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30901  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Dog Brothers Tribe on: April 18, 2008, 03:06:11 PM
To the Tribe:

The Dog Brothers Pack/Tribe page has been updated.  Please let me know of any missing or incorrect listings.

Crafty Dog
Guiding Force
30902  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ on: April 18, 2008, 01:21:19 PM
Oh Bomber

Bill Ayers, the former member of the anti-Vietnam War group the Weathermen, was unknown to most Americans until this week when ABC moderator George Stephanopoulos pressed Barack Obama about his association with the retired revolutionary. Now Mr. Ayers has piped up in his blog to introduce himself.

Mr. Ayers claims on his personal blog that he has been misinterpreted over his infamous remarks that appeared in the New York Times on September 11, 2001, in which he said about the 25 bombings that his group carried out against the Vietnam War: "I don't regret setting bombs; I feel we didn't do enough."

Mr. Ayers, now a professor of education at the University of Illinois, says that when it comes to "anything I did to oppose the war in Viet Nam... I say 'No, I don't regret anything I did to try to stop the slaughter of millions of human beings by my own government.'" But he also complains that his statements have been "elided" to mean "he has no regrets for setting bombs and thinks there should be more bombings."

That's a distinction without a difference in my book. He has never retracted his statement to the New York Times and to this day claims to "have never advocated terrorism, never participated in it, never defended it. The U.S. government, by contrast, does it routinely and defends the use of it in its own cause consistently."

All of this raises continued questions about why Mr. Obama refuses to discuss his relationship with Mr. Ayers, even though his campaign recently described them as "friendly." Bloomberg News reports the two men have crossed paths repeatedly starting in 1995, when Mr. Ayers held an organizing meeting for Mr. Obama's candidacy for the state legislature in his home and personally introduced him to friends.

In 1997, Mr. Obama cited Mr. Ayers' work on criminal justice in a Chicago Tribune article on what prominent Chicagoans were reading. For a year after the infamous comments in the New York Times, Mr. Obama served with Mr. Ayers on the board of the Woods Fund of Chicago.

No one suggests that Mr. Obama has ever endorsed any of the actions of the Weathermen, which occurred when he was still a child. But to this day he won't discuss how he came to know him, why he chose to associate with Mr. Ayers and what he thinks of his current opinions about the U.S. government. All that will continue to fuel questions about Mr. Obama's associations -- just as his continued relationship with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright has.

-- John Fund

School of Finance

One of the loudest promises made by Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats when they regained control of Congress was to make college "more affordable." Sure enough, a new Democrat-sponsored law aimed to do just that... and now student lenders are dropping out of the business like so many frat boys after the first round of finals. Millions of students are being left in the lurch just as they're seeking help with next fall's tuition.

By one count, some four-dozen student lenders have either curtailed loans to students in recent months or closed up shop entirely. Sallie Mae, the biggest, rolled out its Chief Executive Al Lord yesterday to warn of a "train wreck" in the $85 billion student loan market without a federal bailout.

The broader credit crunch is certainly playing a role, but Mr. Lord laid most of the blame on a Democrat-sponsored law that took effect in October. As part of her "First 100 Hours" agenda, Ms. Pelosi and Co. slashed interest rates banks can charge students in half to 3.4%, leaving Uncle Sam to make up the difference. Democrats also pushed through cuts to the fees the federal government pays to banks for underwriting student loans. "It's not even a matter of break-even. [The lenders] lose money on these loans if they originate them," one financial analyst told Dow Jones Newswires last month.

The Federal Family Education Loan Program likes to boast that it's now the dominant source of college loan funding, making "it possible for borrowers with no income, credit history, cosigner or collateral to get student loans at low interest rates." Talk about subprime. All this federal money is also a substantial reason for the rapid inflation in tuition costs. Every Congressionally-created problem must have a Congressional solution. Pelosi ally Rep. Mike Miller, chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, is now pushing legislation through that will both lift the cap on federally subsidized student loans and expand Uncle Sam's direct loan program -- completing Washington's takeover of the business and no doubt setting the stage for bigger meltdowns ahead.

-- Brendan Miniter

Quote of the Day

"There is a dearth of talent on the business side of this industry that is shocking to me. No one goes to Wharton and says, 'I want to run circulation at Knight-Ridder.' The business side has let down the journalistic side of newspapers.... I've got some [unionized ad] salesmen who make $100,000 a year and have no interest in making $120,000" -- Brian Tierney, new owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer, quoted by former New York Times editor Howell Raines at

The Fiscal Consequences of Divorce

Families that stay together, save together. That's the conclusion of a new study indicating that U.S. taxpayers are forking out at least $112 billion annually, and over $1 trillion dollars per decade, on divorces and unwed childbearing. This estimate is based on federal, state, and local government programs and lost tax revenue.

Says the study's principal author, Ben Scafidi of Georgia State University: "These costs are due to increased taxpayer expenditures for anti-poverty, criminal justice and education programs, and through lower levels of taxes paid by individuals whose adult productivity has been negatively affected by increased childhood poverty caused by family fragmentation." Similar work by Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation has found that children who grow up in fatherless homes are far more likely to have behavior problems, drug abuse, high school drop out rates, and to be in poverty as adults.

What can government do? The Institute for American Values, which underwrote the Scafidi research, recommends modest taxpayer funds to support efforts to decrease divorce rates and unwed childbearing. That may be a waste of money, as these are the types of activities best undertaken by churches and private support networks. The best hope is that the lesson will be taken to heart by the media, politicians and educators, reversing some of the casualness with which divorces are sought and granted. In the 1970s and '80s, a school of thought maintained that breaking up troubled marriages was a win-win. Feminists argued it was a form of women's liberation, the children were better off, etc. But a steady drumbeat of research has shown that in most cases almost everyone is rendered worse off by divorce and separation. That includes taxpayers.

-- Stephen Moore and Tyler Grimm

30903  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Cyberwar on: April 18, 2008, 01:19:58 PM
One of the most mature instances of a cyberwarfare attack was an assault on Internet networks in Estonia in late April and early May of 2007. The Russian government was suspected of participating in — if not instigating — the attack, which featured some of the key characteristics of cyberwarfare, including decentralization and anonymity.

Related Special Topic Page
Related Links
Cyberspace as Battlespace: Evolving Threats

Cyberwarfare: A Glossary of Useful Terms
Interactive Cyberwarfare Timeline
Cyberwarfare 101: The Internet Is Mightier Than the Sword
Cyberwarfare 101: Black Hats, White Hats, Crackers and Bots
Cyberwarfare 101: What Makes a Hacker Tick

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of analyses on the emergence of cyberspace as battlespace.

During the night of April 26-27, 2007, in downtown Tallinn, Estonia, government workers took down and moved a Soviet-era monument commemorating World War II called the Bronze Soldier, despite the protests of some 500 ethnic Russian Estonians. For the Kremlin — and Russians in general — such a move in a former Soviet republic was blasphemy.

It was also just the kind emotional flash point that could spark a “nationalistic” or “rally-around-the-flag” movement in cyberspace. By 10 p.m. local time on April 26, 2007, digital intruders began probing Estonian Internet networks, looking for weak points and marshaling resources for an all-out assault. Bursts of data were sent to important nodes and servers to determine their maximum capacity — a capacity that the attackers would later exceed with floods of data, crashing servers and clogging connections.

A concerted cyberwarfare attack on Estonia was under way, one that would eventually bring the functioning of government, banks, media and other institutions to a virtual standstill and ultimately involve more than a million computers from some 75 countries (including some of Estonia’s NATO allies). Estonia was a uniquely vulnerable target. Extremely wired, despite its recent status as a Soviet republic, Estonian society had grown dependent on the Internet for virtually all the administrative workings of everyday life — communications, financial transactions, news, shopping, restaurant reservations, theater tickets and bill paying. Even parliamentary votes were conducted online. When Estonia’s independence from the Soviet Union was restored in 1991, not even telephone connections were reliable or widely available. Today, more than 60 percent of the population owns a cell phone, and Internet usage is already on par with Western European nations. In 2000, Estonia’s parliament declared Internet access a basic human right.

Some of the first targets of the attack were the Estonian parliament’s e-mail servers and networks. A flood of junk e-mails, messages and data caused the servers to crash, along with several important Web sites. After disabling this primary line of communications among Estonian politicians, some of the hackers hijacked Web sites of the Reform Party, along with sites belonging to several other political groups. Once they gained control of the sites, hackers posted a fake letter from Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip apologizing for ordering the removal of the World War II monument.

By April 29, 2007, massive data surges were pressing the networks and rapidly approaching the limits of routers and switches across the country. Even though not all individual servers were taken completely offline, the entire Internet system in Estonia became so preoccupied with protecting itself that it could scarcely function.

During the first wave of the assault, network security specialists attempted to erect barriers and firewalls to protect primary targets. As the attacks increased in frequency and force, these barriers began to crumble.

Seeking reinforcements, Hillar Aarelaid, chief security officer for Estonia’s Computer Emergency Response Team, began calling on contacts from Finland, Germany, Slovenia and other countries to assemble a team of hackers and computer experts to defend the country. Over the next several days, many government ministry and political party Web sites were attacked, resulting either in misinformation being spread or the sites being made partially or completely inaccessible.

After hitting the government and political infrastructure, hackers took aim at other critical institutions. Several denial-of-service attacks forced two major banks to suspend operations and resulted in the loss of millions of dollars (90 percent of all banking transactions in Estonia occur via the Internet). To amplify the disruption caused by the initial operation, hackers turned toward media outlets and began denying reader and viewer access to roughly half the major news organizations in the country. This not only complicated life for Estonians but also denied information to the rest of the world about the ongoing cyberwar. By now, Aarelaid and his team had gradually managed to block access to many of the hackers’ targets and restored a degree of stability within the networks.

Then on May 9, the day Russia celebrates victory over Nazi Germany, the cyberwar on Estonia intensified. Many times the size of the previous days’ incursions, the attacks may have involved newly recruited cybermercenaries and their bot armies. More than 50 Web sites and servers may have been disabled at once, with a data stream crippling many other parts of the system. This continued until late in the evening of May 10, perhaps when the rented time on the botnets and cybermercenaries’ contracts expired. After May 10, the attacks slowly decreased as Aarelaid managed to take the botnets offline by working with phone companies and Internet service providers to trace back the IP addresses of attacking computers and shut down their Internet service connections.

During the defense of Estonia’s Internet system, many of the computers used in the attacks were traced back to computers in Russian government offices. What could not be determined was whether these computers were simply “zombies” hijacked by bots and were not under the control of the Russian government or whether they were actively being used by government personnel.

Although Estonia was uniquely vulnerable to a cyberwarfare attack, the campaign in April and May of 2007 should be understood more as a sign of things to come in the broader developed world. The lessons learned were significant and universal. Any country that relies on the Internet to support many critical, as well as mundane day-to-day, functions can be severely disrupted by a well-orchestrated attack. Estonia, for one, is unlikely ever to reduce its reliance on the Internet, but it will undoubtedly try to develop safeguards to better protect itself (such as filters that restrict internal traffic in a crisis and deny anyone in another country access to domestic servers). Meanwhile, the hacker community will work diligently to figure out a way around the safeguards.

One thing is certain: Cyberattacks like the 2007 assault on Estonia will become more common in an increasingly networked world, which will have to learn — no doubt the hard way — how to reduce vulnerability and more effectively respond to such attacks. Perhaps most significant is the reminder Estonia provides that cyberspace definitely favors offensive operations.
30904  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: 2-4 day DBMA Camp with Guro Crafty on: April 18, 2008, 12:12:46 PM
TTT with this.

One of the first decisions is whether this will be a two or a three day camp.  With Bruno coming in, I would love for it to be three days, but would like to get a sense of how many people would come for three days.

So, who is in for three days?

PS:  I've edited the name of this thread to include the dates in question to help clue people in.
30905  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: 4/20 Guro Crafty at Surf Dog's in Hemet, CA on: April 18, 2008, 11:55:18 AM
It looks like Iron Dog will be coming cool
30906  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: April 18, 2008, 10:47:08 AM
“Man, once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities... With such persons, gullibility, which they call faith, takes the helm from the hand of reason and the mind becomes a wreck.” —Thomas Jefferson

No ObamaNation Part 2: Disciple of Hate
By Mark Alexander

(Part 2 of 3 on Barack Hussein Obama)

Part One of this series, “Barack who?”, provided insights into how Obama’s tragic childhood formed the pathological foundation for his narcissistic ambition.

This essay examines how Afrocentric Liberation Theology and its message of hate have wedded Obama’s anger and ambition and defined his worldview. This radical belief system is, after all, a hybrid of black supremacist doctrine and “social gospel” Marxism.

In advance of the Pennsylvania primary, Obama displayed his disdain for middle America’s faith and values at a closed-door San Francisco fundraiser: “You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest... it’s not surprising they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

In other words, according to Obama, their faith is a byproduct of bitterness. While this sentiment might have been a hit with the chardonnay-sipping elite of Marin County, it hasn’t played well in Peoria. Or in Pennsylvania, which holds its crucial presidential primary on 22 April.

In the parlance of psychology, this assessment would be classified as projection. Indeed, Obama’s “faith” does have bitter origins, and he assumes, errantly, that such bitterness is the root of all faith.

He also alluded to bitterness in mid-March: “We’ve got a tragic history when it comes to race in this country. We’ve got a lot of pent-up anger and bitterness... The anger is real. It is powerful, and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.”

To date, Obama has passed on charm alone, all fragrance, no substance. So little is known about Obama that when it was discovered that his mentor, the man he identifies as most influential in his life, has discipled him in Afrocentric Liberation Theology for more than 20 years, that presented an excellent opportunity to gain real insight into Barack Hussein Obama.

That mentor is Jeremiah Wright, just retired as head holy man of Trinity United Church (TUC) of radical black political theology. Wright officiated at Obama’s wedding, baptized their two daughters and is credited by Obama for the title of his book, The Audacity of Hope.

So who is this mentor, this chief spiritual advisor to Obama?

Here is a portrait of Wright in his own words from the pulpit: “The government lied about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color. The government gives [black people] drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strikes law and then wants us to sing ‘God Bless America.’ No, no, no, g*d d*** America, that’s in the Bible for killing innocent people. G*d d*** America for treating our citizens as less than human. G*d d*** America for as long as she acts like she is god and she is supreme.”

Wright calls America “the US-KKK-A” and says the nation is “controlled by and run by rich white people. Racism is how this country was founded and how this country is still run. We believe in white supremacy and black inferiority and believe it more than we believe in god. And. And-and! God! Has got! To be sick! Of this sh*t!”

“We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought back to our own front yards. America’s chickens are coming home to roost.”

Lest anyone mistake who he felt was to blame for 9/11, and who he felt deserved punishment, Wright elaborated in 2005: “White America got a wake-up call after 9/11. White America and the Western world came to realize that people of color had not gone away, faded into the woodwork or just disappeared as the great white West kept on its merry way of ignoring black concerns.”

How did Obama respond when asked about his pastor’s false and vicious tirade? “It sounds like he was trying to be provocative,” he said.

It worked.

On Israel, Wright claims: “The Israelis have illegally occupied Palestinian territories for over 40 years now. Divestment has now hit the table again as a strategy to wake the business community and wake up Americans concerning the injustice and the racism under which the Palestinians have lived because of Zionism.”

Perhaps that explains Hamas’ endorsement of Obama?

In December 2007, Wright presented the TUC’s “Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. Trumpeter Award” to a man who “truly epitomized greatness,” Louis Farrakhan, head of the Nation of Islam and a consummate anti-Semite. “When Minister Farrakhan speaks, Black America listens,” says Wright. “His depth on analysis when it comes to the racial ills of this nation is astounding and eye opening. He brings a perspective that is helpful and honest.”

Recently, Wright compared Obama to Jesus, saying, “Barack knows what it means to be a black man living in a country and a culture that is controlled by rich white people. Hillary can never know that. Hillary ain’t never been called a nigger.”

TUC’s mission statement, since removed from its website, noted the congregation’s “Commitment to the black values system,” or as Wright notes, “Similar to the Gospel movement in Nicaragua during the whole liberation theology movement.” The statement continues, “Commitment to the black community... black family... adherence to the black work ethic... supporting black institutions... pledging allegiance to all black leadership who have embraced the black values system.”

That is a very dark mission statement.

A current mission statement notes, “Our roots in the Black religious experience and tradition are deep, lasting and permanent. We are an African people, and remain ‘true to our native land,’ the mother continent, the cradle of civilization.”

Wright was, himself, a disciple of James Cone, one of the original champions of Black Liberation Theology, who wrote the following in his seminal work, Black Theology and Black Power: “Black theology refuses to accept a God who is not identified totally with the goals of the black community. If God is not for us and against white people, then he is a murderer, and we had better kill him. The task of black theology is to kill Gods who do not belong to the black community. Black theology will accept only the love of God which participates in the destruction of the white enemy. What we need is the divine love as expressed in Black Power, which is the power of black people to destroy their oppressors here and now by any means at their disposal. Unless God is participating in this holy activity, we must reject his love.”

Wright quotes Cone on TUC’s website: “The time has come for white America to be silent and listen to black people... All white men are responsible for white oppression... Theologically, Malcolm X was not far wrong when he called the white man ‘the devil’.”

When asked if he would leave TUC (as if that would make everything copacetic), Obama said, “This is somebody who I have known for 20 years [who] led me to Christ. He is a biblical scholar. He is a well regarded preacher and somebody who is known for talking about the social gospel.”

In other words, “No.”

But when pressed, Obama invoked his own version of Bill Clinton’s “I didn’t inhale” defense. Indeed, after 20 years of being fed the Wright stuff, Obama said, “I did not hear such incendiary language myself, personally, either in conversations with him or when I was in the pew.” Yeah, right.

Clinton’s disclaimer registers much higher on the truth meter.

A prominent member of Wright’s congregation says, “He has impacted the life of Barack Obama so much so that he wants to portray that feeling he got from Rev. Wright onto the country because we all need something positive.”

Wright himself told The New York Times a year ago, “If Barack gets past the primary, he might have to publicly distance himself from me. I said it to Barack personally, and he said ‘yeah, that might have to happen’.”

Translation: Any distance between Obama and Wright is contrived purely for political expedience. All the bitterness and hatred is seething right under the surface.

Now that Obama’s wafer-thin layer of shellac is peeling away, some moderate Demos, and more than a few superdelegates—who hitched their wagon to this most Leftwing of Lefties—are concerned that Obama is leading their party into a black hole. As they learn more, however late, about Obama’s black-nationalist and Marxist roots, they correctly see his election prospects growing dimmer.

At this point, Hillary Clinton is looking better to moderates, but her only chance to become the Demos’ nominee is to turn almost all of the superdelegates at convention, and her campaign can do that only with a bombshell.

(Next week—No Obamanation Part 3: Barack the Radical)

Quote of the week
“There is [a] class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs—partly because they want sympathy, and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs... There is a certain class of race-problem solvers who don’t want the patient to get well, because as long as the disease holds out they have not only an easy means of making a living, but also an easy medium through which to make themselves prominent before the public.”—Booker T. Washington in his 1911 book, My Larger Education

On cross-examination
“In Barack Obama’s America, rich people who vote on cultural issues rather than economic self-interest are principled and self-sacrificing. People of more modest means who do so are credulous and bitter... With Barack Obama’s ‘postracial’ appeal having proved illusory but Democrats likely to nominate him for president anyway, the party faces a difficult problem: how to persuade Americans to vote for the spiritual protégé of a man who espouses crackpot anti-American and antiwhite views.”—James Taranto

Open query
“Why did you give $22,500 just two years ago [and more than $26,000 in 2007] to a church run by a man of the past who infects the younger generation with precisely the racial attitudes and animus you say you have come unto us to transcend?... This contextual analysis of Wright’s venom, this extenuation of black hate speech as a product of white racism, is not new. It’s the Jesse Jackson politics of racial grievance, expressed in Ivy League diction and Harvard Law nuance. That’s why the speech made so many liberal commentators swoon: It bathed them in racial guilt while flattering their intellectual pretensions. An unbeatable combination.”—Charles Krauthammer

Patriot Post
30907  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / 3 days worth on: April 18, 2008, 10:32:37 AM

"'Tis done.  We have become a nation."

-- Benjamin Rush (on the ratification of the Constitution, letter
to Boudinot, 9 July 1788)


"A dying man can do nothing easy."

-- Benjamin Franklin (after his daughter asked him to move,
17 April 1790)

Reference: The Life of Franklin, Sparks, vol. 1 (531)


"What a glorious morning this is!"

-- Samuel Adams (to John Hancock at the Battle of Lexington,
Massachusetts, 19 April 1775)

Reference: American Statesman: Samuel Adams, Hosmer (297)

30908  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Las Siete Distancias de DBMA on: April 18, 2008, 12:23:52 AM
Las siete distancias del combate real con palos
por Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny

"Ignorar las siete distancias es arriesgarse a sentir la ira del rattan"

Actualmente, en los Estados Unidos, la mayor parte de sistemas de artes Marciales Filipinas ense?an el concepto de distancia mediante la divisi?n en tres de ellas Larga, Media y Corta. Algunos sistemas prefieren una distancia en concreto otros otra y algunos prefieren trabajar en las tres por igual. Larga se define normalmente como la distancia que puedes golpear la mano armada de tu adversario. Media define la distancia en la que puedes golpear la cabeza o el cuerpo de tu oponente y en la que tu mano viva (?sea la mano que queda libre cuando se combate con un ?nico palo) puede atrapar cualquiera de las extremidades del oponente. Corta es la distancia en la que el pu?o del palo y la mano libre pueden golpear la cabeza o cuerpo del oponente.

