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30751  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: American Politics on: October 26, 2007, 03:40:25 PM
Uncle Jay explains the News:
30752  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: October 26, 2007, 03:36:39 PM
I did not know that Charles Krauthammer is VERY anti-gun. Here's what he wrote in an op-ed piece entitled "Disarm The Citizenry", in 1996:

Ultimately, a civilized society must disarm its citizenry if it is to have a modicum of domestic tranquility of the kind enjoyed by sister democracies such as Canada and Britain. Given the frontier history and individualist ideology of the United States, however, this will not come easily. It certainly cannot be done radically. It will probably take one, maybe two generations. It might be 50 years before the United States gets to where Britain is today. Passing a law like the assault weapons ban is a symbolic - purely symbolic - move in that direction. Its only real justification is not to reduce crime but to desensitize the public to the regulation of weapons in preparation for their ultimate confiscation.
30753  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Philippines on: October 26, 2007, 02:57:00 PM
Philippines: The Mall Bombing Controversy
The mayor of Makati City, the Philippines, called Oct. 25 for an independent investigation into the Oct. 19 explosion at the Glorietta 2 mall in Metro Manila. He cited conflicting reports from Philippine National Police (PNP) investigators and their superiors as to the cause of the blast, which left 11 people dead and more than 100 wounded.

Since the explosion, conflicting explanations of the blast have been reported in the media. The day after the bombing, police reported that investigators at the scene had found traces of RDX, a chemical component of the explosive C-4. Several days later, on Oct. 24, the chief of the PNP announced that the blast was caused by an accidental buildup of methane gas and diesel fumes in the mall's basement. That same day, a group of investigators hired by the mall's owners reported that conditions in the basement were inconsistent with an accidental explosion, citing a lack of evidence about the buildup of explosive gases. The timing of the explosion -- at lunch time when the mall was crowded with shoppers and diners -- is also suspicious.

One of the most compelling arguments that the explosion was not accidental is the continued involvement of investigators from the FBI and other U.S. agencies. When explosions such as this one occur, law enforcement agents attached to the U.S. Embassy typically assist the local police with the investigation. The resources available at the embassy in Manila include explosives field-test kits and experienced investigators and intelligence personnel from the FBI, CIA, State Department, Defense Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. The FBI also sent in a team from Washington, something it would not have done if it was certain of an accidental gas explosion.

Given these capabilities, U.S. investigators would have been able to determine within the first few days whether the explosion was accidental or intentional. Five days after the blast, a PNP spokesman described the FBI investigation at the scene as ongoing, suggesting investigators have found evidence of foul play.

The lack of a bomb crater at the scene has been cited by many as the primary reason to suspect that no bomb was used. A report released Oct. 24 by U.S. government investigators said the blast likely originated in the basement, and although it did not rule out the possibility of a bomb, it said all signs point to a gas explosion. Physical evidence at the crime scene suggests that a diesel tank was the most probable source of the blast. However, this evidence says nothing about whether the explosion was intentional or accidental.

On May 24, 2000, a small bomb exploded at the same mall, killing one person and wounding 14. Islamist militants were accused of the attack, though the incident was also explained as a business dispute or criminal act. There are several likely suspects in this latest incident; the Abu Sayyaf-linked Rajah Solaiman Movement claimed responsibility several days after the blast, though officials continue to examine that claim.

Philippine politics are very contentious, and there are a host of reasons why different elements of the government would disagree on the cause of the blast. Indecision on the part of the Philippine government about the blast is a typical example of the factional infighting that commonly occurs. Since the mall had previously been targeted by militants, security forces have an interest in not appearing incapable of implementing an effective security program.

The continued presence of U.S. investigators suggests there is more to this explosion than a simple accidental ignition of gases. The government disagreements about the incident are likely to continue, even if the police or the United States are able to provide a convincing report about the real cause.
30754  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / The Unorganzied Militia: Citizens defend themselves/others. on: October 26, 2007, 11:41:58 AM

Dallas police: Man in wheelchair disarms and kills invader

09:18 AM CDT on Friday, October 26, 2007

From WFAA-TV Staff Reports

We open this thread with a real humdinger:

3500 East Overton Road
Dallas police said a disabled man shot and killed a person who broke into his apartment early Friday morning.
Police said the man was able to get out of his wheelchair, struggle with the invader, take his gun away and shoot him.

The events at the Village Oaks Apartments in the 3500 block of East Overton Road were reported to police at 2:49 a.m.

The intruder was taken to Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas where he died.

The disabled man was not immediately identified by police, but he appeared to be in his mid-50s.
30755  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Crime and Punishment on: October 26, 2007, 08:59:40 AM
Innocent man shares his 20-year struggle behind bars

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Willie "Pete" Williams had no idea when he was pulled over by police that the criminal justice system was about to steal away half his life.

 Willie "Pete" Williams, 45, spent half of his life behind bars for a 1985 rape he did not commit.

Sitting in the flashing glow of Atlanta squad car lights along Georgia State Road 400, the 23-year-old part-time house painter didn't know police were looking for a rapist who had struck nearby three weeks earlier.
Police questioned -- and then arrested Williams, triggering a series of mistaken witness identifications that led to his unjust conviction for rape, kidnapping and aggravated sodomy.

It was 1985 and Williams was sentenced to serve 45 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. "I felt betrayed. ... I felt like these people had taken my life for something I didn't do. I felt like I was being treated unfairly. ... I felt very, very angry towards everybody," said Williams last week, a free man after nearly 22 years behind bars.

He said he spent many of those years stoking that anger by fighting guards and inmates, while his childhood friends were developing careers and raising families.

Earlier this year, after DNA science proved his innocence, the 45-year-old with a graying mustache stood again before a judge -- who this time exonerated Williams. Williams' troubling story provokes discomfort in a nation that prides itself on a justice system where the accused are innocent until proven guilty. So far, DNA evidence has directly exonerated 208 wrongly convicted people in the United States, according to the Innocence Project.It's unknown how many prisoners now locked up in American jails could be freed by new testing of DNA evidence.

A jury of Williams' peers convicted him in the April 5, 1985, rape, kidnapping and aggravated sodomy of a woman in Atlanta's Sandy Springs neighborhood.
The victim told police her attacker first approached her to ask if she could help him find someone named Paul. Then he produced a gun and forced her into her car, according to police. They then drove to a dead-end street where the assault occurred.

Because the science behind each person's unique DNA signature was new to police in 1985, the key evidence that sealed Williams' fate was the testimony of three eyewitnesses who mistakenly said they recognized him.
"Mistaken eyewitness identification has long been the single biggest factor in the conviction of innocents," said Barry Scheck, co-founder of the Innocence Project.

"That has got to be important to everybody, because if we can reform identification procedures, it will keep more innocent people out of jail and convict criminals who really commit the crimes."

A national nonprofit group, the Innocence Project has inspired creation of state and regional organizations including the Georgia Innocence Project, which exonerated Williams.
As a new prisoner Williams said he fought a painful struggle against the raw deal the world had dealt him. When board members denied him parole the first of three times Williams said, "they had to escort me to 'the hole' [solitary confinement]."
"I couldn't function out there around the other inmates," Williams said. "I was mad, I was bitter. I felt the whole world just gave me up."

It wasn't until 1997 -- more than a decade after he was locked away -- that Williams' own voice freed him from the grip of his anger. At Valdosta State Prison, a close friend named Charlie Brown helped him join a Christian choir -- leading him to accept Jesus.

"Singing was like being out here, in a sense. It freed me from all the things, from all the fights, from the officers who were cruel, prison, stabbings," said Williams, who especially embraced the hymn "Amazing Grace."

After singing got a hold of Williams, he said the hardest part of his heart started to dissolve.
"I didn't feel angry anymore -- or any hate."

Witness ID
To prevent more tragedies like Williams', innocence projects in many states, including Georgia, have begun pressing lawmakers to adopt special witness ID procedures called sequential double-blind lineups. Such lineups are administrated by officials who don't know who the suspect is and present each member of a lineup one-by-one instead of simultaneously.

Witnesses who see several potential suspects simultaneously are more likely to choose a person who looks most like the perpetrator -- but who may not actually be the perpetrator, according to the Innocence Project. The group also cites research that says misidentification is reduced if the person overseeing the lineup is "blind" to which person in the lineup is the suspect.

Georgia's Legislature held hearings Monday in Atlanta to study the research and the proposed standards, which have been adopted by New Jersey and jurisdictions in Minnesota, California and elsewhere.
Louis M. Dekmar, vice chair of the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies is skeptical of the research, but said the issue deserves further study.

"I don't believe the research is so compelling that we need to make swings and changes that don't bode well for criminal investigations and the criminal justice process," said Dekmar, a 30-year law enforcement veteran and chief of police for LaGrange, Georgia.

Dekmar argues investigators should be allowed to administer lineups to gauge reaction while they look at witness faces, to see if a witness is "stressed, weeping, nervous -- all those reactions that help detectives formulate whether this is a strong identification or a weak identification."

Williams' Case
Williams was convicted on the identification of three witnesses who first singled him out from a photo lineup, according to the Georgia Innocence Project.

More than 20 years later, Georgia Innocence Project attorneys arranged to compare Williams' DNA with DNA evidence collected from the 1985 rape. It was not a match, proving that Williams was not the attacker and opening the door to his release.

Shortly after Williams' exoneration, DNA science again played a role in the case when a genetic match resulted in the conviction and imprisonment of Kenneth G. Wicker for the crime that Williams had been wrongly convicted of. Years earlier Wicker had served four years in prison for another rape and two attempted sexual assaults, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

As Scheck's Innocence Project marks its 15th year, the 1995 O.J. Simpson defense attorney describes it as a movement for criminal justice as well as human rights.
"I think that it's going to be remembered for getting innocents out of jail, but also for changing the paradigm in the criminal justice system," said Scheck.

"There is a greater understanding now that sound scientific and critical research can go a long way toward proving injustice and prosecuting the guilty."
Sometimes an Innocence Project client is confirmed to be guilty by DNA evidence, but the group doesn't make the number of those cases available. Theoretically, If key DNA material in a case is properly preserved, there's no time limit on revisiting old cases, according to the Innocence Project.

Critics accuse the group of denying closure to communities and victims' families by giving new life to old cases. To that, project spokesman Eric Ferrero said, "Victims are not served by the wrong people being convicted."

Perhaps the most important victory for the project has been its role in sparing the lives of 15 people condemned to death. In 2000, 13 condemned prisoners were exonerated by a group of Northwestern University students affiliated with the Innocence Project.
Some of the innocent prisoners were freed through DNA testing, others were exonerated after new trials were ordered by appellate courts.

Those spared lives prompted then-Illinois Gov. George Ryan to declare a state moratorium on all executions and later, a blanket clemency of all 167 death row prisoners.
The moratorium remains in effect while Illinois authorities consider proposed reforms to the system.

Back in Georgia, during the ten months since Williams' friends and family welcomed him home with hugs and kisses, he's been taking his time rejoining society, attending electronics classes and dealing with his top complaint: 21st century traffic.

Williams has found a home in a church congregation and plans to join its choir, holding on to the spiritual anchor he formed in prison.
Money is tight for Williams, and, according to the Innocence Project, only 45 percent of those exonerated by DNA evidence have been financially compensated. He expects some compensation from Georgia, although the state has no law guiding such cases.

Regaining his freedom has renewed Williams' belief in the power of prayer, but he said it has done little to repair his faith in the nation's justice system. He wonders how many other Americans are still suffering injustices like his own. "When I see someone on television when they say, 'this is a suspect,' I have a difficult time believing that that actually is a suspect," Williams said.
30756  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Remittance growth slowing on: October 26, 2007, 08:23:33 AM
Caveat lector-- its the NY Times:

EL RODEO, Mexico — For years, millions of Mexican migrants working in the United States have sent money back home to villages like this one, money that allows families to pay medical bills and school fees, build houses and buy clothes or, if they save enough, maybe start a tiny business.

But after years of strong increases, the amount of migrant money flowing to Mexico has stagnated. From 2000 to 2006, remittances grew to nearly $24 billion a year from $6.6 billion, (  shocked ) rising more than 20 percent some years. In 2007, the increase so far has been less than 2 percent.

Migrants and migration experts say a flagging American economy and an enforcement campaign against illegal workers in the United States have persuaded some migrants not to try to cross the border illegally to look for work. Others have decided to return to Mexico. And many of those who are staying in the United States are sending less money home.

In the rest of the world, remittances are rising, up as much as 10 percent a year, according to Donald F. Terry of the Inter-American Development Bank. Last year, migrant workers worldwide sent more than $300 billion to developing countries — almost twice the amount of foreign direct investment.

But in Mexico, families are feeling squeezed.

Estrella Rivera, a slight 27-year-old in this stone-paved village in Guanajuato state in central Mexico, was hoping to use the money her husband, Alonso, sent back from working illegally in Texas to build a small clothing shop at the edge of her garden.

But a month ago, Mr. Rivera returned home. His hours at a Dallas window-screen factory were cut and rumors spread that he would inevitably have to produce a valid Social Security number. Now, he works odd jobs or tends cornfields. Mrs. Rivera’s shop is indefinitely delayed, a pile of bricks stacked on the grass.

Like Mr. Rivera, some of the men who went to work in the United States illegally have returned discouraged. And less work means less money to send home — particularly from the southern United States and other areas where Mexican migrants are a more recent presence.

“One out of three people in these new states who was sending a year ago is not sending it home today,” Mr. Terry of the Inter-American Development Bank said. “There are some 500,000 families who aren’t receiving this year.”

Until last year, the American housing trades absorbed hundreds of thousands of migrants, and the hardships of the trip north seemed to pale beside the near certainty of finding work.

Now, the construction slump — along with a year-old crackdown on illegal immigration at the border and in the workplace, and mounting anti-immigrant sentiment in places — has made it even harder for Mexican migrants to reach the United States and land well-paying jobs.

Many experts say it is too early to know if the negligible increase in remittances will continue. Some argue it was to be expected: much of the initial spike in money transfers had resulted from better accounting. In addition, earlier waves of migrants are returning to the houses they built, or they have managed to legalize their status in the United States and bring their families, sending less money back.

But the events of the last year in the United States, political and economic, have also clouded the prospects of many illegal Mexican workers. New walls, new guards and new equipment at the border have dissuaded many from trying to cross and raised the cost for those who try to as much as $2,800. Workplace raids and stories of summary deportations stoke fears among Mexicans on both sides of the border.

Referring to tougher measures in the United States, Primitivo Rodríguez, a Mexican immigration expert, said: “Psychologically, they lead you to save money in case of an emergency. You send less, you save more.”

The shakier economy in many states means that migrants have moved from well-paying steady jobs to work as day laborers.

“In our interviews with families, they say that migrants are now working two or three days when before they worked four or five days,” said David Skerritt, a historian at Veracruzana University.

Rodolfo García Zamora , an immigration expert at the University of Zacatecas, said money transfers to Zacatecas state fell by about 25 percent this year.
Here in Guanajuato state, remittances have created a peculiar economy in villages tucked among rolling corn and sorghum fields. There are few jobs, yet many houses have stereo systems, washing machines and three-piece living room sets.

A Good Provider Is One Who Leaves
 Things are changing, though. Some of the men are back and need cash for seeds and fertilizer to plow long-neglected fields. At the microcredit association operated by a local nonprofit group, the Bajío Women’s Network, loans for agriculture, which barely existed last year, now account for 11 percent of all borrowing.

Women are finding it harder to save, said Evelyne Sinquin, the network coordinator. “The people who have come back can’t work, and the people in the United States are working fewer hours.”

Other than agriculture, the jobs here are in construction, building houses of absentee owners houses along the cobbled streets. Some are modest with a few brick rooms; others are ornate tributes to their absentee owners’ success: gold-painted balconies, the Virgin of Guadalupe etched in a window, Greek columns. Los Emigrantes carpentry shop in nearby La Cuevita sits on a traffic circle adorned with a monument showing several figures, one of them a migrant waving a fistful of dollars.

Not much else flourishes. Three months ago, Mónica Núñez closed her tortilla shop in the village of San Lucas. “Most people went to the United States and sales went down,” she said.

Her husband has been home from Houston for a year, but she has seven brothers and a sister in the United States who still send money. She is planning a new business, perhaps an Internet cafe so people can connect with relatives in the United States.

Less than an hour’s drive away, the city of Querétaro is prospering, turning out home appliances for the world market. But for most people in the villages, education ended after elementary school. An unskilled factory or construction job pays little more than $50 or $60 a week.

With those prospects, the next generation — some of them as young as 15 — seemed to have few doubts about heading to the United States.

Estrella Rivera’s brother Francisco left for the first time when he was 16. Now 21, he recently came home after a year and a half in Orlando, Fla., working in construction. He earned enough to add a floor to his parents’ house, but then he struggled.

“Either there was no work or they did not want to hire somebody without papers,” he said, perched on an old Ford pickup truck with Michigan tags beside his family’s sheep and cow pens.

But he expects to go back again. “To tell the truth, it really is worth the trouble,” he said, recounting a terrifying crossing getting lost in the Arizona desert.

Mrs. Rivera’s husband is not so sure. “It’s really tough to go back,” he said. “Now they lock you up. Before, they grabbed you and sent you back. The laws were never this tough.”

30757  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: October 26, 2007, 08:14:53 AM
Another Man From Hope
Who is Mike Huckabee?

Friday, October 26, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Republicans have won five of the last seven presidential elections by running candidates who broadly fit the Ronald Reagan model--fiscally conservative, and firmly but not harshly conservative on social issues. The wide-open race for the 2008 GOP nomination has generated two new approaches.

Rudy Giuliani, for example, isn't running away from his socially liberal views, although he has modified them. But he is campaigning as a staunch, even acerbic economic conservative. Should he win the nomination, conventional wisdom has it he may balance the ticket by picking former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee as a running mate.

Mr. Huckabee, on the other hand, is running hard right on social issues but liberal-populist on some economic issues. This may help explain why the affable, golden-tongued Baptist minister was the clear favorite at the pro-life Family Research Council's national forum last Saturday. And why Mr. Huckabee's praises have been sung by liberal columnists such as Gail Collins of the New York Times and Jonathan Alter of Newsweek.

Mr. Huckabee attributes his support to the fact he is a "hardworking, consistent conservative with some authenticity about those convictions." He is certainly qualified for national office, having served nearly 11 years as a chief executive. I have known and liked him for years; on the stump he often tells the story of how we first met outside his boarded-up office in the state Capitol, which had been sealed by Arkansas Democrats who refused to accept he had won an upset election for lieutenant governor in 1993. But I also know he is not the "consistent conservative" he now claims to be.
Nor am I alone. Betsy Hagan, Arkansas director of the conservative Eagle Forum and a key backer of his early runs for office, was once "his No. 1 fan." She was bitterly disappointed with his record. "He was pro-life and pro-gun, but otherwise a liberal," she says. "Just like Bill Clinton he will charm you, but don't be surprised if he takes a completely different turn in office."

Phyllis Schlafly, president of the national Eagle Forum, is even more blunt. "He destroyed the conservative movement in Arkansas, and left the Republican Party a shambles," she says. "Yet some of the same evangelicals who sold us on George W. Bush as a 'compassionate conservative' are now trying to sell us on Mike Huckabee."

The business community in Arkansas is split. Some praise Mr. Huckabee's efforts to raise taxes to repair roads and work with an overwhelmingly Democratic legislature. Free-market advocates are skeptical. "He has zero intellectual underpinnings in the conservative movement," says Blant Hurt, a former part owner of, and columnist for, Arkansas Business magazine. "He's hostile to free trade, hiked sales and grocery taxes, backed sales taxes on Internet purchases, and presided over state spending going up more than twice the inflation rate."

Mr. Huckabee told me yesterday he also cut some taxes, and has taken the Americans for Tax Reform no-tax pledge. Former GOP state Rep. Randy Minton is not impressed. In 1999, he was urged by the governor to back a gas-tax increase. "I'd taken a pledge against higher taxes, but he sniffed that my constituents didn't understand what we have to do in state government to make it work," Mr. Minton says. "His support for taxes split the Republican Party, and damaged our name brand." The Club for Growth notes that only a handful of the 33 current GOP state legislators back their former governor.

Governors who served with him praise Mr. Huckabee for his ability to work with others, but say he was clearly a moderate. "He fought my efforts to reform the National Governors Association and always took fiscal positions to my left," former Colorado Gov. Bill Owens, a supporter of Mitt Romney, told me.

Rick Scarborough, a pastor who heads Vision America, attended seminary with Mr. Huckabee and is a strong backer. But, he acknowledges, "Mike has always sought the validation of elites." When conservatives took over the Southern Baptist Convention after a bitter fight in the 1980s, Mr. Huckabee sided with the ruling moderates. Paul Pressler, a former Texas judge who led the conservative Southern Baptist revolt, told me, "I know of no conservative he appointed while he headed the Arkansas Baptist Convention."

Mr. Huckabee's reluctance to surround himself with conservatives was evident as governor, when he kept many agency heads appointed by Bill Clinton. Zac Wright, a spokesman for incoming Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe, was asked this year why 15 Huckabee agency heads had been retained. Most of them were "Clinton people," he replied, not "Huckabee people." Mr. Huckabee told me many of his agency heads had "apolitical" responsibilities.

Many Huckabee supporters have told me their man should be judged by what he's saying on the campaign trail today. Fair enough. Mr. Huckabee was the only GOP candidate to refuse to endorse President Bush's veto of the Democrats' bill to vastly expand the Schip health-care program. Only he and John McCain have endorsed the discredited cap-and-trade system to limit global-warming emissions that has proved a fiasco in Europe.
"It goes to the moral issue," he told an admiring group of environmentalists this month. Alan Greenspan blasts cap-and-trade in his new book as not feasible, noting that "jobs will be lost and real incomes of workers constrained." Mr. Huckabee defends his plan as an "innovative" way to attain complete energy independence from foreign oil by 2013.

During a visit to the Journal last spring, Mr. Huckabee joked that one of his biggest challenges is that "like Bill Clinton I hail from Hope, Arkansas, and not every Republican wants to take a chance like that again." But it's Mr. Huckabee who is creating the doubts. "He's just like Bill Clinton in that he practices management by news cycle," a former top Huckabee aide told me. "As with Clinton there was no long-term planning, just putting out fires on a daily basis. One thing I'll guarantee is that won't lead to competent conservative governance."

30758  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: October 26, 2007, 08:08:14 AM
Apocalypse No
The New Republic's editors seem to have mistaken Vietnam movies for real life.

Friday, October 26, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

"I love chicks that have been intimate with EDS's," he announced to his fellow soldiers sitting in the chow tent in Camp Falcon in Baghdad. "It really turns me on--melted skin, missing limbs, plastic noses." The soldiers laughed so hard they almost fell from their chairs. They enjoy running over dogs in Bradley Fighting Vehicles, luring them in and then crushing their bones as they whelp. When a soldier comes upon a mass grave, he picks up a human skull, places it merrily on his head, and marches around.

This is from the now-famous "Baghdad Diaries," in The New Republic, carrying the byline of soldier-writer Scott Thomas. They are an attempt to capture the tragedy and dehumanization of war, how it coarsens men in ways that you, safe in your bed, cannot fathom. They are a lost generation, battered by war, and struggling, with the real weapons of war's survivors--mordant wit, pitiless humor, the final surrender to nihilism--to survive in a world they never made. Do I overwrite? Do I sound like an idiot? I'm just trying to fit in.

To read the Thomas pieces was, simply, to doubt them. And to wonder if its editors had ever actually met a soldier on his way to or from Iraq, or talked to any human being involved in the modern military.

The diaries appear to be another case of journalistic fabulism. This week came word, via the published transcript of a telephone conversation between "Thomas," who is actually Scott Thomas Beauchamp, and his editors. It is actually painful to read. The editors almost plead with him to stand by his work, after months of critics' picking them factually apart. He won't do it. He doesn't want to talk to "the media." He's said enough.

Everyone in journalism thought first of Stephen Glass. I actually remember the day I read his New Republic piece on the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington in 1997, a profile of young Republicans as crude and ignorant pot-smoking alcoholics in search of an orgy. It, um, startled me. After years of observation, I was inclined toward the view that there's no such thing as a young Republican. More to the point, I'd been to the kind of convention Mr. Glass wrote about, and I thought it not remotely possible that the people he painted were real. I also thought: Man, this is way too convenient. The New Republic tends to think Republicans are hateful, and this reporter just happened to be welcomed into the private world of the most hateful Republicans in history.
On the Thomas stories, which I read not when they came out but when they began to come under scrutiny, I had a similar thought, or a variation of it. I thought: That's not Iraq, that's a Vietnam War movie. That's not life as it's being lived on the ground right now, that's life as an editor absorbed it through media. That's the dark world of Kubrick and Coppola and Oliver Stone, of the great Vietnam movies of the '70s and '80s.

If that's what you absorbed during the past 20 or 30 years, it just might make sense to you, it would actually seem believable, if a fellow in Iraq wrote for you about taunting scarred women, shooting dogs, and wearing skulls as helmets. This is the offhand brutality of war. You know. You saw it in a movie.

If you'd had a broader array of references, and were less preoccupied by the media that is the great occupying force in our own country, and you were the editor of the Thomas pieces, you might have said, "Whoa." Just whoa.

I'll jump here, or lurch I suppose, to something I am concerned about that I think I am observing accurately. It has to do with what sometimes seems to me to be the limited lives that have been or are being lived by the rising generation of American professionals in the arts, journalism, academia and business. They have had good lives, happy lives, but there is a sense with some of them that they didn't so much live it as view it. That they learned too much from media and not enough from life's difficulties. That they saw much of what they know in a film or play and picked up all the memes and themes.
In terms of personal difficulties, they seem to have had less real-life experience, or rather different experiences, than their rougher predecessors. They grew up affluent in a city or suburb, cosseted in material terms, and generally directed toward academic and material success. Their lives seem to have been not crowded or fearful, but relatively peaceful, at least until September 2001, which was very hard.

