what truly propel the story forward.

The film handles Alexander's bisexuality in a respectful manner, placing it in its appropriate historical context. Primarily focusing on his relationship with Hephaestion, played by Jared Leto, the film has received more than its fair share of controversy for it. Despite the fact that Greeks were well known for their lack of strict sexual mores, especially among their soldiers, who turned toward one another during the frequently long campaigns that took them far from their wives and mistresses back home. Perhaps in an effort to reach a wide audience-no doubt influenced by reports that voters cared more about morality than any other issue in the last election-Stone and Co. were forced to re-edit the love scenes between Alexander and Hephaestion. The result is that, unlike the other love scenes, the scenes between them seem nearly platonic. In fact, Alexander comes off so well, he seems even better than he may have been in life.

Fortune favors the bold, and "Alexander" is a bold film. While it leaves out some of the good and the bad, Stone deserves credit for presenting Alexander with warts and all, and allowing audiences to decide his greatness for themselves. That's the way a biopic should be, uncensored and unbiased. Audiences may have stayed away on its opening weekend in favor of more holiday family fare, but it deserves a chance to prove its greatness.

Rated "R" for violence and some sexuality/nudity.
30775  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Jam the spam! on: December 01, 2004, 01:02:04 PM
Spammers get taste of their own medicine
By Maija Pesola
Published: December 1 2004 02:00

Internet users are being given the chance to hit back at the spammers that have become the scourge of the web, thanks to free software being distributed by Lycos Europe, the internet portal.

Lycos is inviting internet users to download a programme called "Make Love, Not Spam" from its website The programme sits on the computer and, when the machine is not being used, it sends out traffic to the websites known to send out spam - unsolicited e-mail.

Last month the Office for Fair Trading said that spam accounted for more than 60 per cent of all e-mails on the internet with 80 per cent coming from outside the UK, making it hard for the British authorities to police. Lycos's idea is to slow down the spammers' websites with bogus requests, making it difficult for them to operate.

This is the same technique that was used by a number of cyber criminal gangs to jam corporate websites - including sites of online betting and payment processing companies - earlier this year.

Lycos says the software will stop short of bringing down spam sites completely, as this would be illegal. It aims to slow their operations considerably and to make it more expensive to operate the sites. Many websites are paid for on the basis of how much traffic they handle, so the extra information requests should cause costs to rocket.

Two months of testing in Sweden showed that certain spam sites could be slowed by as much as 85 per cent using the software.

The technique has already been used in underground anti-spam circles, but Lycos said it was now hoping to bring this into the mainstream. Even before its official launch the software has been downloaded by 72,000 people.

Spam costs the world an estimated $25bn (?14.8bn) a year in lost productivity and extra security measures.
30776  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Homeland Security on: December 01, 2004, 12:51:32 PM
NEW YORK:  Passenger Arrested for Artfully Concealed
     Prohibited Item.  According to BTS reporting, on 30 November, at JFK
     International Airport, TSA screeners detected a "Leatherman" tool
     artfully concealed in a quart jar of hair gel in a passenger's
     carry-on bag during x-ray screening.  LEOs arrested the named U.S.
     passenger on the state charge of criminal possession of a weapon in
     the 4th degree.  (BTS Daily Operations Report, 1 Dec 04; HSOC 4583-04)

FWIW on Ridge's resignation.  FWIW I would be less kind.

Geopolitical Diary: Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2004

Tom Ridge resigned Tuesday as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. According to reports, Ridge had serious financial problems that he could not manage on a government salary, even a Cabinet-level salary. We tend to believe that reason. Ridge did not do either badly or well at homeland security. He presided over it, which is about all anyone could do with the hill of spare parts and broken pieces that were dragged together at the beginning of the war. It is not a Rube Goldberg machine, since that would imply that it works or at least that it does something. Some of the pieces that worked in the past continue to work. Some of the pieces that never worked very well still don't work. Beyond that, there is not much to say.

Homeland defense was a profoundly flawed concept in the context of al Qaeda from the beginning. The United States cannot be defended against a global, sparse network of trained covert operatives. It is a target-rich
environment -- meaning there are an awful lot of things that can be
attacked -- surrounded by borders so long and porous that they cannot be sealed. That is certainly the case if you intend to ship things in and out
of the country.

Homeland defense was designed to serve as an indication to a country in a state of panic after Sept. 11 that the government was doing something
tangible to protect the United States. That is not a trivial function. If we
remember back to Sept. 12, the country was suffering from shock and
paralysis. The dread was real and palpable. Calming the country was a
critical affair.

Consider airport security, a microcosm of homeland security in general.
Given the number of flights, airports and passengers, it is a physical
impossibility to secure all flights -- leaving aside other inherent
weaknesses of airport security. Airport security increases the chances of
being caught, but a capable and thoughtful covert operator can beat the
system. Except for shutting down the air traffic system -- eliminating the
threat by eliminating passengers -- the system can be penetrated. Anyone who asserts that it can't be penetrated is a liar, and anyone who demands an effective solution is a fool. It can't be done.

That is not to say that airport security is unimportant. It does provide a
degree of security, particularly against incompetent would-be terrorists, of whom there are more than a few. More important, it is a massive, visible effort and that very effort is comforting to those about to risk flying. We cannot afford to shut down civilian air traffic. We cannot afford to allow passengers to be gripped by terror. A modicum of security coupled with a psychological sense that a serious effort is being made has material impact in a war.

That was the primary use of homeland security. It provided a sense that
someone was trying to control the situation, even if we all understood the
fact that the situation could not be controlled that way. Sometimes the
efforts at reassurance became silly, as with the weird movement of the
warning colors -- in apparently random motion. The massive pile of agencies called the Department of Homeland Security might not have added up to much more than the constituent parts, but the very massiveness of the effort provided a degree of comfort.

In the end, however, homeland security is an illusion. Wars are not won
defensively, and certainly this war can't be won that way. What defense
there is consists of two parts. You can either negotiate a peace -- which
depends on finding someone to negotiate with and determining if you are
willing to pay the price. Or you can go out and attack and destroy the
enemy, assuming you can find him and defeat him.

Homeland security and Tom Ridge served a purpose. They were part of the process of calming down a country that was near hysteria after Sept. 11. The country was not being irrational. Anyone who wasn't frightened did not understand the situation. Nevertheless, fear does not win wars. Ridge helped calm things down. He did not do much, but what he did, he did pretty well.

Not a bad record on the whole.

Copyrights 2004 - Strategic Forecasting, Inc. All rights reserved.
30777  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Health for Life site fraud? on: December 01, 2004, 12:04:41 PM
This from Pappy Dog:


 The Seven Minute Rotator Cuff Solution from "Health for Life" is out
of print, last I heard. You can get a xeroxed copy at or call them at 818 769 7886 for more
information . The publisher says they will replace xeroxed copies when
the next publishing is in. That is the latest I have heard of the book.
The book is the book to get on the subject.
30778  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Health for Life site fraud? on: November 30, 2004, 06:32:31 AM

Over the years I have recommended Health for Life's "Legendary Abs" and "7 Minute Rotator Cuff Solution" and I use their "Isomaxx Stretching Strap" on the road and at home.

Recently, in response to a post of mine giving as their website, someone responded the this site was a fraud.

I have no knowledge either way, but thought I should share this , , ,

Crafty Dog
30779  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Letter to Europe on: November 30, 2004, 12:03:21 AM
An Open Letter to Europe by Harold E. Meyer

Hi. Are you nuts?

Forgive me for being so blunt, but your reaction to our reelection of President Bush has been so outrageous that I?m wondering if you have quite literally lost your minds. One of Britain?s largest newspapers ran a headline asking ?How Can 59 Million Americans Be So Dumb??, and commentators in France all seemed to use the same word ? bizarre -- to explain the election?s outcome to their readers. In Germany the editors of Die Tageszeitung responded to our vote by writing that ?Bush belongs at a war tribunal ? not in the White House.? And on a London radio talk show last week one Jeremy Hardy described our President and those of us who voted for him as ?stupid, crazy, ignorant, bellicose Christian fundamentalists.?

Of course, you are entitled to whatever views about us that you care to hold. (And lucky for you we Americans aren?t like so many of the Muslims on your own continent; as the late Dutch film maker Theo van Gogh just discovered, make one nasty crack about them and you?re likely to get six bullets pumped into your head and a knife plunged into your chest.) But before you write us off as just a bunch of sweaty, hairy-chested, Bible-thumping morons who are more likely to break their fast by dipping a Krispy Kreme into a diet cola than a biscotti into an espresso ? and who inexplicably have won more Nobel prizes than all other countries combined, host 25 or 30 of the world?s finest universities and five or six of the world?s best symphonies, produce wines that win prizes at your own tasting competitions, have built the world?s most vibrant economy, are the world?s only military superpower and, so to speak in our spare time, have landed on the moon and sent our robots to Mars ? may I suggest you stop frothing at the mouth long enough to consider just what are these ideas we hold that you find so silly and repugnant?

We believe that church and state should be separate, but that religion should remain at the center of life. We are a Judeo-Christian culture, which means we consider those ten things on a tablet to be commandments, not suggestions. We believe that individuals are more important than groups, that families are more important than governments, that children should be raised by their parents rather than by the State, and that marriage should take place only between a man and a woman. We believe that rights must be balanced by responsibilities, that personal freedom is a privilege we must be careful not to abuse, and that the rule of law cannot be set aside when it becomes inconvenient. We believe in economic liberty, and in the right of purposeful and industrious entrepreneurs to run their businesses ? and thus create jobs ? with a minimum of government interference. We recognize that other people see things differently, and we are tolerant of their views. But we believe that our country is worth defending, and if anyone decides that killing us is an okay thing to do we will go after them with everything we?ve got.

If these beliefs seem strange to you, they shouldn?t. For these are precisely the beliefs that powered Western Europe ? you -- from the Middle Ages into the Renaissance, on to the Enlightenment, and forward into the modern world. They are the beliefs that made Europe itself the glory of Western civilization and ? not coincidentally ? ignited the greatest outpouring of art, literature, music and scientific discovery the world has ever known including Michaelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Shakespeare, Bach, Issac Newton and Descartes.

Europe is Dying

It is your abandonment of these beliefs that has created the gap between Europe and the United States. You have ceased to be a Judeo-Christian culture, and have become instead a secular culture. And a secular culture quickly goes from being ?un-religious? to anti-religious. Indeed, your hostility to the basic concepts of Judaism and Christianity has literally been written into your new European Union constitution, despite the Pope?s heroic efforts to the contrary.

Your rate of marriage is at an all-time low, and the number of abortions in Europe is at an all-time high. Indeed, your birth rates are so far below replacement levels that in 30 years or so there will be 70 million fewer Europeans alive than are alive today. Europe is literally dying. And of the children you do manage to produce, all too few will be raised in stable, two-parent households.

Your economy is stagnant because your government regulators make it just about impossible for your entrepreneurs to succeed ? except by fleeing to the United States, where we welcome them and celebrate their success.

And your armed forces are a joke. With the notable exception of Great Britain, you no longer have the military strength to defend yourselves. Alas, you no longer have the will to defend yourselves.

What worries me even more than all this is your willful blindness. You refuse to see that it is you, not we Americans, who have abandoned Western Civilization. It?s worrisome because, to tell you the truth, we need each other. Western Civilization today is under siege, from radical Islam on the outside and from our own selfish hedonism within. It?s going to take all of our effort, our talent, our creativity and, above all, our will to pull through. So take a good, hard look at yourselves and see what your own future will be if you don?t change course. And please, stop sneering at America long enough to understand it. After all, Western Civilization was your gift to us, and you ought to be proud of what we Americans have made of it.