Para la mayor?a de los m?todos de ense?anza en los Estados Unidos, esas distancias son suficientes. A?n as?, algunas escuelas en la Filipinas est?n organizadas en mas distancias que simplemente esas tres. En Estados Unidos se tiende a asumir que esas distancias "extra" son subdivisiones de las b?sicas y, como tales, probablemente muy espec?ficas y especializadas. Algunos de nosotros quiz?s los m?s antiguos en esto, puede que recordemos una historia de Kung -Fu relativa a Guro Dan Inosanto contada a principios de los a?os 80 referente a su capacidad como maestro de artes marciales filipinas. En el art?culo hay fotos suyas demostrando muchas mas que las tres distancias gen?ricas. Del mismo modo en mi breve pero valioso entrenamiento con Ramiro Estalilla gran maestro de eskrima Kabaroan, me vi expuesto a un concepto de distancia que es muy diferente a los de la teor?a de " Las tres distancias". Menciono estos ejemplos porque quiero que quede claro que a pesar de que el sistema Dog Brothers Martial Arts puede ser distintivo en el uso de las siete distancias, por eso no quiero decir que sea el ?nico estilo con mas de tres distancias o que es superior a dichos estilos.

En nuestra primera serie de videos (La segunda esta al salir) la cual protagonizo Eric "Top Dog" knaus nuestro mejor luchador (y el mejor que he llegado a ver), organice las cintas con la idea de mostrar t?cnicas con ejemplos de su aplicaci?n en combates reales.

Grabamos luchas durante muchos a?os antes del primer UFC ( Utimate Fighting Championship). En aquellos d?as la mayor parte de las artes marciales filipinas se hab?an desviado de lo "marcial" y se acercaban m?s al entorno del arte. Creo que este proceso hacia la faceta de arte propicio el arraigo en los Estados Unidos. Recuerdo como mi maestro nos dec?a muchas veces durante las clases que la mayor?a de los americanos no resistir?an mucho tiempo bajo los m?todos de ense?anza de los maestros nativos de Filipinas.

Cuando salieron nuestras cintas mucha gente pens? que no se ve?a un estilo bonito en nuestra forma de luchar y que todo el estilo de lucha tradicional que hab?an aprendido era falso. Muchos de aquellos que intentaron sin ?xito emplear sus m?todos y rutinas de lucha culparon a sus maestros. Mucha gente comprendi? entonces el mensaje de Los Dog Brothers. Todos los luchadores del m?s alto nivel de los Dog Brothers ( Top Dog , Salty Dog, Sled Dog y yo mismo) tenemos una considerable formaci?n tradicional bajo los mejores maestros de artes marciales filipinas en el mundo: Gran Tujon Leo Gaje, del sistema Pequiti Tirsia, el legendario Guro Dan Inosanto y el posterior Punong Guro Edgar Sulite en particular. El mensaje de nuestras primeras cintas fue que pens?bamos que muchos de los practicantes de artes marciales filipinas en Estados Unidos en 1.992 ten?an una uni?n muy d?bil: la falta de trabajo duro en las bases del entendimiento de lo que es un luchador. Este asunto del "entendimiento del luchador" tambi?n explica el por qu? la habilidad en la ense?anza no conlleva necesariamente la habilidad en la lucha. En las filipinas, la gente entiende el significado de su formaci?n porque al menos han visto luchas con palos - normalmente los viernes por la noche despu?s de la pelea de gallos. Al igual que alguien se puede beneficiar de la ense?anza de Muay Thai sin necesidad de subir al Rin, tambi?n el entrenamiento en el arte de la lucha filipina con palos beneficia a aquellos que no son luchadores.

En contraste, cuando este arte llega a los Estados Unidos virtualmente ning?n practicante hab?a visto anteriormente una lucha con palos ni se hab?a visto envuelto en una. Necesitamos recordar que los m?todos tradicionales de ense?anza fueron desarrollados en las filipinas por guerreros, que ya pose?an conocimientos y habilidades luchadoras. Aqu? en los Estados Unidos tratamos de usarlos para desarrollar estas habilidades desde cero. Lo cual es un asunto totalmente distinto y luego culpamos los m?todos en vez de a nosotros mismos cuando no somos capaces de luchar. Por lo tanto al organizar los primeros videos de Los Dog Brothers tome la decisi?n de organizar el material principalmente pensando en el entrenamiento en solitario, al mismo tiempo que trataba de comunicar la esencia b?sica de la lucha con palos. Esto no significa que todos los ejercicios de ense?anza basados en la practica para dos personas no sea importante, simplemente no lo mostramos en estos videos.

Todav?a me preocupaba el porque la gente pude ser buen maestro y no luchador. Me di cuenta que la mayor parte de la gente ense?a rutinas de entrenamiento para dos hombres, las cuales son principalmente en las distancias media o corta, a pesar de que la mayor parte de las luchas empiezan en la distancia larga. As? que mucha gente se esfuerza en ser mas r?pidos y m?s fuertes y no tienen ni idea de c?mo llegar a la distancia donde pueden emplear esa habilidad correctamente. Por lo tanto en muy pocas ocasiones o en casi ninguna son capaces de demostrar sus habilidades en la lucha. Y el entendimiento de esto nos condujo a la teor?a de las siete distancias.

Un an?lisis objetivo revela que dos de las siete distancias residen fuera de la larga, media y corta y dos est?n dentro de ellas. Esas distancias no se agolpan una encima de la otra como ladrillos, pero pueden sobreponerse como los eslabones de una cadena. Entiendan tambi?n que esto solo es una forma de hablar y no se debe tomar muy al pie de la letra. Usando una met?fora de Jeet Kune Do" Una vez que la barca te lleva al otro lado del r?o no necesitas acarrearla en tu espalda para continuar el viaje", las luchas son din?micas y en el combate las distancias se mezclan r?pida y flexiblemente.

Distancia de la serpiente

Como he estudiado y sido golpeado por Top Dog durante varios a?os he llegado a apreciar su forma ?nica de moverse antes de establecer el contacto, ambos palo y pie. Esto le distingue a ?l de todos los otros luchadores que he visto - algunos se formaron en el mismo sistema Pequiti Tirsia. Me gusta ponerle apodos a las cosas, as? que a la particular forma de mover su palo le puse el nombre de "el palo serpenteante".

En el Arte Marcial de Los Dog Brothers definimos "Serpiente" como la habilidad de mover tu palo para proteger tu mano, ocultar tu intenci?n, crear tu apertura, y enmascarar tu ataque. A pesar de que el punto de inicio se basa en lo que hace Top Dog tambi?n hacemos los movimientos de otros luchadores de alta calidad. No hay una estructura, incluida la de los mejores luchadores, que funcione perfectamente para todo el mundo por igual ni pueda solucionarnos todos los problemas.

Estudiando la distancia de la serpiente en nuestro sistema, incluye tambi?n como analizar y resolver la estructura de tu oponente. Si puedes reconocer r?pidamente la estructura de tu oponente y conocer sus puntos fuertes y d?biles tienes menos t?cnicas que elegir y por lo tanto puedes reaccionar m?s r?pida y eficazmente. Tambi?n es importante recordar que hay veces en una lucha controlada, del mismo modo que situaciones en la calle, en las quieres evitar el contacto y mantener al o a los oponentes a distancia. El desarrollo de esta habilidad es parte tambi?n del curr?culum de la distancia de la Serpiente.

Distancia de palo cuadrado

La distancia de palo cuadrado tambi?n esta m?s lejos que la distancia larga. Es la distancia donde las armas chocan una con otra. Puesto que luchamos principalmente con palos, es la distancia donde cada palo golpea al otro ( es el momento de la lucha palo a palo), de aqu? viene su nombre. Cuanto m?s corta sean las armas, por ejemplo, navajas, esta distancia pierde su importancia. Sin embargo, cuando las armas son m?s largas comienza a ser esencial. En una lucha b?sicamente con palos, dependiendo de su din?mica, esta distancia puede ser muy importante para un luchador que la entienda. Por ejemplo, cuando dos hombres de caracter?sticas similares se enfrentan con cualquier tipo de arma, es muy probable que las armas hagan contacto entre ellas antes de que se llegue al contacto cuerpo a cuerpo. Hay tres conceptos b?sicos de la lucha de palo cuadrado: Ir contra la fuerza, Unirse a la fuerza, Converger con la fuerza. La mayor parte de los luchadores de artes marciales, posiblemente entiendan " ir contra la fuerza" y algunos con experiencia con palos notaran que "seguir la fuerza" no es tan importante en el primer golpe de un intercambio de golpes, sin embargo muchos luchadores no est?n tan familiarizados con lo que llamamos " Converger con la fuerza". Mi apreciaci?n de este concepto me fue indicada por el gran maestro Ramiro Estalilla, cuyo sistema Kabaroan, es muy interesante, usa muchas armas largas. Simplemente, una Convergencia es, en la terminolog?a de Los Dog Brothers donde la fuerza de mi golpe en el arma de mi oponente esta aproximadamente en un ?ngulo de 90 ? de la l?nea de la fuerza de su golpe, por ejemplo a mitad de camino entre chocar contra su fuerza y acompa?ar a su fuerza. El prop?sito de la convergencia es golpear el arma de tu oponente, desviarla de su trayectoria y quitarle el control de tal modo que puedas crear una apertura para tu siguiente golpe. Hay una serie de ?ngulos en los que puedes lograr desarmar a tu oponente con un simple golpe en el arma. Comprender totalmente esta distancia puede darnos una considerable ventaja y abrirnos la puerta en una lucha compuesta solamente en las distancias larga ,media y corta.

Distancia de lucha cuerpo a cuerpo

Esta es la distancia en la que ambos luchadores se enzarzan mientras est?n de pie. Corta puede ser una distancia similar aunque normalmente es un poco m?s larga, y tiene una din?mica muy distinta. En distancia corta, aparte de la posibilidad de atrapar, los luchadores no est?n agarrandose el uno al otro; en la lucha cuerpo a cuerpo lo est?n por definici?n. Casi todas los ataque se realizan sobre una l?nea alta. Tratar de lanzar un golpe bajo desde una distancia larga es muy peligroso ya que expondr? la parte superior y posterior de la cabeza contra un golpe de plena fuerza de tu adversario. Debido a la necesidad de ir con la cabeza protegida, la posici?n de los brazos en el momento del enganche suele ser distinta a los habituales agarres de los ejercicios de manos vac?as. Del mismo modo hay diferencias importantes en su din?mica, cualquiera que haya sido golpeado en la cabeza con un punyo (El pu?o del palo), golpeado en el estomago, o le hayan dado un buen porrazo en el cuello o arrojado un palo, puede dar testimonio de esto. Adem?s, en una lucha cuerpo a cuerpo con palos es muy com?n abrirse posteriormente para ponerse en la distancia de golpeo. Esas diferencias, sin embargo no cambian el hecho de que para ser un buen luchador en el cuerpo a cuerpo tus conocimientos deben de estar sustentados sobre una buena base. - ignorarlas es tu propio riesgo.

Lucha en el suelo

La lucha de palos de los Dog Brothers es como el juego del Pinball (maquinas el?ctricas) en el que tres bolas se sueltan al mismo tiempo. Si prestas demasiada atenci?n a una sola bola, y no sigues a las otras, la maquina se las traga. Similarmente en la lucha con palos entran en juego simult?neamente las manos vac?as y la lucha con palos - y al igual que el juego del Pinball puedes alcanzar muchos puntos si prestas atenci?n a las tres bolas. Por ejemplo, Si el hombre al que estas vigilando y busca una posici?n como inicio para saltarse tu guardia como lo har?a con las manos vac?as, utiliza el palo y golp?ale en el codo con tu Punyo y tr?etelo hacia ti, donde podr?s utilizar la pelea con palos y darle con el. La posici?n de guardia en el suelo puede ser muy agresiva cuando se tiene un palo en la mano. En la lucha con palos en el suelo es muy com?n que uno o ambos luchadores sean desarmados o pierdan el palo y lo recuperen posteriormente. Por lo tanto, puede ser una situaci?n muy normal que solamente uno de los dos luchadores posea el palo. Ser ambidiestro es muy ventajoso. Y, como en la lucha de pie, la lucha en el suelo tambi?n se abre hacia atr?s creando huecos para las distancias de golpeo.

Como maestro al mismo tiempo que luchador, mi experiencia es que este concepto de las siete distancias es muy ?til. Un luchador entrenado en esas distancias adicionales ver? incrementada sus cualidades como peleador y alcanzar? una mayor comprensi?n de todas las t?cticas y situaciones. No estar? desconcertado en como moverse entre las distancias larga, media y corta. Y tendr? una mente m?s compuesta y un claro sentido de la misi?n respecto a como entrar t?cnicamente en esas distancias, con la compostura necesaria para hacer que su oponente sienta la "Ira del rattan". Del mismo modo, cuando se establezca la lucha, tendr? la destreza y el conocimiento para responder m?s r?pida y espont?neamente.
30909  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Stickgrappling en espanol on: April 18, 2008, 12:22:43 AM
Stick Grappling
Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny

El Kali se enfrenta al Jiu Jitsu Brasile?o.

Cuando las artes marciales salen de su pa?s, abandonan el ambiente en el que fueron creadas. Guardar su esencia tradicional mientras dan respuesta a nuevas condiciones, puede convertirse f?cilmente en un esfuerzo Sisyfiano.(Aqu? podr?amos sustituir esta palabra por algo mas sencillo) Las artes marciales filipinas (FMA) se enfrentan en Am?rica a un mundo muy diferente a la jungla en la que se desarrollaron. El extraordinario nivel de sofisticaci?n del entrenamiento de las artes marciales Filipinas, desarrollo sistemas mas seguros para practicar con armas y con las manos desnudas. El entrenamiento que te deja f?sicamente da?ado puede provocar serias lesiones o incluso la muerte en una situaci?n donde el enemigo puede aparecer en cualquier momento sin previo aviso.

Sin embargo cuando el arte lleg? a Am?rica se presento un nuevo problema. La gente que venia a las clases padec?a una falta del "Conocimiento del luchador" del arte. A pesar de que muchos pod?an aprender las t?cnicas y los m?todos de entrenamiento, no pod?an luchar. Es comprensible, en la practica, la mayor?a de ellos no hab?an visto nunca una lucha con palos. Imag?nense no haber visto nunca un partido de futbol y que le muestren un diagrama de una jugada en la pizarra y le digan: "Esto es lo que tienes que hacer". El primer juego seria una aut?ntica sorpresa.

En contraste, en muchos lugares tradicionales de las Filipinas ten?an lugar luchas con palos todos los viernes por la noche, despu?s de las peleas de gallos. Incluso los que nunca hab?an participado en una de estas luchas, ten?an conocimiento de ellas por haber visto a otros aplicar los entrenamientos a la vida real. Pero los practicantes fuera de las filipinas no han vivido esto. Todos ellos oyeron las historias de los "Combates a muerte" entre legendarios luchadores con palos como Floro Villabrile como relata en su libro " The Filipino Martial Arts" Dan Inosanto.Y eso no es precisamente la clase de cosas que anima a uno a probarlo. Ciertamente hubo algunos individuos que probaron sus habilidades en duelos, pero esos eran la excepci?n. En conjunto, cuando las extraordinariamente combativas y efectivas artes de las Filipinas abandonaron su hogar y enraizaron en USA corrieron el peligro de ser acaparadas principalmente por los que sus t?cnicas de lucha consist?an b?sicamente en girar los palos y desarmar.

Alrededor de 1986, en este vac?o llego una banda que se describ?a as? misma como "Sudorosos y mal olientes psic?patas con palos" que m?s tarde llegar?a a ser conocida como los Dog Brothers.
En el coraz?n de este grupo estaban Eric Knaus, Marc Denny y Arland Sanford; pronto se les conoci? como Top Dog, Crafty Dog y Salty Dog, respectivamente. Knaus era el mejor luchador del grupo. Sanford de Santa Fe, Nuevo M?xico, se encontr? con Denny y Knaus por primera vez en un torneo en 1988 en el que lucho durante su exitosa tercera carrera por el titulo nacional. Para Knaus y Denny los torneos eran solamente una manera de atraer gente para que pudieran ver m?s all? y en Sanford encontraron un ?vido y vigoroso practicante. "El me destrozo la u?a del dedo gordo la primera vez que luchamos" cuenta Denny.

Una de las cosas principales que los mantiene juntos es que ellos luchan pr?cticamente sin protecciones. Como Sanford dice: "Yo quer?a saber si lo que hab?a estado aprendiendo val?a de algo o estaba perdiendo el tiempo". El grupo creci? y sus luchas se desarrollaron. En 1988, justo antes de la revoluci?n del Brasilian Jiu-Jitsu, a propuesta de Denny se permitieron los agarres.
Esto llego a ser muy importante para el grupo de luchadores. Se dieron cuenta de que hab?a un enlace com?n entre todas las artes, quizas ocurrio cuando el sur de Filipinas, Indonesia y Malasia y el sudeste de Asia formaban parte del imperio Majapahit.

La realizaci?n de los videos del grupo con la Panther Productions en 1.992 - 93 hechas con la filosof?a "Si lo ves ense?ar, lo ves pelear" le abrio los ojos a mucha gente. Algunos cuestionaron las mascaras de esgrima y los guantes de hockey. Para la mayoria de los espectadores, sin embargo los enormes hematomas, K.O.S, huesos rotos y las salpicaduras de sangre hicieron que esas criticas parecieran rid?culas. Pero una de las partes mas controvertidas de la serie fuera la qinta cinta que mostraba luchas con agarres que conclu?an en el suelo. Dentro de la comunidad de las artes marciales filipinas algunos vieron los agarres como prueba de que las mascaras y los guantes precedian a que el "arte real" fuera conocido mayoritariamente . Los huesos rotos y los K.O.S no eran suficientes. Parec?a como si solamente un "combate a muerte" pudiera complacerles.
Pero desde la perspectiva del "Cafty Dog" estas quejas eran err?neas. ?Qu? es lo que quieren? En su ?poca de mayor vitalidad la organizaci?n de los UFC nos busco para luchar con armas en un evento especial entre las semifinales y las finales. Pero despu?s de que vieran lo que hac?amos, nos escribieron una carta comunic?ndonos que hab?an decidido suspender nuestro combate porque le parec?a "Demasiado extremo" para el UFC. Nosotros apostamos por la vida, no por la muerte. La intenci?n que perseguimos es crecer en el arte, no matar ni mutilar personas. Por supuesto que en algunos casos el agarre ocurre en virtud de un encadenamiento o t?cnica intermedia de los luchadores. Sabemos eso. Pero en 1988, justo antes de la revoluci?n del Jiu-Jitsu Brasile?o (BJJ), a sugerencias de Denny se permitieron los agarres."Consideramos que hacemos una lucha que empieza con palos, no una lucha de palos". El explica, "Habr?a sido artificial prohibir los agarres cuando la experiencia nos dec?a que se produc?an. No hay que darles mas vueltas al asunto, es as?. Sin embargo durante un par de a?os, excepto por el descubrimiento de Eric del agarre para estrangular, nosotros no sab?amos con claridad que lo est?bamos haciendo. Carl Franks, un estudiante de Ricson Gracie de Hawai, hab?a luchado con nosotros en 1.987 y 1.989 en la Academia de Inosanto, y yo hab?a visto una pel?cula pirata de Gracie de aquella ?poca. Chris Hanter me presento a los Machado (sobrinos de los Gracie) en el verano de 1990 y yo ya estaba listo para actuar. Siendo el m?s viejo y el m?s peque?o de los tres que form?bamos el coraz?n de la manada, me pareci? una buena idea.

Sin dec?rselo a los otros, Denny en aquel entonces conocido como el "Crafty Dog" empez? a entrenar con los Machado. En esta pre-era del Brasilian Jiu-Jitsu, el resultado fue electrizante. Eric Knaus el "Top Dog" quedo impresionado y empez? tambi?n a entrenar con los Machado. (El profesor de Crafty, el legendario Dan Inosanto, empez? a entrenar con los Machado un par de a?os m?s tarde ante la insistencia de Crafty y ahora entrena con ellos cinco d?as a la semana).Sanford el "Salty Dog" , fue perezoso en apuntarse. No habia BJJ en Santa Fe, Nuevo M?xico en 1.990. Asi que cuando se le acabo la meta del surfing le llego la ola del ahogarse, se convirti? en un instructor de May Thai bajo la direcci?n de Ajarn Chai Sirisute y se introdujo en el Krabi Krabong, el arte de las armas militares del cual deriva el deporte del May Thai.

Un hombre entrenado en el arte de aproximarse puede hacerlo sorpresivamente contra la mayoria de los oponentes sin golpearlos en absoluto. Si tu dominaras la distancia "larga" y has trabajado las t?cnicas de aproximaci?n, puedes hacerlo t?cnicamente.

Yo creo que la resistencia de algunas personas de las AMF en esta cuesti?n no es diferente de lo que supuso la revoluci?n de BJJ cuando mucha gente sufri? un ataque emocional y dijo que los agarres no se pod?an permitir, no importa que los hechos demostraran lo contrario. S?, por supuesto que esto es diferente porque se trata de un arma. Pero los hechos demuestran que los agarres se producen algunas veces. Si, hay gentes a las que no puedes acercarte, Salty Dog me viene a la mente. Pero aunque tengas la experiencia de ir contra un "aproximador" lo mas probable es que no seas uno de ellos. Y si no has desarrollado la habilidad para acercarte contra los palos lo mas probable es que recibas una buena paliza."