But this new leadership class, those roughly 35 to 40, grew up in a time when media dominated all. They studied, they entered a top-tier college, and then on to Washington or New York or Los Angeles. But their knowledge, their experience, is necessarily circumscribed. Too much is abstract to them, or symbolic. The education establishment did them few favors. They didn't have to read Dostoevsky, they had to read critiques and deconstruction of Dostoevsky.

I'm not sure it's always good to grow up surrounded by stability, immersed in affluence, and having had it drummed into you that you are entitled to be a member of the next leadership class. To have this background in the modern era is to come from a ghetto, the luckiest ghetto in the world, a golden ghetto beyond whose walls it can be hard to see. There's much to be said for suffering, for being on the outside or the bottom, for having to have fought yourself up and through. It can leave you grounded. It can give you real knowledge not only of the world and of other men but of yourself. In some ways it can leave you less cynical. (Not everything comes down to money.) And in some ways it leaves you just cynical enough.

Journalistically, I was lucky enough to work at CBS News when it was still shaped by the influence of the Murrow boys. They knew and taught that "everyone is entitled to his own opinions"--and they had them--"but not his own facts." And I miss the rough old boys and girls of the front page, who'd greet FDR with "Snappy suit, Mr. President," who'd bribe the guard to tell them what the prisoner said on the way to the chair, and who were not rich and important but performed an extremely important social function.
They found out who, what, where, when, why. And they would have looked at the half-baked, overcooked junior Hemingway of Scott Thomas Beauchamp and said, "That sounds like a buncha hooey."

Ms. Noonan is a contributing editor of The Wall Street Journal and author of "John Paul the Great: Remembering a Spiritual Father" (Penguin, 2005), which you can order from the OpinionJournal bookstore. Her column appears Fridays on

30759  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers: on: October 26, 2007, 08:07:30 AM

"It has ever been my hobby-horse to see rising in America an empire
of liberty, and a prospect of two or three hundred millions of
freemen, without one noble or one king among them. You say it
is impossible. If I should agree with you in this, I would still
say, let us try the experiment, and preserve our equality as long
as we can. A better system of education for the common people
might preserve them long from such artificial inequalities as are
prejudicial to society, by confounding the natural distinctions
of right and wrong, virtue and vice."

-- John Adams (letter to Count Sarsfield, 3 February 1786)

Reference: Our Sacred Honor, Bennett, 264.
30760  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: October 26, 2007, 07:52:14 AM
0056 GMT -- SYRIA -- Satellite photos taken Oct. 24 indicate that a Syrian site near the Euphrates River that is believed to have been the target of a September Israeli attack now shows no signs of what formerly appeared be a partially constructed nuclear reactor similar in design to a North Korean one, the International Herald Tribune reported Oct. 25. In August, satellite imagery of the site revealed a tall square building measuring about 150 feet on one side.

30761  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: October 26, 2007, 07:21:45 AM
I'm putting this piece here because I'm guessing the American homeland will be this man's target:

Geopolitical Diary: The Re-emergence of a Terrorism Artist

The United States dished out another round of sanctions against Iran on Thursday, making good on threats to single out the country's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist entity and targeting three of Iran's largest banks. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is neck-deep in separate security negotiations with both Washington and Tehran, bluntly accused the United States of worsening the situation by "running around like a madman with a razor blade."

As we have discussed extensively in recent days, the Iranians have a lot to ponder as they decide their next steps in dealing with the United States over Iraq. It does not appear that Tehran has yet made a decision on whether to move toward serious talks with Washington or hold out for a U.S. withdrawal with the Russians watching its back, but the stress is definitely taking its toll on the regime. Washington has picked up on this friction, and there are indications that it soon will extend a fresh offer of talks -- a negotiations carrot to complement the sanctions stick.

It was against this backdrop that we received a bit of intelligence on Thursday that made us bolt upright. Reports indicate that Imad Fayez Mugniyah has been training Shiite militants from Arab Persian Gulf states -- specifically, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain -- in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley for use in retaliatory attacks if the United States strikes Iran.

It has been some time since Mugniyah has popped up on the radar, so it is certainly worth revisiting what the man is capable of -- and, more important, how he fits into the contemporary geopolitical context.

Mugniyah's job title ranges from chief Hezbollah intelligence officer to head of special operations, but it does not matter what his business card says -- this guy is important. Simple improvised explosive devices and assassinations are not Mugniyah's game; he specializes in working behind the scenes in an egoless manner to plan the attacks that really hurt. Unlike Osama bin Laden, he ignores the limelight, and he eschews the day-to-day operations in much the same way Abu Musab al-Zarqawi did. Mugniyah is patient, good at understanding cultures and obsessed with security. His 30-year career has put him on a number of most-wanted lists, and his close association with Iranian intelligence is as cordial as it is impossible to track (except in retrospect).

While Mugniyah has a number of successful attacks under his belt, the most effective by far was the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut. In a day, Mugniyah achieved what 20 years of terrorist attacks could not: convincing the United States not only that the Middle East is dangerous but also that even a superpower can bleed badly enough that an ignoble retreat is the only policy option.

This singular attack unnerved Washington, causing it to end direct military involvement in Lebanon and ingraining a "cut-and-run" mentality in the White House. And this was under President Ronald Reagan, who is not exactly known for being gentle. The United States quickly developed a reputation for abandoning operations at (or even before) the first sign of casualties (e.g., Somalia, the Iranian hostage rescue and the first Gulf War), or limiting operations to those in which the chances of casualties are nil (e.g., Grenada, Panama, Haiti, the Libya bombing and the Kosovo air war). This risk-averse attitude persisted until al Qaeda's 9/11 attack.

Mugniyah is not simply a terrorist or a terrorist trainer; he treats terrorism almost as an art form, searching for a soft spot in a country's physical, cultural and emotional defenses. This makes him absolutely critical to Iranian military strategy.

Iran has to take U.S. threats of military action seriously, but it also has to do everything it can to make U.S. military planners seriously consider what would happen the day after Washington launched an attack. With Mugniyah back in the game, Iran appears to be hard at work creating that nightmare scenario.

30762  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East War on: October 25, 2007, 02:43:26 PM
AFGHANISTAN: Sources inform Stratfor that Taliban fighters in southwestern Afghanistan claim to have received AK-47 assault rifles from Iran and treatment for battlefield wounds in Iranian hospitals.

TURKEY: Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan will visit Iran on Oct. 27, IRNA reported. An unnamed Turkish Foreign Ministry official reportedly said Babacan will discuss the regional situation, particularly in Iraq, and conflict with the Kurdistan Workers' Party. The visit comes before foreign ministers of Iraq's neighboring countries are set to meet in Istanbul, the official added.

IRAQ, TURKEY: Oil continues to flow from Iraq to Turkey through a pipeline near Iraq's Kurdish region despite threats and sabotage attacks from Kurdish rebels and insurgents, Reuters reported, citing an oil shipper. Iraq has pumped nearly 400,000 barrels per day of oil to Turkey for the seventh consecutive day, the shipper said.

RUSSIA, IRAN: During Russian President Vladimir Putin's Oct. 16 visit to Tehran, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei asked him to order Russian experts to help Iran figure out how Israel jammed Syrian radars prior to the Sept. 6 air raid, a Stratfor source in Hezbollah said. Iran wants to rectify the problem associated with the failure of Syrian radars because Iran uses similar equipment , the source added.

30763  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Journal WSJ- BO and RG on: October 25, 2007, 12:08:29 PM
Sometimes schisms within a political party aren't exposed until a candidate steps right into them. This week, Barack Obama stepped into one.

Donnie McClurkin is a Grammy-Award winning gospel singer and preacher highly respected within the black community, especially in the South where religious conviction runs strong. It probably seemed like a great idea to the Obama campaign to invite Mr. McClurkin to sing this weekend at an event during Mr. Obama's "Embrace the Change" Tour, aimed at religious blacks in South Carolina.

Except gay activists consider Mr. McClurkin a bigot for claiming to have been "cured" of his homosexuality and for preaching that other homosexuals can be cured as well through the power of prayer. Obama aides were quick to respond to the rising outrage and held several conference calls with gay activists this week to try to ease tensions. Eventually Mr. Obama released his own statement saying he "strongly disagreed" with Mr. McClurkin's views, but so far the campaign hasn't pulled the singer off the tour.

The reason for the campaign's hesitancy might have something to do with poll numbers showing that blacks in South Carolina strongly disagree with homosexuality. As the Politico's Ben Smith reported, last month's Winthrop/ETV poll found that 74% view homosexuality as "unacceptable," with 62% calling it "strongly unacceptable." Indeed, this episode illustrates a vast chasm in the Democratic coalition between black voters, mainly in the South, and the party's activist wing. This no doubt explains why none of the other Democratic presidential candidates have said a word about the controversy, perhaps feeling it wiser to just avoid the schism altogether.

Ditching Mr. McClurkin would present a particularly serious problem in a state where Mr. Obama trails Hillary Clinton by 13 points in the latest RCP Average. Among South Carolina black voters, a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll last month found that Mr. Obama trails Ms. Clinton by 11 points (43% to 32%). The "Embrace the Change" Tour was launched precisely to close that gap.

But with the nation's largest gay-rights groups like Human Rights Campaign now demanding that the campaign yank Mr. McClurkin, bringing unwanted national attention with each press release, what was supposed to be a fun voter outreach effort has suddenly become a public-relations mess.

-- Blake Dvorak,

Quote of the Day

"The filthiest, grimiest, most unpleasant job that any human being can ever suffer to perform: run for political office.... Because political power in modern America means the power to take money from A and give it to B, bevies of wannabe Bs swarm to get a piece of you. It must be suffocating and morally disorienting constantly to be hounded by people begging you to assist them in their efforts to take what doesn't belong to them. Worse, to keep or win office, you must actually engage in such dirty behavior (or promise to do so once elected). You must determine which innocent people are the easiest marks for your grabbing hand -- which people are least likely to be aware that you're picking their pockets -- and then grab fistfuls of their wealth, all the while assuring them that you're their boon companion and great protector. In short, in this job you must soil your honor and sell your soul by behaving foolishly and by saying things that you know to be false" -- Donald Boudreaux, chairman of the economics department at George Mason University, writing in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

The John Gotti Primary

Political consultants for Rudy Giuliani's opponents have long been licking their chops for the day when the mayor's controversial past is thrust before voters. "In the end, he will be viewed as just too 'New York' and too strange for Middle America voters," one opposition researcher for a rival campaign told me. This campaign adviser also mentioned in passing that "even though it's unfair," many voters might be rattled by the revelation that Mr. Giuliani's father served time in prison for robbery and later worked as a collector for the mayor's mob-tied uncle.

But for every Giuliani blemish there may well be a competing story line. "Rudy Giuliani is being smeared with the dishonest blood of family members," wrote columnist Stanley Crouch of the New York Daily News in 2000, when the Giuliani family revelations first gained currency.

Now the New York Post reports that the Mafia clearly did not view Mr. Giuliani as anything other than a bitter enemy. Indeed, the paper cites FBI records that a gathering of mob bosses voted by only three to two not to kill him during his 1980s career as a federal prosecutor.

In documents released this week as part of an ongoing criminal trial, a long FBI memo reported: "On Sept. 17, 1987, sources advised that recent information disclosed that approximately a year ago all five NY LCN [La Cosa Nostra] families discussed the idea of killing USA [United States Attorney] Rudy Giuliani and John Gotti and Carmine Persico were in favor of the hit." The memo goes on to report that "the bosses of the Lucchese, Bonanno and Genovese families rejected the idea, despite strong efforts to convince them otherwise by Gotti and Persico."

Carmine Persico apparently didn't give up on his belief Mr. Giuliani should be whacked. In 2004, evidence surfaced that Joel "Joe Waverly" Cacace, a Persico "employee," had planned a failed assassination attempt on the prosecutor. Cacace is now serving a 20-year sentence on unrelated charges.

-- John Fund
30764  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: October 25, 2007, 10:36:46 AM
Some details exemplifying the preceding:

IRAN: Iran has commissioned Imad Mughniyye, Hezbollah official for foreign operations, to organize cells of Shiite operatives in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to operate against U.S. and pro-U.S. Arabs in the event of war against Iran, a Stratfor source in Lebanon said. Trainees from the Persian Gulf region reportedly have arrived in Lebanon and are conducting drills in the Bekaa Valley.

CZECH REPUBLIC, RUSSIA: The Czech Republic could allow Russia to inspect a site where the United States plans to construct a radar as part of a proposed missile shield in Europe, Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek said. Russian experts would not be allowed to maintain a permanent presence either during the radar's construction or after the base becomes operational, but they could be given specific dates for inspections, Topolanek said in an interview with Czech television.

U.S., IRAN: New U.S. sanctions aimed at punishing Iran for missile sales, nuclear activities and support of "terrorist organizations" will cut off Iranian entities from the U.S. financial system, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said. The sanctions target the Quds Force, Bank Melli and two other state-owned banks, and companies controlled by Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps. U.S. companies are prohibited from doing business with the designated groups, and any assets the groups have in the United States will be frozen.

CHINA: China denied reports that it had agreed to sell two squadrons of J-10 fighter planes to Iran. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman called the reports "irresponsible" and said no talks had taken place. Russia's RIA Novosti news agency reported the deal Oct. 24.

30765  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iran's foreign policy debate on: October 25, 2007, 08:39:27 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Iran's Intense Foreign Policy Debate

Iran is at a stage where friction in its policymaking is to be expected. Iran survives by having a very conservative foreign policy, but conservative does not mean quiet. During the past century all of Iran's meaningful regional rivals -- the Ottoman Empire, the British Empire, the Soviet Union, the Taliban and Iraq -- have collapsed. For the first time in centuries, Tehran has the opportunity to venture out of its redoubt in the Zagros Mountains and establish a buffer in Mesopotamia. Deciding the pace, tone and force to use in that task is the stuff of high policy, and Iran is understandably of many minds over which specific path to follow.

These debates are now coming to a boil within Iran. The confusion surrounding the surprise resignation of Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani, followed by false rumors of a resignation by Iran's foreign minister are all manifestations of an intense policy debate brewing in Tehran over the course Iran should take in pursuing its Iraq policy. The Iranians can either move toward a comprehensive agreement with the United States over Iraq that would come with security guarantees and involve a capitulation of sorts on its nuclear program; or it could choose to align with the Russians for some short-term, albeit shaky, security guarantees against a U.S. attack while it stays the course and tries to make things difficult enough in Iraq that the United States will change its mind and withdraw. In any case, the Iranians have clearly not made up their mind, and this debate is getting more intense by the day.

And the debate is not taking place in a vacuum. On Oct. 23 in Prague, Czech Republic, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates informed the Russians that the United States -- in order to reach an accommodation with the Russians over National Missile Defense (NMD) policy -- would not "activate" its planned Polish/Czech system until Iran's ballistic missile program was more clearly a threat. Russia feels that the system is the first step toward the United States nullifying the Russian nuclear deterrent. The United States insists it is about preparing for the day that Iran's missile program is ready for intercontinental prime time.

While subtle, Gates' offer is nonetheless a policy shift. Washington has moved from "we have to complete NMD because Iran is an immediate threat" to "we have to complete NMD, but we do not need to switch it on until Iran is close to having ICBMs." All Gates has really done is note that there is a little wiggle room in the construction schedule -- a move so subtle that Stratfor would brush off a single mention of it as unimportant. But Gates has persisted in offering and reoffering the deal, most recently in front of the Czechs. Place that repetition in the context of relations among the United States, Russia and Iran and it becomes of critical importance -- and the friction in Iran's inner circle is brought into sharp focus.

Russia is offering itself to Iran as a sort of informal security guarantor in order to gain influence with the Americans. The Iranians are seeking out Russian backing in order to gain influence with the Americans. Now the Americans are in essence telling the Russians that if they can keep Iran from developing intercontinental missiles, then the United States does not necessarily need to complete the NMD system that so concerns the Kremlin.

The Russian response came from Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who -- in the middle of an agonizingly long speech -- noted that Russia wanted "the joint work of Russian and American specialists to be more efficient." For those of you not fluent in Russian bureaucratese, that translates to, "Interesting. Let's talk details."

So we have the Russians and Americans groping toward some sort of talks on the NMD issue, something that by definition would involve the two powers actively putting limitations on Iranian weapons development. And we have a fierce debate in Tehran -- likely over how far it can trust the Russians, who are perfectly willing to sell Iran out if it means brokering a deal with the United States. To complete the picture all that is needed is a sudden change in the American-Iranian impasse over Iraq.

And that happened in an interview Gen. David Petraeus gave the British Broadcasting Corp.'s Baghdad bureau. Since testifying to the U.S. Congress in September, Petraeus has more or less spouted on about how evil the Iranians are for their anti-American efforts in Iraq. In the interview published on Wednesday he flatly called for a new round of talks with Iran on the topic of Iraqi security questions.

So the Russians and Iranians are baiting each other while the Americans are sounding out the Russians, and now the Iranians are entertaining an American offer to negotiate on Iraq. Where all this will develop is of course entirely up in the air. An American-Russian deal would isolate Iran just as easily as an American-Iranian deal would cut out Russia or a serious Russian-Iranian deal would hamstring Washington. But for the first time in several weeks there is a hint that Russia and Iran are not actually in lockstep and that there is room to maneuver on the American side. This could still all go straight to hell, but Washington is still in the game.
30766  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Robb: Security: Power to the People on: October 25, 2007, 06:58:06 AM
Security: Power To The People

The myth of American omnipotence fell in the Iraqi desert, laid low by an
agile new enemy. We have a chance now to rethink the systems that protected
us in the past. It's one we cannot miss.

By: John Robb

The next decade holds mind-bending promise for American business.
Globalization is prying open vast new markets. Technology is plowing ahead,
fueling--and transforming--entire industries, creating services we never
thought possible. Clever people worldwide are capitalizing every which way.
But because globalization and technology are morally neutral forces, they
can also drive change of a different sort. We saw this very clearly on
September 11 and are seeing it now in Iraq and in conflicts around the
world. In short, despite the aura of limitless possibility, our lives are
evolving in ways we can control only if we recognize the new landscape. It's
time to take an unblinking look.

We have entered the age of the faceless, agile enemy. From London to Madrid
and Nigeria to Russia, stateless terrorist groups have emerged to score blow
after blow against us. Driven by cultural fragmentation, schooled in the
most sophisticated technologies, and fueled by transnational crime, these
groups are forcing corporations and individuals to develop new ways of
defending themselves. The end result of this struggle will be a new, more
resilient approach to national security, one built not around the state but
around private citizens and companies. That new system will change how we
live and work--for the better, in many ways--but the road getting there may
seem long at times.

Open-Source Warfare

The conflict in Iraq has foreshadowed the future of global security in much
the same way that the Spanish Civil War prefigured World War II. Unlike
previous insurgencies, the one in Iraq is comprised of 75 to 100 small,
diverse, and autonomous groups of zealots, patriots, and criminals alike.
These groups, of course, have access to the same tools we do--from satellite
phones to engineering degrees--and use them every bit as well. But their
single most important asset is their organizational structure, an
open-source community network very similar to what we now see in the
software industry. It is an extremely innovative structure, sadly, and
results in decision-making cycles much shorter than those of the U.S.
military. Indeed, because the insurgents in Iraq lack a recognizable center
of gravity--a leadership structure or an ideology--they are nearly immune to
the application of conventional military force. Like Microsoft, the software
superpower, the United States hasn't found its match in a competitor similar
to itself, but rather in a loose, self-tuning network.
The second insight Iraq gives us is that the convergence of international
crime and terrorism will provide ample fuel and a global platform for these
new enemies. Al Qaeda's attack on Madrid, for example, was funded by the
sale of the drug Ecstasy. And Moisés Naím, in his new book, Illicit, details
how globalization has fostered the development of a huge criminal economy
that boasts a technologically leveraged global supply chain (like
Wal-Mart's) and can handle everything from human trafficking (Eastern
Europe) to illicit drugs (Asia and South America), pirated goods (Southeast
Asia), arms (Central Asia), and money laundering (everywhere). Naím puts the
value of that economy at between $2 trillion and $3 trillion a year. He says
it is expanding at seven times the rate of legitimate world trade.

This terrorist-criminal symbiosis becomes even more powerful when considered
next to the most disturbing sign coming out of Iraq: The terrorists have
developed the ability to fight nation-states strategically--without weapons
of mass destruction. This new method is called "systems disruption," a
simple way of attacking the critical networks (electricity, oil, gas, water,
communications, and transportation) that underpin modern life. Such
disruptions are designed to erode the target state's legitimacy, to drive it
to failure by keeping it from providing the services it must deliver in
order to command the allegiance of its citizens. Over the past two years,
attacks on the oil and electricity networks in Iraq have reduced and held
delivery of these critical services below prewar levels, with a disastrous
effect on the country, its people, and its economy.
The early examples of systems disruption in Iraq and elsewhere are ominous.
If these techniques are even lightly applied to the fragile electrical and
oil-gas systems in Russia, Saudi Arabia, or anywhere in the target-rich
West, we could see a rapid onset of economic and political chaos unmatched
since the advent of blitzkrieg. (India's January arrest of militants with
explosives in Hyderabad suggests that the country's high-tech industry could
be a new target.) It's even worse when we consider the asymmetry of the
economics involved: One small attack on an oil pipeline in southeast Iraq,
conducted for an estimated $2,000, cost the Iraqi government more than $500
million in lost oil revenues. That is a return on investment of 25,000,000%.

Now that the tipping point has been reached, the rise of global virtual
states--with their thriving criminal economies, innovative networks, and
hyperefficient war craft--will rapidly undermine public confidence in our
national-security systems. In fact, this process has already begun. We've
seen disruption of our oil supply in Iraq, Nigeria, Venezuela, and Colombia;
the market's fear of more contributes mightily to the current high prices.
But as those disruptions continue, the damage will spill over into the very
structure of our society. Our profligate Defense Department, reeling from
its inability to defend our borders on September 11 or to pacify even a
small country like Iraq, will increasingly be seen as obsolete. The myth of
the American superpower will be exposed as such.

Then, inevitably, there will be a series of attacks on U.S. soil. The first
casualty of these will be another institution, the ultrabureaucratic
Department of Homeland Security, which, despite its new extra-legal
surveillance powers, will prove unable to isolate and defuse the threats
against us. (Its one big idea for keeping the global insurgency at
bay--building a fence between Mexico and the United States, proposed in a
recent congressional immigration bill--will prove as effective as the
Maginot Line and the Great Wall of China.)

But the metaphorical targets of September 11 are largely behind us. The
strikes of the future will be strategic, pinpointing the systems we rely on,
and they will leave entire sections of the country without energy and
communications for protracted periods. But the frustration and economic pain
that result will have a curious side effect: They will spur development of
an entirely new, decentralized security system, one that devolves power and
responsibility to a mix of private companies, individuals, and local
governments. This structure is already visible in the legions of private
contractors in Iraq, as well as in New York's amazingly effective
counterterrorist intelligence unit. But as we look out to 2016, the
long-term implications are clearer.
  Like Microsoft, the United States hasn't found its match in a competitor
similar to itself, but rather in a loose, self-tuning network.

  [Continued in next post}


Security will become a function of where you live and whom you work for,
much as health care is allocated already. Wealthy individuals and
multinational corporations will be the first to bail out of our collective
system, opting instead to hire private military companies, such as
Blackwater and Triple Canopy, to protect their homes and facilities and
establish a protective perimeter around daily life. Parallel transportation
networks--evolving out of the time-share aircraft companies such as Warren
Buffett's NetJets--will cater to this group, leapfrogging its members from
one secure, well-appointed lily pad to the next. Members of the middle class
will follow, taking matters into their own hands by forming suburban
collectives to share the costs of security--as they do now with
education--and shore up delivery of critical services. These "armored
suburbs" will deploy and maintain backup generators and communications
links; they will be patrolled by civilian police auxiliaries that have
received corporate training and boast their own state-of-the-art
emergency-response systems. As for those without the means to build their
own defense, they will have to make do with the remains of the national
system. They will gravitate to America's cities, where they will be subject
to ubiquitous surveillance and marginal or nonexistent services. For the
poor, there will be no other refuge.

Until, that is, the next wave of adaptive innovation takes hold. For all of
these changes may prove to be exactly the kind of creative destruction we
need to move beyond the current, failed state of affairs. By 2016 and
beyond, real long-term solutions will emerge. Cities, most acutely affected
by the new disruptions, will move fastest to become self-reliant, drawing
from a wellspring of new ideas the market will put forward. These will range
from building-based solar systems from firms such as Energy Innovations to
privatized disaster and counterterrorist responses. We will also see the
emergence of packaged software that combines real-time information (the
status of first-responder units and facilities) with interactive content
(information from citizens) and rich sources of data (satellite maps).
Corporate communications monopolies will crumble as cities build their own
emergency wireless networks using simple products from companies such as


By 2016, we may see the trials of the previous decade as progress in
disguise. The grassroots security effort will do more than just insulate our
gas lines and high schools. It will also spur positive social change:
So-called green systems will quickly shed their tree-hugger status and be
seen as vital components of our economic and personal security. Even those
civilian police auxiliaries could turn out to be a good thing in the long
run: Their proliferation--and the technology they'll adopt--will lead to
major reductions in crime.
  All of these changes may prove to be exactly the kind of creative
destruction we need.
Some towns and cities will go even further. In an effort to bar the door
against expanding criminal networks, certain communities will move to
regulate, tax, and control everything from illegal immigration to illicit
drugs, despite federal pressure to do otherwise. A newly vigilant and
networked public will push for much greater levels of transparency in
government and corporate operations, using the Internet to expose, publish,
and patch potential security flaws. Over time, this new transparency, and
the wider participation it entails, will lead to radical improvements in
government and corporate efficiency.