Herbert E. Meyer served during the Reagan Administration as Special Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence and Vice Chairman of the CIA?s National Intelligence Council. His DVD on The Siege of Western Civilization is a nationwide best-seller.
30780  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Movies/TV of interest on: November 29, 2004, 08:16:35 PM
I don't know what happened to my original post, which included the WSJ review by Joe Morgenstern, querying about the movie "Alexander the Great", and somehow Tuhon Rafael's post wound up on the Knife thread, so here is the review once again, then Tuhon Raf's post:


'Alexander' Grates: Stone
Delivers a Grecian Formula
That Can't Conquer Boredom

Epic Digital Battles Are Gripping,
But History Lesson Drags On;
An Inviting 'Long Engagement'
November 26, 2004; Page W1

Oliver Stone's "Alexander" is a tale of two battles -- one of them fought by Alexander the Great against the rest of the world, the other by the filmmaker against himself in an elephantine production that's constantly torn between extravagant action (elephants figure heavily in the climax) and extended history lessons. History defeats Mr. Stone. His instinct for showmanship has been throttled by his penchant for pedantry, and that comes as a real surprise. For almost two decades Mr. Stone's films have been many things, sometimes simultaneously -- smart, sharp, crazed, bizarre, ludicrous, pretentious, insightful, irresponsible, powerful, over the top, around the bend. Never, until now, have they been emotionally inert or quite so flat of foot.

Colin Farrell plays Alexander (who died at the age of 32) as the world's most powerful brat. Blond-wigged, Irish-brogued and a chronic brooder, this Oedipally unsettled victim of bad parenting loves a man (his boyhood friend Hephaistion, played as an adult with eyeliner by Jared Leto), though eventually he takes a beautiful Asian woman, Roxane (Rosario Dawson), for his queen. (And really takes her, in a shockingly graphic replay of the rape that he witnessed, as a little boy, when Angelina Jolie's mommy dearest was taken by Val Kilmer's drunken dad.)

Then Alexander becomes the world's most powerful bore, thus betraying the promise of the movie's preface. In that long, turgid, pseudo-scholarly equivalent of an infomercial, the narrator, an aged Ptolemy, played by Anthony Hopkins in a flowing robe, recalls the Macedonian king, 40 years after his death, as a colossus, a force of nature, a man who built an empire of the mind, and a leader in whose presence, "by the light of Apollo, we were better than ourselves." Well, by the sweet breath of Dionysus, we are worse than ourselves after suffering through the silly speechifying that defeats drama in this colossal mess.

Several outsize battle sequences provide sporadic relief from the prevailing torpor, even if the hackings and whackings are staged no more imaginatively than those in the sword-and-sandal epics of the 1960s. (These days, the standard battle formation consists of live extras to the front, digital replicants to the rear.) And Ms. Jolie's Olympias is a hoot with her Transylvanian accent and an incandescent loathing of her husband, who is finally murdered, evidently at her behest. At one point Olympias, who has always wanted her son's hot body but settles for his tortured soul, asks Alexander: "What have I done to make you hate me so?"

Elliot Cowan and Colin Farrell in "Alexander."

Yet there's no zest to the general depravity, no coherence to the script or the spectacle -- clarity is missing in some of the camera work -- and, most important, no character to give a Greek fig about. With writing as shallow as this, everyone is an extra. I don't want to beat a dead horse, but you won't find a single moment in the movie to match the simple humanity -- or even the suspense -- of that scene near the beginning of "The Black Stallion" when the father tells his son the classic story, with charming embellishments, of young Alexander taming the wild horse Bucephalus. (Child and horse are also trotted in by Oliver Stone, but for a retelling distinguished only by lack of surprise.)

"Alexander" cost at least $160 million, a figure that will grow by many more tens of millions for global marketing. After I cited the staggering budgets of other recent follies, including the risibly ramshackle "Troy," several readers sent e-mails to say that since it wasn't my money, it was none of my business how studios or producers chose to spend it. I take the point. More than that, I put it in the context of a Weekend Journal piece last week in which my colleague John Lippman reported that "Troy," for all its failure to connect with a domestic audience, will turn a significant profit in the global market. But the movie medium is mine -- is ours -- to care about, and to worry about. With each new heedless squandering of our interest and trust, with each monster domestic dud that justifies its shoddiness through overseas success, the movies as we've known and loved them are closer to becoming ancient history.

* * *
DVD TIP: A friend who shared my dismay at "Alexander" reminded me that a model already exists for the glorious, fabulist adventure that might have captured the conqueror's spirit. It's a movie I've recommended before, John Huston's masterful "The Man Who Would Be King" (1975). Michael Caine and Sean Connery co-star as Victorian British soldiers mistaken for gods in Kafiristan, a province of Afghanistan that was once ruled by Alexander the Great.


And Tuhon Raf writes:

Film does drag a bit but not the train wreck many reviewers seem to give it. It could have used more editing. It should have included some of the more interesting aspects of Alexander that displayed his wit. For example, no scenes devoted to the Gordian Knot or the Ten Brahmins. Hopkins was phoning his work in.. a hungrier actor could have stolen the film if this was cast differently.

Focusing on the fight scenes. I liked that the film showed Alexander training at a young age. There's some snips of good work but the cinematography was better than the actual action. The copis was shown in some portions, there's some phalanx work even though the visual focus on it faded later on. There was no martial flavor between a Persian, India or Macedonian outside of visual costuming and props. There's some factual bits in the tactical end of things, but there's so many other cool and documented scenarios that the film missed. There's some poetic license in the final battle... it never happened that way. There was no battle with elephants in the woods but on open ground.

Alexander retreated rather than fighting the even larger force that was awaiting him in India. After a hard fought battle that the Macedonian/Persian forces encountered in India, they were not about to go against a much larger force consisting of 6000 elephants. That was never included in the film. Other segments that was lost was the way Alexander could exhibit mercy and then turn around and wipe out a whole city on a whim.

So cinematography was very good, costumes was good, even the directing was good in many sections. Alexander lost points in factual omission of character development, too much emphasis on his mother (then straying away from showing her wickedness) and some lackadaisical work from Hopkins who unfortunately was the person responsible for the transitions.

30781  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans on: November 29, 2004, 06:22:25 PM
Just another day--Crafty

On the wing of an Apache

By Cpl. Benjamin Cossel, 122nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

CAMP TAJI, Iraq -- For two Apache Longbow pilots, the night of Oct. 16 was just a regular night flying a reconnaissance mission around southern Baghdad. A distorted cry for help came across the emergency radio shattering the chatter of all other communications. They recognized the call sign, they recognized the area and a few minutes later, they were in route to perform what would become a heroic rescue.

 ?I really couldn?t make out at first what was going on. The transmission over the radio was broken up and weak, but I could make out that it was a distress call,? said Lodi, Calif., native Chief Warrant Officer Justin Taylor, an Apache pilot, with Company C, 1st Battalion 227th Aviation Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team.

At first, the transmission seemed as though it might be coming from an U.S. Marine Corps aircraft. The call sign speaking to the downed aircraft was of Marine Corps designation Taylor said. He radioed to Marine Corps headquarters asking if any aircraft of theirs was down in the area, to which the response came back negative. Then a call sign familiar to Taylor and Capt. Ryan Welch, the air mission commander, came across the guard, or emergency channel.

?We?re in zone 43?.? came the weak transmission

?I recognized the area and immediately made the decision that we were going to break from our sector and go over to the area,? said Lebanon, N.H. native Welch. ?Those were our guys on the ground and we had to help. My first thought was we would provide aerial security.?

As the team changed flight paths they notified the USMC aircraft of their intention and called back to 4th BCT headquarters to alert them to their movement. When they arrived on station they began trying to contact the pilots on the ground.

"As soon as we told the Marines what we were doing, a call came up on the guard channel, it was the same call sign but a different numerical designation,? Welch explained.

The wounded pilot explained that the previous pilot was unable to respond, that two pilots were killed in action and that he and the other survivor were trying to make their way to a defendable position but having difficulty as one of the wounded was unable to walk.

?When we flew over the sector, we immediately picked up the heat signature of a burning fire,? said Welch.

?But at first we weren?t sure what it was, it kind of looked like one of the many trash fires you see all over Baghdad,? Taylor added.

Flying over the fire to try and get a better look at the ground an excited call came up.

?You just flew over our position,? the transmission informed.

Welch?s wingman noticed the emergency strobe on the ground and notified Welch of the positive identification.

?Once we had identified the crew on the ground, I made the call that we were going to land and get those pilots out of there,? Welch commented. ?I had no idea of the situation on the ground or what the landing zone looked like, so I informed my wingman to fly a tight defensive circle around our position to provide cover if needed. As we landed and I got all the cords off of me, I looked back at JT (Taylor) and told him, if he started taking fire, get this bird out of here, leave me and we?ll collect all of us later.?

Welch had landed his Apache approximately 100 meters from the crash site, armed with his 9mm and an M4 Carbine rifle he set out to collect the downed pilots.

Welch contacted the pilots and asked if they were ready for self-extraction and again it came over the radio that one of the pilots couldn?t walk, they would need help getting out of their location.

?I basically had to stumble my way through an open field, it was treacherous with pot holes and low brush, I stumbled a couple times,? recalled Welch, ?but I finally came up on the crash site about ten minutes later.?

When Welch arrived on the scene he saw one pilot standing and one sitting, the two had been able to get a fair distance away from the aircraft.

?As I came up on them, I noticed they looked pretty bad, multiple cuts on their face and both looked like the early stages of shock had set in. I called out to Beck (Chief Warrant Officer Chad Beck, 1st Battalion of the 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Infantry Division attached to the 4th BCT) who was standing, to get him to help me with Mr. Crow (Chief Warrant Officer Greg Crow, also of 1-25 Aviation). It took a few seconds to get Mr. Beck?s attention as he was visibly shaken and dazed.?

As the two got Crow up and began the long trek back, the mess of tangled cords attached to their equipment nearly tripped them up.

?We stumbled initially with all those wires just everywhere? I pulled out my knife and just cut them all away and we took off.?

Carrying two wounded over the treacherous 100 meters to his waiting Apache, Welch said the time seemed to slow down to an absolute crawl as they inched their way back, working carefully not to further injure Mr. Crow.

?We had to move kind of slow,? he explained. ?I swear it probably took us like ten minutes to get back but it seemed like we were out there for hours, I was never so relieved to see JT and my bird sitting there.?

Four personnel, two seats in the Apache. Self-extraction was a maneuver the pilots had been told about in flight school. A maneuver considered dangerous enough that no practical application was given, just the verbal ?Here?s how you do it?

Hanging from a pilots flight vest is a nylon strap attached to a carabineer. On the outside of the Apache there are hand holds bolted on primarily to assist maintenance crews as they work on the birds. But, they also have another purpose -- to be used in the event of a self extraction. The general idea is for the pilot to attach a nylon strap wrapped through the hand holds and then connecting the nylon strap with the carabineer. The aircraft then flies off to a safe location with the person attached to the outside of the aircraft.

?I knew getting back to my bird,? explained Welch, ?that Mr. Crow was in no position for self extraction that I would have to put him in the front seat. I radioed to JT and told him what I intended to do, Crow in the front seat, Beck and I strapped to the outside.?