Otra critica que se les hace a los Dog Brothers es que todo ese "revolcarse por los suelos" como dec?a un descontento en la carta que env?o a una revista que lo que hac?amos no eran "autenticas" Artes Marciales Filipinas. Para Crafty Dog la respuesta tiene dos partes, "lo primero seria ?y qu?? Nuestro inter?s es autentico. En segundo lugar en las artes marciales filipinas existen los agarres, normalmente conocidos como Dumog y a veces como Buno. Continuamos buscando pero desgraciadamente se conoce muy poco de esto en los Estados Unidos. Cuando yo entrenaba con el Gran Tuno Leo Gaje (el maestro de Top Dog y Sled Dog) en las Filipinas el verano pasado, tuve mi primera experiencia en este tema. Pero la verdadera cuesti?n es, ?Qu? vamos a hacer al respecto?. Ignorar el JJB porque no es Filipino. ?D?nde estar?an hoy los Brasile?os si Carlos y Helio Gracie hubieran tenido la misma actitud hace 70 a?os porque el Jiu-Jitsu japones no era brasile?o? La gente de las artes marciales filipinas en Manila est?n trabajando BJJ ahora ?por qu? no ?bamos a hacerlo nosotros? ?Si alguien descubre la rueda, voy a seguir en con mi trineo voy a coger esa rueda, asimilarla y perfeccionarla?. Esto es lo que las artes marciales Filipinas han hecho siempre y esta es la raz?n por lo que son tan buenas. Las AMF siempre han estado abiertas a lo extranjero y a sus influencias. Por ejemplo la espada y daga tiene una fuerte influencia de los espa?oles. As? mientras yo reconozco la validez de la cuesti?n "?Es autentica las AMF incluyendo al BJJ?" . Pienso que lo es si trabajamos constructivamente sobre los supuestos del coraz?n del arte. "Si no lo hacemos as?, entonces los puritas tendr?n raz?n".

Desde la primeras series de videos la lucha ha seguido evolucionando hacia los agarres con palos con Crafty Dog al frente de los Dog Brothers. En mi opini?n el agarre con palos es una habilidad avanzada. Como prerrequisitos se necesita una gran habilidad para acercarse al contrario, as? como una buena habilidad a distancia media y corta en AMF, ser preferiblemente ambidiestro, y como m?nimo tener la habilidad de un cintur?n azul equivalentes en agarres. (Crafty es purpura con los hermanos Machado igual que Top Dog) " Es como el juego del pinball, cuando la maquina suelta tres bolas a la vez. Tienes que repartir tu atenci?n porque si te concentras demasiado en una sola bola, las otras se te colaran por el agujero. En el agarre con palos utilizamos el Kali para hacer que nuestro oponente cometa un error de jiu-jitsu para que podamos finalizar con un agarre con el palo. O por el contrario utilizamos el Jiu-Jitsu para hacer que cometa un error de Kali. Es muy emocionante y un buen juego para un luchador de mas de 49 a?os como yo disponer de estos trucos en la mochila.
30910  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues on: April 18, 2008, 12:10:52 AM
Amen to that -- and kudos to the officer.
30911  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Indonesia hoards bird flu virus samples on: April 17, 2008, 03:26:38 PM
Recipe for a Pandemic
April 18, 2008
Over nearly 60 years, the World Health Organization has developed sophisticated systems for monitoring the emergence of seasonal influenza and possible pandemics as well as arming scientists with the tools to develop vaccines. Now, one country is jeopardizing all that, putting itself and the rest of the world at risk.

The culprit: Indonesia. Its Health Ministry refuses to give the WHO avian flu virus samples taken from Indonesian victims. This matters because sample sharing allows experts around the world to track mutations of the virus and spot dangerous mutations. Even more important, sharing allows researchers to develop vaccines.

Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari asserts that Indonesian bird flu is a form of intellectual property, from which the country should benefit. Whether that means Indonesia simply wants to ensure affordable access to any vaccine developed from its samples – or whether Jakarta will demand a share in the profits – is unclear. Ms. Supari has complained in the past of labs using Indonesian samples for "commercial" reasons, raising the question of where she thinks vaccines come from, if not from private companies with a profit motive. Of almost 60 bird flu cases in the past year, Indonesia has given WHO all of two samples – but only for surveillance, not vaccine research. They were from high-profile cases in Bali, and Jakarta worried that tourists would stay away.

The dispute may partly be due to domestic politics. Ms. Supari evidently thinks this viral nationalism plays well in public opinion. She published a book earlier this year titled "It's Time To Change: Divine Hands Behind Bird Flu," in which she speculates the U.S. uses virus samples to conduct research on biological weapons. Next year is an election, and Ms. Supari is becoming a favorite of various Islamic groups, on which President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono could end up depending.

Whatever Jakarta's motivation, without the samples it's much harder for researchers to develop any vaccine. Viruses mutate constantly. That's especially true in Indonesia, which has the highest number of cumulative bird flu infections – 132 since 2003, compared with 106 in Vietnam. Without samples from those cases, researchers can't tackle the most up-to-date form.

The worst-case scenario would be for a virulent strain to evolve in Indonesia and catch researchers by surprise, because they have no experience working with its predecessors. Even if scientists do develop a vaccine based on samples from, say, Vietnam, they have no way of testing its efficacy against the Indonesian variety. All together, it's a recipe for a pandemic, particularly if other countries start following Jakarta's lead.

Indonesia's leaders now say they want a speedy resolution to the sample-sharing dispute. In a meeting this week with U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt, the Coordinating Minister for the People's Welfare, Aburizal Bakrie, promised to finalize an agreement within two months.

There's no time to waste. Of the 240 human bird flu deaths reported in 12 countries since 2003, 107 have been in Indonesia – 12 already this year. The next highest cumulative death toll is 52 in Vietnam. Better to share samples now and allow scientists to develop a vaccine than scramble to do so when a pandemic hits.

But the world will have vaccines to protect against the avian flu virus only if scientists are able to carry out research. By hoarding samples and trying to tinker with the financial incentives that drive pharmaceutical innovation, Indonesia is endangering everyone.

30912  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hillary and BO on: April 17, 2008, 03:14:38 PM
The Democrats and Gun Control
April 17, 2008; Page A19

Imagine an election race of Pat Robertson versus James Dobson, each of them appearing at organic grocery stores and Starbucks throughout Massachusetts, with each candidate insisting that he alone deserves the vote of gay-marriage advocates. An equally silly spectacle is taking place these days in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Indiana, West Virginia and Kentucky, as Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama compete for the pro-gun vote.

Mr. Obama supports the Second Amendment – or so his surrogates have been claiming all over Pennsylvania, the state with the highest per-capita membership in the National Rifle Association. The effort was set back last weekend with the publication of Mr. Obama's remarks claiming that people in small towns in Pennsylvania and other Midwestern states "cling" to guns because they are "bitter" that the government has not solved their economic problems.

Mrs. Clinton shot back with an excellent speech in Valparaiso, Ind., recounting that her father had taught her how to shoot when she was a little girl. "People enjoy hunting and shooting because it's an important part of who they are," she said. "Not because they are bitter."

Surely she is right. The shooting sports culture in Pennsylvania was thriving long before the domestic manufacture of steel began to decline. Indeed, that culture was thriving before steel was invented. Pennsylvania's 1776 state constitution declared "That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the state . . ." A separate provision guaranteed "the liberty to fowl and hunt in seasonable times."

However, having the right to arms and the liberty to hunt is worthless if you can't buy a gun. In 1999, Mr. Obama urged enactment of a federal law prohibiting the operation of any gun store within five miles of a school or park. This would eliminate gun stores from almost the entire inhabited portion of the United States.

As a state senate candidate in 1996, Mr. Obama endorsed a complete ban on all handguns in a questionnaire. The Obama campaign has claimed he "never saw or approved the questionnaire," and that an aide filled it out incorrectly. But a few weeks ago, found an amended version of the questionnaire. It included material added in Mr. Obama's handwriting.

When the U.S. Supreme Court voted last year to hear a case on the constitutionality of the Washington, D.C., handgun ban, Mr. Obama's campaign told the Chicago Tribune: "Obama believes the D.C. handgun law is constitutional" and that "local communities" should have the ability "to enact common sense laws." Other than Washington, D.C., the only American cities with handgun bans are Chicago and four of its suburbs. As a state senator, Mr. Obama voted against a 2004 bill (which passed overwhelmingly) to give citizens a legal defense against prosecution for violating a local handgun ban if they actually used the firearm for lawful self-defense on their own property.

Mr. Obama's campaign Web site touts his belief in the Second Amendment rights to have guns "for the purposes of hunting and target shooting." Conspicuously absent is the right to have firearms to defend one's self, home and family. In 2001, as a state senator, Mr. Obama voted against allowing the beneficiaries of domestic violence protective orders to carry handguns for protection.

Yet, as Mr. Obama has mockingly pointed out, Mrs. Clinton is not exactly a modern-day Annie Oakley wiling away weekends in a duck blind. As first lady, she helped organize the Million Mom March for "sensible gun laws" in 2000. It was led by the shrill gun prohibitionist Rosie O'Donnell.

Mrs. Clinton has repeatedly voted for antigun proposals, and co-sponsored many of them. After Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans and St. Tammany police confiscated guns from law-abiding citizens, violating an explicit Louisiana law. In some cases, the confiscation was carried out with the assistance of federal agents, and was perpetrated via warrantless break-ins into homes.

The next year, the U.S. Senate voted 84-16 for a homeland security appropriations rider stating: "None of the funds appropriated by this Act shall be used for the seizure of a firearm based on the existence of a declaration or state of emergency." Mrs. Clinton was one of the 16 who voted "no." Mr. Obama commendably voted with the majority.

Forty states currently allow most law-abiding adult citizens to carry concealed handguns for lawful protection, after a background check and (in almost all such states) a safety class. Of course those laws only apply to carrying within the relevant state. Mr. Obama told the Chicago Tribune in 2004 that he favored a national ban on concealed carry, to "prevent other states' laws from threatening the safety of Illinois residents." Mrs. Clinton campaigned against a licensed carry referendum in Missouri.

Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama voted against legislation to stop mayors from suing gun manufacturers and gun stores because of gun crime. That legislation banned lawsuits only if businesses had complied with all laws regarding firearms manufacture and sales.

A presidential candidate could of course swear devotion to the First Amendment, while declaring that the amendment's purpose is to protect sports reporting and book collecting. And that candidate could still support government lawsuits against publishers, local bans on newspapers, and draconian restrictions on political commentary.

Civil libertarians who supported such a candidate because of his alleged love for the First Amendment would be foolish. Civil libertarians who support Mr. Obama or Mrs. Clinton because of their purported fealty to the Second Amendment may be bitterly disappointed.

Mr. Kopel is research director of the Independence Institute and co-author of the law school textbook, "Gun Control and Gun Rights" (NYU Press, 2002).
30913  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / from PD WSJ on: April 17, 2008, 02:42:07 PM
Many liberals exploded in anger last night over the fact that Barack Obama was asked by ABC moderator George Stephanopoulos for the first time to explain his relationship with William Ayers, a former member of the 1960s terrorist group Weather Underground, which set off bombs in the Pentagon and Capitol.

Mr. Ayers, asked in the Sept. 11, 2001 New York Times if he regretted his actions, said he only wished he had set off more bombs.

Mr. Obama knew enough to try to distance himself from Mr. Ayers. "This is a guy who lives in my neighborhood, who's a professor of English in Chicago who I know and who I have not received some official endorsement from.... The notion that somehow as a consequence of me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8 years old, somehow reflects on me and my values doesn't make much sense, George."

What disturbed liberals most was not that the question brought back the turbulent 60s, but that its genesis apparently came from conservative Fox News host Sean Hannity.

Mr. Stephanopoulos was on Mr. Hannity's radio show on Tuesday, and was asked why no one in the media had asked Mr. Obama about the association with Mr. Ayers. Mr. Stephanopoulos told the radio audience he was writing down all the information Mr. Hannity was giving him.

"It's a question that should have been asked a year ago, it's about time," Mr. Hannity e-mailed me last night. George did not seem to even know about it till I told him. The left wing blogs are going nuts over this (and crying foul)."

That's understandable, given that the way Mr. Obama handled the question almost guarantees he will have to address it again. But that doesn't mean the issue is illegitimate or inappropriate. It just means it's finally been raised in a campaign that has given Mr. Obama too many passes on his background.

-- John Fund

Hillary's Doggedness Vindicated

Since neither Barack Obama nor Hillary Clinton will have enough in elected delegates to clinch the nomination when the primaries end, last night's ABC debate largely had them trying to influence one elite audience: the superdelegates who will represent almost 20% of the Democratic convention floor vote and who will decide the nominee.

Based on last night's performance, Mr. Obama shouldn't expect a lot of superdelegates to break for him in the near future. Most observers agreed that, faced with the toughest questioning he has ever gotten in a debate, he was tense, evasive and obscure in many of his answers. Even blogger Andrew Sullivan, a fervent Obama supporter, acknowledged that he was "having an awful night."

He singled out Mr. Obama's insistence that the capital gains tax be raised even after confronted with evidence that previous cuts had actually led to higher revenues. Mr. Sullivan noted that "Obama's convoluted capital gains tax answer was a brutal reminder to folks like me that he is indeed a redistributionist, and someone who seems to see the tax system as a way to decide what people 'deserve' to have and keep. Ugh."

Last night's debate demonstrated one thing: Hillary Clinton's strategy of hanging on in hopes that Mr. Obama will lose luster over time hasn't been a bad one. She is still unlikely to win the nomination, but she has even more reason now to keep fighting until the last primary is held in June.

-- John Fund

Quote of the Day I

"On Rev. Wright he took a direct hit. He couldn't get off the treadmill and just kept making things worse. On William Ayers he was tough and in your face, but it came off defensive and clearly put him further off his stride. It was clear he wasn't used to it.... Obama hasn't had this type of questioning before. No doubt his supporters will be upset, while Clinton's supporters likely feel it was long overdue. The truth is that [ABC News moderators] Gibson and Stephanopoulos asked questions that have been on people's minds, but nobody else in the media had the spine to bring up" -- liberal blogger and radio host Taylor Marsh.

Quote of the Day II

"All the signs point to a big Democratic year, and I still wouldn't bet against Obama winning the White House, but his background as a Hyde Park liberal is going to continue to dog him. No issue is crushing on its own, but it all adds up. For the life of me I can't figure out why he didn't have better answers on Wright and on the 'bitter' comments. The superdelegates cannot have been comforted by his performance" -- New York Times columnist David Brooks, blogging last night's debate.

30914  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Cyberwar on: April 17, 2008, 11:29:08 AM
The online hacker community is strongly individualistic, though it does exhibit a number of characteristic ideologies. An ideological underpinning is not a prerequisite to being a hacker, and many ideologies are not mutually exclusive. Any one actor might subscribe to none, many or a unique amalgam. But these basic ideologies should be considered and understood in any meaningful discussion of cyberwarfare.

Related Special Topic Page
Related Links
Cyberspace as Battlespace: Evolving Threats

Cyberwarfare: A Glossary of Useful Terms
Interactive Cyberwarfare Timeline
Cyberwarfare 101: The Internet Is Mightier Than the Sword
Cyberwarfare 101: Black Hats, White Hats, Crackers and Bots

Editor’s note: This is one in a series of analyses on the emergence of cyberspace as battlespace.

The personal motivations driving individual hackers are virtually infinite. But there are a handful of dominant ideologies that can offer insight into the mindsets and motivations of much of the larger hacker community. Not all hackers subscribe to or are driven by these beliefs, but most are shaped or affected by them in some fashion.

Any discussion of these ideologies must begin with the basic Hacker Ethic, the founding principle of the hacker community.

Hacker Ethic
Interpretation of this ethic can vary, but it essentially entails the following beliefs:

Information should be free and accessible to all.
Access to computers should be unlimited.
Computers and the Internet can be a force for the betterment of humanity.
Authority is not to be trusted.
The principle of decentralization goes hand-in-hand with all of the above.
These fundamental principles, and variations thereof, are commonly held in the hacker community and have evolved over time into some of the ideologies described below.

The basic principles of exploration — an outgrowth of the Hacker Ethic and the first ideology many hackers adopt — are to look into every corner of the Internet and bypass any security simply for the sake of improving skills and learning how to navigate cyberspace covertly. In the process, explorationists generally try to leave no trace and to avoid any damage to the system (which would, inherently, be evidence of their intrusion). Many of this ideology’s tenets originate from newer versions of the Hacker Ethic — especially the white-hat version, which emphasizes benevolent rather than malevolent actions.

Another outgrowth of the original Hacker Ethic is informationism, which holds that information should be allowed to flow freely throughout the Internet and, by extension, throughout all human societies. Hackers who embrace this ideology often have specific areas of interest they monitor to identify developments and actors that they might percieve to be limiting the free flow of information. Once these hackers identify constraints, they attempt to remove them by a variety of means, from simply rerouting data to removing security protocols to staging comprehensive network attacks — essentially making that information free through force.

The tenets of altruism vary greatly, depending on the person subscribing to it, but often they are based on an individual’s beliefs regarding the Internet and are often associated with what are considered positive actions intended to serve a perceived public good. These tenets can include the free flow of information, security preservation and user protection. In some ways, altruism can be understood as a variation of the Hacker Ethic with a benevolent bent. But because it all comes down to a personal perception and world view, “altruistic” hackers may sometimes perform actions that seem quite malicious to others (e.g., shutting down Web sites that are believed to be blocking the free flow of information).

Hacktivism promotes the use of hacking to accomplish political goals or advance political ideologies. Depending on the campaign, these actions may involve both white-hat hackers and black-hat hackers and can include Web site defacement, redirects, DoS attacks, virtual sit-ins and electronic sabotage. Many hacktivist actions often fall under the media radar but their political, economic, military and public impact can be significant.

Although a rare hacker ideology, nationalism can envelop large portions of the community given the right cause or circumstance. By their very nature, hackers are individualists who rarely pledge allegiance to other hackers or groups, let alone countries. This is partially due to the fact that the Internet itself and the hacker community it supports have their own cultural elements — indeed, some of the other motivations discussed above often supersede or transcend national identity. There are situations, however, when hackers can be motivated to act in what they perceive to be the best interests of their respective nations. When these situations arise, powerful alliances can quickly emerge that often possess greater capabilities and resources than many developed nations. This ideology is particularly relevant to cyberwarfare.

An outgrowth of nationalism is an ideology not often discussed: when hackers unite to protect not their nation but their community. Thus far, sufficiently explosive or inspiring conditions to unify such a disparate community have been rare. But the potential remains — and is perhaps growing greater in an increasingly wired world.

Rally Around the Flag
Much like nationalism, the “rally around the flag” ideology is rare in the hacker community, but when it emerges and builds a large following it can yield a significant power. Basically, rally around the flag refers to any situation that mobilizes large numbers of hackers behind a particular cause. The cause can vary or be governed by any number of ideological motives, but it is usually a cause that is sufficiently controversial or out of the ordinary to spark outrage and reprisal. Both nationalism and rally around the flag exemplify how certain ideologies can quickly join subnational and transnational hacker groups into fleeting alliances that can bring great force to bear on a target.

In these last two categories, the significance of the ideological motivation is the unifying factor. Once the skills and resources of a particular online demographic are amassed, a broad spectrum of attacks and targets are possible. One notable example was in 1999 during the NATO intervention in Kosovo, when Serbian hackers reportedly began carrying out attacks — from vandalism to larger distributed denial-of-service attacks — against all manner of targets in NATO member states. After the accidental bombing of the Chinese Embassy, a second upsurge in attacks against targets in NATO countries began. The most recent example — and one of the most mature instances of the disruptive effect of this kind of incident — was the Estonian cyberwar in 2007.

30915  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: April 17, 2008, 11:22:20 AM
Chinese-Americans play an important role in high tech and we have seen some cases wherein the Feds have accused some of them of espionage.  I know you follow these issues-- can you comment on this?
30916  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Jack Kemp to BO on: April 17, 2008, 11:19:22 AM
Second post of the morning:

Obama and Economic Opportunity
April 17, 2008; Page A19

Dear Barack,

Greetings, it's me again, giving more advice and taking you up on your thoughtful suggestion to open up a national discussion and dialogue on race and racial reconciliation in America.

First of all, some historical perspective, not for you senator, but for my other readers.

I believe all great achievements in our nation's progress toward social, legal and economic justice have been led by a combination of agitation and idealism. From the Founders in 1776, to the Civil War waged to save the union and abolish slavery, to the Civil Rights Movement which began to fully integrate African Americans into the electoral and economic mainstream, we have wrestled with, debated and discussed the next steps that are needed toward "a more perfect Union."

Each great era of progress was led by men and women of conviction who challenged us to live up to the highest ideals of our nation, who declared in a very radical way that we are all God's children. This ideal was not even close to reality until the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, both of which were aimed at abolishing the last vestiges of the evil practices known collectively as "Jim Crow."

This month I thought about April 15 not just in terms of taxes (they're too high and complex), but because of a great African-American agitator, Jackie Robinson, who broke the color barrier in baseball on that date and helped lead all professional sports to higher levels of excellence and performance.