On the national level, we'll see a withering of the security apparatus, but
quite possibly a flowering in other areas. Energy independence and the
obsolescence of conventional war with other countries will reduce tensions
between the United States and the rest of the world. The end of oil will
also force corrupt states, now propped up by energy income, to make the
reforms they need to be accepted internationally, improving life for their

Perhaps the most important global shift will be the rise of grassroots
action and cross-connected communities. Like the Internet, these new
networks will develop slowly at first. After a period of exponential growth,
however, they will quickly become all but ubiquitous--and astonishingly
powerful, perhaps as powerful as the networks arrayed against us. And so we
will all become security consultants, taking an active role in deciding how
it is bought, structured, and applied. That's a great responsibility and,
with luck, an enormous opportunity. Choose wisely.

John Robb was a mission commander for a "black" counterterrorism unit that
worked with Delta Force and Seal Team 6 before becoming the first Internet
analyst at Forrester Research and a key architect in the rise of Web logs
and RSS. He is writing a book on the logic of terrorism.
30767  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The modern Liberal mindset explained! on: October 25, 2007, 06:55:00 AM


MSN Money Homepage
MSN Money Investing
October 12
• How the Brain Agonizes Over Fairness
September 28
• Digital Age Makes Space Weather Important


-- by Robert Lee Hotz
In the first full-length book on neuroeconomics, "Decisions, Uncertainty, and the Brain: The Science of Neuroeconomics," New York University's Paul Glimcher argues that economic theory may provide a new way to think about the brain and behavior.
* * *
In the Journal of Economic Literature, economists Colin Camerer, George Loewenstein and Drazen Prelec lay out the case for using neuroscience to revolutionize traditional economics.
* * *
In "Nature: An Economic History," Geerat Vermeij, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California at Davis, explores biology, economics and geology to show how processes common to all economic systems govern evolution.
* * *
The "Handbook of Functional Neuroimaging of Cognition," edited by neuroscientists Roberto Cabeza and Alan Kingstone, explains the imaging techniques used to study the neural basis of cognition.
* * *
Until the 17th century, people thought the human brain was a curious lump of animate curds. Its discovery as the seat of human consciousness is a whodunit of science history told by Carl Zimmer in "Soul Made Flesh."
* * *
The Web site for the Canaan Children's Home in Uganda.
* * *
The web site for the Caltech Imaging Center.


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Charting the Agony
Of a Brain as It
Struggles to Be Fair
October 12, 2007; Page B1
At the Canaan Children's Home in southern Uganda, the orphans had no idea that a woman inside a brain scanner 9,400 miles away was playing mind games with their food.

The children were the focus of a brain experiment under way at the California Institute of Technology to explore the neural anatomy of indecision. With the push of a button, the woman in the Caltech scanner could distribute meals at the orphanage more fairly, but only by taking food off the table, not by serving more portions.

While she pondered, the 12-ton fMRI scanner at the university's brain-imaging center traced the synaptic patterns of equity, remorse and reward in her brain. In these riptides of neural currents, the researchers sought clues to human variables missing from the mathematics of conventional economics.


Ever wonder why you make such bad investment decisions? What happens in your head when logic and rationality take a backseat? Share your thoughts with Robert Lee Hotz and other readers on the Science forum.The quirky experiment exemplifies the new field of neuroeconomics. Behavioral economist Ming Hsu and his Caltech colleagues combined financial-decision theories and medical brain-imaging tools to analyze the brain as a living engine of economics, one fine-tuned by evolution through eons of foraging for scarce resources. These scientists studied hard choices, documenting how competing networks of neurons unconsciously shape the way we buy, sell, risk and trust.

During this test, the scientists wanted to see how synapses valued fairness against the desire to avoid harming others. The dilemma can arise when a limited resource is distributed unequally, and the only way to help one person comes at another's expense -- whether in profit sharing, setting affirmative-action policy, or rationing health care.

In the summer of 2006, when they organized the test, Dr. Hsu and his colleagues could imagine no more agonizing choice, within the constraints of medical ethics, than to ask people to take food away from orphans in a war-torn African country.

An online search led them to the Web site for the Canaan Children's Home, a one-story green building with a clinic next door, set amid the trees and chicken coops a half hour's drive from Jinja, Uganda. As of April, 100 children were living there, many of them orphaned by AIDS, said Frank P. Crane in Richmond, Va., chairman of the Uganda Missions Action Committee, which monitors the home's finances.

It was the winsome faces of those children -- whose photographs had been posted on the Web site to solicit charitable donations -- that caught Dr. Hsu's science eye. Here was the perfect experimental device for stirring the turmoil of indecision, the researchers agreed.

The team next contacted Tom Roberts, an attorney in Richmond, who created the Web site. He gave consent for the photos to be used. Because there would be no contact with the children and no actual consequences of the experiment to the orphanage, "I said help yourself," Mr. Roberts recalled.

Dr. Hsu wanted the pictures to heighten the realism of the experiment.

In the scanner, each volunteer could equalize how a fixed amount of donated meals was shared between orphans -- but only by taking away meals from those who had more than others and thereby reducing the total number of meals given to the orphanage. The allocation of meals was sometimes fair, sometimes not. "We manipulated the allocations and how much could be taken away," Dr. Hsu said.

To trigger the brain behavior, the 26 volunteers had to believe their decisions really would affect orphans being denied their seat at a groaning board of plenty where others feasted. So, the experimenters made them all study a 10-page brochure with pictures of 60 orphans.

In 36 rounds of testing, each subject had 10 seconds to choose the lesser of two evils: Allow some children to keep more than their fair share of meals or take away their food to eliminate inequity.

It was a measure of the economics of morality. Dr. Hsu made the inequities more or less severe by changing the number of meals donated to different groups of children. That provoked patterns of neural activation that revealed the brain's distaste for injustice and its willingness if the disparity was wide enough -- in one case, one child receiving five times more than another -- to punish the rich by putting them on short rations. To redress the extremes, people were willing to confiscate meals even when it hurt the orphanage as a whole, Dr. Hsu, now at the University of Illinois, reported recently at a meeting of the Society for Neuroeconomics in Nantasket, Mass.

As a test of economic theory against the benchmark of the brain, the Uganda experiment is one subtle brushstroke in an emerging self-portrait of the mind, generated by floods of new brain data. Indeed, neuroeconomics itself is still so new that cultural anthropologists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and New York University are documenting the folkways of this nascent network of scholars.

"The payout for this in economics may not come for 20 years," said University of Zurich economist Ernst Fehr. "Economics is a slow science."

• Email me at For a discussion on this column, go to the Science Journal forum.
30768  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: October 25, 2007, 06:50:39 AM
On the other hand , , , This from the WSJ:

Fighting Within Sects
Complicates U.S. Iraq Plans
Partition Strategy
Falters as Militias
Jockey for Influence
October 25, 2007; Page A12

BAGHDAD -- While fighting between Iraq's Sunnis and Shiites has begun to ebb, fighting within the sects has increased, as rival groups jockey for power, influence and money.

The trend may complicate efforts to promote a partition of the country along sectarian lines, an idea gaining traction among U.S. lawmakers seeking a politically palatable exit strategy.


•  The Shift: The violence in Iraq is changing from a low-grade civil war between Shiites and Sunnis to internecine fighting within each community.
•  The Background: Rival groups, likened by one U.S. commander to organized-crime families, are battling for power, influence, and money. Some U.S. commanders believe the groups are jockeying to be in dominant positions if Iraq is partitioned into three homogenous ministates.
•  What's Next: U.S. military commanders are trying to decide whether to intervene in the fighting, a move that could boost the forces friendliest to American interests but also runs the risk of inflaming the Iraqi population.Proponents, such as Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph Biden (D., Del.), say they believe that creating ministates populated exclusively by Shiites, Sunnis or Kurds offers the best chance of gradually pacifying Iraq. Late last month, the Senate overwhelmingly endorsed a nonbinding partition plan.

But the internecine strife suggests that dividing the country into three autonomous regions might present new problems, as armed groups within each sectarian community pursue control over their newly created ministates.

"People think that all of the violence in Iraq is Sunni on Shia or Shia on Sunni, but it's not," said Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, who commands the army's Third Infantry Division, in an interview in Iraq last month. "It's guys from the same communities fighting each other for power, money and influence."

Gen. Lynch likens the strife to the fights among organized-crime families. "I tell my guys, the best way they can prepare before they come out here is to watch 'The Sopranos,'" he said, referring to the popular U.S. television mob drama.

U.S. commanders also stress that sectarian violence continues in areas such as in the ethnically mixed neighborhoods of Baghdad and other major cities.

Iraq's overall level of bloodshed has been steadily declining, in part because of the U.S. "surge" policy of sending more U.S. troops into the country. The number of Americans killed in Iraq fell from 84 in August to 63 in September and, according to the Iraqi government, Iraqi civilian fatalities fell by nearly half. Twenty-nine U.S. soldiers had been killed in October, as of yesterday.

Another reason for the drop, U.S. commanders suggested, stems from the evolving nature of the fighting here. They said the conflict was beginning to shift from open warfare between Shiite and Sunni militias -- which often targeted civilians from the other sect -- to battles within the communities themselves. That has resulted in fewer casualties.


See continuing coverage of developments in Iraq, including an interactive map of day-to-day events in Iraq and a tally of military deaths.Several U.S. commanders based in different parts of Iraq said they saw the internecine violence as a sign that Iraq's major sects were preparing for when, in the near future, they are expected to work out a viable power-sharing arrangement for the country.

The commanders said rival players within each sect were jockeying now to ensure that they are seen as spokesmen for their community in any future negotiations.

"These internal struggles are all about securing your position relative to the other guys," Lt. Col. David Oclander, executive officer of the 82nd Airborne Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team, said last month.

The intrasectarian violence has been particularly acute in Shiite areas of Baghdad and oil-rich southern Iraq, where cleric Muqtada al Sadr's Mahdi Army and Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council leader Abdul-Aziz al Hakim's Badr Corps have been battling over oil, smuggling routes and patronage jobs.

"For a guy like Sadr, the goal is to maneuver and maneuver so that when things begin to shake themselves out, he can say, 'I speak for the Shia,'" said Col. Oclander.

In the past two months, the Shiite governors of Muthanna and Qadariyah provinces, both loyal to Mr. Hakim, were assassinated in attacks attributed to fighters loyal to Mr. Sadr. Gun battles between the two militias left more than 50 dead during a Shiite pilgrimage in Karbala.

Messrs. Sadr and Hakim issued a joint declaration in early October calling for a cease-fire between their groups. But Mr. Sadr has struggled to control his militia in the past, and several U.S. commanders said they were unsure whether the agreement would endure.

The struggle between the competing Shiite factions is posing policy dilemmas for U.S. commanders. They are trying to decide whether to back Mr. Hakim's fighters, who are seen as being relatively more friendly to U.S. interests in the country, or whether it would be too dangerous to intervene.

In Sunni areas, the U.S. is already involved, funneling money and other supplies to Sunni tribal militias that have been battling al Qaeda in Iraq and other Sunni religious militants. Commanders said these alliances have contributed to a steep decline in violence in once-restive parts of Iraq, such as Anbar Province.

U.S. commanders hope to build similar relationships with Shiite tribal leaders. U.S. officers said growing numbers of Shiite sheiks, alarmed by Mr. Sadr's radicalism and the continuing intra-Shiite bloodshed, are beginning to share intelligence tips and discuss more formal alliances with the U.S forces.

Many U.S. commanders remain divided over whether to intervene directly in the infighting between the Mahdi Army and the Badr Corps, given the possibility that such a move could inflame large portions of Iraq's Shiite majority.

In an interview last month, Lt. Col. Peter Andrysiak, then-deputy commander of the 1st Cavalry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team, said the U.S. "can and should" support the Badr Corps in its fight with the Mahdi Army. He argued that Mr. Hakim's militia is broadly supportive of the Iraqi government while Mr. Sadr's forces aren't.

"Badr is reconcilable, and we can win them over. JAM is not," he said, using the military's acronym for the Arabic name of Mr. Sadr's forces, the Jaish al-Mahdi.

Other senior officers disagreed. "It's a dangerous thought process, once you start down that path," Gen. Lynch said.

Write to Yochi J. Dreazen at
30769  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers: on: October 25, 2007, 05:16:23 AM
"It does not take a majority to prevail...but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men."
—Samuel Adams
"Under all those disadvantages no men ever show more spirit or
prudence than ours.  In my opinion nothing but virtue has kept
our army together through this campaign."

-- Colonel John Brooks (letter to a friend, 5 January 1778)

Reference: The Spirit of `Seventy-Six, Commager and Morris (649);
original Massachusets Histrocal Society Procedings, Brooks,
vol. 13 (243-
"Posterity — you will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it."

—John Quincy Adams
30770  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Water- part three on: October 25, 2007, 05:09:37 AM
Page 7 of 10)

Mulroy is not gambling the entire future of Las Vegas on this project. One
catchphrase of the water trade is that water flows uphill toward money,
which is another way of saying that a city with ample funds can, at least
theoretically, augment its supplies indefinitely. In a tight water market
like that of the West, this isn't an absolute truth, but in many instances
money can move rivers. The trade-off is that new water tends to be of lower
quality (requiring more expensive purification) or far away (requiring more
expensive transport). Thanks to Las Vegas's growth - the metro area is now
at 1.8 million people - cost is currently no object. The city's cash
reserves have made it possible for Mulroy to pay Arizona $330 million for
water she can use in emergencies and to plan a controversial
multibillion-dollar pipeline to east-central Nevada, where the water
authority has identified groundwater it wants to extract and transport.
Wealth allows for the additional possibility of a sophisticated trading
scheme whereby Las Vegas might pay for a desalination plant on the Pacific
Coast that would transform seawater into potable water for use in California
and Mexico. In exchange, Nevada could get a portion of their Colorado River
water in Lake Mead.

So money does make a kind of sustainability possible for Las Vegas. On the
other hand, buying water is quite unlike buying anything else. At the
moment, water doesn't really function like a private good; its value, which
Peter Binney calls "infinite," is often only vaguely related to its price,
which can vary from 50 cents an acre-foot (what Mulroy pays to take water
from Lake Mead) to $12,000 an acre-foot (the most Binney has paid farmers in
Colorado for their rights). Moreover, water is so necessary to human life,
and hence so heavily subsidized and regulated, that it can't really be
bought and sold freely across state lines. (Enron tried to start a water
market called Azurix in the late 1990s, only to see it fail spectacularly.)
The more successful water markets have instead been local, like one in the
late 1980s in California, where farmers agreed to reduce their water use and
sell the savings to a state water bank. Mulroy and Binney each told me they
think a true free-market water exchange would create too many winners and
losers. "What you would have is affluent communities being able to buy the
lifeblood right out from under those that are less well heeled," Mulroy
said. More practical, in her mind, would be a regional market that gives
states, cities and farmers greater freedom to strike mutually beneficial
agreements, but with protections so that municipalities aren't pitted
against one another.

More-efficient water markets might ease shortages, but they can't replace a
big city's principal source. What if, I asked Mulroy, Lake Mead drained
nearly to the bottom? Even if drought conditions ease over the next year or
two, several people I spoke with think the odds are greater that Lake
Powell, the 27-million-acre-foot reservoir that supplies Lake Mead, will
drop to unusable levels before it ever fills again. Mulroy didn't
immediately dismiss the possibility; she is certain that the reduced
circumstances of the two big Western reservoirs are tied to global warming
and that Las Vegas is this country's first victim of climate change. An
empty Lake Mead, she began, would mean there is nothing in Lake Powell.

"It's well outside probabilities," she said - but it could happen. "In that
case, it's not just a Las Vegas problem. You have three entire states wiped
out: Arizona, California and Nevada. Because you can't replace those volumes
with desalted ocean water." What seems more likely, she said, is that the
legal framework governing the Colorado River would preclude such a dire turn
of events. Recently, the states that use the Colorado reached a tentative
agreement that guarantees Lake Mead will remain partly full under current
conditions, even if upstream users have to cut back their withdrawals as a
result. The deal supplements a more fundamental understanding that dates to
the 1920s. If the river is failing to carry a certain, guaranteed volume of
water to Lee's Ferry, which is just below Lake Powell, the river's
lower-basin states (Nevada, Arizona and California) can legally force the
upper-basin states (Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and Utah) to reduce or
stop their water withdrawals. This contingency, known as a "compact call,"
sets the lower-basin states against the upper, but it has never occurred; it
is deeply feared by many water managers, because it would ravage the fragile
relationship among states and almost certainly lead to a scrum of lawsuits.
Yet, last year water managers in Colorado began meeting for the first time
to discuss the possibility. In our conversations, Mulroy denied that there
would be a compact call, but she pointed out that Las Vegas's groundwater
and desalination plans were going ahead anyway for precautionary reasons.

Page 8 of 10)

I asked if limiting the growth of the Las Vegas metro area wouldn't help.
Mulroy bristled. "This country is going to have 100 million additional
people in it in the next 25 to 30 years," she replied. "Tell me where they're
supposed to go. Seriously. Every community says, 'Not here,' 'No growth
here,' 'There's too many people here already.' For a large urban area that
is the core economic hub of any particular area, to even attempt to throw up
walls? I'm not sure it can be done." Besides, she added, the problem isn't
growth alone: "We have an exploding human population, and we have a
shrinking clean-water supply. Those are on colliding paths. This is not just
a Las Vegas issue. This is a microcosm of a much larger issue." Americans,
she went on to say, are the most voracious users of natural resources in the
world. Maybe we need to talk about that as well. "The people who move to the
West today need to realize they're moving into a desert," Mulroy said. "If
they want to live in a desert, they have to adapt to a desert lifestyle."
That means a shift from the mindset of the 1930s, when the federal
government encouraged people to settle in the West, plant water-intensive
crops and make it look like the East Coast. It means landscapes of parched
dirt. It means mesquite bushes and palo verde trees for vegetation. It means
recycled water. It means gravel lawns. It is the West's new deal, she seemed
to be saying, and I got the feeling that for Mulroy it means that every
blade of grass in her state would soon be gone.

The first impulse when confronted with the West's water problems may be to
wonder how, as scarcity becomes more acute, the region will engineer its way
back to health. What can be built, what can technology accomplish, to ease
any shortages? Yet this is almost certainly the wrong way to think about the
situation. To be sure, construction projects like a pipeline from
east-central Nevada could help Las Vegas. But the larger difficulty facing
Pat Mulroy and Peter Binney, as they describe it, is re-engineering the
culture and conventions of the West before it becomes too late. Whether or
not there is enough water in the region for, say, the next 30 or 50 years
isn't necessarily a question with a yes-or-no answer. The water managers I
spoke with believe the total volume of available water could be great enough
to sustain the cities, many farms and perhaps the natural flow of the area's
rivers. But it's not unreasonable to assume that if things continue as they
have - with so much water going to agriculture; with conservation only
beginning to take hold among residents, industry and farmers; with supplies
diminishing slowly but steadily as the Earth warms; with the population
growing faster than anywhere else in the United States; and with some of our
most economically vital states constricted by antique water agreements - the
region will become a topography of crisis and perhaps catastrophe. This is
an old prophecy, dating back more than a century to one of the original
American explorers of the West, John Wesley Powell, who doubted the
territory could support large populations and intense development. (Powell
presciently argued that river basins, not arbitrary mapmakers, should
determine the boundaries of the Western states, in order to avoid inevitable
conflicts over water.) An earlier explorer, J. C. Ives, visited the present
location of Hoover Dam, between Arizona and Nevada, in 1857. The desiccated
landscape was "valueless," Ives reported. "There is nothing there to do but

Roger Pulwarty, for his part, rejects the notion of environmental
determinism. Nature, in other words, isn't inexorably pushing the region
into a grim, suffering century. Things can be done. Redoubling efforts to
prevent further climate change, Pulwarty says, is one place to start;
another is getting the states that share the Colorado River to reach
cooperative arrangements, as they have begun to discuss, for coping with
long-term droughts. Other parts of the solution are less obvious. To Peter
Gleick, head of the Pacific Institute, a nonprofit based in Oakland, Calif.,
that focuses on global water issues, whether we can adapt to a drier future
depends on whether we can rethink the functions, and value, of fresh water.
Can we can do the same things using less of it? How we use our water, Gleick
believes, is considerably more complex than it appears. First of all, there
are consumptive and nonconsumptive uses of water. Consumptive use, roughly
speaking, refers to water taken from a reservoir that cannot be recovered.
"It's embedded in a product like a liter of Coca-Cola, or it's contaminated
so badly we can't reuse it," Gleick says. In agriculture, the vast majority
of water use is also consumptive, because it evaporates or transpires from
crops into the atmosphere. Evaporated water may fall as rain 1,000 miles
away - that's how Earth's water cycle works - but it is gone locally. A
similar consumptive process characterizes the water we put on our lawns or
gardens: it mostly disappears. Meanwhile, most of the water used by
metropolitan areas is nonconsumptive. It goes down the drain and empties
into nearby rivers, like Colorado's South Platte, as treated wastewater.

Page 9 of 10)

Gleick calls the Colorado River "the most complicated water system in the
world," and he isn't convinced it will be easy, or practical, to change the
laws that govern its usage. "But I think it's less hard to change how we use
water," he says. He accepts that climate change is confronting the West with
serious problems. (He was also one of the country's first scientists, in the
mid-1980s, to point out that reductions in mountain snowpack could present
huge challenges.) He makes a persuasive case, however, that there are
immense opportunities - even in cities like Las Vegas, which has made
strides in conservation - to reduce both consumptive and nonconsumptive
demand for water. These include installing more low-flow home appliances and
adopting more efficient irrigation methods. And they include economic tools
too: for example, many municipalities have reduced consumption by making
water more expensive (the more you use, the higher your per-gallon rate).
The United States uses less water than it did 25 years ago, Gleick points
out: "We haven't even paid too much attention to it, and we've accomplished
this." To go further, he says he believes we could alter not only demand but
also supply. "Treated wastewater isn't a liability, it's an asset," he says.
We don't need potable water to flush our toilets or water our lawns. "One
might say that's a ridiculous use of potable water. In fact, I might say
that. But that's the way we've set it up. And that's going to change, that's
got to change, in this century."

Among Colorado's water managers, Peter Binney's Prairie Waters project is
considered both innovative and important not on account of its technology
but because it seems to mark a new era of finding water sources in the
drying West. It also proves that the next generation's water will not come
cheap, or come easy. In late July, I went to Aurora to meet up again with
Binney. It was the groundbreaking day for Prairie Waters, which had been on
the local television news: Binney and several other officials grinned for
the cameras and signed a section of six-foot steel pipe, the same kind that
would transport water from the South Platte wells to the Aurora treatment
facility. That evening, Binney and I had dinner together at a steakhouse in
an Aurora shopping mall. When he remarked that we may have exceeded what he
calls the "carrying capacity" of the West, I asked him whether our desert
civilizations could last. Binney seemed dubious. "Not the way we've got it
set up," he said. "We've decoupled land use from water use. Water is the
limiting resource in the West. I think we need to match them back together
again." There was a decent amount of water out there, he went on to explain,
but it was a false presumption that it could sustain all the farms, all the
cities, all the rivers. Something will have to give. It was also wrong to
assume, he said, that cities could continue to grow without experiencing
something akin to a religious awakening about the scarcity of water. Soon,
he predicted, we would talk about our "water footprint" just as we now talk
about our carbon footprint.

Indeed, any conversations about the one will in short order expand to
include the other, Binney went on to say. Many water managers have known
this for a while. The two problems - water and energy - are so intimately
linked as to make it exceedingly difficult to tackle one without the other.
It isn't just the matter of growing corn for ethanol, which is already
straining water supplies. The less water in our rivers, for instance, the
less hydropower our dams produce. The further the water tables sink, the
more power it takes to pump water up. The more we depend on coal and nuclear
power plants, which require huge amounts of water for cooling, the larger
the burden we place on supplies.

Meanwhile, it is a perverse side effect of global warming that we may have
to emit large volumes of carbon dioxide to obtain the clean water that is
becoming scarcer because of the carbon dioxide we've already put into the
atmosphere. A dry region that turns to desalination, for example, would need
vast amounts of energy (and money) to purify its water. While wind-powered
desalination could perhaps meet this challenge - such a plant was recently
built outside Perth, Australia - it isn't clear that coastal residents in,
say, California would welcome such projects. Unclear, too, is how dumping
the brine that is a by-product of the process back into the ocean would
affect ecosystems.

Page 10 of 10)

Similar energy challenges face other plans. In past years, various schemes
have arisen to move water from Canada or the Great Lakes to arid parts of
the United States. Beyond the environmental implications and construction
costs (probably hundreds of billions of dollars), such continental-scale
plumbing would require stupendous amounts of electricity. And yet, fears
that such plans will resurface in a drier, more populous world are partly
behind current efforts by the Great Lakes states to certify a pact that
protects their fresh water from outside exploitation.

Just pumping water from the Prairie Waters site to Aurora will cost a small
fortune. Binney told me this the day after the groundbreaking, as we drove
north from Aurora to the site. Along the 45-minute journey, Binney narrated
where his pipeline would go - along the edge of the highway here, over in
that field there and so on. Eventually we turned off the highway and onto a
small country road, and Binney slowed down so I could take in the
surroundings. "Here's where you see it all coming together and all of it
coming into conflict," he told me. To him, it was a perfect tableau of the
West in the 21st century. There was a housing development on one side of the
road and fields of irrigated crops on the other. Farther ahead was a gravel
pit, a remnant of the old Colorado mineral-extraction economy.

He drove on, and soon we turned onto a dirt road that bisected some open
fields. We rumbled along for a quarter mile or so, spewing dust and passing
over the South Platte in the process. Binney parked by a wire fence near a
sign marking it as Aurora property. We got out of the truck, hopped over a
locked gate and walked into a farm field.