At first Taylor just looked at Welch, a little surprised at the plan.

?It kind of surprised me at first and then I just thought, ?Cool, that?s what we?re going to do,?? said Taylor.

Beck and Welch worked to get Crow into the front seat as Welch explained what was next to Beck.

?At first Beck really didn?t want to leave, his commander had just been killed and he still wasn?t thinking 100% clear?

?I can?t go, I just can?t go,? pleaded Beck but soon enough he understood the situation and then another problem surfaced.

?The mechanism Kiowa pilots use for self extraction is different then the set up Apache pilots use,? explained Welch. ?But we finally got it worked out, got Beck hooked up and then secured myself to the aircraft.?

Secured and assuming a defensive posture with his rifle, Welch gave Taylor the thumbs up sign and the Apache lifted off.

?I was a little bit freaked out,? explained Taylor, ?you just don?t fly an Apache by yourself, it?s definitely a two man aircraft?

At 90 miles per hour the two helicopters flew 20 kilometers to Forward Operating Base (FOB) Falcon, the closet FOB with a Combat Support Hospital (CSH).

?I only had my night visor on,? said Welch. ?I thought my eyes were going to rip out my sockets and that my nose would tear from my face, the wind was so strong.?

Landing on the emergency pad, Welch and Taylor jumped out and helped medical personal take Beck and Crow inside for treatment.

?One of the medics asked me if I was a medical flight pilot,? chuckled Welch. ?You should have seen the look on his face when I told him, Nope, I?m an Apache pilot.?

The patients safely delivered to the CSH, the two exhausted pilots looked at each other with the same thought.

?We both climbed back into our bird,? Welch said, ?and almost simultaneously said to each other, ?Lets go home.??
30782  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politically (In)correct on: November 28, 2004, 10:06:53 PM
Its getting REALLY bad when the Left Angeles writes an editorial like this:

Hopscotch? Well, Maybe ...
Now that the nation's schools have perfected the instruction of math, English, history, social studies and all the sciences and have taught all youngsters the manners and health rules they may have missed at home, it seems that reformers are headed out to the playground for some creative banishing. There, they are taking aim at a number of unacceptably rough games that might brutalize tender egos.

Schools in such states as California, Maryland and Texas are finally banning outrageously brutal games like tag, dodge ball and any activity involving physical contact. About time, eh? Footballs may be tossed, but running, tackling and blocking are out. Pulling and pushing? Gone too. No more crack-the-whip. On a swing? Create your own momentum. No pushing allowed there, either.

This kind of thing makes many adults glad they grew up when play hadn't yet been outlawed.

True, all generations experience playground unpleasantness. Someone always gets picked last. Teasing can hurt. It was embarrassing to catch a dodge ball in the butt too early in a game. Yet getting eliminated in a meaningless game was a lesson that conceivably could help sometime during later life. Other play lessons: You don't always get what you want; life isn't always fair; it takes all kinds; sportsmanship matters.

Originally, school recess and lunch-hour playtimes were designed for youngsters to stampede outdoors and be creatively active physically, to relieve the stress of long division and coloring within the lines. One or two adult monitors policed the place ? and bullies ? with vigilant eyes and stern whistles.

As children do when left alone, they invented their own games and rules, forged teams, alliances, friendships and tactics and even resolved conflicts. They learned cooperation, how to be gracious winners (cheering briefly is OK, taunting the losers isn't) and, more important, how to lose gracefully. If someone played too roughly too often, justice might be administered next time out.

Now, free play is giving way to activities like relay races organized by adults to avoid hurt feelings or singed self-esteems. Everyone is included. Everyone gets praised. Just as in life. Not! This also helps address the perceived threat of costly lawsuits hanging over schools like thunderclouds.

Schools are under tremendous pressure today to teach even nonacademic lessons like honesty, consideration and responsibility, things once taught in homes. It's a challenge, especially if parents are inattentive or unsupportive. Whether prohibiting cops-and-robbers and tag is a valid lesson plan seems dubious, given the more important teaching left unfinished. Where's that stern whistle when you need it
30783  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Tables turned on: November 28, 2004, 09:59:52 PM
Newark, NJ:

A father's attempt to teach his daughter a lesson about drinking backfired when the teen led police to a stash of drugs and weapons inside their home.  

KW, 46, called police at 0205 Friday after his 16 year old daughter came home drunk and unruly.  When police arrived however, the girl told them she fear for her safety because her father stored drugs and weapons in the home.

The girl led officers to a crawl space above the ceiling where they found four semi-auto guns and more than 600 vials of crack.

The father was charged with numerous weapons charges and the daughter placed in the custody of a relative.
30784  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Crimes using knives on: November 28, 2004, 09:22:16 PM
More from Scotland-- BTW is there anyone who can compare the murder rate data in this article with sundry US data? TIA- Crafty

McConnell cracks down on knife crime


JACK McConnell went on the offensive against Scotland?s growing knife culture yesterday, announcing a series of tough measures he hopes will stem the "scandalously high" human toll from knife crime, particularly in Glasgow.

The First Minister said he would introduce sweeping new powers, allowing the police to arrest anyone found carrying a knife. He announced longer sentences for knife-related offences and said he would introduce major restrictions on the sale and possession of knives and blades.

The sale of all swords will be outlawed in Scotland, nobody under the age of 18 will be allowed to buy a knife of any sort, and retailers who want to sell non-domestic knives will have to be licensed and monitored.

The First Minister said Scotland had a responsibility to tackle the "scandalously high" level of knife crime in "our own time and our own way" and as soon as possible.

His changes go far beyond anything previously proposed in Britain and signal the Scottish Executive?s determination to take action on a problem that is escalating out of control in some parts of urban Scotland.

Knife crime is a particular problem in Glasgow, which has the worst murder rate in Britain, at 58.7 murders per million people - twice as high as London, where the rate stands at 26 per million.

Half of all homicides in Scotland as a whole and in Glasgow are caused by knives or other sharp instruments, according to the latest figures, and ministers believe they have to do something to stop the trend.

Mr McConnell announced his plans at a press conference in Edinburgh almost three years to the day after he succeeded Henry McLeish as First Minister.

Mr McConnell said: "It is my very strong view, and it is a view shared by the Cabinet, that far too many young men, particularly in Scotland, view the carrying or using of knives or offensive weapons as an acceptable practice. It is not acceptable. The law in Scotland must be clear, the system must protect innocent victims and the culture of Scotland, particularly in our cities, in relation to knives and violent crime, must change."

He added: "The sale of swords in Scotland today is fundamentally wrong. There can be no reason for people buying swords off the street for use or to have in their homes."

The Executive?s proposals are:

? A licensing scheme for the sale of non-domestic knives and similar objects. This would require all shops selling non-domestic knives to be registered and licensed. Any retailer caught breaking the law would have its licence revoked.

? Increasing the minimum purchasing age for knives from 16 to 18.

? Banning the sale of swords. While the sale of swords would be outlawed under the proposals, the Executive has no plans to ban swords being kept in private homes. There would, however, be a ban on the possession of a sword in a public place.

? Giving the police the ability to arrest anyone found carrying a knife. At the moment police can only arrest people if they prove they are carrying a knife, have grounds for believing a crime is going to be committed and a third reason such as breach of the peace. The Executive intends to sweep away all these conditions, allowing unconditional arrests to be made.

? Doubling the sentence for possessing a knife or offensive weapon from two years to four.

Officials were quick to point out that Mr McConnell?s proposals wouldl not affect anybody wearing a sgian dubh, which is already exempt from anti-knife legislation because it is part of Scotland?s national dress.

The First Minister conceded that all the new measures might not be in force for a couple of years because of the need to have a public consultation, then put the policies through parliament.

Mr McConnell said police would use existing powers such as stop-and-search to tackle knife crime.

He added: "We believe the police should have the power of arrest on suspicion of carrying a knife or offensive weapon.

"We need to shift the balance of power here in the law in favour of those victims who far too often - particularly in Glasgow city centre but in a number of other parts of Scotland too - find themselves in hospital on Friday or Saturday night as a result of what appears to be the casual incident of a passer-by."  
30785  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans on: November 28, 2004, 10:23:50 AM
Marines Train a Secret Weapon on Babil Province

By Bruce Wallace, Times Staff Writer

JABELLA, Iraq ? The Cobra attack helicopters thumping overhead disrupt the predawn stillness of this rural town, agitating the roosters and the dogs. Through the cacophony and a cold rain, troops wearing the signature uniforms of the U.S. Marine Corps' Force Reconnaissance platoon race down potholed streets, balaclavas hiding their faces.

The tan masks not only make the raiders appear menacing. They also disguise the fact that the men behind them are not Americans, but Iraqis.
This is the embryonic Iraqi SWAT team in action, rousing families from their sleep and rounding up men for questioning about the deadly insurgency in towns such as Jabella, south of Baghdad.

The policemen leave behind their calling card: a postcard-size photo of the SWAT team in full gear carrying the message, "Are You a Criminal or Terrorist? You Will Face Punishment."

The flashy raid is aimed at creating a daring image for the 125-man SWAT team, an attempt by their American military patrons to turn them into an Iraqi version of the Untouchables. Marine commanders have also thrown the SWAT team into action in raids across northern Babil province, a push to flush insurgents and criminals out of their strongholds.

Most of the Iraqis in the SWAT team come from the town of Hillah in Babil, and have lived and trained with Marines at a base near home since August. The close partnership with the Marines is an experiment in inoculating Iraqi troops against the violence and intimidation that make joining the security forces so perilous.

SWAT team members argue that their readiness to lead raids is a rebuttal to those who say Iraqis are not prepared to fight for control of their country.

"We are like a family, and we don't care if one of us dies, his brother will rise to avenge him," said Col. Salaam Turrad Abdul Khadim, a former Iraqi special forces officer who recruited his team from the ranks of other unemployed soldiers in Hillah.

"Every time we go on a mission against the terrorists, we are the ones who start the fight," he said. "We prove our courage."

Braving bomb-rigged roads in unarmored pickup trucks, the Iraqis have conducted 30 joint missions with the Marines since August. They frequently go in first and, since hooking up with the Americans, have not lost a colleague in action.

"Before that, we had lots of dead," Khadim said. "Maybe 10."

U.S. commanders say they are pleased with the Iraqis.

"They fought with us, they bled with us, and they'll stick to my side just as my men do," said Col. Ron Johnson, who commands the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which is working with the SWAT team.

The Iraqis were training in Hillah with private-sector security firms when the Marines arrived and Johnson invited them to move in with the Force Reconnaissance platoon, the Marine version of the special operations forces. His goal was to avoid the bevy of desertions and defections to the insurgency.

The Iraqis and Americans would eat together and shower in the same facilities, Johnson ordered. He gave the Iraqis American uniforms. He told the Marines to grow mustaches.

Living on the base would not only guard against the Iraqis being kidnapped or killed on the way to and from training, he argued. It would guard against the endemic problem of mission plans being leaked to insurgents.

"You can't say to an Iraqi force, 'OK, we'll meet you at such and such a place at 10 o'clock for the mission' and then just hope they'll show up," Johnson said.

Johnson did have to override early suspicions among some Marines that they were being asked to baby-sit the Iraqis. The members of the elite force arrived with big ambitions for action and found themselves wondering if their partners would cramp their style.