Barack, as we fast-forward to today, I contend we've successfully integrated the U.S military, the arts and entertainment, and sports at all levels. The one area of American life that is still very separate and very, very unequal is our economy. Many people of color have risen spectacularly against the odds – Oprah Winfrey, Bob Johnson, Magic Johnson, Whoopi Goldberg and many other professional athletes, entertainers and businessmen and women of whom we can be proud. Still, we need to look at all those left behind, all those you have spoken of who today lack economic opportunity to climb the ladder of wealth, ownership and asset creation so central to achieving the American Dream.

As Jesse Jackson said at a Wall Street Project conference I attended, "Capitalism without capital is nothing but an ism." Truer words were never spoken. Look at the great fortunes generated by the Carnegies and Mellons, the Rockefellers, Guggenheims and others. These were established in an economic climate of sound money with very low taxes on income, estates and capital gains.

Before you start thinking, "There goes Kemp again, calling for a kind of laissez-faire approach to capitalism," let me note that incentives in the tax code to encourage investment have been championed at one time or another by both political parties – from Coolidge to Kennedy and from Reagan to Rangel. (Charlie Rangel to a lesser degree, but my old friend co-sponsored enterprise zones, with Joe Lieberman and me, that actually zeroed out capital gains taxes and has called for a cut in corporate income tax rates.)

In my opinion, people of all colors and income levels don't hate the rich. They want to get rich. They're more interested in generating wealth than they are in redistributing wealth. They want to own property, educate their children and build a nest egg that can be passed on to their heirs. Unfortunately, some aren't able to access the same ladder of opportunity that is so readily available to the majority.

As I'm fond of saying, you can't get rich on wages, you have to earn, save, invest, reinvest and pass on to your children the products of your labors.

Senator, I believe our tax code punishes this process of upward mobility, especially for people of color, and in some cases it actually prevents people from escaping poverty. In this respect, I believe your economic views are short-sighted. You've pledged to raise income tax rates to 39.5% and lift the cap on payroll taxes, which would end up raising the top rate on income to 52% or more. You also want to raise dividend taxes to 39.5% and capital gains to 28%, plus you want to return to a confiscatory 55% "death tax." Unwittingly, your plans would prohibit most black Americans, indeed most Americans, from ever getting rich or even richer. Your economic ideas, sincere as they are, would weaken the economy, weaken the dollar, and weaken our chances of reducing poverty and unemployment.

It's my strongly held belief that we should be working to democratize our free-enterprise, private property-based system. We can do this by expanding empowerment zones and offering zero capital gains taxes for those who invest there; by reforming the tax code to open access to capital; and by providing more school choice in urban America.

As for the housing sector, we should listen to my former colleague Bruce Bartlett, who has called for the repeal of this year's $117 billion tax rebate, and to redirect the money into a package of measures that would help those homeowners who actually need assistance to save their homes.

By giving people access to capital and allowing them to take ownership of assets, entrepreneurship will be encouraged and the cycle of poverty can begin to be broken. All persons should have the opportunity to go as high as their merit and determination can carry them. My favorite quote is from Abraham Lincoln, who said, "I don't believe in a law to prevent a man from getting rich; it would do more harm than good. So while we do not propose any war upon capital, we do wish to allow the humblest man an equal chance to get rich with everybody else."

Lincoln's definition of entrepreneurial capitalism is the best I have ever heard. I believe that a bipartisan consensus could be reached in America on a 21st-century war on poverty that takes the best of the "center left" and the best of the "center right" on the reforms necessary to make the American Dream accessible to all our people. We may have a long way to go, but I remain an optimist about improving the human condition, expanding our democratic ideals, and forming a true partnership with private enterprise.

I love what Bobby Kennedy said in Bedford-Stuyvesant in 1968: "To ignore the potential contribution of private enterprise is to fight the war on poverty with a single platoon, while great armies are left to stand aside."

Barack, let's get together with, say: John Bryant of Operation Hope in Los Angeles; Ambassador Andrew Young of Good Works International; Bob Woodson of Neighborhood Enterprise Foundation in Washington, D.C.; Ted Forstmann of Forstmann Little & Company in New York; Russell Redenbaugh, a U.S. civil rights commissioner in Philadelphia; and economist Art Laffer. We can discuss how best to tackle the issue you raised in your March 18 speech, when you identified the lack of economic opportunity for people of color as one of our nation's greatest challenges.

Any interest, sir?

Mr. Kemp is a former congressman, the 1996 Republican vice presidential candidate, and a former secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
30917  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: April 17, 2008, 10:47:00 AM
'10% of GDP'
April 17, 2008; Page A18
Is Washington looking in the wrong place for financial market risk to taxpayers? According to a new study by Standard & Poor's, the answer is yes.

Congress is disturbed about the bailout risk from the Federal Reserve opening its discount window to borrowing from investment banks and broker-dealers. That's a reasonable concern, especially with the Fed guaranteeing $29 billion in dodgy Bear Stearns paper. But according to S&P, the "maximum potential cost" of bailing out Wall Street would be below 3% of GDP, assuming a deep and prolonged recession. That's painful, but not catastrophic.

Guess where the far greater danger comes from? If you said Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, you are a faithful reader of these columns and we bow before you. According to the S&P study, the taxpayer risk from Fan and Fred, combined with that of other government-guaranteed agencies, "yields a potential fiscal cost to the government of up to 10% of GDP." With total U.S. GDP estimated at somewhere north of $14 trillion, that would put the Fan and Fred bailout cost at about $1.4 trillion. Yowza. This "fiscal burden" would be so large, in fact, that S&P figures it could even jeopardize the AAA credit rating of the U.S. government.

These are the same two companies, by the way, that have recently had their capital requirements reduced and their jumbo mortgage lending limits increased to a maximum of $729,750. New York Senator Chuck Schumer, among many others on Capitol Hill, had browbeaten the Bush Administration until it eased those limits. Capital is of course the only cushion taxpayers have against a bailout if Fan and Fred keep racking up losses. Better hope this recession isn't deep.

30918  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / China's organizational capabilities in the US on: April 17, 2008, 12:02:31 AM
Beijing’s Obvious Hand at the U.S. Olympic Torch Run
April 16, 2008
Related Links
2008 Olympics: Beijing’s Hopes and Hurdles
China: Protests and Beijing’s Olympic Conundrum
The Olympic Torch in San Francisco
By Rodger Baker

The April 9 Olympic torch relay in San Francisco opened a window into the organizational capabilities of the Chinese government and its intelligence collection apparatus inside the United States. From the coordinating efforts of the city’s Chinese Consulate, down through local Chinese business and social organizations, and on to the pro-China supporters who photographed the event, the operation showed an efficiency and organizational capability not seen among the anti-China demonstrators. The run also revealed a high level of sophistication, planning and control in the pro-China camp.

A Day of Confusion
The torch relay in San Francisco proved a mixed bag of anti-China and pro-China demonstrators, as well as spectators simply hoping for a glimpse of the symbol of the Olympic Games. Pro-Tibet and other demonstrators altered their tactics in San Francisco following clashes surrounding the torch run in London and Paris — where pictures of a protester with a Tibet flag trying to snatch the torch from a handicapped torchbearer left the protesters looking worse than China. As a result, the demonstrators in San Francisco planned to impede the progress of the relay rather than attempt to extinguish the torch or interfere with the actual torchbearers. The massive gathering at the beginning of the torch route, and the blocking of a bus carrying Chinese security officials and items related to the torch run, triggered the organizers of the relay to change the route completely. In part, then, the protesters interrupted the relay effectively, though not in the manner they had hoped.

The on-the-fly changes in the torch relay route, which left many spectators waiting down near the piers when the torch was running along the hills several blocks away, allowed the relay to progress relatively smoothly, interrupted only a few times by protesters attempting to block the route or by a few demonstrators bearing little sign of affiliation with the Tibetan or Darfur causes who threw water balloons at the torch. The heavy police and Diplomatic Security Service presence around the torch runners largely kept demonstrators on the sidewalks, while the moving roadblocks and the unclear torch route left demonstrators unsure of where they could amass to intercept it. The security organizers, then, were relatively successful in their efforts to allow all planned participants to carry the torch with minimal interference.

In the end, neither protesters nor security “won” the day. Amid the confusion, however, the groups that showed a very strong sense of organization and planning were the pro-China demonstrators. Their coordination demonstrated the ability of the Chinese government, via its local consulate and its association with overseas Chinese organizations, to rally and coordinate large-scale activities inside the United States — and to use these activities for intelligence collection.

Pro-China Preparation
By 8 a.m. April 9, the pro-China demonstrators were taking up positions along the planned torch relay route, pulling in groups carrying Chinese, U.S. and Olympic flags, and equipped with cases of food and water. However, these were not spontaneous gatherings of overseas Chinese supporting the motherland, as Beijing media have portrayed them. Rather, there was a coordinated effort between local Chinese business and social associations and the consulate to attract, equip, deploy and coordinate the large pro-China turnout. This is in contrast to the Free Tibet, Save Darfur and other anti-China protesters — who often seemed disorganized.

By some estimates, as many as 50 busloads of Chinese from other parts of California were brought to San Francisco. Many of them paid (by some accounts $300 each) to come out for the day in support of Beijing. They were placed in groups along the anticipated torch relay route and given Chinese and Olympic flags, as well as American flags (the latter a tactical move to show they were not anti-U.S., but rather pro-China — a distinction made all the more apparent by the fact that most anti-China protesters did not carry U.S. flags, and some also were critical of the U.S. government).

In addition to those bused in from out of town, many of the local Chinese business and social organizations were involved in fielding groups of pro-China supporters, and these were similarly equipped. Most groups also were supplied with cases of water and food — something not seen among the anti-China demonstrators, who appeared more a gathering of individuals than prearranged groups. One local Chinese organizer was overheard saying they had spent some $30,000 on food and water for the day of the torch run — perhaps not a large amount overall, but a clear investment to ensure that there was group cohesion among the pro-China demonstrators.

In addition to many older overseas Chinese posted along the route, there also were numerous Chinese of college age, many representing several overseas and mainland Chinese student associations. Some carried a large flag representing China’s Tsinghua University, which produces many top Chinese officials, and among the others were local chapters of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association. During the run, some of these students challenged the American Free Tibet or Saver Darfur protesters to discussion, asking, for example, whether they had been to Tibet or diverting accusations of Chinese military support to Sudan with counteraccusations of U.S. military activity in Iraq and Afghanistan. In general, the Chinese side kept the confrontations rather civil, seeming to have been well prepared to respond (suggesting they had been provided with materials on how to respond in advance). On numerous occasions, however, the anti-China demonstrators in these one-to-one confrontations would resort to their own chanted slogans or just shout that the Chinese were liars.

The organization of the pro-China contingent was further demonstrated by its self-policing efforts. While the anti-China demonstrators ignored the barriers along the route and moved into the streets, far fewer pro-China demonstrators did so. When one did cross, the pro-China group would shout at them to return behind the barriers and “follow the rules.” There was clearly a concerted effort to make the Chinese demonstrators appear as the more controlled, more peaceful and less confrontational participants — part of a broader PR strategy.When confronted by a large group of pro-Tibet demonstrators, for example, the Chinese often simply ignored the repeated cries of “China lies, people die” and instead broke into song, effectively ending the exchange.

Instigation and Intelligence Collection
There was at least one exception to the restraint shown by the pro-China demonstrators, however, suggesting they were not entirely the innocuous gathering they sought to portray. On numerous occasions, individuals or small groups carrying cameras would seek to incite the anti-China demonstrators to acts of confrontation or violence, frequently by parading through the middle of a group of Free Tibet or Save Darfur demonstrators with a large Chinese flag, walking back and forth through the group. In some cases, small scuffles broke out — and pictures were snapped — though the anti-China demonstrators soon deployed individuals to try to keep the two opposing sides separated. The same day, Chinese media ran photos of pro-Tibet demonstrators shoving pro-China demonstrators, “proving” their point that the Tibet supporters are violent.

It was no accident that the photographs appeared so quickly in the Chinese media. In addition to the demonstrators, numerous individuals were sent out with cameras. Although cameras are expected at such an event, many of the photographers were collecting images either for Chinese propaganda purposes or to identify anti-China demonstrators in order to identify pinpoint “troublemakers” who might be planning to attend the Olympics in Beijing. With their pictures on file, Chinese authorities can then either deny their visas or monitor them more closely when they arrive in China.

In addition, Beijing has been trying to locate the organizers of anti-China protests and demonstrations overseas, ones who may be planning action in China, in order to infiltrate their groups and gather intelligence on their planned activities. This is not new for Beijing — as the Chinese Embassy official who defected in Australia a few years ago demonstrated by revealing the details of Chinese infiltration of and spying on Falun Gong supporters in Australia. Beijing also has been seeking out U.S. and other foreign academics for their insights on potential demonstrations in Beijing, hoping to get information about individuals and tactical details of plans in order to pre-empt or at least effectively counter them.

In addition to the intelligence collection efforts and the careful organization and coordination of the pro-China demonstrators in San Francisco, electronic countermeasures also were used to disrupt the communications and activities of the anti-China demonstrators. In some cases, the cell phones of the anti-China organizers were spammed with prank calls and text messages in order to limit their effectiveness as a coordinating tool — particularly as the torch changed routes. There also were unconfirmed cases of limited cell-phone jamming, likely using the short-range cell-phone jammers that were popular a few years ago. These created intermittent and isolated interference with cell-phone reception, further deteriorating the communications and coordination ability of the anti-China demonstrators.

Beyond San Francisco
Furthermore, China did not limit its activities to San Francisco. It also organized a smaller response to the Dalai Lama’s visit to Seattle, Wash., a few days later. Chinese Consul General in San Francisco Gao Zhansheng sent a letter to University of Washington (UW) President Mark Emmert urging him and other UW officials to refrain from meeting with the Dalai Lama or from giving him a platform for political or “separatist” activities. Additionally, the Chinese Students and Scholars Association sent an open letter to the UW leadership and met briefly with Emmert and Provost Ed Taylor, asking them to limit the Dalai Lama’s opportunity to use his visit for political reasons. Several hundred pro-China students also staged a demonstration outside the Dalai Lama’s speaking venue in Seattle on April 14, using the Internet to coordinate banners, chants and actions.

Throughout the United States there have been reports of other group actions by Chinese students and activists, from Internet-based activity promoting boycotts of French goods following the Paris torch relay to a push to “correct” foreign media coverage of the Tibet riots and the Tibet issue overall. But there also have been more aggressive instances. For example, at least one Chinese student at Duke University received threats after attending a pro-Tibet rally, while others have had their personal information, including their phone numbers and Chinese identification cards, posted on the Internet bulletin board hosted by the university’s Chinese Student and Scholar Association (the association denied responsibility, saying those postings were the actions of individuals). The students’ concern, however, is that the information will get back to Chinese authorities and thus undermine their future prospects in China or even lead to further harassment of themselves or their families.

China has had a long reach into the Chinese community in the United States for quite some time, and frequently uses this community for espionage, both within the community itself and against American companies, the military and the technology and political spheres. Also, Chinese consulates in the United States have helped facilitate pro-China gatherings in the past. However, while it already was known that China was anxious to restore its image after the Tibet unrest and the trouble with the torch run in London and Paris, the effort and coordination Beijing exhibited in San Francisco, through the consulate and local Chinese business and social organizations, was rather impressive.

There are no estimates of the number of pro- and anti-China demonstrators at the San Francisco event, though the former easily totaled several thousand. Additionally, the actions of the pro-China camp, along with the supporters’ placement along the anticipated route, demonstrated a much more centralized and coordinated organization than the anti-China groups — and revealed the depth to which the Chinese government can organize and deploy its overseas population, even in the United States.

30919  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Cyberwar on: April 16, 2008, 12:18:00 PM
Most Internet “hackers” who are sufficiently capable to engage in cyberwarfare have little real affiliation with states (regardless of their citizenship in the real world). Skilled cyberwarriors can be fiercely individualistic and anonymous, though several broad classifications help give definition to the community and highlight some of the major types of actors in cyberspace.

Related Special Topic Page
Related Links
Cyberwarfare: A Glossary of Useful Terms
Interactive Cyberwarfare Timeline
Cyberwarfare 101: The Internet Is Mightier Than the Sword
Cyberspace as Battlespace: Evolving Threats

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of analyses on the emergence of cyberspace as battlespace.

Before considering the role of a state’s power in cyberspace, it is important to identify and understand the transnational actors who populate it — particularly those who can manipulate the environment. The Internet is an environment defined by its users, and the average user is utterly powerless in terms of cyberwarfare — i.e., wreaking havoc on governments and institutions. But there are some individual actors who wield considerable power. Even average users can contribute unwittingly to this power, serving as conduits for destructive worms and viruses that can hijack individual computers and servers.

As the rise of al Qaeda has reminded the world of the power of the nonstate actor, so too has the rise of the individual hacker. The most powerful lone-wolf hacker may have even less grounding in the traditional political landscape than a motivated jihadist — and is perhaps even less likely to be affiliated with a national government.

A hacker can be many things. For our purposes here, it is someone with sufficient understanding, skill and experience in the nuances and inner workings of computer systems and networks to be able to wield meaningful power and influence events in cyberspace — even if only in concert with others. Such a person must then actively choose to exercise that capability and act boldly on that stage (hacking is almost universally illegal).

A given hacker’s ideology may be flexible or rigid, but the potential power of these individuals does raise new questions about national allegiance. The United States, for example, has dealt with nonstate actors as proxies for decades (e.g., the Afghan mujahideen). Computer hackers are another matter. Often strongly individualistic (and occasionally anarchistic), the smartest and most skilled are not necessarily interested in — or eligible for — work inside government agencies or the military (one of the core tenets of the so-called “Hacker Ethic” is that authority is not to be trusted). A country must consider these “free agents” inside its borders as well as those outside. Often indifferent to matters of state, a hacker’s attention can quickly turn and become an asset or a threat to state authority.

Black Hats
The most threatening hackers are known as black hats, or “dark side” hackers. These are hackers whose primary activities and intentions are malicious and often criminal. Black hats attempt to locate, identify and exploit security gaps or flaws within operating systems, computers and networks in order to gain control of them, steal information, destroy data or orchestrate other illicit activities. Once access to a system has been obtained, a black hat may take measures to establish continued covert access.

White Hats
The antithesis of the black hat is the white-hat hacker, also known as an “ethical” or a “sneaker.” White hats are ethically opposed to the abuse or misuse of computer systems. Like their black-hat counterparts, white hats actively search for flaws within computer systems and networks. These efforts often occur with systems in which a white hat has a vested interest or of which they have substantial knowledge. They distinguish themselves by either repairing or patching these vulnerabilities or alerting the administrator of the system or the designer of the software. Basically, white hats attempt to maintain security within the Internet and its connected systems.

However, some altruistic white-hat pursuits can appear to be quite malicious. A white hat may act with whatever he or she considers a “higher purpose.” The inherent conflict of white and black hat activities can also lead to online bouts between the two classes, in which both sides might use malicious tools to disconnect each other from the system or network. This may involve “back-hacking” — tracing the source of activity and infecting or attempting to disable the other hacker’s connection or system.

Other Hats
Other hackers “wear” colored or hybrid hats. Grey hats, for example, are a blend of the black hat and the white hat. Drawing on experience from both sides can make for a very robust skill set. Computer security professionals are often known as blue hats. Their activities are not unlike those of white hats but are more focused on the interests of paying customers. Hackers wear an assortment of other colored hats, and not all warrant definition here. We mention them only to illustrate the many shades and nuances found in the hacker community.

Generally a black hat, a cybermercenary is an expert hacker for hire. For the right price, cybermercenaries can bring a considerable amount of resources to bear on a target. They are occasionally contracted to assist in network defense, though, as a general rule, cybermercenaries specialize in offensive and malicious acts: conducting denial of service (DoS) and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks; disabling, altering or defacing Web sites; electronic espionage; data theft or destruction; network warfare; and wholesale cyberwarfare. At times, the cybermercenary can be found supporting or conducting portions of a significant cyberwarfare strike (such strikes can be particularly manpower-intensive).

Some observers don’t consider this a true category of hacker, since cyberwarfare attacks rarely inflict the kind of direct, physical damage associated with terrorism. Stratfor is not interested in this particular debate. We include the term simply to highlight the potential for cyberwarfare strikes to have an objective not of destroying data or bringing down a financial network but of creating conditions that may directly contribute to significant loss of life (e.g., hacking into an air traffic control grid), with that loss of life being the principal objective.

Many of the hackers described above are also coders, or “writers,” who create viruses, worms, Trojans, bot protocols and other destructive “malware” tools used by hackers. The ability to write computer code can be an invaluable skill for any hacker, though most coders focus specifically on the design of new and continually evolving software that makes Internet security an ongoing challenge.

Crackers are hackers who circumvent or bypass copyright protection on software and digital media. The most prominent recent example of cracking was the “unlocking” of Apple’s iPhones in order to break software-imposed restrictions on the use of GSM cellular networks other than AT&T (which made a deal with Apple to be the sole provider of iPhone service). Of course, cracking has significant ramifications well beyond simply accessing the latest gadget. It also means that, regardless of whether a released software program has copyright protection, there are crackers diligently working to beat it. By making these programs and applications more available, crackers also increase the number of tools available to the online community.

Script Kiddies
Script kiddies represent an intermediate category of actor between regular computer user and hacker. A script kiddie is more knowledgeable about computers and the Internet than most users but has yet to develop the skills, experience and expertise to be a truly effective actor. Nevertheless, a script kiddie can have an impact on the wider online world. Prewritten programs accessible on the Internet can enable the less-skilled to perform many of the same functions as a seasoned hacker. Script kiddies know just enough to get themselves in real trouble or to bring real trouble to bear on others.