For miles along the highway, we passed barren acreage that formerly grew
winter wheat but was now slated for new houses. The land we stood on once
grew corn, but tangles of weeds covered it now. As we walked, Binney
explained that the collection wells on the South Platte would soon be dug a
few hundred yards away; that water would be pumped into collection basins on
this field, where sand and gravel would purify it further. Then it would be
pumped back to the chemical treatment plants in Aurora before being piped to
residents. "We're standing 34 miles from there," Binney said.

It was a location as ordinary as I could have imagined, an empty place, far
from anything, and yet Binney saw it as something else. Earlier, when we
crossed over the gravel banks of the South Platte, I found the river
disappointing: broad and shallow, dun-colored and slow-moving, its
unimpressive flow somehow incorporating water Aurora had already used
upstream. James Michener, in writing about this region years ago, was
dead-on in calling it "a sad, bewildered nothing of a river." Still, the
South Platte was dependable. It was also Aurora's lifeline, buying the city
20 or 30 years of time. "What I really like about it," Binney said, smiling
as we walked from the field back to his truck, "is that it's wet."
30771  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Water- part two on: October 25, 2007, 05:07:57 AM
Page 4 of 10)

Another practice, sometimes used in Europe, is to drill wells alongside a
river and pull river water up though them, using the gravel of the riverbank
as a natural filter - sort of like digging a hole in the sand near the ocean's
edge as it fills from below. Half of Aurora's water rights were on the South
Platte already; the city also pours its treated wastewater back into the
river, as do other cities in the Denver metro area. This gives the South
Platte a steady, dependable flow. Binney and the township reasoned that they
could conceivably, and legally, go some 20 or 30 miles downstream on the
South Platte, buy agricultural land near the river, install wells there and
retrieve their wastewater. Thus they could create a system whereby Aurora
would use South Platte water; send it to a treatment plant that would
discharge it back into the river; go downstream to recapture water from the
same river; then pump it back to the city for purification and further use.
The process would repeat, ad infinitum. Aurora would use its share of South
Platte water "to extinction," in the argot of water managers. A drop of the
South Platte used by an Aurora resident would find its way back to the city's
taps as a half-drop in 45 to 60 days, a quarter-drop 45 to 60 days after
that and so on. For every drop the town used from the South Platte, over
time it would almost - as all the fractional drops added up - get another.

Many towns have a supply that includes previously treated water. The water
from the Mississippi River, for instance, is reused many times by
municipalities as it flows southward. But as far as Binney knew, no
municipality in the United States had built the kind of closed loop that
Aurora envisioned. Water from wells in the South Platte would taste
different, because of its mineral and organic content, so Binney's engineers
would have to make it mimic mountain snowmelt. More delicate challenges
involved selling local taxpayers on authorizing a project, marketed to them
as "Prairie Waters," that would capitalize on their own wastewater. The
system, which meant building a 34-mile-long pipeline from the downstream
South Platte riverbanks to a treatment facility in Aurora, would cost
three-quarters of a billion dollars, making it one of the most expensive
municipal infrastructure projects in the country.

When Binney and I chatted at the reservoir outside Dillon, he had already
finished discussions with Moody's and Fitch, the bond-rating agencies whose
evaluations would help the town finance the project. Groundbreaking, which
would be the next occasion we would see each other, was still a month away.
"What we're doing now is trading high levels of treatment and purification
for building tunnels and chasing whatever remaining snowmelt there is in the
hills, which I think isn't a wise investment for the city," he told me. "I
would expect that what we're going to do is the blueprint for a lot of
cities in California, Arizona, Nevada - even the Carolinas and the Gulf
states. They're all going to be doing this in the future."

Water managers in the West tend to think in terms of "acre-feet." One
acre-foot, equal to about 326,000 gallons, is enough to serve two typical
Colorado families for one year. When measurements of the Colorado River
began near Lee's Ferry in the early 1920s, the region happened to be in the
midst of an extremely wet series of years, and the river was famously
misjudged to have an average flow of 17 million acre-feet per year - when in
fact its average flow would often prove to be significantly less. Part of
the legacy of that misjudgment is that the seven states that divided the
water in the 1920s entered into a legal partnership that created unrealistic
expectations about the river's capacity. But there is another, lesser-known
legacy too. As the 20th century progressed, many water managers came to
believe that the 1950s, which included the most severe drought years since
measurement of the river began, were the marker for a worst-case situation.

Page 5 of 10)

But recent studies of tree rings, in which academics drill core samples from
the oldest Ponderosa pines or Douglas firs they can find in order to
determine moisture levels hundreds of years ago, indicate that the dry times
of the 1950s were mild and brief compared with other historical droughts.
The latest research effort, published in the journal Geophysical Research
Letters in late May, identified the existence of an epochal Southwestern
megadrought that, if it recurred, would prove calamitous.

When Binney and I met at Dillon Reservoir, he brought graphs of Colorado
River flows that go back nearly a thousand years. "There was this one in the
1150s," he said, tracing a jagged line downward with his finger. "They think
that's when the Anasazi Indians were forced out. We see drought cycles here
that can go up to 60 years of below-average precipitation." What that would
mean today, he said, is that states would have to make a sudden choice
between agriculture and people, which would lead to bruising political
debates and an unavoidable blow to the former. Binney says that as much as
he believes that some farmers' water is ultimately destined for the cities
anyway, a big jolt like this would be tragic. "You hope you never get to
that point," he told me, "where you force those kinds of discussions,
because they will change for hundreds of years the way that people live in
the Western U.S. If you have to switch off agriculture, it's not like you
can get back into it readily. It took decades for the agricultural industry
to establish itself. It may never come back."
An even darker possibility is that a Western drought caused by climatic
variation and a drought caused by global warming could arrive at the same
time. Or perhaps they already have. This coming spring, the United Nations'
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will issue a report identifying
areas of the world most at risk of droughts and floods as the earth warms.
Fresh-water shortages are already a global concern, especially in China,
India and Africa. But the I.P.C.C., which along with Al Gore received the
2007 Nobel Peace Prize earlier this month for its work on global-warming
issues, will note that many problem zones are located within the United
States, including California (where the Sierra Nevada snowpack is
threatened) and the Colorado River basin. These assessments follow on the
heels of a number of recent studies that analyze mountain snowpack and
future Colorado River flows. Almost without exception, recent climate models
envision reductions that range from the modest to the catastrophic by the
second half of this century. One study in particular, by Martin Hoerling and
Jon Eischeid, suggests the region is already "past peak water," a milestone
that means the river's water supply will now forever trend downward.

Climatologists seem to agree that global warming means the earth will, on
average, get wetter. According to Richard Seager, a scientist at Columbia
University's Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory who published a study on the
Southwest last spring, more rain and snow will fall in those regions closer
to the poles and more precipitation is likely to fall during sporadic,
intense storms rather than from smaller, more frequent storms. But many
subtropical regions closer to the equator will dry out. The models analyzed
by Seager, which focus on regional climate rather than Colorado River flows,
show that the Southwest will ultimately be subject to significant
atmospheric and weather alterations. More alarming, perhaps, is that the
models do not only concern the coming decades; they also address the
present. "You know, it's like, O.K., there's trouble in the future, but how
near in the future does it set in?" he told me. "In this case, it appears
that it's happening right now." When I asked if the drought in his models
would be permanent, he pondered the question for a moment, then replied:
"You can't call it a drought anymore, because it's going over to a drier
climate. No one says the Sahara is in drought."

Climate models tend to be more accurate at predicting temperature than
precipitation. Still, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that "something is
happening," as Peter Binney gently puts it. Everyone I spoke with in the
West has noticed - less snow, earlier spring melts, warmer nights. Los
Angeles this year went 150 days without a measurable rainfall. One afternoon
in Boulder, I spent some time with Roger Pulwarty, a highly regarded
climatologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Pulwarty, who has spent the past few years assessing adaptive solutions to a
long drought, has a light sense of humor and an air of optimism about him,
but he acknowledged that the big picture is worrisome. Even if the
precipitation in the West does not decrease, higher temperatures by
themselves create huge complications. Snowmelt runoff decreases. The immense
reservoirs lose far more water to evaporation. Meanwhile, demand increases
because crops are thirstier. Yet importing water from other river basins
becomes more difficult, because those basins may face shortages, too.

Page 6 of 10)

"You don't need to know all the numbers of the future exactly," Pulwarty
told me over lunch in a local Vietnamese restaurant. "You just need to know
that we're drying. And so the argument over whether it's 15 percent drier or
20 percent drier? It's irrelevant. Because in the long run, that decrease,
accumulated over time, is going to dry out the system." Pulwarty asked if I
knew the projections for what it would take to refill Lake Powell, which is
at about 50 percent of capacity. Twenty years of average flow on the
Colorado River, he told me. "Good luck," he said. "Even in normal conditions
we don't get 20 years of average flow. People are calling for more storage
on the system, but if you can't fill the reservoirs you have, I don't know
how more storage, or more dams, is going to help you. One has to ask if the
normal strategies that we have are actually viable anymore."

Pulwarty is convinced that the economic impacts could be profound. The worst
outcome, he suggested, would be mass migrations out of the region, along
with bitter interstate court battles over the dwindling water supplies. But
well before that, if too much water is siphoned from agriculture, farm towns
and ranch towns will wither. Meanwhile, Colorado's largest industry,
tourism, might collapse if river flows became a trickle during summertime.
Already, warmer temperatures have brought on an outbreak of pine beetles
that are destroying pine forests; Pulwarty wonders how many tourists will
want to visit a state full of dead trees. "A crisis is an interesting
 thing," he said. In his view, a crisis is a point in a story, a moment in a
narrative, that presents an opportunity for characters to think their way
through a problem. A catastrophe, on the other hand, is something different:
it is one of several possible outcomes that follow from a crisis. "We're at
the point of crisis on the Colorado," Pulwarty concluded. "And it's at this
point that we decide, O.K., which way are we going to go?"

It is all but imposible to look into the future of the Western states
without calling on Pat Mulroy, the head of the Southern Nevada Water
Authority. Mulroy has no real counterpart on the East Coast; her nearest
analog might be Robert Moses, the notorious New York City planner who built
massive infrastructure projects and who almost always found a way around
institutional obstructions and financing constraints. She is arguably the
most influential and outspoken water manager in the country - a "woman
without fear," as Pulwarty describes her. Pulwarty and Peter Binney respect
her willingness to challenge historical water-sharing agreements that, in
Mulroy's view, no longer suit the modern West (meaning they don't suit Las
Vegas). According to Binney, however, Nevada's scant resources give Mulroy
little choice. She has to keep her city from drying out. That makes hers the
most difficult job in the water business, he told me.

Las Vegas is almost certainly more vulnerable to water shortages than any
metro area in the country. Partly that's a result of the city's explosive
growth. But the state of Nevada has the historical misfortune of receiving a
smaller share of Colorado River water (300,000 acre-feet annually) than the
other six states with which it signed a water-sharing compact in the 1920s.
That modest share, stored in Lake Mead along with water destined for
Southern California, Arizona and northern Mexico, now means everything to
Las Vegas. I traveled to Lake Mead on a 99-degree day last June. The narrow,
110-mile-long lake, which at full capacity holds 28 million acre-feet of
water (making it the largest reservoir in the United States), was at 49
percent of capacity. When riding into the valley and glimpsing it from
afar - an astonishing slash of blue in the desert - my guide for the day,
Bronson Mack of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, remarked that he had
never seen it so low. The white bathtub ring on the sides of the canyon that
marks the level of full capacity was visible about 100 feet above the water.
"I have a photograph of my mother on her honeymoon, standing in front of the
lake," Mack, a Las Vegas native, said. That was in 1970. "It was almost that
low, but not quite."

Over the past year, it has become conceivable that the lake could eventually
drop below the level of the water authority's intake pipes, the straws that
suck the water out for the Las Vegas Valley. The authority recently hired an
engineering firm to drill through several miles of rock and create a deeper
intake pipe near the bottom of the lake. To say the project is being
fast-tracked is an understatement. The day after visiting Lake Mead, I met
with Mulroy in her Las Vegas office. "We have everything in line to get it
running by 2012," she said of the new intake. But she added that she is
looking to cut as much time off construction as possible. Building the new
intake is a race against the clock, or rather a race against a lake that
keeps going down, down, down.
30772  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Stock Market on: October 25, 2007, 05:06:18 AM
David Gordon is back in town and has several posts in recent days up on his blog.  His call for ISRG is up quite nicely for me!  Speaking of David, it was he who first brought my attention to the fundamentals of water as an investment hypothesis.  Here is a recent article that speaks to this theme.


Published: October 21, 2007
Scientists sometimes refer to the effect a hotter world will have on this
country's fresh water as the other water problem, because global warming
more commonly evokes the specter of rising oceans submerging our great
coastal cities. By comparison, the steady decrease in mountain snowpack -
the loss of the deep accumulation of high-altitude winter snow that melts
each spring to provide the American West with most of its water - seems to
be a more modest worry. But not all researchers agree with this ranking of
dangers. Last May, for instance, Steven Chu, a Nobel laureate and the
director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, one of the United
States government's pre-eminent research facilities, remarked that
diminished supplies of fresh water might prove a far more serious problem
than slowly rising seas. When I met with Chu last summer in Berkeley, the
snowpack in the Sierra Nevada, which provides most of the water for Northern
California, was at its lowest level in 20 years. Chu noted that even the
most optimistic climate models for the second half of this century suggest
that 30 to 70 percent of the snowpack will disappear. "There's a two-thirds
chance there will be a disaster," Chu said, "and that's in the best

In the Southwest this past summer, the outlook was equally sobering. A
catastrophic reduction in the flow of the Colorado River - which mostly
consists of snowmelt from the Rocky Mountains - has always served as a kind
of thought experiment for water engineers, a risk situation from the outer
edge of their practical imaginations. Some 30 million people depend on that
water. A greatly reduced river would wreak chaos in seven states: Colorado,
Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and California. An almost
unfathomable legal morass might well result, with farmers suing the federal
government; cities suing cities; states suing states; Indian nations suing
state officials; and foreign nations (by treaty, Mexico has a small claim on
the river) bringing international law to bear on the United States
government. In addition, a lesser Colorado River would almost certainly lead
to a considerable amount of economic havoc, as the future water supplies for
the West's industries, agriculture and growing municipalities are
threatened. As one prominent Western water official described the possible
future to me, if some of the Southwest's largest reservoirs empty out, the
region would experience an apocalypse, "an Armageddon."

One day last June, an environmental engineer named Bradley Udall appeared
before a Senate subcommittee that was seeking to understand how severe the
country's fresh-water problems might become in an era of global warming. As
far as Washington hearings go, the testimony was an obscure affair, which
was perhaps fitting: Udall is the head of an obscure organization, the
Western Water Assessment. The bureau is located in the Boulder, Colo.,
offices of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the
government agency that collects obscure data about the sky and seas. Still,
Udall has a name that commands some attention, at least within the Beltway.
His father was Morris Udall, the congressman and onetime presidential
candidate, and his uncle was Stewart Udall, the secretary of the interior
under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. Bradley Udall's
great-great-grandfather, John D. Lee, moreover, was the founder of Lee's
Ferry, a flyspeck spot in northern Arizona that means nothing to most
Americans but holds near-mythic status to those who work with water for a
living. Near Lee's Ferry is where the annual flow of the Colorado River is
measured in order to divvy up its water among the seven states that depend
on it. To many politicians, economists and climatologists, there are few
things more important than what has happened at Lee's Ferry in the past,
just as there are few things more important than what will happen at Lee's
Ferry in the future.

The importance of the water there was essentially what Udall came to talk
about. A report by the National Academies on the Colorado River basin had
recently concluded that the combination of limited Colorado River water
supplies, increasing demands, warmer temperatures and the prospect of
recurrent droughts "point to a future in which the potential for conflict"
among those who use the river will be ever-present. Over the past few
decades, the driest states in the United States have become some of our
fastest-growing; meanwhile, an ongoing drought has brought the flow of the
Colorado to its lowest levels since measurements at Lee's Ferry began 85
years ago. At the Senate hearing, Udall stated that the Colorado River basin
is already two degrees warmer than it was in 1976 and that it is foolhardy
to imagine that the next 50 years will resemble the last 50. Lake Mead, the
enormous reservoir in Arizona and Nevada that supplies nearly all the water
for Las Vegas, is half-empty, and statistical models indicate that it will
never be full again. "As we move forward," Udall told his audience, "all
water-management actions based on 'normal' as defined by the 20th century
will increasingly turn out to be bad bets."


Page 2 of 10)

A few weeks after his testimony, I flew to Boulder to meet with Udall, and
we spent a day driving switchback roads high in the Rockies in his old
Subaru. It had been a wet season on the east slope of the Rockies, but the
farther west we went, the drier it became. Udall wanted to show me some of
the local reservoirs and water systems that were built over the past
century, so I could get a sense of their complexity as well as their
vulnerability. As he put it, he wants to connect the disparate members of
the water economy in a way that has never really been done before, so that
utility executives, scientists, environmentalists, business leaders, farmers
and politicians can begin discussing how to cope with the inevitable
shortages of fresh water. In the American West, whose huge economy and
political power derive from the ability of 20th-century engineers to conquer
rivers like the Colorado and establish a reliable water supply, the prospect
that there will be less water in the future, rather than the same amount, is
unnerving. "We have a very short period of time here to get people educated
on what this means," Udall told me as we drove through the mountains. "Then
once that occurs, perhaps we can start talking about how do we deal with

Skip to next paragraph

Udall suggested that I meet a water manager named Peter Binney, who works
for Aurora, Colo., a city - the 60th-largest in the United States - that
sprawls over an enormous swath of flat, postagricultural land south of the
Denver airport. It may be difficult for residents of the East Coast to
understand the political celebrity of some Western water managers, but in a
place like Aurora, where water, not available land, limits economic growth,
Binney has enormous responsibilities. In effect, the city's viability
depends on his wherewithal to conjure new sources of water or increase the
output of old ones. As Binney told me when we first spoke, "We have to find
a new way of meeting the needs of all this population that's turning up and
still satisfy all of our recreational and environmental demands." Aurora has
a population of 310,000 now, Binney said, but that figure is projected to
surpass 500,000 by 2035.

I asked if he had enough water for that many people. "Oh, no," he replied.
He seemed surprised that someone could even presume that he might. In fact,
he explained, his job is to figure out how to find more water in a region
where every drop is already spoken for and at a moment when there is little
possibility that any more will ever be discovered.

Binney and I got together outside Dillon, a village in the Colorado Rockies
75 miles from Aurora and just a few miles west of the Continental Divide. We
met in a small parking lot beside Dillon Reservoir, which sits at the bottom
of a bowl of snow-capped mountains. Binney, a thickset 54-year-old with dark
red hair and a fair complexion, had driven up in a large S.U.V. He still
carries a strong accent from his native New Zealand, and in conversation he
comes across as less a utility manager than a polymath with the combined
savvy of an engineer, an economist and a politician. As we moved to a picnic
table, Binney told me that we were looking at Denver's water, not Aurora's,
and that it would eventually travel 70 miles through tunnels under the
mountains to Denver's taps. He admitted that he would love to have this
water, which is pure snowmelt. To people in his job, snowmelt is the best
source of water because it requires little chemical treatment to bring it up
to federal drinking standards. But this water wasn't available. Denver got
here before him. And in Colorado, like most Western states, the rights to
water follow a bloodline back to whoever got to it first.

One way to view the history of the American West is as a series of important
moments in exploration or migration; another is to consider it, as Binney
does, in terms of its water. In the 20th century, for example, all of our
great dams and reservoirs were built - "heroic man-over-nature"
achievements, in Binney's words, that control floods, store water for
droughts, generate vast amounts of hydroelectric power and enable
agriculture to flourish in a region where the low annual rainfall otherwise
makes it difficult. And in constructing projects like the Glen Canyon Dam -
which backs up water to create Lake Powell, the vast reservoir in Arizona
and Utah that feeds Lake Mead - the builders went beyond the needs of the
moment. "They gave us about 40 to 50 years of excess capacity," Binney says.
"Now we've gotten to the end of that era." At this point, every available
gallon of the Colorado River has been appropriated by farmers, industries
and municipalities. And yet, he pointed out, the region's population is
expected to keep booming. California's Department of Finance recently
predicted that there will be 60 million Californians by midcentury, up from
36 million today. "In Colorado, we're sitting at a little under five million
people now, on our way to eight million people," Binney said. Western
settlers, who apportioned the region's water long ago, never could have
foreseen the thirst of its cities. Nor, he said, could they have anticipated
our environmental mandates to keep water "in stream" for the benefit of fish
and wildlife, as well as for rafters and kayakers


Page 3 of 10)

The West's predicament, though, isn't just a matter of limited capacity,
bigger populations and environmental regulations. It's also a distributional
one. Seventy-five years ago, cities like Denver made claims on - and from
the state of Colorado received rights to - water in the mountains; those
cities in turn built reservoirs for their water. As a result, older cities
have access to more surface water (that is, water that comes from rivers and
streams) than newer cities like Aurora, which have been forced to purchase
existing water rights from farmers and mining companies. Towns that rely on
groundwater (water pumped from deep underground) face an even bigger
disadvantage. Water tables all over the United States have been dropping,
sometimes drastically, from overuse. In the Denver area, some cities that
use only groundwater will almost certainly exhaust their accessible supplies
by 2050.

The biggest issue is that agriculture consumes most of the water, as much as
90 percent of it, in a state like Colorado. "The West has gone from a
fur-trapping, to a mining, to an agricultural, to a manufacturing, to an
urban-centric economy," Binney explained. As the region evolved, however,
its water ownership for the most part did not. "There's no magical locked
box of water that we can turn to," Binney says of cities like Aurora, "so it's
going to have to come from an existing use." Because the supply of water in
the West can't really change, water managers spend their time looking for
ways to adjust its allocation in their favor.

Binney knew all this back in 2002, when he took the job in Aurora after a
long career at an engineering firm. Over the course of a century, the city
had established a reasonable water supply. About a quarter of its water is
piped in from the Colorado River basin about 70 miles away; another quarter
is taken from reservoirs in the Arkansas River basin far to the south. The
rest comes from the South Platte, a lazy, meandering river that runs north
through Aurora on its way toward Nebraska. Binney says he believes that a
city like his needs at least five years of water in storage in case of
drought; his first year there turned out to be one of the worst years for
water managers in recorded history, and the town's reservoirs dropped to 26
percent of capacity, meaning Aurora had at most nine months of reserves and
could not endure another dry spring. During the summer and fall, Binney
focused on both supply and demand. He negotiated with neighboring towns to
buy water and accelerated a program to pay local farmers to fallow their
fields so the city could lease their water rights. Meanwhile, the town asked
residents to limit their showers and had water cops enforce new rules
against lawn sprinklers. ("It's interesting how many people were watering
lawns in the middle of the night," Binney said.)

Water use in the United States varies widely by region, influenced by
climate, neighborhood density and landscaping, among other things. In the
West, Los Angelenos use about 125 gallons per person per day in their homes,
compared with 114 for Tucson residents. Binney's customers generally use
about 160 gallons per person per day. "In the depths of the drought," he
said, "we got down to about 123 gallons."

Part of the cruelty of a Western drought is that a water manager never knows
if it will last 1 year or 10. In 2002, Binney was at the earliest stages of
what has since become a nearly continuous dry spell. Though he couldn't see
that at the time, he realized Aurora faced a permanent state of emergency if
it didn't boost its water supplies. But how? One option was to try to buy
water rights in the mountains (most likely from farmers who were looking to
quit agriculture), then build a new reservoir and a long supply line to
Aurora. Obvious hurdles included environmental and political resistance, as
well as an engineering difficulty: water is heavy, far heavier than oil, and
incompressible; a system to move it long distances (especially if it
involves tunneling through mountains or pumping water over them) can cost
billions. Binney figured that without the help of the federal government,
which has largely gotten out of the Western dam-and-reservoir-building
business, Aurora would be unwise to pursue such a project. Even if the money
could be raised, building a system would take decades. Aurora needed a
solution within five years.
30773  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Part Two- Turks in Germany on: October 25, 2007, 04:49:23 AM
Parallel Societies

(Page 4 of 7)

The topic of marriage comes up often among Turks in places like Duisburg. It
is not a side issue. Of the roughly 25,000 foreigners who immigrate to
Germany every year to marry, about a thousand go to Duisburg, and the great
majority of those are Turks. The city's Marxloh neighborhood is the
Continental capital of Turkish wedding caterers and bridal shops.

Duisburg, where the Rhine and the Ruhr meet, and where mining and industry
link up to the biggest inland port in Europe, is a kind of European
Pittsburgh. In decades past, tens of thousands of Turks came to work in the
city's three big steel plants, which together employed 64,000 people in the
'70s, and in its archipelago of coal mines. But today there are only 20,000
industrial jobs left in the whole city. Duisburg's population, 608,000 in
the 1970s, has fallen to under half a million. The older German-born natives
(who had jobs) die, their children (who want jobs) move and the absolute
number of Turks living there continues to grow. According to the mayor's
office, there are 41,900 Turks in Duisburg, and another 24,000 of Turkish
background who have acquired German citizenship. Together they account for
more than half of Duisburg's minority population - and for much of the city's
dynamism as well. In Marxloh, where half of the 18,000 residents are
immigrants or children of immigrants, the largest mosque in Germany is
nearing completion. At the same time, the local Catholic bishop has
announced he must reduce the number of parishes in Duisburg from 32 to 4.
The Evangelical Church of Germany, a Protestant umbrella organization,
recently published a controversial document in which it laid out some ground
rules for turning Christian houses of worship into Muslim ones. Duisburg is
changing from a "typical" postwar German city into a heavily - and, in
parts, predominantly - Turkish one, through a kind of distillation.