But the integrated approach has led to a bond between the Americans and Iraqis, both sides say, the cultural differences submerged under the daily demands of living and fighting side by side.

"We live together, we eat together, and it has made us close," said Capt. Tad Douglas, 28, who commands the platoon. "We care about each other. There was a day when one of the Iraqis went down in a mortar attack, and one of my guys went out right away to pick him up and carry him to safety."

Another 125 Iraqis are due to join the SWAT force from police training camps in Jordan this weekend, and the Iraqi government plans to see 500 in uniform.

With their exit from Iraq dependent on having Iraqi forces to replace them, U.S. commanders are pressing the SWAT team into the fight against insurgents. They want it to earn some cachet with the local population.

"We need to create some Iraqi heroes," Douglas said. "We need guys who have an elan to them."

But the joint operations also benefit the Marines. The Iraqis give the Americans a footbridge across a linguistic and cultural divide that is a major obstacle to acquiring intelligence. In addition, the Iraqis are able to carry out raids on mosques and other sensitive sites that U.S. forces are reluctant to breach.

Their presence also has surprised some of those whose homes they raided, who are shocked to hear Arabic commands coming from under the hoods of men they assumed were Americans. This fall, a rumor went around Hillah that the U.S. had brought in Israeli soldiers ? many of whom speak Arabic. Khadim laughs at the memory.

Yet perceptions are important. The worry is that Sunni Muslims may come to see the SWAT team as a Shiite weapon. Shiites make up 94% of the Hillah force, while most of the insurgents in the area are Sunnis.

"I don't work that way," Khadim said. He pointed to the casualties his men took during clashes in August with firebrand Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr's Al Mahdi militia.

"When the war started with the Mahdi army, we killed 42 of their fighters in Hillah in one day ? all of them Shiite," the colonel said softly. "When people look at me, they don't see a Shiite. Everybody sees an Iraqi."
30786  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Alexander the Great movie on: November 28, 2004, 10:11:42 AM
Woof All:

Anybody seen this yet?

The reviews seem to be pretty negative (except for the fight scenes) but then the reviews did not like "Troy" and my wife and I did.

Following is Joe Morgenstern's (who normally calls them as I see 'em) review from the WSJ:

Crafty Dog

'Alexander' Grates: Stone
Delivers a Grecian Formula
That Can't Conquer Boredom

Epic Digital Battles Are Gripping,
But History Lesson Drags On;
An Inviting 'Long Engagement'
November 26, 2004; Page W1
Oliver Stone's "Alexander" is a tale of two battles -- one of them fought by Alexander the Great against the rest of the world, the other by the filmmaker against himself in an elephantine production that's constantly torn between extravagant action (elephants figure heavily in the climax) and extended history lessons. History defeats Mr. Stone. His instinct for showmanship has been throttled by his penchant for pedantry, and that comes as a real surprise. For almost two decades Mr. Stone's films have been many things, sometimes simultaneously -- smart, sharp, crazed, bizarre, ludicrous, pretentious, insightful, irresponsible, powerful, over the top, around the bend. Never, until now, have they been emotionally inert or quite so flat of foot.

Colin Farrell plays Alexander (who died at the age of 32) as the world's most powerful brat. Blond-wigged, Irish-brogued and a chronic brooder, this Oedipally unsettled victim of bad parenting loves a man (his boyhood friend Hephaistion, played as an adult with eyeliner by Jared Leto), though eventually he takes a beautiful Asian woman, Roxane (Rosario Dawson), for his queen. (And really takes her, in a shockingly graphic replay of the rape that he witnessed, as a little boy, when Angelina Jolie's mommy dearest was taken by Val Kilmer's drunken dad.)

Then Alexander becomes the world's most powerful bore, thus betraying the promise of the movie's preface. In that long, turgid, pseudo-scholarly equivalent of an infomercial, the narrator, an aged Ptolemy, played by Anthony Hopkins in a flowing robe, recalls the Macedonian king, 40 years after his death, as a colossus, a force of nature, a man who built an empire of the mind, and a leader in whose presence, "by the light of Apollo, we were better than ourselves." Well, by the sweet breath of Dionysus, we are worse than ourselves after suffering through the silly speechifying that defeats drama in this colossal mess.

Several outsize battle sequences provide sporadic relief from the prevailing torpor, even if the hackings and whackings are staged no more imaginatively than those in the sword-and-sandal epics of the 1960s. (These days, the standard battle formation consists of live extras to the front, digital replicants to the rear.) And Ms. Jolie's Olympias is a hoot with her Transylvanian accent and an incandescent loathing of her husband, who is finally murdered, evidently at her behest. At one point Olympias, who has always wanted her son's hot body but settles for his tortured soul, asks Alexander: "What have I done to make you hate me so?"

Elliot Cowan and Colin Farrell in "Alexander."

Yet there's no zest to the general depravity, no coherence to the script or the spectacle -- clarity is missing in some of the camera work -- and, most important, no character to give a Greek fig about. With writing as shallow as this, everyone is an extra. I don't want to beat a dead horse, but you won't find a single moment in the movie to match the simple humanity -- or even the suspense -- of that scene near the beginning of "The Black Stallion" when the father tells his son the classic story, with charming embellishments, of young Alexander taming the wild horse Bucephalus. (Child and horse are also trotted in by Oliver Stone, but for a retelling distinguished only by lack of surprise.)

"Alexander" cost at least $160 million, a figure that will grow by many more tens of millions for global marketing. After I cited the staggering budgets of other recent follies, including the risibly ramshackle "Troy," several readers sent e-mails to say that since it wasn't my money, it was none of my business how studios or producers chose to spend it. I take the point. More than that, I put it in the context of a Weekend Journal piece last week in which my colleague John Lippman reported that "Troy," for all its failure to connect with a domestic audience, will turn a significant profit in the global market. But the movie medium is mine -- is ours -- to care about, and to worry about. With each new heedless squandering of our interest and trust, with each monster domestic dud that justifies its shoddiness through overseas success, the movies as we've known and loved them are closer to becoming ancient history.
30787  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Crimes using knives on: November 28, 2004, 10:03:51 AM
From yesterday's Left Angeles Times:

Parent's Worst Nightmare in China
 Wave of knife assaults on children can be seen as cries for help in a society where economic growth has created rising social tensions, analysts say.

By Ching-Ching Ni, Times Staff Writer

BEIJING ? When Ding Xiuzhen heard about the stabbings at the neighborhood high school, her legs went limp.

As many as nine people were killed and four were wounded Thursday when an intruder broke into the dormitory and attacked sleeping students, according to Chinese media reports.
"I was so scared I could barely make it down the stairs," said Ding, who lives near the No. 2 High School in Ruzhou in central China's Henan province. "I have a 14-year-old daughter. She is supposed to go there next year. Now there's no way I would let her go to that school. All the parents I know are terrified."

The attack was the latest in a wave of assaults on students this summer by knife-wielding assailants. The violence has prompted officials to call for the hiring of guards and tightening of campus security across China.

Analysts say the attacks demonstrate how crime has escalated in a country once viewed as virtually crime-free. More than two decades of economic growth have created rising social tensions but few institutions to address them.

The attacks on children, analysts say, can also be seen as cries for help.

"It's no longer just about personal revenge," said Zhao Xiao, a Beijing-based scholar who studies transitional economies. "They also want ? impact. That's why they are seeking out little children to make their point by attacking someone even weaker. This is potentially a very scary development."

In September, farmer Yang Guozhu woke up, shaved his head, bought some sunglasses and marched into a day-care center in the eastern Chinese city of Suzhou. He used a fruit knife to attack children. Twenty-eight were wounded; the oldest was 6 and the youngest 2.

According to Yang's account in Chinese media reports, he was forced to take drastic action because no one would pay attention to his family tragedy. Back in his village, Yang's younger brother and the brother's girlfriend had been charged with living together illegally. The village's family planning committee levied a fine on Yang's parents and confiscated their meager possessions: 17 sacks of grain and three bags of fertilizer.

A year later, the committee imposed a new fine, this time $1,200, an unobtainable sum for the peasants. Feeling helpless and humiliated, his parents committed suicide by drinking pesticide.

Yang and his siblings preserved their parents' bodies so they could seek justice. But local officials forcefully removed the corpses for cremation and beat relatives who tried to stop them.

After failed attempts to seek redress, Yang told a friend he would do something that everyone would hear about. For maximum impact, he picked Sept. 11, the three-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks in the United States. A week earlier, Yang watched militants shock the world by killing more than 300 people ? mostly young children ? at a school in Beslan, Russia.

Yang's target was a local elementary school. He apparently went prepared with gasoline and homemade explosives. But this year, Sept. 11 fell on a Saturday and the campus was empty. So he made his target the day-care center.

About a week later, another man, from eastern China's Shandong province, also took out his frustrations on schoolchildren.

Chinese media reported that bus driver Jia Qingyou tried to borrow some music recordings from a co-worker. When she refused and an argument ensued, the woman's boss sent someone to beat up Jia, who suffered injuries that required him to spend a week in the hospital.

According to one Chinese newspaper, Jia called the police but got no action. He too decided to do something no one would ignore. He slashed 25 primary school students with a kitchen knife.

On Wednesday, Jia was executed for his crime.

Little is known about the 52-year-old doorman who in August used a kitchen knife to kill one child and wound 18 people at a Beijing kindergarten. The man was reported to have a history of mental illness.

The motive behind Thursday's attack is under investigation. On Friday, police arrested a 21-year-old suspect after his mother reported that he had tried to commit suicide after the killings.

The New China News Agency reported that police said the suspect held grudges against the students at the school and during the attack allegedly kept saying, "Don't blame me."
30788  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We the Well-armed People on: November 27, 2004, 12:12:57 PM
In Oklahoma, a Ban
On Guns Pits State
Against Big Firms

Weyerhaeuser Fired Workers
Who Had Weapons in Cars,
And Legal Dispute Unfolds
November 26, 2004; Page A1

VALLIANT, Okla. -- In late summer of 2002, Steve Bastible put three bullets into a dying cow at his ranch, threw the emptied rifle behind the seat of his pickup and forgot about it.

A few weeks later, the rifle cost him his job of 23 years.

That Oct. 1, in a surprise search, Weyerhaeuser Co. sent gun-sniffing dogs into the parking lot of its paper mill here. Mr. Bastible and 11 other workers were fired after guns were found in their vehicles. The timber company said the weapons violated a new company policy that extended a longtime workplace gun ban to the parking area. The fired workers said they knew nothing of the new rule.

The firings outraged many in this wooded community in the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains. In rural Oklahoma, carrying a firearm in one's car is commonplace. "In Oklahoma, gun control is when you hit what you shoot at," says Jerry Ellis, a member of the state legislature.

Now, the dispute is reverberating beyond the borders of tiny Valliant, located in the southeast corner of the state. In response, the state legislature overwhelmingly passed a law giving Oklahomans the right to keep guns locked in their cars in parking lots. But just days before the law was to go into effect this month, several prominent companies with Oklahoma operations, including Whirlpool Corp. and ConocoPhillips sued to stop it. A federal judge put the law on hold pending a hearing.

Meanwhile, several of the paper-mill workers have filed wrongful-discharge lawsuits against Weyerhaeuser and its subcontractors, which employed the workers. "This is a heck of an injustice that needs to be fixed," says their Tulsa lawyer, Larry Johnson, 72 years old, who has spent a lifetime studying the second amendment.