Bots and Zombies
Not all actors in cyberspace are human. This is not to classify every server and application in cyberspace as an actor. But there is a unique non-human actor in cyberspace known as a zombie, which is a computer wholly or partially controlled by a bot. A bot, for our purposes, is a parasitic program that hijacks a networked computer and uses it to carry out automated tasks on behalf of a hacker. Individual bots can be building blocks for powerful conglomerations of bots.

Such a gathering of bots is often accomplished by a bot herder, also known as a bot wrangler, which is a program designed to produce bots autonomously (a tedious and time-consuming process for a human hacker). A bot herder can replicate itself and create additional bot herders as well as bots. By using these wranglers, hackers can construct massive networks of bots and use these herders essentially as command and control nodes.

Once many bots and bot herders have been amassed, they can be consolidated into a collective computing network called a botnet, also called a “bot army.” This allows a single hacker to wield simultaneously the computing power of many thousands of machines — or more — and accomplish tasks that would otherwise be impossible with a single computer. Among these tasks are launching DDoS attacks, which can shut down Web sites, servers and backbone nodes; generating massive emailing and spamming campaigns; and disseminating viruses. Once these botnets are established, it can be extremely difficult to disband them and counter their decentralized attacks.

This is only a quick snapshot of the cyberspace population that at times transcends traditional geopolitical concepts like citizenship, national loyalty and international borders. Some countries and transnational groups are better at harnessing such individuals, either within their own borders or beyond. But most hackers also have ideological bents of their own.

30920  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The English Language on: April 16, 2008, 12:08:19 PM
Enlarging the Anglosphere
April 16, 2008; Page A19


When Winston Churchill met President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on the deck of the H.M.S. Prince of Wales in 1941, he spoke of the common bonds between Britain and America: "The same language . . . the same hymns . . . more or less, the same ideals." As he implied, the special relationship should be forged not merely by formal ties between governments, but by widening and deepening understanding and contact between people.

So, I want to suggest how our Atlantic relationship – which has always been rooted in something far more fundamental and lasting than our common interests or even our common history and common language – can be renewed and extended into new areas for a new generation.

First, I am proposing moving cooperation between our universities at a far higher level.

Members of my cabinet benefited from time at U.S. universities, Bill Clinton was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, and the Marshall and Fulbright scholarships have been bringing U.S. and U.K. students into each other's countries for decades. But I want many more British and American university students to have the chance to study across the Atlantic.

Already some universities are planning to require all of their students to spend some time abroad as part of their degree. The principal of King's College in London and the president of New York University will convene a group to examine how cooperation between U.K. and U.S. institutions can be intensified, starting with the potential for expanding faculty and research exchanges. And I can give a commitment that British students who need financial support to pay the travel costs of taking up a term of study in the U.S. will receive that support.

Second, I am proposing cooperation on enterprise, so that young business leaders in each country regularly conduct exchanges and learn from each other. "Make Your Mark" – which champions entrepreneurship among young people in Britain – is linking up with the Kauffman Foundation in the U.S. to organize this November the first Global Entrepreneurship Week.

Third, I am proposing that – in the spirit of Andrew Carnegie – British and U.S. charities come together to discuss projects where working in common we can make a difference. The Hunter Foundation and Carnegie Corporation of New York have agreed to host a convention of U.S. and U.K. philanthropic charitable organizations, with participants including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. And regulators on both sides of the Atlantic will discuss how rules governing donations to charities can help U.K. and U.S. charities work more closely together – in particular to make it clear how to register a charity here in Britain and qualify for tax benefits.

Fourth, building on well-established traditions of U.K.-U.S. collaboration – from Crick and Watson to the Human Genome Project – I am proposing that we strengthen even further our cooperation in health research. The Wellcome Trust and Cancer Research U.K. are working with the U.S. and other international partners to compile a comprehensive catalog of cancer mutations, in order to give us an even better chance of fighting this often-deadly disease. And as part of the planning for Europe's largest medical research center at St. Pancras, London, Prof. Sir Paul Nurse will bring together experts from America and Britain to increase our understanding of cancer, and improve treatment and rates of cure.

Fifth, by working together our two countries could make a huge difference in dealing with the impact of climate change. Britain's new Energy Technologies Institute – set up to do path-breaking, low-carbon research and development – is ready to link up with U.S. environmental research efforts.

Sixth, in an Internet age young people can, of course, talk to each other across continents. I want them to be able to meet each other, too.

Last month, the British Council launched the Transatlantic 2020 initiative to bring together young leaders from America, the U.K. and Europe. And Britain's "V" organization – which harnesses the energies of young people in community service – will build on their links with similar programs in America to explore ways in which our young people can volunteer in each other's countries.

Each of these initiatives offers a modern means of expressing our special relationship in the 21st century – bringing people together, increasing understanding, and realizing the potential for the greater good when our two nations work together. And they reflect today's more connected society, in which thousands of people who communicate across multimedia channels will now be able to visit, meet face to face, and gain knowledge and understanding that will benefit them, and both our countries.

In the last half-century the English language has become not only the language of Shakespeare and Twain, of J.K. Rowling and Cormac McCarthy, but of science, commerce, diplomacy, the Internet and travel.

So, finally, I propose that together Britain and America strive to make the international language that happens to be our own far more freely available across the world. I am today asking the British Council to develop a new initiative with private-sector and NGO partners in America, to offer anyone in any part of the world help to learn English.

America and Britain are separated by the thousands of miles of the Atlantic, and by our differing and always evolving national cultures. Yet there is still far more that unites us than can ever divide us. I believe that the future of our relationship can, if we choose, deliver far more even than it has achieved in its past. Not just for both our nations, but for the world.

Mr. Brown is Britain's prime minister.

See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus
30921  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: 4/20 Guro Crafty at Surf Dog's in Hemet, CA on: April 16, 2008, 11:53:06 AM
Surf Dog says:

$80.00 dollars
Starts at 11:00am to 4:00pm
Where:  1532 S. Santa Fe Ave. (corner of santa fe and esplanade)
San Jacinto Ca 92583

30922  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington: The value of liberty on: April 16, 2008, 11:43:52 AM

"The value of liberty was thus enhanced in our estimation by
the difficulty of its attainment, and the worth of characters
appreciated by the trial of adversity."

-- George Washington (letter to the people of South Carolina,
Circa 1790)

Reference: Maxims of George Washington, Schroeder, ed. (16);
original The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Fitzpatrick, ed.,
vol. 31 (67)
30923  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: April 16, 2008, 10:20:08 AM

Campaign-Finance Meltdown
April 16, 2008; Page A18
Someone get Harry Reid a handkerchief. On Monday, the Senate Majority Leader sent a letter to White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten lamenting the news that a Democratic nominee to the Federal Election Commission, Robert Lenhard, has withdrawn his name from consideration since the process is taking so long.

This is yet another nail in the coffin of the campaign-finance reform movement. One of its goals has been to reduce the role of "money" in elections, and thereby elevate the tenor of campaigns. Pretty much the opposite has resulted.

Amid a campaign season, the FEC has been languishing without a quorum of commissioners to rule on election-law questions. Democrats created the FEC standoff last year by attacking the confirmation of Bush nominee Hans von Spakovsky. This has mainly increased campaign-finance partisanship, for example by elevating the clout of so-called 527 groups, which run "independent" advertising on behalf of candidates. If you're George Soros, that means spend now, ask questions later. Thanks to Mr. Lenhard's untimely withdrawal, it will probably take "several months" for the Democrats to find a new nominee, Mr. Reid noted soberly in his letter. This means that if there are any campaign-finance violations this year, someone will be fined for it in, oh, say, 2011.

If Democrats really want the commission to get back to business, they should return to the protocol of confirming nominees in groups or in bipartisan pairs. Their behavior suggests what they really want is the politicized breakdown of the campaign-finance system.



Harry's Got His Back

Joe Lieberman is perhaps the most mild-mannered of Senators, but his fellow Democrats are stewing over the prospect of him giving a keynote address for his friend John McCain at the GOP National Convention in Minneapolis. Though nothing appears to have been decided, Lieberman staffers think it very likely that such a speech will be made.

Mr. Lieberman lost his Democratic primary in 2006 but ran and won in the fall as an independent. Because he never left the party and Democrats desperately needed his vote to reach the 51 seats required to control the Senate, he was allowed to become chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. But Democrats expect to gain seats in the November elections, leaving them free to punish Mr. Lieberman for his apostasy and strip him of his chairmanship. Columnist Robert Novak recently reported that some of Mr. Lieberman's colleagues are salivating at the prospect of punishing him for his pro-Iraq War views.

But Mr. Lieberman is a clever operator and one Democratic leadership aide admitted to The Hill newspaper "the bar would have to be very high" for any Lieberman behavior to trigger much retaliation.

The reason is that Connecticut Joe has a powerful supporter in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who continued to stand by him even after his 2006 primary loss to liberal Ned Lamont. "I can tell you Sen. Reid had talked to me a few times and said he knows there will be talk if we get more than 51 Democrats next year," Mr. Lieberman told The Hartford Courant this month. "As far as he is concerned, I will retain my seniority, et cetera, no matter how many Democrats there are next year."

Indeed, when asked yesterday if Mr. Lieberman's chairmanship would be in jeopardy in a more Democratic Senate, Mr. Reid told reporters tersely: "No."

Nonetheless, you can bet there will be a lot of clenched teeth and tongue-biting if Mr. Lieberman mounts the stage of the Minneapolis convention and endorses a Republican on national television.

-- John Fund

The Long Hello

Peter Keisler, former Acting Attorney General, has gone back to private practice in Washington DC. Why is this job-switch announcement news? Because Mr. Keisler's nomination to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals is pending -- and pending, and pending, and has been for two years.

Seeking to disperse the blame, Senate Judiciary Chairman Pat Leahy last month attributed the delay to the Bush administration's failure to give enough deference to home-state senators. On an earlier go-round, Mr. Keisler was blocked by Democratic Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Paul Sarbanes, on the grounds that the Bethesda resident didn't practice law in Maryland. More recently, Mr. Keisler has been blamed for arguing the Pentagon's case in favor of military tribunals in Hamden v. Rumsfeld. The New York Times apparently decided that doing his job at Justice qualified him as a "hard line movement conservative."

But there's some sign that pushback from Republicans, especially Sen. Arlen Specter, is starting to work. On the Sixth Circuit, a bipartisan deal is now afoot between Sen. Carl Levin and the White House, which nominated Democratic choice Helene White as a package deal with Republican choice Raymond Kethledge. A relative of Sen. Levin's, Helene White is often considered the reason for the deadlock on the Sixth Circuit, beginning when her nomination was blocked by Spence Abraham.

What's more, Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid said yesterday he would hold votes for three of the President's appeals court nominees by Memorial Day. Why the urge to be seen getting something done? Polls show John McCain besting either of the two possible Democratic nominees, and Senate Democrats likely recall how Republican complaints about "obstructionism" on judges helped defeat their then-leader Tom Daschle in his 2004 re-election bid. Nonetheless, Mr. Keisler would be wise to keep his day job a while longer.

-- Collin Levy

Quote of the Day I

"It reminds me of the moment back in 1971 when Richard Nixon proclaimed, 'We are all Keynesians now' -- eight years after Milton Friedman had published his book 'A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960' and about an hour and a half before a consensus built that Friedman's work consigned Keynes to the dustbin of economic history. Now it is Bush's turn to be the last man to join a losing proposition. In how many ways is this proposal not useful? First of all, as Chris Horner, the author of 'The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming and Environmentalism,' shrewdly has pointed out, the Democrats desperately want Bush and the Republicans 'to take ownership' of the global alarmists' issues before he goes. This is important. Whatever restraint likely to be exercised by the Democratic Party majority next year will be induced by the political fear that the Republicans would be able to say I told you so if the Democrats' policies contract the economy and put yet more people out of work" -- Washington Times columnist Tony Blankley.

Quote of the Day II

"In politics, the clearer a statement is, the more certain it is to be followed by a 'clarification.' Obama and his supporters were still busy 'clarifying' Jeremiah Wright's very plain statements when it suddenly became necessary to 'clarify' Senator Obama's own statements in San Francisco. However inconsistent Obama's words, his behavior has been remarkably consistent over the years. He has sought out and joined with the radical, anti-Western left, whether Jeremiah Wright, William Ayers of the terrorist Weatherman underground or pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli Rashid Khalidi. Obama is also part of a long tradition on the left of being for the working class in the abstract, or as people potentially useful for the purposes of the left, but having disdain or contempt for them as human beings" -- Thomas Sowell, a scholar at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, writing at

Oberstar in the Way

Oil is at $114 a barrel, airline company profits are nothing but a dream and four U.S. carriers have filed for bankruptcy in just the past month. But House Transportation Committee Chairman James Oberstar will throw his legislative weight in front of the proposed merger between Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines in order to delay the deal long enough so a new president might stop it.

"We have no legal authority to block the merger, but we can continue to raise issues about it and ask the [transportation Department] and [Justice Department] to address them," Oberstar spokesman John Schadl told "Simply put: Jim may be able to run out the clock on this."

Mr. Oberstar, now in his 17th term, plans a blizzard of paperwork and hearings to slow down what he thinks could be a wave of consolidation and monopoly behavior in the airline industry. Executives at Delta and Northwest say their route structures overlap on only 12 long-haul routes and that the new carrier will be able to offer consumers a truly global airline.

But Mr. Oberstar is an old union man -- his father worked in the Minnesota mines for 40 years -- and he's convinced that Northwest, which is based in Minnesota, would lose its identity in a merger and stop flying to small, out-of-the-way towns in his area. Given the global forces buffeting the airline industry, Mr. Oberstar's parochialism strikes many as both short-sighted and paternalistic. After all, the worst airline service a small town can possibly get it is from a carrier that is no longer in business.

-- John Fund

30924  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: MCain-omics on: April 16, 2008, 10:16:26 AM
April 16, 2008; Page A18
John McCain gave his big economic speech in Pittsburgh Tuesday, and many of the policies he proposed are laudable – the highlight being an optional flat tax for individuals. The weakness – especially heading into a general election amid a struggling economy – is that his pudding still has no theme.

Being able to provide a guiding economic narrative is not just a matter of having a catchy soundbite, a la the "ownership society." It's essential for two reasons. First, it offers voters an explanation of how we got to the current moment, which means why the economy is struggling. The two Democrats already have their story: The 1990s were a golden age for the middle class that has been ruined by Republican tax cuts that rewarded only rich lenders and speculators. Mr. McCain needs a different policy narrative.

John McCain
Second, a guiding philosophy shows voters that future decisions will be made according to a set of principles they can understand. Example: A month ago, Mr. McCain gave a speech saying it wasn't the government's obligation to rescue those who took out loans they couldn't afford. Then last week he, ahem, supplemented that view by supporting an FHA-guaranteed loan-restructuring program in what looked to be a bid to compete with Democrats in the housing bailout auction.

Without some guiding principles, voters are left to wonder whether Mr. McCain's next lurch will be to the populist left, where his instincts sometimes run, or to the fiscally conservative right, where he is also sometimes found.

True to form, yesterday's speech offered support for both McCains. On the pro-growth side, he spoke out strongly for tax reform and endorsed the specific idea of an optional flat tax. "We are going to create a new and simpler tax system – and give the American people a choice," he said. Tax reform is precisely the kind of big domestic proposal that will let him plausibly campaign as the real agent of "change." And by making it optional, he can deflect Democratic claims that he'll rob Americans of their tax deductions.

We were also glad to see Mr. McCain repeat his proposal to cut the corporate tax rate to 25% from its current 35%. This is a competitive necessity, as the rest of the world marches its way down the corporate Laffer Curve. The U.S. now has the second highest corporate tax rate in the developed world – after Japan – and every CEO we talk to says the punitive U.S. rate is one reason so much investment is being made overseas.

The Senator also took a hard line on spending, saying "we need to make a clean break from the worst excesses of both political parties." And he put some specific ideas behind it: A promise to veto any bill with earmarks, and a "one-year pause in discretionary spending increases," except for defense and veterans. You can already hear the squealing on both of those from Capitol Hill, where spending increases have long been automatic and earmarks are nearly a matter of natural right. This attack on spending is credible given Mr. McCain's voting record, and it will serve as a contrast with either Democratic candidate, who will be promising vast new spending programs.

Less credible is Mr. McCain's call for Washington to suspend the 18.4-cent-a-gallon federal gasoline tax between Memorial Day and Labor Day to help consumers hit by high oil prices. There are few tax cuts we don't like, but this one smacks of poll-driven gimmickry. If Mr. McCain wants to cut the price of gasoline, he should tell the Federal Reserve to stop fueling the commodity boom by cutting interest rates.

Mr. McCain had almost nothing to say about prices and inflation, yet both are among the major concerns of voters in the polls. Like most of today's politicians, he seems to see gasoline prices only through the prism of energy policy. But the single major cause of the recent oil and gas price spike is monetary policy. Mr. McCain needs to find a way to tell voters, as Ronald Reagan did, that inflation is the great thief of the middle class and that he wants a Federal Reserve that will protect the value of the dollar and personal thrift.

Which brings us back to the matter of an agenda without a theme. To win in November, Mr. McCain is going to have to do more than mimic the Democrats by blaming the housing bust on greedy lenders and rich Wall Street CEOs. If voters believe that narrative, they'll elect a President Obama. He needs to be the tribune of the middle-class family that pays its bills and didn't gamble on property.

He'll also need to say more than that Democrats will raise taxes while he will cut them. He needs to explain to voters why low tax rates are vital in an increasingly competitive world; why they can help revive growth at home; and why growth and economic security go hand in hand with national security.

In yesterday's speech, Mr. McCain tried to show voters he feels their pain. What they need and want to hear is a speech that shows that he understands and is willing to fight for the policies that produce prosperity.

30925  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iran's Al-Sadr Problem on: April 16, 2008, 12:28:32 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Iran’s al-Sadrite Problem
April 16, 2008
The Associated Press reported Tuesday that differences have surfaced between the U.S. and Iraqi governments on how to deal with radical Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr.

While Shia-dominated Baghdad had assumed a far tougher attitude towards al-Sadr — wanting to eliminate him as a political force altogether — Washington is seeking to accommodate the Shiite leader in the political process.

Meanwhile, as the Americans and the Iraqis figure out what to do with al-Sadr, the Iranians have their own set of problems with his movement. Iran enjoys a significant amount of influence over al-Sadr, giving the country the ability to rein him in, especially on several recent occasions. But the relationship between Iran and the maverick cleric-to-be is both complex and problematic. While the Iranians are providing al-Sadr with the opportunity to establish his clerical credentials by allowing him to pursue his studies in their seminary city of Qom, they have also used punitive tools to keep him in line.

One tool includes a murder case filed in an Iranian court against al-Sadr by the family of Ayatollah Abdul-Majid al-Khoei, an assassinated Iraqi Shiite cleric, according to an April 10 report in the UK-based Saudi news website Elaph. Al-Khoei was gunned down by unidentified assailants in Najaf in April 2003 when he returned from exile in London following the toppling of the Baathist regime. The murder victim was the son of Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Abul-Qassim al-Khoei, an internationally renowned Iraqi Shiite cleric and the mentor of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

Initially, the cleric’s family filed a case with Iraqi authorities blaming al-Sadr along with 27 other individuals for the murder. Although a judge issued an arrest warrant for al-Sadr, it was never executed. Overall, U.S. and Iraqi authorities did not pursue the matter. They decided to back off given the power of his Medhi Army militia and Iraq’s unstable political situation.

Frustrated with the situation, al-Khoei’s family decided to take the matter to the Iranians. The case was brought to the attention of a special court established by the Islamic Republic founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini that is designed to prosecute clerics who violate the law. It seems the case has stalled there. Although it has not been pursued, it also had not been dismissed.

Given certain jurisdictional issues, the Iranians cannot technically prosecute al-Sadr since he is neither an Iranian national nor a cleric. Furthermore, al-Khoei’s family members are ideological rivals to the Iranians. In fact, Tehran views them as U.S. lackeys and has reveled in seeing them suffer setbacks.

However, the lingering case still provides the Iranians with a handy method of keeping al-Sadr in check and managing his ability to upset its plans for Iraq. But the power of the Iranians to intimidate al-Sadr only extends so far, given his large following among the Iraqi Shia. Iranians have no interest in jeopardizing the relationships they have spent the last five years cultivating with the al-Sadrites. But that does not diminish the strong opposition many Iranians feel toward al-Sadr.

Tehran has long viewed al-Sadr as a political wildcard who can never be completely tamed. Recently, his willfulness was demonstrated in a March 29 interview with al-Jazeera in which he recalled a meeting with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“I told him that we share the same ideology, but that politically and militarily, I would not be an extension of Iran, and that there were negative things that Iran was doing in Iraq,” al-Sadr reportedly said in the interview. “I mentioned to him a few things that Iran needs to rectify with regard to Iraq. Iran committed mistakes that it should not have made.”

Whether or not al-Sadr actually said this to Khamenei matters little, but the claims — made on an international television station — have still caused a significant stir within Iran. In fact, many senior Iranian officials have publicly criticized al-Sadr. Those critics include Mohammed Baqer Ghalibaf, the mayor of Tehran, who is seen as the main challenger to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in next year’s presidential election. Another power critic includes Mohsen Rezai, secretary of the Expediency Council and the former head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

This situation is being watched closely by Saudi Arabia, which is eager to counter an emerging Iran by exploiting intra-Shia rifts. This position could explain why news of the impending murder case was reported by a Saudi media group while it has received little publicity elsewhere. The Saudis realize problems between Iran and Iraqi Shia, hamper Iran’s ability to threaten their national security. Therein lies al-Sadr’s ability to serve as a potential arrestor to Iranian ambitions in Iraq and the region.