In the neighborhood of Hochfeld, which has lost one-third of its population
in the past three decades, this distillation is at its extreme. Rauf Ceylan,
a sociologist whose parents settled as guest workers nearby in Wanheim, has
spent years studying the coffeehouses and mosques that are the central
community institutions for men. What Ceylan has found is a parallel society
growing increasingly elaborate and increasingly entrenched. He calls
Hochfeld an "ethnic colony," rather than just a "ghetto" or "community."
That is, Hochfeld is more than a place where a homesick Turk can find a
little corner of Turkey, the way a Japanese immigrant might gravitate to a
sushi restaurant in New Hampshire. It is turning into a fully articulated
Turkish society, where a Turk has the institutions to lead any kind of
Turkish life he chooses. And the life that most Hochfeld residents choose is
becoming steadily more traditional. The first generation of guest workers
were not particularly traditionalist, Ceylan says. They were mostly single
men, with the easy-come, easy-go lifestyle that being single implies. But
once they acquired wives from Turkey and formed families, their role changed
from hired worker to paterfamilias, and their priorities changed, too. They
built institutions that mimicked those of the villages they hailed from.

Many Germans held out hope that younger generations, those born here, would
have different priorities. Exposed to German society through television and
schools, they would lose interest in the ways of coffeehouse and mosque. The
old assumption that living in the middle of Western prosperity creates an
almost automatic loyalty has been shaken in recent years. German residents,
of course, played a leading role in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Said
Bahaji, a German citizen of Moroccan descent who served in the German Army,
provided important logistical support for the Hamburg-based cell led by the
Egyptian Mohamed Atta. The Lebanese-born 9/11 terrorist Ziad Jarrah did part
of the planning in Duisburg, and had a romantic involvement with a seemingly
well-assimilated Turkish-German woman who studied dentistry nearby in

The way immigrants marry is a key factor in the way they assimilate, or don't.
In 2000, the German Youth Institute reported that 53 percent of Turkish
women ages 16 to 29 would not consider marrying a German "under any
circumstances." Indeed, the big gap that separates young Turks from German
youth culture is an important theme of "Head-On," Fatih Akin's
Turkish-German film of 2005. Perhaps Turks' preference for Turkish mates
reflects, in some cases, the desire for a religious life. But a survey taken
in the late 1990s found similar discomfort on the part of Germans, for whom
religious considerations are presumably less of a factor. Fifteen percent of
western Germans and just 7 percent of eastern ones said it would be
"pleasant" (angenehm) to have a Turkish relative. Majorities in both places
agreed it would be "unpleasant."


Page 5 of 7)

Where such attitudes prevail, self-segregation is inevitable, mystifying
those immigrants most inclined to assimilate. "There is a big change that
comes at puberty, a divergence of interests," says Osman Apaydin, who runs a
development program around the corner from the wedding shops in Marxloh.
Sitting in his office in February, he described how his grown daughter,
modern-minded, open to the world, much more comfortable speaking German than
Turkish, who went to majority-German schools, now finds herself unmarried,
with an increasingly Turkish circle of friends. To hear Apaydin describe it,
the difficulty of modern Turkish women in finding husbands resembles the
predicament of highly educated black women in the United States.

Where traditional young women start families and assimilated ones have
trouble finding their social footing, the next generation is brought up -
almost by definition - by those who are least assimilated themselves. You
can blame Turkish attitudes if you want, but they arise from a certain
objective truth: The closer one gets to German culture, the farther one gets
from family. There are a lot of ways to measure this. In North
Rhine-Westphalia, Germany's most populous state and the one where Duisburg
is located, 80 percent of Turks ages 25 to 34 are married; their average
marriage age is 21 for women and 24 for men. Among non-Turks, only 32
percent of 25- to 34-year-olds are married; the average marriage age is 29
for women and 32 for men. Germans have one of the lowest fertility rates in
the history of the world - 1.36 children per woman, according to 2004
figures. While it is hard to find precise figures for Turks in Germany, the
rate is widely agreed to be higher. The rate in Turkey itself is almost
twice as high, at 2.4 children per woman. If a good chance of childlessness
and middle-aged solitude is the price of assimilation, it is for many Turks
an exorbitant one. According to a study done by the Center for Turkey
Studies in Essen, young Turkish women and men brought up in Germany view
their fellow Turkish-Germans of the opposite sex as "distant from their own
culture, or 'degenerate.' "

You seldom meet young Turkish women of marriage age who describe themselves
as either unambiguously traditional or unambiguously modern. Take Yasemin
Yadigaroglu, for instance. A tight, traditional head scarf covers every last
strand of her hair. But there is something bold and dashing about her, as
well as conservative. At 26, she leads a campaign supported by the Duisburg
city government to dissuade Turks from marrying their cousins. A German
citizen born in Duisburg, she studied social science at the University of

Unlike Kelek, Yadigaroglu is an observant Muslim. She says that cousin
marriage is "a misrepresentation of Islam." Yet despite her religious bent,
Yadigaroglu's preoccupations and even conclusions about the family overlap
with Kelek's. Yadigaroglu claims that marriage between cousins retards
assimilation, that it contributes to parallel societies like the ones Ceylan
describes in Hochfeld and that it is responsible for birth defects. In an
academic paper, she even hints at a feminist critique of the traditional
Turkish family. "Through marriage to a cousin," she writes, "a new role
orientation gets established within the family. The aunt and uncle become
in-laws. The new daughter-in-law sinks to the lowest level of the family
hierarchy, in marked contrast to her previous role as niece."

One Friday afternoon just before evening prayers, I traveled to
Wanheimerort, a dockside area just south of Hochfeld, to see four young
women between 17 and 20 who meet there every week. All were born in Turkey
but have spent much of their lives in Wanheimerort. At least two are German
citizens. Esra is studying mathematics at a university nearby, Fatma and
Meltem are on their way there and Guler studies dental hygiene. Esra, at
least, spoke terrific English but wouldn't use it, perhaps out of
consideration for the several non-English speakers in the room. The Ditib
mosque they attend is among the more liberal in the area, but all the girls
except Fatma were wearing head scarves. I thought of Yadigaroglu, with her
mix of tradition and eagerness to assimilate and decided to ask whether -
given their career tracks - any of them might consider themselves feminists,
if only in an unconventional way. Their answers were: Nein, nein, nein and
nein. "Women think this word makes them more and more free," one said


Page 6 of 7)

Young men I met were often more sour and defensive in such discussions. It
was as if they wanted to be clear about just who was rejecting whom in this
battle between their egos and the wider society's values. In the Duisburg
neighborhood of Meiderich, I visited a German-literature class at the local
high school and asked a room full of 18-year-olds to talk about marriage.
Three-quarters had a Turkish background. One, Husayn, spoke of how he had
already been betrothed to a cousin at a family celebration in Bielefeld and
was looking forward to standing on his own two feet. Several said that
brothers and sisters had married cousins from Turkey, yet each one of them
presented that as a special case, an exception.

But one student, a sharp-tongued fellow named Yavuz, had noticed the erosion
of the Turkish family model in Germany. It struck him as a catastrophe.
"Father and son are no longer father and son," he complained. "They're
buddies to one another. Your father becomes someone to go out and have a
beer with." And Turks' tendency to marry their cousins did not look so bad,
Yavuz said, with the air of one repeating something heard over a dinner
table, when you consider that "one out of six Germans commits incest."

I had heard similar things elsewhere in Germany. In the Comenius Garden in
Neukolln, a particularly tough part of Berlin, Murat, Ali and Hakan, all in
their late teens, were passing a freezing cold afternoon chatting and making
up rap verses. Ali, whose family comes from the Black Sea port of Rize, is
the son of a local Neukölln imam. He is training to be a plumber but is not
employed yet. He is betrothed to a "friend" in Turkey. The person who
introduced me to Ali said Ali's other friends had spoken of the woman as his
cousin. So I started by asking him why he had looked for his wife in Turkey.
"German girls are Schlampen," he replied. They're sluts.

These may be dangerous attitudes. They may also be just the ordinary
sour-grapes insecurities that are the lot of immigrants' children at all
times and all places. Turks often complain that Germans see only the
repressive side to Turkish traditions and not the protective side.

Even Seyran Ates sometimes sounds uncertain that German ideals are
sufficient to protect women. At the end of last summer, two months after she
was attacked on the Mockernbrucke subway platform, she gave up her law
practice. She now says she would be willing to continue work in a law firm,
provided it was large enough to guarantee her security. People have
organized events for her and proclaimed their solidarity. Her alma mater,
the Free University of Berlin, awarded her a prize for defense of human
rights last March. "Socially, there has been a lot of support," she says.
But the way the incident itself occurred, particularly the way men looked on
while she and her client were assaulted - that clearly still upsets her.

"It brought me to despair," she said over tea. "It showed a lack of civic

But would it have been any different in Turkey if a man had begun to beat up
a woman like that on a subway platform?

"Oh, yes," she said calmly. "They'd have lynched him."

The Same Pillow

Wolfgang Schauble, Germany's interior minister, is in an awkward position. A
European interior minister is usually referred to as his country's "top
 cop." That was the job description the last time Schauble held the post,
under Helmut Kohl, between 1989 and 1991. But since he returned to the
ministry in the autumn of 2005, as the highest-ranking Christian Democrat
(behind Chancellor Angela Merkel) in a new coalition government, Schauble
has devoted much of his effort to the Islamkonferenz. At times he seems less
a top cop than a top marriage counselor.

Seated near his desk at the top of an office tower north of Berlin's
Tiergarten in February, Schauble admitted that the tendency of Turks to
bring spouses from abroad is a "main reason why integration isn't improving
with the passing generations." He agrees with Kelek and Ates that what he
calls the "freedom-constraining effects of the family" can stand between a
woman from a non-German culture and the rights to which she is entitled as a
German resident. But as a churchgoing Protestant, he is disinclined to
fiddle with marriage itself. "You have to distinguish between arranged
marriages and forced marriages," he told me. "Forced marriages are illegal.
They're assaults on human rights. They don't meet the minimum demands of a
free society. But arranged marriage - that's a complicated area. There have
always been cases where people have chosen not to meet as just man and woman
but with the intercession of some kind of third party."


Page 7 of 7)

So Schauble seems to be trying to influence behaviors that he says are
neither illegal nor, in most cases, even wrong. He has been pragmatic. When
he started the Islamkonferenz last September, he praised Islam for
reinforcing aspects of German tradition that Germans themselves had
neglected: "the importance of family, respect for elders, a consciousness
and pride in one's own history, culture, religion, tradition and the
day-to-day life of one's faith." Yet he has also spoken favorably about a
controversial video that the government of the Netherlands has been showing
to prospective immigrants. It is supposed to acclimate them to the relative
tolerance of Western societies. Images of women at a topless beach and of
two men kissing are meant to squelch any expectation that those who inhabit
traditionalist cultures can bring those cultures with them to Holland. But
isn't this inconsistent? Don't the social benefits that Schäuble praises
come from a traditional moralism - about, for instance, baring ones breasts
in public - that the video repudiates? "Breasts," Schauble replied, "are not
the main theme."

Certain countries in Europe have placed sharp restrictions on those who
marry foreigners. The Netherlands is one of them. In Denmark, citizens under
the age of 24 are not even allowed to reside in the country with their
non-E.U. spouses. Germany is unlikely to try anything so restrictive. But in
March, the German cabinet approved a reform of immigration laws that would
raise the minimum age of foreign-born spouses to 18. (Studies show that the
lower the age of marriage, the greater the tendency to have an arranged

Schauble also intends to require a minimum basic language proficiency for a
spouse before he or she comes to Germany. "Let's say a young woman, from
some remote part of Turkey, is brought together with her husband while he is
on summer vacation," Schauble suggested. "If she doesn't know a single word
of German when she comes - well, she has little chance to escape the total
control of his family. If she knows a little bit of German, her chances are
better." Long a pet enthusiasm of Schauble's, the idea was taken up by the
incoming French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, during the French campaign this
spring. Schäuble insists that when he says "a little bit" of the native
language, he means a bare minimum, the kind of German you can learn from a
few weeks of listening to audiotapes.

Nonetheless, this little bit means a big change. For perhaps the first time
since the war, German institutions and public opinion are taking a stand in
favor of German culture as they understand it, and implicitly against the
culture of a foreign minority. After a decade in which the Social Democratic
government of Gerhard Schroder focused on the qualifications for German
citizenship (since 1999, all children born in Germany, of whatever
parentage, are eligible for it), the Merkel coalition, following Schäuble,
is stressing the content of citizenship. Germany is beginning to insist on
citizens' responsibilities as well as citizens' rights.

"We are facing the same problems, whether we are practicing Muslims or not,"
Oguz Ucuncu told me one night in Cologne, over a Turkish barbecue in the
heavily immigrant neighborhood of Mulheim. Ucuncu, a quick-witted and
decidedly modern spokesman for the conservative Turkish Muslim group Milli
Gorus, serves on one of the committees of the Islamkonferenz. He pointed out
that Internet "flirt exchanges" and "singles exchanges" are increasingly
popular in Germany. What are those, he asked, if not high-tech means of
"arranging" marriages? (Not to mention considerably less binding romantic
encounters.) What of those native Germans who marry abroad, he asked,
especially the thousands who have married women from East Asia? Shouldn't
they, too, stand accused of wishing to "secede" from Western European
feminism, just as those Turks who marry in Turkey stand accused? "The first
point of any government program now," Ucuncu said, "should be to promote
solidity of family. The idea we should promote is: May you sleep on the same
pillow to the end of your life. This is a Muslim value we should not give
30774  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: October 25, 2007, 04:46:40 AM
Its the NYTimes, so the flavoring is to be expected, but a very interesting piece nonetheless.  As the date of the piece indicates, I've been meaning to get around to posting this one for quite some time.

NY Times
Where Every Generation Is First-Generation
Published: May 27, 2007
Last June, Seyran Ates, a lawyer, was waiting for a U-Bahn train in Berlin's
Mockernbrucke subway station with a client for whom she had secured a
divorce when the client's husband stormed onto the platform. He began
beating up his ex-wife. Then he turned on Ates. Ates recalls seeing a number
of men standing around, watching it all happen, as she danced from side to
side with her attaché case, trying to fend off his heavy punches and kicks.
It was not the first time she had been attacked in the line of duty.

A Turk of partly Kurdish descent, Ates arrived with her parents in the West
Berlin neighborhood of Wedding in the late 1960s, when she was 6. Her
parents were loving, but it was a traditional kind of love that involved
much scolding, grounding and disciplinary slapping. School was Ates's only
escape from the house, and she excelled at it. She knew she wanted to be a
lawyer. Just before her 18th birthday, as her mother and aunt were beginning
to make plans to marry her off, she ran away. This flight was not a simple
abandonment of her family, to whom Ates remains close. Nor was it an
abandonment of her ancestral culture. True, Ates has built her career in law
around a German - and to many Turks, idiosyncratic and hostile - conception
of women's rights. Yet she speaks to her young daughter in Turkish because,
she says, "I want her to understand why I cry when I hear my favorite
Turkish songs."
Ates (pronounced AH-tesh) went to Kreuzberg, a run-down, part-Turkish,
part-hippie neighborhood backed up against the Berlin Wall. By the early
1980s she was working part time as a counselor in a women's center while she
finished her studies. In September 1984, a Turkish nationalist, his exact
motives unclear even today, burst in. Mumbling that "this won't take long,"
he pulled out a gun and fired a bullet into Ates's neck. He then shot the
client Ates was counseling, mortally wounding her. Ates's 2003
autobiography, "Journey Into the Fire," centered on that incident, on her
long, touch-and-go recovery from it and on the preoccupation to which she
has devoted her intellectual and professional energies ever since. Namely,
the inability of women of Turkish background to claim the rights to which
they are entitled as German residents and even as German citizens.

Ates's preoccupation is now Germany's. Since last fall, the Islamkonferenz,
a 30-member panel set up by Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, has
devoted much of its time and energy to the way ethnic minorities meet, mate
and marry - particularly the almost three million German residents of
Turkish descent, more than one-third of whom have German citizenship. The
panel, intended to create a "German Islam," differs from analogous
government bodies set up in France and Italy. In those countries, religious
hierarchs and political activists have dominated. Emerging government
structures have been staffed by people who view religion sympathetically.
The Islamkonferenz, by contrast, includes a wide variety of voices,
religious and not. There is the largely Arab and conservative Central Muslim
Council. There is the Turkish Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (known by
its Turkish acronym, Ditib), a 25-year-old body established in Germany by
the Turkish government to aid with mosque-building, burials and other
religious arrangements. But there are also 10 independent members appointed
without regard to their religious views or affiliations. That is how Ates
wound up pronouncing on some of the most stubborn problems that have arisen
from the mass immigration that began decades ago.

Marriage is not just an aspect of the immigration problem in Germany; to a
growing extent, it is the immigration problem. Starting in the 1960s,
millions of Turkish "guest workers" were imported to provide manpower for
the German economic boom. The guest-worker program was ended in 1973, the
year of the first oil crisis, but large-scale immigration from Turkey has
scarcely abated since. For years, political asylum was relatively easy for
Turks to obtain, owing to political assassinations, military coups and the
violent Kurdish nationalist movement in eastern Anatolia. But since the
Balkan wars of the 1990s, Germany, like most European countries, has
steadily tightened its criteria for political asylum.


Page 2 of 7)

This leaves open only one avenue for non-European men and women who want to
enter Germany legally: marriage to someone with legal residency in the
country. Fortunately for would-be immigrants, young ethnic Turks in Germany
have a strong tendency to marry people from the home country. Exact
statistics are hard to come by, but it is possible that as many as 50
percent of Turks (a word that in common parlance often includes even those
with German citizenship) seek their spouses abroad, according to Schäuble,
the interior minister. For most of the past decade, according to the
ministry, between 21,000 and 27,000 people a year have successfully applied
at German consulates in Turkey to form families in Germany. (Just under
two-thirds of the newcomers are women.) That means roughly half a million
spouses since the mid-1980s, which in turn means hundreds of thousands of
new families in which the children's first language is as likely to be
Turkish as German.

Binational marriage alarms many Germans for two reasons. First, it allows
the Turkish community to grow fast at a time when support for immigration is
low. The Turkish population in Germany multiplies not once in a life cycle
but twice - at childbirth and at marriage. Second, such marriages retard
assimilation even for those Turks long established in Germany. You
frequently hear stories from schoolteachers about a child of guest workers
who was a star pupil three decades ago but whose own children, although born
in Germany, struggle to learn German in grade school. After half a century
of immigration, every new generation of Turks is still, to a large extent, a
first generation.

Turkish marriages are seldom Western-style love matches. They are often
arranged by parents. A 2003 study by the Federal Ministry of Family found
that a quarter of Turkish women in Germany hadn't even known their partners
before they married. The rural Anatolian practice of marrying relatives,
usually first cousins, is frequent. It accounts, according to the Center for
Turkey Studies at the University of Duisburg-Essen, for between a sixth and
a quarter of binational pairings. These marriages bring certain Anatolian
problems into the heart of Germany. Domestic violence is high. The causes of
wife-beating among families of immigrant background can be debated, but not
the numbers. Gulgun Teyhani, who works at a battered-women's shelter in
Duisburg, reckoned that of the 86 women her house took in last year, 60 had
a migrant background, and 51 of them spoke Turkish. Last year, the Federal
Criminal Investigation Agency found that in the preceding five years, 45
"honor killings" were carried out by Turkish or Kurdish families in Germany
against women deemed to have "strayed," generally by dating Europeans or
adopting Western fashions.

It probably doesn't take more than a few such incidents to intimidate young
Turkish women who watch the news or read the papers. Seyran Ates admits that
even divorce lawyers feel this way. "It is a dangerous line of work," she
says. "The men are often aggressive. Their idea is, I'm taking their women
away from them."

Watch Out!

The tragedy of imported brides, Necla Kelek writes, is that they "will live
in Germany but never arrive there." Like Ates, Kelek is a Turkish-German
woman with intense passions on either side of the hyphen. She is another
independent member of the Islamkonferenz. Kelek was born in Istanbul and
came to Germany as a young girl in the 1960s. She, too, climbed into the
middle of mainstream German society through the school system. She earned a
doctorate in sociology but has since turned to a more literary kind of
writing. Her best-selling book, "The Foreign Bride," is a memoir - although
it might be better described as a polemic - about Turkish women imported as
wives. It relies on Kelek's own family anecdotes, on dozens of interviews
conducted in mosques in Hamburg and Lower Saxony and on government studies.
It is in large part a result of her books that some Germans who once viewed
Turkish marriage practices as none of their business now see it as a
pressing crisis.


3 of 7

The German reading public has a powerful appetite for what might be called
noble-savage memoirs - books that span the genres between ethnology, erotica
and bildungsroman. Corinne Hofmann's "White Masai" series, which describes
her romantic life with an East African tribesman, has sold millions of
copies. Even given such a standing fascination, there is something
extraordinary about the appeal, over the last half-decade, of
autobiographies by Muslim women who have either triumphed over or been
beaten down by traditionalist understandings of the family. Although Ates's
and Kelek's books stand out, there are literally dozens of other, lesser
books - with titles like "Choking on Your Lies," "No One Asked My
 Permission" and so on - covering entire dinner-table-size displays in

Just why Germans are consuming these books in such numbers is unclear. This
has always been a culture with an insatiable interest in other cultures, as
the role of Germans in founding the modern social sciences and the thick
concentration of museums in the center of Berlin both attest. It may also be
that Germans have so deeply internalized the ethics of repentance for World
War II that they lack the confidence, or the inclination, to make sweeping
and critical value judgments about other cultures. They now require
non-Germans or semi-Germans or new Germans to say such things. "I have a
special role in this debate," Kelek says over dinner in the East Berlin
neighborhood where she lives. "It is to say, 'Watch out!' "

Few deny that Kelek has put her finger on a genuine problem. A 2002 Berlin
Senate report (cited in her book) documented hundreds of complaints of
forced marriage. But there is controversy over what "forced" means. In
Turkish culture, people tend to discuss liberty in terms of the family
rather than in terms of the individual. If you look at things this way, then
Turkish-style betrothals are just the kind of consultation you would expect
in a close family. After all, they don't involve matchmakers or
extrafamilial institutions. But if you consider individuals first, as
Germans tend to, the intense involvement of parents in the child's marriage
decision looks like a severe constraint on personal freedom - particularly
in a structure as patriarchal as the traditional Turkish family. Kelek
embraces this German way of looking at things. "For me there is no essential
difference between arranged marriage and forced marriage," she writes. "The
outcome is the same."

Many Turks call this a simplistic view. It blurs the distinction between
parental persuasion and heartless coercion, they say. Almost all Turks would
grant that, at some point, threats of ostracism or violence would constitute
unacceptable force. But Kelek, who is a staunch, and to some ears strident,
defender of European values, is impatient with what she sees as
multiculturalist cant. (She is given to tossing off remarks like "Europeans
built America, not Indians," as she did over dinner in Berlin last winter.)

Like Ayaan Hirsi Ali in the Netherlands, Kelek has been accused of
"Enlightenment fundamentalism," a tendency to defend secular values too
dogmatically. Last year, a group of 60 "migration researchers" wrote an open
letter to the weekly paper Die Zeit attacking Kelek's writing as
"unserious" - an odd criticism to level at a memoirist, even one trained in
sociology. Others say she has made Islam too central to her explanation of
violence against women.

Marriage among Turks has become a cause célèbre partly because of Turks'
resistance to German ways. But Turks' acceptance of German ways,
particularly by this first generation of Turkish-German feminist writers and
intellectuals, plays a role too. "I think a lot of Germans are positively
embarrassed by how patriotic these women are," writes Jorg Lau, an admirer
of both Kelek and Ates who often writes about Muslim issues for Die Zeit.
For the first time, negative verdicts on the Turkish model of relations
between the sexes are coming out of the Turkish community itself.

30775  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: VIDEO CLIPS OF INTEREST on: October 25, 2007, 04:24:47 AM
Guro Inosanto and John Machado

From 1992, from a demo reel I assembled for the Machados:
30776  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: October 25, 2007, 03:02:39 AM
Terror vs.
In Pakistan
October 25, 2007; Page A23

After more than a decade in exile, Benazir Bhutto, a former prime minister of Pakistan, returned home to Karachi last week to throngs of cheering supporters. Her triumphal arrival was marred by a terrorist bombing that killed more than 130 people, and underscored this fact: Terrorism is a threat to Pakistan and its people, and not merely a response to the foreign policy of a distant superpower.

For too many Pakistanis, this is a hard fact to accept. Many seem to believe that the war on terrorism is America's war and that if it did not stand with the U.S., then Pakistan would be safe from attack. This is not true. Pakistan has been a terrorist target since the 1980s, when its security services got involved in proxy wars in Afghanistan and Kashmir.

A compilation of published figures shows the trends. In 2006, 1,471 people were killed in terrorist attacks in Pakistan. Of these, 608 were civilians, 325 were security personnel and 538 were terrorists. That's an increase over 2005, when the number of fatalities was much lower: 430 civilians, 137 terrorists and 81 security personnel.

This year terrorists stepped up their attacks even before Ms. Bhutto's return. In the first 10 months of the year, a reported 2,037 people were killed. The number of suicide bombings in Pakistan is also up compared to previous years.

Pakistan clearly has a terrorist problem and needs to fight the organizations that carry out these attacks for the sake of its own people.

The willingness of the United States to provide economic and military aid for fighting terrorism is incidental. Those who punish men for not growing a beard, or who wish to subjugate women, or who behead human beings like animals are not open to persuasion. They will not stop if Pakistan were to distance itself from the U.S.

The attack against Ms. Bhutto reflects a deep-seated anger among global jihadis who shake at the thought of a woman leading the world's only nuclear-armed, majority-Muslim country. It's not the first time this anger has been directed at Ms. Bhutto. When she was elected prime minister for the first time in 1988, fatwas were issued by radical clerics condemning her and the decision to elect her. Ramzi Yousef, mastermind of the 1993 attack on New York's World Trade Center, has also admitted to plotting an attack on Ms. Bhutto in 1989.