On one side, companies are trying to keep guns away from the workplace, driven by real-life horror stories of disgruntled employees on the rampage, stalking the hallways and shooting down bosses and co-workers. On the other side are employees who argue that guns help keep law-abiding workers safer.

The debate transcends partisan politics. Nearly 90% of voters in the county are registered Democrats, and yet 66% of county voters cast ballots for George Bush for president, in part because they viewed him as more pro-gun.

The new law was sponsored by Mr. Ellis, a Democrat from McCurtain County. It passed unanimously in the Oklahoma Senate, and on a 92-4 vote in the House. "I just didn't think the state should be dictating weapons policy to property owners," says J. Mike Wilt, a Republican from Bartlesville who was among the four voting against the law.

Mr. Ellis, a former mill worker himself, counters: "These are good, hardworking, tax-paying, law-abiding citizens. I just wish these big companies could understand that these people are not a threat to anybody."

Guns are part of everyday life in McCurtain County, where many residents hunt and ranch, and houses are miles apart. In the local gun and pawn shop in the county seat of Idabel, worker David Brakebill spreads out a map on the counter and points to the green blotches representing vast expanses of tree-covered wilderness. "When you call the police," says Vicki Luna, an owner of the gun store, "they don't get there for 30 minutes -- if they can find your house."

The Weyerhaeuser paper mill has been the largest employer in town for more than 30 years, providing about 2,500 jobs in the area and contributing more than $55 million annually to the local economy in taxes, payroll and community donations, according to the company. The whole gun flap actually started with an apparent drug overdose at the plant. Plant manager Randy Nebel hired a security company to bring in four dogs to search for drugs and guns in the parking lot. The dogs didn't find any drugs but zeroed in on several vehicles containing firearms.

The company then ordered the workers to open the suspect cars so that they could be hand-searched. A dozen workers, four Weyerhaeuser employees and eight who worked for subcontractors, were suspended for having rifles, shotguns or handguns. A couple of days later, they were fired as part of Weyerhaeuser and its subcontractors' zero-tolerance policy for major safety violations, the companies say.

Jimmy "Red" Wyatt, a 45-year-old father of five who worked his way up from the factory floor to supervisor in his 22 years at the mill, says he often carried his rifle to scare off coyotes threatening the cattle he raises in his spare time. A shotgun also found was left over from bird hunting with his sons the day before.

Mr. Nebel says that firing Mr. Wyatt, a model worker, was difficult. But after clearing the parking lot of guns, "I believe the plant is safer," he said.

The plant manager said the new gun rule had been in place since January 2002 after reversing a previous policy that had allowed workers to leave their guns locked in their cars. The company says it told workers in writing and during "team meetings" of the new policy. "It was well known this would be dealt with severely," said Mr. Nebel. Mr. Wyatt and the other fired workers say they never were told of the changed rule.

Hearing of the case, the National Rifle Association referred the workers to Mr. Johnson, a longtime gun-rights advocate. Mr. Johnson contacted Mr. Ellis, and together they crafted what was to become the new law. In a recent brief supporting the law, Mr. Johnson sprinkled his legal arguments with historic quotes from poets and philosophers. "I even quoted Christ," he says, reciting a snippet from the Book of Luke in which Jesus admonishes his followers, "Let him who has no sword sell his mantle and buy one."

In fighting the law, Oklahoma companies are walking through a community-relations minefield in what is known as an NRA stronghold. The Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce normally supports the NRA. But it says it joined the lawsuit opposing the law because it believes companies should be able to exclude weapons from their premises.

"Things happen at work that make people mad: They don't get a raise," explains attorney David Strecker, who is representing the chamber. "If a gun is handy, someone might use it, and that's just something employers don't want to risk."

In a surprise move at a hearing on the law in U.S. Chief District Judge Sven Erik Holmes's Tulsa court Tuesday, Whirlpool withdrew from the case, leaving ConocoPhillips and Williams Cos. to lead the lawsuit. Mr. Johnson, who has joined Rep. Ellis in calling for a boycott of Whirlpool and the other companies involved in the lawsuit, said he believes Whirlpool succumbed to worries it might be punished by pro-gun rights consumers. "People are taking it very, very seriously," he said. "Look at how politicians have suffered when they get on the wrong side of this issue."

Whirlpool responds that it had only been seeking clarification on the law, and that it believes a recent brief by the Oklahoma attorney general gives them the green light to maintain their no-gun policy, resolving their concern. A spokesman for Attorney General Drew Edmonson, however, said he didn't agree with that interpretation. Neither did Steven Broussard, the Tulsa attorney for Conoco and Williams. "We feel that nothing has changed and it's very important for us to get a resolution of this," Mr. Broussard said.

The law remains on hold as the legal dispute unfolds in court.

Write to Susan Warren at
30789  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans on: November 27, 2004, 11:51:40 AM
There was a lot of media attention and "outrage" from the usual suspects directed towards the Marine in Fallujah who shot a wounded insurgent, yet so far there has been no mention of the following:


Here's the CENTCOM press release that has so far generated only yawns from the folks at NBC, CBS, the New York Times and the Washington Post:
FALLUJAH, Iraq ? Marines from the 1st Marine Division shot and killed an insurgent, who while faking dead, opened fire on the Marines that were conducting a security and clearing patrol through the streets here at approximately 3:45 p.m. on 21 November.

For more information, please contact Capt Bradley Gordon, public affairs officer, 1st Marine Division,
30790  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / DB Gathering posts on: November 27, 2004, 06:27:20 AM
Woof All:

Reposting Sicilain's post from nearby here so that we have only one thread of post Gathering commentary.

Crafty Dog


My deepest thanks to the Dog Brothers for a very successful gathering this Sunday. I'll definitely be back for the next one.

Thanks to those I fought:

Chris (knife-fight), Glenn (stick-fight) and the big guy wearing the Gracie Barra shirt (stick-fight)

It was also a great honor meeting Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny and Eric "Top Dog" Knaus.

Special thanks to Marc Scott for training me for this fight.

Also to my FMA trainers:

Sixto Carlos, Alvin Aguilar,Rom Macapagal Jr. and Ray Floro.
30791  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Woof! on: November 27, 2004, 06:22:45 AM
Woof Sicilian:

I'm merging this thread with another one near by.  I will paste your post there.

Please, no more posts on this thread folks.

Crafty Dog
30792  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / DB Gathering posts on: November 27, 2004, 06:19:24 AM
Woof Glenn:

Tail wags for the kind words.

Are you the one from the Magda Institute?

Crafty Dog
30793  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans on: November 26, 2004, 01:08:42 PM
Today's Left Angeles Times

Marines Offered Reenlistment Bonuses
Personnel with combat experience and training can get up to $30,000. The goal is for them to keep current jobs or shift to other vital posts.
By Tony Perry, Times Staff Writer

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. ? With the prospect of continued fighting in Iraq, the Marine Corps is offering bonuses of up to $30,000 ? in some cases tax-free ? to persuade enlisted personnel with combat experience and training to reenlist.

The plan is working, officials said. Less than two months into the fiscal year, Marine reenlistment rates in several key specialties are running 10% to 30% ahead of last year.
For example, officials are confident that by midyear, they will have reached their target for encouraging reenlistment among riflemen, the "grunts" who are key to the Marines' ability to mount offensives against insurgent strongholds such as Fallouja.

In most cases, young Marines are agreeing to stay in their current jobs for four years. In others, they are allowed to transfer into jobs considered equally vital: recruiters, embassy guards and boot camp drill instructors.

"No amount of money is too much to retain combat experience in the corps, rather than starting over," said Maj. Mark Menotti, assistant head of enlisted retention for the Marine Corps.

Giving bonuses to encourage Marines to reenlist is not new. But this year's bonus schedule marks the first time that "combat arms" specialties have received the largest bonuses. A year ago, the top bonus for a grunt was about $7,000.

Along with riflemen, machine gunners and mortar men, specialties also receiving sizable bonuses are those critical to success in Iraq ? including intelligence officers and Arabic linguists.

Lance Cpl. Matthew Jee, 21, of Borrego Springs, Calif., received a bonus of $19,000 to reenlist for four years. An assault man with expertise in firing the Javelin rocket, he planned to shift to the intelligence field.

"They need a grunt's view of what kind of intelligence you need when you're out there on the street," Jee said at Camp Pendleton, where he recently returned after seven months in Iraq.

Sgt. Joey W. McBroom, 30, of Lafayette, Tenn., a rifleman, said he had planned to reenlist even without the bonus, but the $28,039 "helped my wife to agree to my reenlisting."

In an e-mail from Iraq, McBroom said he planned to put 40% of the bonus in a mutual fund, 30% in an account for his children's college educations, 15% in savings and the remainder for "a nice wedding ring for the wife, finally."

Another rifleman, Cpl. Anthony Mazzola, 23, of Fort Worth, has more immediate plans for his $21,700. "I plan to take all of my money to Vegas and have a crazy weekend," he e-mailed from Iraq.

The Marine Corps has earmarked $52 million in bonuses for the fiscal year that started Oct. 1, up $1 million from the prior year.

Two-thirds of the bonus money will go for Marines reenlisting for a second hitch. One-third will go to enlistees signing up for a third or fourth tour. Officers ? except in particularly difficult-to-retain specialties such as aviation and law ? are not eligible.

The amount of the bonus is determined by a formula involving the length of reenlistment, how early the Marine makes the commitment and a multiplier determined by the commandant of the Marine Corps. Among other things, the multiplier involves a statistical analysis of how much money will be needed to ensure that enough Marines reenlist in a particular specialty.

Take, for example, a sergeant trained in tank warfare.

If the sergeant reenlists for four years, his bonus is determined by multiplying his monthly pay ? $1,817 ? by four. That figure then is multiplied by four, a rate set by Marine officials for his skill. The highest skill multiplier is five. For the sergeant, the bonus computes to $29,072. If he reenlists while in Iraq, his bonus, like his regular pay, is tax-exempt.

For grunts, the bonuses are also a sign of recognition.

Cpl. Steven Forrester, 22, a machine gunner from Centerville, Tenn., said he was "glad they finally realized our job is dangerous." He received $22,796.

Cpl. William Stoffers, 22, a machine gunner from Redding, said the size of the bonus for his specialty was a pleasant surprise:

"I think it's fitting to have this amount because we are put through more stressful things than a normal Marine," e-mailed Stoffers, who is in Iraq; his total was $21,000.

Among combat veterans, there is a sense that they are being paid for having learned things that cannot be taught at the school of infantry. Many are eager to pass that knowledge to others.

Cpl. William Jones, 22, of Tulsa, Okla., a rifleman, received a bonus of $19,000 and now wants to teach Navy corpsmen how to handle combat. "The more Marines we have who've been over there, the better off the corps is going to be," he said. "It's going to cost money, but it will save lives."

Sgt. Deverson Lochard, 23, from Lakeville, Mass., a machine gunner who received a bonus of $23,000, wants to become a drill instructor and, after he becomes a U.S. citizen, an officer.

Like Jones and Jee, Lochard, who was born in France, was in combat at Ramadi and is now back at Camp Pendleton.

"I want to teach junior Marines how to go into combat and come back alive."
30794  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Homeland Security on: November 26, 2004, 12:54:20 PM
From today's Left Angeles Times:

Ports Called 'Enormous Target'
 About 12,000 containers arrive daily in L.A. On average, 43 of them are inspected by hand under the 'layered' system of Homeland Security.