The Saudis are not the only ones happy to see the wrangling between al-Sadr and Iran. The United States, engaged in multiple complex dealings with Iraqi factions in order to block Iran’s path towards regional dominance, would also like to see as many obstacles in the path of Iran as possible. While it continues to create a bulwark among Iraq’s Sunnis, Washington can certainly benefit from a Shiite thorn in Iran’s side and recent comments from top U.S. officials have almost rallied behind al-Sadr.

Last week in fact, al-Sadr was described as “a significant political figure,” by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates who added that the United States wanted the Shiite leader to work within the political process. Additionally Gen. David Petraeus, top U.S. commander in Iraq, called the al-Sadrite movement a major force that should be accommodated to varying degrees.

Politicking aside, it is unlikely that Washington can align with al-Sadr, given his radical Islamist ideology and anti-occupation nationalist stance although an understanding could develop. Whether or not that happens remains to be seen. However, what is clear is that al-Sadr is proving to be a problem for Iran and his influence could play a key role in preventing the Iranians from dominating Iraq in the long run.

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30926  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Brigitte Bardot on: April 15, 2008, 04:51:51 PM ainmentNews&rpc=22&sp=true

Brigitte Bardot on trial for Muslim slur

PARIS (Reuters) - French former film star Brigitte Bardot went on trial on Tuesday for insulting Muslims, the fifth time she has faced the charge of "inciting racial hatred" over her controversial remarks about Islam and its followers.
Prosecutors asked that the Paris court hand the 73-year-old former sex symbol a two-month suspended prison sentence and fine her 15,000 euros ($23,760) for saying the Muslim community was "destroying our country and imposing its acts".
Since retiring from the film industry in the 1970s, Bardot has become a prominent animal rights activist but she has also courted controversy by denouncing Muslim traditions and immigration from predominantly Muslim countries.
She has been fined four times for inciting racial hatred since 1997, at first 1,500 euros and most recently 5,000.
Prosecutor Anne de Fontette told the court she was seeking a tougher sentence than usual, adding: "I am a little tired of prosecuting Mrs Bardot."
Bardot did not attend the trial because she said she was physically unable to. The verdict is expected in several weeks.
French anti-racist groups complained last year about comments Bardot made about the Muslim feast of Eid al-Adha in a letter to President Nicolas Sarkozy that was later published by her foundation.
Muslims traditionally mark Eid al-Adha by slaughtering a sheep or another animal to commemorate the prophet Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son on God's orders.
France is home to 5 million Muslims, Europe's largest Muslim community, making up 8 percent of France's population.
"I am fed up with being under the thumb of this population which is destroying us, destroying our country and imposing its acts," the star of 'And God created woman' and 'Contempt' said.
Bardot has previously said France is being invaded by sheep-slaughtering Muslims and published a book attacking gays, immigrants and the unemployed, in which she also lamented the "Islamisation of France".
30927  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Mya 3-4: Guro Crafty Dog at Manassas VA on: April 15, 2008, 01:43:42 PM
Dino and Ashley, who are getting ready for the August Gathering, have asked me to focus on Stickfighting.  I told them I though I could handle that. wink
30928  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cyberwar, Cyber Crime, and American Freedom on: April 15, 2008, 12:30:48 PM
We kick off this thread with a piece by the ever thoughtful

Cyberwarfare 101: The Internet Is Mightier Than the Sword
Stratfor Today » April 15, 2008 | 1347 GMT
To say that the Internet is growing in importance these days is an understatement. It is perhaps less obvious to most people that cyberspace is also becoming weaponized. In addition to being a revolutionary medium of communication, the Internet also offers a devastating means of waging war. Understanding the evolution of the Internet is key to understanding the future and effectiveness of cyberwarfare.


Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of analyses on the emergence of cyberspace as battlespace. The series will be ongoing, with the initial pieces serving as a kind of primer on the Internet. Subsequent analyses will look at specific ways nations are dealing with the growing threat of cyberwar and its military, economic and geopolitical ramifications.

Related Special Topic Page
Related Links
Cyberwarfare: A Glossary of Useful Terms
A Brief History

Although cyberspace has already established itself as a new medium for all manner of human interactions, its pervasive growth presents profound implications for geopolitical security. Nations, organizations and individuals alike are relying more and more on the Internet in unprecedented ways. This growing dependency entails vulnerability, which is one reason the Internet was created in the first place.

Older than many people might think, the Internet began in the 1950s as a group of primitive networks designed to share research data inside and among academic institutions (notably the RAND Corp.) and air surveillance data between military radar installations (notably the U.S. Semi-Automatic Ground Environment). The former use was based on the need for researchers across the country to access the few really powerful research computers operating at the time. The latter use was an outgrowth of the Soviet Union’s newfound intercontinental reach: the Tu-95 Bear strategic bomber, a large swept-wing four-engine turboprop that began operations in the mid 1950s with a combat radius in excess of 4,500 miles.

(click to view timeline)

The Soviets’ 1957 Sputnik launch spooked the Americans even more. Terrified that it had fallen behind Russia in science and technology, the United States scrambled to catch up. This effort involved, among other things, creation of the Pentagon’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). Later “Defense” would be tacked on to the agency’s name to create DARPA (which still exists today). One of ARPA’s early creations was ARPAnet, one of the seminal precursors to the Internet. ARPAnet’s design would be informed by a government-funded RAND study that advocated for a distributed network architecture that could survive — at least in part — a nuclear attack. While progress in developing the network was initially slow, by the 1980s, improvements in programming, technology and infrastructure — combined with increasingly accessible connections and affordable personal computers — were quickly cascading into what would become the Internet as we know it today.

Along the way, the challenges evolved. Technical hurdles early on were all about making the connections work (developing protocols, perfecting packet-switching, etc). It was only in the 1990s that the World Wide Web architecture we know today really took off. While the rapid growth of the Internet (numbers of users, the power or processors, connection speeds) continues apace, the nature of its growth is becoming increasingly organic, as users explore what is possible within connections that already exist.

The Nature of the Internet

The Internet itself is a fairly neutral environment: It is defined, more than anything, by its individual users, who create virtual extensions of themselves, their ideologies and their societies. In many ways, creating human connections is what the Internet is all about. Social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace allow Internet users to connect with disparate individuals and groups around the world. Connectivity outside of centralized Web sites is also growing rapidly; simply having a connection to the Internet potentially allows one person to interact with every other Internet user.

This has profound implications for both groups and individuals. The Internet can be a powerful facilitator of mass “grassroots” movements that can become forces to reckon with in everything from presidential elections to transnational radical Islamism. Just as the Internet allows Beijing to monitor and disseminate its views to users across China, those users — and expatriates abroad — can use the very same system to coordinate campaigns to undermine Beijing’s efforts. Indeed, the global Internet may be one of the greatest threats to the Communist central government. The accessibility of information on the Internet also allows a single user to learn from the conglomerated lessons of many. This can manifest itself in powerful new online research tools. It can just as easily be found on YouTube, a video hosting Web site where budding hackers can learn the tricks of the trade.

Ultimately, this sort of utility translates into a structural vulnerability that will only increase as the Internet further evolves. As it becomes ever more critical in everyday life, the Internet is likely to be exploited by groups and governments to achieve their strategic goals. This dynamic is the keystone of cyberwarfare.


Cyberwarfare is a broad category. For our purposes here, we are using the term to encompass significant geopolitical conflict in cyberspace usually involving at least one nation-state or its critical infrastructure. Cyberwarfare can be a principal avenue for attack in and of itself or it can be used in a supporting manner, to aid operations in other domains. Cyberwarfare has five noteworthy characteristics:

It provides an extremely dynamic and utterly new battlespace.
It makes range obsolete.
Its operations are typically decentralized and anonymous.
It places great importance on the offense.
It has low entry costs and can give great power to the individual user of the Internet.

Although the word “cyber” suggests “virtual,” or not existing in actual fact or form, cyberspace does have its physical aspects — e.g., computers, servers, fiber-optic cables, network switches and, most important, the connections that make the Internet global, like the immense undersea cable network that stretches around the world. While one of these cables may run from New Jersey to Cornwall, the transmission of data can take place almost instantaneously. U.S. military dominance of the globe rests in no small part on its unparalleled and unprecedented ability to sustain complex logistical links around the globe. In cyberwarfare, the only link the warrior needs to worry about is his or her connection to the global network. Some countries admittedly are far more connected than others. This makes their connections redundant and, generally, they enjoy broader bandwidth. But it also makes them more accessible to those with malicious intent.

Because cyberspace makes range obsolete, an attacker can muster resources from all over the world and bring them to bear in an instant, often with little that could serve as an early warning amid the clutter of day-to-day Internet traffic. The Pentagon alone defends against hundreds — sometimes thousands — of such attacks each day, several of which succeed at some level in penetrating the network. While this clearly demonstrates that a mature network security system can stand up to a great deal of punishment, it takes time to recognize and react to a coordinated and comprehensive attack. Such an attack may come from thousands of remotely controlled computers from around the world and be well under way before a coherent response can be mounted. And none of the computers directly involved in such an attack necessarily has to belong to the attacker. One of the early purposes of computer networking was to share computers as a resource. Malicious hackers have learned how to do much the same thing by infecting and hijacking other computers, unbeknownst to their owners, in order to harness and redirect their processing power.

As interconnected as the Internet is — and with broadband connections and powerful personal computers increasingly affordable — the greatest limitation to the use of the Internet in cyberwarfare may be individual experience and skill. As we continue our look at cyberwarfare, we will focus first not on the amalgamated resources of a national actor but on the innumerable discrete actors that populate cyberspace.

Next: Black Hats, White Hats, Crackers and Bots

30929  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ on: April 15, 2008, 12:19:03 PM
-- John Fund

White House, Green House

Our sources in the White House confirm recent news reports that President Bush is now poised to join the global warming brigades. The administration is motivated by two political developments. First, it believes the courts will soon command the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Second, there is a growing sentiment in the White House that acting now will prevent even more draconian steps by a McCain, Obama, or Clinton administration in 2009.

The White House is right to fear worse may be coming from the next administration. Hillary Clinton, for one, seems to relish the opportunity to enact cap-and-trade rules to regulate industry output and energy use. She has even said that "California "has prospered" through its green energy efficiency policies. Prospered? The state is in economic free-fall.

No one should be fooled that anti-global warming initiatives can be bought on the cheap -- despite arguments by Democrats and their environmentalist pals who say global warming laws will be good for the U.S. economy, thanks to all the "green" technology jobs these regulations and mandates will create. Ken Green of the American Enterprise Institute aptly likens this Keynesian impulse to philosopher Frédéric Bastiat's "broken window fallacy" -- the idea that breaking shop windows leaves society better off because it creates jobs for glassmakers. Of course, those glassmaker jobs come at the expense of jobs and output that would have gone to creating new wealth and new goods and services. However, the last thing advocates of greenhouse regulation want to do is submit their proposals to real cost-benefit analysis.

But even if the Bush administration acts this year, it's doubtful a Democratic administration would be deterred from piling on more onerous rules in 2009. Democrats in Congress are content to wait for a friendlier administration. For his part, Mr. McCain has been a global warming alarmist in the past and co-sponsored a cap-and-trade bill. But there may be some hope: "Just as there is danger in doing too little," he says, "there is peril in going too far, too fast, in a way that imposes unsustainable costs on the economy."

-- Stephen Moore and Tyler Grimm

Quote of the Day

"There is even a slight chance that Obama's words in San Francisco could cost him the nomination. Obama is almost certain to have more elected delegates in June than Hillary Clinton, but if he loses Pennsylvania by 15 percentage points (which is not out of the question), that could start a media firestorm around his candidacy that could contribute to other primary defeats and to superdelegate support for Clinton. It's not likely to happen, but after Obama spoke his mind, and, perhaps, lost small-town voters' hearts, in San Francisco, it has suddenly become conceivable" -- John Judis, a senior editor at The New Republic, on presidential candidate Barack Obama's criticism of blue-collar voters for voting on religion and gun rights.

The Horror, the Horror

Albert Einstein once said that the most complicated thing on earth was the U.S. tax code -- and he was speaking at time when the tax code was about one-tenth as costly and time-consuming to fill out as today.

According to the Tax Foundation, the tax code now comprises 67,200 pages. It takes the average taxpayer 24 hours a year to do his or her taxes, and the average small business spends 52 man-hours a week on taxes. Many businesses now correctly complain that the cost of complying with the income tax is higher than the cost of actually paying their taxes -- and that's not counting the cost of a potential audit. Dick Armey, chairman of and the former congressional sponsor of the flat tax, says that tax compliance now costs the economy at least $250 billion a year.

As bad as Tax Day is today, it will get a lot worse for millions of Americans. Five million filers swept up by the Alternative Minimum Tax will soon become 30 million unless the law is changed. Happy April 15th.

-- Stephen Moore

The 'Waterloo' of Italian Communism

The return of Silvio Berlusconi as Italy's prime minister after 20 months in political exile is receiving a mixed greeting by Italian conservatives. On the one hand they are pleased with the sweeping defeat of the left-wing coalition led by Walter Veltroni, a former Communist. However, they recall Mr. Berlusconi's previous two stints as prime minister, where he showed a disturbing tendency to forget his small-government platform, tie himself to vested interests and look the other way at corruption. Italy needs strong leadership, and Italian conservatives aren't sure Mr. Berlusconi will rise to the challenge.

But no matter what kind of leader Mr. Berlusconi becomes, Italian politics has taken a dramatic turn in this election. The number of parties in parliament has gone down to just six, from 26. For the first time in over 60 years, not a single Communist will sit in parliament -- ending the damaging influence that Marx's heirs have long exercised in Italian politics. Indeed, far-left parties were the biggest losers in the election, receiving only 3.5% of the vote, down from 11.5% in the 2006 election.

That result prompted the resignation of the long-time leader of the Communist Refoundation Party, Fausto Bertinott. "It's a complete defeat of unforetold proportions," he told supporters.

"It's a Waterloo," agreed the headline in Tuesday's edition of the left-wing daily Il Riformista. Antonio Polito, the paper's editor, noted sadly that Italian politics will never be the same. "The left is disappearing for the first time in history."

-- John Fund

30930  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / FEC Clusterfcuk on: April 15, 2008, 12:16:11 PM
Feckless FEC

The Federal Election Commission, down to only two out of its six required members since January, suffered another blow yesterday. A Democratic nominee for a vacancy announced he was withdrawing. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says it will "most likely" take several months to find a replacement for Robert Lenhard, who said in a statement he couldn't wait any longer in limbo.

Leaving the FEC with only a skeleton crew means the agency can't open new cases, hold public meetings or even issue advisory opinions. Michael Toner, a former FEC chairman, says the inability of the White House and the Senate to agree on nominees "hurts the ability of parties and candidates to comply with the law." The commission does not have the legal authority without a quorum to release the public financing funds that may be vital to John McCain's fall campaign -- a situation that perhaps suits Barack Obama, who has declared that his large haul of private Internet donations represents a new kind of "public financing" and who seems intent on reneging on his previous pledges to abide by the public financing system.

Democrats created the FEC impasse last year when they balked at confirming Hans von Spakovsky, who had served on the FEC for two years. Ironically, it was Sen. Obama himself who put the nomination on hold because Mr. von Spakovsky, as a Justice Department official, had supported laws requiring voters to show photo ID. Those laws have since been upheld as Constitutional by several federal courts and the Supreme Court is likely to follow suit in a decision it will hand down this June.

So much for Mr. Obama's call to transcend partisanship. So much for Democratic insistence on the importance of maintaining a strong federal watchdog to enforce all the campaign-finance regulations Democrats created. And so much for the wisdom of John McCain in promoting his infamous McCain-Feingold regulations -- which now appears to have entangled him in a federal snafu that is likely to damage his candidacy.

-- John Fund

White House, Green House
30931  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Canton OH 7/12-13 on: April 14, 2008, 10:37:47 PM
Dog Tom:

Officer Dave Clouse of the Canton Ohio Police Dept. is coordinating the training.  The University of Akron Law Enforcement Training Center is sponsoring that training, but it is going to be open to the public-- please bring all your people that you wish.  It will be great to see you.

The Adventure continues!
Guro Crafty

PS:  At your convenience, please give me a call.
30932  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: A Secret Gathering: It was 20 years ago , , , on: April 14, 2008, 10:34:14 PM
Brought over from the DBMA Association forum to post for someone who is not registered on the public forum:

Woof ,  Finally back home and thought I would share my most memorable moments from the 3 days.  Seeing Dogzilla ascend to the Council of Elders (watching him fight was also a revelation), the Espada y Daga fight between Red Dog and Pappy Dog was a thing of beauty and to the uninitiated would have appeared almost choreographed.  Having Sled Dog run a clinic on me (the Illustrisimo cross step would have helped if only my brain didn't lockup).  Poi Dog (Semper Fi Bro) tough as coffin nails and side splitting funny.  Guide Dog who in addition to being an intelligent articulate individual, for me wins the Ironman award (I think he fought everyone who showed up!!!).  Dog Pound who in addition to being a great fighter and a beast of strength was kind enough(one on one) to share his prayer goals for the weekend and allow me to share in the higher purpose of the Gathering.  Dog Kase (Lightbulbs?  Don't judge me) who in addition to his honesty and warrior spirit cracked me up every morning.  Speaking in movie dialog with Pappy Dog (who was very kind to me, hooked me up with a tent and coffee,  a big thanks to Linda also!) Getting the run down on gang mentality from Sheep Dog.  Having Dog Matt smash my face with his head and having Tahiti Dog crack me at will (watch this guy he is scary good).  Watching Lonely Dog fight, to me the ideal of beauty and brutality.  So many others that I'll have to write down and organize properly.  Between the fights and the camaraderie it just made me glow(still does).  Even though I have a long long way to go, being the lowest in the company of great men is good and right.  The final image for me is Crafty Dog speaking softly (his voice most likely hoarse from yelling "relax and move white man") in the coral, closing the Gathering.  It brought to mind what the composer Stravinsky said about Segovia;  "his voice is not loud but is heard a long way away".  Thank you to all who participated and fought and welcomed me as one of their own,  I am humbled by your generosity and honored by your company.  Dog Randall 
30933  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Guro Crafty in Canton OH 7/12-13 on: April 14, 2008, 04:54:54 PM
Woof All:

This seminar will have a strong LEO presence and therefore it naturally will be oriented towards DLO material.

Guro Crafty
30934  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: April 14, 2008, 03:32:33 PM
Mexico Security Memo: April 14, 2008
Stratfor Today » April 14, 2008 | 1952 GMT
Related Links
Tracking Mexico’s Drug Cartels
Operation Chihuahua continues
The security operation that began March 31 in Chihuahua state made little significant progress this past week, echoing a theme that has developed in previous security operations elsewhere in the country. Although the number of drug-related killings has declined since federal forces arrived in the state, the problem has not disappeared, with approximately 10 homicides reported in the area since April 1. Public security in general faces a challenge, as many police units in the state reportedly have stopped conducting routine patrols. As a result, residents in Ciudad Juarez have reported an increase in the number of car thefts and the kidnapping of small-business owners in the downtown area, including those having auto parts stores, restaurants and hardware stores. An official from the state attorney general’s office said the kidnappings could be intended to scare the wealthier business community into paying its “protection” fees to organized crime groups in the city.

Although arrests of high-value Juarez cartel targets have not occurred, the government has claimed several victories that will impact the organization’s capabilities. For example, in what appears to have been a well-planned operation, eight cartel suspects were arrested at the funeral of one of their fellow members this past week. Following aerial surveillance of the cemetery, army special forces descended on the site via helicopter while being fired on by the funeral party. Meanwhile, troops on the ground secured the cemetery’s perimeter and eventually captured all suspects present. The high priority placed on these kinds of operations helps to explain the poor public security in a city being patrolled by the military. Operations such as this require a significant commitment of manpower and resources — and they are a much higher priority for Mexico City than is preventing car thefts.

Mexico’s national defense secretary, citing intelligence acquired by the military, announced this week that the Juarez cartel has plans to undermine the military’s credibility by committing violent crimes against the population while dressed in military uniforms and driving trucks painted to look like government vehicles. He warned that the cartel plans to commit sexual assaults while conducting fake searches of homes, businesses and nightclubs, and then videotape the acts to later leak to the media or post online.

There is no doubt that the Juarez cartel — or other large criminal groups in Mexico — has access to military and law enforcement uniforms and credentials. Cartel members also routinely conduct kidnappings, targeted assassinations and other attacks while purporting to be legitimate authorities. However, a move to begin targeting the civilian population with the specific intention of undermining the government’s credibility would indicate a further shift by the cartels toward insurgent-style tactics.

There is reason, however, to doubt the credibility of the secretary’s statement, which comes as the military is under increasing political scrutiny for alleged human rights abuses. A series of high-profile incidents over the past year involving the unwarranted use of force against civilians has the potential to upset the military’s position as one of the most respected institutions in Mexico. One possibility, then, is that the secretary’s announcement is intended to allow plausible deniability of any future embarrassing incidents involving military personnel. The move could backfire, however, as it will result in a more wary public in areas where the military is currently operating — exacerbating already tense relations in areas where it most needs the cooperation of the population to succeed.