Ms. Bhutto is clearly a brave and courageous woman who cannot and will not be deterred easily by either the threats of terrorists, or the machinations of those within Pakistan's covert security services who have consistently conspired against her. Even after the attacks, Ms. Bhutto did not change her stance against terror, nor did she back away from her demand for restoration of democracy and free and fair elections.

Ms. Bhutto's suspicion is that certain elements within Pakistan's ruling establishment might be behind the bid to kill her. These fears should not be disregarded, even though it is difficult for Gen. Pervez Musharraf to accept that some of his close friends and associates may be complicit or tolerant of mass murder. Ms. Bhutto's fears come from almost two decades of being hounded by jihadis and their allies in Pakistan's security establishment. It's crucial for Pakistan to address her concerns.

Mr. Musharraf needs to open his heart to genuine democracy. And that must include listening to the complaints lodged by the people's representatives against his friends and allies in the establishment. In any case, Mr. Musharraf has wasted six critical years in the war against terrorism by failing to purge the government and intelligence services of hard-liners who supported jihadis in the past, and who have maneuvered behind the scenes to stop true democrats from gaining power.

The massive demonstration of support for Ms. Bhutto and her Pakistan Peoples Party last Thursday confirms that her popularity remains undiminished by the political developments of the past two decades.

Before Ms. Bhutto's return, the conventional wisdom offered by many pundits and some politicians was this: Ms. Bhutto is seen to be too pro-American and too pro-Musharraf to be popular in Pakistan. But neither of these suggestions, nor the charges of corruption and misrule that have been repeatedly lodged against her over the past 19 years, seemed to carry much weight with the millions of people enthused about Ms. Bhutto's return.

From America's point of view, the good news is that the people who were cheering in the streets of Pakistan for Ms. Bhutto will likely cheer against terrorism under a government run by her. Pakistan's war against terrorism will likely make better progress with the support of the people than it has in recent years under an embattled military dictator.

Mr. Haqqani is director of Boston University's Center for International Relations and author of "Pakistan Between Mosque and Military" (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2005). He has also served as an adviser to several Pakistani prime ministers, including Ms. Bhutto.
30777  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: October 25, 2007, 02:54:38 AM

Oh, the Humanity!
A report from the Integrated Regional Information Networks of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs brings what sounds like good news from Baghdad:

Iraqis are breathing a sigh of relief as violence in their war-torn country is ebbing and the number of violence-related victims has dropped sharply since the beginning of this year, according to statistics compiled by the country's interior, defence and health ministries.

"Violence-related deaths in September dropped remarkably to levels not seen in more than a year as the number [of violence-related deaths] stood at 290 while in September 2006 the number was about 1,400," Adel Muhsin, the health ministry's inspector-general, told IRIN in a phone interview.

But relief from violence is not without cost, IRIN notes:

Taxi driver Ahmed Khalil Baqir used to station himself outside Baghdad's main morgue, waiting for grieving families who went there to claim their relatives' dead bodies.

"I was totally dependent on them for my living," Baqir, a 44-year-old father of four, said." I never thought about picking up people in the street as I was being hired five to eight times a day by these families. But now it is a waste of time to wait there and these days I wait only for about three hours in the morning and I continue my work picking up passengers in the street."

And to make matters worse, he has to face competition from all those out-of-work hearse drivers.

Translate This
From NBC News:

In a development experts call a significant shift, Iraqi insurgent groups are speaking out against al-Qaida and its brutally violent tactics.

Last week, two groups, Asaeb al-Iraq al-Jihadiya (aka "the Iraqi Jihad Union") and a splinter faction of the 1920 Revolution Brigades called "Hamas in Iraq" issued statements accusing al-Qaida's Iraq wing, al-Qaida in Iraq, of brutally killing their fighters and commanders, as well as women and children.

We'd love to see what the New York Times's editors would do to that second paragraph.

It's About the Children!
30778  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: October 25, 2007, 02:49:30 AM
Giuliani and religious right meet on the road to political adulthood.

Thursday, October 25, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

One school of thought on the religious right holds that if Rudy Giuliani would commit to an unequivocal anti-abortion position, they could vote for him. A second school of thought, articulated by Richard Land, a leading figure in the politically important Southern Baptist Convention, is that he won't vote for any pro-choice candidate "as a matter of personal moral conscience," though Mr. Land says other evangelicals might find a way to vote for Mr. Giuliani.

Among the reasons politicians such as Mr. Giuliani are sensitive to this issue was the revelation, from exit polls after the 2004 election, that values and morals ranked high among voters' concerns. Thus this past weekend the very conservative Family Research Council pointedly named its Washington convocation the "Values Voter Summit."

Into this den of reproach stepped Rudy Giuliani on Saturday, dragging various balls and chains--liberal "social" beliefs, three marriages, alienated children, New York City. No matter that Ronald Reagan had two marriages, alienated children, Hollywood pals and live-and let-live social views. A straw poll taken after the candidates' speeches put Mr. Giuliani next to dead last, before John McCain but well behind the attendees' top choice, former Baptist minister and future talk-show star Mike Huckabee.

The focus here is on the speech Mr. Giuliani delivered to the values summit. He's the front-runner. He's the candidate who somehow has to get people like these evangelicals to decide whether votes in a presidential election ought to be cast for one or two issues or for a governing philosophy. Then there's the little matter of the candidate's character.

Call me old-fashioned, but I think governing philosophy is more important than the endless Chinese puzzle of moving this or that issue forward and back. American politics, right and left, has become obsessive about nailing where candidates "stand" on standalone issues--abortion, gay marriage, immigration, the North Pole melting or pulling out of Iraq. Trying to pin politicians down is honest work. But last time I looked, the thing you win was still called a "government." That means it matters if the candidate is able to govern, which has proven a challenge the past 16 years or so, in part because proliferating factions refuse to be governed.
In the '60s, the left introduced the "non-negotiable demand" into our politics. It's still with us. It's political infantilism. In real life, the non-negotiable "demand" usually ends about age six.

Of necessity, Mr. Giuliani has to get voters on the right past this narrowed focus. Adult politics, though, runs in both directions. Rudy has to move toward them, too, and believably.

Mr. Giuliani didn't mention abortion--and adoption--until deep into the talk. He began by laying down a personal marker: "I can't be all things to all people. I'm just not like that. I can't do that." This opened the door a crack on the man behind the grand smile. He needs to do more of that (why in a moment). But his case against issues pandering is one of the better I've heard: "For me to twist myself all up to try to figure out exactly what you want to hear, and today say one thing and the next day another thing--if you do that too long, you lose the sense of what leadership is all about."

Then came the admission of their political legitimacy, and in a way they'd get. He told them that people of faith "should not be marginalized" in public debates. The "religious right" knows exactly what this means. This is what was at issue when this movement erupted at the GOP convention in Houston back in 1992. The no-apologies belligerence of the Christian right began then because they were marginalized, even mocked by the national press corps in Houston.

Mr. Giuliani, however, didn't exploit their enduring sense of alienation from the media. Instead, he argued with some force that their ideas deserved a seat at the national table. He didn't promise triumph, but he offered respect.

The speech's big set-up theme was "responsibility." Every right carries a duty, and every benefit brings an obligation. His argument to them was a "culture of personal responsibility" enhances both accountability and self-respect, and these in turn will result in less of the things that drive the evangelicals nuts. To the extent any politician can make it sound as if he actually believes this stuff, Mr. Giuliani does.

Still, there's a problem. "Responsibility" was a main theme of Bill Clinton's 1993 inaugural speech. We believed him. A Wall Street Journal editorial, "Responsibility's Return," commented the next day: "It is good to hear any President, or anyone in a position of leadership in this country, talking about personal responsibility. Mr. Clinton is talking about it because in our recent history, there hasn't been enough of it." Then came the presidency.

Mr. Giuliani has a remarkable gift for political empathy. But I think he is acutely aware that no one talked this kind of talk better than Bill Clinton, and that the show-stopper ever after for charismatic presidential candidates will have to do with questions about character once in office.
So to the values voters he added: "We lose trust in political leaders not because they are imperfect; after all, they're human. We lose trust with them when they're not honest with us." A woman in the audience said, "That's right."

That's right. But twice in the speech, Mr. Giuliani tried to explain that his faith and his personal failings were difficult to discuss "because of the way I was brought up, or for other reasons." Other reasons? The way he was brought up--in the pre-Vatican II grade schools and high schools of New York City-- many of us understand. But he'll need to find a way to talk about "the other reasons."

It was a remarkable, effective and important speech. And more useful still if Mr. Giuliani and the religious right can reach some shared understanding of political and personal adulthood.

Mr. Henninger is deputy editor of The Wall Street Journal's editorial page. His column appears Thursdays in the Journal and on
30779  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: October 24, 2007, 07:56:02 PM
Iraq: The Latest Turkish Incursion
Reports of a Turkish military operation in northern Iraq emerged Oct. 24. Supposedly, between Oct. 21 and Oct. 23, some 300 Turkish troops moved as far as six miles into Iraq before withdrawing while artillery and airstrikes were conducted. Sources in Turkey have said that more than 30 Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) fighters were killed.

For weeks, Turkey has been positioning itself for a major incursion into northern Iraq to confront the PKK, which has been using the area as a safe-haven from which to operate. Indeed, Turkish special forces already operate extensively in northern Iraq, and cross-border shelling is hardly uncommon. But the last several days appear to have included overt strikes inside Iraq by F-16s (reportedly flying out of Diyarbakir, a major eastern Turkish air base) and AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters, as well as at least one incident of "hot pursuit" by uniformed Turkish forces following PKK fighters across the border.

Tensions spiked Oct. 21, when the PKK killed 12 Turkish soldiers in an attack inside Turkey; the PKK reportedly has captured more Turkish troops since. The recent operation could have been a reprisal for that attack or an attempt to rescue captured soldiers. But the operation Ankara is preparing for is far larger in scale and scope. Historically, these operations have involved as many as 50,000 troops and lasted more than a month. (Though past major operations were concluded by this time of year; winter is fast approaching in the mountainous border region, and the optimal weather for an extensive incursion has passed.)

Meanwhile, the public revelation of this most recent incursion was quickly followed by an official statement from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) requesting restraint from both Ankara and the PKK. KRG President Massoud Barzani for the first time called on the PKK to end its rebellion, and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani indicated he is willing to hand over PKK fighters to Turkey. Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan visited Baghdad at the same time Washington implied that it might be willing to strike at the PKK militarily -- a noteworthy confluence of events.

The KRG has its own issues with Ankara, as well as with Baghdad, where the fate of Kirkuk and the oil issue still hang in the balance. Ongoing internal Kurdish rivalries will rage. Turkish military positioning, including the expansion of buffer zones -- at least inside Turkey proper -- will continue.

For Turkey especially, a momentary resolution on the PKK issue does not solve the underlying issue of the strongest Kurdish presence it has ever seen -- one with an autonomy Ankara opposes not only in Turkey (where half the Kurdish population lives) but also in Iraq, Iran or elsewhere. The PKK offers the proximate cause and the justification, but Turkey is likely also now repositioning its forces to confront the long-term reality of a semiautonomous Kurdish state on its border.

30780  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bin Laden is bummed on: October 24, 2007, 07:47:49 PM
Note that Bill Roggio's The Fourth Rail is now found at this site. And it's always chuck full of news from multiple theaters of the Long War.

The Long War Journal: "The darkness has become pitch black" - Osama bin Laden on Iraq situation

Written by Bill Roggio on October 24, 2007 6:19 PM to The Long War Journal
Available online at:

Recent report from US commanders in Iraq have stated al Qaeda in Iraq has been set back by a combination of the latest offensive and the willingness of local Iraqis to turn on the terror group. Based Osama bin Laden's latest audiotape, al Qaeda central command agrees that the fight against the US and the Iraqi government is not going well.
A clearer picture of Osama bin Laden's view on the state of jihad in Iraq emerges after the release of the full transcript of Osama bin Laden's latest audiotape, Not only does bin Laden admit errors in the Iraqi leader's ability to unite the tribes and Sunni insurgent groups, he views the situation in Iraq as dire for al Qaeda. Bin Laden accuses his foot soldier of "negligence" for failing to properly employ IEDs, laments the unwillingness of Iraqis who do not wish to attack their brothers in the police and army, and closes his statement by saying "the darkness [in Iraq] has become pitch black."
Al Qaeda, IEDs, and "negligence"

Bin Laden addresses a tactical failure of al Qaeda in Iraq's IED cells. He clearly is unhappy with their performance, and indicated the failure to employ IEDs efficiently against U.S. forces is due to "negligence." He is also concerned about the infiltration of Iraqi and American spies.
I tell my brothers: beware of your enemies, especially the hypocrites who infiltrate your ranks to stir up strife among the Mujahid groups, and refer such people to the judiciary. And you must check and verify, and avert the Hudood through doubts. You must protect your secrets and excel in your actions, for among the things which sadden the Muslims and the delight the unbelievers is the hindering of some combat operations against the enemy because of negligence in any of the stages of preparation for the operation, whether it be reconnaissance of the target, training, integrity, and suitability of weapons and ammunition, quality of the explosive device or other such arrangements. And when you lay a mine, do it right, and don't leave so much as one wounded American soldier or spy.
US and Iraqi Security Forces have specifically focused on targeting IED and suicide bomb cells over the course of the summer. In some cases, IED cells have been captured wholesale by conventional and special forces and in other cases IED emplacers have been killed in groups of five to 15 while attempting to plant their weapons by Coalition aircraft. In Anbar province, al Qaeda in Iraq has failed to kill a single US serviceman by IED since September 10. It seems bin Laden is acutely aware of this.
Osama bin Laden is often portrayed as a spiritual leader and figurehead detached from day-to-day operations, but this recent speech merely reinforces what we already know about him. An engineer by training, bin Laden is very interested in the planning and execution of attacks and operations. The 9/11 Commission Report stated bin Laden was personally involved in reviewing the operational attack plans for the embassy bombings, the Cole, and 9/11. He immerses himself in the technical details and the tactics used by his operators, and keeps apprised of the situation on the battlefields.
A split with the insurgency over attacking the Iraqi Security Forces
While bin Laden repeatedly admonishes his leaders for failing to build the relationships with Sunni tribal groups and allied insurgent groups, he continues to push attacks on Iraqi police and soldiers. This attitude has pitted some of the more nationalist Sunni groups away from al Qaeda, as they loath to attack their own countrymen, instead viewing the US and Coalition forces as the enemy.
Bin Laden tells the Iraqi people to "beware of ... those in the land of the Two Sanctuaries in particular, who forbid the Mujahideen from fighting the army and police of the traitors – like al-Alawi, al-Jafari and al-Maliki - although they know that they are tools of the American occupation helping it to kill the people of Islam which is obvious apostasy on the part of the soldiers."
The violent attacks against the Iraqi Security Forces, particularly in Anbar province during the winter and spring of 2007, were accompanied by strikes against the families and tribes which supported the establishment police and army units. Mishan al-Jabouri, a leader in the Islamic Army in Iraq and the proprietor of Al Zawraa, an insurgent TV channel, attacked al Qaeda in Iraq for intentionally targeting members of the Iraqi Army and police forces. Al-Jabouri and other Sunni insurgents believed those joining the security forces were acting in the best interest of Iraqis.
Contempt for the Saudi king

In the next paragraph, bin Laden shows his contempt for Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, who he describes as "the idol-king of Riyadh" and "the biggest promoter of the American-Zionist project in the region."
And worst of all is that these men of knowledge consider the idol-king of Riyadh to be guardian of the Muslims' affair, and call on the Muslims to rally around him, although they know that he is the biggest promoter of the American-Zionist project in the region, and is one of those who called on it to invade Iraq. These, "they are the enemies, so beware of them. Allah curse them, how they lie!" (63:4)
Earlier in the speech, bin Laden chastises Abdullah for backing the deployment of African peacekeepers to Darfur in Sudan. He refer to Abdullah as "the governor of Riyadh" who "again sought to convince the Sudanese president, this time to implement the demands of the United Atheist Nations to allow the entrance of Crusader forces to Darfur." Bin Laden described the Darfur peacekeeping mission as "a brazen occupation" and stated "only an infidel apostate seeks it or agrees to it."
Darkness. Where are the mujahideen?

While bin Laden clearly sees the situation in Iraq as dire -- he said "the darkness has become pitch black" -- he holds out hope that the vanguard fighters of al Qaeda can hold the line until reinforcements arrive.
In closing, I tell our people in Iraq, the patient ones garrisoned on the first line of the religion and sanctities of the Muslims: the malice has increased and the darkness has become pitch black, and with the likes of you, nations reinforce themselves and climb summits.
He calls on Muslims of the Middle East to rejoin the fight, challenging their honor and willingness to fight when they are needed.
So where are those who prefer the religion to the lives of themselves and their children? Where are the people of Tawheed and those who topple the banner of unbelief and polytheism? Where are those who find torture to be pleasant and don't fear the blows? Where are those who find difficulty to be easy and bitterness to be sweet, because they are certain that the fire of Hell is much hotter? Where are those who go out to fight the Romans, as on the day of Tabuk? Where are those who pledge to fight to the death, as on the day of Yarmuk? Where are the soldiers of the Levant and the reinforcements of Yemen? Where are the knights of the Quiver (Egypt) and the lions of the Hijaz (western Saudi Arabia) and al-Yamamah (central Saudi Arabia)? Come and aid your brothers in Mesopotamia and relieve them by coordinating with them by way of dependable guides.

An outside view
Al Qaeda, via As Sahab Media, its propaganda arm, resists the interpretation of bin Laden's speech. As Sahab attacked Al Jazeera for "counterfeiting" the facts of his speech. As Sahab posted the video online at the Ekhlaas forum, along with the following note in English: "Note: We are publishing the whole speech of Shiekh Osama Bin Laden After the tremendous amount of Counterfeiting of the facts and altering the purposes and objectives of the Speech by AL-Jazeerah Satellite channel which ignored all the pillars of honor professional media."
Abdel Bari Atwan, the editor of al-Quds al-Arabi who interviewed bin Laden in 1996, disagrees. Atwan stated in a published editorial that this is the first time al Qaeda admitted errors and was seeking to rectify the situation in Iraq. He noted al Qaeda's zeal in enforcing its radical ideology on Sunni Iraqis turned the majority of Sunnis against the terror group.
"Launching diatribes against others and imposing a particular theological school of thought on everyone, has allowed al-Qaeda's enemies to gain an advantage," Atwan said. "In particular, it's helped the Americans to win the trust of certain tribal leaders. In this way, for the Iraqis the enemy has become al-Qaeda and not the occupying forces."
In Ramadi, "the city that al Qaeda leaders once declared the seat of a new Islamic caliphate and capital of the Iraqi insurgency," the Anbar Awakening held a march honoring Sheik Sattar Abu Risha, the leader of the movement who was slain by al Qaeda 40 days ago. The parade lasted four two hours and Iraqi government officials were in attendance. There were no attacks on the procession.
"Al-Qaeda never wanted to see the sons of Anbar to unite and form security forces. Now I think we have broken their back by building the police and security force," said Sheik Ahmed Abu Risha, the brother of Sattar who succeeded him as the leader of the Anbar Awakening. "Let them come forward and show their faces.... Let them come out, we will fight them."
30781  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Casting call on: October 24, 2007, 07:29:14 PM

My name is Sean De Simone and I am casting a new show for the Discovery
Channel and am in search of Martial Artists and other forms of combat

Please take a look at the information below.  Please feel free to pass onto
any one else you think might be appropriate.


Casting Fighters / Host

Do you love the art of fighting?

Are you ready to push yourself to the limit?

Do you want to travel the world learning the history and culture of various
fight styles?

NorthSouth Productions is looking for a male martial arts fighter, age
25-40, with an outgoing, charismatic, engaging, smart, and inquisitive
personality to co-host a new martial arts television series. Skill level can
range from beginner to expert. Should have a genuine love of the sport and
interest in learning about other traditional fighting styles.

This show will have you push your physical and emotional limits so you must
be up to the challenge. If you would like to see a clip/description of the
show go to <> and click on Fight

Must be willing to travel. Must be willing to take a kick to the face and
then some. This is a real fighting show- possibility of injury.

We are searching for a backup host, someone to substitute for our current
hosts if they get hurt. You will need to be prepared to travel with just 2
weeks notice and be gone for 10 days at a time through March 2008.

If you are interested in being considered and fit the description, please
send a fight bio,a photo of yourself, professional resume and reason why you
would be interested in the show to Sean De Simone at
If you are not in the NYC area you will also need to send a reel or put
yourself on tape..

Questions and tape guide lines (3 to 5 minutes long)

Tell your camera-operator that this should be shot from the waist up. Don't
shoot toward a light or sun (puts you in silhouette).
Be natural, be brief. Have fun with this! Show us your personality. We're
looking for brains, charisma, and fighting ability.



Fighting Experience

Media Experience (if any)

Have you traveled overseas? Where? For what?

Have you ever trained in martial arts overseas?

What interests you about hosting this show?

What fighting style would you be most interested in learning?

What would make you most interested in traveling?

What¹s the strangest experience you¹ve ever had?

Materials must be received by Oct 30th, 2007 to be considered.

VHS, DVD or mini-DV formats are accepted.  Materials will not be returned.

Please Send Tape to:

North South Production
1140 Broadway
Suite 1201
New York, NY 10001

Attn: Sean De Simone - Fight Quest Casting
30782  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: November 18, 2007 Dog Bros Gathering of the Pack on: October 24, 2007, 04:15:29 PM
A Howl of Greeting:

The rhythm of the seasons is with us and its time for the "Fall Dog Brothers Gathering of the Pack". On behalf of the Council of Elders of the Dog Brothers, Dog Brothers Inc. hereby cordially invites all people of good spirit to its "Dog Brothers Fall Gathering of the Pack" at 11:00 AM on Sunday, November 18, 2007 and are pleased to announce that thanks to the graciousness of Original Productions it will be held at the same location as the June DB Gathering and set up in similar manner (including lights and cameras): 

Original Productions warehouse (a.k.a. the set for Monster Garage)
2435 N. Naomi Street
Burbank. CA 91504-3232

The Magic Words:

The MAGIC WORDS: "No judges, no referees, no trophies. One rule only: Be friends at the end of the day. This means our goal is that no one spends the night in the hospital. Our goal is that everyone leaves with the IQ with which they came. No suing no one for no reason for nothing no how no way!Real Contact Stickfighting is Dangerous and only you are responsible for you, so protect yourself at all times. All copyright belongs to Dog Brothers Inc. CA law applies."


For example, sticks, and fights for that matter, may go flying into the crowd. Parents should consider things like this in deciding whether a child is old enough to bring along and/or deciding on from where to observe the event. If a stick or a fight comes careening your way know that the fight has right of way-- it is on you to get out of the way!  If you are sitting in or near the front row, we will not make fun of you if you wear protective headgear!

As always, NO VIDEO CAMERAS and NO DUAL PURPOSE CAMERAS WILL BE ALLOWED. In God we trust, everyone else, NO DUAL PURPOSE CAMERAS.  If you see someone cheating, please let us know.

We will continue starting the knife fights with a handshake and the knives undrawn and analogous ideas. Concerning the knife fighting, there is a relevant thread at "Shocknife" has promised us a couple of its newest model electric knives and so it looks like we will be able to have electric knife vs. electric knife fights. Perhaps this will help induce more realistic behavior during the knife fights!

Again we encourage you to fight knife versus stick-- the stick versus electric knife is always exciting. Stick vs. knife has been one of perennial questions of the FMA, so let's continue the research! Also, please feel free to hide a knife on your person and surprise your opponent with it during the stickfights.  Remember that you may fight with weapons other than a stick if you can find someone willing to go against you. Please consider staff, double stick, and anything else. In order to more deeply explore certain variables, fighters may agree to "no grappling" rules. In staff fights, the fighters may wear wrestling type ear guards under the fencing masks. 

Last time many fighters misssed watching many of the fights as they were waiting their turn and so we are going to try an innovation from the Swiss Gathering last month-- the Dance Card.  This will allow each fighter to sign up and see how many fights are ahead of his (her) fight so he watch fights until it is time for him to gear up and be ready when called.

There is a thread for fighters at  and one for more general Gathering related matters at:

As always, there is no charge for fighters but FIGHTERS MUST PRE-REGISTER, even if they have fought before. WE WILL BE RUTHLESS ON THIS! The Fighter's Registration form can be found on the website and MUST be filled out whether you have fought before or not. For all Fighter Registration matters, please contact Cindy at 310-540-6853. You are not registered until your name appears on the list of registered fighters on the website!!!

The Adventure continues!!!

"Higher Consciousness through Harder Contact" (c)

Crafty Dog
Guiding Force of the Dog Brothers
President/Dog Brothers Inc. Martial Arts
30783  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Armas illegales (en ingles) on: October 24, 2007, 03:20:20 PM

Mexico: Dynamics of the Gun Trade
By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart

The number of drug-related killings in Mexico in 2007 already has surpassed 2,000, an increase of 300 over the same period last year, according to statistics reported by Mexican media outlets. Moreover, sources familiar with the issue say police officials in some jurisdictions have been purposely underreporting drug-related homicides, suggesting that the real body count is even higher.

In addition to the Mexican drug cartels that engage in torture and killings (at times involving beheadings), armed criminal gangs are notorious kidnappers -- prompting some to call Mexico the "kidnapping capital of the world." This has resulted in a boom for armored car manufacturers and security companies, given that most wealthy people living in the country own armored vehicles, and many employ executive protection teams to provide security for themselves, their families and their homes. Additionally, heavily armed criminal gangs regularly commit armed robberies, muggings and express kidnappings.

The one constant in these violent crimes is guns. Mexico's robust gun culture stretches back to revolutions, counterrevolutions and revolutionary bandits such as Pancho Villa. Because of this culture, guns are common in Mexico -- despite strict gun-control laws and licensing procedures. This demand for guns has created an illicit market that not only is intimately related to the U.S. market for illegal narcotics but also, in many ways, mirrors the dynamics of that market. Drugs flow north and guns flow south -- resulting in handsome profits for those willing to run the risks.