By Greg Krikorian, Times Staff Writer

Two miles out from the nation's busiest seaport, Petty Officer 1st Class Tom Ryan gives the order to board a giant container ship bound for Los Angeles.

The Sealand Intrepid, Singapore-registered and longer than three football fields, is carrying a load of general cargo. But its last stop was Panama, a hot spot for stowaways.

One by one in choppy seas, Ryan's four-man Coast Guard crew climbs a 20-foot rope ladder and a 20-foot gangway to board the vessel. Wearing bulletproof vests and armed with 9-millimeter pistols, two sea marshals comb the ship and two head for the bridge to secure the vessel.

On average, this scene is repeated six times a day, seven days a week at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which handle 45% of the nation's container cargo. Sea marshals board container vessels, oil tankers, cruise ships, even commuter boats as part of a nationwide Coast Guard program launched after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

For all the concern about safety at the nation's airports, counterterrorism officials and other experts say the nation's ports may now present an even greater threat. Since Sept. 11, they have received far less security funding than airports, yet they continue to process far more cargo ? more than 9.5 million containers a year.

During this fall's presidential campaign, Democrat Sen. John F. Kerry repeatedly warned about the safety of the nation's ports, telling voters that only 5% of all incoming cargo was inspected.

Homeland Security officials denied Kerry's charge. They said they screen 100% of containers as part of a new "layered" system of defense that begins overseas, where foreign shippers must provide full cargo and crew manifests 24 hours before loading any ship bound for the U.S.

But after these manifests are examined, mountains of shipping intelligence are sifted and ships are tracked as they cross oceans, only about 6% of the containers arriving at U.S. ports are classified as high risk and examined using X-ray machines, officials said. Locally, about 6% of the containers scanned by X-ray are further inspected by hand.

With about 12,000 containers a day arriving at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, this means officials scan about 720 containers and inspect roughly 43 by hand daily.

"Even though there were manifests, some of us got the sense we really didn't know what was coming and going," said Dale Watson, former FBI head of counterterrorism and now an executive at Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. "It was a huge problem."

Randy Parsons, the FBI's chief counterterrorism official in Los Angeles and six surrounding counties, echoed Watson's concern. "If you look at where we are today, there has been notable improvement in terms of security at the ports," he said. "But it is just such an enormous target in terms of the volume of cargo and the numbers of employees and the crews and the ships moving in from foreign lands."

Another veteran counterterrorism agent who spoke on the condition of anonymity was blunter. "If I was Al Qaeda and I was looking for a hit, that is exactly where I would look," the agent said.

In a 2002 war game that involved top federal policymakers, Booz Allen presented the following scenario:

A huge shipping container passes through security at the Port of Los Angeles before it falls off a truck and inspectors discover a hidden radiological bomb.

Word quickly arrives that the Port of Savannah has arrested three men on an FBI watch list. One of the men, linked to Al Qaeda, tells authorities he is among several teams of terrorists targeting U.S. ports.

Quickly, authorities shut down all the nation's ports and border crossings. Then another dirty bomb is discovered, this one near Minneapolis.

Gas prices skyrocket because fuel ships cannot unload. The Dow drops 500 points. After 12 days, U.S. ports reopen, but the total cost to the U.S. economy is $58 billion.

It may sound alarmist. But at a hearing in Washington early this year, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) called America's ports "the soft underbelly of our nation's security." Her biggest concern? Terrorists attacking a port with a dirty bomb.

Complex Challenges

In his Terminal Island office, Coast Guard Capt. Peter V. Neffenger is staring at an aerial photo of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, gateway for nearly half of the containerized goods that enter the U.S.

He is the man ultimately responsible for safeguarding the world's third-busiest port complex and authorized, under federal law, to shut down the harbor, if needed, to protect it.

No port complex poses more challenges than this one. There are plenty of entry points. There is easy access to the port by sea and land. And its terminals are clustered together.

Alone, the Long Beach or Los Angeles ports would be the largest in the U.S. Together, they handle more than 1 million cruise passengers and $200 billion in trade annually, including half the petroleum products used in the Western U.S.

"It could make you go batty when you talk about security here," said Neffenger, who has a degree from the Naval War College in national security and strategic studies.

"It's not impossible. But it is daunting."

Before Sept. 11, fewer than 2% of the Coast's Guard vessels and crews were assigned to port security in the U.S. When crews boarded ships, it was almost always to inspect their seaworthiness, not for national security. Today, Neffenger said, there is no greater priority.

Long before ships are allowed to unload cargo, Neffenger's crews of sea marshals weigh such factors as a vessel's home port, cargo, last stop and crew to select which ships will be boarded for inspections.

The vast majority of incoming cargo is considered secure because huge corporations and international shippers have instituted their own safety checks and inspections.

The government estimates that about 40% of cargo heading for the U.S. is shipped by about 7,000 businesses worldwide that are cooperating with U.S. authorities to improve defenses against terrorists.

That leaves Homeland Security officials concentrating on the pieces of the supply chain that would be easiest for extremists to exploit.

Out at sea, Petty Officer 1st Class Ryan's crew boards ship after ship. "We don't have high-interest vessels come in every day, but we will board ships every day," said Ryan, 34.

A sturdy ex-Marine who served in Desert Storm, Ryan joined the Coast Guard seven years ago. After the Sept. 11 attacks, everything changed.

"On Sept. 10, we were running search and rescue missions," he said. "On Sept. 11, we started security patrols. It's amazing how fast everyone could change jobs and change directions."

High-Risk Cargo

On land, at just one terminal in the Port of Long Beach, 132 containers are lined up in rows like giant pieces of luggage, waiting to be scanned.

This is the high-risk cargo identified by officials from the Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection agency.

Their search begins 24 hours before any U.S.-bound ships are loaded in foreign ports, when Customs and Border Protection agents receive electronic copies of each ship's cargo manifest.

The information is sent to the department's National Targeting Center in northern Virginia, established after the Sept. 11 attacks. There, experts in customs, immigration and agriculture compare the manifests against terrorism intelligence, law enforcement files and data on commercial shipments to the U.S. during the last 20 years.

"The risk assessment begins with every container, the crew, the vessel, the carrier," said Vera Adams, port director for the Customs and Border Protection agency. "The myth is that there is greater value in [inspecting] greater numbers of containers. But why would we waste time and resources looking at things if we have determined they are low risk" for terrorism?

The information collected by the National Targeting Center is transmitted to Homeland Security officers so they can, if warranted, inspect the contents of containers bound for the U.S.

En route, authorities said, ships are monitored by Homeland Security so they can be intercepted by the U.S. Coast Guard far from land, if anomalies have been detected in the crew, cargo or itinerary.

When ships arrive, the high-risk containers are sent for screening before they are allowed to leave the ports.

At the Long Beach terminal, inspectors move their truck, containing a giant X-ray machine, alongside each of the 132 containers and bombard it with gamma rays, looking for anything unusual. The dark image of a dense material like steel, for example, would raise concern if the container were supposed to be carrying carpets.

If agents cannot tell what exactly is inside a container, it is driven to a Homeland Security warehouse and opened.

"When in doubt, when we can't figure it out, we send it to the warehouse," Adams said.

At one warehouse in Carson, inspectors scour the contents of each container flagged during scanning. Using dogs that can detect explosives, drugs and other contraband, inspectors comb through vast scatterings of goods, some of which are taken in crates to another X-ray machine.

"The advantage we have here is time," said inspection supervisor Rolando Knight.

From Los Angeles to Washington, many analysts and officials view port security as a race against time. But leaders of the Department of Homeland Security say they are moving as fast as they can to protect the ports without bringing them to a standstill.

"People ask me, 'What keeps you up at night?' " Capt. Neffenger said. "Well, it isn't that something might happen here. After 23 years with the Coast Guard, I know you can't prevent everything. It's worrying that we didn't do enough to catch it. And that we weren't fully able to respond."

If you want other stories on this topic, search the Archives at
30795  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Help our troops/our cause: on: November 26, 2004, 12:36:21 PM
AAFES Gift Certificates
The Army and Air Force Exchange Services is where most servicemen and women do their shopping. You can purchase gift certificates for those in Iraq and those hospitalized.

Adopt a Platoon
Adopt a Platoon has several ongoing projects to ensure that every soldier overseas does not walk away from mail call empty-handed.

Any Soldier is a non-profit organization that helps people send care packages to members of the armed services in Iraq.

Appreciate Our Troops
Purchase a Support Our Troops mug and a free personalized mug will be given to a current or former service member.

Blue Star Mothers
The Blue Star Mothers was founded by service members' moms during World War II. Any mother with a son or daughter in the military can join.

Books For Soldiers
Help the troops escape boredom by donating some books. You can also donate DVDs and CDs requested by soldiers.

Camp Doha
Camp Doha provides valuable information for those about to deploy, their friends and families and anyone who wants to support the troops.

Cell Phones for Soldiers
Donated cell phones are recycled and turned into cash. The cash is used to purchase calling cards for soldiers in Iraq.

Defend America
Thank any service member stationed throughout the U.S. and the world with an e-mail.

Fisher House
The Fisher House Foundation donates comfort homes, built on the grounds of major military and VA medical centers. These homes enable family members to be close to a loved one during hospitalization for an unexpected illness, disease, or injury.

Freedom Calls
The Freedom Calls Foundation is helping families videoconference with their loved ones in Iraq. You can donate money to help keep this project going.

Groceries for Families
The men and women who lay down their lives for us are terribly underpaid. Help a family by purchasing gift certificates to the commissary.

Homes for Our Troops
Homes for Our Troops assists injured veterans and their immediate families by building new or adapting existing homes with handicapped accessibility.

Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund
The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund provides grants to the families of servicemen and women who died in Iraq. You can donate online, through mail or by calling a toll-free number.

Military Moms
This site provides support to all of the moms out there who has a son or daughter in the military.

Operation Air Conditioner
Operation Air Conditioner provides not only air conditioners but space heaters (the desert is cold in the winter) for soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Operation Call Home
Operation Call Home's mission is to provide each platoon with their own satellite phone.

Operation Dear Abby
The U.S. Navy and Dear Abby have teamed up. Their site allows you to send e-mail messages of support to service members.

Operation Give
Operation Give provides toys, clothing and school supplies primarily to the children of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Operation Hero Miles
You can donate your unused frequent flier miles to help soldiers travel on emergency leave. They are also used to help families fly to hospitalized soldiers.

Operation Iraqi Children
Many soldiers are rebuilding schools in Iraq and scrounging around for school supplies. Help by donating a school supplies kit.

Operation Military Pride
Operation Military Pride is a volunteer organization that sends cards letters and care packages to troops.

Operation Uplink
Donate money to Operation Uplink. The money is used to purchase phone cards so servicemen and women can call home.

Soldiers' Angels
Become some soldier's angel by adopting a service member.

Treats for Troops
Treats for Troops helps get you provide packages to your loved ones overseas. If you don't know anyone, the Foster-A-Soldier Program matches you with a registered soldier by branch of service, home state, gender, or birthday - or you can choose to sponsor a group of soldiers.

USO Cares
You can sponsor care packages provided by the USO with a $25 donation.

Voice from Home
Voices From Home allows military members and their families and friends to send and receive immediate voice e-mail messages in remote locations around the world.
30796  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Help our troops/our cause: on: November 26, 2004, 12:36:05 PM
AAFES Gift Certificates
The Army and Air Force Exchange Services is where most servicemen and women do their shopping. You can purchase gift certificates for those in Iraq and those hospitalized.