Juarez cartel shifting tactics?
The leftist militant group Democratic Revolutionary Tendency-People’s Army (TDR-EP) released a video message last week opposing the privatization of Mexico’s state-run oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), an idea currently being debated in Mexico City. TDR-EP previously claimed joint responsibility for a series of small bombings in Mexico City in November 2006, though the group’s operational role in the incident is considered to be small to nonexistent. However, the statement echoes a recent message by the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR), which carried out several successful attacks against Pemex oil pipelines in 2007.

While President Felipe Calderon’s proposed energy reform plan has stirred up heated political debate, it also has the potential to spark a new round of pipeline attacks. Pemex increased its security at many of its facilities in 2007, but the EPR attacks against remote pipelines demonstrated that it is impossible to protect all of the company’s infrastructure. Aside from an unclaimed bank bombing in Mexico City on March 30, EPR has been noticeably — and inexplicably — inactive since the last round of Pemex attacks Sept. 10, suggesting that the group has lost members or resources, affecting its capabilities. However, the intensified debate over energy reform might be all that is needed to begin planning the next attack.

April 7
A group of armed men threw several fragmentation grenades at police during a pursuit in Salvatierra, Guanajuato state.
Authorities in the state have noted an increase in the frequency of grenade attacks over the last several weeks.
Authorities in Acapulco, Guerrero state, discovered the bodies of two unidentified individuals bound at the hands and with gunshot wounds to the head. The bodies were found buried approximately nine feet under a building, and were estimated to have died about a year ago.
The body of a federal agent who had been kidnapped the day before was found in Tijuana, Baja California state, with a gunshot wound to the head and signs of torture.
A man carrying false documents identifying him as a federal law enforcement agent was shot to death by a group of gunmen that fired more than 50 rounds at his vehicle in Acapulco, Guerrero state.
Two female reporters from a radio station were shot to death while traveling in a vehicle in Putla de Guerrero, Oaxaca state.
Gunmen traveling in a vehicle fired several shots at a government building in Rosarito, Baja California state.
April 8
Two presumed drug dealers were shot to death by a group of armed men in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state.
Officials from Laredo, Texas, met with their counterparts in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas state, to discuss a plan to improve security in the two cities. In addition to narcotics trafficking, the officials discussed frequent bomb threats on the international bridges and the recent influx of heavily tattooed members of the Mexican Mara criminal gang.
A bodyguard of the Sinaloa state treasurer died after being shot in the back by several armed men while he was arriving at his home with his 3-year-old son in Culiacan, Sinaloa state.
Several armed men entered a hospital in Navolato, Sinaloa state, and shot a patient who had been admitted several days before after he was wounded in a gun attack.
April 9
Residents in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, reported gunshots fired on their home by several unidentified assailants traveling in a vehicle.
A man was shot to death outside a health club in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, a day after he escaped a kidnapping attempt.
Four suspects were detained following a firefight outside a police station in Tijuana, Baja California state. Authorities said the attack on the building came after police arrested a man and impounded his vehicle.
April 10
Three people, including one minor, traveling together in a vehicle were shot to death by armed assailants in a suburb of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state. The driver of the vehicle reportedly returned fire briefly before he died.
The bodies of two men with gunshot wounds were found in a vehicle in Guadalupe Distrito Bravo, Chihuahua state.
Authorities in the port city of Lazaro Cardenas, Michoacan state, found the body of a man who appeared to have been killed in another location.
A Baja California state police officer died after he was shot by several armed men while he was driving to work in the border city of Mexicali.
April 11
The bodies of two men who had been abducted several days earlier were found in plastic bags and bound at the hands along a highway in Navolato, Sinaloa state.
April 12
The bodies of three men who had been shot to death in separate incidents were found in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state.
A deputy police chief in Tijuana, Baja California state, was wounded along with a bodyguard after they engaged a group of armed assailants that entered his home, presumably to assassinate him. At least two of the gunmen were killed. The attackers reportedly arrived at his home during a child’s party.
April 13
A police commander died after he was shot by several armed men just north of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state.
A large banner hung over a street in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas state, said in part, “Los Zetas operational group wants you, soldier or ex-soldier. We offer you good pay, food, and attention to your family. No longer suffer mistreatment or hunger. “The banner included a telephone number to call for more details. A similar banner appeared the day before in Reynosa.

30935  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iran Ballistic Missile sites? on: April 14, 2008, 03:10:54 PM

A new report by The Times of London says that satellite photographs of a site in Iran indicate the location is being used to develop a ballistic missile that could reach most of continental Europe.

The Times writes that the photographs show the launch site of a Kavoshgar 1 rocket that Iran tested on February 4. Tehran claimed that the rocket was intended to further a nascent Iranian space program, but The Times says that the photos suggest otherwise.

Analysis of the photographs taken by the Digital Globe QuickBird satellite four days after the launch has revealed a number of intriguing features that indicate to experts that it is the same site where Iran is focusing its efforts on developing a ballistic missile with a range of about 6,000km (4,000 miles).

A previously unknown missile location, the site, about 230km southeast of Tehran, and the link with Iran's long-range programme, was revealed by Jane's Intelligence Review after a study of the imagery by a former Iraq weapons inspector. A close examination of the photographs has indicated that the Iranians are following the same path as North Korea, pursuing a space programme that enables Tehran to acquire expertise in long-range missile technology.

Geoffrey Forden, a research associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said that there was a recently constructed building on the site, about 40 metres in length, which was similar in form and size to the Taepodong long-range missile assembly facility in North Korea.

The Times adds that the rocket launched from the facility in February was based on Iran's Shahab 3B missile, which is in turn based on North Korea's Nodong missile. Geoffrey Forden, a member of the UN team monitoring Iraq's weapons of mass destruction in 2002 and 2003, noted that while the test rocket did not indicate any significant advances in Iran's missile technology, the launch site had "very high levels of security and recent construction activity" and appeared to be "an important strategic facility."

If the Iranian facility is indeed developing a long-range ballistic missile, it would explain NATO's decision last week to move ahead with the missile shield program supported by the US. The Christian Science Monitor reported last week that the Bush administration scored a key success by persuading NATO to approve the missile shield, which is meant to protect against missiles like those that Iran is linked to.

NATO members all supported the US position on missile-shield defense, which is to be deployed in the Czech Republic and Poland. "There is a threat ... and allied security must be indivisible in the face of it," read the statement on missile defense.

But Iran has denied any hostile intent behind its rocket program. While Tehran has not yet commented on the Times report, after the February test of the Kavoshgar 1 rocket it stated its intent to use the technology for launching satellites, reported The New York Times.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad... said on state-run television: "We need to have an active presence in space. We witness today that Iran has taken its first step in space very firmly, precisely and with awareness."

Iran has said that it wants to put satellites into orbit to monitor natural disasters and to improve telecommunications, as well as for security reasons.

Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najar said Iran would launch its domestically made satellite, called Omid, meaning Hope, in June, Fars News reported.

But US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack called the launch "troubling," noting that "the kinds of technologies and capabilities that are needed in order to launch a space vehicle for orbit are the same kinds of capabilities and technologies that one would employ for long-range ballistic missiles."

Much of the concern of both the US and the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN's nuclear watchdog, stems from evidence found on a laptop stolen by an Iranian in 2004 and turned over to US intelligence services. Among other documents on the laptop, investigators found "drawings on modifying Iran's ballistic missiles in ways that might accommodate a nuclear warhead," reported The Washington Post in February. But the problem is proving that the documents are legitimate.

U.S. intelligence considers the laptop documents authentic but cannot prove it. Analysts cannot completely rule out the possibility that internal opponents of the Iranian leadership could have forged them to implicate the government, or that the documents were planted by Tehran itself to convince the West that its program remains at an immature stage....

British intelligence, asked for a second opinion, concurred last year that the documents appear authentic. German and French officials consider the information troubling, sources said, but Russian experts have dismissed it as inconclusive. IAEA inspectors, who were highly skeptical of U.S. intelligence on Iraq, have begun to pursue aspects of the laptop information that appear to bolster previous leads.

"There is always a chance this could be the biggest scam perpetrated on U.S. intelligence," one U.S. source acknowledged. "But it's such a large body of documents and such strong indications of nuclear weapons intent, and nothing seems so inconsistent."

Despite the possibility of Iran developing a long-range ballistic missile in time, Mr. Forden says that they likely still have a long way to go., a blog on WMDs and national security, cites Forden's observations about the flaws revealed by the February launch .

Iran's February 4th launch of a Shahab-3 just keeps on getting more and more interesting; that is if you are interested in just how good of a missile the Shahab/No'dong is. Video from Iran's television show that there is a failure of the missile's thrust vector control system nineteen seconds into its powered flight. At that point, there is a brief flaring at the very end of the missile and an object is seen flying off for several seconds, until it leaves the video's frame as the camera continues to follow the missile. Tellingly, it doesn't just drop off the missile but is given quite a transverse boost.

Forden says that the debris indicates that the missile's graphite jet vanes, used to steer the rocket in flight, are being "eaten away" by the rocket exhaust. Such a problem can knock a missile severely off course, he adds.

So what does this mean for missile proliferators in general and Syria and Iran (and North Korea since they are all involved in the development of these missiles) in particular? It means that they are still having a hard time producing graphite tough and pure enough to be used in large missiles. It also indicates that a top priority for their missile engineers will be to develop other thrust vector control mechanisms.

30936  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Monkey in the Middle on: April 14, 2008, 03:06:39 PM
Afghanistan: Why India’s Cooperation is a Problem for Pakistan
Stratfor Today » April 11, 2008 | 2253 GMT

Afghanistan’s Defense Minister Abdul Rahim WardakSummary
Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak is visiting India amid talks of New Delhi providing counterinsurgency assistance to Kabul. Increased Indian-Afghan cooperation — at a time when Islamabad’s Taliban card has become problematic — would place the Pakistanis at a disadvantage with India, its long-time rival.

The Indian army will train Afghanistan’s army in counterinsurgency operations — the latest development in a growing alliance between India and Afghanistan that threatens the country sandwiched between: Pakistan.

For Pakistan, it would appear that this triangular relationship is coming full circle.

Afghanistan’s Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak met with his Indian counterpart A. K. Antony in the Indian capital April 10 to discuss bilateral military cooperation, The Associated Press of Pakistan reported April 11.

While the Indian defense minister ruled out any military involvement in Afghanistan, the increased cooperation between New Delhi and Kabul puts Pakistan in a weakened position with its neighbors.

Wardak also visited the 15th Corps of the Indian army headquartered in Srinagar, the capital of Indian-administered Kashmir, and will visit the Indian air force’s training command and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited in Bangalore in southern India. These visits are coming amid reports that Afghanistan might be considering sending its air force pilots for training to India. Moreover, Wardak said his country would seek New Delhi’s help in maintaining Soviet-era helicopter gun ships and medium helicopters to provide logistical support to its armed forces.

Related Links
Making Sense of the Fighting in Kashmir
Pakistan: Democratization and U.S. Interests
Pakistan: Democracy and the Jihadist Threat
Pakistan: Toward Constitutional Regime Change?
Pakistan: Adjusting Relations with the Taliban Under U.S. Pressure
The Jihadist Insurgency in Pakistan
Afghanistan, Pakistan: The Implications of Talibanization
NATO can also use the increased interest in Indian involvement in counterterrorism with Afghanistan as leverage against Pakistan to rein in militants on its soil.

India and Afghanistan are pushing the idea that the faster India trains the Afghan army, the quicker NATO can withdraw troops from Afghanistan. India’s goal is to gain a toehold in the Afghan military establishment, creating goodwill that it can cash in when the time comes. This prospect worries Pakistan, which sees India as its biggest rival. Antony assured Wardak that India would remain “actively engaged” in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of war-wrecked Afghanistan.

While it will be some time before the relationship between the Indian and Afghan militaries is solidified in a meaningful way, even the meager assistance India provides Afghanistan would be a significant enhancement of its military involvement, which until now has been mostly related to reconstruction and development work in Afghanistan. New Delhi’s key interest in Afghanistan has to do with its security vis-a-vis its neighboring rival, Pakistan, and the transnational Islamist militant groups headquartered in Pakistan.

To best understand the impact of India’s growing support in Afghanistan, one must understand Pakistan’s recent history of backing Islamist militant groups and how Pakistan has tried to use Afghanistan to gain strategic advantage against India.

Long before the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan during the 1980s, Islamabad viewed Kabul as aligned with New Delhi. Pakistan felt sandwiched between its archrival to the east and a hostile regime to the west. Another issue was secular left-leaning Pakistani Pashtun forces were pushing for a separate homeland for their ethnic group — a demand backed by Afghanistan in those days.

To deal with these threats, the Pakistanis decided to employ the Islamist card to counter Pashtun nationalism on both sides of the Durand Line — the line drawn in 1893 that divides the Pashtun people, and a continual source of tension between the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Even before 1977, when the Islamist-leaning regime of Gen. Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq came to power, the Pakistanis had aligned themselves with Afghan Islamist dissidents such as Gulbadin Hekmatyar. Then came the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan starting in 1979, when Islamabad’s backing for Afghan Islamists increased, with the support of the United States and Saudi Arabia.

By the time the Soviets withdrew in defeat from Afghanistan a decade later, the Pakistanis had successfully contained ethnic Pashtun nationalism. Pakistan unwittingly sowed the seeds of a deadlier Frankenstein’s monster in the form of jihadism, which would bite the hand of its creator years later.

The Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan provided the Pakistanis the opportunity to direct its attention to Indian-administered Kashmir, the disputed region on the border that Pakistan has long sought to control. A separatist rising in Kashmir gave Pakistan a chance to play a new hand in its same Islamist militant strategy. As early as the 1947-1948 India-Pakistan War, the Pakistanis employed Pashtun tribesman in its bid to seize control of the parts of Kashmir that are now under Pakistani administration.

In 1996, the Pakistani military realized its objective of installing a pro-Islamabad regime in Kabul when it supported the Taliban, the extremist Islamist movement that controlled Afghanistan until the U.S.-backed coalition drove them from power after Sept. 11, 2001. Pakistan had hoped that with its rear flank secure it could then deal with India, especially in the context of Kashmir, which it unsuccessfully tried to do in the Kargil mini-war in 1999. Between the failure of the Kargil operation and the events of 9/11, Pakistan lost its ability to project power into Kashmir and Afghanistan. The Pakistanis also began to lose control over the Islamist militant landscape with the rise of al Qaeda, which brought together the various strands of militant forces that threatened both Kabul and New Delhi.

Thus, Pakistan opened a process of normalization with India and established a cooperation of sorts with Washington against al Qaeda but continued to maintain an ambiguous stance toward the Taliban. That was because the Pashtun jihadist movement was the only available card Islamabad could play as it pursued its interests in Afghanistan and keep India out.

By offering economic and developmental assistance to Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s government, India has been able to establish a sphere of influence, which has alarmed the Pakistanis. Even so, Islamabad had been able to take comfort in knowing that it had an asset in the insurgent Taliban, which they could use to block Indian moves in Afghanistan.

However, things have changed. With the complex nature of Pakistan’s alignment with the United States and the gravitation of jihadist forces toward al Qaeda, Islamabad no longer has an effective response to India’s plans for counterinsurgency cooperation with Afghanistan.

The relationship between Islamabad and the Afghan Taliban has been complicated by the rise of the Taliban in Pakistan.

Moreover, Pakistan’s ability to counter India’s moves has been weakened because it is going through internal convulsions brought on as a coalition government — formed by foes of President Pervez Musharraf — swept parliamentary elections, and Musharraf no longer heads the military. If, at some point in the future, the Taliban gain a larger share of power in Afghanistan, Pakistani influence would be limited because of the break between the Taliban and Islamabad.

With the Taliban no longer in the Pakistani camp as they once were, Afghanistan could return to being hostile to Pakistan. There is significant anti-Pakistani sentiment in Afghanistan because of the perception of Pakistani interference in their country. In contrast, Afghan attitudes in general are far more positive toward India because of the increased assistance India has begun to provide.

Thus, when it comes to Pakistan and its complicated relationship with neighbors Afghanistan and India, it appears what goes around comes around.
30937  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Health Insurance Mafia on: April 14, 2008, 01:45:42 PM
The Health Insurance Mafia
April 14, 2008; Page A15

Most discussions about the rising cost of health care emphasize the need to get more people insured. The assumption seems to be that insurance – rather than the service delivered by doctor to patient – is the important commodity.

But perhaps the solution to much of what currently plagues us in health care – rising costs and bureaucracy, diminishing levels of service – rests on a radically different approach: fewer people insured.

You don't need to be an economist to understand that any middleman interposed between seller and buyer raises the price of a given service or product. Some intermediaries justify this by providing benefits, such as salesmanship, advertising or transport. Others offer physical facilities, such as warehouses. A third group, organized crime, utilizes fear and intimidation to muscle its way into the provider-consumer chain, raking in hefty profits and bloating cost, without providing any benefit at all.

The health insurance model is closest to the parasitic relationship imposed by the Mafia and the like. Insurance companies provide nothing other than an ambiguous, shifty notion of "protection." But even the Mafia doesn't stick its nose into the process; once the monthly skim is set, Don Whoever stays out of the picture, but for occasional "cost of doing business" increases. When insurance companies insinuate themselves into the system, their first step is figuring out how to increase the skim by harming the people they are allegedly protecting through reduced service.

Insurance is all about betting against negative consequences and the insurance business model is unique in that profits depend upon goods and services not being provided. Using actuarial tables, insurers place their bets. Sometimes even the canniest MIT grads can't help: Property and casualty insurers have collapsed in the wake of natural disasters.

Health insurers have taken steps to avoid that level of surprise: Once they affix themselves to the host – in this case dual hosts, both doctor and patient – they systematically suck the lifeblood out of the supply chain with obstructive strategies. For that reason, the consequences of any insurance-based health-care model, be it privately run, or a government entitlement, are painfully easy to predict. There will be progressively draconian rationing using denial of authorization and steadily rising co-payments on the patient end; massive paperwork and other bureaucratic hurdles, and steadily diminishing fee-recovery on the doctor end.

Some of us are old enough to remember visiting the doctor and paying him/her directly by check or cash. You had a pretty good idea going in what the service was going to cost. And because the doctor had to look you in the eye – and didn't need to share a rising chunk of his profits with an insurer – the cost was likely to be reasonable. The same went for hospitals: no $20 aspirins due to insurance-company delay tactics and other shenanigans. Few physicians became millionaires, but they lived comfortably, took responsibility for their own business model, and enjoyed their work more.

Several years ago, I suffered a sports injury that necessitated an MRI. The "fee" for a 20-minute procedure was over $3,000. My insurance company refused to pay, so I informed the radiologist that I'd be footing the bill myself. Immediately, the "fee" was cut by two thirds. And the doctor was tickled to get it.

A few highly technical and complex procedures that need to amortize the purchase of extremely expensive hardware will be out of reach for any but the wealthiest patient. For that extremely limited category, insurance might work. A small percentage of indigent individuals won't be able to afford even low-cost procedures. For them, government-funded county facilities are the answer, because any decent society takes care of the weakest among us. But a hefty proportion of health-care services – office visits, minor surgeries – would be affordable to most Americans if the slice of the health-care dollar that currently ends up in the coffers of insurance companies was eliminated.

When I was in practice as a psychologist, I discussed fees up front with prospective patients, prior to their initial visit. People appreciated knowing what to expect and my bad debt rate was less than 1%. That allowed me to keep my charges reasonable and, on occasion, to lower them for less fortunate patients. And I loved my job because I was free to concentrate on what I went to school for: helping people, rather than filling out incomprehensible forms designed to discourage me from filing them in the first place.

Physicians and other providers need to liberate themselves from the Faustian bargain they've cut with the Mephistophelian suits who now run their professional lives. Because many doctors are loath to talk about money, they allowed themselves to perpetuate the fantasy that "insurance is paying." It isn't. There is no free lunch and no free physical exam.

If substantial numbers of health-care providers shook off the insurance monkey on their back, en masse, and the supply of providers was substantially increased by opening more medical schools, the result would be a more honest, cost-effective system benefiting everyone. Except the insurance companies.

Dr. Kellerman, clinical professor of pediatrics and psychology at USC's Keck School of Medicine, is the author of numerous crime novels and three books on psychology. His latest novel is "Compulsion" (Ballantine, 2008).

See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary, on Opinion Journal.
30938  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / From PD/WSJ on: April 14, 2008, 01:41:36 PM

The Whistle Blower and the Wind Surfer

Everyone knows that Barack Obama got caught on tape accusing Pennsylvania primary voters of being people who "cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them." What isn't well known is that his campaign tried to prevent Mayhill Fowler, the blogger who broke the story, from getting into the San Francisco mansion where the candidate made the remarks.

Unlike three other events Mr. Obama attended in the Bay Area on April 6 that were priced at the legal contribution limit of $2,300, the soiree at the home of developer Alex Mehran was priced at only $1,000 because it was pitched to donors who had already given to Team Obama. Ms. Fowler somehow snagged an invitation even though the well-known blogger had been turned away from a previous Obama fundraising event a couple of months earlier.

"There's a very basic [fundraiser] rule -- you don't let press in, and anyone with an interest in reporting shouldn't get in," an Obama source told the San Francisco Chronicle. The paper reports that "Obama campaign higher-ups were said to be livid, with fingers pointing at a local fundraising consultant for the slip-up."