Mexican Laws

Similar to the U.S. Constitution, the 1917 Mexican Constitution guarantees Mexico's inhabitants the right to have "arms of any kind in their possession for their protection and legitimate defense." However, the constitution includes many caveats on private citizens' ownership of guns, prohibiting those "expressly forbidden by law" and those "the nation may reserve for the exclusive use of the army, navy or national guard." Furthermore, Mexican law calls for long prison terms for violators.

Mexico, then, has some of the world's strictest gun-control laws -- making guns difficult to obtain legally. Average citizens who want to purchase guns for self-defense or recreational purposes must first get approval from the government. Then, because there are no private-sector gun stores in the country, they must buy weapons through the Defense Department's Arms and Ammunition Marketing Division (UCAM). In accordance with Mexican law, the UCAM carefully limits the calibers of guns it sells. For example, it does not sell handguns larger than a .380 or .38 Special. Also, under Mexican law, popular handguns such as .357 magnum revolvers and 9 mm pistols are exclusively reserved for the armed forces.

Regardless of these efforts, the illicit arms market has been thriving for decades -- not only because firearm laws are not evenly enforced but also because criminals have found a way to circumvent efforts to stem the flow of guns. Moreover, not all illegal guns are in the hands of cartel members and street criminals. A healthy percentage of them are purchased by affluent Mexicans who are not satisfied with the selection of calibers available through the UCAM. Sources say it is not at all unusual to find Mexicans who own prohibited .357 magnum revolvers or .45 caliber pistols for self-defense against kidnappers and armed robbers. In addition to ballistic considerations, Latin machismo is also a factor -- some Mexican men want to own and carry powerful, large-caliber pistols.  (!Que estupido este comentario!  Esta' escrito obviamente por un p---d-jo quien vive en su oficina.  No se le ocurre que pueda haber razones muy logicas p.e. poner un fin a un problema grave de pronto)

The Mechanics of the Gun Trade

This mixture of the historical Mexican gun culture, machismo, strong desire for guns, lax enforcement of gun laws, official corruption and a raging cartel war has created a high demand for illegal guns. Guns sold on the black market in Mexico can fetch as much as 300 percent of their normal market value -- a profit margin similar to that of the cocaine trafficked by the cartels. The laws of economics dictate that where there is a strong demand -- and a considerable profit margin -- entrepreneurs will devise ways to meet that demand. Of course, the illicit markets are no different from the legitimate economy in this respect, and a number of players have emerged to help supply Mexico's appetite for illicit weaponry.

Millions of Mexicans reside (legally and otherwise) in the United States, and the two countries conduct a staggering amount of commerce (legal and otherwise) across the border. In this context, then, when one considers that there are more gun stores in a typical small town in Texas than there are in all of Mexico City, it should come as no surprise that a large number of the weapons found on the illicit arms market in Mexico originated in the United States. In fact, Mexican officials say that as much as 90 percent of the illegal weapons they seize are of U.S. origin.

The most obvious players in the gun trade are the cartels themselves, which not only have the financial resources to buy guns in the United States but also are in a position to receive guns in trade for narcotics from their distribution contacts north of the border. The traditional pattern for cartel operations over the past few decades has been to smuggle drugs north over the border and return with money and guns -- many times over the same routes and by the same conveyances. In addition to the problem of the notoriously corrupt Mexican customs officials, efforts to stem the flow of guns into Mexico also have been hampered by technological limitations. For example, until recently, Mexican authorities lacked X-ray equipment to inspect vehicles entering the country, and this inspection capacity still remains limited.

The cartels also obtain weapons from contacts along their supply networks in South and Central America, where substantial quantities of military ordnance have been shipped over decades to supply insurgencies and counterinsurgencies. Explosives from domestic Mexican sources also are widely available and are generally less expensive than guns.

Aside from the cartels, other criminal syndicates are dedicated to the arms trade. These groups can range from small mom-and-pop operations involving a few individuals who obtain weapons from family members residing in the United States or Central America to large organizations with complex networks that buy dozens or hundreds of weapons at a time.

As in other criminal enterprises in Mexico, such as drug smuggling or kidnapping, it is not unusual to find police officers and military personnel involved in the illegal arms trade. On Sept. 12, three high-ranking police commanders from Baja California and Baja California Sur states were arrested by U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) agents in Phoenix for illegally purchasing weapons at a gun show. (U.S. law prohibits foreigners from buying weapons.) Over the past few years, several Mexican government officials have been arrested on both sides of the border for participating in the arms trade.

Although it is illegal for Mexican nationals to buy guns in the United States and for Americans to haul guns to Mexico, entrepreneurs have found a variety of ways to skirt such laws. Perhaps one of the least recognized ploys is plain old document fraud. Fake documents -- which are easily obtained along the border -- range in quality (and price) from poorly rendered counterfeits to genuine documents obtained with the assistance of corrupt government officials. Using such documents, a Mexican citizen can pose as a U.S. citizen and pass the required background checks to buy guns -- unless, that is, the prospective gun buyer was foolish enough to assume the identity of an American with a criminal record.

Perhaps the most common way to purchase guns is by using a "straw-man" buyer (sometimes in combination with document fraud). That is, paying a person with a clean record who has legal standing to buy the gun. This also is a tried-and-true tactic used by criminals in the United States who are ineligible to purchase guns due to prior convictions. The "straw man" in these cases often is a girlfriend or other associate who is paid to buy a gun for them. Also, with so many family relations spanning the border, it is easy for a Mexican citizen to ask an American relative to purchase a gun or guns on their behalf.

While document fraud and straw-man purchases can be used to bypass the law and fool respectable gun dealers, not all gun dealers are respectable. Some will falsify their sales records in order to sell guns to people they know are not legally permitted to have them -- especially if the guns are being sold at a premium price. ATF does conduct audits of gun dealers, but even after a steep decline in the number of federal firearms dealers over the past decade, there still are not enough inspectors to regularly audit the records of the more than 50,000 federal firearms license holders. This lack of oversight and the temptation of easy money cause some dealers to break the law knowingly.

Guns also can be obtained for the Mexican black market through theft. The cartels traditionally have tasked groups of young street thugs in the United States with stealing items (such as pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles) for the cartels to use or resell in Mexico. Now, intelligence reports suggest that these thugs have begun to rob gun stores in towns along the border. One such group is the Gulf cartel-related "Zetitas" (little Zetas), which is active in the Texas cities of Houston, Laredo and San Antonio, as well as other places.

A cartel connection is suspected when the weapons and ammunition stolen are popular with the cartels, such as assault rifles and FN Five-Seven pistols. The FN Five-Seven and the FN P-90 personal defense weapon shoot a 5.7 x 28 mm round that has been shown to penetrate body armor, as well as vehicle doors and windows. Because of this, they recently have become very popular with cartel enforcers, who have begun to call the weapons matapolicias -- police killers. Several police officials have been killed with these guns this year -- though officers also have been killed with .357 magnum revolvers, .45-caliber pistols and AK-47- or M-16-style assault rifles. Still, due to the rising popularity of the 5.7 x 28 mm weapons among cartel gunmen, many of these somewhat esoteric (and excellently manufactured) weapons are acquired in the United States and end up south of the border. Any time one of these weapons is connected to a crime on either side of the border, a cartel link should be considered.

The gun problem in Mexico is similar to the drug problem in the United States in that it is extremely difficult to reduce the supply of the illicit items without first reducing the demand. Any small reduction in the supply leads to an increase in price, which further stimulates efforts to provide a supply. Therefore, as long as the demand for such weapons persists, people will continue to find creative ways to meet that demand and make a profit. With that demand being fed, at least in part, by drug cartels that are warring for control of drug trafficking routes into the United States, the two problems of drugs and guns will continue to be deeply intertwined.

30784  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: October 24, 2007, 03:06:40 PM
Mexico: Dynamics of the Gun Trade
By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart

The number of drug-related killings in Mexico in 2007 already has surpassed 2,000, an increase of 300 over the same period last year, according to statistics reported by Mexican media outlets. Moreover, sources familiar with the issue say police officials in some jurisdictions have been purposely underreporting drug-related homicides, suggesting that the real body count is even higher.

In addition to the Mexican drug cartels that engage in torture and killings (at times involving beheadings), armed criminal gangs are notorious kidnappers -- prompting some to call Mexico the "kidnapping capital of the world." This has resulted in a boom for armored car manufacturers and security companies, given that most wealthy people living in the country own armored vehicles, and many employ executive protection teams to provide security for themselves, their families and their homes. Additionally, heavily armed criminal gangs regularly commit armed robberies, muggings and express kidnappings.

The one constant in these violent crimes is guns. Mexico's robust gun culture stretches back to revolutions, counterrevolutions and revolutionary bandits such as Pancho Villa. Because of this culture, guns are common in Mexico -- despite strict gun-control laws and licensing procedures. This demand for guns has created an illicit market that not only is intimately related to the U.S. market for illegal narcotics but also, in many ways, mirrors the dynamics of that market. Drugs flow north and guns flow south -- resulting in handsome profits for those willing to run the risks.

Mexican Laws

Similar to the U.S. Constitution, the 1917 Mexican Constitution guarantees Mexico's inhabitants the right to have "arms of any kind in their possession for their protection and legitimate defense." However, the constitution includes many caveats on private citizens' ownership of guns, prohibiting those "expressly forbidden by law" and those "the nation may reserve for the exclusive use of the army, navy or national guard." Furthermore, Mexican law calls for long prison terms for violators.

Mexico, then, has some of the world's strictest gun-control laws -- making guns difficult to obtain legally. Average citizens who want to purchase guns for self-defense or recreational purposes must first get approval from the government. Then, because there are no private-sector gun stores in the country, they must buy weapons through the Defense Department's Arms and Ammunition Marketing Division (UCAM). In accordance with Mexican law, the UCAM carefully limits the calibers of guns it sells. For example, it does not sell handguns larger than a .380 or .38 Special. Also, under Mexican law, popular handguns such as .357 magnum revolvers and 9 mm pistols are exclusively reserved for the armed forces.

Regardless of these efforts, the illicit arms market has been thriving for decades -- not only because firearm laws are not evenly enforced but also because criminals have found a way to circumvent efforts to stem the flow of guns. Moreover, not all illegal guns are in the hands of cartel members and street criminals. A healthy percentage of them are purchased by affluent Mexicans who are not satisfied with the selection of calibers available through the UCAM. Sources say it is not at all unusual to find Mexicans who own prohibited .357 magnum revolvers or .45 caliber pistols for self-defense against kidnappers and armed robbers. In addition to ballistic considerations, Latin machismo is also a factor -- some Mexican men want to own and carry powerful, large-caliber pistols.

The Mechanics of the Gun Trade

This mixture of the historical Mexican gun culture, machismo, strong desire for guns, lax enforcement of gun laws, official corruption and a raging cartel war has created a high demand for illegal guns. Guns sold on the black market in Mexico can fetch as much as 300 percent of their normal market value -- a profit margin similar to that of the cocaine trafficked by the cartels. The laws of economics dictate that where there is a strong demand -- and a considerable profit margin -- entrepreneurs will devise ways to meet that demand. Of course, the illicit markets are no different from the legitimate economy in this respect, and a number of players have emerged to help supply Mexico's appetite for illicit weaponry.

Millions of Mexicans reside (legally and otherwise) in the United States, and the two countries conduct a staggering amount of commerce (legal and otherwise) across the border. In this context, then, when one considers that there are more gun stores in a typical small town in Texas than there are in all of Mexico City, it should come as no surprise that a large number of the weapons found on the illicit arms market in Mexico originated in the United States. In fact, Mexican officials say that as much as 90 percent of the illegal weapons they seize are of U.S. origin.

The most obvious players in the gun trade are the cartels themselves, which not only have the financial resources to buy guns in the United States but also are in a position to receive guns in trade for narcotics from their distribution contacts north of the border. The traditional pattern for cartel operations over the past few decades has been to smuggle drugs north over the border and return with money and guns -- many times over the same routes and by the same conveyances. In addition to the problem of the notoriously corrupt Mexican customs officials, efforts to stem the flow of guns into Mexico also have been hampered by technological limitations. For example, until recently, Mexican authorities lacked X-ray equipment to inspect vehicles entering the country, and this inspection capacity still remains limited.

The cartels also obtain weapons from contacts along their supply networks in South and Central America, where substantial quantities of military ordnance have been shipped over decades to supply insurgencies and counterinsurgencies. Explosives from domestic Mexican sources also are widely available and are generally less expensive than guns.

Aside from the cartels, other criminal syndicates are dedicated to the arms trade. These groups can range from small mom-and-pop operations involving a few individuals who obtain weapons from family members residing in the United States or Central America to large organizations with complex networks that buy dozens or hundreds of weapons at a time.

As in other criminal enterprises in Mexico, such as drug smuggling or kidnapping, it is not unusual to find police officers and military personnel involved in the illegal arms trade. On Sept. 12, three high-ranking police commanders from Baja California and Baja California Sur states were arrested by U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) agents in Phoenix for illegally purchasing weapons at a gun show. (U.S. law prohibits foreigners from buying weapons.) Over the past few years, several Mexican government officials have been arrested on both sides of the border for participating in the arms trade.

Although it is illegal for Mexican nationals to buy guns in the United States and for Americans to haul guns to Mexico, entrepreneurs have found a variety of ways to skirt such laws. Perhaps one of the least recognized ploys is plain old document fraud. Fake documents -- which are easily obtained along the border -- range in quality (and price) from poorly rendered counterfeits to genuine documents obtained with the assistance of corrupt government officials. Using such documents, a Mexican citizen can pose as a U.S. citizen and pass the required background checks to buy guns -- unless, that is, the prospective gun buyer was foolish enough to assume the identity of an American with a criminal record.

Perhaps the most common way to purchase guns is by using a "straw-man" buyer (sometimes in combination with document fraud). That is, paying a person with a clean record who has legal standing to buy the gun. This also is a tried-and-true tactic used by criminals in the United States who are ineligible to purchase guns due to prior convictions. The "straw man" in these cases often is a girlfriend or other associate who is paid to buy a gun for them. Also, with so many family relations spanning the border, it is easy for a Mexican citizen to ask an American relative to purchase a gun or guns on their behalf.

While document fraud and straw-man purchases can be used to bypass the law and fool respectable gun dealers, not all gun dealers are respectable. Some will falsify their sales records in order to sell guns to people they know are not legally permitted to have them -- especially if the guns are being sold at a premium price. ATF does conduct audits of gun dealers, but even after a steep decline in the number of federal firearms dealers over the past decade, there still are not enough inspectors to regularly audit the records of the more than 50,000 federal firearms license holders. This lack of oversight and the temptation of easy money cause some dealers to break the law knowingly.

Guns also can be obtained for the Mexican black market through theft. The cartels traditionally have tasked groups of young street thugs in the United States with stealing items (such as pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles) for the cartels to use or resell in Mexico. Now, intelligence reports suggest that these thugs have begun to rob gun stores in towns along the border. One such group is the Gulf cartel-related "Zetitas" (little Zetas), which is active in the Texas cities of Houston, Laredo and San Antonio, as well as other places.

A cartel connection is suspected when the weapons and ammunition stolen are popular with the cartels, such as assault rifles and FN Five-Seven pistols. The FN Five-Seven and the FN P-90 personal defense weapon shoot a 5.7 x 28 mm round that has been shown to penetrate body armor, as well as vehicle doors and windows. Because of this, they recently have become very popular with cartel enforcers, who have begun to call the weapons matapolicias -- police killers. Several police officials have been killed with these guns this year -- though officers also have been killed with .357 magnum revolvers, .45-caliber pistols and AK-47- or M-16-style assault rifles. Still, due to the rising popularity of the 5.7 x 28 mm weapons among cartel gunmen, many of these somewhat esoteric (and excellently manufactured) weapons are acquired in the United States and end up south of the border. Any time one of these weapons is connected to a crime on either side of the border, a cartel link should be considered.

The gun problem in Mexico is similar to the drug problem in the United States in that it is extremely difficult to reduce the supply of the illicit items without first reducing the demand. Any small reduction in the supply leads to an increase in price, which further stimulates efforts to provide a supply. Therefore, as long as the demand for such weapons persists, people will continue to find creative ways to meet that demand and make a profit. With that demand being fed, at least in part, by drug cartels that are warring for control of drug trafficking routes into the United States, the two problems of drugs and guns will continue to be deeply intertwined.

30785  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: October 24, 2007, 12:37:12 PM
Wash Your Hands, and Don't Shave
Your Legs: Advice to Avoid Infection
October 23, 2007; Page D1

As a virulent strain of antibiotic-resistant bacteria spreads beyond hospital walls, some communities are taking extreme measures such as closing schools for disinfection. But getting adults and children to pay better attention to a few simple personal-hygiene rules, and taking precautionary measures such as getting a flu shot, may be a far more effective weapon against the bugs.

New reports of deaths and infections across the country coincided with a report last week from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicating that about 94,000 people annually are infected with methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, a form of the common staph bacteria that has become resistant to penicillin and related antibiotics. While the CDC estimated that the majority of such infections occur in health-care settings, nearly 14% were so-called community-acquired, meaning that they struck otherwise healthy people who weren't in a hospital. Indeed, a number of the staph infections reported in recent weeks involved outbreaks among student athletes.

Staph bacteria frequently live on the skin and in the nose without causing any health problems, and at any time about a third of people are already "colonized." But if the bacteria enter the skin or bloodstream through a cut or lesion, or a person's immune system is weakened by flu or other causes, a staph infection can set in. Although the organism can be spread by patients who are colonized but not infected through casual contact or through contaminated objects, such spread can occur more quickly from patients with active skin infections unless the appropriate precautions are taken.

Staph infections can often be treated by simply cleaning and draining a wound. Even if the strain turns out to be MRSA, antibiotics may not be necessary, and severe cases may be treated with antibiotics such as vancomycin. But such cases can also progress to severe invasive disease and death.

CDC officials stress that the number of such infections is still relatively low, and children ages 5 to 17 years have the lowest rate of MRSA infection of any age group. The overall physical environment, moreover, hasn't played a significant role in the transmission of MRSA. Transmission occurs with direct contact with an infected person or contaminated items, such as sporting equipment or clothing. So scrubbing down locker-room walls as if they were a biohazard hot zone isn't going to protect kids as well as making sure that they keep their hands clean, cover open wounds with clean, dry bandages, and avoid sharing personal items such as towels, razors or uniforms. Says John Jernigan, an MRSA expert at the CDC: "If we can hammer that message home, we will go a long way towards preventing infections."

In team sports it is also important to exclude players who have potentially infected skin lesions if their wounds can't be covered. Other measures include washing clothes, especially uniforms and exercise gear, in hot water and laundry detergent and drying them in a hot dryer. (For more information on infection prevention techniques, check

Such common-sense measures apply to protecting yourself and your children from other kinds of infections as well. In most places where people share facilities or water, bacteria can spread. That resort hot tub may look inviting, but there is always a risk that the others sharing it don't have pristine personal hygiene; so-called recreational water illnesses can cause skin, ear, respiratory, eye, neurologic and wound infections. If you are getting a salon pedicure, don't shave your legs beforehand, because any bacteria in a salon's foot baths, including MRSA, can enter the skin or bloodstream through minor nicks. Ensure that the foot bath basin is thoroughly sanitized, and bring your own equipment, such as clippers.

Proper hand-washing techniques are critical, says Jason Newland, an infectious-disease expert at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., because bacteria often are transmitted when people touch their mouth or nose. The quick pass of the hands under a lukewarm or cool faucet many of us rely on won't do the trick; it is important to wash hands for at least 15 seconds in hot water and rub soap vigorously to create enough friction to rub off contaminants. If using an antibacterial gel, it is also important to create friction through rubbing -- and to make sure the gel dries completely. With flu season at hand, Dr. Newland says a flu shot is advisable because the fever and symptoms like congestion, runny nose and cough disrupt the area in the back of the throat and windpipe, allowing bacteria such as MRSA to enter the bloodstream or lungs, which could cause pneumonia.

Infectious-disease experts warn that the longer-term danger is that MRSA bacteria from the community will come back into the hospital in an even more-resistant form. Because overuse of antibiotics is the main culprit in antibiotic resistance, consumers can help by adhering to the CDC's guidelines for antibiotic use, which caution people to use the drugs only for bacterial infections, not viruses such as cold or flu. Ask health-care providers to wash their hands, and lobby local and state authorities to monitor and enforce infection control in health-care facilities.

30786  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: October 24, 2007, 11:31:05 AM
Second post of the morning, caveat lector its the NYTimes:

News Analysis
Mistrial Is Latest Terror Prosecution Misstep for U.S.

Published: October 24, 2007
There was a time when federal prosecutors would consistently win terrorism prosecutions.

Skip to next paragraph
Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind cleric found guilty in 1995 of conspiring to wage war against the United States.

U.S. Prosecution of Muslim Group Ends in Mistrial (October 23, 2007) From 1993 to 2001, prosecutors in Manhattan convicted some three dozen terrorists through guilty pleas and in six major trials.

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the government’s track record has been decidedly spottier, and its failure to obtain a single conviction on Monday in its terrorism-financing prosecution of what was once the nation’s largest Islamic charity was another in a series of missteps and setbacks.

The comparisons are in some ways unfair, as the earlier prosecutions were for completed acts of violence — like the first World Trade Center attack or the 1998 bombings of American embassies in Africa — or for conspiracies that were relatively close to fruition.

The recent ones have often relied on the less colorful charge that the defendants had given “material support” to a terrorist organization. That shift is itself reflective of a conscious change in Washington’s law enforcement strategy, to prevention from punishment.

But some scholars and former prosecutors say the government should have known better than to bring some of its recent failed cases and that a lack of selectivity and judgment, along with a reliance on stale evidence and links to groups not at the core of the current threat, may be harming the effort to combat terrorism.

The pre-9/11 cases brought in Manhattan, said Peter S. Margulies, a law professor at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island, “reflected U.S. attorneys and federal prosecutors at their best, using their discretion, bringing cases when they had strong cases and declining to bring them when they were weak.”

How successful the more recent prosecutions have been depends on what is being counted. In cases trying to prove material support for terrorism, the government’s success rate is “pretty reasonable,” said Robert M. Chesney, a law professor at Wake Forest University.

From the Sept. 11 attacks to last July, the government started 108 material-support prosecutions and completed 62, according to an article by Professor Chesney that is to appear in The Lewis & Clark Law Review. Juries convicted 9 defendants, 30 defendants pleaded guilty, and 11 pleaded guilty to other charges. There were eight acquittals and four dismissals.

“They do lose sometimes,” Professor Chesney said. “But they win more often than they lose. It’s not one loss after another.”

Material-support cases are just a small fraction of what the Justice Department counts as terrorism prosecutions, and in the larger picture the government is not doing nearly as well. According to the Center on Law and Security at the New York University School of Law, the government has a 29 percent conviction rate in terrorism prosecutions overall, compared with 92 percent for felonies generally.

In the trial that ended on Monday with a mix of acquittals and deadlocks, the Holy Land Foundation and several of its officials were charged with giving money to Hamas, the militant Palestinian organization designated a terrorist group by the United States in 1995. The Federal Bureau of Investigation started looking into Holy Land in 1993.

Legal experts said it could be hard to prosecute cases in which some of the evidence was quite old. Indeed, much of the evidence had been available to prosecutors in the Clinton Justice Department, and the material support law was enacted in 1996. But those prosecutors did not pursue the matter.

“There are some of these cases that we did not push — certainly aggressively, sometimes not at all — because we were in a different mindset before 9/11,” said Andrew C. McCarthy, who led the 1995 prosecution of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind cleric convicted of conspiring to wage war against the United States.

William Neal, a juror in the Holy Land case, complained that the government’s evidence “was pieced together over the course of a decade — a phone call this year, a message another year.”

Instead of trying to prove that the defendants knew they were supporting terrorists, Mr. Neal said, prosecutors “danced around the wire transfers by showing us videos of little kids in bomb belts and people singing about Hamas, things that didn’t directly relate to the case.”

Mr. McCarthy said he did not envy the Holy Land prosecutors. “It’s very hard,” he said, “even if your evidence is not ambiguous, to sell to a jury that they need to do something that you failed to do something about for years.”

The case was, moreover, about support for Hamas, which jurors are not likely to think poses the sort of direct threat to American security that groups like Al Qaeda do, Mr. McCarthy said.

Civil liberties groups said the Holy Land case was one in a line of misguided prosecutions. They pointed to the collapse of a case against men once accused of being part of a terrorism sleeper cell in Detroit, to the combination of acquittals and deadlocks in the trials of a Saudi student in Idaho and a Palestinian professor in Florida and to the convictions of two men on relatively minor charges in February after a three-month terrorism trial.

“You would think that juries would be eager to convict given the way these guys were painted,” said Jules Lobel, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh and an author, with David Cole, of “Less Safe, Less Free: Why America Is Losing the War on Terror.”

Juries “are demanding strict proof” these days, said Thomas M. Melsheimer, a former federal prosecutor.

The Holy Land case, which prosecutors have promised to retry, is a particularly curious one, as the government had long ago put the group out of business, said Matthew D. Orwig, a lawyer in Dallas who was until recently United States attorney for the Eastern District of Texas.

“I think the government won when it froze the assets and shut down the organization,” Mr. Orwig said. “Then it piled a loss on top of a win because it lost the prosecution, in an arguably superfluous action.”

Leslie Eaton reported from Dallas.

30787  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science on: October 24, 2007, 10:45:54 AM
CHINA, ISRAEL, RUSSIA: China will sell Iran 24 J-10 fighters that are based on Israeli technology, RIA Novosti reported Oct. 23. The aircraft have Russian-made engines and are based on components and technology Israel gave China after the cancellation of the Lavi project in the mid-1980s. The total cost of the planes, which are expected to be delivered between 2008 and 2010, is an estimated $1 billion.