Adopt a Platoon
Adopt a Platoon has several ongoing projects to ensure that every soldier overseas does not walk away from mail call empty-handed.

Any Soldier is a non-profit organization that helps people send care packages to members of the armed services in Iraq.

Appreciate Our Troops
Purchase a Support Our Troops mug and a free personalized mug will be given to a current or former service member.

Blue Star Mothers
The Blue Star Mothers was founded by service members' moms during World War II. Any mother with a son or daughter in the military can join.

Books For Soldiers
Help the troops escape boredom by donating some books. You can also donate DVDs and CDs requested by soldiers.

Camp Doha
Camp Doha provides valuable information for those about to deploy, their friends and families and anyone who wants to support the troops.

Cell Phones for Soldiers
Donated cell phones are recycled and turned into cash. The cash is used to purchase calling cards for soldiers in Iraq.

Defend America
Thank any service member stationed throughout the U.S. and the world with an e-mail.

Fisher House
The Fisher House Foundation donates comfort homes, built on the grounds of major military and VA medical centers. These homes enable family members to be close to a loved one during hospitalization for an unexpected illness, disease, or injury.

Freedom Calls
The Freedom Calls Foundation is helping families videoconference with their loved ones in Iraq. You can donate money to help keep this project going.

Groceries for Families
The men and women who lay down their lives for us are terribly underpaid. Help a family by purchasing gift certificates to the commissary.

Homes for Our Troops
Homes for Our Troops assists injured veterans and their immediate families by building new or adapting existing homes with handicapped accessibility.

Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund
The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund provides grants to the families of servicemen and women who died in Iraq. You can donate online, through mail or by calling a toll-free number.

Military Moms
This site provides support to all of the moms out there who has a son or daughter in the military.

Operation Air Conditioner
Operation Air Conditioner provides not only air conditioners but space heaters (the desert is cold in the winter) for soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Operation Call Home
Operation Call Home's mission is to provide each platoon with their own satellite phone.

Operation Dear Abby
The U.S. Navy and Dear Abby have teamed up. Their site allows you to send e-mail messages of support to service members.

Operation Give
Operation Give provides toys, clothing and school supplies primarily to the children of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Operation Hero Miles
You can donate your unused frequent flier miles to help soldiers travel on emergency leave. They are also used to help families fly to hospitalized soldiers.

Operation Iraqi Children
Many soldiers are rebuilding schools in Iraq and scrounging around for school supplies. Help by donating a school supplies kit.

Operation Military Pride
Operation Military Pride is a volunteer organization that sends cards letters and care packages to troops.

Operation Uplink
Donate money to Operation Uplink. The money is used to purchase phone cards so servicemen and women can call home.

Soldiers' Angels
Become some soldier's angel by adopting a service member.

Treats for Troops
Treats for Troops helps get you provide packages to your loved ones overseas. If you don't know anyone, the Foster-A-Soldier Program matches you with a registered soldier by branch of service, home state, gender, or birthday - or you can choose to sponsor a group of soldiers.

USO Cares
You can sponsor care packages provided by the USO with a $25 donation.

Voice from Home
Voices From Home allows military members and their families and friends to send and receive immediate voice e-mail messages in remote locations around the world.
30797  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans on: November 25, 2004, 01:43:10 PM
Fallen Marines
November 25th, 2004

I want to share with you my most recent Air Force Reserve trip. I had decided to go back into the Air Force Reserves as a part time reservist and after 6 months of training, I have recently been promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and have been fully mission qualified as an Aircraft Commander of a KC-135R strato tanker aircraft.

On Friday of last week, my crew and I were tasked with a mission to provide air refueling support in order to tanker 6 F-16's over to Incirlik Air Base in Turkey.  We were then to tanker back to the states, 6 more F-16's that were due maintenance.  It started out as a fairly standard mission - one that I have done many times as an active duty Captain in my former jet - the KC10a extender.

We dragged the F-16's to Moron Air Base in Spain where we spent the night and then finished the first part of our mission the next day by successfully delivering them to Incirlik.  When I got on the ground in Turkey, I received a message to call the Tanker Airlift Control Center that my mission would change.  Instead of tankering the F-16's that were due maintenance, I was cut new orders to fly to Kuwait City and pick up 22 "HR's" and return them to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

It had been a while since I had heard of the term "HR" used, and as I pondered what the acronym could possibly stand for, when it dawned on me that it stood for human remains.  There were 22 fallen comrades who had just been killed in the most recent attacks in Fallujah and Baghdad, Iraq over the last week.

I immediately alerted the crew of the mission change and although they were exhausted due to an ocean crossing, the time change and minimum ground time in Spain for crew rest, we all agreed that it was more important to get these men back to their families as soon as possible.

We were scheduled to crew rest in Incirlik, Turkey for the evening and start the mission the next day.  Instead, we decided to extend/continue our day and fly to Kuwait in order to pick up our precious cargo.  While on the flight over to Kuwait, I knew that there were protocol procedures for accepting and caring for human remains, however, in my 13 years of active duty service, I never once had to refer to this regulation.  As I read the regulation on the flight over, I felt prepared and ready to do the mission.  My game plan was to pick up the HR's and turn around to fly to Mildenhal Air Base in England, spend the night, and then fly back the next day.  This was the quickest way to get them home, considering the maximum crew duty day that I could subject my crew to legally and physically.  I really pushed them to the limits but no one complained at all.

I thought that I was prepared for the acceptance of these men until we landed at Kuwait International.  I taxied the jet over to a staging area where the honor guard was waiting to load our soldiers.  I stopped the jet and the entire crew was required to stay on board.  We opened the cargo door, and according to procedure, I had the crew line up in the back of the aircraft in formation and stand at attention.  As the cargo loader brought up the first pallet of caskets, I ordered the crew to "Present Arms."  Normally, we would snap a salute at this command, however, when you are dealing with a fallen soldier, the salute is a slow 3 second pace to position.  As I stood there and finally saw the first four of twenty-two caskets draped with the American Flags, the reality had hit me.  As the Marine Corps honor guard delivered the first pallet on board, I then ordered the crew to "Order Arms" - where they rendered an equally slow 3 second return to the attention position.  I then commanded the crew to assume an at ease position and directed them to properly place the pallet.  The protocol requires that the caskets are to be loaded so when it comes time to exit the aircraft - they will go head first.  We did this same procedure for each and every pallet until we could not fit any more.

I felt a deep pit in my stomach when there were more caskets to be brought home and that they would have to wait for the next jet to come through.  I tried to do everything in my power to bring more home but I had no more space on board.  When we were finally loaded, with our precious cargo and fueled for the trip back to England, a Marine Corps Colonel from first battalion came on board our jet in order to talk to us.  I gathered the crew to listen to him and his words of wisdom.

He introduced himself and said that it is the motto of the Marines to leave no man behind and it makes their job easier knowing that there were men like us to help them complete this task.  He was very grateful for our help and the strings that we were pulling in order to get this mission done in the most expeditious manner possible.  He then said -" Major Zarnik - these are MY MARINES and I am giving them to you.  Please take great care of them as I know you will." I responded with telling him that they are my highest priority and that although this was one of the saddest days of my life, we are all up for the challenge and will go above and beyond to take care of your Marines - "Semper Fi Sir" A smile came on his face and he responded with a loud and thunderous, "Ooo Rah".  He then asked me to please pass along to the families that these men were extremely brave and had made the ultimate sacrifice for their country and that we appreciate and empathize with what they are going through at this time of their grievance.  With that, he departed the jet and we were on our way to England.

I had a lot of time to think about the men that I had the privilege to carry.  I had a chance to read the manifest on each and every one of them.  I read about their religious preferences, their marital status, the injuries that were their cause of death. All of them were under age 27 with most in the 18-24 range. Most of them had wives and children.  They had all been killed by an " IED" which I can only deduce as an [improvised] explosive devices.  Mostly fatal head injuries and injuries to the chest area.  I could not even imagine the bravery that they must have displayed and the agony suffered in this God Forsaken War.  My respect and admiration for these men and what they are doing to help others in a foreign land is beyond calculation.  I know that they are all with God now and in a better place.

The stop in Mildenhal was uneventful and then we pressed on to Dover where we would meet the receiving Marine Corps honor guard.  When we arrived, we applied the same procedures in reverse.  The head of each casket was to come out first.  This was a sign of respect rather than defeat.  As the honor guard carried each and every American flag covered casket off of the jet, they delivered them to awaiting families with military hearses.  I was extremely impressed with how diligent the Honor Guard had performed the seemingly endless task of delivering each of the caskets to the families without fail and with precision.  There was not a dry eye on our crew or in the crowd.  The Chaplain then said a prayer followed by a speech from Lt. Col. Klaus of the second Battalion.  In his speech, he also reiterated similar condolences to the families as the Colonel from First Battalion back in Kuwait.

I then went out to speak with the families as I felt it was my duty to help console them in this difficult time.  Although I would probably be one of the last military contacts that they would have for a while - the military tends to take care of it's own. I wanted to make sure that they did not feel abandoned and more than that appreciated for their ultimate sacrifice.  It was the most difficult thing that I have ever done in my life.  I listened to the stories of each and every one that I had come in contact with and they all displayed a sense of pride during an obviously difficult time.  The Marine Corps had obviously prepared their families well for this potential outcome.

So, why do I write this story to you all?  I just wanted to put a little personal attention to the numbers that you hear about and see in the media.  It is almost like we are desensitized by the "numbers" of our fallen comrades coming out of Iraq.  I heard one commentator say that "it is just a number".  Are you kidding me?  These are our American Soldiers not numbers!  It is truly a sad situation that I hope will end soon.  Please hug and embrace your loved ones a little closer and know that there are men out there that are defending you and trying to make this a better world.  Please pray for their families and when you hear the latest statistic's and numbers of our soldiers killed in combat, please remember this story.  It is the only way that I know to more personalize these figures and have them truly mean something to us all.

Thanks for all of your support for me and my family as I take on this new role in completing my Air Force Career and supporting our country.  I greatly appreciate all of your comments, gestures and prayers.

May God Bless America, us all, and especially the United States Marine Corps.

Semper Fi

Maj. Zarnik, USAFR
30798  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans on: November 25, 2004, 10:38:24 AM
This from today's Left Angeles Times:

Guardsmen Say They're Facing Iraq Ill-Trained

Troops from California describe a prison-like, demoralized camp in New Mexico that's short on gear and setting them up for high casualties.
By Scott Gold, Times Staff Writer

DO?A ANA RANGE, N.M. ? Members of a California Army National Guard battalion preparing for deployment to Iraq said this week that they were under strict lockdown and being treated like prisoners rather than soldiers by Army commanders at the remote desert camp where they are training.

More troubling, a number of the soldiers said, is that the training they have received is so poor and equipment shortages so prevalent that they fear their casualty rate will be needlessly high when they arrive in Iraq early next year. "We are going to pay for this in blood," one soldier said.
They said they believed their treatment and training reflected an institutional bias against National Guard troops by commanders in the active-duty Army, an allegation that Army commanders denied.

The 680 soldiers of the 1st Battalion of the 184th Infantry Regiment were activated in August and are preparing for deployment at Do?a Ana, a former World War II prisoner-of-war camp 20 miles west of its large parent base, Ft. Bliss, Texas.

Members of the battalion, headquartered in Modesto, said in two dozen interviews that they were allowed no visitors or travel passes, had scant contact with their families and that morale was terrible.