They shouldn't be angry. In an age of citizen journalism -- when literally anyone can carry an MP3 recorder and cell phone video camera into an event -- nothing any longer is completely private. And it's not as if Ms. Fowler qualified as an Obama enemy. A previous donor to the Obama campaign, she paid her $1,000 to attend the San Francisco event. Last Friday, she candidly admitted to CNN: "I was not initially going to write about Senator Obama's remarks about Pennsylvanians, because, frankly, I didn't want to bring down the campaign. I gave it more thought and I decided that the remarks bothered me enough that I wanted to write them up."

That admission is a signal that Mr. Obama's remarks really do represent a problem for him since they disturbed even an ardent supporter enough for her to report them.

-- John Fund

Quote of the Day I

"I used to think working class voters had conservative values because they were bitter about their economic circumstances -- welfare and immigrants were 'scapegoats,' part of the false consciousness that would disappear when everyone was guaranteed a good job at good wages. Then I left college...." -- blogger Mickey Kaus, mocking Barack Obama's condescending attitude about working class voters, guns and religion.

Quote of the Day II

"Poor wording was not the problem; on the contrary, it was his precision that was so unfortunate, and his ability to pack half a dozen unintended insults into a single sentence uncanny. And in San Francisco, no less? Roger Ailes couldn't have planned it better, unless he'd maybe followed up the event with some impromptu windsurfing in the bay" -- columnist Melinda Henneberger, a former New York Times reporter, writing at about Barack Obama's comments.

30939  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Seminar: 10/11-12 Guro Crafty in Bloomington IL on: April 14, 2008, 10:38:01 AM
Dog Brothers Martial Arts Association Seminar/Featuring Guro Marc “Crafty Dog” Denny
Date:   October 11 and 12th 2008
Location:  Bloomington/Normal JKD Concepts
              602 S Main St
              Bloomington, Illinois 61701, USA

Lakan Guro Terry Crutcher
Phone 309-310-7626

   General Public: $175.00 Before July 1st 2008   
                        $200.00 After July 1st 2008 

   Dog Brothers Martial Arts Association Members
   $150.00 prior to July 1st 2008   
   $175.00 after July 1st 2008 

  Active Military and Law Enforcement
  $125.00 prior to July 1st 2008 
  $150.00 after July 1st


30940  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: 4/20 Guro Crafty at Surf Dog's in Hemet, CA on: April 14, 2008, 10:35:43 AM
TTT!  This is going to be good fun.  It looks like we will be doing some Kali Tudo as part of the mix. grin
30941  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Moment of Truth in Iraq on: April 14, 2008, 09:16:14 AM
Dear friends,

Our soldiers are turning defeat and disaster into victory and hope. But we could still fumble—if the American people don’t hear the truth now.  There remain serious perils in Iraq and this is a time for action.

To get the message out, please help me get Moment of Truth in Iraq stocked in bookstores, and especially in free libraries and military exchanges.

Here’s how: Please click on “Handout for Bookstores and Libraries” below. This will open a printable one-page handout that can be given to any local bookstore manager, librarian, or military exchange.  (Or all three if you can.)

The handout will tell bookstores and libraries everything they need to order Moment of Truth in Iraq. But what will really motivate retailers and librarians is you, the reader, a member of their community, requesting the book.

So please click here and ask your bookstore, library, or military exchange to please stock Moment of Truth in Iraq today.

Moment of Truth in Iraq is available on  We have hit the Amazon top 50 before the book even hit stores or libraries.


Thank you for your help,

30942  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers: on: April 14, 2008, 08:52:08 AM
"[T]he States can best govern our home concerns and the general
government our foreign ones.  I wish, therefore...never to see
all offices transferred to Washington, where, further withdrawn
from the eyes of the people, they may more secretly be bought
and sold at market."

-- Thomas Jefferson (letter to Judge William Johnson, 12 June 1823)

Reference: Original Intent, Barton (261); original Memoir,
Correspondence, and Miscellanies, From the Papers of Thomas
Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson
30943  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Taiwan on: April 14, 2008, 01:59:21 AM

The plot thickens , , ,  Anyway, here's this:

Geopolitical Diary: Taiwan's Straitjacket
April 14, 2008
Taiwanese Vice President-elect Vincent Siew met Chinese President Hu Jintao Saturday on the sidelines of the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2008. It was the first time Taiwan’s incoming government held a formal meeting with the Beijing regime. Siew gave a positive evaluation of his meeting with Hu — quite a contrast to outgoing President Chen Shui-bian’s typically provocative stance against Beijing. However, the meeting itself has not changed, nor will it change, the fundamental bilateral relationship. Not by one iota.

In fact, it is not really a bilateral relationship but a trilateral one. Taiwan remains sandwiched between the two largest geopolitical players of the Asia-Pacific region: China and the United States. Taipei has little if any room for maneuver within this trilateral framework. Despite Chen’s pro-independence posturing and rhetoric, Taipei has never been a free actor in this space between China and the United States. It is consigned to play the role of a pawn in the wider geopolitical interaction between its patron of choice, Washington, and its other aspiring patron, Beijing.

China will not tolerate Taiwan getting too close to the United States. Keeping alive the “one China” myth is important to the Chinese regime — Beijing’s legitimacy is predicated on its ability to hold together a far-flung and geographically diverse country with a strong central authority. Like Tibet, Taiwan is considered a linchpin in the carefully balanced social and political structure of mainland China. In truth, China stands next to no chance of successfully invading and forcibly reabsorbing Taiwan, given that its current naval capabilities are a generation or two behind those of the United States. However, Beijing does need to buffer itself against Washington’s growing influence in Asia — if not in military reality, then in domestic perception at least.

Likewise, the United States will not put up with a Taipei that pursues too close a relationship with China. While defending Taiwan’s democratic integrity plays well with the voters back home, a more fundamental reason behind Washington’s fierce protection of the island revolves around the security of maritime trade routes into and out of the Asia Pacific region. A key source of U.S. geopolitical power is its dominance over the world’s oceans, a supremacy that Washington will not give up voluntarily. That is why American airpower, missiles, submarines and surface vessels have never left Taiwan since the U.S. Navy’s seventh fleet first swept to the island’s rescue in 1950.

So long as China does not invade or physically reclaim Taiwan and Taipei does not formally declare independence, an uneasy half-truth is perpetuated, and both sides go about their business.

Politically and superficially, Siew’s visit to China marks a change from the previous Taiwanese regime. But geopolitically, just as Chen could talk but not walk Taiwan towards independence, neither will Siew or President-elect Ma Ying-jeou be able to change the dynamic. There might be some movement along the spectrum of possibilities between independence and reunification, but the geopolitical reality of the Taiwan Straits is that that movement will be narrow and constrained. Taiwan has nowhere to go.

30944  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iraqi Kurds threaten Iran on: April 14, 2008, 01:47:12 AM


 Kurdish rebels in Iraq threaten to attack Iran by Shwan Mohammed
Sun Apr 13, 7:26 AM ET

MOUNT QANDIL, Iraq (AFP) - A Kurdish rebel group based in northern Iraq threatened on Sunday to launch bomb attacks inside Iran if Tehran fails to halt anti-Kurdish policies in the Islamic country.

Pejak (Party of Free Life of Kurdistan) warned it has the ability to "carry out bombings against Iranian forces" inside Iran.

Ronahi Ahmed, a member of Pejak's political bureau, told AFP from the group's hideout in Qandil mountain in northern Iraq that the rebels were ready for a long fight with Tehran.

"We can't stand handcuffed when Iran is chasing us on daily basis. We have the ability to confront Iran inside Tehran. We are not accepting any threat from anybody," she said.

"We don't accept the religious suppression that is being carried out by the Iranians. We totally reject it."

Ahmed said the group had recently attacked Iranian forces across the border.

"Last month our people were able to infiltrate Mahkook town in northwest Iran. They killed dozens of Iranian soldiers. In another incident in Iran's Miryuwan town our guerrillas killed six soldiers," she said.

"Iran should be aware that we have a long arm that can strike at significant places inside Iran, especially in the northwest reaching Tehran."

The Iranian military often shells Iraqi border villages in an attempt to flush out Kurdish guerrillas, sending residents fleeing from their homes.

Pejak is an anti-Iranian offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a Kurdish rebel movement fighting to carve out an independent state in southeastern Turkey since 1984 in a conflict that has killed more than 37,000 people.

The PKK and Ankara's troops fought fierce battles in March inside Iraq after Turkey launched a ground offensive.

"If they (Iran) continue to follow the policy of (Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad, then the battle will be more severe and the region where we are staying will be hit by a war," Ahmed said.

Tehran alleges that Washington supports Pejak in its fight against Iran, but Ahmed denied the allegation.

"We have no relations with the Americans and Iran's claim that we have an alliance with America is not true. America does not back or fund us. We depend on supplies from our own people," she said.

Ahmed's statement comes as mystery still surrounds an explosion in a mosque in Iran's southern city of Shiraz on Saturday that killed 11 people and wounded at least 191.

Some officials insist the blast was accidental, but others said it could have been caused by a bomb.

30945  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: April 13, 2008, 01:02:57 AM
Of course there are several good points in this piece GM, but IMHO there is a fair amount of hyperventilating too.

China's population is contracting due to the one child policy.  The consequences of this unusual demographic remain to be seen, but are likely to be potent.  How will the few young support the many old?

China is a toxic dump.  The costs are staggering and have yet to be considered.

China's banking system is a giant ponzi scheme-- its bookkeeping is said by sources that seem responsible to me to be an utter fraud.

Freedom is seditious to a system like China and as Chinese mingle in the world, maintaining the old order is going to be a very good trick.

The dollar and the US were in worse shape in the Carter years than now.

The Japanese were feared to be taking over the world in the 80s, yet now they are fcuked-- in part due to demographics of few young supporting many old-- and China will have a worse hand in this regard than the Japanese.

Just some additional points to consider IMHO
30946  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: April 13, 2008, 12:46:52 AM
Some very good ones in there GM.
30947  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bush's overture on: April 11, 2008, 02:47:40 PM
Geopolitical Diary: Bush's Overtures to Iran and a Message to the American Public
April 11, 2008
In his speech on Thursday morning, U.S. President George W. Bush made two clear overtures to Iran, signaling that an agreement over Iraq is possible. The first came as a choice to Tehran, saying it “can live in peace with its neighbor, enjoy strong economic and cultural and religious ties, or it can continue to arm and train and fund illegal militant groups which are terrorizing the Iraqi people and turning them against Iran. If Iran makes the right choice, America will encourage a peaceful relationship between Iran and Iraq. If Iran makes the wrong choice, America will act to protect our interests and our troops and our Iraqi partners.”

The second overture split al Qaeda from Iran, saying “Iraq is the convergence point for two of the greatest threats to America in this new century — al Qaeda and Iran.”

These two messages show that the United States does not consider negotiations with Iran to be off-limits — as it does regarding talks with al Qaeda — and that if Iran cooperates (i.e. negotiates with the United States), the issue of Iraq could be settled peacefully to more or less the mutual satisfaction of both Washington and Tehran.

In testimony to the U.S. Senate on April 8, Gen. David Petraeus issued the same kind of message, saying that Iran had a choice on how the situation in Iraq would progress and leaving the door open for cooperation. However, Bush and Petraeus continued to make it very clear that the United States would punish Iran if it chose to continue to support elements of Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mehdi Army. Washington has by no means removed any threats of retaliation from the table. While the United States will pause its troop reductions in Iraq this summer to consolidate its gains and hedge its bets, the sustainment of the U.S. military force in Iraq will also resonate strongly in Tehran.

Bush and Petraeus’ statements seem to be responses to an Iranian Foreign Ministry announcement on April 8 that the United States wanted to start another round of talks with Iran. These negotiations have been taking place on and off for the past year. On April 7, al-Sadr announced that he might disband the Mehdi Army, which seems to indicate that Iran is willing to halt its violent meddling in Iraq – temporarily at least. And this might suggest that talks between Washington and Tehran are progressing.

However, too many deal-breakers are still on the table to call this conflict settled. Israel of late has issued warnings to Syria, Hezbollah and Iran and is conducting war exercises, suggesting that something is brewing in the Levant. Israel also is gearing up for an offensive against Hamas in Gaza. Another Mideast conflict in the midst of negotiations over Iran, while not necessarily devastating, would put a U.S.-Iranian deal in jeopardy. Meanwhile, the upcoming U.S. elections are looming: it would be in Iran’s best interest to reach a conclusion with Bush rather than try to negotiate a deal with an unknown quantity — the next American president.

Statements from Bush’s speech and in Petraeus’ testimony acknowledge that Iran is a significant stakeholder in Iraq. Without cooperation from the Iranians, Iraq has no chance of recovering. By insisting that the situation in Iraq has improved, Bush and Petraeus are implicitly saying that, so far, Iran is cooperating. Dual statements — despite all of their caveats — from the president and the U.S. commander in Iraq suggesting that Iran is cooperating with the United States is a significant improvement in rhetoric. This is a signal to Iran that Washington is willing to engage in a final settlement, and it is a signal to the American public to prepare for a more open dialogue between the two rivals. Progress with Iraq does not come without progress with Iran.

It will be interesting to watch Iran over the next few days to see how the leadership there responds to these overtures. More positive signals from Iran could mean that further negotiations are pending. The political situation between the United States and Iran is reflecting the situation on the ground — one that offers the opportunity of a tenable agreement over the future of Iraq.

30948  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Republicanos y Democratas on: April 11, 2008, 01:21:51 PM
         Las diferencias entre Republicanos Y Democratas
Una mujer que iba volando en un globo, de repente se dio cuenta de que estaba perdida. Ella
disminuyo poco a poco la altura del globo hasta que diviso a un hombre que iba montando a

-La mujer le grito: Por favor, podria usted ayudarme? Es que le prometi a un amigo que me iba  a
encontrar con el hace una hora pero no tengo idea de donde estoy!

El hombre consulto su equipo GPS portable y le dijo: Usted esta en un globo de aire caliente, a
30 metros por encima de la tierra con una elevacion de 234 pies por encima del nivel del mar.
Usted esta a 31 grados y 14 minutos de latitud Norte y a 100 grados y 49 miunutos de longitud

-La mujer giro los ojos hacia el cielo en un gesto de impaciencia y le dijo: "Usted tiene que
ser Republicano"

-Si, yo lo soy, dijo el hombre. Y usted como lo sabe?

-Bueno, respondio la mujer del globo, porque todo lo que me ha dicho esta tecnicamente correcto,
pero no tengo idea de que hacer con su informacion y de todas maneras sigo perdida. Francamente,
su informacion no me ha servido de nada.

- Y  usted tiene que ser Democrata le contesto el hombre.

-Si, yo soy Democrata, contesto la mujer,. Y usted como lo sabe?

-Bueno, dijo el hombre, Porque usted no sabe donde esta ni a donde va. Usted llego ahi impulsada
por el aire. Usted prometio a un amigo algo que no tiene idea de como cumplir, y usted espera
que YO la ayude a resolver su problema.  Ademas, usted esta EXACTAMENTE  en la misma posicion que estaba antes de que se encontrara conmigo pero de alguna manera ahora usted quiere que La CULPA sea mia.
30949  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Yon: Lets Surge Some More on: April 11, 2008, 09:42:06 AM
Let's 'Surge' Some More
April 11, 2008; Page A17

It is said that generals always fight the last war. But when David Petraeus came to town it was senators – on both sides of the aisle – who battled over the Iraq war of 2004-2006. That war has little in common with the war we are fighting today.

I may well have spent more time embedded with combat units in Iraq than any other journalist alive. I have seen this war – and our part in it – at its brutal worst. And I say the transformation over the last 14 months is little short of miraculous.

The change goes far beyond the statistical decline in casualties or incidents of violence. A young Iraqi translator, wounded in battle and fearing death, asked an American commander to bury his heart in America. Iraqi special forces units took to the streets to track down terrorists who killed American soldiers. The U.S. military is the most respected institution in Iraq, and many Iraqi boys dream of becoming American soldiers. Yes, young Iraqi boys know about ""

As the outrages of Abu Ghraib faded in memory – and paled in comparison to al Qaeda's brutalities – and our soldiers under the Petraeus strategy got off their big bases and out of their tanks and deeper into the neighborhoods, American values began to win the war.

Iraqis came to respect American soldiers as warriors who would protect them from terror gangs. But Iraqis also discovered that these great warriors are even happier helping rebuild a clinic, school or a neighborhood. They learned that the American soldier is not only the most dangerous enemy in the world, but one of the best friends a neighborhood can have.

Some people charge that we have merely "rented" the Sunni tribesmen, the former insurgents who now fight by our side. This implies that because we pay these people, their loyalty must be for sale to the highest bidder. But as Gen. Petraeus demonstrated in Nineveh province in 2003 to 2004, many of the Iraqis who filled the ranks of the Sunni insurgency from 2003 into 2007 could have been working with us all along, had we treated them intelligently and respectfully. In Nineveh in 2003, under then Maj. Gen. Petraeus's leadership, these men – many of them veterans of the Iraqi army – played a crucial role in restoring civil order. Yet due to excessive de-Baathification and the administration's attempt to marginalize powerful tribal sheiks in Anbar and other provinces – including men even Saddam dared not ignore – we transformed potential partners into dreaded enemies in less than a year.

Then al Qaeda in Iraq, which helped fund and tried to control the Sunni insurgency for its own ends, raped too many women and boys, cut off too many heads, and brought drugs into too many neighborhoods. By outraging the tribes, it gave birth to the Sunni "awakening." We – and Iraq – got a second chance. Powerful tribes in Anbar province cooperate with us now because they came to see al Qaeda for what it is – and to see Americans for what we truly are.

Soldiers everywhere are paid, and good generals know it is dangerous to mess with a soldier's money. The shoeless heroes who froze at Valley Forge were paid, and when their pay did not come they threatened to leave – and some did. Soldiers have families and will not fight for a nation that allows their families to starve. But to say that the tribes who fight with us are "rented" is perhaps as vile a slander as to say that George Washington's men would have left him if the British offered a better deal.

Equally misguided were some senators' attempts to use Gen. Petraeus's statement, that there could be no purely military solution in Iraq, to dismiss our soldiers' achievements as "merely" military. In a successful counterinsurgency it is impossible to separate military and political success. The Sunni "awakening" was not primarily a military event any more than it was "bribery." It was a political event with enormous military benefits.

The huge drop in roadside bombings is also a political success – because the bombings were political events. It is not possible to bury a tank-busting 1,500-pound bomb in a neighborhood street without the neighbors noticing. Since the military cannot watch every road during every hour of the day (that would be a purely military solution), whether the bomb kills soldiers depends on whether the neighbors warn the soldiers or cover for the terrorists. Once they mostly stood silent; today they tend to pick up their cell phones and call the Americans. Even in big "kinetic" military operations like the taking of Baqubah in June 2007, politics was crucial. Casualties were a fraction of what we expected because, block-by-block, the citizens told our guys where to find the bad guys. I was there; I saw it.

The Iraqi central government is unsatisfactory at best. But the grass-roots political progress of the past year has been extraordinary – and is directly measurable in the drop in casualties.

This leads us to the most out-of-date aspect of the Senate debate: the argument about the pace of troop withdrawals. Precisely because we have made so much political progress in the past year, rather than talking about force reduction, Congress should be figuring ways and means to increase troop levels. For all our successes, we still do not have enough troops. This makes the fight longer and more lethal for the troops who are fighting. To give one example, I just returned this week from Nineveh province, where I have spent probably eight months between 2005 to 2008, and it is clear that we remain stretched very thin from the Syrian border and through Mosul. Vast swaths of Nineveh are patrolled mostly by occasional overflights.

We know now that we can pull off a successful counterinsurgency in Iraq. We know that we are working with an increasingly willing citizenry. But counterinsurgency, like community policing, requires lots of boots on the ground. You can't do it from inside a jet or a tank.

Over the past 15 months, we have proved that we can win this war. We stand now at the moment of truth. Victory – and a democracy in the Arab world – is within our grasp. But it could yet slip away if our leaders remain transfixed by the war we almost lost, rather than focusing on the war we are winning today.

Mr. Yon is author of the just-published "Moment of Truth in Iraq" (Richard Vigilante Books). He has been reporting from Iraq and Afghanistan since December 2004.
30950  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Children told they are dogs during mosque visit on: April 10, 2008, 08:56:55 PM
Second post of the day:

Children Told they are Dogs during Mosque Visit

THE HAGUE, 09/04/08 - A primary school in Amsterdam wished to provide its pupils with an understanding for other cultures. But during a visit to a mosque, the children were told they were dogs.

With a view to developing understanding and respect for other cultures among children, primary school De Horizon regularly organises outings to various religious organisations. The chairman of the El Mouchidine mosque told the children from group 7 (aged 10) and their chaperones however that non-Muslims are dogs.

In a letter to the children's parents, the school expresses its regret at the incident: "We are shocked that during the guided tour, the mosque's chairman told the children and chaperoning parents that non believers were dogs. We consider this statement as unacceptable since we allow our children to partake in this project to develop respect for freedom of religious choice".

In the meantime, the school's management has addressed the mosque on the undesirable behaviour of the chairman. Both parties will say nothing further on the matter. "We will resolve the matter amongst ourselves and I have no inclination whatsoever to discuss the matter with the media", as newspaper De Telegraaf quoted the school's spokesperson Mariet ten Berge. "We have been to the mosque before and it always went well".

Angry parents had sent the letter on to De Telegraaf but were reportedly rapped on the knuckles by the school's management. "The school wishes to play this down. That is precisely the problem", as one mother commented.
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