Geopolitical Diary: The Russo-Japanese NMD Dispute

For several months, the Russian government has focused its propaganda machine on combating U.S. efforts to develop an anti-ballistic missile network around the Russian periphery. Moscow views such systems at their core as an effort by Washington to nullify the Russian nuclear deterrent and therefore to sweep Russia to the very edge of strategic relevance.

In the past few days, however, Russia's attention has come to rest on Japan -- the state that is most consistent in its effort to participate in national missile defense (NMD) -- and on Tuesday, the Japanese government flatly, officially and firmly rebuffed Russian calls to abandon the system. The core Russian concern is that the system ultimately will be fine-tuned and expanded so that it can hedge in Moscow -- something that may well be lurking about in the depths of U.S. strategic planning. But Japan wants NMD for its own reasons.

While Japan's imperial past gives the country some influence throughout East Asia, it mostly has earned Japan enmity. Particularly vitriolic is the contempt in which Japan is held by the Koreans -- who resent Japanese cultural influence, economic domination and attempts to forcibly redefine Korean identity during the Japanese occupation. North Korea launched a ballistic missile over Japan in 1998 in a show of force, and in 2006, Pyongyang tested a nuclear device. Marry those two technologies and Japan clearly has a pressing need for NMD -- and this is even before the economic might of South Korea is combined with North Korean military technology in a reunification that is crawling ever closer.

China, of course, offers a more direct and immediate challenge. As big as Asia is, it probably does not have room for both a land-based and a sea-based regional superpower. Japan's technological edge combined with China's existing nuclear arsenal leaves Japan pushing for NMD, no matter what the Russians do.

But even without the more pressing concern of Asia pushing Japan toward NMD cooperation with the United States, Russia is on Tokyo's radar. The two hardly have a friendly history: Japan has served as Washington's proxy in East Asia, blocking Soviet access to the Pacific. Russia still has not reached a peace accord with Japan -- for World War II. And before that, Japan defeated Moscow in the 1904-1905 Russo-Japanese War, becoming the only Asian state to defeat a European power and inflicting the geopolitical equivalent of a root canal.

The Kremlin is attempting to put pins in a number of potential conflicts in order to focus on its own immediate concerns. But so far as Japan is concerned, Russia remains firmly on the "future trouble" list.

Situation Reports
30788  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers: on: October 24, 2007, 10:44:54 AM
“It should be your care, therefore, and mine, to elevate the minds of our children and exalt their courage; to accelerate and animate their industry and activity; to excite in them an habitual contempt of meanness, abhorrence of injustice and inhumanity, and an ambition to excel in every capacity, faculty, and virtue.” —John Adams

"The right of freely examining public characters and measures, and
of free communication among the people thereon . . . has ever been
justly deemed the only effectual guardian of every other right."

-- James Madison (Virginia Resolutions, 24 December 1798)

Reference: Documents of American History, Commager, vol. 1 (182)
30789  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Cuba on: October 24, 2007, 09:21:53 AM
Bush Touting Cuban Life After Castro

By BEN FELLER – 38 minutes ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush, ever pushing for a Cuba without Fidel Castro, wants allies around the world to offer money and political support so the island can be ready to transform itself.
It is Bush's vision for Cuban regime change: providing help on the outside, prodding change on the inside.

Seizing on Castro's fading health as a rare opening, Bush was to ask other nations Wednesday to help Cuba become a free society.
In remarks prepared for delivery at the State Department — his first standalone address on Cuba in four years — Bush looks to the day when Castro is gone. Bush describes a nation in which Cuban people choose a representative government and enjoy basic freedoms, with support from a broad international coalition.

For now, though, Castro is still the island's unchallenged leader, as he has been for almost 50 years. And he remains a nemesis to Bush, whom he accuses of being obsessed with Cuba and of threatening humanity with nuclear war. At the age of 81, Castro is ailing and rarely seen in public. But life has changed little on the island under the authority of his brother, 76-year-old Raul Castro, who has been his elder brother's hand-picked successor for decades.

Bush was expected to tout peaceful, pro-democracy movements in Cuba and call on other countries to get behind them. In a direct appeal to ordinary citizens in Cuba, he was to tell them they have the power to change their country, but the White House says that is not meant to be a call for armed rebellion.

Bush proposes at least three initiatives: the creation of an international "freedom fund" to help Cuba's potential rebuilding of its country one day; a U.S. licensing of private groups to provide Internet access to Cuban students, and an invitation to Cuban youth to join a scholarship program.

The latter two offerings help the Bush administration underscore the kind of real-life limitations that Cubans now face, from blocked Internet access to restricted information about their leaders to denial of legal protections. The creation of the international fund is meant to speed up societal transformation.

"We all know that Cuba is going to face very significant requirements to rebuild itself," said a senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid pre-empting the president. "There's a whole set of challenges that Cuba is going to face. The United States will clearly want to help the Cubans as they define what it is they need, but we think the international community should be thinking that way as well."

Washington's decades-old economic embargo on Cuba prohibits U.S. tourists from visiting the island and chokes off nearly all trade between both countries. Bush will ask Congress to maintain the embargo, which has come under scrutiny and calls for reassessment from some lawmakers.

Cuba staged municipal elections on Sunday, the first step in a process that will determine whether Fidel Castro is re-elected or replaced next year. The Communist Party is the only one allowed, and while candidates do not have to be members, critics claim they are the only ones who ever win.

Bush, increasingly, is speaking of a Castro-free Cuba. As he put it earlier this month: "In Havana, the long rule of a cruel dictator is nearing an end."
30790  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Surveillance Law on: October 24, 2007, 09:14:48 AM
The Surveillance Law That Matters
The president is bound by the Constitution, not the whims of Congress.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

I have never met Judge Michael Mukasey, and I have no strong feelings on who should be our next attorney general. But after four decades studying and writing about national security aspects of our Constitution, I believe Congress and the American people must understand that some of the issues raised in Mr. Mukasey's confirmation hearings are far more complex than they may initially appear.

Take, for example, Sen. Pat Leahy's question to Mr. Mukasey about whether the president has the power to violate the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). I know that statute well, having worked in the Senate when it was enacted in 1978, and later serving as the senior White House lawyer under President Reagan charged with overseeing the implementation of FISA and other intelligence laws.

The real issue here is not whether the president is "above the law," but rather which "law" he must see "faithfully executed" when there is a conflict between the Constitution and an inconsistent statute. His highest duty, I submit, is to the Constitution itself.

In 1803, Chief Justice John Marshall declared in Marbury v. Madison: "an act of the legislature repugnant to the Constitution is void." From the earliest days of our history until FISA was enacted, it was understood by all three branches that the Constitution had left the president (to quote Federalist No. 64) "able to manage the business of intelligence as prudence might suggest."

When Congress passed the first wiretap statute in 1968, it expressly declared that nothing in it would limit "the Constitutional power of the President" to collect foreign-intelligence information. Every administration from FDR to (and including) Jimmy Carter engaged in warrantless foreign-intelligence wiretapping in the belief that this was one of the "exceptions" to the Fourth Amendment's warrant requirement. Others include border searches and searches of commercial airline passengers and their luggage (not to mention the requirement, imposed by Congress, that citizens entering a congressional office building to exercise their constitutional right to petition their government for redress of grievances must submit to a warrantless search absent the slightest probable cause).

In 1978, Carter administration Attorney General Griffin Bell told the Senate that FISA "does not take away the power of the President under the Constitution"; but he explained that the statute could nevertheless work because President Carter was "agreeing to follow the statutory procedure." That was Mr. Carter's prerogative as it is President Bush's--but neither they nor Congress may take away the constitutional power of future presidents.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review (composed of federal appeals court judges) noted, in a unanimous 2002 opinion, that every federal court to decide the issue held the president has constitutional power to authorize warrantless foreign-intelligence electronic surveillance. The opinion added: "FISA could not encroach on the President's constitutional power."

The Supreme Court has had at least six opportunities to limit presidential power in this area. In the 1967 Katz case that first required a warrant for wiretaps, the Court expressly exempted "national security" wiretaps from its holding. When it required a warrant for national security wiretaps of purely domestic targets in 1972, it exempted electronic surveillance of the "activities of foreign powers and their agents" in this country. On four other occasions it declined to hear cases on appeal where it had the opportunity to impose a warrant requirement on foreign-intelligence electronic surveillance.
Much contemporary debate over presidential claims of power to ignore "laws" fails to appreciate the modern congressional practice of enacting flagrantly unconstitutional statutes. This helps explain the increased use of presidential "signing statements" in recent decades. On June 11, 1976, Sen. Robert P. Griffin (R., Mich.) inserted a lengthy statement I'd drafted into the Congressional Record explaining why "legislative vetoes" of executive agency actions were unconstitutional. Seven years later, the Supreme Court echoed those arguments in reaching the same conclusion in the Chadha case. The congressional response? It has since enacted more than 500 new unconstitutional legislative vetoes.

Mr. Mukasey rightly promised to resign rather than violate his oath of office if the "president proposed to undertake a course of conduct that was in violation of the Constitution" and could not be dissuaded. For precisely the same reason, he was also right to refuse to be bound by unconstitutional acts of Congress like FISA that usurp presidential power. Any senator who elects to vote against him because of this issue has a duty to explain to the American people by what theory an unconstitutional statute has suddenly taken on a superior position to the Constitution itself.

Mr. Turner holds both professional and academic doctorates from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he cofounded the Center for National Security Law in 1981. He is a former three-term chairman of the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on Law and National Security.

30791  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NK nuke facility in Syria? on: October 24, 2007, 08:51:18 AM
1144 GMT -- SYRIA -- A U.S. research group that tracks nuclear weapons and stockpiles has satellite imagery of what the experts believe to be a Syrian nuclear site targeted in a Sept. 6 Israeli airstrike, The Washington Post reported Oct. 24. The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) said the photographs taken before the strike show buildings under construction similar in design to a North Korean reactor. They also show what could have been a pumping station used to supply cooling water for a reactor, the Post reported, citing experts David Albright and Paul Brannan of ISIS.
30792  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Home Security Issues on: October 23, 2007, 07:55:27 PM
This thread is for discussion of matters pertaining to keeping our homes safe. 

Kicking it off with a most-certainly-not-for-homes-with-children caution, here's this:
30793  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: More or less technical? on: October 23, 2007, 07:48:38 PM
"So.... How do you enter? How do you keep your power contained and your feet underneath you?"


In the context of DBMA, this material is taught using our footwork matrix, "The 7 Ranges and Triangle from the Third Dimension" theory.  Given our roots, our material has more emphasis on stick than blade.

What can you tell us about how Corto Cadena goes about it?
30794  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia on: October 23, 2007, 07:40:54 PM
Russia: Stepping into the Ukrainian-Tatar Energy Scuffle
The battle between Ukraine and Tatarstan over some important energy assets has put Russia in the peculiar position of having to choose which of the two strategic regions it is more interested in controlling.


Ukraine and the government of Russia's Tatarstan region have been battling for control of an unusual company called UkrTatNafta for more than a year. The company, created in 1994, controls Ukraine's largest refinery -- Kremenchug -- and accounts for one-third of Ukraine's oil production. Ownership of the company is split; Ukrainian state energy company Naftogaz Ukrainy holds 43 percent, Tatarstan holds 38 percent and a handful of small companies have miniscule shares.

Kiev's -- and Moscow's -- problem was that the Tatars controlled UkrTatNafta's operations. Tatarstan is Russia's largest autonomous region, with a population of 1 million Muslim Tatars. It also is fiercely independent and oil-rich. The region is somewhat contained because the Kremlin leaves it alone and it is geographically surrounded by Russia proper. But Russia loathes Tatarstan's receiving funds from projects outside Russia.

In May, Ukraine's then-prime minister, Viktor Yanukovich, attempted to usurp the Tatar government's influence and placed Naftogaz Ukrainy's 43 percent of UkrTatNafta directly under the premiership's control. Afterward, he banned all Ukrainian administrators from meetings and began "reorganizing" UkrTatNafta to favor the pro-Russian premier and his faction's interests. He named a Russian, Vladimir Fedotov, as UkrTatNafta's director. Naturally, Yanukovich's moves incensed the Tatar shareholders, who have also faced fraud cases that started popping up in recent months.

But things have changed in Ukraine; Yanukovich and his faction lost the Sept. 30 elections and the pro-Western Orange Coalition returned to power -- and control over UkrTatNafta now is up in the air. It is not known whether ownership of the crucial company falls to the outgoing Yanukovich, the incoming premier Yulia Timoshenko or the original consortium of Naftogaz Ukrainy and Tatarstan. Moreover, on Oct. 19, armed men seized the refinery -- though it is unclear whether they belong to Timoshenko or Yanukovich.

What is clear is that Yanukovich's changes mean that the office of Ukraine's prime minister will have the most say, and the anti-Russian Timoshenko will almost certainly hold that office.

Though this seems like a mere property squabble, it has put Russia in a unique position. Russia has geopolitically significant interest in making sure that neither Tatarstan nor Ukraine under Timoshenko holds UkrTatNafta and its assets.

Yanukovich's moves against Tatarstan most likely were spurred by the Russians, who have a strategic interest in denying Tatarstan access to money -- especially from energy -- from outside Russia. Moscow planned on preventing the situation by using the pro-Russian Ukrainian government to usurp control of UkrTatNafta.

However, Russia now has a strategic interest in not allowing Ukraine's pro-Western Orange Coalition to control large energy assets that also give Ukraine more independence from Russian energy.

In the midst of Russia's internal consolidation and international resurgence, it must choose whether to aid Ukraine or Tatarstan in the squabble. Moscow will have to choose between allowing one of its most self-determining regions (and a Muslim one at that) access to funds from outside Russia and allowing its most vital periphery states access to further energy independence.

30795  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Holland, Belgium on: October 23, 2007, 03:20:05 PM
Europe’s no-go zones or SUAs (“sensitive urban areas”) are multiplying. These are areas where the police no longer dares to venture and where Islamists hold sway. Every night since the beginning of last week, immigrant youths have been torching cars and clashing with police in Amsterdam’s Slotervaart district. The incidents started on Oct. 14 when a policewoman shot dead Bilal Bajaka, a 22-year old ethnic Moroccan, whilst he was stabbing her and a colleague with a knife. The officers were stabbed in the breast, face, neck and back. Surgeons could only narrowly save their lives.
Since the incident, Slotervaart has seen rioting almost every night. The Amsterdam Moroccans are “shocked” because one of them has been killed by an infidel woman. According to his family, Bilal Bajaka was mentally deranged and had a suicide obsession. Ahmed Marcouch, the Moroccan-born Socialist mayor of Slotervaart, criticized the Dutch authorities for failing to provide adequate health care for Bajaka’s mental problems.
Bilal Bajaka was, however, a personal friend of Mohammed Bouyeri, the Jihadist who ritually slaughtered the Dutch film maker Theo van Gogh in 2004. Bilal’s attack on the two police officers came exactly two years after the arrest of his brother, Abdullah Bajaka, the leader of an alleged plot to blow up an El-Al Boeing at Amsterdam airport. Bilal’s family background is not at all deprived. One of his sisters is a medical doctor, another sister is a Dutch judge.
For ten days now, the situation in Amsterdam’s immigrant neighbourhoods has been tense. Senior police officers compare the current situation in Amsterdam to the 2005 Ramadan riots in Paris. Media outside the Netherlands, however, hardly mention the riots, which aim to drive the police from Slotervaart and turn the neighborhood into a new no-go area – yet another pocket of Eurabia on Europe’s soil.
Similar events are currently taking place in Brussels, the capital of neighbouring Belgium and of the EU. Last Sunday, demonstrating Turkish youths ransacked an Armenian restaurant in the Sint-Joost-ten-Node borough. According to the owner the police was present at the scene but did not interfere while his establishment was being demolished. The Armenian had to flee for his life.
Another man who had to run for his life was the Belgian journalist Mehmet Koksal, an ethnic Turk. He was attacked around 11 pm on Sunday evening by a group of some twenty Turkish youths in front of the American embassy in Brussels, a few yards from the Belgian parliament building. The Parliament and the US Embassy are less than one kilometer from Sint-Joost-ten-Node. Koksal fled to a nearby police car, but a female police officer refused to let him into the car, whereupon the youths savagely beat him up. Fearing that they were about to lynch him, the police officer changed her attitude and allowed the journalist to seek refuge in the police car.
Koksal told the press today that he is not going to press charges against the police for failing to help him. “The police woman was more afraid than I was and ultimately the police came to my rescue,” he said.

30796  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mil-blogs: Michael Yon and others (support our troops) on: October 23, 2007, 02:37:26 PM

As always, a fine piece of work from MY. 

Here is his accompanying email:

It is clear that Iraq is turning a corner.  Not only are Sunni and Shia talking here in Baghdad, but the fighting definitely is abating.  I'll be out in Sunni and Shia neighborhoods all day Tuesday and Wednesday.  Petraeus' ideas are starting to work.

 I've been watching for days as LTC Patrick Frank pulls neighborhoods together here in the Rashid district of Baghdad.  We've been swamped going to reconciliation meetings. ( Spent hours in meetings today. )  LTC Frank is one of many battalion commanders I have seen who are winning in their zones.  A Washington Post writer was here for several days  and his observations were similar.
Again, I suggest to media to get in touch with Infantry battalion commanders around Iraq.  They are the sweet-spot on the ups and downs in Iraq.   

 I am working with the National Newspaper Association to get the increasingly good news about Iraq to a wider audience. This is described in the latest dispatch, Resistance is Futile. With reader support, this effort can get current news from the ground in Iraq in to 2700 daily and weekly newspapers in the US. 
30797  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Crime and Punishment on: October 23, 2007, 02:11:32 PM
Attacker of elderly man sentenced 
Mr Chaudhry walks with the aid of two walking sticks
A man who left a 96-year-old war veteran blind in one eye after attacking him on a packed tram has been given a three-year supervision order. Stephen Gordon, 44, launched his unprovoked attack on Shah Chaudhry in Croydon, south London, in December. Gordon, from Croydon, was found guilty of grievous bodily harm after the attack was caught on CCTV, Croydon Crown Court heard. The British Transport Police said they were "disappointed" with the sentence.

Walking sticks

"The blow to the victim's head caused serious injury, which has resulted in the victim losing sight in one eye," said Det Sgt Darren Stenning.

"And unfortunately since this assault, the victim's health has deteriorated and he now resides in a care home."

The attack took place on a tram travelling between Sandilands and East Croydon on December 14 last year. Gordon had tried to push past the victim, who was standing in the aisle leaning on his walking sticks. As he squeezed under the pensioner's arms his hat was knocked off and he swore at the man and punched him in the face. Police said two school children who were on the tram chased Gordon. They later gave evidence against him.
30798  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers: on: October 23, 2007, 01:57:10 PM
“A Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.” —John Adams


"The members of the legislative department...are numerous.
They are distributed and dwell among the people at large.
Their connections of blood, of friendship, and of acquaintance
embrace a great proportion of the most influential part of the
society...they are more immediately the confidential guardians
of their rights and liberties."

-- James Madison (Federalist No. 50, 5 February 1788)

Reference: Madison, Federalist No. 50 (316)

“Arbitrary power is most easily established on the ruins of liberty abused to licentiousness.” —George Washington


"f you speak of solid information and sound judgement, Colonel
Washington is, unquestionably the greatest man on that floor."

-- Patrick Henry (on George Washington, October 1775)

Reference: The Life and Character of Patrick Henry, Writ (132)
30799  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: November 18, 2007 Dog Bros Gathering of the Pack on: October 23, 2007, 01:48:38 PM


Crafty Dog
30800  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Sleep on: October 23, 2007, 01:09:26 PM
Published: October 23, 2007
Last month, a bird known as a bar-tailed godwit took flight from Alaska and headed south. A day later, it was still flapping its way over the Pacific. An airplane pilot would have a hard time staying awake after 24 hours of flight (the Federal Aviation Administration allows pilots to fly just eight hours in a row). But the godwit kept flying for an additional week. After eight days and 7,200 miles, it landed in New Zealand, setting a record for nonstop flight.

“If they spend so many hours flying,” said Ruth M. Benca of the University of Wisconsin, “where do they find the time to sleep?”

Bird sleep is so mysterious that scientists are considering several answers, all intriguing. The godwit may have managed to stay awake for the entire journey. Or it may have been able to sleep while flying. Or, as Dr. Benca and other scientists suspect, its brain may have been in a bizarre state of semilimbo that they do not understand.

Bird brains produce patterns of electrical activity that look strikingly like human brains during sleep, a remarkable similarity considering that birds and their brains have been on a separate evolutionary course from mammals for 300 million years. But similarities reach just so far.

The amount of sleep birds need can change drastically through the year. Birds may be able to put parts of their brains to sleep while keeping others awake. They may be able to adjust sleep in the course of minutes, even seconds. By figuring out the mysteries of bird sleep, scientists hope to understand some universal rules of sleep.

Like humans, birds typically get some sleep every day. A pigeon usually sleeps through the night, for example, and has a few naps during the day. Why birds and mammals should sleep so much has long puzzled scientists. Some researchers have even argued that sleep is something that animals do when they have nothing else on their agendas.

Many sleep experts disagree. Something about sleep is essential to human well-being. It is possible that certain types of sleep are particularly important. In the course of a night’s sleep, humans pass through distinct stages. In one stage, the eyes move rapidly behind closed lids while the brain produces electrical signals with a pattern much like that of a waking brain. It is during this so-called REM sleep that people experience dreams.

In other parts of sleep, however, many neurons produce electric signals with a nearly identical rhythm. The neurons also fire more slowly than in REM sleep, from 40 to 400 times a second. This dream-free sleep is so deep that it is hard to rouse people from it.

Several experiments suggest that slow-wave sleep, in particular, has a crucial role in human well-being. As neurons fire in synchrony, their connections change, consolidating the memories formed in the previous day. One sign of the importance of slow-wave sleep is that if people do not have enough of it, they catch up when they can, producing stronger waves.

“If you pull an all-nighter,” Dr. Benca said, “the next night your slow waves will be much larger.”

Other mammals experience REM sleep and slow-wave sleep, as well, indicating that humanlike sleep patterns existed early in the history of mammals. But beyond mammals, scientists have had a hard time finding humanlike sleep patterns. So far, they have been seen just in birds. The fact that the closest relatives of birds, like alligators and turtles, do not have our kind of REM sleep and slow-wave sleep suggests that birds, or their dinosaur ancestors, evolved humanlike sleep independently.

This parallel evolution has given scientists the opportunity to test the hypothesis that slow-wave sleep is essential. “If slow-wave sleep is a fundamental building block of sleep, then it should be true in birds as well as in mammals,” Dr. Benca said.

Niels Rattenborg of the Max Planck Institute of Ornithology in Germany tested this hypothesis by depriving pigeons of some slow-wave sleep. “We kept pigeons from taking their daytime naps,” he said. “All we did was tap their cage or move the cage floor or give them things to play with for eight hours before we turned the lights off.”
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After the lights went dark, the pigeons had slow waves 27 percent stronger than on undisturbed nights. “What we found was that they actually showed response very much like that observed in mammals,” Dr. Rattenborg said. “There’s something in common in being a bird and being a mammal that results in sleeping this way.”

Asleep but Active Dr. Rattenborg contends that birds and mammals have similar kinds of sleep because birds and mammals have much larger and more complex brains for their size than other vertebrates. In mammals, much of that expansion occurred in the front of the brain, in the neocortex. The neocortex endows mammals with sophisticated, flexible learning and decision making.

Only in recent years have scientists realized that birds have a brain region similar to the mammal neocortex. Known as the pallium, it arises from the same population of embryonic cells that produces the neocortex in mammals.

The pallium is made up of clumps of neurons, while the neocortex is organized in layers. Despite the differences, the pallium also lets birds carry out many impressive mental tasks. Some birds can remember thousands of locations where they hide food. Others fashion tools like sticks, to obtain food. Others can learn many bird songs. Pigeons can learn how to distinguish between Cubist and Impressionist paintings.

Dr. Rattenborg proposes that big, powerful brains need the same kind of slow-wave sleep to work properly, whether those brains are in birds or mammals.

“If we didn’t have birds,” he said, “people might say, ‘Well a neocortex is absolutely necessary.’ But here we have birds doing the same thing. So clearly, it’s not having the neocortex that’s essential.”

Although the parallels between sleep in birds and humans is striking, they extend just so far. A bout of slow-wave sleep in a human may last for hours. In birds, a normal period may last a few minutes, even a few seconds. “You and I can’t sleep in 10-second bouts,” Dr. Benca said.

Dr. Rattenborg has found that birds can also keep one side of their brain awake while the other sleeps. He suspects that the awake half can keep a lookout for predators while the other half sleeps.

Dr. Benca suspects that birds may be able to make smaller parts of their brains go to sleep or wake up.

“Maybe,” she said, “we need to get away from thinking of sleep as something you have to do for so many minutes, and if the whole brain isn’t doing something that looks like sleep, then sleep isn’t happening. I think their brains are doing something else.”

Part of Dr. Benca’s hunch comes from her difficulty in keeping birds awake. Working with Dr. Rattenborg and other colleagues, she tried to deprive pigeons of sleep. The researchers put pigeons on a circular platform over a tank of water. When the pigeons produced slow waves for four seconds or more, the platform began to turn slowly, so that they had to walk.

In humans and other mammals, sleep deprivation eventually causes weight loss, hunger and other symptoms. It can even lead to serious illnesses. But pigeons showed none of those changes, as Dr. Benca and her colleagues will report in a paper to be published in Physiology and Behavior.

Birds have apparently evolved an ability that many humans would envy.

“We could deprive the pigeons for weeks,” Dr. Benca said, “and they seemed to be doing fine.”

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