"I feel like an inmate with a weapon," said Cpl. Jajuane Smith, 31, a six-year Guard veteran from Fresno who works for an armored transport company when not on active duty.

Several soldiers have fled Do?a Ana by vaulting over rolls of barbed wire that surround the small camp, the soldiers interviewed said. Others, they said, are contemplating going AWOL, at least temporarily, to reunite with their families for Thanksgiving.

Army commanders said the concerns were an inevitable result of the decision to shore up the strained military by turning "citizen soldiers" into fully integrated, front-line combat troops. About 40% of the troops in Iraq are either reservists or National Guard troops.

Lt. Col. Michael Hubbard of Ft. Bliss said the military must confine the soldiers largely to Do?a Ana to ensure that their training is complete before they are sent to Iraq.

"A lot of these individuals are used to doing this two days a month and then going home," Hubbard said. "Now the job is 24/7. And they experience culture shock."

But many of the soldiers interviewed said the problems they cited went much deeper than culture shock.

And military analysts agree that tensions between active-duty Army soldiers and National Guard troops have been exacerbated as the war in Iraq has required dangerous and long-term deployments of both.

The concerns of the Guard troops at Do?a Ana represent the latest in a series of incidents involving allegations that a two-tier system has shortchanged reservist and National Guard units compared with their active-duty counterparts.

In September, a National Guard battalion undergoing accelerated training at Ft. Dix, N.J., was confined to barracks for two weeks after 13 soldiers reportedly went AWOL to see family before shipping out for Iraq.

Last month, an Army National Guard platoon at Camp Shelby, Miss., refused its orders after voicing concerns about training conditions and poor leadership.

In the most highly publicized incident, in October, more than two dozen Army reservists in Iraq refused to drive a fuel convoy to a town north of Baghdad after arguing that the trucks they had been given were not armored for combat duty.

At Do?a Ana, soldiers have questioned their commanders about conditions at the camp, occasionally breaking the protocol of formation drills to do so. They said they had been told repeatedly that they could not be trusted because they were not active-duty soldiers ? though many of them are former active-duty soldiers.

"I'm a cop. I've got a career, a house, a family, a college degree," said one sergeant, who lives in Southern California and spoke, like most of the soldiers, on condition of anonymity.

"I came back to the National Guard specifically to go to Baghdad, because I believed in it, believed in the mission. But I have regretted every day of it. This is demoralizing, demeaning, degrading. And we're supposed to be ambassadors to another country? We're supposed to go to war like this?"

Pentagon and Army commanders rejected the allegation that National Guard or reserve troops were prepared for war differently than their active-duty counterparts.

"There is no difference," said Lt. Col. Chris Rodney, an Army spokesman in Washington. "We are, more than ever, one Army. Some have to come from a little farther back ? they have a little less training. But the goal is to get everybody the same."

The Guard troops at Do?a Ana were scheduled to train for six months before beginning a yearlong deployment. They recently learned, however, that the Army planned to send them overseas a month early ? in January, most likely ? as it speeds up troop movement to compensate for a shortage of full-time, active-duty troops.

Hubbard, the officer at Ft. Bliss, also said conditions at Do?a Ana were designed to mirror the harsh and often thankless assignments the soldiers would take on in Iraq. That was an initiative launched by Brig. Gen. Joseph Chavez, commander of the 29th Separate Infantry Brigade, which includes the 184th Regiment.

The program has resulted in everything from an alcohol ban to armed guards at the entrance to Do?a Ana, Hubbard said.

"We are preparing you and training you for what you're going to encounter over there," Hubbard said. "And they just have to get used to it."

Military analysts, however, questioned whether the soldiers' concerns could be attributed entirely to the military's attempt to mirror conditions in Iraq. For example, the soldiers say that an ammunition shortage has meant that they have often conducted operations firing blanks.

"The Bush administration had over a year of planning before going to war in Iraq," said Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University law professor who has acted as a defense lawyer in military courts. "An ammunition shortage is not an exercise in tough love."

Turley said that in every military since Alexander the Great's, there have been "gripes from grunts" but that "the complaints raised by these National Guardsmen raise some significant and troubling concerns."

The Guard troops in New Mexico said they wanted more sophisticated training and better equipment. They said they had been told, for example, that the vehicles they would drive in Iraq would not be armored, a common complaint among their counterparts already serving overseas.

They also said the bulk of their training had been basic, such as first aid and rifle work, and not "theater-specific" to Iraq. They are supposed to be able to use night-vision goggles, for instance, because many patrols in Iraq take place in darkness. But one group of 200 soldiers trained for just an hour with 30 pairs of goggles, which they had to pass around quickly, soldiers said.

The soldiers said they had received little or no training for operations that they expected to undertake in Iraq, from convoy protection to guarding against insurgents' roadside bombs. One said he has put together a diary of what he called "wasted days" of training. It lists 95 days, he said, during which the soldiers learned nothing that would prepare them for Iraq.

Hubbard had said he would make two field commanders available on Tuesday to answer specific questions from the Los Angeles Times about the training, but that did not happen.

The fact that the National Guardsmen have undergone largely basic training suggests that Army commanders do not trust their skills as soldiers, said David Segal, director of the Center for Research on Military Organization at the University of Maryland. That tension underscores a divide that has long existed between "citizen soldiers" and their active-duty counterparts, he said.

"These soldiers should be getting theater-specific training," Segal said. "This should not be an area where they are getting on-the-job training. The military is just making a bad situation worse."

The soldiers at Do?a Ana emphasized their support for the war in Iraq. "In fact, a lot of us would rather go now rather than stay here," said one, a specialist and six-year National Guard veteran who works as a security guard in his civilian life in Southern California.

The soldiers also said they were risking courts-martial or other punishment by speaking publicly about their situation. But Staff Sgt. Lorenzo Dominguez, 45, one of the soldiers who allowed his identity to be revealed, said he feared that if nothing changed, men in his platoon would be killed in Iraq.

Dominguez is a father of two ? including a 13-month-old son named Reagan, after the former president ? and an employee of a mortgage bank in Alta Loma, Calif. A senior squad leader of his platoon, Dominguez said he had been in the National Guard for 20 years.

"Some of us are going to die there, and some of us are going to die unnecessarily because of the lack of training," he said. "So I don't care. Let them court-martial me. I want the American public to know what is going on. My men are guilty of one thing: volunteering to serve their country. And we are at the end of our rope."
30799  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Espada y daga on: November 25, 2004, 08:27:06 AM
Indiana high school students injured in knife attack

VALPARAISO, Indiana (AP) -- A student carrying two hidden knives slashed five classmates Wednesday morning as they watched a Spanish class video, authorities said.

Eight Valparaiso High School students were taken to the hospital, including the accused attacker, a 15-year-old freshman, Police Chief Michael Brickner said. All but one of those injured were released by Wednesday afternoon, he said. Five suffered cuts and the others complained of pain from other injuries, authorities said.

Authorities did not release any information about a possible motive for the attack, which happened as classes were starting about 8 a.m. at the school some 20 miles southeast of Gary.

Students described a struggle in a hallway and said they saw blood on the floor.

"The kid, after he stabbed them, he ran out of the room and a bunch of
teachers tackled him," sophomore Clark Hogan said. "I saw the lady kick the knife down the hallway. She kicked it against the wall."

Brickner said one of the knives was a machete and the other was a serrated knife. The youth accused in the attack remained in custody.
School Superintendent Michael Benway said the school does not have metal detectors but that school staffers and volunteers monitor the two doors through which the school's 2,000 students enter the building.

Brickner said that when police officers arrived, school administrators were holding the student who was accused.  The boy is an A-B student who started in the Valparaiso school system this year, Brickner said.

The uninjured students were allowed to leave school about 31/2 hours after the attack. Until then, they said, they were kept locked in their

"The teachers wouldn't tell us what was going on," said Danielle Boer. "We were scared."

Jeni Bell, a spokeswoman for Porter hospital, said some students suffered severe cuts and one suffered a hip injury. But she said the injuries were not life-threatening.
30800  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Rants on: November 24, 2004, 02:50:45 PM

November 24, 2004 -- UKRAINE remains an indepen dent state. For now. But last week's shamelessly rigged presidential-election results were engineered by Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin's security services.
Exit polling, opinion polling, international election observers, Ukrainian local authorities and the people agree that opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko, a pro-Western Democrat, won. But the pro-Moscow government of Ukraine claims that the spectacularly corrupt incumbent Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych received the major ity of votes.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to Kiev's streets in protest. Even Yanukovych has been wary of declaring his own victory. Yet Putin immediately extended his congratulations to the nervous "victor."

The Kremlin poured massive funding into the election campaign. The pro-Russian mafia that has a bully's grip on the Kiev government stuffed ballot boxes, manipulated absentee ballots, extorted votes and then simply changed the numbers to give Moscow's man a 49 percent to 46 percent lead.

This is the biggest test for democracy on Europe's frontier since the fall of the Soviet Union. Russia always seemed fated for a hybrid government ? part elections, part strongman rule ? but Ukraine could go either way. Especially in the country's west and center, Ukrainians have struggled for freedom for centuries.

But Russia regards Ukraine as its inalienable possession, stolen away as the U.S.S.R. collapsed.

Fatefully, the ties were never severed between the successors of the KGB in Moscow and Kiev. Now the grandchildren of the Russian thugs who mercilessly put down Nestor Makhno's Ukrainian revolt against the Bolsheviks, who slaughtered Ukraine's prosperous peasantry and murdered Ukraine's intelligentsia are back at work.

This election may have been Ukraine's last chance.

The tale begins almost a millennium ago. Converted to Christianity, Kiev was the jewel of the north, a magnificent city of churches and piety; Moscow was a shantytown. Then the Mongols came, destroying "Kievan Rus." Muscovy slowly expanded to fill the vacuum left by the destruction of the great Slavic civilization of the Steppes.

For centuries, Ukraine's Cossacks resisted Polish and Russian attempts to rob them of freedom. But by the end of the 18th century, Russia finally broke the Cossacks, dragooning them into its own military forces.

Subjugated, Ukraine responded with a 19th-century cultural revival. The Bolsheviks put an end to that. The first and greatest victims of Lenin and Stalin were the people of Ukraine.

Finally, in 1991, after six centuries, Ukraine regained its independence. Putin intends to take it away again.

With its declining population and threatened Far-Eastern territories, Russia desperately wants the additional population and strategic position of Ukraine back within its own borders, beginning as a "voluntary" federation. An ethnic-Russian population in eastern Ukraine serves as a fifth column.

Disgracefully, the international community appears ready to give Putin a free hand in subverting the freedom of a sovereign, democratic state. President Bush values his relationship with Putin, although Putin hasn't hesitated to undermine Washington's policies.

While constructive cooperation makes sense, there are times when the United States must draw a line ? unless we intend to make a mockery of our support for freedom and democracy.

This is one of those times. President Bush should not let a bunch of gangsters in Kiev and the sons of the KGB in Moscow destroy the hopes of a major European state. Ukraine isn't Russia's to steal.

The people of Ukraine who went to the polls to elect Viktor Yushchenko as their president, who want to be democratic, Western and free, need to hear from the White House. So does Mr. Putin.

If we allow Ukraine's freedom to be destroyed without so much as a murmur from our president, we will have betrayed the ideals we claim to support at home, in Iraq and around the world.

Ralph Peters worked as a Russia expert during his military career. (Colonel)
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